The term “mitochondrial permeability transition” (MPT) refers to an abrupt increase in the permeability of the inner mitochondrial membrane to low molecular weight solutes. Due to osmotic forces, MPT is paralleled by a massive influx of water into the mitochondrial matrix, eventually leading to the structural collapse of the organelle. Thus, MPT can initiate mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP), promoting the activation of the apoptotic caspase cascade as well as of caspase-independent cell death mechanisms. MPT appears to be mediated by the opening of the so-called “permeability transition pore complex” (PTPC), a poorly characterized and versatile supramolecular entity assembled at the junctions between the inner and outer mitochondrial membranes. In spite of considerable experimental efforts, the precise molecular composition of the PTPC remains obscure and only one of its constituents, cyclophilin D (CYPD), has been ascribed with a crucial role in the regulation of cell death. Conversely, the results of genetic experiments indicate that other major components of the PTPC, such as voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) and adenine nucleotide translocase (ANT), are dispensable for MPT-driven MOMP. Here, we demonstrate that the c subunit of the FO ATP synthase is required for MPT, mitochondrial fragmentation and cell death as induced by cytosolic calcium overload and oxidative stress in both glycolytic and respiratory cell models. Our results strongly suggest that, similar to CYPD, the c subunit of the FO ATP synthase constitutes a critical component of the PTPC.
ATP5G1; apoptosis; caspases; cytochrome c; mitochondrial respiratory chain; p53; permeability transition pore (PTP)
Transglutaminase 2 (TG2) is a protein cross-linking enzyme known to be associated with the in vivo apoptosis program of T cells. However, its role in the T cell apoptosis program was not investigated yet.
Here we report that timed overexpression of both the wild type (wt) and the cross-linking mutant of TG2 induced apoptosis in Jurkat T cells, the wt being more effective. Part of TG2 colocalised with mitochondria. WtTG2-induced apoptosis was characterized by enhanced mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake. Ca2+-activated wtTG2 cross-linked RAP1, GTP-GDP dissociation stimulator 1, an unusual guanine exchange factor acting on various small GTPases, to induce a yet uncharacterized signaling pathway that was able to promote the Ca2+ release from the endoplasmic reticulum via both Ins3P and ryanodine sensitive receptors leading to a consequently enhanced mitochondrial Ca2+uptake.
Our data indicate that TG2 might act as a Ca2+ sensor to amplify endoplasmic reticulum-derived Ca2+ signals to enhance mitochondria Ca2+ uptake. Since enhanced mitochondrial Ca2+ levels were previously shown to sensitize mitochondria for various apoptotic signals, our data demonstrate a novel mechanism through which TG2 can contribute to the induction of apoptosis in certain cell types. Since, as compared to knock out cells, physiological levels of TG2 affected Ca2+ signals in mouse embryonic fibroblasts similar to Jurkat cells, our data might indicate a more general role of TG2 in the regulation of mitochondrial Ca2+ homeostasis.
Estrogens play a protective role in coronary artery disease. The mechanisms of action are still poorly understood, although a role for estrogens in stimulation of angiogenesis has been suggested. In several cell types, estrogens modulate the Notch pathway, which is involved in controlling angiogenesis downstream of vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A). The goal of our study was to establish whether estrogens modulate Notch activity in endothelial cells and the possible consequences on angiogenesis. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were treated with 17β-estradiol (E2) and the effects on Notch signalling were evaluated. E2 increased Notch1 processing as indicated by i) decreased levels of Notch1 transmembrane subunit ii) increased amount of Notch1 in nuclei iii) unaffected level of mRNA. Similarly, E2 increased the levels of the active form of Notch4 without altering Notch4 mRNA. Conversely, protein and mRNA levels of Notch2 were both reduced suggesting transcriptional repression of Notch2 by E2. Under conditions where Notch was activated by upregulation of Delta-like ligand 4 (Dll4) following VEGF-A treatment, E2 caused a further increase of the active form of Notch1, of the number of cells with nuclear Notch1 and of Hey2 mRNA. Estrogen receptor antagonist ICI 182.780 antagonized these effects suggesting that E2 modulation of Notch1 is mediated by estrogen receptors. E2 treatment abolished the increase in endothelial cells sprouting caused by Notch inhibition in a tube formation assay on 3D Matrigel and in mouse aortic ring explants. In conclusion, E2 affects several Notch pathway components in HUVECs, leading to an activation of the VEGF-A-Dll4-Notch1 axis and to a modulation of vascular branching when Notch signalling is inhibited. These results contribute to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of cardiovascular protection exerted by estrogens by uncovering a novel role of E2 in the Notch signalling-mediated modulation of angiogenesis.
Mitochondria receive calcium (Ca2+) signals from endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and decode them into pro-apoptotic inputs, which lead to cell death. Therefore, mitochondrial Ca2+ overload is considered a fundamental trigger of the apoptotic process, and several oncogenes and tumor suppressors modify the activity of protein involved in Ca2+ homeostasis to control apoptosis. The identification of the channel responsible for mitochondrial Ca2+ entry, the Mitochondrial Ca2+Uniporter (MCU), together with its regulatory components, MICU1 and MCUR1, provides new molecular tools to investigate this process. Recent data have also shown that miR-25 decreases mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake through selective MCU downregulation, conferring resistance to apoptotic challenges. MCU appears to be downregulated in human colon cancer samples, and accordingly, miR-25 is aberrantly expressed, indicating the importance of mitochondrial Ca2+ regulation in cancer cell survival.
mitochondria; calcium (Ca2+); Mitochondrial Calcium Uniporter (MCU); MicroRNAs (MiRNA); apoptosis; cell death; cancer
Decremental loss of PTEN results in cancer susceptibility and tumor progression. In turn this raises the possibility that PTEN elevation might be an attractive option for cancer prevention and therapy. We have generated several transgenic mouse lines with variably elevated PTEN expression levels, taking advantage of BAC (Bacterial Artificial Chromosome)-mediated transgenesis. Super-PTEN mutants are viable and show reduced body size due to decreased cell number, with no effect on cell size. Unexpectedly, PTEN elevation at the organism level results in healthy metabolism characterized by increased energy expenditure and reduced body fat accumulation. Cells derived from these mice show reduced glucose and glutamine uptake, increased mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, and are resistant to oncogenic transformation. Mechanistically we find that PTEN elevation orchestrates this metabolic switch by regulating PI3K-dependent and independent pathways, and negatively impacts two of the most pronounced metabolic features of tumor cells: glutaminolysis and the Warburg effect.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are a byproduct of the normal metabolism of oxygen and have important roles in cell signalling and homeostasis. An imbalance between ROS production and the cellular antioxidant defence system leads to oxidative stress. Environmental factors and genetic interactions play key roles in oxidative stress mediated pathologies. In this paper, we focus on cardiovascular diseases and obesity, disorders strongly related to each other; in which oxidative stress plays a fundamental role. We provide evidence of the key role played by p66Shc protein and protein kinase C (PKC) in these pathologies by their intracellular regulation of redox balance and oxidative stress levels. Additionally, we discuss possible therapeutic strategies aimed at attenuating the oxidative damage in these diseases.
The atypical protein kinase C (PKC) isoform zeta (PKCζ) has been implicated in the intracellular transduction of mitogenic and apoptotic signals by acting on different signaling pathways. The key role of these processes in tumorigenesis suggests a possible involvement of PKCζ in this event. PKCζ is activated by cytotoxic treatments, inhibits apoptotic cell death and reduces the sensitivity of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents. Here, using pharmacological and DNA recombinant approaches, we show that oxidative stress triggers nuclear translocation of PKCζ and induces resistance to apoptotic agents. Accordingly, chemoresistant cells show accumulation of PKCζ within the nucleus, and a nuclear-targeted PKCζ transfected in tumor cells decreases sensitivity to apoptosis. We thus developed a novel recombinant protein capable of selectively inhibiting the nuclear fraction of PKCζ that restored the susceptibility to apoptosis in cells in which PKCζ was enriched in the nuclear fraction, including chemoresistant cells. These findings establish the importance of PKCζ as a possible target to increase the effectiveness of anticancer therapies and highlight potential sites of intervention.
protein kinase C; chemoresistance; oxidative stress; nuclear translocation; apoptosis
Nociceptive pain is one of the most common types of pain that originates from an injury involving nociceptors. Approximately 60% of the knee joint innervations are classified as nociceptive. The specific biological mechanism underlying the regulation of nociceptors is relevant for the treatment of symptoms affecting the knee joint. Intra-articular administration of exogenous hyaluronic acid (HA) in patients with osteoarthritis (OA) appears to be particularly effective in reducing pain and improving patient function.
We performed an in vitro study conducted in CHO cells that expressed a panel of opioid receptors and in primary rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons to determine if HA induces the activation of opioid peptide receptors (OPr) using both aequorin and the fluorescent dye Fura-2/AM.
Selective agonists and antagonists for each OPr expressed on CHO cells were used to test the efficacy of our in vitro model followed by stimulation with HA. The results showed that HA induces stimulatory effects on the κ receptor (KOP). These effects of HA were also confirmed in rat DRG neurons, which express endogenously the OPr.
HA activates the KOP receptor in a concentration dependent manner, with a pEC50 value of 7.57.
The recently discovered mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU) promotes Ca2+ accumulation into the mitochondrial matrix [1, 2]. We identified in silico miR-25 as a cancer-related MCU-targeting microRNA family and demonstrate that its overexpression in HeLa cells drastically reduces MCU levels and mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake, while leaving other mitochondrial parameters and cytosolic Ca2+ signals unaffected. In human colon cancers and cancer-derived cells, miR-25 is overexpressed and MCU accordingly silenced. miR-25-dependent reduction of mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake correlates with resistance to apoptotic challenges and can be reversed by anti-miR-25 overexpression. Overall, the data demonstrate that microRNA targeting of mitochondrial Ca2+ signaling favors cancer cell survival, thus providing mechanistic insight into the role of mitochondria in tumorigenesis and identifying a novel therapeutic target in neoplasia.
► miR-25 regulates intracellular calcium homeostasis ► Mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU) is a target of miR-25 ► MCU plays a critical role in apoptosis and tumorigenesis ► MCU is downregulated in different cancer cell lines and in human colonic adenocarcinoma
Atypical protein kinase C isoforms are serine threonine kinases involved in various pathological conditions. In recent years, the PKCζ isoform has emerged as an important regulator of multiple cellular processes operating in cancer. In this review, we will focus on the PKCζ isoform as an oxidative-sensing kinase involved in cancer-related inflammation and chemoresistance. We will discuss its nuclear localization and its possible pivotal role in connecting inflammation with drug resistance.
atypical PKC; PKCζ; cancer; chemoresistance; inflammation; nucleus; apoptosis
The aim of the present work is to study how biological properties, such as proliferation and commitment ability, of human adult dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) relate to the age of the donor. Human dental pulps were extracted from molars of healthy adult subjects aged 16 to >66 years. DPSCs were isolated and cultured in the presence of osteogenic, neurogenic, or vasculogenic differentiation medium. Proliferation ability was evaluated by determining doubling time, and commitment ability was evaluated by gene expression and morphological analyses for tissue-specific markers. The results confirm a well-defined proliferative ability for each donor age group at an early in vitro passage (p2). DPSCs from younger donors (up to 35 years) maintain this ability in long-term cultures (p8). Stem cells of all age donor groups maintain their commitment ability during in vitro culture. In vivo tests on the critical size defect repair process confirmed that DPSCs of all donor ages are a potent tool for bone tissue regeneration when mixed with 3D nanostructured scaffolds.
Feline leukemia virus subgroup C receptor 1 (FLVCR1) is a cell membrane heme exporter that maintains the balance between heme levels and globin synthesis in erythroid precursors. It was previously shown that Flvcr1-null mice died in utero due to a failure of erythropoiesis. Here, we identify Flvcr1b, a mitochondrial Flvcr1 isoform that promotes heme efflux into the cytoplasm. Flvcr1b overexpression promoted heme synthesis and in vitro erythroid differentiation, whereas silencing of Flvcr1b caused mitochondrial heme accumulation and termination of erythroid differentiation. Furthermore, mice lacking the plasma membrane isoform (Flvcr1a) but expressing Flvcr1b had normal erythropoiesis, but exhibited hemorrhages, edema, and skeletal abnormalities. Thus, FLVCR1b regulates erythropoiesis by controlling mitochondrial heme efflux, whereas FLVCR1a expression is required to prevent hemorrhages and edema. The aberrant expression of Flvcr1 isoforms may play a role in the pathogenesis of disorders characterized by an imbalance between heme and globin synthesis.
Since 1929, when it was discovered that ATP is a substrate for muscle contraction, the knowledge about this purine nucleotide has been greatly expanded. Many aspects of cell metabolism revolve around ATP production and consumption. It is important to understand the concepts of glucose and oxygen consumption in aerobic and anaerobic life and to link bioenergetics with the vast amount of reactions occurring within cells. ATP is universally seen as the energy exchange factor that connects anabolism and catabolism but also fuels processes such as motile contraction, phosphorylations, and active transport. It is also a signalling molecule in the purinergic signalling mechanisms. In this review, we will discuss all the main mechanisms of ATP production linked to ADP phosphorylation as well the regulation of these mechanisms during stress conditions and in connection with calcium signalling events. Recent advances regarding ATP storage and its special significance for purinergic signalling will also be reviewed.
ATP synthesis; ATP storage; Mitochondria; Calcium
Adipose tissue pathologies and defects have always represented a reconstructive challenge for plastic surgeons. In more recent years, several allogenic and alloplastic materials have been developed and used as fillers for soft tissue defects. However, their clinical use has been limited by further documented complications, such as foreign-body reactions potentially affecting function, degradation over time, and the risk for immunogenicity. Tissue-engineering strategies are thus being investigated to develop methods for generating adipose tissue. This paper will discuss the current state of the art in adipose tissue engineering techniques, exploring the biomaterials used, stem cells application, culture strategies, and current regulatory framework that are in use are here described and discussed.
Mitochondria are key decoding stations of the apoptotic process. In support of this view, a large body of experimental evidence has unambiguously revealed that, in addition to the well-established function of producing most of the cellular ATP, mitochondria play a fundamental role in triggering apoptotic cell death.
Various apoptotic stimuli cause the release of specific mitochondrial pro-apoptotic factors into the cytosol. The molecular mechanism of this release is still controversial, but there is no doubt that mitochondrial calcium (Ca2+) overload is one of the pro-apoptotic ways to induce the swelling of mitochondria, with perturbation or rupture of the outer membrane, and in turn the release of mitochondrial apoptotic factors into the cytosol.
Here, we review as different proteins that participate in mitochondrial Ca2+ homeostasis and in turn modulate the effectiveness of Ca2+-dependent apoptotic stimuli. Strikingly, the final outcome at the cellular level is similar, albeit through completely different molecular mechanisms: a reduced mitochondrial Ca2+ overload upon pro-apoptotic stimuli that dramatically blunts the apoptotic response.
Calcium; Mitochondria; Apoptosis; Cell death; Endoplasmic reticulum; MAM
Mitochondria are crucial in different intracellular pathways of signal transduction. Mitochondria are capable of decoding a variety of extracellular stimuli into markedly different intracellular actions, ranging from energy production to cell death. The fine modulation of mitochondrial calcium (Ca2+) homeostasis plays a fundamental role in many of the processes involving this organelle. When mitochondrial Ca2+ homeostasis is compromised, different pathological conditions can occur, depending on the cell type involved. Recent data have shed light on the molecular identity of the main proteins involved in the handling of mitochondrial Ca2+ traffic, opening fascinating and ambitious new avenues for mitochondria-based pharmacological strategies.
Mitochondria; Calcium; Aging; Neurodegeneration; Diabetes; Cardiovascular and mitochondrial disorders
The promyelocytic leukemia (PML) tumor suppressor is a pleiotropic modulator of apoptosis. However, the molecular basis for such a diverse proapoptotic role is currently unknown. We show that extranuclear Pml was specifically enriched at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and at the mitochondria-associated membranes, signaling domains involved in ER-to-mitochondria calcium ion (Ca2+) transport and in induction of apoptosis. We found Pml in complexes of large molecular size with the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (IP3R), protein kinase Akt, and protein phosphatase 2a (PP2a). Pml was essential for Akt- and PP2a-dependent modulation of IP3R phosphorylation and in turn for IP3R-mediated Ca2+ release from ER. Our findings provide a mechanistic explanation for the pleiotropic role of Pml in apoptosis and identify a pharmacological target for the modulation of Ca2+ signals.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are highly reactive molecules, mainly generated inside mitochondria that can oxidize DNA, proteins, and lipids. At physiological levels, ROS function as “redox messengers” in intracellular signalling and regulation, whereas excess ROS induce cell death by promoting the intrinsic apoptotic pathway. Recent work has pointed to a further role of ROS in activation of autophagy and their importance in the regulation of aging. This review will focus on mitochondria as producers and targets of ROS and will summarize different proteins that modulate the redox state of the cell. Moreover, the involvement of ROS and mitochondria in different molecular pathways controlling lifespan will be reported, pointing out the role of ROS as a “balance of power,” directing the cell towards life or death.
Calcium (Ca2+) homeostasis is fundamental for cell metabolism, proliferation, differentiation, and cell death. Elevation in intracellular Ca2+ concentration is dependent either on Ca2+ influx from the extracellular space through the plasma membrane, or on Ca2+ release from intracellular Ca2+ stores, such as the endoplasmic/sarcoplasmic reticulum (ER/SR). Mitochondria are also major components of calcium signalling, capable of modulating both the amplitude and the spatio-temporal patterns of Ca2+ signals. Recent studies revealed zones of close contact between the ER and mitochondria called MAMs (Mitochondria Associated Membranes) crucial for a correct communication between the two organelles, including the selective transmission of physiological and pathological Ca2+ signals from the ER to mitochondria. In this review, we summarize the most up-to-date findings on the modulation of intracellular Ca2+ release and Ca2+ uptake mechanisms. We also explore the tight interplay between ER- and mitochondria-mediated Ca2+ signalling, covering the structural and molecular properties of the zones of close contact between these two networks.
Protein phosphorylation controls many aspects of cell fate and is often deregulated in pathological conditions. Several recent findings have provided an intriguing insight into the spatial regulation of protein phosphorylation across different subcellular compartments and how this can be finely orchestrated by specific kinases and phosphatases. In this review, the focus will be placed on (i) the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway, specifically on the kinases Akt and mTOR and on the phosphatases PP2a and PTEN, and on (ii) the PKC family of serine/threonine kinases. We will look at general aspects of cell physiology controlled by these kinases and phosphatases, highlighting the signalling pathways that drive cell division, proliferation, and apoptosis.
Activation by extracellular ligands of G protein-coupled (GPCRs) and tyrosine kinase receptors (RTKs), results in the generation of second messengers that in turn control specific cell functions. Further, modulation/amplification or inhibition of the initial signalling events, depend on the recruitment onto the plasma membrane of soluble protein effectors.
High throughput methodologies to monitor quantitatively second messenger production, have been developed over the last years and are largely used to screen chemical libraries for drug development. On the contrary, no such high throughput methods are yet available for the other aspect of GPCRs regulation, i.e. protein translocation to the plasma membrane, despite the enormous interest of this phenomenon for the modulation of receptor downstream functions. Indeed, to date, the experimental procedures available are either inadequate or complex and expensive.
Here we describe the development of a novel conceptual approach to the study of cytosolic proteins translocation to the inner surface of the plasma membrane. The basis of the technique consists in: i) generating chimeras between the protein of interests and the calcium (Ca2+)-sensitive, luminescent photo-protein, aequorin and ii) taking advantage of the large Ca2+ concentration [Ca2+] difference between bulk cytosolic and the sub-plasma membrane rim.
This approach, that keeps unaffected the translocation properties of the signalling protein, can in principle be applied to any protein that, upon activation, moves from the cytosol to the plasma membrane.
Thus, not only the modulation of GPCRs and RTKs can be investigated in this way, but that of all other proteins that can be recruited to the plasma membrane also independently of receptor activation.
Moreover, its automated version, which can provide information about the kinetics and concentration-dependence of the process, is also applicable to high throughput screening of drugs affecting the translocation process.
Apoptosis is a process of major biomedical interest, since its deregulation is involved in the pathogenesis of a broad variety of disorders (neoplasia, autoimmune disorders, viral and neurodegenerative diseases, to name a few). It is now firmly established that variations in cellular calcium (Ca2+) concentration are pivotal in the control of a variety of cellular functions. Strong evidence has been accumulated supporting a central role of Ca2+ in the regulation of cell death. In particular, in the context of the biochemical mechanisms of apoptosis, increasing evidence support a role for endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-mitochondria Ca2+ cross talk as a crucial regulator of several pathways of apoptosis. Recent data highlight as also the promyelocytic leukemia protein (PML), by modulating the ER machinery at the contact sites between ER and mitochondria (the mitochondria associated membranes, MAMs), regulates cell survival through the ER-cytosol/mitochondria Ca2+ signaling.
apoptosis; promyelocytic leukemia protein (PML); endoplasmic reticulum (ER); mitochondria associated membranes (MAMs); calcium (Ca2+); cell death; oncosuppressor; Akt; inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (IP3R)
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are wieldy accepted as one of the main factors of the aging process. These highly reactive compounds modify nucleic acids, proteins and lipids and affect the functionality of mitochondria in the first case and ultimately of the cell. Any agent or genetic modification that affects ROS production and detoxification can be expected to influence longevity. On the other hand, genetic manipulations leading to increased longevity can be expected to involve cellular changes that affect ROS metabolism. The 66-kDa isoform of the growth factor adaptor Shc (p66Shc) has been recognized as a relevant factor to the oxygen radical theory of aging. The most recent data indicate that p66Shc protein regulates life span in mammals and its phosphorylation on serine 36 is important for the initiation of cell death upon oxidative stress. Moreover, there is strong evidence that apart from aging, p66Shc may be implicated in many oxidative stress-associated pathologies, such as diabetes, mitochondrial and neurodegenerative disorders and tumorigenesis. This article summarizes recent knowledge about the role of p66Shc in aging and senescence and how this protein can influence ROS production and detoxification, focusing on studies performed on skin and skin fibroblasts.
p66Shc; reactive oxygen species; antioxidant defense; mitochondria
Recently, we have described a simple protocol to obtain an enriched culture of adult stem cells organized in neurospheres from two post-natal tissues: skin and adipose tissue. Due to their possible application in neuronal tissue regeneration, here we tested two kinds of scaffold well known in tissue engineering application: hyaluronan based membranes and fibrin-glue meshes. Neurospheres from skin and adipose tissue were seeded onto two scaffold types: hyaluronan based membrane and fibrin-glue meshes. Neurospheres were then induced to acquire a glial and neuronal-like phenotype. Gene expression, morphological feature and chromosomal imbalance (kariotype) were analyzed and compared. Adipose and skin derived neurospheres are able to grow well and to differentiate into glial/neuron cells without any chromosomal imbalance in both scaffolds. Adult cells are able to express typical cell surface markers such as S100; GFAP; nestin; βIII tubulin; CNPase. In summary, we have demonstrated that neurospheres isolated from skin and adipose tissues are able to differentiate in glial/neuron-like cells, without any chromosomal imbalance in two scaffold types, useful for tissue engineering application: hyaluronan based membrane and fibrin-glue meshes.
adipose derived stem cells; skin; adipose tissue; stem cells; Schwann cell; karyotypes