Hormonal regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism is pivotal for
metabolic homeostasis and energy balance. Two studies in this issue of
Cell (Mihaylova et al.,
2011 and Wang et al., 2011)
introduce a new conserved signaling mechanism controlling catabolic gene
expression: class IIa histone deacetylases (HDACs) regulate Foxo activity in
Drosophila and mice.
The light-sensing organelle of the vertebrate rod photoreceptor, the outer segment (OS), is a modified cilium containing ~1,000 stacked disc membranes that are densely packed with visual pigment rhodopsin. The mammalian OS is renewed every ten days; new discs are assembled at the base of the OS by a poorly understood mechanism. Our results suggest that discs are formed and matured in a process that involves specific phospholipid-directed vesicular membrane targeting. Rhodopsin-laden vesicles in the OS axonemal cytoplasm fuse with nascent discs that are highly specialized with abundant phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PI3P). This membrane coupling is regulated by the FYVE domain-containing protein, SARA, through its direct interaction with PI3P, rhodopsin, and SNARE protein syntaxin 3. Our model, in contrast to the previously proposed evagination model, suggests that the vesicular delivery of rhodopsin in the OS concentrates rhodopsin into discs, and this process directly participates in disc biogenesis.
Developmental gene expression results from the orchestrated interplay between genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. Here we describe upSET, a transcriptional regulator encoding a SET domain-containing protein recruited to active and inducible genes in Drosophila. However, unlike other Drosophila SET proteins associated with gene transcription, UpSET is part of an Rpd3/Sin3-containing complex that restricts chromatin accessibility and histone acetylation to promoter regions. In the absence of UpSET, active chromatin marks and chromatin accessibility increase and spread to genic and flanking regions due to destabilization of the histone deacetylase complex. Consistent with this, transcriptional noise increases, as manifest by activation of repetitive elements and off-target genes. Interestingly, upSET mutant flies are female sterile due to up-regulation of key components of Notch signaling during oogenesis. Thus UpSET defines a class of metazoan transcriptional regulators required to fine tune transcription by preventing the spread of active chromatin.
UpSET; Mixed Lineage Leukemia; histone acetylation; chromatin accessibility; Drosophila; Rpd3; Sin3
PGC-1α is a transcriptional coactivator induced by exercise that gives muscle many of the best known adaptations to endurance-type exercise, but has no effects on muscle strength or hypertrophy. We have identified a novel form of PGC-1α (PGC-1α4) that results from alternative promoter usage and splicing of the primary transcript. PGC-1α4 is highly expressed in exercised muscle but does not regulate most known PGC-1α targets such as the mitochondrial OXPHOS genes. Rather, it specifically induces IGF1 and represses myostatin, and expression of PGC-1α4 in vitro and in vivo induces robust skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Importantly, mice with skeletal muscle-specific transgenic expression of PGC-1α4 show increased muscle mass and strength, and dramatic resistance to the muscle wasting of cancer cachexia. Expression of PGC-1α4 is preferentially induced in mouse and human muscle during resistance exercise. These studies identify a novel PGC-1α protein that regulates and coordinates factors involved in skeletal muscle hypertrophy.
The allosteric mechanism of Hsp70 molecular chaperones enables ATP binding to the N-terminal nucleotide-binding domain (NBD) to alter substrate affinity to the C-terminal substrate-binding domain (SBD), and substrate binding to enhance ATP hydrolysis. Cycling between ATP-bound and ADP-/substrate-bound states requires Hsp70s to visit a state with high ATPase activity and fast on/off kinetics of substrate binding. We have trapped this ‘allosterically active’ state for the E. coli Hsp70, DnaK, and identified how interactions between the NBD, the β-subdomain of the SBD, the SBD α-helical lid, and the conserved hydrophobic interdomain linker enable allosteric signal transmission between ligand-binding sites. Allostery in Hsp70s results from an energetic tug-of-war between domain conformations and formation of two orthogonal interfaces (between the NBD and SBD, and between the helical lid and the SBD). The resulting energetic tension underlies Hsp70 functional properties and enables them to be modulated by ligands and co-chaperones and ‘tuned’ through evolution.
All cellular proteins are subject to quality control “decisions”, which helps prevent or delay a myriad of diseases. Quality control within the secretory pathway creates a special challenge, as aberrant polypeptides are recognized and returned to the cytoplasm for proteasomal degradation. This process is termed ER associated degradation (ERAD).
Hair cells are mechanosensors for the perception of sound, acceleration and fluid motion. Mechanotransduction channels in hair cells are gated by tip links, which connect the stereocilia of a hair cell in the direction of their mechanical sensitivity. The molecular constituents of the mechanotransduction channels of hair cells are not known. Here we show that mechanotransduction is impaired in mice lacking the tetraspan TMHS. TMHS binds to the tip-link component PCDH15 and regulates tip-link assembly, a process that is disrupted by deafness-causing Tmhs mutations. TMHS also regulates transducer channel conductance and is required for fast channel adaptation. TMHS therefore resembles other ion channel regulatory subunits such as the TARPs of AMPA receptors that facilitate channel transport and regulate the properties of pore-forming channel subunits. We conclude that TMHS is an integral component of the hair cells mechanotransduction machinery that functionally couples PCDH15 to the transduction channel.
Reprogramming of cellular metabolism is a key event during tumorigenesis. Despite being known for decades (Warburg effect), the molecular mechanisms regulating this switch remained unexplored. Here, we identify SIRT6 as a novel tumor suppressor that regulates aerobic glycolysis in cancer cells. Importantly, loss of SIRT6 leads to tumor formation without activation of known oncogenes, while transformed SIRT6-deficient cells display increased glycolysis and tumor growth, suggesting that SIRT6 plays a role in both establishment and maintenance of cancer. Using a conditional SIRT6 allele, we show that SIRT6 deletion in vivo increases the number, size and aggressiveness of tumors. SIRT6 also functions as a novel regulator of ribosome metabolism by co-repressing MYC transcriptional activity. Lastly, SIRT6 is selectively downregulated in several human cancers, and expression levels of SIRT6 predict prognosis and tumor-free survival rates, highlighting SIRT6 as a critical modulator of cancer metabolism. Our studies reveal SIRT6 to be a potent tumor suppressor acting to suppress cancer metabolism.
Genome duality in ciliated protozoa offers a unique system to showcase their epigenome as a model of inheritance. In Oxytricha, the somatic genome is responsible for vegetative growth, while the germline contributes DNA to the next sexual generation. Somatic nuclear development removes all transposons and other so-called “junk DNA”, which comprise ~95% of the germline. We demonstrate that Piwi-interacting small RNAs (piRNAs) from the maternal nucleus can specify genomic regions for retention in this process. Oxytricha piRNAs map primarily to the somatic genome, representing the ~5% of the germline that is retained. Furthermore, injection of synthetic piRNAs corresponding to normally-deleted regions leads to their retention in later generations. Our findings highlight small RNAs (sRNAs) as powerful transgenerational carriers of epigenetic information for genome programming.
Ten-Eleven Translocation (Tet) family of dioxygenases offers a new mechanism for dynamic regulation of DNA methylation and has been implicated in cell lineage differentiation and oncogenesis. Yet their functional roles and mechanisms of action in gene regulation and embryonic development are largely unknown. Here, we report that Xenopus Tet3 plays an essential role in early eye and neural development by directly regulating a set of key developmental genes. Tet3 is an active 5mC hydroxylase regulating the 5mC/5hmC status at target gene promoters. Biochemical and structural studies further reveal a novel DNA binding mode of the Tet3 CXXC domain that is critical for specific Tet3 targeting. Finally, we show that the enzymatic activity and CXXC domain are crucial for Tet3’s biological function. Together, these findings define Tet3 as a novel transcription factor and reveal a molecular mechanism by which the 5mC hydroxylase and DNA binding activities of Tet3 cooperate to control target gene expression and embryonic development.
The DNA damage response (DDR) protein 53BP1 protects DNA ends from excessive resection in G1, and thereby favors repair by non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) as opposed to homologous recombination (HR). During S phase, BRCA1 antagonizes 53BP1 to promote HR. The pro-NHEJ and anti-recombinase functions of 53BP1 are mediated in part by RIF1, the only known factor that requires 53BP1 phosphorylation for its recruitment to double strand breaks (DSBs). Here we show that a 53BP1 phospho-mutant 53BP18A, comprising alanine substitutions of the 8 most N-terminal S/TQ phosphorylation sites, mimics 53BP1 deficiency by restoring genome stability in BRCA1 deficient cells yet behaves like wild-type 53BP1 with respect to immunoglobulin class switch recombination (CSR). 53BP18A recruits RIF1 but fails to recruit the DDR protein PTIP to DSBs, and disruption of PTIP phenocopies 53BP18A. We conclude that 53BP1 promotes productive CSR and suppresses mutagenic DNA repair through distinct phospho-dependent interactions with RIF1 and PTIP.
Molecular and cellular networks implicated in aging depend on a multitude of proteins that collectively mount adaptive and contingent metabolic responses to environmental challenges. Here we discuss the intimate links between metabolic regulation and longevity, and outline novel approaches for analyzing and manipulating such links to promote human healthspan.
Age-related decline in mammalian circadian rhythm has been recognized for decades, but the underlying molecular mechanisms have remained elusive. In this issue of Cell, Chang and Guarente use brain-specific SIRT1 knockout mice and transgenic mice overexpressing SIRT1 to develop an enticing model for how SIRT1 helps maintain the robustness of the aging circadian clock.
The mammalian brain is composed of thousands of interacting neural cell types. Systematic approaches to establish the molecular identity of functional populations of neurons would advance our understanding of neural mechanisms controlling behavior. Here, we show that ribosomal protein S6, a structural component of the ribosome, becomes phosphorylated in neurons activated by a wide range of stimuli. We show that these phosphorylated ribosomes can be captured from mouse brain homogenates, thereby enriching directly for the mRNAs expressed in discrete subpopulations of activated cells. We use this approach to identify neurons in the hypothalamus regulated by changes in salt balance or food availability. We show that galanin neurons are activated by fasting and that prodynorphin neurons restrain food intake during scheduled feeding. These studies identify elements of the neural circuit that controls food intake and illustrate how the activity-dependent capture of cell-type-specific transcripts can elucidate the functional organization of a complex tissue.
Eukaryotic translation initiation begins with assembly of a 43S preinitiation complex. First, Met-tRNAiMet, eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF2) and GTP form a ternary complex (TC). The TC, eIF3, eIF1 and eIF1A cooperatively bind to the 40S subunit yielding the 43S preinitiation complex, which is ready to attach to mRNA and start scanning to the initiation codon. Scanning on structured mRNAs additionally requires DHX29, a DExH-box protein that also binds directly to the 40S subunit. Here, we present a cryo-electron microscopy structure of the mammalian DHX29-bound 43S complex at 11.6Å resolution. It reveals that eIF2 interacts with the 40S subunit via its α-subunit and supports Met-tRNAiMet in a novel P/I orientation (eP/I). The structural core of eIF3 resides on the back of the 40S subunit establishing two principal points of contact, whereas DHX29 binds around helix 16. The structure provides insights into eukaryote-specific aspects of translation, including the mechanism of action of DHX29.
eukaryotic translation initiation; ribosome; eIF2; eIF3; DHX29; cryo-EM
A regulatory network comprised of “core” (Oct4, Sox2, Nanog) and other transcription factors maintains embryonic stem (ES) cells in a self-renewing and pluripotent state. To develop an expanded framework with which to understand how these properties of ES cells are controlled, we have employed a modification of ChIP-Chip approaches, termed bioChIP-Chip, to identify target promoters of nine factors, including somatic cell reprogramming factors (Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, c-Myc) and others (Nanog, Dax1, Rex1, Zpf281, and Nac1), on a global scale in mouse ES (mES) cells. Targets fall into two classes, correlating with the extent of factor occupancy. Targets bound by one or few factors tend to be inactive, or repressed, in ES cells. Remarkably, numerous genes bound by multiple (>4) factors, encoding several proteins within a protein interaction network associated with pluripotency, are largely active and then repressed on differentiation. In addition, we propose a transcriptional hierarchy for reprogramming factors in which Klf4 lies upstream of feed-forward circuits involving Oct4 and Sox2, and also broadly distinguish targets of c-Myc versus other factors. Our data provide a resource for further exploration of the complex network maintaining pluripotency in ES cells.
The origins and developmental mechanisms of coronary arteries are incompletely understood. We showed here by fate mapping, clonal analysis and immunohistochemistry that endocardial cells generate the endothelium of coronary arteries. Dye tracking, live imaging, and tissue transplantation also revealed that ventricular endocardial cells are not terminally differentiated; instead, they are angiogenic and form coronary endothelial networks. Myocardial Vegf-a or endocardial Vegfr-2 deletion inhibited coronary angiogenesis and arterial formation by ventricular endocardial cells. In contrast, lineage and knockout studies showed that endocardial cells make a small contribution to the coronary veins, the formation of which is independent of myocardial-to-endocardial Vegf signaling. Thus, contrary to the current view of a common source for the coronary vessels, our findings indicate that the coronary arteries and veins have distinct origins and are formed by different mechanisms. This information may help develop better cell therapies for coronary artery disease.
The ectopic expression of transcription factors can reprogram cell fate, yet it is unknown how the initial binding of factors to the genome relates functionally to the binding seen in the minority of cells that become reprogrammed. We report a map of Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc (O, S, K, and M) on the human genome during the first 48 hours of reprogramming fibroblasts to pluripotency. Three striking aspects of the initial chromatin binding events include: An unexpected role for c-Myc in facilitating OSK chromatin engagement, the primacy of O, S, and K as pioneer factors at enhancers of genes that promote reprogramming, and megabase-scale chromatin domains spanned by H3K9me3, including many genes required for pluripotency, that prevent initial OSKM binding and impede the efficiency of reprogramming. We find diverse aspects of initial factor binding that must be overcome in the minority of cells that become reprogrammed.
Pluripotency; pioneer factors; reprogramming; chromatin; c-Myc; Oct4; Sox2; Klf4; H3K9me3
Signaling pathways are intimately involved in cellular differentiation, allowing cells to respond to their environment by regulating gene expression. While enhancers are recognized as key elements that regulate selective gene expression, the interplay between signaling pathways and actively used enhancer elements is not clear. Here, we use CD4+ T cells as a model of differentiation, mapping the acquisition of cell-type-specific enhancer elements in T-helper 1 (Th1) and Th2 cells. Our data establish that STAT proteins have a major impact on the acquisition of lineage-specific enhancers and the suppression of enhancers associated with alternative cell fates. Transcriptome analysis further supports a functional role for enhancers regulated by STATs. Importantly, expression of lineage-defining master regulators in STAT-deficient cells fails to fully recover the chromatin signature of STAT-dependent enhancers. Thus, these findings point to a critical role of STATs as environmental sensors in dynamically molding the specialized enhancer architecture of differentiating cells.
Internal nutrient sensors play important roles in feeding behavior, yet their molecular structure and mechanism of action are poorly understood. Using Ca2+ imaging and behavioral assays, we show that the Gustatory Receptor 43a functions as a narrowly tuned fructose receptor in taste neurons. Remarkably, GR43a also functions as a fructose receptor in the brain. Interestingly, hemolymph fructose levels are tightly linked to feeding status: after nutritious carbohydrate consumption, fructose levels rise several fold and reach a concentration sufficient to activate GR43a in the brain. By using different feeding paradigms and artificial activation of Gr43a-expressing brain neurons, we show that GR43a is both necessary and sufficient to sense hemolymph fructose and promote feeding in hungry flies, but suppress feeding in satiated flies. Thus, our studies indicate that the Gr43a-expressing brain neurons function as a nutrient sensor for hemolymph fructose and assign opposing valence to feeding experiences in a satiation-dependent manner.
The inactive X chromosome’s (Xi) physical territory is microscopically devoid of transcriptional hallmarks and enriched in silencing-associated modifications. How these microscopic signatures relate to specific Xi sequence is unknown. Therefore, we profiled Xi gene expression and chromatin states at high resolution via allele-specific sequencing in mouse trophoblast stem cells. Most notably, X-inactivated transcription start sites harbored distinct epigenetic signatures relative to surrounding Xi DNA. These sites displayed H3-lysine27-trimethylation enrichment and DNaseI hypersensitivity, similar to autosomal Polycomb targets, yet excluded Pol II and other transcriptional hallmarks, similar to non-transcribed genes. CTCF bound X-inactivated and escaping genes, irrespective of measured chromatin boundaries. Escape from X-inactivation occurred within, and X-inactivation was maintained exterior to, the area encompassed by Xist in cells subject to imprinted and random X-inactivation. The data support a model whereby inactivation of specific regulatory elements, rather than a simple chromosome-wide separation from transcription machinery, governs gene silencing over the Xi.
Defects in primary cilia lead to devastating disease due to their roles in sensation and developmental signaling, but much is unknown about ciliary structure and mechanisms of their formation and maintenance. We used cryo-electron tomography to obtain three-dimensional maps of the connecting cilium and adjacent cellular structures of a modified primary cilium, the rod outer segment, from wildtype and genetically defective mice. The results reveal the molecular architecture of the cilium and provide insights into protein functions. They suggest that the ciliary rootlet is involved in cellular transport and stabilizes the axoneme. A defect in the BBSome membrane coat caused vesicle targeting near the base of the cilium. Loss of the proteins encoded by the Cngb1 gene disrupted links between the disk and plasma membranes. The structures of the outer segment membranes support a model for disk morphogenesis in which basal disks are enveloped by the plasma membrane.
Phage G1 gp67 is a 23 kDa protein that binds to the Staphylococcus aureus (Sau) RNA polymerase (RNAP) σA subunit and blocks cell growth by inhibiting transcription. We show that gp67 has little to no effect on transcription from most promoters but is a potent inhibitor of ribosomal RNA transcription. A 2.0-Å-resolution crystal structure of the complex between gp67 and Sau σA domain 4 (σA4) explains how gp67 joins the RNAP promoter complex through σA4 without significantly affecting σA4 function. Our results indicate that gp67 forms a complex with RNAP at most, if not all, σA-dependent promoters, but selectively inhibits promoters that depend on an interaction between upstream DNA and the RNAP α-subunit C-terminal domain (αCTD). Thus, we reveal a promoter-specific transcription inhibition mechanism by which gp67 interacts with the RNAP promoter complex through one subunit (σA), and selectively affects the function of another subunit (αCTD) depending on promoter usage.