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High-Affinity Sites Form an Interaction Network to Facilitate Spreading of the MSL Complex across the X Chromosome in Drosophila

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 4:09pm

Dosage compensation mechanisms provide a paradigm to study the contribution of chromosomal conformation toward targeting and spreading of epigenetic regulators over a specific chromosome. By using Hi-C and 4C analyses, we show that high-affinity sites (HAS), landing platforms of the male-specific lethal (MSL) complex, are enriched around topologically associating domain (TAD) boundaries on the X chromosome and harbor more long-range contacts in a sex-independent manner. Ectopically expressed roX1 and roX2 RNAs target HAS on the X chromosome in trans and, via spatial proximity, induce spreading of the MSL complex in cis, leading to increased expression of neighboring autosomal genes. We show that the MSL complex regulates nucleosome positioning at HAS, therefore acting locally rather than influencing the overall chromosomal architecture. We propose that the sex-independent, three-dimensional conformation of the X chromosome poises it for exploitation by the MSL complex, thereby facilitating spreading in males.

Long-Range Chromatin Interactions

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 4:09pm

To accommodate genomes in the limited space of the cell nucleus and ensure the correct execution of gene expression programs, genomes are packaged in complex fashion in the three-dimensional cell nucleus. As a consequence of the extensive higher-order organization of chromosomes, distantly located genomic regions on the same or distinct chromosomes undergo long-range interactions. This article discusses the nature of long interactions, mechanisms of their formation, and their emerging functional roles in gene regulation and genome maintenance.

Structural and functional diversity of Topologically Associating Domains

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 4:09pm

Recent studies have shown that chromosomes in a range of organisms are compartmentalized in different types of chromatin domains. In mammals, chromosomes form compartments that are composed of smaller Topologically Associating Domains (TADs). TADs are thought to represent functional domains of gene regulation but much is still unknown about the mechanisms of their formation and how they exert their regulatory effect on embedded genes. Further, similar domains have been detected in other organisms, including flies, worms, fungi and bacteria. Although in all these cases these domains appear similar as detected by 3C-based methods, their biology appears to be quite distinct with differences in the protein complexes involved in their formation and differences in their internal organization. Here we outline our current understanding of such domains in different organisms and their roles in gene regulation.

Myosin-binding protein C corrects an intrinsic inhomogeneity in cardiac excitation-contraction coupling

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:43am

The beating heart exhibits remarkable contractile fidelity over a lifetime, which reflects the tight coupling of electrical, chemical, and mechanical elements within the sarcomere, the elementary contractile unit. On a beat-to-beat basis, calcium is released from the ends of the sarcomere and must diffuse toward the sarcomere center to fully activate the myosin- and actin-based contractile proteins. The resultant spatial and temporal gradient in free calcium across the sarcomere should lead to nonuniform and inefficient activation of contraction. We show that myosin-binding protein C (MyBP-C), through its positioning on the myosin thick filaments, corrects this nonuniformity in calcium activation by exquisitely sensitizing the contractile apparatus to calcium in a manner that precisely counterbalances the calcium gradient. Thus, the presence and correct localization of MyBP-C within the sarcomere is critically important for normal cardiac function, and any disturbance of MyBP-C localization or function will contribute to the consequent cardiac pathologies.

Direct force probe reveals the mechanics of nuclear homeostasis in the mammalian cell

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:43am

How cells maintain nuclear shape and position against various intracellular and extracellular forces is not well understood, although defects in nuclear mechanical homeostasis are associated with a variety of human diseases. We estimated the force required to displace and deform the nucleus in adherent living cells with a technique to locally pull the nuclear surface. A minimum pulling force of a few nanonewtons--far greater than typical intracellular motor forces--was required to significantly displace and deform the nucleus. Upon force removal, the original shape and position were restored quickly within a few seconds. This stiff, elastic response required the presence of vimentin, lamin A/C, and SUN (Sad1p, UNC-84)-domain protein linkages, but not F-actin or microtubules. Although F-actin and microtubules are known to exert mechanical forces on the nuclear surface through molecular motor activity, we conclude that the intermediate filament networks maintain nuclear mechanical homeostasis against localized forces.

Prepubertal Serum Concentrations of Organochlorine Pesticides and Age at Sexual Maturity in Russian Boys

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:43am

BACKGROUND: Few human studies have evaluated the impact of childhood exposure to organochlorine pesticides (OCP) on pubertal development.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate associations of serum OCP concentrations [hexachlorobenzene (HCB), beta-hexachlorocyclohexane (beta-HCH), and p,p-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (p,p'-DDE)] with age at attainment of sexual maturity among boys.

METHODS: From 2003-2005, 350 8-9 year-old boys from Chapaevsk, Russia with measured OCPs were enrolled and followed annually for eight years. We used multivariable interval-censored models to evaluate associations of OCPs (quartiles) with three physician-assessed measures of sexual maturity: Tanner stage 5 for genitalia growth, Tanner stage 5 for pubic hair growth, or testicular volume (TV) > /=20 mL in either testis.

RESULTS: In adjusted models, boys with higher HCB concentrations achieved sexual maturity reflected by TV > /=20 mL a mean of 3.1 months (95% CI: -1.7, 7.8), 5.3 months (95% CI: 0.6, 10.1), and 5.0 months (95% CI: 0.2, 9.8) later for quartiles Q2, Q3, and Q4, respectively compared to Q1 (trend p=0.04). Tanner stage 5 for genitalia growth was attained a mean of 2.2 months (95% CI: -3.1, 7.5), 5.7 months (95% CI: 0.4, 11.0), and 3.7 months (-1.7, 9.1) later for quartiles Q2, Q3, and Q4 respectively of beta-HCH as compared to Q1 (trend p=0.09). Tanner stage 5 for pubic hair growth occurred 6-9 months later on average for boys in the highest vs. lowest quartile for HCB (trend p < 0.001), beta-HCH (trend p=0.01), and p,p'-DDE (trend p=0.04). No associations were observed between p,p'-DDE and Tanner stage 5 for genitalia growth or TV > /=20 mL.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Higher prepubertal serum HCB and beta-HCH concentrations were associated with a later age at attainment of sexual maturity. Only the highest quartile of serum p,p'-DDE was associated with later pubic hair maturation.

TCTEX1D2 mutations underlie Jeune asphyxiating thoracic dystrophy with impaired retrograde intraflagellar transport

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:43am

The analysis of individuals with ciliary chondrodysplasias can shed light on sensitive mechanisms controlling ciliogenesis and cell signalling that are essential to embryonic development and survival. Here we identify TCTEX1D2 mutations causing Jeune asphyxiating thoracic dystrophy with partially penetrant inheritance. Loss of TCTEX1D2 impairs retrograde intraflagellar transport (IFT) in humans and the protist Chlamydomonas, accompanied by destabilization of the retrograde IFT dynein motor. We thus define TCTEX1D2 as an integral component of the evolutionarily conserved retrograde IFT machinery. In complex with several IFT dynein light chains, it is required for correct vertebrate skeletal formation but may be functionally redundant under certain conditions.

C-ing the Genome: A Compendium of Chromosome Conformation Capture Methods to Study Higher-Order Chromatin Organization

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

Three-dimensional organization of the chromatin has important roles in transcription, replication, DNA repair, and pathologic events such as translocations. There are two fundamental ways to study higher-order chromatin organization: microscopic and molecular approaches. In this review, we briefly introduce the molecular approaches, focusing on chromosome conformation capture or "3C" technology and its derivatives, which can be used to probe chromatin folding at resolutions beyond that provided by microscopy techniques. We further discuss the different types of data generated by the 3C-based methods and how they can be used to answer distinct biological questions.

Assembly of IFT trains at the ciliary base depends on IFT74

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

Intraflagellar transport (IFT) moves IFT trains carrying cargoes from the cell body into the flagellum and from the flagellum back to the cell body. IFT trains are composed of complexes IFT-A and IFT-B and cargo adaptors such as the BBSome. The IFT-B core proteins IFT74 and IFT81 interact directly through central and C-terminal coiled-coil domains, and recently it was shown that the N termini of these proteins form a tubulin-binding module important for ciliogenesis. To investigate the function of IFT74 and its domains in vivo, we have utilized Chlamydomonas reinhardtii ift74 mutants. In a null mutant, lack of IFT74 destabilized IFT-B, leading to flagella assembly failure. In this null background, expression of IFT74 lacking 130 amino acids (aa) of the charged N terminus stabilized IFT-B and promoted slow assembly of nearly full-length flagella. A further truncation (lacking aa 1-196, including part of coiled-coil 1) also stabilized IFT-B, but failure in IFT-A/IFT-B interaction within the pool at the base of the flagellum prevented entry of IFT-A into the flagellum and led to severely decreased IFT injection frequency and flagellar-assembly defects. Decreased IFT-A in these short flagella resulted in aggregates of stalled IFT-B in the flagella. We conclude that IFT74 is required to stabilize IFT-B; aa 197-641 are sufficient for this function in vivo. The N terminus of IFT74 may be involved in, but is not required for, tubulin entry into flagella. It is required for association of IFT-A and IFT-B at the base of the flagellum and flagellar import of IFT-A.

Opposing calcium-dependent signalling pathways control skeletal muscle differentiation by regulating a chromatin remodelling enzyme

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

Calcium signalling is important for differentiation-dependent gene expression, but is also involved in other cellular functions. Therefore, mechanisms must exist to distinguish calcium signalling relevant to differentiation. Calcineurin is a calcium-regulated phosphatase that is required for myogenic gene expression and skeletal muscle differentiation. Here, we demonstrate that inhibition of calcineurin blocks chromatin remodelling and that the Brg1 ATPase of the SWI/SNF chromatin remodelling enzyme, which is required for the activation of myogenic gene expression, is a calcineurin substrate. Furthermore, we identify the calcium-regulated classical protein kinase C beta (PKCbeta) as a repressor of myogenesis and as the enzyme that opposes calcineurin function. Replacement of endogenous Brg1 with a phosphomimetic mutant in primary myoblasts inhibits myogenesis, whereas replacement with a non-phosphorylatable mutant allows myogenesis despite inhibition of calcineurin signalling, demonstrating the functionality of calcineurin/PKC-modified residues. Thus, the Brg1 chromatin remodelling enzyme integrates two antagonistic calcium-dependent signalling pathways that control myogenic differentiation.

Extra-embryonic Wnt3 regulates the establishment of the primitive streak in mice

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

The establishment of the head to tail axis at early stages of development is a fundamental aspect of vertebrate embryogenesis. In mice, experimental embryology, genetics and expression studies have suggested that the visceral endoderm, an extra-embryonic tissue, plays an important role in anteroposterior axial development. Here we show that absence of Wnt3 in the posterior visceral endoderm leads to delayed formation of the primitive streak and that interplay between anterior and posterior visceral endoderm restricts the position of the primitive streak. Embryos lacking Wnt3 in the visceral endoderm, however, appear normal by E9.5. Our results suggest a model for axial development in which multiple signals are required for anteroposterior axial development in mammals.

Unfolding the story of chromatin organization in senescent cells

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

Cell senescence, the permanent withdrawal of a cell from the cell cycle, is characterized by dramatic, cytological scale changes to DNA condensation throughout the genome. While prior emphasis has been placed on increases in heterochromatin, such as the formation of compact Senescent Associated Heterochromatin Foci (SAHF) structures, our recent findings showed that SAHF formation is preceded by the unravelling of constitutive heterochromatin into visibly extended structures, which we have termed Senescent Associated Distension of Satellites or SADS. Interestingly, neither of these marked changes in DNA condensation appear to be mediated by changes in canonical, heterochromatin-associated histone modifications. Rather, several observations suggest that these events may be facilitated by changes in LaminB1 levels and/or other factors that control higher-order chromatin architecture. Here, we review what is known about senescence-associated chromatin reorganization and present preliminary results using high-resolution microscopy techniques to show that each peri/centromeric satellite in senescent cells is comprised of several condensed domains connected by thin fibrils of satellite DNA. We then discuss the potential importance of these striking changes in chromatin condensation for cell senescence, and also as a model to provide a needed window into the higher-order packaging of the genome.

p53 protects against genome instability following centriole duplication failure

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

Centriole function has been difficult to study because of a lack of specific tools that allow persistent and reversible centriole depletion. Here we combined gene targeting with an auxin-inducible degradation system to achieve rapid, titratable, and reversible control of Polo-like kinase 4 (Plk4), a master regulator of centriole biogenesis. Depletion of Plk4 led to a failure of centriole duplication that produced an irreversible cell cycle arrest within a few divisions. This arrest was not a result of a prolonged mitosis, chromosome segregation errors, or cytokinesis failure. Depleting p53 allowed cells that fail centriole duplication to proliferate indefinitely. Washout of auxin and restoration of endogenous Plk4 levels in cells that lack centrioles led to the penetrant formation of de novo centrioles that gained the ability to organize microtubules and duplicate. In summary, we uncover a p53-dependent surveillance mechanism that protects against genome instability by preventing cell growth after centriole duplication failure.

Novel Jbts17 mutant mouse model of Joubert syndrome with cilia transition zone defects and cerebellar and other ciliopathy related anomalies

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

Recent studies identified a previously uncharacterized gene C5ORF42 (JBTS17) as a major cause of Joubert syndrome (JBTS), a ciliopathy associated with cerebellar abnormalities and other birth defects. Here we report the first Jbts17 mutant mouse model, Heart Under Glass (Hug), recovered from a forward genetic screen. Exome sequencing identified Hug as a S235P missense mutation in the mouse homolog of JBTS17 (2410089e03rik). Hug mutants exhibit multiple birth defects typical of ciliopathies, including skeletal dysplasia, polydactyly, craniofacial anomalies, kidney cysts and eye defects. Some Hug mutants exhibit congenital heart defects ranging from mild pulmonary stenosis to severe pulmonary atresia. Immunostaining showed JBTS17 is localized in the cilia transition zone. Fibroblasts from Hug mutant mice and a JBTS patient with a JBTS17 mutation showed ciliogenesis defects. Significantly, Hug mutant fibroblasts showed loss of not only JBTS17, but also NPHP1 and CEP290 from the cilia transition zone. Hug mutants exhibited reduced ciliation in the cerebellum. This was associated with reduction in cerebellar foliation. Using a fibroblast wound-healing assay, we showed Hug mutant cells cannot establish cell polarity required for directional cell migration. However, stereocilia patterning was grossly normal in the cochlea, indicating planar cell polarity is not markedly affected. Overall, we showed the JBTS pathophysiology is replicated in the Hug mutant mice harboring a Jbts17 mutation. Our findings demonstrate JBTS17 is a cilia transition zone component that acts upstream of other Joubert syndrome associated transition zone proteins NPHP1 and CEP290, indicating its importance in the pathogenesis of Joubert syndrome.

Chromosomes at Work: Organization of Chromosome Territories in the Interphase Nucleus

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

The organization of interphase chromosomes in chromosome territories (CTs) was first proposed more than one hundred years ago. The introduction of increasingly sophisticated microscopic and molecular techniques, now provide complementary strategies for studying CTs in greater depth than ever before. Here we provide an overview of these strategies and how they are being used to elucidate CT interactions and the role of these dynamically regulated, nuclear-structure building blocks in directly supporting nuclear function in a physiologically responsive manner. This article is protected by copyright.

DRC3 connects the N-DRC to dynein g to regulate flagellar waveform

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

The nexin-dynein regulatory complex (N-DRC), which is a major hub for the control of flagellar motility, contains at least 11 different subunits. A major challenge is to determine the location and function of each of these subunits within the N-DRC. We characterized a Chlamydomonas mutant defective in the N-DRC subunit DRC3. Of the known N-DRC subunits, the drc3 mutant is missing only DRC3. Like other N-DRC mutants, the drc3 mutant has a defect in flagellar motility. However, in contrast to other mutations affecting the N-DRC, drc3 does not suppress flagellar paralysis caused by loss of radial spokes. Cryo-electron tomography revealed that the drc3 mutant lacks a portion of the N-DRC linker domain, including the L1 protrusion, part of the distal lobe, and the connection between these two structures, thus localizing DRC3 to this part of the N-DRC. This and additional considerations enable us to assign DRC3 to the L1 protrusion. Because the L1 protrusion is the only non-dynein structure in contact with the dynein g motor domain in wild-type axonemes and this is the only N-DRC-dynein connection missing in the drc3 mutant, we conclude that DRC3 interacts with dynein g to regulate flagellar waveform.

Reduced tubulin polyglutamylation suppresses flagellar shortness in Chlamydomonas

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

Ciliary length control is an incompletely understood process essential for normal ciliary function. The flagella of Chlamydomonas mutants lacking multiple axonemal dyneins are shorter than normal; previously it was shown that this shortness can be suppressed by the mutation suppressor of shortness 1 (ssh1) via an unknown mechanism. To elucidate this mechanism, we carried out genetic analysis of ssh1 and found that it is a new allele of TPG2 (hereafter tpg2-3), which encodes FAP234 functioning in tubulin polyglutamylation in the axoneme. Similar to the polyglutamylation-deficient mutants tpg1 and tpg2-1, tpg2-3 axonemal tubulin has a greatly reduced level of long polyglutamate side chains. We found that tpg1 and tpg2-1 mutations also promote flagellar elongation in short-flagella mutants, consistent with a polyglutamylation-dependent mechanism of suppression. Double mutants of tpg1 or tpg2-1 and fla10-1, a temperature-sensitive mutant of intraflagellar transport, underwent slower flagellar shortening than fla10-1 at restrictive temperatures, indicating that the rate of tubulin disassembly is decreased in the polyglutamylation-deficient flagella. Moreover, alpha-tubulin incorporation into the flagellar tips in temporary dikaryons was retarded in polyglutamylation-deficient flagella. These results show that polyglutamylation deficiency stabilizes axonemal microtubules, decelerating axonemal disassembly at the flagellar tip and shifting the axonemal assembly/disassembly balance toward assembly.

p53 checkpoint ablation exacerbates the phenotype of Hinfp dependent histone H4 deficiency

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

Histone Nuclear Factor P (HINFP) is essential for expression of histone H4 genes. Ablation of Hinfp and consequential depletion of histones alter nucleosome spacing and cause stalled replication and DNA damage that ultimately result in genomic instability. Faithful replication and packaging of newly replicated DNA are required for normal cell cycle control and proliferation. The tumor suppressor protein p53, the guardian of the genome, controls multiple cell cycle checkpoints and its loss leads to cellular transformation. Here we addressed whether the absence of p53 impacts the outcomes/consequences of Hinfp-mediated histone H4 deficiency. We examined mouse embryonic fibroblasts lacking both Hinfp and p53. Our data revealed that the reduced histone H4 expression caused by depletion of Hinfp persists when p53 is also inactivated. Loss of p53 enhanced the abnormalities in nuclear shape and size (i.e. multi-lobed irregularly shaped nuclei) caused by Hinfp depletion and also altered the sub-nuclear organization of Histone Locus Bodies (HLBs). In addition to the polyploid phenotype resulting from deletion of either p53 or Hinfp, inactivation of both p53 and Hinfp increased mitotic defects and generated chromosomal fragility and susceptibility to DNA damage. Thus, our study conclusively establishes that simultaneous loss of both Hinfp and the p53 checkpoint is detrimental to normal cell growth and may predispose to cellular transformation.

Superresolution Pattern Recognition Reveals the Architectural Map of the Ciliary Transition Zone

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:42am

The transition zone (TZ) of primary cilia serves as a diffusion barrier to regulate ciliogenesis and receptor localization for key signaling events such as sonic hedgehog signaling. Its gating mechanism is poorly understood due to the tiny volume accommodating a large number of ciliopathy-associated molecules. Here we performed stimulated emission depletion (STED) imaging of collective samples and recreated superresolved relative localizations of eight representative species of ciliary proteins using position averages and overlapped with representative electron microscopy (EM) images, defining an architectural foundation at the ciliary base. Upon this framework, transmembrane proteins TMEM67 and TCTN2 were accumulated at the same axial level as MKS1 and RPGRIP1L, suggesting that their regulation roles for tissue-specific ciliogenesis occur at a specific level of the TZ. CEP290 is surprisingly localized at a different axial level bridging the basal body (BB) and other TZ proteins. Upon this molecular architecture, two reservoirs of intraflagellar transport (IFT) particles, correlating with phases of ciliary growth, are present: one colocalized with the transition fibers (TFs) while the other situated beyond the distal edge of the TZ. Together, our results reveal an unprecedented structural framework of the TZ, facilitating our understanding in molecular screening and assembly at the ciliary base.