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1.  Comparative ultrastructure of CRM1-Nucleolar bodies (CNoBs), Intranucleolar bodies (INBs) and hybrid PML/p62 bodies uncovers new facets of nuclear body dynamic and diversity 
Nucleus  2015;6(4):326-338.
In order to gain insights on the nuclear organization in mammalian cells, we characterized ultrastructurally nuclear bodies (NBs) previously described as fluorescent foci. Using high resolution immunoelectron microscopy (I-EM), we provide evidence that CNoBs (CRM1-Nucleolar bodies) and INBs (Intranucleolar bodies) are distinct genuine nucleolar structures in untreated HeLa cells. INBs are fibrillar and concentrate the post-translational modifiers SUMO1 and SUMO-2/3 as strongly as PML bodies. In contrast, the smallest CRM1-labeled CNoBs are vitreous, preferentially located at the periphery of the nucleolus and, intricately linked to the chromatin network. Upon blockage of the CRM1-dependent nuclear export by leptomycin B (LMB), CNoBs disappear while p62/SQSTM1-containing fibrillar nuclear bodies are induced. These p62 bodies are enriched in ubiquitinated proteins. They progressively associate with PML bodies to form hybrid bodies of which PML decorates the periphery while p62/SQSTM1 is centrally-located. Our study is expanding the repertoire of nuclear bodies; revealing a previously unrecognized composite nucleolar landscape and a new mode of interactions between ubiquitous (PML) and stress-induced (p62) nuclear bodies, resulting in the formation of hybrid bodies.
PMCID: PMC4615761  PMID: 26275159
CNoB; INB; immunoelectron microscopy; nuclear organization; nucleolus; nuclear bodies; p62/SQSTM1; PML bodies; SUMO; ubiquitin
2.  The Physarum polycephalum Genome Reveals Extensive Use of Prokaryotic Two-Component and Metazoan-Type Tyrosine Kinase Signaling 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2015;8(1):109-125.
Physarum polycephalum is a well-studied microbial eukaryote with unique experimental attributes relative to other experimental model organisms. It has a sophisticated life cycle with several distinct stages including amoebal, flagellated, and plasmodial cells. It is unusual in switching between open and closed mitosis according to specific life-cycle stages. Here we present the analysis of the genome of this enigmatic and important model organism and compare it with closely related species. The genome is littered with simple and complex repeats and the coding regions are frequently interrupted by introns with a mean size of 100 bases. Complemented with extensive transcriptome data, we define approximately 31,000 gene loci, providing unexpected insights into early eukaryote evolution. We describe extensive use of histidine kinase-based two-component systems and tyrosine kinase signaling, the presence of bacterial and plant type photoreceptors (phytochromes, cryptochrome, and phototropin) and of plant-type pentatricopeptide repeat proteins, as well as metabolic pathways, and a cell cycle control system typically found in more complex eukaryotes. Our analysis characterizes P. polycephalum as a prototypical eukaryote with features attributed to the last common ancestor of Amorphea, that is, the Amoebozoa and Opisthokonts. Specifically, the presence of tyrosine kinases in Acanthamoeba and Physarum as representatives of two distantly related subdivisions of Amoebozoa argues against the later emergence of tyrosine kinase signaling in the opisthokont lineage and also against the acquisition by horizontal gene transfer.
PMCID: PMC4758236  PMID: 26615215
Amoebozoa; tyrosine kinase receptor; two-component system; signaling; phytochrome
3.  The HERV-K Human Endogenous Retrovirus Envelope Protein Antagonizes Tetherin Antiviral Activity 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(23):13626-13637.
Endogenous retroviruses are the remnants of past retroviral infections that are scattered within mammalian genomes. In humans, most of these elements are old degenerate sequences that have lost their coding properties. The HERV-K(HML2) family is an exception: it recently amplified in the human genome and corresponds to the most active proviruses, with some intact open reading frames and the potential to encode viral particles. Here, using a reconstructed consensus element, we show that HERV-K(HML2) proviruses are able to inhibit Tetherin, a cellular restriction factor that is active against most enveloped viruses and acts by keeping the viral particles attached to the cell surface. More precisely, we identify the Envelope protein (Env) as the viral effector active against Tetherin. Through immunoprecipitation experiments, we show that the recognition of Tetherin is mediated by the surface subunit of Env. Similar to Ebola glycoprotein, HERV-K(HML2) Env does not mediate Tetherin degradation or cell surface removal; therefore, it uses a yet-undescribed mechanism to inactivate Tetherin. We also assessed all natural complete alleles of endogenous HERV-K(HML2) Env described to date for their ability to inhibit Tetherin and found that two of them (out of six) can block Tetherin restriction. However, due to their recent amplification, HERV-K(HML2) elements are extremely polymorphic in the human population, and it is likely that individuals will not all possess the same anti-Tetherin potential. Because of Tetherin's role as a restriction factor capable of inducing innate immune responses, this could have functional consequences for individual responses to infection.
IMPORTANCE Tetherin, a cellular protein initially characterized for its role against HIV-1, has been proven to counteract numerous enveloped viruses. It blocks the release of viral particles from producer cells, keeping them tethered to the cell surface. Several viruses have developed strategies to inhibit Tetherin activity, allowing them to efficiently infect and replicate in their host. Here, we show that human HERV-K(HML2) elements, the remnants of an ancient retroviral infection, possess an anti-Tetherin activity which is mediated by the envelope protein. It is likely that this activity was an important factor that contributed to the recent, human-specific amplification of this family of elements. Also, due to their recent amplification, HERV-K(HML2) elements are highly polymorphic in the human population. Since Tetherin is a mediator of innate immunity, interindividual variations among HERV-K(HML2) Env genes may result in differences in immune responses to infection.
PMCID: PMC4248984  PMID: 25210194
4.  NEAT1 long noncoding RNA regulates transcription via protein sequestration within subnuclear bodies 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(1):169-183.
Paraspeckles are subnuclear structures formed around NEAT1 lncRNA. Paraspeckles became enlarged after proteasome inhibition caused by NEAT1 transcriptional activation, leading to protein sequestration into paraspeckles. The NEAT1-dependent sequestration affects the transcription of several genes, arguing for a novel role for lncRNA in gene regulation.
Paraspeckles are subnuclear structures formed around nuclear paraspeckle assembly transcript 1 (NEAT1)/MENε/β long noncoding RNA (lncRNA). Here we show that paraspeckles become dramatically enlarged after proteasome inhibition. This enlargement is mainly caused by NEAT1 transcriptional up-regulation rather than accumulation of undegraded paraspeckle proteins. Of interest, however, using immuno–electron microscopy, we find that key paraspeckle proteins become effectively depleted from the nucleoplasm by 50% when paraspeckle assembly is enhanced, suggesting a sequestration mechanism. We also perform microarrays from NEAT1-knockdown cells and find that NEAT1 represses transcription of several genes, including the RNA-specific adenosine deaminase B2 (ADARB2) gene. In contrast, the NEAT1-binding paraspeckle protein splicing factor proline/glutamine-rich (SFPQ) is required for ADARB2 transcription. This leads us to hypothesize that ADARB2 expression is controlled by NEAT1-dependent sequestration of SFPQ. Accordingly, we find that ADARB2 expression is strongly reduced upon enhanced SFPQ sequestration by proteasome inhibition, with concomitant reduction in SFPQ binding to the ADARB2 promoter. Finally, NEAT1−/− fibroblasts are more sensitive to proteasome inhibition, which triggers cell death, suggesting that paraspeckles/NEAT1 attenuates the cell death pathway. These data further confirm that paraspeckles are stress-responsive nuclear bodies and provide a model in which induced NEAT1 controls target gene transcription by protein sequestration into paraspeckles.
PMCID: PMC3873887  PMID: 24173718
5.  Selective killing of p53-deficient cancer cells by SP600125 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2012;4(6):500-514.
The genetic or functional inactivation of p53 is highly prevalent in human cancers. Using high-content videomicroscopy based on fluorescent TP53+/+ and TP53−/− human colon carcinoma cells, we discovered that SP600125, a broad-spectrum serine/threonine kinase inhibitor, kills p53-deficient cells more efficiently than their p53-proficient counterparts, in vitro. Similar observations were obtained in vivo, in mice carrying p53-deficient and -proficient human xenografts. Such a preferential cytotoxicity could be attributed to the failure of p53-deficient cells to undergo cell cycle arrest in response to SP600125. TP53−/− (but not TP53+/+) cells treated with SP600125 became polyploid upon mitotic abortion and progressively succumbed to mitochondrial apoptosis. The expression of an SP600125-resistant variant of the mitotic kinase MPS1 in TP53−/− cells reduced SP600125-induced polyploidization. Thus, by targeting MPS1, SP600125 triggers a polyploidization program that cannot be sustained by TP53−/− cells, resulting in the activation of mitotic catastrophe, an oncosuppressive mechanism for the eradication of mitosis-incompetent cells.
PMCID: PMC3443949  PMID: 22438244
caspases; HCT 116; high-throughput screening; mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization; MPS1
6.  Highly Ordered Spatial Organization of the Structural Long Noncoding NEAT1 RNAs within Paraspeckle Nuclear Bodies 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(22):4020-4027.
We describe the spatial organization of the two NEAT1 noncoding (nc)RNAs required for the integrity of the paraspeckle nuclear bodies. The central sequences of the long transcript are internal when its extremities and the short isoform are peripheral, indicating how RNA can contribute to the architecture of nuclear bodies.
Paraspeckles (PSPs) are nuclear bodies associated with the retention in the nucleus of specific mRNAs. Two isoforms of a long noncoding RNA (NEAT1_v1/Menε and NEAT1_v2/Menβ) are required for the integrity of PSPs. Here, we analyzed the molecular organization of PSPs by immuno- and in situ hybridization electron microscopy. Detection of the paraspeckle markers PSPC1 and P54NRB/NONO confirm the identity between PSPs and the previously described interchromatin granule-associated zones (IGAZs). High-resolution in situ hybridization of NEAT1 transcripts revealed a highly ordered organization of IGAZ/PSPs. Although the 3.7-kb NEAT1_v1 and the identical 5′ end of the 22.7-kb NEAT1_v2 transcripts are confined to the periphery, central sequences of NEAT1_v2 are found within the electron-dense core of the bodies. Moreover, the 3′ end of NEAT1_v2 also localize to the periphery, indicating possible architectures for IGAZ/PSPs. These results further suggest that the organization of NEAT1 transcripts constrains the geometry of these bodies. Accordingly, we observed in HeLa and NIH 3T3 cells that IGAZ/PSPs are elongated structures with a well-defined diameter. Our results provide new insight on the ability of noncoding RNAs to form subcellular structures.
PMCID: PMC2982136  PMID: 20881053
7.  Regulation of autophagy by cytoplasmic p53 
Nature cell biology  2008;10(6):676-687.
Multiple cellular stressors, including activation of the tumour suppressor p53, can stimulate autophagy. Here we show that knockout, knockdown or pharmacological inhibition of p53 can induce autophagy in human, mouse and nematode cells. Enhanced autophagy improved the survival of p53-deficient cancer cells under conditions of hypoxia and nutrient depletion, allowing them to maintain high ATP levels. Inhibition of p53 led to autophagy in enucleated cells, and cytoplasmic, not nuclear, p53 was able to repress the enhanced autophagy of p53-/- cells. Many different inducers of autophagy (for example, starvation, rapamycin and toxins affecting the endoplasmic reticulum) stimulated proteasome-mediated degradation of p53 through a pathway relying on the E3 ubiquitin ligase HDM2. Inhibition of p53 degradation prevented the activation of autophagy in several cell lines, in response to several distinct stimuli. These results provide evidence of a key signalling pathway that links autophagy to the cancer-associated dysregulation of p53.
PMCID: PMC2676564  PMID: 18454141
8.  The GLN Family of Murine Endogenous Retroviruses Contains an Element Competent for Infectious Viral Particle Formation▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(9):4413-4419.
Several families of endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) have been identified in the mouse genome, in several instances by in silico searches, but for many of them it remains to be determined whether there are elements that can still encode functional retroviral particles. Here, we identify, within the GLN family of highly reiterated ERVs, one, and only one, copy that encodes retroviral particles prone to infection of mouse cells. We show that its envelope protein confers an ecotropic host range and recognizes a receptor different from mCAT1 and mSMIT1, the two previously identified receptors for other ecotropic mouse retroviruses. Electron microscopy disclosed viral particle assembly and budding at the cell membrane, as well as release of mature particles into the extracellular space. These particles are closely related to murine leukemia virus (MLV) particles, with which they have most probably been confused in the past. This study, therefore, identifies a new class of infectious mouse ERVs belonging to the family Gammaretroviridae, with one family member still functional today. This family is in addition to the two MLV and mouse mammary tumor virus families of active mouse ERVs with an extracellular life cycle.
PMCID: PMC2293071  PMID: 18287236
9.  Murine Endogenous Retrovirus MuERV-L Is the Progenitor of the “Orphan” Epsilon Viruslike Particles of the Early Mouse Embryo▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;82(3):1622-1625.
Viruslike particles which displayed a peculiar wheellike appearance that distinguished them from A-, B- or C-type particles had previously been described in the early mouse embryo. The maximum expression of these so-called epsilon particles was observed in two-cell-stage embryos, followed by their rapid decline at later stages of development and no particles detected at the zygote one-cell stage. Here, we show that these particles are in fact produced by a newly discovered murine endogenous retrovirus (ERV) belonging to the widespread family of mammalian ERV-L elements and named MuERV-L. Using antibodies that we raised against the Gag protein of these elements, Western blot analysis and in toto immunofluorescence studies of the embryos at various stages disclosed the same developmental expression profile as that observed for epsilon particles. Using expression vectors for cloned, full-length, entirely coding MuERV-L copies and cell transfection, direct identification of the epsilon particles was finally achieved by high-resolution electron microscopy.
PMCID: PMC2224431  PMID: 18045933
10.  Low rate of replication fork progression lengthens the replication timing of a locus containing an early firing origin 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(17):5763-5774.
Invariance of temporal order of genome replication in eukaryotic cells and its correlation with gene activity has been well-documented. However, recent data suggest a relax control of replication timing. To evaluate replication schedule accuracy, we detailed the replicational organization of the developmentally regulated php locus that we previously found to be lately replicated, even though php gene is highly transcribed in naturally synchronous plasmodia of Physarum. Unexpectedly, bi-dimensional agarose gel electrophoreses of DNA samples prepared at specific time points of S phase showed that replication of the locus actually begins at the onset of S phase but it proceeds through the first half of S phase, so that complete replication of php-containing DNA fragments occurs in late S phase. Origin mapping located replication initiation upstream php coding region. This proximity and rapid fork progression through the coding region result in an early replication of php gene. We demonstrated that afterwards an unusually low fork rate and unidirectional fork pausing prolong complete replication of php locus, and we excluded random replication timing. Importantly, we evidenced that the origin linked to php gene in plasmodium is not fired in amoebae when php expression dramatically reduced, further illustrating replication-transcription coupling in Physarum.
PMCID: PMC2034475  PMID: 17717000
11.  Murine MusD Retrotransposon: Structure and Molecular Evolution of an “Intracellularized” Retrovirus▿  
Journal of Virology  2006;81(4):1888-1898.
We had previously identified active autonomous copies of the MusD long terminal repeat-retrotransposon family, which have retained transpositional activity. These elements are closely related to betaretroviruses but lack an envelope (env) gene. Here we show that these elements encode strictly intracellular virus-like particles that can unambiguously be identified by electron microscopy. We demonstrate intracellular maturation of the particles, with a significant proportion of densely packed cores for wild-type MusD but not for a protease mutant. We show that the molecular origin of this unexpected intracellular localization is solely dependent on the N-terminal part of the Gag protein, which lacks a functional sequence for myristoylation and plasma membrane targeting: replacement of the N-terminal domain of the MusD matrix protein by that of its closest relative—the Mason-Pfizer monkey virus—led to targeting of the MusD Gag to the plasma membrane, with viral particles budding and being released into the cell supernatant. These particles can further be pseudotyped with a heterologous envelope protein and become infectious, thus “reconstituting” a functional retrovirus prone to proviral insertions. Consistent with its retroviral origin, a sequence with a constitutive transport element-like activity can further be identified at the MusD 3′ untranslated region. A molecular scenario is proposed that accounts for the transition, during evolution, from an ancestral infectious betaretrovirus to the strictly intracellular MusD retrotransposon, involving not only the loss of the env gene but also an inability to escape the cell—via altered targeting of the Gag protein—resulting de facto in the generation of a very successful “intracellularized” insertional mutagen.
PMCID: PMC1797557  PMID: 17151128
12.  Caspase-dependent immunogenicity of doxorubicin-induced tumor cell death 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2005;202(12):1691-1701.
Systemic anticancer chemotherapy is immunosuppressive and mostly induces nonimmunogenic tumor cell death. Here, we show that even in the absence of any adjuvant, tumor cells dying in response to anthracyclins can elicit an effective antitumor immune response that suppresses the growth of inoculated tumors or leads to the regression of established neoplasia. Although both antracyclins and mitomycin C induced apoptosis with caspase activation, only anthracyclin-induced immunogenic cell death was immunogenic. Caspase inhibition by Z-VAD-fmk or transfection with the baculovirus inhibitor p35 did not inhibit doxorubicin (DX)-induced cell death, yet suppressed the immunogenicity of dying tumor cells in several rodent models of neoplasia. Depletion of dendritic cells (DCs) or CD8+T cells abolished the immune response against DX-treated apoptotic tumor cells in vivo. Caspase inhibition suppressed the capacity of DX-killed cells to be phagocytosed by DCs, yet had no effect on their capacity to elicit DC maturation. Freshly excised tumors became immunogenic upon DX treatment in vitro, and intratumoral inoculation of DX could trigger the regression of established tumors in immunocompetent mice. These results delineate a procedure for the generation of cancer vaccines and the stimulation of anti-neoplastic immune responses in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2212968  PMID: 16365148
13.  Inhibition of Macroautophagy Triggers Apoptosis† 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(3):1025-1040.
Mammalian cells were observed to die under conditions in which nutrients were depleted and, simultaneously, macroautophagy was inhibited either genetically (by a small interfering RNA targeting Atg5, Atg6/Beclin 1-1, Atg10, or Atg12) or pharmacologically (by 3-methyladenine, hydroxychloroquine, bafilomycin A1, or monensin). Cell death occurred through apoptosis (type 1 cell death), since it was reduced by stabilization of mitochondrial membranes (with Bcl-2 or vMIA, a cytomegalovirus-derived gene) or by caspase inhibition. Under conditions in which the fusion between lysosomes and autophagosomes was inhibited, the formation of autophagic vacuoles was enhanced at a preapoptotic stage, as indicated by accumulation of LC3-II protein, ultrastructural studies, and an increase in the acidic vacuolar compartment. Cells exhibiting a morphology reminiscent of (autophagic) type 2 cell death, however, recovered, and only cells with a disrupted mitochondrial transmembrane potential were beyond the point of no return and inexorably died even under optimal culture conditions. All together, these data indicate that autophagy may be cytoprotective, at least under conditions of nutrient depletion, and point to an important cross talk between type 1 and type 2 cell death pathways.
PMCID: PMC543994  PMID: 15657430
14.  Replicational organization of three weakly expressed loci in Physarum polycephalum 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(11):2261-2269.
We previously mapped early-activated replication origins in the promoter regions of five abundantly transcribed genes in the slime mold Physarum polycephalum. This physical linkage between origins and genes is congruent with the preferential early replication of the active genes in mammalian cells. To determine how general this replicational organization is in the synchronous plasmodium of Physarum, we analyzed the replication of three weakly expressed genes. Bromodeoxyuridine (BrdUrd) density-shift and gene dosage experiments indicated that the redB (regulated in development) and redE genes replicate early, whereas redA replicates in mid-S phase. Bi-dimensional gel electrophoresis revealed that redA coincides with an origin that appears to be activated within a large temporal window in S phase so that the replication of the gene is not well defined temporally. The early replication of the redB and redE genes is due to the simultaneous activation of flanking origins at the onset of S phase. As a result, these two genes correspond to termination sites of DNA replication. Our data demonstrate that not all the Physarum promoters are preferred sites of initiation but, so far, all the expressed genes analyzed in detail either coincide with a replication origin or are embedded into a cluster of early firing replicons.
PMCID: PMC117180  PMID: 12034812
15.  The One-Kilobase DNA Fragment Upstream of the ardC Actin Gene of Physarum polycephalum Is Both a Replicator and a Promoter 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(5):3506-3514.
The 1-kb DNA fragment upstream of the ardC actin gene of Physarum polycephalum promotes the transcription of a reporter gene either in a transient-plasmid assay or as an integrated copy in an ectopic position, defining this region as the transcriptional promoter of the ardC gene (PardC). Since we mapped an origin of replication activated at the onset of S phase within this same fragment, we examined the pattern of replication of a cassette containing the PardC promoter and the hygromycin phosphotransferase gene, hph, integrated into two different chromosomal sites. In both cases, we show by two-dimensional agarose gel electrophoresis that an efficient, early activated origin coincides with the ectopic PardC fragment. One of the integration sites was a normally late-replicating region. The presence of the ectopic origin converted this late-replicating domain into an early-replicating domain in which replication forks propagate with kinetics indistinguishable from those of the native PardC replicon. This is the first demonstration that initiation sites for DNA replication in Physarum correspond to cis-acting replicator sequences. This work also confirms the close proximity of a replication origin and a promoter, with both functions being located within the 1-kb proximal region of the ardC actin gene. A more precise location of the replication origin with respect to the transcriptional promoter must await the development of a functional autonomously replicating sequence assay in Physarum.
PMCID: PMC84143  PMID: 10207074

Results 1-15 (15)