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1.  EMRE is an essential component of the mitochondrial calcium uniporter complex 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2013;342(6164):1379-1382.
The mitochondrial uniporter is a highly selective calcium channel in the organelle’s inner membrane. Its molecular components include the EF-hand containing proteins mitochondrial calcium uptake 1 (MICU1) and MICU2 and the pore forming subunit mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU). We sought to achieve a full molecular characterization of the uniporter holocomplex (uniplex). Quantitative mass spectrometry of affinity-purified uniplex recovered MICU1 and MICU2, MCU and its paralog MCUb, and essential MCU regulator (EMRE), a previously uncharacterized protein. EMRE is a 10 kD, metazoan specific protein with a single transmembrane domain. In its absence, uniporter channel activity was lost despite intact MCU expression and oligomerization. EMRE was required for the interaction of MCU with MICU1 and MICU2. Hence, EMRE is essential for in vivo uniporter current and additionally bridges the calcium-sensing role of MICU1 and MICU2 with the calcium conducting role of MCU.
PMCID: PMC4091629  PMID: 24231807
2.  MICU1 controls both the threshold and cooperative activation of the mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter 
Cell metabolism  2013;17(6):976-987.
Mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake via the uniporter is central to cell metabolism, signaling and survival. Recent studies identified MCU as the uniporter’s likely pore and MICU1, an EF-hand protein, as its critical regulator. How this complex decodes dynamic cytoplasmic [Ca2+] ([Ca2+]c) signals, to tune out small [Ca2+]c increases yet permit pulse transmission, remains unknown. We report that loss of MICU1 in mouse liver and cultured cells causes mitochondrial Ca2+ accumulation during small [Ca2+]c elevations, yet an attenuated response to agonist-induced [Ca2+]c pulses. The latter reflects loss of positive cooperativity, likely via the EF-hands. MICU1 faces the intermembrane space and responds to [Ca2+]c changes. Prolonged MICU1 loss leads to an adaptive increase in matrix Ca2+ binding, yet cells show impaired oxidative metabolism and sensitization to Ca2+ overload. Collectively, the data indicate that MICU1 senses the [Ca2+]c to establish the uniporter’s threshold and gain, thereby allowing mitochondria to properly decode different inputs.
PMCID: PMC3722067  PMID: 23747253
calcium signaling; mitochondria; Ca2+ uniporter; oxidative metabolism; cell death; MCU
3.  Targeted exome sequencing of suspected mitochondrial disorders 
Neurology  2013;80(19):1762-1770.
To evaluate the utility of targeted exome sequencing for the molecular diagnosis of mitochondrial disorders, which exhibit marked phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity.
We considered a diverse set of 102 patients with suspected mitochondrial disorders based on clinical, biochemical, and/or molecular findings, and whose disease ranged from mild to severe, with varying age at onset. We sequenced the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) and the exons of 1,598 nuclear-encoded genes implicated in mitochondrial biology, mitochondrial disease, or monogenic disorders with phenotypic overlap. We prioritized variants likely to underlie disease and established molecular diagnoses in accordance with current clinical genetic guidelines.
Targeted exome sequencing yielded molecular diagnoses in established disease loci in 22% of cases, including 17 of 18 (94%) with prior molecular diagnoses and 5 of 84 (6%) without. The 5 new diagnoses implicated 2 genes associated with canonical mitochondrial disorders (NDUFV1, POLG2), and 3 genes known to underlie other neurologic disorders (DPYD, KARS, WFS1), underscoring the phenotypic and biochemical overlap with other inborn errors. We prioritized variants in an additional 26 patients, including recessive, X-linked, and mtDNA variants that were enriched 2-fold over background and await further support of pathogenicity. In one case, we modeled patient mutations in yeast to provide evidence that recessive mutations in ATP5A1 can underlie combined respiratory chain deficiency.
The results demonstrate that targeted exome sequencing is an effective alternative to the sequential testing of mtDNA and individual nuclear genes as part of the investigation of mitochondrial disease. Our study underscores the ongoing challenge of variant interpretation in the clinical setting.
PMCID: PMC3719425  PMID: 23596069
4.  Dissecting the pathways that destabilize mutant p53 
Cell Cycle  2013;12(7):1022-1029.
One fundamental feature of mutant forms of p53 consists in their accumulation at high levels in tumors. At least in the case of neomorphic p53 mutations, which acquire oncogenic activity, stabilization is a driving force for tumor progression. It is well documented that p53 mutants are resistant to proteasome-dependent degradation compared with wild-type p53, but the exact identity of the pathways that affect mutant p53 stability is still debated. We have recently shown that macroautophagy (autophagy) provides a route for p53 mutant degradation during restriction of glucose. Here we further show that in basal conditions of growth, inhibition of autophagy with chemical inhibitors or by downregulation of the essential autophagic genes ATG1/Ulk1, Beclin-1 or ATG5, results in p53 mutant stabilization. Conversely, overexpression of Beclin-1 or ATG1/Ulk1 leads to p53 mutant depletion. Furthermore, we found that in many cell lines, prolonged inhibition of the proteasome does not stabilize mutant p53 but leads to its autophagic-mediated degradation. Therefore, we conclude that autophagy is a key mechanism for regulating the stability of several p53 mutants. We discuss plausible mechanisms involved in this newly identified degradation pathway as well as the possible role played by autophagy during tumor evolution driven by mutant p53.
PMCID: PMC3646859  PMID: 23466706
p53; mutant; mutations; autophagy; proteasome; ubiquitin tumor; cancer
5.  Next generation sequencing with copy number variant detection expands the phenotypic spectrum of HSD17B4-deficiency 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:30.
D-bifunctional protein deficiency, caused by recessive mutations in HSD17B4, is a severe, infantile-onset disorder of peroxisomal fatty acid oxidation. Few affected patients survive past two years of age. Compound heterozygous mutations in HSD17B4 have also been reported in two sisters diagnosed with Perrault syndrome (MIM # 233400), who presented in adolescence with ovarian dysgenesis, hearing loss, and ataxia.
Case presentation
An adult male presented with cerebellar ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, hearing loss, and azoospermia. The clinical presentation, in combination with biochemical findings in serum, urine, and muscle biopsy, suggested a mitochondrial disorder. Commercial genetic testing of 18 ataxia and mitochondrial disease genes was negative. Targeted exome sequencing followed by analysis of single nucleotide variants and small insertions/deletions failed to reveal a genetic basis of disease. Application of a computational algorithm to infer copy number variants (CNVs) from exome data revealed a heterozygous 12 kb deletion of exons 10–13 of HSD17B4 that was compounded with a rare missense variant (p.A196V) at a highly conserved residue. Retrospective review of patient records revealed mildly elevated ratios of pristanic:phytanic acid and arachidonic:docosahexaenoic acid, consistent with dysfunctional peroxisomal fatty acid oxidation.
Our case expands the phenotypic spectrum of HSD17B4-deficiency, representing the first male case reported with infertility. Furthermore, it points to crosstalk between mitochondria and peroxisomes in HSD17B4-deficiency and Perrault syndrome.
PMCID: PMC4015298  PMID: 24602372
HSD17B4; DBP; D-bifunctional protein deficiency; Perrault syndrome; Next-generation sequencing; Exome sequencing; Copy number variants; CNV; Mitochondria; Mitochondrial disorders; Mitochondrial disease; Mendelian disorders; Human genetics; Ataxia; Multi-system disorders; Peroxisomal defects
6.  Glycoprotein folding and quality-control mechanisms in protein-folding diseases 
Disease Models & Mechanisms  2014;7(3):331-341.
Biosynthesis of proteins – from translation to folding to export – encompasses a complex set of events that are exquisitely regulated and scrutinized to ensure the functional quality of the end products. Cells have evolved to capitalize on multiple post-translational modifications in addition to primary structure to indicate the folding status of nascent polypeptides to the chaperones and other proteins that assist in their folding and export. These modifications can also, in the case of irreversibly misfolded candidates, signal the need for dislocation and degradation. The current Review focuses on the glycoprotein quality-control (GQC) system that utilizes protein N-glycosylation and N-glycan trimming to direct nascent glycopolypeptides through the folding, export and dislocation pathways in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). A diverse set of pathological conditions rooted in defective as well as over-vigilant ER quality-control systems have been identified, underlining its importance in human health and disease. We describe the GQC pathways and highlight disease and animal models that have been instrumental in clarifying our current understanding of these processes.
PMCID: PMC3944493  PMID: 24609034
N-glycosylation; Glycoprotein folding; ER quality control; ER-associated degradation; ER export
7.  SLC25A1, or CIC, is a novel transcriptional target of mutant p53 and a negative tumor prognostic marker 
Oncotarget  2014;5(5):1212-1225.
Mutations of the p53 gene hallmark many human cancers. Several p53 mutant proteins acquire the capability to promote cancer progression and metastasis, a phenomenon defined as Gain of Oncogenic Function (GOF). The downstream targets by which GOF p53 mutants perturb cellular programs relevant to oncogenesis are only partially known. We have previously demonstrated that SLC25A1 (CIC) promotes tumorigenesis, while its inhibition blunts tumor growth. We now report that CIC is a direct transcriptional target of several p53 mutants. We identify a novel interaction between mutant p53 (mutp53) and the transcription factor FOXO-1 which is responsible for regulation of CIC expression levels. Tumor cells harboring mutp53 display higher CIC levels relative to p53 null or wild-type tumors, and inhibition of CIC activity blunts mutp53-driven tumor growth, partially overcoming GOF activity. CIC inhibition also enhances the chemotherapeutic potential of platinum-based agents. Finally, we found that elevated CIC levels predict poor survival outcome in tumors hallmarked by high frequency of p53 mutations. Our results identify CIC as a novel target of mutp53 and imply that the employment of CIC inhibitors may improve survival rates and reduce chemo-resistance in tumors harboring these types of mutations, which are among the most intractable forms of cancers.
PMCID: PMC4012738  PMID: 24681808
SLC25A1; CIC; citrate; cancer; p53 mutations; mutant; FOXO-1; survival; prognostic; prognosis; marker
8.  Proteomic Mapping of Mitochondria in Living Cells via Spatially-Restricted Enzymatic Tagging 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2013;339(6125):1328-1331.
Microscopy and mass spectrometry (MS) are complementary techniques: the former provides spatiotemporal information in living cells, but only for a handful of recombinant proteins, while the latter can detect thousands of endogenous proteins simultaneously, but only in lysed samples. Here we introduce technology that combines these strengths by offering spatially- and temporally-resolved proteomic maps of endogenous proteins within living cells. The method relies on a genetically-targetable peroxidase enzyme that biotinylates nearby proteins, which are subsequently purified and identified by MS. We used this approach to identify 495 proteins within the human mitochondrial matrix, including 31 not previously linked to mitochondria. The labeling was exceptionally specific and distinguished between inner membrane proteins facing the matrix versus the intermembrane space (IMS). Several proteins previously thought to reside in the IMS or outer membrane, including protoporphyrinogen oxidase, were reassigned to the matrix. The specificity of live-cell peroxidase-mediated proteomic mapping combined with its ease of use offers biologists a powerful tool for understanding the molecular composition of living cells.
PMCID: PMC3916822  PMID: 23371551
9.  Circulating Branched-chain Amino Acid Concentrations Are Associated with Obesity and Future Insulin Resistance in Children and Adolescents 
Pediatric obesity  2012;8(1):52-61.
Branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) concentrations are elevated in response to overnutrition, and can affect both insulin sensitivity and secretion. Alterations in their metabolism may therefore play a role in the early pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes in overweight children.
To determine whether pediatric obesity is associated with elevations in fasting circulating concentrations of branched-chain amino acids (isoleucine, leucine, and valine), and whether these elevations predict future insulin resistance.
Research Design and Methods
Sixty-nine healthy subjects, ages 8 to18 years, were enrolled as a cross-sectional cohort. A subset who were pre- or early-pubertal, ages 8 to 13 years, were enrolled in a prospective longitudinal cohort for 18 months (n=17 with complete data).
Elevations in the concentrations of BCAA’s were significantly associated with BMI Z-score (Spearman’s Rho 0.27, p=0.03) in the cross-sectional cohort. In the subset of subjects followed longitudinally, baseline BCAA concentrations were positively associated with HOMA-IR measured 18 months later after controlling for baseline clinical factors including BMI Z-score, sex, and pubertal stage (p=0.046).
Elevations in the concentrations of circulating branched-chain amino acids are significantly associated with obesity in children and adolescents, and may independently predict future insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC3519972  PMID: 22961720
branched-chain amino acids; insulin resistance; pediatric obesity; metabolomics; type 2 diabetes
10.  Def1 Promotes the Degradation of Pol3 for Polymerase Exchange to Occur During DNA-Damage–Induced Mutagenesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
PLoS Biology  2014;12(1):e1001771.
After DNA damage, Def1 triggers degradation of the catalytic subunit of the replicative DNA polymerase at stalled replication forks, allowing special polymerases to take over DNA synthesis.
DNA damages hinder the advance of replication forks because of the inability of the replicative polymerases to synthesize across most DNA lesions. Because stalled replication forks are prone to undergo DNA breakage and recombination that can lead to chromosomal rearrangements and cell death, cells possess different mechanisms to ensure the continuity of replication on damaged templates. Specialized, translesion synthesis (TLS) polymerases can take over synthesis at DNA damage sites. TLS polymerases synthesize DNA with a high error rate and are responsible for damage-induced mutagenesis, so their activity must be strictly regulated. However, the mechanism that allows their replacement of the replicative polymerase is unknown. Here, using protein complex purification and yeast genetic tools, we identify Def1 as a key factor for damage-induced mutagenesis in yeast. In in vivo experiments we demonstrate that upon DNA damage, Def1 promotes the ubiquitylation and subsequent proteasomal degradation of Pol3, the catalytic subunit of the replicative polymerase δ, whereas Pol31 and Pol32, the other two subunits of polymerase δ, are not affected. We also show that purified Pol31 and Pol32 can form a complex with the TLS polymerase Rev1. Our results imply that TLS polymerases carry out DNA lesion bypass only after the Def1-assisted removal of Pol3 from the stalled replication fork.
Author Summary
DNA damages can lead to the stalling of the cellular replication machinery if not repaired on time, inducing DNA strand breaks, recombination that can result in gross chromosomal rearrangements, even cell death. In order to guard against this outcome, cells have evolved several precautionary mechanisms. One of these involves the activity of special DNA polymerases—known as translesion synthesis (TLS) polymerases. In contrast to the replicative polymerases responsible for faithfully duplicating the genome, these can carry out DNA synthesis even on a damaged template. For that to occur, they have to take over synthesis from the replicative polymerase that is stalled at a DNA lesion. Although this mechanism allows DNA synthesis to proceed, TLS polymerases work with a high error rate even on undamaged DNA, leading to alterations of the original sequence that can result in cancer. Consequently, the exchange between replicative and special polymerases has to be highly regulated, and the details of this are largely unknown. Here we identified Def1—a protein involved in the degradation of RNA polymerase II—as a prerequisite for error-prone DNA synthesis in yeast. We showed that after treating the cells with a DNA damaging agent, Def1 promoted the degradation of the catalytic subunit of the replicative DNA polymerase δ, without affecting the other two subunits of the polymerase. Our data suggest that the special polymerases can take over synthesis only after the catalytic subunit of the replicative polymerase is removed from the stalled fork in a regulated manner. We predict that the other two subunits remain at the fork and participate in TLS together with the special polymerases.
PMCID: PMC3897375  PMID: 24465179
11.  MPV17 Mutations Causing Adult-Onset Multisystemic Disorder With Multiple Mitochondrial DNA Deletions 
Archives of neurology  2012;69(12):1648-1651.
To identify the cause of an adult-onset multisystemic disease with multiple deletions of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).
Case report.
University hospitals.
A 65-year-old man with axonal sensorimotor peripheral neuropathy, ptosis, ophthalmoparesis, diabetes mellitus, exercise intolerance, steatohepatopathy, depression, parkinsonism, and gastrointestinal dysmotility.
Skeletal muscle biopsy revealed ragged-red and cytochrome-c oxidase–deficient fibers, and Southern blot analysis showed multiple mtDNA deletions. No deletions were detected in fibroblasts, and the results of quantitative polymerase chain reaction showed that the amount of mtDNA was normal in both muscle and fibroblasts. Exome sequencing using a mitochondrial library revealed compound heterozygous MPV17 mutations (p.LysMet88-89MetLeu and p.Leu143*), a novel cause of mtDNA multiple deletions.
In addition to causing juvenile-onset disorders with mtDNA depletion, MPV17 mutations can cause adult-onset multisystemic disease with multiple mtDNA deletions.
PMCID: PMC3894685  PMID: 22964873
12.  Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathy Due to a Novel Mutation in ACAD9 
JAMA neurology  2013;70(9):1177-1179.
Mendelian forms of complex I deficiency are usually associated with fatal infantile encephalomyopathy. Application of “MitoExome” sequencing (deep sequencing of the entire mitochondrial genome and the coding exons of >1000 nuclear genes encoding the mitochondrial proteome) allowed us to reveal an unusual clinical variant of complex I deficiency due to a novel homozygous mutation in ACAD9. The patient had an infantile-onset but slowly progressive encephalomyopathy and responded favorably to riboflavin therapy.
A 13-year-old boy had exercise intolerance, weakness, and mild psychomotor delay. Muscle histochemistry showed mitochondrial proliferation, and biochemical analysis revealed severe complex I deficiency (15% of normal). The level of complex I holoprotein was reduced as determined by use of Western blot both in muscle (54%) and in fibroblasts (57%).
The clinical presentation of complex I deficiency due ACAD9 mutations spans from fatal infantile encephalocardiomyopathy to mild encephalomyopathy. Our data support the notion that ACAD9 functions as a complex I assembly protein. ACAD9 is a flavin adenine dinucleotide–containing flavoprotein, and treatment with riboflavin is advisable.
PMCID: PMC3891824  PMID: 23836383
13.  Acetabular Distraction: An Alternative for Severe Defects with Chronic Pelvic Discontinuity? 
Stabilization of a pelvic discontinuity with a posterior column plate with or without an associated acetabular cage sometimes results in persistent micromotion across the discontinuity with late fatigue failure and component loosening. Acetabular distraction offers an alternative technique for reconstruction in cases of severe bone loss with an associated pelvic discontinuity.
We describe the acetabular distraction technique with porous tantalum components and evaluate its survival, function, and complication rate in patients undergoing revision for chronic pelvic discontinuity.
Between 2002 and 2006, we treated 28 patients with a chronic pelvic discontinuity with acetabular reconstruction using acetabular distraction. A porous tantalum elliptical acetabular component was used alone or with an associated modular porous tantalum augment in all patients. Three patients died and five were lost to followup before 2 years. The remaining 20 patients were followed semiannually for a minimum of 2 years (average, 4.5 years; range, 2–7 years) with clinical (Merle d’Aubigné-Postel score) and radiographic (loosening, migration, failure) evaluation.
One of the 20 patients required rerevision for aseptic loosening. Fifteen patients remained radiographically stable at last followup. Four patients had early migration of their acetabular component but thereafter remained clinically asymptomatic and radiographically stable. At latest followup, the average improvement in the patients not requiring rerevision using the modified Merle d’Aubigné-Postel score was 6.6 (range, 3.3–9.6). There were no postoperative dislocations; however, one patient had an infection, one a vascular injury, and one a bowel injury.
Acetabular distraction with porous tantalum components provides predictable pain relief and durability at 2- to 7-year followup when reconstructing severe acetabular defects with an associated pelvic discontinuity.
Level of Evidence
Level IV, therapeutic study. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
PMCID: PMC3462839  PMID: 23001499
14.  Next-generation sequencing reveals DGUOK mutations in adult patients with mitochondrial DNA multiple deletions 
Brain  2012;135(11):3404-3415.
The molecular diagnosis of mitochondrial disorders still remains elusive in a large proportion of patients, but advances in next generation sequencing are significantly improving our chances to detect mutations even in sporadic patients. Syndromes associated with mitochondrial DNA multiple deletions are caused by different molecular defects resulting in a wide spectrum of predominantly adult-onset clinical presentations, ranging from progressive external ophthalmoplegia to multi-systemic disorders of variable severity. The mutations underlying these conditions remain undisclosed in half of the affected subjects. We applied next-generation sequencing of known mitochondrial targets (MitoExome) to probands presenting with adult-onset mitochondrial myopathy and harbouring mitochondrial DNA multiple deletions in skeletal muscle. We identified autosomal recessive mutations in the DGUOK gene (encoding mitochondrial deoxyguanosine kinase), which has previously been associated with an infantile hepatocerebral form of mitochondrial DNA depletion. Mutations in DGUOK occurred in five independent subjects, representing 5.6% of our cohort of patients with mitochondrial DNA multiple deletions, and impaired both muscle DGUOK activity and protein stability. Clinical presentations were variable, including mitochondrial myopathy with or without progressive external ophthalmoplegia, recurrent rhabdomyolysis in a young female who had received a liver transplant at 9 months of age and adult-onset lower motor neuron syndrome with mild cognitive impairment. These findings reinforce the concept that mutations in genes involved in deoxyribonucleotide metabolism can cause diverse clinical phenotypes and suggest that DGUOK should be screened in patients harbouring mitochondrial DNA deletions in skeletal muscle.
PMCID: PMC3501975  PMID: 23043144
DGUOK; mitochondrial DNA instability; autosomal recessive progressive external ophthalmoplegia; multiple mitochondrial DNA deletions
15.  Complementary RNA and Protein Profiling Identifies Iron as a Key Regulator of Mitochondrial Biogenesis 
Cell reports  2013;3(1):10.1016/j.celrep.2012.11.029.
Mitochondria are centers of metabolism and signaling whose content and function must adapt to changing cellular environments. The biological signals that initiate mitochondrial restructuring and the cellular processes that drive this adaptive response are largely obscure. To better define these systems, we performed matched quantitative genomic and proteomic analyses of mouse muscle cells as they performed mitochondrial biogenesis. We find that proteins involved in cellular iron homeostasis are highly coordinated with this process and that depletion of cellular iron results in a rapid, dose-dependent decrease of select mitochondrial protein levels and oxidative capacity. We further show that this process is universal across a broad range of cell types and fully reversed when iron is reintroduced. Collectively, our work reveals that cellular iron is a key regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis, and provides quantitative data sets that can be leveraged to explore posttranscriptional and posttranslational processes that are essential for mitochondrial adaptation.
PMCID: PMC3812070  PMID: 23318259
16.  Correction: Independent Component Analysis for Brain fMRI Does Indeed Select for Maximal Independence 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):10.1371/annotation/52c7b854-2d52-4b49-9f9f-6560830f9428.
PMCID: PMC3812296  PMID: 24204519
17.  Meclizine Inhibits Mitochondrial Respiration through Direct Targeting of Cytosolic Phosphoethanolamine Metabolism* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;288(49):35387-35395.
Background: Previous studies have shown that meclizine inhibits respiration in intact cells, but not in isolated mitochondria, via an unknown mechanism.
Results: Meclizine directly inhibits PCYT2 (CTP:phosphoethanolamine cytidylyltransferase).
Conclusion: Meclizine attenuates mitochondrial respiration by directly inhibiting the Kennedy pathway of phosphatidylethanolamine biosynthesis.
Significance: We identified a novel molecular target of meclizine, an over-the-counter antinausea drug, raising possibilities for new clinical applications.
We recently identified meclizine, an over-the-counter drug, as an inhibitor of mitochondrial respiration. Curiously, meclizine blunted respiration in intact cells but not in isolated mitochondria, suggesting an unorthodox mechanism. Using a metabolic profiling approach, we now show that treatment with meclizine leads to a sharp elevation of cellular phosphoethanolamine, an intermediate in the ethanolamine branch of the Kennedy pathway of phosphatidylethanolamine biosynthesis. Metabolic labeling and in vitro enzyme assays confirmed direct inhibition of the cytosolic enzyme CTP:phosphoethanolamine cytidylyltransferase (PCYT2). Inhibition of PCYT2 by meclizine led to rapid accumulation of its substrate, phosphoethanolamine, which is itself an inhibitor of mitochondrial respiration. Our work identifies the first pharmacologic inhibitor of the Kennedy pathway, demonstrates that its biosynthetic intermediate is an endogenous inhibitor of respiration, and provides key mechanistic insights that may facilitate repurposing meclizine for disorders of energy metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3853286  PMID: 24142790
Energy Metabolism; Metabolomics; Mitochondria; Phosphatidylethanolamine; Respiration; Meclizine; Phosphoethanolamine
18.  TRPV4 is a regulator of adipose oxidative metabolism, inflammation and energy homeostasis 
Cell  2012;151(1):96-110.
PGC1α is a key transcriptional coregulator of oxidative metabolism and thermogenesis. Through a high throughput chemical screen, we found that molecules antagonizing the TRPVs (Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid), a family of ion channels, induced PGC1α expression in adipocytes. In particular, TRPV4 negatively regulated the expression of PGC1α, UCP1 and cellular respiration. Additionally, it potently controlled the expression of multiple proinflammatory genes involved in the development of insulin resistance. Mice with a null mutation for TRPV4 or wild-type mice treated with a TRPV4 antagonist showed elevated thermogenesis in adipose tissues and were protected from diet-induced obesity, adipose inflammation and insulin resistance. This role of TRPV4 as a cell-autonomous mediator for both the thermogenic and proinflammatory programs in adipocytes could offer a new target for treating obesity and related metabolic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3477522  PMID: 23021218
19.  Independent Component Analysis for Brain fMRI Does Indeed Select for Maximal Independence 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e73309.
A recent paper by Daubechies et al. claims that two independent component analysis (ICA) algorithms, Infomax and FastICA, which are widely used for functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) analysis, select for sparsity rather than independence. The argument was supported by a series of experiments on synthetic data. We show that these experiments fall short of proving this claim and that the ICA algorithms are indeed doing what they are designed to do: identify maximally independent sources.
PMCID: PMC3757003  PMID: 24009746
20.  The Dynamic Disulfide Relay of Quiescin Sulfhydryl Oxidase 
Nature  2012;488(7411):414-418.
Protein stability, assembly, localization, and regulation often depend on formation of disulfide cross-links between cysteine side chains. Enzymes known as sulfhydryl oxidases catalyze de novo disulfide formation and initiate intra- and intermolecular dithiol/disulfide relays to deliver the disulfides to substrate proteins1,2. Quiescin sulfhydryl oxidase (QSOX) is a unique, multi-domain disulfide catalyst that is localized primarily to the Golgi apparatus and secreted fluids3 and has attracted attention due to its over-production in tumors4,5. In addition to its physiological importance, QSOX is a mechanistically intriguing enzyme, encompassing functions typically carried out by a series of proteins in other disulfide formation pathways. How disulfides are relayed through the multiple redox-active sites of QSOX and whether there is a functional benefit to concatenating these sites on a single polypeptide are open questions. We determined the first crystal structure of an intact QSOX enzyme, derived from a trypanosome parasite. Notably, sequential sites in the disulfide relay were found more than 40 Å apart in this structure, too far for direct disulfide transfer. To resolve this puzzle, we trapped and crystallized an intermediate in the disulfide hand-off, which showed a 165° domain rotation relative to the original structure, bringing the two active sites within disulfide bonding distance. The comparable structure of a mammalian QSOX enzyme, also presented herein, reveals additional biochemical features that facilitate disulfide transfer in metazoan orthologs. Finally, we quantified the contribution of concatenation to QSOX activity, providing general lessons for the understanding of multi-domain enzymes and the design of novel catalytic relays.
PMCID: PMC3521037  PMID: 22801504
21.  Loss-of-function mutations in MGME1 impair mtDNA replication and cause multi-systemic mitochondrial disease 
Nature genetics  2013;45(2):214-219.
Known disease mechanisms in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) maintenance disorders alter either the mitochondrial replication machinery (POLG1, POLG22 and C10orf23) or the biosynthesis pathways of deoxyribonucleoside 5′-triphosphates for mtDNA synthesis4–11. However, in many of these disorders, the underlying genetic defect has not yet been discovered. Here, we identified homozygous nonsense and missense mutations in the orphan gene C20orf72 in three families with a mitochondrial syndrome characterized by external ophthalmoplegia, emaciation, and respiratory failure. Muscle biopsies showed mtDNA depletion and multiple mtDNA deletions. C20orf72, hereafter MGME1 (mitochondrial genome maintenance exonuclease 1), encodes a mitochondrial RecB-type exonuclease belonging to the PD-(D/E)XK nuclease superfamily. We demonstrate that MGME1 cleaves single-stranded DNA and processes DNA flap substrates. Upon chemically induced mtDNA depletion, patient fibroblasts fail to repopulate. They also accumulate intermediates of stalled replication and show increased levels of 7S DNA, as do MGME1-depleted cells. Hence, we show that MGME1-mediated mtDNA processing is essential for mitochondrial genome maintenance.
PMCID: PMC3678843  PMID: 23313956
22.  Engineered ascorbate peroxidase as a genetically-encoded reporter for electron microscopy 
Nature biotechnology  2012;30(11):1143-1148.
Electron microscopy (EM) is the standard method for imaging cellular structures with nanometer resolution, but existing genetic tags are inactive in most cellular compartments1 or require light and are difficult to use2. Here we report the development of a simple and robust EM genetic tag, called “APEX,” that is active in all cellular compartments and does not require light. APEX is a monomeric 28 kDa peroxidase that withstands strong EM fixation to give excellent ultrastructural preservation. We demonstrate the utility of APEX for high-resolution EM imaging of a variety of mammalian organelles and specific proteins. We also fused APEX to the N- or C-terminus of the mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU), a newly identified channel whose topology is disputed3,4. MCU-APEX and APEX-MCU give EM contrast exclusively in the mitochondrial matrix, suggesting that both the N-and C-termini of MCU face the matrix.
PMCID: PMC3699407  PMID: 23086203
23.  Correlated Noise: How it Breaks NMF, and What to Do About It 
Non-negative matrix factorization (NMF) is a problem of decomposing multivariate data into a set of features and their corresponding activations. When applied to experimental data, NMF has to cope with noise, which is often highly correlated. We show that correlated noise can break the Donoho and Stodden separability conditions of a dataset and a regular NMF algorithm will fail to decompose it, even when given freedom to be able to represent the noise as a separate feature. To cope with this issue, we present an algorithm for NMF with a generalized least squares objective function (glsNMF) and derive multiplicative updates for the method together with proving their convergence. The new algorithm successfully recovers the true representation from the noisy data. Robust performance can make glsNMF a valuable tool for analyzing empirical data.
PMCID: PMC3673742  PMID: 23750288
24.  MCU encodes the pore conducting mitochondrial calcium currents 
eLife  2013;2:e00704.
Mitochondrial calcium (Ca2+) import is a well-described phenomenon regulating cell survival and ATP production. Of multiple pathways allowing such entry, the mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter is a highly Ca2+-selective channel complex encoded by several recently-discovered genes. However, the identity of the pore-forming subunit remains to be established, since knockdown of all the candidate uniporter genes inhibit Ca2+ uptake in imaging assays, and reconstitution experiments have been equivocal. To definitively identify the channel, we use whole-mitoplast voltage-clamping, the technique that originally established the uniporter as a Ca2+ channel. We show that RNAi-mediated knockdown of the mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU) gene reduces mitochondrial Ca2+ current (IMiCa), whereas overexpression increases it. Additionally, a classic feature of IMiCa, its sensitivity to ruthenium red inhibition, can be abolished by a point mutation in the putative pore domain without altering current magnitude. These analyses establish that MCU encodes the pore-forming subunit of the uniporter channel.
eLife digest
Mitochondria are tiny organelles, less than a micrometre across, found inside almost all eukaryotic cells. Their main function is to act as the ‘power plant’ of the cell, generating adenosine triphosphate or ATP, which is the source of chemical energy for cellular processes. Beyond generating ATP, mitochondria perform many other functions: they contribute to various signalling pathways; they influence cellular differentiation; and they are involved in processes related to cell death.
Mitochondria are quite distinctive in appearance—they are enclosed by two membranes, a porous outer one and a largely impermeable inner membrane. Most mitochondrial functions involve proteins that control the movement of various molecules and ions across the inner membrane. One particularly important ion that must pass through this membrane is calcium; once inside the mitochondria, these calcium ions regulate cell survival and the generation of ATP.
Although several calcium import mechanisms exist, the best-studied pathway involves a pore-forming protein complex called the mitochondrial calcium uniporter. This ion channel has an exquisite selectivity, allowing only calcium into mitochondria even when other ions outnumber it a million-fold. Previously, researchers had identified several genes that are required for the formation of the uniporter, but it had not been established which of these encodes the central pore through which the calcium ions pass. Now, Chaudhuri et al. have shown that one of these—a gene called mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU)—codes for the protein subunit that creates the pore.
Prior studies used optical methods or purified proteins to study genes encoding the uniporter complex, producing controversial results regarding pore identity. This study uses a much more direct assay, namely electrophysiology performed on mitochondrial inner membranes. To access the inner membrane, the authors stripped off the outer membrane from whole mitochondria, and made them expand. By using a technique called voltage-clamping, Chaudhuri et al. were able to precisely measure calcium ion movement through intact or mutated channels. This technique controls confounding factors and minimizes the effect of contaminants that can plague interpretation of data acquired by other methods. They showed that blocking the expression of the MCU gene reduced the flow of calcium ions through the uniporter, whereas increasing MCU expression increased calcium transport.
One unique feature of the mitochondrial calcium uniporter is that it can be blocked by a dye called ruthenium red. Chaudhuri et al. used this property to confirm that the MCU gene encodes the pore-forming subunit of the channel complex—they identified a single point mutation in MCU that did not affect the channel’s ability to transport calcium ions, but did abolish its sensitivity to ruthenium red. Together, these results show that the MCU gene encodes the pore of the mitochondrial calcium uniporter, and should lead to further research into the physiology and structure of this channel.
PMCID: PMC3673318  PMID: 23755363
mitoplast; MICU1; ruthenium red; calcium channel; electrophysiology; MCUR1; Human
25.  Functional Mimicry of the Acetylated C-Terminal Tail of p53 by a SUMO-1 Acetylated Domain, SAD 
Journal of cellular physiology  2010;225(2):371-384.
The ubiquitin-like molecule, SUMO-1, a small protein essential for a variety of biological processes, is covalently conjugated to many intracellular proteins, especially to regulatory components of the transcriptional machinery, such as histones and transcription factors. Sumoylation provides either a stimulatory or an inhibitory signal for proliferation and for transcription, but the molecular mechanisms by which SUMO-1 achieves such versatility of effects are incompletely defined. The tumor suppressor and transcription regulator p53 is a relevant SUMO-1 target. Particularly, the C-terminal tail of p53 undergoes both sumoylation and acetylation. While the effects of sumoylation are still controversial, acetylation modifies p53 interaction with chromatin embedded promoters, and enforces p53 apoptotic activity. In this study, we show that the N-terminal region of SUMO-1 might functionally mimic this activity of the p53 C-terminal tail. We found that this SUMO-1 domain possesses similarity with the C-terminal acetylable p53 tail as well as with acetylable domains of other transcription factors. SUMO-1 is, indeed, acetylated when conjugated to its substrates and to p53. In the acetylable form SUMO-1 tunes the p53 response by modifying p53 transcriptional program, by promoting binding onto selected promoters and by favoring apoptosis. By contrast, when non-acetylable, SUMO-1 enforces cell-cycle arrest and p53 binding to a different sets of genes. These data demonstrate for the first time that SUMO-1, a post-translational modification is, in turn, modified by acetylation. Further, they imply that the pleiotropy of effects by which SUMO-1 influences various cellular outcomes and the activity of p53 depends upon its acetylation state.
PMCID: PMC3614007  PMID: 20458745

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