Mediator is a key regulator of eukaryotic transcription1, connecting activators and repressors bound to regulatory DNA elements with RNA polymerase II (Pol II) 1-4. In the yeast S. cerevisiae, Mediator comprises 25 subunits with a total mass over 1 MDa 5,6, and is organized into three modules, termed Head, Middle/Arm and Tail 7-9. Our understanding of Mediator assembly and its role in regulating transcription has been impeded to date by limited structural information. Here, we report the crystal structure of the essential Mediator Head module (seven subunits, 223 kDa) at 4.3 Å resolution. Our structure reveals three distinct domains with the integrity of the complex centered on a bundle of ten helices from five different Head subunits. An intricate pattern of interactions within this helical bundle ensures stable assembly of the Head subunits, and provides the binding sites for general transcription factors (GTFs) and Pol II. Our structural and functional data suggest the Head module to juxtapose TFIIH and the carboxyl-terminal domain (CTD) of the largest subunit of Pol II, thereby facilitating CTD phosphorylation. Our results reveal architectural principles underlying the role of Mediator in the regulation of gene expression.
Structure determination of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) is necessary for understanding their physical and chemical properties, and only one AuNP larger than 1 nm in diameter, an Au102NP, has been solved to atomic resolution. Whereas the Au102NP structure was determined by X-ray crystallography, other large AuNPs have proved refractory to this approach. Here we report the structure determination of an Au68NP at atomic resolution by aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy (AC-TEM), performed with the use of a minimal electron dose, an approach that should prove applicable to metal NPs in general. The structure of the Au68NP was supported by small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and by comparison of observed infrared (IR) absorption spectra with calculations by density functional theory (DFT).
Decapentaplegic (Dpp), a Drosophila morphogen signaling protein, transfers directly at synapes made at sites of contact between cells that produce Dpp and cytonemes that extend from recipient cells. The Dpp that cytonemes receive moves together with activated receptors toward the recipient cell body in motile puncta. Genetic loss-of-function conditions for diaphanous, shibire, neuroglian and capricious perturbed cytonemes by reducing their number or only the synapses they make with cells they target; and reduced cytoneme-mediated transport of Dpp and Dpp signaling. These experiments provide direct evidence that cells use cytonemes to exchange signaling proteins, that cytoneme-based exchange is essential for signaling and normal development, and that morphogen distribution and signaling can be contact-dependent, requiring cytoneme synapses.
Drosophila cytonemes; Dpp signaling; morphogen; synapse
To assess the utility and safety of rituximab in pediatric autoimmune and inflammatory disorders of the CNS.
Multicenter retrospective study.
A total of 144 children and adolescents (median age 8 years, range 0.7–17; 103 female) with NMDA receptor (NMDAR) encephalitis (n = 39), opsoclonus myoclonus ataxia syndrome (n = 32), neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (n = 20), neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus (n = 18), and other neuroinflammatory disorders (n = 35) were studied. Rituximab was given after a median duration of disease of 0.5 years (range 0.05–9.5 years). Infusion adverse events were recorded in 18/144 (12.5%), including grade 4 (anaphylaxis) in 3. Eleven patients (7.6%) had an infectious adverse event (AE), including 2 with grade 5 (death) and 2 with grade 4 (disabling) infectious AE (median follow-up of 1.65 years [range 0.1–8.5]). No patients developed progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. A definite, probable, or possible benefit was reported in 125 of 144 (87%) patients. A total of 17.4% of patients had a modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score of 0–2 at rituximab initiation, compared to 73.9% at outcome. The change in mRS 0–2 was greater in patients given rituximab early in their disease course compared to those treated later.
While limited by the retrospective nature of this analysis, our data support an off-label use of rituximab, although the significant risk of infectious complications suggests rituximab should be restricted to disorders with significant morbidity and mortality.
Classification of evidence:
This study provides Class IV evidence that in pediatric autoimmune and inflammatory CNS disorders, rituximab improves neurologic outcomes with a 7.6% risk of adverse infections.
Expression of recombinant proteins in bacterial or eukaryotic systems often results in aggregation rendering them unavailable for biochemical or structural studies. Protein aggregation is a costly problem for biomedical research. It forces research laboratories and the biomedical industry to search for alternative, more soluble, non-human proteins and limits the number of potential “druggable” targets. In this study we present a highly reproducible protocol that introduces the systematic use of an extensive number of detergents to solubilize aggregated proteins expressed in bacterial and eukaryotic systems. We validate the usefulness of this protocol by solubilizing traditionally difficult human protein targets to milligram quantities and confirm their biological activity. We use this method to solubilize monomeric or multimeric components of multi-protein complexes and demonstrate its efficacy to reconstitute large cellular machines. This protocol works equally well on cytosolic, nuclear and membrane proteins and can be easily adapted to a high throughput format.
Protein purification; Detergents; Multiprotein complexes; Membrane receptors
A minimal RNA polymerase II (pol II) transcription system comprises the polymerase and five general transcription factors (GTFs) TFIIB, -D, -E, -F, and -H. The addition of Mediator enables a response to regulatory factors. The GTFs are required for promoter recognition and the initiation of transcription. Following initiation, pol II alone is capable of RNA transcript elongation and of proofreading. Structural studies reviewed here reveal roles of GTFs in the initiation process and shed light on the transcription elongation mechanism.
Infrared fluorescent proteins (IFPs) are ideal for in vivo imaging and monomeric versions of these proteins can be advantageous as protein tags or for sensor development. In contrast to GFP, which requires only molecular oxygen for chromophore maturation, phytochrome-derived IFPs incorporate biliverdin (BV) as the chromophore. However, BV varies in concentration in different cells and organisms. Here we engineered cells to express the heme oxygenase responsible for BV biosynthesys and a brighter monomeric IFP mutant (IFP2.0). Together, these tools improve the imaging capabilities of IFP2.0 compared to monomeric IFP1.4 and dimeric iRFP. By targeting IFP2.0 to the plasma membrane, we demonstrate robust labeling of neuronal processes in Drosophila larvae. We also show that this strategy improves the sensitivity when imaging brain tumors in whole mice. Our work shows promise in the application of IFPs for protein labeling and in vivo imaging.
The protein density and arrangement of subunits of a complete, 31-protein, RNA polymerase II (pol II) transcription pre-initiation complex (PIC) were determined by cryo-electron microscopy and a combination of chemical cross-linking and mass spectrometry. The PIC showed a marked division in two parts, one containing all the general transcription factors (GTFs), and the other pol II. Promoter DNA was associated only with the GTFs, suspended above the pol II cleft and not in contact with pol II. This structural principle of the PIC underlies its conversion to a transcriptionally active state; the PIC is poised for the formation of a transcription bubble and descent of the DNA into the pol II cleft.
Pediatric studies for new biological agents are mandated by recent legislation, necessitating careful thought to evaluation of emerging multiple sclerosis (MS) therapies in children with MS. Challenges include a small patient population, the lack of prior randomized clinical trials, and ethical concerns. The goal of this meeting was to assess areas of consensus regarding clinical trial design and outcome measures among academic experts involved in pediatric MS care and research.
The Steering Committee of the International Pediatric MS Study Group identified key focus areas for discussion. A total of 69 meeting attendees were assembled, including 35 academic experts. Regulatory and pharmaceutical representatives also attended, and provided input, which informed academic expert consensus decisions.
The academic experts agreed that clinical trials were necessary in pediatric MS to obtain pharmacokinetic, safety and efficacy data, and regulatory approval allowing for greater medication access. The academic experts agreed that relapse was an appropriate primary outcome measure for phase III pediatric trials. An international standardized cognitive battery was identified. The pros and cons of various trial designs were discussed. Guidelines surrounding MRI studies, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and registries were developed. The academic experts agreed that given the limited subject pool, a stepwise approach to the launch of clinical trials for the most promising medications is necessary in order to ensure study completion. Alternative approaches could result in unethical exposure of patients to trial conditions without gaining knowledge.
Consensus points for conduct of clinical trials in the rare disease pediatric MS were identified amongst a panel of academic experts, informed by regulatory and industry stakeholders.
The recent growth in single molecule studies of translation has provided an insight into the molecular mechanism of ribosomal function. Single molecule fluorescence approaches allowed direct observation of the structural rearrangements occurring during translation and revealed dynamic motions of the ribosome and its ligands. These studies demonstrated how ligand binding affects dynamics of the ribosome, and the role of the conformational sampling in large-scale rearrangements intrinsic to translation elongation. The application of time-resolved cryo-electron microscopy revealed new conformational intermediates during back-translocation providing an insight into ribosomal dynamics from an alternative perspective. Recent developments permitted examination of conformational and compositional dynamics of the ribosome in real-time through multiple cycles of elongation at the single molecule level. The zero-mode waveguide approach allowed direct observation of the compositional dynamics of tRNA occupancy on the elongating ribosome. The emergence of single molecule in vivo techniques provided insights into the mechanism and regulation of translation at the organismal level.
Signaling between cells in the anterior (A) and posterior (P) compartments directs Drosophila wing disc development and is dependent on expression of the homeodomain transcription factor Engrailed (En) in P cells. Downstream of en, posteriorly expressed Hedgehog (Hh) protein signals across the A/P border to establish a developmental organizer that directs pattern formation and growth throughout the wing primordium. Here we extend investigations of the processes downstream of en by using expression array analysis to compare A and P cells. A total of 102 candidate genes were identified that express differentially in the A and P compartments; four were characterized: Stubble (Sb) expression is restricted to A cells due to repression by en. CG15905, CG16884; CG10200/hase und igel (hui) are expressed in A cells downstream of Hh signaling; and RNA interference for hui, Stubble, and CG16884 revealed that each is essential to wing development.
anteroposterior compartment border; pattern formation; expression microarray; engrailed; hedgehog
The secreted protein Hedgehog (Hh) plays an important role in metazoan development and as a survival factor for many human tumors. In both cases, Hh signaling proceeds through the activation of the seven-transmembrane protein Smoothened (Smo), which is thought to convert the Gli family of transcription factors from transcriptional repressors to transcriptional activators. Here, we provide evidence that Smo signals to the Hh signaling complex, which consists of the kinesin-related protein Costal2 (Cos2), the protein kinase Fused (Fu), and the Drosophila Gli homolog cubitus interruptus (Ci), in two distinct manners. We show that many of the commonly observed molecular events following Hh signaling are not transmitted in a linear fashion but instead are activated through two signals that bifurcate at Smo to independently affect activator and repressor pools of Ci.
The Drosophila embryo proceeds through thirteen mitotic divisions as a syncytium. Its nuclei distribute in the embryo's interior during the first six divisions, dividing synchronously with a cycle time of less than ten minutes. After seven divisions (nuclear cycle 8), the syncytial blastoderm forms as the nuclei approach the embryo surface and slow their cycle time; subsequent divisions proceed in waves that initiate at the poles. Because genetic studies have not identified zygotic mutants that affect the early divisions and because transcription has not been detected before cycle 8, the early, pre-blastoderm embryo has been considered to rely entirely on maternal contributions and to be transcriptionally silent. Our studies identified several abnormal phenotypes in live engrailed (en) mutant embryos prior to cycle 8, as well as a small group of genes that are transcribed in embryos prior to cycle 7. Nuclei in en embryos divide asynchronously, an abnormality that was detected as early as nuclear cycle 2–3. Anti-En antibody detected nuclear En protein in embryos at cycle 2, and expression of an En:GFP fusion protein encoded in the paternal genome was also detected in cycle 2 nuclei. These findings demonstrate that the Drosophila embryo is functionally competent for gene expression prior to the onset of its rapid nuclear divisions and that the embryo requires functions that are expressed in the zygote in order to faithfully prosecute its early, pre-cellularization mitotic cycles.
Genetic studies identified many genes that are required during Drosophila oogenesis to endow the embryo with structures and components it will need to develop; they have also identified many genes that the embryo must express. However, measures of transcription have detected zygotic transcripts only after seven nuclear divisions, and many studies have concluded that zygotic mutants do not affect embryos prior to cellularization. The model that has emerged is that the earliest stages of embryogenesis rely solely on maternal stores and do not receive input from the zygotic genome. The fact that the embryo's nuclei divide rapidly with a cycling time of less than ten minutes has been interpreted to support this model, because it has been assumed that the nuclear cycle is too short for productive gene expression. Using sensitive measures of transcription and histological procedures that detect subtle differences, we found evidence for expression as early as nuclear cycle 2, and we identified a requirement for zygotic gene expression in embryos with just 2–4 nuclei. These findings challenge the idea that the Drosophila embryo is entirely pre-programmed and that its early development is under exclusive maternal control.
To determine whether pentoxifylline (PTX) slows the decline of muscle strength and function in ambulatory boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
This was a multicenter, randomized, double-blinded, controlled trial comparing 12 months of daily treatment with PTX or placebo in corticosteroid-treated boys with DMD using a slow-release PTX formulation (∼20 mg/kg/day). The primary outcome was the change in mean total quantitative muscle testing (QMT) score. Secondary outcomes included changes in QMT subscales, manual muscle strength, pulmonary function, and timed function tests. Outcomes were compared using Student t tests and a linear mixed-effects model. Adverse events (AEs) were compared using the Fisher exact test.
A total of 64 boys with DMD with a mean age of 9.9 ± 2.9 years were randomly assigned to PTX or placebo in 11 participating Cooperative International Neuromuscular Research Group centers. There was no significant difference between PTX and the placebo group in total QMT scores (p = 0.14) or in most of the secondary outcomes after a 12-month treatment. The use of PTX was associated with mild to moderate gastrointestinal or hematologic AEs.
The addition of PTX to corticosteroid-treated boys with DMD at a moderate to late ambulatory stage of disease did not improve or halt the deterioration of muscle strength and function over a 12-month study period.
Classification of evidence:
This study provides Class I evidence that treatment with PTX does not prevent deterioration in muscle function or strength in corticosteroid-treated boys with DMD.
Myoclonus is characterized by sudden, brief involuntary movements and its presence is debilitating. We identified a family suffering from adult-onset, cortical myoclonus without associated seizures. We performed clinical, electrophysiological, and genetic studies to define this phenotype.
A large, four-generation family with history of myoclonus underwent careful questioning, examination, and electrophysiological testing. Thirty-five family members donated blood samples for genetic analysis, which included SNP mapping, microsatellite linkage, targeted massively parallel sequencing, and Sanger sequencing. In silico and in vitro experiments were performed to investigate functional significance of the mutation.
We identified 11 members of a Canadian Mennonite family suffering from adult-onset, slowly progressive, disabling, multifocal myoclonus. Somatosensory evoked potentials indicated a cortical origin of the myoclonus. There were no associated seizures. Some severely affected individuals developed signs of progressive cerebellar ataxia of variable severity late in the course of their illness. The phenotype was inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion. We demonstrated linkage to chromosome 16q21-22.1. We then sequenced all coding sequence in the critical region, identifying only a single co-segregating, novel, nonsynonymous mutation, which resides in the gene NOL3. Furthermore, this mutation was found to alter post-translational modification of NOL3 protein in vitro.
We propose that Familial Cortical Myoclonus (FCM) is a novel movement disorder that may be caused by mutation in NOL3. Further investigation of the role of NOL3 in neuronal physiology may shed light on neuronal membrane hyperexcitability and pathophysiology of myoclonus and related disorders.
Locoregional interventional bridging therapy (IBT) is an accepted neoadjuvant approach in liver transplant candidates with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the prognostic value of IBT in patients with advanced HCC is still undefined.
The aim of this trial was to evaluate the impact of postinterventional tumor necrosis on recurrence-free long-term survival after liver transplantation (LT) in patients with HCC, especially focusing on those exceeding the Milan criteria on pretransplant radiographic imaging.
Patients and Methods
A total of 93 consecutive liver transplant candidates with HCC were included in this trial. In 36 patients, tumors were clinically staged beyond Milan criteria prior LT. Fifty-nine patients underwent IBT by transarterial chemoembolization or radiofrequency ablation pretransplantation. Postinterventional tumor necrosis rate as assessed at liver explant pathology was correlated with outcome post-LT.
There was no significant difference in 5-year tumor-free survival rate between the IBT- and the non-IBT subpopulation (78% versus 68%, P = 0.25). However, tumor response following IBT (≥50% tumor necrosis rate at explant pathology) resulted in a significantly better outcome 5 years post-LT (96%) than tumor non-response to IBT (<50% tumor necrosis rate at explant pathology; 21%; P<0.001). Five-year recurrence-free survival rate was 80% in Milan Out patients with extended post-IBT tumor necrosis versus 0% in Milan Out patients without tumor response to IBT (P<0.001). None of macromorphological HCC features, but only the absence of increased 18F-fluoro-deoxy-glucose (18FDG) uptake on pretransplant positron emission tomography (PET) was identified as independent predictor of postinterventional tumor response (P<0.001).
Our results implicate that extended postinterventional tumor necrosis promotes recurrence-free long-term survival in patients with HCC beyond standard criteria. Pretransplant PET assessment may identify those patients with advanced HCC that will benefit from post-IBT tumor response and may, thereby, achieve excellent posttransplant outcome.
RNA exosomes are multi-subunit complexes conserved throughout evolution1 and emerging as the major cellular machinery for processing, surveillance, and turnover of a diverse spectrum of coding and non-coding RNA substrates essential for viability2. By exome sequencing, we discovered recessive mutations in exosome component 3 (EXOSC3) in four siblings with infantile spinal motor neuron disease, cerebellar atrophy, progressive microcephaly, and profound global developmental delay, consistent with pontocerebellar hypoplasia type 1 [PCH1; OMIM 607596]3–6. We identified mutations in EXOSC3 in an additional 8 of 12 families with PCH1. Morpholino knockdown of exosc3 in zebrafish embryos caused embryonic maldevelopment with small brain and poor motility, reminiscent of human clinical features and largely rescued by coinjected wildtype but not mutant exosc3 mRNA. These findings represent the first example of an RNA exosome gene responsible for a human disease and further implicate dysregulation of RNA processing in cerebellar and spinal motor neuron maldevelopment and degeneration.
Bone marrow (BM) cells depend on their niche for growth and survival. However, the genes modulated by niche stimuli have not been discriminated yet. For this purpose, we investigated BM aspirations from patients with various hematological malignancies. Each aspirate was fractionated, and the various samples were fixed at different time points and analyzed by microarray. Identification of niche-modulated genes relied on sustained change in expression following loss of niche regulation. Compared with the reference (‘authentic') samples, which were fixed immediately following aspiration, the BM samples fixed after longer stay out-of-niche acquired numerous changes in gene-expression profile (GEP). The overall genes modulated included a common subset of functionally diverse genes displaying prompt and sustained ‘switch' in expression irrespective of the tumor type. Interestingly, the ‘switch' in GEP was reversible and turned ‘off-and-on' again in culture conditions, resuming cell–cell–matrix contact versus respread into suspension, respectively. Moreover, the resuming of contact prolonged the survival of tumor cells out-of-niche, and the regression of the ‘contactless switch' was followed by induction of a new set of genes, this time mainly encoding extracellular proteins including angiogenic factors and extracellular matrix proteins. Our data set, being unique in authentic expression design, uncovered niche-modulated and niche-modulating genes capable of controlling homing, expansion and angiogenesis.
gene-expression profile; myeloma; leukemia; contactless gene signature; niche-modulated genes; niche-modulating genes
To perform a double-blind, randomized study comparing efficacy and safety of daily and weekend prednisone in boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
A total of 64 boys with DMD who were between 4 and 10 years of age were randomized at 1 of 12 centers of the Cooperative International Neuromuscular Research Group. Efficacy and safety of 2 prednisone schedules (daily 0.75 mg/kg/day and weekend 10 mg/kg/wk) were evaluated over 12 months.
Equivalence was met for weekend and daily dosing of prednisone for the primary outcomes of quantitative muscle testing (QMT) arm score and QMT leg score. Secondary strength scores for QMT elbow flexors also showed equivalence between the 2 treatment groups. Overall side effect profiles of height and weight, bone density, cataract formation, blood pressure, and behavior, analyzed at 12 months, did not differ between weekend and daily dosing of prednisone.
Weekend dosing of prednisone is equally beneficial to the standard daily dosing of prednisone. Analysis of side effect profiles demonstrated overall tolerability of both dosing regimens.
Classification of evidence:
This study provides Class I evidence that weekend prednisone dosing is as safe and effective as daily prednisone in preserving muscle strength and preventing body mass index increases in boys with DMD over a 12-month period.
Intramembrane proteases of the Signal Peptide Peptidase (SPP) family play important roles in developmental, metabolic and signaling pathways. Although vertebrates have one SPP and four SPP-like (SPPL) genes, we found that insect genomes encode one Spp and one SppL. Characterization of the Drosophila sppL gene revealed that the predicted SppL protein is a highly conserved structural homolog of the vertebrate SPPL3 proteases, with a predicted nine-transmembrane topology, an active site containing aspartyl residues within a transmembrane region, and a carboxy-terminal PAL domain. SppL protein localized to both the Golgi and ER. Whereas spp is an essential gene that is required during early larval stages and whereas spp loss-of-function reduced the unfolded protein response (UPR), sppL loss of function had no apparent phenotype. This was unexpected given that genetic knockdown phenotypes in other organisms suggested significant roles for Spp-related proteases.
Purified chromatin rings, excised from the PHO5 locus of yeast in transcriptionally repressed and activated states, were remodeled with RSC and ATP. Nucleosomes were translocated, and those originating on the promoter of repressed rings were removed, whereas those originating on the open reading frame (ORF) were retained. Treatment of the repressed rings with histone deacetylase diminished the removal of promoter nucleosomes. These findings point to a principle of promoter chromatin remodeling for transcription, that promoter-specificity resides primarily in the nucleosomes, rather than in the remodeling complex that acts upon them.
High density tiling arrays are an effective strategy for genome-wide identification of transcription factor binding regions. Sliding window methods that calculate moving averages of log ratios or t-statistics have been useful for the analysis of tiling array data. Here, we present a method that generalizes the moving average approach to evaluate sliding windows of p-values by using combined p-value statistics. In particular, the combined p-value framework can be useful in situations when taking averages of the corresponding test-statistic for the hypothesis may not be appropriate or when it is difficult to assess the significance of these averages. We exhibit the strengths of the combined p-values methods on Drosophila tiling array data and assess their ability to predict genomic regions enriched for transcription factor binding. The predictions are evaluated based on their proximity to target genes and their enrichment of known transcription factor binding sites. We also present an application for the generalization of the moving average based on integrating two different tiling array experiments.
transcription factor; binding sequence; tiling array; combined p-value
By adjustment of solvent conditions for synthesis, virtually monodisperse 4-mercaptobenzoic acid (p-MBA) monolayer-protected gold nanoparticles, 2 and 3 nm in diameter were obtained. Large single crystals of the 2 nm particles could be grown from the reaction mixture. Uniformity was also demonstrated by the formation of two-dimensional arrays and by quantitative high-angle annular dark-field scanning transmission electron microscopy. The 2 and 3 nm particles were spontaneously reactive for conjugation with proteins and DNA, and further reaction could be prevented by repassivation with glutathione. Conjugates with antibody Fc fragment could be used to identify TAP-tagged proteins of interest in electron micrographs, through the binding of a pair of particles to the pair of protein A domains in the TAP tag.