• Home
  • News
  • Calendar
  • About DF/HCC
  • Membership
  • Visitor Center

Member Resources


Journal of Biological Chemistry, The

Journal of Biological Chemistry RSS feed -- current issue
Journal of Biological Chemistry
Mounting evidence suggests that human pancreatic ribonuclease (RNase 1) plays important roles in vivo, ranging from regulating blood clotting and inflammation to directly counteracting tumorigenic cells. Understanding these putative roles has been pursued with continual comparisons of human RNase 1 to bovine RNase A, an enzyme that appears to function primarily in the ruminant gut. Our results imply a different physiology for human RNase 1. We demonstrate distinct functional differences between human RNase 1 and bovine RNase A. Moreover, we characterize another RNase 1 homolog, bovine brain ribonuclease, and find pronounced similarities between that enzyme and human RNase 1. We report that human RNase 1 and bovine brain ribonuclease share high catalytic activity against double-stranded RNA substrates, a rare quality among ribonucleases. Both human RNase 1 and bovine brain RNase are readily endocytosed by mammalian cells, aided by tight interactions with cell surface glycans. Finally, we show that both human RNase 1 and bovine brain RNase are secreted from endothelial cells in a regulated manner, implying a potential role in vascular homeostasis. Our results suggest that brain ribonuclease, not RNase A, is the true bovine homolog of human RNase 1, and provide fundamental insight into the ancestral roles and functional adaptations of RNase 1 in mammals.

The eukaryotic integral membrane enzyme isoprenylcysteine carboxyl methyltransferase (ICMT) methylates the carboxylate of a lipid-modified cysteine at the C terminus of its protein substrates. This is the final post-translational modification of proteins containing a CAAX motif, including the oncoprotein Ras, and therefore, ICMT may serve as a therapeutic target in cancer development. ICMT has no discernible sequence homology with soluble methyltransferases, and aspects of its catalytic mechanism are unknown. For example, how both the methyl donor S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet), which is water-soluble, and the methyl acceptor isoprenylcysteine, which is lipophilic, are recognized within the same active site is not clear. To identify regions of ICMT critical for activity, we combined scanning mutagenesis with methyltransferase assays. We mutated nearly half of the residues of the ortholog of human ICMT from Anopheles gambiae and observed reduced or undetectable catalytic activity for 62 of the mutants. The crystal structure of a distantly related prokaryotic methyltransferase (Ma Mtase), which has sequence similarity with ICMT in its AdoMet binding site but methylates different substrates, provides context for the mutational analysis. The data suggest that ICMT and Ma MTase bind AdoMet in a similar manner. With regard to residues potentially involved in isoprenylcysteine binding, we identified numerous amino acids within transmembrane regions of ICMT that dramatically reduced catalytic activity when mutated. Certain substitutions of these caused substrate inhibition by isoprenylcysteine, suggesting that they contribute to the isoprenylcysteine binding site. The data provide evidence that the active site of ICMT spans both cytosolic and membrane-embedded regions of the protein.

Autophagy is a tightly regulated lysosomal degradation pathway for maintaining cellular homeostasis and responding to stresses. Beclin 1 and its interacting proteins, including the class III phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase Vps34, play crucial roles in autophagy regulation in mammals. We identified nuclear receptor binding factor 2 (Nrbf2) as a Beclin 1-interacting protein from Becn1−/−;Becn1-EGFP/+ mouse liver and brain. We also found that Nrbf2-Beclin 1 interaction required the N terminus of Nrbf2. We next used the human retinal pigment epithelial cell line RPE-1 as a model system and showed that transiently knocking down Nrbf2 by siRNA increased autophagic flux under both nutrient-rich and starvation conditions. To investigate the mechanism by which Nrbf2 regulates autophagy, we demonstrated that Nrbf2 interacted and colocalized with Atg14L, suggesting that Nrbf2 is a component of the Atg14L-containing Beclin 1-Vps34 complex. Moreover, ectopically expressed Nrbf2 formed cytosolic puncta that were positive for isolation membrane markers. These results suggest that Nrbf2 is involved in autophagosome biogenesis. Furthermore, we showed that Nrbf2 deficiency led to increased intracellular phosphatidylinositol-3 phosphate levels and diminished Atg14L-Vps34/Vps15 interactions, suggesting that Nrbf2-mediated Atg14L-Vps34/Vps15 interactions likely inhibit Vps34 activity. Therefore, we propose that Nrbf2 may interact with the Atg14L-containing Beclin 1-Vps34 protein complex to modulate protein-protein interactions within the complex, leading to suppression of Vps34 activity, autophagosome biogenesis, and autophagic flux. This work reveals a novel aspect of the intricate mechanism for the Beclin 1-Vps34 protein-protein interaction network to achieve precise control of autophagy.

The cancer stem cell (CSC) model suggests that a small subpopulation of cancer cells possesses the ability to self-renew and give rise to malignant progeny that drive cancer progression. Recent reports have also proposed the existence of certain extra- or intracellular signals that allow cancer progenitors to dynamically revert to a stem cell state. However, the mechanisms underlying cancer cell plasticity and CSC expansion are not entirely clear. Our previous studies using a hyaluronan synthase 2 (Has2) transgenic mouse model demonstrated that hyaluronan overproduction caused rapid development of aggressive breast carcinoma at a high incidence. Thus, we hypothesize that hyaluronan overproduction may accelerate cancer progression by expanding CSC subpopulations during cancer development. Primary cancer cells were established from mammary tumors developed in the transgenic mice and subjected to the Hoechst 33342 dye exclusion assay to sort side population (SP) from non-side population (non-SP) cells. Flow cytometric analysis demonstrated the enrichment of CD44high/CD24low CSC-like cells in the SP fraction of hyaluronan-overproducing cancer cells. This subpopulation exhibited several characteristics that were similar to CSCs, including cancer-initiating and mammosphere-forming abilities. Excess hyaluronan production drove the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition process defined as the loss of epithelial phenotypes, up-regulation of transforming growth factor β (TGF-β), and induction of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition-related transcriptional factors Snail and Twist. Inhibition of TGF-β-Snail signaling or silencing of Twist expression abrogated the entrance into a stem cell state. Taken together, our findings suggest that hyaluronan overproduction allows plastic cancer cell populations to revert to stem cell states via Twist and the TGF-β-Snail signaling axis.

♦ See referenced article, J. Biol. Chem. 2014, 289, 26038–26056 Cancer stem cells are cells that are thought to initiate and propel cancer development. However, how these cells morph and adapt to become aberrant cells is unclear. In this Paper of the Week, Naoki Itano and Kenjiro Konno at Kyoto Sangyo University in Japan led a team to test the hypothesis that hyaluronan overproduction played a role in the quick progression of cancer stem cells in breast carcinoma. The investigators used transgenic mice to demonstrate that hyaluronan overproduction aided the population expansion of cancer stem-like cells by increasing the expression of two transcription factors, Snail and Twist, which are involved in the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition seen in aggressive cancers. The authors concluded, “Taken together, our findings suggest that hyaluronan overproduction allows plastic cancer cell populations to revert to stem cell states via a Twist and the TGF-β-Snail signaling axis.” jbc;289/38/26057/FU1F1FU1 A schematic representation of a proposed model for the regulation of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition and cancer stem cell expansion in hyaluronan-overproducing mammary cancer cells.

Astrocytes and neurons express several large pore (hemi)channels that may open in response to various stimuli, allowing fluorescent dyes, ions, and cytoplasmic molecules such as ATP and glutamate to permeate. Several of these large pore (hemi)channels have similar characteristics with regard to activation, permeability, and inhibitor sensitivity. Consequently, their behaviors and roles in astrocytic and neuronal (patho)physiology remain undefined. We took advantage of the Xenopus laevis expression system to determine the individual characteristics of several large pore channels in isolation. Expression of connexins Cx26, Cx30, Cx36, or Cx43, the pannexins Px1 or Px2, or the purinergic receptor P2X7 yielded functional (hemi)channels with isoform-specific characteristics. Connexin hemichannels had distinct sensitivity to alterations of extracellular Ca2+ and their permeability to dyes and small atomic ions (conductance) were not proportional. Px1 and Px2 exhibited conductance at positive membrane potentials, but only Px1 displayed detectable fluorescent dye uptake. P2X7, in the absence of Px1, was permeable to fluorescent dyes in an agonist-dependent manner. The large pore channels displayed overlapping sensitivity to the inhibitors Brilliant Blue, gadolinium, and carbenoxolone. These results demonstrated isoform-specific characteristics among the large pore membrane channels; an open (hemi)channel is not a nonselective channel. With these isoform-specific properties in mind, we characterized the divalent cation-sensitive permeation pathway in primary cultured astrocytes. We observed no activation of membrane conductance or Cx43-mediated dye uptake in astrocytes nor in Cx43-expressing C6 cells. Our data underscore that although Cx43-mediated transport is observed in overexpressing cell systems, such transport may not be detectable in native cells under comparable experimental conditions.

♦ See referenced article, J. Biol. Chem. 2014, 289, 26058–26073 Astrocytes and neurons contain several large pore (hemi)channels that are capable of opening in response to numerous stimuli. However, the permeability and physiological purpose of these channels are unclear. In this Paper of the Week, Nanna MacAulay at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and colleagues used the Xenopus laevis system to determine the characteristics of several large pore channels one by one. From their analyses of connexin and pannexin channels, as well as a purinergic receptor, the investigators found activation and transport characteristics that were specific for different isoforms of the channels. The authors say their results from the frog overexpression system “demonstrated isoform-specific characteristics among the large pore membrane channels; an open (hemi)channel is not a nonselective channel.” However, when the authors analyzed the same channels in endogenously expressing cell types, they were not able to detect connexin-mediated dye uptake or membrane currents. The authors caution, “Although large pore channels have characteristic properties in overexpression systems, these properties may be undetectable in native cells.” jbc;289/38/26074/FU1F1FU1 Dye uptake in uninjected and connexin-expressing oocytes in control solution containing 1 mm Ca2+ and Mg2+ (white bars), in divalent cation-free solution without Ca2+ and Mg2+ (DCFS, gray bars), and without or with 50 μm Gd3+ (hatched bars). Values are given in arbitrary units (a.u.).

Prion diseases are rare fatal neurological conditions of humans and animals, one of which (variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) is known to be a zoonotic form of the cattle disease bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). What makes one animal prion disease zoonotic and others not is poorly understood, but it appears to involve compatibility between the prion strain and the host prion protein sequence. Concerns have been raised that the United Kingdom sheep flock may have been exposed to BSE early in the cattle BSE epidemic and that serial BSE transmission in sheep might have resulted in adaptation of the agent, which may have come to phenotypically resemble scrapie while maintaining its pathogenicity for humans. We have modeled this scenario in vitro. Extrapolation from our results suggests that if BSE were to infect sheep in the field it may, with time and in some sheep genotypes, become scrapie-like at the molecular level. However, the results also suggest that if BSE in sheep were to come to resemble scrapie it would lose its ability to affect humans.

SENSITIVE TO FREEZING 2 (SFR2) is classified as a family I glycosyl hydrolase but has recently been shown to have galactosyltransferase activity in Arabidopsis thaliana. Natural occurrences of apparent glycosyl hydrolases acting as transferases are interesting from a biocatalysis standpoint, and knowledge about the interconversion can assist in engineering SFR2 in crop plants to resist freezing. To understand how SFR2 evolved into a transferase, the relationship between its structure and function are investigated by activity assay, molecular modeling, and site-directed mutagenesis. SFR2 has no detectable hydrolase activity, although its catalytic site is highly conserved with that of family 1 glycosyl hydrolases. Three regions disparate from glycosyl hydrolases are identified as required for transferase activity as follows: a loop insertion, the C-terminal peptide, and a hydrophobic patch adjacent to the catalytic site. Rationales for the effects of these regions on the SFR2 mechanism are discussed.

Kruppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) plays an important role in vascular diseases, including atherosclerosis and vascular injury. Although KLF4 is expressed in the heart in addition to vascular cells, the role of KLF4 in cardiac disease has not been fully determined. The goals of this study were to investigate the role of KLF4 in cardiac hypertrophy and to determine the underlying mechanisms. Cardiomyocyte-specific Klf4 knockout (CM Klf4 KO) mice were generated by the Cre/LoxP technique. Cardiac hypertrophy was induced by chronic infusion of the β-adrenoreceptor agonist isoproterenol (ISO). Results showed that ISO-induced cardiac hypertrophy was enhanced in CM Klf4 KO mice compared with control mice. Accelerated cardiac hypertrophy in CM Klf4 KO mice was accompanied by the augmented cellular enlargement of cardiomyocytes as well as the exaggerated expression of fetal cardiac genes, including atrial natriuretic factor (Nppa). Additionally, induction of myocardin, a transcriptional cofactor regulating fetal cardiac genes, was enhanced in CM Klf4 KO mice. Interestingly, KLF4 regulated Nppa expression by modulating the expression and activity of myocardin, providing a mechanical basis for accelerated cardiac hypertrophy in CM Klf4 KO mice. Moreover, we showed that KLF4 mediated the antihypertrophic effect of trichostatin A, a histone deacetylase inhibitor, because ISO-induced cardiac hypertrophy in CM Klf4 KO mice was attenuated by olmesartan, an angiotensin II type 1 antagonist, but not by trichostatin A. These results provide novel evidence that KLF4 is a regulator of cardiac hypertrophy by modulating the expression and the activity of myocardin.

G protein-coupled receptor kinases 2 (GRK2) and 5 (GRK5) are fundamental regulators of cardiac performance in adults but are less well characterized for their function in the hearts of embryos. GRK2 and -5 belong to different subfamilies and function as competitors in the control of certain receptors and signaling pathways. In this study, we used zebrafish to investigate whether the fish homologs of GRK2 and -5, Grk2/3 and Grk5, also have unique, complementary, or competitive roles during heart development. We found that they differentially regulate the heart rate of early embryos and equally facilitate heart function in older embryos and that both are required to develop proper cardiac morphology. A loss of Grk2/3 results in dilated atria and hypoplastic ventricles, and the hearts of embryos depleted in Grk5 present with a generalized atrophy. This Grk5 morphant phenotype was associated with an overall decrease of early cardiac progenitors as well as a reduction in the area occupied by myocardial progenitor cells. In the case of Grk2/3, the progenitor decrease was confined to a subset of precursor cells with a committed ventricular fate. We attempted to rescue the GRK loss-of-function heart phenotypes by downstream activation of Hedgehog signaling. The Grk2/3 loss-of-function embryos were rescued by this approach, but Grk5 embryos failed to respond. In summary, we found that GRK2 and GRK5 control cardiac function as well as morphogenesis during development although with different morphological outcomes.

The ability to osmoregulate is fundamental to life. Adult Drosophila melanogaster maintain hemolymph osmolarity within a narrow range. Osmolarity modulates transepithelial ion and water flux in the Malpighian (renal) tubules of the fly, which are in direct contact with hemolymph in vivo, but the mechanisms causing increased transepithelial flux in response to hypotonicity are unknown. Fly renal tubules secrete a KCl-rich fluid. We have previously demonstrated a requirement for Ncc69, the fly sodium-potassium-2-chloride cotransporter (NKCC), in tubule K+ secretion. Mammalian NKCCs are regulated by a kinase cascade consisting of the with-no-lysine (WNK) and Ste20-related proline/alanine-rich (SPAK)/oxidative stress response (OSR1) kinases. Here, we show that decreasing Drosophila WNK activity causes a reduction in K+ flux. Similarly, knocking down the SPAK/OSR1 homolog fray also decreases K+ flux. We demonstrate that a hierarchical WNK-Fray signaling cascade regulates K+ flux through Ncc69, because (i) a constitutively active Fray mutant rescues the wnk knockdown phenotype, (ii) Fray directly phosphorylates Ncc69 in vitro, and (iii) the effect of wnk and fray knockdown is abolished in Ncc69 mutants. The stimulatory effect of hypotonicity on K+ flux is absent in wnk, fray, or Ncc69 mutant tubules, suggesting that the Drosophila WNK-SPAK/OSR1-NKCC cascade is an essential molecular pathway for osmoregulation, through its effect on transepithelial ion flux and fluid generation by the renal tubule.

Myeloid Elf-1-like factor (MEF) or Elf4 is an ETS transcription factor that activates innate immunity-associated genes such as lysozyme (LYZ), human β-defensin 2 (HβD2), and interleukin-8 (IL-8) in epithelial cells and is also known to influence cell cycle progression. MEF is transcriptionally activated by E2F1, but the E2F1-mediated transcriptional activation is inhibited by p53 through E2F1-p53 protein interaction. Although the transcriptional activation of MEF has been investigated in depth, its post-translational regulation is not well explored. By overexpressing MEF cDNA in human cell lines, here we show that MEF protein expression is suppressed by p53. By screening a number of E3 ligases regulated by p53, we found that MDM2 is involved in the effect of p53 on MEF. MDM2 is transcriptionally activated by p53 and interacts with MEF protein to enhance MEF degradation. MDM2 reduces MEF protein expression, as well as stability and function of MEF as transcriptional activator. Furthermore, MDM2 was able to down-regulate MEF in the absence of p53, indicating a p53-independent effect on MEF. Notably, MEF transcriptionally activates MDM2, which was previously demonstrated to be the mechanism by which MEF suppresses the p53 protein. These results reveal that in addition to the potential of MEF to down-regulate p53 by transcriptionally activating E3 ligase MDM2, MEF participates with MDM2 in a novel autoregulatory feedback loop to regulate itself. Taken together with the findings on the effect of p53 on MEF, these data provide evidence that the p53-MDM2-MEF axis is a feedback mechanism that exquisitely controls the balance of these transcriptional regulators.

Control of protein synthesis is critical to both cell growth and proliferation. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) integrates upstream growth, proliferation, and survival signals, including those transmitted via ERK1/2 and Akt, to regulate the rate of protein translation. The angiotensin AT1 receptor has been shown to activate both ERK1/2 and Akt in arrestin-based signalsomes. Here, we examine the role of arrestin-dependent regulation of ERK1/2 and Akt in the stimulation of mTOR-dependent protein translation by the AT1 receptor using HEK293 and primary vascular smooth muscle cell models. Nascent protein synthesis stimulated by both the canonical AT1 receptor agonist angiotensin II (AngII), and the arrestin pathway-selective agonist [Sar1-Ile4-Ile8]AngII (SII), is blocked by shRNA silencing of βarrestin1/2 or pharmacological inhibition of Akt, ERK1/2, or mTORC1. In HEK293 cells, SII activates a discrete arrestin-bound pool of Akt and promotes Akt-dependent phosphorylation of mTOR and its downstream effector p70/p85 ribosomal S6 kinase (p70/85S6K). In parallel, SII-activated ERK1/2 helps promote mTOR and p70/85S6K phosphorylation, and is required for phosphorylation of the known ERK1/2 substrate p90 ribosomal S6 kinase (p90RSK). Thus, arrestins coordinate AT1 receptor regulation of ERK1/2 and Akt activity and stimulate protein translation via both Akt-mTOR-p70/85S6K and ERK1/2-p90RSK pathways. These results suggest that in vivo, arrestin pathway-selective AT1 receptor agonists may promote cell growth or hypertrophy through arrestin-mediated mechanisms despite their antagonism of G protein signaling.

The serine/threonine protein kinase YpkA is an essential virulence factor produced by pathogenic Yersinia species. YpkA is delivered into host mammalian cells via a type III secretion system and localizes to the inner side of the plasma membrane. We have previously shown that YpkA binds to and phosphorylates the α subunit of the heterotrimeric G protein complex, Gαq, resulting in inhibition of Gαq signaling. To identify residues in YpkA involved in substrate binding activity we generated GFP-YpkA N-terminal deletion mutants and performed coimmunoprecipitation experiments. We located a substrate-binding domain on amino acids 40–49 of YpkA, which lies within the previously identified membrane localization domain on YpkA. Deletion of amino acids 40–49 on YpkA interfered with substrate binding, substrate phosphorylation and substrate inhibition. Autophosphorylation regulates the kinase activity of YpkA. To dissect the mechanism by which YpkA transmits signals, we performed nano liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry to map in vivo phosphorylation sites. Multiple serine phosphorylation sites were identified in the secretion/translocation region, kinase domain, and C-terminal region of YpkA. Using site-directed mutagenesis we generated multiple YpkA constructs harboring specific serine to alanine point mutations. Our results demonstrate that multiple autophosphorylation sites within the N terminus regulate YpkA kinase activation, whereas mutation of serine to alanine within the C terminus of YpkA had no effect on kinase activity. YpkA autophosphorylation on multiple sites may be a strategy used by pathogenic Yersinia to prevent inactivation of this important virulence protein by host proteins.

The EGF receptor has seven different cognate ligands. Previous work has shown that these different ligands are capable of inducing different biological effects, even in the same cell. To begin to understand the molecular basis for this variation, we used luciferase fragment complementation to measure ligand-induced dimer formation and radioligand binding to study the effect of the ligands on subunit-subunit interactions in EGF receptor (EGFR) homodimers and EGFR/ErbB2 heterodimers. In luciferase fragment complementation imaging studies, amphiregulin (AREG) functioned as a partial agonist, inducing only about half as much total dimerization as the other three ligands. However, unlike the other ligands, AREG showed biphasic kinetics for dimer formation, suggesting that its path for EGF receptor activation involves binding to both monomers and preformed dimers. EGF, TGFα, and betacellulin (BTC) appear to mainly stimulate receptor activation through binding to and dimerization of receptor monomers. In radioligand binding assays, EGF and TGFα exhibited increased affinity for EGFR/ErbB2 heterodimers compared with EGFR homodimers. By contrast, BTC and AREG showed a similar affinity for both dimers. Thus, EGF and TGFα are biased agonists, whereas BTC and AREG are balanced agonists with respect to selectivity of dimer formation. These data suggest that the differences in biological response to different EGF receptor ligands may result from partial agonism for dimer formation, differences in the kinetic pathway utilized to generate activated receptor dimers, and biases in the formation of heterodimers versus homodimers.

Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) post-transcriptional modifications are essential for ribosome maturation, translational fidelity, and are one mechanism used by both antibiotic-producing and pathogenic bacteria to resist the effects of antibiotics that target the ribosome. The thiostrepton producer Streptomyces azureus prevents self-intoxication by expressing the thiostrepton-resistance methyltransferase (Tsr), which methylates the 2′-hydroxyl of 23 S rRNA nucleotide adenosine 1067 within the thiostrepton binding site. Tsr is a homodimer with each protomer containing an L30e-like amino-terminal domain (NTD) and a SPOUT methyltransferase family catalytic carboxyl-terminal domain (CTD). We show that both enzyme domains are required for high affinity RNA substrate binding. The Tsr-CTD has intrinsic, weak RNA affinity that is necessary to direct the specific high-affinity Tsr-RNA interaction via NTDs, which have no detectable RNA affinity in isolation. RNA structure probing experiments identify the Tsr footprint on the RNA and structural changes in the substrate, induced specifically upon NTD binding, which are necessary for catalysis by the CTD. Additionally, we identify a key amino acid in each domain responsible for CTD-RNA binding and the observed NTD-dependent RNA structural changes. These studies allow us to develop a model for Tsr-RNA interaction in which the coordinated substrate recognition of each Tsr structural domain is an obligatory pre-catalytic recognition event. Our findings underscore the complexity of substrate recognition by RNA modification enzymes and the potential for direct involvement of the RNA substrate in controlling the process of its modification.

Biogenesis of eukaryotic ribosome is a complex event involving a number of non-ribosomal factors. During assembly of the ribosome, rRNAs are post-transcriptionally modified by 2′-O-methylation, pseudouridylation, and several base-specific modifications, which are collectively involved in fine-tuning translational fidelity and/or modulating ribosome assembly. By mass-spectrometric analysis, we demonstrated that N4-acetylcytidine (ac4C) is present at position 1773 in the 18 S rRNA of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In addition, we found an essential gene, KRE33 (human homolog, NAT10), that we renamed RRA1 (ribosomal RNA cytidine acetyltransferase 1) encoding an RNA acetyltransferase responsible for ac4C1773 formation. Using recombinant Rra1p, we could successfully reconstitute ac4C1773 in a model rRNA fragment in the presence of both acetyl-CoA and ATP as substrates. Upon depletion of Rra1p, the 23 S precursor of 18 S rRNA was accumulated significantly, which resulted in complete loss of 18 S rRNA and small ribosomal subunit (40 S), suggesting that ac4C1773 formation catalyzed by Rra1p plays a critical role in processing of the 23 S precursor to yield 18 S rRNA. When nuclear acetyl-CoA was depleted by inactivation of acetyl-CoA synthetase 2 (ACS2), we observed temporal accumulation of the 23 S precursor, indicating that Rra1p modulates biogenesis of 40 S subunit by sensing nuclear acetyl-CoA concentration.

Ethanol exposure promotes the development of steatohepatitis, which can progress to end stage liver disease. Kupffer cells have been documented to play a key role in the genesis and progression of alcoholic liver disease with ethanol exposure enhancing Kupffer cell activation. In the present study, we identified the binding of hexokinase II to the mitochondria as a requirement for LPS-induced activation of Kupffer cells and its potentiation by ethanol. LPS and ethanol exposure induced a reduction in sirtuin-3 activity. In turn, the decline of sirtuin-3 activity led to the activation of cyclophilin-D, which mediated an increased binding of hexokinase II to the mitochondria. Suppression of cyclophilin-D expression or enforced detachment of hexokinase II from the mitochondria abrogated the LPS- and ethanol-induced stimulation of Kupffer cells, preventing NADPH oxidase and inflammasome activation. Moreover, activation of AMP-activated protein kinase restored sirtuin-3 activity, thereby preventing LPS and ethanol from stimulating the binding of hexokinase II to the mitochondria and precluding NADPH oxidase and inflammasome activation.

Apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme, catalytic polypeptide 1 (APOBEC1) is an intestine-specific RNA-binding protein. However, inflammation or exposure to DNA-damaging agents can induce ectopic APOBEC1 expression, which can result in hepatocellular hyperplasia in animal models. To identify its RNA targets, FLAG-tagged APOBEC1 was immunoprecipitated from transfected HuH7.5 hepatocellular carcinoma cells and analyzed using DNA microarrays. The interleukin-8 (IL8) mRNA was the most abundant co-precipitated RNA. Exogenous APOBEC1 expression increased IL8 production by extending the half-life of the IL8 mRNA. A cluster of AU-rich elements in the 3′-UTR of IL8 was essential to the APOBEC1-mediated increase in IL8 production. Notably, IL8 mRNA did not co-immunoprecipitate with APOBEC1 from lysates of other cell types at appreciable levels; therefore, other factors may enhance the association between APOBEC1 and IL8 mRNA in a cell type-specific manner. A yeast two-hybrid analysis and siRNA screen were used to identify proteins that enhance the interaction between APOBEC1 and IL8 mRNA. Heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein Q (hnRNPQ) was essential to the APOBEC1/IL8 mRNA association in HuH7.5 cells. Of the seven hnRNPQ isoforms, only hnRNPQ6 enabled APOBEC1 to bind to IL8 mRNA when overexpressed in HEK293 cells, which expressed the lowest level of endogenous hnRNPQ6 among the cell types examined. The results of a reporter assay using a luciferase gene fused to the IL8 3′-UTR were consistent with the hypothesis that hnRNPQ6 is required for APOBEC1-enhanced IL8 production. Collectively, these data indicate that hnRNPQ6 promotes the interaction of APOBEC1 with IL8 mRNA and the subsequent increase in IL8 production.

Patients with advanced congestive heart failure (CHF) or chronic kidney disease (CKD) often have increased angiotensin II (Ang II) levels and cachexia. Ang II infusion in rodents causes sustained skeletal muscle wasting and decreases muscle regenerative potential through Ang II type 1 receptor (AT1R)-mediated signaling, likely contributing to the development of cachexia in CHF and CKD. However, the potential role of Ang II type 2 receptor (AT2R) signaling in skeletal muscle physiology is unknown. We found that AT2R expression was increased robustly in regenerating skeletal muscle after cardiotoxin (CTX)-induced muscle injury in vivo and differentiating myoblasts in vitro, suggesting that the increase in AT2R played an important role in regulating myoblast differentiation and muscle regeneration. To determine the potential role of AT2R in muscle regeneration, we infused C57BL/6 mice with the AT2R antagonist PD123319 during CTX-induced muscle regeneration. PD123319 reduced the size of regenerating myofibers and expression of the myoblast differentiation markers myogenin and embryonic myosin heavy chain. On the other hand, AT2R agonist CGP42112 infusion potentiated CTX injury-induced myogenin and embryonic myosin heavy chain expression and increased the size of regenerating myofibers. In cultured myoblasts, AT2R knockdown by siRNA suppressed myoblast differentiation marker expression and myoblast differentiation via up-regulation of phospho-ERK1/2, and ERK inhibitor treatment completely blocked the effect of AT2R knockdown. These data indicate that AT2R signaling positively regulates myoblast differentiation and potentiates skeletal muscle regenerative potential, providing a new therapeutic target in wasting disorders such as CHF and CKD.

Heterochromatin protein 1α (HP1α) is involved in regulation of chromatin plasticity, DNA damage repair, and centromere dynamics. HP1α detects histone dimethylation and trimethylation of Lys-9 via its chromodomain. HP1α localizes to heterochromatin in interphase cells but is liberated from chromosomal arms at the onset of mitosis. However, the structural determinants required for HP1α localization in interphase and the regulation of HP1α dynamics have remained elusive. Here we show that centromeric localization of HP1α depends on histone H3 Lys-9 trimethyltransferase SUV39H1 activity in interphase but not in mitotic cells. Surprisingly, HP1α liberates from chromosome arms in early mitosis. To test the role of this dissociation, we engineered an HP1α construct that persistently localizes to chromosome arms. Interestingly, persistent localization of HP1α to chromosome arms perturbs accurate kinetochore-microtubule attachment due to an aberrant distribution of chromosome passenger complex and Sgo1 from centromeres to chromosome arms that prevents resolution of sister chromatids. Further analyses showed that Mis14 and perhaps other PXVXL-containing proteins are involved in directing localization of HP1α to the centromere in mitosis. Taken together, our data suggest a model in which spatiotemporal dynamics of HP1α localization to centromere is governed by two distinct structural determinants. These findings reveal a previously unrecognized but essential link between HP1α-interacting molecular dynamics and chromosome plasticity in promoting accurate cell division.

Hsp90 binding immunophilins FKBP51 and FKBP52 modulate steroid receptor trafficking and hormone-dependent biological responses. With the purpose to expand this model to other nuclear factors that are also subject to nuclear-cytoplasmic shuttling, we analyzed whether these immunophilins modulate NF-κB signaling. It is demonstrated that FKBP51 impairs both the nuclear translocation rate of NF-κB and its transcriptional activity. The inhibitory action of FKBP51 requires neither the peptidylprolyl-isomerase activity of the immunophilin nor its association with Hsp90. The TPR domain of FKBP51 is essential. On the other hand, FKBP52 favors the nuclear retention time of RelA, its association to a DNA consensus binding sequence, and NF-κB transcriptional activity, the latter effect being strongly dependent on the peptidylprolyl-isomerase activity and also on the TPR domain of FKBP52, but its interaction with Hsp90 is not required. In unstimulated cells, FKBP51 forms endogenous complexes with cytoplasmic RelA. Upon cell stimulation with phorbol ester, the NF-κB soluble complex exchanges FKBP51 for FKBP52, and the NF-κB biological effect is triggered. Importantly, FKBP52 is functionally recruited to the promoter region of NF-κB target genes, whereas FKBP51 is released. Competition assays demonstrated that both immunophilins antagonize one another, and binding assays with purified proteins suggest that the association of RelA and immunophilins could be direct. These observations suggest that the biological action of NF-κB in different cell types could be positively regulated by a high FKBP52/FKBP51 expression ratio by favoring NF-κB nuclear retention, recruitment to the promoter regions of target genes, and transcriptional activity.

The protease caspase-9 is activated on the apoptosome, a multiprotein signal transduction platform that assembles in response to mitochondria-dependent apoptosis initiation. Despite extensive molecular research, the assembly of the holo-apoptosome and the process of caspase-9 activation remain incompletely understood. Here, we therefore integrated quantitative data on the molecular interactions and proteolytic processes during apoptosome formation and apoptosis execution and conducted mathematical simulations to investigate the resulting biochemical signaling, quantitatively and kinetically. Interestingly, when implementing the homodimerization of procaspase-9 as a prerequisite for activation, the calculated kinetics of apoptosis execution and the efficacy of caspase-3 activation failed to replicate experimental data. In contrast, assuming a scenario in which procaspase-9 is activated allosterically upon binding to the apoptosome backbone, the mathematical simulations quantitatively and kinetically reproduced all experimental data. These data included a XIAP threshold concentration at which apoptosis execution is suppressed in HeLa cervical cancer cells, half-times of procaspase-9 processing, as well as the molecular timer function of the apoptosome. Our study therefore provides novel mechanistic insight into apoptosome-dependent apoptosis execution and suggests that caspase-9 is activated allosterically by binding to the apoptosome backbone. Our findings challenge the currently prevailing dogma that all initiator procaspases require homodimerization for activation.

Tremendous efforts have been made to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that control the specification of definitive endoderm cell fate in gene knockout mouse models and ES cell (ESC) differentiation models. However, the impact of the unfolded protein response (UPR), because of the stress of the endoplasmic reticulum on endodermal specification, is not well addressed. We employed UPR-inducing agents, thapsigargin and tunicamycin, in vitro to induce endodermal differentiation of mouse ESCs. Apart from the endodermal specification of ESCs, Western blotting demonstrated the enhanced phosphorylation of Smad2 and nuclear translocation of β-catenin in ESC-derived cells. The inclusion of the endoplasmic reticulum stress inhibitor tauroursodeoxycholic acid to the induction cultures prevented the differentiation of ESCs into definitive endodermal cells even when Activin A was supplemented. Also, the addition of the TGF-β inhibitor SB431542 and the Wnt/β-catenin antagonist IWP-2 negated the endodermal differentiation of ESCs mediated by thapsigargin and tunicamycin. These data suggest that the activation of the UPR appears to orchestrate the induction of the definitive endodermal cell fate of ESCs via both the Smad2 and β-catenin signaling pathways. The prospective regulatory machinery may be helpful for directing ESCs to differentiate into definitive endodermal cells for cellular therapy in the future.

Cofilin plays an essential role in cell migration and morphogenesis by enhancing actin filament dynamics via its actin filament-severing activity. Slingshot-1 (SSH1) is a protein phosphatase that plays a crucial role in regulating actin dynamics by dephosphorylating and reactivating cofilin. In this study, we identified insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-4 as a novel SSH1-binding protein. Co-precipitation assays revealed the direct endogenous binding of IRS4 to SSH1. IRS4, but not IRS1 or IRS2, was bound to SSH1. IRS4 was bound to SSH1 mainly through the unique region (amino acids 335–400) adjacent to the C terminus of the phosphotyrosine-binding domain of IRS4. The N-terminal A, B, and phosphatase domains of SSH1 were bound to IRS4 independently. Whereas in vitro phosphatase assays revealed that IRS4 does not directly affect the cofilin phosphatase activity of SSH1, knockdown of IRS4 increased cofilin phosphorylation in cultured cells. Knockdown of IRS4 decreased phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) activity, and treatment with an inhibitor of PI3K increased cofilin phosphorylation. Akt preferentially phosphorylated SSH1 at Thr-826, but expression of a non-phosphorylatable T826A mutant of SSH1 did not affect insulin-induced cofilin dephosphorylation, and an inhibitor of Akt did not increase cofilin phosphorylation. These results suggest that IRS4 promotes cofilin dephosphorylation through sequential activation of PI3K and SSH1 but not through Akt. In addition, IRS4 co-localized with SSH1 in F-actin-rich membrane protrusions in insulin-stimulated cells, which suggests that the association of IRS4 with SSH1 contributes to localized activation of cofilin in membrane protrusions.

Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is an autosomal dominant disease that predisposes individuals to develop benign neurofibromas and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs). Due to the lack of information on the molecular mechanism of NF1-associated tumor pathogenesis or biomarkers/therapeutic targets, an effective treatment for NF1 tumors has not been established. In this study, the novel NF1-associated protein, translationally controlled tumor protein (TCTP), was identified by integrated proteomics and found to be up-regulated via activated MAPK/PI3K-AKT signaling in response to growth factors in NF1-deficient Schwann cells. Immunohistochemical analysis of NF1-associated tumors revealed that the TCTP expression level correlated with tumorigenicity. In NF1-deficient MPNST cells, TCTP protein but not mRNA was down-regulated by NF1 GTPase-activating protein-related domain or MAPK/PI3K inhibitors, and this correlated with suppression of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling. mTOR inhibition by rapamycin also down-regulated TCTP protein expression, whereas knockdown or overexpression of TCTP suppressed or activated mTOR signaling, respectively, and affected cell viability. These results suggest that a positive feedback loop between TCTP and mTOR contributes to NF1-associated tumor formation. Last, the anti-tumor effect of artesunate, which binds to and degrades TCTP, was evaluated. Artesunate significantly suppressed the viability of MPNST cells but not normal Schwann cells, and the TCTP level inversely correlated with artesunate sensitivity. Moreover, combinational use of artesunate and rapamycin enhanced the cytotoxic effect on MPNST cells. These findings suggest that TCTP is functionally implicated in the progression of NF1-associated tumors and could serve as a biological target for their therapy.

Cellular membranes, which can serve as scaffolds for signal transduction, dynamically change their characteristics upon cell detachment. Src family kinases undergo post-translational lipid modification and are involved in a wide range of signaling events at the plasma membrane, such as cell proliferation, cell adhesion, and survival. Previously, we showed the differential membrane distributions among the members of Src family kinases by sucrose density gradient fractionation. However, little is known about the regulation of the membrane distribution of Src family kinases upon cell detachment. Here, we show that cell detachment shifts the main peak of the membrane distribution of Lyn, a member of Src family kinase, from the low density to the high density membrane fractions and enhances the kinase activity of Lyn. The change in Lyn distribution upon cell detachment involves both dynamin activity and a decrease in membrane cholesterol. Cell detachment activates Lyn through decreased membrane cholesterol levels during a change in its membrane distribution. Furthermore, cholesterol incorporation decreases Lyn activity and reduces the viability of suspension cells. These results suggest that cell detachment-induced Lyn activation through the change in the membrane distribution of Lyn plays an important role in survival of suspension cells.

Tight regulation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling is critical for vertebrate development and tissue maintenance, and deregulation can lead to a host of disease phenotypes, including developmental disorders and cancer. Proteins associated with primary cilia and centrosomes have been demonstrated to negatively regulate canonical Wnt signaling in interphase cells. The plant homeodomain zinc finger protein Jade-1 can act as an E3 ubiquitin ligase-targeting β-catenin for proteasomal degradation and concentrates at the centrosome and ciliary basal body in addition to the nucleus in interphase cells. We demonstrate that the destruction complex component casein kinase 1α (CK1α) phosphorylates Jade-1 at a conserved SLS motif and reduces the ability of Jade-1 to inhibit β-catenin signaling. Consistently, Jade-1 lacking the SLS motif is more effective than wild-type Jade-1 in reducing β-catenin-induced secondary axis formation in Xenopus laevis embryos in vivo. Interestingly, CK1α also phosphorylates β-catenin and the destruction complex component adenomatous polyposis coli at a similar SLS motif to the effect that β-catenin is targeted for degradation. The opposing effect of Jade-1 phosphorylation by CK1α suggests a novel example of the dual functions of CK1α activity to either oppose or promote canonical Wnt signaling in a context-dependent manner.

The dsRNA-dependent kinase PKR is an interferon-inducible protein with ability to phosphorylate the α subunit of the eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF)-2 complex, resulting in a shut-off of general translation, induction of apoptosis, and inhibition of virus replication. Here we analyzed the modification of PKR by the small ubiquitin-like modifiers SUMO1 and SUMO2 and evaluated the consequences of PKR SUMOylation. Our results indicate that PKR is modified by both SUMO1 and SUMO2, in vitro and in vivo. We identified lysine residues Lys-60, Lys-150, and Lys-440 as SUMOylation sites in PKR. We show that SUMO is required for efficient PKR-dsRNA binding, PKR dimerization, and eIF2α phosphorylation. Furthermore, we demonstrate that SUMO potentiates the inhibition of protein synthesis induced by PKR in response to dsRNA, whereas a PKR SUMOylation mutant is impaired in its ability to inhibit protein synthesis and shows reduced capability to control vesicular stomatitis virus replication and to induce apoptosis in response to vesicular stomatitis virus infection. In summary, our data demonstrate the important role of SUMO in processes mediated by the activation of PKR.

Integration, one of the hallmarks of retrovirus replication, is mediated by a nucleoprotein complex called the preintegration complex (PIC), in which viral DNA is associated with many protein components that are required for completion of the early phase of infection. A striking feature of the PIC is its powerful integration activity in vitro. The PICs from a freshly isolated cytoplasmic extract of infected cells are able to insert viral DNA into exogenously added target DNA in vitro. Therefore, a PIC-based in vitro assay is a reliable system for assessing protein factors influencing retroviral integration. In this study, we applied a microtiter plate-based in vitro assay to a screening study using a protein library that was produced by the wheat germ cell-free protein synthesis system. Using a library of human E3 ubiquitin ligases, we identified RFPL3 as a potential stimulator of human immunodeficiency virus, type 1 (HIV-1) PIC integration activity in vitro. This enhancement of PIC activity by RFPL3 was likely to be attributed to its N-terminal RING domain. To further understand the functional role of RFPL3 in HIV infection, we created a human cell line overexpressing RFPL3. Immunoprecipitation analysis revealed that RFPL3 was associated with the human immunodeficiency virus, type 1 PICs in infected cells. More importantly, single-round HIV-1 infection was enhanced significantly by RFPL3 expression. Our proteomic approach displays an advantage in the identification of new cellular proteins affecting the integration activity of the PIC and, therefore, contributes to the understanding of functional interaction between retroviral integration complexes and host factors.

Folate, an important nutrient in the human diet, has been implicated in cancer, but its role in metastasis is not established. We have shown previously that the withdrawal of medium folate leads to the inhibition of migration and invasion of A549 lung carcinoma cells. Here we have demonstrated that medium folate regulates the function of Rho GTPases by enabling their carboxyl methylation and translocation to plasma membrane. Conversely, the lack of folate leads to the retention of these proteins in endoplasmic reticulum. Folate also promoted the switch from inactive (GDP-bound) to active (GTP-bound) GTPases, resulting in the activation of downstream kinases p21-activated kinase and LIM kinase and phosphorylation of the actin-depolymerizing factor cofilin. We have further demonstrated that in A549 cells two GTPases, RhoA and Rac1, but not Cdc42, are immediate sensors of folate status: the siRNA silencing of RhoA or Rac1 blocked effects of folate on cofilin phosphorylation and cellular migration and invasion. The finding that folate modulates metastatic potential of cancer cells was confirmed in an animal model of lung cancer using tail vein injection of A549 cells in SCID mice. A folate-rich diet enhanced lung colonization and distant metastasis to lymph nodes and decreased overall survival (35 versus 63 days for mice on a folate-restricted diet). High folate also promoted epithelial-mesenchymal transition in cancer cells and experimental mouse tumors. Our study provides experimental evidence for a mechanism of metastasis promotion by dietary folate and highlights the interaction between nutrients and metastasis-related signaling.

Dysfunctional insulin signaling is a key component of type 2 diabetes. Little is understood of the effects of systemic diabetes on retinal insulin signaling. A number of agents are used to treat patients with type 2 diabetes to normalize glucose levels and improve insulin signaling; however, little has been done to investigate the effects of these agents on retinal insulin signal transduction. We hypothesized that pioglitazone, a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) agonist, would normalize retinal insulin signal transduction through reduced tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) and suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3) activities in whole retina and retinal endothelial cells (REC) and Müller cells. To test this hypothesis, we used the BBZDR/Wor type 2 diabetic rat model, as well as REC and Müller cells cultured in normoglycemia and hyperglycemic conditions, to investigate the effects of pioglitazone on TNFα, SOCS3, and downstream insulin signal transduction proteins. We also evaluated pioglitazone's effects on retinal function using electroretinogram and markers of apoptosis. Data demonstrate that 2 months of pioglitazone significantly increased electroretinogram amplitudes in type 2 diabetic obese rats, which was associated with improved insulin receptor activation. These changes occurred in both REC and Müller cells treated with pioglitazone, suggesting that these two cell types are key to insulin resistance in the retina. Taken together, these data provide evidence of impaired insulin signaling in type 2 diabetes rats, which was improved by increasing PPARγ activity. Further investigations of PPARγ actions in the retina may provide improved treatment options.

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are regulatory RNAs frequently dysregulated in disease and following cellular stress. Investigators have described changes in miR-15b expression following exposure to several stress-inducing anticancer agents, including ionizing radiation (IR), etoposide, and hydrogen peroxide. However, the role for miR-15b as a mediator of cellular injury in organs such as the lung has yet to be explored. In this study, we examined miR-15b expression patterns as well as its potential role in DNA damage and repair in the setting of IR exposure. We showed that miR-15b is up-regulated in a dose- and time-dependent manner in human bronchial epithelial cells following IR. miR-15b expression was highest after 2 h of IR and decreased gradually. Survival rates following IR were also higher in miR-15b/16-2-overexpressing cells. Cell cycle arrest in G2/M phase and an increased DNA repair response were observed in IR-exposed miR-15b/16-2 stable cells. We observed an up-regulation of components of the ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM)/Chek1/p53 pathway in miR-15b/16-2-overexpressing cells after IR. Moreover, a pathway-based PCR expression array of genes demonstrated that miR-15b/16-2 overexpression significantly induced the expression of genes involved in ATM/ataxia telangiectasia and Rad-3-related (ATR) signaling, apoptosis, the cell cycle, and DNA repair pathways. Here we demonstrated a novel biological link between miR-15b and DNA damage and cellular protection in lung cells. We identified Wip1 (PPM1D) as a functional target for miR-15b and determined that miR-15b induction of the DNA damage response is partially dependent upon suppression of Wip1. Our study suggests that miR-15b/Wip1 could be a potential therapeutic target in radiation-induced lung disease.

The androgen receptor (AR) is a transcription factor that has a pivotal role in the occurrence and progression of prostate cancer. The AR is activated by androgens that bind to its ligand-binding domain (LBD), causing the transcription factor to enter the nucleus and interact with genes via its conserved DNA-binding domain (DBD). Treatment for prostate cancer involves reducing androgen production or using anti-androgen drugs to block the interaction of hormones with the AR-LBD. Eventually the disease changes into a castration-resistant form of PCa where LBD mutations render anti-androgens ineffective or where constitutively active AR splice variants, lacking the LBD, become overexpressed. Recently, we identified a surfaced exposed pocket on the AR-DBD as an alternative drug-target site for AR inhibition. Here, we demonstrate that small molecules designed to selectively bind the pocket effectively block transcriptional activity of full-length and splice variant AR forms at low to sub-micromolar concentrations. The inhibition is lost when residues involved in drug interactions are mutated. Furthermore, the compounds did not impede nuclear localization of the AR and blocked interactions with chromatin, indicating the interference of DNA binding with the nuclear form of the transcription factor. Finally, we demonstrate the inhibition of gene expression and tumor volume in mouse xenografts. Our results indicate that the AR-DBD has a surface site that can be targeted to inhibit all forms of the AR, including enzalutamide-resistant and constitutively active splice variants and thus may serve as a potential avenue for the treatment of recurrent and metastatic prostate cancer.

Allosteric HIV-1 integrase (IN) inhibitors (ALLINIs) are a promising class of antiretroviral agents for clinical development. Although ALLINIs promote aberrant IN multimerization and inhibit IN interaction with its cellular cofactor LEDGF/p75 with comparable potencies in vitro, their primary mechanism of action in infected cells is through inducing aberrant multimerization of IN. Crystal structures have shown that ALLINIs bind at the IN catalytic core domain dimer interface and bridge two interacting subunits. However, how these interactions promote higher-order protein multimerization is not clear. Here, we used mass spectrometry-based protein footprinting to monitor surface topology changes in full-length WT and the drug-resistant A128T mutant INs in the presence of ALLINI-2. These experiments have identified protein-protein interactions that extend beyond the direct inhibitor binding site and which lead to aberrant multimerization of WT but not A128T IN. Specifically, we demonstrate that C-terminal residues Lys-264 and Lys-266 play an important role in the inhibitor induced aberrant multimerization of the WT protein. Our findings provide structural clues for exploiting IN multimerization as a new, attractive therapeutic target and are expected to facilitate development of improved inhibitors.

The bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling pathway regulates a wide range of cellular responses in metazoans. A key step in the canonical BMP signaling is the phosphorylation and activation of transcription factors Smad1, Smad5, and Smad8 (collectively Smad1/5/8) by the type I BMP receptors. We previously identified PPM1A as a phosphatase toward dephosphorylation of all receptor-regulated Smads (R-Smads), including Smad1/5/8. Here we report another nuclear phosphatase named SCP4/CTDSPL2, belonging to the FCP/SCP family, as a novel Smad phosphatase in the nucleus. SCP4 physically interacts with and specifically dephosphorylates Smad1/5/8, and as a result attenuates BMP-induced transcriptional responses. Knockdown of SCP4 in multipotent mesenchymal C2C12 cells leads to increased expression of BMP target genes and consequently promotes BMP-induced osteogenic differentiation. Collectively, our results demonstrate that SCP4, as a Smad phosphatase, plays a critical role in BMP-induced signaling and cellular functions.

The α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor gene (CHRNA7) is linked to schizophrenia. A partial duplication of CHRNA7 (CHRFAM7A) is found in humans on 15q13–14. Exon 6 of CHRFAM7A harbors a 2-bp deletion polymorphism, CHRFAM7AΔ2bp, which is also associated with schizophrenia. To understand the effects of the duplicated subunits on α7 receptors, we fused α7, dupα7, and dupΔα7 subunits with various fluorescent proteins. The duplicated subunits co-localized with full-length α7 subunits in mouse neuroblastoma cells (Neuro2a) as well as rat hippocampal neurons. We investigated the interaction between the duplicated subunits and full-length α7 by measuring Förster resonance energy transfer using donor recovery after photobleaching and fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy. The results revealed that the duplicated proteins co-assemble with α7. In electrophysiological studies, Leu at the 9′-position in the M2 membrane-spanning segment was replaced with Cys in dupα7 or dupΔα7, and constructs were co-transfected with full-length α7 in Neuro2a cells. Exposure to ethylammonium methanethiosulfonate inhibited acetylcholine-induced currents, showing that the assembled functional nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) included the duplicated subunit. Incorporation of dupα7 and dupΔα7 subunits modestly changes the sensitivity of receptors to choline and varenicline. Thus, the duplicated proteins are assembled and transported to the cell membrane together with full-length α7 subunits and alter the function of the nAChRs. The characterization of dupα7 and dupΔα7 as well as their influence on α7 nAChRs may help explain the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and may suggest therapeutic strategies.

OmpF and OmpC porin channels are responsible for the passage of small hydrophilic solutes across the outer membrane of Escherichia coli. Although these channels are two of the most extensively studied porin channels, what had yet remained elusive was the reason why OmpC shows markedly lower permeability than OmpF, despite having little difference in its channel size. The OmpC channel, however, is known to contain a larger number of ionizable residues than the OmpF channel. In this study, we examined the channel property of OmpF and OmpC using the intact cell of E. coli, and we found that the permeability of several β-lactams and lactose through OmpC became increased to the level comparable with OmpF with up to 0.3 m salt that may increase the Debye-Hückel shielding or with 2% ethanol or 0.3 m urea that may perturb the short range ordering of water molecules. Replacing 10 pore-lining residues that show different ionization behavior between OmpC and OmpF led to substantial conversion of channel property with respect to their permeability and response to external salt concentration. We thus propose that the overall configuration of ionizable residues in the channel that may orient water molecules and the electrostatic profile of the channel play a decisive role in defining the channel property of the OmpC porin rather than its channel size.

Human cytosolic sulfotransferases (SULTs) regulate the activities of thousands of signaling small molecules via transfer of the sulfuryl moiety (-SO3) from 3′-phosphoadenosine 5′-phosphosulfate (PAPS) to the hydroxyls and primary amines of acceptors. Sulfonation controls the affinities of ligands for their targets, and thereby regulates numerous receptors, which, in turn, regulate complex cellular responses. Despite their biological and medical relevance, basic SULT mechanism issues remain unresolved. To settle these issues, and to create an in-depth model of SULT catalysis, the complete kinetic mechanism of a representative member of the human SULT family, SULT2A1, was determined. The mechanism is composed of eight enzyme forms that interconvert via 22 rate constants, each of which was determined independently. The result is a complete quantitative description of the mechanism that accurately predicts complex enzymatic behavior. This is the first description of a SULT mechanism at this resolution, and it reveals numerous principles of SULT catalysis and resolves previously ambiguous issues. The structures and catalytic behaviors SULTs are highly conserved; hence, the mechanism presented here should prove paradigmatic for the family.

The B cell lymphoma-2 (BCL-2) family is the key mediator of cellular sensitivity to apoptosis during pharmacological interventions for numerous human pathologies, including cancer. There is tremendous interest to understand how the proapoptotic BCL-2 effector members (e.g. BCL-2-associated X protein, BAX) cooperate with the BCL-2 homology domain only (BH3-only) subclass (e.g. BCL-2 interacting mediator of death, BIM; BCL-2 interacting-domain death agonist, BID) to induce mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP) and apoptosis and whether these mechanisms may be pharmacologically exploited to enhance the killing of cancer cells. Indeed, small molecule inhibitors of the anti-apoptotic BCL-2 family members have been designed rationally. However, the success of these “BH3 mimetics” in the clinic has been limited, likely due to an incomplete understanding of how these drugs function in the presence of multiple BCL-2 family members. To increase our mechanistic understanding of how BH3 mimetics cooperate with multiple BCL-2 family members in vitro, we directly compared the activity of several BH3-mimetic compounds (i.e. ABT-263, ABT-737, GX15-070, HA14.1, TW-37) in biochemically defined large unilamellar vesicle model systems that faithfully recapitulate BAX-dependent mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization. Our investigations revealed that the presence of BAX, BID, and BIM differentially regulated the ability of BH3 mimetics to derepress proapoptotic molecules from anti-apoptotic proteins. Using mitochondria loaded with fluorescent BH3 peptides and cells treated with inducers of cell death, these differences were supported. Together, these data suggest that although the presence of anti-apoptotic BCL-2 proteins primarily dictates cellular sensitivity to BH3 mimetics, additional specificity is conferred by proapoptotic BCL-2 proteins.

Cerebellar dysfunction causes ataxia characterized by loss of balance and coordination. Until now, the molecular and neuronal mechanisms of several types of inherited cerebellar ataxia have not been completely clarified. Here, we report that leucine-rich G protein-coupled receptor 4 (Lgr4/Gpr48) is highly expressed in Purkinje cells (PCs) in the cerebellum. Deficiency of Lgr4 leads to an ataxia-like phenotype in mice. Histologically, no obvious morphological changes were observed in the cerebellum of Lgr4 mutant mice. However, the number of PCs was slightly but significantly reduced in Lgr4−/− mice. In addition, in vitro electrophysiological analysis showed an impaired long term depression (LTD) at parallel fiber-PC (PF-PC) synapses in Lgr4−/− mice. Consistently, immunostaining experiments showed that the level of phosphorylated cAMP-responsive element-binding protein (Creb) was significantly decreased in Lgr4−/− PCs. Furthermore, treatment with forskolin, an adenylyl cyclase agonist, rescued phospho-Creb in PCs and reversed the impairment in PF-PC LTD in Lgr4−/− cerebellar slices, indicating that Lgr4 is an upstream regulator of Creb signaling, which is underlying PF-PC LTD. Together, our findings demonstrate for first time an important role for Lgr4 in motor coordination and cerebellar synaptic plasticity and provide a potential therapeutic target for certain types of inherited cerebellar ataxia.

Mre11 and Rad50 form a stable complex (MR) and work cooperatively in repairing DNA double strand breaks. In the bacteriophage T4, Rad50 (gene product 46) enhances the nuclease activity of Mre11 (gene product 47), and Mre11 and DNA in combination stimulate the ATPase activity of Rad50. The structural basis for the cross-activation of the MR complex has been elusive. Various crystal structures of the MR complex display limited protein-protein interfaces that mainly exist between the C terminus of Mre11 and the coiled-coil domain of Rad50. To test the role of the C-terminal Rad50 binding domain (RBD) in Mre11 activation, we constructed a series of C-terminal deletions and mutations in bacteriophage T4 Mre11. Deletion of the RBD in Mre11 eliminates Rad50 binding but only has moderate effect on its intrinsic nuclease activity; however, the additional deletion of the highly acidic flexible linker that lies between RBD and the main body of Mre11 increases the nuclease activity of Mre11 by 20-fold. Replacement of the acidic residues in the flexible linker with alanine elevates the Mre11 activity to the level of the MR complex when combined with deletion of RBD. Nuclease activity kinetics indicate that Rad50 association and deletion of the C terminus of Mre11 both enhance DNA substrate binding. Additionally, a short peptide that contains the flexible linker and RBD of Mre11 acts as an inhibitor of Mre11 nuclease activity. These results support a model where the Mre11 RBD and linker domain act as an autoinhibitory domain when not in complex with Rad50. Complex formation with Rad50 alleviates this inhibition due to the tight association of the RBD and the Rad50 coiled-coil.

DNR (dissimilative nitrate respiration regulator) is a heme-binding transcription factor that is involved in the regulation of denitrification in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In the ferrous deoxy state, the heme is 6-coordinate; external NO and CO can replace an internal ligand. Using fluorescence anisotropy, we show that high-affinity sequence-specific DNA binding occurs only when the heme is nitrosylated, consistent with the proposed function of DNR as NO sensor and transcriptional activator. This role is moreover supported by the NO “trapping” properties revealed by ultrafast spectroscopy that are similar to those of other heme-based NO sensor proteins. Dissociated CO-heme pairs rebind in an essentially barrierless way. This process competes with migration out of the heme pocket. The latter process is thermally activated (Ea ∼7 kJ/mol). This result is compared with other heme proteins, including the homologous CO sensor/transcription factor CooA, variants of the 5-coordinate mycobacterial sensor DosT and the electron transfer protein cytochrome c. This comparison indicates that thermal activation of ligand escape from the heme pocket is specific for systems where an external ligand replaces an internal one. The origin of this finding and possible implications are discussed.

Dendritic cells (DCs) are the most potent antigen-presenting cells (APCs) in the immune system. DCs present antigens to CD8 and CD4 T cells in the context of class I or II MHC. Recent evidence suggests that autophagy, a conserved intracellular degradation pathway, regulates class II antigen presentation. In vitro studies have shown that deletion of autophagy-related genes reduced antigen presentation by APCs to CD4 T cells. In vivo studies confirmed these findings in the context of infectious diseases. However, the relevance of autophagy-mediated antigen presentation in autoimmunity remains to be elucidated. Here, we report that loss of autophagy-related gene 7 (Atg7) in DCs ameliorated experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a CD4 T cell-mediated mouse model of multiple sclerosis, by reducing in vivo priming of T cells. In contrast, severity of hapten-induced contact hypersensitivity, in which CD8 T cells and NK cells play major roles, was unaffected. Administration of the autophagy-lysosomal inhibitor chloroquine, before EAE onset, delayed disease progression and, when administered after the onset, reduced disease severity. Our data show that autophagy is required in DCs for induction of EAE and suggest that autophagy might be a potential target for treating CD4 T cell-mediated autoimmune conditions.

The mitochondrial pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC) plays a crucial role in regulation of glucose homoeostasis in mammalian cells. PDC flux depends on catalytic activity of the most important enzyme component pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH). PDH kinase inactivates PDC by phosphorylating PDH at specific serine residues, including Ser-293, whereas dephosphorylation of PDH by PDH phosphatase restores PDC activity. The current understanding suggests that Ser-293 phosphorylation of PDH impedes active site accessibility to its substrate pyruvate. Here, we report that phosphorylation of a tyrosine residue Tyr-301 also inhibits PDH α 1 (PDHA1) by blocking pyruvate binding through a novel mechanism in addition to Ser-293 phosphorylation. In addition, we found that multiple oncogenic tyrosine kinases directly phosphorylate PDHA1 at Tyr-301, and Tyr-301 phosphorylation of PDHA1 is common in EGF-stimulated cells as well as diverse human cancer cells and primary leukemia cells from human patients. Moreover, expression of a phosphorylation-deficient PDHA1 Y301F mutant in cancer cells resulted in increased oxidative phosphorylation, decreased cell proliferation under hypoxia, and reduced tumor growth in mice. Together, our findings suggest that phosphorylation at distinct serine and tyrosine residues inhibits PDHA1 through distinct mechanisms to impact active site accessibility, which act in concert to regulate PDC activity and promote the Warburg effect.

The 14-3-3 protein family comprises adaptors and scaffolds that regulate intracellular signaling pathways. The 14-3-3γ isoform is a negative regulator of steroidogenesis that is hormonally induced and transiently functions at the initiation of steroidogenesis by delaying maximal steroidogenesis in MA-10 mouse tumor Leydig cells. Treatment of MA-10 cells with the cAMP analog 8-bromo-cAMP (8-Br-cAMP), which stimulates steroidogenesis, triggers the interaction of 14-3-3γ with the steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (STAR) in the cytosol, limiting STAR activity to basal levels. Over time, this interaction ceases, allowing for a 2-fold induction in STAR activity and maximal increase in the rate of steroid formation. The 14-3-3γ/STAR pattern of interaction was found to be opposite that of the 14-3-3γ homodimerization pattern. Phosphorylation and acetylation of 14-3-3γ showed similar patterns to homodimerization and STAR binding, respectively. 14-3-3γ Ser58 phosphorylation and 14-3-3γ Lys49 acetylation were blocked using trans-activator of HIV transcription factor 1 peptides coupled to 14-3-3γ sequences containing Ser58 or Lys49. Blocking either one of these modifications further induced 8-Br-cAMP-induced steroidogenesis while reducing lipid storage, suggesting that the stored cholesterol is used for steroid formation. Taken together, these results indicate that Ser58 phosphorylation and Lys49 acetylation of 14-3-3γ occur in a coordinated time-dependent manner to regulate 14-3-3γ homodimerization. 14-3-3γ Ser58 phosphorylation is required for STAR interactions under control conditions, and 14-3-3γ Lys49 acetylation is important for the cAMP-dependent induction of these interactions.

The target of rapamycin complex 1 (TORC1) is a key conserved regulator of eukaryotic cell growth. The xenobiotic rapamycin is a potent inhibitor of the yeast complex. Surprisingly, the EGO complex, a nonessential in vivo activator of TORC1, is somehow required for yeast cells to recover efficiently from a period of treatment with rapamycin. Why? Here, we found that rapamycin is only a partial inhibitor of TORC1. We confirmed that saturating amounts of rapamycin do not fully inhibit proliferation of wild-type cells, and we found that the residual proliferation in the presence of the drug is dependent on the EGO complex and on the activity of TORC1. We found that this residual TORC1-dependent proliferation is key to recovery from rapamycin treatment. First, the residual proliferation rate correlates with the ability of cells to recover from treatment. Second, the residual proliferation rate persists long after washout of the drug and until cells recover. Third, the total observable pool of cell-associated rapamycin is extremely stable and decreases only with increasing cell number after washout of the drug. Finally, consideration of the residual proliferation rate alone accurately and quantitatively accounts for the kinetics of recovery of wild-type cells and for the nature and severity of the ego− mutant defect. Overall, our results revealed that rapamycin is a partial inhibitor of yeast TORC1, that persistence of the drug limits recovery, and that rapamycin is not detoxified by yeast but is passively diluted among progeny cells because of residual proliferation.

In a process known as quorum sensing, bacteria use chemicals called autoinducers for cell-cell communication. Population-wide detection of autoinducers enables bacteria to orchestrate collective behaviors. In the animal kingdom detection of chemicals is vital for success in locating food, finding hosts, and avoiding predators. This behavior, termed chemotaxis, is especially well studied in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Here we demonstrate that the Vibrio cholerae autoinducer (S)-3-hydroxytridecan-4-one, termed CAI-1, influences chemotaxis in C. elegans. C. elegans prefers V. cholerae that produces CAI-1 over a V. cholerae mutant defective for CAI-1 production. The position of the CAI-1 ketone moiety is the key feature driving CAI-1-directed nematode behavior. CAI-1 is detected by the C. elegans amphid sensory neuron AWCON. Laser ablation of the AWCON cell, but not other amphid sensory neurons, abolished chemoattraction to CAI-1. These analyses define the structural features of a bacterial-produced signal and the nematode chemosensory neuron that permit cross-kingdom interaction.

Ultraviolet (UV) photoproducts are removed from genomic DNA by dual incisions in humans in the form of 24- to 32-nucleotide-long oligomers (canonical 30-mers) by the nucleotide excision repair system. How the small, excised, damage-containing DNA oligonucleotides (sedDNAs) are processed in cells following the dual incision event is not known. Here, we demonstrate that sedDNAs are localized to the nucleus in two biochemically distinct forms, which include chromatin-associated, transcription factor II H-bound complexes and more readily solubilized, RPA-bound complexes. Because the nuclear mobility and repair functions of transcription factor II H and RPA are influenced by post-incision gap-filling events, we examined how DNA repair synthesis and DNA ligation affect sedDNA processing. We found that although these gap filling activities are not essential for the dual incision/sedDNA generation event per se, the inhibition of DNA repair synthesis and ligation is associated with a decrease in UV photoproduct removal rate and an accumulation of RPA-sedDNA complexes in the cell. These findings indicate that sedDNA processing and association with repair proteins following the dual incisions may be tightly coordinated with gap filling during nucleotide excision repair in vivo.

Galnt3, UDP-N-acetyl-α-d-galactosamine:polypeptide N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase 3, transfers N-acetyl-d-galactosamine to serine and threonine residues, initiating mucin type O-glycosylation of proteins. We searched the target genes of Runx2, which is an essential transcription factor for chondrocyte maturation, in chondrocytes and found that Galnt3 expression was up-regulated by Runx2 and severely reduced in Runx2−/− cartilaginous skeletons. To investigate the function of Galnt3 in chondrocytes, we generated Galnt3−/− mice and chondrocyte-specific Galnt3 transgenic mice under the control of the Col2a1 promoter-enhancer. Galnt3−/− mice showed a delay in endochondral ossification and shortened limbs at embryonic day 16.5, suggesting that Galnt3 is involved in chondrocyte maturation. Galnt3 transgenic mice presented dwarfism, the chondrocyte maturation was retarded, the cell cycle in chondrocytes was accelerated, premature chondrocyte apoptosis occurred, and the growth plates were disorganized. The binding of Vicia villosa agglutinin, which recognizes the Tn antigen (GalNAc-O-Ser/Thr), was drastically increased in chondrocytes, and aggrecan (Acan) was highly enriched with Tn antigen. However, safranin O staining, which recognizes glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), and Acan were severely reduced. Chondroitin sulfate was reduced in amount, but the elongation of chondroitin sulfate chains had not been severely disturbed in the isolated GAGs. These findings indicate that overexpression of Galnt3 in chondrocytes caused dwarfism due to the increase of mucin-type O-glycans and the reduction of GAGs, probably through competition with xylosyltransferases, which initiate GAG chains by attaching O-linked xylose to serine residues, suggesting a negative effect of Galnt family proteins on Acan deposition in addition to the positive effect of Galnt3 on chondrocyte maturation.

ATP-binding cassette multidrug efflux pumps transport a wide range of substrates. Current models suggest that a drug binds relatively tightly to a transport site in the transmembrane domains when the protein is in the closed inward facing conformation. Upon binding of ATP, the transporter can switch to an outward facing (drug off or drug releasing) structure of lower affinity. ATP hydrolysis is critically important for remodeling the drug-binding site to facilitate drug release and to reset the transporter for a new transport cycle. We characterized the novel phenotype of an S1368A mutant that lies in the putative drug-binding pocket of the yeast multidrug transporter Pdr5. This substitution created broad, severe drug hypersensitivity, although drug binding, ATP hydrolysis, and intradomain signaling were indistinguishable from the wild-type control. Several different rhodamine 6G efflux and accumulation assays yielded evidence consistent with the possibility that Ser-1368 prevents reentry of the excluded drug.

Decreased expression of diacylglycerol (DG) kinase (DGK) δ in skeletal muscles is closely related to the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. To identify DG species that are phosphorylated by DGKδ in response to high glucose stimulation, we investigated high glucose-dependent changes in phosphatidic acid (PA) molecular species in mouse C2C12 myoblasts using a newly established liquid chromatography/MS method. We found that the suppression of DGKδ2 expression by DGKδ-specific siRNAs significantly inhibited glucose-dependent increases in 30:0-, 32:0-, and 34:0-PA and moderately attenuated 30:1-, 32:1-, and 34:1-PA. Moreover, overexpression of DGKδ2 also enhanced the production of these PA species. MS/MS analysis revealed that these PA species commonly contain palmitic acid (16:0). D609, an inhibitor of phosphatidylcholine-specific phospholipase C (PC-PLC), significantly inhibited the glucose-stimulated production of the palmitic acid-containing PA species. Moreover, PC-PLC was co-immunoprecipitated with DGKδ2. These results strongly suggest that DGKδ preferably metabolizes palmitic acid-containing DG species supplied from the PC-PLC pathway, but not arachidonic acid (20:4)-containing DG species derived from the phosphatidylinositol turnover, in response to high glucose levels.

Thiazolidinedione class of anti-diabetic drugs which are known as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) ligands have been used to treat metabolic disorders, but thiazolidinediones can also cause several severe side effects, including congestive heart failure, fluid retention, and weight gain. In this study, we describe a novel synthetic PPARγ ligand UNIST HYUNDAI Compound 1 (UHC1) that binds tightly to PPARγ without the classical agonism and which blocks cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (CDK5)-mediated PPARγ phosphorylation. We modified the non-agonist PPARγ ligand SR1664 chemically to improve its solubility and then developed a novel PPARγ ligand, UHC1. According to our docking simulation, UHC1 occupied the ligand-binding site of PPARγ with a higher docking score than SR1664. In addition, UHC1 more potently blocked CDK5-mediated PPARγ phosphorylation at Ser-273. Surprisingly, UHC1 treatment effectively ameliorated the inflammatory response both in vitro and in high-fat diet-fed mice. Furthermore, UHC1 treatment dramatically improved insulin sensitivity in high-fat diet-fed mice without causing fluid retention and weight gain. Taken together, compared with SR1664, UHC1 exhibited greater beneficial effects on glucose and lipid metabolism by blocking CDK5-mediated PPARγ phosphorylation, and these data indicate that UHC1 could be a novel therapeutic agent for use in type 2 diabetes and related metabolic disorders.

The steroid hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) initiates insect molting and metamorphosis. By contrast, juvenile hormone (JH) prevents metamorphosis. However, the mechanism by which JH inhibits metamorphosis remains unclear. In this study, we propose that JH induces the phosphorylation of Broad isoform Z7 (BrZ7), a newly identified protein, to inhibit 20E-mediated metamorphosis in the lepidopteran insect Helicoverpa armigera. The knockdown of BrZ7 in larvae inhibited metamorphosis by repressing the expression of the 20E response gene. BrZ7 was weakly expressed and phosphorylated during larval growth but highly expressed and non-phosphorylated during metamorphosis. JH regulated the rapid phosphorylation of BrZ7 via a G-protein-coupled receptor-, phospholipase C-, and protein kinase C-triggered pathway. The phosphorylated BrZ7 bound to the 5′-regulatory region of calponin to regulate its expression in the JH pathway. Exogenous JH induced BrZ7 phosphorylation to prevent metamorphosis by suppressing 20E-related gene transcription. JH promoted non-phosphorylated calponin interacting with ultraspiracle protein to activate the JH pathway and antagonize the 20E pathway. This study reveals one of the possible mechanisms by which JH counteracts 20E-regulated metamorphosis by inducing the phosphorylation of BrZ7.

Transcriptome analyses have recently identified PARP12, a member of a large family of ADP-ribosyl transferases, as an interferon-induced gene (ISG), whose function remains incompletely characterized. We demonstrate herein that PARP12 is a genuine ISG, whose expressed protein displays at least two distinct subcellular locations and related functions. Upon ectopic expression or exposure to oxidative stress, PARP12 is recruited to stress-granules (SGs), known sites of mRNA translational arrest. Accordingly, PARP12 was found to block mRNA translation, possibly upon association to the translational machinery. Both the N-terminal domain (containing an RNA-binding domain characterized by the presence of five CCCH-type Zn-fingers) and integrity of the catalytic domain are required for this suppressive function. In contrast, stimulation with LPS leads to the localization of PARP12 to p62/SQSTM1 (an adaptor protein involved in innate signaling and autophagy) containing structures, unrelated to SGs. Deletion of the N-terminal domain promotes the association of the protein to p62/SQSTM1, suggesting that the RNA-binding domain is responsible for the subcellular localization of PARP12. Association to p62/SQSTM1 was found to correlate with increased NF-κB signaling, suggesting a role for PARP12 in inflammation. Collectively, these observations suggest that PARP12 can alternate between two distinct subcellular compartments associated to two distinct cellular functions. The present work therefore identifies PARP12 as an ISG with a potential role in cellular defenses against viral infections.

NF-κB is a transcription factor involved in many signaling pathways that also plays an important role in UV-induced skin tumorigenesis. UV radiation can activate NF-κB, but the detailed mechanism remains unclear. In this study, we provided evidence that the activation of constitutive nitric-oxide synthase plays a role in regulation of IκB reduction and NF-κB activation in human keratinocyte HaCaT cells in early phase (within 6 h) post-UVB. Treating the cells with l-NAME, a selective inhibitor of constitutive nitric-oxide synthase (cNOS), can partially reverse the IκB reduction and inhibit the DNA binding activity as well as nuclear translocation of NF-κB after UVB radiation. A luciferase reporter assay indicates that UVB-induced NF-κB activation is totally diminished in cNOS null cells. The cNOS-mediated reduction of IκB is likely due to the imbalance of nitric oxide/peroxynitrite because treating the cells with lower (50 μm), but not higher (100–500 μm), concentration of S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine (SNAP) can reverse the effect of l-NAME in partial restore IκB level post-UVB. Our data also showed that NF-κB activity was required for maintaining a stable IκB kinase α subunit (IKKα) level because treating the cells with NF-κB or cNOS inhibitors could reduce IKKα level upon UVB radiation. In addition, our data demonstrated that although NF-κB protects cells from UVB-induced death, its pro-survival activity was likely neutralized by the pro-death activity of peroxynitrite after UVB radiation.