Stress granules (SGs) contain translationally-stalled mRNAs, associated preinitiation factors, and specific RNA-binding proteins. In addition many signaling proteins are recruited to SGs and/or influence their assembly, which is transient, lasting only until the cells adapt to stress or die. Beyond their role as mRNA triage centers, we posit that SGs constitute RNA-centric signaling hubs analogous to classical multiprotein signaling domains such as transmembrane receptor complexes. As signaling centers, SG formation communicates a 'state of emergency', and their transient existence alters multiple signaling pathways by intercepting and sequestering signaling components. SG assembly and downstream signaling functions may require a cytosolic phase transition facilitated by intrinsically disordered, aggregation-prone protein regions shared by RNA-binding and signaling proteins.
The chaperone functions of heat shock protein (Hsp)70 involve an allosteric control mechanism between the nucleotide-binding domain (NBD) and polypeptide substrate-binding domain (SBD): ATP binding and hydrolysis regulates the affinity for polypeptides, and polypeptide binding accelerates ATP hydrolysis. These data suggest that Hsp70s exist in at least two conformational states. Although structural information on the conformation with high affinity for polypeptides has been available for several years, the conformation with an open polypeptide binding cleft was elucidated only recently. In addition, other biophysical studies have revealed a more dynamic picture of Hsp70s, shedding light on the molecular mechanism by which Hsp70s assist protein folding. In this review recent insights into the structure and mechanism of Hsp70s are discussed.
Large-scale mapping of transcriptomes has revealed significant levels of transcriptional activity within both unannotated and annotated regions of the genome. Interestingly, many of the novel transcripts demonstrate tissue-specific expression and some level of sequence conservation across species, but most have low protein-coding potential. Here, we describe progress in identifying and characterizing long noncoding RNAs (IncRNAs) and review how these transcripts interact with other biological molecules to regulate diverse cellular processes. We also preview emerging techniques that will help advance the discovery and characterization of novel transcripts. Finally, we discuss the role of IncRNAs in disease and therapeutics.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a conserved protein kinase involved in a multitude of cellular processes including cell growth. Increased mTOR activation is observed in multiple human cancers and inhibition of mTOR has proven efficacious in numerous clinical trials. mTOR comprises two complexes, termed mTORC1 and mTORC2. Both complexes respond to growth factors, whereas only mTORC1 is controlled by nutrients, such as glucose and amino acids. Since the discovery of mTOR, extensive studies have intricately detailed the molecular mechanisms by which mTORC1 is regulated. Somewhat paradoxically, amino acid (AA)induced mTORC1 activation -arguably the most essential stimulus leading to mTORC1 activation - is the least understood. Here we review the current knowledge of nutrient-dependent regulation of mTORC1.
Cleavage and polyadenylation (C/P) of nascent transcripts is essential for maturation of the 3' ends of most eukaryotic mRNAs. Over the past three decades, biochemical studies have elucidated the machinery responsible for the seemingly simple C/P reaction. Recent genomic analyses have indicated that most eukaryotic genes have multiple cleavage and polyadenylation sites (pAs), leading to transcript isoforms with different coding potentials and/or variable 3' untranslated regions (UTRs). As such, alternative cleavage and polyadenylation (APA) is an important layer of gene regulation impacting mRNA metabolism. Here, we review our current understanding of APA and recent progress in this field.
The heat shock protein (Hsp)90 chaperone machinery regulates the activity of hundreds of client proteins in the eukaryotic cytosol. It undergoes large conformational changes between states that are similar in energy. These transitions are rate-limiting for the ATPase cycle. It has become evident that several of the many Hsp90 co-chaperones affect the conformational equilibrium by stabilizing specific intermediate states. Consequently, there is an ordered progression of different co-chaperones during the conformational cycle. Asymmetric complexes containing two different co-chaperones may be important for the processing of the client protein, although our understanding of this aspect, as well as the details of the interaction of Hsp90 with client proteins, is still in its infancy.
Huntington's disease (HD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder for which no disease modifying treatments exist. Many molecular changes and cellular consequences that underlie HD are observed in other neurological disorders, suggesting that common pathological mechanisms and pathways may exist. Recent findings have enhanced our understanding of the way cells regulate and respond to expanded polyglutamine proteins such as mutant huntingtin. These studies demonstrate that in addition to effects on folding, aggregation, and clearance pathways, a general transcriptional mechanism also dictates the expression of polyglutamine proteins. Here, we summarize the key pathways and networks that are important in HD in the context of recent therapeutic advances and highlight how their interplay may be of relevance to other protein folding disorders.
The major facilitator superfamily (MFS) is one of the largest groups of secondary active transporters conserved from bacteria to humans. MFS proteins selectively transport a wide spectrum of substrates across biomembranes and play a pivotal role in multiple physiological processes. Despite intense investigation, only seven MFS proteins from six subfamilies have been structurally elucidated. These structures were captured in distinct states during a transport cycle involving alternating access to binding sites from either side of the membrane. This review discusses recent progress in MFS structure analysis and focuses on the molecular basis for substrate binding, co-transport coupling, and alternating access.
SET domain-containing proteins belong to a group of enzymes named after a common domain that utilizes the cofactor S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) to achieve methylation of its substrates. Many SET domain-containing proteins have been shown to display catalytic activity towards particular lysine residues on histones, but emerging evidence also indicates that various nonhistone proteins are specifically targeted by this clade of enzymes. Here, we summarize the most recent findings on the biological functions of the major families of SET domain-containing proteins catalyzing the methylation of histones 3 on lysines 4, 9, 27, and 36 (H3K4, H3K9, H3K27, and H3K36) and histone 4 on lysine 20 (H4K20), as well as enzymes that have been reported to modify nonhistone substrates.
The hallmarks of cancer described by Hanahan and Weinberg are properties that cancer cells must possess for successful transformation. It is believed that each of these hallmarks is independently driven. Although elongation of telomeres is thought to be the prime function of reactivated telomerase reverse transcriptase, this activity does not account for all its effects, such as increasing cell proliferation, resistance to apoptosis, and invasion. Recent studies suggest that the telomerase subunit telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) has novel molecular functions including transcriptional regulation and metabolic reprogramming. We summarize these functions and discuss how they could directly regulate the various hallmarks of cancer. Finally, we suggest that therapeutics targeting noncanonical telomerase functions may work better than those that target its role in telomere extension.
During the cellular oxidation of fuels, electrons are used to power the proton pumps of the mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) and ultimately drive ATP synthesis and the reduction of molecular oxygen to water. During these oxidative processes, some electrons can 'spin off' during fuel oxidation and electron transport to univalently reduce O-2, forming reactive oxygen species (ROS). In excess, ROS can be detrimental; however, at low concentrations oxyradicals are essential signaling molecules. Mitochondria thus use a battery of systems to finely control types and levels of ROS, including antioxidants. Several antioxidant systems depend on glutathione. Here, we review mitochondrial ROS homeostatic systems, including emerging knowledge about roles of glutathione in redox balance and the control of protein function by post-translational modification.
The cytochromes P450 (P450s) are probably nature's most versatile enzymes in terms of both their vast substrate range and the diverse types of molecular transformations performed across the P450 enzyme superfamily. The P450s exquisitely perform highly specific oxidative chemistry, utilizing a sophisticated catalytic reaction mechanism. Recent studies have provided the first definitive characterization of the transient reaction cycle intermediate (compound I) responsible for the majority of P450 oxidative reactions. This major advance comes at a time when P450 engineering has facilitated the elucidation of several mammalian P450 structures and generated P450 variants with novel substrate specificity and reactivity. This review describes recent advances in P450 research and the ramifications for biotechnological and biomedical exploitation of these enzymes.
The transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta and phosphoinositide 3-kinase/protein kinase B (PI3K/AKT) signaling pathways are used in cells to control numerous responses, including proliferation, apoptosis, and migration. TGF-beta is known for its cytostatic effect's in premalignant states and its pro-oncogenic activity in advanced cancers. The pro-cell survival response exerted by growth-factor-mediated activation of PI3K/AKT has been linked to stimulation of tumor formation. Both TGF-beta receptor and PI3K/AKT pathways were initially modeled as linear signaling conduits. Although early studies suggested that these two pathways might counteract each other in balancing cell survival, emerging evidence has uncovered multiple modes of intricate signal integration and obligate collaboration in driving cancer progression. These new insights provide the rationale for exploring their dual targeting in cancer.
Methylated lysine and arginine residues in histones represent a crucial part of the histone code, and recognition of these methylated residues by protein interaction domains modulates transcription. Although some methylating enzymes appear to be histone specific, many can modify histone and non-histone substrates and an increasing number are specific for non-histone substrates. Some of the non-histone substrates can also be involved in transcription, but a distinct subset of protein methylation reactions occurs at residues buried deeply in ribosomal proteins that may function in protein-RNA interactions rather than protein-protein interactions. Additionally, recent work has identified enzymes that catalyze protein methylation reactions at new sites in ribosomal and other proteins. These reactions include modifications of histidine and cysteine residues as well as the N terminus.
Transcriptional regulation is one of the most important steps in control of cell identity, growth, differentiation, and development. Many signaling pathways controlling these processes ultimately target the core transcription machinery that, for protein coding genes, consists of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) and the general transcription factors (GTFs). New studies on the structure and mechanism of the core assembly and how it interfaces with promoter DNA and coactivator complexes have given tremendous insight into early steps in the initiation process, genome-wide binding, and mechanisms conserved for all nuclear and archaeal Pols. Here, we review recent developments in dissecting the architecture of the Pol II core machinery with a focus on early and regulated steps in transcription initiation.
Accurate chromosome segregation during mitosis is critical for maintaining genomic stability. The kinetochore - a large protein assembly on centromeric chromatin - functions as the docking site for spindle microtubules and a signaling hub for the spindle checkpoint. At metaphase, spindle microtubules from opposing spindle poles capture each pair of sister kinetochores, exert pulling forces, and create tension across sister kinetochores. The spindle checkpoint detects improper kinetochore microtubule attachments and translates these defects into biochemical activities that inhibit the anaphase-promoting complex or cyclosome (APC/C) throughout the cell to delay anaphase onset. A deficient spindle checkpoint leads to premature sister-chromatid separation and aneuploidy. Here, we review recent progress on the generation, propagation, transmission, and silencing of the spindle checkpoint signals from kinetochores to APC/C.
Multisite phosphorylation modulates the function of regulatory proteins with complex signaling properties and outputs. The retinoblastoma tumor suppressor protein (Rb) is inactivated by cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) phosphorylation in normal and cancer cell cycles, so understanding the molecular mechanisms and effects of Rb phosphorylation is imperative. Rb functions in diverse processes regulating proliferation, and it has been speculated that multisite phosphorylation might act as a code in which discrete phosphorylations control specific activities. The idea of an Rh phosphorylation code is evaluated here in light of recent studies of Rb structure and function. Rb inactivation is discussed with an emphasis on how multisite phosphorylation changes Rb structure and associations with protein partners.
Pseudouridine is the most abundant post-transcriptionally modified nucleotide in various stable RNAs of all organisms. Pseudouridine is derived from uridine via base-specific isomerization, resulting in an extra hydrogen-bond donor that distinguishes it from other nucleotides. In eukaryotes, uridine-to-pseudouridine isomerization is catalyzed primarily by box H/ACA RNPs, ribonucleoproteins that act as pseudouridylases. When introduced into RNA, pseudouridine contributes significantly to RNA-mediated cellular processes. It was recently discovered that pseudouridylation can be induced by stress, suggesting a regulatory role for pseudouridine. It has also been reported that pseudouridine can be artificially introduced into mRNA by box H/ACA RNPs and that such introduction can mediate nonsense-to-sense codon conversion, thus demonstrating a new means of generating coding or protein diversity.
Ubiquitination is a post-translational modification that creates versatility in cell signalling, in part because eight biochemically different inter-ubiquitin linkages can be formed through the seven internal lysine residues of ubiquitin or its amino-terminal methionine. The latter, referred to as linear or M1 linkage, is created by the linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex (LUBAC). Previously, K63 linkages were thought to be exclusively responsible for ubiquitin-mediated nondegradative functions. It now emerges, however, that M1 ubiquitination is crucial in various pathways, and that generation of a physiological signalling output requires cooperation between different ubiquitin linkage types. Here, we review the currently known functions of LUBAC and M1 ubiquitination, discuss promising future research directions into their functions, and how this may reveal novel therapeutic opportunities for diseases with perturbed linear ubiquitination.
DNA methylation in the form of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) is a key epigenetic regulator in mammals, and the dynamic balance between methylation and demethylation impacts various processes from development to disease. The recent discovery of the enzymatic generation and removal of the oxidized derivatives of 5mC, namely 5-hydroxymethylcysotine (5hmC), 5-formylcytosine (5fC), and 5-carboxylcytosine (5caC) in mammalian cells has led to a paradigm shift in our understanding of the demethylation process. Interestingly, emerging evidence indicates that these DNA demethylation intermediates are dynamic and could themselves carry regulatory functions. Here, we discuss 5hmC, 5fC, and 5caC as new epigenetic DNA modifications that could have distinct regulatory functions in conjunction with potential protein partners.