AKT signaling mediates IGF-I survival actions on otic neural progenitors
Maria Rodriguez Aburto
- Background: Otic neurons and sensory cells derive from common progenitors whose transition into mature cells requires the coordination of cell survival, proliferation and differentiation programmes. Neurotrophic support and survival of post-mitotic otic neurons have been intensively studied, but the bases underlying the regulation of programmed cell death in immature proliferative otic neuroblasts remains poorly understood. The protein kinase AKT acts as a node, playing a critical role in controlling cell survival and cell cycle progression. AKT is activated by trophic factors, including insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), through the generation of the lipidic second messenger phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K). Here we have investigated the role of IGF-dependent activation of the PI3K-AKT pathway in maintenance of otic neuroblasts.
Methodology/Principal Findings: By using a combination of organotypic cultures of chicken (Gallus gallus) otic vesicles and acoustic-vestibular ganglia, Western blotting, immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization, we show that IGF-I-activation of AKT protects neural progenitors from programmed cell death. IGF-I maintains otic neuroblasts in an undifferentiated and proliferative state, which is characterised by the upregulation of the forkhead box M1 (FoxM1) transcription factor. By contrast, our results indicate that post-mitotic p27Kip-positive neurons become IGF-I independent as they extend their neuronal processes. Neurons gradually reduce their expression of the Igf1r, while they increase that of the neurotrophin receptor, TrkC.
Conclusions/Significance: Proliferative otic neuroblasts are dependent on the activation of the PI3K-AKT pathway by IGF-I for survival during the otic neuronal progenitor phase of early inner ear development.
Metabolic Changes in Summer Active and Anuric Hibernating Free-Ranging Brown Bears (Ursus arctos)
Abdul Rashid Qureshi
Richard J. Johnson
- The brown bear (Ursus arctos) hibernates for 5 to 6 months each winter and during this time ingests no food or water and remains anuric and inactive. Despite these extreme conditions, bears do not develop azotemia and preserve their muscle and bone strength. To date most renal studies have been limited to small numbers of bears, often in captive environments. Sixteen free-ranging bears were darted and had blood drawn both during hibernation in winter and summer. Samples were collected for measurement of creatinine and urea, markers of inflammation, the calcium-phosphate axis, and nutritional parameters including amino acids. In winter the bear serum creatinine increased 2.5 fold despite a 2-fold decrease in urea, indicating a remarkable ability to recycle urea nitrogen during hibernation. During hibernation serum calcium remained constant despite a decrease in serum phosphate and a rise in FGF23 levels. Despite prolonged inactivity and reduced renal function, inflammation does not ensue and bears seem to have enhanced antioxidant defense mechanisms during hibernation. Nutrition parameters showed high fat stores, preserved amino acids and mild hyperglycemia during hibernation. While total, essential, non-essential and branched chain amino acids concentrations do not change during hibernation anorexia, changes in individual amino acids ornithine, citrulline and arginine indicate an active, although reduced urea cycle and nitrogen recycling to proteins. Serum uric acid and serum fructose levels were elevated in summer and changes between seasons were positively correlated. Further studies to understand how bears can prevent the development of uremia despite minimal renal function during hibernation could provide new therapeutic avenues for the treatment of human kidney disease.
Bimodal activation of different neuron classes with the spectrally red-shifted channelrhodopsin chimera C1V1 in Caenorhabditis elegans
- The C. elegans nervous system is particularly well suited for optogenetic analyses of circuit function: Essentially all connections have been mapped, and light can be directed at the neuron of interest in the freely moving, transparent animals, while behavior is observed. Thus, different nodes of a neuronal network can be probed for their role in controlling a particular behavior, using different optogenetic tools for photo-activation or –inhibition, which respond to different colors of light. As neurons may act in concert or in opposing ways to affect a behavior, one would further like to excite these neurons concomitantly, yet independent of each other. In addition to the blue-light activated Channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2), spectrally red-shifted ChR variants have been explored recently. Here, we establish the green-light activated ChR chimera C1V1 (from Chlamydomonas and Volvox ChR1′s) for use in C. elegans. We surveyed a number of red-shifted ChRs, and found that C1V1-ET/ET (E122T; E162T) works most reliable in C. elegans, with 540–580 nm excitation, which leaves ChR2 silent. However, as C1V1-ET/ET is very light sensitive, it still becomes activated when ChR2 is stimulated, even at 400 nm. Thus, we generated a highly efficient blue ChR2, the H134R; T159C double mutant (ChR2-HR/TC). Both proteins can be used in the same animal, in different neurons, to independently control each cell type with light, enabling a further level of complexity in circuit analyses.
Human CLPP reverts the longevity phenotype of a fungal ClpP deletion strain
Heinz D. Osiewacz
- Mitochondrial maintenance crucially depends on the quality control of proteins by various chaperones, proteases and repair enzymes. While most of the involved components have been studied in some detail, little is known on the biological role of the CLPXP protease complex located in the mitochondrial matrix. Here we show that deletion of PaClpP, encoding the CLP protease proteolytic subunit CLPP, leads to an unexpected healthy phenotype and increased lifespan of the fungal ageing model organism Podospora anserina. This phenotype can be reverted by expression of human ClpP in the fungal deletion background, demonstrating functional conservation of human and fungal CLPP. Our results show that the biological role of eukaryotic CLP proteases can be studied in an experimentally accessible model organism.
From sea to land and beyond : new insights into the evolution of euthyneuran Gastropoda (Mollusca)
- Background The Euthyneura are considered to be the most successful and diverse group of Gastropoda. Phylogenetically, they are riven with controversy. Previous morphology-based phylogenetic studies have been greatly hampered by rampant parallelism in morphological characters or by incomplete taxon sampling. Based on sequences of nuclear 18S rRNA and 28S rRNA as well as mitochondrial 16S rRNA and COI DNA from 56 taxa, we reconstructed the phylogeny of Euthyneura utilising Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian inference methods. The evolution of colonization of freshwater and terrestrial habitats by pulmonate Euthyneura, considered crucial in the evolution of this group of Gastropoda, is reconstructed with Bayesian approaches. Results We found several well supported clades within Euthyneura, however, we could not confirm the traditional classification, since Pulmonata are paraphyletic and Opistobranchia are either polyphyletic or paraphyletic with several clades clearly distinguishable. Sacoglossa appear separately from the rest of the Opisthobranchia as sister taxon to basal Pulmonata. Within Pulmonata, Basommatophora are paraphyletic and Hygrophila and Eupulmonata form monophyletic clades. Pyramidelloidea are placed within Euthyneura rendering the Euthyneura paraphyletic. Conclusion Based on the current phylogeny, it can be proposed for the first time that invasion of freshwater by Pulmonata is a unique evolutionary event and has taken place directly from the marine environment via an aquatic pathway. The origin of colonisation of terrestrial habitats is seeded in marginal zones and has probably occurred via estuaries or semi-terrestrial habitats such as mangroves.
Genome-wide analysis of growth phase-dependent translational and transcriptional regulation in halophilic archaea : research article
Stephan C. Schuster
- Background Differential expression of genes can be regulated on many different levels. Most global studies of gene regulation concentrate on transcript level regulation, and very few global analyses of differential translational efficiencies exist. The studies have revealed that in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Arabidopsis thaliana, and human cell lines translational regulation plays a significant role. Additional species have not been investigated yet. Particularly, until now no global study of translational control with any prokaryotic species was available. Results A global analysis of translational control was performed with two haloarchaeal model species, Halobacterium salinarum and Haloferax volcanii. To identify differentially regulated genes, exponentially growing and stationary phase cells were compared. More than 20% of H. salinarum transcripts are translated with non-average efficiencies. By far the largest group is comprised of genes that are translated with above-average efficiency specifically in exponential phase, including genes for many ribosomal proteins, RNA polymerase subunits, enzymes, and chemotaxis proteins. Translation of 1% of all genes is specifically repressed in either of the two growth phases. For comparison, DNA microarrays were also used to identify differential transcriptional regulation in H. salinarum, and 17% of all genes were found to have non-average transcript levels in exponential versus stationary phase. In H. volcanii, 12% of all genes are translated with non-average efficiencies. The overlap with H. salinarum is negligible. In contrast to H. salinarum, 4.6% of genes have non-average translational efficiency in both growth phases, and thus they might be regulated by other stimuli than growth phase. Conclusions For the first time in any prokaryotic species it was shown that a significant fraction of genes is under differential translational control. Groups of genes with different regulatory patterns were discovered. However, neither the fractions nor the identity of regulated genes are conserved between H. salinarum and H. volcanii, indicating that prokaryotes as well as eukaryotes use differential translational control for the regulation of gene expression, but that the identity of regulated genes is not conserved For 70 H. salinarum genes potentiation of regulation was observed, but for the majority of regulated genes either transcriptional or translational regulation is employed.
The invariant phenylalanine of precursor proteins discloses the importance of Omp85 for protein translocation into cyanelles
Jürgen M. Steiner
- Background Today it is widely accepted that plastids are of cyanobacterial origin. During their evolutionary integration into the metabolic and regulatory networks of the host cell the engulfed cyanobacteria lost their independency. This process was paralleled by a massive gene transfer from symbiont to the host nucleus challenging the development of a retrograde protein translocation system to ensure plastid functionality. Such a system includes specific targeting signals of the proteins needed for the function of the plastid and membrane-bound machineries performing the transfer of these proteins across the envelope membranes. At present, most informations on protein translocation are obtained by the analysis of land plants. However, the analysis of protein import into the primitive plastids of glaucocystophyte algae, revealed distinct features placing this system as a tool to understand the evolutionary development of translocation systems. Here, bacterial outer membrane proteins of the Omp85 family have recently been discussed as evolutionary seeds for the development of translocation systems. Results To further explore the initial mode of protein translocation, the observed phenylalanine dependence for protein translocation into glaucophyte plastids was pursued in detail. We document that indeed the phenylalanine has an impact on both, lipid binding and binding to proteoliposomes hosting an Omp85 homologue. Comparison to established import experiments, however, unveiled a major importance of the phenylalanine for recognition by Omp85. This finding is placed into the context of the evolutionary development of the plastid translocon. Conclusion The phenylalanine in the N-terminal domain signs as a prerequisite for protein translocation across the outer membrane assisted by a primitive translocon. This amino acid appears to be optimized for specifically targeting the Omp85 protein without enforcing aggregation on the membrane surface. The phenylalanine has subsequently been lost in the transit sequence, but can be found at the C-terminal position of the translocating pore. Thereby, the current hypothesis of Omp85 being the prokaryotic contribution to the ancestral Toc translocon can be supported.
Vorkommen, Morphologie und Funktion der Sternaldrüse bei den Platyrrhini
Regulated polyploidy in halophilic archaea
- Polyploidy is common in higher eukaryotes, especially in plants, but it is generally assumed that most prokaryotes contain a single copy of a circular chromosome and are therefore monoploid. We have used two independent methods to determine the genome copy number in halophilic archaea, 1) cell lysis in agarose blocks and Southern blot analysis, and 2) Real-Time quantitative PCR. Fast growing H. salinarum cells contain on average about 25 copies of the chromosome in exponential phase, and their ploidy is downregulated to 15 copies in early stationary phase. The chromosome copy number is identical in cultures with a twofold lower growth rate, in contrast to the results reported for several other prokaryotic species. Of three additional replicons of H. salinarum, two have a low copy number that is not growth-phase regulated, while one replicon even shows a higher degree of growth phase-dependent regulation than the main replicon. The genome copy number of H. volcanii is similarly high during exponential phase (on average 18 copies/cell), and it is also downregulated (to 10 copies) as the cells enter stationary phase. The variation of genome copy numbers in the population was addressed by fluorescence microscopy and by FACS analysis. These methods allowed us to verify the growth phase-dependent regulation of ploidy in H. salinarum, and they revealed that there is a wide variation in genome copy numbers in individual cells that is much larger in exponential than in stationary phase. Our results indicate that polyploidy might be more widespread in archaea (or even prokaryotes in general) than previously assumed. Moreover, the presence of so many genome copies in a prokaryote raises questions about the evolutionary significance of this strategy.
PocketPicker: analysis of ligand binding-sites with shape descriptors
- Background Identification and evaluation of surface binding-pockets and occluded cavities are initial steps in protein structure-based drug design. Characterizing the active site's shape as well as the distribution of surrounding residues plays an important role for a variety of applications such as automated ligand docking or in situ modeling. Comparing the shape similarity of binding site geometries of related proteins provides further insights into the mechanisms of ligand binding. Results We present PocketPicker, an automated grid-based technique for the prediction of protein binding pockets that specifies the shape of a potential binding-site with regard to its buriedness. The method was applied to a representative set of protein-ligand complexes and their corresponding apo-protein structures to evaluate the quality of binding-site predictions. The performance of the pocket detection routine was compared to results achieved with the existing methods CAST, LIGSITE, LIGSITEcs, PASS and SURFNET. Success rates PocketPicker were comparable to those of LIGSITEcs and outperformed the other tools. We introduce a descriptor that translates the arrangement of grid points delineating a detected binding-site into a correlation vector. We show that this shape descriptor is suited for comparative analyses of similar binding-site geometry by examining induced-fit phenomena in aldose reductase. This new method uses information derived from calculations of the buriedness of potential binding-sites. Conclusions The pocket prediction routine of PocketPicker is a useful tool for identification of potential protein binding-pockets. It produces a convenient representation of binding-site shapes including an intuitive description of their accessibility. The shape-descriptor for automated classification of binding-site geometries can be used as an additional tool complementing elaborate manual inspections.