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NPHP4 controls ciliary trafficking of membrane proteins and large soluble proteins at the transition zone

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

The protein nephrocystin-4 (NPHP4) is widespread in ciliated organisms, and defects in NPHP4 cause nephronophthisis and blindness in humans. To learn more about the function of NPHP4, we have studied it in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. NPHP4 is stably incorporated into the distal part of the flagellar transition zone, close to the membrane and distal to CEP290, another transition zone protein. Therefore, these two proteins, which are incorporated into the transition zone independently of each other, define different domains of the transition zone. An nphp4-null mutant forms flagella with nearly normal length, ultrastructure and intraflagellar transport. When fractions from isolated wild-type and nphp4 flagella were compared, few differences were observed between the axonemes, but the amounts of certain membrane proteins were greatly reduced in the mutant flagella, and cellular housekeeping proteins > 50 kDa were no longer excluded from mutant flagella. Therefore, NPHP4 functions at the transition zone as an essential part of a barrier that regulates both membrane and soluble protein composition of flagella. The phenotypic consequences of NPHP4 mutations in humans likely follow from protein mislocalization due to defects in the transition zone barrier.

Osteoclast inhibition impairs chondrosarcoma growth and bone destruction

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

Because Chondrosarcoma is resistant to available chemotherapy and radiation regimens, wide resection is the mainstay in treatment, which frequently results in high morbidity and which may not prevent local recurrence. There is a clear need for improved adjuvant treatment of this malignancy. We have observed the presence of osteoclasts in the microenvironment of chondrosarcoma in human pathological specimens. We utilized the Swarm rat chondrosarcoma (SRC) model to test the hypothesis that osteoclasts affect chondrosarcoma pathogenesis. We implanted SRC tumors in tibia of Sprague-Dawley rats and analyzed bone histologically and radiographically for bone destruction and tumor growth. At three weeks, tumors invaded local bone causing cortical disruption and trabecular resorption. Bone destruction was accompanied by increased osteoclast number and resorbed bone surface. Treatment of rats with the zoledronic acid prevented cortical destruction, inhibited trabecular resorption, and resulted in decreased tumor volume in bone. To confirm that inhibition of osteoclasts per se, and not off-target effects of drug, was responsible for the prevention of tumor growth and bone destruction, we implanted SRC into osteopetrotic rat tibia. SRC-induced bone destruction and tumor growth were impaired in osteopetrotic bone compared with control bone. The results from our animal model demonstrate that osteoclasts contribute to chondrosarcoma-mediated bone destruction and tumor growth and may represent a therapeutic target in particular chondrosarcoma patients.

Contrasting roles for MyoD in organizing myogenic promoter structures during embryonic skeletal muscle development

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

BACKGROUND: Among the complexities of skeletal muscle differentiation is a temporal distinction in the onset of expression of different lineage-specific genes. The lineage-determining factor MyoD is bound to myogenic genes at the onset of differentiation whether gene activation is immediate or delayed. How temporal regulation of differentiation-specific genes is established remains unclear.

RESULTS: Using embryonic tissue, we addressed the molecular differences in the organization of the myogenin and muscle creatine kinase (MCK) gene promoters by examining regulatory factor binding as a function of both time and spatial organization during somitogenesis. At the myogenin promoter, binding of the homeodomain factor Pbx1 coincided with H3 hyperacetylation and was followed by binding of co-activators that modulate chromatin structure. MyoD and myogenin binding occurred subsequently, demonstrating that Pbx1 facilitates chromatin remodeling and modification before myogenic regulatory factor binding. At the same time, the MCK promoter was bound by HDAC2 and MyoD, and activating histone marks were largely absent. The association of HDAC2 and MyoD was confirmed by co-immunoprecipitation, proximity ligation assay (PLA), and sequential ChIP.

CONCLUSIONS: MyoD differentially promotes activated and repressed chromatin structures at myogenic genes early after the onset of skeletal muscle differentiation in the developing mouse embryo.

PLEKHM1 regulates Salmonella-containing vacuole biogenesis and infection

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

The host endolysosomal compartment is often manipulated by intracellular bacterial pathogens. Salmonella (Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium) secrete numerous effector proteins, including SifA, through a specialized type III secretion system to hijack the host endosomal system and generate the Salmonella-containing vacuole (SCV). To form this replicative niche, Salmonella targets the Rab7 GTPase to recruit host membranes through largely unknown mechanisms. We show that Pleckstrin homology domain-containing protein family member 1 (PLEKHM1), a lysosomal adaptor, is targeted by Salmonella through direct interaction with SifA. By binding the PLEKHM1 PH2 domain, Salmonella utilize a complex containing PLEKHM1, Rab7, and the HOPS tethering complex to mobilize phagolysosomal membranes to the SCV. Depletion of PLEKHM1 causes a profound defect in SCV morphology with multiple bacteria accumulating in enlarged structures and significantly dampens Salmonella proliferation in multiple cell types and mice. Thus, PLEKHM1 provides a critical interface between pathogenic infection and the host endolysosomal system.

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.