Thickness measurements of the cerebral cortex can aid diagnosis and provide valuable information about the temporal evolution of diseases such as Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and schizophrenia. Methods that measure the thickness of the cerebral cortex from in-vivo magnetic resonance (MR) images rely on an accurate segmentation of the MR data. However, segmenting the cortex in a robust and accurate way still poses a challenge due to the presence of noise, intensity non-uniformity, partial volume effects, the limited resolution of MRI and the highly convoluted shape of the cortical folds. Beginning with a well-established probabilistic segmentation model with anatomical tissue priors, we propose three post-processing refinements: a novel modification of the prior information to reduce segmentation bias; introduction of explicit partial volume classes; and a locally varying MRF-based model for enhancement of sulci and gyri. Experiments performed on a new digital phantom, on BrainWeb data and on data from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) show statistically significant improvements in Dice scores and PV estimation (p<10−3) and also increased thickness estimation accuracy when compared to three well established techniques.
Gaussian mixture model; Expectation-maximization; Markov Random Field; Cortical segmentation; Partial volume effect
Epigenetic marks like methylation of cytosines at CpG dinucleotides are essential for mammalian development and play a major role in the regulation of gene expression and chromatin architecture. The methyl-cytosine binding domain (MBD) protein family recognizes and translates this methylation mark. We have recently shown that the level of MeCP2 and MBD2, two members of the MBD family, increased during differentiation and their ectopic expression induced heterochromatin clustering in vivo. As oligomerization of these MBD proteins could constitute a factor contributing to the chromatin clustering effect, we addressed potential associations among the MBD family performing a series of different interaction assays in vitro as well as in vivo. Using recombinant purified MBDs we found that MeCP2 and MBD2 showed the stronger self and cross association as compared to the other family members. Besides demonstrating that these homo- and hetero-interactions occur in the absence of DNA, we could confirm them in mammalian cells using co-immunoprecipitation analysis. Employing a modified form of the fluorescent two-hybrid protein-protein interaction assay, we could clearly visualize these associations in single cells in vivo. Deletion analysis indicated that the region of MeCP2 comprising amino acids 163–309 as well the first 152 amino acids of MBD2 are the domains responsible for MeCP2 and MBD2 associations. Our results strengthen the possibility that MeCP2 and MBD2 direct interactions could crosslink chromatin fibers and therefore give novel insight into the molecular mechanism of MBD mediated global heterochromatin architecture.
The X-linked Mecp2 is a known interpreter of epigenetic information and mutated in Rett syndrome, a complex neurological disease. MeCP2 recruits HDAC complexes to chromatin thereby modulating gene expression and, importantly regulates higher order heterochromatin structure. To address the effects of MeCP2 deficiency on heterochromatin organization during neural differentiation, we developed a versatile model for stem cell in vitro differentiation. Therefore, we modified murine Mecp2 deficient (Mecp2−/y) embryonic stem cells to generate cells exhibiting green fluorescent protein expression upon neural differentiation. Subsequently, we quantitatively analyzed heterochromatin organization during neural differentiation in wild type and in Mecp2 deficient cells. We found that MeCP2 protein levels increase significantly during neural differentiation and accumulate at constitutive heterochromatin. Statistical analysis of Mecp2 wild type neurons revealed a significant clustering of heterochromatin per nuclei with progressing differentiation. In contrast we found Mecp2 deficient neurons and astroglia cells to be significantly impaired in heterochromatin reorganization. Our results (i) introduce a new and manageable cellular model to study the molecular effects of Mecp2 deficiency, and (ii) support the view of MeCP2 as a central protein in heterochromatin architecture in maturating cells, possibly involved in stabilizing their differentiated state.
All cellular processes depend on the expression and repression of the right sets of genes at the right time. As each cell contains the same DNA, transcriptional and epigenetic factors have to maintain tight control over gene expression. Even a small divergence from the correct transcriptional program can lead to severe defects and even death. Having deciphered the complete linear genetic information, we need to clarify how this information is organized into the dynamic and highly heterogeneous three-dimensional space of the eukaryotic cell nucleus. Observations on the higher order organization of DNA into differentiated condensation levels date back to the early twentieth century, and potential implications of these structural features to gene expression were postulated shortly after. In particular, proximity of genes to condensed regions of heterochromatin was proposed to negatively influence their expression and, henceforward, the concept of heterochromatin as subnuclear silencing compartment emerged. Methodological advances fueled a flurry of recent studies, which only, in part, led support to this concept. In this review, we address how (hetero)chromatin structure and proximity might influence gene expression and discuss the challenges and means to unravel this fundamental biological question.
Kinetochores are multi-protein megadalton assemblies that are required for attachment of microtubules to centromeres and, in turn, the segregation of chromosomes in mitosis. Kinetochore assembly is a cell cycle regulated multi-step process. The initial step occurs during interphase and involves loading of the 15-subunit constitutive centromere associated complex (CCAN), which contains a 5-subunit (CENP-P/O/R/Q/U) sub-complex. Here we show using a fluorescent three-hybrid (F3H) assay and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) in living mammalian cells that CENP-P/O/R/Q/U subunits exist in a tightly packed arrangement that involves multifold protein-protein interactions. This sub-complex is, however, not pre-assembled in the cytoplasm, but rather assembled on kinetochores through the step-wise recruitment of CENP-O/P heterodimers and the CENP-P, -O, -R, -Q and -U single protein units. SNAP-tag experiments and immuno-staining indicate that these loading events occur during S-phase in a manner similar to the nucleosome binding components of the CCAN, CENP-T/W/N. Furthermore, CENP-P/O/R/Q/U binding to the CCAN is largely mediated through interactions with the CENP-N binding protein CENP-L as well as CENP-K. Once assembled, CENP-P/O/R/Q/U exchanges slowly with the free nucleoplasmic pool indicating a low off-rate for individual CENP-P/O/R/Q/U subunits. Surprisingly, we then find that during late S-phase, following the kinetochore-binding step, both CENP-Q and -U but not -R undergo oligomerization. We propose that CENP-P/O/R/Q/U self-assembles on kinetochores with varying stoichiometry and undergoes a pre-mitotic maturation step that could be important for kinetochores switching into the correct conformation necessary for microtubule-attachment.
UVA (320–400 nm) represents the main spectral component of solar UV radiation, induces pre-mutagenic DNA lesions and is classified as Class I carcinogen. Recently, discussion arose whether UVA induces DNA double-strand breaks (dsbs). Only few reports link the induction of dsbs to UVA exposure and the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Using the Comet-assay and γH2AX as markers for dsb formation, we demonstrate the dose-dependent dsb induction by UVA in G1-synchronized human keratinocytes (HaCaT) and primary human skin fibroblasts. The number of γH2AX foci increases when a UVA dose is applied in fractions (split dose), with a 2-h recovery period between fractions. The presence of the anti-oxidant Naringin reduces dsb formation significantly. Using an FPG-modified Comet-assay as well as warm and cold repair incubation, we show that dsbs arise partially during repair of bi-stranded, oxidative, clustered DNA lesions. We also demonstrate that on stretched chromatin fibres, 8-oxo-G and abasic sites occur in clusters. This suggests a replication-independent formation of UVA-induced dsbs through clustered single-strand breaks via locally generated reactive oxygen species. Since UVA is the main component of solar UV exposure and is used for artificial UV exposure, our results shine new light on the aetiology of skin cancer.
Heterochromatic regions represent a significant portion of the mammalian genome and have been implied in several important cellular processes, including cell division and genomic stability. However, its composition and dynamics remain largely unknown. To better understand how heterochromatin functions and how it is organized within the context of the cell nucleus, we have developed molecular tools allowing the targeting of virtually any nuclear factor specifically to heterochromatic regions and, thereby, the manipulation, also in a temporally controlled manner, of its composition. To validate our approach, we have ectopically targeted MeCP2 chromatin binding deficient Rett mutants to constitutive heterochromatic regions and analyze its functional consequences. We could show that, once bound to their endogenous target regions, their ability to re-organize higher order chromatin structure is restored. Furthermore, a temporally controlled targeting strategy allowed us to monitor MeCP2-mediated chromatin rearrangements in vivo and to visualize large-scale chromatin movements over several micrometers, as well as heterochromatic foci fusion events. This novel strategy enables specific tethering of any protein to heterochromatin and lays the ground for controlled manipulation of its composition and organization.
This study evaluated the use of an avirulent live Salmonella Choleraesuis vaccine to reduce the seroprevalence and number of Salmonella carrier pigs at slaughter. Seven batches of 500 pigs were included in each of the two study groups: the vaccinated group (VG) that was orally vaccinated and the control group (CG) that received a placebo on the first day of life. The groups were managed in a three-site system and followed up from birth to slaughter. Blood samples (n=378) were collected from each VG and CG to monitor the on-farm seroprevalence in both groups. Mesenteric lymph nodes and blood from animals (n=390) belonging to each group were collected at slaughter. At the first day of life, the seroprevalence in control batches ranged from 77.9 to 96.3 per cent, while in vaccinated batches, it ranged from 66.6 to 92.6 per cent. At weaning (21 days of age), the number of seropositives decreased in both groups (mean of 12 and 3.7 per cent for CG and VG, respectively). At slaughter, batches of VG had a significantly (P<0.0001) lower seroprevalence (46.6±5 per cent) and isolation of Salmonella from lymph nodes (33.1±5 per cent) compared with CG batches (79.7±4 per cent and 59.5±5 per cent, respectively). The results indicate that administration of a Salmonella choleraesuis-attenuated vaccine on the first day of life decreases Salmonella isolation and seroprevalence in pigs at slaughter.
The discovery of the DNA double helix structure half a century ago immediately suggested a mechanism for its duplication by semi-conservative copying of the nucleotide sequence into two DNA daughter strands. Shortly after, a second fundamental step toward the elucidation of the mechanism of DNA replication was taken with the isolation of the first enzyme able to polymerize DNA from a template. In the subsequent years, the basic mechanism of DNA replication and its enzymatic machinery components were elucidated, mostly through genetic approaches and in vitro biochemistry. Most recently, the spatial and temporal organization of the DNA replication process in vivo within the context of chromatin and inside the intact cell are finally beginning to be elucidated. On the one hand, recent advances in genome-wide high throughput techniques are providing a new wave of information on the progression of genome replication at high spatial resolution. On the other hand, novel super-resolution microscopy techniques are just starting to give us the first glimpses of how DNA replication is organized within the context of single intact cells with high spatial resolution. The integration of these data with time lapse microscopy analysis will give us the ability to film and dissect the replication of the genome in situ and in real time.
Integration of genomic studies and super-resolution microscopy indicates that, in vivo, DNA replication is self-propagating and increases in efficiency through S phase.
In addition to endocytosis-mediated cellular uptake, hydrophilic cell-penetrating peptides are able to traverse biological membranes in a non-endocytic mode termed transduction, resulting in immediate bioavailability. Here we analysed structural requirements for the non-endocytic uptake mode of arginine-rich cell-penetrating peptides, by a combination of live-cell microscopy, molecular dynamics simulations and analytical ultracentrifugation. We demonstrate that the transduction efficiency of arginine-rich peptides increases with higher peptide structural rigidity. Consequently, cyclic arginine-rich cell-penetrating peptides showed enhanced cellular uptake kinetics relative to their linear and more flexible counterpart. We propose that guanidinium groups are forced into maximally distant positions by cyclization. This orientation increases membrane contacts leading to enhanced cell penetration.
Cell-penetrating peptides can deliver molecular cargoes into living cells, and cross biological membranes by transduction—a non-endocytic mechanism. Here, the transduction efficiency of cyclic arginine-rich peptides is shown to be higher than that of more flexible linear peptides.
Methyl CpG binding protein 2 (MeCP2) binds DNA, and has a preference for methylated CpGs and, hence, in cells, it accumulates in heterochromatin. Even though it is expressed ubiquitously MeCP2 is particularly important during neuronal maturation. This is underscored by the fact that in Rett syndrome, a neurological disease, 80% of patients carry a mutation in the MECP2 gene. Since the MECP2 gene lies on the X chromosome and is subjected to X chromosome inactivation, affected patients are usually chimeric for wild type and mutant MeCP2. Here, we present the generation and characterization of the first rat monoclonal MeCP2 specific antibodies as well as mouse monoclonal antibodies and a rabbit polyclonal antibody. We demonstrate that our antibodies are suitable for immunoblotting, (chromatin) immunoprecipitation and immunofluorescence of endogenous and ectopically expressed MeCP2. Epitope mapping revealed that most of the MeCP2 monoclonal antibodies recognize the C-terminal domain and one the N-terminal domain of MeCP2. Using slot blot analysis, we determined a high sensitivity of all antibodies, detecting amounts as low as 1 ng of MeCP2 protein. Moreover, the antibodies recognize MeCP2 from different species, including human, mouse, rat and pig. Lastly, we have validated their use by analyzing and quantifying X chromosome inactivation skewing using brain tissue of MeCP2 heterozygous null female mice. The new MeCP2 specific monoclonal antibodies described here perform well in a large variety of immunological applications making them a very valuable set of tools for studies of MeCP2 pathophysiology in situ and in vitro.
The replication of the genome is a spatio-temporally highly organized process. Yet, its flexibility throughout development suggests that this process is not genetically regulated. However, the mechanisms and chromatin modifications controlling replication timing are still unclear. We made use of the prominent structure and defined heterochromatic landscape of pericentric regions as an example of late replicating constitutive heterochromatin. We manipulated the major chromatin markers of these regions, namely histone acetylation, DNA and histone methylation, as well as chromatin condensation and determined the effects of these altered chromatin states on replication timing. Here, we show that manipulation of DNA and histone methylation as well as acetylation levels caused large-scale heterochromatin decondensation. Histone demethylation and the concomitant decondensation, however, did not affect replication timing. In contrast, immuno-FISH and time-lapse analyses showed that lowering DNA methylation, as well as increasing histone acetylation, advanced the onset of heterochromatin replication. While dnmt1−/− cells showed increased histone acetylation at chromocenters, histone hyperacetylation did not induce DNA demethylation. Hence, we propose that histone hypoacetylation is required to maintain normal heterochromatin duplication dynamics. We speculate that a high histone acetylation level might increase the firing efficiency of origins and, concomitantly, advances the replication timing of distinct genomic regions.
Nuclear organization of chromatin is an important level of genome regulation with positional changes of genes occurring during reprogramming. Inherent variability of biological specimens, wide variety of sample preparation and imaging conditions, though pose significant challenges to data analysis and comparison. Here, we describe the development of a computational image analysis toolbox overcoming biological variability hurdles by a novel single cell randomizing normalization. We performed a comparative analysis of the relationship between spatial positioning of pluripotency genes with their genomic activity and determined the degree of similarity between fibroblasts, induced pluripotent stem cells and embryonic stem cells. Our analysis revealed a preferred positioning of actively transcribed Sox2, Oct4 and Nanog away from the nuclear periphery, but not from pericentric heterochromatin. Moreover, in the silent state, we found no common nuclear localization for any of the genes. Our results suggest that the surrounding gene density hinders relocation from an internal nuclear position. Altogether, our data do not support the hypothesis that the nuclear periphery acts as a general transcriptional silencer, rather suggesting that internal nuclear localization is compatible with expression in pluripotent cells but not sufficient for expression in mouse embryonic fibroblasts. Thus, our computational approach enables comparative analysis of topological relationships in spite of stark morphological variability typical of biological data sets.
Recent discovery of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) in genomic DNA raises the question how this sixth base is recognized by cellular proteins. In contrast to the methyl-CpG binding domain (MBD) of MeCP2, we found that the SRA domain of Uhrf1, an essential factor in DNA maintenance methylation, binds 5hmC and 5-methylcytosine containing substrates with similar affinity. Based on the co-crystal structure, we performed molecular dynamics simulations of the SRA:DNA complex with the flipped cytosine base carrying either of these epigenetic modifications. Our data indicate that the SRA binding pocket can accommodate 5hmC and stabilizes the flipped base by hydrogen bond formation with the hydroxyl group.
The processing of lagging-strand intermediates has not been demonstrated in vitro for herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Human flap endonuclease-1 (Fen-1) was examined for its ability to produce ligatable products with model lagging-strand intermediates in the presence of the wild-type or exonuclease-deficient (exo−) HSV-1 DNA polymerase (pol). Primer/templates were composed of a minicircle single-stranded DNA template annealed to primers that contained 5′ DNA flaps or 5′ annealed DNA or RNA sequences. Gapped DNA primer/templates were extended but not significantly strand displaced by the wild-type HSV-1 pol, although significant strand displacement was observed with exo− HSV-1 pol. Nevertheless, the incubation of primer/templates containing 5′ flaps with either wild-type or exo− HSV-1 pol and Fen-1 led to the efficient production of nicks that could be sealed with DNA ligase I. Both polymerases stimulated the nick translation activity of Fen-1 on DNA- or RNA-containing primer/templates, indicating that the activities were coordinated. Further evidence for Fen-1 involvement in HSV-1 DNA synthesis is suggested by the ability of a transiently expressed green fluorescent protein fusion with Fen-1 to accumulate in viral DNA replication compartments in infected cells and by the ability of endogenous Fen-1 to coimmunoprecipitate with an essential viral DNA replication protein in HSV-1-infected cells.
While the etiology of Parkinson's disease remains largely elusive, there is accumulating evidence suggesting that mitochondrial dysfunction occurs prior to the onset of symptoms in Parkinson's disease. Mitochondria are remarkably primed to play a vital role in neuronal cell survival since they are key regulators of energy metabolism (as ATP producers), of intracellular calcium homeostasis, of NAD+/NADH ratio, and of endogenous reactive oxygen species production and programmed cell death. In this paper, we focus on mitochondrial dysfunction-mediated alpha-synuclein aggregation. We highlight some of the findings that provide proof of evidence for a mitochondrial metabolism control in Parkinson's disease, namely, mitochondrial regulation of microtubule-dependent cellular traffic and autophagic lysosomal pathway. The knowledge that microtubule alterations may lead to autophagic deficiency and may compromise the cellular degradation mechanisms that culminate in the progressive accumulation of aberrant protein aggregates shields new insights to the way we address Parkinson's disease. In line with this knowledge, an innovative window for new therapeutic strategies aimed to restore microtubule network may be unlocked.
The hypodactylous (hd) locus impairs limb development and spermatogenesis, leading to male infertility in rats. We show that the hd mutation is caused by an insertion of an endogenous retrovirus into intron 10 of the Cntrob gene. The retroviral insertion in hd mutant rats disrupts the normal splicing of Cntrob transcripts and results in the expression of a truncated protein. During the final phase of spermiogenesis, centrobin localizes to the manchette, centrosome, and the marginal ring of the spermatid acroplaxome, where it interacts with keratin 5-containing intermediate filaments. Mutant spermatids show a defective acroplaxome marginal ring and separation of the centrosome from its normal attachment site of the nucleus. This separation correlates with a disruption of head-tail coupling apparatus, leading to spermatid decapitation during the final step of spermiogenesis and the absence of sperm in the epididymis. Cntrob may represent a novel candidate gene for presently unexplained hereditary forms of teratozoospermia and the “easily decapitated sperm syndrome” in humans.
Truncation of centrobin in hd/hd rats causes sperm decapitation.
acroplaxome; centrobin; centrosome; spermatid; spermatogenesis; teratozoospermia
Fluorescence light microscopy allows multicolor visualization of cellular components with high specificity, but its utility has until recently been constrained by the intrinsic limit of spatial resolution. We applied three-dimensional structured illumination microscopy (3D-SIM) to circumvent this limit and to study the mammalian nucleus. By simultaneously imaging chromatin, nuclear lamina, and the nuclear pore complex (NPC), we observed several features that escape detection by conventional microscopy. We could resolve single NPCs that colocalized with channels in the lamin network and peripheral heterochromatin. We could differentially localize distinct NPC components and detect double-layered invaginations of the nuclear envelope in prophase as previously seen only by electron microscopy. Multicolor 3D-SIM opens new and facile possibilities to analyze subcellular structures beyond the diffraction limit of the emitted light.
The condensation level of chromatin is controlled by epigenetic modifications and associated regulatory factors and changes throughout differentiation and cell cycle progression. To test whether changes of chromatin condensation levels per se affect access and binding of proteins, we used a hypertonic cell treatment. This shift to hyperosmolar medium increased nuclear calcium concentrations and induced a reversible chromatin condensation comparable to the levels in mitosis. However, this condensation was independent of mitotic histone H3 serine 10 phosphorylation. Photobleaching and photoactivation experiments with chromatin proteins—histone H2B-GFP and GFP-HP1α—before and after induced chromatin condensation demonstrated that hypercondensation reduced their dissociation rate and stabilized their chromatin binding. Finally, measuring the distribution of nucleoplasmic proteins in the size range from 30 to 230 kDa, we found that even relatively small proteins like GFP were excluded from highly condensed chromatin in living cells. These results suggest that structural changes in condensed chromatin by themselves affect chromatin access and binding of chromatin proteins independent of regulatory histone modifications.—Martin, R. M., Cardoso, M. C. Chromatin condensation modulates access and binding of nuclear proteins.
fluorescence microscopy; GFP; mitosis; photoactivation; photobleaching
Current chemical biology methods for studying spatiotemporal correlation between biochemical networks and cell cycle phase progression in live-cells typically use fluorescence-based imaging of fusion proteins. Stable cell lines expressing fluorescently tagged protein GFP-PCNA produce rich, dynamically varying sub-cellular foci patterns characterizing the cell cycle phases, including the progress during the S-phase. Variable fluorescence patterns, drastic changes in SNR, shape and position changes and abundance of touching cells require sophisticated algorithms for reliable automatic segmentation and cell cycle classification. We extend the recently proposed graph partitioning active contours (GPAC) for fluorescence-based nucleus segmentation using regional density functions and dramatically improve its efficiency, making it scalable for high content microscopy imaging. We utilize surface shape properties of GFP-PCNA intensity field to obtain descriptors of foci patterns and perform automated cell cycle phase classification, and give quantitative performance by comparing our results to manually labeled data.
DNA replication, similar to other cellular processes, occurs within dynamic macromolecular structures. Any comprehensive understanding ultimately requires quantitative data to establish and test models of genome duplication. We used two different super-resolution light microscopy techniques to directly measure and compare the size and numbers of replication foci in mammalian cells. This analysis showed that replication foci vary in size from 210 nm down to 40 nm. Remarkably, spatially modulated illumination (SMI) and 3D-structured illumination microscopy (3D-SIM) both showed an average size of 125 nm that was conserved throughout S-phase and independent of the labeling method, suggesting a basic unit of genome duplication. Interestingly, the improved optical 3D resolution identified 3- to 5-fold more distinct replication foci than previously reported. These results show that optical nanoscopy techniques enable accurate measurements of cellular structures at a level previously achieved only by electron microscopy and highlight the possibility of high-throughput, multispectral 3D analyses.
Background: To determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD), safety, potential pharmacokinetic (PK) interactions, and effect on liver histology of trabectedin in combination with pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD) for advanced malignancies.
Patients and methods: Entry criteria for the 36 patients included normal liver function, prior doxorubicin exposure <250 mg/m2, and normal cardiac function. A 1-h PLD (30 mg/m2) infusion was followed immediately by one of six trabectedin doses (0.4, 0.6, 0.75, 0.9, 1.1, and 1.3 mg/m2) infused over 3 h, repeated every 21 days until evidence of complete response (CR), disease progression, or unacceptable toxicity. Plasma samples were obtained to assess PK profiles.
Results: The MTD of trabectedin was 1.1 mg/m2. Drug-related grade 3 and 4 toxic effects were neutropenia (31%) and elevated transaminases (31%). Six patients responded (one CR, five partial responses), with an overall response rate of 16.7%, and 14 had stable disease (less than a 50% reduction and less than a 25% increase in the sum of the products of two perpendicular diameters of all measured lesions and the appearance of no new lesions) >4 months (39%). Neither drug had its PK affected significantly by concomitant administration compared with trabectedin and PLD each given as a single agent.
Conclusion: Trabectedin combined with PLD is generally well tolerated at therapeutic doses of both drugs in pretreated patients with diverse tumor types and appears to provide clinical benefit. These results support the need for additional studies of this combination in appropriate cancer types.
ET-743; ovarian cancer; pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD); sarcomas; trabectedin
The multifunctional nuclear protein positive cofactor 4 (PC4) is involved in various cellular processes including transcription, replication, and chromatin organization. Recently, PC4 has been identified as a suppressor of oxidative mutagenesis in Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. To investigate a potential role of PC4 in mammalian DNA repair, we used a combination of live cell microscopy, microirradiation, and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching analysis. We found a clear accumulation of endogenous PC4 at DNA damage sites introduced by either chemical agents or laser microirradiation. Using fluorescent fusion proteins and specific mutants, we demonstrated that the rapid recruitment of PC4 to laser-induced DNA damage sites is independent of poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation and γH2AX but depends on its single strand binding capacity. Furthermore, PC4 showed a high turnover at DNA damages sites compared with the repair factors replication protein A and proliferating cell nuclear antigen. We propose that PC4 plays a role in the early response to DNA damage by recognizing single-stranded DNA and may thus initiate or facilitate the subsequent steps of DNA repair.
Arginine-rich peptides are a subclass of cell-penetrating peptides that are
taken up by living cells and can be detected freely diffusing inside the
cytoplasm and nucleoplasm. This phenomenon has been attributed to either an
endocytic mode of uptake and a subsequent release from vesicles or to direct
membrane penetration (transduction). To distinguish between both
possibilities, we have blocked endocytic pathways suggested to be involved in
uptake of cell-penetrating peptides. We have then monitored by confocal
microscopy the uptake and distribution of the cell-penetrating transactivator
of transcription (TAT) peptide into living mammalian cells over time. To
prevent side effects of chemical inhibitors, we used genetically engineered
cells as well as different temperature. We found that a knockdown of
clathrin-mediated endocytosis and a knock-out of caveolin-mediated endocytosis
did not affect the ability of TAT to enter cells. In addition, the TAT peptide
showed the same intracellular distribution throughout the cytoplasm and
nucleus as in control cells. Even incubation of cells at 4 °C did not
abrogate TAT uptake nor change its intracellular distribution. We therefore
conclude that this distribution results from TAT peptide that directly
penetrated (transduced) the plasma membrane. The formation of nonselective
pores is unlikely, because simultaneously added fluorophores were not taken up
together with the TAT peptide. In summary, although the frequency and kinetics
of TAT transduction varied between cell types, it was independent of