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1.  The proteolytic landscape of the yeast vacuole 
Cellular Logistics  2014;4:e28023.
The vacuole in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae plays a number of essential roles, and to provide some of these required functions the vacuole harbors at least seven distinct proteases. These proteases exhibit a range of activities and different classifications, and they follow unique paths to arrive at their ultimate, common destination in the cell. This review will first summarize the major functions of the yeast vacuole and delineate how proteins are targeted to this organelle. We will then describe the specific trafficking itineraries and activities of the characterized vacuolar proteases, and outline select features of a new member of this protease ensemble. Finally, we will entertain the question of why so many proteases evolved and reside in the vacuole, and what future research challenges exist in the field.
PMCID: PMC4022603  PMID: 24843828
protease; S. cerevisiae; hydrolysis; autophagy; endocytosis; metalloprotease; Vps10; CPY; secretory pathway; Pff1
2.  How early studies on secreted and membrane protein quality control gave rise to the ER associated degradation (ERAD) pathway: The early history of ERAD 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2013;1833(11):2447-2457.
All newly synthesized proteins are subject to quality control check-points, which prevent aberrant polypeptides from harming the cell. For proteins that ultimately reside in the cytoplasm, components that also reside in the cytoplasm were known for many years to mediate quality control. Early biochemical and genetic data indicated that misfolded proteins were selected by molecular chaperones and then targeted to the proteasome (in eukaryotes) or to proteasome-like particles (in bacteria) for degradation. What was less clear was how secreted and integral membrane proteins, which in eukaryotes enter the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), were subject to quality control decisions. In this review, we highlight early studies that ultimately led to the discovery that secreted and integral membrane proteins also utilize several components that constitute the cytoplasmic quality machinery. This component of the cellular quality control pathway is known as ER associated degradation, or ERAD.
PMCID: PMC3723753  PMID: 23557783
3.  Characterization of an M28 metalloprotease family member residing in the yeast vacuole 
FEMS yeast research  2013;13(5):471-484.
The systematic and complete characterization of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome and proteome has been stalled in some cases by misannotated genes. One such gene is YBR074W, which was initially annotated as two independent open reading frames (ORFs). We now report on Ybr074, a metalloprotease family member that was initially predicted to reside in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that Ybr074 may be an ER quality control protease. Instead, indirect immunofluorescence images indicate that Ybr074 is a vacuolar protein, and by employing protease protection assays, we demonstrate that a conserved M28 metalloprotease domain is oriented within the lumen. Involvement of Ybr074 in ER protein quality control was ruled out by examining the stabilities of several well-characterized substrates in strains lacking Ybr074. Finally, using a proteomic approach, we show that disrupting Ybr074 function affects the levels of select factors implicated in vacuolar trafficking and osmoregulation. Together, our data indicate that Ybr074 is the only multi-spanning vacuolar membrane protease found in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
PMCID: PMC3708649  PMID: 23679341
5.  ESCRT regulates surface expression of the Kir2.1 potassium channel 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(2):276-289.
The Kir2.1 potassium channel is targeted by endoplasmic reticulum–associated degradation in yeast. To identify other Kir2.1 quality control factors, a novel yeast screen was performed. ESCRT components were among the strongest hits from the screen. Consistent with these data, ESCRT also regulates Kir2.1 stability in human cells.
Protein quality control (PQC) is required to ensure cellular health. PQC is recognized for targeting the destruction of defective polypeptides, whereas regulated protein degradation mechanisms modulate the concentration of specific proteins in concert with physiological demands. For example, ion channel levels are physiologically regulated within tight limits, but a system-wide approach to define which degradative systems are involved is lacking. We focus on the Kir2.1 potassium channel because altered Kir2.1 levels lead to human disease and Kir2.1 restores growth on low-potassium medium in yeast mutated for endogenous potassium channels. Using this system, first we find that Kir2.1 is targeted for endoplasmic reticulum–associated degradation (ERAD). Next a synthetic gene array identifies nonessential genes that negatively regulate Kir2.1. The most prominent gene family that emerges from this effort encodes members of endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT). ERAD and ESCRT also mediate Kir2.1 degradation in human cells, with ESCRT playing a more prominent role. Thus multiple proteolytic pathways control Kir2.1 levels at the plasma membrane.
PMCID: PMC3890348  PMID: 24227888
6.  A Screen for Modulators of Large T Antigen's ATPase Activity Uncovers Novel Inhibitors of Simian Virus 40 and BK Virus Replication 
Antiviral research  2012;96(1):70-81.
New polyomaviruses are continually being identified, and it is likely that links between this virus family and disease will continue to emerge. Unfortunately, a specific treatment for polyomavirus-associated disease is lacking. Because polyomaviruses express large Tumor Antigen, TAg, we hypothesized that small molecule inhibitors of the essential ATPase activity of TAg would inhibit viral replication. Using a new screening platform, we identified inhibitors of TAg's ATPase activity. Lead compounds were moved into a secondary assay, and ultimately two FDA approved compounds, bithionol and hexachlorophene, were identified as the most potent TAg inhibitors known to date. Both compounds inhibited Simian Virus 40 replication as assessed by plaque assay and quantitative PCR. Moreover, these compounds inhibited BK virus, which causes BKV Associated Nephropathy. In neither case was host cell viability compromised at these concentrations. Our data indicate that directed screening for TAg inhibitors is a viable method to identify polyomavirus inhibitors, and that bithionol and hexachlorophene represent lead compounds that may be further modified and/or ultimately used to combat diseases associated with polyomavirus infection.
PMCID: PMC3465505  PMID: 22898086
polyomavirus; bithionol; hexachlorophene; T antigen; molecular chaperone; high throughput screen
7.  Protein disulfide isomerases contribute differentially to the endoplasmic reticulum–associated degradation of apolipoprotein B and other substrates 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2012;23(4):520-532.
Protein disulfide isomerases (PDIs) are conserved chaperone-like proteins that play an essential role during protein folding and in some cases during degradation. Substrate-specific effects of PDI family members occur during the ER-associated degradation of diverse substrates in yeast and mammalian cells.
ER-associated degradation (ERAD) rids the early secretory pathway of misfolded or misprocessed proteins. Some members of the protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) family appear to facilitate ERAD substrate selection and retrotranslocation, but a thorough characterization of PDIs during the degradation of diverse substrates has not been undertaken, in part because there are 20 PDI family members in mammals. PDIs can also exhibit disulfide redox, isomerization, and/or chaperone activity, but which of these activities is required for the ERAD of different substrate classes is unknown. We therefore examined the fates of unique substrates in yeast, which expresses five PDIs. Through the use of a yeast expression system for apolipoprotein B (ApoB), which is disulfide rich, we discovered that Pdi1 interacts with ApoB and facilitates degradation through its chaperone activity. In contrast, Pdi1's redox activity was required for the ERAD of CPY* (a misfolded version of carboxypeptidase Y that has five disulfide bonds). The ERAD of another substrate, the alpha subunit of the epithelial sodium channel, was Pdi1 independent. Distinct effects of mammalian PDI homologues on ApoB degradation were then observed in hepatic cells. These data indicate that PDIs contribute to the ERAD of proteins through different mechanisms and that PDI diversity is critical to recognize the spectrum of potential ERAD substrates.
PMCID: PMC3279382  PMID: 22190736
8.  Mechanisms Underlying the Cellular Clearance of Antitrypsin Z 
The most frequent cause of α1-antitrypsin (here referred to as AT) deficiency is homozygosity for the AT-Z allele, which encodes AT-Z. Such individuals are at increased risk for liver disease due to the accumulation of aggregation-prone AT-Z in the endoplasmic reticulum of hepatocytes. However, the penetrance and severity of liver dysfunction in AT deficiency is variable, indicating that unknown genetic and environmental factors contribute to its occurrence. There is evidence that the rate of AT-Z degradation may be one such contributing factor. Through the use of several AT-Z model systems, it is now becoming appreciated that AT-Z can be degraded through at least two independent pathways. One model system that has contributed significantly to our understanding of the AT-Z disposal pathway is the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
PMCID: PMC3136956  PMID: 21030514
antitrypsin; endoplasmic reticulum–associated degradation; autophagy; yeast
9.  Heat Shock Protein 70 Inhibitors. 1. 2,5′-Thiodipyrimidine and 5-(Phenylthio)pyrimidine Acrylamides as Irreversible Binders to an Allosteric Site on Heat Shock Protein 70 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(4):1188-1207.
Heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) is an important emerging cancer target whose inhibition may affect multiple cancer-associated signaling pathways and, moreover, result in significant cancer cell apoptosis. Despite considerable interest from both academia and pharmaceutical companies in the discovery and development of druglike Hsp70 inhibitors, little success has been reported so far. Here we describe structure–activity relationship studies in the first rationally designed Hsp70 inhibitor class that binds to a novel allosteric pocket located in the N-terminal domain of the protein. These 2,5′-thiodipyrimidine and 5-(phenylthio)pyrimidine acrylamides take advantage of an active cysteine embedded in the allosteric pocket to act as covalent protein modifiers upon binding. The study identifies derivatives 17a and 20a, which selectively bind to Hsp70 in cancer cells. Addition of high nanomolar to low micromolar concentrations of these inhibitors to cancer cells leads to a reduction in the steady-state levels of Hsp70-sheltered oncoproteins, an effect associated with inhibition of cancer cell growth and apoptosis. In summary, the described scaffolds represent a viable starting point for the development of druglike Hsp70 inhibitors as novel anticancer therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3983365  PMID: 24548207
10.  Intracellular complexes of the early-onset torsion dystonia-associated AAA+ ATPase TorsinA 
SpringerPlus  2014;3:743.
A single GAG codon deletion in the gene encoding torsinA is linked to most cases of early-onset torsion dystonia. TorsinA is an ER-localized membrane-associated ATPase from the AAA+ superfamily with an unknown biological function. We investigated the formation of oligomeric complexes of torsinA in cultured mammalian cells and found that wild type torsinA associates into a complex with a molecular weight consistent with that of a homohexamer. Interestingly, the dystonia-linked variant torsinAΔE displayed a reduced propensity to form the oligomers compared to the wild type protein. We also discovered that the deletion of the N-terminal membrane-associating region of torsinA abolished oligomer formation. Our results demonstrate that the dystonia-linked mutation in the torsinA gene produces a protein variant that is deficient in maintaining its oligomeric state and suggest that ER membrane association is required to stabilize the torsinA complex.
PMCID: PMC4320221
Early-onset dystonia, TorsinA; AAA+ ATPase; Protein association
11.  The Endoplasmic Reticulum–associated Degradation of the Epithelial Sodium Channel Requires a Unique Complement of Molecular Chaperones 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(6):1047-1058.
This study describes new yeast expression systems for each subunit of the heterotrimeric epithelial sodium channel (ENaC). We found that a significant amount of each subunit resides in the ER and is destroyed via ERAD. We also found that the chaperone requirements for ENaC subunit degradation were unlike any other ERAD substrate examined.
The epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) is composed of a single copy of an α-, β-, and γ-subunit and plays an essential role in water and salt balance. Because ENaC assembles inefficiently after its insertion into the ER, a substantial percentage of each subunit is targeted for ER-associated degradation (ERAD). To define how the ENaC subunits are selected for degradation, we developed novel yeast expression systems for each ENaC subunit. Data from this analysis suggested that ENaC subunits display folding defects in more than one compartment and that subunit turnover might require a unique group of factors. Consistent with this hypothesis, yeast lacking the lumenal Hsp40s, Jem1 and Scj1, exhibited defects in ENaC degradation, whereas BiP function was dispensable. We also discovered that Jem1 and Scj1 assist in ENaC ubiquitination, and overexpression of ERdj3 and ERdj4, two lumenal mammalian Hsp40s, increased the proteasome-mediated degradation of ENaC in vertebrate cells. Our data indicate that Hsp40s can act independently of Hsp70 to select substrates for ERAD.
PMCID: PMC2836957  PMID: 20110346
12.  The Recognition and Retrotranslocation of Misfolded Proteins from the Endoplasmic Reticulum 
Traffic (Copenhagen, Denmark)  2008;9(6):861-870.
Secretory and membrane proteins that fail to fold in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) are retained and may be sorted for ER-associated degradation (ERAD). During ERAD, ER-associated components such as molecular chaperones and lectins recognize folding intermediates and specific oligosaccharyl modifications on ERAD substrates. Substrates selected for ERAD are then targeted for ubiquitin- and proteasome-mediated degradation. Because the catalytic steps of the ubiquitin–proteasome system reside in the cytoplasm, soluble ERAD substrates that reside in the ER lumen must be retrotranslocated back to the cytoplasm prior to degradation. In contrast, it has been less clear how polytopic, integral membrane substrates are delivered to enzymes required for ubiquitin conjugation and to the proteasome. In this review, we discuss recent studies addressing how ERAD substrates are recognized, ubiquitinated and delivered to the proteasome and then survey current views of how soluble and integral membrane substrates may be retrotranslocated.
PMCID: PMC2754126  PMID: 18315532
degradation; ER; glycosylation; molecular chaperone; proteasome; proteolysis; transport; ubiquitin
13.  The Yeast Hsp110, Sse1p, Exhibits High Affinity Peptide Binding 
FEBS letters  2008;582(16):2393-2396.
Hsp110s are divergent relatives of Hsp70 chaperones that hydrolyze ATP. Hsp110s serve as Hsp70 nucleotide exchange factors and act directly to maintain polypeptide solubility. To date, the impact of peptide binding on Hsp110 ATPase activity is unknown and an Hsp110/peptide affinity has not been measured. We now report on a peptide that binds to the yeast Hsp110, Sse1p, with a KD of ~2 nM. Surprisingly, the binding of this peptide fails to stimulate Sse1p ATP hydrolysis. Moreover, an Hsp70-binding peptide is unable to associate with Sse1p, suggesting that Hsp70s and Hsp110s possess partially distinct peptide recognition motifs.
PMCID: PMC2504362  PMID: 18539149
Hsp70; molecular chaperone; nucleotide exchange factor; fluorescence; ATPase
14.  Pyrimidinone-Peptoid Hybrid Molecules with Distinct Effects on Molecular Chaperone Function and Cell Proliferation 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2007;16(6):3291-3301.
The Hsp70 molecular chaperones are ATPases that play critical roles in the pathogenesis of many human diseases, including breast cancer. Hsp70 ATP hydrolysis is relatively weak, but is stimulated by J domain-containing proteins. We identified pyrimidinone-peptoid hybrid molecules that inhibit cell proliferation with greater potency than previously described Hsp70 modulators. In many cases, anti-proliferative activity correlated with inhibition of J domain stimulation of Hsp70.
PMCID: PMC2330198  PMID: 18164205
15.  Tipping the Delicate Balance: Defining How Proteasome Maturation Affects the Degradation of a Substrate for Autophagy and Endoplasmic Reticulum Associated Degradation (ERAD) 
Autophagy  2007;3(6):623-625.
An increasing body of data links endoplasmic reticulum (ER) function to autophagy. Not surprisingly, then, some aberrant proteins in the ER can be destroyed either via ER associated degradation (ERAD), which is proteasome-mediated, or via autophagy. One such substrate is the “Z” variant of the alpha-1 protease inhibitor (A1Pi), variably known as A1Pi-Z or AT-Z (“anti-trypsin, Z variant”). The wild type protein is primarily synthesized in the liver and is secreted. In contrast, AT-Z, like other ERAD substrates, is retro-translocated from the ER and delivered to the proteasome. However, AT-Z can form high molecular weight polymers that are degraded via autophagy, and cells that accumulate AT-Z polymers ultimately succumb, which leads to liver disease. Therefore, identifying genes that have an impact AT-Z turnover represents an active area of research. To this end, a yeast expression system for AT-Z has proven valuable. For example, a recent study using this system indicates that the activity of a proteasome assembly chaperone (PAC) is critical for maximal AT-Z turnover, which suggests a new role for PACs. Because PACs are conserved, it will be critical to analyze whether these dedicated chaperones are implicated in other diseases associated with ERAD and autophagy.
PMCID: PMC2654318  PMID: 17786020
anti-trypsin; A1Pi; proteasome; chaperone; proteasome assembly chaperone; PAC; yeast; unfolded protein response; liver disease; apoptosis
16.  Dissecting the ER-associated degradation of a misfolded polytopic membrane protein 
Cell  2008;132(1):101-112.
It remains unclear how misfolded membrane proteins are selected and destroyed during endoplasmic reticulum associated degradation (ERAD). For example, chaperones are thought to solubilize aggregation-prone motifs, and some data suggest that these proteins are degraded at the ER. To better define how membrane proteins are destroyed, the ERAD of Ste6p*, a twelve transmembrane protein, was reconstituted. We found that specific Hsp70/40s act before ubiquitination and facilitate Ste6p* association with an E3 ubiquitin ligase, suggesting an active role for chaperones. Furthermore, polyubiquitination was a prerequisite for retro-translocation, which required the Cdc48 complex and ATP. Surprisingly, the substrate was soluble, and extraction was independent of a ubiquitin chain extension enzyme (Ufd2p). However, Ufd2p increased the degree of ubiquitination and facilitated degradation. These data indicate that polytopic membrane proteins can be extracted from the ER, and define the point of action of chaperones and the requirement for Ufd2p during membrane protein quality control.
PMCID: PMC2219389  PMID: 18191224
molecular chaperone; Hsp70; ubiquitination; Cdc48/p97; Ufd2; proteasome
17.  The Activities and Function of Molecular Chaperones in the Endoplasmic Reticulum 
Most proteins in the secretory pathway are translated, folded, and subjected to quality control at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). These processes must be flexible enough to process diverse protein conformations, yet specific enough to recognize when a protein should be degraded. Molecular chaperones are responsible for this decision making process. ER associated chaperones assist in polypeptide translocation, protein folding, and ER associated degradation (ERAD). Nevertheless, we are only beginning to understand how chaperones function, how they are recruited to specific substrates and assist in folding/degradation, and how unique chaperone classes make quality control “decisions.”
PMCID: PMC2175536  PMID: 17964199
heat shock proteins; ERAD; proteasome; lectin; degradation
Physiological reviews  2012;92(2):537-576.
Protein folding is a complex, error-prone process that often results in an irreparable protein by-product. These by-products can be recognized by cellular quality control machineries and targeted for proteasome-dependent degradation. The folding of proteins in the secretory pathway adds another layer to the protein folding “problem,” as the endoplasmic reticulum maintains a unique chemical environment within the cell. In fact, a growing number of diseases are attributed to defects in secretory protein folding, and many of these by-products are targeted for a process known as endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation (ERAD). Since its discovery, research on the mechanisms underlying the ERAD pathway has provided new insights into how ERAD contributes to human health during both normal and diseases states. Links between ERAD and disease are evidenced from the loss of protein function as a result of degradation, chronic cellular stress when ERAD fails to keep up with misfolded protein production, and the ability of some pathogens to coopt the ERAD pathway. The growing number of ERAD substrates has also illuminated the differences in the machineries used to recognize and degrade a vast array of potential clients for this pathway. Despite all that is known about ERAD, many questions remain, and new paradigms will likely emerge. Clearly, the key to successful disease treatment lies within defining the molecular details of the ERAD pathway and in understanding how this conserved pathway selects and degrades an innumerable cast of substrates.
PMCID: PMC4162396  PMID: 22535891
19.  Allosteric heat shock protein 70 inhibitors rapidly rescue synaptic plasticity deficits by reducing aberrant tau 
Biological psychiatry  2013;74(5):367-374.
The microtubule associated protein tau accumulates in neurodegenerative diseases known as tauopathies, the most common being Alzheimer’s disease (AD). One way to treat these disorders may be to reduce abnormal tau levels through chaperone manipulation, thus subverting synaptic plasticity defects caused by tau’s toxic accretion.
Tauopathy models were used to study the impact of YM-01 on tau. YM-01 is an allosteric promoter of triage functions of the most abundant variant of the Hsp70 family in the brain, Hsc70. The mechanisms by which YM-01 modified Hsc70 activity and tau stability were evaluated with biochemical methods, cell cultures and primary neuronal cultures from tau transgenic mice. YM-01 was also administered to acute brain slices of tau mice; changes in tau stability and electrophysiological correlates of learning and memory were measured.
Tau levels were rapidly and potently reduced in vitro and ex vivo upon treatment with nanomolar concentrations of YM-01. Consistent with Hsc70 having a key role in this process, over-expression of Hsp40 (DNAJB2), an Hsp70 co-chaperone, suppressed YM-01 activity. In contrast to its effects in pathogenic tauopathy models, YM-01 had little activity in ex vivo brain slices from normal, wildtype mice unless microtubules were disrupted, suggesting that Hsc70 acts preferentially on abnormal pools of free tau. Finally, treatment with YM-01 increased long-term potentiation in from tau transgenic brain slices.
Therapeutics that exploit the ability of chaperones to selectively target abnormal tau can rapidly and potently rescue the synaptic dysfunction that occurs in AD and other tauopathies.
PMCID: PMC3740016  PMID: 23607970
tau; Alzheimer’s disease; chaperones; Hsc70; rhodocyanine; YM-01
20.  ADD66, a Gene Involved in the Endoplasmic Reticulum-associated Degradation of α-1-Antitrypsin-Z in Yeast, Facilitates Proteasome Activity and Assembly 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2007;18(10):3776-3787.
Antitrypsin deficiency is a primary cause of juvenile liver disease, and it arises from expression of the “Z” variant of the α-1 protease inhibitor (A1Pi). Whereas A1Pi is secreted from the liver, A1PiZ is retrotranslocated from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and degraded by the proteasome, an event that may offset liver damage. To better define the mechanism of A1PiZ degradation, a yeast expression system was developed previously, and a gene, ADD66, was identified that facilitates A1PiZ turnover. We report here that ADD66 encodes an ∼30-kDa soluble, cytosolic protein and that the chymotrypsin-like activity of the proteasome is reduced in add66Δ mutants. This reduction in activity may arise from the accumulation of 20S proteasome assembly intermediates or from qualitative differences in assembled proteasomes. Add66p also seems to be a proteasome substrate. Consistent with its role in ER-associated degradation (ERAD), synthetic interactions are observed between the genes encoding Add66p and Ire1p, a transducer of the unfolded protein response, and yeast deleted for both ADD66 and/or IRE1 accumulate polyubiquitinated proteins. These data identify Add66p as a proteasome assembly chaperone (PAC), and they provide the first link between PAC activity and ERAD.
PMCID: PMC1995736  PMID: 17634286
21.  Small Heat-Shock Proteins Select ΔF508-CFTR for Endoplasmic Reticulum-associated Degradation 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2007;18(3):806-814.
Secreted proteins that fail to achieve their native conformations, such as cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) and particularly the ΔF508-CFTR variant can be selected for endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated degradation (ERAD) by molecular chaperones. Because the message corresponding to HSP26, which encodes a small heat-shock protein (sHsp) in yeast was up-regulated in response to CFTR expression, we examined the impact of sHsps on ERAD. First, we observed that CFTR was completely stabilized in cells lacking two partially redundant sHsps, Hsp26p and Hsp42p. Interestingly, the ERAD of a soluble and a related integral membrane protein were unaffected in yeast deleted for the genes encoding these sHsps, and CFTR polyubiquitination was also unaltered, suggesting that Hsp26p/Hsp42p are not essential for polyubiquitination. Next, we discovered that ΔF508-CFTR degradation was enhanced when a mammalian sHsp, αA-crystallin, was overexpressed in human embryonic kidney 293 cells, but wild-type CFTR biogenesis was unchanged. Because αA-crystallin interacted preferentially with ΔF508-CFTR and because purified αA-crystallin suppressed the aggregation of the first nucleotide-binding domain of CFTR, we suggest that sHsps maintain the solubility of ΔF508-CFTR during the ERAD of this polypeptide.
PMCID: PMC1805084  PMID: 17182856
22.  Specific α-Arrestins Negatively Regulate Saccharomyces cerevisiae Pheromone Response by Down-Modulating the G-Protein-Coupled Receptor Ste2 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2014;34(14):2660-2681.
G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are integral membrane proteins that initiate responses to extracellular stimuli by mediating ligand-dependent activation of cognate heterotrimeric G proteins. In yeast, occupancy of GPCR Ste2 by peptide pheromone α-factor initiates signaling by releasing a stimulatory Gβγ complex (Ste4-Ste18) from its inhibitory Gα subunit (Gpa1). Prolonged pathway stimulation is detrimental, and feedback mechanisms have evolved that act at the receptor level to limit the duration of signaling and stimulate recovery from pheromone-induced G1 arrest, including upregulation of the expression of an α-factor-degrading protease (Bar1), a regulator of G-protein signaling protein (Sst2) that stimulates Gpa1-GTP hydrolysis, and Gpa1 itself. Ste2 is also downregulated by endocytosis, both constitutive and ligand induced. Ste2 internalization requires its phosphorylation and subsequent ubiquitinylation by membrane-localized protein kinases (Yck1 and Yck2) and a ubiquitin ligase (Rsp5). Here, we demonstrate that three different members of the α-arrestin family (Ldb19/Art1, Rod1/Art4, and Rog3/Art7) contribute to Ste2 desensitization and internalization, and they do so by discrete mechanisms. We provide genetic and biochemical evidence that Ldb19 and Rod1 recruit Rsp5 to Ste2 via PPXY motifs in their C-terminal regions; in contrast, the arrestin fold domain at the N terminus of Rog3 is sufficient to promote adaptation. Finally, we show that Rod1 function requires calcineurin-dependent dephosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC4097657  PMID: 24820415
23.  Synthesis and Initial Evaluation of YM-08, a Blood-Brain Barrier Permeable Derivative of the Heat Shock Protein 70 (Hsp70) Inhibitor MKT-077, Which Reduces Tau Levels 
ACS Chemical Neuroscience  2013;4(6):930-939.
The molecular chaperone, heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70), is an emerging drug target for treating neurodegenerative tauopathies. We recently found that one promising Hsp70 inhibitor, MKT-077, reduces tau levels in cellular models. However, MKT-077 does not penetrate the blood-brain barrier (BBB), limiting its use as either a clinical candidate or probe for exploring Hsp70 as a drug target in the central nervous system (CNS). We hypothesized that replacing the cationic pyridinium moiety in MKT-077 with a neutral pyridine might improve its clogP and enhance its BBB penetrance. To test this idea, we designed and synthesized YM-08, a neutral analogue of MKT-077. Like the parent compound, YM-08 bound to Hsp70 in vitro and reduced phosphorylated tau levels in cultured brain slices. Pharmacokinetic evaluation in CD1 mice showed that YM-08 crossed the BBB and maintained a brain/plasma (B/P) value of ∼0.25 for at least 18 h. Together, these studies suggest that YM-08 is a promising scaffold for the development of Hsp70 inhibitors suitable for use in the CNS.
PMCID: PMC3689201  PMID: 23472668
Allosteric inhibitors; microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT); Alzheimer’s disease; tauopathy; proteostasis; protein quality control; rhodacyanines
24.  The HSP70 Modulator MAL3-101 Inhibits Merkel Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e92041.
Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC) is a rare and highly aggressive neuroendocrine skin cancer for which no effective treatment is available. MCC represents a human cancer with the best experimental evidence for a causal role of a polyoma virus. Large T antigens (LTA) encoded by polyoma viruses are oncoproteins, which are thought to require support of cellular heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) to exert their transforming activity. Here we evaluated the capability of MAL3-101, a synthetic HSP70 inhibitor, to limit proliferation and survival of various MCC cell lines. Remarkably, MAL3-101 treatment resulted in considerable apoptosis in 5 out of 7 MCC cell lines. While this effect was not associated with the viral status of the MCC cells, quantitative mRNA expression analysis of the known HSP70 isoforms revealed a significant correlation between MAL3-101 sensitivity and HSC70 expression, the most prominent isoform in all cell lines. Moreover, MAL3-101 also exhibited in vivo antitumor activity in an MCC xenograft model suggesting that this substance or related compounds are potential therapeutics for the treatment of MCC in the future.
PMCID: PMC3973671  PMID: 24694787
25.  The threads that tie protein-folding diseases 
From unicellular organisms to humans, cells have evolved elegant systems to facilitate careful folding of proteins and the maintenance of protein homeostasis. Key modulators of protein homeostasis include a large, conserved family of proteins known as molecular chaperones, which augment the folding of nascent polypeptides and temper adverse consequences of cellular stress. However, errors in protein folding can still occur, resulting in the accumulation of misfolded proteins that strain cellular quality-control systems. In some cases, misfolded proteins can be targeted for degradation by the proteasome or via autophagy. Nevertheless, protein misfolding is a feature of many complex, genetically and clinically pleiotropic diseases, including neurodegenerative disorders and cancer. In recent years, substantial progress has been made in unraveling the complexity of protein folding using model systems, and we are now closer to being able to diagnose and treat the growing number of protein-folding diseases. To showcase some of these important recent advances, and also to inspire discussion on approaches to tackle unanswered questions, Disease Models & Mechanisms (DMM) presents a special collection of reviews from researchers at the cutting-edge of the field.
PMCID: PMC3882041  PMID: 24396147
Chaperones; Neurodegeneration; Protein folding

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