Alzheimer's disease (AD) is an incurable and progressive neurodegenerative senile disorder associated with the brain accumulation of Aβ plaques. Although vaccines that reduce Aβ plaques can control AD, the rationale for their use at the onset of the disease remains debatable. Old humans and mice usually respond poorly to vaccines due to presumably age-related immunological impairments. Here, we report that by modifying vaccines, the poor responsiveness of old mice can be reversed. Unlike the Aβ peptide vaccine, DNA immunizations with the amino-terminal Aβ(1-11) fragment exposed on the surface of HBsAg particles elicit high levels of anti-Aβ antibody both in young and old mice. Importantly, in AD model 3xTgAD mice, the vaccine reduced Aβ plaques, ameliorated cognitive impairments and, surprisingly, significantly increased life span. Hence, we propose that vaccines targeting Aβ(1-11) can efficiently combat AD-induced pathological alterations and provide survival benefit in patients with AD.
Aβ; Alzheimer's disease vaccine; old age; life span
The HIV-1 capsid protein consists of two independently folded domains connected by a flexible peptide linker (residues 146–150), the function of which remains to be defined. To investigate the role of this region in virus replication, we made alanine or leucine substitutions in each linker residue and two flanking residues. Three classes of mutants were identified: (i) S146A and T148A behave like wild type (WT); (ii) Y145A, I150A, and L151A are noninfectious, assemble unstable cores with aberrant morphology, and synthesize almost no viral DNA; and (iii) P147L and S149A display a poorly infectious, attenuated phenotype. Infectivity of P147L and S149A is rescued specifically by pseudotyping with vesicular stomatitis virus envelope glycoprotein. Moreover, despite having unstable cores, these mutants assemble WT-like structures and synthesize viral DNA, although less efficiently than WT. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that the linker region is essential for proper assembly and stability of cores and efficient replication.
HIV-1 capsid protein; HIV-1 assembly; HIV-1 cores; VSV-G pseudotyping; interdomain linker; in vitro assembly; TRIM5 proteins; host restriction; virus disassembly; reverse transcription
We provide a catalog of 3D cryo soft X-ray tomography (cryo-SXT) images obtained from ~6–12 µm thick mouse adenocarcinoma cells. Included are multiple representative images of nuclei, nucleoli, nuclear membrane, nuclear membrane channels, mitochondria, lysosomes, endoplasmic reticulum, filaments and plasma membrane, plus three structures not previously described by cryo-SXT, namely Golgi, microvilli and nuclear-membrane blebs. Sections from the 3D cryo-SXT tomograms for all the preceding structures closely resemble those seen by thin-section transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Some structures such as nuclear-membrane channels and nuclear-membrane blebs are more easily detected by cryo-SXT than TEM most likely due to their better contrast and cellular preservation in cryo-SXT combined with the ability to rapidly locate these structures within a full 3D image. We identify and discuss two current limitations in cryo-SXT: variability in image quality and difficulties in detecting weaker contrast structures such as chromatin and various nuclear bodies. Progress on these points is likely to come from the solution of several technical problems in image acquisition, plus the implementation of advanced cryo soft X-ray microscopy approaches such as phase contrast or optical sectioning.
soft X-ray tomography; mammalian cells; ultrastructure
Processing of the Gag precursor protein by the viral protease during particle release triggers virion maturation, an essential step in the virus replication cycle. The first-in-class HIV-1 maturation inhibitor dimethylsuccinyl betulinic acid [PA-457 or bevirimat (BVM)] blocks HIV-1 maturation by inhibiting the cleavage of the capsid-spacer peptide 1 (CA-SP1) intermediate to mature CA. A structurally distinct molecule, PF-46396, was recently reported to have a similar mode of action to that of BVM. Because of the structural dissimilarity between BVM and PF-46396, we hypothesized that the two compounds might interact differentially with the putative maturation inhibitor-binding pocket in Gag. To test this hypothesis, PF-46396 resistance was selected for in vitro. Resistance mutations were identified in three regions of Gag: around the CA-SP1 cleavage site where BVM resistance maps, at CA amino acid 201, and in the CA major homology region (MHR). The MHR mutants are profoundly PF-46396-dependent in Gag assembly and release and virus replication. The severe defect exhibited by the inhibitor-dependent MHR mutants in the absence of the compound is also corrected by a second-site compensatory change far downstream in SP1, suggesting structural and functional cross-talk between the HIV-1 CA MHR and SP1. When PF-46396 and BVM were both present in infected cells they exhibited mutually antagonistic behavior. Together, these results identify Gag residues that line the maturation inhibitor-binding pocket and suggest that BVM and PF-46396 interact differentially with this putative pocket. These findings provide novel insights into the structure-function relationship between the CA MHR and SP1, two domains of Gag that are critical to both assembly and maturation. The highly conserved nature of the MHR across all orthoretroviridae suggests that these findings will be broadly relevant to retroviral assembly. Finally, the results presented here provide a framework for increased structural understanding of HIV-1 maturation inhibitor activity.
Maturation of HIV-1 particles, which occurs as they bud off from the infected cell, is triggered by the step-wise cleavage of the major viral structural polyprotein, Pr55Gag, to individual, mature Gag proteins. The viral protease is the enzyme responsible for Gag polyprotein cleavage. Maturation inhibitors prevent the viral protease from processing Gag at one particular cleavage site, but how they accomplish this is not understood. In this study, the ability of HIV-1 to become resistant to the two structurally distinct maturation inhibitors that have thus far been reported was examined. We found that one of these compounds, PF-46396, gives rise to resistance mutations that map to three domains in Gag, including a region known as the major homology region (MHR). The MHR is highly conserved among retroviruses and is known to be very important for virus assembly and maturation. These MHR mutants were observed to replicate much better in the presence of PF-46396 than in its absence; i.e., these mutants are compound-dependent. We were also able to select for second-site mutations in Gag that reversed the replication defects imposed by the MHR mutations. These results define residues in Gag that comprise the maturation inhibitor-binding pocket and also identify regions of Gag that structurally and functionally interact with the MHR.
We recently reported that human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) carrying PTAP and LYPXnL L domains ceased budding when the nucleocapsid (NC) domain was mutated, suggesting a role for NC in HIV-1 release. Here we investigated whether NC involvement in virus release is a property specific to HIV-1 or a general requirement of retroviruses. Specifically, we examined a possible role for NC in the budding of retroviruses relying on divergent L domains and structurally homologous NC domains that harbor diverse protein sequences. We found that NC is critical for the release of viruses utilizing the PTAP motif whether it functions within its native Gag in simian immunodeficiency virus cpzGAB2 (SIVcpzGAB2) or SIVsmmE543 or when it is transplanted into the heterologous Gag protein of equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV). In both cases, virus release was severely diminished even though NC mutant Gag proteins retained the ability to assemble spherical particles. Moreover, budding-defective NC mutants, which displayed particles tethered to the plasma membrane, were triggered to release virus when access to the cell endocytic sorting complex required for transport pathway was restored (i.e., in trans expression of Nedd4.2s). We also examined the role of NC in the budding of EIAV, a retrovirus relying exclusively on the (L)YPXnL-type L domain. We found that EIAV late budding defects were rescued by overexpression of the isolated Alix Bro1 domain (Bro1). Bro1-mediated rescue of EIAV release required the wild-type NC. EIAV NC mutants lost interactions with Bro1 and failed to produce viruses despite retaining the ability to self-assemble. Together, our studies establish a role for NC in the budding of retroviruses harboring divergent L domains and evolutionarily diverse NC sequences, suggesting the utilization of a common conserved mechanism and/or cellular factor rather than a specific motif.
Humans with Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome (HPS) or ocular albinism (OA1) display abnormal aspects of organelle biogenesis. The multigenic disorder HPS displays broad defects in biogenesis of lysosome-related organelles including melanosomes, platelet dense granules, and lysosomes. A phenotype of ocular pigmentation in OA1 is a smaller number of macromelanosomes, in contrast to HPS, where in many cases the melanosomes are smaller than normal. In these studies we define the role of the Mregdsu gene, which suppresses the coat color dilution of Myo5a, melanophilin, and Rab27a mutant mice in maintaining melanosome size and distribution. We show that the product of the Mregdsu locus, melanoregulin (MREG), interacts both with members of the HPS BLOC-2 complex and with Oa1 in regulating melanosome size. Loss of MREG function facilitates increase in the size of micromelanosomes in the choroid of the HPS BLOC-2 mutants ruby, ruby2, and cocoa, while a transgenic mouse overexpressing melanoregulin corrects the size of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) macromelanosomes in Oa1ko/ko mice. Collectively, these results suggest that MREG levels regulate pigment incorporation into melanosomes. Immunohistochemical analysis localizes melanoregulin not to melanosomes, but to small vesicles in the cytoplasm of the RPE, consistent with a role for this protein in regulating membrane interactions during melanosome biogenesis. These results provide the first link between the BLOC pathway and Oa1 in melanosome biogenesis, thus supporting the hypothesis that intracellular G-protein coupled receptors may be involved in the biogenesis of other organelles. Furthermore these studies provide the foundation for therapeutic approaches to correct the pigment defects in the RPE of HPS and OA1.
Acetic acid bacteria were previously considered nonpathogenic in humans. However, over the past decade, five genera of Acetobacteraceae have been isolated from patients with inborn or iatrogenic immunodeficiencies. Here, we describe the first studies of the interactions of the human innate immune system with a member of this bacterial family, Granulibacter bethesdensis, an emerging pathogen in patients with chronic granulomatous disease (CGD). Efficient phagocytosis of G. bethesdensis by normal and CGD polymorphonuclear leukocytes (CGD PMN) required heat-labile serum components (e.g., C3), and binding of C3 and C9 to G. bethesdensis was detected by immunoblotting. However, this organism survived in human serum concentrations of ≥90%, indicating a high degree of serum resistance. Consistent with the clinical host tropism of G. bethesdensis, CGD PMN were unable to kill this organism, while normal PMN, in the presence of serum, reduced the number of CFU by about 50% after a 24-h coculture. This finding, together with the observations that G. bethesdensis was sensitive to H2O2 but resistant to LL-37, a human cationic antimicrobial peptide, suggests an inherent resistance to O2-independent killing. Interestingly, 10 to 100 times greater numbers of G. bethesdensis were required to achieve the same level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production induced by Escherichia coli in normal PMN. In addition to the relative inability of the organism to elicit production of PMN ROS, G. bethesdensis inhibited both constitutive and FAS-induced PMN apoptosis. These properties of reduced PMN activation and resistance to nonoxidative killing mechanisms likely play an important role in G. bethesdensis pathogenesis.
Previously we reported that hydrophobic aryl azides partition into hydrophobic regions of the viral membrane of enveloped viruses and inactivate the virus upon UVA irradiation for 2 minutes. Prolonged irradiation (15 minutes) resulted in viral protein aggregation as visualized via Western blot analysis, due to reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation, with preservation of the surface antigenic epitopes. Herein, we demonstrate that these aggregates show detergent resistance and that this property may be useful towards the creation of a novel orthogonal virus inactivation strategy for use in preparing experimental vaccines. When ROS-modified HIV virus preparations were treated with 1% Triton X-100, there was an increase in the percent of viral proteins (gp41, p24) in the viral pellet after ultracentrifugation through sucrose. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) of these detergent-resistant pellets show some recognizable virus fragments, and immunoprecipitation studies of the gp41 aggregates suggest the aggregation is covalent in nature, involving short-range interactions.
HIV; Detergent; Vaccine; Triton; Hydrophobic; Azide; Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS); Viral Membrane
Recently, there has been renewed interest in the role of tumor stem cells (TSCs) in tumorigenesis, chemoresistance, and relapse of malignant tumors including osteosarcoma. The potential exists to improve osteosarcoma treatment through characterization of TSCs and identification of therapeutic targets. Using transcriptome, proteome, immunophenotyping for cell-surface markers, and bioinformatic analyses, heterogeneous expression of previously reported TSC or osteosarcoma markers, such as CD133, nestin, POU5F1 (OCT3/4), NANOG, SOX2, and aldehyde dehydrogenase, among others, was observed in vitro. However, consistently significantly lower CD326, CD24, CD44, and higher ABCG2 expression in TSC-enriched as compared with un-enriched osteosarcoma cultures was observed. In addition, consistently higher CBX3 expression in TSC-enriched osteosarcoma cultures was identified. ABCA5 was identified as a putative biomarker of TSCs and/or osteosarcoma. Lastly, in a high-throughput screen we identified epigenetic (5-azacytidine), anti-microtubule (vincristine), and anti-telomerase (3,11-difluoro-6,8,13-trimethyl- 8H-quino [4,3,2-kl] acridinium methosulfate; RHPS4)-targeted therapeutic agents as candidates for TSC ablation in osteosarcoma.
Targeting the HIV entry and assembly pathways holds promise for development of novel anti-HIV gene therapy vectors. We characterized discrete dominant negative (DN) Gag and Envelope mutants for their anti HIV-1 activity. We show here that capsid mutants (Q155N and Y164A) are more potent inhibitors of WT HIV than the matrix mutant 1GA. Both the Envelope mutants tested, V513E and R515A, were equally effective and a combination of Gag and Envelope DN genes significantly enhanced potency. Interestingly, the DN mutants acted at multiple steps in the virus life cycle rather than solely disrupting virus release or infection. Inhibition mediated by R515A could be partially attributed to the Envelope cytoplasmic tail, as deletion of R515A tail partially abrogated its DN effect. Finally, the Y164A/R515A double mutant expressed in a lentiviral vector was effective at inhibiting HIV replication in CD34+ hematopoietic stem cell-derived macrophages demonstrating the therapeutic potential of our approach.
HIV; Gag; Envelope; Virus assembly; HIV entry; Dominant negative; Gene therapy
The HIV-1 structural protein Gag associates with two types of plasma membrane microdomains, lipid rafts and tetraspanin-enriched microdomains (TEMs), both of which have been proposed to be platforms for HIV-1 assembly. However, a variety of studies have demonstrated that lipid rafts and TEMs are distinct microdomains in the absence of HIV-1 infection. To measure the impact of Gag on microdomain behaviors, we took advantage of two assays: an antibody-mediated copatching assay and a Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) assay that measures the clustering of microdomain markers in live cells without antibody-mediated patching. We found that lipid rafts and TEMs copatched and clustered to a greater extent in the presence of membrane-bound Gag in both assays, suggesting that Gag induces the coalescence of lipid rafts and TEMs. Substitutions in membrane binding motifs of Gag revealed that, while Gag membrane binding is necessary to induce coalescence of lipid rafts and TEMs, either acylation of Gag or binding of phosphatidylinositol-(4,5)-bisphosphate is sufficient. Finally, a Gag derivative that is defective in inducing membrane curvature appeared less able to induce lipid raft and TEM coalescence. A higher-resolution analysis of assembly sites by correlative fluorescence and scanning electron microscopy showed that coalescence of clustered lipid rafts and TEMs occurs predominately at completed cell surface virus-like particles, whereas a transmembrane raft marker protein appeared to associate with punctate Gag fluorescence even in the absence of cell surface particles. Together, these results suggest that different membrane microdomain components are recruited in a stepwise manner during assembly.
Although xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) has been previously linked to prostate cancer and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, recent data indicate that results interpreted as evidence of human XMRV infection reflect laboratory contamination rather than authentic in vivo infection. Nevertheless, XMRV is a retrovirus of undefined pathogenic potential that is able to replicate in human cells. Here we describe a comprehensive analysis of two male pigtailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) experimentally infected with XMRV. Following intravenous inoculation with >1010 RNA copy equivalents of XMRV, viral replication was limited and transient, peaking at ≤2,200 viral RNA (vRNA) copies/ml plasma and becoming undetectable by 4 weeks postinfection, though viral DNA (vDNA) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells remained detectable through 119 days of follow-up. Similarly, vRNA was not detectable in lymph nodes by in situ hybridization despite detectable vDNA. Sequencing of cell-associated vDNA revealed extensive G-to-A hypermutation, suggestive of APOBEC-mediated viral restriction. Consistent with limited viral replication, we found transient upregulation of type I interferon responses that returned to baseline by 2 weeks postinfection, no detectable cellular immune responses, and limited or no spread to prostate tissue. Antibody responses, including neutralizing antibodies, however, were detectable by 2 weeks postinfection and maintained throughout the study. Both animals were healthy for the duration of follow-up. These findings indicate that XMRV replication and spread were limited in pigtailed macaques, predominantly by APOBEC-mediated hypermutation. Given that human APOBEC proteins restrict XMRV infection in vitro, human XMRV infection, if it occurred, would be expected to be characterized by similarly limited viral replication and spread.
Mitochondrial compromise has been documented in infants born to women infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) who received nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) therapy during pregnancy. To model these human exposures, we examined mitochondrial integrity at birth and 1 year in brain cortex and liver from offspring of retroviral-free Erythrocebus patas dams-administered human-equivalent NRTI doses for the last half (10 weeks) of gestation. Additional infants, followed for 1 year, were given the same drugs as their mothers for the first 6 weeks of life. Exposures included: no drug, Zidovudine (AZT), Lamivudine (3TC), AZT/3TC, AZT/Didanosine (ddI), and Stavudine (d4T)/3TC. In brain and liver, oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) enzyme activities (complexes I, II, and IV) showed minimal differences between unexposed and NRTI-exposed offspring at both times. Brain and liver mitochondria from most NRTI-exposed patas, both at birth and 1 year of age, contained significant (p < 0.05) morphological damage observed by electron microscopy (EM), based on scoring of coded photomicrographs. Brain and liver mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) levels in NRTI-exposed patas were depleted significantly in the 3TC and d4T/3TC groups at birth and were depleted significantly (p < 0.05) at 1 year in all NRTI-exposed groups. In 1-year-old infants exposed in utero to NRTIs, mtDNA depletion was 28.8–51.8% in brain and 37.4–56.5% in liver. These investigations suggest that some NRTI-exposed human infants may sustain similar mitochondrial compromise in brain and liver and should be followed long term for cognitive integrity and liver function.
Zidovudine; Lamivudine; Stavudine; Didanosine; electron microscopy; mitochondrial DNA quantity; oxidative phosphorylation
Expression of a retroviral protein, Gag, in mammalian cells is sufficient for assembly of immature virus-like particles (VLPs). VLP assembly is mediated largely by interactions between the capsid (CA) domains of Gag molecules but is facilitated by binding of the nucleocapsid (NC) domain to nucleic acid. We have investigated the role of SP1, a spacer between CA and NC in HIV-1 Gag, in VLP assembly. Mutational analysis showed that even subtle changes in the first 4 residues of SP1 destroy the ability of Gag to assemble correctly, frequently leading to formation of tubes or other misassembled structures rather than proper VLPs. We also studied the conformation of the CA-SP1 junction region in solution, using both molecular dynamics simulations and circular dichroism. Consonant with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) studies from other laboratories, we found that SP1 is nearly unstructured in aqueous solution but undergoes a concerted change to an α-helical conformation when the polarity of the environment is reduced by addition of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), trifluoroethanol, or ethanol. Remarkably, such a coil-to-helix transition is also recapitulated in an aqueous medium at high peptide concentrations. The exquisite sensitivity of SP1 to mutational changes and its ability to undergo a concentration-dependent structural transition raise the possibility that SP1 could act as a molecular switch to prime HIV-1 Gag for VLP assembly. We suggest that changes in the local environment of SP1 when Gag oligomerizes on nucleic acid might trigger this switch.
Cells expressing the yeast retrotransposon Ty3 form concentrated foci of Ty3 proteins and RNA within which virus-like particle (VLP) assembly occurs. Gag3, the major structural protein of the Ty3 retrotransposon, is composed of capsid (CA), spacer (SP), and nucleocapsid (NC) domains analogous to retroviral domains. Unlike the known SP domains of retroviruses, Ty3 SP is highly acidic. The current studies investigated the role of this domain. Although deletion of Ty3 SP dramatically reduced retrotransposition, significant Gag3 processing and cDNA synthesis occurred. Mutations that interfered with cleavage at the SP-NC junction disrupted CA-SP processing, cDNA synthesis, and electron-dense core formation. Mutations that interfered with cleavage of CA-SP allowed cleavage of the SP-NC junction, production of electron-dense cores, and cDNA synthesis but blocked retrotransposition. A mutant in which acidic residues of SP were replaced with alanine failed to form both Gag3 foci and VLPs. We propose a speculative “spring” model for Gag3 during assembly. In the first phase during concentration of Gag3 into foci, intramolecular interactions between negatively charged SP and positively charged NC domains of Gag3 limit multimerization. In the second phase, the NC domain binds RNA, and the bound form is stabilized by intermolecular interactions with the SP domain. These interactions promote CA domain multimerization. In the third phase, a negatively charged SP domain destabilizes the remaining CA-SP shell for cDNA release.
Hydrophobic UV-activatable compounds have been shown to partition into the hydrophobic region of biological membranes to selectively label transmembrane proteins, and to inactivate enveloped viruses. Here, we analyze various UV-activatable azido- and iodo- based hydrophobic compounds for their ability to inactivate a model enveloped virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1 MN). Treatment of HIV-1 with 1,5-diazidonapthalene (DAN), 1-iodo, 5-azidonaphthalene (INA), 1-azidonaphthalene (AzNAP) or 4,4’-diazidobiphenyl (DABIPH) followed by UVA irradiation for 2 minutes, resulted in complete viral inactivation, whereas treatment using analogous non-azido containing controls had no effect. Incorporation of an azido moiety within these hydrophobic compounds to promote photoinduced covalent reactions with proteins was found to be the primary mechanism of viral inactivation for this class of compounds. Prolonged UVA irradiation of the virus in the presence of these azido compounds resulted in further modifications of viral proteins, due to the generation of reactive oxygen species, leading to aggregation as visualized via western blot analysis, providing additional viral modifications that may inhibit viral infectivity. Furthermore, inactivation using these compounds resulted in the preservation of surface antigenic structures (recognized by neutralizing antibodies b12, 2g12 and 4e10), which is favorable for the creation of vaccines from these inactivated virus preparations.
The p6 region of HIV-1 Gag contains two late (L) domains, PTAP and LYPXnL, that bind the cellular proteins Tsg101 and Alix, respectively. These interactions are thought to recruit members of the host fission machinery (ESCRT) to facilitate HIV-1 release. Here we report a new role for the p6-adjacent nucleocapsid (NC) domain in HIV-1 release. The mutation of basic residues in NC caused a pronounced decrease in virus release from 293T cells, although NC mutant Gag proteins retained the ability to interact with cellular membranes and RNAs. Remarkably, electron microscopy analyses of these mutants revealed arrested budding particles at the plasma membrane, analogous to those seen following the disruption of the PTAP motif. This result indicated that the basic residues in NC are important for virus budding. When analyzed in physiologically more relevant T-cell lines (Jurkat and CEM), NC mutant viruses remained tethered to the plasma membrane or to each other by a membranous stalk, suggesting membrane fission impairment. Remarkably, NC mutant release defects were alleviated by the coexpression of a Gag protein carrying a wild-type (WT) NC domain but devoid of all L domain motifs and by providing alternative access to the ESCRT pathway, through the in trans expression of the ubiquitin ligase Nedd4.2s. Since NC mutant Gag proteins retained the interaction with Tsg101, we concluded that NC mutant budding arrests might have resulted from the inability of Gag to recruit or utilize members of the host ESCRT machinery that act downstream of Tsg101. Together, these data support a model in which NC plays a critical role in HIV-1 budding.
Alterations in sphingosine kinase activity change the degradation rates of Rhodopsin and the transient receptor potential (TRP) channel by lysosomes and can result in retinal degeneration.
Internalized membrane proteins are either transported to late endosomes and lysosomes for degradation or recycled to the plasma membrane. Although proteins involved in trafficking and sorting have been well studied, far less is known about the lipid molecules that regulate the intracellular trafficking of membrane proteins. We studied the function of sphingosine kinases and their metabolites in endosomal trafficking using Drosophila melanogaster photoreceptors as a model system. Gain- and loss-of-function analyses show that sphingosine kinases affect trafficking of the G protein–coupled receptor Rhodopsin and the light-sensitive transient receptor potential (TRP) channel by modulating the levels of dihydrosphingosine 1 phosphate (DHS1P) and sphingosine 1 phosphate (S1P). An increase in DHS1P levels relative to S1P leads to the enhanced lysosomal degradation of Rhodopsin and TRP and retinal degeneration in wild-type photoreceptors. Our results suggest that sphingosine kinases and their metabolites modulate photoreceptor homeostasis by influencing endolysosomal trafficking of Rhodopsin and TRP.
The ultimobranchial body (UBB) and thyroid primordium are the origins of the thyroid gland that fuse around embryonic day 14.5 of mouse gestation, ultimately giving rise to calcitonin-producing C cells and thyroglobulin-producing follicular cells, respectively. A homeodomain transcription factor NKX2-1 is expressed both in the UBB and the thyroid primordium, and is critical for development of the thyroid gland. In the present study, the role of p63 in development of UBB and the thyroid gland was investigated by histological, immunohistochemical, and electron microscopic analyses using mice with various combinations of Nkx2-1 and p63 wild-type, heterozygous, and null alleles. In the absence of p63, a normal thyroid gland develops, as revealed by expression of thyroglobulin and calcitonin, thus demonstrating that p63 is not required for thyroid development. However, in mice carrying the Nkx2-1-null allele, the UBB remains as a cystic vesicular structure and/or in nested patterns consisting of p63-positive cells surrounding the vesicle and undifferentiated immature cells with occasional cilia lying inside. The cystic UBB was present even in the Nkx2-1;p63 double-null mice. The structure and p63 expression pattern of the UBB cyst strikingly resemble the solid cell nest (SCN). These results demonstrate that in the absence of NKX2-1, UBB becomes cystic independent of p63, which is likely the origin of SCN.
NKX2-1; solid cell nest; knockout mouse; undifferentiated cells; histochemical analysis; electron microscopy
The role of ArfGAP1 in COPI vesicle biogenesis has been controversial. In work using isolated Golgi membranes, ArfGAP1 was found to promote COPI vesicle formation. In contrast, in studies using large unilamellar vesicles (LUVs) as model membranes, ArfGAP1 functioned as an uncoating factor inhibiting COPI vesicle formation. We set out to discriminate between these models. First, we reexamined the effect of ArfGAP1 on LUVs. We found that ArfGAP1 increased the efficiency of coatomer-induced deformation of LUVs. Second, ArfGAP1 and peptides from cargo facilitated self-assembly of coatomer into spherical structures in the absence of membranes, reminiscent of clathrin self-assembly. Third, in vivo, ArfGAP1 overexpression induced the accumulation of vesicles and allowed normal trafficking of a COPI cargo. Taken together, these data support the model in which ArfGAP1 promotes COPI vesicle formation and membrane traffic and identify a function for ArfGAP1 in the assembly of coatomer into COPI.
ADP-ribosylation factor; ArfGTPase-activating protein; coatomer; membrane traffic; Golgi apparatus
The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) maturation inhibitor bevirimat disrupts virus replication by inhibiting the cleavage of the capsid-spacer peptide 1 (CA-SP1) Gag processing intermediate to mature CA. The observation that bevirimat delays but does not completely block CA-SP1 processing suggests that the presence of uncleaved CA-SP1 may disrupt the maturation process in trans. In this study, we validate this hypothesis by using a genetic approach to demonstrate that a non-cleavable CA-SP1 mutant exerts a dominant-negative effect on maturation of wild-type HIV-1. In contrast, a mutant in which cleavage can occur internally within SP1 is significantly less potent as a dominant-negative inhibitor. We also show that bevirimat blocks processing at both the major CA-SP1 cleavage site and the internal site. These data underscore the importance of full CA-SP1 processing for HIV-1 maturation and highlight the therapeutic potential of inhibitors that target this Gag cleavage event.
HIV-1; Gag; virus maturation; assembly; retrovirus; protease
It is demonstrated that the Cdase gene encodes for all measurable ceramidase function in Drosophila. BWA, an alkaline ceramidase homologue, does not exhibit ceramidase activity. Bwa genetically interacts with other ceramide-metabolizing enzymes by influencing the flux through the sphingolipid pathway.
Ceramidases catalyze the conversion of ceramide to sphingosine. They are acylaminohydrolases that catalyze the deacylation of the amide-linked saturated fatty acid from ceramide to generate sphingosine. They also catalyze the reverse reaction of ceramide biosynthesis using sphingosine and fatty acid. In mammals, different proteins catalyze these reactions while individually exhibiting optimal activity over a narrow pH range and have been accordingly called acid, neutral, and alkaline ceramidases. Several genes encode for variants of alkaline ceramidase in mammals. Brainwashing (Bwa) is the only putative alkaline ceramidase homologue present in Drosophila. In this study we have demonstrated that BWA does not exhibit ceramidase activity and that bwa null mutants display no loss of ceramidase activity. Instead, the neutral ceramidase gene CDase encodes the protein that is responsible for all measurable ceramidase activity in Drosophila. Our studies show strong genetic interaction of Bwa with CDase and the Drosophila ceramide kinase gene (DCERK). We show that, although BWA is unlikely to be a ceramidase, it is a regulator of sphingolipid flux in Drosophila. Bwa exhibits strong genetic interaction with other genes coding for ceramide-metabolizing enzymes. This interaction might partly explain its original identification as a ceramidase.
Tumor microenvironments present significant barriers to penetration by antibodies and immunoconjugates. Tumor microenvironments, however, are difficult to study in vitro. Cells cultured as monolayers exhibit less resistance to therapy than those grown in vivo and an alternative research model more representative of the in vivo tumor is more desirable. SS1P is an immunotoxin composed of the Fv portion of a mesothelin-specific antibody fused to a bacterial toxin that is presently undergoing clinical trials in mesothelioma.
Here, we examined how the tumor microenvironment affects the penetration and killing activity of SS1P in a new three-dimensional (3D) spheroid model cultured in vitro using the human mesothelioma cell line (NCI-H226) and two primary cell lines isolated from the ascites of malignant mesothelioma patients. Mesothelioma cells grown as monolayers or as spheroids expressed comparable levels of mesothelin; however, spheroids were at least 100 times less affected by SS1P. To understand this disparity in cytotoxicity, we made fluorescence-labeled SS1P molecules and used confocal microscopy to examine the time course of SS1P penetration within spheroids. The penetration was limited after 4 hours. Interestingly, we found a significant increase in the number of tight junctions in the core area of spheroids by electron microscopy. Expression of E-Cadherin, a protein involved in the assembly and sealing of tight junctions and highly expressed in malignant mesothelioma, was found significantly increased in spheroids as compared to monolayers. Moreover, we found that siRNA silencing and antibody inhibition targeting E-Cadherin could enhance SS1P immunotoxin therapy in vitro.
This work is one of the first to investigate immunotoxins in 3D tumor spheroids in vitro. This initial description of an in vitro tumor model may offer a simple and more representative model of in vivo tumors and will allow for further investigations of the microenvironmental effects on drug penetration and tumor cell killing. We believe that the methods developed here may apply to the studies of other tumor-targeting antibodies and immunoconjugates in vitro.
Retroviral Gag proteins encode small peptide motifs known as late domains that promote the release of virions from infected cells by interacting directly with host cell factors. Three types of retroviral late domains, with core sequences P(T/S)AP, YPXnL, and PPPY, have been identified. HIV-1 encodes a primary P(T/S)AP-type late domain and an apparently secondary late domain sequence of the YPXnL type. The P(T/S)AP and YPXnL motifs interact with the endosomal sorting factors Tsg101 and Alix, respectively. Although biochemical and structural studies support a direct binding between HIV-1 p6 and Alix, the physiological role of Alix in HIV-1 biology remains undefined. To elucidate the function of the p6–Alix interaction in HIV-1 replication, we introduced a series of mutations in the p6 Alix binding site and evaluated the effects on virus particle production and virus replication in a range of cell types, including physiologically relevant primary T cells and macrophages. We also examined the effects of the Alix binding site mutations on virion morphogenesis and single-cycle virus infectivity. We determined that the p6–Alix interaction plays an important role in HIV-1 replication and observed a particularly severe impact of Alix binding site mutations when they were combined with mutational inactivation of the Tsg101 binding site.