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1.  Sumoylation of AMPKβ2 subunit enhances AMP-activated protein kinase activity 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(11):1801-1811.
The AMPKβ2 subunit can be modified by sumoylation carried out by the E3-SUMO ligase PIASy, which attaches SUMO2 but not SUMO1 moieties. This posttranslational modification is specific to AMPKβ2 and enhances the activity of the AMPK complex. Sumoylation of AMPKβ2 is antagonistic and competes with ubiquitination of the same subunit.
AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a sensor of cellular energy status. It is a heterotrimer composed of a catalytic α and two regulatory subunits (β and γ). AMPK activity is regulated allosterically by AMP and by the phosphorylation of residue Thr-172 within the catalytic domain of the AMPKα subunit by upstream kinases. We present evidence that the AMPKβ2 subunit may be posttranslationally modified by sumoylation. This process is carried out by the E3-small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) ligase protein inhibitor of activated STAT PIASy, which modifies the AMPKβ2 subunit by the attachment of SUMO2 but not SUMO1 moieties. Of interest, AMPKβ1 is not a substrate for this modification. We also demonstrate that sumoylation of AMPKβ2 enhances the activity of the trimeric α2β2γ1 AMPK complex. In addition, our results indicate that sumoylation is antagonist and competes with the ubiquitination of the AMPKβ2 subunit. This adds a new layer of complexity to the regulation of the activity of the AMPK complex, since conditions that promote ubiquitination result in inactivation, whereas those that promote sumoylation result in the activation of the AMPK complex.
PMCID: PMC3667731  PMID: 23552691
2.  Erratum to 
Autophagy  2012;8(7):1163.
PMCID: PMC3429560
Lafora disease; autophagy; glycogen metabolism; laforin; malin; neurodegeneration
3.  Lafora disease E3-ubiquitin ligase malin is related to TRIM32 at both the phylogenetic and functional level 
Malin is an E3-ubiquitin ligase that is mutated in Lafora disease, a fatal form of progressive myoclonus epilepsy. In order to perform its function, malin forms a functional complex with laforin, a glucan phosphatase that facilitates targeting of malin to its corresponding substrates. While laforin phylogeny has been studied, there are no data on the evolutionary lineage of malin.
After an extensive search for malin orthologs, we found that malin is present in all vertebrate species and a cephalochordate, in contrast with the broader species distribution previously reported for laforin. These data suggest that in addition to forming a functional complex, laforin and perhaps malin may also have independent functions. In addition, we found that malin shares significant identity with the E3-ubiquitin ligase TRIM32, which belongs to the tripartite-motif containing family of proteins. We present experimental evidence that both malin and TRIM32 share some substrates for ubiquitination, although they produce ubiquitin chains with different topologies. However, TRIM32-specific substrates were not reciprocally ubiquitinated by the laforin-malin complex.
We found that malin and laforin are not conserved in the same genomes. In addition, we found that malin shares significant identity with the E3-ubiquitin ligase TRIM32. The latter result suggests a common origin for malin and TRIM32 and provides insights into possible functional relationships between both proteins.
PMCID: PMC3160408  PMID: 21798009
AMPK; malin; TRIM32; E3 ubiquitin ligase; phylogeny; Lafora disease
4.  A PTG Variant Contributes to a Milder Phenotype in Lafora Disease 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21294.
Lafora disease is an autosomal recessive form of progressive myoclonus epilepsy with no effective therapy. Although the outcome is always unfavorable, onset of symptoms and progression of the disease may vary. We aimed to identify modifier genes that may contribute to the clinical course of Lafora disease patients with EPM2A or EPM2B mutations. We established a list of 43 genes coding for proteins related to laforin/malin function and/or glycogen metabolism and tested common polymorphisms for possible associations with phenotypic differences using a collection of Lafora disease families. Genotype and haplotype analysis showed that PPP1R3C may be associated with a slow progression of the disease. The PPP1R3C gene encodes protein targeting to glycogen (PTG). Glycogen targeting subunits play a major role in recruiting type 1 protein phosphatase (PP1) to glycogen-enriched cell compartments and in increasing the specific activity of PP1 toward specific glycogenic substrates (glycogen synthase and glycogen phosphorylase). Here, we report a new mutation (c.746A>G, N249S) in the PPP1R3C gene that results in a decreased capacity to induce glycogen synthesis and a reduced interaction with glycogen phosphorylase and laforin, supporting a key role of this mutation in the glycogenic activity of PTG. This variant was found in one of two affected siblings of a Lafora disease family characterized by a remarkable mild course. Our findings suggest that variations in PTG may condition the course of Lafora disease and establish PTG as a potential target for pharmacogenetic and therapeutic approaches.
PMCID: PMC3127956  PMID: 21738631
5.  Lafora progressive myoclonus epilepsy: NHLRC1 mutations affect glycogen metabolism 
Lafora disease is a fatal autosomal recessive form of progressive myoclonus epilepsy. Patients manifest myoclonus and tonic–clonic seizures, visual hallucinations, intellectual, and progressive neurologic deterioration beginning in adolescence. The two genes known to be involved in Lafora disease are EPM2A and NHLRC1 (EPM2B). The EPM2A gene encodes laforin, a dual-specificity protein phosphatase, and the NHLRC1 gene encodes malin, an E3-ubiquitin ligase. The two proteins interact with each other and, as a complex, are thought to regulate glycogen synthesis. Here, we report three Lafora families with two novel pathogenic mutations (C46Y and L261P) and two recurrent mutations (P69A and D146N) in NHLRC1. Investigation of their functional consequences in cultured mammalian cells revealed that malinC46Y, malinP69A, malinD146N, and malinL261P mutants failed to downregulate the level of R5/PTG, a regulatory subunit of protein phosphatase 1 involved in glycogen synthesis. Abnormal accumulation of intracellular glycogen was observed with all malin mutants, reminiscent of the polyglucosan inclusions (Lafora bodies) present in patients with Lafora disease.
PMCID: PMC3154284  PMID: 21505799
Epilepsy; Mendelian disorder; Genetics; Autosomal recessive
6.  Impaired autophagy in Lafora disease 
Autophagy  2010;6(7):991-993.
Lafora disease (LD) is a progressive, lethal, autosomal recessive, neurodegenerative disorder that manifests with myoclonus epilepsy. LD is characterized by the presence of intracellular inclusion bodies called Lafora bodies (LB), in brain, spinal cord and other tissues. More than 50 percent of LD is caused by mutations in EPM2A that encodes laforin. Here we review our recent findings that revealed that laforin regulates autophagy. We consider how autophagy compromise may predispose to LB formation and neurodegeneration in LD, and discuss future investigations suggested by our data.
PMCID: PMC3039746  PMID: 20818165
autophagy; glycogen metabolism; Lafora disease; laforin; malin; neurodegeneration
7.  Laforin, the most common protein mutated in Lafora disease, regulates autophagy 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;19(14):2867-2876.
Lafora disease (LD) is an autosomal recessive, progressive myoclonus epilepsy, which is characterized by the accumulation of polyglucosan inclusion bodies, called Lafora bodies, in the cytoplasm of cells in the central nervous system and in many other organs. However, it is unclear at the moment whether Lafora bodies are the cause of the disease, or whether they are secondary consequences of a primary metabolic alteration. Here we describe that the major genetic lesion that causes LD, loss-of-function of the protein laforin, impairs autophagy. This phenomenon is confirmed in cell lines from human patients, mouse embryonic fibroblasts from laforin knockout mice and in tissues from such mice. Conversely, laforin expression stimulates autophagy. Laforin regulates autophagy via the mammalian target of rapamycin kinase-dependent pathway. The changes in autophagy mediated by laforin regulate the accumulation of diverse autophagy substrates and would be predicted to impact on the Lafora body accumulation and the cell stress seen in this disease that may eventually contribute to cell death.
PMCID: PMC2893813  PMID: 20453062
8.  Increased Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and Decreased Proteasomal Function in Lafora Disease Models Lacking the Phosphatase Laforin 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(6):e5907.
Lafora progressive myoclonus epilepsy (Lafora disease; LD) is a fatal autosomal recessive neurodegenerative disorder caused by loss-of-function mutations in either the EPM2A gene, encoding the dual specificity phosphatase laforin, or the EPM2B gene, encoding the E3-ubiquitin ligase malin. Previously, we and others have shown that both proteins form a functional complex that regulates glycogen synthesis by a novel mechanism involving ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of at least two proteins, glycogen synthase and R5/PTG. Since laforin and malin localized at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and their regulatory role likely extend to other proteins unrelated to glycogen metabolism, we postulated that their absence may also affect the ER-unfolded protein response pathway.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here, we demonstrate that siRNA silencing of laforin in Hek293 and SH-SY5Y cells increases their sensitivity to agents triggering ER-stress, which correlates with impairment of the ubiquitin-proteasomal pathway and increased apoptosis. Consistent with these findings, analysis of tissue samples from a LD patient lacking laforin, and from a laforin knockout (Epm2a-/-) mouse model of LD, demonstrates constitutive high expression levels of ER-stress markers BIP/Grp78, CHOP and PDI, among others.
We demonstrate that, in addition to regulating glycogen synthesis, laforin and malin play a role protecting cells from ER-stress, likely contributing to the elimination of unfolded proteins. These data suggest that proteasomal dysfunction and ER-stress play an important role in the pathogenesis of LD, which may offer novel therapeutic approaches for this fatal neurodegenerative disorder.
PMCID: PMC2692001  PMID: 19529779

Results 1-8 (8)