Gain-of-function experiments have demonstrated the potential of Notch signals to expand primitive hematopoietic progenitors, but whether Notch physiologically regulates hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) homeostasis in vivo is unclear. To answer this question, we evaluated the effect of global deficiencies of canonical Notch signaling in rigorous HSC assays. Hematopoietic progenitors expressing dominant negative Mastermind-like1 (DNMAML), a potent inhibitor of Notch-mediated transcriptional activation, achieved stable long-term reconstitution of irradiated hosts and showed a normal frequency of progenitor fractions enriched for long-term HSCs. Similar results were observed with cells lacking CSL/RBPJ, a DNA-binding factor that is required for canonical Notch signaling. Notch-deprived progenitors provided normal long-term reconstitution after secondary competitive transplantation. Furthermore, Notch target genes were expressed at low levels in primitive hematopoietic progenitors. Taken together, these results rule out an essential physiological role for cell-autonomous canonical Notch signals in HSC maintenance.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is one of the most aggressive forms of squamous cell carcinomas. Common genetic lesions in ESCC include p53 mutations and EGFR overexpression, both of which have been implicated in negative regulation of Notch signaling. In addition, cyclin D1 is overexpressed in ESCC and can be activated via EGFR, Notch and Wnt signaling. To elucidate how these genetic lesions may interact during the development and progression of ESCC, we tested a panel of genetically engineered human esophageal cells (keratinocytes) in organotypic 3D culture (OTC), a form of human tissue engineering. Notch signaling was suppressed in culture and mice by dominant negative Mastermind-like1 (DNMAML1), a genetic pan-Notch inhibitor. DNMAML1 mice were subjected to 4-Nitroquinoline 1-oxide-induced oral-esophageal carcinogenesis. Highly invasive characteristics of primary human ESCC were recapitulated in OTC as well as DNMAML1 mice. In OTC, cyclin D1 overexpression induced squamous hyperplasia. Concurrent EGFR overexpression and mutant p53 resulted in transformation and invasive growth. Interestingly, cell proliferation appeared to be regulated differentially between those committed to squamous-cell differentiation and those invading into the stroma. Invasive cells exhibited Notch-independent activation of cyclin D1 and Wnt signaling. Within the oral-esophageal squamous epithelia, Notch signaling regulated squamous-cell differentiation to maintain epithelial integrity, and thus may act as a tumor suppressor by preventing the development of a tumor-promoting inflammatory microenvironment.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; organotypic 3D culture; EGFR; P53; cyclin D1; Wnt; Notch; squamous-cell differentiation; invasion; 4-Nitroquinoline 1-oxide
Notch receptors are transmembrane receptors that regulate cell fate decisions. There are four Notch receptors in mammals. Upon binding to members of the Delta and Jagged family of transmembrane proteins, Notch is cleaved and the Notch intracellular domain (NICD) is released. NICD then translocates to the nucleus, where it associates with the CBF-1, Suppressor of Hairless, and Lag-2 (CSL) and Mastermind-Like (MAML) proteins. This complex activates the transcription of Notch target genes, such as Hairy Enhancer of Split (Hes) and Hes-related with YRPF motif (Hey). Notch signaling is critical for the regulation of mesenchymal stem cell differentiation. Misexpression of Notch in skeletal tissue indicates a role as an inhibitor of skeletal development and postnatal bone formation. Overexpression of Notch inhibits endochondral bone formation and osteoblastic differentiation, causing severe osteopenia. Conditional inactivation of Notch in the skeleton causes an increase in cancellous bone volume and enhanced osteoblastic differentiation. Notch ligands are expressed in the hematopoietic stem cell niche and are critical for the regulation of hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal. Dysregulation of Notch signaling is the underlying cause of diseases affecting the skeletal tissue, including Alagille syndrome, spondylocostal dysostosis, and possibly, osteosarcoma.
Notch signaling mediates cell to cell interactions that are critical for embryonic development and tissue renewal. In the canonical signaling pathway, the Notch receptor is cleaved following ligand binding, resulting in the release and nuclear translocation of the Notch intracellular domain (NICD). NICD induces gene expression by forming a ternary complex with the DNA binding protein CBF1/Rbp-Jk, Suppressor of Hairless, Lag1 (CSL) and Mastermind-Like (Maml). Hairy Enhancer of Split (Hes) and Hes related with YRPW motif (Hey) are classic Notch target genes. Notch canonical signaling plays a central role in skeletal development and bone remodeling by suppressing the differentiation of skeletal cells. The skeletal phenotype of mice misexpressing Hes1 phenocopies partially the effects of Notch misexpression, suggesting that Hey proteins mediate most of the skeletal effects of Notch. Dysregulation of Notch signaling is associated with diseases affecting human skeletal development, such as Alagille Syndrome, Brachydactyly and Spondylocostal Dysostosis. Somatic mutations in Notch receptors and ligands are found in tumors of the skeletal system. Overexpression of NOTCH1 is associated with osteosarcoma, and overexpression of NOTCH3 or JAGGED1 in breast cancer cells favors the formation of osteolytic bone metastasis. Activating mutations in NOTCH2 cause Hajdu Cheney syndrome, which is characterized by skeletal defects and fractures, and JAG1 polymorphisms are associated with variations in bone mineral density. In conclusion, Notch is a regulator of skeletal development and bone remodeling and abnormal Notch signaling is associated with developmental and postnatal skeletal disorders.
Zinc finger E-box binding (ZEB) proteins ZEB1 and ZEB2 are transcription factors essential in transforming growth factor (TGF)-β-mediated senescence, epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cancer stem cell function. ZEBs are negatively regulated by members of the miR-200 microRNA family, but precisely how tumor cells expressing ZEBs emerge during invasive growth remains unknown. Here we report that NOTCH3-mediated signaling prevents expansion of a unique subset of ZEB-expressing cells. ZEB expression was associated with the lack of cellular capability of undergoing NOTCH3-mediated squamous differentiation in human esophageal cells. Genetic inhibition of the Notch-mediated transcriptional activity by dominant-negative Mastermind-like1 (DNMAML1) prevented squamous differentiation and induction of Notch target genes including NOTCH3. Moreover, DNMAML1 enriched EMT competent cells exhibited robust upregulation of ZEBs, downregulation of the miR-200 family, and enhanced anchorage independent growth and tumor formation in nude mice. RNA interference (RNAi) experiments suggested the involvement of ZEBs in anchorage independent colony formation, invasion and TGF-β-mediated EMT. Invasive growth and impaired squamous differentiation was recapitulated upon Notch inhibition by DNMAML1 in organotypic 3D culture, a form of human tissue engineering. Together, our findings indicate that NOTCH3 is a key factor limiting the expansion of ZEB-expressing cells, providing novel mechanistic insights into the role of Notch signaling in the cell fate regulation and disease progression of squamous esophageal cancers.
Notch; EMT; squamous cell differentiation; ZEB1; miR-200
CSL (CBF1/RBP-Jκ/Suppressor of Hairless/LAG-1) transcription factors are the effector components of the Notch receptor signalling pathway, which is critical for metazoan development. The metazoan CSL proteins (class M) can also function in a Notch-independent manner. Recently, two novel classes of CSL proteins, designated F1 and F2, have been identified in fungi. The role of the fungal CSL proteins is unclear, because the Notch pathway is not present in fungi. In fission yeast, the Cbf11 and Cbf12 CSL paralogs play antagonistic roles in cell adhesion and the coordination of cell and nuclear division. Unusually long N-terminal extensions are typical for fungal and invertebrate CSL family members. In this study, we investigate the functional significance of these extended N-termini of CSL proteins.
We identify 15 novel CSL family members from 7 fungal species and conduct bioinformatic analyses of a combined dataset containing 34 fungal and 11 metazoan CSL protein sequences. We show that the long, non-conserved N-terminal tails of fungal CSL proteins are likely disordered and enriched in phosphorylation sites and PEST motifs. In a case study of Cbf12 (class F2), we provide experimental evidence that the protein is proteolytically processed and that the N-terminus inhibits the Cbf12-dependent DNA binding activity in an electrophoretic mobility shift assay.
This study provides insight into the characteristics of the long N-terminal tails of fungal CSL proteins that may be crucial for controlling DNA-binding and CSL function. We propose that the regulation of DNA binding by Cbf12 via its N-terminal region represents an important means by which fission yeast strikes a balance between the class F1 and class F2 paralog activities. This mode of regulation might be shared with other CSL-positive fungi, some of which are relevant to human disease and biotechnology.
Notch transmembrane receptors direct essential cellular processes, such as proliferation and differentiation, through direct cell-to-cell interactions. Inappropriate release of the intracellular domain of Notch (NICD) from the plasma membrane results in the accumulation of deregulated nuclear NICD that has been linked to human cancers, notably T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). Nuclear NICD forms a transcriptional activation complex by interacting with the coactivator protein Mastermind-like 1 and the DNA binding protein CSL (for CBF-1/Suppressor of Hairless/Lag-1) to regulate target gene expression. Although it is well understood that NICD forms a transcriptional activation complex, little is known about how the complex is assembled. In this study, we demonstrate that NICD multimerizes and that these multimers function as precursors for the stepwise assembly of the Notch activation complex. Importantly, we demonstrate that the assembly is mediated by NICD multimers interacting with Skip and Mastermind. These interactions form a preactivation complex that is then resolved by CSL to form the Notch transcriptional activation complex on DNA.
The Notch signaling pathway regulates gene expression programs to influence the specification of cell fate in diverse tissues. In response to ligand binding, the intracellular domain of the Notch receptor is cleaved by the γ-secretase complex and then translocates to the nucleus. There, it binds the transcriptional repressor CSL, triggering its conversion to an activator of Notch target gene expression. The events that control this conversion are poorly understood. We show that the transcriptional corepressor, MTG16, interacts with both CSL and the intracellular domains of Notch receptors, suggesting a pivotal role in regulation of the Notch transcription complex. The Notch1 intracellular domain disrupts the MTG16-CSL interaction. Ex vivo fate specification in response to Notch signal activation is impaired in Mtg16−/− hematopoietic progenitors, and restored by MTG16 expression. An MTG16 derivative lacking the binding site for the intracellular domain of Notch1 fails to restore Notch-dependent cell fate. These data suggest that MTG16 interfaces with critical components of the Notch transcription complex to affect Notch-dependent lineage allocation in hematopoiesis.
Transcription factors of the CSL (CBF1/RBP-Jk/Suppressor of Hairless/LAG-1) family are key regulators of metazoan development and function as the effector components of the Notch receptor signalling pathway implicated in various cell fate decisions. CSL proteins recognize specifically the GTG[G/A]AA sequence motif and several mutants compromised in their ability to bind DNA have been reported. In our previous studies we have identified a number of novel putative CSL family members in fungi, organisms lacking the Notch pathway. It is not clear whether these represent genuine CSL family members.
Using a combination of in vitro and in vivo approaches we characterized the DNA binding properties of Cbf11 and Cbf12, the antagonistic CSL paralogs from the fission yeast, important for the proper coordination of cell cycle events and the regulation of cell adhesion. We have shown that a mutation of a conserved arginine residue abolishes DNA binding in both CSL paralogs, similar to the situation in mouse. We have also demonstrated the ability of Cbf11 and Cbf12 to activate gene expression in an autologous fission yeast reporter system.
Our results indicate that the fission yeast CSL proteins are indeed genuine family members capable of functioning as transcription factors, and provide support for the ancient evolutionary origin of this important protein family.
Notch receptor signaling controls developmental cell fates in a cell-context dependent manner. Although Notch signaling directly regulates transcription via the RBP-J/CSL DNA binding protein, little is known about the target genes that are directly activated by Notch in the respective tissues.
To analyze how Notch signaling mediates its context dependent function(s), we utilized a Tamoxifen-inducible system to activate Notch1 in murine embryonic stem cells at different stages of mesodermal differentiation and performed global transcriptional analyses. We find that the majority of genes regulated by Notch1 are unique for the cell type and vary widely dependent on other signals. We further show that Notch1 signaling regulates expression of genes playing key roles in cell differentiation, cell cycle control and apoptosis in a context dependent manner. In addition to the known Notch1 targets of the Hes and Hey families of transcriptional repressors, Notch1 activates the expression of regulatory transcription factors such as Sox9, Pax6, Runx1, Myf5 and Id proteins that are critically involved in lineage decisions in the absence of protein synthesis.
We suggest that Notch signaling determines lineage decisions and expansion of stem cells by directly activating both key lineage specific transcription factors and their repressors (Id and Hes/Hey proteins) and propose a model by which Notch signaling regulates cell fate commitment and self renewal in dependence of the intrinsic and extrinsic cellular context.
Genetic inactivation of Notch signaling in CD4−CD8− double-negative (DN) thymocytes was previously shown to impair T cell receptor (TCR) gene rearrangement and to cause a partial block in CD4+CD8+ double-positive (DP) thymocyte development in mice. In contrast, in vitro cultures suggested that Notch was absolutely required for the generation of DP thymocytes independent of pre-TCR expression and activity. To resolve the respective role of Notch and the pre-TCR, we inhibited Notch-mediated transcriptional activation in vivo with a green fluorescent protein–tagged dominant-negative Mastermind-like 1 (DNMAML) that allowed us to track single cells incapable of Notch signaling. DNMAML expression in DN cells led to decreased production of DP thymocytes but only to a modest decrease in intracellular TCRβ expression. DNMAML attenuated the pre-TCR–associated increase in cell size and CD27 expression. TCRβ or TCRαβ transgenes failed to rescue DNMAML-related defects. Intrathymic injections of DNMAML− or DNMAML+ DN thymocytes revealed a complete DN/DP transition block, with production of DNMAML+ DP thymocytes only from cells undergoing late Notch inactivation. These findings indicate that the Notch requirement during the β-selection checkpoint in vivo is absolute and independent of the pre-TCR, and it depends on transcriptional activation by Notch via the CSL/RBP-J–MAML complex.
The Notch signalling pathway mediates cell-cell communication in a wide variety of organisms. The major components, as well as the basic mechanisms of Notch signal transduction, are remarkably well conserved amongst vertebrates and invertebrates. Notch signalling results in transcriptional activation of Notch target genes, which is mediated by an activator complex composed of the DNA binding protein CSL, the intracellular domain of the Notch receptor, and the transcriptional coactivator Mastermind. In the absence of active signalling, CSL represses transcription from Notch target genes by the recruitment of corepressors. The Notch activator complex is extremely well conserved and has been studied in great detail. However, Notch repressor complexes are far less understood. In Drosophila melanogaster, the CSL protein is termed Suppressor of Hairless [Su(H)]. Su(H) functions as a transcriptional repressor by binding Hairless, the major antagonist of Notch signalling in Drosophila, which in turn recruits two general corepressors – Groucho and C-terminal binding protein CtBP. Recently, we determined that the C-terminal domain (CTD) of Su(H) binds Hairless and identified a single site in Hairless, which is essential for contacting Su(H). Here we present additional biochemical and in vivo studies aimed at mapping the residues in Su(H) that contact Hairless. Focusing on surface exposed residues in the CTD, we identified two sites that affect Hairless binding in biochemical assays. Mutation of these sites neither affects binding to DNA nor to Notch. Subsequently, these Su(H) mutants were found to function normally in cellular and in vivo assays using transgenic flies. However, these experiments rely on Su(H) overexpression, which does not allow for detection of quantitative or subtle differences in activity. We discuss the implications of our results.
Notch signaling regulates many cellular processes during development and adult tissue renewal. Upon ligand binding, Notch receptors undergo ectodomain shedding followed by γ-secretase-mediated release of the Notch intracellular domain (NICD), which translocates to the nucleus and associates with the DNA-binding protein CSL (CBF1/RBPjκ/Su(H)/Lag1) to activate gene expression. Mammalian cells contain four Notch receptors that can have both redundant and specific activities. To monitor activation of specific Notch paralogs in live cells and in real time, we developed luciferase complementation imaging (LCI) reporters for NICD/CSL association and validated them as a specific, robust and sensitive assay system that enables structure-function and pharmacodynamic analyses. Detailed kinetic analyses of various mechanistic aspects of Notch signaling, including nuclear translocation, γ-secretase and ADAM inhibition, as well as agonist- and ligand-dependent activation were conducted in live cells. Notch-LCI represents a powerful approach for characterizing modulators that target Notch signaling and for studying pathway dynamics in normal and disease contexts.
Canonical Notch signaling is initiated when ligand binding induces proteolytic release of the intracellular part of Notch (ICN) from the cell membrane. ICN then travels into the nucleus where it drives the assembly of a transcriptional activation complex containing the DNA-binding transcription factor CSL, ICN, and a specialized co-activator of the Mastermind family. A consensus DNA binding site motif for the CSL protein was previously defined using selection-based methods, but whether subsequent association of Notch and Mastermind-like proteins affects the DNA binding preferences of CSL has not previously been examined.
Here, we utilized protein-binding microarrays (PBMs) to compare the binding site preferences of isolated CSL with the preferred binding sites of CSL when bound to the CSL-binding domains of all four different human Notch receptors. Measurements were taken both in the absence and in the presence of Mastermind-like-1 (MAML1). Our data show no detectable difference in the DNA binding site preferences of CSL before and after loading of Notch and MAML1 proteins.
These findings support the conclusion that accrual of Notch and MAML1 promote transcriptional activation without dramatically altering the preferred sites of DNA binding, and illustrate the potential of PBMs to analyze the binding site preferences of multiprotein-DNA complexes.
Notch-1 belongs to a family of transmembrane receptor proteins that direct the decisions as to various cell fates. After ligand binding, a proteolytic cleavage step occurs and the intracellular part of Notch-1, Notch-1-IC, translocates into the nucleus, where it targets the DNA binding protein RBP-Jκ/CBF1. RBP-Jκ mediates repression through recruitment of a histone deacetylase-containing complex. The Notch-1-IC/RBP-Jκ complex overcomes repression and activates the transcription of Notch target genes. We have identified a novel domain in Notch-1-IC, the EP domain, which is indispensable for full transcriptional activation. This transactivation domain is localized adjacent to the ankyrin repeats of Notch-1-IC. In cotransfection experiments, Notch-1-IC-mediated transcriptional activation was inhibited by E1A12S and p53, two proteins, which interfere with the function of the common coactivator p300. Protein-protein interaction assays demonstrated the association of Notch-1-IC and the CH3 region of p300. In addition, the interaction of mammalian Notch-1-IC with p300 was destabilized after deletion of the EP domain of Notch-1-IC. Based on physical interaction with Notch-1-IC and coactivator functions of p300, we propose a model for Notch-1-mediated gene regulation via p300.
The Notch family of cell surface receptors and its ligands are highly conserved proteins that regulate cell fate determination, including those involved in mammalian vascular development. We report that Notch induces VEGFR-3 expression in vitro in human endothelial cells and in vivo in mice. In vitro, Notch in complex with the DNA-binding protein CBF-1/suppressor of hairless/Lag1 (CSL) bound the VEGFR-3 promoter and transactivated VEGFR-3 specifically in endothelial cells. Through induction of VEGFR-3, Notch increased endothelial cell responsiveness to VEGF-C, promoting endothelial cell survival and morphological changes. In vivo, VEGFR-3 was upregulated in endothelial cells with active Notch signaling. Mice heterozygous for null alleles of both Notch1 and VEGFR-3 had significantly reduced viability and displayed midgestational vascular patterning defects analogous to Notch1 nullizygous embryos. We found that Notch1 and Notch4 were expressed in normal and tumor lymphatic endothelial cells and that Notch1 was activated in lymphatic endothelium of invasive mammary micropapillary carcinomas. These results demonstrate that Notch1 and VEGFR-3 interact genetically, that Notch directly induces VEGFR-3 in blood endothelial cells to regulate vascular development, and that Notch may function in tumor lymphangiogenesis.
Dendritic cell (DC) differentiation is regulated by stroma via a network of soluble and cell-bound factors. Notch is one of the major elements of this network. Its role in DC differentiation, however, is controversial. Here, we demonstrate that activation of Notch signaling in hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPC) up-regulates differentiation of conventional DCs via activation of the canonical Wnt pathway. Inhibition of the Wnt pathway abrogated the effect of Notch on DC differentiation. Activation of the Wnt pathway in Notch-1-deficient embryonic stem cells restored DC differentiation, which indicates that Wnt signaling is downstream of the Notch pathway in regulating DC differentiation. Notch signaling activated the Wnt pathway in HPCs via up-regulated expression of multiple members of the Frizzled family of Wnt receptors. That expression was directly regulated by the CSL/RPB-Jκ transcription factor. Thus, these data suggest a new model of DC differentiation via cooperation between Wnt and Notch pathways.
The Notch pathway regulates cell fate determination in numerous developmental processes. Here we report that Notch2 acts non-redundantly to control the processes of nephron segmentation through an RBP-J dependent process. Notch1 and Notch2 are detected in the early renal vesicle (RV). Genetic analysis reveals that only Notch2 is required for the differentiation of proximal nephron structures (podocytes and proximal convoluted tubules (PCT)) despite the presence of activated Notch1 in the nuclei of putative proximal progenitors. The inability of endogenous Notch1 to compensate for Notch2 deficiency may reflect sub-threshold Notch1 levels in the nucleus. In line with this view, forced expression of a γ-secretase independent form of Notch1 intracellular domain drives the specification of proximal fates where all endogenous, ligand-dependent Notch signaling is blocked by a γ-secretase inhibitor. These results establish distinct (non-redundant), instructive roles for Notch receptors in nephron segmentation.
Notch; RBPjk; Wnt4; proximal tubule; podocytes; nephron segmentation
The Notch proteins play a vital role in cell fate decisions in both invertebrate and vertebrate development. Careful analysis of this role has led to a model of signalling downstream of these receptors, via the CSL (CBF1, Suppressor of Hairless, Lag-1) family of transcription factors. However there have been suggestions that Notch can signal through other pathways. In the current paper, Ramain et al. (1) provide compelling evidence for Notch signalling through a CSL-independent pathway and they demonstrate that the cytoplasmic protein, Deltex, is required for this signal. In addition they show that Wnt signalling may regulate this Deltex dependent signal.
Notch; Deltex; Wnt; cell signalling; cross-talk
Notch is a transmembrane receptor that determines cell fates and pattern formation in all animal species. After ligand binding, proteolytic cleavage steps occur and the intracellular part of Notch translocates to the nucleus, where it targets the DNA-binding protein RBP-Jκ/CBF1. In the absence of Notch, RBP-Jκ represses Notch target genes through the recruitment of a corepressor complex. We and others have identified SHARP as a component of this complex. Here, we functionally demonstrate that the SHARP repression domain is necessary and sufficient to repress transcription and that the absence of this domain causes a dominant negative Notch-like phenotype. We identify the CtIP and CtBP corepressors as novel components of the human RBP-Jκ/SHARP-corepressor complex and show that CtIP binds directly to the SHARP repression domain. Functionally, CtIP and CtBP augment SHARP-mediated repression. Transcriptional repression of the Notch target gene Hey1 is abolished in CtBP-deficient cells or after the functional knockout of CtBP. Furthermore, the endogenous Hey1 promoter is derepressed in CtBP-deficient cells. We propose that a corepressor complex containing CtIP/CtBP facilitates RBP-Jκ/SHARP-mediated repression of Notch target genes.
Studies have suggested the potential importance of Notch signaling to the cancer stem cell population in some tumors, but it is not known whether all cells in the cancer stem cell fraction require Notch activity. To address this issue, we blocked Notch activity in MCF-7 cells by expressing a dominant-negative MAML-GFP (dnMAML) construct, which inhibits signaling through all Notch receptors, and quantified the effect on tumor-initiating activity. Inhibition of Notch signaling reduced primary tumor sphere formation and side population. Functional quantification of tumor-initiating cell numbers in vivo showed a significant decrease, but not a complete abrogation, of these cells in dnMAML-expressing cells. Interestingly, when assessed in secondary assays in vitro or in vivo, there was no difference in tumor-initiating activity between the dnMAML-expressing cells and control cells. The fact that a subpopulation of dnMAML-expressing cells was capable of forming primary and secondary tumors indicates that there are Notch-independent tumor-initiating cells in the breast cancer cell line MCF-7. Our findings thus provide direct evidence for a heterogeneous cancer stem cell pool, which will require combination therapies against multiple oncogenic pathways to eliminate the tumor-initiating cell population.
Breast cancer; cancer stem cells; dominant-negative MAML; MCF-7; Notch
Notch proteins constitute the receptors of a highly conserved signaling pathway that influences cell fate decisions both during development and in adults. A proteolytic cascade induced by ligand stimulation results in release of the Notch intracellular domain from the cell membrane, allowing it to enter the nucleus and form a complex with a DNA-bound transcription factor called CSL and a coactivator of the Mastermind family. Assembly of this Notch nuclear complex is the key step in the transcriptional response to a Notch signal. In the studies reported here, we have mapped residues important for the stabilization of this multiprotein-DNA complex using site-directed mutagenesis, determined the affinity of the three-domain form of CSL for its various partners, and investigated sources of cooperativity in complex formation by monitoring the influence of various components of the complex on the interactions of CSL with its other partners. Our findings are consistent with a model for complex assembly in which the RAM domain of Notch increases the effective concentration of the ANK domain for its binding site on the Rel-homology region of CSL, enabling docking of the ANK domain and subsequent recruitment of the MAML co-activator.
Signal transduction; Fluorescence resonance energy transfer; CSL; Mastermind; Protein-protein interaction
The CSL (CBF1/RBP-Jκ/Suppressor of Hairless/LAG-1) transcription factor family members are well-known components of the transmembrane receptor Notch signaling pathway, which plays a critical role in metazoan development. They function as context-dependent activators or repressors of transcription of their responsive genes, the promoters of which harbor the GTG(G/A)GAA consensus elements. Recently, several studies described Notch-independent activities of the CSL proteins.
We have identified putative CSL genes in several fungal species, showing that this family is not confined to metazoans. We have analyzed their sequence conservation and identified the presence of well-defined domains typical of genuine CSL proteins. Furthermore, we have shown that the candidate fungal protein sequences contain highly conserved regions known to be required for sequence-specific DNA binding in their metazoan counterparts. The phylogenetic analysis of the newly identified fungal CSL proteins revealed the existence of two distinct classes, both of which are present in all the species studied.
Our findings support the evolutionary origin of the CSL transcription factor family in the last common ancestor of fungi and metazoans. We hypothesize that the ancestral CSL function involved DNA binding and Notch-independent regulation of transcription and that this function may still be shared, to a certain degree, by the present CSL family members from both fungi and metazoans.
Notch is an ancient transmembrane receptor with critical roles in cell-fate choices. While the “canonical” Notch pathway and its core members are well established -- involving ligand-induced cleavage of Notch for transcriptional regulation -- it has been unclear whether Notch can also function independent of ligand and transcription (‘non-canonically’) through a common mechanism. Recent studies suggest that Notch can non-canonically exert its biological functions by posttranslationally targeting Wnt/β-catenin signaling, an important cellular and developmental regulator. The non-canonical Notch pathway appears to be highly conserved from flies to mammals. Here, we discuss the emerging conserved mechanism and role of ligand/transcription-independent Notch signaling in cell and developmental biology.
Notch; Wnt/β-Catenin; Numb; DAPT; Stem and Progenitor Cells; Cancer
Notch proteins are plasma membrane-spanning receptors that mediate important cell fate decisions such as differentiation, proliferation, and apoptosis. The mechanism of Notch signaling remains poorly understood. However, it is clear that the Notch signaling pathway mediates its effects through intercellular contact between neighboring cells. The prevailing model for Notch signaling suggests that ligand, presented on a neighboring cell, triggers proteolytic processing of Notch. Following proteolysis, it is thought that the intracellular portion of Notch (Nic) translocates to the nucleus, where it is involved in regulating gene expression. There is considerable debate concerning where in the cell Notch functions and what proteins serve as effectors of the Notch signal. Several Notch genes have clearly been shown to be proto-oncogenes in mammalian cells. Activation of Notch proto-oncogenes has been associated with tumorigenesis in several human and other mammalian cancers. Transforming alleles of Notch direct the expression of truncated proteins that primarily consist of Nic and are not tethered to the plasma membrane. However, the mechanism by which Notch oncoproteins (generically termed here as Nic) induce neoplastic transformation is not known. Previously we demonstrated that N1ic and N2ic could transform E1A immortalized baby rat kidney cells (RKE) in vitro. We now report direct evidence that N1ic must accumulate in the nucleus to induce transformation of RKE cells. In addition, we define the minimal domain of N1ic required to induce transformation and present evidence that transformation of RKE cells by N1ic is likely to be through a CBF1-independent pathway.