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Journal of Biological Chemistry, The

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Journal of Biological Chemistry
MAPK phosphatases (MKPs) are critical modulators of the innate immune response, and yet the mechanisms regulating their accumulation remain poorly understood. In the present studies, we investigated the role of post-translational modification in the accumulation of MKP-1 and MKP-2 in macrophages following LPS stimulation. We found that upon LPS stimulation, MKP-1 and MKP-2 accumulated with different kinetics: MKP-1 level peaked at ∼1 h, while MKP-2 levels continued to rise for at least 6 h. Accumulation of both MKP-1 and MKP-2 were attenuated by inhibition of the ERK cascade. Interestingly, p38 inhibition prior to LPS stimulation had little effect on MKP-1 and MKP-2 protein levels, but hindered their detection by an M-18 MKP-1 antibody. Studies of the epitope sequence recognized by the M-18 MKP-1 antibody revealed extensive phosphorylation of two serine residues in the C terminus of both MKP-1 and MKP-2 by the ERK pathway. Remarkably, the stability of both MKP-1 and MKP-2 was markedly decreased in macrophages in the presence of an ERK pathway inhibitor. Mutation of the two C-terminal serine residues in MKP-1 and MKP-2 to alanine decreased their half-lives, while mutating these residues to aspartate dramatically increased their half-lives. Deletion of the C terminus from MKP-1 and MKP-2 also considerably increased their stabilities. Surprisingly, enhanced stabilities of the MKP-1 and MKP-2 mutants were not associated with decreased ubiquitination. Degradation of both MKP-1 and MKP-2 was attenuated by proteasomal inhibitors. Our studies suggest that MKP-1 and MKP-2 stability is regulated by ERK-mediated phosphorylation through a degradation pathway independent of polyubiquitination.

We have investigated the molecular basis of intracellular Ca2+ handling in human colon carcinoma cells (HT29) versus normal human mucosa cells (NCM460) and its contribution to cancer features. We found that Ca2+ stores in colon carcinoma cells are partially depleted relative to normal cells. However, resting Ca2+ levels, agonist-induced Ca2+ increases, store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE), and store-operated currents (ISOC) are largely enhanced in tumor cells. Enhanced SOCE and depleted Ca2+ stores correlate with increased cell proliferation, invasion, and survival characteristic of tumor cells. Normal mucosa cells displayed small, inward Ca2+ release-activated Ca2+ currents (ICRAC) mediated by ORAI1. In contrast, colon carcinoma cells showed mixed currents composed of enhanced ICRAC plus a nonselective ISOC mediated by TRPC1. Tumor cells display increased expression of TRPC1, ORAI1, ORAI2, ORAI3, and STIM1. In contrast, STIM2 protein was nearly depleted in tumor cells. Silencing data suggest that enhanced ORAI1 and TRPC1 contribute to enhanced SOCE and differential store-operated currents in tumor cells, whereas ORAI2 and -3 are seemingly less important. In addition, STIM2 knockdown decreases SOCE and Ca2+ store content in normal cells while promoting apoptosis resistance. These data suggest that loss of STIM2 may underlie Ca2+ store depletion and apoptosis resistance in tumor cells. We conclude that a reciprocal shift in TRPC1 and STIM2 contributes to Ca2+ remodeling and tumor features in colon cancer.

Selenocysteine (Sec), the 21st amino acid, is synthesized from a serine precursor in a series of reactions that require selenocysteine tRNA (tRNASec). In archaea and eukaryotes, O-phosphoseryl-tRNASec:selenocysteinyl-tRNASec synthase (SepSecS) catalyzes the terminal synthetic reaction during which the phosphoseryl intermediate is converted into the selenocysteinyl moiety while being attached to tRNASec. We have previously shown that only the SepSecS tetramer is capable of binding to and recognizing the distinct fold of tRNASec. Because only two of the four tRNA-binding sites were occupied in the crystal form, a question was raised regarding whether the observed arrangement and architecture faithfully recapitulated the physiologically relevant ribonucleoprotein complex important for selenoprotein formation. Herein, we determined the stoichiometry of the human terminal synthetic complex of selenocysteine by using small angle x-ray scattering, multi-angle light scattering, and analytical ultracentrifugation. In addition, we provided the first estimate of the ratio between SepSecS and tRNASec in vivo. We show that SepSecS preferentially binds one or two tRNASec molecules at a time and that the enzyme is present in large molar excess over the substrate tRNA in vivo. Moreover, we show that in a complex between SepSecS and two tRNAs, one enzyme homodimer plays a role of the noncatalytic unit that positions CCA ends of two tRNASec molecules into the active site grooves of the other, catalytic, homodimer. Finally, our results demonstrate that the previously determined crystal structure represents the physiologically and catalytically relevant complex and suggest that allosteric regulation of SepSecS might play an important role in regulation of selenocysteine and selenoprotein synthesis.

Mitochondrial cytochrome c assembly requires the covalent attachment of heme by thioether bonds between heme vinyl groups and a conserved CXXCH motif of cytochrome c/c1. The enzyme holocytochrome c synthase (HCCS) binds heme and apocytochrome c substrate to catalyze this attachment, subsequently releasing holocytochrome c for proper folding to its native structure. We address mechanisms of assembly using a functional Escherichia coli recombinant system expressing human HCCS. Human cytochrome c variants with individual cysteine, histidine, double cysteine, and triple cysteine/histidine substitutions (of CXXCH) were co-purified with HCCS. Single and double mutants form a complex with HCCS but not the triple mutant. Resonance Raman and UV-visible spectroscopy support the proposal that heme puckering induced by both thioether bonds facilitate release of holocytochrome c from the complex. His-19 (of CXXCH) supplies the second axial ligand to heme in the complex, the first axial ligand was previously shown to be from HCCS residue His-154. Substitutions of His-19 in cytochrome c to seven other residues (Gly, Ala, Met, Arg, Lys, Cys, and Tyr) were used with various approaches to establish other roles played by His-19. Three roles for His-19 in HCCS-mediated assembly are suggested: (i) to provide the second axial ligand to the heme iron in preparation for covalent attachment; (ii) to spatially position the two cysteinyl sulfurs adjacent to the two heme vinyl groups for thioether formation; and (iii) to aid in release of the holocytochrome c from the HCCS active site. Only H19M is able to carry out these three roles, albeit at lower efficiencies than the natural His-19.

Emerging evidence suggests that functional γ-aminobutyric acid B receptors (GABABRs) are expressed by astrocytes within the mammalian brain. GABABRs are heterodimeric G-protein-coupled receptors that are composed of R1/R2 subunits. To date, they have been characterized in neurons as the principal mediators of sustained inhibitory signaling; however their roles in astrocytic physiology have been ill defined. Here we reveal that the cytoplasmic tail of the GABABR2 subunit binds directly to the astrocytic protein glutamine synthetase (GS) and that this interaction determines the subcellular localization of GS. We further demonstrate that the binding of GS to GABABR2 increases the steady state expression levels of GS in heterologous cells and in mouse primary astrocyte culture. Mechanistically this increased stability of GS in the presence of GABABR2 occurs via reduced proteasomal degradation. Collectively, our results suggest a novel role for GABABRs as regulators of GS stability. Given the critical role that GS plays in the glutamine-glutamate cycle, astrocytic GABABRs may play a critical role in supporting both inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmission.

Changes in the microenvironment organization within vascular walls are critical events in the pathogenesis of vascular pathologies, including atherosclerosis and restenosis. Hyaluronan (HA) accumulation into artery walls supports vessel thickening and is involved in many cardiocirculatory diseases. Excessive cytosolic glucose can enter the hexosamine biosynthetic pathway, increase UDP-N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc) availability, and lead to modification of cytosolic proteins via O-linked attachment of the monosaccharide β-N-GlcNAc (O-GlcNAcylation) from UDP-GlcNAc by the enzyme O-GlcNAc transferase. As many cytoplasmic and nuclear proteins can be glycosylated by O-GlcNAc, we studied whether the expression of the HA synthases that synthesize HA could be controlled by O-GlcNAcylation in human aortic smooth muscle cells. Among the three HAS isoenzymes, only HAS2 mRNA increased after O-GlcNAcylation induced by glucosamine treatments or by inhibiting O-GlcNAc transferase with PUGNAC (O-(2-acetamido-2-deoxy-d-glucopyranosylidene)amino-N-phenylcarbamate). We found that the natural antisense transcript of HAS2 (HAS2-AS1) was absolutely necessary to induce the transcription of the HAS2 gene. Moreover, we found that O-GlcNAcylation modulated HAS2-AS1 promoter activation by recruiting the NF-κB subunit p65, but not the HAS2 promoter, whereas HAS2-AS1 natural antisense transcript, working in cis, regulated HAS2 transcription by altering the chromatin structure around the HAS2 proximal promoter via O-GlcNAcylation and acetylation. These results indicate that HAS2 transcription can be finely regulated not only by recruiting transcription factors to the promoter as previously described but also by modulating chromatin accessibility by epigenetic modifications.

Accumulating evidence has demonstrated that hydrogen sulfide (H2S) plays critical roles in the pathogenesis of chronic kidney diseases. This study was designed to investigate whether H2S has protective effects against diabetic nephropathy. Diabetic rats were induced by intraperitoneal injection of streptozotocin and administrated with H2S donor NaHS for 12 weeks. Rat glomerular mesangial cells were pretreated with NaHS or MAPK inhibitors (U0126, SP600125, and SB203580) prior to high glucose exposure, and cell proliferation was determined. Our findings suggest that H2S can improve renal function and attenuate glomerular basement membrane thickening, mesangial matrix deposition, and renal interstitial fibrosis in diabetic rats. H2S was found to reduce high glucose-induced oxidative stress by activating the Nrf2 antioxidant pathway and to exert anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting NF-κB signaling. In addition, H2S reduced high glucose-induced mesangial cell proliferation by blockade of MAPK signaling pathways. Moreover, H2S was also found to inhibit the renin-angiotensin system in diabetic kidney. In conclusion, our study demonstrates that H2S alleviates the development of diabetic nephropathy by attenuating oxidative stress and inflammation, reducing mesangial cell proliferation, and inhibiting renin-angiotensin system activity.

Testosterone is an endocrine hormone with functions in reproductive organs, anabolic events, and skin homeostasis. We report here that GPRC6A serves as a sensor and mediator of the rapid action of testosterone in epidermal keratinocytes. The silencing of GPRC6A inhibited testosterone-induced intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i) mobilization and H2O2 generation. These results indicated that a testosterone-GPRC6A complex is required for activation of Gq protein, IP3 generation, and [Ca2+]i mobilization, leading to Duox1 activation. H2O2 generation by testosterone stimulated the apoptosis of keratinocytes through the activation of caspase-3. The application of testosterone into three-dimensional skin equivalents increased the apoptosis of keratinocytes between the granular and stratified corneum layers. These results support an understanding of the molecular mechanism of testosterone-dependent apoptosis in which testosterone stimulates H2O2 generation through the activation of Duox1.

Recombination mediator proteins (RMPs) are important for genome stability in all organisms. Several RMPs support two alternative reactions: initiation of homologous recombination and DNA annealing. We examined mechanisms of RMPs in both reactions with Mycobacterium smegmatis RecO (MsRecO) and demonstrated that MsRecO interacts with ssDNA by two distinct mechanisms. Zinc stimulates MsRecO binding to ssDNA during annealing, whereas the recombination function is zinc-independent and is regulated by interaction with MsRecR. Thus, different structural motifs or conformations of MsRecO are responsible for interaction with ssDNA during annealing and recombination. Neither annealing nor recombinase loading depends on MsRecO interaction with the conserved C-terminal tail of single-stranded (ss) DNA-binding protein (SSB), which is known to bind Escherichia coli RecO. However, similarly to E. coli proteins, MsRecO and MsRecOR do not dismiss SSB from ssDNA, suggesting that RMPs form a complex with SSB-ssDNA even in the absence of binding to the major protein interaction motif. We propose that alternative conformations of such complexes define the mechanism by which RMPs initiate the repair of stalled replication and support two different functions during recombinational repair of DNA breaks.

Arp2/3 complex is an important actin filament nucleator that creates branched actin filament networks required for formation of lamellipodia and endocytic actin structures. Cellular assembly of branched actin networks frequently requires multiple Arp2/3 complex activators, called nucleation promoting factors (NPFs). We recently presented a mechanism by which cortactin, a weak NPF, can displace a more potent NPF, N-WASP, from nascent branch junctions to synergistically accelerate nucleation. The distinct roles of these NPFs in branching nucleation are surprising given their similarities. We biochemically dissected these two classes of NPFs to determine how their Arp2/3 complex and actin interacting segments modulate their influences on branched actin networks. We find that the Arp2/3 complex-interacting N-terminal acidic sequence (NtA) of cortactin has structural features distinct from WASP acidic regions (A) that are required for synergy between the two NPFs. Our mutational analysis shows that differences between NtA and A do not explain the weak intrinsic NPF activity of cortactin, but instead that cortactin is a weak NPF because it cannot recruit actin monomers to Arp2/3 complex. We use TIRF microscopy to show that cortactin bundles branched actin filaments using actin filament binding repeats within a single cortactin molecule, but that N-WASP antagonizes cortactin-mediated bundling. Finally, we demonstrate that multiple WASP family proteins synergistically activate Arp2/3 complex and determine the biochemical requirements in WASP proteins for synergy. Our data indicate that synergy between WASP proteins and cortactin may play a general role in assembling diverse actin-based structures, including lamellipodia, podosomes, and endocytic actin networks.

HIV-infected patients are at increased risk of developing atherosclerosis, in part due to an altered high density lipoprotein profile exacerbated by down-modulation and impairment of ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) activity by the HIV-1 protein Nef. However, the mechanisms of this Nef effect remain unknown. Here, we show that Nef interacts with an endoplasmic reticulum chaperone calnexin, which regulates folding and maturation of glycosylated proteins. Nef disrupted interaction between calnexin and ABCA1 but increased affinity and enhanced interaction of calnexin with HIV-1 gp160. The Nef mutant that did not bind to calnexin did not affect the calnexin-ABCA1 interaction. Interaction with calnexin was essential for functionality of ABCA1, as knockdown of calnexin blocked the ABCA1 exit from the endoplasmic reticulum, reduced ABCA1 abundance, and inhibited cholesterol efflux; the same effects were observed after Nef overexpression. However, the effects of calnexin knockdown and Nef on cholesterol efflux were not additive; in fact, the combined effect of these two factors together did not differ significantly from the effect of calnexin knockdown alone. Interestingly, gp160 and ABCA1 interacted with calnexin differently; although gp160 binding to calnexin was dependent on glycosylation, glycosylation was of little importance for the interaction between ABCA1 and calnexin. Thus, Nef regulates the activity of calnexin to stimulate its interaction with gp160 at the expense of ABCA1. This study identifies a mechanism for Nef-dependent inactivation of ABCA1 and dysregulation of cholesterol metabolism.

Defining how leukocytes adhere to solid surfaces, such as capillary beds, and the subsequent migration through the extracellular matrix, is a central biological issue. We show here that phospholipase D (PLD) and its enzymatic reaction product, phosphatidic acid (PA), regulate cell adhesion of immune cells (macrophages and neutrophils) to collagen and have defined the underlying molecular mechanism in a spatio-temporal manner that coincides with PLD activity timing. A rapid (t½ = 4 min) and transient activation of the PLD1 isoform occurs upon adhesion, and a slower (t½ = 7.5 min) but prolonged (>30 min) activation occurs for PLD2. Importantly, PA directly binds to actin-related protein 3 (Arp3) at EC50 = 22 nm, whereas control phosphatidylcholine did not bind. PA-activated Arp3 hastens actin nucleation with a kinetics of t½ = 3 min at 300 nm (compared with controls of no PA, t½ = 5 min). Thus, PLD and PA are intrinsic components of cell adhesion, which reinforce each other in a positive feedback loop and react from cues from their respective solid substrates. In nascent adhesion, PLD1 is key, whereas a sustained adhesion in mature or established focal points is dependent upon PLD2, PA, and Arp3. A prolonged adhesion could effectively counteract the reversible intrinsic nature of this cellular process and constitute a key player in chronic inflammation.

Topoisomerases are ubiquitous enzymes that modify the topological state of DNA inside the cell and are essential for several cellular processes. Topoisomerase V is the sole member of the type IC topoisomerase subtype. The topoisomerase domain has a unique fold among topoisomerases, and the putative active site residues show a distinct arrangement. The present study was aimed at identifying the roles of the putative active site residues in the DNA cleavage/religation process. Residues Arg-131, Arg-144, His-200, Glu-215, Lys-218, and Tyr-226 were mutated individually to a series of conservative and non-conservative amino acids, and the DNA relaxation activity at different pH values, times, and enzyme concentrations was compared with wild-type activity. The results suggest that Arg-144 is essential for protein stability because any substitution at this position was deleterious and that Arg-131 and His-200 are involved in transition state stabilization. Glu-215 reduces the DNA binding ability of topoisomerase V, especially in shorter fragments with fewer helix-hairpin-helix DNA binding motifs. Finally, Lys-218 appears to play a direct role in catalysis but not in charge stabilization of the protein-DNA intermediate complex. The results suggest that although catalytically important residues are oriented in different fashions in the active sites of type IB and type IC topoisomerases, similar amino acids play equivalent roles in both of these subtypes of enzymes, showing convergent evolution of the catalytic mechanism.

Re-initiation of DNA replication at origins within a given cell cycle would result in DNA rereplication, which can lead to genome instability and tumorigenesis. DNA rereplication can be induced by loss of licensing control at cellular replication origins, or by viral protein-driven multiple rounds of replication initiation at viral origins. DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are generated during rereplication, but the mechanisms of how these DSBs are repaired to maintain genome stability and cell viability are poorly understood in mammalian cells. We generated novel EGFP-based DSB repair substrates, which specifically monitor the repair of rereplication-associated DSBs. We demonstrated that homologous recombination (HR) is an important mechanism to repair rereplication-associated DSBs, and sister chromatids are used as templates for such HR-mediated DSB repair. Micro-homology-mediated non-homologous end joining (MMEJ) can also be used but to a lesser extent compared to HR, whereas Ku-dependent classical non-homologous end joining (C-NHEJ) has a minimal role to repair rereplication-associated DSBs. In addition, loss of HR activity leads to severe cell death when rereplication is induced. Therefore, our studies identify HR, the most conservative repair pathway, as the primary mechanism to repair DSBs upon rereplication.

The Apobec/AID family of cytosine deaminases can deaminate cytosine and thereby contribute to adaptive and innate immunity, DNA demethylation, and the modification of cellular mRNAs. Unique among this family is Apobec2, whose enzymatic activity has been questioned and whose function remains poorly explored. We recently reported that zebrafish Apobec2a and Apobec2b (Apobec2a,2b) regulate retina regeneration; however, their mechanism of action remained unknown. Here we show that although Apobec2a,2b lack cytosine deaminase activity, they require a conserved zinc-binding domain to stimulate retina regeneration. Interestingly, we found that human APOBEC2 is able to functionally substitute for Apobec2a,2b during retina regeneration. By identifying Apobec2-interacting proteins, including ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme 9 (Ubc9); topoisomerase I-binding, arginine/serine-rich, E3 ubiquitin protein ligase (Toporsa); and POU class 6 homeobox 2 (Pou6f2), we uncovered that sumoylation regulates Apobec2 subcellular localization and that nuclear Apobec2 controls Pou6f2 binding to DNA. Importantly, mutations in the zinc-binding domain of Apobec2 diminished its ability to stimulate Pou6f2 binding to DNA, and knockdown of Ubc9 or Pou6f2 suppressed retina regeneration.

Targeted degradation of proteins through the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) via the activities of E3 ubiquitin ligases regulates diverse cellular processes, and misregulation of these enzymes contributes to the pathogenesis of human diseases. One of the challenges facing the UPS field is to delineate the complete cohort of substrates for a particular E3 ligase. Advances in mass spectrometry and the development of antibodies recognizing the Lys-ϵ-Gly-Gly (diGly) remnant from ubiquitinated proteins following trypsinolysis have provided a tool to address this question. We implemented an inducible loss of function approach in combination with quantitative diGly proteomics to find novel substrates of HUWE1 (HECT, UBA, and WWE domain containing 1, E3 ubiquitin protein ligase), an E3 ligase implicated in cancer and intellectual disabilities. diGly proteomics results led to the identification of DNA damage-inducible transcript 4 (DDIT4) as a putative HUWE1 substrate. Cell-based assays demonstrated that HUWE1 interacts with and regulates ubiquitination and stability of DDIT4. Together these data suggest a model in which HUWE1 mediates DDIT4 proteasomal degradation. Our results demonstrate proof of concept that inducible knockdown of an E3 ligase in combination with diGly proteomics provides a potentially advantageous method for identifying novel E3 substrates that may help to identify candidates for therapeutic modulation in the UPS.

Histone H3K4 methylation has been linked to transcriptional activation. KDM5A (also known as RBP2 or JARID1A), a member of the KDM5 protein family, is an H3K4 demethylase, previously implicated in the regulation of transcription and differentiation. Here, we show that KDM5A is physically and functionally associated with two histone deacetylase complexes. Immunoaffinity purification of KDM5A confirmed a previously described association with the SIN3B-containing histone deacetylase complex and revealed an association with the nucleosome remodeling and deacetylase (NuRD) complex. Sucrose density gradient and sequential immunoprecipitation analyses further confirmed the stable association of KDM5A with these two histone deacetylase complexes. KDM5A depletion led to changes in the expression of hundreds of genes, two-thirds of which were also controlled by CHD4, the NuRD catalytic subunit. Gene ontology analysis confirmed that the genes commonly regulated by both KDM5A and CHD4 were categorized as developmentally regulated genes. ChIP analyses suggested that CHD4 modulates H3K4 methylation levels at the promoter and coding regions of target genes. We further demonstrated that the Caenorhabditis elegans homologues of KDM5 and CHD4 function in the same pathway during vulva development. These results suggest that KDM5A and the NuRD complex cooperatively function to control developmentally regulated genes.

Interleukin 17 (IL-17), produced mainly by T helper 17 (Th17) cells, is increasingly recognized as a key regulator in various autoimmune diseases, including human multiple sclerosis (MS) and its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Although several microRNAs (miRNAs) with aberrant expression have been shown to contribute to the pathogenesis of MS and EAE, the mechanisms underlying the regulation of abnormal miRNA expression in astrocytes upon IL-17 stimulation remain unclear. In the present study, we detected the changes of miRNA expression profiles both in the brain tissue of EAE mice and in cultured mouse primary astrocytes stimulated with IL-17 and identified miR-873 as one of the co-up-regulated miRNAs in vivo and in vitro. The overexpression of miR-873, demonstrated by targeting A20 (TNFα-induced protein 3, TNFAIP3), remarkably reduced the A20 level and promoted NF-κB activation in vivo and in vitro as well as increasing the production of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines (i.e. IL-6, TNF-α, MIP-2, and MCP-1/5). More importantly, silencing the endogenous miR-873 or A20 gene with lentiviral vector of miR-873 sponge (LV-miR-873 sponge) or short hairpin RNA (shRNA) of A20 (LV-A20 shRNA) in vivo significantly lessened or aggravated inflammation and demyelination in the central nervous system (CNS) of EAE mice, respectively. Taken together, these findings indicate that miR-873 induced by IL-17 stimulation promotes the production of inflammatory cytokines and aggravates the pathological process of EAE mice through the A20/NF-κB pathway, which provides a new insight into the mechanism of inflammatory damage in MS.

Mutations in the C terminus of the serotonin transporter (SERT) disrupt folding and export from the endoplasmic reticulum. Here we examined the hypothesis that a cytosolic heat shock protein relay was recruited to the C terminus to assist folding of SERT. This conjecture was verified by the following observations. (i) The proximal portion of the SERT C terminus conforms to a canonical binding site for DnaK/heat shock protein of 70 kDa (HSP70). A peptide covering this segment stimulated ATPase activity of purified HSP70-1A. (ii) A GST fusion protein comprising the C terminus of SERT pulled down HSP70-1A. The interaction between HSP70-1A and SERT was visualized in live cells by Förster resonance energy transfer: it was restricted to endoplasmic reticulum-resident transporters and enhanced by an inhibitor that traps HSP70-1A in its closed state. (iv) Co-immunoprecipitation confirmed complex formation of SERT with HSP70-1A and HSP90β. Consistent with an HSP relay, co-chaperones (e.g. HSC70-HSP90-organizing protein) were co-immunoprecipitated with the stalled mutants SERT-R607A/I608A and SERT-P601A/G602A. (v) Depletion of HSP90β by siRNA or its inhibition increased the cell surface expression of wild type SERT and SERT-F604Q. In contrast, SERT-R607A/I608A and SERT-P601A/G602A were only rendered susceptible to inhibition of HSP70 and HSP90 by concomitant pharmacochaperoning with noribogaine. (vi) In JAR cells, inhibition of HSP90 also increased the levels of SERT, indicating that endogenously expressed transporter was also susceptible to control by HSP90β. These findings support the concept that the folding trajectory of SERT is sampled by a cytoplasmic chaperone relay.

Increased expression of transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) in glomerular mesangial cells (MC) augments extracellular matrix accumulation and hypertrophy during the progression of diabetic nephropathy (DN), a debilitating renal complication of diabetes. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play key roles in the pathogenesis of DN by modulating the actions of TGF-β1 to enhance the expression of profibrotic genes like collagen. In this study, we found a significant decrease in the expression of miR-130b in mouse MC treated with TGF-β1. In parallel, there was a down-regulation in miR-130b host gene 2610318N02RIK (RIK), suggesting host gene-dependent expression of this miRNA. TGF-β receptor 1 (TGF-βR1) was identified as a target of miR-130b. Interestingly, the RIK promoter contains three NF-Y binding sites and was regulated by NF-YC. Furthermore, NF-YC expression was inhibited by TGF-β1, suggesting that a signaling cascade, involving TGF-β1-induced decreases in NF-YC, RIK, and miR-130b, may up-regulate TGF-βR1 to augment expression of TGF-β1 target fibrotic genes. miR-130b was down-regulated, whereas TGF-βR1, as well as the profibrotic genes collagen type IV α 1 (Col4a1), Col12a1, CTGF, and PAI-1 were up-regulated not only in mouse MC treated with TGF-β1 but also in the glomeruli of streptozotocin-injected diabetic mice, supporting in vivo relevance. Together, these results demonstrate a novel miRNA- and host gene-mediated amplifying cascade initiated by TGF-β1 that results in the up-regulation of profibrotic factors, such as TGF-βR1 and collagens associated with the progression of DN.

IFNβ is a common therapeutic option to treat multiple sclerosis. It is unique among the family of type I IFNs in that it binds to the interferon receptors with high affinity, conferring exceptional biological properties. We have previously reported the generation of an interferon superagonist (dubbed YNSα8) that is built on the backbone of a low affinity IFNα but modified to exhibit higher receptor affinity than even for IFNβ. Here, YNSα8 was fused with a 600-residue hydrophilic, unstructured N-terminal polypeptide chain comprising proline, alanine, and serine (PAS) to prolong its plasma half-life via “PASylation.” PAS-YNSα8 exhibited a 10-fold increased half-life in both pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic assays in a transgenic mouse model harboring the human receptors, notably without any detectable loss in biological potency or bioavailability. This long-lived superagonist conferred significantly improved protection from MOG35–55-induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis compared with IFNβ, despite being injected with a 4-fold less frequency and at an overall 16-fold lower dosage. These data were corroborated by FACS measurements showing a decrease of CD11b+/CD45hi myeloid lineage cells detectable in the CNS, as well as a decrease in IBA+ cells in spinal cord sections determined by immunohistochemistry for PAS-YNSα8-treated animals. Importantly, PAS-YNSα8 did not induce antibodies upon repeated administration, and its biological efficacy remained unchanged after 21 days of treatment. A striking correlation between increased levels of CD274 (PD-L1) transcripts from spleen-derived CD4+ cells and improved clinical response to autoimmune encephalomyelitis was observed, indicating that, at least in this mouse model of multiple sclerosis, CD274 may serve as a biomarker to predict the effectiveness of IFN therapy to treat this complex disease.

Biologic-based strategies to inhibit proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) show promise as anti-hypercholesterolemic and, therefore, anti-atherosclerotic therapies. Despite substantial effort, no small molecule strategy to inhibit PCSK9 has demonstrated feasibility. In this study we interrogated the chemistry of the PCSK9 active site and its adjacent residues to identify a foothold with which to drug the PCSK9 processing pathway and ultimately disrupt the interaction with the LDL receptor. Here, we develop a system in which we amplify the readout of PCSK9 proteolysis with a highly specific substrate in cells, showing that the PCSK9 catalytic domain is capable of proteolysis in trans. We use this system to show that the substrate specificity for PCSK9 proteolysis is distinct from the specificity for PCSK9 secretion, demonstrating that PCSK9 processing occurs in two separate sequential steps: that of proteolysis followed by secretion. We show that specific residues in the protease recognition sequence can differentially modulate the effects on proteolysis and secretion. Additionally, we demonstrate that the clinically described, dominant negative Q152H mutation restricts proteolysis and secretion independently. Our results suggest that the PCSK9 active site and its adjacent residues serve as an allosteric modulator of protein secretion independent of its role in proteolysis, revealing a new strategy for intracellular PCSK9 inhibition.

VEGF is a key regulator of endothelial cell migration, proliferation, and inflammation, which leads to activation of several signaling cascades, including the calcineurin-nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) pathway. NFAT is not only important for immune responses but also for cardiovascular development and the pathogenesis of Down syndrome. By using Down syndrome model mice and clinical patient samples, we showed recently that the VEGF-calcineurin-NFAT signaling axis regulates tumor angiogenesis and tumor metastasis. However, the connection between genome-wide views of NFAT-mediated gene regulation and downstream gene function in the endothelium has not been studied extensively. Here we performed comprehensive mapping of genome-wide NFATc1 binding in VEGF-stimulated primary cultured endothelial cells and elucidated the functional consequences of VEGF-NFATc1-mediated phenotypic changes. A comparison of the NFATc1 ChIP sequence profile and epigenetic histone marks revealed that predominant NFATc1-occupied peaks overlapped with promoter-associated histone marks. Moreover, we identified two novel NFATc1 regulated genes, CXCR7 and RND1. CXCR7 knockdown abrogated SDF-1- and VEGF-mediated cell migration and tube formation. siRNA treatment of RND1 impaired vascular barrier function, caused RhoA hyperactivation, and further stimulated VEGF-mediated vascular outgrowth from aortic rings. Taken together, these findings suggest that dynamic NFATc1 binding to target genes is critical for VEGF-mediated endothelial cell activation. CXCR7 and RND1 are NFATc1 target genes with multiple functions, including regulation of cell migration, tube formation, and barrier formation in endothelial cells.

DTNBP1 (dystrobrevin-binding protein 1), which encodes dysbindin-1, is one of the leading susceptibility genes for schizophrenia. Both dysbindin-1B and -1C isoforms are decreased, but the dysbindin-1A isoform is unchanged in schizophrenic hippocampal formation, suggesting dysbindin-1 isoforms may have distinct roles in schizophrenia. We found that mouse dysbindin-1C, but not dysbindin-1A, is localized in the hilar glutamatergic mossy cells of the dentate gyrus. The maturation rate of newborn neurons in sandy (sdy) mice, in which both dysbindin-1A and -1C are deleted, is significantly delayed when compared with that in wild-type mice or with that in muted (mu) mice in which dysbindin-1A is destabilized but dysbindin-1C is unaltered. Dysbindin-1C deficiency leads to a decrease in mossy cells, which causes the delayed maturation of newborn neurons. This suggests that dysbindin-1C, rather than dysbindin-1A, regulates adult hippocampal neurogenesis in a non-cell autonomous manner.

♦ See referenced article, J. Biol. Chem. 2014, 289, 29060–29072 The gene DTNBP1, which encodes dysbindin-1, is known to be a susceptibility gene for schizophrenia. Two isoforms of the protein encoded by the gene, dysbindin-1B and -1C, have lower expression in schizophrenic brains, but the 1A isoform remains the same. In this Paper of the Week, Wei Li at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and colleagues studied the roles of the different isoforms in brain development. By using different mouse mutants, the investigators identified dysbindin-1C, but not dysbindin-1A, as the isoform that regulates the development of the hippocampal adult-born neurons, a process in the brain thought to be involved in schizophrenia. The investigators found that dysbindin-1C regulates an important signaling pathway, the CREB pathway, which involves the maturation of adult-born neurons mediated by GABA interneurons in the dentate gyrus. Another susceptibility gene for schizophrenia, DISC1, also affects this signaling pathway. The authors say, “Reduced dysbindin-1C in the schizophrenic hippocampal formation likely contributes to the development of cognitive deficits.” jbc;289/42/29073/FU1F1FU1 Dysbindin-1 is mainly localized in the hilar neurons and the inner molecular layer of hippocampal dentate gyrus in wild-type DBA/2J (DBA) mice (upper panel). Immunostaining of dysbindin-1 in the sdy mice served as a negative control (middle panel). The localization of dysbindin-1C in mu mice is similar to dysbindin-1 in DBA mice (lower panel). Scale bars, 100 μm.

Matrix attachment region (MAR)-binding proteins have been implicated in the transcriptional regulation of host as well as viral genes, but their precise role in HPV-infected cervical cancer remains unclear. Here we show that HPV18 promoter contains consensus MAR element in the LCR and E6 sequences where SMAR1 binds and reinforces HPV18 E6 transcriptional silencing. In fact, curcumin-induced up-regulation of SMAR1 ensures recruitment of SMAR1-HDAC1 repressor complex at the LCR and E6 MAR sequences, thereby decreasing histone acetylation at H3K9 and H3K18, leading to reorientation of the chromatin. As a consequence, c-Fos binding at the putative AP-1 sites on E6 promoter is inhibited. E6 depletion interrupts degradation of E6-mediated p53 and lysine acetyl transferase, Tip60. Tip60, in turn, acetylates p53, thereby restoring p53-mediated transactivation of proapoptotic genes to ensure apoptosis. This hitherto unexplained function of SMAR1 signifies the potential of this unique scaffold matrix-associated region-binding protein as a critical regulator of E6-mediated anti-apoptotic network in HPV18-infected cervical adenocarcinoma. These results also justify the candidature of curcumin for the treatment of HPV18-infected cervical carcinoma.

The enzymes of the β-decarboxylating dehydrogenase superfamily catalyze the oxidative decarboxylation of d-malate-based substrates with various specificities. Here, we show that, in addition to its natural function affording bacterial growth on d-malate as a carbon source, the d-malate dehydrogenase of Escherichia coli (EcDmlA) naturally expressed from its chromosomal gene is capable of complementing leucine auxotrophy in a leuB− strain lacking the paralogous isopropylmalate dehydrogenase enzyme. To our knowledge, this is the first example of an enzyme that contributes with a physiologically relevant level of activity to two distinct pathways of the core metabolism while expressed from its chromosomal locus. EcDmlA features relatively high catalytic activity on at least three different substrates (l(+)-tartrate, d-malate, and 3-isopropylmalate). Because of these properties both in vivo and in vitro, EcDmlA may be defined as a generalist enzyme. Phylogenetic analysis highlights an ancient origin of DmlA, indicating that the enzyme has maintained its generalist character throughout evolution. We discuss the implication of these findings for protein evolution.

Maturity-onset diabetes of the young, type 8 (MODY8) is characterized by a syndrome of autosomal dominantly inherited diabetes and exocrine pancreatic dysfunction. It is caused by deletion mutations in the last exon of the carboxyl ester lipase (CEL) gene, resulting in a CEL protein with increased tendency to aggregate. In this study we investigated the intracellular distribution of the wild type (WT) and mutant (MUT) CEL proteins in cellular models. We found that both CEL-WT and CEL-MUT were secreted via the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi compartments. However, their subcellular distributions differed, as only CEL-MUT was observed as an aggregate at the cell surface and inside large cytoplasmic vacuoles. Many of the vacuoles were identified as components of the endosomal system, and after its secretion, the mutant CEL protein was re-internalized, transported to the lysosomes, and degraded. Internalization of CEL-MUT also led to reduced viability of pancreatic acinar and beta cells. These findings may have implications for the understanding of how the acinar-specific CEL-MUT protein causes both exocrine and endocrine pancreatic disease.

Id1, a helix-loop-helix (HLH) protein that inhibits the function of basic HLH E protein transcription factors in lymphoid cells, has been implicated in diet- and age-induced obesity by unknown mechanisms. Here we show that Id1-deficient mice are resistant to a high fat diet- and age-induced obesity, as revealed by reduced weight gain and body fat, increased lipid oxidation, attenuated hepatosteatosis, lower levels of lipid droplets in brown adipose tissue, and smaller white adipocytes after a high fat diet feeding or in aged animals. Id1 deficiency improves glucose tolerance, lowers serum insulin levels, and reduces TNFα gene expression in white adipose tissue. Id1 deficiency also increased expression of Sirtuin 1 and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α, regulators of mitochondrial biogenesis and energy expenditure, in the white adipose tissue. This effect was accompanied by the elevation of several genes encoding proteins involved in oxidative phosphorylation and fatty acid oxidation, such as cytochrome c, medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase, and adipocyte protein 2. Moreover, the phenotype for Id1 deficiency was similar to that of mice expressing an E protein dominant-positive construct, ET2, suggesting that the balance between Id and E proteins plays a role in regulating lipid metabolism and insulin sensitivity.

ATP has dual roles in the reaction cycle of sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase. Upon binding to the Ca2E1 state, ATP phosphorylates the enzyme, and by binding to other conformational states in a non-phosphorylating modulatory mode ATP stimulates the dephosphorylation and other partial reaction steps of the cycle, thereby ensuring a high rate of Ca2+ transport under physiological conditions. The present study elucidates the mechanism underlying the modulatory effect on dephosphorylation. In the intermediate states of dephosphorylation the A-domain residues Ser186 and Asp203 interact with Glu439 (N-domain) and Arg678 (P-domain), respectively. Single mutations to these residues abolish the stimulation of dephosphorylation by ATP. The double mutation swapping Asp203 and Arg678 rescues ATP stimulation, whereas this is not the case for the double mutation swapping Ser186 and Glu439. By taking advantage of the ability of wild type and mutant Ca2+-ATPases to form stable complexes with aluminum fluoride (E2·AlF) and beryllium fluoride (E2·BeF) as analogs of the E2·P phosphoryl transition state and E2P ground state, respectively, of the dephosphorylation reaction, the mutational effects on ATP binding to these intermediates are demonstrated. In the wild type Ca2+-ATPase, the ATP affinity of the E2·P phosphoryl transition state is higher than that of the E2P ground state, thus explaining the stimulation of dephosphorylation by nucleotide-induced transition state stabilization. We find that the Asp203-Arg678 and Ser186-Glu439 interdomain bonds are critical, because they tighten the interaction with ATP in the E2·P phosphoryl transition state. Moreover, ATP binding and the Ser186-Glu439 bond are mutually exclusive in the E2P ground state.

Cys loop receptors are pentameric arrangements of independent subunits that assemble into functional ion channels. Each subunit shows a domain architecture. Functional ion channels can be reconstituted even from independent, nonfunctional subunit domains, as shown previously for GlyRα1 receptors. Here, we demonstrate that this reconstitution is not restricted to α1 but can be transferred to other members of the Cys loop receptor family. A nonfunctional GlyR subunit, truncated at the intracellular TM3–4 loop by a premature stop codon, can be complemented by co-expression of the missing tail portion of the receptor. Compared with α1 subunits, rescue by domain complementation was less efficient when GlyRα3 or the GABAA/C subunit ρ1 was used. If truncation disrupted an alternative splicing cassette within the intracellular TM3–4 loop of α3 subunits, which also regulates receptor desensitization, functional rescue was not possible. When α3 receptors were restored by complementation using domains with and without the spliced insert, no difference in desensitization was found. In contrast, desensitization properties could even be transferred between α1/α3 receptor chimeras harboring or lacking the α3 splice cassette proving that functional rescue depends on the integrity of the alternative splicing cassette in α3. Thus, an intact α3 splicing cassette in the TM3–4 loop environment is indispensable for functional rescue, and the quality of receptor restoration can be assessed from desensitization properties.

Epac, a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for the low molecular weight G protein Rap, is an effector of cAMP signaling and has been implicated to have roles in numerous diseases, including diabetes mellitus, heart failure, and cancer. We used a computational molecular modeling approach to predict potential binding sites for allosteric modulators of Epac and to identify molecules that might bind to these regions. This approach revealed that the conserved hinge region of the cyclic nucleotide-binding domain of Epac1 is a potentially druggable region of the protein. Using a bioluminescence resonance energy transfer-based assay (CAMYEL, cAMP sensor using YFP-Epac-Rluc), we assessed the predicted compounds for their ability to bind Epac and modulate its activity. We identified a thiobarbituric acid derivative, 5376753, that allosterically inhibits Epac activity and used Swiss 3T3 and HEK293 cells to test the ability of this compound to modulate the activity of Epac and PKA, as determined by Rap1 activity and vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein phosphorylation, respectively. Compound 5376753 selectively inhibited Epac in biochemical and cell migration studies. These results document the utility of a computational approach to identify a domain for allosteric regulation of Epac and a novel compound that prevents the activation of Epac1 by cAMP.

6-Hydroxy-3-succinoyl-pyridine (HSP) 3-monooxygenase (HspB), a flavoprotein essential to the pyrrolidine pathway of nicotine degradation, catalyzes pyridine-ring β-hydroxylation, resulting in carbon-carbon cleavage and production of 2,5-dihydroxypyridine. Here, we generated His6-tagged HspB in Escherichia coli, characterized the properties of the recombinant enzyme, and investigated its mechanism of catalysis. In contrast to conclusions reported previously, the second product of the HspB reaction was shown to be succinate, with isotope labeling experiments providing direct evidence that the newly introduced oxygen atom of succinate is derived from H2O. Phylogenetic analysis reveals that HspB is the most closely related to two p-nitrophenol 4-monooxygenases, and the experimental results exhibit that p-nitrophenol is a substrate of HspB. The reduction of HspB (with maxima at 375 and 460 nm, and a shoulder at 485 nm) by NADH was followed by stopped-flow spectroscopy, and the rate constant for reduction was shown to be stimulated by HSP. Reduced HspB reacts with oxygen to form a C(4a)-(hydro)peroxyflavin intermediate with an absorbance maximum at ∼400 nm within the first few milliseconds before converting to the oxidized flavoenzyme species. The formed C(4a)-hydroperoxyflavin intermediate reacts with HSP to form an intermediate that hydrolyzes to the products 2,5-dihydroxypyridine and succinate. The investigation on the catalytic mechanism of a flavoprotein pyridine-ring β-position hydroxylase provides useful information for the biosynthesis of pyridine derivatives.

We have recently demonstrated that the transfer of heavy chains (HCs) from inter-α-inhibitor, via the enzyme TSG-6 (tumor necrosis factor-stimulated gene 6), to hyaluronan (HA) oligosaccharides is an irreversible event in which subsequent swapping of HCs between HA molecules does not occur. We now describe our results of HC transfer experiments to chondroitin sulfate A, chemically desulfated chondroitin, chemoenzymatically synthesized chondroitin, unsulfated heparosan, heparan sulfate, and alginate. Of these potential HC acceptors, only chemically desulfated chondroitin and chemoenzymatically synthesized chondroitin were HC acceptors. The kinetics of HC transfer to chondroitin was similar to HA. At earlier time points, HCs were more widely distributed among the different sizes of chondroitin chains. As time progressed, the HCs migrated to lower molecular weight chains of chondroitin. Our interpretation is that TSG-6 swaps the HCs from the larger, reversible sites on chondroitin chains, which function as HC acceptors, onto smaller chondroitin chains, which function as irreversible HC acceptors. HCs transferred to smaller chondroitin chains were unable to be swapped off the smaller chondroitin chains and transferred to HA. HCs transferred to high molecular weight HA were unable to be swapped onto chondroitin. We also present data that although chondroitin was a HC acceptor, HA was the preferred acceptor when chondroitin and HA were in the same reaction mixture.

Biogenesis of lysosome-related organelles complex-1 (BLOC-1) is a component of the molecular machinery required for the biogenesis of specialized organelles and lysosomal targeting of cargoes via the endosomal to lysosomal trafficking pathway. BLOS1, one subunit of BLOC-1, is implicated in lysosomal trafficking of membrane proteins. We found that the degradation and trafficking of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) were delayed in BLOS1 knockdown cells, which were rescued through BLOS1 overexpression. A key feature to the delayed EGFR degradation is the accumulation of endolysosomes in BLOS1 knockdown cells or BLOS1 knock-out mouse embryonic fibroblasts. BLOS1 interacted with SNX2 (a retromer subunit) and TSG101 (an endosomal sorting complex required for transport subunit-I) to mediate EGFR lysosomal trafficking. These results suggest that coordination of the endolysosomal trafficking proteins is important for proper targeting of EGFR to lysosomes.

Pathogenesis of primary localized cutaneous amyloidosis (PLCA) is unclear, but pathogenic relationship to keratinocyte apoptosis has been implicated. We have previously identified galectin-7, actin, and cytokeratins as the major constituents of PLCA. Determination of the amyloidogenetic potential of these proteins by thioflavin T (ThT) method demonstrated that galectin-7 molecule incubated at pH 2.0 was capable of binding to the dye, but failed to form amyloid fibrils. When a series of galectin-7 fragments containing β-strand peptides were prepared to compare their amyloidogenesis, Ser31-Gln67 and Arg120-Phe136 were aggregated to form amyloid fibrils at pH 2.0. The rates of aggregation of Ser31-Gln67 and Arg120-Phe136 were dose-dependent with maximal ThT levels after 3 and 48 h, respectively. Their synthetic analogs, Phe33-Lys65 and Leu121-Arg134, which are both putative tryptic peptides, showed comparable amyloidogenesis. The addition of sonicated fibrous form of Ser31-Gln67 or Phe33-Lys65 to monomeric Ser31-Gln67 or Phe33-Lys65 solution, respectively, resulted in an increased rate of aggregation and extension of amyloid fibrils. Amyloidogenic potentials of Ser31-Gln67 and Phe33-Lys65 were inhibited by actin and cytokeratin fragments, whereas those of Arg120-Phe136 and Leu121-Arg134 were enhanced in the presence of Gly84-Arg113, a putative tryptic peptide of galectin-7. Degraded fragments of the galectin-7 molecule produced by limited trypsin digestion, formed amyloid fibrils after incubation at pH 2.0. These results suggest that the tryptic peptides of galectin-7 released at neutral pH, may lead to amyloid fibril formation of PLCA in the intracellular acidified conditions during keratinocyte apoptosis via regulation by the galectin-7 peptide as well as actin and cytokeratins.

Emerging evidence reveals that prion-like structures play important roles to maintain the well-being of cells. Although self-assembly of small molecules also affords prion-like nanofibrils (PriSM), little is known about the functions and mechanisms of PriSM. Previous works demonstrated that PriSM formed by a dipeptide derivative selectively inhibiting the growth of glioblastoma cells over neuronal cells and effectively inhibiting xenograft tumor in animal models. Here we examine the protein targets, the internalization, and the cytotoxicity pathway of the PriSM. The results show that the PriSM selectively accumulate in cancer cells via macropinocytosis to impede the dynamics of cytoskeletal filaments via promiscuous interactions with cytoskeletal proteins, thus inducing apoptosis. Intriguingly, Tau proteins are able to alleviate the effect of the PriSM, thus protecting neuronal cells. This work illustrates PriSM as a new paradigm for developing polypharmacological agents that promiscuously interact with multiple proteins yet result in a primary phenotype, such as cancer inhibition

The periplasmic binding protein (PBP) FepB plays a key role in transporting the catecholate siderophore ferric enterobactin from the outer to the inner membrane in Gram-negative bacteria. The solution structures of the 34-kDa apo- and holo-FepB from Escherichia coli, solved by NMR, represent the first solution structures determined for the type III class of PBPs. Unlike type I and II PBPs, which undergo large “Venus flytrap” conformational changes upon ligand binding, both forms of FepB maintain similar overall folds; however, binding of the ligand is accompanied by significant loop movements. Reverse methyl cross-saturation experiments corroborated chemical shift perturbation results and uniquely defined the binding pocket for gallium enterobactin (GaEnt). NMR relaxation experiments indicated that a flexible loop (residues 225–250) adopted a more rigid and extended conformation upon ligand binding, which positioned residues for optimal interactions with the ligand and the cytoplasmic membrane ABC transporter (FepCD), respectively. In conclusion, this work highlights the pivotal role that structural dynamics plays in ligand binding and transporter interactions in type III PBPs.

Leigh Syndrome (LS) is the most common early-onset, progressive mitochondrial encephalopathy usually leading to early death. The single most prevalent cause of LS is occurrence of mutations in the SURF1 gene, and LSSurf1 patients show a ubiquitous and specific decrease in the activity of mitochondrial respiratory chain complex IV (cytochrome c oxidase, COX). SURF1 encodes an inner membrane mitochondrial protein involved in COX assembly. We established a Drosophila melanogaster model of LS based on the post-transcriptional silencing of CG9943, the Drosophila homolog of SURF1. Knockdown of Surf1 was induced ubiquitously in larvae and adults, which led to lethality; in the mesodermal derivatives, which led to pupal lethality; or in the central nervous system, which allowed survival. A biochemical characterization was carried out in knockdown individuals, which revealed that larvae unexpectedly displayed defects in all complexes of the mitochondrial respiratory chain and in the F-ATP synthase, while adults had a COX-selective impairment. Silencing of Surf1 expression in Drosophila S2R+ cells led to selective loss of COX activity associated with decreased oxygen consumption and respiratory reserve. We conclude that Surf1 is essential for COX activity and mitochondrial function in D. melanogaster, thus providing a new tool that may help clarify the pathogenic mechanisms of LS.

The development of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in three recipients of non-leukoreduced red blood cells from asymptomatic donors who subsequently developed the disease has confirmed existing concerns about the possible spread of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) via blood products. In addition, the presence of disease-associated misfolded prion protein (PrPTSE), generally associated with infectivity, has been demonstrated in the blood of vCJD patients. However, its origin and distribution in this biological fluid are still unknown. Various studies have identified cellular prion protein (PrPC) among the protein cargo in human blood-circulating extracellular vesicles released from endothelial cells and platelets, and exosomes isolated from the conditioned media of TSE-infected cells have caused the disease when injected into experimental mice. In this study, we demonstrate the detection of PrPTSE in extracellular vesicles isolated from plasma samples collected during the preclinical and clinical phases of the disease from mice infected with mouse-adapted vCJD and confirm the presence of the exosomal marker Hsp70 in these preparations.

Tolerance is a well described component of alcohol abuse and addiction. The large conductance voltage- and Ca2+-gated potassium channel (BK) has been very useful for studying molecular tolerance. The influence of association with the β4 subunit can be observed at the level of individual channels, action potentials in brain slices, and finally, drinking behavior in the mouse. Previously, we showed that 50 mm alcohol increases both α and αβ4 BK channel open probability, but only α BK develops acute tolerance to this effect. Currently, we explore the possibility that the influence of the β4 subunit on tolerance may result from a striking effect of β4 on kinase modulation of the BK channel. We examine the influence of the β4 subunit on PKA, CaMKII, and phosphatase modulation of channel activity, and on molecular tolerance to alcohol. We record from human BK channels heterologously expressed in HEK 293 cells composed of its core subunit, α alone (Insertless), or co-expressed with the β4 BK auxiliary subunit, as well as, acutely dissociated nucleus accumbens neurons using the cell-attached patch clamp configuration. Our results indicate that BK channels are strongly modulated by activation of specific kinases (PKA and CaMKII) and phosphatases. The presence of the β4 subunit greatly influences this modulation, allowing a variety of outcomes for BK channel activity in response to acute alcohol.

The Ste20-related kinase SPAK regulates sodium, potassium, and chloride transport in a variety of tissues. Recently, SPAK fragments, which lack the catalytic domain and are inhibitory to Na+ transporters, have been detected in kidney. It has been hypothesized that the fragments originate from alternative translation start sites, but their precise origin is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that kidney lysate possesses proteolytic cleavage activity toward SPAK. Ion exchange and size exclusion chromatography combined with mass spectrometry identified the protease as aspartyl aminopeptidase. The presence of the protease was verified in the active fractions, and recombinant aspartyl aminopeptidase recapitulated the cleavage pattern observed with kidney lysate. Identification of the sites of cleavage by mass spectrometry allowed us to test the function of the smaller fragments and demonstrate their inhibitory action toward the Na+-K+-2Cl− cotransporter, NKCC2.

Glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) is a major positive regulator of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP), a principle trigger of cell death, under the condition of oxidative stress. However, the mechanism by which cytosolic GSK-3β translocates to mitochondria, promoting mPTP opening, remains unclear. Here we addressed this issue by analyses of the effect of site-directed mutations in GSK-3β on mitochondrial translocation and protein/protein interactions upon oxidative stress. H9c2 cardiomyoblasts were transfected with GFP-tagged GSK-3β (WT), a mutant GSK-3β insensitive to inhibitory phosphorylation (S9A), or kinase-deficient GSK-3β (K85R). Time lapse observation revealed that WT and S9A translocated from the cytosol to the mitochondria more promptly than did K85R after exposure to oxidative stress. H2O2 increased the density of nine spots on two-dimensional gel electrophoresis of anti-GSK-3β-immunoprecipitates by more than 3-fold. MALDI-TOF/MS analysis revealed that one of the spots contained voltage-dependent anion channel 2 (VDAC2). Knockdown of VDAC2, but not VDAC1 or VDAC3, by siRNA attenuated both the mitochondrial translocation of GSK-3β and mPTP opening under stress conditions. The mitochondrial translocation of GSK-3β was attenuated also when Lys-15, but not Arg-4 or Arg-6, in the N-terminal domain of GSK-3β was replaced with alanine. The oxidative stress-induced mitochondrial translocation of GSK-3β was associated with an increase in cell death, which was suppressed by lithium chloride (LiCl), a GSK-3β inhibitor. These results demonstrate that GSK-3β translocates from the cytosol to mitochondria in a kinase activity- and VDAC2-dependent manner in which an N-terminal domain of GSK-3β may function as a mitochondrial targeting sequence.

Cse4 is the centromeric histone H3 variant in budding yeast. Psh1 is an E3 ubiquitin ligase that controls Cse4 levels through proteolysis. Here we report that Psh1 is phosphorylated by the Cka2 subunit of casein kinase 2 (CK2) to promote its E3 activity for Cse4. Deletion of CKA2 significantly stabilized Cse4. Consistent with phosphorylation promoting the activity of Psh1, Cse4 was stabilized in a Psh1 phosphodepleted mutant strain in which the major phosphorylation sites were changed to alanines. Phosphorylation of Psh1 did not control Psh1-Cse4 or Psh1-Ubc3(E2) interactions. Although Cse4 was highly stabilized in a cka2Δ strain, mislocalization of Cse4 was mild, suggesting that Cse4 misincorporation was prevented by the intact Psh1-Cse4 association. Supporting this idea, Psh1 was also stabilized in a cka2Δ strain. Collectively our data suggest that phosphorylation is crucial in Psh1-assisted control of Cse4 levels and that the Psh1-Cse4 association itself functions to prevent Cse4 misincorporation.

Phototransduction is a G-protein signal transduction cascade that converts photon absorption to a change in current at the plasma membrane. Certain genetic mutations affecting the proteins in the phototransduction cascade cause blinding disorders in humans. Some of these mutations serve as a genetic source of “equivalent light” that activates the cascade, whereas other mutations lead to amplification of the light response. How constitutive phototransduction causes photoreceptor cell death is poorly understood. We showed that persistent G-protein signaling, which occurs in rod arrestin and rhodopsin kinase knock-out mice, caused a rapid and specific induction of the PERK pathway of the unfolded protein response. These changes were not observed in the cGMP-gated channel knock-out rods, an equivalent light condition that mimics light-stimulated channel closure. Thus transducin signaling, but not channel closure, triggers rapid cell death in light damage caused by constitutive phototransduction. Additionally, we show that in the albino light damage model cell death was not associated with increase in global protein ubiquitination or unfolded protein response induction. Taken together, these observations provide novel mechanistic insights into the cell death pathway caused by constitutive phototransduction and identify the unfolded protein response as a potential target for therapeutic intervention.

Inflammasomes are multi-protein complexes that regulate chronic inflammation-associated diseases by inducing interleukin-1 β (IL-1β) secretion. Numerous components involved in inflammasome activation have been identified, but the mechanisms of inflammasome-mediated IL-1β secretion have not yet been fully explored. Here, we demonstrate that end-binding protein 1 (EB1), which is required for activation of AIM2 inflammasome complex, links the AIM2 inflammasome to autophagy-dependent secretion. Imaging studies revealed that AIM2 inflammasomes colocalize with microtubule organizing centers and autophagosomes. Biochemical analyses showed that poly(dA-dT)-activated AIM2 inflammasomes induce autophagy and IL-1β secretion in an LC3-dependent fashion. Furthermore, depletion of EB1 decreases autophagic shedding and intracellular trafficking. Finally, we found that the 5′-AMP activated protein kinase may regulate this EB1-mediated autophagy-based inflammasome-induced secretion of IL-1β. These findings reveal a novel EB1-mediated pathway for the secretion of IL-1β.

Iron was previously shown to induce rapid nuclear translocation of a Myb3 transcription factor in the protozoan parasite, Trichomonas vaginalis. In the present study, iron was found to induce a transient increase in cellular cAMP, followed by the nuclear influx of Myb3, whereas the latter was also induced by 8-bromo-cyclic AMP. Iron-inducible cAMP production and nuclear influx of Myb3 were inhibited by suramin and SQ22536, respective inhibitors of the Gα subunit of heterotrimeric G proteins and adenylyl cyclases. In contrast, the nuclear influx of Myb3 induced by iron or 8-bromo-cAMP was delayed or inhibited, respectively, by H89, the inhibitor of protein kinase A. Using liquid chromatography-coupled tandem mass spectrometry, Thr156 and Lys143 in Myb3 were found to be phosphorylated and ubiquitinated, respectively. These modifications were induced by iron and inhibited by H89, as shown by immunoprecipitation-coupled Western blotting. Iron-inducible ubiquitination and nuclear influx were aborted in T156A and K143R, but T156D was constitutively ubiquitinated and persistently localized to the nucleus. Myb3 was phosphorylated in vitro by the catalytic subunit of a T. vaginalis protein kinase A, TvPKAc. A transient interaction between TvPKAc and Myb3 and the phosphorylation of both proteins were induced in the parasite shortly after iron or 8-bromo-cAMP treatment. Together, these observations suggest that iron may induce production of cAMP and activation of TvPKAc, which then induces the phosphorylation of Myb3 and subsequent ubiquitination for accelerated nuclear influx. It is conceivable that iron probably exerts a much broader impact on the physiology of the parasite than previously thought to encounter environmental changes.

Synapses, the basic units of communication in the brain, require complex molecular machinery for neurotransmitter release and reception. Whereas numerous components of excitatory postsynaptic sites have been identified, relatively few proteins are known that function at inhibitory postsynaptic sites. One such component is neuroligin-2 (NL2), an inhibitory synapse-specific cell surface protein that functions in cell adhesion and synaptic organization via binding to neurexins. In this study, we used a transgenic tandem affinity purification and mass spectrometry strategy to isolate and characterize NL2-associated complexes. Complexes purified from brains of transgenic His6-FLAG-YFP-NL2 mice showed enrichment in the Gene Ontology terms cell-cell signaling and synaptic transmission relative to complexes purified from wild type mice as a negative control. In addition to expected components including GABA receptor subunits and gephyrin, several novel proteins were isolated in association with NL2. Based on the presence of multiple components involved in trafficking and endocytosis, we showed that NL2 undergoes dynamin-dependent endocytosis in response to soluble ligand and colocalizes with VPS35 retromer in endosomes. Inhibitory synapses in brain also present a particular challenge for imaging. Whereas excitatory synapses on spines can be imaged with a fluorescent cell fill, inhibitory synapses require a molecular tag. We find the His6-FLAG-YFP-NL2 to be a suitable tag, with the unamplified YFP signal localizing appropriately to inhibitory synapses in multiple brain regions including cortex, hippocampus, thalamus, and basal ganglia. Altogether, we characterize NL2-associated complexes, demonstrate regulated trafficking of NL2, and provide tools for further proteomic and imaging studies of inhibitory synapses.

Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are emerging as important regulatory molecules in tumor suppressor and oncogenic pathways. However, the magnitude of the contribution of lncRNA expression to normal human tissues and cancers has not been investigated in a comprehensive manner. Here we explored the biology of the lncRNA MALAT1 and considered the potential significance in mesenchymal stem cells from myeloma patients. By using assays such as RNA interference, luciferase, chromatin immunoprecipitation, and RNA immunoprecipitation, we showed that in mesenchymal stem cells MALAT1 promoted the activation effect of the key transcription factor Sp1 on LTBP3 promoter by modulating recruitment of Sp1 to the LTBP3 gene that regulated the bioavailability of TGF-β in particular. Our data suggested that lncRNA MALAT1 directly interacted with Sp1 and LTBP3 promoter to increase expression of LTBP3 gene. The specificity and efficiency of activation were ensured by the formation of a stable complex between MALAT1 and the LTBP3 promoter, direct interaction of MALAT1 with Sp1, and recruitment of Sp1 to the promoter. In this study, we showed that the mechanism of transcriptional activation of LTBP3 promoter depended on MALAT1 initiated from neighboring gene LTBP3 and involved both the direct interaction of the Sp1 and promoter-specific activation. Our knowledge of the role of MALAT1 in cellular transformation is pointing toward its potential use as a biomarker and a target for novel therapeutic approaches in multiple myeloma.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis tyrosine phosphatase PtpA inhibits two key cellular events in macrophages required for the elimination of invading organisms, phagosome acidification, and maturation. Kinome analysis revealed multiple PtpA-dependent changes to the phosphorylation status of macrophage proteins upon M. tuberculosis infection. Among those proteins we show that PtpA dephosphorylates GSK3α on amino acid Tyr279, which leads to modulation of GSK3α anti-apoptotic activity, promoting pathogen survival early during infection.

Folylpoly-γ-glutamate synthetase (FPGS) catalyze the addition of multiple glutamates to tetrahydrofolate derivatives. Two mRNAs for the fpgs gene direct isoforms of FPGS to the cytosol and to mitochondria in mouse and human tissues. We sought to clarify the functions of these two compartmentalized isoforms. Stable cell lines were created that express cDNAs for the mitochondrial and cytosolic isoforms of human FPGS under control of a doxycycline-inducible promoter in the AUXB1 cell line. AUXB1 are devoid of endogenous FPGS activity due to a premature translational stop at codon 432 in the fpgs gene. Loss of folates was not measurable from these doxycycline-induced cells or from parental CHO cells over the course of three CHO cell generations. Likewise, there was no detectable transfer of folate polyglutamates either from the cytosol to mitochondria, or from mitochondria to the cytosol. The cell line expressing cytosolic FPGS required exogenous glycine but not thymidine or purine, whereas cells expressing the mitochondrial isoform required exogenous thymidine and purine but not glycine for optimal growth and survival. We concluded that mitochondrial FPGS is required because folate polyglutamates are not substrates for transport across the mitochondrial membrane in either direction and that polyglutamation not only traps folates in the cytosol, but also in the mitochondrial matrix.

We have studied the differential effects of phospholamban (PLB) phosphorylation states on the activity of the sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca-ATPase (SERCA). It has been shown that unphosphorylated PLB (U-PLB) inhibits SERCA and that phosphorylation of PLB at Ser-16 or Thr-17 relieves this inhibition in cardiac sarcoplasmic reticulum. However, the levels of the four phosphorylation states of PLB (U-PLB, P16-PLB, P17-PLB, and doubly phosphorylated 2P-PLB) have not been measured quantitatively in cardiac tissue, and their functional effects on SERCA have not been determined directly. We have solved both problems through the chemical synthesis of all four PLB species. We first used the synthetic PLB as standards for a quantitative immunoblot assay, to determine the concentrations of all four PLB phosphorylation states in pig cardiac tissue, with and without left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) induced by aortic banding. In both LVH and sham hearts, all phosphorylation states were significantly populated, but LVH hearts showed a significant decrease in U-PLB, with a corresponding increase in the ratio of total phosphorylated PLB to U-PLB. To determine directly the functional effects of each PLB species, we co-reconstituted each of the synthetic peptides in phospholipid membranes with SERCA and measured calcium-dependent ATPase activity. SERCA inhibition was maximally relieved by P16-PLB (the most highly populated PLB state in cardiac tissue homogenates), followed by 2P-PLB, then P17-PLB. These results show that each PLB phosphorylation state uniquely alters Ca2+ homeostasis, with important implications for cardiac health, disease, and therapy.

Many drugs are associated with the development of glucose intolerance or deterioration in glycemic control in patients with pre-existing diabetes. We have evaluated the cross-talk between signaling pathways activated by acetaminophen (APAP) and insulin signaling in hepatocytes with or without expression of the protein-tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B) and in wild-type and PTP1B-deficient mice chronically treated with APAP. Human primary hepatocytes, Huh7 hepatoma cells with silenced PTP1B, mouse hepatocytes from wild-type and PTP1B-deficient mice, and a mouse model of chronic APAP treatment were used to examine the mechanisms involving PTP1B in the effects of APAP on glucose homeostasis and hepatic insulin signaling. In APAP-treated human hepatocytes at concentrations that did not induce death, phosphorylation of JNK and PTP1B expression and enzymatic activity were increased. APAP pretreatment inhibited activation of the early steps of insulin signaling and decreased Akt phosphorylation. The effects of APAP in insulin signaling were prevented by suramin, a PTP1B inhibitor, or rosiglitazone that decreased PTP1B levels. Likewise, PTP1B deficiency in human or mouse hepatocytes protected against APAP-mediated impairment in insulin signaling. These signaling pathways were modulated in mice with chronic APAP treatment, resulting in protection against APAP-mediated hepatic insulin resistance and alterations in islet alpha/beta cell ratio in PTP1B−/− mice. Our results demonstrate negative cross-talk between signaling pathways triggered by APAP and insulin signaling in hepatocytes, which is in part mediated by PTP1B. Moreover, our in vivo data suggest that chronic use of APAP may be associated with insulin resistance in the liver.

We have found that the large intracellular loop of the γ2 GABAA receptor (R) subunit (γ2IL) interacts with RNF34 (an E3 ubiquitin ligase), as shown by yeast two-hybrid and in vitro pulldown assays. In brain extracts, RNF34 co-immunoprecipitates with assembled GABAARs. In co-transfected HEK293 cells, RNF34 reduces the expression of the γ2 GABAAR subunit by increasing the ratio of ubiquitinated/nonubiquitinated γ2. Mutating several lysines of the γ2IL into arginines makes the γ2 subunit resistant to RNF34-induced degradation. RNF34 also reduces the expression of the γ2 subunit when α1 and β3 subunits are co-assembled with γ2. This effect is partially reversed by leupeptin or MG132, indicating that both the lysosomal and proteasomal degradation pathways are involved. Immunofluorescence of cultured hippocampal neurons shows that RNF34 forms clusters and that a subset of these clusters is associated with GABAergic synapses. This association is also observed in the intact rat brain by electron microscopy immunocytochemistry. RNF34 is not expressed until the 2nd postnatal week of rat brain development, being highly expressed in some interneurons. Overexpression of RNF34 in hippocampal neurons decreases the density of γ2 GABAAR clusters and the number of GABAergic contacts that these neurons receive. Knocking down endogenous RNF34 with shRNA leads to increased γ2 GABAAR cluster density and GABAergic innervation. The results indicate that RNF34 regulates postsynaptic γ2-GABAAR clustering and GABAergic synaptic innervation by interacting with and ubiquitinating the γ2-GABAAR subunit promoting GABAAR degradation.

Production of nitric oxide (NO) by nitric oxide synthase (NOS) requires electrons to reduce the heme iron for substrate oxidation. Both FAD and FMN flavin groups mediate the transfer of NADPH derived electrons to NOS. Unlike mammalian NOS that contain both FAD and FMN binding domains within a single polypeptide chain, bacterial NOS is only composed of an oxygenase domain and must rely on separate redox partners for electron transfer and subsequent activity. Here, we report on the native redox partners for Bacillus subtilis NOS (bsNOS) and a novel chimera that promotes bsNOS activity. By identifying and characterizing native redox partners, we were also able to establish a robust enzyme assay for measuring bsNOS activity and inhibition. This assay was used to evaluate a series of established NOS inhibitors. Using the new assay for screening small molecules led to the identification of several potent inhibitors for which bsNOS-inhibitor crystal structures were determined. In addition to characterizing potent bsNOS inhibitors, substrate binding was also analyzed using isothermal titration calorimetry giving the first detailed thermodynamic analysis of substrate binding to NOS.

Histamine is an important immunomodulator involved in allergic reactions and inflammatory responses. In endothelial cells, histamine induces Ca2+ mobilization by releasing Ca2+ from the endoplasmic reticulum and eliciting Ca2+ entry across the plasma membrane. Herein, we show that histamine-evoked Ca2+ entry in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) is sensitive to blockers of Ca2+ release-activated Ca2+ (CRAC) channels. RNA interference against STIM1 or Orai1, the activating subunit and the pore-forming subunit of CRAC channels, respectively, abolishes this histamine-evoked Ca2+ entry. Furthermore, overexpression of dominant-negative CRAC channel subunits inhibits while co-expression of both STIM1 and Orai1 enhances histamine-induced Ca2+ influx. Interestingly, gene silencing of STIM1 or Orai1 also interrupts the activation of calcineurin/nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) pathway and the production of interleukin 8 triggered by histamine in HUVECs. Collectively, these results suggest a central role of STIM1 and Orai1 in mediating Ca2+ mobilization linked to inflammatory signaling of endothelial cells upon histamine stimulation.