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1.  Functional activity of RLIM/Rnf12 is regulated by phosphorylation-dependent nucleocytoplasmic shuttling 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(19):3085-3096.
In mice, the ubiquitin ligase RLIM/Rnf12 is a critical survival factor for mammary milk-producing alveolar cells, but little is known about how its activity is regulated. It is shown here that RLIM shuttles between the nucleus and cytoplasm in a phosphorylation-dependent manner, and shuttling is important for its alveolar survival function.
The X-linked gene Rnf12 encodes the ubiquitin ligase really interesting new gene (RING) finger LIM domain–interacting protein (RLIM)/RING finger protein 12 (Rnf12), which serves as a major sex-specific epigenetic regulator of female mouse nurturing tissues. Early during embryogenesis, RLIM/Rnf12 expressed from the maternal allele is crucial for the development of extraembryonic trophoblast cells. In contrast, in mammary glands of pregnant and lactating adult females RLIM/Rnf12 expressed from the paternal allele functions as a critical survival factor for milk-producing alveolar cells. Although RLIM/Rnf12 is detected mostly in the nucleus, little is known about how and in which cellular compartment(s) RLIM/Rnf12 mediates its biological functions. Here we demonstrate that RLIM/Rnf12 protein shuttles between nucleus and cytoplasm and this is regulated by phosphorylation of serine S214 located within its nuclear localization sequence. We show that shuttling is important for RLIM to exert its biological functions, as alveolar cell survival activity is inhibited in cells expressing shuttling-deficient nuclear or cytoplasmic RLIM/Rnf12. Thus regulated nucleocytoplasmic shuttling of RLIM/Rnf12 coordinates cellular compartments during mammary alveolar cell survival.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E13-05-0239
PMCID: PMC3784382  PMID: 23904271
2.  Susceptibility of rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts to FasL- and TRAIL-induced apoptosis is cell cycle-dependent 
Introduction
The rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synovium is characterised by the presence of an aggressive population of activated synovial fibroblasts (RASFs) that are prominently involved in the destruction of articular cartilage and bone. Accumulating evidence suggests that RASFs are relatively resistant to Fas-ligand (FasL)-induced apoptosis, but the data concerning tumour necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) have been conflicting. Here, we hypothesise that the susceptibility of RASFs to receptor-mediated apoptosis depends on the proliferation status of these cells and therefore analysed the cell cycle dependency of FasL- and TRAIL-induced programmed cell death of RASFs in vitro.
Methods
Synovial fibroblasts were isolated from patients with RA by enzymatic digestion and cultured under standard conditions. Cell cycle analysis was performed using flow cytometry and staining with propidium iodide. RASFs were synchronised or arrested in various phases of the cell cycle with 0.5 mM hydroxyurea or 2.5 μg/ml nocodazol and with foetal calf serum-free insulin-transferrin-sodium selenite supplemented medium. Apoptosis was induced by stimulation with 100 ng/ml FasL or 100 ng/ml TRAIL over 18 hours. The apoptotic response was measured using the Apo-ONE® Homogenous Caspase-3/7 Assay (Promega GmbH, Mannheim, Germany) and the Cell Death Detection (ELISAPlus) (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) (Roche Diagnostics GmbH, Mannheim, Germany). Staurosporin-treated cells (1 μg/ml) served as a positive control. Expression of Fas and TRAIL receptors (TRAILR1-4) was determined by fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis.
Results
Freshly isolated RASFs showed only low proliferation in vitro, and the rate decreased further over time, particularly when RASFs became confluent. RASFs expressed Fas, TRAIL receptor-1, and TRAIL receptor-2, and the expression levels were independent of the cell cycle. However, the proliferation rate significantly influenced the susceptibility to FasL- and TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Specifically, proliferating RASFs were less sensitive to FasL- and TRAIL-induced apoptosis than RASFs with a decreased proliferation rate. Furthermore, RASFs that were synchronised in S phase or G2/M phase were less sensitive to TRAIL-induced apoptosis than synchronised RASFs in G0/G1 phase.
Conclusions
Our data indicate that the susceptibility of RASFs to FasL- and TRAIL-induced apoptosis depends on the cell cycle. These results may explain some conflicting data on the ability of RASFs to undergo FasL- and TRAIL-mediated cell death and suggest that strategies to sensitise RASFs to apoptosis may include the targeting of cell cycle-regulating genes.
doi:10.1186/ar2607
PMCID: PMC2688248  PMID: 19196465
3.  Epigenetic modifications in rheumatoid arthritis 
Over the last decades, genetic factors for rheumatoid diseases like the HLA haplotypes have been studied extensively. However, during the past years of research, it has become more and more evident that the influence of epigenetic processes on the development of rheumatic diseases is probably as strong as the genetic background of a patient. Epigenetic processes are heritable changes in gene expression without alteration of the nucleotide sequence. Such modifications include chromatin methylation and post-translational modification of histones or other chromatin-associated proteins. The latter comprise the addition of methyl, acetyl, and phosphoryl groups or even larger moieties such as binding of ubiquitin or small ubiquitin-like modifier. The combinatory nature of these processes forms a complex network of epigenetic modifications that regulate gene expression through activation or silencing of genes. This review provides insight into the role of epigenetic alterations in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis and points out how a better understanding of such mechanisms may lead to novel therapeutic strategies.
doi:10.1186/ar2500
PMCID: PMC2592785  PMID: 18947370

Results 1-3 (3)