Journals

A G-protein-coupled chemoattractant receptor recognizes lipopolysaccharide for bacterial phagocytosis

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Fri, 2018-05-25 23:00

by Miao Pan, Matthew P. Neilson, Alexander M. Grunfeld, Phillip Cruz, Xi Wen, Robert H. Insall, Tian Jin

Phagocytes locate microorganisms via chemotaxis and then consume them using phagocytosis. Dictyostelium amoebas are stereotypical phagocytes that prey on diverse bacteria using both processes. However, as typical phagocytic receptors, such as complement receptors or Fcγ receptors, have not been found in Dictyostelium, it remains mysterious how these cells recognize bacteria. Here, we show that a single G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), folic acid receptor 1 (fAR1), simultaneously recognizes the chemoattractant folate and the phagocytic cue lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a major component of bacterial surfaces. Cells lacking fAR1 or its cognate G-proteins are defective in chemotaxis toward folate and phagocytosis of Klebsiella aerogenes. Computational simulations combined with experiments show that responses associated with chemotaxis can also promote engulfment of particles coated with chemoattractants. Finally, the extracellular Venus-Flytrap (VFT) domain of fAR1 acts as the binding site for both folate and LPS. Thus, fAR1 represents a new member of the pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) and mediates signaling from both bacterial surfaces and diffusible chemoattractants to reorganize actin for chemotaxis and phagocytosis.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Unsolved mysteries: How does lipid peroxidation cause ferroptosis?

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Thu, 2018-05-24 23:00

by Huizhong Feng, Brent R. Stockwell

Ferroptosis is a cell death process driven by damage to cell membranes and linked to numerous human diseases. Ferroptosis is caused by loss of activity of the key enzyme that is tasked with repairing oxidative damage to cell membranes—glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4). GPX4 normally removes the dangerous products of iron-dependent lipid peroxidation, protecting cell membranes from this type of damage; when GPX4 fails, ferroptosis ensues. Ferroptosis is distinct from apoptosis, necroptosis, necrosis, and other modes of cell death. Several key mysteries regarding how cells die during ferroptosis remain unsolved. First, the drivers of lipid peroxidation are not yet clear. Second, the subcellular location of lethal lipid peroxides remains an outstanding question. Finally, how exactly lipid peroxidation leads to cell death is an unsolved mystery. Answers to these questions will provide insights into the mechanisms of ferroptotic cell death and associated human diseases, as well as new therapeutic strategies for such diseases.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Insight into small molecule binding to the neonatal Fc receptor by X-ray crystallography and 100 kHz magic-angle-spinning NMR

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Mon, 2018-05-21 23:00

by Daniel Stöppler, Alex Macpherson, Susanne Smith-Penzel, Nicolas Basse, Fabien Lecomte, Hervé Deboves, Richard D. Taylor, Tim Norman, John Porter, Lorna C. Waters, Marta Westwood, Ben Cossins, Katharine Cain, James White, Robert Griffin, Christine Prosser, Sebastian Kelm, Amy H. Sullivan, David Fox III, Mark D. Carr, Alistair Henry, Richard Taylor, Beat H. Meier, Hartmut Oschkinat, Alastair D. Lawson

Aiming at the design of an allosteric modulator of the neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn)–Immunoglobulin G (IgG) interaction, we developed a new methodology including NMR fragment screening, X-ray crystallography, and magic-angle-spinning (MAS) NMR at 100 kHz after sedimentation, exploiting very fast spinning of the nondeuterated soluble 42 kDa receptor construct to obtain resolved proton-detected 2D and 3D NMR spectra. FcRn plays a crucial role in regulation of IgG and serum albumin catabolism. It is a clinically validated drug target for the treatment of autoimmune diseases caused by pathogenic antibodies via the inhibition of its interaction with IgG. We herein present the discovery of a small molecule that binds into a conserved cavity of the heterodimeric, extracellular domain composed of an α-chain and β2-microglobulin (β2m) (FcRnECD, 373 residues). X-ray crystallography was used alongside NMR at 100 kHz MAS with sedimented soluble protein to explore possibilities for refining the compound as an allosteric modulator. Proton-detected MAS NMR experiments on fully protonated [13C,15N]-labeled FcRnECD yielded ligand-induced chemical-shift perturbations (CSPs) for residues in the binding pocket and allosteric changes close to the interface of the two receptor heterodimers present in the asymmetric unit as well as potentially in the albumin interaction site. X-ray structures with and without ligand suggest the need for an optimized ligand to displace the α-chain with respect to β2m, both of which participate in the FcRnECD–IgG interaction site. Our investigation establishes a method to characterize structurally small molecule binding to nondeuterated large proteins by NMR, even in their glycosylated form, which may prove highly valuable for structure-based drug discovery campaigns.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Endoplasmic reticulum-plasma membrane contact sites integrate sterol and phospholipid regulation

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Mon, 2018-05-21 23:00

by Evan Quon, Yves Y. Sere, Neha Chauhan, Jesper Johansen, David P. Sullivan, Jeremy S. Dittman, William J. Rice, Robin B. Chan, Gilbert di Paolo, Christopher T. Beh, Anant K. Menon

Tether proteins attach the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to other cellular membranes, thereby creating contact sites that are proposed to form platforms for regulating lipid homeostasis and facilitating non-vesicular lipid exchange. Sterols are synthesized in the ER and transported by non-vesicular mechanisms to the plasma membrane (PM), where they represent almost half of all PM lipids and contribute critically to the barrier function of the PM. To determine whether contact sites are important for both sterol exchange between the ER and PM and intermembrane regulation of lipid metabolism, we generated Δ-super-tether (Δ-s-tether) yeast cells that lack six previously identified tethering proteins (yeast extended synatotagmin [E-Syt], vesicle-associated membrane protein [VAMP]-associated protein [VAP], and TMEM16-anoctamin homologues) as well as the presumptive tether Ice2. Despite the lack of ER-PM contacts in these cells, ER-PM sterol exchange is robust, indicating that the sterol transport machinery is either absent from or not uniquely located at contact sites. Unexpectedly, we found that the transport of exogenously supplied sterol to the ER occurs more slowly in Δ-s-tether cells than in wild-type (WT) cells. We pinpointed this defect to changes in sterol organization and transbilayer movement within the PM bilayer caused by phospholipid dysregulation, evinced by changes in the abundance and organization of PM lipids. Indeed, deletion of either OSH4, which encodes a sterol/phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate (PI4P) exchange protein, or SAC1, which encodes a PI4P phosphatase, caused synthetic lethality in Δ-s-tether cells due to disruptions in redundant PI4P and phospholipid regulatory pathways. The growth defect of Δ-s-tether cells was rescued with an artificial "ER-PM staple," a tether assembled from unrelated non-yeast protein domains, indicating that endogenous tether proteins have nonspecific bridging functions. Finally, we discovered that sterols play a role in regulating ER-PM contact site formation. In sterol-depleted cells, levels of the yeast E-Syt tether Tcb3 were induced and ER-PM contact increased dramatically. These results support a model in which ER-PM contact sites provide a nexus for coordinating the complex interrelationship between sterols, sphingolipids, and phospholipids that maintain PM composition and integrity.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Treadmilling analysis reveals new insights into dynamic FtsZ ring architecture

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Fri, 2018-05-18 23:00

by Diego A. Ramirez-Diaz, Daniela A. García-Soriano, Ana Raso, Jonas Mücksch, Mario Feingold, Germán Rivas, Petra Schwille

FtsZ, the primary protein of the bacterial Z ring guiding cell division, has been recently shown to engage in intriguing treadmilling dynamics along the circumference of the division plane. When coreconstituted in vitro with FtsA, one of its natural membrane anchors, on flat supported membranes, these proteins assemble into dynamic chiral vortices compatible with treadmilling of curved polar filaments. Replacing FtsA by a membrane-targeting sequence (mts) to FtsZ, we have discovered conditions for the formation of dynamic rings, showing that the phenomenon is intrinsic to FtsZ. Ring formation is only observed for a narrow range of protein concentrations at the bilayer, which is highly modulated by free Mg2+ and depends upon guanosine triphosphate (GTP) hydrolysis. Interestingly, the direction of rotation can be reversed by switching the mts from the C-terminus to the N-terminus of the protein, implying that the filament attachment must have a perpendicular component to both curvature and polarity. Remarkably, this chirality switch concurs with previously shown inward or outward membrane deformations by the respective FtsZ mutants. Our results lead us to suggest an intrinsic helicity of FtsZ filaments with more than one direction of curvature, supporting earlier hypotheses and experimental evidence.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Receptors of intermediates of carbohydrate metabolism, GPR91 and GPR99, mediate axon growth

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Thu, 2018-05-17 23:00

by Hosni Cherif, François Duhamel, Bruno Cécyre, Alex Bouchard, Ariane Quintal, Sylvain Chemtob, Jean-François Bouchard

During the development of the visual system, high levels of energy are expended propelling axons from the retina to the brain. However, the role of intermediates of carbohydrate metabolism in the development of the visual system has been overlooked. Here, we report that the carbohydrate metabolites succinate and α-ketoglutarate (α-KG) and their respective receptor—GPR91 and GPR99—are involved in modulating retinal ganglion cell (RGC) projections toward the thalamus during visual system development. Using ex vivo and in vivo approaches, combined with pharmacological and genetic analyses, we revealed that GPR91 and GPR99 are expressed on axons of developing RGCs and have complementary roles during RGC axon growth in an extracellular signal–regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2)-dependent manner. However, they have no effects on axon guidance. These findings suggest an important role for these receptors during the establishment of the visual system and provide a foundational link between carbohydrate metabolism and axon growth.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Do plants have a segregated germline?

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Wed, 2018-05-16 23:00

by Robert Lanfear

For the last 100 years, it has been uncontroversial to state that the plant germline is set aside late in development, but there is surprisingly little evidence to support this view. In contrast, much evolutionary theory and several recent empirical studies seem to suggest the opposite—that the germlines of some and perhaps most plants may be set aside early in development. But is this really the case? How much does it matter? How can we reconcile the new evidence with existing knowledge of plant development? And is there a way to reliably establish the timing of germline segregation in both model and nonmodel plants? Answering these questions is vital to understanding one of the most fundamental aspects of plant development and evolution.
Categories: Biology, Journals

High-dimensional single-cell phenotyping reveals extensive haploinsufficiency

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Wed, 2018-05-16 23:00

by Shinsuke Ohnuki, Yoshikazu Ohya

Haploinsufficiency, a dominant phenotype caused by a heterozygous loss-of-function mutation, has been rarely observed. However, high-dimensional single-cell phenotyping of yeast morphological characteristics revealed haploinsufficiency phenotypes for more than half of 1,112 essential genes under optimal growth conditions. Additionally, 40% of the essential genes with no obvious phenotype under optimal growth conditions displayed haploinsufficiency under severe growth conditions. Haploinsufficiency was detected more frequently in essential genes than in nonessential genes. Similar haploinsufficiency phenotypes were observed mostly in mutants with heterozygous deletion of functionally related genes, suggesting that haploinsufficiency phenotypes were caused by functional defects of the genes. A global view of the gene network was presented based on the similarities of the haploinsufficiency phenotypes. Our dataset contains rich information regarding essential gene functions, providing evidence that single-cell phenotyping is a powerful approach, even in the heterozygous condition, for analyzing complex biological systems.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Tissue-specific activities of the Fat1 cadherin cooperate to control neuromuscular morphogenesis

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Wed, 2018-05-16 23:00

by Françoise Helmbacher

Muscle morphogenesis is tightly coupled with that of motor neurons (MNs). Both MNs and muscle progenitors simultaneously explore the surrounding tissues while exchanging reciprocal signals to tune their behaviors. We previously identified the Fat1 cadherin as a regulator of muscle morphogenesis and showed that it is required in the myogenic lineage to control the polarity of progenitor migration. To expand our knowledge on how Fat1 exerts its tissue-morphogenesis regulator activity, we dissected its functions by tissue-specific genetic ablation. An emblematic example of muscle under such morphogenetic control is the cutaneous maximus (CM) muscle, a flat subcutaneous muscle in which progenitor migration is physically separated from the process of myogenic differentiation but tightly associated with elongating axons of its partner MNs. Here, we show that constitutive Fat1 disruption interferes with expansion and differentiation of the CM muscle, with its motor innervation and with specification of its associated MN pool. Fat1 is expressed in muscle progenitors, in associated mesenchymal cells, and in MN subsets, including the CM-innervating pool. We identify mesenchyme-derived connective tissue (CT) as a cell type in which Fat1 activity is required for the non–cell-autonomous control of CM muscle progenitor spreading, myogenic differentiation, motor innervation, and for motor pool specification. In parallel, Fat1 is required in MNs to promote their axonal growth and specification, indirectly influencing muscle progenitor progression. These results illustrate how Fat1 coordinates the coupling of muscular and neuronal morphogenesis by playing distinct but complementary actions in several cell types.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Death and population dynamics affect mutation rate estimates and evolvability under stress in bacteria

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Fri, 2018-05-11 23:00

by Antoine Frenoy, Sebastian Bonhoeffer

The stress-induced mutagenesis hypothesis postulates that in response to stress, bacteria increase their genome-wide mutation rate, in turn increasing the chances that a descendant is able to better withstand the stress. This has implications for antibiotic treatment: exposure to subinhibitory doses of antibiotics has been reported to increase bacterial mutation rates and thus probably the rate at which resistance mutations appear and lead to treatment failure. More generally, the hypothesis posits that stress increases evolvability (the ability of a population to generate adaptive genetic diversity) and thus accelerates evolution. Measuring mutation rates under stress, however, is problematic, because existing methods assume there is no death. Yet subinhibitory stress levels may induce a substantial death rate. Death events need to be compensated by extra replication to reach a given population size, thus providing more opportunities to acquire mutations. We show that ignoring death leads to a systematic overestimation of mutation rates under stress. We developed a system based on plasmid segregation that allows us to measure death and division rates simultaneously in bacterial populations. Using this system, we found that a substantial death rate occurs at the tested subinhibitory concentrations previously reported to increase mutation rate. Taking this death rate into account lowers and sometimes removes the signal for stress-induced mutagenesis. Moreover, even when antibiotics increase mutation rate, we show that subinhibitory treatments do not increase genetic diversity and evolvability, again because of effects of the antibiotics on population dynamics. We conclude that antibiotic-induced mutagenesis is overestimated because of death and that understanding evolvability under stress requires accounting for the effects of stress on population dynamics as much as on mutation rate. Our goal here is dual: we show that population dynamics and, in particular, the numbers of cell divisions are crucial but neglected parameters in the evolvability of a population, and we provide experimental and computational tools and methods to study evolvability under stress, leading to a reassessment of the magnitude and significance of the stress-induced mutagenesis paradigm.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Tumor-associated neutrophils suppress pro-tumoral IL-17+ γδ T cells through induction of oxidative stress

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Fri, 2018-05-11 23:00

by Sofia Mensurado, Margarida Rei, Telma Lança, Marianna Ioannou, Natacha Gonçalves-Sousa, Hiroshi Kubo, Marie Malissen, Venizelos Papayannopoulos, Karine Serre, Bruno Silva-Santos

Interleukin 17 (IL-17)–producing γδ T cells (γδ17 T cells) have been recently found to promote tumor growth and metastasis formation. How such γδ17 T-cell responses may be regulated in the tumor microenvironment remains, however, largely unknown. Here, we report that tumor-associated neutrophils can display an overt antitumor role by strongly suppressing γδ17 T cells. Tumor-associated neutrophils inhibited the proliferation of murine CD27− Vγ6+ γδ17 T cells via induction of oxidative stress, thereby preventing them from constituting the major source of pro-tumoral IL-17 in the tumor microenvironment. Mechanistically, we found that low expression of the antioxidant glutathione in CD27− γδ17 T cells renders them particularly susceptible to neutrophil-derived reactive oxygen species (ROS). Consistently, superoxide deficiency, or the administration of a glutathione precursor, rescued CD27− Vγ6+ γδ17 T-cell proliferation in vivo. Moreover, human Vδ1+ γδ T cells, which contain most γδ17 T cells found in cancer patients, also displayed low glutathione levels and were potently inhibited by ROS. This work thus identifies an unanticipated, immunosuppressive yet antitumoral, neutrophil/ROS/γδ17 T-cell axis in the tumor microenvironment.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Metabolic benefits of inhibition of p38α in white adipose tissue in obesity

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Fri, 2018-05-11 23:00

by Shengjie Zhang, Hongchao Cao, Yan Li, Yanyan Jing, Shengnan Liu, Cheng Ye, Hui Wang, Shuxian Yu, Chengyuan Peng, Lijian Hui, Yu-cheng Wang, Haibing Zhang, Feifan Guo, Qiwei Zhai, Hui Wang, Ruimin Huang, Ling Zhang, Jingjing Jiang, Wei Liu, Hao Ying

p38 has long been known as a central mediator of protein kinase A (PKA) signaling in brown adipocytes, which positively regulate the transcription of uncoupling protein 1 (UCP-1). However, the physiological role of p38 in adipose tissues, especially the white adipose tissue (WAT), is largely unknown. Here, we show that mice lacking p38α in adipose tissues display a lean phenotype, improved metabolism, and resistance to diet-induced obesity. Surprisingly, ablation of p38α causes minimal effects on brown adipose tissue (BAT) in adult mice, as evident from undetectable changes in UCP-1 expression, mitochondrial function, body temperature (BT), and energy expenditure. In contrast, genetic ablation of p38α in adipose tissues not only markedly facilitates the browning in WAT upon cold stress but also prevents diet-induced obesity. Consistently, pharmaceutical inhibition of p38α remarkably enhances the browning of WAT and has metabolic benefits. Furthermore, our data suggest that p38α deficiency promotes white-to-beige adipocyte reprogramming in a cell-autonomous manner. Mechanistically, inhibition of p38α stimulates the UCP-1 transcription through PKA and its downstream cAMP-response element binding protein (CREB), which form a positive feedback loop that functions to reinforce the white-to-beige phenotypic switch during cold exposure. Together, our study reveals that inhibition of p38α is able to promote WAT browning and confer metabolic benefits. Our study also indicates that p38α in WAT represents an exciting pharmacological target to combat obesity and metabolic diseases.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Hey1- and p53-dependent TrkC proapoptotic activity controls neuroblastoma growth

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Fri, 2018-05-11 23:00

by Marie Ménard, Clélia Costechareyre, Gabriel Ichim, Jonathan Blachier, David Neves, Loraine Jarrosson-Wuilleme, Reinhard Depping, Jan Koster, Pierre Saintigny, Patrick Mehlen, Servane Tauszig-Delamasure

The neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) receptor tropomyosin receptor kinase C (TrkC/NTRK3) has been described as a dependence receptor and, as such, triggers apoptosis in the absence of its ligand NT-3. This proapoptotic activity has been proposed to confer a tumor suppressor activity to this classic tyrosine kinase receptor (RTK). By investigating interacting partners that might facilitate TrkC-induced cell death, we have identified the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor Hey1 and importin-α3 (karyopherin alpha 4 [KPNA4]) as direct interactors of TrkC intracellular domain, and we show that Hey1 is required for TrkC-induced apoptosis. We propose here that the cleaved proapoptotic portion of TrkC intracellular domain (called TrkC killer-fragment [TrkC-KF]) is translocated to the nucleus by importins and interacts there with Hey1. We also demonstrate that Hey1 and TrkC-KF transcriptionally silence mouse double minute 2 homolog (MDM2), thus contributing to p53 stabilization. p53 transcriptionally regulates the expression of TrkC-KF cytoplasmic and mitochondrial interactors cofactor of breast cancer 1 (COBRA1) and B cell lymphoma 2–associated X (BAX), which will subsequently trigger the intrinsic pathway of apoptosis. Of interest, TrkC was proposed to constrain tumor progression in neuroblastoma (NB), and we demonstrate in an avian model that TrkC tumor suppressor activity requires Hey1 and p53.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Rif1 prolongs the embryonic S phase at the <i>Drosophila</i> mid-blastula transition

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Thu, 2018-05-10 23:00

by Charles A. Seller, Patrick H. O’Farrell

In preparation for dramatic morphogenetic events of gastrulation, rapid embryonic cell cycles slow at the mid-blastula transition (MBT). In Drosophila melanogaster embryos, down-regulation of cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1) activity initiates this slowing by delaying replication of heterochromatic satellite sequences and extending S phase. We found that Cdk1 activity inhibited the chromatin association of Rap1 interacting factor 1 (Rif1), a candidate repressor of replication. Furthermore, Rif1 bound selectively to satellite sequences following Cdk1 down-regulation at the MBT. In the next S phase, Rif1 dissociated from different satellites in an orderly schedule that anticipated their replication. Rif1 lacking potential phosphorylation sites failed to dissociate and dominantly prevented completion of replication. Loss of Rif1 in mutant embryos shortened the post-MBT S phase and rescued embryonic cell cycles disrupted by depletion of the S phase–promoting kinase, cell division cycle 7 (Cdc7). Our work shows that Rif1 and S phase kinases compose a replication timer controlling first the developmental onset of late replication and then the precise schedule of replication within S phase. In addition, we describe how onset of late replication fits into the progressive maturation of heterochromatin during development.
Categories: Biology, Journals

The Cybathlon BCI race: Successful longitudinal mutual learning with two tetraplegic users

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Thu, 2018-05-10 23:00

by Serafeim Perdikis, Luca Tonin, Sareh Saeedi, Christoph Schneider, José del R. Millán

This work aims at corroborating the importance and efficacy of mutual learning in motor imagery (MI) brain–computer interface (BCI) by leveraging the insights obtained through our participation in the BCI race of the Cybathlon event. We hypothesized that, contrary to the popular trend of focusing mostly on the machine learning aspects of MI BCI training, a comprehensive mutual learning methodology that reinstates the three learning pillars (at the machine, subject, and application level) as equally significant could lead to a BCI–user symbiotic system able to succeed in real-world scenarios such as the Cybathlon event. Two severely impaired participants with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI), were trained following our mutual learning approach to control their avatar in a virtual BCI race game. The competition outcomes substantiate the effectiveness of this type of training. Most importantly, the present study is one among very few to provide multifaceted evidence on the efficacy of subject learning during BCI training. Learning correlates could be derived at all levels of the interface—application, BCI output, and electroencephalography (EEG) neuroimaging—with two end-users, sufficiently longitudinal evaluation, and, importantly, under real-world and even adverse conditions.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Identifying novel strategies for treating human hair loss disorders: Cyclosporine A suppresses the Wnt inhibitor, SFRP1, in the dermal papilla of human scalp hair follicles

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Tue, 2018-05-08 23:00

by Nathan J. Hawkshaw, Jonathan A. Hardman, Iain S. Haslam, Asim Shahmalak, Amos Gilhar, Xinhong Lim, Ralf Paus

Hair growth disorders often carry a major psychological burden. Therefore, more effective human hair growth–modulatory agents urgently need to be developed. Here, we used the hypertrichosis-inducing immunosuppressant, Cyclosporine A (CsA), as a lead compound to identify new hair growth–promoting molecular targets. Through microarray analysis we identified the Wnt inhibitor, secreted frizzled related protein 1 (SFRP1), as being down-regulated in the dermal papilla (DP) of CsA-treated human scalp hair follicles (HFs) ex vivo. Therefore, we further investigated the function of SFRP1 using a pharmacological approach and found that SFRP1 regulates intrafollicular canonical Wnt/β-catenin activity through inhibition of Wnt ligands in the human hair bulb. Conversely, inhibiting SFRP1 activity through the SFRP1 antagonist, WAY-316606, enhanced hair shaft production, hair shaft keratin expression, and inhibited spontaneous HF regression (catagen) ex vivo. Collectively, these data (a) identify Wnt signalling as a novel, non–immune-inhibitory CsA target; (b) introduce SFRP1 as a physiologically important regulator of canonical β-catenin activity in a human (mini-)organ; and (c) demonstrate WAY-316606 to be a promising new promoter of human hair growth. Since inhibiting SFRP1 only facilitates Wnt signalling through ligands that are already present, this ‘ligand-limited’ therapeutic strategy for promoting human hair growth may circumvent potential oncological risks associated with chronic Wnt over-activation.
Categories: Biology, Journals

POMC neurons in heat: A link between warm temperatures and appetite suppression

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Mon, 2018-05-07 23:00

by Maria A. Vicent, Conor L. Mook, Matthew E. Carter

When core body temperature increases, appetite and food consumption decline. A higher core body temperature can occur during exercise, during exposure to warm environmental temperatures, or during a fever, yet the mechanisms that link relatively warm temperatures to appetite suppression are unknown. A recent study in PLOS Biology demonstrates that neurons in the mouse hypothalamus that express pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC), a neural population well known to suppress food intake, also express a temperature-sensitive ion channel, transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1). Slight increases in body temperature cause a TRPV1-dependent increase in activity in POMC neurons, which suppresses feeding in mice. Taken together, this study suggests a novel mechanism linking body temperature and food-seeking behavior.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Structural basis for overhang excision and terminal unwinding of DNA duplexes by TREX1

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Mon, 2018-05-07 23:00

by Kuan-Wei Huang, Tung-Chang Liu, Ruei-Yue Liang, Lee-Ya Chu, Hiu-Lo Cheng, Jhih-Wei Chu, Yu-Yuan Hsiao

Three prime repair exonuclease 1 (TREX1) is an essential exonuclease in mammalian cells, and numerous in vivo and in vitro data evidenced its participation in immunity regulation and in genotoxicity remediation. In these very complicated cellular functions, the molecular mechanisms by which duplex DNA substrates are processed are mostly elusive because of the lack of structure information. Here, we report multiple crystal structures of TREX1 complexed with various substrates to provide the structure basis for overhang excision and terminal unwinding of DNA duplexes. The substrates were designed to mimic the intermediate structural DNAs involved in various repair pathways. The results showed that the Leu24-Pro25-Ser26 cluster of TREX1 served to cap the nonscissile 5′-end of the DNA for precise removal of the short 3′-overhang in L- and Y-structural DNA or to wedge into the double-stranded region for further digestion along the duplex. Biochemical assays were also conducted to demonstrate that TREX1 can indeed degrade double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) to a full extent. Overall, this study provided unprecedented knowledge at the molecular level on the enzymatic substrate processing involved in prevention of immune activation and in responses to genotoxic stresses. For example, Arg128, whose mutation in TREX1 was linked to a disease state, were shown to exhibit consistent interaction patterns with the nonscissile strand in all of the structures we solved. Such structure basis is expected to play an indispensable role in elucidating the functional activities of TREX1 at the cellular level and in vivo.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Correction: Nucleic acid purification from plants, animals and microbes in under 30 seconds

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Mon, 2018-05-07 23:00

by Yiping Zou, Michael Glenn Mason, Yuling Wang, Eugene Wee, Conny Turni, Patrick J. Blackall, Matt Trau, Jose Ramon Botella

Categories: Biology, Journals

Robust stochastic Turing patterns in the development of a one-dimensional cyanobacterial organism

PLOS Biology (new articles) - Fri, 2018-05-04 23:00

by Francesca Di Patti, Laura Lavacchi, Rinat Arbel-Goren, Leora Schein-Lubomirsky, Duccio Fanelli, Joel Stavans

Under nitrogen deprivation, the one-dimensional cyanobacterial organism Anabaena sp. PCC 7120 develops patterns of single, nitrogen-fixing cells separated by nearly regular intervals of photosynthetic vegetative cells. We study a minimal, stochastic model of developmental patterns in Anabaena that includes a nondiffusing activator, two diffusing inhibitor morphogens, demographic fluctuations in the number of morphogen molecules, and filament growth. By tracking developing filaments, we provide experimental evidence for different spatiotemporal roles of the two inhibitors during pattern maintenance and for small molecular copy numbers, justifying a stochastic approach. In the deterministic limit, the model yields Turing patterns within a region of parameter space that shrinks markedly as the inhibitor diffusivities become equal. Transient, noise-driven, stochastic Turing patterns are produced outside this region, which can then be fixed by downstream genetic commitment pathways, dramatically enhancing the robustness of pattern formation, also in the biologically relevant situation in which the inhibitors' diffusivities may be comparable.
Categories: Biology, Journals