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Structural basis for membrane recruitment and allosteric activation of cytohesin family Arf GTPase exchange factors

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 12:00pm

Membrane recruitment of cytohesin family Arf guanine nucleotide exchange factors depends on interactions with phosphoinositides and active Arf GTPases that, in turn, relieve autoinhibition of the catalytic Sec7 domain through an unknown structural mechanism. Here, we show that Arf6-GTP relieves autoinhibition by binding to an allosteric site that includes the autoinhibitory elements in addition to the PH domain. The crystal structure of a cytohesin-3 construct encompassing the allosteric site in complex with the head group of phosphatidyl inositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate and N-terminally truncated Arf6-GTP reveals a large conformational rearrangement, whereby autoinhibition can be relieved by competitive sequestration of the autoinhibitory elements in grooves at the Arf6/PH domain interface. Disposition of the known membrane targeting determinants on a common surface is compatible with multivalent membrane docking and subsequent activation of Arf substrates, suggesting a plausible model through which membrane recruitment and allosteric activation could be structurally integrated.

Role of the mixed-lineage protein kinase pathway in the metabolic stress response to obesity

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 12:00pm

Saturated free fatty acid (FFA) is implicated in the metabolic response to obesity. In vitro studies indicate that FFA signaling may be mediated by the mixed-lineage protein kinase (MLK) pathway that activates cJun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK). Here, we examined the role of the MLK pathway in vivo using a mouse model of diet-induced obesity. The ubiquitously expressed MLK2 and MLK3 protein kinases have partially redundant functions. We therefore compared wild-type and compound mutant mice that lack expression of MLK2 and MLK3. MLK deficiency protected mice against high-fat-diet-induced insulin resistance and obesity. Reduced JNK activation and increased energy expenditure contribute to the metabolic effects of MLK deficiency. These data confirm that the MLK pathway plays a critical role in the metabolic response to obesity.

Genetic and acute CPEB1 depletion ameliorate fragile X pathophysiology

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 12:00pm

Fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most common cause of inherited mental retardation and autism, is caused by transcriptional silencing of FMR1, which encodes the translational repressor fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP). FMRP and cytoplasmic polyadenylation element-binding protein (CPEB), an activator of translation, are present in neuronal dendrites, are predicted to bind many of the same mRNAs and may mediate a translational homeostasis that, when imbalanced, results in FXS. Consistent with this possibility, Fmr1(-/y); Cpeb1(-/-) double-knockout mice displayed amelioration of biochemical, morphological, electrophysiological and behavioral phenotypes associated with FXS. Acute depletion of CPEB1 in the hippocampus of adult Fmr1(-/y) mice rescued working memory deficits, demonstrating reversal of this FXS phenotype. Finally, we find that FMRP and CPEB1 balance translation at the level of polypeptide elongation. Our results suggest that disruption of translational homeostasis is causal for FXS and that the maintenance of this homeostasis by FMRP and CPEB1 is necessary for normal neurologic function.

Diet-induced obesity mediated by the JNK/DIO2 signal transduction pathway

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 12:00pm

The cJun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling pathway is a key mediator of metabolic stress responses caused by consuming a high-fat diet, including the development of obesity. To test the role of JNK, we examined diet-induced obesity in mice with targeted ablation of Jnk genes in the anterior pituitary gland. These mice exhibited an increase in the pituitary expression of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), an increase in the blood concentration of thyroid hormone (T4), increased energy expenditure, and markedly reduced obesity compared with control mice. The increased amount of pituitary TSH was caused by reduced expression of type 2 iodothyronine deiodinase (Dio2), a gene that is required for T4-mediated negative feedback regulation of TSH expression. These data establish a molecular mechanism that accounts for the regulation of energy expenditure and the development of obesity by the JNK signaling pathway.

Absence of detectable HIV-1 viremia after treatment cessation in an infant

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 12:00pm

An infant born to a woman with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection began receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) 30 hours after birth owing to high-risk exposure. ART was continued when detection of HIV-1 DNA and RNA on repeat testing met the standard diagnostic criteria for infection. After therapy was discontinued (when the child was 18 months of age), levels of plasma HIV-1 RNA, proviral DNA in peripheral-blood mononuclear cells, and HIV-1 antibodies, as assessed by means of clinical assays, remained undetectable in the child through 30 months of age. This case suggests that very early ART in infants may alter the establishment and long-term persistence of HIV-1 infection.

Hdac6 regulates Tip60-p400 function in stem cells

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 12:00pm

In embryonic stem cells (ESCs), the Tip60 histone acetyltransferase activates genes required for proliferation and silences genes that promote differentiation. Here we show that the class II histone deacetylase Hdac6 co-purifies with Tip60-p400 complex from ESCs. Hdac6 is necessary for regulation of most Tip60-p400 target genes, particularly those repressed by the complex. Unlike differentiated cells, where Hdac6 is mainly cytoplasmic, Hdac6 is largely nuclear in ESCs, neural stem cells (NSCs), and some cancer cell lines, and interacts with Tip60-p400 in each. Hdac6 localizes to promoters bound by Tip60-p400 in ESCs, binding downstream of transcription start sites. Surprisingly, Hdac6 does not appear to deacetylate histones, but rather is required for Tip60-p400 binding to many of its target genes. Finally, we find that, like canonical subunits of Tip60-p400, Hdac6 is necessary for robust ESC differentiation. These data suggest that Hdac6 plays a major role in the modulation of Tip60-p400 function in stem cells. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01557.001.

The C. elegans CSR-1 argonaute pathway counteracts epigenetic silencing to promote germline gene expression

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 12:00pm

Organisms can develop adaptive sequence-specific immunity by reexpressing pathogen-specific small RNAs that guide gene silencing. For example, the C. elegans PIWI-Argonaute/piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA) pathway recruits RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP) to foreign sequences to amplify a transgenerational small-RNA-induced epigenetic silencing signal (termed RNAe). Here, we provide evidence that, in addition to an adaptive memory of silenced sequences, C. elegans can also develop an opposing adaptive memory of expressed/self-mRNAs. We refer to this mechanism, which can prevent or reverse RNAe, as RNA-induced epigenetic gene activation (RNAa). We show that CSR-1, which engages RdRP-amplified small RNAs complementary to germline-expressed mRNAs, is required for RNAa. We show that a transgene with RNAa activity also exhibits accumulation of cognate CSR-1 small RNAs. Our findings suggest that C. elegans adaptively acquires and maintains a transgenerational CSR-1 memory that recognizes and protects self-mRNAs, allowing piRNAs to recognize foreign sequences innately, without the need for prior exposure.

Rab11 endosomes contribute to mitotic spindle organization and orientation

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 12:00pm

During interphase, Rab11-GTPase-containing endosomes recycle endocytic cargo. However, little is known about Rab11 endosomes in mitosis. Here, we show that Rab11 localizes to the mitotic spindle and regulates dynein-dependent endosome localization at poles. We found that mitotic recycling endosomes bind gamma-TuRC components and associate with tubulin in vitro. Rab11 depletion or dominant-negative Rab11 expression disrupts astral microtubules, delays mitosis, and redistributes spindle pole proteins. Reciprocally, constitutively active Rab11 increases astral microtubules, restores gamma-tubulin spindle pole localization, and generates robust spindles. This suggests a role for Rab11 activity in spindle pole maturation during mitosis. Rab11 depletion causes misorientation of the mitotic spindle and the plane of cell division. These findings suggest a molecular mechanism for the organization of astral microtubules and the mitotic spindle through Rab11-dependent control of spindle pole assembly and function. We propose that Rab11 and its associated endosomes cocontribute to these processes through retrograde transport to poles by dynein.

A KRAS-directed transcriptional silencing pathway that mediates the CpG island methylator phenotype

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 12:00pm

Approximately 70% of KRAS-positive colorectal cancers (CRCs) have a CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) characterized by aberrant DNA hypermethylation and transcriptional silencing of many genes. The factors involved in, and the mechanistic basis of, CIMP is not understood. Among the CIMP genes are the tumor suppressors p14(ARF), p15(INK4B), and p16(INK4A), encoded by the INK4-ARF locus. In this study, we perform an RNA interference screen and identify ZNF304, a zinc-finger DNA-binding protein, as the pivotal factor required for INK4-ARF silencing and CIMP in CRCs containing activated KRAS. In KRAS-positive human CRC cell lines and tumors, ZNF304 is bound at the promoters of INK4-ARF and other CIMP genes. Promoter-bound ZNF304 recruits a corepressor complex that includes the DNA methyltransferase DNMT1, resulting in DNA hypermethylation and transcriptional silencing. KRAS promotes silencing through upregulation of ZNF304, which drives DNA binding. Finally, we show that ZNF304 also directs transcriptional silencing of INK4-ARF in human embryonic stem cells. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.02313.001.

Distinct functions for IFT140 and IFT20 in opsin transport

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 12:00pm

In the vertebrate retina, light is detected by the outer segments of photoreceptor rods and cones, which are highly modified cilia. Like other cilia, outer segments have no protein synthetic capacity and depend on proteins made in the cell body for their formation and maintenance. The mechanism of transport into the outer segment is not fully understood but intraflagellar transport (IFT) is thought to be a major mechanism for moving protein from the cell body into the cilium. In the case of photoreceptor cells, the high density of receptors and the disk turnover that occurs daily necessitates much higher rates of transport than would be required in other cilia. In this work, we show that the IFT complex A protein IFT140 is required for development and maintenance of outer segments. In earlier work we found that acute deletion of Ift20 caused opsin to accumulate at the Golgi complex. In this work, we find that acute deletion of Ift140 does not cause opsin to accumulate at the Golgi complex but rather it accumulates in the plasma membrane of the inner segments. This work is a strong support of a model of opsin transport where IFT20 is involved in the movement from the Golgi complex to the base of the cilium. Then, once at the base, the opsin is carried through the connecting cilium by an IFT complex that includes IFT140. (c) 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Epstein-barr virus latent membrane protein 1 genetic variability in peripheral blood B cells and oropharyngeal fluids

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 12:00pm

We report the diversity of latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) gene founder sequences and the level of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) genome variability over time and across anatomic compartments by using virus genomes amplified directly from oropharyngeal wash specimens and peripheral blood B cells during acute infection and convalescence. The intrahost nucleotide variability of the founder virus was 0.02% across the region sequences, and diversity increased significantly over time in the oropharyngeal compartment (P = 0.004). The LMP1 region showing the greatest level of variability in both compartments, and over time, was concentrated within the functional carboxyl-terminal activating regions 2 and 3 (CTAR2 and CTAR3). Interestingly, a deletion in a proline-rich repeat region (amino acids 274 to 289) of EBV commonly reported in EBV sequenced from cancer specimens was not observed in acute infectious mononucleosis (AIM) patients. Taken together, these data highlight the diversity in circulating EBV genomes and its potential importance in disease pathogenesis and vaccine design.

IMPORTANCE: This study is among the first to leverage an improved high-throughput deep-sequencing methodology to investigate directly from patient samples the degree of diversity in Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) populations and the extent to which viral genome diversity develops over time in the infected host. Significant variability of circulating EBV latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) gene sequences was observed between cellular and oral wash samples, and this variability increased over time in oral wash samples. The significance of EBV genetic diversity in transmission and disease pathogenesis are discussed.

A long noncoding RNA mediates both activation and repression of immune response genes

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 10:05am

An inducible program of inflammatory gene expression is central to antimicrobial defenses. This response is controlled by a collaboration involving signal-dependent activation of transcription factors, transcriptional co-regulators, and chromatin-modifying factors. We have identified a long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) that acts as a key regulator of this inflammatory response. Pattern recognition receptors such as the Toll-like receptors induce the expression of numerous lncRNAs. One of these, lincRNA-Cox2, mediates both the activation and repression of distinct classes of immune genes. Transcriptional repression of target genes is dependent on interactions of lincRNA-Cox2 with heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A/B and A2/B1. Collectively, these studies unveil a central role of lincRNA-Cox2 as a broad-acting regulatory component of the circuit that controls the inflammatory response.

Interview: from Down's syndrome to basic epigenetics and back again

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 10:05am

Dr Jeanne Lawrence talks to Caroline Telfer, Commissioning Editor. Dr Jeanne Lawrence is an internationally recognized leader in the study of chromosome regulation by noncoding RNA and nuclear and genome organization. Her research bridges fundamental questions about genome regulation with clinical implications of recent advances in epigenetics. Her interest in chromosome structure and regulation has been a theme throughout her career and she has been honored for her work developing sensitive FISH technology for the detection of single copy genes, as well as RNAs. Her laboratory's publications include the initial demonstration of cell type-specific gene organization with nuclear subdomains; the novel biology of a noncoding RNA, XIST, which coats a whole X-chromosome to induce its silencing; and a new architectural role for a large noncoding RNA to scaffold a nuclear body. Her laboratory's work on epigenetic chromosome regulation in stem cells led to recent studies regarding unanticipated roles of repeat sequences in normal chromosome regulation and deregulation in cancer. Most recently, her laboratory has demonstrated a new approach to translate the basic mechanism of X-chromosome inactivation to correct a chromosomal dosage imbalance in patient-derived cells with trisomy 21 (Down's syndrome). Dr Lawrence has received awards from numerous agencies, including a Research Career Development Award from the National Center for Human Genome Research, career awards from the American Society of Cell Biology, the German Society for Biochemistry, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and a John Merck Fund Translational Research Award. She has served on the NIH National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research, numerous study sections and is currently a monitoring editor for the Journal of Cell Biology. Dr Lawrence has a BA in Biology and Music from Stephens College (MO, USA), a MS in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling from Rutgers University (NJ, USA) and a PhD in Developmental Biology from Brown University (RI, USA). She is currently a Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (MA, USA).

Higher-order unfolding of satellite heterochromatin is a consistent and early event in cell senescence

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 10:05am

Epigenetic changes to chromatin are thought to be essential to cell senescence, which is key to tumorigenesis and aging. Although many studies focus on heterochromatin gain, this work demonstrates large-scale unraveling of peri/centromeric satellites, which occurs in all models of human and mouse senescence examined. This was not seen in cancer cells, except in a benign senescent tumor in vivo. Senescence-associated distension of satellites (SADS) occurs earlier and more consistently than heterochromatin foci formation, and SADS is not exclusive to either the p16 or p21 pathways. Because Hutchinson Guilford progeria syndrome patient cells do not form excess heterochromatin, the question remained whether or not proliferative arrest in this aging syndrome involved distinct epigenetic mechanisms. Here, we show that SADS provides a unifying event in both progeria and normal senescence. Additionally, SADS represents a novel, cytological-scale unfolding of chromatin, which is not concomitant with change to several canonical histone marks nor a result of DNA hypomethylation. Rather, SADS is likely mediated by changes to higher-order nuclear structural proteins, such as LaminB1.

Stable C0T-1 repeat RNA is abundant and is associated with euchromatic interphase chromosomes

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 10:05am

Recent studies recognize a vast diversity of noncoding RNAs with largely unknown functions, but few have examined interspersed repeat sequences, which constitute almost half our genome. RNA hybridization in situ using C0T-1 (highly repeated) DNA probes detects surprisingly abundant euchromatin-associated RNA comprised predominantly of repeat sequences (C0T-1 RNA), including LINE-1. C0T-1-hybridizing RNA strictly localizes to the interphase chromosome territory in cis and remains stably associated with the chromosome territory following prolonged transcriptional inhibition. The C0T-1 RNA territory resists mechanical disruption and fractionates with the nonchromatin scaffold but can be experimentally released. Loss of repeat-rich, stable nuclear RNAs from euchromatin corresponds to aberrant chromatin distribution and condensation. C0T-1 RNA has several properties similar to XIST chromosomal RNA but is excluded from chromatin condensed by XIST. These findings impact two "black boxes" of genome science: the poorly understood diversity of noncoding RNA and the unexplained abundance of repetitive elements.

Arf4 is required for Mammalian development but dispensable for ciliary assembly

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 12:51pm

The primary cilium is a sensory organelle, defects in which cause a wide range of human diseases including retinal degeneration, polycystic kidney disease and birth defects. The sensory functions of cilia require specific receptors to be targeted to the ciliary subdomain of the plasma membrane. Arf4 has been proposed to sort cargo destined for the cilium at the Golgi complex and deemed a key regulator of ciliary protein trafficking. In this work, we show that Arf4 binds to the ciliary targeting sequence (CTS) of fibrocystin. Knockdown of Arf4 indicates that it is not absolutely required for trafficking of the fibrocystin CTS to cilia as steady-state CTS levels are unaffected. However, we did observe a delay in delivery of newly synthesized CTS from the Golgi complex to the cilium when Arf4 was reduced. Arf4 mutant mice are embryonic lethal and die at mid-gestation shortly after node formation. Nodal cilia appeared normal and functioned properly to break left-right symmetry in Arf4 mutant embryos. At this stage of development Arf4 expression is highest in the visceral endoderm but we did not detect cilia on these cells. In the visceral endoderm, the lack of Arf4 caused defects in cell structure and apical protein localization. This work suggests that while Arf4 is not required for ciliary assembly, it is important for the efficient transport of fibrocystin to cilia, and also plays critical roles in non-ciliary processes.

Senescence-associated β-galactosidase activity marks the visceral endoderm of mouse embryos but is not indicative of senescence

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 12:37pm

Senescence-associated β-galactosidase (SA-β-gal) activity is widely used as a marker of cellular senescence and as an indicator of organismal aging. Here, we report that SA-β-gal activity is present in the visceral endoderm layer of early postimplantation mouse embryos in predictable patterns that vary as the embryo progresses in development. However, determination of the mitotic index and analysis of the expression of Cdkn1a (p21), a marker of senescent cells, do not indicate cellular senescence. Instead, analysis of embryos in culture revealed the presence of SA-β-gal activity in apical vacuoles of visceral endoderm cells likely a reflection of acidic β-galactosidase function in these organelles. SA-β-gal serves as a practical marker of the dynamics of the visceral endoderm that can be applied to developmental as well as functional studies of early mammalian embryos.

Gudu, an Armadillo repeat-containing protein, is required for spermatogenesis in Drosophila

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 12:37pm

The Drosophila annotated gene CG5155 encodes a protein that contains 10 Armadillo-repeats and has an unknown function. To fill this gap, we performed loss-of-function studies using RNAi. By analysis of four independent Drosophila RNAi lines targeting two non-overlapping regions of the CG5155 transcript, we demonstrate that this gene is required for male fertility. Therefore, we have named this gene Gudu. The transcript of Gudu is highly enriched in adult testes. Knockdown of Gudu by a ubiquitous driver leads to defects in the formation of the individualization complex that is required for spermatid maturation, thereby impairing spermatogenesis. Furthermore, testis-specific knockdown of Gudu by crossing the RNAi lines with the bam-Gal4 driver is sufficient to cause the infertility and defective spermatogenesis. Since Gudu is highly homologous to vertebrate ARMC4, also an Armadillo-repeat-containing protein enriched in testes, our results suggest that Gudu and ARMC4 are a subfamily of Armadillo-repeat containing proteins that may have an evolutionarily conserved function in spermatogenesis.

Pax3 synergizes with Gli2 and Zic1 in transactivating the Myf5 epaxial somite enhancer

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 3:55pm

Both Glis, the downstream effectors of hedgehog signaling, and Zic transcription factors are required for Myf5 expression in the epaxial somite. Here we demonstrate a novel synergistic interaction between members of both families and Pax3, a paired-domain transcription factor that is essential for both myogenesis and neural crest development. We show that Pax3 synergizes with both Gli2 and Zic1 in transactivating the Myf5 epaxial somite (ES) enhancer in concert with the Myf5 promoter. This synergy is dependent on conserved functional domains of the proteins, as well as on a novel homeodomain motif in the Myf5 promoter and the essential Gli motif in the ES enhancer. Importantly, overexpression of Zic1 and Pax3 in the 10T1/2 mesodermal cell model results in enrichment of these factors at the endogenous Myf5 locus and induction of Myf5 expression. In our previous work, we showed that by enhancing nuclear translocation of Gli factors, Zics provide spatiotemporal patterning for Gli family members in the epaxial induction of Myf5 expression. Our current study indicates a complementary mechanism in which association with DNA-bound Pax3 strengthens the ability of both Zic1 and Gli2 to transactivate Myf5 in the epaxial somite.

A new role for Hedgehogs in juxtacrine signaling

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 3:55pm

The Hedgehog pathway plays important roles in embryonic development, adult stem cell maintenance and tumorigenesis. In mammals these effects are mediated by Sonic, Desert and Indian Hedgehog (Shh, Dhh and Ihh). Shh undergoes autocatalytic cleavage and dual lipidation prior to secretion and forming a response gradient. Post-translational processing and secretion of Dhh and Ihh ligands has not previously been investigated. This study reports on the synthesis, processing, secretion and signaling activities of SHH, IHH and DHH preproteins expressed in cultured cells, providing unexpected evidence that DHH does not undergo substantial autoprocessing or secretion, and does not function in paracrine signaling. Rather, DHH functions as a juxtacrine signaling ligand to activate a cell contact-mediated HH signaling response, consistent with its localised signaling in vivo. Further, the LnCAP prostate cancer cell, when induced to express endogenous DHH and SHH, is active only in juxtacrine signaling. Domain swap studies reveal that the C-terminal domain of HH regulates its processing and secretion. These findings establish a new regulatory role for HHs in cell-mediated juxtacrine signaling in development and cancer.