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p38 MAPK-mediated regulation of Xbp1s is crucial for glucose homeostasis

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 3:30pm

Here we show that p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK) phosphorylates the spliced form of X-box binding protein 1 (Xbp1s) on its Thr48 and Ser61 residues and greatly enhances its nuclear migration in mice, whereas mutation of either residue to alanine substantially reduces its nuclear translocation and activity. We also show that p38 MAPK activity is markedly reduced in the livers of obese mice compared with lean mice. Further, we show that activation of p38 MAPK by expression of constitutively active MAP kinase kinase 6 (MKK6Glu) greatly enhances nuclear translocation of Xbp1s, reduces endoplasmic reticulum stress and establishes euglycemia in severely obese and diabetic mice. Hence, our results define a crucial role for phosphorylation on Thr48 and Ser61 of Xbp1s in the maintenance of glucose homeostasis in obesity, and they suggest that p38 MAPK activation in the livers of obese mice could lead to a new therapeutic approach to the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

The Ino80 complex prevents invasion of euchromatin into silent chromatin

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:27pm

Here we show that the Ino80 chromatin remodeling complex (Ino80C) directly prevents euchromatin from invading transcriptionally silent chromatin within intergenic regions and at the border of euchromatin and heterochromatin. Deletion of Ino80C subunits leads to increased H3K79 methylation and noncoding RNA polymerase II (Pol II) transcription centered at the Ino80C-binding sites. The effect of Ino80C is direct, as it blocks H3K79 methylation by Dot1 in vitro. Heterochromatin stimulates the binding of Ino80C in vitro and in vivo. Our data reveal that Ino80C serves as a general silencing complex that restricts transcription to gene units in euchromatin.

The genome and transcriptome of the zoonotic hookworm Ancylostoma ceylanicum identify infection-specific gene families

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:27pm

Hookworms infect over 400 million people, stunting and impoverishing them. Sequencing hookworm genomes and finding which genes they express during infection should help in devising new drugs or vaccines against hookworms. Unlike other hookworms, Ancylostoma ceylanicum infects both humans and other mammals, providing a laboratory model for hookworm disease. We determined an A. ceylanicum genome sequence of 313 Mb, with transcriptomic data throughout infection showing expression of 30,738 genes. Approximately 900 genes were upregulated during early infection in vivo, including ASPRs, a cryptic subfamily of activation-associated secreted proteins (ASPs). Genes downregulated during early infection included ion channels and G protein-coupled receptors; this downregulation was observed in both parasitic and free-living nematodes. Later, at the onset of heavy blood feeding, C-lectin genes were upregulated along with genes for secreted clade V proteins (SCVPs), encoding a previously undescribed protein family. These findings provide new drug and vaccine targets and should help elucidate hookworm pathogenesis.

Ciliary proteins Bbs8 and Ift20 promote planar cell polarity in the cochlea

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:26pm

Primary cilia have been implicated in the generation of planar cell polarity (PCP). However, variations in the severity of polarity defects in different cilia mutants, coupled with recent demonstrations of non-cilia-related actions of some cilia genes, make it difficult to determine the basis of these polarity defects. To address this issue, we evaluated PCP defects in cochlea from a selection of mice with mutations in cilia-related genes. Results indicated notable PCP defects, including mis-oriented hair cell stereociliary bundles, in Bbs8 and Ift20 single mutants that are more severe than in other cilia gene knockouts. In addition, deletion of either Bbs8 or Ift20 results in disruptions in asymmetric accumulation of the core PCP molecule Vangl2 in cochlear cells, suggesting a role for Bbs8 and/or Ift20, possibly upstream of core PCP asymmetry. Consistent with this, co-immunoprecipitation experiments indicate direct interactions of Bbs8 and Ift20 with Vangl2. We observed localization of Bbs and Ift proteins to filamentous actin as well as microtubules. This could implicate these molecules in selective trafficking of membrane proteins upstream of cytoskeletal reorganization, and identifies new roles for cilia-related proteins in cochlear PCP.

Structural basis for PI(4)P-specific membrane recruitment of the Legionella pneumophila effector DrrA/SidM

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:26pm

Recruitment of the Legionella pneumophila effector DrrA to the Legionella-containing vacuole, where it activates and AMPylates Rab1, is mediated by a P4M domain that binds phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate [PI(4)P] with high affinity and specificity. Despite the importance of PI(4)P in Golgi trafficking and its manipulation by pathogens, the structural bases for PI(4)P-dependent membrane recruitment remain poorly defined. Here, we determined the crystal structure of a DrrA fragment including the P4M domain in complex with dibutyl PI(4)P and investigated the determinants of phosphoinositide recognition and membrane targeting. Headgroup recognition involves an elaborate network of direct and water-mediated interactions with basic and polar residues in the context of a deep, constrictive binding pocket. An adjacent hydrophobic helical element packs against the acyl chains and inserts robustly into PI(4)P-containing monolayers. The structural, biochemical, and biophysical data reported here support a detailed structural mechanism for PI(4)P-dependent membrane targeting by DrrA.

Inducible Deletion of Protein Kinase Map4k4 in Obese Mice Improves Insulin Sensitivity in Liver and Adipose Tissues

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:26pm

Studies in vitro suggest that mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase kinase 4 (Map4k4) attenuates insulin signaling, but confirmation in vivo is lacking since Map4k4 knockout is lethal during embryogenesis. We thus generated mice with floxed Map4k4 alleles and a tamoxifen-inducible Cre/ERT2 recombinase under the control of the ubiquitin C promoter to induce whole-body Map4k4 deletion after these animals reached maturity. Tamoxifen administration to these mice induced Map4k4 deletion in all tissues examined, causing decreased fasting blood glucose concentrations and enhanced insulin signaling to AKT in adipose tissue and liver but not in skeletal muscle. Surprisingly, however, mice generated with a conditional Map4k4 deletion in adiponectin-positive adipocytes or in albumin-positive hepatocytes displayed no detectable metabolic phenotypes. Instead, mice with Map4k4 deleted in Myf5-positive tissues, including all skeletal muscles tested, were protected from obesity-induced glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. Remarkably, these mice also showed increased insulin sensitivity in adipose tissue but not skeletal muscle, similar to the metabolic phenotypes observed in inducible whole-body knockout mice. Taken together, these results indicate that (i) Map4k4 controls a pathway in Myf5-positive cells that suppresses whole-body insulin sensitivity and (ii) Map4k4 is a potential therapeutic target for improving glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes.

Structural analyses of the chromatin remodelling enzymes INO80-C and SWR-C

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:26pm

INO80-C and SWR-C are conserved members of a subfamily of ATP-dependent chromatin remodelling enzymes that function in transcription and genome-maintenance pathways. A crucial role for these enzymes is to control chromosomal distribution of the H2A.Z histone variant. Here we use electron microscopy (EM) and two-dimensional class averaging to demonstrate that these remodelling enzymes have similar overall architectures. Each enzyme is characterized by a dynamic 'tail' domain and a compact 'head' that contains Rvb1/Rvb2 subunits organized as hexameric rings. EM class averages and mass spectrometry support the existence of single heterohexameric rings in both SWR-C and INO80-C. EM studies define the position of the Arp8/Arp4/Act1 module within INO80-C, and we find that this module enhances nucleosome-binding affinity but is largely dispensable for remodelling activities. In contrast, the Ies6/Arp5 module is essential for INO80-C remodelling, and furthermore this module controls conformational changes that may couple nucleosome binding to remodelling.

Intraflagellar transport 27 is essential for hedgehog signaling but dispensable for ciliogenesis during hair follicle morphogenesis

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:25pm

Hair follicle morphogenesis requires precisely controlled reciprocal communications, including hedgehog (Hh) signaling. Activation of the Hh signaling pathway relies on the primary cilium. Disrupting ciliogenesis results in hair follicle morphogenesis defects due to attenuated Hh signaling; however, the loss of cilia makes it impossible to determine whether hair follicle phenotypes in these cilia mutants are caused by the loss of cilia, disruption of Hh signaling, or a combination of these events. In this study, we characterized the function of Ift27, which encodes a subunit of intraflagellar transport (IFT) complex B. Hair follicle morphogenesis of Ift27-null mice was severely impaired, reminiscent of phenotypes observed in cilia and Hh mutants. Furthermore, the Hh signaling pathway was attenuated in Ift27 mutants, which was in association with abnormal ciliary trafficking of SMO and GLI2, and impaired processing of Gli transcription factors; however, formation of the ciliary axoneme was unaffected. The ciliary localization of IFT25 (HSPB11), the binding partner of IFT27, was disrupted in Ift27 mutant cells, and Ift25-null mice displayed hair follicle phenotypes similar to those of Ift27 mutants. These data suggest that Ift27 and Ift25 operate in a genetically and functionally dependent manner during hair follicle morphogenesis. This study suggests that the molecular trafficking machineries underlying ciliogenesis and Hh signaling can be segregated, thereby providing important insights into new avenues of inhibiting Hh signaling, which might be adopted in the development of targeted therapies for Hh-dependent cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma.

Global genetic analysis in mice unveils central role for cilia in congenital heart disease

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:25pm

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most prevalent birth defect, affecting nearly 1% of live births; the incidence of CHD is up to tenfold higher in human fetuses. A genetic contribution is strongly suggested by the association of CHD with chromosome abnormalities and high recurrence risk. Here we report findings from a recessive forward genetic screen in fetal mice, showing that cilia and cilia-transduced cell signalling have important roles in the pathogenesis of CHD. The cilium is an evolutionarily conserved organelle projecting from the cell surface with essential roles in diverse cellular processes. Using echocardiography, we ultrasound scanned 87,355 chemically mutagenized C57BL/6J fetal mice and recovered 218 CHD mouse models. Whole-exome sequencing identified 91 recessive CHD mutations in 61 genes. This included 34 cilia-related genes, 16 genes involved in cilia-transduced cell signalling, and 10 genes regulating vesicular trafficking, a pathway important for ciliogenesis and cell signalling. Surprisingly, many CHD genes encoded interacting proteins, suggesting that an interactome protein network may provide a larger genomic context for CHD pathogenesis. These findings provide novel insights into the potential Mendelian genetic contribution to CHD in the fetal population, a segment of the human population not well studied. We note that the pathways identified show overlap with CHD candidate genes recovered in CHD patients, suggesting that they may have relevance to the more complex genetics of CHD overall. These CHD mouse models and > 8,000 incidental mutations have been sperm archived, creating a rich public resource for human disease modelling.

Poised Regeneration of Zebrafish Melanocytes Involves Direct Differentiation and Concurrent Replenishment of Tissue-Resident Progenitor Cells

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:25pm

Efficient regeneration following injury is critical for maintaining tissue function and enabling organismal survival. Cells reconstituting damaged tissue are often generated from resident stem or progenitor cells or from cells that have dedifferentiated and become proliferative. While lineage-tracing studies have defined cellular sources of regeneration in many tissues, the process by which these cells execute the regenerative process is largely obscure. Here, we have identified tissue-resident progenitor cells that mediate regeneration of zebrafish stripe melanocytes and defined how these cells reconstitute pigmentation. Nearly all regeneration melanocytes arise through direct differentiation of progenitor cells. Wnt signaling is activated prior to differentiation, and inhibition of Wnt signaling impairs regeneration. Additional progenitors divide symmetrically to sustain the pool of progenitor cells. Combining direct differentiation with symmetric progenitor divisions may serve as a means to rapidly repair injured tissue while preserving the capacity to regenerate.

POS-1 Promotes Endo-mesoderm Development by Inhibiting the Cytoplasmic Polyadenylation of neg-1 mRNA

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:24pm

The regulation of mRNA translation is of fundamental importance in biological mechanisms ranging from embryonic axis specification to the formation of long-term memory. POS-1 is one of several CCCH zinc-finger RNA-binding proteins that regulate cell fate specification during C. elegans embryogenesis. Paradoxically, pos-1 mutants exhibit striking defects in endo-mesoderm development but have wild-type distributions of SKN-1, a key determinant of endo-mesoderm fates. RNAi screens for pos-1 suppressors identified genes encoding the cytoplasmic poly(A)-polymerase homolog GLD-2, the Bicaudal-C homolog GLD-3, and the protein NEG-1. We show that NEG-1 localizes in anterior nuclei, where it negatively regulates endo-mesoderm fates. In posterior cells, POS-1 binds the neg-1 3' UTR to oppose GLD-2 and GLD-3 activities that promote NEG-1 expression and cytoplasmic lengthening of the neg-1 mRNA poly(A) tail. Our findings uncover an intricate series of post-transcriptional regulatory interactions that, together, achieve precise spatial expression of endo-mesoderm fates in C. elegans embryos.

s-Adenosylmethionine Levels Govern Innate Immunity through Distinct Methylation-Dependent Pathways

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:24pm

s-adenosylmethionine (SAM) is the sole methyl donor modifying histones, nucleic acids, and phospholipids. Its fluctuation affects hepatic phosphatidylcholine (PC) synthesis or may be linked to variations in DNA or histone methylation. Physiologically, low SAM is associated with lipid accumulation, tissue injury, and immune responses in fatty liver disease. However, molecular connections among SAM limitation, methyltransferases, and disease-associated phenotypes are unclear. We find that low SAM can activate or attenuate Caenorhabditis elegans immune responses. Immune pathways are stimulated downstream of PC production on a non-pathogenic diet. In contrast, distinct SAM-dependent mechanisms limit survival on pathogenic Pseudomonas aeruginosa. C. elegans undertakes a broad transcriptional response to pathogens and we find that low SAM restricts H3K4me3 at Pseudomonas-responsive promoters, limiting their expression. Furthermore, this response depends on the H3K4 methyltransferase set-16/MLL. Thus, our studies provide molecular links between SAM and innate immune functions and suggest that SAM depletion may limit stress-induced gene expression.

HIV-1 Nef promotes infection by excluding SERINC5 from virion incorporation

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:24pm

HIV-1 Nef, a protein important for the development of AIDS, has well-characterized effects on host membrane trafficking and receptor downregulation. By an unidentified mechanism, Nef increases the intrinsic infectivity of HIV-1 virions in a host-cell-dependent manner. Here we identify the host transmembrane protein SERINC5, and to a lesser extent SERINC3, as a potent inhibitor of HIV-1 particle infectivity that is counteracted by Nef. SERINC5 localizes to the plasma membrane, where it is efficiently incorporated into budding HIV-1 virions and impairs subsequent virion penetration of susceptible target cells. Nef redirects SERINC5 to a Rab7-positive endosomal compartment and thereby excludes it from HIV-1 particles. The ability to counteract SERINC5 was conserved in Nef encoded by diverse primate immunodeficiency viruses, as well as in the structurally unrelated glycosylated Gag from murine leukaemia virus. These examples of functional conservation and convergent evolution emphasize the fundamental importance of SERINC5 as a potent anti-retroviral factor.

A PH Domain with Dual Phospholipid Binding Sites Regulates the ARF GAP, ASAP1

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:23pm

In this issue of Structure, Jian et al. (2015) report the crystal structures of the apo- and dibutyryl-PI(4,5)P2 bound forms of the PH domain from the ARF GAP, ASAP1. This PH domain has two anionic phospholipid binding sites proposed to work in concert to regulate ASAP1 GAP activity.

Adipocytes arise from multiple lineages that are heterogeneously and dynamically distributed

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:23pm

Adipose tissue development is poorly understood. Here we use a lineage-tracing strategy optimal for adipocytes to provide evidence that Myf5 precursors are not the exclusive source of brown adipocytes and contribute more to the mature white and brite adipocyte populations than previously thought. Moreover, Myf5-lineage distribution in adipose tissue changes in response to modifiable and non-modifiable factors. We also find that the Pax3 lineage largely overlaps with the Myf5 lineage in brown fat and subcutaneous white fat, but exhibits gender-linked divergence in visceral white fat while the MyoD1 lineage does not give rise to any adipocytes. Finally, by deleting insulin receptor beta in the Myf5 lineage, we provide in vivo evidence that the insulin receptor is essential for adipogenesis and that adipocyte lineages have plasticity. These data establish a conceptual framework for adipose tissue development and could explain body fat patterning variations in healthy and lipodystrophic or obese humans.

Endothelial protein kinase MAP4K4 promotes vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:23pm

Signalling pathways that control endothelial cell (EC) permeability, leukocyte adhesion and inflammation are pivotal for atherosclerosis initiation and progression. Here we demonstrate that the Sterile-20-like mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase kinase 4 (MAP4K4), which has been implicated in inflammation, is abundantly expressed in ECs and in atherosclerotic plaques from mice and humans. On the basis of endothelial-specific MAP4K4 gene silencing and gene ablation experiments in Apoe(-/-) mice, we show that MAP4K4 in ECs markedly promotes Western diet-induced aortic macrophage accumulation and atherosclerotic plaque development. Treatment of Apoe(-/-) and Ldlr(-/-) mice with a selective small-molecule MAP4K4 inhibitor also markedly reduces atherosclerotic lesion area. MAP4K4 silencing in cultured ECs attenuates cell surface adhesion molecule expression while reducing nuclear localization and activity of NFkappaB, which is critical for promoting EC activation and atherosclerosis. Taken together, these results reveal that MAP4K4 is a key signalling node that promotes immune cell recruitment in atherosclerosis.

Highly selective in vivo labeling of subcutaneous white adipocyte precursors with Prx1-Cre

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:23pm

The origins of individual fat depots are not well understood, and thus, the availability of tools useful for studying depot-specific adipose tissue development and function is limited. Cre drivers that selectively target only brown adipocyte, subcutaneous white adipocyte, or visceral white adipocyte precursors would have significant value because they could be used to selectively study individual depots without impacting the adipocyte precursors or intrinsic metabolic properties of the other depots. Here, we show that the majority of the precursor and mature subcutaneous white adipocytes in adult C57Bl/6 mice are labeled by Prx1-Cre. In sharp contrast, few to no brown adipocytes or visceral white adipocytes are marked by Prx1-Cre. This suggests that Prx1-Cre-mediated recombination may be useful for making depot-restricted genetic manipulations in subcutaneous white adipocyte precursor cells, particularly when targeting genes with fat-specific functions.

Human 'brite/beige' adipocytes develop from capillary networks, and their implantation improves metabolic homeostasis in mice

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:22pm

Uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) is highly expressed in brown adipose tissue, where it generates heat by uncoupling electron transport from ATP production. UCP1 is also found outside classical brown adipose tissue depots, in adipocytes that are termed 'brite' (brown-in-white) or 'beige'. In humans, the presence of brite or beige (brite/beige) adipocytes is correlated with a lean, metabolically healthy phenotype, but whether a causal relationship exists is not clear. Here we report that human brite/beige adipocyte progenitors proliferate in response to pro-angiogenic factors, in association with expanding capillary networks. Adipocytes formed from these progenitors transform in response to adenylate cyclase activation from being UCP1 negative to being UCP1 positive, which is a defining feature of the beige/brite phenotype, while displaying uncoupled respiration. When implanted into normal chow-fed, or into high-fat diet (HFD)-fed, glucose-intolerant NOD-scid IL2rg(null) (NSG) mice, brite/beige adipocytes activated in vitro enhance systemic glucose tolerance. These adipocytes express neuroendocrine and secreted factors, including the pro-protein convertase PCSK1, which is strongly associated with human obesity. Pro-angiogenic conditions therefore drive the proliferation of human beige/brite adipocyte progenitors, and activated beige/brite adipocytes can affect systemic glucose homeostasis, potentially through a neuroendocrine mechanism.

Tenomodulin promotes human adipocyte differentiation and beneficial visceral adipose tissue expansion

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:22pm

Proper regulation of energy storage in adipose tissue is crucial for maintaining insulin sensitivity and molecules contributing to this process have not been fully revealed. Here we show that type II transmembrane protein tenomodulin (TNMD) is upregulated in adipose tissue of insulin-resistant versus insulin-sensitive individuals, who were matched for body mass index (BMI). TNMD expression increases in human preadipocytes during differentiation, whereas silencing TNMD blocks adipogenesis. Upon high-fat diet feeding, transgenic mice overexpressing Tnmd develop increased epididymal white adipose tissue (eWAT) mass, and preadipocytes derived from Tnmd transgenic mice display greater proliferation, consistent with elevated adipogenesis. In Tnmd transgenic mice, lipogenic genes are upregulated in eWAT, as is Ucp1 in brown fat, while liver triglyceride accumulation is attenuated. Despite expanded eWAT, transgenic animals display improved systemic insulin sensitivity, decreased collagen deposition and inflammation in eWAT, and increased insulin stimulation of Akt phosphorylation. Our data suggest that TNMD acts as a protective factor in visceral adipose tissue to alleviate insulin resistance in obesity.

The Mother Centriole Appendage Protein Cenexin Modulates Lumen Formation through Spindle Orientation

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 2:22pm

Establishing apical-basal polarity is instrumental in the functional shaping of a solitary lumen within an acinus. By exploiting micropatterned slides, wound healing assays, and three-dimensional culture systems, we identified a mother centriole subdistal appendage protein, cenexin, as a critical player in symmetric lumen expansion through the control of microtubule organization. In this regard, cenexin was required for both centrosome positioning in interphase cells and proper spindle orientation during mitosis. In contrast, the essential mother centriole distal appendage protein CEP164 did not play a role in either process, demonstrating the specificity of subdistal appendages for these events. Importantly, upon closer examination we found that cenexin depletion decreased astral microtubule length, disrupted astral microtubule minus-end organization, and increased levels of the polarity protein NuMA at the cell cortex. Interestingly, spindle misorientation and NuMA mislocalization were reversed by treatment with a low dose of the microtubule-stabilizing agent paclitaxel. Taken together, these results suggest that cenexin modulates microtubule organization and stability to mediate spindle orientation.