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Notch3-Jagged signaling controls the pool of undifferentiated airway progenitors

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 11:13am

Basal cells are multipotent airway progenitors that generate distinct epithelial cell phenotypes crucial for homeostasis and repair of the conducting airways. Little is known about how these progenitor cells expand and transition to differentiation to form the pseudostratified airway epithelium in the developing and adult lung. Here, we show by genetic and pharmacological approaches that endogenous activation of Notch3 signaling selectively controls the pool of undifferentiated progenitors of upper airways available for differentiation. This mechanism depends on the availability of Jag1 and Jag2, and is key to generating a population of parabasal cells that later activates Notch1 and Notch2 for secretory-multiciliated cell fate selection. Disruption of this mechanism resulted in aberrant expansion of basal cells and altered pseudostratification. Analysis of human lungs showing similar abnormalities and decreased NOTCH3 expression in subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease suggests an involvement of NOTCH3-dependent events in the pathogenesis of this condition.

Orientation of myosin binding protein C in the cardiac muscle sarcomere determined by domain-specific immuno-EM

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 11:13am

Myosin binding protein C is a thick filament protein of vertebrate striated muscle. The cardiac isoform [cardiac myosin binding protein C (cMyBP-C)] is essential for normal cardiac function, and mutations in cMyBP-C cause cardiac muscle disease. The rod-shaped molecule is composed primarily of 11 immunoglobulin- or fibronectin-like domains and is located at nine sites, 43nm apart, in each half of the A-band. To understand how cMyBP-C functions, it is important to know its structural organization in the sarcomere, as this will affect its ability to interact with other sarcomeric proteins. Several models, in which cMyBP-C wraps around, extends radially from, or runs axially along the thick filament, have been proposed. Our goal was to define cMyBP-C orientation by determining the relative axial positions of different cMyBP-C domains. Immuno-electron microscopy was performed using mouse cardiac myofibrils labeled with antibodies specific to the N- and C-terminal domains and to the middle of cMyBP-C. Antibodies to all regions of the molecule, except the C-terminus, labeled at the same nine axial positions in each half A-band, consistent with a circumferential and/or radial rather than an axial orientation of the bulk of the molecule. The C-terminal antibody stripes were slightly displaced axially, demonstrating an axial orientation of the C-terminal three domains, with the C-terminus closer to the M-line. These results, combined with previous studies, suggest that the C-terminal domains of cMyBP-C run along the thick filament surface, while the N-terminus extends toward neighboring thin filaments. This organization provides a structural framework for understanding cMyBP-C's modulation of cardiac muscle contraction.

Subnuclear domain proteins in cancer cells support the functions of RUNX2 in the DNA damage response

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 11:13am

Cancer cells exhibit modifications in nuclear architecture and transcriptional control. Tumor growth and metastasis are supported by RUNX family transcriptional scaffolding proteins, which mediate the assembly of nuclear-matrix-associated gene-regulatory hubs. We used proteomic analysis to identify RUNX2-dependent protein-protein interactions associated with the nuclear matrix in bone, breast and prostate tumor cell types and found that RUNX2 interacts with three distinct proteins that respond to DNA damage - RUVBL2, INTS3 and BAZ1B. Subnuclear foci containing these proteins change in intensity or number following UV irradiation. Furthermore, RUNX2, INTS3 and BAZ1B form UV-responsive complexes with the serine-139-phosphorylated isoform of H2AX (gammaH2AX). UV irradiation increases the interaction of BAZ1B with gammaH2AX and decreases histone H3 lysine 9 acetylation levels, which mark accessible chromatin. RUNX2 depletion prevents the BAZ1B-gammaH2AX interaction and attenuates loss of H3K9 and H3K56 acetylation. Our data are consistent with a model in which RUNX2 forms functional complexes with BAZ1B, RUVBL2 and INTS3 to mount an integrated response to DNA damage. This proposed cytoprotective function for RUNX2 in cancer cells might clarify its expression in chemotherapy-resistant and/or metastatic tumors.

Dynein and intraflagellar transport

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 11:13am

Spatial re-organization of myogenic regulatory sequences temporally controls gene expression

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 11:13am

During skeletal muscle differentiation, the activation of some tissue-specific genes occurs immediately while others are delayed. The molecular basis controlling temporal gene regulation is poorly understood. We show that the regulatory sequences, but not other regions of genes expressed at late times of myogenesis, are in close physical proximity in differentiating embryonic tissue and in differentiating culture cells, despite these genes being located on different chromosomes. Formation of these inter-chromosomal interactions requires the lineage-determinant MyoD and functional Brg1, the ATPase subunit of SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling enzymes. Ectopic expression of myogenin and a specific Mef2 isoform induced myogenic differentiation without activating endogenous MyoD expression. Under these conditions, the regulatory sequences of late gene loci were not in close proximity, and these genes were prematurely activated. The data indicate that the spatial organization of late genes contributes to temporal regulation of myogenic transcription by restricting late gene expression during the early stages of myogenesis. The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.

In Situ Localization of N and C Termini of Subunits of the Flagellar Nexin-Dynein Regulatory Complex (N-DRC) Using SNAP Tag and Cryo-electron Tomography

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 11:13am

Cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) has reached nanoscale resolution for in situ three-dimensional imaging of macromolecular complexes and organelles. Yet its current resolution is not sufficient to precisely localize or identify most proteins in situ; for example, the location and arrangement of components of the nexin-dynein regulatory complex (N-DRC), a key regulator of ciliary/flagellar motility that is conserved from algae to humans, have remained elusive despite many cryo-ET studies of cilia and flagella. Here, we developed an in situ localization method that combines cryo-ET/subtomogram averaging with the clonable SNAP tag, a widely used cell biological probe to visualize fusion proteins by fluorescence microscopy. Using this hybrid approach, we precisely determined the locations of the N and C termini of DRC3 and the C terminus of DRC4 within the three-dimensional structure of the N-DRC in Chlamydomonas flagella. Our data demonstrate that fusion of SNAP with target proteins allowed for protein localization with high efficiency and fidelity using SNAP-linked gold nanoparticles, without disrupting the native assembly, structure, or function of the flagella. After cryo-ET and subtomogram averaging, we localized DRC3 to the L1 projection of the nexin linker, which interacts directly with a dynein motor, whereas DRC4 was observed to stretch along the N-DRC base plate to the nexin linker. Application of the technique developed here to the N-DRC revealed new insights into the organization and regulatory mechanism of this complex, and provides a valuable tool for the structural dissection of macromolecular complexes in situ.

Examination of Federal Data Management Plan Guidelines

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 10:06am

Data management plans as expectations of the grant proposal process are still fairly novel, and the expected format and content of these plans is still evolving. The objective of this research is to gain a greater understanding of the expected content for data management plans submitted as part of grant proposals to federal funding agencies. This paper examines federal funding agencies’ data management plan guidelines in relation to the broad elements of data management identified by the Interagency Working Group on Digital Data: Description, Impact, Content & Format, Protection, Preservation, Access, and Transfer of Responsibility. Specifically, statements in agencies’ guidelines were categorized into the most applicable category (or categories). The representation of each category within each agency’s guidelines was addressed, and the statements falling in each category were analyzed. Some categories, including Access and Preservation, were represented in all or nearly all of the guidelines examined. Other categories—Impact and Transfer of Responsibility—were rarely addressed. The expectations for data management plans are evolving and will likely continue to evolve as more agencies require them.

Smart Survey Design: Randomization of Response Options

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 12:22pm

Blog post to AEA365, a blog sponsored by the American Evaluation Association (AEA) dedicated to highlighting Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Rad Resources, and Lessons Learned for evaluators. The American Evaluation Association is an international professional association of evaluators devoted to the application and exploration of program evaluation, personnel evaluation, technology, and many other forms of evaluation. Evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products, and organizations to improve their effectiveness.

To Transcribe or not to Transcribe….that is the Question

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 12:22pm

Blog post to AEA365, a blog sponsored by the American Evaluation Association (AEA) dedicated to highlighting Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Rad Resources, and Lessons Learned for evaluators. The American Evaluation Association is an international professional association of evaluators devoted to the application and exploration of program evaluation, personnel evaluation, technology, and many other forms of evaluation. Evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products, and organizations to improve their effectiveness.

Today’s Librarian and Building an Evaluation Team

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 12:22pm

Blog post to AEA365, a blog sponsored by the American Evaluation Association (AEA) dedicated to highlighting Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Rad Resources, and Lessons Learned for evaluators. The American Evaluation Association is an international professional association of evaluators devoted to the application and exploration of program evaluation, personnel evaluation, technology, and many other forms of evaluation. Evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products, and organizations to improve their effectiveness.

An Evaluator’s Journey Toward Bayes: Part II

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 12:22pm

Blog post to AEA365, a blog sponsored by the American Evaluation Association (AEA) dedicated to highlighting Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Rad Resources, and Lessons Learned for evaluators. The American Evaluation Association is an international professional association of evaluators devoted to the application and exploration of program evaluation, personnel evaluation, technology, and many other forms of evaluation. Evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products, and organizations to improve their effectiveness.

An Evaluator’s Journey Toward Bayes: Part I

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 12:22pm

Blog post to AEA365, a blog sponsored by the American Evaluation Association (AEA) dedicated to highlighting Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Rad Resources, and Lessons Learned for evaluators. The American Evaluation Association is an international professional association of evaluators devoted to the application and exploration of program evaluation, personnel evaluation, technology, and many other forms of evaluation. Evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products, and organizations to improve their effectiveness.

Simple and Effective: Using Boxplots to Display Individualized Results

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 12:22pm

Blog post to AEA365, a blog sponsored by the American Evaluation Association (AEA) dedicated to highlighting Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Rad Resources, and Lessons Learned for evaluators. The American Evaluation Association is an international professional association of evaluators devoted to the application and exploration of program evaluation, personnel evaluation, technology, and many other forms of evaluation. Evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products, and organizations to improve their effectiveness.

Navigating Copyright Issues: When Should We Be Concerned?

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 11:59am

Blog post to AEA365, a blog sponsored by the American Evaluation Association (AEA) dedicated to highlighting Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Rad Resources, and Lessons Learned for evaluators. The American Evaluation Association is an international professional association of evaluators devoted to the application and exploration of program evaluation, personnel evaluation, technology, and many other forms of evaluation. Evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products, and organizations to improve their effectiveness.

Precision cancer mouse models through genome editing with CRISPR-Cas9

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 9:40am

The cancer genome is highly complex, with hundreds of point mutations, translocations, and chromosome gains and losses per tumor. To understand the effects of these alterations, precise models are needed. Traditional approaches to the construction of mouse models are time-consuming and laborious, requiring manipulation of embryonic stem cells and multiple steps. The recent development of the clustered regularly interspersed short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-Cas9 system, a powerful genome-editing tool for efficient and precise genome engineering in cultured mammalian cells and animals, is transforming mouse-model generation. Here, we review how CRISPR-Cas9 has been used to create germline and somatic mouse models with point mutations, deletions and complex chromosomal rearrangements. We highlight the progress and challenges of such approaches, and how these models can be used to understand the evolution and progression of individual tumors and identify new strategies for cancer treatment. The generation of precision cancer mouse models through genome editing will provide a rapid avenue for functional cancer genomics and pave the way for precision cancer medicine.

UMCCTS Newsletter, June 2015

Wed, 06/17/2015 - 1:21pm

This is the June 2015 issue of the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science Newsletter containing news and events of interest.

Rare missense neuronal cadherin gene (CDH2) variants in specific obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette disorder phenotypes

Tue, 06/16/2015 - 10:21am

The recent finding that the neuronal cadherin gene CDH2 confers a highly significant risk for canine compulsive disorder led us to investigate whether missense variants within the human ortholog CDH2 are associated with altered susceptibility to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Tourette disorder (TD) and related disorders. Exon resequencing of CDH2 in 320 individuals identified four non-synonymous single-nucleotide variants, which were subsequently genotyped in OCD probands, Tourette disorder probands and relatives, and healthy controls (total N=1161). None of the four variants was significantly associated with either OCD or TD. One variant, N706S, was found only in the OCD/TD groups, but not in controls. By examining clinical data, we found there were significant TD-related phenotype differences between those OCD probands with and without the N845S variant with regard to the co-occurrence of TD (Fisher's exact test P=0.014, OR=6.03). Both N706S and N845S variants conferred reduced CDH2 protein expression in transfected cells. Although our data provide no overall support for association of CDH2 rare variants in these disorders considered as single entities, the clinical features and severity of probands carrying the uncommon non-synonymous variants suggest that CDH2, along with other cadherin and cell adhesion genes, is an interesting gene to pursue as a plausible contributor to OCD, TD and related disorders with repetitive behaviors, including autism spectrum disorders.

Genome-wide association study of shared components of reading disability and language impairment

Tue, 06/16/2015 - 10:21am

Written and verbal languages are neurobehavioral traits vital to the development of communication skills. Unfortunately, disorders involving these traits-specifically reading disability (RD) and language impairment (LI)-are common and prevent affected individuals from developing adequate communication skills, leaving them at risk for adverse academic, socioeconomic and psychiatric outcomes. Both RD and LI are complex traits that frequently co-occur, leading us to hypothesize that these disorders share genetic etiologies. To test this, we performed a genome-wide association study on individuals affected with both RD and LI in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. The strongest associations were seen with markers in ZNF385D (OR = 1.81, P = 5.45 x 10(-7) ) and COL4A2 (OR = 1.71, P = 7.59 x 10(-7) ). Markers within NDST4 showed the strongest associations with LI individually (OR = 1.827, P = 1.40 x 10(-7) ). We replicated association of ZNF385D using receptive vocabulary measures in the Pediatric Imaging Neurocognitive Genetics study (P = 0.00245). We then used diffusion tensor imaging fiber tract volume data on 16 fiber tracts to examine the implications of replicated markers. ZNF385D was a predictor of overall fiber tract volumes in both hemispheres, as well as global brain volume. Here, we present evidence for ZNF385D as a candidate gene for RD and LI. The implication of transcription factor ZNF385D in RD and LI underscores the importance of transcriptional regulation in the development of higher order neurocognitive traits. Further study is necessary to discern target genes of ZNF385D and how it functions within neural development of fluent language.

The role of oxytocin in psychiatric disorders: a review of biological and therapeutic research findings

Tue, 06/16/2015 - 10:20am

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: After participating in this educational activity, the physician should be better able to 1. Identify the biological role of oxytocin in forming attachments. 2. Evaluate the relationship between various neuropsychiatric disorders and oxytocin. 3. Identify clinical implications of using oxytocin to treat various neuropsychiatric disorders. Oxytocin is a peptide hormone integral in parturition, milk letdown, and maternal behaviors that has been demonstrated in animal studies to be important in the formation of pair bonds and in social behaviors. This hormone is increasingly recognized as an important regulator of human social behaviors, including social decision making, evaluating and responding to social stimuli, mediating social interactions, and forming social memories. In addition, oxytocin is intricately involved in a broad array of neuropsychiatric functions and may be a common factor important in multiple psychiatric disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and mood and anxiety disorders. This review article examines the extant literature on the evidence for oxytocin dysfunction in a variety of psychiatric disorders and highlights the need for further research to understand the complex role of the oxytocin system in psychiatric disease and thus pave the way for developing new therapeutic modalities. Articles were selected that involved human participants with various psychiatric disorders and that either compared oxytocin biology to healthy controls or examined the effects of exogenous oxytocin administration.