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1.  Agpat6—a Novel Lipid Biosynthetic Gene Required for Triacylglycerol Production in Mammary Epithelium 
Journal of lipid research  2006;47(4):734-744.
In analyzing the sequence tags for mutant mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell lines in BayGenomics (a mouse gene-trapping resource), we identified a novel gene, Agpat6, with sequence similarities to previously characterized glycerolipid acyltransferases. Agpat6’s closest family member is another novel gene that we have provisionally designated Agpat8. Both Agpat6 and Agpat8 are conserved from plants, nematodes, and flies to mammals. AGPAT6, which is predicted to contain multiple membrane-spanning helices, is found exclusively within the endoplasmic reticulum in mammalian cells. To gain insights into the in vivo importance of Agpat6, we used the Agpat6 ES cell line from BayGenomics to create Agpat6-deficient (Agpat6−/−) mice. Agpat6−/− mice lacked full-length Agpat6 transcripts, as judged by northern blots. One of the most striking phenotypes of Agpat6−/− mice was a defect in lactation. Pups nursed by Agpat6−/− mothers die perinatally. Normally, Agpat6 is expressed at high levels in the mammary epithelium of breast tissue, but not in the surrounding adipose tissue. Histological studies revealed that the aveoli and ducts of Agpat6−/− lactating mammary glands were underdeveloped, and there was a dramatic decrease in size and number of lipid droplets within mammary epithelial cells and ducts. Also, the milk from Agpat6−/− mice was markedly depleted in diacylglycerols and triacylglycerols. Thus, we identified a novel glycerolipid acyltransferase of the endoplasmic reticulum, AGPAT6, which is crucial for the production of milk fat by the mammary gland.
PMCID: PMC3196597  PMID: 16449762
LPAAT; acyltransferase; transacylase; milk fat
2.  Cytosolic Ras Supports Eye Development in Drosophila ▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2010;30(24):5649-5657.
Ras proteins associate with cellular membranes as a consequence of a series of posttranslational modifications of a C-terminal CAAX sequence that include prenylation and are thought to be required for biological activity. In Drosophila melanogaster, Ras1 is required for eye development. We found that Drosophila Ras1 is inefficiently prenylated as a consequence of a lysine in the A1 position of its CAAX sequence such that a significant pool remains soluble in the cytosol. We used mosaic analysis with a repressible cell marker (MARCM) to assess if various Ras1 transgenes could restore photoreceptor fate to eye disc cells that are null for Ras1. Surprisingly, we found that whereas Ras1 with an enhanced efficiency of membrane targeting could not rescue the Ras1 null phenotype, Ras1 that was not at all membrane targeted by virtue of a mutation of the CAAX cysteine was able to fully rescue eye development. In addition, constitutively active Ras112V,C186S not targeted to membranes produced a hypermorphic phenotype and stimulated mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling in S2 cells. We conclude that the membrane association of Drosophila Ras1 is not required for eye development.
PMCID: PMC3004281  PMID: 20937772
3.  Sprouty Proteins Inhibit Receptor-mediated Activation of Phosphatidylinositol-specific Phospholipase C 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(19):3487-3496.
PLCγ03B3 binds Spry1 and Spry2. Overexpression of Spry decreased PLCγ03B3 activity and IP3 and DAG production, whereas Spry-deficient cells yielded more IP3. Spry overexpression inhibited T-cell receptor signaling and Spry1 null T-cells hyperproliferated with TCR ligation. Through action of PLCγ03B3, Spry may influence signaling through multiple receptors.
Sprouty (Spry) proteins are negative regulators of receptor tyrosine kinase signaling; however, their exact mechanism of action remains incompletely understood. We identified phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C (PLC)-γ as a partner of the Spry1 and Spry2 proteins. Spry–PLCγ interaction was dependent on the Src homology 2 domain of PLCγ and a conserved N-terminal tyrosine residue in Spry1 and Spry2. Overexpression of Spry1 and Spry2 was associated with decreased PLCγ phosphorylation and decreased PLCγ activity as measured by production of inositol (1,4,5)-triphosphate (IP3) and diacylglycerol, whereas cells deficient for Spry1 or Spry1, -2, and -4 showed increased production of IP3 at baseline and further increased in response to growth factor signals. Overexpression of Spry 1 or Spry2 or small-interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of PLCγ1 or PLCγ2 abrogated the activity of a calcium-dependent reporter gene, suggesting that Spry inhibited calcium-mediated signaling downstream of PLCγ. Furthermore, Spry overexpression in T-cells, which are highly dependent on PLCγ activity and calcium signaling, blocked T-cell receptor-mediated calcium release. Accordingly, cultured T-cells from Spry1 gene knockout mice showed increased proliferation in response to T-cell receptor stimulation. These data highlight an important action of Spry, which may allow these proteins to influence signaling through multiple receptors.
PMCID: PMC2947483  PMID: 20719962
4.  Activated Kras, but Not Hras or Nras, May Initiate Tumors of Endodermal Origin via Stem Cell Expansion▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2008;28(8):2659-2674.
The three closely related human Ras genes, Hras, Nras, and Kras, are all widely expressed, engage a common set of downstream effectors, and can each exhibit oncogenic activity. However, the vast majority of activating Ras mutations in human tumors involve Kras. Moreover, Kras mutations are most frequently seen in tumors of endodermally derived tissues (lung, pancreas, and colon), suggesting that activated Kras may affect an endodermal progenitor to initiate oncogenesis. Using a culture model of retinoic acid (RA)-induced stem cell differentiation to endoderm, we determined that while activated HrasV12 promotes differentiation and growth arrest in these endodermal progenitors, KrasV12 promotes their proliferation. Furthermore, KrasV12-expressing endodermal progenitors fail to differentiate upon RA treatment and continue to proliferate and maintain stem cell characteristics. NrasV12 neither promotes nor prevents differentiation. A structure-function analysis demonstrated that these distinct effects of the Ras isoforms involve their variable C-terminal domains, implicating compartmentalized signaling, and revealed a requirement for several established Ras effectors. These findings indicate that activated Ras isoforms exert profoundly different effects on endodermal progenitors and that mutant Kras may initiate tumorigenesis by expanding a susceptible stem/progenitor cell population. These results potentially explain the high frequency of Kras mutations in tumors of endodermal origin.
PMCID: PMC2293097  PMID: 18268007

Results 1-4 (4)