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1.  Hernia fibroblasts lack β-estradiol induced alterations of collagen gene expression 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:36.
Estrogens are reported to increase type I and type III collagen deposition and to regulate Metalloproteinase 2 (MMP-2) expression. These proteins are reported to be dysregulated in incisional hernia formation resulting in a significantly decreased type I to III ratio. We aimed to evaluate the β-estradiol mediated regulation of type I and type III collagen genes as well as MMP-2 gene expression in fibroblasts derived from patients with or without history of recurrent incisional hernia disease. We compared primary fibroblast cultures from male/female subjects without/without incisional hernia disease.
Incisional hernia fibroblasts (IHFs) revealed a decreased type I/III collagen mRNA ratio. Whereas fibroblasts from healthy female donors responded to β-estradiol, type I and type III gene transcription is not affected in fibroblasts from males or affected females. Furthermore β-estradiol had no influence on the impaired type I to III collagen ratio in fibroblasts from recurrent hernia patients.
Our results suggest that β-estradiol does not restore the imbaired balance of type I/III collagen in incisional hernia fibroblasts. Furthermore, the individual was identified as an independent factor for the β-estradiol induced alterations of collagen gene expression. The observation of gender specific β-estradiol-dependent changes of collagen gene expression in vitro is of significance for future studies of cellular response.
PMCID: PMC1594569  PMID: 17010202
2.  Differential growth factor regulation of aspartyl-(asparaginyl)-β-hydroxylase family genes in SH-Sy5y human neuroblastoma cells 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:41.
Aspartyl (asparaginyl)-β-hydroxylase (AAH) hydroxylates Asp and Asn residues within EGF-like domains of Notch and Jagged, which mediate cell motility and differentiation. This study examines the expression, regulation and function of AAH, and its related transcripts, Humbug and Junctin, which lack catalytic domains, using SH-Sy5y neuroblastoma cells.
Real time quantitative RT-PCR demonstrated 8- or 9-fold higher levels of Humbug than AAH and Junctin, and lower levels of all 3 transcripts in normal human brains compared with neuroblastic tumor cells. AAH and Humbug expression were significantly increased in response to insulin and IGF-I stimulation, and these effects were associated with increased directional motility. However, over-expression of AAH and not Humbug significantly increased motility. Treatment with chemical inhibitors of Akt, Erk MAPK, or cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk-5) significantly reduced IGF-I stimulated AAH and Humbug expression and motility relative to vehicle-treated control cells. In addition, significantly increased AAH and Humbug expression and directional motility were observed in cells co-transfected with Cdk-5 plus its p35 or p25 regulatory partner. Further studies demonstrated that activated Cdk-5 mediated its stimulatory effects on AAH through Erk MAPK and PI3 kinase.
AAH and Humbug are over-expressed in SH-Sy5y neuroblastoma cells, and their mRNAs are regulated by insulin/IGF-1 signaling through Erk MAPK, PI3 kinase-Akt, and Cdk-5, which are known mediators of cell migration. Although AAH and Humbug share regulatory signaling pathways, AAH and not Humbug mediates directional motility in SH-Sy5y neuroblastoma cells.
PMCID: PMC1764734  PMID: 17156427
3.  Evidence that talin alternative splice variants from Ciona intestinalis have different roles in cell adhesion 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:40.
Talins are large, modular cytoskeletal proteins found in animals and amoebozoans such as Dictyostelium discoideum. Since the identification of a second talin gene in vertebrates, it has become increasingly clear that vertebrate Talin1 and Talin2 have non-redundant roles as essential links between integrins and the actin cytoskeleton in distinct plasma membrane-associated adhesion complexes. The conserved C-terminal I/LWEQ module is important for talin function. This structural element mediates the interaction of talins with F-actin. The I/LWEQ module also targets mammalian Talin1 to focal adhesion complexes, which are dynamic multicomponent assemblies required for cell adhesion and cell motility. Although Talin1 is essential for focal adhesion function, Talin2 is not targeted to focal adhesions. The nonvertebrate chordate Ciona intestinalis has only one talin gene, but alternative splicing of the talin mRNA produces two proteins with different C-terminal I/LWEQ modules. Thus, C. intestinalis contains two talins, Talin-a and Talin-b, with potentially different activities, despite having only one talin gene.
We show here that, based on their distribution in cDNA libraries, Talin-a and Talin-b are differentially expressed during C. intestinalis development. The I/LWEQ modules of the two proteins also have different affinities for F-actin. Consistent with the hypothesis that Talin-a and Talin-b have different roles in cell adhesion, the distinct I/LWEQ modules of Talin-a and Talin-b possess different subcellular targeting determinants. The I/LWEQ module of Talin-a is targeted to focal adhesions, where it most likely serves as the link between integrin and the actin cytoskeleton. The Talin-b I/LWEQ module is not targeted to focal adhesions, but instead preferentially labels F-actin stress fibers. These different properties of C. intestinalis the Talin-a and Talin-b I/LWEQ modules mimic the differences between mammalian Talin1 and Talin2.
Vertebrates and D. discoideum contain two talin genes that encode proteins with different functions. The urochordate C. intestinalis has a single talin gene but produces two separate talins by alternative splicing that vary in a domain crucial for talin function. This suggests that multicellular organisms require multiple talins as components of adhesion complexes. In C. intestinalis, alternative splicing, rather than gene duplication followed by neo-functionalization, accounts for the presence of multiple talins with different properties. Given that C. intestinalis is an excellent model system for chordate biology, the study of Talin-a and Talin-b will lead to a deeper understanding of cell adhesion in the chordate lineage and how talin functions have been parceled out to multiple proteins during metazoan evolution.
PMCID: PMC1702346  PMID: 17150103
4.  Inhibition of inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase by a mustard gas analog in murine macrophages 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:39.
2-Chloroethyl ethyl sulphide (CEES) is a sulphur vesicating agent and an analogue of the chemical warfare agent 2,2'-dichlorodiethyl sulphide, or sulphur mustard gas (HD). Both CEES and HD are alkylating agents that influence cellular thiols and are highly toxic. In a previous publication, we reported that lipopolysaccharide (LPS) enhances the cytotoxicity of CEES in murine RAW264.7 macrophages. In the present investigation, we studied the influence of CEES on nitric oxide (NO) production in LPS stimulated RAW264.7 cells since NO signalling affects inflammation, cell death, and wound healing. Murine macrophages stimulated with LPS produce NO almost exclusively via inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) activity. We suggest that the influence of CEES or HD on the cellular production of NO could play an important role in the pathophysiological responses of tissues to these toxicants. In particular, it is known that macrophage generated NO synthesised by iNOS plays a critical role in wound healing.
We initially confirmed that in LPS stimulated RAW264.7 macrophages NO is exclusively generated by the iNOS form of nitric oxide synthase. CEES treatment inhibited the synthesis of NO (after 24 hours) in viable LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 macrophages as measured by either nitrite secretion into the culture medium or the intracellular conversion of 4,5-diaminofluorescein diacetate (DAF-2DA) or dichlorofluorescin diacetate (DCFH-DA). Western blots showed that CEES transiently decreased the expression of iNOS protein; however, treatment of active iNOS with CEES in vitro did not inhibit its enzymatic activity
CEES inhibits NO production in LPS stimulated macrophages by decreasing iNOS protein expression. Decreased iNOS expression is likely the result of CEES induced alteration in the nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) signalling pathway. Since NO can act as an antioxidant, the CEES induced down-regulation of iNOS in LPS-stimulated macrophages could elevate oxidative stress. Since macrophage generated NO is known to play a key role in cutaneous wound healing, it is possible that this work has physiological relevance with respect to the healing of HD induced skin blisters.
PMCID: PMC1698482  PMID: 17137498
5.  Nuclear envelope transmembrane proteins (NETs) that are up-regulated during myogenesis 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:38.
The nuclear lamina is a protein meshwork lining the inner nuclear membrane, which contains a polymer of nuclear lamins associated with transmembrane proteins of the inner nuclear membrane. The lamina is involved in nuclear structure, gene expression, and association of the cytoplasmic cytoskeleton with the nucleus. We previously identified a group of 67 novel putative nuclear envelope transmembrane proteins (NETs) in a large-scale proteomics analysis. Because mutations in lamina proteins have been linked to several human diseases affecting skeletal muscle, we examined NET expression during differentiation of C2C12 myoblasts. Our goal was to identify new nuclear envelope and lamina components whose expression is coordinated with muscle differentiation.
Using transcriptional microarray analysis, we found that expression of 6 of the NETs significantly increases during myoblast differentiation. We confirmed these results using quantitative RT-PCR, and furthermore, found that all 6 NETs are expressed at high levels in adult mouse skeletal muscle relative to 9 other tissues examined. Using epitope-tagged cDNAs, we determined that the 5 NETs we could analyze (NETs 9, 25, 32, 37 and 39) all target to the nuclear envelope in C2C12 cells. Furthermore, the 3 NETs that we could analyze by immunoblotting were highly enriched in nuclear envelopes relative to microsomal membranes purified from mouse liver. Database searches showed that 4 of the 6 up-regulated NETs contain regions of homology to proteins previously linked to signaling.
This work identified 6 NETs that are predicted to have important functions in muscle development and/or maintenance from their expression patterns during myoblast differentiation and in mouse tissues. We confirmed that 5 of these NETs are authentic nuclear envelope proteins. Four members of this group have potential signaling functions at the NE, based on their sequence homologies.
PMCID: PMC1635557  PMID: 17062158
6.  Nanoelectropulse-driven membrane perturbation and small molecule permeabilization 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:37.
Nanosecond, megavolt-per-meter pulsed electric fields scramble membrane phospholipids, release intracellular calcium, and induce apoptosis. Flow cytometric and fluorescence microscopy evidence has associated phospholipid rearrangement directly with nanoelectropulse exposure and supports the hypothesis that the potential that develops across the lipid bilayer during an electric pulse drives phosphatidylserine (PS) externalization.
In this work we extend observations of cells exposed to electric pulses with 30 ns and 7 ns durations to still narrower pulse widths, and we find that even 3 ns pulses are sufficient to produce responses similar to those reported previously. We show here that in contrast to unipolar pulses, which perturb membrane phospholipid order, tracked with FM1-43 fluorescence, only at the anode side of the cell, bipolar pulses redistribute phospholipids at both the anode and cathode poles, consistent with migration of the anionic PS head group in the transmembrane field. In addition, we demonstrate that, as predicted by the membrane charging hypothesis, a train of shorter pulses requires higher fields to produce phospholipid scrambling comparable to that produced by a time-equivalent train of longer pulses (for a given applied field, 30, 4 ns pulses produce a weaker response than 4, 30 ns pulses). Finally, we show that influx of YO-PRO-1, a fluorescent dye used to detect early apoptosis and activation of the purinergic P2X7 receptor channels, is observed after exposure of Jurkat T lymphoblasts to sufficiently large numbers of pulses, suggesting that membrane poration occurs even with nanosecond pulses when the electric field is high enough. Propidium iodide entry, a traditional indicator of electroporation, occurs with even higher pulse counts.
Megavolt-per-meter electric pulses as short as 3 ns alter the structure of the plasma membrane and permeabilize the cell to small molecules. The dose responses of cells to unipolar and bipolar pulses ranging from 3 ns to 30 ns duration support the hypothesis that a field-driven charging of the membrane dielectric causes the formation of pores on a nanosecond time scale, and that the anionic phospholipid PS migrates electrophoretically along the wall of these pores to the external face of the membrane.
PMCID: PMC1624827  PMID: 17052354
7.  Role of the unique N-terminal domain of CtBP2 in determining the subcellular localisation of CtBP family proteins 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:35.
CtBP1 and CtBP2 are transcriptional co-repressors that modulate the activity of a large number of transcriptional repressors via the recruitment of chromatin modifiers. Many CtBP-regulated proteins are involved in pathways associated with tumorigenesis, including TGF-β and Wnt signalling pathways and cell cycle regulators such as RB/p130 and HDM2, as well as adenovirus E1A. CtBP1 and CtBP2 are highly similar proteins, although evidence is emerging that their activity can be differentially regulated, particularly through the control of their subcellular localisation. CtBP2s from diverse species contain a unique N-terminus, absent in CtBP1 that plays a key role in controlling the nuclear-cytoplasmic distribution of the protein.
Here we show that amino acids (a.a.) 4–14 of CtBP2 direct CtBP2 into an almost exclusively nuclear distribution in cell lines of diverse origins. Whilst this sequence contains similarity to known nuclear localisation motifs, it cannot drive nuclear localisation of a heterologous protein, but rather has been shown to function as a p300 acetyltransferase-dependent nuclear retention sequence. Here we define the region of CtBP2 required to co-operate with a.a. 4–14 to promote CtBP2 nuclear accumulation as being within a.a. 1–119. In addition, we show that a.a. 120–445 of CtBP2 can also promote CtBP2 nuclear accumulation, independently of a.a. 4–14. Finally, CtBP1 and CtBP2 can form heterodimers, and we show that the interaction with CtBP2 is one mechanism whereby CtBP1 can be recruited to the nucleus.
Together, these findings represent key distinctions in the regulation of the functions of CtBP family members that may have important implications as to their roles in development, and cell differentiation and survival.
PMCID: PMC1592084  PMID: 16999872
8.  EGF-induced activation of Akt results in mTOR-dependent p70S6 kinase phosphorylation and inhibition of HC11 cell lactogenic differentiation 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:34.
HC11 mouse mammary epithelial cells differentiate in response to lactogenic hormone resulting in expression of milk proteins including β-casein. Previous studies have shown that epidermal growth factor (EGF) blocks differentiation not only through activation of the Ras/Mek/Erk pathway but also implicated phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI-3-kinase) signaling. The current study analyzes the mechanism of the PI-3-kinase pathway in an EGF-induced block of HC11 lactogenic differentiation.
HC11 and HC11-luci cells, which contain luciferase gene under the control of a β-casein promotor, were treated with specific chemical inhibitors of signal transduction pathways or transiently infected/transfected with vectors encoding dominant negative-Akt (DN-Akt) or conditionally active-Akt (CA-Akt). The expression of CA-Akt inhibited lactogenic differentiation of HC11 cells, and the infection with DN-Akt adenovirus enhanced β-casein transcription and rescued β-casein promotor-regulated luciferase activity in the presence of EGF. Treatment of cells with Rapamycin, an inhibitor of mTOR, blocked the effects of EGF on β-casein promotor driven luciferase activity as effectively as PI-3-kinase inhibitors. While expression of CA-Akt caused a constitutive activation of p70S6 kinase (p70S6K) in HC11 cells, the inhibition of either PI-3-kinase or mTOR abolished the activation of p70S6K by EGF. The activation of p70S6K by insulin or EGF resulted in the phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6 (RPS6), elongation initiation factor 4E (elF4E) and 4E binding protein1 (4E-BP1). But lower levels of PI-3-K and mTOR inhibitors were required to block insulin-induced phosphorylation of RPS6 than EGF-induced phosphorylation, and insulin-induced phosphorylation of elF4E and 4E-BP1 was not completely mTOR dependent suggesting some diversity of signaling for EGF and insulin. In HC11 cells undergoing lactogenic differentiation the phosphorylation of p70S6K completely diminished by 12 hours, and this was partly attributable to dexamethasone, a component of lactogenic hormone mix. However, p70S6K phosphorylation persisted in the presence of lactogenic hormone and EGF, but the activation could be blocked by a PI-3-kinase inhibitor.
PI-3-kinase signaling contributes to the EGF block of lactogenic differentiation via Akt and p70S6K. The EGF-induced activation of PI-3-kinase-Akt-mTOR regulates phosphorylation of molecules including ribosomal protein S6, eIF4E and 4E-BP1 that influence translational control in HC11 cells undergoing lactogenic differentiation.
PMCID: PMC1590014  PMID: 16984645
9.  Glycogen synthase kinase 3 has a limited role in cell cycle regulation of cyclin D1 levels 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:33.
The expression level of cyclin D1 plays a vital role in the control of proliferation. This protein is reported to be degraded following phosphorylation by glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) on Thr-286. We recently showed that phosphorylation of Thr-286 is responsible for a decline in cyclin D1 levels during S phase, an event required for efficient DNA synthesis. These studies were undertaken to test the possibility that phosphorylation by GSK3 is responsible for the S phase specific decline in cyclin D1 levels, and that this event is regulated by the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT signaling pathway which controls GSK3.
We found, however, that neither PI3K, AKT, GSK3, nor proliferative signaling activity in general is responsible for the S phase decline in cyclin D1 levels. In fact, the activity of these signaling kinases does not vary through the cell cycle of proliferating cells. Moreover, we found that GSK3 activity has little influence over cyclin D1 expression levels during any cell cycle phase. Inhibition of GSK3 activity by siRNA, LiCl, or other chemical inhibitors failed to influence cyclin D1 phosphorylation on Thr-286, even though LiCl efficiently blocked phosphorylation of β-catenin, a known substrate of GSK3. Likewise, the expression of a constitutively active GSK3 mutant protein failed to influence cyclin D1 phosphorylation or total protein expression level.
Because we were unable to identify any proliferative signaling molecule or pathway which is regulated through the cell cycle, or which is able to influence cyclin D1 levels, we conclude that the suppression of cyclin D1 levels during S phase is regulated by cell cycle position rather than signaling activity. We propose that this mechanism guarantees the decline in cyclin D1 levels during each S phase; and that in so doing it reduces the likelihood that simple over expression of cyclin D1 can lead to uncontrolled cell growth.
PMCID: PMC1592484  PMID: 16942622
10.  The fission yeast DNA structure checkpoint protein Rad26ATRIP/LCD1/UVSD accumulates in the cytoplasm following microtubule destabilization 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:32.
DNA structure checkpoints are conserved eukaryotic signal transduction pathways that help preserve genomic integrity. Upon detecting checkpoint signals such as stalled replication forks or double-stranded DNA breaks, these pathways coordinate appropriate stress responses. Members of the PI-3 kinase related kinase (PIKK) family are essential elements of DNA structure checkpoints. In fission yeast, the Rad3 PIKK and its regulatory subunit Rad26 coordinate the detection of checkpoint signals with pathway outputs.
We found that untreated rad26Δ cells were defective for two microtubule-dependent processes: chromosome segregation and morphogenesis. Interestingly, cytoplasmic accumulation of Rad26-GFP occurred following treatment with microtubule destabilizing drugs, but not during treatment with the genotoxic agent Phleomycin. Cytoplasmic accumulation of Rad26-GFP depended on Rad24, a 14-3-3 protein also required for DNA structure checkpoints and morphogenesis. Results of over expression and epistasis experiments confirm that Rad26 and Rad24 define a response to microtubule destabilizing conditions.
Two DNA structure checkpoint proteins with roles in morphogenesis define a response to microtubule destabilizing conditions.
PMCID: PMC1592483  PMID: 16930478
11.  TBLR1 regulates the expression of nuclear hormone receptor co-repressors 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:31.
Transcription is regulated by a complex interaction of activators and repressors. The effectors of repression are large multimeric complexes which contain both the repressor proteins that bind to transcription factors and a number of co-repressors that actually mediate transcriptional silencing either by inhibiting the basal transcription machinery or by recruiting chromatin-modifying enzymes.
TBLR1 [GenBank: NM024665] is a co-repressor of nuclear hormone transcription factors. A single highly conserved gene encodes a small family of protein molecules. Different isoforms are produced by differential exon utilization. Although the ORF of the predominant form contains only 1545 bp, the human gene occupies ~200 kb of genomic DNA on chromosome 3q and contains 16 exons. The genomic sequence overlaps with the putative DC42 [GenBank: NM030921] locus. The murine homologue is structurally similar and is also located on Chromosome 3. TBLR1 is closely related (79% homology at the mRNA level) to TBL1X and TBL1Y, which are located on Chromosomes X and Y. The expression of TBLR1 overlaps but is distinct from that of TBL1. An alternatively spliced form of TBLR1 has been demonstrated in human material and it too has an unique pattern of expression. TBLR1 and the homologous genes interact with proteins that regulate the nuclear hormone receptor family of transcription factors. In resting cells TBLR1 is primarily cytoplasmic but after perturbation the protein translocates to the nucleus. TBLR1 co-precipitates with SMRT, a co-repressor of nuclear hormone receptors, and co-precipitates in complexes immunoprecipitated by antiserum to HDAC3. Cells engineered to over express either TBLR1 or N- and C-terminal deletion variants, have elevated levels of endogenous N-CoR. Co-transfection of TBLR1 and SMRT results in increased expression of SMRT. This co-repressor undergoes ubiquitin-mediated degradation and we suggest that the stabilization of the co-repressors by TBLR1 occurs because of a novel mechanism that protects them from degradation. Transient over expression of TBLR1 produces growth arrest.
TBLR1 is a multifunctional co-repressor of transcription. The structure of this family of molecules is highly conserved and closely related co-repressors have been found in all eukaryotic organisms. Regulation of co-repressor expression and the consequent alterations in transcriptional silencing play an important role in the regulation of differentiation.
PMCID: PMC1555579  PMID: 16893456
12.  Optimization of immunomagnetic separation for cord blood-derived hematopoietic stem cells 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:30.
There is a growing interest in cord blood as a source of primitive stem cells with the capacity for multilineage differentiation. Pure cell fractions are needed for the characterization and in vitro expansion of stem cells as well as for their use in preclinical research. However, enrichment of stem cells is challenging due to the lack of stem cell-specific markers and gentle protocols for the isolation of highly pure stem cell fractions. Protocols developed for the enrichment of peripheral blood-derived stem cells have been found to be suboptimal for cord blood.
In this study, immunomagnetic cell sorting protocols to purify CD34+, CD133+ and Lin- cells from fresh and cryopreserved cord blood were optimized. Reproducible purities of up to 97% were reached. The selected cells were highly viable having substantial colony-forming potential.
The optimized protocols enable rapid enrichment of highly pure hematopoietic stem cells from both fresh and cryopreserved cord blood.
PMCID: PMC1557844  PMID: 16882340
13.  Cell cycle related proteins in hyperplasia of usual type in breast specimens of patients with and without breast cancer 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:29.
Hyperplasia of usual type (HUT) is a common proliferative lesion associated with a slight elevated risk for subsequent development of breast cancer. Cell cycle-related proteins would be helpful to determine the putative role of these markers in the process of mammary carcinogenesis. The aim of this study was to analyze the expression of cell cycle related proteins in HUT of breast specimens of patients with and without breast cancer, and compare this expression with areas of invasive carcinomas.
Immunohistochemical evaluation was performed using antibodies against cell cycle related proteins ER, PR, p53, p21, p63, and Ki-67 in hyperplasia of usual type (HUT) in specimens of aesthetic reduction mammaplasty (ARM), in specimens of mammaplasty contralateral to breast cancer (MCC), and in specimens of invasive mammary carcinomas (IMC) presenting HUT in the adjacent parenchyma. The results showed that the immunoexpression of ER, PR, p21, p53, p63, and KI-67 was similar in HUT from the three different groups. The p63 expression in myoepithelial cells showed discontinuous pattern in the majority of HUT, different from continuous expression in normal lobules. Nuclear expression of p53 and p21 was frequently higher expressed in IMC and very rare in HUT. We also found cytoplasmic expression of p21 in benign hyperplastic lesions and in neoplastic cells of IMC.
Our data failed to demonstrate different expression of cell cycle related proteins in HUT from patients with and without breast cancer. However, we found discontinuous expression of p63 in myoepithelial cells around HUT adjacent to carcinomas and cytoplasmic expression of p21 in epithelial cells of hyperplastic foci. Further studies are needed to determine how these subgroups relate to molecular abnormalities and cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC1563460  PMID: 16869981
14.  A critical role for endocytosis in Wnt signaling 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:28.
The Wnt signaling pathway regulates many processes during embryonic development, including axis specification, organogenesis, angiogenesis, and stem cell proliferation. Wnt signaling has also been implicated in a number of cancers, bone density maintenance, and neurological conditions during adulthood. While numerous Wnts, their cognate receptors of the Frizzled and Arrow/LRP5/6 families and downstream pathway components have been identified, little is known about the initial events occurring directly after receptor activation.
We show here that Wnt proteins are rapidly endocytosed by a clathrin- and dynamin-mediated process. While endocytosis has traditionally been considered a principal mechanism for receptor down-regulation and termination of signaling pathways, we demonstrate that interfering with clathrin-mediated endocytosis actually blocks Wnt signaling at the level of β-catenin accumulation and target gene expression.
A necessary component of Wnt signaling occurs in a subcellular compartment distinct from the plasma membrane. Moreover, as internalized Wnts transit partially through the transferrin recycling pathway, it is possible that a "signaling endosome" serves as a nexus for activated Wnt pathway components.
PMCID: PMC1534015  PMID: 16824228
15.  Contributions of differential p53 expression in the spontaneous immortalization of a chicken embryo fibroblast cell line 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:27.
The present study was carried out to determine whether the p53 pathway played a role in the spontaneous immortalization of the SC-2 chicken embryo fibroblast (CEF) cell line that has been in continuous culture for over three years.
The SC-2 cell line emerged from an extended crisis period with a considerably slower growth rate than primary CEF cells. The phenotype of the SC-2 cells changed dramatically at about passage 80, appearing smaller than at earlier passages (e.g., passage 43) and possessing a small, compact morphology. This morphological change coincided with an increase in growth rate. Passage 43 SC-2 cells expressed undetectable levels of p53 mRNA, but by passage 95, the levels were elevated compared to primary passage 6 CEF cells and similar to levels in senescent CEF cells. However, the high level of p53 mRNA detected in passage 95 SC-2 cells did not correlate to functional protein activity. The expression levels of the p53-regulated p21WAF1 gene were significantly decreased in all SC-2 passages that were analyzed. Examination of the Rb pathway revealed that E2F-1 and p15INK4b expression fluctuated with increasing passages, with levels higher in passage 95 SC-2 cells compared to primary passage 6 CEF cells.
The present study suggests that altered expression of genes involved in the p53 and Rb pathways, specifically, p53 and p21WAF1, may have contributed to the immortalization of the SC-2 CEF cell line.
PMCID: PMC1533818  PMID: 16813656
16.  Deciphering protein function during mitosis in PtK cells using RNAi 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:26.
Studying mitosis requires a system in which the dramatic movements of chromosomes and spindle microtubules can be visualized. PtK cells, due to their flat morphology and their small number of large chromosomes, allow microscopic visualizations to be readily performed.
By performing RNAi in PtK cells, we can explore the function of many proteins important for spindle assembly and chromosome segregation. Although it is difficult to transfect DNA into PtK cells (efficiency ~ 10%), we have transfected a fluorescent siRNA at nearly 100% efficiency. Using a cDNA expression library, we then isolated a complete PtK MCAK (P-MCAK) cDNA. P-MCAK shares 81% identity to Human-MCAK (H-MCAK) protein and 66% identity to H-MCAK DNA. Knockdown of P-MCAK by RNAi caused defects in chromosome congression and defective spindle organization. Live imaging revealed that chromosomes had defects in congression and segregation, similar to what we found after microinjection of inhibitory anti-MCAK antibodies. Because it is laborious to isolate full-length clones, we explored using RT-PCR with degenerate primers to yield cDNA fragments from PtK cells from which to design siRNAs. We isolated a cDNA fragment of the mitotic kinesin Eg5 from PtK cells. This fragment is 93% identical to H-Eg5 protein and 87% identical to H-Eg5 DNA. A conserved 21 bp siRNA was used for RNAi in both HeLa and PtK cells in which Eg5 knockdown resulted in an increased mitotic index and cells with monopolar spindles. In addition, we used RT-PCR to isolate fragments of 5 additional genes, whose sequence identity ranged from 76 to 90% with human, mouse, or rat genes, suggesting that this strategy is feasible to apply to any gene of interest.
This approach will allow us to effectively probe mitotic defects from protein knockdowns by combining genomic information from other organisms with the tractable morphology of PtK cells.
PMCID: PMC1559611  PMID: 16796742
17.  Sorting of cells of the same size, shape, and cell cycle stage for a single cell level assay without staining 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:25.
Single-cell level studies are being used increasingly to measure cell properties not directly observable in a cell population. High-performance data acquisition systems for such studies have, by necessity, developed in synchrony. However, improvements in sample purification techniques are also required to reveal new phenomena. Here we assessed a cell sorter as a sample-pretreatment tool for a single-cell level assay. A cell sorter is routinely used for selecting one type of cells from a heterogeneous mixture of cells using specific fluorescence labels. In this case, we wanted to select cells of exactly the same size, shape, and cell-cycle stage from a population, without using a specific fluorescence label.
We used four light scatter parameters: the peak height and area of the forward scatter (FSheight and FSarea) and side scatter (SSheight and SSarea). The rat pheochromocytoma PC12 cell line, a neuronal cell line, was used for all experiments. The living cells concentrated in the high FSarea and middle SSheight/SSarea fractions. Single cells without cell clumps were concentrated in the low SS and middle FS fractions, and in the higher FSheight/FSarea and SSheight/SSarea fractions. The cell populations from these viable, single-cell-rich fractions were divided into twelve subfractions based on their FSarea-SSarea profiles, for more detailed analysis. We found that SSarea was proportional to the cell volume and the FSarea correlated with cell roundness and elongation, as well as with the level of DNA in the cell. To test the method and to characterize the basic properties of the isolated single cells, sorted cells were cultured in separate wells. The cells in all subfractions survived, proliferated and differentiated normally, suggesting that there was no serious damage. The smallest, roundest, and smoothest cells had the highest viability. There was no correlation between proliferation and differentiation. NGF increases cell viability but decreases the proliferative ability of the PC12 cells.
We demonstrated a pretreatment method to collect well-characterized, viable, single cells without using fluorescent labels and without significant damage to the cells. This method is quantitative, rapid, single-step, and yields cells of high purity, making it applicable for a variety of single-cell level analyses.
PMCID: PMC1523334  PMID: 16790072
18.  Identification of multiple integrin β1 homologs in zebrafish (Danio rerio) 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:24.
Integrins comprise a large family of α,β heterodimeric, transmembrane cell adhesion receptors that mediate diverse essential biological functions. Higher vertebrates possess a single β1 gene, and the β1 subunit associates with a large number of α subunits to form the major class of extracellular matrix (ECM) receptors. Despite the fact that the zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a rapidly emerging model organism of choice for developmental biology and for models of human disease, little is currently known about β1 integrin sequences and functions in this organism.
Using RT-PCR, complete coding sequences of zebrafish β1 paralogs were obtained from zebrafish embryos or adult tissues. The results show that zebrafish possess two β1 paralogs (β1–1 and β1–2) that have a high degree of identity to other vertebrate β1 subunits. In addition, a third, more divergent, β1 paralog is present (β1–3), which may have altered ligand-binding properties. Zebrafish also have other divergent β1-like transcripts, which are C-terminally truncated forms lacking the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains. Together with β1–3 these truncated forms comprise a novel group of β1 paralogs, all of which have a mutation in the ADMIDAS cation-binding site. Phylogenetic and genomic analyses indicate that the duplication that gave rise to β1–1 and β1–2 occurred after the divergence of the tetrapod and fish lineages, while a subsequent duplication of the ancestor of β1–2 may have given rise to β1–3 and an ancestral truncated paralog. A very recent tandem duplication of the truncated β1 paralogs appears to have taken place. The different zebrafish β1 paralogs have varied patterns of temporal expression during development. β1–1 and β1–2 are ubiquitously expressed in adult tissues, whereas the other β1 paralogs generally show more restricted patterns of expression.
Zebrafish have a large set of integrin β1 paralogs. β1–1 and β1–2 may share the roles of the solitary β1 subunit found in other vertebrates, whereas β1–3 and the truncated β1 paralogs may have acquired novel functions.
PMCID: PMC1538996  PMID: 16787535
19.  Actin polymerisation at the cytoplasmic face of eukaryotic nuclei 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:23.
There exists abundant molecular and ultra-structural evidence to suggest that cytoplasmic actin can physically interact with the nuclear envelope (NE) membrane system. However, this interaction has yet to be characterised in living interphase cells.
Using a fluorescent conjugate of the actin binding drug cytochalasin D (CD-BODIPY) we provide evidence that polymerising actin accumulates in vicinity to the NE. In addition, both transiently expressed fluorescent actin and cytoplasmic micro-injection of fluorescent actin resulted in accumulation of actin at the NE-membrane. Consistent with the idea that the cytoplasmic phase of NE-membranes can support this novel pool of perinuclear actin polymerisation we show that isolated, intact, differentiated primary hepatocyte nuclei support actin polymerisation in vitro. Further this phenomenon was inhibited by treatments hindering steric access to outer-nuclear-membrane proteins (e.g. wheat germ agglutinin, anti-nesprin and anti-nucleoporin antibodies).
We conclude that actin polymerisation occurs around interphase nuclei of living cells at the cytoplasmic phase of NE-membranes.
PMCID: PMC1481536  PMID: 16719903
20.  Induction of release and up-regulated gene expression of interleukin (IL)-8 in A549 cells by serine proteinases 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:22.
Hypersecretion of cytokines and serine proteinases has been observed in asthma. Since protease-activated receptors (PARs) are receptors of several serine proteinases and airway epithelial cells are a major source of cytokines, the influence of serine proteinases and PARs on interleukin (IL)-8 secretion and gene expression in cultured A549 cells was examined.
A549 cells express all four PARs at both protein and mRNA levels as assessed by flow cytometry, immunofluorescence microscopy and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Thrombin, tryptase, elastase and trypsin induce a up to 8, 4.3, 4.4 and 5.1 fold increase in IL-8 release from A549 cells, respectively following 16 h incubation period. The thrombin, elastase and trypsin induced secretion of IL-8 can be abolished by their specific inhibitors. Agonist peptides of PAR-1, PAR-2 and PAR-4 stimulate up to 15.6, 6.6 and 3.5 fold increase in IL-8 secretion, respectively. Real time PCR shows that IL-8 mRNA is up-regulated by the serine proteinases tested and by agonist peptides of PAR-1 and PAR-2.
The proteinases, possibly through activation of PARs can stimulate IL-8 release from A549 cells, suggesting that they are likely to contribute to IL-8 related airway inflammatory disorders in man.
PMCID: PMC1489934  PMID: 16696869
21.  Pim-1 kinase phosphorylates RUNX family transcription factors and enhances their activity 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:21.
The pim family genes encode oncogenic serine/threonine kinases which in hematopoietic cells have been implicated in cytokine-dependent signaling as well as in lymphomagenesis, especially in cooperation with other oncogenes such as myc, bcl-2 or Runx family genes. The Runx genes encode α-subunits of heterodimeric transcription factors which regulate cell proliferation and differentiation in various tissues during development and which can become leukemogenic upon aberrant expression.
Here we have identified novel protein-protein interactions between the Pim-1 kinase and the RUNX family transcription factors. Using the yeast two-hybrid system, we were able to show that the C-terminal part of human RUNX3 associates with Pim-1. This result was confirmed in cell culture, where full-length murine Runx1 and Runx3 both coprecipitated and colocalized with Pim-1. Furthermore, catalytically active Pim-1 kinase was able to phosphorylate Runx1 and Runx3 proteins and enhance the transactivation activity of Runx1 in a dose-dependent fashion.
Altogether, our results suggest that mammalian RUNX family transcription factors are novel binding partners and substrates for the Pim-1 kinase, which may be able to regulate their activities during normal hematopoiesis as well as in leukemogenesis.
PMCID: PMC1473194  PMID: 16684349
22.  Development of a serum-free co-culture of human intestinal epithelium cell-lines (Caco-2/HT29-5M21) 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:20.
The absorptive and goblet cells are the main cellular types encountered in the intestine epithelium. The cell lineage Caco-2 is a model commonly used to reproduce the features of the bowel epithelium. However, there is a strong debate regarding the value of Caco-2 cell culture to mimick in vivo situation. Indeed, some authors report in Caco-2 a low paracellular permeability and an ease of access of highly diffusible small molecules to the microvilli, due to an almost complete lack of mucus. The HT29-5M21 intestinal cell lineage is a mucin-secreting cellular population. A co-culture system carried out in a serum-free medium and comprising both Caco-2 and HT29-5M21 cells was developed. The systematic use of a co-culture system requires the characterization of the monolayer under a given experimental procedure.
In this study, we investigated the activity and localization of the alkaline phosphatase and the expression of IAP and MUC5AC genes to determine a correlation between these markers and the cellular composition of a differentiated monolayer obtained from a mixture of Caco-2 and HT29-5M21 cells. We observed that the culture conditions used (serum-free medium) did not change the phenotype of each cell type, and produced a reproducible model. The alkaline phosphatase expression characterizing Caco-2 cells was influenced by the presence of HT29-5M21 cells.
The culture formed by 75% Caco-2 and 25% HT29-5M21 produce a monolayer containing the two main cell types of human intestinal epithelium and characterized by a reduced permeability to macromolecules.
PMCID: PMC1617214  PMID: 16670004
23.  Motion as a phenotype: the use of live-cell imaging and machine visual screening to characterize transcription-dependent chromosome dynamics 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:19.
Gene transcriptional activity is well correlated with intra-nuclear position, especially relative to the nuclear periphery, which is a region classically associated with gene silencing. Recently however, actively transcribed genes have also been found localized to the nuclear periphery in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. When genes are activated, they become associated with the nuclear pore complex (NPC) at the nuclear envelope. Furthermore, chromosomes are not static structures, but exhibit constrained diffusion in real-time, live-cell studies of particular loci. The relationship of chromosome motion with transcriptional activation and active-gene recruitment to the nuclear periphery has not yet been investigated.
We have generated a yeast strain that enables us to observe the motion of the galactose-inducible GAL gene locus relative to the nuclear periphery in real-time under transcriptionally active and repressed conditions. Using segmented geometric particle tracking, we show that the repressed GAL locus undergoes constrained diffusive movement, and that transcriptional induction with galactose is associated with an enrichment in cells with GAL loci that are both associated with the nuclear periphery and much more constrained in their movement. Furthermore, we report that the mRNA export factor Sac3 is involved in this galactose-induced enrichment of GAL loci at the nuclear periphery. In parallel, using a novel machine visual screening technique, we find that the motion of constrained GAL loci correlates with the motion of the cognate nuclei in galactose-induced cells.
Transcriptional activation of the GAL genes is associated with their tethering and motion constraint at the nuclear periphery. We describe a model of gene recruitment to the nuclear periphery involving gene diffusion and the mRNA export factor Sac3 that can be used as a framework for further experimentation. In addition, we applied to the analysis of chromosome motion a machine visual screening approach that used unbiased visual data rather than segmented geometric data. This novel analytical approach will allow for high-throughput study of processes that can be monitored via alterations in chromosome motion and connectivity with the nuclear periphery.
PMCID: PMC1488840  PMID: 16635267
24.  A new standard nomenclature for proteins related to Apx and Shroom 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:18.
Shroom is a recently-described regulator of cell shape changes in the developing nervous system. This protein is a member of a small family of related proteins that are defined by sequence similarity and in most cases by some link to the actin cytoskeleton. At present these proteins are named Shroom, APX, APXL, and KIAA1202. In light of the growing interest in this family of proteins, we propose here a new standard nomenclature.
PMCID: PMC1481537  PMID: 16615870
25.  Thalidomide attenuates nitric oxide mediated angiogenesis by blocking migration of endothelial cells 
BMC Cell Biology  2006;7:17.
Thalidomide is an immunomodulatory agent, which arrests angiogenesis. The mechanism of anti-angiogenic activity of thalidomide is not fully understood. As nitric oxide is involved in angiogenesis, we speculate a cross-talk between thalidomide and nitric oxide signaling pathway to define angiogenesis. The aim of present study is to understand the mechanistic aspects of thalidomide-mediated attenuation of angiogenesis induced by nitric oxide at the cellular level.
To study the cellular mechanism of thalidomide-mediated blocking of angiogenesis triggered by nitric oxide, we used two endothelial cell based models: 1) wound healing and 2) tube formation using ECV 304, an endothelial cell line. These cell-based models reflect pro-angiogenic events in vivo. We also studied the effects of thalidomide on nitric oxide mediated egg yolk angiogenesis. Thalidomide could block the formation of blood vessels both in absence and presence of nitric oxide. Thalidomide effects on migration of, and actin polymerization in, ECV 304 cells were studied at the single cell level using live cell imaging techniques and probes to detect nitric oxide.
Results demonstrate that thalidomide blocks nitric oxide-mediated angiogenesis in egg yolk model and also reduces the number of tubes formed in endothelial cell monolayers. We also observed that thalidomide arrests wound healing in presence and absence of nitric oxide in a dose-dependent fashion. Additionally, thalidomide promotes actin polymerization and antagonizes the formation of membrane extensions triggered by nitric oxide in endothelial cells. Experiments targeting single tube structure with thalidomide, followed by nitric oxide treatment, show that the tube structures are insensitive to thalidomide and nitric oxide. These observations suggest that thalidomide interferes with nitric oxide-induced migration of endothelial cells at the initial phase of angiogenesis before cells co-ordinate themselves to form organized tubes in endothelial cells and thereby inhibits angiogenesis.
Thalidomide exerts inhibitory effects on nitric oxide-mediated angiogenesis by altering sub-cellular actin polymerization pattern, which leads to inhibition of endothelial cell migration.
PMCID: PMC1456963  PMID: 16584574

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