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1.  Thermodynamic stability, unfolding kinetics, and aggregation of the N-terminal actin binding domains of utrophin and dystrophin† 
Proteins  2012;80(5):1377-1392.
Muscular dystrophy (MD) is the most common genetic lethal disorder in children. Mutations in dystrophin trigger the most common form of MD, Duchenne and its allelic variant Becker MD. Utrophin is the closest homologue and has been shown to compensate for the loss of dystrophin in human disease animal models. However, the structural and functional similarities and differences between utrophin and dystrophin are less understood. Both proteins interact with actin through their N-terminal actin-binding domain (N-ABD). In this study, we examined the thermodynamic stability and aggregation of utrophin N-ABD and compared with that of dystrophin. Our results show that utrophin N-ABD has spectroscopic properties similar to dystrophin N-ABD. However, utrophin N-ABD has decreased denaturant and thermal stability, unfolds faster, and is correspondingly more susceptible to proteolysis, which might account for its decreased in-vivo half-life compared to dystrophin. In addition, utrophin N-ABD aggregates to a lesser extent compared with dystrophin N-ABD, contrary to the general behavior of proteins in which decreased stability enhances protein aggregation. Despite these differences in stability and aggregation, both proteins exhibit deleterious effects of mutations. When utrophin N-ABD mutations analogous in position to the dystrophin disease-causing mutations were generated, they behaved similarly to dystrophin mutants in terms of decreased stability and the formation of cross-β aggregates, indicating a possible role for utrophin mutations in disease mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3439503  PMID: 22275054
stability; unfolding; aggregation; disease; muscular dystrophy; dystrophin; utrophin; actin-binding domain; calponin-homology domain
3.  Depletion of the actin bundling protein SM22/transgelin increases actin dynamics and enhances the tumourigenic phenotypes of cells 
BMC Cell Biology  2012;13:1.
SM22 has long been studied as an actin-associated protein. Interestingly, levels of SM22 are often reduced in tumour cell lines, while they are increased during senescence possibly indicating a role for SM22 in cell fate decisions via its interaction with actin. In this study we aimed to determine whether reducing levels of SM22 could actively contribute to a tumourigenic phenotype.
We demonstrate that in REF52 fibroblasts, decreased levels of SM22 disrupt normal actin organization leading to changes in the motile behaviour of cells. Interestingly, SM22 depletion also led to an increase in the capacity of cells to spontaneously form podosomes with a concomitant increase in the ability to invade Matrigel. In PC3 prostate epithelial cancer cells by contrast, where SM22 is undetectable, re-expression of SM22 reduced the ability to invade Matrigel. Furthermore SM22 depleted cells also had reduced levels of reactive oxygen species when under serum starvation stress.
These findings suggest that depletion of SM22 could contribute to tumourigenic properties of cells. Reduction in SM22 levels would tend to promote cell survival when cells are under stress, such as in a hypoxic tumour environment, and may also contribute to increases in actin dynamics that favour metastatic potential.
PMCID: PMC3280177  PMID: 22257561
podosomes; invasion; cell motility; reactive oxygen species; tumour suppressor
4.  The proteasomal inhibitor MG132 prevents muscular dystrophy in zebrafish 
PLoS Currents  2011;3:RRN1286.
Using sapje zebrafish which lack dystrophin, we have assessed both the quantitation of muscle damage in dystrophic fish, and the efficacy of the proteasomal inhibitor MG132 in reducing the dystrophic symptoms. Fourier analysis of birefringence patterns in normal and dystrophic fish was found to be a simple and reliable quantitative measure of muscle damage. MG132, as in mdx mouse, was found to be effective in reducing muscle damage with an EC50 of 0.4µM. This study adds further to the utility of zebrafish as a model of choice for testing muscular dystrophy therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3219425  PMID: 22130468
5.  Dystroglycan versatility in cell adhesion: a tale of multiple motifs 
Dystroglycan is a ubiquitously expressed heterodimeric adhesion receptor. The extracellular α-subunit makes connections with a number of laminin G domain ligands including laminins, agrin and perlecan in the extracellular matrix and the transmembrane β-subunit makes connections to the actin filament network via cytoskeletal linkers including dystrophin, utrophin, ezrin and plectin, depending on context. Originally discovered as part of the dystrophin glycoprotein complex of skeletal muscle, dystroglycan is an important adhesion molecule and signalling scaffold in a multitude of cell types and tissues and is involved in several diseases. Dystroglycan has emerged as a multifunctional adhesion platform with many interacting partners associating with its short unstructured cytoplasmic domain. Two particular hotspots are the cytoplasmic juxtamembrane region and at the very carboxy terminus of dystroglycan. Regions which between them have several overlapping functions: in the juxtamembrane region; a nuclear localisation signal, ezrin/radixin/moesin protein, rapsyn and ERK MAP Kinase binding function, and at the C terminus a regulatory tyrosine governing WW, SH2 and SH3 domain interactions. We will discuss the binding partners for these motifs and how their interactions and regulation can modulate the involvement of dystroglycan in a range of different adhesion structures and functions depending on context. Thus dystroglycan presents as a multifunctional scaffold involved in adhesion and adhesion-mediated signalling with its functions under exquisite spatio-temporal regulation.
PMCID: PMC2834674  PMID: 20163697
6.  The WASP Homologue Las17 Activates the Novel Actin-regulatory Activity of Ysc84 to Promote Endocytosis in Yeast 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(6):1618-1628.
Actin plays an essential role in many eukaryotic cellular processes, including motility, generation of polarity, and membrane trafficking. Actin function in these roles is regulated by association with proteins that affect its polymerization state, dynamics, and organization. Numerous proteins have been shown to localize with cortical patches of yeast actin during endocytosis, but the role of many of these proteins remains poorly understood. Here, we reveal that the yeast protein Ysc84 represents a new class of actin-binding proteins, conserved from yeast to humans. It contains a novel N-terminal actin-binding domain termed Ysc84 actin binding (YAB), which can bind and bundle actin filaments. Intriguingly, full-length Ysc84 alone does not bind to actin, but binding can be activated by a specific motif within the polyproline region of the yeast WASP homologue Las17. We also identify a new monomeric actin-binding site on Las17. Together, the polyproline region of Las17 and Ysc84 can promote actin polymerization. Using live cell imaging, kinetics of assembly and disassembly of proteins at the endocytic site were analyzed and reveal that loss of Ysc84 and its homologue Lsb3 decrease inward movement of vesicles consistent with a role in actin polymerization during endocytosis.
PMCID: PMC2655254  PMID: 19158382
7.  Dystroglycan, Tks5 and Src Mediated Assembly of Podosomes in Myoblasts 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(11):e3638.
Dystroglycan is a ubiquitously expressed cell adhesion receptor best understood in its role as part of the dystrophin glycoprotein complex of mature skeletal muscle. Less is known of the role of dystroglycan in more fundamental aspects of cell adhesion in other cell types, nor of its role in myoblast cell adhesion.
Principal Findings
We have examined the role of dystroglycan in the early stages of myoblast adhesion and spreading and found that dystroglycan initially associates with other adhesion proteins in large puncta morphologically similar to podosomes. Using a human SH3 domain phage display library we identified Tks5, a key regulator of podosomes, as interacting with β-dystroglycan. We verified the interaction by immunoprecipitation, GST-pulldown and immunfluorescence localisation. Both proteins localise to puncta during early phases of spreading, but importantly following stimulation with phorbol ester, also localise to structures indistinguishable from podosomes. Dystroglycan overexpression inhibited podosome formation by sequestering Tks5 and Src. Mutation of dystroglycan tyrosine 890, previously identified as a Src substrate, restored podosome formation.
We propose therefore, that Src-dependent phosphorylation of β-dystroglycan results in the formation of a Src/dystroglycan complex that drives the SH3-mediated association between dystroglycan and Tks5 which together regulate podosome formation in myoblasts.
PMCID: PMC2572840  PMID: 18982058
8.  Interactions between the Yeast SM22 Homologue Scp1 and Actin Demonstrate the Importance of Actin Bundling in Endocytosis*S⃞ 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2008;283(22):15037-15046.
The yeast SM22 homologue Scp1 has previously been shown to act as an actin-bundling protein in vitro. In cells, Scp1 localizes to the cortical actin patches that form as part of the invagination process during endocytosis, and its function overlaps with that of the well characterized yeast fimbrin homologue Sac6p. In this work we have used live cell imaging to demonstrate the importance of key residues in the Scp1 actin interface. We have defined two actin binding domains within Scp1 that allow the protein to both bind and bundle actin without the need for dimerization. Green fluorescent protein-tagged mutants of Scp1 also indicate that actin localization does not require the putative phosphorylation site Ser-185 to be functional. Deletion of SCP1 has few discernable effects on cell growth and morphology. However, we reveal that scp1 deletion is compensated for by up-regulation of Sac6. Furthermore, Scp1 levels are increased in the absence of sac6. The presence of compensatory pathways to up-regulate Sac6 or Scp1 levels in the absence of the other suggest that maintenance of sufficient bundling activity is critical within the cell. Analysis of cortical patch assembly and movement during endocytosis reveals a previously undetected role for Scp1 in movement of patches away from the plasma membrane. Additionally, we observe a dramatic increase in patch lifetime in a strain lacking both sac6 and scp1, demonstrating the central role played by actin-bundling proteins in the endocytic process.
PMCID: PMC2397485  PMID: 18400761
9.  Plectin 1f scaffolding at the sarcolemma of dystrophic (mdx) muscle fibers through multiple interactions with β-dystroglycan 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2007;176(7):965-977.
In skeletal muscle, the cytolinker plectin is prominently expressed at Z-disks and the sarcolemma. Alternative splicing of plectin transcripts gives rise to more than eight protein isoforms differing only in small N-terminal sequences (5–180 residues), four of which (plectins 1, 1b, 1d, and 1f) are found at substantial levels in muscle tissue. Using plectin isoform–specific antibodies and isoform expression constructs, we show the differential regulation of plectin isoforms during myotube differentiation and their localization to different compartments of muscle fibers, identifying plectins 1 and 1f as sarcolemma-associated isoforms, whereas plectin 1d localizes exclusively to Z-disks. Coimmunoprecipitation and in vitro binding assays using recombinant protein fragments revealed the direct binding of plectin to dystrophin (utrophin) and β-dystroglycan, the key components of the dystrophin–glycoprotein complex. We propose a model in which plectin acts as a universal mediator of desmin intermediate filament anchorage at the sarcolemma and Z-disks. It also explains the plectin phenotype observed in dystrophic skeletal muscle of mdx mice and Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients.
PMCID: PMC2064082  PMID: 17389230

Results 1-9 (9)