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1.  Molecular Mechanism of Inside-out Integrin Regulation 
PMCID: PMC3979599  PMID: 21781238
2.  The final steps of integrin activation: the end game 
Cell-directed changes in the ligand-binding affinity (‘activation’) of integrins regulate cell adhesion and migration, extracellular matrix assembly and mechanotransduction, thereby contributing to embryonic development and diseases such as atherothrombosis and cancer. Integrin activation comprises triggering events, intermediate signalling events and, finally, the interaction of integrins with cytoplasmic regulators, which changes an integrin’s affinity for its ligands. The first two events involve diverse interacting signalling pathways, whereas the final steps are immediately proximal to integrins, thus enabling integrin-focused therapeutic strategies. Recent progress provides insight into the structure of integrin transmembrane domains, and reveals how the final steps of integrin activation are mediated by integrin-binding proteins such as talins and kindlins.
PMCID: PMC3929966  PMID: 20308986
3.  Structural basis of the junctional anchorage of the cerebral cavernous malformations complex 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2012;199(1):39-48.
The structure of the complex of CCM1/KRIT1 and HEG1 defines a new mode of membrane protein anchorage important for cell–cell junctions and cardiovascular development.
The products of genes that cause cerebral cavernous malformations (CCM1/KRIT1, CCM2, and CCM3) physically interact. CCM1/KRIT1 links this complex to endothelial cell (EC) junctions and maintains junctional integrity in part by inhibiting RhoA. Heart of glass (HEG1), a transmembrane protein, associates with KRIT1. In this paper, we show that the KRIT1 band 4.1, ezrin, radixin, and moesin (FERM) domain bound the HEG1 C terminus (Kd = 1.2 µM) and solved the structure of this assembly. The KRIT1 F1 and F3 subdomain interface formed a hydrophobic groove that binds HEG1(Tyr1,380-Phe1,381), thus defining a new mode of FERM domain–membrane protein interaction. This structure enabled design of KRIT1(L717,721A), which exhibited a >100-fold reduction in HEG1 affinity. Although well folded and expressed, KRIT1(L717,721A) failed to target to EC junctions or complement the effects of KRIT1 depletion on zebrafish cardiovascular development or Rho kinase activation in EC. These data establish that this novel FERM–membrane protein interaction anchors CCM1/KRIT1 at EC junctions to support cardiovascular development.
PMCID: PMC3461514  PMID: 23007647
4.  Talin activates integrins by altering the topology of the β transmembrane domain 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2012;197(5):605-611.
Talin binding to the integrin β tail alters the β transmembrane domain’s topology, resulting in integrin activation.
Talin binding to integrin β tails increases ligand binding affinity (activation). Changes in β transmembrane domain (TMD) topology that disrupt α–β TMD interactions are proposed to mediate integrin activation. In this paper, we used membrane-embedded integrin β3 TMDs bearing environmentally sensitive fluorophores at inner or outer membrane water interfaces to monitor talin-induced β3 TMD motion in model membranes. Talin binding to the β3 cytoplasmic domain increased amino acid side chain embedding at the inner and outer borders of the β3 TMD, indicating altered topology of the β3 TMD. Talin’s capacity to effect this change depended on its ability to bind to both the integrin β tail and the membrane. Introduction of a flexible hinge at the midpoint of the β3 TMD decoupled the talin-induced change in intracellular TMD topology from the extracellular side and blocked talin-induced activation of integrin αIIbβ3. Thus, we show that talin binding to the integrin β TMD alters the topology of the TMD, resulting in integrin activation.
PMCID: PMC3365499  PMID: 22641344
5.  Protein Kinase A Governs a RhoA-RhoGDI Protrusion-Retraction Pacemaker in Migrating Cells 
Nature cell biology  2011;13(6):660-667.
The cyclical protrusion and retraction of the leading edge is a hallmark of many migrating cells involved in processes such as development, inflammation, and tumorigenesis. The molecular identity of signaling mechanisms that control these cycles has remained unknown. Here, we used live cell imaging of biosensors to monitor spontaneous morphodynamic and signaling activities, and employed correlative image analysis to examine the role of cAMP-activated Protein Kinase A (PKA) in protrusion regulation. PKA activity at the leading edge is closely synchronized with rapid protrusion and with the activity of RhoA. Ensuing PKA phosphorylation of RhoA and the resulting increased interaction between RhoA and RhoGDI establishes a negative feedback that controls the cycling of RhoA activity at the leading edge. Thus, cooperation between PKA, RhoA, and a RhoGDI forms a pacemaker that governs the morphodynamic behavior of migrating cells.
PMCID: PMC3746034  PMID: 21572420
Cell migration; cAMP activated Protein Kinase A; Rho GTPase; cell protrusion; RhoGDI
6.  The nucleus of endothelial cell as a sensor of blood flow direction 
Biology Open  2013;2(10):1007-1012.
Hemodynamic shear stresses cause endothelial cells (ECs) to polarize in the plane of the flow. Paradoxically, under strong shear flows, ECs disassemble their primary cilia, common sensors of shear, and thus must use an alternative mechanism of sensing the strength and direction of flow. In our experiments in microfluidic perfusion chambers, confluent ECs developed planar cell polarity at a rate proportional to the shear stress. The location of Golgi apparatus and microtubule organizing center was biased to the upstream side of the nucleus, i.e. the ECs polarized against the flow. These in vitro results agreed with observations in murine blood vessels, where EC polarization against the flow was stronger in high flow arteries than in veins. Once established, flow-induced polarization persisted over long time intervals without external shear. Transient destabilization of acto-myosin cytoskeleton by inhibition of myosin II or depolymerization of actin promoted polarization of EC against the flow, indicating that an intact acto-myosin cytoskeleton resists flow-induced polarization. These results suggested that polarization was induced by mechanical displacement of EC nuclei downstream under the hydrodynamic drag. This hypothesis was confirmed by the observation that acute application of a large hydrodynamic force to ECs resulted in an immediate downstream displacement of nuclei and was sufficient to induce persistent polarization. Taken together, our data indicate that ECs can sense the direction and strength of blood flow through the hydrodynamic drag applied to their nuclei.
PMCID: PMC3798183  PMID: 24167710
Mechanotransduction; Planar cell polarity; Endothelium; Shear stress; Nucleus
7.  Talin1 and Rap1 Are Critical for Osteoclast Function 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2013;33(4):830-844.
To determine talin1's role in osteoclasts, we mated TLN1fl/fl mice with those expressing cathepsin K-Cre (CtsK-TLN1) to delete the gene in mature osteoclasts or with lysozyme M-Cre (LysM-TLN1) mice to delete TLN1 in all osteoclast lineage cells. Absence of TLN1 impairs macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF)-stimulated inside-out integrin activation and cytoskeleton organization in mature osteoclasts. Talin1-deficient precursors normally express osteoclast differentiation markers when exposed to M-CSF and receptor activator of nuclear factor κB (RANK) ligand but attach to substrate and migrate poorly, arresting their development into mature resorptive cells. In keeping with inhibited resorption, CtsK-TLN1 mice exhibit an ∼5-fold increase in bone mass. Osteoclast-specific deletion of Rap1 (CtsK-Rap1), which promotes talin/β integrin recognition, yields similar osteopetrotic mice. The fact that the osteopetrosis of CtsK-TLN1 and CtsK-Rap1 mice is substantially more severe than that of those lacking αvβ3 is likely due to added failed activation of β1 integrins. In keeping with osteoclast dysfunction, mice in whom talin is deleted late in the course of osteoclastogenesis are substantially protected from ovariectomy-induced osteoporosis and the periarticular osteolysis attending inflammatory arthritis. Thus, talin1 and Rap1 are critical for resorptive function, and their selective inhibition in mature osteoclasts retards pathological bone loss.
PMCID: PMC3571341  PMID: 23230271
8.  Two modes of integrin activation form a binary molecular switch in adhesion maturation 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(9):1354-1362.
Talin-mediated integrin activation drives integrin-based adhesions. A simple binary switch—vinculin competitively displacing RIAM from talin—is found to play a central role in the maturation and evolving functions of integrin-based adhesions.
Talin-mediated integrin activation drives integrin-based adhesions. Here we examine the roles of two proteins that induce talin–integrin interactions—vinculin and Rap1-GTP-interacting adaptor molecule (RIAM)—in the formation and maturation of integrin-based adhesions. RIAM-containing adhesions are primarily in the lamellipodium; RIAM is subsequently reduced in mature focal adhesions due to direct competition with vinculin for talin-binding sites. We show that vinculin binding to talin induces Rap1-independent association of talin with integrins and resulting integrin activation, in sharp contrast to Rap1-dependent RIAM-induced activation. Vinculin stabilizes adhesions, increasing their ability to transmit force, whereas RIAM played a critical role in lamellipodial protrusion. Thus displacement of RIAM by vinculin acts as a molecular switch that mediates the transition of integrin-based adhesions from drivers of lamellipodial protrusion to stable, force-bearing adhesions. Consequently changes in the abundance of two multiprotein modules within maturing adhesions, one regulated by Rap1 and one by tension, result in the temporal evolution of adhesion functions.
PMCID: PMC3639047  PMID: 23468527
9.  Tiam1 interaction with the PAR complex promotes talin-mediated Rac1 activation during polarized cell migration 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2012;199(2):331-345.
The PAR complex targets Tiam1 to adhesions, where it interacts with talin to promote adhesion-induced Rac1 activation, cell spreading, and migration.
Migrating cells acquire front-rear polarity with a leading edge and a trailing tail for directional movement. The Rac exchange factor Tiam1 participates in polarized cell migration with the PAR complex of PAR3, PAR6, and atypical protein kinase C. However, it remains largely unknown how Tiam1 is regulated and contributes to the establishment of polarity in migrating cells. We show here that Tiam1 interacts directly with talin, which binds and activates integrins to mediate their signaling. Tiam1 accumulated at adhesions in a manner dependent on talin and the PAR complex. The interactions of talin with Tiam1 and the PAR complex were required for adhesion-induced Rac1 activation, cell spreading, and migration toward integrin substrates. Furthermore, Tiam1 acted with talin to regulate adhesion turnover. Thus, we propose that Tiam1, with the PAR complex, binds to integrins through talin and, together with the PAR complex, thereby regulates Rac1 activity and adhesion turnover for polarized migration.
PMCID: PMC3471226  PMID: 23071154
10.  Cerebral cavernous malformations proteins inhibit Rho kinase to stabilize vascular integrity 
Endothelial cell–cell junctions regulate vascular permeability, vasculogenesis, and angiogenesis. Familial cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) in humans result from mutations of CCM2 (malcavernin, OSM, MGC4607), PDCD10 (CCM3), or KRIT1 (CCM1), a Rap1 effector which stabilizes endothelial cell–cell junctions. Homozygous loss of KRIT1 or CCM2 produces lethal vascular phenotypes in mice and zebrafish. We report that the physical interaction of KRIT1 and CCM2 proteins is required for endothelial cell–cell junctional localization, and lack of either protein destabilizes barrier function by sustaining activity of RhoA and its effector Rho kinase (ROCK). Protein haploinsufficient Krit1+/− or Ccm2+/− mouse endothelial cells manifested increased monolayer permeability in vitro, and both Krit1+/− and Ccm2+/− mice exhibited increased vascular leak in vivo, reversible by fasudil, a ROCK inhibitor. Furthermore, we show that ROCK hyperactivity occurs in sporadic and familial human CCM endothelium as judged by increased phosphorylation of myosin light chain. These data establish that KRIT1–CCM2 interaction regulates vascular barrier function by suppressing Rho/ROCK signaling and that this pathway is dysregulated in human CCM endothelium, and they suggest that fasudil could ameliorate both CCM disease and vascular leak.
PMCID: PMC2856024  PMID: 20308363
11.  Establishing epithelial glandular polarity: interlinked roles for ARF6, Rac1, and the matrix microenvironment 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2012;23(23):4495-4505.
The depletion of ARF6 in epithelial cysts causes a striking inversion of glandular orientation. This requires temporal Rac1 inactivation and is accompanied in basement membrane cultures by improperly assembled laminins. In collagen I, these inverted cysts promote integrin-linked fibril linearization reminiscent of matrix remodeling in disease.
Epithelial cysts comprise the structural units of the glandular epithelium. Although glandular inversion in epithelial tumors is thought to be a potential mechanism for the establishment of metastatic disease, little is known about the morphogenic cues and signaling pathways that govern glandular polarity and organization. Using organotypic cultures of Madin-Darby canine kidney cells in reconstituted basement membrane, we show that cellular depletion of the small GTP-binding protein ARF6 promotes the formation of inverted cysts, wherein the apical cell membrane faces the cyst exterior, and the basal domain faces the central lumen, while individual cell polarity is maintained. These cysts are also defective in interactions with laminin at the cyst–matrix interface. This inversion of glandular orientation is accompanied by Rac1 inactivation during early cystogenesis, and temporal activation of Rac1 is sufficient to recover the normal cyst phenotype. In an unnatural collagen I microenvironment, ARF6-depleted, inverted epithelial cysts exhibit some loss of cell polarity, a marked increase in Rho activation and Rac1 inactivation, and striking rearrangement of the surrounding collagen I matrix. These studies demonstrate the importance of ARF6 as a critical determinant of glandular orientation and the matrix environment in dictating structural organization of epithelial cysts.
PMCID: PMC3510012  PMID: 23051733
12.  Fasudil Decreases Lesion Burden in a Murine Model of Cerebral Cavernous Malformation Disease 
Background and Purpose
Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) are characterized by grossly dilated capillaries, associated with vascular leak and hemorrhage, and occur in sporadic or inherited (autosomal dominant) forms with mutations in one of three gene loci (CCM 1, 2 or 3). We previously reported that the CCM1 protein (KRIT1) localizes to endothelial cell-cell junctions and loss of KRIT1 leads to junctional instability associated with activation of RhoA and its effector Rho kinase (ROCK). Although ROCK inhibition has been proposed as potential therapy for CCM, there has been no demonstration of a therapeutic effect on CCM lesion genesis in vivo.
Our recently generated a model of CCM1 disease (Ccm1+/−Msh2−/−) was treated with ROCK inhibitor fasudil (100 mg/kg/day administered in drinking water from weaning to 5 months of age), or placebo, and blindly assessed CCM lesion burden by systematic survey of animals’ brains. For comparison, we also assessed therapeutic effect in previously described Ccm2+/−Trp53−/− mice, treated with the same dose and duration of fasudil and placebo.
Fasudil treated Ccm1+/−Msh2−/− mice had a significantly decreased prevalence of CCM lesions compared to placebo controls. Lesions in treated animals were smaller and less likely associated with hemorrhage, inflammation and endothelial proliferation, and exhibited decreased expression of ROCK activation biomarkers. A therapeutic effect was also documented in Ccm2+/−Trp53−/− mice.
This represents the first report of therapeutic benefit of pharmacological therapy in development and progression of CCMs, and indicates that ROCK activation is a critical step in CCM lesion genesis and maturation.
PMCID: PMC3265629  PMID: 22034008
Cerebral cavernous malformation; cavernous angioma; ROCK; Fasudil; therapy
13.  Phosphoprotein Enriched in Astrocytes 15 kDa (PEA-15) Reprograms Growth Factor Signaling by Inhibiting Threonine Phosphorylation of Fibroblast Receptor Substrate 2α 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(4):664-673.
Changes in expression of PEA-15 contribute to diabetes, tumor invasion, and cellular senescence. PEA-15 increases activation of the ERK MAP kinase pathway; the present study shows that it does so by interfering with ERK1/2 phosphorylation of FRS2, terminator of downstream signaling from FGF receptors.
Changes in cellular expression of phosphoprotein enriched in astrocytes of 15 kDa (PEA-15) are linked to insulin resistance, tumor cell invasion, and cellular senescence; these changes alter the activation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathway. Here, we define the mechanism whereby increased PEA-15 expression promotes and sustains ERK1/2 activation. PEA-15 binding prevented ERK1/2 membrane recruitment and threonine phosphorylation of fibroblast receptor substrate 2α (FRS2α), a key link in fibroblast growth factor (FGF) receptor activation of ERK1/2. This reduced threonine phosphorylation led to increased FGF-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of FRS2α, thereby enhancing downstream signaling. Conversely, short hairpin RNA-mediated depletion of endogenous PEA-15 led to reduced FRS2α tyrosine phosphorylation. Thus, PEA-15 interrupts a negative feedback loop that terminates growth factor receptor signaling downstream of FRS2α. This is the dominant mechanism by which PEA-15 activates ERK1/2 because genetic deletion of FRS2α blocked the capacity of PEA-15 to activate the MAP kinase pathway. Thus, PEA-15 prevents ERK1/2 localization to the plasma membrane, thereby inhibiting ERK1/2-dependent threonine phosphorylation of FRS2α to promote activation of the ERK1/2 MAP kinase pathway.
PMCID: PMC2820429  PMID: 20032303
14.  The antithrombotic potential of selective blockade of talin-dependent integrin αIIbβ3 (platelet GPIIb–IIIa) activation  
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2007;117(8):2250-2259.
In vitro studies indicate that binding of talin to the β3 integrin cytoplasmic domain (tail) results in integrin αIIbβ3 (GPIIb–IIIa) activation. Here we tested the importance of talin binding for integrin activation in vivo and its biological significance by generating mice harboring point mutations in the β3 tail. We introduced a β3(Y747A) substitution that disrupts the binding of talin, filamin, and other cytoplasmic proteins and a β3(L746A) substitution that selectively disrupts interactions only with talin. Platelets from animals homozygous for each mutation showed impaired agonist-induced fibrinogen binding and platelet aggregation, providing proof that inside-out signals that activate αIIbβ3 require binding of talin to the β3 tail. β3(L746A) mice were resistant to both pulmonary thromboembolism and to ferric chloride–induced thrombosis of the carotid artery. Pathological bleeding, measured by the presence of fecal blood and development of anemia, occurred in 53% of β3(Y747A) and virtually all β3-null animals examined. Remarkably, less than 5% of β3(L746A) animals exhibited this form of bleeding. These results establish that αIIbβ3 activation in vivo is dependent on the interaction of talin with the β3 integrin cytoplasmic domain. Furthermore, they suggest that modulation of β3 integrin–talin interactions may provide an attractive target for antithrombotics and result in a reduced risk of pathological bleeding.
PMCID: PMC1906732  PMID: 17627302
15.  RLIP76 (RalBP1) is an R-Ras effector that mediates adhesion-dependent Rac activation and cell migration 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2006;174(6):877-888.
The Ras family of small GTPases regulates cell proliferation, spreading, migration and apoptosis, and malignant transformation by binding to several protein effectors. One such GTPase, R-Ras, plays distinct roles in each of these processes, but to date, identified R-Ras effectors were shared with other Ras family members (e.g., H-Ras). We utilized a new database of Ras-interacting proteins to identify RLIP76 (RalBP1) as a novel R-Ras effector. RLIP76 binds directly to R-Ras in a GTP-dependent manner, but does not physically associate with the closely related paralogues H-Ras and Rap1A. RLIP76 is required for adhesion-induced Rac activation and the resulting cell spreading and migration, as well as for the ability of R-Ras to enhance these functions. RLIP76 regulates Rac activity through the adhesion-induced activation of Arf6 GTPase and activation of Arf6 bypasses the requirement for RLIP76 in Rac activation and cell spreading. Thus, we identify a novel R-Ras effector, RLIP76, which links R-Ras to adhesion-induced Rac activation through a GTPase cascade that mediates cell spreading and migration.
PMCID: PMC2064341  PMID: 16966426
16.  Loss of T cell CD98hc specifically ablates T cell clonal expansion and protects from autoimmunity 
CD98hc (CD98 heavy chain, 4F2 antigen, Slc3a2) was discovered as a lymphocyte activation antigen. Deletion of CD98hc in B cells leads to complete failure of B cell proliferation, plasma cell formation, and antibody secretion. Here we examined the role of T cell CD98 in cell-mediated immunity and autoimmune disease pathogenesis by specifically deleting it in murine T cells. Deletion of T cell CD98 prevented experimental autoimmune diabetes associated with dramatically reduced T cell clonal expansion. Nevertheless initial T cell homing to pancreatic islets was unimpaired. In sharp contrast to B cells, CD98-null T cells showed only modestly impaired antigen-driven proliferation and nearly normal homeostatic proliferation. Furthermore, these cells were activated by antigen leading to cytokine production (CD4) and efficient cytolytic killing of targets (CD8). The integrin binding domain of CD98 was necessary and sufficient for full clonal expansion, pointing to a role for adhesive signaling in T cell proliferation and autoimmune disease. When we expanded CD98-null T cells in vitro, they adoptively transferred diabetes, establishing that impaired clonal expansion was responsible for protection from disease. Thus the integrin binding domain of CD98 is required for antigen-driven T cell clonal expansion in the pathogenesis of an autoimmune disease and may represent a useful therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC3131465  PMID: 21670318
17.  Snorkeling Basic Amino Acid Side Chains Regulate Transmembrane Integrin Signalling 
Nature  2011;481(7380):209-213.
Side chains of Lys/Arg near transmembrane domain (TMD)1–3 membrane-water interfaces can “snorkel” placing their positive charge near negatively-charged phospholipid head groups4–6; however, snorkeling's functional effects are obscure. Integrin β TMDs exhibit such conserved basic amino acids; here we used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy7, 8 to show that integrin β3(Lys716) helps determine β3 TMD topography. The αIIbβ3 TMD structure suggests that precise β3 TMD crossing angles enable the assembly of outer and inner membrane “clasps” (OMC and IMC) that hold the αβ TMD together to limit transmembrane signalling9 . Mutation of β3(Lys716) caused dissociation of αIIbβ3 TMDs and integrin activation. To confirm that altered topography of β3(Lys716) mutants activated αIIbβ3, we utilized directed evolution of β3(K716A) to identify substitutions restoring default state. Introduction Pro(711) at the midpoint of β3 TMD (A711P) increased αIIbβ3 TMD association and inactivated integrin αIIbβ3(A711P,K716A). β3(Pro711) introduced a TMD kink of 30 ± 1° precisely at the OMC/IMC border, thereby decoupling the tilt between these segments. Thus, widely-occurring snorkeling residues in TMDs can help maintain TMD topography and membrane-embedding thereby regulating transmembrane signalling.
PMCID: PMC3257387  PMID: 22178926
18.  Live cell imaging of paxillin in rolling neutrophils by dual-color quantitative dynamic footprinting (DqDF) 
Neutrophil recruitment to sites of inflammation involves P-selectin dependent rolling. Quantitative dynamic footprinting is a useful tool to visualize the topography of the neutrophil footprint as it interacts with the substrate. However, elucidating the role of specific proteins in addition to topography requires simultaneous visualization of two fluorochromes.
To validate dual-color quantitative dynamic footprinting, mouse neutrophils were labeled with the membrane dyes DiO and DiI and perfused into microchannels coated with P-selectin-Fc. Footprints of rolling neutrophils were recorded as two separate images, one for each fluorochrome. To assess the localization of the cytoskeletal protein paxillin, we applied dual-color quantitative dynamic footprinting to DiO stained neutrophils of mice expressing an mCherry-paxillin fusion protein.
The footprint topographies obtained from DiO and DiI in the plasma membrane were identical. The z-coordinates of the microvilli tips obtained with the two fluorochromes in the footprint were also identical. Paxillin was found to be localized to some, but not all ridges in the neutrophil footprint.
Our data suggest that the spectral properties of the fluorochrome do not affect the results. Dual-color quantitative dynamic footprinting will be useful for simultaneous visualization of two fluorochromes in the footprint of rolling cells.
PMCID: PMC3123727  PMID: 21418380
DqDF; P-selectin; footprint; TIRF
19.  Blocking the α4 integrinαpaxillin interaction selectively impairs mononuclear leukocyte recruitment to an inflammatory site 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2006;116(3):715-723.
Antagonists to α4 integrin show promise for several autoimmune and inflammatory diseases but may exhibit mechanism-based toxicities. We tested the capacity of blockade of α4 integrin signaling to perturb functions involved in inflammation, while limiting potential adverse effects. We generated and characterized mice bearing a Y991A mutation in α4 integrin [α4(Y991A) mice], which blocks paxillin binding and inhibits α4 integrin signals that support leukocyte migration. In contrast to the embryonic-lethal phenotype of α4 integrin–null mice, mice bearing the α4(Y991A) mutation were viable and fertile; however, they exhibited defective recruitment of mononuclear leukocytes into thioglycollate-induced peritonitis. α4 Integrins are essential for definitive hematopoiesis; however, the α4(Y991A) mice had intact lymphohematopoiesis and, with the exception of reduced Peyer’s patches, normal architecture and cellularity of secondary lymphoid tissues. We conclude that interference with α4 integrin signaling can selectively impair mononuclear leukocyte recruitment to sites of inflammation while sparing vital functions of α4 integrins in development and hematopoiesis.
PMCID: PMC1361348  PMID: 16470243
20.  Receptor tyrosine kinases and TLR/IL1Rs unexpectedly activate myeloid cell PI3Kγ, a single convergent point promoting tumor inflammation and progression 
Cancer cell  2011;19(6):715-727.
Tumor inflammation promotes angiogenesis, immunosuppression and tumor growth, but the mechanisms controlling inflammatory cell recruitment to tumors are not well understood. We found that a range of chemoattractants activating G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and Toll-like/IL-1 receptors (TLR/IL1Rs) unexpectedly initiate tumor inflammation by activating the PI3-kinase isoform p110γ in Gr1+CD11b+ myeloid cells. Whereas GPCRs activate p110γ in a Ras/p101 dependent manner, RTKs and TLR/IL1Rs directly activate p110γ in a Ras/p87-dependent manner. Once activated, p110γ promotes inside-out activation of a single integrin, α4β1, causing myeloid cell invasion into tumors. Pharmacological or genetic blockade of p110γ suppressed inflammation, growth and metastasis of implanted and spontaneous tumors, revealing an important therapeutic target in oncology.
PMCID: PMC3144144  PMID: 21665146
21.  Phosphorylation of Phosphoprotein Enriched in Astrocytes (PEA-15) Regulates Extracellular Signal-regulated Kinase-dependent Transcription and Cell Proliferation 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2005;16(8):3552-3561.
Cell cycle progression is dependent on the nuclear localization and transcriptional effects of activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1 and ERK2 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases (ERK1/2). Phosphoprotein enriched in astrocytes (PEA-15) binds ERK1/2 and inhibits their nuclear localization, thus blocking cell proliferation. Here, we report that phosphorylation of PEA-15 blocks its interaction with ERK1/2 in vitro and in vivo and that phosphorylation of both Ser104 and Ser116 is required for this effect. Using phosphomimetic and nonphosphorylatable mutants of PEA-15, we found that PEA-15 phosphorylation abrogates its capacity to block the nuclear localization and transcriptional activities of ERK1/2; this phosphorylation therefore enables the proliferation of cells that express high levels of PEA-15. Additionally, we report that PEA-15 phosphorylation can modulate nontranscriptional activities of ERK1/2, such as the modulation of the affinity of integrin adhesion receptors. Finally, we used a novel anti-phospho-specific PEA-15 antibody to establish that PEA-15 is phosphorylated in situ in normal mammary epithelium. These results define a novel posttranslational mechanism for controlling the subcellular localization of ERK1/2 and for specifying the output of MAP kinase signaling.
PMCID: PMC1182297  PMID: 15917297
22.  Kindlins, Integrin Activation and the Regulation of Talin Recruitment to αIIbβ3 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e34056.
Talins and kindlins bind to the integrin β3 cytoplasmic tail and both are required for effective activation of integrin αIIbβ3 and resulting high-affinity ligand binding in platelets. However, binding of the talin head domain alone to β3 is sufficient to activate purified integrin αIIbβ3 in vitro. Since talin is localized to the cytoplasm of unstimulated platelets, its re-localization to the plasma membrane and to the integrin is required for activation. Here we explored the mechanism whereby kindlins function as integrin co-activators. To test whether kindlins regulate talin recruitment to plasma membranes and to αIIbβ3, full-length talin and kindlin recruitment to β3 was studied using a reconstructed CHO cell model system that recapitulates agonist-induced αIIbβ3 activation. Over-expression of kindlin-2, the endogenous kindlin isoform in CHO cells, promoted PAR1-mediated and talin-dependent ligand binding. In contrast, shRNA knockdown of kindlin-2 inhibited ligand binding. However, depletion of kindlin-2 by shRNA did not affect talin recruitment to the plasma membrane, as assessed by sub-cellular fractionation, and neither over-expression of kindlins nor depletion of kindlin-2 affected talin interaction with αIIbβ3 in living cells, as monitored by bimolecular fluorescence complementation. Furthermore, talin failed to promote kindlin-2 association with αIIbβ3 in CHO cells. In addition, purified talin and kindlin-3, the kindlin isoform expressed in platelets, failed to promote each other's binding to the β3 cytoplasmic tail in vitro. Thus, kindlins do not promote initial talin recruitment to αIIbβ3, suggesting that they co-activate integrin through a mechanism independent of recruitment.
PMCID: PMC3311585  PMID: 22457811
23.  A novel mouse model of cerebral cavernous malformations based on the two-hit mutation hypothesis recapitulates the human disease 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;20(2):211-222.
Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) are vascular lesions of the central nervous system appearing as multicavernous, blood-filled capillaries, leading to headache, seizure and hemorrhagic stroke. CCM occurs either sporadically or as an autosomal dominant disorder caused by germline mutation of one of the three genes: CCM1/KRIT1, CCM2/MGC4607 and CCM3/PDCD10. Surgically resected human CCM lesions have provided molecular and immunohistochemical evidence for a two-hit (germline plus somatic) mutation mechanism. In contrast to the equivalent human genotype, mice heterozygous for a Ccm1- or Ccm2-null allele do not develop CCM lesions. Based on the two-hit hypothesis, we attempted to improve the penetrance of the model by crossing Ccm1 and Ccm2 heterozygotes into a mismatch repair-deficient Msh2−/− background. Ccm1+/−Msh2−/− mice exhibit CCM lesions with high penetrance as shown by magnetic resonance imaging and histology. Significantly, the CCM lesions range in size from early-stage, isolated caverns to large, multicavernous lesions. A subset of endothelial cells within the CCM lesions revealed somatic loss of CCM protein staining, supporting the two-hit mutation mechanism. The late-stage CCM lesions displayed many of the characteristics of human CCM lesions, including hemosiderin deposits, immune cell infiltration, increased endothelial cell proliferation and increased Rho-kinase activity. Some of these characteristics were also seen, but to a lesser extent, in early-stage lesions. Tight junctions were maintained between CCM lesion endothelial cells, but gaps were evident between endothelial cells and basement membrane was defective. In contrast, the Ccm2+/−Msh2−/− mice lacked cerebrovascular lesions. The CCM1 mouse model provides an in vivo tool to investigate CCM pathogenesis and new therapies.
PMCID: PMC3005897  PMID: 20940147
24.  An active kinase domain is required for retention of PKCθ at the T cell immunological synapse 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(18):3491-3497.
In response to antigen stimulation, PKCθ translocates to the T cell plasma membrane, becoming highly focused at the immunological synapse (IS). cis-Acting sequences that regulate IS retention are not known. It is shown that a catalytically competent PKCθ kinase domain is essential for IS retention but not for membrane translocation.
Protein kinase Cθ (PKCθ) is a serine/threonine kinase that plays an essential role in antigen-regulated responses of T lymphocytes. Upon antigen stimulation, PKCθ is rapidly recruited to the immunological synapse (IS), the region of contact between the T cell and antigen-presenting cell. This behavior is unique among T cell PKC isoforms. To define domains of PKCθ required for retention at the IS, we generated deletion and point mutants of PKCθ. We used quantitative imaging analysis to assess IS retention of PKCθ mutants in antigen-stimulated T cell clones. Deletion of the kinase domain or site-directed mutation of a subset of known PKCθ phosphorylation sites abrogated or significantly reduced IS retention, respectively. IS retention did not correlate with phosphorylation of specific PKCθ residues but rather with kinase function. Thus PKCθ catalytic competence is essential for stable IS retention.
PMCID: PMC3172272  PMID: 21795397
25.  High mutation detection rates in cerebral cavernous malformation upon stringent inclusion criteria: one-third of probands are minors 
Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCM) are prevalent vascular malformations occurring in familial autosomal dominantly inherited or isolated forms. Once CCM are diagnosed by magnetic resonance imaging, the indication for genetic testing requires either a positive family history of cavernous lesions or clinical symptoms such as chronic headaches, epilepsy, neurological deficits, and hemorrhagic stroke or the occurrence of multiple lesions in an isolated case. Following these inclusion criteria, the mutation detection rates in a consecutive series of 105 probands were 87% for familial and 57% for isolated cases. Thirty-one novel mutations were identified with a slight shift towards proportionally more CCM3 mutations carriers than previously published (CCM1: 60%, CCM2: 18%, CCM3: 22%). In-frame deletions and exonic missense variants requiring functional analyses to establish their pathogenicity were rare: An in-frame deletion within the C-terminal FERM domain of CCM1 resulted in decreased protein expression and impaired binding to the transmembrane protein heart of glass (HEG1). Notably, 20% of index cases carrying a CCM mutation were below age 10 and 33% below age 18 when referred for genetic testing. Since fulminant disease courses during the first years of life were observed in CCM1 and CCM3 mutation carriers, predictive testing of minor siblings became an issue.
PMCID: PMC3960060
Age at disease onset; CCM1; CCM2; CCM3; cerebral cavernous malformation; HEG1; mutation detection rate; predictive testing

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