MicroRNAs are well known to mediate translational repression and mRNA degradation in the cytoplasm. Various microRNAs have also been detected in membrane-compartmentalized organelles, but the functional significance has remained elusive. Here we report that miR-1, a microRNA specifically induced during myogenesis, efficiently enters the mitochondria where it unexpectedly stimulates, rather than represses, the translation of specific mitochondrial genome-encoded transcripts. We show that this positive effect requires specific miR:mRNA base-pairing and Ago2, but not its functional partner GW182, which is excluded from the mitochondria. We provide evidence for the direct action of Ago2 in mitochondrial translation by CLIP-seq, functional rescue with mitochondria-targeted Ago2, and selective inhibition of the microRNA machinery in the cytoplasm. These findings unveil a positive function of microRNA in mitochondrial translation and suggest a highly coordinated myogenic program via miR-1 mediated translational stimulation in the mitochondria and repression in the cytoplasm.
To mount an immune response, T lymphocytes must successfully search for foreign material bound to the surface of antigen-presenting cells. How T cells optimize their chances of encountering and responding to these antigens is unknown. T cell motility in tissues resembles a random or Levy walk and is regulated in part by external factors including chemokines and lymph node topology, but motility parameters such as speed and propensity to turn may also be cell-intrinsic. Here we found that the unconventional Myosin 1g (Myo1g) motor generates membrane tension, enforces cell-intrinsic meandering search and enhances T-DC interactions during lymph node surveillance. Increased turning and meandering motility, as opposed to ballistic motility, is enhanced by Myo1g. Myo1g acts as a “turning motor” and generates a form of cellular “flânerie”. Modeling and antigen challenges show that these intrinsically-programmed elements of motility search are critical for the detection of rare cognate antigen presenting cells.
Accumulating evidence demonstrated that while a small minority of the human genome encodes proteins a large portion of the genome encodes non-protein coding transcripts. Thus it has been suggested that such RNAs, including the recently described family of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNA) are key regulators of cellular homeostasis and transformation leading to tumorigenesis. Here we tested this hypothesis focusing on the role of lncRNAs in T cell leukemia (T-ALL), a pediatric blood cancer, characterized by Notch pathway activation. Using RNA-Sequencing we identified and catalogued a large number of T-ALL-specific lncRNAs targeted by the NOTCH pathway. We further focused on a single such transcript, LUNAR1 (LeUkemia-induced Non-coding Activator RNA-1), and demonstrated that through chromosomal looping it is able to control the expression of the IGF1R gene, IGF1 signaling and growth of T-ALL, providing evidence that suggests that lncRNAs could be used as biomarkers as well as therapy targets in human cancer.
CIpXP and other AAA+ proteases recognize, mechanically unfold, and translocate target proteins into a chamber for proteolysis. It is not known if these remarkable molecular machines operate by a stochastic or sequential mechanism or how power strokes relate to the ATP-hydrolysis cycle. Single-molecule optical trapping allows CIpXP unfolding to be directly visualized and reveals translocation steps of ~1–4 nm in length, but how these activities relate to solution degradation and the physical properties of substrate proteins remains unclear. By studying single-molecule degradation using different multi-domain substrates and CIpXP variants, we answer many of these questions and provide evidence for stochastic unfolding and translocation. We also present a mechanochemical model that accounts for single-molecule, biochemical, and structural results, for our observation of enzymatic memory in translocation stepping, for the kinetics of translocation steps of different sizes, and for probabilistic but highly coordinated subunit activity within the CIpX ring.
Trimethylation of Histone H3 at Lysine 4 (H3K4me3) is a chromatin modification known to mark the transcription start sites of active genes. Here we show that H3K4me3 domains that spread more broadly over genes in a given cell type preferentially mark genes essential for the identity and function of that cell type. Using the broadest H3K4me3 domains as a discovery tool in neural progenitor cells, we identify novel regulators of these cells. Machine learning models reveal that the broadest H3K4me3 domains represent a distinct entity, characterized by increased marks of elongation. Broadest H3K4me3 domains also have more paused polymerase at their promoters, suggesting a unique transcriptional output. Indeed, genes marked by broadest H3K4me3 domains exhibit enhanced transcriptional consistency rather than increased transcriptional levels, and perturbation of H3K4me3 breadth leads to changes in transcriptional consistency. Thus, H3K4me3 breadth contains information that could ensure transcriptional precision at key cell identity/function genes.
Development of strategies for induction of HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) by vaccines is a priority. Determining the steps of bnAb induction in HIV-1-infected individuals who make bnAbs is a key strategy for immunogen design. Here we study the B cell response in a bnAb-producing individual, and report cooperation between two B cell lineages to drive bnAb development. We isolated an autologous virus-neutralizing antibody lineage that targeted an envelope region (loop D) and selected virus escape mutants that resulted in both enhanced bnAb lineage envelope binding and escape mutant neutralization—traits associated with increased B cell antigen drive. Thus, in this individual, two B cell lineages cooperated to induce the development of bnAbs. Design of vaccine immunogens that simultaneously drive both autologous and broadly neutralizing B cell lineages may be important for vaccine-induced recapitulation of events that transpire during the maturation of neutralizing antibodies in HIV-1-infected individuals.
Adaptation of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) pathway for MHC class I (MHC-I) presentation in dendritic cells enables cross-presentation of peptides derived from phagocytosed microbes, infected cells, or tumor cells to CD8 T cells. How these peptides intersect with MHC-I molecules remains poorly understood. Here, we show that MHC-I selectively accumulate within phagosomes carrying microbial components, which engage Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling. Although cross-presentation requires Sec22b-mediated phagosomal recruitment of the peptide loading complex from the ER-Golgi intermediate compartment (ERGIC), this step is independent of TLR signaling and does not deliver MHC-I. Instead, MHC-I are recruited from an endosomal recycling compartment (ERC), which is marked by Rab11a, VAMP3/cellubrevin, and VAMP8/endobrevin and holds large reserves of MHC-I. While Rab11a activity stocks ERC stores with MHC-I, MyD88-dependent TLR signals drive IκB-kinase (IKK)2-mediated phosphorylation of phagosome-associated SNAP23. Phospho-SNAP23 stabilizes SNARE complexes orchestrating ERC-phagosome fusion, enrichment of phagosomes with ERC-derived MHC-I, and subsequent cross-presentation during infection.
The p53 tumor suppressor coordinates a series of anti-proliferative responses that restrict the expansion of malignant cells and, as a consequence, p53 is lost or mutated in the majority of human cancers. Here, we show that p53 restricts expression of the stem and progenitor cell-associated protein nestin in an Sp1/3 transcription factor-dependent manner and that nestin is required for tumor initiation in vivo. Moreover, loss of p53 facilitates dedifferentiation of mature hepatocytes into nestin-positive progenitor-like cells, which are poised to differentiate into hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) or cholangiocarcinomas (CCs) in response to lineage-specific mutations that target Wnt and Notch signaling, respectively. Many human HCCs and CCs show elevated nestin expression, which correlates with p53 loss of function and is associated with decreased patient survival. Therefore, transcriptional repression of Nestin by p53 restricts cellular plasticity and tumorigenesis in liver cancer.
Depending on endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress levels, the ER transmembrane multi-domain protein IRE1α promotes either adaptation or apoptosis. Unfolded ER proteins cause IRE1α lumenal domain homo-oligomerization, inducing trans auto-phosphorylation that further drives homo-oligomerization of its cytosolic kinase/ endoribonuclease (RNase) domains to activate mRNA splicing of adaptive XBP1 transcription factor. However, under high/chronic ER stress, IRE1α surpasses an oligomerization threshold that expands RNase substrate repertoire to many ER-localized mRNAs, leading to apoptosis. To modulate these effects, we developed ATP-competitive IRE1α Kinase Inhibiting RNase Attenuators—KIRAs—that allosterically inhibit IRE1α’s RNase by breaking oligomers. One optimized KIRA, KIRA6, inhibits IRE1α in vivo and promotes cell survival under ER stress. Intravitreally, KIRA6 preserves photoreceptor functional viability in rat models of ER stress-induced retinal degeneration. Systemically, KIRA6 preserves pancreatic β-cells, increases insulin, and reduces hyperglycemia in Akita diabetic mice. Thus, IRE1α powerfully controls cell fate, but can itself be controlled with small molecules to reduce cell degeneration.
Stromal cells within the tumor microenvironment are essential for tumor progression and metastasis. Surprisingly little is known about the factors that drive the transcriptional reprogramming of stromal cells within tumors. We report that the transcriptional regulator Heat-Shock Factor 1 (HSF1) is frequently activated in cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), where it is a potent enabler of malignancy. HSF1 drives a transcriptional program in CAFs that complements, yet is completely different from, the program it drives in adjacent cancer cells. This CAF program is uniquely structured to support the malignant potential of cancer cells in a non-cell-autonomous way. Two central stromal signaling molecules—TGFβ and stromal-derived factor 1 (SDF1) – play a critical role. In early stage breast and lung cancer, high stromal HSF1 activation is strongly associated with poor patient outcome. Thus, tumors co-opt the ancient survival functions of HSF1 to orchestrate malignancy in both cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous ways, with far-reaching therapeutic implications.
Activated caspases are a hallmark of apoptosis induced by the intrinsic pathway, but they are dispensable for cell death and the apoptotic clearance of cells in vivo. This has led to the suggestion that caspases are activated not just to kill but to prevent dying cells from triggering a host immune response. Here, we show that the caspase cascade suppresses type I interferon (IFN) production by cells undergoing Bak/Bax-mediated apoptosis. Bak and Bax trigger the release of mitochondrial DNA. This is recognized by the cGAS/STING-dependent DNA sensing pathway, which initiates IFN production. Activated caspases attenuate this response. Pharmacological caspase inhibition or genetic deletion of caspase-9, Apaf-1, or caspase-3/7 causes dying cells to secrete IFN-β. In vivo, this precipitates an elevation in IFN-β levels and consequent hematopoietic stem cell dysfunction, which is corrected by loss of Bak and Bax. Thus, the apoptotic caspase cascade functions to render mitochondrial apoptosis immunologically silent.
Wu et al. couple next generation sequencing with structural analysis to illuminate the key processes that enable the natural evolution and selection of broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV-1, providing a potential roadmap for the development of HIV-1 vaccine strategies to accelerate the induction of protective antibodies.
Programmed Cell Death (PCD) plays a fundamental role in animal development and tissue homeostasis. Abnormal regulation of this process is associated with a wide variety of human diseases, including immunological and developmental disorders, neuro-degeneration, and cancer. Here, we provide a brief historical overview of the field and reflect on myriad functions carried out by PCD during development and explore how PCD is regulated. We also focus on the function and regulation of apoptotic proteins, including caspases, the key executioners of apoptosis, highlighting the non-lethal functions of these proteins in diverse developmental processes including cell differentiation and tissue remodeling. Finally, we explore a growing body of work about the connections between apoptosis, stem cells and cancer, focusing on how apoptotic cells release a variety of signals to communicate with their cellular environment, including factors that promote cell division, tissue regeneration, and wound healing.
apoptosis; caspase; Bcl-2; IAPs; Reaper; ubiquitin-proteasome system; development; proliferation; regeneration; stem cells; cancer
Subsets of long-lived, tumor-initiating stem cells often escape cancer therapies. However, sources and mechanisms that generate tumor heterogeneity and drug-resistant cell population are still unfolding. Here, we devise a functional reporter system to lineage trace and/or genetic ablate signaling in TGF-β-activated squamous cell carcinoma stem cells (SCC-SCs). Dissecting TGF-β’s impact on malignant progression, we demonstrate that TGF-β concentrating near tumor-vasculature generates heterogeneity in TGF-β signaling at tumor-stroma interface and bestows slower-cycling properties to neighboring SCC-SCs. While non-responding progenies proliferate faster and accelerate tumor growth, TGF-β-responding progenies invade, aberrantly differentiate, and affect gene expression. Intriguingly, TGF-β-responding SCC-SCs show increased protection against anti-cancer drugs, but slower-cycling alone does not confer survival. Rather, TGF-β transcriptionally activates p21, which stabilizes NRF2, thereby markedly enhancing glutathione metabolism and diminishing effectiveness of anti-cancer therapeutics. Together, these findings establish a surprising non-genetic paradigm for TGF-β signaling in fueling heterogeneity in SCC-SCs, tumor characteristics, and drug resistance.
Chaperones are abundant cellular proteins that promote the folding and function of their substrate proteins (clients). In vivo, chaperones also associate with a large and diverse set of co-factors (co-chaperones) that regulate their specificity and function. However, how these co-chaperones regulate protein folding and whether they have chaperone-independent biological functions is largely unknown. We have combined mass spectrometry and quantitative high-throughput LUMIER assays to systematically characterize the chaperone/co-chaperone/client interaction network in human cells. We uncover hundreds of novel chaperone clients, delineate their participation in specific co-chaperone complexes, and establish a surprisingly distinct network of protein/protein interactions for co-chaperones. As a salient example of the power of such analysis, we establish that NUDC family co-chaperones specifically associate with structurally related but evolutionarily distinct β-propeller folds. We provide a framework for deciphering the proteostasis network, its regulation in development and disease, and expand the use of chaperones as sensors for drug/target engagement.
Hermes is a member of the hAT transposon superfamily which has active representatives, including McClintock's archetypal Ac mobile genetic element, in many eukaryotic species. The crystal structure of the Hermes transposase-DNA complex reveals that Hermes forms an octameric ring organized as a tetramer of dimers. While isolated dimers are active in vitro for all the chemical steps of transposition, only octamers are active in vivo. The octamer can provide not only multiple specific DNA-binding domains to recognize repeated subterminal sequences within the transposon ends, which are important for activity, but also multiple non-specific DNA binding surfaces for target capture. The unusual assembly explains the basis of bipartite DNA recognition at hAT transposon ends, provides a rationale for transposon end asymmetry, and suggests how the avidity provided by multiple sites of interaction could allow a transposase to locate its transposon ends amidst a sea of chromosomal DNA.
Transcription of highly expressed genes has been shown to occur in stochastic bursts. But the origin of such ubiquitous phenomenon has not been understood. Here we present the mechanism in bacteria. We developed a high-throughput in vitro single-molecule assay to follow transcription on individual DNA templates in real time. We showed that positive supercoiling buildup on a DNA segment by transcription slows down transcription elongation and eventually stops transcription initiation. Transcription can be resumed upon gyrase binding to the DNA segment. Furthermore, using single-cell mRNA counting fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), we found the extent of transcriptional bursting depends on the intracellular gyrase concentration. Together, these findings prove that transcriptional bursting of highly expressed genes in bacteria is primarily caused by reversible gyrase dissociation from and rebinding to a DNA segment, changing the supercoiling level of the segment.
During B lymphocyte development, immunoglobulin heavy chain variable (VH), diversity (DH) and joining (JH) segments assemble to generate a diverse antigen receptor repertoire. Here we have marked the distal VH and DH-JH-Eμ regions with Tet-operator binding sites and traced their 3D-trajectories in pro-B cells transduced with a retrovirus encoding Tet-repressor-EGFP. We found that these elements displayed fractional Langevin motion (fLm) due to the viscoelastic hindrance from the surrounding network of proteins and chromatin fibers. Using fractional Langevin dynamics modeling, we found that, with high probability, DHJH elements reach a VH element within minutes. Spatial confinement emerged as the dominant parameter that determined the frequency of such encounters. We propose that the viscoelastic nature of the nuclear environment causes coding elements and regulatory elements to bounce back and forth in a spring-like fashion until specific genomic interactions are established and that spatial confinement of topological domains largely controls first-passage times for genomic interactions.
Although biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) have been discovered for hundreds of bacterial metabolites, our knowledge of their diversity remains limited. Here, we used a novel algorithm to systematically identify BGCs in the extensive extant microbial sequencing data. Network analysis of the predicted BGCs revealed large gene cluster families, the vast majority uncharacterized. We experimentally characterized the most prominent family, consisting of two subfamilies of hundreds of BGCs distributed throughout the Proteobacteria; their products are aryl polyenes, lipids with an aryl head group conjugated to a polyene tail. We identified a distant relationship to a third subfamily of aryl polyene BGCs, and together the three subfamilies represent the largest known family of biosynthetic gene clusters, with more than 1,000 members. Although these clusters are widely divergent in sequence, their small molecule products are remarkably conserved, indicating for the first time the important roles these compounds play in Gram-negative cell biology.
Reprogramming of somatic cells to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) holds enormous promise for regenerative medicine, but the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. We report a systematic dissection of human cellular reprogramming by combining a genome-wide RNAi screen, innovative computational methods, extensive single-hit validation and mechanistic dissection of relevant pathways and networks. We identify novel reprogramming barriers, including genes involved in transcription, chromatin regulation, ubiquitination, dephosphorylation, vesicular transport and cell adhesion. Specific a disintegrin and metalloproteinase (ADAM) proteins are inhibitors of reprogramming, and the disintegrin domain of ADAM29 is necessary and sufficient for this function. Clathrin-mediated endocytosis can be targeted with small molecules and opposes reprogramming by positively regulating TGFβ signaling. Genetic interaction studies of endocytosis or ubiquitination reveal that barrier pathways can act in linear, parallel or feed-forward loop architectures to antagonize reprogramming. Our online resource summarizing these results provides a global view of barriers to human cellular reprogramming.
Pluripotency; induced Pluripotent Stem cells (iPSCs); genome-wide RNAi screen; barriers to reprogramming; ADAMs; endocytosis; RNF40; pathway interaction
Adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) is a microtubule plus-end scaffolding protein important in biology and disease. APC is implicated in RNA localization, although the mechanisms and functional significance remain unclear. We show that APC is an RNA-binding protein, and identify an RNA interactome by HITS-CLIP. Targets were highly enriched for APC-related functions, including microtubule organization, cell motility, cancer and neurologic disease. Among the targets is β2B-tubulin, known to be required in human neuron and axon migration. We show β2B-tubulin is synthesized in axons and localizes preferentially to dynamic microtubules in the growth cone periphery. APC binds the β2B-tubulin 3'UTR; treatments interfering with this interaction reduced β2B-tubulin mRNA axonal localization and expression, depleted dynamic microtubules and the growth cone periphery, and impaired neuron migration. These results identify APC as a platform binding functionally-related protein and RNA networks, and suggest a self-organizing model for the microtubule to localize synthesis of its own subunits.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a heterogeneous disease where efforts to define subtypes behaviorally have met with limited success. Hypothesizing that genetically based subtype identification may prove more productive, we resequenced the ASD-associated gene CHD8 in 3,730 children with developmental delay or ASD. We identified a total of 15 independent mutations; no truncating events were identified in 8,792 controls, including 2,289 unaffected siblings. In addition to a high likelihood of an ASD diagnosis among patients bearing CHD8 mutations, characteristics enriched in this group included macrocephaly, distinct faces, and gastrointestinal complaints. chd8 disruption in zebrafish recapitulates features of the human phenotype, including increased head size as a result of expansion of the forebrain/midbrain and impairment of gastrointestinal motility due to a reduction in post-mitotic enteric neurons. Our findings indicate that CHD8 disruptions define a distinct ASD subtype and reveal unexpected comorbidities between brain development and enteric innervation.
Autism spectrum disorder; autism subtypes; dysmorphology; macrocephaly; gastrointestinal defect; zebrafish modeling; enteric neurons; forebrain/midbrain expansion
Intestinal peristalsis is a dynamic physiologic process influenced by dietary and microbial changes. It is tightly regulated by complex cellular interactions; however, our understanding of these controls is incomplete. A distinct population of macrophages is distributed in the intestinal muscularis externa. We demonstrate that in the steady state muscularis macrophages regulate peristaltic activity of the colon. They change the pattern of smooth muscle contractions by secreting bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2), which activates BMP receptor (BMPR) expressed by enteric neurons. Enteric neurons, in turn, secrete colony stimulatory factor 1 (CSF1), a growth factor required for macrophage development. Finally, stimuli from microbial commensals regulate BMP2 expression by macrophages and CSF1 expression by enteric neurons. Our findings identify a plastic, microbiota-driven, crosstalk between muscularis macrophages and enteric neurons, which controls gastrointestinal motility.
Myelin sheaths provide critical functional and trophic support for axons in white matter tracts of the brain. Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) have extraordinary metabolic requirements during development as they differentiate to produce multiple myelin segments, implying they must first secure adequate access to blood supply. However, mechanisms that coordinate myelination and angiogenesis are unclear. Here, we show that oxygen tension, mediated by OPC-encoded hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) function, is an essential regulator of postnatal myelination. Constitutive HIF1/2α stabilization resulted in OPC maturation arrest through autocrine activation of canonical Wnt7a/7b. Surprisingly, such OPCs also show paracrine activity that induces excessive postnatal white matter angiogenesis in vivo, and directly stimulates endothelial cell proliferation in vitro. Conversely, OPC-specific HIF1/2α loss-of-function leads to insufficient angiogenesis in corpus callosum and catastrophic axon loss. These findings indicate that OPC-intrinsic HIF signaling couples postnatal white matter angiogenesis, axon integrity and the onset of myelination in mammalian forebrain.
oligodendrocyte; myelin; Olig2; angiogenesis; hypoxia-inducible factor; Wnt signaling; CNS development; axonopathy