RNA silencing is a eukaryotic genome defence system that involves processing of double‐stranded RNA (dsRNA) into 21–26 nt, short interfering RNA (siRNA). The siRNA mediates suppression of genes corresponding to the dsRNA through targeted RNA degradation. In some plant systems there are additional silencing processes, involving systemic spread of silencing and RNA‐directed methylation/transcriptional suppression of homologous genomic DNA. We show here that siRNAs produced in plants from a green fluorescent protein (GFP) transgene are in short (21–22 nt) and long (24–26 nt) size classes, whereas those from endogenous retroelements are only in the long class. Viral suppressors of RNA silencing and mutations in Arabidopsis indicate that these classes of siRNA have different roles. The long siRNA is dispensable for sequence‐specific mRNA degradation, but correlates with systemic silencing and methylation of homologous DNA. Conversely, the short siRNA class correlates with mRNA degradation but not with systemic signalling or methylation. These findings reveal an unexpected level of complexity in the RNA silencing pathway in plants that may also apply in animals.
Glycosylation is the most abundant and diverse posttranslational modification of proteins. While several types of glycosylation can be predicted by the protein sequence context, and substantial knowledge of these glycoproteomes is available, our knowledge of the GalNAc‐type O ‐glycosylation is highly limited. This type of glycosylation is unique in being regulated by 20 polypeptide GalNAc‐transferases attaching the initiating GalNAc monosaccharides to Ser and Thr (and likely some Tyr) residues. We have developed a genetic engineering approach using human cell lines to simplify O ‐glycosylation (SimpleCells) that enables proteome‐wide discovery of O ‐glycan sites using ‘bottom‐up’ ETD‐based mass spectrometric analysis. We implemented this on 12 human cell lines from different organs, and present a first map of the human O ‐glycoproteome with almost 3000 glycosites in over 600 O ‐glycoproteins as well as an improved NetOGlyc4.0 model for prediction of O ‐glycosylation. The finding of unique subsets of O ‐glycoproteins in each cell line provides evidence that the O ‐glycoproteome is differentially regulated and dynamic. The greatly expanded view of the O ‐glycoproteome should facilitate the exploration of how site‐specific O ‐glycosylation regulates protein function. Comprehensive proteomics survey in 12 human cell lines and development of an improved NetOGlyc4.0 prediction tool greatly expand the view on mucin‐type protein O ‐glycosylation.
Being deeply connected to signalling, cell dynamics, growth, regulation, and defence, endocytic processes are linked to almost all aspects of cell life and disease. In this review, we focus on endosomes in the classical endocytic pathway, and on the programme of changes that lead to the formation and maturation of late endosomes/multivesicular bodies. The maturation programme entails a dramatic transformation of these dynamic organelles disconnecting them functionally and spatially from early endosomes and preparing them for their unidirectional role as a feeder pathway to lysosomes. Many intracellular trafficking events involve endosomes as key sorting hubs. This review considers the processes that drive the maturation of this highly dynamic and versatile organelle.
The lysosome plays a key role in cellular homeostasis by controlling both cellular clearance and energy production to respond to environmental cues. However, the mechanisms mediating lysosomal adaptation are largely unknown. Here, we show that the Transcription Factor EB (TFEB), a master regulator of lysosomal biogenesis, colocalizes with master growth regulator mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) on the lysosomal membrane. When nutrients are present, phosphorylation of TFEB by mTORC1 inhibits TFEB activity. Conversely, pharmacological inhibition of mTORC1, as well as starvation and lysosomal disruption, activates TFEB by promoting its nuclear translocation. In addition, the transcriptional response of lysosomal and autophagic genes to either lysosomal dysfunction or pharmacological inhibition of mTORC1 is suppressed in TFEB−/− cells. Interestingly, the Rag GTPase complex, which senses lysosomal amino acids and activates mTORC1, is both necessary and sufficient to regulate starvation‐ and stress‐induced nuclear translocation of TFEB. These data indicate that the lysosome senses its content and regulates its own biogenesis by a lysosome‐to‐nucleus signalling mechanism that involves TFEB and mTOR. Under basal conditions TFEB, a master regulator of lysosomal biogenesis, is sequestered in the cytosol due to mTORC1‐dependent phosphorylation at the lysosomal membrane. Nutrient starvation or lysosomal dysfunction inhibit mTORC1 activity and induce nuclear translocation of TFEB inducing target gene expression.
β‐Catenin (Armadillo in Drosophila ) is a multitasking and evolutionary conserved molecule that in metazoans exerts a crucial role in a multitude of developmental and homeostatic processes. More specifically, β‐catenin is an integral structural component of cadherin‐based adherens junctions, and the key nuclear effector of canonical Wnt signalling in the nucleus. Imbalance in the structural and signalling properties of β‐catenin often results in disease and deregulated growth connected to cancer and metastasis. Intense research into the life of β‐catenin has revealed a complex picture. Here, we try to capture the state of the art: we try to summarize and make some sense of the processes that regulate β‐catenin, as well as the plethora of β‐catenin binding partners. One focus will be the interaction of β‐catenin with different transcription factors and the potential implications of these interactions for direct cross‐talk between β‐catenin and non‐Wnt signalling pathways. Konrad Basler and colleagues survey and interpret the vast literature on armadillo/β‐catenin. The result is a very broad and informative picture of this evolutionary‐conserved, versatile protein.
DivIVA is a conserved protein in Gram‐positive bacteria and involved in various processes related to cell growth, cell division and spore formation. DivIVA is specifically targeted to cell division sites and cell poles. In Bacillus subtilis , DivIVA helps to localise other proteins, such as the conserved cell division inhibitor proteins, MinC/MinD, and the chromosome segregation protein, RacA. Little is known about the mechanism that localises DivIVA. Here we show that DivIVA binds to liposomes, and that the N terminus harbours the membrane targeting sequence. The purified protein can stimulate binding of RacA to membranes. In mutants with aberrant cell shapes, DivIVA accumulates where the cell membrane is most strongly curved. On the basis of electron microscopic studies and other data, we propose that this is due to molecular bridging of the curvature by DivIVA multimers. This model may explain why DivIVA localises at cell division sites. A Monte‐Carlo simulation study showed that molecular bridging can be a general mechanism for binding of proteins to negatively curved membranes.
Two types of stem cells are currently defined in small intestinal crypts: cycling crypt base columnar (CBC) cells and quiescent '+4' cells. Here, we combine transcriptomics with proteomics to define a definitive molecular signature for Lgr5(+) CBC cells. Transcriptional profiling of FACS-sorted Lgr5(+) stem cells and their daughters using two microarray platforms revealed an mRNA stem cell signature of 384 unique genes. Quantitative mass spectrometry on the same cell populations identified 278 proteins enriched in intestinal stem cells. The mRNA and protein data sets showed a high level of correlation and a combined signature of 510 stem cell-enriched genes was defined. Spatial expression patterns were further characterized by mRNA in-situ hybridization, revealing that approximately half of the genes were expressed in a gradient with highest levels at the crypt bottom, while the other half was expressed uniquely in Lgr5(+) stem cells. Lineage tracing using a newly established knock-in mouse for one of the signature genes, Smoc2, confirmed its stem cell specificity. Using this resource, we find-and confirm by independent approaches-that the proposed quiescent/'+4' stem cell markers Bmi1, Tert, Hopx and Lrig1 are robustly expressed in CBC cells. The EMBO Journal (2012) 31, 3079-3091. doi:10.1038/emboj.2012.166; Published online 12 June 2012
Autophagy controls the quality and quantity of the eukaryotic cytoplasm while performing two evolutionarily highly conserved functions: cell‐autonomous provision of energy and nutrients by cytosol autodigestion during starvation, and removal of defunct organelles and large aggregates exceeding the capacity of other cellular degradative systems. In contrast to these autodigestive processes, autophagy in yeast has additional, biogenesis functions. However, no equivalent biosynthetic roles have been described for autophagy in mammals. Here, we show that in mammalian cells, autophagy has a hitherto unappreciated positive contribution to the biogenesis and secretion of the proinflammatory cytokine IL‐1β via an export pathway that depends on Atg5, inflammasome, at least one of the two mammalian Golgi reassembly stacking protein (GRASP) paralogues, GRASP55 (GORASP2) and Rab8a. This process, which is a type of unconventional secretion, expands the functional manifestations of autophagy beyond autodigestive and quality control roles in mammals. It enables a subset of cytosolic proteins devoid of signal peptide sequences, and thus unable to access the conventional pathway through the ER, to enter an autophagy‐based secretory pathway facilitating their exit from the cytoplasm. Autophagy is a central process within the cell that plays roles well beyond autodigestion and quality control. This study reveals that autophagy is involved in unconventional secretion of the proinflammatory cytokine IL‐1β, a pathway that involves Atg5, inflammasome, GRASP55 (GORASP2), and Rab8a.
Lgr5 marks adult stem cells in multiple adult organs and is a receptor for the Wnt-agonistic R-spondins (RSPOs). Intestinal, stomach and liver Lgr5(+) stem cells grow in 3D cultures to form ever-expanding organoids, which resemble the tissues of origin. Wnt signalling is inactive and Lgr5 is not expressed under physiological conditions in the adult pancreas. However, we now report that the Wnt pathway is robustly activated upon injury by partial duct ligation (PDL), concomitant with the appearance of Lgr5 expression in regenerating pancreatic ducts. In vitro, duct fragments from mouse pancreas initiate Lgr5 expression in RSPO1-based cultures, and develop into budding cyst-like structures (organoids) that expand five-fold weekly for >40 weeks. Single isolated duct cells can also be cultured into pancreatic organoids, containing Lgr5 stem/progenitor cells that can be clonally expanded. Clonal pancreas organoids can be induced to differentiate into duct as well as endocrine cells upon transplantation, thus proving their bi-potentiality.
Oxygen is essential for eukaryotic life and is inextricably linked to the evolution of multicellular organisms. Proper cellular response to changes in oxygen tension during normal development or pathological processes, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, is ultimately regulated by the transcription factor, hypoxia‐inducible factor (HIF). Over the past decade, unprecedented molecular insight has been gained into the mammalian oxygen‐sensing pathway involving the canonical oxygen‐dependent prolyl‐hydroxylase domain‐containing enzyme (PHD)–von Hippel‐Lindau tumour suppressor protein (pVHL) axis and its connection to cellular metabolism. Here we review recent notable advances in the field of hypoxia that have shaped a more complex model of HIF regulation and revealed unique roles of HIF in a diverse range of biological processes, including immunity, development and stem cell biology. This review summarizes and structures recent discoveries on biological functions mediated by hypoxia‐inducible factor‐1.
Neurons are critically dependent on mitochondrial integrity based on specific morphological, biochemical, and physiological features. They are characterized by high rates of metabolic activity and need to respond promptly to activity‐dependent fluctuations in bioenergetic demand. The dimensions and polarity of neurons require efficient transport of mitochondria to hot spots of energy consumption, such as presynaptic and postsynaptic sites. Moreover, the postmitotic state of neurons in combination with their exposure to intrinsic and extrinsic neuronal stress factors call for a high fidelity of mitochondrial quality control systems. Consequently, it is not surprising that mitochondrial alterations can promote neuronal dysfunction and degeneration. In particular, mitochondrial dysfunction has long been implicated in the etiopathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD), based on the observation that mitochondrial toxins can cause parkinsonism in humans and animal models. Substantial progress towards understanding the role of mitochondria in the disease process has been made by the identification and characterization of genes causing familial variants of PD. Studies on the function and dysfunction of these genes revealed that various aspects of mitochondrial biology appear to be affected in PD, comprising mitochondrial biogenesis, bioenergetics, dynamics, transport, and quality control. Konstanze Winklhofer and colleagues review the various aspects of mitochondrial biology that is affected in Parkinson's disease including mitochondrial biogenesis, bioenergetics, dynamics, transport, and quality control.
TET proteins convert 5‐methylcytosine to 5‐hydroxymethylcytosine, an emerging dynamic epigenetic state of DNA that can influence transcription. Evidence has linked TET1 function to epigenetic repression complexes, yet mechanistic information, especially for the TET2 and TET3 proteins, remains limited. Here, we show a direct interaction of TET2 and TET3 with O ‐GlcNAc transferase (OGT). OGT does not appear to influence hmC activity, rather TET2 and TET3 promote OGT activity. TET2/3–OGT co‐localize on chromatin at active promoters enriched for H3K4me3 and reduction of either TET2/3 or OGT activity results in a direct decrease in H3K4me3 and concomitant decreased transcription. Further, we show that Host Cell Factor 1 (HCF1), a component of the H3K4 methyltransferase SET1/COMPASS complex, is a specific GlcNAcylation target of TET2/3–OGT, and modification of HCF1 is important for the integrity of SET1/COMPASS. Additionally, we find both TET proteins and OGT activity promote binding of the SET1/COMPASS H3K4 methyltransferase, SETD1A, to chromatin. Finally, studies in Tet2 knockout mouse bone marrow tissue extend and support the data as decreases are observed of global GlcNAcylation and also of H3K4me3, notably at several key regulators of haematopoiesis. Together, our results unveil a step‐wise model, involving TET–OGT interactions, promotion of GlcNAcylation, and influence on H3K4me3 via SET1/COMPASS, highlighting a novel means by which TETs may induce transcriptional activation. This paper identifies the N‐acetylglucosamine transferase OGT as binding partner for TET2/3 proteins. Their genome‐wide chromatin binding and the characterization of the Set1/COMPASS complex as OGT target implies coordinated gene regulation.
To ensure proper gene regulation within constrained nuclear space, chromosomes facilitate access to transcribed regions, while compactly packaging all other information. Recent studies revealed that chromosomes are organized into megabase‐scale domains that demarcate active and inactive genetic elements, suggesting that compartmentalization is important for genome function. Here, we show that very specific long‐range interactions are anchored by cohesin/CTCF sites, but not cohesin‐only or CTCF‐only sites, to form a hierarchy of chromosomal loops. These loops demarcate topological domains and form intricate internal structures within them. Post‐mitotic nuclei deficient for functional cohesin exhibit global architectural changes associated with loss of cohesin/CTCF contacts and relaxation of topological domains. Transcriptional analysis shows that this cohesin‐dependent perturbation of domain organization leads to widespread gene deregulation of both cohesin‐bound and non‐bound genes. Our data thereby support a role for cohesin in the global organization of domain structure and suggest that domains function to stabilize the transcriptional programmes within them. Chromosomal compartmentalization has been recognized as important for genome function. High‐resolution techniques such as Hi‐C, ChIP‐ and 4C‐seq offer novel insights into cohesin's dynamic role in shaping the nuclear architecture.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are ∼22 nt non‐coding RNAs that typically bind to the 3′ UTR of target mRNAs in the cytoplasm, resulting in mRNA destabilization and translational repression. Here, we report that miRNAs can also regulate gene expression by targeting non‐coding antisense transcripts in human cells. Specifically, we show that miR‐671 directs cleavage of a circular antisense transcript of the Cerebellar Degeneration‐Related protein 1 ( CDR1 ) locus in an Ago2‐slicer‐dependent manner. The resulting downregulation of circular antisense has a concomitant decrease in CDR1 mRNA levels, independently of heterochromatin formation. This study provides the first evidence for non‐coding antisense transcripts as functional miRNA targets, and a novel regulatory mechanism involving a positive correlation between mRNA and antisense circular RNA levels. Natural antisense transcripts appear to have widespread roles in gene regulation. This study provides the first example of miRNA targeting of an antisense transcript. Nuclear miR‐671 targets and cleaves a circular antisense transcript expressed from the CDR1 locus, reducing CDR1 mRNA levels.
Surface‐exposed calreticulin (ecto‐CRT) and secreted ATP are crucial damage‐associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) for immunogenic apoptosis. Inducers of immunogenic apoptosis rely on an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)‐based (reactive oxygen species (ROS)‐regulated) pathway for ecto‐CRT induction, but the ATP secretion pathway is unknown. We found that after photodynamic therapy (PDT), which generates ROS‐mediated ER stress, dying cancer cells undergo immunogenic apoptosis characterized by phenotypic maturation (CD80 high , CD83 high , CD86 high , MHC‐II high ) and functional stimulation (NO high , IL‐10 absent , IL‐1β high ) of dendritic cells as well as induction of a protective antitumour immune response. Intriguingly, early after PDT the cancer cells displayed ecto‐CRT and secreted ATP before exhibiting biochemical signatures of apoptosis, through overlapping PERK‐orchestrated pathways that require a functional secretory pathway and phosphoinositide 3‐kinase (PI3K)‐mediated plasma membrane/extracellular trafficking. Interestingly, eIF2α phosphorylation and caspase‐8 signalling are dispensable for this ecto‐CRT exposure. We also identified LRP1/CD91 as the surface docking site for ecto‐CRT and found that depletion of PERK, PI3K p110α and LRP1 but not caspase‐8 reduced the immunogenicity of the cancer cells. These results unravel a novel PERK‐dependent subroutine for the early and simultaneous emission of two critical DAMPs following ROS‐mediated ER stress. Unravelling molecular mechanisms that trigger immunogenic apoptosis of cancer cells could improve therapeutic intervention. Here, photo‐oxidative ER stress increases presentation of ‘eat me’ (surface‐exposed calreticulin) and ‘find me’ (ATP secretion) signals via a novel, PERK‐dependent pathway.
Accumulation of depolarized mitochondria within β‐cells has been associated with oxidative damage and development of diabetes. To determine the source and fate of depolarized mitochondria, individual mitochondria were photolabeled and tracked through fusion and fission. Mitochondria were found to go through frequent cycles of fusion and fission in a ‘kiss and run’ pattern. Fission events often generated uneven daughter units: one daughter exhibited increased membrane potential (Δψ m ) and a high probability of subsequent fusion, while the other had decreased membrane potential and a reduced probability for a fusion event. Together, this pattern generated a subpopulation of non‐fusing mitochondria that were found to have reduced Δψ m and decreased levels of the fusion protein OPA1. Inhibition of the fission machinery through DRP1 K38A or FIS1 RNAi decreased mitochondrial autophagy and resulted in the accumulation of oxidized mitochondrial proteins, reduced respiration and impaired insulin secretion. Pulse chase and arrest of autophagy at the pre‐proteolysis stage reveal that before autophagy mitochondria lose Δψ m and OPA1, and that overexpression of OPA1 decreases mitochondrial autophagy. Together, these findings suggest that fission followed by selective fusion segregates dysfunctional mitochondria and permits their removal by autophagy.
Post‐translational modification of histones and DNA methylation are important components of chromatin‐level control of genome activity in eukaryotes. However, principles governing the combinatorial association of chromatin marks along the genome remain poorly understood. Here, we have generated epigenomic maps for eight histone modifications (H3K4me2 and 3, H3K27me1 and 2, H3K36me3, H3K56ac, H4K20me1 and H2Bub) in the model plant Arabidopsis and we have combined these maps with others, produced under identical conditions, for H3K9me2, H3K9me3, H3K27me3 and DNA methylation. Integrative analysis indicates that these 12 chromatin marks, which collectively cover ∼90% of the genome, are present at any given position in a very limited number of combinations. Moreover, we show that the distribution of the 12 marks along the genomic sequence defines four main chromatin states, which preferentially index active genes, repressed genes, silent repeat elements and intergenic regions. Given the compact nature of the Arabidopsis genome, these four indexing states typically translate into short chromatin domains interspersed with each other. This first combinatorial view of the Arabidopsis epigenome points to simple principles of organization as in metazoans and provides a framework for further studies of chromatin‐based regulatory mechanisms in plants. This first comprehensive view of the Arabidopsis epigenome reveals that it is organized into four main chromatin types based on the integrative mapping of a broad set of 11 histone marks and DNA methylation in seedlings.
Apoptosis, the major form of programmed cell death in metazoan organisms, plays critical roles in normal development, tissue homeostasis and immunity, and its disturbed regulation contributes to many pathological states, including cancer, autoimmunity, infection and degenerative disorders. In vertebrates, it can be triggered either by engagement of ‘death receptors’ of the tumour necrosis factor receptor family on the cell surface or by diverse intracellular signals that act upon the Bcl‐2 protein family, which controls the integrity of the mitochondrial outer membrane through the complex interactions of family members. Both pathways lead to cellular demolition by dedicated proteases termed caspases. This review discusses the groundbreaking experiments from many laboratories that have clarified cell death regulation and galvanised efforts to translate this knowledge into novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of malignant and perhaps certain autoimmune and infectious diseases. For this New EMBO member's review, three recognised experts joined forces to provide a comprehensive overview on the molecular control of apoptosis and to discuss prospects for therapies.
Long non‐coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are a numerous class of newly discovered genes in the human genome, which have been proposed to be key regulators of biological processes, including stem cell pluripotency and neurogenesis. However, at present very little functional characterization of lncRNAs in human differentiation has been carried out. In the present study, we address this using human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) as a paradigm for pluripotency and neuronal differentiation. With a newly developed method, hESCs were robustly and efficiently differentiated into neurons, and we profiled the expression of thousands of lncRNAs using a custom‐designed microarray. Some hESC‐specific lncRNAs involved in pluripotency maintenance were identified, and shown to physically interact with SOX2, and PRC2 complex component, SUZ12. Using a similar approach, we identified lncRNAs required for neurogenesis. Knockdown studies indicated that loss of any of these lncRNAs blocked neurogenesis, and immunoprecipitation studies revealed physical association with REST and SUZ12. This study indicates that lncRNAs are important regulators of pluripotency and neurogenesis, and represents important evidence for an indispensable role of lncRNAs in human brain development. An array‐based approach identifies hESC‐specific novel long non‐coding RNAs (lncRNAs) that are essential for the maintenance of pluripotency and indispensable for neuronal differentiation. A number of these lncRNAs directly interact with the pluripotency regulators SOX2 and PRC2.
The mechanisms by which mutations in the presenilins (PSEN) or the amyloid precursor protein (APP) genes cause familial Alzheimer disease (FAD) are controversial. FAD mutations increase the release of amyloid β (Aβ)42 relative to Aβ40 by an unknown, possibly gain‐of‐toxic‐function, mechanism. However, many PSEN mutations paradoxically impair γ‐secretase and ‘loss‐of‐function’ mechanisms have also been postulated. Here, we use kinetic studies to demonstrate that FAD mutations affect Aβ generation via three different mechanisms, resulting in qualitative changes in the Aβ profiles, which are not limited to Aβ42. Loss of ε‐cleavage function is not generally observed among FAD mutants. On the other hand, γ‐secretase inhibitors used in the clinic appear to block the initial ε‐cleavage step, but unexpectedly affect more selectively Notch than APP processing, while modulators act as activators of the carboxypeptidase‐like (γ) activity. Overall, we provide a coherent explanation for the effect of different FAD mutations, demonstrating the importance of qualitative rather than quantitative changes in the Aβ products, and suggest fundamental improvements for current drug development efforts. Mutations in presenilin (PSEN) and amyloid precursor protein (APP) cause dominant early‐onset Alzheimer's disease (AD), but the mechanism involved is debated. Here, such mutations are shown to alter γ‐secretase activity, leading to changes in Aβ peptide cleavage patterns.