The inhibition of DNA damage response pathway seems to be an attractive strategy for cancer therapy. It was previously reported that in rodent cells exposed to heat stress, cell growth was promoted by the activity of DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK), an enzyme involved in DNA non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) required for double-strand break repair. The absence of a functioning DNA-PK was associated with down regulation of heat shock protein 70 (HSP70). The objective of this study is thus to investigate the role of DNA-PK inhibition in heat-induced apoptosis in human cell lines. The inhibitors of phosphorylation of the DNA-PK catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) at Ser2056, such as NU7026 and NU7441, were utilized. Furthermore, knock down of DNA-PKcs was carried out using small interfering RNA (siDNA-PKcs). For heat exposure, cells were placed in water bath at 44°C for 60 min. Apoptosis was evaluated after 24 h incubation flow cytometrically. Proteins were extracted after 24 h and analyzed for HSP70 and HSP40 expression by Western blotting. Total RNA was extracted 6 h after treatment and analyzed using a GeneChip® microarray system to identify and select the up-regulated genes (≥1.5 fold). The results showed an enhancement in heat-induced apoptosis in absence of functioning DNA-PKcs. Interestingly, the expression levels of HSP70 and HSP40 were elevated in the absence of DNA-PKcs under heat stress. The results of genetic network analysis showed that HSPs and JUN genes were up-regulated independently of DNA-PKcs in exposed parent and knock out cells. In the presence of functioning DNA-PKcs, there was an observed up-regulation of anti-apoptotic genes, such as NR1D1, whereas in the absence of DNA-PKcs the pro-apoptotic genes, such as EGR2, were preferentially up-regulated. From these findings, we concluded that in human cells, the inactivation of DNA-PKcs can promote heat-induced apoptosis independently of heat-shock proteins.
Physics-based simulation provides a powerful framework for understanding biological form and function. Simulations can be used by biologists to study macromolecular assemblies and by clinicians to design treatments for diseases. Simulations help biomedical researchers understand the physical constraints on biological systems as they engineer novel drugs, synthetic tissues, medical devices, and surgical interventions. Although individual biomedical investigators make outstanding contributions to physics-based simulation, the field has been fragmented. Applications are typically limited to a single physical scale, and individual investigators usually must create their own software. These conditions created a major barrier to advancing simulation capabilities. In 2004, we established a National Center for Physics-Based Simulation of Biological Structures (Simbios) to help integrate the field and accelerate biomedical research. In 6 years, Simbios has become a vibrant national center, with collaborators in 16 states and eight countries. Simbios focuses on problems at both the molecular scale and the organismal level, with a long-term goal of uniting these in accurate multiscale simulations.
Simulation; dynamics; biomedical computation; physics-based; neuromuscular biomechanics; molecular dynamics; multibody dynamics; domain-specific languages; DSLs; neuroprosthetic dynamics; drug target dynamics; physics-based simulation
H-Ras oncogene requires deregulation of additional oncogenes or inactivation of tumor suppressor proteins to increase cell proliferation rate and transform cells. In fact, the expression of the constitutively activated H-RasV12 induces cell growth arrest and premature senescence, which act like barriers in pre-neoplastic lesions. In our experimental model, human fibroblasts transfected with H-RasV12 show a dramatic modification of morphology. H-RasV12 expressing cells also show premature senescence followed by cell death, induced by autophagy and apoptosis. In this context, we provide evidence that in H-RasV12 expressing cells, the premature senescence is associated with cellular redox imbalance as well as with altered post-translation protein modification. In particular, redox imbalance is due to a strong reduction of total antioxidant capacity, and significant decrease of glutathione level. As the reversible addition of glutathione to cysteinyl residues of proteins is an important post-translational regulative modification, we investigated S-glutathionylation in cells expressing active H-Ras. In this contest we observed different S-glutathionylation patterns in control and H-RasV12 expressing cells. Particularly, the GAPDH enzyme showed S-glutathionylation increase and significant enzyme activity depletion in H-Ras V12 cells. In conclusion, we proposed that antioxidant defense reduction, glutathione depletion and subsequent modification of S-glutathionylation of target proteins contribute to arrest cell growth, leading to death of fibroblasts expressing constitutively active H-Ras oncogene, thus acting as oncogenic barriers that obstacle the progression of cell transformation.
Heat induces Hsp70.1 (HSPA1) and Hsc70 (HSPA8) to form complex detergent insoluble cytoplasmic and nuclear structures that are distinct from the cytoskeleton and internal cell membranes. These novel structures have not been observed by earlier immunofluorescence studies as they are obscured by the abundance of soluble Hsp70.1/Hsc70 present in cells. While resistant to detergents, these Hsp70 structures display complex intracellular dynamics and are efficiently disaggregated by ATP, indicating that this pool of Hsp70.1/Hsc70 retains native function and regulation. Hsp70.1 promotes the repair of proteotoxic damage and cell survival after stress. In heated fibroblasts expressing Hsp70.1, Hsp70.1 and Hsc70 complexes are efficiently disaggregated before the cells undergo-heat induced apoptosis. In the absence of Hsp70.1, fibroblasts have increased rates of heat-induced apoptosis and maintain stable insoluble Hsc70 structures. The differences in the intracellular distribution of Hsp70.1 and Hsc70, combined with the ability of Hsp70.1, but not Hsc70, to promote the disaggregation of insoluble Hsp70.1/Hsc70 complexes, indicate that these two closely related proteins perform distinctly different cellular functions in heated cells.
Senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) is characterized by abundant secretion of various proteins in senescent cells and implicated in tumor progression and inflammatory responses. However, the profile of secreted proteins in SASP is different from cell type to cell type, and currently, universal markers for SASP have not been reported. In the present investigation, we show that SASP-responsive alkaline phosphatase (SASP-RAP) serves as a sensitive, general and convenient marker for SASP. Etoposide-treated cells exhibited a senescent phenotype characterized by senile morphology, positive staining for senescence-associated β-galactosidase, growth arrest and induction of p53 and p21WAF1/CIP1. In SASP-RAP-transfected cells, exposure to etoposide increased secretion of SASP-RAP time-dependently. The kinetics of secretion was closely correlated with that of activation of the p21WAF1/CIP1 promoter and the p16INK4a promoter. The enhanced secretion of SASP-RAP by senescence was also observed in cells treated with other senescence inducers such as trichostatin A, doxorubicin and 4-phenylbutylic acid. The induction of SASP-RAP by senescence was similarly observed in natural replicative senescence. To confirm selectivity of the SASP-RAP response, cells were treated with senescence-related and -unrelated stimuli (IL-1β, LPS, TNF-α and TGF-β), and induction of senescence markers and activity of SASP-RAP were evaluated in parallel. Unlike etoposide, senescence-unrelated stimuli did not induce p53 and p21WAF1/CIP1, and it was correlated with lack of induction of SASP-RAP. In contrast, senescence-unrelated stimuli up-regulated conventional indicators for SASP, e.g., MMP-3, IL-6 and TIMP, without induction of senescence. SASP-RAP thus serves as a selective, convenient and general marker for detection and monitoring of SASP during cellular senescence.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is the mosquito-borne alphavirus that is the etiologic agent of massive outbreaks of arthralgic febrile illness that recently affected millions of people in Africa and Asia. The only CHIKV vaccine that has been tested in humans, strain 181/clone 25, is a live-attenuated derivative of Southeast Asian human isolate strain AF15561. The vaccine was immunogenic in phase I and II clinical trials; however, it induced transient arthralgia in 8% of the vaccinees. There are five amino acid differences between the vaccine and its parent, as well as five synonymous mutations, none of which involves cis-acting genome regions known to be responsible for replication or packaging. To identify the determinants of attenuation, we therefore tested the five nonsynonymous mutations by cloning them individually or in different combinations into infectious clones derived from two wild-type (WT) CHIKV strains, La Reunion and AF15561. Levels of virulence were compared with those of the WT strains and the vaccine strain in two different murine models: infant CD1 and adult A129 mice. An attenuated phenotype indistinguishable from that of the 181/clone 25 vaccine strain was obtained by the simultaneous expression of two E2 glycoprotein substitutions, with intermediate levels of attenuation obtained with the single E2 mutations. The other three amino acid mutations, in nsP1, 6K, and E1, did not have a detectable effect on CHIKV virulence. These results indicate that the attenuation of strain 181/clone 25 is mediated by two point mutations, explaining the phenotypic instability observed in human vaccinees and also in our studies.
The structure of the bacteriophage SPP1 capsid was determined at subnanometer resolution by cryo-electron microscopy and single-particle analysis. The icosahedral capsid is composed of the major capsid protein gp13 and the auxiliary protein gp12, which are organized in a T=7 lattice. DNA is arranged in layers with a distance of ∼24.5 Å. gp12 forms spikes that are anchored at the center of gp13 hexamers. In a gp12-deficient mutant, the centers of hexamers are closed by loops of gp13 coming together to protect the SPP1 genome from the outside environment. The HK97-like fold was used to build a pseudoatomic model of gp13. Its structural organization remains unchanged upon tail binding and following DNA release. gp13 exhibits enhanced thermostability in the DNA-filled capsid. A remarkable convergence between the thermostability of the capsid and those of the other virion components was found, revealing that the overall architecture of the SPP1 infectious particle coevolved toward high robustness.
Bufalin is the primary component of the traditional Chinese herb “Chan Su”. Evidence suggests that this compound possesses potent anti-tumor activities, although the exact molecular mechanism(s) is unknown. Our previous study showed that bufalin inhibited growth of human osteosarcoma cell lines U2OS and U2OS/MTX300 in culture. Therefore, this study aims to further clarify the in vitro and in vivo anti-osteosarcoma effects of bufalin and its molecular mechanism of action. We found bufalin inhibited both methotrexate (MTX) sensitive and resistant human osteosarcoma cell growth and induced G2/M arrest and apoptosis. Using a comparative proteomics approach, 24 differentially expressed proteins following bufalin treatment were identified. In particular, the level of an anti-apoptotic protein, heat shock protein 27 (Hsp27), decreased remarkably. The down-regulation of Hsp27 and alterations of its partner signaling molecules (the decrease in p-Akt, nuclear NF-κB p65, and co-immunoprecipitated cytochrome c/Hsp27) were validated. Hsp27 over-expression protected against bufalin-induced apoptosis, reversed the dephosphorylation of Akt and preserved the level of nuclear NF-κB p65 and co-immunoprecipitated Hsp27/cytochrome c. Moreover, bufalin inhibited MTX-resistant osteosarcoma xenograft growth, and a down-regulation of Hsp27 in vivo was observed. Taken together, bufalin exerted potent anti-osteosarcoma effects in vitro and in vivo, even in MTX resistant osteosarcoma cells. The down-regulation of Hsp27 played a critical role in bufalin-induced apoptosis in osteosarcoma cells. Bufalin may have merit to be a potential chemotherapeutic agent for osteosarcoma, particularly in MTX-resistant groups.
Microtubule-disturbing drugs inhibit lysosomal trafficking and induce lysosomal membrane permeabilization followed by cathepsin-dependent cell death. To identify specific trafficking-related proteins that control cell survival and lysosomal stability, we screened a molecular motor siRNA library in human MCF7 breast cancer cells. SiRNAs targeting four kinesins (KIF11/Eg5, KIF20A, KIF21A, KIF25), myosin 1G (MYO1G), myosin heavy chain 1 (MYH1) and tropomyosin 2 (TPM2) were identified as effective inducers of non-apoptotic cell death. The cell death induced by KIF11, KIF21A, KIF25, MYH1 or TPM2 siRNAs was preceded by lysosomal membrane permeabilization, and all identified siRNAs induced several changes in the endo-lysosomal compartment, i.e. increased lysosomal volume (KIF11, KIF20A, KIF25, MYO1G, MYH1), increased cysteine cathepsin activity (KIF20A, KIF25), altered lysosomal localization (KIF25, MYH1, TPM2), increased dextran accumulation (KIF20A), or reduced autophagic flux (MYO1G, MYH1). Importantly, all seven siRNAs also killed human cervix cancer (HeLa) and osteosarcoma (U-2-OS) cells and sensitized cancer cells to other lysosome-destabilizing treatments, i.e. photo-oxidation, siramesine, etoposide or cisplatin. Similarly to KIF11 siRNA, the KIF11 inhibitor monastrol induced lysosomal membrane permeabilization and sensitized several cancer cell lines to siramesine. While KIF11 inhibitors are under clinical development as mitotic blockers, our data reveal a new function for KIF11 in controlling lysosomal stability and introduce six other molecular motors as putative cancer drug targets.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) causes a severe and often persistent arthralgic disease that is occasionally fatal. A mosquito-borne virus, CHIKV exists in enzootic, non-human primate cycles in Africa, but occasionally emerges into urban, human cycles to cause major epidemics. Between 1920 and 1950, and again in 2005, CHIKV emerged into India and Southeast Asia, where major urban epidemics ensued. Unlike the early introduction, the 2005 emergence was accompanied by an adaptive mutation that allowed CHIKV to exploit a new epidemic vector, Aedes albopictus, via an A226V substitution in the E1 envelope glycoprotein. However, recent reverse genetic studies indicate that lineage-specific epistatic restrictions can prevent this from exerting its phenotype on mosquito infectivity. Thus, the A. albopictus-adaptive A226V substitution that is facilitating the dramatic geographic spread CHIKV epidemics, was prevented for decades or longer from being selected in most African enzootic strains as well as in the older endemic Asian lineage.
Glycogen synthase kinase 3β(GSK3β) is a ubiquitous serine-threonine protein kinase that participates in numerous cellular processes and disease pathophysiology. We aimed to determine therapeutic potential of GSK3β inhibition and its mechanism in a well-characterized model of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced model of acute liver failure (ALF).
In a murine ALF model induced by D-GalN(700 mg/kg)/LPS(10 µg/kg), we analyzed GSK3β mechanisms using a specific chemical inhibitor, SB216763, and detected the role of endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS). Mice were administered SB216763 at 2 h before or after D-GalN/LPS injection, respectively, and then sacrificed 6 h after D-GalN/LPS treatment to evaluate its prophylactic and therapeutic function. The lethality rate, liver damage, ERS, cytokine expression, MAP kinase, hepatocyte apoptosis and expression of TLR 4 were evaluated, respectively. Whether the inhibition of GSK3β activation protected hepatocyte from ERS-induced apoptosis was investigated in vitro.
GSK3β became quickly activated (dephosphorylated) upon D-GalN/LPS exposure. Administration of SB216763 not only ameliorated liver injury, as evidenced by reduced transaminase levels, and well-preserved liver architecture, but also decreased lethality. Moreover, GSK3β inhibition resulted in down-regulation of pro-apoptotic proteins C/EBP–homologous protein(CHOP) and caspase-12, which are related to ERS. To further demonstrate the role of ERS, we found that GSK3β inhibition protected hepatocyte from ERS-induced cell death. GSK3β inhibition down-regulated the MAPK pathways, reduced expression of inflammatory cytokines and decreased expression of TLR4.
Our findings demonstrate the key function of GSK3β signaling in the pathophysiology of ALF, especially in regulating the ERS, and provide a rationale for targeting GSK3β as a potential therapeutic strategy to ameliorate ALF.
Heat shock response (HSR) that protects cells from proteotoxic stresses is downregulated in aging, as well as upon replicative senescence of cells in culture. Here we demonstrate that HSR is suppressed in fibroblasts from the patients with segmental progerioid Werner Syndrome, which undergo premature senescence. Similar suppression of HSR was seen in normal fibroblasts, which underwent senescence in response to DNA damaging treatments. The major DNA-damage-induced signaling (DDS) pathways p53–p21 and p38-NF-kB-SASP contributed to the HSR suppression. The HSR suppression was associated with inhibition of both activity and transcription of the heat shock transcription factor Hsf1. This inhibition in large part resulted from the downregulation of SIRT1, which in turn was because of decrease in the expression of the translation regulator HuR. Importantly, we uncovered a positive feedback regulation, where suppression of Hsf1 further activates the p38–NF-κB-SASP pathway, which in turn promotes senescence. Overexpression of Hsf1 inhibited the p38–NFκB-SASP pathway and partially relieved senescence. Therefore, downregulation of Hsf1 plays an important role in the development or in the maintenance of DNA damage signaling-induced cell senescence.
heat shock response; Hsp70; HuR; inflammation; p38; p53; SIRT1
The major heat shock protein Hsp72 is expressed at elevated levels in many human cancers and its expression correlates with tumor progression. Here we investigated the role of Hsp72 in Her2 oncogene-induced neoplastic transformation and tumorigenesis. Expression of Her2 in untransformed MCF10A mammary epithelial cells caused transformation, as judged by foci formation in culture and tumorigenesis in xenografts. However, expression of Her2 in Hsp72-depleted cells failed to induce transformation. The anti-tumorigenic effects of Hsp72 downregulation were associated with cellular senescence due to accumulation of p21 and depletion of survivin. Accordingly, either knockdown of p21 or expression of survivin reversed this senescence process. Further, we developed an animal model of Hsp72-dependent breast cancer associated with expression of Her2. Knockout of Hsp72 almost completely suppressed tumorigenesis in the MMTVneu breast cancer mouse model. In young Hsp72 KO mice, expression of Her2 instead of mammary tissue hyperplasia led to suppression of duct development and blocked alveolar budding. These effects were due to massive cell senescence in mammary tissue, which was associated with upregulation of p21 and downregulation of survivin. Therefore Hsp72 plays an essential role in Her2-induced tumorigenesis by regulating oncogene-induced senescence pathways.
Hsp72; HER2; senescence; p21; survivin
Activation of the Her2 (ErbB2) oncogene is implicated in the development of breast, ovary and other cancers. Here, we show that expression of NeuT, a mutant-activated rodent isoform of Her2, in immortalized breast epithelial cells, while promoting senescence associated morphological changes, up-regulation of senescence associated β-galactosidase activity, and accumulation of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21, failed to trigger the major senescence end-point, i.e. permanent growth arrest. Similar senescence-associated phenotype with incomplete growth arrest, which we dubbed senescence with incomplezXte growth arrest (SWING), could also be triggered by the expression of the Ras oncogene. SWING phenotype was stable, and persisted in tumor xenografts established from NeuT-transduced cells. Furthermore, a significant population of cells in SWING state was found in tumors in the MMTV/NeuT transgenic mouse model. SWING cells showed downregulation of histone H2AX, critical for repair of double-stranded DNA breaks, and impaired activation of Chk1 kinase. Overall, SWING cells were characterized by increased DNA instability and hypersensitivity to genotoxic stresses. We propose that the SWING state could be a stage in the process of cancer development.
DNA damage response; Her2; oncogenes; senescence
Many types of cancer cells constitutively express major molecular chaperones at high levels. Recent findings demonstrate that specific depletion of individual chaperones, including various members of the Hsp70 family, small heat shock proteins, or VCP/p97, leads to activation of p53 pathway and subsequently triggers cellular senescence. Here we discuss a possibility that in cancer cells high levels of chaperones serve to keep the p53 signaling under control, thus allowing cancer cells to evade the default senescence and form tumors.
Previously we demonstrated that the heat shock transcription factor Hsf1 is indispensable for transformation of mammary epithelial cells by the Her2 oncogene. Since Hsf1 affects oncogene-induced senescence (OIS), these findings suggest that Hsf1 affects tumor initiation when OIS plays a role. Indeed, here we report that Hsf1 knockout suppressed mammary hyperplasia in Her2-expressing mice and reduced tumor emergence. On the other hand, Hsf1 expression increases with advanced breast cancer, indicating that there is an additional role of Hsf1 in tumor progression. We studied rare tumors that developed in Hsf1-knockout mice and found that these tumors grew slower than tumors in control animals and showed suppressed angiogenesis. Similarly, in the xenograft model, knockdown of Hsf1 suppressed angiogenesis, which was associated with suppression of the HIF-1 pathway. Suppression of HIF-1 was at the level of translation due to downregulation of the RNA-binding protein HuR. Importantly, besides HIF-1, HuR controls translation of other major regulators of cancer progression, many of which were suppressed in Hsf1-knockdown cells. Therefore, in addition to OIS, Hsf1 regulates the HuR–HIF-1 pathway, thus affecting both cancer initiation and progression.
A high percentage of oesophageal adenocarcinomas show an aggressive clinical behaviour with a significant resistance to chemotherapy. Heat-shock proteins (HSPs) and glucose-regulated proteins (GRPs) are molecular chaperones that play an important role in tumour biology. Recently, novel therapeutic approaches targeting HSP90/GRP94 have been introduced for treating cancer. We performed a comprehensive investigation of HSP and GRP expression including HSP27, phosphorylated (p)-HSP27(Ser15), p-HSP27(Ser78), p-HSP27(Ser82), HSP60, HSP70, HSP90, GRP78 and GRP94 in 92 primary resected oesophageal adenocarcinomas by using reverse phase protein arrays (RPPA), immunohistochemistry (IHC) and real-time quantitative RT-PCR (qPCR). Results were correlated with pathologic features and survival. HSP/GRP protein and mRNA expression was detected in all tumours at various levels. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering showed two distinct groups of tumours with specific protein expression patterns: The hallmark of the first group was a high expression of p-HSP27(Ser15, Ser78, Ser82) and low expression of GRP78, GRP94 and HSP60. The second group showed the inverse pattern with low p-HSP27 and high GRP78, GRP94 and HSP60 expression. The clinical outcome for patients from the first group was significantly improved compared to patients from the second group, both in univariate analysis (p = 0.015) and multivariate analysis (p = 0.029). Interestingly, these two groups could not be distinguished by immunohistochemistry or qPCR analysis. In summary, two distinct and prognostic relevant HSP/GRP protein expression patterns in adenocarcinomas of the oesophagus were detected by RPPA. Our approach may be helpful for identifying candidates for specific HSP/GRP-targeted therapies.
In this study we report that, in response to proteasome inhibition, the E3-Ubiquitin ligase TRIM50 localizes to and promotes the recruitment and aggregation of polyubiquitinated proteins to the aggresome. Using Hdac6-deficient mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEF) we show that this localization is mediated by the histone deacetylase 6, HDAC6. Whereas Trim50-deficient MEFs allow pinpointing that the TRIM50 ubiquitin-ligase regulates the clearance of polyubiquitinated proteins localized to the aggresome. Finally we demonstrate that TRIM50 colocalizes, interacts with and increases the level of p62, a multifunctional adaptor protein implicated in various cellular processes including the autophagy clearance of polyubiquitinated protein aggregates. We speculate that when the proteasome activity is impaired, TRIM50 fails to drive its substrates to the proteasome-mediated degradation, and promotes their storage in the aggresome for successive clearance.
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in premature infants. During NEC pathogenesis, bacteria are able to penetrate innate immune defenses and invade the intestinal epithelial layer, causing subsequent inflammation and tissue necrosis. Normally, Paneth cells appear in the intestinal crypts during the first trimester of human pregnancy. Paneth cells constitute a major component of the innate immune system by producing multiple antimicrobial peptides and proinflammatory mediators. To better understand the possible role of Paneth cell disruption in NEC, we quantified the number of Paneth cells present in infants with NEC and found that they were significantly decreased compared with age-matched controls. We were able to model this loss in the intestine of postnatal day (P)14-P16 (immature) mice by treating them with the zinc chelator dithizone. Intestines from dithizone-treated animals retained approximately half the number of Paneth cells compared with controls. Furthermore, by combining dithizone treatment with exposure to Klebsiella pneumoniae, we were able to induce intestinal injury and inflammatory induction that resembles human NEC. Additionally, this novel Paneth cell ablation model produces NEC-like pathology that is consistent with other currently used animal models, but this technique is simpler to use, can be used in older animals that have been dam fed, and represents a novel line of investigation to study NEC pathogenesis and treatment.
The target of rapamycin (TOR) is a high molecular weight protein kinase that regulates many processes in cells in response to mitogens and variations in nutrient availability. Here we have shown that mTOR in human tissue culture cells plays a key role in responses to proteotoxic stress and that reduction in mTOR levels by RNA interference leads to increase sensitivity to heat shock. This effect was accompanied by a drastic reduction in ability to synthesize heat shock proteins (HSP), including Hsp70, Hsp90 and Hsp110. As HSP transcription is regulated by heat shock transcription factor 1 (HSF1), we examined whether mTOR could directly phosphorylate this factor. Indeed, we determined that mTOR could directly phosphorylate HSF1 on serine 326, a key residue in transcriptional activation. HSF1 was phosphorylated on S326 immediately after heat shock and was triggered by other cell stressors including proteasome inhibitors and sodium arsenite. Null mutation of S326 to alanine led to loss of ability to activate an HSF1-regulated promoter-reporter construct, indicating a direct role for mTOR and S326 in transcriptional regulation of HSP genes during stress. As mTOR is known to exist in at least two intracellular complexes, mTORC1 and mTOR2 we examined which complex might interact with HSF1. Indeed mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin prevented HSF1-S326 phosphorylation, suggesting that this complex is involved in HSF1 regulation in stress. Our experiments therefore suggest a key role for mTORC1 in transcriptional responses to proteotoxic stress.
Polyglutamine expansion causes diseases in humans and other mammals. One example is Huntington's disease. Fragments of human huntingtin protein having an expanded polyglutamine stretch form aggregates and cause cytotoxicity in yeast cells bearing endogenous QN-rich proteins in the aggregated (prion) form. Attachment of the proline(P)-rich region targets polyglutamines to the large perinuclear deposit (aggresome). Aggresome formation ameliorates polyglutamine cytotoxicity in cells containing only the prion form of Rnq1 protein. Here we show that expanded polyglutamines both with (poly-QP) or without (poly-Q) a P-rich stretch remain toxic in the presence of the prion form of translation termination (release) factor Sup35 (eRF3). A Sup35 derivative that lacks the QN-rich domain and is unable to be incorporated into aggregates counteracts cytotoxicity, suggesting that toxicity is due to Sup35 sequestration. Increase in the levels of another release factor, Sup45 (eRF1), due to either disomy by chromosome II containing the SUP45 gene or to introduction of the SUP45-bearing plasmid counteracts poly-Q or poly-QP toxicity in the presence of the Sup35 prion. Protein analysis confirms that polyglutamines alter aggregation patterns of Sup35 and promote aggregation of Sup45, while excess Sup45 counteracts these effects. Our data show that one and the same mode of polyglutamine aggregation could be cytoprotective or cytotoxic, depending on the composition of other aggregates in a eukaryotic cell, and demonstrate that other aggregates expand the range of proteins that are susceptible to sequestration by polyglutamines.
Polyglutamine diseases, including Huntington disease, are associated with expansions of polyglutamine tracts, resulting in aggregation of respective proteins. The severity of Huntington disease is controlled by both DNA and non–DNA factors. Mechanisms of such a control are poorly understood. Polyglutamine may sequester other cellular proteins; however, different experimental models have pointed to different sequestered proteins. By using a yeast model, we demonstrate that the mechanism of polyglutamine toxicity is driven by the composition of other (endogenous) aggregates (for example, yeast prions) present in a eukaryotic cell. Although these aggregates do not necessarily cause significant toxicity on their own, they serve as mediators in protein sequestration and therefore determine which specific proteins are to be sequestered by polyglutamines. We also show that polyglutamine deposition into an aggresome, a perinuclear compartment thought to be cytoprotective, fails to ameliorate cytotoxicity in cells with certain compositions of pre-existing aggregates. Finally, we demonstrate that an increase in the dosage of a sequestered protein due to aneuploidy by a chromosome carrying a respective gene may rescue cytotoxicity. Our data shed light on genetic and epigenetic mechanisms modulating polyglutamine cytotoxicity and establish a new approach for identifying potential therapeutic targets through characterization of the endogenous aggregated proteins.
Heat shock factor 1 (HSF1) regulates one of the major pathways of protein quality control and is essential for deterrence of protein-folding disorders, particularly in neuronal cells. However, HSF1 activity declines with age, a change that may open the door to progression of neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington's disease. We have investigated mechanisms of HSF1 regulation that may become compromised with age. HSF1 binds stably to the catalytic domain of protein kinase A (PKAcα) and becomes phosphorylated on at least one regulatory serine residue (S320). We show here that PKA is essential for effective transcription of HSP genes by HSF1. PKA triggers a cascade involving HSF1 binding to the histone acetylase p300 and positive translation elongation factor 1 (p-TEFb) and phosphorylation of the c-terminal domain of RNA polymerase II, a key mechanism in the downstream steps of HSF1-mediated transcription. This cascade appears to play a key role in protein quality control in neuronal cells expressing aggregation-prone proteins with long poly-glutamine (poly-Q) tracts. Such proteins formed inclusion bodies that could be resolved by HSF1 activation during heat shock. Resolution of the inclusions was inhibited by knockdown of HSF1, PKAcα, or the pTEFb component CDK9, indicating a key role for the HSF1-PKA cascade in protein quality control.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) is a prototypical enveloped ssRNA virus of the family Togaviridae. To better understand alphavirus assembly, we analyzed newly formed nucleocapsid particles (termed pre-viral nucleocapsids) isolated from infected cells. These particles were intermediates along the virus assembly pathway, and ultimately bind membrane-associated viral glycoproteins to bud as mature infectious virus. Purified pre-viral nucleocapsids were spherical with a unimodal diameter distribution. The structure of one class of pre-viral nucleocapsids was determined with single particle reconstruction of cryo-electron microscopy images. These studies showed that pre-viral nucleocapsids assembled into an icosahedral structure with a capsid stoichiometry similar to the mature nucleocapsid. However, the individual capsomers were organized significantly differently within the pre-viral and mature nucleocapsids. The pre-viral nucleocapsid structure implies that nucleocapsids are highly plastic and undergo glycoprotein and/or lipid-driven rearrangements during virus self-assembly. This mechanism of self-assembly may be general for other enveloped viruses.
alphavirus; virus assembly; cryo-electron microscopy; virus structure
Biomechanical systems share many properties with mechanically engineered systems, and researchers have successfully employed mechanical engineering simulation software to investigate the mechanical behavior of diverse biological mechanisms, ranging from biomolecules to human joints. Unlike their man-made counterparts, however, biomechanisms rarely exhibit the simple, uncoupled, pure-axial motion that is engineered into mechanical joints such as sliders, pins, and ball-and-socket joints. Current mechanical modeling software based on internal-coordinate multibody dynamics can formulate engineered joints directly in minimal coordinates, but requires additional coordinates restricted by constraints to model more complex motions. This approach can be inefficient, inaccurate, and difficult for biomechanists to customize. Since complex motion is the rule rather than the exception in biomechanisms, the benefits of minimal coordinate modeling are not fully realized in biomedical research. Here we introduce a practical implementation for empirically-defined internal-coordinate joints, which we call “mobilizers.” A mobilizer encapsulates the observations, measurement frame, and modeling requirements into a hinge specification of the permissible-motion manifold for a minimal set of internal coordinates. Mobilizers support nonlinear mappings that are mathematically equivalent to constraint manifolds but have the advantages of fewer coordinates, no constraints, and exact representation of the biomechanical motion-space—the benefits long enjoyed for internal-coordinate models of mechanical joints. Hinge matrices within the mobilizer are easily specified by user-supplied functions, and provide a direct means of mapping permissible motion derived from empirical data. We present computational results showing substantial performance and accuracy gains for mobilizers versus equivalent joints implemented with constraints. Examples of mobilizers for joints from human biomechanics and molecular dynamics are given. All methods and examples were implemented in Simbody™—an open source multibody-dynamics solver available at https://Simtk.org.
Multibody dynamics; Internal coordinates; Computer simulation; Biomechanics; Molecular dynamics; Skeletal modeling