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1.  Distinct tissue distributions and subcellular localizations of differently phosphorylated forms of the myosin regulatory light chain in Drosophila 
Gene expression patterns : GEP  2010;11(1-2):93-104.
Nonmuscle myosin II (myosin hereafter) has well-established roles in generating contractile force on actin filaments during morphogenetic processes in all metazoans. Myosin activation is regulated by phosphorylation of the myosin regulatory light chain (MRCL, encoded by spaghetti squash or sqh in Drosophila) first on Ser21 and subsequently on Thr20. These phosphorylation events are positively controlled by a variety of kinases including myosin light chain kinase, Rho kinase, citron kinase, and AMP kinase and are negatively regulated by myosin phosphatase. The activation of myosin is thus highly regulated and likely developmentally controlled. In order to monitor the activity of myosin during development, we have generated antibodies against the monophosphorylated (Sqh1P) and diphosphorylated (Sqh2P) forms of Sqh. We first show that the antibodies are highly specific. We then used these antibodies to monitor myosin activation in wild type Drosophila tissues. Interestingly, Sqh1P and Sqh2P show distinct patterns of expression in embryos. Sqh1P is expressed nearly ubiquitously and outlines cells consistent with a junctional localization, whereas Sqh2P is strongly expressed on the apical surfaces and in filopodia of tissues undergoing extensive cell shape change or cell movements including the invaginating fore- and hindgut, the invaginating tracheal system, the dorsal pouch and the dorsal most row of epidermal (DME) cells during dorsal closure. In imaginal discs, Sqh1P predominantly localizes in the adherens junction, whereas Sqh2P locates to the apical domain. These antibodies thus have the potential to be very useful in monitoring myosin activation for functional studies of morphogenesis in Drosophila.
PMCID: PMC3025304  PMID: 20920606
Drosophila; myosin; myosin regulatory light chain; spaghetti squash; dorsal closure; morphogenesis
2.  Genetic and Physiological Responses of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis to Hydrogen Peroxide Stress 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(16):3743-3751.
Consumer interest in probiotic bifidobacteria is increasing, but industry efforts to secure high cell viability in foods is undermined by these anaerobes' sensitivity to oxidative stress. To address this limitation, we investigated genetic and physiological responses of two fully sequenced Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis strains, BL-04 and DSM 10140, to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) stress. Although the genome sequences for these strains are highly clonal, prior work showed that they differ in both intrinsic and inducible H2O2 resistance. Transcriptome analysis of early-stationary-phase cells exposed to a sublethal H2O2 concentration detected significant (P < 0.05) changes in expression of 138 genes in strain BL-04 after 5 min and 27 genes after 20 min. Surprisingly, no significant changes in gene expression were detected in DSM 10140 at either time. Genomic data suggested that differences in H2O2 stress resistance might be due to a mutation in a BL-04 gene encoding long-chain fatty acid coenzyme A (CoA) ligase. To explore this possibility, membrane fatty acids were isolated and analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Results confirmed that the strains had significantly different lipid profiles: the BL-04 membrane contained higher percentages of C14:0 and C16:0 and lower percentages of C18:1n9. Alteration of the DSM 10140 membrane lipid composition using modified growth medium to more closely mimic that of BL-04 yielded cells that showed increased intrinsic resistance to lethal H2O2 challenge but did not display an inducible H2O2 stress response. The results show that deliberate stress induction or membrane lipid modification can be employed to significantly improve H2O2 resistance in B. animalis subsp. lactis strains.
PMCID: PMC3754573  PMID: 23772066
3.  Sec61α is required for dorsal closure during Drosophila embryogenesis through its regulation of Dpp signaling 
During dorsal closure in Drosophila, signaling events in the dorsalmost row of epidermal cells (DME cells) direct the migration of lateral epidermal sheets towards the dorsal midline where they fuse to enclose the embryo. A Jun amino-terminal kinase (JNK) cascade in the DME cells induces the expression of Decapentaplegic (Dpp). Dpp signaling then regulates the cytoskeleton in the DME cells and amnioserosa to affect the cell shape changes necessary to complete dorsal closure. We identified a mutation in Sec61α that specifically perturbs dorsal closure. Sec61α encodes the main subunit of the translocon complex for co-translational import of proteins into the ER. JNK signaling is normal in Sec61α mutant embryos, but Dpp signaling is attenuated and the DME cells fail to maintain an actinomyosin cable as epithelial migration fails. Consistent with this model, dorsal closure is rescued in Sec61α mutant embryos by an activated form of the Dpp receptor Thick veins.
PMCID: PMC2975395  PMID: 20112345
Drosophila; dorsal closure; morphogenesis; Sec61α; translocon; Dpp; thick veins; JNK; cuticle
4.  uninflatable encodes a novel ectodermal apical surface protein required for tracheal inflation in Drosophila 
Developmental biology  2009;336(2):201-212.
The tracheal system of Drosophila melanogaster has proven to be an excellent model system for studying the development of branched tubular organs. Mechanisms regulating the patterning and initial maturation of the tracheal system have been largely worked out, yet important questions remain regarding how the mature tubes inflate with air at the end of embryogenesis, and how the tracheal system grows in response to the oxygen needs of a developing larva that increases nearly 1000-fold in volume over a four day period. Here we describe the cloning and characterization of uninflatable (uif), a gene that encodes a large transmembrane protein containing carbohydrate binding and cell signaling motifs in its extracellular domain. Uif is highly conserved in insect species, but does not appear to have a true ortholog in vertebrate species. uif is expressed zygotically beginning in stage 5 embryos, and Uif protein localizes to the apical plasma membrane in all ectodermally derived epithelia, most notably in the tracheal system. uif mutant animals show defects in tracheal inflation at the end of embryogenesis, and die primarily as larvae. Tracheal tubes in mutant larvae are often crushed or twisted, although tracheal patterning and maturation appear normal during embryogenesis. uif mutants larvae also show defects in tracheal growth and molting of their tracheal cuticle.
PMCID: PMC2790384  PMID: 19818339
Drosophila; trachea; cuticle; tube size control; air filling; molting; CG9138; SP1070
5.  Identification of Plasmalogens in the Cytoplasmic Membrane of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis 
Plasmalogens are ether-linked lipids that may influence oxidative stress resistance of eukaryotic cell membranes. Since bacterial membrane composition can influence environmental stress resistance, we explored the prevalence of plasmalogens in the cytoplasmic membrane of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis. Results showed plasmalogens are a major component of the B. animalis subsp. lactis membrane.
PMCID: PMC3264115  PMID: 22138986
6.  Butyrate Improves Insulin Sensitivity and Increases Energy Expenditure in Mice 
Diabetes  2009;58(7):1509-1517.
We examined the role of butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid formed by fermentation in the large intestine, in the regulation of insulin sensitivity in mice fed a high-fat diet.
In dietary-obese C57BL/6J mice, sodium butyrate was administrated through diet supplementation at 5% wt/wt in the high-fat diet. Insulin sensitivity was examined with insulin tolerance testing and homeostasis model assessment for insulin resistance. Energy metabolism was monitored in a metabolic chamber. Mitochondrial function was investigated in brown adipocytes and skeletal muscle in the mice.
On the high-fat diet, supplementation of butyrate prevented development of insulin resistance and obesity in C57BL/6 mice. Fasting blood glucose, fasting insulin, and insulin tolerance were all preserved in the treated mice. Body fat content was maintained at 10% without a reduction in food intake. Adaptive thermogenesis and fatty acid oxidation were enhanced. An increase in mitochondrial function and biogenesis was observed in skeletal muscle and brown fat. The type I fiber was enriched in skeletal muscle. Peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor-γ coactivator-1α expression was elevated at mRNA and protein levels. AMP kinase and p38 activities were elevated. In the obese mice, supplementation of butyrate led to an increase in insulin sensitivity and a reduction in adiposity.
Dietary supplementation of butyrate can prevent and treat diet-induced insulin resistance in mouse. The mechanism of butyrate action is related to promotion of energy expenditure and induction of mitochondria function.
PMCID: PMC2699871  PMID: 19366864
7.  A Second-Site Noncomplementation Screen for Modifiers of Rho1 Signaling during Imaginal Disc Morphogenesis in Drosophila 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7574.
Rho1 is a small GTPase of the Ras superfamily that serves as the central component in a highly conserved signaling pathway that regulates tissue morphogenesis during development in all animals. Since there is tremendous diversity in the upstream signals that can activate Rho1 as well as the effector molecules that carry out its functions, it is important to define relevant Rho1-interacting genes for each morphogenetic event regulated by this signaling pathway. Previous work from our lab and others has shown that Rho signaling is necessary for the morphogenesis of leg imaginal discs during metamorphosis in Drosophila, although a comprehensive identification of Rho1-interacting genes has not been attempted for this process.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We characterized an amorphic allele of Rho1 that displays a poorly penetrant dominant malformed leg phenotype and is capable of being strongly enhanced by Rho1-interacting heterozygous mutations. We then used this allele in a second-site noncomplementation screen with the Exelixis collection of molecularly defined deficiencies to identify Rho1-interacting genes necessary for leg morphogenesis. In a primary screen of 461 deficiencies collectively uncovering ∼50% of the Drosophila genome, we identified twelve intervals harboring Rho1-interacting genes. Through secondary screening we identified six Rho1-interacting genes including three that were previously identified (RhoGEF2, broad, and stubbloid), thereby validating the screen. In addition, we identified Cdc42, Rheb and Sc2 as novel Rho1-interacting genes involved in adult leg development.
This screen identified well-known and novel Rho1-interacting genes necessary for leg morphogenesis, thereby increasing our knowledge of this important signaling pathway. We additionally found that Rheb may have a unique function in leg morphogenesis that is independent of its regulation of Tor.
PMCID: PMC2764050  PMID: 19862331
8.  In Vitro Fermentation of Breast Milk Oligosaccharides by Bifidobacterium infantis and Lactobacillus gasseri 
It has been proposed that human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) function as a prebiotic for bifidobacteria, yet this activity has not been adequately investigated. In this study, Bifidobacterium infantis was shown to ferment purified HMO as a sole carbon source, while another gut commensal, Lactobacillus gasseri, did not ferment HMO. Our results support the hypothesis that HMO selectively amplify bacterial populations in the infant intestine.
PMCID: PMC1489581  PMID: 16751577
9.  Drosophila coracle, a Member of the Protein 4.1 Superfamily, Has Essential Structural Functions in the Septate Junctions and Developmental Functions in Embryonic and Adult Epithelial Cells 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1998;9(12):3505-3519.
Although extensively studied biochemically, members of the Protein 4.1 superfamily have not been as well characterized genetically. Studies of coracle, a Drosophila Protein 4.1 homologue, provide an opportunity to examine the genetic functions of this gene family. coracle was originally identified as a dominant suppressor of EgfrElp, a hypermorphic form of the Drosophila Epidermal growth factor receptor gene. In this article, we present a phenotypic analysis of coracle, one of the first for a member of the Protein 4.1 superfamily. Screens for new coracle alleles confirm the null coracle phenotype of embryonic lethality and failure in dorsal closure, and they identify additional defects in the embryonic epidermis and salivary glands. Hypomorphic coracle alleles reveal functions in many imaginal tissues. Analysis of coracle mutant cells indicates that Coracle is a necessary structural component of the septate junction required for the maintenance of the transepithelial barrier but is not necessary for apical–basal polarity, epithelial integrity, or cytoskeletal integrity. In addition, coracle phenotypes suggest a specific role in cell signaling events. Finally, complementation analysis provides information regarding the functional organization of Coracle and possibly other Protein 4.1 superfamily members. These studies provide insights into a range of in vivo functions for coracle in developing embryos and adults.
PMCID: PMC25665  PMID: 9843584

Results 1-9 (9)