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1.  Novel plant SUN–KASH bridges are involved in RanGAP anchoring and nuclear shape determination 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2012;196(2):203-211.
SUN–KASH nuclear envelope bridges formed by WIP and SUN proteins are present in the plant branch of the tree of life but have functionally diverged from their opisthokont counterparts and are involved in nuclear morphology and RanGAP–nuclear envelope association.
Inner nuclear membrane Sad1/UNC-84 (SUN) proteins interact with outer nuclear membrane (ONM) Klarsicht/ANC-1/Syne homology (KASH) proteins, forming linkers of nucleoskeleton to cytoskeleton conserved from yeast to human and involved in positioning of nuclei and chromosomes. Defects in SUN–KASH bridges are linked to muscular dystrophy, progeria, and cancer. SUN proteins were recently identified in plants, but their ONM KASH partners are unknown. Arabidopsis WPP domain–interacting proteins (AtWIPs) are plant-specific ONM proteins that redundantly anchor Arabidopsis RanGTPase–activating protein 1 (AtRanGAP1) to the nuclear envelope (NE). In this paper, we report that AtWIPs are plant-specific KASH proteins interacting with Arabidopsis SUN proteins (AtSUNs). The interaction is required for both AtWIP1 and AtRanGAP1 NE localization. AtWIPs and AtSUNs are necessary for maintaining the elongated nuclear shape of Arabidopsis epidermal cells. Together, our data identify the first KASH members in the plant kingdom and provide a novel function of SUN–KASH complexes, suggesting that a functionally diverged SUN–KASH bridge is conserved beyond the opisthokonts.
PMCID: PMC3265956  PMID: 22270916
2.  Analysis of Meiosis in SUN1 Deficient Mice Reveals a Distinct Role of SUN2 in Mammalian Meiotic LINC Complex Formation and Function 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(2):e1004099.
LINC complexes are evolutionarily conserved nuclear envelope bridges, composed of SUN (Sad-1/UNC-84) and KASH (Klarsicht/ANC-1/Syne/homology) domain proteins. They are crucial for nuclear positioning and nuclear shape determination, and also mediate nuclear envelope (NE) attachment of meiotic telomeres, essential for driving homolog synapsis and recombination. In mice, SUN1 and SUN2 are the only SUN domain proteins expressed during meiosis, sharing their localization with meiosis-specific KASH5. Recent studies have shown that loss of SUN1 severely interferes with meiotic processes. Absence of SUN1 provokes defective telomere attachment and causes infertility. Here, we report that meiotic telomere attachment is not entirely lost in mice deficient for SUN1, but numerous telomeres are still attached to the NE through SUN2/KASH5-LINC complexes. In Sun1−/− meiocytes attached telomeres retained the capacity to form bouquet-like clusters. Furthermore, we could detect significant numbers of late meiotic recombination events in Sun1−/− mice. Together, this indicates that even in the absence of SUN1 telomere attachment and their movement within the nuclear envelope per se can be functional.
Author Summary
Correct genome haploidization during meiosis requires tightly regulated chromosome movements that follow a highly conserved choreography during prophase I. Errors in these movements cause subsequent meiotic defects, which typically lead to infertility. At the beginning of meiotic prophase, chromosome ends are tethered to the nuclear envelope (NE). This attachment of telomeres appears to be mediated by well-conserved membrane spanning protein complexes within the NE (LINC complexes). In mouse meiosis, the two main LINC components SUN1 and SUN2 were independently described to localize at the sites of telomere attachment. While SUN1 has been demonstrated to be critical for meiotic telomere attachment, the precise role of SUN2 in this context, however, has been discussed controversially in the field. Our current study was targeted to determine the factual capacity of SUN2 in telomere attachment and chromosome movements in SUN1 deficient mice. Remarkably, although telomere attachment is impaired in the absence of SUN1, we could find a yet undescribed SUN1-independent telomere attachment, which presumably is mediated by SUN2 and KASH5. This SUN2 mediated telomere attachment is stable throughout prophase I and functional in moving telomeres within the NE. Thus, our results clearly indicate that SUN1 and SUN2, at least partially, fulfill redundant meiotic functions.
PMCID: PMC3937131  PMID: 24586178
3.  Protein interactions at the higher plant nuclear envelope: evidence for a linker of nucleoskeleton and cytoskeleton complex 
Following the description of SAD1/UNC84 (SUN) domain proteins in higher plants, evidence has rapidly increased that plants contain a functional linker of nucleoskeleton and cytoskeleton (LINC) complex bridging the nuclear envelope (NE). While the SUN domain proteins appear to be highly conserved across kingdoms, other elements of the complex are not and some key components and interactions remain to be identified. This mini review examines components of the LINC complex, including proteins of the SUN domain family and recently identified plant Klarsicht/Anc/Syne-1 homology (KASH) domain proteins. First of these to be described were WIPs (WPP domain interacting proteins), which act as protein anchors in the outer NE. The plant KASH homologs are C-terminally anchored membrane proteins with the extreme C-terminus located in the nuclear periplasm; AtWIPs contain a highly conserved X-VPT motif at the C-terminus in contrast to PPPX in opisthokonts. The role of the LINC complex in organisms with a cell wall, and description of further LINC complex components will be considered, together with other potential plant-specific functions.
PMCID: PMC4019843  PMID: 24847341
nuclear envelope; SUN domain proteins; KASH domain proteins; nuclear structure; LINC complex
4.  SUN-1 and ZYG-12, Mediators of Centrosome–Nucleus Attachment, Are a Functional SUN/KASH Pair in Caenorhabditis elegans 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(21):4586-4595.
Klarsicht/ANC-1/Syne/homology (KASH)/Sad-1/UNC-84 (SUN) protein pairs can act as connectors between cytoplasmic organelles and the nucleoskeleton. Caenorhabditis elegans ZYG-12 and SUN-1 are essential for centrosome–nucleus attachment. Although SUN-1 has a canonical SUN domain, ZYG-12 has a divergent KASH domain. Here, we establish that the ZYG-12 mini KASH domain is functional and, in combination with a portion of coiled-coil domain, is sufficient for nuclear envelope localization. ZYG-12 and SUN-1 are hypothesized to be outer and inner nuclear membrane proteins, respectively, and to interact, but neither their topologies nor their physical interaction has been directly investigated. We show that ZYG-12 is a type II outer nuclear membrane (ONM) protein and that SUN-1 is a type II inner nuclear membrane protein. The proteins interact in the luminal space of the nuclear envelope via the ZYG-12 mini KASH domain and a region of SUN-1 that does not include the SUN domain. SUN-1 is hypothesized to restrict ZYG-12 to the ONM, preventing diffusion through the endoplasmic reticulum. We establish that ZYG-12 is indeed immobile at the ONM by using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching and show that SUN-1 is sufficient to localize ZYG-12 in cells. This work supports current models of KASH/SUN pairs and highlights the diversity in sequence elements defining KASH domains.
PMCID: PMC2770946  PMID: 19759181
5.  LINCing complex functions at the nuclear envelope 
Nucleus  2013;4(1):29-36.
Linker of nucleoskeleton and cytoskeleton (LINC) complexes span the double membrane of the nuclear envelope (NE) and physically connect nuclear structures to cytoskeletal elements. LINC complexes are envisioned as force transducers in the NE, which facilitate processes like nuclear anchorage and migration, or chromosome movements. The complexes are built from members of two evolutionary conserved families of transmembrane (TM) proteins, the SUN (Sad1/UNC-84) domain proteins in the inner nuclear membrane (INM) and the KASH (Klarsicht/ANC-1/SYNE homology) domain proteins in the outer nuclear membrane (ONM). In the lumen of the NE, the SUN and KASH domains engage in an intimate assembly to jointly form a NE bridge. Detailed insights into the molecular architecture and atomic structure of LINC complexes have recently revealed the molecular basis of nucleo-cytoskeletal coupling. They bear important implications for LINC complex function and suggest new potential and as yet unexplored roles, which the complexes may play in the cell.
PMCID: PMC3585024  PMID: 23324460
LINC complex; SUN domain; KASH domain; nuclear envelope; mechanotransduction; nuclear membrane spacing; spermatogenesis; nuclear pore complex; spindle pole body; membrane fusion
6.  Plant SUN domain proteins 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2010;5(2):154-156.
We have recently reported the identification and characterization of Sad1/UNC84 (SUN) domain proteins in various plant species. In animals and yeasts, SUN domain proteins are localized at the inner nuclear membrane and form a bridge across the nuclear envelope (NE) by interacting with outer nuclear membrane-localized Klarsicht/Anc-1/Syne-1 homology (KASH) domain proteins. This bridge physically connects cytoskeletal elements with chromatin and nucleoskeletal components. These multiprotein complexes are essential for various cellular and nuclear processes. The identification of SUN domain proteins provides the first evidence of putative NE bridging complexes in plants. Here we speculate on the composition and functions of these in regards to our current understanding of plant SUN domain proteins.
PMCID: PMC2884122  PMID: 20023391
SUN domain protein; LINC complex; plant nuclear envelope; cytoskeleton; KASH domain proteins; Arabidopsis
7.  Evidence for LINC1-SUN Associations at the Plant Nuclear Periphery 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e93406.
Sad1/UNC84 (SUN) domain proteins are a highly conserved family of inner nuclear membrane localised proteins in eukaryotes. One of their main functions is as key components of nucleo-cytoskeletal bridging complexes, in which SUN proteins associate with nucleoskeletal elements. In metazoans these are the lamins, which form a supportive structural network termed the lamina. Plants lack sequence homologs of lamins but have a similar nucleoplasmic structural network to support the plant NE. Putative components of this plant lamina-like structure are Little Nuclei (LINC) proteins, which bear structural resemblance to lamins and fulfil similar functions. This work explores the associations between AtLINC1, AtSUN1 and AtSUN2. AtLINC1 is recruited to the NE by SUN proteins and is immobilised therein. This recruitment and the immobile properties are likely due to AtSUN1/2-AtLINC1 protein interactions occurring in planta. In addition, the SUN N-terminus appears to play an important role in mediating these interactions. The associations between AtLINC1 and plant SUN proteins are a first indicator of how the nucleoskeleton may be anchored to the nuclear membrane in plants. Building on the previous characterisation of Klarsicht/Anc1/Syne1 homology (KASH) like proteins in plants, this study advances the identification and characterisation of nucleo-cytoskeletal bridging complexes in plants.
PMCID: PMC3965549  PMID: 24667841
8.  Genetic Analysis of Mps3 SUN Domain Mutants in Saccharomyces cerevisiae Reveals an Interaction with the SUN-Like Protein Slp1 
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics  2012;2(12):1703-1718.
In virtually all eukaryotic cells, protein bridges formed by the conserved inner nuclear membrane SUN (for Sad1-UNC-84) domain-containing proteins and their outer nuclear membrane binding partners span the nuclear envelope (NE) to connect the nucleoplasm and cytoplasm. These linkages are important for chromosome movements within the nucleus during meiotic prophase and are essential for nuclear migration and centrosome attachment to the NE. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, MPS3 encodes the sole SUN protein. Deletion of MPS3 or the conserved SUN domain is lethal in three different genetic backgrounds. Mutations in the SUN domain result in defects in duplication of the spindle pole body, the yeast centrosome-equivalent organelle. A genome-wide screen for mutants that exhibited synthetic fitness defects in combination with mps3 SUN domain mutants yielded a large number of hits in components of the spindle apparatus and the spindle checkpoint. Mutants in lipid metabolic processes and membrane organization also exacerbated the growth defects of mps3 SUN domain mutants, pointing to a role for Mps3 in nuclear membrane organization. Deletion of SLP1 or YER140W/EMP65 (for ER membrane protein of 65 kDa) aggravated growth of mps3 SUN domain mutants. Slp1 and Emp65 form an ER-membrane associated protein complex that is not required directly for spindle pole body duplication or spindle assembly. Rather, Slp1 is involved in Mps3 localization to the NE.
PMCID: PMC3516490  PMID: 23275891
Mps3; SUN protein; spindle pole body duplication; nuclear/ER membrane; SGA
9.  Structural insights into SUN-KASH complexes across the nuclear envelope 
Cell Research  2012;22(10):1440-1452.
Linker of the nucleoskeleton and the cytoskeleton (LINC) complexes are composed of SUN and KASH domain-containing proteins and bridge the inner and outer membranes of the nuclear envelope. LINC complexes play critical roles in nuclear positioning, cell polarization and cellular stiffness. Previously, we reported the homotrimeric structure of human SUN2. We have now determined the crystal structure of the human SUN2-KASH complex. In the complex structure, the SUN domain homotrimer binds to three independent “hook”-like KASH peptides. The overall conformation of the SUN domain in the complex closely resembles the SUN domain in its apo state. A major conformational change involves the AA'-loop of KASH-bound SUN domain, which rearranges to form a mini β-sheet that interacts with the KASH peptide. The PPPT motif of the KASH domain fits tightly into a hydrophobic pocket on the homotrimeric interface of the SUN domain, which we termed the BI-pocket. Moreover, two adjacent protomers of the SUN domain homotrimer sandwich the KASH domain by hydrophobic interaction and hydrogen bonding. Mutations of these binding sites disrupt or reduce the association between the SUN and KASH domains in vitro. In addition, transfection of wild-type, but not mutant, SUN2 promotes cell migration in Ovcar-3 cells. These results provide a structural model of the LINC complex, which is essential for additional study of the physical and functional coupling between the cytoplasm and the nucleoplasm.
PMCID: PMC3463262  PMID: 22945352
crystal structure; SUN2; KASH; LINC complexes; mechanical force transduction; nuclear envelope
10.  Subcellular Localization of SUN2 Is Regulated by Lamin A and Rab5 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20507.
SUN2 is an inner nuclear membrane protein with a conserved Sad1/UNC-84 homology SUN-domain at the C-terminus. Intriguingly, SUN2 has also been reported to interact with Rab5, which localizes in early endosomes. To clarify the dual subcellular localization of SUN2, we investigated its localization in lamin A/C deficient cells rescued with lamin A or lamin C isoform, and in HeLa cells transfected with Rab5 or its mutants. We found that expression of lamin A but not lamin C partly restored the nuclear envelope localization of SUN2. SUN2 was redistributed to endosomes upon overexpression of Rab5, but remained on the nuclear envelope when the SUN domain was deleted. To explore the physiological function of SUN2 in vesicle trafficking and endocytosis, we demonstrated the colocalization of endogenous SUN2 and Rab5. Moreover, overexpression of SUN2 stimulated the uptake of transferrin while suppression of SUN2 expression attenuated the process. These findings support a role of SUN2 in endocytosis.
PMCID: PMC3105078  PMID: 21655223
11.  Prelamin A-mediated recruitment of SUN1 to the nuclear envelope directs nuclear positioning in human muscle 
Cell Death and Differentiation  2011;18(8):1305-1315.
Lamin A is a nuclear lamina constituent expressed in differentiated cells. Mutations in the LMNA gene cause several diseases, including muscular dystrophy and cardiomyopathy. Among the nuclear envelope partners of lamin A are Sad1 and UNC84 domain-containing protein 1 (SUN1) and Sad1 and UNC84 domain-containing protein 2 (SUN2), which mediate nucleo-cytoskeleton interactions critical to the anchorage of nuclei. In this study, we show that differentiating human myoblasts accumulate farnesylated prelamin A, which elicits upregulation and recruitment of SUN1 to the nuclear envelope and favors SUN2 enrichment at the nuclear poles. Indeed, impairment of prelamin A farnesylation alters SUN1 recruitment and SUN2 localization. Moreover, nuclear positioning in myotubes is severely affected in the absence of farnesylated prelamin A. Importantly, reduced prelamin A and SUN1 levels are observed in Emery–Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD) myoblasts, concomitant with altered myonuclear positioning. These results demonstrate that the interplay between SUN1 and farnesylated prelamin A contributes to nuclear positioning in human myofibers and may be implicated in pathogenetic mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3097169  PMID: 21311568
muscle differentiation; nuclear positioning; muscular dystrophy; SUN1; prelamin A
12.  How plants LINC the SUN to KASH 
Nucleus  2013;4(3):206-215.
Linkers of the nucleoskeleton to the cytoskeleton (LINC) complexes formed by SUN and KASH proteins are conserved eukaryotic protein complexes that bridge the nuclear envelope (NE) via protein-protein interactions in the NE lumen. Revealed by opisthokont studies, LINC complexes are key players in multiple cellular processes, such as nuclear and chromosomal positioning and nuclear shape determination, which in turn influence the generation of gametes and several aspects of development. Although comparable processes have long been known in plants, the first plant nuclear envelope bridging complexes were only recently identified. WPP domain-interacting proteins at the outer NE have little homology to known opisthokont KASH proteins, but form complexes with SUN proteins at the inner NE that have plant-specific properties and functions. In this review, we will address the importance of LINC complex-regulated processes, describe the plant NE bridging complexes and compare them to opisthokont LINC complexes.
PMCID: PMC3720751  PMID: 23680964
nuclear envelope; LINC complex; SUN; KASH; plant; Arabidopsis
13.  SUN1 Interacts with Nuclear Lamin A and Cytoplasmic Nesprins To Provide a Physical Connection between the Nuclear Lamina and the Cytoskeleton 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2006;26(10):3738-3751.
Nuclear migration and positioning within cells are critical for many developmental processes and are governed by the cytoskeletal network. Although mechanisms of nuclear-cytoskeletal attachment are unclear, growing evidence links a novel family of nuclear envelope (NE) proteins that share a conserved C-terminal SUN (Sad1/UNC-84 homology) domain. Analysis of Caenorhabditis elegans mutants has implicated UNC-84 in actin-mediated nuclear positioning by regulating NE anchoring of a giant actin-binding protein, ANC-1. Here, we report the identification of SUN1 as a lamin A-binding protein in a yeast two-hybrid screen. We demonstrate that SUN1 is an integral membrane protein located at the inner nuclear membrane. While the N-terminal domain of SUN1 is responsible for detergent-resistant association with the nuclear lamina and lamin A binding, lamin A/C expression is not required for SUN1 NE localization. Furthermore, SUN1 does not interact with type B lamins, suggesting that NE localization is ensured by binding to an additional nuclear component(s), most likely chromatin. Importantly, we find that the luminal C-terminal domain of SUN1 interacts with the mammalian ANC-1 homologs nesprins 1 and 2 via their conserved KASH domain. Our data provide evidence of a physical nuclear-cytoskeletal connection that is likely to be a key mechanism in nuclear-cytoplasmic communication and regulation of nuclear position.
PMCID: PMC1488999  PMID: 16648470
14.  A conserved KASH domain protein associates with telomeres, SUN1, and dynactin during mammalian meiosis 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2012;198(2):165-172.
The mammalian meiosis-specific KASH protein KASH5 connects the telomere-associated SUN1 protein to the cytoplasmic force–generating mechanism involved in meiotic chromosome movement.
In yeasts and worms, KASH (Klarsicht/ANC-1/Syne/homology) domain and SUN (Sad-1/UNC-84) domain nuclear envelope (NE) proteins play a crucial role in meiotic chromosome movement and homologue pairing. However, although the vertebrate SUN domain protein SUN1 is involved in these processes, its partner has remained identified. Based on subcellular localization screening in mouse spermatocytes, we identified a novel germ cell–specific protein, KASH5, that localized exclusively at telomeres from the leptotene to diplotene stages in both spermatocytes and oocytes. KASH5 possesses hitherto unknown KASH-related sequences that directly interacted with SUN1 and mediated telomere localization. Thus, KASH5 is a mammalian meiosis-specific KASH domain protein. We show that meiotic chromosome movement depended on microtubules and that KASH5 interacted with the microtubule-associated dynein–dynactin complex. These results suggest that KASH5 connects the telomere-associated SUN1 protein to the cytoplasmic force–generating mechanism involved in meiotic chromosome movement. Our study strongly suggests that the meiotic homologue-pairing mechanism mediated by the SUN–KASH NE bridge is highly conserved among eukaryotes.
PMCID: PMC3410425  PMID: 22826121
15.  Interactions Between Nuclei and the Cytoskeleton Are Mediated by SUN-KASH Nuclear-Envelope Bridges 
The nuclear envelope links the cytoskeleton to structural components of the nucleus. It functions to coordinate nuclear migration and anchorage, organize chromatin, and aid meiotic chromosome pairing. Forces generated by the cytoskeleton are transferred across the nuclear envelope to the nuclear lamina through a nuclear-envelope bridge consisting of SUN (Sad1 and UNC-84) and KASH (Klarsicht, ANC-1 and Syne/Nesprin homology) proteins. Some KASH-SUN combinations connect microtubules, centrosomes, actin filaments, or intermediate filaments to the surface of the nucleus. Other combinations are used in cell cycle control, nuclear import, or apoptosis. Interactions between the cytoskeleton and the nucleus also affect global cytoskeleton organization. SUN and KASH proteins were identified through genetic screens for mispositioned nuclei in model organisms. Knockouts of SUN or KASH proteins disrupt neurological and muscular development in mice. Defects in SUN and KASH proteins have been linked to human diseases including muscular dystrophy, ataxia, progeria, lissencephaly, and cancer.
PMCID: PMC4053175  PMID: 20507227
nuclear positioning; outer nuclear membrane; laminopathies; microtubule motor targeting; Syne; Nesprin
16.  LINC Complexes Form by Binding of Three KASH Peptides to the Interfaces of Trimeric SUN proteins 
Cell  2012;149(5):1035-1047.
Linker of Nucleoskeleton and Cytoskeleton (LINC) complexes span the nuclear envelope and are composed of KASH and SUN proteins residing in the outer and inner nuclear membrane, respectively. LINC formation relies on direct binding of KASH and SUN in the perinuclear space. Thereby, molecular tethers are formed that can transmit forces for chromosome movements, nuclear migration and anchorage. We present crystal structures of the human SUN2-KASH1/2 complex, the core of the LINC complex. The SUN2 domain is rigidly attached to a trimeric coiled-coil that prepositions it to bind three KASH peptides. The peptides bind in three deep and expansive grooves formed between adjacent SUN domains, effectively acting as molecular glue. In addition, a disulfide between conserved cysteines on SUN and KASH covalently links both proteins. The structure provides the basis of LINC complex formation and suggests a model for how LINC complexes might arrange into higher-order clusters to enhance force-coupling.
PMCID: PMC3383001  PMID: 22632968
nuclear envelope; SUN; Nesprin; KASH; nuclear migration
17.  The Sad1-UNC-84 homology domain in Mps3 interacts with Mps2 to connect the spindle pole body with the nuclear envelope 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2006;174(5):665-675.
The spindle pole body (SPB) is the sole site of microtubule nucleation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae; yet, details of its assembly are poorly understood. Integral membrane proteins including Mps2 anchor the soluble core SPB in the nuclear envelope. Adjacent to the core SPB is a membrane-associated SPB substructure known as the half-bridge, where SPB duplication and microtubule nucleation during G1 occurs. We found that the half-bridge component Mps3 is the budding yeast member of the SUN protein family (Sad1-UNC-84 homology) and provide evidence that it interacts with the Mps2 C terminus to tether the half-bridge to the core SPB. Mutants in the Mps3 SUN domain or Mps2 C terminus have SPB duplication and karyogamy defects that are consistent with the aberrant half-bridge structures we observe cytologically. The interaction between the Mps3 SUN domain and Mps2 C terminus is the first biochemical link known to connect the half-bridge with the core SPB. Association with Mps3 also defines a novel function for Mps2 during SPB duplication.
PMCID: PMC2064310  PMID: 16923827
18.  The diverse functional LINCs of the nuclear envelope to the cytoskeleton and chromatin 
Chromosoma  2013;122:415-429.
The nuclear envelope (NE) is connected to the different types of cytoskeletal elements by linker of nucleoskeleton and cytoskeleton (LINC) complexes. LINC complexes exist from yeast to humans, and have preserved their general architecture throughout evolution. They are composed of SUN and KASH domain proteins of the inner and the outer nuclear membrane, respectively. These SUN–KASH bridges are used for the transmission of forces across the NE and support diverse biological processes. Here, we review the function of SUN and KASH domain proteins in various unicellular and multicellular species. Specifically, we discuss their influence on nuclear morphology and cytoskeletal organization. Further, emphasis is given on the role of LINC complexes in nuclear anchorage and migration as well as in genome organization.
PMCID: PMC3777164  PMID: 23736899
LINC complex; SUN domain; KASH; Nesprins; Nuclear migration; Nuclear envelope
19.  Expression of individual mammalian Sun1 isoforms depends on the cell type 
Mammalian Sun1 belongs to an evolutionarily conserved family of inner nuclear membrane proteins, which are known as SUN domain proteins. SUN domain proteins interact with KASH domain partners to form bridging complexes, so-called LINC complexes, that physically connect the nuclear interior to the cytoskeleton. LINC complexes are critical for nuclear integrity and play fundamental roles in nuclear positioning, shaping and movement. The mammalian genome codes for at least five different SUN domain proteins used for the formation of a number of different LINC complexes. Recently, we reported on the identification of several Sun1 isoforms, which tremendously enlarges the alternatives to form functional LINC complexes. We now confirmed that Sun1 actually exists in at least seven distinct splice variants. Besides that, we observed that expression of individual Sun1 isoforms remarkably depends on the cell type, suggesting a cell type-specific adaption of Sun1 dependent LINC complexes to specific cellular and physiological requirements.
PMCID: PMC3181515  PMID: 21966565
Sun1; SUN domain protein; LINC complex; mouse; nuclear envelope; isoform
20.  The LINC complex is essential for hearing 
Hereditary hearing loss is the most common sensory deficit. We determined that progressive high-frequency hearing loss in 2 families of Iraqi Jewish ancestry was due to homozygosity for the protein truncating mutation SYNE4 c.228delAT. SYNE4, a gene not previously associated with hearing loss, encodes nesprin-4 (NESP4), an outer nuclear membrane (ONM) protein expressed in the hair cells of the inner ear. The truncated NESP4 encoded by the families’ mutation did not localize to the ONM. NESP4 and SUN domain–containing protein 1 (SUN1), which localizes to the inner nuclear membrane (INM), are part of the linker of nucleoskeleton and cytoskeleton (LINC) complex in the nuclear envelope. Mice lacking either Nesp4 or Sun1 were evaluated for hair cell defects and hearing loss. In both Nesp4–/– and Sun1–/– mice, OHCs formed normally, but degenerated as hearing matured, leading to progressive hearing loss. The nuclei of OHCs from mutant mice failed to maintain their basal localization, potentially affecting cell motility and hence the response to sound. These results demonstrate that the LINC complex is essential for viability and normal morphology of OHCs and suggest that the position of the nucleus in sensory epithelial cells is critical for maintenance of normal hearing.
PMCID: PMC3561815  PMID: 23348741
21.  Functional association of Sun1 with nuclear pore complexes 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2007;178(5):785-798.
Sun1 and 2 are A-type lamin-binding proteins that, in association with nesprins, form a link between the inner nuclear membranes (INMs) and outer nuclear membranes of mammalian nuclear envelopes. Both immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy reveal that Sun1 but not Sun2 is intimately associated with nuclear pore complexes (NPCs). Topological analyses indicate that Sun1 is a type II integral protein of the INM. Localization of Sun1 to the INM is defined by at least two discrete regions within its nucleoplasmic domain. However, association with NPCs is dependent on the synergy of both nucleoplasmic and lumenal domains. Cells that are either depleted of Sun1 by RNA interference or that overexpress dominant-negative Sun1 fragments exhibit clustering of NPCs. The implication is that Sun1 represents an important determinant of NPC distribution across the nuclear surface.
PMCID: PMC2064544  PMID: 17724119
22.  Mammalian SUN Protein Interaction Networks at the Inner Nuclear Membrane and Their Role in Laminopathy Disease Processes* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2009;285(5):3487-3498.
The nuclear envelope (NE) LINC complex, in mammals comprised of SUN domain and nesprin proteins, provides a direct connection between the nuclear lamina and the cytoskeleton, which contributes to nuclear positioning and cellular rigidity. SUN1 and SUN2 interact with lamin A, but lamin A is only required for NE localization of SUN2, and it remains unclear how SUN1 is anchored. Here, we identify emerin and short nesprin-2 isoforms as novel nucleoplasmic binding partners of SUN1/2. These have overlapping binding sites distinct from the lamin A binding site. However, we demonstrate that tight association of SUN1 with the nuclear lamina depends upon a short motif within residues 209–228, a region that does not interact significantly with known SUN1 binding partners. Moreover, SUN1 localizes correctly in cells lacking emerin. Importantly then, the major determinant of SUN1 NE localization has yet to be identified. We further find that a subset of lamin A mutations, associated with laminopathies Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD) and Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS), disrupt lamin A interaction with SUN1 and SUN2. Despite this, NE localization of SUN1 and SUN2 is not impaired in cell lines from either class of patients. Intriguingly, SUN1 expression at the NE is instead enhanced in a significant proportion of HGPS but not EDMD cells and strongly correlates with pre-lamin A accumulation due to preferential interaction of SUN1 with pre-lamin A. We propose that these different perturbations in lamin A-SUN protein interactions may underlie the opposing effects of EDMD and HGPS mutations on nuclear and cellular mechanics.
PMCID: PMC2823409  PMID: 19933576
Diseases/Aging; Diseases/Muscular Dystrophy; Methods/Microscopic Imaging; Protein/Protein-protein interactions; Subcellular Organelles/Cytoskeleton; Subcellular Organelles/Nuclear Membrane; Laminopathies
23.  Connecting the nucleus to the cytoskeleton by SUN-KASH bridges across the nuclear envelope 
The nuclear-cytoskeleton connection influences many aspects of cellular architecture, including, nuclear positioning, the stiffness of the global cytoskeleton, and mechanotransduction. Central to all of these processes is the assembly and function of conserved SUN-KASH bridges, or LINC complexes, that span the nuclear envelope. Recent studies provide details of the higher order assembly and targeting of SUN proteins to the inner nuclear membrane. Structural studies characterize SUN-KASH interactions that form the central link of the nuclear-envelope bridge. KASH proteins at the outer nuclear membrane link the nuclear envelope to the cytoskeleton where forces are generated to move nuclei. Significantly, SUN proteins were recently shown to contribute to the progression of laminopathies.
PMCID: PMC3578026  PMID: 23149102
24.  A Network of Nuclear Envelope Membrane Proteins Linking Centromeres to Microtubules 
Cell  2008;134(3):427-438.
In the fission yeast S. pombe, nuclei are actively positioned at the cell center by microtubules. Here we show that cytoplasmic microtubules are mechanically coupled to the nuclear heterochromatin through proteins embedded in the nuclear envelope. This includes an integral outer nuclear membrane protein of the KASH family (Kms2) and two integral inner nuclear membrane proteins: the SUN-domain protein Sad1 and the novel, conserved protein Ima1. Ima1 specifically binds to heterochromatic regions and promotes the tethering of centromeric DNA to the SUN-KASH complex. In the absence of Ima1, or in cells harboring mutations in the centromeric Ndc80 complex, inefficient coupling of centromeric heterochromatin to Sad1 leads to striking defects in the ability of the nucleus to tolerate microtubule-dependent forces, leading to changes in nuclear shape, loss of spindle pole body components from the nuclear envelope, and partial dissociation of SUN-KASH complexes. This work highlights a novel means of communication between cytoplasmic microtubules and chromatin.
PMCID: PMC2617791  PMID: 18692466
25.  Bringing KASH under the SUN: the many faces of nucleo-cytoskeletal connections 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2009;186(4):461-472.
The nucleus is the most prominent cellular organelle, and its sharp boundaries suggest the compartmentalization of the nucleoplasm from the cytoplasm. However, the recent identification of evolutionarily conserved linkers of the nucleoskeleton to the cytoskeleton (LINC) complexes, a family of macromolecular assemblies that span the double membrane of the nuclear envelope, reveals tight physical connections between the two compartments. Here, we review the structure and evolutionary conservation of SUN and KASH domain–containing proteins, whose interaction within the perinuclear space forms the “nuts and bolts” of LINC complexes. Moreover, we discuss the function of these complexes in nuclear, centrosomal, and chromosome dynamics, and their connection to human disease.
PMCID: PMC2733748  PMID: 19687252

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