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1.  Negative regulation of phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate levels in early-to-late endosome conversion 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2016;212(2):181-198.
C. elegans SORF-1 and SORF-2 and their mammalian homologs WDR91 and WDR81 maintain appropriate PtdIns3P levels in early-to-late endosome conversion by forming a complex with the Beclin1 subunit of the PI3K complex.
Phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PtdIns3P) plays a central role in endosome fusion, recycling, sorting, and early-to-late endosome conversion, but the mechanisms that determine how the correct endosomal PtdIns3P level is achieved remain largely elusive. Here we identify two new factors, SORF-1 and SORF-2, as essential PtdIns3P regulators in Caenorhabditis elegans. Loss of sorf-1 or sorf-2 leads to greatly elevated endosomal PtdIns3P, which drives excessive fusion of early endosomes. sorf-1 and sorf-2 function coordinately with Rab switching genes to inhibit synthesis of PtdIns3P, allowing its turnover for endosome conversion. SORF-1 and SORF-2 act in a complex with BEC-1/Beclin1, and their loss causes elevated activity of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) complex. In mammalian cells, inactivation of WDR91 and WDR81, the homologs of SORF-1 and SORF-2, induces Beclin1-dependent enlargement of PtdIns3P-enriched endosomes and defective degradation of epidermal growth factor receptor. WDR91 and WDR81 interact with Beclin1 and inhibit PI3K complex activity. These findings reveal a conserved mechanism that controls appropriate PtdIns3P levels in early-to-late endosome conversion.
PMCID: PMC4738380  PMID: 26783301
2.  Coordinated niche-associated signals promote germline homeostasis in the Drosophila ovary 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2015;211(2):469-484.
The Drosophila ovarian niche produces Hh molecules, which promote germline differentiation by suppressing niche-derived JAK/STAT signaling activity to maintain a low level of Dpp expression in escort cells.
Stem cell niches provide localized signaling molecules to promote stem cell fate and to suppress differentiation. The Drosophila melanogaster ovarian niche is established by several types of stromal cells, including terminal filament cells, cap cells, and escort cells (ECs). Here, we show that, in addition to its well-known function as a niche factor expressed in cap cells, the Drosophila transforming growth factor β molecule Decapentaplegic (Dpp) is expressed at a low level in ECs to maintain a pool of partially differentiated germline cells that may dedifferentiate to replenish germline stem cells upon their depletion under normal and stress conditions. Our study further reveals that the Dpp level in ECs is modulated by Hedgehog (Hh) ligands, which originate from both cap cells and ECs. We also demonstrate that Hh signaling exerts its function by suppressing Janus kinase/signal transducer activity, which promotes Dpp expression in ECs. Collectively, our data suggest a complex interplay of niche-associated signals that controls the development of a stem cell lineage.
PMCID: PMC4621830  PMID: 26504174
4.  Overexpression of Cbfa1 in osteoblasts inhibits osteoblast maturation and causes osteopenia with multiple fractures 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2001;155(1):157-166.
Targeted disruption of core binding factor α1 (Cbfa1) showed that Cbfa1 is an essential transcription factor in osteoblast differentiation and bone formation. Furthermore, both in vitro and in vivo studies showed that Cbfa1 plays important roles in matrix production and mineralization. However, it remains to be clarified how Cbfa1 controls osteoblast differentiation, bone formation, and bone remodelling. To understand fully the physiological functions of Cbfa1, we generated transgenic mice that overexpressed Cbfa1 in osteoblasts using type I collagen promoter. Unexpectedly, Cbfa1 transgenic mice showed osteopenia with multiple fractures. Cortical bone, which was thin, porous, and enriched with osteopontin, was invaded by osteoclasts, despite the absence of acceleration of osteoclastogenesis. Although the number of neonatal osteoblasts was increased, their function was impaired in matrix production and mineralization. Furthermore, terminally differentiated osteoblasts, which strongly express osteocalcin, and osteocytes were diminished greatly, whereas less mature osteoblasts expressing osteopontin accumulated in adult bone. These data indicate that immature organization of cortical bone, which was caused by the maturational blockage of osteoblasts, led to osteopenia and fragility in transgenic mice, demonstrating that Cbfa1 inhibits osteoblast differentiation at a late stage.
PMCID: PMC2150799  PMID: 11581292
Cbfa1; osteoblast; osteocyte; transgenic mice; osteopenia
5.  Positioning the cleavage furrow: All you need is Rho 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2016;213(6):605-607.
RhoA controls cleavage furrow formation during cell division, but whether RhoA suffices to orchestrate spatiotemporal dynamics of furrow formation is unknown. In this issue, Wagner and Glotzer (2016. J. Cell Biol. show that RhoA activity can induce furrow formation in all cell cortex positions and cell cycle phases.
PMCID: PMC4915198  PMID: 27325786
6.  Extracellular chloride signals collagen IV network assembly during basement membrane formation 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2016;213(4):479-494.
Chloride is ubiquitous in physiology but understood to provide ionic strength for tissue function. The authors discover a molecular function of chloride whereby the ion signals the assembly of collagen IV, establishing a microenvironment on the outside of cells.
Basement membranes are defining features of the cellular microenvironment; however, little is known regarding their assembly outside cells. We report that extracellular Cl− ions signal the assembly of collagen IV networks outside cells by triggering a conformational switch within collagen IV noncollagenous 1 (NC1) domains. Depletion of Cl− in cell culture perturbed collagen IV networks, disrupted matrix architecture, and repositioned basement membrane proteins. Phylogenetic evidence indicates this conformational switch is a fundamental mechanism of collagen IV network assembly throughout Metazoa. Using recombinant triple helical protomers, we prove that NC1 domains direct both protomer and network assembly and show in Drosophila that NC1 architecture is critical for incorporation into basement membranes. These discoveries provide an atomic-level understanding of the dynamic interactions between extracellular Cl− and collagen IV assembly outside cells, a critical step in the assembly and organization of basement membranes that enable tissue architecture and function. Moreover, this provides a mechanistic framework for understanding the molecular pathobiology of NC1 domains.
PMCID: PMC4878091  PMID: 27216258
7.  Diaphanous formin mDia2 regulates CENP-A levels at centromeres 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2016;213(4):415-424.
The diaphanous formin mDia2, a protein involved in cytoskeletal control, is required for new CENP-A loading at centromeres during the cell cycle to maintain epigenetic markers.
Centromeres of higher eukaryotes are epigenetically defined by centromere protein A (CENP-A), a centromere-specific histone H3 variant. The incorporation of new CENP-A into centromeres to maintain the epigenetic marker after genome replication in S phase occurs in G1 phase; however, how new CENP-A is loaded and stabilized remains poorly understood. Here, we identify the formin mDia2 as essential for stable replenishment of new CENP-A at centromeres. Quantitative imaging, pulse-chase analysis, and high-resolution ratiometric live-cell studies demonstrate that mDia2 and its nuclear localization are required to maintain CENP-A levels at centromeres. Depletion of mDia2 results in a prolonged centromere association of holiday junction recognition protein (HJURP), the chaperone required for CENP-A loading. A constitutively active form of mDia2 rescues the defect in new CENP-A loading caused by depletion of male germ cell Rac GTPase-activating protein (MgcRacGAP), a component of the small GTPase pathway essential for CENP-A maintenance. Thus, the formin mDia2 functions downstream of the MgcRacGAP-dependent pathway in regulating assembly of new CENP-A containing nucleosomes at centromeres.
PMCID: PMC4878093  PMID: 27185834
8.  MLL5 maintains spindle bipolarity by preventing aberrant cytosolic aggregation of PLK1 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2016;212(7):829-843.
Zhao et al. show that MLL5 and PLK interact in the cytosol and propose a model wherein MLL5 maintains spindle bipolarity by preventing cytosolic PLK1 aggregation during mitosis.
Faithful chromosome segregation with bipolar spindle formation is critical for the maintenance of genomic stability. Perturbation of this process often leads to severe mitotic failure, contributing to tumorigenesis. MLL5 has been demonstrated to play vital roles in cell cycle progression and the maintenance of genomic stability. Here, we identify a novel interaction between MLL5 and PLK1 in the cytosol that is crucial for sustaining spindle bipolarity during mitosis. Knockdown of MLL5 caused aberrant PLK1 aggregation that led to acentrosomal microtubule-organizing center (aMTOC) formation and subsequent spindle multipolarity. Further molecular studies revealed that the polo-box domain (PBD) of PLK1 interacted with a binding motif on MLL5 (Thr887-Ser888-Thr889), and this interaction was essential for spindle bipolarity. Overexpression of wild-type MLL5 was able to rescue PLK1 mislocalization and aMTOC formation in MLL5-KD cells, whereas MLL5 mutants incapable of interacting with the PBD failed to do so. We thus propose that MLL5 preserves spindle bipolarity through maintaining cytosolic PLK1 in a nonaggregated form.
PMCID: PMC4810297  PMID: 27002166
9.  Neuroligin 1 regulates spines and synaptic plasticity via LIMK1/cofilin-mediated actin reorganization 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2016;212(4):449-463.
The C-terminal domain of NLG1 is sufficient to enhance spine and synapse number and to modulate synaptic plasticity, and it exerts these effects via its interaction with SPAR and the subsequent activation of LIMK1/cofilin-mediated actin reorganization.
Neuroligin (NLG) 1 is important for synapse development and function, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. It is known that at least some aspects of NLG1 function are independent of the presynaptic neurexin, suggesting that the C-terminal domain (CTD) of NLG1 may be sufficient for synaptic regulation. In addition, NLG1 is subjected to activity-dependent proteolytic cleavage, generating a cytosolic CTD fragment, but the significance of this process remains unknown. In this study, we show that the CTD of NLG1 is sufficient to (a) enhance spine and synapse number, (b) modulate synaptic plasticity, and (c) exert these effects via its interaction with spine-associated Rap guanosine triphosphatase–activating protein and subsequent activation of LIM-domain protein kinase 1/cofilin–mediated actin reorganization. Our results provide a novel postsynaptic mechanism by which NLG1 regulates synapse development and function.
PMCID: PMC4754719  PMID: 26880202
10.  TOPBP1 takes RADical command in recombinational DNA repair 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2016;212(3):263-266.
TOPBP1 is a key player in DNA replication and DNA damage signaling. In this issue, Moudry et al. (2016. J. Cell Biol. uncover a crucial role for TOPBP1 in DNA repair by revealing its requirement for RAD51 loading during repair of double strand breaks by homologous recombination.
PMCID: PMC4748579  PMID: 26811424
11.  Cbx4 maintains the epithelial lineage identity and cell proliferation in the developing stratified epithelium 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2016;212(1):77-89.
Polycomb complex member Cbx4 represses nonepidermal lineage and cell cycle inhibitor genes in the epidermal keratinocytes and operates as a direct p63 target, maintaining epithelial identity and proliferative activity in the developing epidermis.
During development, multipotent progenitor cells establish lineage-specific programmers of gene activation and silencing underlying their differentiation into specialized cell types. We show that the Polycomb component Cbx4 serves as a critical determinant that maintains the epithelial identity in the developing epidermis by repressing nonepidermal gene expression programs. Cbx4 ablation in mice results in a marked decrease of the epidermal thickness and keratinocyte (KC) proliferation associated with activation of numerous neuronal genes and genes encoding cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors (p16/p19 and p57). Furthermore, the chromodomain- and SUMO E3 ligase–dependent Cbx4 activities differentially regulate proliferation, differentiation, and expression of nonepidermal genes in KCs. Finally, Cbx4 expression in KCs is directly regulated by p63 transcription factor, whereas Cbx4 overexpression is capable of partially rescuing the effects of p63 ablation on epidermal development. These data demonstrate that Cbx4 plays a crucial role in the p63-regulated program of epidermal differentiation, maintaining the epithelial identity and proliferative activity in KCs via repression of the selected nonepidermal lineage and cell cycle inhibitor genes.
PMCID: PMC4700479  PMID: 26711500
12.  A conserved polybasic domain mediates plasma membrane targeting of Lgl and its regulation by hypoxia 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2015;211(2):273-286.
The plasma membrane targeting of Lgl, a key polarity and tumor suppressor protein, is mediated by electrostatic interactions between a polybasic motif in Lgl and phospholipids on the plasma membrane, and this mechanism is regulated by hypoxia and aPKC-phosphorylation.
Lethal giant larvae (Lgl) plays essential and conserved functions in regulating both cell polarity and tumorigenesis in Drosophila melanogaster and vertebrates. It is well recognized that plasma membrane (PM) or cell cortex localization is crucial for Lgl function in vivo, but its membrane-targeting mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here, we discovered that hypoxia acutely and reversibly inhibits Lgl PM targeting through a posttranslational mechanism that is independent of the well-characterized atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) or Aurora kinase–mediated phosphorylations. Instead, we identified an evolutionarily conserved polybasic (PB) domain that targets Lgl to the PM via electrostatic binding to membrane phosphatidylinositol phosphates. Such PB domain–mediated PM targeting is inhibited by hypoxia, which reduces inositol phospholipid levels on the PM through adenosine triphosphate depletion. Moreover, Lgl PB domain contains all the identified phosphorylation sites of aPKC and Aurora kinases, providing a molecular mechanism by which phosphorylations neutralize the positive charges on the PB domain to inhibit Lgl PM targeting.
PMCID: PMC4621827  PMID: 26483556
13.  mTORC2 promotes cell survival through c-Myc–dependent up-regulation of E2F1 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2015;211(1):105-122.
Inactivation of mTORC2 reduces PP2A activity toward c-Myc serine 62 (S62), leading to enhancement of c-Myc phosphorylation and expression and increased transcription of pri-miR-9-2/miR-9-3p, which in turn suppresses E2F1 and enhances apoptosis.
Previous studies have reported that mTORC2 promotes cell survival through phosphorylating AKT and enhancing its activity. We reveal another mechanism by which mTORC2 controls apoptosis. Inactivation of mTORC2 promotes binding of CIP2A to PP2A, leading to reduced PP2A activity toward c-Myc serine 62 and, consequently, enhancement of c-Myc phosphorylation and expression. Increased c-Myc activity induces transcription of pri-miR-9-2/miR-9-3p, in turn inhibiting expression of E2F1, a transcriptional factor critical for cancer cell survival and tumor progression, resulting in enhanced apoptosis. In vivo experiments using B cell–specific mTORC2 (rapamycin-insensitive companion of mTOR) deletion mice and a xenograft tumor model confirmed that inactivation of mTORC2 causes up-regulation of c-Myc and miR-9-3p, down-regulation of E2F1, and consequent reduction in cell survival. Conversely, Antagomir-9-3p reversed mTORC1/2 inhibitor–potentiated E2F1 suppression and resultant apoptosis in xenograft tumors. Our in vitro and in vivo findings collectively demonstrate that mTORC2 promotes cell survival by stimulating E2F1 expression through a c-Myc– and miR-9-3p–dependent mechanism.
PMCID: PMC4602034  PMID: 26459601
14.  A novel form of synaptic plasticity in field CA3 of hippocampus requires GPER1 activation and BDNF release 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2015;210(7):1225-1237.
Estrogen gates metabotropic glutamate receptor–dependent long-term depression at mossy fiber–CA3 synapses through a mechanism involving GPER1-mediated BDNF release, mTOR-dependent protein synthesis, and proteasome activity.
Estrogen is an important modulator of hippocampal synaptic plasticity and memory consolidation through its rapid action on membrane-associated receptors. Here, we found that both estradiol and the G-protein–coupled estrogen receptor 1 (GPER1) specific agonist G1 rapidly induce brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) release, leading to transient stimulation of activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated (Arc) protein translation and GluA1-containing AMPA receptor internalization in field CA3 of hippocampus. We also show that type-I metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) activation does not induce Arc translation nor long-term depression (LTD) at the mossy fiber pathway, as opposed to its effects in CA1, and it only triggers LTD after GPER1 stimulation. Furthermore, this form of mGluR-dependent LTD is associated with ubiquitination and proteasome-mediated degradation of GluA1, and is prevented by proteasome inhibition. Overall, our study identifies a novel mechanism by which estrogen and BDNF regulate hippocampal synaptic plasticity in the adult brain.
PMCID: PMC4586750  PMID: 26391661
16.  Usp16 regulates kinetochore localization of Plk1 to promote proper chromosome alignment in mitosis 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2015;210(5):727-735.
CDK1 and Plk1 sequentially phosphorylate and activate Usp16, which in turn deubiquitinates Plk1 to maintain the kinase’s kinetochore localization and promote proper chromosome alignment in mitosis.
During the G2 to M phase transition, a portion of mitotic regulator Plk1 localizes to the kinetochores and regulates the initiation of kinetochore–microtubule attachments for proper chromosome alignment. Once kinetochore–microtubule attachment is achieved, this portion of Plk1 is removed from the kinetochores as a result of ubiquitination. However, the crucial molecular mechanism that promotes the localization and the maintenance of Plk1 on the kinetochores until metaphase is still unclear. We report that ubiquitin-specific peptidase 16 (Usp16) plays a key role during this process. Usp16 deubiquitinates Plk1, resulting in an enhanced interaction with kinetochore-localized proteins such as BubR1, and thereby retains Plk1 on the kinetochores to promote proper chromosome alignment in early mitosis. Down-regulation of Usp16 causes increased ubiquitination and decreased kinetochore localization of Plk1. Thus, our data unveil a unique mechanism by which Usp16 promotes the localization and maintenance of Plk1 on the kinetochores for proper chromosome alignment.
PMCID: PMC4555819  PMID: 26323689
17.  Degradation of HK2 by chaperone-mediated autophagy promotes metabolic catastrophe and cell death 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2015;210(5):705-716.
Metabolic stress caused by perturbation of receptor tyrosine kinase FLT3 sensitizes cancer cells to autophagy inhibition and leads to excessive activation of chaperone-mediated autophagy, which triggers metabolic catastrophe in cancer cells through the degradation of HK2.
Hexokinase II (HK2), a key enzyme involved in glucose metabolism, is regulated by growth factor signaling and is required for initiation and maintenance of tumors. Here we show that metabolic stress triggered by perturbation of receptor tyrosine kinase FLT3 in non–acute myeloid leukemia cells sensitizes cancer cells to autophagy inhibition and leads to excessive activation of chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA). Our data demonstrate that FLT3 is an important sensor of cellular nutritional state and elucidate the role and molecular mechanism of CMA in metabolic regulation and mediating cancer cell death. Importantly, our proteome analysis revealed that HK2 is a CMA substrate and that its degradation by CMA is regulated by glucose availability. We reveal a new mechanism by which excessive activation of CMA may be exploited pharmacologically to eliminate cancer cells by inhibiting both FLT3 and autophagy. Our study delineates a novel pharmacological strategy to promote the degradation of HK2 in cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC4555813  PMID: 26323688
18.  Wnt ligands regulate Tkv expression to constrain Dpp activity in the Drosophila ovarian stem cell niche 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2015;209(4):595-608.
Multiple Wnt ligands produced by cap cells regulate the expression of Tkv, which acts as a receptor sink to remove excess cap cell–expressed Dpp and to restrict niche-associated Dpp activity, in escort cells.
Stem cell self-renewal versus differentiation is regulated by the niche, which provides localized molecules that favor self-renewal. In the Drosophila melanogaster female germline stem cell (GSC) niche, Decapentaplegic (Dpp), a fly transforming growth factor β molecule and well-established long-range morphogen, acts over one cell diameter to maintain the GSCs. Here, we show that Thickveins (Tkv; a type I receptor of Dpp) is highly expressed in stromal cells next to Dpp-producing cells and functions to remove excess Dpp outside the niche, thereby spatially restricting its activity. Interestingly, Tkv expression in these stromal cells is regulated by multiple Wnt ligands that are produced by the niche. Our data demonstrate a self-restraining mechanism by which the Drosophila ovarian GSC niche acts to define its own boundary.
PMCID: PMC4442805  PMID: 26008746
19.  Thyroid hormone regulates muscle fiber type conversion via miR-133a1 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2014;207(6):753-766.
Thyroid hormone promotes slow-to-fast muscle fiber type conversion by inducing miR-133a1 and thereby repressing the expression of the slow muscle determinant TEAD1.
It is known that thyroid hormone (TH) is a major determinant of muscle fiber composition, but the molecular mechanism by which it does so remains unclear. Here, we demonstrated that miR-133a1 is a direct target gene of TH in muscle. Intriguingly, miR-133a, which is enriched in fast-twitch muscle, regulates slow-to-fast muscle fiber type conversion by targeting TEA domain family member 1 (TEAD1), a key regulator of slow muscle gene expression. Inhibition of miR-133a in vivo abrogated TH action on muscle fiber type conversion. Moreover, TEAD1 overexpression antagonized the effect of miR-133a as well as TH on muscle fiber type switch. Additionally, we demonstrate that TH negatively regulates the transcription of myosin heavy chain I indirectly via miR-133a/TEAD1. Collectively, we propose that TH inhibits the slow muscle phenotype through a novel epigenetic mechanism involving repression of TEAD1 expression via targeting by miR-133a1. This identification of a TH-regulated microRNA therefore sheds new light on how TH achieves its diverse biological activities.
PMCID: PMC4274265  PMID: 25512392
20.  LKB1 loss in melanoma disrupts directional migration toward extracellular matrix cues 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2014;207(2):299-315.
The LKB1 kinase regulates directional migration in response to extracellular matrix gradients and may inhibit invasive motility by sensing inhibitory matrix cues.
Somatic inactivation of the serine/threonine kinase gene STK11/LKB1/PAR-4 occurs in a variety of cancers, including ∼10% of melanoma. However, how the loss of LKB1 activity facilitates melanoma invasion and metastasis remains poorly understood. In LKB1-null cells derived from an autochthonous murine model of melanoma with activated Kras and Lkb1 loss and matched reconstituted controls, we have investigated the mechanism by which LKB1 loss increases melanoma invasive motility. Using a microfluidic gradient chamber system and time-lapse microscopy, in this paper, we uncover a new function for LKB1 as a directional migration sensor of gradients of extracellular matrix (haptotaxis) but not soluble growth factor cues (chemotaxis). Systematic perturbation of known LKB1 effectors demonstrated that this response does not require canonical adenosine monophosphate–activated protein kinase (AMPK) activity but instead requires the activity of the AMPK-related microtubule affinity-regulating kinase (MARK)/PAR-1 family kinases. Inhibition of the LKB1–MARK pathway facilitated invasive motility, suggesting that loss of the ability to sense inhibitory matrix cues may promote melanoma invasion.
PMCID: PMC4210439  PMID: 25349262
21.  Bem1p contributes to secretory pathway polarization through a direct interaction with Exo70p 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2014;207(1):59-72.
The exocyst subunit Exo70p is targeted to cortical sites in an actin-independent manner through a direct interaction with the polarity determinant Bem1p.
The exocyst serves to tether secretory vesicles to cortical sites specified by polarity determinants, in preparation for fusion with the plasma membrane. Although most exocyst components are brought to these sites by riding on secretory vesicles as they are actively transported along actin cables, Exo70p displays actin-independent localization to these sites, implying an interaction with a polarity determinant. Here we show that Exo70p directly and specifically binds to the polarity determinant scaffold protein Bem1p. The interaction involves multiple domains of both Exo70p and Bem1p. Mutations in Exo70p that disrupt its interaction with Bem1, without impairing its interactions with other known binding partners, lead to the loss of actin-independent localization. Synthetic genetic interactions confirm the importance of the Exo70p–Bem1p interaction, although there is some possible redundancy with Sec3p and Sec15p, other exocyst components that also interact with polarity determinants. Similar to Sec3p, the actin-independent localization of Exo70p requires a synergistic interaction with the phosphoinositide PI(4,5)P2.
PMCID: PMC4195821  PMID: 25313406
22.  Mastl is required for timely activation of APC/C in meiosis I and Cdk1 reactivation in meiosis II 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2014;206(7):843-853.
The Greatwall kinase orthologue Mastl regulates timely activation of APC/C to allow meiosis I exit and suppresses PP2A activity and thereby allows the rapid rise of Cdk1 activity that is necessary for meiosis II entry in mouse oocytes.
In mitosis, the Greatwall kinase (called microtubule-associated serine/threonine kinase like [Mastl] in mammals) is essential for prometaphase entry or progression by suppressing protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) activity. PP2A suppression in turn leads to high levels of Cdk1 substrate phosphorylation. We have used a mouse model with an oocyte-specific deletion of Mastl to show that Mastl-null oocytes resume meiosis I and reach metaphase I normally but that the onset and completion of anaphase I are delayed. Moreover, after the completion of meiosis I, Mastl-null oocytes failed to enter meiosis II (MII) because they reassembled a nuclear structure containing decondensed chromatin. Our results show that Mastl is required for the timely activation of anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome to allow meiosis I exit and for the rapid rise of Cdk1 activity that is needed for the entry into MII in mouse oocytes.
PMCID: PMC4178961  PMID: 25246615
23.  Cdc42 and formin activity control non-muscle myosin dynamics during Drosophila heart morphogenesis 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2014;206(7):909-922.
Cdc42 and the formins dDAAM and Diaphanous play pivotal roles in heart lumen formation through the spatiotemporal regulation of the actomyosin network.
During heart formation, a network of transcription factors and signaling pathways guide cardiac cell fate and differentiation, but the genetic mechanisms orchestrating heart assembly and lumen formation remain unclear. Here, we show that the small GTPase Cdc42 is essential for Drosophila melanogaster heart morphogenesis and lumen formation. Cdc42 genetically interacts with the cardiogenic transcription factor tinman; with dDAAM which belongs to the family of actin organizing formins; and with zipper, which encodes nonmuscle myosin II. Zipper is required for heart lumen formation, and its spatiotemporal activity at the prospective luminal surface is controlled by Cdc42. Heart-specific expression of activated Cdc42, or the regulatory formins dDAAM and Diaphanous caused mislocalization of Zipper and induced ectopic heart lumina, as characterized by luminal markers such as the extracellular matrix protein Slit. Placement of Slit at the lumen surface depends on Cdc42 and formin function. Thus, Cdc42 and formins play pivotal roles in heart lumen formation through the spatiotemporal regulation of the actomyosin network.
PMCID: PMC4178965  PMID: 25267295
24.  Activation of RhoA-ROCK-BMP signaling reprograms adult human corneal endothelial cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2014;206(6):799-811.
Activation of RhoA-ROCK-BMP signaling reprograms adult human corneal endothelial cells into neural crest–like progenitors, which effectively form corneal endothelial monolayers that may eliminate the need for corneal transplantation.
Currently there are limited treatment options for corneal blindness caused by dysfunctional corneal endothelial cells. The primary treatment involves transplantation of healthy donor human corneal endothelial cells, but a global shortage of donor corneas necessitates other options. Conventional tissue approaches for corneal endothelial cells are based on EDTA-trypsin treatment and run the risk of irreversible endothelial mesenchymal transition by activating canonical Wingless-related integration site (Wnt) and TGF-β signaling. Herein, we demonstrate an alternative strategy that avoids disruption of cell–cell junctions and instead activates Ras homologue gene family A (RhoA)–Rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK)–canonical bone morphogenic protein signaling to reprogram adult human corneal endothelial cells to neural crest–like progenitors via activation of the miR302b-Oct4-Sox2-Nanog network. This approach allowed us to engineer eight human corneal endothelial monolayers of transplantable size, with a normal density and phenotype from one corneoscleral rim. Given that a similar signal network also exists in the retinal pigment epithelium, this partial reprogramming approach may have widespread relevance and potential for treating degenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC4164941  PMID: 25202030
25.  Excess centrosomes disrupt endothelial cell migration via centrosome scattering 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2014;206(2):257-272.
Centrosome–microtubule interactions during interphase are important for centrosome clustering and cell polarity.
Supernumerary centrosomes contribute to spindle defects and aneuploidy at mitosis, but the effects of excess centrosomes during interphase are poorly understood. In this paper, we show that interphase endothelial cells with even one extra centrosome exhibit a cascade of defects, resulting in disrupted cell migration and abnormal blood vessel sprouting. Endothelial cells with supernumerary centrosomes had increased centrosome scattering and reduced microtubule (MT) nucleation capacity that correlated with decreased Golgi integrity and randomized vesicle trafficking, and ablation of excess centrosomes partially rescued these parameters. Mechanistically, tumor endothelial cells with supernumerary centrosomes had less centrosome-localized γ-tubulin, and Plk1 blockade prevented MT growth, whereas overexpression rescued centrosome γ-tubulin levels and centrosome dynamics. These data support a model whereby centrosome–MT interactions during interphase are important for centrosome clustering and cell polarity and further suggest that disruption of interphase cell behavior by supernumerary centrosomes contributes to pathology independent of mitotic effects.
PMCID: PMC4107782  PMID: 25049273

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