Mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake is crucial for the regulation of the rate of oxidative phosphorylation1, the modulation of spatiotemporal cytosolic Ca2+ signals2,3,4 and apoptosis5. Although the phenomenon of mitochondrial Ca2+ sequestration, its characteristics and physiological consequences have been convincingly reported6,7, the actual protein(s) involved in this process are unknown. Here, we show that the uncoupling proteins 2 and 3 (UCP2 and UCP3) are essential for mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake. Using overexpression, knockdown (small interfering RNA) and mutagenesis experiments, we demonstrate that UCP2 and UCP3 are elementary for mitochondrial Ca2+ sequestration in response to cell stimulation under physiological conditions — observations supported by isolated liver mitochondria of Ucp2−/− mice lacking ruthenium red-sensitive Ca2+ uptake. Our results reveal a novel molecular function for UCP2 and UCP3, and may provide the molecular mechanism for their reported effects8-10. Moreover, the identification of proteins fundamental for mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake expands our knowledge of the physiological role for mitochondrial Ca2+ sequestration.
Wnt proteins are lipid modified glycoproteins that play a central role in development, adult tissue homeostasis and disease. Secretion of Wnt proteins is mediated by the Wnt-binding protein Wntless (Wls), which transports Wnt from the Golgi network to the cell surface for release. It has recently been shown that recycling of Wls through a retromer-dependent endosome-to-Golgi trafficking pathway is required for efficient Wnt secretion, but the mechanism of this retrograde transport pathway is poorly understood. Here, we report that Wls recycling is mediated through a novel retromer pathway that is independent of the retromer sorting nexins SNX1-SNX2 and SNX5-SNX6. We found that the unrelated sorting nexin, SNX3, has an evolutionarily conserved function in Wls recycling and Wnt secretion and show that SNX3 interacts directly with the cargo-selective sub-complex of the retromer to sort Wls into a morphologically distinct retrieval pathway. These results demonstrate that SNX3 is part of an alternative retromer pathway that functionally separates the retrograde transport of Wls from other retromer cargo.
The PDZ domain-containing sorting nexin 27 (SNX27) promotes recycling of internalized transmembrane proteins from endosomes to the plasma membrane by linking PDZ-dependent cargo recognition to retromer-mediated transport. Here, we employed quantitative proteomics of the SNX27 interactome alongside quantification of the surface proteome of SNX27 and retromer-suppressed cells to dissect the assembly of the SNX27 complex and provide an unbiased global view of SNX27-mediated sorting. Over 100 cell surface proteins, many of which interact with SNX27, including the glucose transporter GLUT1, the Menkes disease copper transporter ATP7A, various zinc and amino acid transporters, and numerous signalling receptors require SNX27-retromer to prevent lysosomal degradation and maintain surface levels. Furthermore, we establish that direct interaction of the SNX27 PDZ domain with the retromer subunit VPS26 is necessary and sufficient to prevent lysosomal entry of SNX27 cargo. Our data identify the SNX27-retromer as a major endosomal recycling hub required to maintain cellular nutrient homeostasis.
Pluripotency of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) is defined by their ability to differentiate into three germ layers and derivative cell types1-3 and is established by an interactive network of proteins including OCT4 (also known as POU5F1; ref. 4), NANOG (refs 5,6), SOX2 (ref. 7) and their binding partners. The forkhead box O (FoxO) transcription factors are evolutionarily conserved regulators of longevity and stress response whose function is inhibited by AKT protein kinase. FoxO proteins are required for the maintenance of somatic and cancer stem cells8-13; however, their function in ESCs is unknown. We show that FOXO1 is essential for the maintenance of human ESC pluripotency, and that an orthologue of FOXO1 (Foxo1) exerts a similar function in mouse ESCs. This function is probably mediated through direct control by FOXO1 of OCT4 and SOX2 gene expression through occupation and activation of their respective promoters. Finally, AKT is not the predominant regulator of FOXO1 in human ESCs. Together these results indicate that FOXO1 is a component of the circuitry of human ESC pluripotency. These findings have critical implications for stem cell biology, development, longevity and reprogramming, with potentially important ramifications for therapy.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signalling induces embryonic vascular development and angiogenesis in adult tissues. Direct phosphorylation of the actin-binding protein profilin by VEGF receptors is now shown to increase its affinity for actin, and to be essential for adult but not embryonic arteriogenesis.
Mitochondrial calcium has been postulated to regulate a wide range of processes from bioenergetics to cell death. Here, we characterize a mouse model that lacks expression of the recently discovered mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU). Mitochondria derived from MCU-/- mice have no apparent capacity to rapidly uptake calcium. While basal metabolism appears unaffected, the skeletal muscle of MCU-/- mice exhibited alterations in the phosphorylation and activity of pyruvate dehydrogenase. In addition, MCU-/- mice exhibited marked impairment in their ability to perform strenuous work. We further show that mitochondria from MCU-/- mice lacked evidence for calcium-induced permeability transition pore (PTP) opening. The lack of PTP opening does not appear to protect MCU-/- cells and tissues from cell death, although MCU-/- hearts fail to respond to the PTP inhibitor cyclosporin A (CsA). Taken together, these results clarify how acute alterations in mitochondrial matrix calcium can regulate mammalian physiology.
The tumor suppressor PTEN is frequently lost in human cancers. In addition to gene mutations and deletions, recent studies have revealed the importance of post-translational modifications, such as ubiquitination, in the regulation of PTEN stability, activity and localization. However, the deubiquitinase that regulates PTEN poly-ubiquitination and protein stability remains unknown. Here we screened a total of 30 deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) and identified five DUBs that physically associate with PTEN. One of them, USP13, stabilizes PTEN protein via direct binding and deubiquitination of PTEN. Loss of USP13 in breast cancer cells promotes AKT phosphorylation, cell proliferation, anchorage-independent growth, glycolysis and tumor growth through downregulation of PTEN. Conversely, overexpression of USP13 suppresses tumorigenesis and glycolysis in PTEN-positive but not PTEN-null breast cancer cells. Importantly, USP13 protein is downregulated in human breast tumors and correlates with PTEN protein levels. These findings identify USP13 as a tumor-suppressing protein that functions through deubiquitination and stabilization of PTEN.
The initiation of cellular programs is orchestrated by key transcription factors and chromatin regulators that activate or inhibit target gene expression. To generate a compendium of chromatin factors that establish the epigenetic code during developmental hematopoiesis, a large-scale reverse genetic screen was conducted targeting orthologs of 425 human chromatin factors in zebrafish. A set of chromatin regulators was identified that target different stages of primitive and definitive blood formation, including factors not previously implicated in hematopoiesis. We identified 15 factors that regulate development of primitive erythroid progenitors and 29 factors that regulate development of definitive stem and progenitor cells. These chromatin factors are associated with SWI/SNF and ISWI chromatin remodeling, SET1 methyltransferase, CBP/P300/HBO1/NuA4 acetyltransferase, HDAC/NuRD deacetylase, and Polycomb repressive complexes. Our work provides a comprehensive view of how specific chromatin factors and their associated complexes play a major role in the establishment of hematopoietic cells in vivo.
The telomeres protect chromosome ends from fusion and degradation1. In the absence of a specific telomere elongation mechanism, their DNA progressively shortens with every round of replication leading to replicative senescence2. Here, we show that telomerase-deficient cells bearing a single very short telomere senesce earlier, demonstrating that length of the shortest telomere is a major determinant of the onset of senescence. We further show that Mec1p/ATR recognises specifically the single very short telomere causing the accelerated senescence. Strikingly, before entry into senescence, cells divide for some generations despite a complete erosion of their shortened telomeres. This pre-senescence growth requires RAD52 and MMS1 and there is no evidence for major inter-telomeric recombination. We propose that, in the absence of telomerase, a very short telomere is first maintained in a pre-signalling state by a RAD52/MMS1 dependent pathway and then switches to a signalling state leading to senescence through a Mec1p-dependent checkpoint.
Oligodendrocytes—the myelin-forming cells of the central nervous system—can be regenerated during adulthood. In adults, new oligodendrocytes originate from oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs), but also from neural stem cells (NSCs). Although several factors supporting oligodendrocyte production have been characterized, the mechanisms underlying the generation of adult oligodendrocytes are largely unknown. Here we show that genetic inactivation of SIRT1, a protein deacetylase implicated in energy metabolism, increases the production of new OPCs in the adult mouse brain, in part by acting in NSCs. New OPCs produced following SIRT1 inactivation differentiate normally, generating fully myelinating oligodendrocytes. Remarkably, SIRT1 inactivation ameliorates remyelination and delays paralysis in mouse models of demyelinating injuries. SIRT1 inactivation leads to the upregulation of genes involved in cell metabolism and growth factor signalling, in particular PDGF receptor α (PDGFRα). Oligodendrocyte expansion following SIRT1 inactivation is mediated at least in part by AKT and p38 MAPK—signalling molecules downstream of PDGFRα. The identification of drug-targetable enzymes that regulate oligodendrocyte regeneration in adults could facilitate the development of therapies for demyelinating injuries and diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.
Primary cilia are displayed during the G0/G1 phase of many cell types. Cilia are reabsorbed as cells prepare to re-enter the cell cycle, but the causal and molecular link between these two cellular events remains unclear. We show that phospho(T94)Tctex-1 is recruited to ciliary transition zones prior to S-phase entry and plays a pivotal role in both ciliary disassembly and cell cycle progression. Tctex-1’s role in S-phase entry, however, is dispensable in non-ciliated cells. Exogenously added phosphomimic Tctex-1 T94E accelerates cilium disassembly and S-phase entry. These results support a model in which the cilia act as a brake to prevent cell cycle progression. Mechanistic studies show the involvement of actin dynamics in Tctex-1 regulated cilium resorption. Phospho(T94)Tctex-1 is also selectively enriched at the ciliary transition zones of cortical neural progenitors, and plays a key role in controlling G1 length, cell cycle entry, and fate determination of these cells during corticogenesis.
Hippo; YAP; mTOR; PTEN; miR-29
Bacterial cytokinesis is commonly initiated by the Z-ring, a cytoskeletal structure assembling at the site of division. Its primary component is FtsZ, a tubulin superfamily GTPase, which is recruited to the membrane by the actin-related protein FtsA. Both proteins are required for the formation of the Z-ring, but if and how they influence each other’s assembly dynamics is not known. Here, we reconstituted FtsA-dependent recruitment of FtsZ polymers to supported membranes, where both proteins self-organize into complex patterns, such as fast-moving filament bundles and chirally rotating rings. Using fluorescence microscopy and biochemical perturbations, we found that these large-scale rearrangements of FtsZ emerge from its polymerization dynamics and a dual, antagonistic role of FtsA: recruitment of FtsZ filaments to the membrane and a negative regulation on FtsZ organization. Our findings provide a model for the initial steps of bacterial cell division and illustrate how dynamic polymers can self-organize into large-scale structures.
Cilia are present across most eukaryotic phyla and have diverse sensory and motility roles in animal physiology, cell signalling and development. Their biogenesis and maintenance depend on vesicular and intraciliary (intraflagellar) trafficking pathways that share conserved structural and functional modules. The functional units of the interconnected pathways, which include proteins involved in membrane coating as well as small GTPases and their accessory factors, were first experimentally associated with canonical vesicular trafficking. These components are, however, ancient, having been co-opted by the ancestral eukaryote to establish the ciliary organelle, and their study can inform us about ciliary biology in higher organisms.
Partitioning tissues into compartments that do not intermix is essential for the correct morphogenesis of animal embryos and organs 1-3. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain compartmental cell sorting, mainly differential adhesion 1-9 but also cytoskeleton 10,11 or cell proliferation 10,12 regulation. Nevertheless, the molecular and cellular mechanisms that keep cells apart at boundaries remain unclear. Here we demonstrate in early Drosophila embryos that actomyosin-based barriers stop cells from invading neighbouring compartments. Our analysis shows that cells can transiently invade neighbouring compartments, especially when they divide, but are then pushed back into their compartment of origin. Actomyosin cytoskeletal components are enriched at compartmental boundaries, forming cable-like structures when the epidermis is mitotically active. When MyoII function is inhibited, including locally at the cable by Chromophore-Assisted Laser Inactivation (CALI) 13,14 in live embryos, dividing cells are no longer pushed back, leading to compartmental cell mixing. We propose that local regulation of actomyosin contractibility, rather than differential adhesion, is the primary mechanism sorting cells at compartmental boundaries.
Cell sorting; lineage restriction; parasegment; boundary; compartment; non-muscle Myosin II; actin cytoskeleton; Chromophore-Assisted Laser Inactivation (CALI)
The Spindle Assembly Checkpoint (SAC) is essential in mammalian mitosis to ensure the equal segregation of sister chromatids1, 2. The SAC generates a Mitotic Checkpoint Complex (MCC) to prevent the Anaphase Promoting Complex/Cyclosome (APC/C) from targeting key mitotic regulators for destruction until all the chromosomes have attached to the mitotic apparatus1, 3, 4. A single unattached kinetochore can delay anaphase for several hours5, but how it is able to block the APC/C throughout the cell is not understood. Current concepts of the SAC posit that it exhibits either an ‘all or nothing’ response6 or there is a minimum threshold sufficient to block the APC/C7. Here, we have used gene targeting to measure SAC activity and find that it does not have an ‘all or nothing’ response. Instead, the strength of the SAC depends on the amount of Mad2 recruited to kinetochores and on the amount of MCC formed. Furthermore, we show that different drugs activate the SAC to different extents, which may be relevant to their efficacy in chemotherapy.
The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) functions as a critical regulator of cellular growth and metabolism by forming multi-component, yet functionally distinct complexes mTORC1 and mTORC2. Although mTORC2 has been implicated in mTORC1 activation, little is known about how mTORC2 is regulated. Here we report that phosphorylation of Sin1 at T86 and T398 suppresses mTORC2 kinase activity by dissociating Sin1 from mTORC2. Importantly, Sin1 phosphorylation, triggered by S6K or Akt, in a cellular context-dependent manner, inhibits not only insulin/IGF-1-mediated, but also PDGF or EGF-induced Akt phosphorylation by mTORC2, demonstrating a negative regulation of mTORC2 independent of IRS-1 and Grb10. Lastly, a cancer patient-derived Sin1-R81T mutation impairs Sin1 phosphorylation, leading to hyper-mTORC2 activation via bypassing this negative regulation. Together, our work reveals a Sin1 phosphorylation-dependent mTORC2 regulation, providing a potential molecular mechanism by which mutations in the mTORC1/S6K/Sin1 signaling axis might cause aberrant hyper-activation of mTORC2/Akt that facilitates tumorigenesis.
It is generally believed that cytoskeletal activities drive random cell migration while signal transduction events initiated by receptors regulate the cytoskeleton to guide cells. However, we find that the cytoskeletal network, involving Scar/Wave, Arp 2/3, and actin binding proteins, is only capable of generating rapid oscillations and undulations of the cell boundary. The signal transduction network, comprising multiple pathways that include Ras GTPases, PI3K, and Rac GTPases, is required to generate the sustained protrusions of migrating cells. The signal transduction network is excitable, displaying wave propagation, refractoriness, and maximal response to suprathreshold stimuli, even in the absence of the cytoskeleton. We suggest that cell motility results from coupling of “pacemaker” signal transduction and “idling motor” cytoskeletal networks, and various guidance cues that modulate the threshold for triggering signal transduction events are integrated to control the mode and direction of migration.
Hedgehog (Hh) signalling is important in development, stem cell biology and disease. In a variety of tissues, Hh acts as a morphogen to regulate growth and cell fate specification. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain morphogen movement, one of which is transport via filopodia-like protrusions called cytonemes. Here, we analyse the mechanism underlying Hh movement in the wing disc and the abdominal epidermis of Drosophila. We show that, in both epithelia, cells generate cytonemes in regions of Hh signalling. These protrusions are actin-based and span several cell diameters. Various Hh signalling components localise to cytonemes, as well as to punctate structures that move along cytonemes and are probably exovesicles. Using in vivo imaging, we show that cytonemes are dynamic structures and that Hh gradient establishment correlates with cytoneme formation in space and time. Indeed, mutant conditions that affect cytoneme formation reduce both cytoneme length and Hh gradient length. Our results suggest that cytoneme-mediated Hh transport is the mechanistic basis for Hh gradient formation.
The pharyngeal arch arteries (PAAs) are transient embryonic blood vessels that make indispensable contributions to the carotid arteries and great vessels of the heart, including the aorta and pulmonary artery1, 2. During embryogenesis, the PAAs appear in a craniocaudal sequence to connect pre-existing segments of the primitive circulation after de novo vasculogenic assembly from angioblast precursors3, 4. Despite the unique spatiotemporal characteristics of PAA development, the embryonic origins of PAA angioblasts and the genetic factors regulating their emergence remain unknown. Here, we identify the embryonic source of PAA endothelium as nkx2.5+ progenitors in lateral plate mesoderm long considered to adopt cell fates within the heart exclusively5, 6. Further, we report that PAA endothelial differentiation relies on Nkx2.5, a canonical cardiac transcription factor not previously implicated in blood vessel formation. Together, these studies reveal the heart field origin of PAA endothelium and attribute a novel vasculogenic function to the cardiac transcription factor nkx2.5 during great vessel precursor development.
Collective cell movements contribute to development and metastasis. The small GTPase Rac is a key regulator of actin dynamics and cell migration but the mechanisms that restrict Rac activation and localization in a group of collectively migrating cells are unknown. Here, we demonstrate that the small GTPases Rab5 and Rab11 regulate Rac activity and polarization during collective cell migration. We use photoactivatable forms of Rac to demonstrate that Rab11 acts on the entire group to ensure that Rac activity is properly restricted to the leading cell through regulation of cell–cell communication. In addition, we show that Rab11 binds to the actin cytoskeleton regulator Moesin and regulates its activatio in vivo during migration. Accordingly, reducing the level of Moesin activity also affects cell–cell communication, whereas expressing active Moesin rescues loss of Rab11 function. Our model suggests that Rab11 controls the sensing of the relative levels of Rac activity in a group of cells, leading to the organization of individual cells in a coherent multicellular motile structure.
In patients non-proliferative disseminated tumour cells (DTCs) can persist in the bone marrow (BM) while other organs (i.e. lung) present growing metastasis. This suggested that the BM might be a metastasis “restrictive soil” by encoding dormancy-inducing cues in DTCs. Here we show in a HNSCC model that strong and specific TGFβ2 signalling in the BM activates p38α/β, inducing a [ERK/p38]low signalling ratio. This results in induction of DEC2/SHARP1 and p27, downregulation of CDK4 and dormancy of malignant DTCs. TGFβ2-induced dormancy required TGFβ-receptor-I, TGFβ-receptor-III and SMAD1/5 activation to induce p27. In lungs, a metastasis “permissive soil” with low TGFβ2 levels, DTC dormancy was short lived and followed by metastatic growth. Importantly, systemic inhibition of TGFβ-receptor-I or p38α/β activities awakened dormant DTCs fueling multi-organ metastasis. Our work reveals a “seed and soil” mechanism where TGFβ2 and TGFβRIII signalling through p38α/β regulates DTC dormancy and defines restrictive (BM) and -permissive (lung) microenvironments for HNSCC metastasis.
DTC; quiescence; target organ; seed and soil; metastasis
RNA interference has become an indispensable tool for loss-of-function studies across eukaryotes. By enabling stable and reversible gene silencing, shRNAs provide a means to study long-term phenotypes, perform pool-based forward genetic screens and examine the consequences of temporary target inhibition in vivo. However, efficient implementation in vertebrate systems has been hindered by technical difficulties affecting potency and specificity. Focusing on these issues, we analyse current strategies to obtain maximal knockdown with minimal off-target effects.
C. elegans chromosomes contain specialized regions called pairing centers (PCs) that mediate homologous pairing and synapsis during meiosis. Four related proteins, ZIM-1, -2, -3, and HIM-8, associate with these sites and are required for their essential functions. Here we show that short sequence elements enriched in the corresponding chromosome regions selectively recruit these proteins in vivo. In vitro analysis using SELEX indicates that each protein’s binding specificity arises from a combination of two zinc fingers and an adjacent domain. Insertion of a cluster of recruiting motifs into a chromosome lacking its endogenous PC is sufficient to restore homologous pairing, synapsis, crossover recombination, and segregation. These findings help to illuminate how chromosome sites mediate essential aspects of meiotic chromosome dynamics.