Two Conserved Cysteine Residues Are Required for the Masculinizing Activity of the Silkworm Masc Protein [Gene Regulation]

September 4th, 2015 by Katsuma, S., Sugano, Y., Kiuchi, T., Shimada, T.

We have recently discovered that the Masculinizer (Masc) gene encodes a CCCH-tandem zinc finger (ZF) protein, which controls both masculinization and dosage compensation in the silkworm Bombyx mori. In this study, we attempted to identify functional regions or residues that are required for the masculinizing activity of the Masc protein. We constructed a series of plasmids that expressed the Masc derivatives and transfected them into a B. mori ovary-derived cell line, BmN-4. To assess the masculinizing activity of the Masc derivatives, we investigated the splicing patterns of B. mori doublesex (Bmdsx) and the expression levels of B. mori IGF-II mRNA-binding protein, a splicing regulator of Bmdsx, in Masc cDNA-transfected BmN-4 cells. We found that two ZF domains are not required for the masculinizing activity. We also identified that the C-terminal 288 amino acid residues are sufficient for the masculinizing activity of the Masc protein. Further detailed analyses revealed that two cysteine residues, 301-Cys and 304-Cys, in the highly conserved region among lepidopteran Masc proteins are essential for the masculinizing activity in BmN-4 cells. Finally, we showed that Masc is a nuclear protein, but its nuclear localization is not tightly associated with the masculinizing activity.

Mapping key residues of ISD11 critical for NFS1-ISD11 subcomplex stability: Implications in the development of mitochondrial disorder, COXPD19 [Protein Structure and Folding]

September 4th, 2015 by Saha, P. P., Srivastava, S., Kumar S. K., P., Sinha, D., D'Silva, P.

Biogenesis of iron-sulfur (Fe-S) cluster is an indispensable process in living cells. In mammalian mitochondria, the initial step of Fe-S cluster assembly process is assisted by NFS1-ISD11 complex, which delivers sulfur to the scaffold protein ISCU during Fe-S cluster synthesis. Although, ISD11 is an essential protein but its cellular role in the Fe-S cluster biogenesis is still not defined. Our study maps the important ISD11 amino acid residues belonging to putative helix 1 (F40), helix 3 (L63, R68, Q69, I72, Y76) and C-terminal segment (L81, E84) are critical for in vivo Fe-S cluster biogenesis. Importantly, mutation of these conserved ISD11 residues into alanine leads to its compromised interaction with NFS1, resulting reduced stability and enhanced aggregation of NFS1 in the mitochondria. Due to altered interaction with ISD11 mutants, the levels of NFS1 and Isu1 significantly depleted, which affects Fe-S cluster biosynthesis, leading to reduced electron transport chain complex (ETC) activity and mitochondrial respiration. In humans, a clinically relevant ISD11 mutation (R68L) has been associated in the development of mitochondrial genetic disorder, COXPD19. Our findings highlight that, ISD11 R68A/L mutation display reduced affinity to form a stable subcomplex with NFS1, thereby fails to prevent NFS1 aggregation resulting impairment of Fe-S cluster biogenesis. The prime affected machinery is the ETC complex which showed compromised redox properties, causing diminished mitochondrial respiration. Furthermore, the R68L ISD11 mutant displayed accumulation of mitochondrial iron and Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), leading to mitochondrial dysfunction, which correlates with the phenotype observed in COXPD19 patients.
  • Posted in Journal of Biological Chemistry, Publications
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Pro-oncogenic roles of HLXB9 in insulinoma cells through interaction with Nono and downregulation of the c-Met inhibitor Cblb [Cell Biology]

September 4th, 2015 by

Pancreatic islet β-cells that lack the MEN1 encoded protein menin develop into tumors. Such tumors express the phosphorylated isoform of the β-cell differentiation transcription factor HLXB9. It is not known how phospho-HLXB9 acts as an oncogenic factor in insulin-secreting β-cell tumors (insulinomas). In this study, we investigated the binding-partners and target-genes of phospho-HLXB9 in mouse insulinoma MIN6 β-cells. Co-immunoprecipitation coupled with mass spectrometry showed a significant association of phospho-HLXB9 with the survival factor p54nrb/Nono (54 kDa nuclear RNA binding protein, non-POU-domain-containing octamer). Endogenous phospho-HLXB9 co-localized with endogenous Nono in the nucleus. Overexpression of HLXB9 decreased the level of overexpressed Nono but not endogenous Nono. Anti-phospho-HLXB9 chromatin-immunoprecipitation followed by deep sequencing (ChIP-Seq) identified the c-Met inhibitor, Cblb, as a direct phospho-HLXB9 target gene. Phospho-HLXB9 occupied the promoter of Cblb and reduced the expression of Cblb mRNA. Cblb overexpression or HLXB9 knockdown decreased c-Met protein and reduced cell migration. Also, increased phospho-HLXB9 coincided with reduced Cblb and increased c-Met in insulinomas of two mouse models of menin loss. These data provide mechanistic insights into the role of phospho-HLXB9 as a pro-oncogenic factor by interacting with a survival factor, and by promoting the oncogenic c-Met pathway. These mechanisms have therapeutic implications for reducing β-cell proliferation in insulinomas by inhibiting phospho-HLXB9 or its interaction with Nono, and modulating the expression of its direct (Cblb) or indirect (c-Met) targets. Our data also implicate the use of pro-oncogenic activities of phospho-HLXB9 in β-cell expansion strategies to alleviate β-cell loss in diabetes.

Hepatic Insulin Resistance Following Chronic Activation of the CREB Coactivator CRTC2 [Gene Regulation]

September 4th, 2015 by

Under fasting conditions, increases in circulating concentrations of glucagon maintain glucose homeostasis via the induction of hepatic gluconeogenesis. Triggering of the cAMP pathway in hepatocytes stimulates the gluconeogenic program via the PKA-mediated phosphorylation of CREB and dephosphorylation of the cAMP regulated CREB coactivators CRTC2 and CRTC3. In parallel, decreases in circulating insulin also increase gluconeogenic gene expression via the de-phosphorylation and activation of the forkhead transcription factor FOXO1. Hepatic gluconeogenesis is increased in insulin resistance where it contributes to the attendant hyperglycemia. Whether selective activation of the hepatic CREB/CRTC pathway is sufficient to trigger metabolic changes in other tissues is unclear, however. Modest hepatic expression of a phosphorylation-defective and therefore constitutively active CRTC2S171,275A protein increased gluconeogenic gene expression under fasting as well as feeding conditions. Circulating glucose concentrations were constitutively elevated in CRTC2S171,275A expressing mice, leading to compensatory increases in circulating insulin concentrations that enhance FOXO1 phosphorylation. Despite accompanying decreases in FOXO1 activity, hepatic gluconeogenic gene expression remained elevated in CRTC2S171,275A mice demonstrating that chronic increases in CRTC2 activity in the liver are indeed sufficient to promote hepatic insulin resistance and to disrupt glucose homeostasis.

Binding of galectin-3, a {beta}-galactoside-binding lectin, to MUC1 protein enhances phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) and Akt, promoting tumor cell malignancy [Signal Transduction]

September 4th, 2015 by

Both mucin 1 (MUC1) and galectin-3 are known to be overexpressed in various malignant tumors and associated with a poor prognosis. It has been extensively reported that MUC1 is involved in potentiation of growth factor-dependent signal transduction. Because some carbohydrate moieties carried on MUC1 change to preferable ones for binding of galectin-3 in cancer cells, we speculated that MUC1-mediated signaling may occur through direct binding of galectin-3. Immunochemical studies showed that the distribution of galectin-3 coincided with that of MUC1 in various human tumor tissues but not in human nonmalignant tissues, and the level of galectin-3 retained on the surface of various cancer cells paralleled that of MUC1. Treatment of MUC1-expressing cells with galectin-3 induced phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and Akt following enhanced phosphorylation of MUC1 C-terminal domain (MUC1-CD), consistently promoting tumor cell malignancy. It is also noted that this enhanced phosphorylation occurred independently of EGF receptor (EGFR)-mediated signaling in both EGFR and MUC1 expressing cells, and multivalency of galectin-3 was important for initiation of MUC1-mediated signaling. Expectedly, both silencing of endogenous galectin-3 and treatment with galectin-3 antagonists down-regulated cell proliferation of MUC1-expressing cells. These results suggest that the binding of galectin-3 to MUC1 plays a key role in MUC1-mediated signaling. Thus, constitutive activation of MUC1-mediated signaling in an autocrine/paracrine manner due to ligation of galectin-3 promotes uncontrolled tumor cell malignancy. This signaling may be another MUC1-mediated pathway and function in parallel with a growth factor-dependent MUC1-mediated signaling pathway.
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Flexibility and Disorder in Gene Regulation: LacI/GalR and Hox Proteins [Protein Structure and Folding]

September 4th, 2015 by Bondos, S. E., Swint-Kruse, L., Matthews, K. S.

To modulate transcription, a variety of input signals must be sensed by genetic regulatory proteins. In these proteins, flexibility and disorder are emerging as common themes. Prokaryotic regulators generally have short, flexible segments, whereas eukaryotic regulators have extended regions that lack predicted secondary structure (intrinsic disorder). Two examples illustrate the impact of flexibility and disorder on gene regulation: The prokaryotic LacI/GalR family, with detailed information from studies on LacI, and the eukaryotic family of Hox proteins, with specific insights from investigations of Ultrabithorax (Ubx). The widespread importance of structural disorder in gene regulatory proteins may derive from the need for flexibility in signal response and, particularly in eukaryotes, in protein partner selection.

Neuronal ClC-3 splice variants differ in subcellular localizations, but mediate identical transport functions [Molecular Biophysics]

September 4th, 2015 by Guzman, R. E., Miranda Laferte, E., Franzen, A., Fahlke, C.

ClC-3 is a member of the CLC family of anion channels and transporters, for which multiple functional properties and subcellular localizations have been reported. Since alternative splicing often results in proteins with diverse properties, we investigated to what extent alternative splicing might influence subcellular targeting and function of ClC-3. We identified three alternatively spliced ClC-3 isoforms, ClC-3a, ClC-3b and ClC-3c, in mouse brain, with ClC-3c being the predominant splice variant. Whereas ClC-3a and ClC-3b are present in late endosomes/lysosomes, ClC-3c is targeted to recycling endosomes via a novel amino-terminal isoleucine-proline (IP) motif. Surface membrane insertion of a fraction of ClC-3c transporters permitted electrophysiological characterization of this splice variant through whole-cell patch clamping on transfected mammalian cells. In contrast, neutralization of the amino-terminal dileucine-like motifs was required for functional analysis of ClC-3a and ClC-3b. Heterologous expression of ClC-3a or ClC-3b carrying mutations in amino-terminal dileucine motifs as well as WT ClC-3c in HEK293T cells resulted in outwardly rectifying Cl- currents with significant capacitive current components. We conclude that alternative splicing of Clcn3 results in proteins with different subcellular localizations, but leaves the transport function of the proteins unaffected.

Sequential Action of MalE and Maltose Allows Coupling ATP Hydrolysis to Translocation in the MalFGK2 Transporter [Enzymology]

September 3rd, 2015 by Bao, H., Dalal, K., Cytrynbaum, E., Duong, F.

ABC transporters have evolved an ATP-dependent alternating-access mechanism to transport substrates across membranes. Despite important progress especially in their structural analysis, it is still unknown how the substrate stimulates ATP hydrolysis, the hallmark of ABC transporter. In this study, we measure the ATP turnover cycle of MalFGK2 in steady and pre-steady state conditions. We show that (i) the basal ATPase activity of MalFGK2 is very low because the cleavage of ATP is rate limiting, (ii) the binding of open-state MalE to the transporter induces ATP cleavage but leaves release of Pi limiting, (iii) the additional presence of maltose stimulates release of Pi, and therefore increases the overall ATP turnover cycle. We conclude that open-state MalE stabilizes MalFGK 2 in the outward-facing conformation until maltose triggers return to the inward-facing state for substrate and Pi release. This concerted action explains why ATPase activity of MalFGK2 depends on maltose, and why MalE is essential for transport.

Airway Surface Dehydration by Growth Factor TGF-{beta} in Cystic Fibrosis is Due to Decreased Function of a Voltage-dependent Potassium Channel and Can Be Rescued by the Drug Pirfenidone [Molecular Bases of Disease]

September 3rd, 2015 by

Transforming growth factorβ1 (TGF-β1) is not only elevated in airways of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, whose airways are characterized by abnormal ion transport and mucociliary clearance, but TGF-β1 is also associated with worse clinical outcomes. Effective mucociliary clearance (MCC) depends on adequate airway hydration, governed by ion transport. Apically expressed, large-conductance, Ca2+ and voltage-dependent K+ (BK) channels play an important role in this process. In this study, TGF-β1 decreased airway surface liquid (ASL) volume, ciliary beat frequency (CBF), and BK activity in fully differentiated cystic fibrosis bronchial epithelial (CFBE) cells by reducing mRNA expression of the BK γ subunit leucine-rich repeat-containing protein 26 (LRRC26) and its function. While LRRC26 knockdown itself reduced BK activity, LRRC26 overexpression partially reversed TGF-β1-induced BK dysfunction. TGF-β1-induced ASL volume hyperabsorption was reversed by the BK opener mallotoxin and the clinically useful TGF-β signaling inhibitor pirfenidone. The latter increased BK activity via rescue of LRRC26. Therefore, we propose that TGF-β1-induced mucociliary dysfunction in CF airways is associated with BK inactivation related to a LRRC26 decrease and is amenable to treatment with clinically useful TGF-β1 inhibitors.
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Identification and Small Molecule Inhibition of an ATF4-dependent Pathway to Age-related Skeletal Muscle Weakness and Atrophy [Metabolism]

September 3rd, 2015 by

Aging reduces skeletal muscle mass and strength, but the underlying molecular mechanisms remain elusive. Here, we used mouse models to investigate molecular mechanisms of age-related skeletal muscle weakness and atrophy, as well as new potential interventions for these conditions. We identified two small molecules that significantly reduce age-related deficits in skeletal muscle strength, quality and mass: ursolic acid (a pentacyclic triterpenoid found in apples) and tomatidine (a steroidal alkaloid derived from green tomatoes). Because small molecule inhibitors can sometimes provide mechanistic insight into disease processes, we used ursolic acid and tomatidine to investigate the pathogenesis of age-related muscle weakness and atrophy. We found that ursolic acid and tomatidine generate hundreds of small positive and negative changes in mRNA levels in aged skeletal muscle, and the mRNA expression signatures of the two compounds are remarkably similar. Interestingly, a subset of the mRNAs are repressed by ursolic acid and tomatidine in aged muscle are positively regulated by the transcription factor ATF4. Based on this finding, we investigated ATF4 as a potential mediator of age-related muscle weakness and atrophy. We found that a targeted reduction in skeletal muscle ATF4 expression reduces age-related deficits in skeletal muscle strength, quality and mass, similar to ursolic acid and tomatidine. These results elucidate ATF4 as a critical mediator of age-related muscle weakness and atrophy. In addition, these results identify ursolic acid and tomatidine as potential agents and/or lead compounds for reducing ATF4 activity, weakness, and atrophy in aged skeletal muscle.