Signaling by receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB (RANK) in
response to its ligand RANKL, which is a member of the tumor necrosis factor
(TNF) superfamily of cytokines, stimulates osteoclast formation and bone
resorption. Thus, this ligand-receptor pair is a therapeutic target for various
disorders, such as osteoporosis and skeletal metastasis. RANKL exists as a
physiological homotrimer with each monomer recognizing a single molecule of RANK
or the anti-osteoclastogenic decoy receptor osteoprotegerin (OPG). We engineered
a RANKL protein in which all three monomers of RANKL were encoded as a single
polypeptide chain, which enabled us to independently control receptor-binding at
each binding interface. To generate an effective RANK inhibitor, we used an
unbiased forward genetic approach to identify mutations in RANKL that had a
500-fold increased affinity for RANK, but had decreased affinity for the natural
decoy receptor for RANKL, osteoprotegerin. Incorporating receptor-blocking
mutations into this high-affinity RANKL variant generated a mutant RANKL that
completely inhibited wild-type RANKL–induced osteoclastogenesis in vitro
and bone resorption in mice. Our approach may be generalized to enable the
inhibition of other TNF receptor signaling systems, which are implicated in wide
range of pathological conditions.
The use of genome-wide proteomic and RNA interference approaches has moved our understanding of signal transduction from linear pathways to highly integrated networks centered on core nodes. However, probing the dynamics of flow of information through such networks remains technically challenging. In particular, how the temporal dynamics of an individual pathway can elicit distinct outcomes in a single cell type and how multiple pathways may interact sequentially or synchronously to influence cell fate remain open questions in many contexts. The development of fluorescence-based reporters and optogenetic regulators of pathway activity enables the analysis of signaling in living cells and organisms with unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution and holds the promise of addressing these key questions. We present a brief overview of the evidence for the importance of temporal dynamics in cellular regulation, introduce these fluorescence-based tools, and highlight specific studies that leveraged these tools to probe the dynamics of information flow through signaling networks. In particular, we highlight two studies in Caenorhabditis elegans sensory neurons and cultured mammalian cells that demonstrate the importance of signal dynamics in determining cellular responses.
Precise regulation of the kinetics and magnitude of Ca2+ signaling enables this signal to mediate diverse responses, such as cell migration, differentiation, vesicular trafficking, and cell death. Here, we showed that the Ca2+-binding protein calmodulin (CaM) acted in a positive feedback loop to potentiate Ca2+ signaling downstream of the Tec kinase family member Itk. Using NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance), we mapped CaM binding to two loops adjacent to the lipid-binding pocket within the Itk pleckstrin homology (PH) domain. The Itk PH domain bound synergistically to Ca2+/CaM and the lipid phosphatidylinositol-3,4,5-trisphosphate [PI(3,4,5)P3], such that binding to Ca2+/CaM enhanced the binding to PI(3,4,5)P3 and vice versa. Disruption of CaM binding attenuated Itk recruitment to the membrane and diminished release of Ca2+ from the endoplasmic reticulum. Moreover, disruption of this feedback loop abrogated Itk-dependent production of the proinflammatory cytokine IL-17A (interleukin-17A) by CD4+ T cells. Additionally, we found that CaM associated with PH domains from other proteins, indicating that CaM may regulate other PH domain–containing proteins.
Type I interferons (IFNs), including various IFN-α isoforms and IFN-β, are a family of homologous, multifunctional cytokines. IFNs activate different cellular responses by binding to a common receptor that consists of two subunits, IFNAR1 and IFNAR2. In addition to stimulating antiviral responses, they also inhibit cell proliferation and modulate other immune responses. We characterized various IFNs, including a mutant IFN-α2 (IFN-1ant) that bound tightly to IFNAR2 but had markedly reduced binding to IFNAR1. Whereas IFN-1ant stimulated antiviral activity in a range of cell lines, it failed to elicit immunomodulatory and antiproliferative activities. The antiviral activities of the various IFNs tested depended on a set of IFN-sensitive genes (the “robust” genes) that were controlled by canonical IFN response elements and responded at low concentrations of IFNs. Conversely, these elements were not found in the promoters of genes required for the antiproliferative responses of IFNs (the “tunable” genes). The extent of expression of tunable genes was cell type–specific and correlated with the magnitude of the antiproliferative effects of the various IFNs. Although IFN-1ant induced the expression of robust genes similarly in five different cell lines, its antiviral activity was virus- and cell type–specific. Our findings suggest that IFN-1ant may be a therapeutic candidate for the treatment of specific viral infections without inducing the immunomodulatory and antiproliferative functions of wild-type IFN.
Interleukin-6 (IL-6)-mediated activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is a mechanism by which chronic inflammation can contribute to cancer and is a common oncogenic event. We discovered a pathway the loss of which is associated with persistent STAT3 activation in human cancer. We found that the gene encoding the tumor suppressor microRNA miR-146b is a direct STAT3 target gene and its expression was increased in normal breast epithelial cells but decreased in tumor cells. Methylation of the miR-146b promoter, which inhibited STAT3-mediated induction of expression, was increased in primary breast cancers. Moreover, we found that miR-146b inhibited nuclear factor κB (NF-κB)-dependent production of IL-6, subsequent STAT3 activation, and IL-6/STAT3-driven migration and invasion in breast cancer cells, thereby establishing a negative feedback loop. In addition, higher expression of miR-146b was positively correlated with patient survival in breast cancer subtypes with increased IL6 expression and STAT3 phosphorylation. Our results identify an epigenetic mechanism of crosstalk between STAT3 and NF-κB relevant to constitutive STAT3 activation in malignancy and the role of inflammation in oncogenesis.
Chemokines regulate T cell trafficking into secondary lymphoid organs and migration across endothelial cells in response to inflammatory signals. The small guanosine triphosphatase Rap1 is a critical regulator of chemokine signaling in T cells, but how chemokines activate Rap1 has been unclear. A study showed that Abl family tyrosine kinases were essential for chemokine-induced Rap1 activation, T cell polarization, and migration. Abl family kinases promoted Rap1 activation by phosphorylating the adaptor protein human enhancer of filamentation 1 (HEF1), thus establishing a critical Abl-HEF1-Rap1 signaling axis for chemokine-induced T cell migration.
The protein kinase mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) in complex 1 (mTORC1) promotes cell growth and proliferation in response to anabolic stimuli, including growth factors and nutrients. Growth factors activate mTORC1 by stimulating the kinase Akt, which phosphorylates and inhibits the tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC; which is comprised of TSC1, TSC2, and TBC1D7), thereby stimulating the mTORC1 activator Rheb. Here, we identified the mechanism through which REDD1 (regulated in DNA damage and development 1) represses the mTORC1 signaling pathway. We found that REDD1 promoted the protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A)-dependent dephosphorylation of Akt at Thr308 but not at Ser473. Consistent with previous studies showing that phosphorylation of Akt on Thr308, but not Ser473, is necessary for phosphorylation of TSC2, we observed a REDD1-dependent reduction in the phosphorylation of TSC2 and subsequently in the activity of Rheb. REDD1 and PP2A coimmunoprecipitated with Akt from wild-type but not REDD1-knockout mouse embryonic fibroblasts, suggesting that REDD1 may act as a targeting protein for the catalytic subunit of PP2A. Furthermore, binding to both Akt and PP2A was essential for REDD1 to repress signaling to mTORC1. Overall, the results demonstrate that REDD1 acts not just as a repressor of mTORC1, but also as a constant modulator of the phosphorylation of Akt in response to growth factors and nutrients.
The phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) regulates plant growth, development, and abiotic stress responses. ABA signaling is mediated by a group of receptors known as the PYR1/PYL/RCAR family, which includes the pyrabactin resistance 1–like protein PYL8. Under stress conditions, ABA signaling activates SnRK2 protein kinases to inhibit lateral root growth after emergence from the primary root. However, even in the case of persistent stress, lateral root growth eventually recovers from inhibition. We showed that PYL8 is required for the recovery of lateral root growth, following inhibition by ABA. PYL8 directly interacted with the transcription factors MYB77, MYB44, and MYB73. The interaction of PYL8 and MYB77 increased the binding of MYB77 to its target MBSI motif in the promoters of multiple auxin-responsive genes. Compared to wild-type seedlings, the lateral root growth of pyl8 mutant seedlings and myb77 mutant seedlings was more sensitive to inhibition by ABA. The recovery of lateral root growth was delayed in pyl8 mutant seedlings in the presence of ABA, and the defect was rescued by exposing pyl8 mutant seedlings to the auxin IAA (3-indoleacetic acid). Thus, PYL8 promotes lateral root growth independently of the core ABA-SnRK2 signaling pathway by enhancing the activities of MYB77 and its paralogs, MYB44 and MYB73, to augment auxin signaling.
The guanine nucleotide exchange factor SLAT (SWAP-70–like adaptor of T cells) regulates T cell activation and differentiation by enabling Ca2+ release from intracellular stores in response to stimulation of the T cell receptor (TCR). We found a TCR-induced association between SLAT and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) receptor type 1 (IP3R1). The N-terminal region of SLAT, which contains two EF-hand motifs that we determined bound Ca2+, and the SLAT pleckstrin homology (PH) domain independently bound to IP3R1 by associating with a conserved motif within the IP3R1 ligand-binding domain. Disruption of the SLAT-IP3R1 interaction with cell-permeable, IP3R1-based fusion peptides inhibited TCR-stimulated Ca2+ signaling, activation of the transcription factor NFAT (nuclear factor of activated T cells), and production of cytokines, suggesting that this interaction is required for optimal T cell activation. The finding that SLAT is an IP3R1-interacting protein required for T cell activation suggests that this interaction could be a potential target for a selective immunosuppressive drug.
The ability to withstand mitochondrial damage is especially critical for cells such as neurons that survive long-term. We report that cytochrome c (cyt c), a key trigger of apoptosis that is released upon mitochondrial permeabilization, is targeted for proteasome-mediated degradation in postmitotic neurons but not in normal proliferating cells. Importantly, an unbiased siRNA screen identifiedp53 associated Parkin-like cytoplasmic protein (PARC/CUL9) as an E3 ligase that targets cyt c for degradation. PARC/CUL9 levels were markedly elevated with neuronal differentiation and over expression of PARC/CUL9 was sufficient to promote cyt c degradation. Conversely, PARC/CUL9 deficiency made neurons more vulnerable to mitochondrial damage, compromising their ability to survive long-term. Degradation of cyt c by an identical mechanism was also seen in brain tumor cells, highlighting this as an important strategy engaged by neurons and cancer cells to ensure optimal long-term survival.
apoptosis; cytochrome c; PARC; CUL9; ubiquitin; Apaf-1; neurons; cancer; mitochondria; proteasome; Parkin
Both abundant epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR or ErbB1) and high activity of the phosphatidyl-inositol 3-kinase (PI3K)–Akt pathway are common and therapeutically targeted in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). However, activation of another EGFR family member [human epidermal growth factor receptor 3 (HER3) (or ErbB3)] may limit the antitumor effects of these drugs. We found that TNBC cell lines cultured with the EGFR or HER3 ligand EGF or heregulin, respectively, and treated with either an Akt inhibitor (GDC-0068) or a PI3K inhibitor (GDC-0941) had increased abundance and phosphorylation of HER3. The phosphorylation of HER3 and EGFR in response to these treatments was reduced by the addition of a dual EGFR and HER3 inhibitor (MEHD7945A). MEHD7945A also decreased the phosphorylation (and activation) of EGFR and HER3 and the phosphorylation of downstream targets that occurred in response to the combination of EGFR ligands and PI3K-Akt pathway inhibitors. In culture, inhibition of the PI3K-Akt pathway combined with either MEHD7945A or knockdown of HER3 decreased cell proliferation compared with inhibition of the PI3K-Akt pathway alone. Combining either GDC-0068 or GDC-0941 with MEHD7945A inhibited the growth of xenografts derived from TNBC cell lines or from TNBC patient tumors, and this combination treatment was also more effective than combining either GDC-0068 or GDC-0941 with cetuximab, an EGFR-targeted antibody. After therapy with EGFR-targeted antibodies, some patients had residual tumors with increased HER3 abundance and EGFR/HER3 dimerization (an activating interaction). Thus, we propose that concomitant blockade of EGFR, HER3, and the PI3K-Akt pathway in TNBC should be investigated in the clinical setting.
During metastasis, cancer cells acquire the ability to dissociate from each other and migrate, which is recapitulated in vitro as cell scattering. The small guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase) Rap1 opposes cell scattering by promoting cell-cell adhesion, a function that requires its prenylation, or posttranslational modification with a C-terminal isoprenoid moiety, to enable its localization at cell membranes. Thus, signaling cascades that regulate the prenylation of Rap1 offer a mechanism to control the membrane localization of Rap1. Here, we identified a signaling cascade initiated by adenosine A2B receptors that suppressed the prenylation of Rap1B through phosphorylation of Rap1B, which decreased its interaction with the chaperone protein SmgGDS (small G-protein dissociation stimulator). These events promoted the cytosolic and nuclear accumulation of non-prenylated Rap1B and diminished cell-cell adhesion, resulting in cell scattering. We found that non-prenylated Rap1 was more abundant in mammary tumors than in normal mammary tissue in rats, and that activation of adenosine receptors delayed Rap1B prenylation in breast, lung, and pancreatic cancer cell lines. Our findings support a model in which high concentrations of extracellular adenosine, such as those that arise in the tumor microenvironment, can chronically activate A2B receptors to suppress Rap1B prenylation and signaling at the cell membrane, resulting in reduced cell-cell contact and promoting cell scattering. Inhibiting A2B receptors may be an effective method to prevent metastasis.
Ca2+ is a ubiquitous intracellular messenger that regulates diverse cellular activities. Extracellular stimuli often evoke sequences of intracellular Ca2+ spikes, and spike frequency may encode stimulus intensity. However, the timing of spikes within a cell is random because each interspike interval has a large stochastic component. In HEK293 (human embryonic kidney 293) cells and rat primary hepatocytes, we found that the average interspike interval also varied between individual cells. To evaluate how individual cells reliably encoded stimuli when Ca2+ spikes exhibited such unpredictability, we combined Ca2+ imaging of single cells with mathematical analyses of the Ca2+ spikes evoked by receptors that stimulate formation of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3). This analysis revealed that signal-to-noise ratios were improved by slow recovery from feedback inhibition of Ca2+ spiking operating at the whole-cell level and that they were robust against perturbations of the signaling pathway. Despite variability in the frequency of Ca2+ spikes between cells, steps in stimulus intensity caused the stochastic period of the interspike interval to change by the same factor in all cells. These fold changes reliably encoded changes in stimulus intensity, and they resulted in an exponential dependence of average interspike interval on stimulation strength. We conclude that Ca2+ spikes enable reliable signaling in a cell population despite randomness and cell-to-cell variability, because global feedback reduces noise, and changes in stimulus intensity are represented by fold changes in the stochastic period of the interspike interval.
Activation of the small guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase) RhoA can promote cell survival in cultured cardiomyocytes and in the heart. Here, we showed that the circulating lysophospholipid sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), a G-protein coupled receptor agonist, signaled through RhoA and phospholipase C ε (PLCε) to increase the phosphorylation and activation of protein kinase D 1 (PKD1). Genetic deletion of either PKD1 or its upstream regulator PLCε inhibited S1P-mediated cardioprotection against ischemia/reperfusion injury. Cardioprotection involved PKD1-mediated phosphorylation and inhibition of the cofilin phosphatase Slingshot 1L (SSH1L). Cofilin 2 translocates to mitochondria in response to oxidative stress or ischemia/reperfusion injury, and both S1P pretreatment and SSH1L knockdown attenuated translocation of cofilin 2 to mitochondria. Cofilin 2 associates with the proapoptotic protein Bax, and the mitochondrial translocation of Bax in response to oxidative stress was also attenuated by S1P treatment in isolated hearts or by knockdown of SSH1L or cofilin 2 in cardiomyocytes. Furthermore, SSH1L knockdown, like S1P treatment, increased cardiomyocyte survival and preserved mitochondrial integrity following oxidative stress. These findings reveal a pathway initiated by GPCR agonist-induced RhoA activation, in which PLCε signals to PKD1-mediated phosphorylation of cytoskeletal proteins to prevent the mitochondrial translocation and proapoptotic function of cofilin 2 and Bax and thereby promote cell survival.
Metastasis is a complex, multistep process of cancer progression that has few treatment options. A critical event is the invasion of cancer cells into blood vessels (intravasation), through which cancer cells disseminate to distant organs. Breast cancer cells with increased abundance of Mena [an epidermal growth factor (EGF)–responsive cell migration protein] are present with macrophages at sites of intravasation, called TMEM sites (for tumor microenvironment of metastasis), in patient tumor samples. Furthermore, the density of these intravasation sites correlates with metastatic risk in patients. We found that intravasation of breast cancer cells may be prevented by blocking the signaling between cancer cells and macrophages. We obtained invasive breast ductal carcinoma cells of various subtypes by fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsies from patients and found that, in an in vitro transendothelial migration assay, cells that migrated through a layer of human endothelial cells were enriched for the transcript encoding MenaINV, an invasive isoform of Mena. This enhanced transendothelial migration required macrophages and occurred with all of the breast cancer subtypes. Using mouse macrophages and the human cancer cells from the FNAs, we identified paracrine and autocrine activation of colony-stimulating factor-1 receptor (CSF-1R). The paracrine or autocrine nature of the signal depended on the breast cancer cell subtype. Knocking down MenaINV or adding an antibody that blocks CSF-1R function prevented transendothelial migration. Our findings indicate that MenaINV and TMEM frequency are correlated prognostic markers and CSF-1 and MenaINV may be therapeutic targets to prevent metastasis of multiple breast cancer subtypes.
Adaptor proteins link surface receptors to intracellular signaling pathways, and potentially control the way cells respond to nutrient availability. Mice deficient in p66Shc, the most-recently evolved isoform of the Shc1 adaptor proteins and a mediator of receptor tyrosine kinase signaling display resistance to diabetes and obesity. Using quantitative mass spectrometry, we found that p66Shc inhibited glucose metabolism. Depletion of p66Shc enhanced glycolysis and increased the allocation of glucose-derived carbon into anabolic metabolism, characteristics of a metabolic shift called the Warburg effect. This change in metabolism was mediated by the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), because inhibition of mTOR with rapamycin reversed the glycolytic phenotype caused by p66Shc deficiency. Thus, unlike the other isoforms of Shc1, p66Shc appears to antagonize insulin and mTOR signaling, which limits glucose uptake and metabolism. Our results identify a critical inhibitory role for p66Shc in anabolic metabolism.
The activation of the small guanosine triphosphatase Ras by the guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) Sos1 (Son of Sevenless 1) is a central feature of many receptor-stimulated signaling pathways. In developing T cells (thymocytes), Sos1-dependent activation of extracellular signal–regulated kinase (ERK) is required to stimulate cellular proliferation and differentiation. Here, we showed that in addition to its GEF activity, Sos1 acted as a scaffold to nucleate oligomerization of the T cell adaptor protein LAT (linker for activation of T cells) in vivo. The scaffold function of Sos1 depended on its ability to binding to the adaptor protein Grb2. Furthermore, the GEF activity of Sos1 and the Sos1-dependent oligomerization of LAT were separable functions in vivo. Whereas the GEF activity of Sos1 was required for optimal ERK phosphorylation in response to T cell receptor (TCR) stimulation, the Sos1-dependent oligomerization of LAT was required for maximal TCR-dependent phosphorylation and activation of phospholipase C γ1 and Ca2+ signaling. Finally, both of these Sos1 functions were required for early thymocyte proliferation. Whereas transgenic restoration of either the GEF activity or LAT-oligomerization functions of Sos1 alone failed to rescue thymocyte development in Sos1-deficient mice, simultaneous reconstitution of these two signals in the same cell restored normal T cell development. This ability of Sos1 to act both as a RasGEF and as a scaffold to nucleate Grb2-dependent adaptor oligomerization may also occur in other Grb2-dependent pathways, such as those activated by growth factor receptors.
Ectodomain shedding mediated by tumor necrosis factor–α (TNF-α)–converting enzyme [TACE; also known as ADAM17 (a disintegrin and metalloproteinase 17)] provides an important switch in regulating cell proliferation, inflammation, and cancer progression. TACE-mediated ectodomain cleavage is activated by signaling of the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) p38 and ERK (extracellular signal– regulated kinase). Here, we found that under basal conditions, TACE was predominantly present as dimers at the cell surface, which required its cytoplasmic domain and enabled efficient association with tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-3 (TIMP3) and silencing of TACE activity. Upon activation of the ERK or p38 MAPK pathway, the balance shifted from TACE dimers to monomers, and this shift was associated with increased cell surface presentation of TACE and decreased TIMP3 association, which relieved the inhibition of TACE by TIMP3 and increased TACE-mediated proteolysis of transforming growth factor–α. Thus, cell signaling altered the dimer-monomer equilibrium and inhibitor association to promote activation of TACE-mediated ectodomain shedding, a regulatory mechanism that may extend to other ADAM proteases.
The Src homology 2 (SH2) domains are participants in metazoan signal transduction, acting as primary mediators for regulated protein-protein interactions with tyrosine-phosphorylated substrates. Here, we describe the origin and evolution of SH2 domain proteins by means of sequence analysis from 21 eukaryotic organisms from the basal unicellular eukaryotes, where SH2 domains first appeared, through the multicellular animals and increasingly complex metazoans. On the basis of our results, SH2 domains and phosphotyrosine signaling emerged in the early Unikonta, and the numbers of SH2 domains expanded in the choanoflagellate and metazoan lineages with the development of tyrosine kinases, leading to rapid elaboration of phosphotyrosine signaling in early multicellular animals. Our results also indicated that SH2 domains coevolved and the number of the domains expanded alongside protein tyrosine kinases and tyrosine phosphatases, thereby coupling phosphotyrosine signaling to downstream signaling networks. Gene duplication combined with domain gain or loss produced novel SH2-containing proteins that function within phosphotyrosine signaling, which likely have contributed to diversity and complexity in metazoans. We found that intra- and intermolecular interactions within and between SH2 domain proteins increased in prevalence along with organismal complexity and may function to generate more highly connected and robust phosphotyrosine signaling networks.
Activation of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 (VEGFR-2), an endothelial cell receptor tyrosine kinase, promotes tumor angiogenesis and ocular neovascularization. We report the methylation of VEGFR-2 at multiple Lys and Arg residues, including Lys1041, a residue that is proximal to the activation loop of the kinase domain. Methylation of VEGFR-2 was independent of ligand binding and was not regulated by ligand stimulation. Methylation of Lys1041 enhanced tyrosine phosphorylation and kinase activity in response to ligands. Additionally, interfering with the methylation of VEGFR-2 by pharmacological inhibition or by site-directed mutagenesis revealed that methylation of Lys1041 was required for VEGFR-2–mediated angiogenesis in zebrafish and tumor growth in mice. We propose that methylation of Lys1041 promotes the activation of VEGFR-2 and that similar posttranslational modification could also regulate the activity of other receptor tyrosine kinases.
Maintaining constant blood flow in the face of fluctuations in blood pressure is a critical autoregulatory feature of cerebral arteries. An increase in pressure within the artery lumen causes the vessel to constrict through depolarization and contraction of the encircling smooth muscle cells. This pressure-sensing mechanism involves activation of two types of transient receptor potential (TRP) channels: TRPC6 and TRPM4. We provide evidence that the activation of the γ1 isoform of phospholipase C (PLCγ1) is critical for pressure sensing in cerebral arteries. Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3), generated by PLCγ1 in response to pressure, sensitized IP3 receptors (IP3Rs) to Ca2+ influx mediated by the mechanosensitive TRPC6 channel, synergistically increasing IP3R-mediated Ca2+ release to activate TRPM4 currents, leading to smooth muscle depolarization and constriction of isolated cerebral arteries. Proximity ligation assays demonstrated colocalization of PLCγ1 and TRPC6 with TRPM4, suggesting the presence of a force-sensitive, local signaling network comprising PLCγ1, TRPC6, TRPM4, and IP3Rs. Src tyrosine kinase activity was necessary for stretch-induced TRPM4 activation and myogenic constriction, consistent with the ability of Src to activate PLCγ isoforms. We conclude that contraction of cerebral artery smooth muscle cells requires the integration of pressure-sensing signaling pathways and their convergence on IP3Rs, which mediate localized Ca2+-dependent depolarization through the activation of TRPM4.
Diacylglycerol (DAG) is a critical second messenger that mediates T cell receptor (TCR)–stimulated signaling. The abundance of DAG is reduced by the diacylglycerol kinases (DGKs), which catalyze the conversion of DAG to phosphatidic acid (PA) and thus inhibit DAG-mediated signaling. In T cells, the predominant DGK isoforms are DGKα and DGKζ, and deletion of the genes encoding either isoform enhances DAG-mediated signaling. We found that DGKζ, but not DGKα, suppressed the development of natural regulatory T (Treg) cells and predominantly mediated Ras and Akt signaling downstream of the TCR. The differential functions of DGKα and DGKζ were not attributable to differences in protein abundance in T cells or in their localization to the contact sites between T cells and antigen-presenting cells. RasGRP1, a key DAG-mediated activator of Ras signaling, associated to a greater extent with DGKζ than with DGKα; however, in silico modeling of TCR-stimulated Ras activation suggested that a difference in RasGRP1 binding affinity was not sufficient to cause differences in the functions of each DGK isoform. Rather, the model suggested that a greater catalytic rate for DGKζ than for DGKα might lead to DGKζ exhibiting increased suppression of Ras-mediated signals compared to DGKα. Consistent with this notion, experimental studies demonstrated that DGKζ was more effective than DGKα at catalyzing the metabolism of DAG to PA after TCR stimulation. The enhanced effective enzymatic production of PA by DGKζ is therefore one possible mechanism underlying the dominant functions of DGKζ in modulating Treg cell development.
The era of genome sequencing has produced long lists of the molecular parts from which cellular machines are constructed. A fundamental goal in systems biology is to understand how cellular behavior emerges from the interaction in time and space of genetically encoded molecular parts, as well as non-genetically encoded small molecules. Networks provide a natural framework for the organization and quantitative representation of all the available data about molecular interactions. The structural and dynamic properties of molecular networks have been the subject of intense research. Despite major advances, bridging network structure to dynamics – and therefore to behavior – remains challenging. A key concept of modern engineering that recurs in the functional analysis of biological networks is modularity. Most approaches to molecular network analysis rely to some extent on the assumption that molecular networks are modular – that is, they are separable and can be studied to some degree in isolation. We describe recent advances in the analysis of modularity in biological networks, focusing on the increasing realization that a dynamic perspective is essential to grouping molecules into modules and determining their collective function.
Pannexin1 (Panx1) participates in several signaling events that involve
ATP release, including the innate immune response, ciliary beat in airway
epithelia and oxygen supply in the vasculature. The view that Panx1 forms a
large ATP-release channel has been challenged by the association of a low
conductance, small anion-selective channel with the presence of Panx1. We showed
that Panx1 membrane channels can function in two distinct modes with different
conductances and permeabilities when heterologously expressed in
Xenopus oocytes. When stimulated by potassium ions
(K+), Panx1 formed a high conductance channel of ~500 pS
that was permeable to ATP. Various physiological stimuli can induce this
ATP-permeable conformation of the channel in several cell types. In contrast,
the channel had a low conductance (~50 pS) with no detectable ATP
permeability when activated by voltage in the absence of K+. The two
channel states were associated with different reactivities of the terminal
cysteine of Panx1 to thiol reagents, suggesting different conformations. Single
particle electron microscopic analysis revealed that K+ stimulated
the formation of channels with a larger pore diameter than those formed in the
absence of K+. These data suggest that different stimuli lead to
distinct channel structures with distinct biophysical properties.
Exposure to the EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) inhibitor erlotinib promotes the dynamic rewiring of apoptotic pathways, which sensitizes cells within a specific period to subsequent exposure to the DNA-damaging agent doxorubicin. A critical challenge for translating this therapeutic network rewiring into clinical practice is the design of optimal drug delivery systems. We report the generation of a nanoparticle delivery vehicle that contained more than one therapeutic agent and produced a controlled sequence of drug release. Liposomes, representing the first clinically approved nanomedicine systems, are well-characterized, simple, and versatile platforms for the manufacture of functional and tunable drug carriers. Using the hydrophobic and hydrophilic compartments of liposomes, we effectively incorporated both hydrophobic (erlotinib) and hydrophilic (doxorubicin) small molecules, through which we achieved the desired time sequence of drug release. We also coated the liposomes with folate to facilitate targeting to cancer cells. When compared to the time-staggered application of individual drugs, staggered release from tumor-targeted single liposomal particles enhanced dynamic rewiring of apoptotic signaling pathways, resulting in improved tumor cell killing in culture and tumor shrinkage in animal models.