PLOS Biology (new articles)

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Protein interactions and consensus clustering analysis uncover insights into herpesvirus virion structure and function relationships

Fri, 2019-06-14 23:00

by Anna Hernández Durán, Todd M. Greco, Benjamin Vollmer, Ileana M. Cristea, Kay Grünewald, Maya Topf

Infections with human herpesviruses are ubiquitous and a public health concern worldwide. Current treatments reduce the severity of some symptoms associated to herpetic infections but neither remove the viral reservoir from the infected host nor protect from the recurrent symptom outbreaks that characterise herpetic infections. The difficulty in therapeutically tackling these viral systems stems in part from their remarkably large proteomes and the complex networks of physical and functional associations that they tailor. This study presents our efforts to unravel the complexity of the interactome of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1), the prototypical herpesvirus species. Inspired by our previous work, we present an improved and more integrative computational pipeline for the protein–protein interaction (PPI) network reconstruction in HSV1, together with a newly developed consensus clustering framework, which allowed us to extend the analysis beyond binary physical interactions and revealed a system-level layout of higher-order functional associations in the virion proteome. Additionally, the analysis provided new functional annotation for the currently undercharacterised protein in unique short region 10 (pUS10). In-depth bioinformatics sequence analysis unravelled structural features in pUS10 reminiscent of those observed in some capsid-associated proteins in tailed bacteriophages, with which herpesviruses are believed to share a common ancestry. Using immunoaffinity purification (IP)–mass spectrometry (MS), we obtained additional support for our bioinformatically predicted interaction between pUS10 and the inner tegument protein in unique long region 37 (pUL37), which binds cytosolic capsids, contributing to initial tegumentation and eventually virion maturation. In summary, this study unveils new, to our knowledge, insights at both the system and molecular levels that can help us better understand the complexity behind herpesvirus infections.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Atomic view into <i>Plasmodium</i> actin polymerization, ATP hydrolysis, and fragmentation

Fri, 2019-06-14 23:00

by Esa-Pekka Kumpula, Andrea J. Lopez, Leila Tajedin, Huijong Han, Inari Kursula

Plasmodium actins form very short filaments and have a noncanonical link between ATP hydrolysis and polymerization. Long filaments are detrimental to the parasites, but the structural factors constraining Plasmodium microfilament lengths have remained unknown. Using high-resolution crystallography, we show that magnesium binding causes a slight flattening of the Plasmodium actin I monomer, and subsequent phosphate release results in a more twisted conformation. Thus, the Mg-bound monomer is closer in conformation to filamentous (F) actin than the Ca form, and this likely facilitates polymerization. A coordinated potassium ion resides in the active site during hydrolysis and leaves together with the phosphate, a process governed by the position of the Arg178/Asp180-containing A loop. Asp180 interacts with either Lys270 or His74, depending on the protonation state of the histidine, while Arg178 links the inner and outer domains (ID and OD) of the actin protomer. Hence, the A loop acts as a switch between stable and unstable filament conformations, the latter leading to fragmentation. Our data provide a comprehensive model for polymerization, ATP hydrolysis and phosphate release, and fragmentation of parasite microfilaments. Similar mechanisms may well exist in canonical actins, although fragmentation is much less favorable due to several subtle sequence differences as well as the methylation of His73, which is absent on the corresponding His74 in Plasmodium actin I.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Cytosine-5 RNA methylation links protein synthesis to cell metabolism

Fri, 2019-06-14 23:00

by Nikoletta A. Gkatza, Cecilia Castro, Robert F. Harvey, Matthias Heiß, Martyna C. Popis, Sandra Blanco, Susanne Bornelöv, Abdulrahim A. Sajini, Joseph G. Gleeson, Julian L. Griffin, James A. West, Stefanie Kellner, Anne E. Willis, Sabine Dietmann, Michaela Frye

Posttranscriptional modifications in transfer RNA (tRNA) are often critical for normal development because they adapt protein synthesis rates to a dynamically changing microenvironment. However, the precise cellular mechanisms linking the extrinsic stimulus to the intrinsic RNA modification pathways remain largely unclear. Here, we identified the cytosine-5 RNA methyltransferase NSUN2 as a sensor for external stress stimuli. Exposure to oxidative stress efficiently repressed NSUN2, causing a reduction of methylation at specific tRNA sites. Using metabolic profiling, we showed that loss of tRNA methylation captured cells in a distinct catabolic state. Mechanistically, loss of NSUN2 altered the biogenesis of tRNA-derived noncoding fragments (tRFs) in response to stress, leading to impaired regulation of protein synthesis. The intracellular accumulation of a specific subset of tRFs correlated with the dynamic repression of global protein synthesis. Finally, NSUN2-driven RNA methylation was functionally required to adapt cell cycle progression to the early stress response. In summary, we revealed that changes in tRNA methylation profiles were sufficient to specify cellular metabolic states and efficiently adapt protein synthesis rates to cell stress.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Detecting T cell receptors involved in immune responses from single repertoire snapshots

Thu, 2019-06-13 23:00

by Mikhail V. Pogorelyy, Anastasia A. Minervina, Mikhail Shugay, Dmitriy M. Chudakov, Yuri B. Lebedev, Thierry Mora, Aleksandra M. Walczak

Hypervariable T cell receptors (TCRs) play a key role in adaptive immunity, recognizing a vast diversity of pathogen-derived antigens. Our ability to extract clinically relevant information from large high-throughput sequencing of TCR repertoires (RepSeq) data is limited, because little is known about TCR–disease associations. We present Antigen-specific Lymphocyte Identification by Clustering of Expanded sequences (ALICE), a statistical approach that identifies TCR sequences actively involved in current immune responses from a single RepSeq sample and apply it to repertoires of patients with a variety of disorders—patients with autoimmune disease (ankylosing spondylitis [AS]), under cancer immunotherapy, or subject to an acute infection (live yellow fever [YF] vaccine). We validate the method with independent assays. ALICE requires no longitudinal data collection nor large cohorts, and it is directly applicable to most RepSeq datasets. Its results facilitate the identification of TCR variants associated with diseases and conditions, which can be used for diagnostics and rational vaccine design.
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Specific activation of pro-Infliximab enhances selectivity and safety of rheumatoid arthritis therapy

Thu, 2019-06-13 23:00

by Yun-Chi Lu, Chih-Hung Chuang, Kuo-Hsiang Chuang, I-Ju Chen, Bo-Cheng Huang, Wen-Han Lee, Hsin-Ell Wang, Jia-Je Li, Yi-An Cheng, Kai-Wen Cheng, Jaw-Yuan Wang, Yuan-Chin Hsieh, Wen-Wei Lin, Tian-Lu Cheng

During rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment, long-term injection of antitumor necrosis factor α antibodies (anti-TNFα Abs) may induce on-target toxicities, including severe infections (tuberculosis [TB] or septic arthritis) and malignancy. Here, we used an immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) hinge as an Ab lock to cover the TNFα-binding site of Infliximab by linking it with matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) -2/9 substrate to generate pro-Infliximab that can be specifically activated in the RA region to enhance the selectivity and safety of treatment. The Ab lock significantly inhibits the TNFα binding and reduces the anti-idiotypic (anti-Id) Ab binding to pro-Infliximab by 395-fold, 108-fold compared with Infliximab, respectively, and MMP-2/9 can completely restore the TNFα neutralizing ability of pro-Infliximab to block TNFα downstream signaling. Pro-Infliximab was only selectively activated in the disease site (mouse paws) and presented similar pharmacokinetics (PKs) and bio-distribution to Infliximab. Furthermore, pro-Infliximab not only provided equivalent therapeutic efficacy to Infliximab but also maintained mouse immunity against Listeria infection in the RA mouse model, leading to a significantly higher survival rate (71%) than that of the Infliximab treatment group (0%). The high-selectivity pro-Infliximab maintains host immunity and keeps the original therapeutic efficiency, providing a novel strategy for RA therapy.
Categories: Biology, Journals

A unified mechanism for LLPS of ALS/FTLD-causing FUS as well as its modulation by ATP and oligonucleic acids

Wed, 2019-06-12 23:00

by Jian Kang, Liangzhong Lim, Yimei Lu, Jianxing Song

526-residue Fused in sarcoma (FUS) undergoes liquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS) for its functions, which can further transit into pathological aggregation. ATP and nucleic acids, the universal cellular actors, were shown to modulate LLPS of FUS in a unique manner: enhancement and then dissolution. Currently, the driving force for LLPS of FUS is still under debate, while the mechanism for the modulation remains completely undefined. Here, by NMR and differential interference contrast (DIC) imaging, we characterized conformations, dynamics, and LLPS of FUS and its domains and subsequently their molecular interactions with oligonucleic acids, including one RNA and two single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) molecules, as well as ATP, Adenosine monophosphate (AMP), and adenosine. The results reveal 1) both a prion-like domain (PLD) rich in Tyr but absent of Arg/Lys and a C-terminal domain (CTD) abundant in Arg/Lys fail to phase separate. By contrast, the entire N-terminal domain (NTD) containing the PLD and an Arg-Gly (RG)-rich region efficiently phase separate, indicating that the π-cation interaction is the major driving force; 2) despite manifesting distinctive NMR observations, ATP has been characterized to modulate LLPS by specific binding as oligonucleic acids but with much lower affinity. Our results together establish a unified mechanism in which the π-cation interaction acts as the major driving force for LLPS of FUS and also serves as the target for modulation by ATP and oligonucleic acids through specific binding. This mechanism predicts that a myriad of proteins unrelated to RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) but with Arg/Lys-rich disordered regions could be modulated by ATP and nucleic acids, thus rationalizing the pathological association of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)-causing C9ORF72 dipeptides with any nucleic acids to manifest cytotoxicity.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Low-cost (<€5), open-source, potential alternative to commercial spectrophotometers

Wed, 2019-06-12 23:00

by Vasco Ribeiro Pereira, Bill Stephen Hosker

Spectrophotometry is a fundamental technique in many areas of science, with many applications and uses. The cost of spectrophotometers has acted as a barrier on the teaching and use of the technique. Here, we provide open-source plans to a 3D-printed cuvette holder with an interchangeable narrow–spectral bandwidth light-emitting diode (LED) block that can be used in conjunction with a smartphone’s ambient light sensor (ALS) to perform spectrophotometry. A Lego version with an interchangeable LED block is also presented. Results from the smartphone spectrophotometer in comparison with commercially available spectrophotometers demonstrated functionality, and the model may have many applications, especially in indirect spectrophotometry, such as in the protein assay shown here. The plans for the 3D-printed model are freely available on GitHub, as are editable files to allow customisation by users. We would encourage users to share adaptations with the scientific community.
Categories: Biology, Journals

ADAMTS13 maintains cerebrovascular integrity to ameliorate Alzheimer-like pathology

Tue, 2019-06-11 23:00

by Yongliang Cao, Haochen Xu, Yuanbo Zhu, Mei-Juan Shi, Lixiang Wei, Jin Zhang, Shuo Cheng, Yiqian Shi, Haiyang Tong, Lijing Kang, Lu Lu, Haiyu Luo, Xing Yang, Xiaofei Bai, Ranran Wang, Yuanyuan Ma, Yun Wang, Zhongfeng Wang, Kai Zhong, Bing-Qiao Zhao, Wenying Fan

Blood-brain barrier (BBB) defects and cerebrovascular dysfunction contribute to amyloid-β (Aβ) brain accumulation and drive Alzheimer disease (AD) pathology. By regulating vascular functions and inflammation in the microvasculature, a disintegrin and metalloprotease with thrombospondin type I motif, member 13 (ADAMTS13) plays a significant protective effect in atherosclerosis and stroke. However, whether ADAMTS13 influences AD pathogenesis remains unclear. Using in vivo multiphoton microscopy, histological, behavioral, and biological methods, we determined BBB integrity, cerebrovascular dysfunction, amyloid accumulation, and cognitive impairment in APPPS1 mice lacking ADAMTS13. We also tested the impact of viral-mediated expression of ADAMTS13 on cerebrovascular function and AD-like pathology in APPPS1 mice. We show that ADAMTS13 deficiency led to an early and progressive BBB breakdown as well as reductions in vessel density, capillary perfusion, and cerebral blood flow in APPPS1 mice. We found that deficiency of ADAMTS13 increased brain plaque load and Aβ levels and accelerated cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) by impeding BBB-mediated clearance of brain Aβ, resulting in worse cognitive decline in APPPS1 mice. Virus-mediated expression of ADAMTS13 attenuated BBB disruption and increased microvessels, capillary perfusion, and cerebral blood flow in APPPS1 mice already showing BBB damage and plaque deposition. These beneficial vascular effects were reflected by increase in clearance of cerebral Aβ, reductions in Aβ brain accumulation, and improvements in cognitive performance. Our results show that ADAMTS13 deficiency contributes to AD cerebrovascular dysfunction and the resulting pathogenesis and cognitive deficits and suggest that ADAMTS13 may offer novel therapeutic opportunities for AD.
Categories: Biology, Journals

A novel druggable interprotomer pocket in the capsid of rhino- and enteroviruses

Tue, 2019-06-11 23:00

by Rana Abdelnabi, James A. Geraets, Yipeng Ma, Carmen Mirabelli, Justin W. Flatt, Aušra Domanska, Leen Delang, Dirk Jochmans, Timiri Ajay Kumar, Venkatesan Jayaprakash, Barij Nayan Sinha, Pieter Leyssen, Sarah J. Butcher, Johan Neyts

Rhino- and enteroviruses are important human pathogens, against which no antivirals are available. The best-studied inhibitors are “capsid binders” that fit in a hydrophobic pocket of the viral capsid. Employing a new class of entero-/rhinovirus inhibitors and by means of cryo–electron microscopy (EM), followed by resistance selection and reverse genetics, we discovered a hitherto unknown druggable pocket that is formed by viral proteins VP1 and VP3 and that is conserved across entero-/rhinovirus species. We propose that these inhibitors stabilize a key region of the virion, thereby preventing the conformational expansion needed for viral RNA release. A medicinal chemistry effort resulted in the identification of analogues targeting this pocket with broad-spectrum activity against Coxsackieviruses B (CVBs) and compounds with activity against enteroviruses (EV) of groups C and D, and even rhinoviruses (RV). Our findings provide novel insights in the biology of the entry of entero-/rhinoviruses and open new avenues for the design of broad-spectrum antivirals against these pathogens.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Sizes of actin networks sharing a common environment are determined by the relative rates of assembly

Mon, 2019-06-10 23:00

by Adrien Antkowiak, Audrey Guillotin, Micaela Boiero Sanders, Jessica Colombo, Renaud Vincentelli, Alphée Michelot

Within the cytoplasm of a single cell, several actin networks can coexist with distinct sizes, geometries, and protein compositions. These actin networks assemble in competition for a limited pool of proteins present in a common cellular environment. To predict how two distinct networks of actin filaments control this balance, the simultaneous assembly of actin-related protein 2/3 (Arp2/3)-branched networks and formin-linear networks of actin filaments around polystyrene microbeads was investigated with a range of actin accessory proteins (profilin, capping protein, actin-depolymerizing factor [ADF]/cofilin, and tropomyosin). Accessory proteins generally affected actin assembly rates for the distinct networks differently. These effects at the scale of individual actin networks were surprisingly not always correlated with corresponding loss-of-function phenotypes in cells. However, our observations agreed with a global interpretation, which compared relative actin assembly rates of individual actin networks. This work supports a general model in which the size of distinct actin networks is determined by their relative capacity to assemble in a common and competing environment.
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Phosphorylation of the VAR2CSA extracellular region is associated with enhanced adhesive properties to the placental receptor CSA

Mon, 2019-06-10 23:00

by Dominique Dorin-Semblat, Marilou Tétard, Aurélie Claës, Jean-Philippe Semblat, Sébastien Dechavanne, Zaineb Fourati, Romain Hamelin, Florence Armand, Graziella Matesic, Sofia Nunes-Silva, Anand Srivastava, Stéphane Gangnard, Jose-Juan Lopez-Rubio, Marc Moniatte, Christian Doerig, Artur Scherf, Benoît Gamain

Plasmodium falciparum is the main cause of disease and death from malaria. P. falciparum virulence resides in the ability of infected erythrocytes (IEs) to sequester in various tissues through the interaction between members of the polymorphic P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) adhesin family to various host receptors. Here, we investigated the effect of phosphorylation of variant surface antigen 2-CSA (VAR2CSA), a member of the PfEMP1 family associated to placental sequestration, on its capacity to adhere to chondroitin sulfate A (CSA) present on the placental syncytium. We showed that phosphatase treatment of IEs impairs cytoadhesion to CSA. MS analysis of recombinant VAR2CSA phosphosites prior to and after phosphatase treatment, as well as of native VAR2CSA expressed on IEs, identified critical phosphoresidues associated with CSA binding. Site-directed mutagenesis on recombinant VAR2CSA of 3 phosphoresidues localised within the CSA-binding region confirmed in vitro their functional importance. Furthermore, using clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/CRISPR-associated protein-9 nuclease (CRISPR/Cas9), we generated a parasite line in which the phosphoresidue T934 is changed to alanine and showed that this mutation strongly impairs IEs cytoadhesion to CSA. Taken together, these results demonstrate that phosphorylation of the extracellular region of VAR2CSA plays a major role in IEs cytoadhesion to CSA and provide new molecular insights for strategies aiming to reduce the morbidity and mortality of PM.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Selective use of primate CD4 receptors by HIV-1

Mon, 2019-06-10 23:00

by Cody J. Warren, Nicholas R. Meyerson, Obaiah Dirasantha, Emily R. Feldman, Gregory K. Wilkerson, Sara L. Sawyer

Individuals chronically infected with HIV-1 harbor complex viral populations within their bloodstreams. Recently, it has come to light that when these people infect others, the new infection is typically established by only one or a small number of virions from within this complex viral swarm. An important goal is to characterize the biological properties of HIV-1 virions that seed and exist early in new human infections because these are potentially the only viruses against which a prophylactic HIV-1 vaccine would need to elicit protection. This includes understanding how the Envelope (Env) protein of these virions interacts with the T-cell receptor CD4, which supports attachment and entry of HIV-1 into target cells. We examined early HIV-1 isolates for their ability to infect cells via the CD4 receptor of 15 different primate species. Primates were the original source of HIV-1 and now serve as valuable animal models for studying HIV-1. We find that most primary isolates of HIV-1 from the blood, including early isolates, are highly selective and enter cells through some primate CD4 receptor orthologs but not others. This phenotype is remarkably consistent, regardless of route of transmission, viral subtype, or time of isolation post infection. We show that the weak CD4 binding affinity of blood-derived HIV-1 isolates is what makes them sensitive to the small sequence differences in CD4 from one primate species to the next. To substantiate this, we engineered an early HIV-1 Env to have high, medium, or low binding affinity to CD4, and we show that it loses the ability to enter cells via the CD4 of many primate species as the binding affinity gets weaker. Based on the phenotype of selective use of primate CD4, we find that weak CD4 binding appears to be a nearly universal property of HIV-1 circulating in the bloodstream. Therefore, weak binding to CD4 must be a selected and important property in the biology of HIV-1 in the body. We identify six primate species that encode CD4 receptors that fully support the entry of early HIV-1 isolates despite their low binding affinity for CD4. These findings will help inform long-standing efforts to model HIV-1 transmission and early disease in primates.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Deciphering molecular mechanism of silver by integrated omic approaches enables enhancing its antimicrobial efficacy in <i>E</i>. <i>coli</i>

Mon, 2019-06-10 23:00

by Haibo Wang, Aixin Yan, Zhigang Liu, Xinming Yang, Zeling Xu, Yuchuan Wang, Runming Wang, Mohamad Koohi-Moghadam, Ligang Hu, Wei Xia, Huiru Tang, Yulan Wang, Hongyan Li, Hongzhe Sun

Despite the broad-spectrum antimicrobial activities of silver, its internal usage is restricted, owing to the toxicity. Strategies to enhance its efficacy are highly desirable but rely heavily on the understanding of its molecular mechanism of action. However, up to now, no direct silver-targeting proteins have been mined at a proteome-wide scale, which hinders systemic studies on the biological pathways interrupted by silver. Herein, we build up a unique system, namely liquid chromatography gel electrophoresis inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LC-GE-ICP-MS), allowing 34 proteins directly bound by silver ions to be identified in Escherichia coli. By using integrated omic approaches, including metalloproteomics, metabolomics, bioinformatics, and systemic biology, we delineated the first dynamic antimicrobial actions of silver (Ag+) in E. coli, i.e., it primarily damages multiple enzymes in glycolysis and tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, leading to the stalling of the oxidative branch of the TCA cycle and an adaptive metabolic divergence to the reductive glyoxylate pathway. It then further damages the adaptive glyoxylate pathway and suppresses the cellular oxidative stress responses, causing systemic damages and death of the bacterium. To harness these novel findings, we coadministrated metabolites involved in the Krebs cycles with Ag+ and found that they can significantly potentiate the efficacy of silver both in vitro and in an animal model. Our study reveals the comprehensive and dynamic mechanisms of Ag+ toxicity in E. coli cells and offers a novel and general approach for deciphering molecular mechanisms of metallodrugs in various pathogens and cells to facilitate the development of new therapeutics.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Trophic interactions modify the temperature dependence of community biomass and ecosystem function

Mon, 2019-06-10 23:00

by Jessica Garzke, Stephanie J. Connor, Ulrich Sommer, Mary I. O’Connor

Aquatic ecosystems worldwide continue to experience unprecedented warming and ecological change. Warming increases metabolic rates of animals, plants, and microbes, accelerating their use of energy and materials, their population growth, and interaction rates. At a much larger biological scale, warming accelerates ecosystem-level processes, elevating fluxes of carbon and oxygen between biota and the atmosphere. Although these general effects of temperature at finer and broader biological scales are widely observed, they can lead to contradictory predictions for how warming affects the structure and function of ecological communities at the intermediate scale of biological organization. We experimentally tested the hypothesis that the presence of predators and their associated species interactions modify the temperature dependence of net ecosystem oxygen production and respiration. We tracked a series of independent freshwater ecosystems (370 L) over 9 weeks, and we found that at higher temperatures, cascading effects of predators on zooplankton prey and algae were stronger than at lower temperatures. When grazing was weak or absent, standing phytoplankton biomass declined by 85%–95% (<1-fold) over the temperature gradient (19–30 °C), and by 3-fold when grazers were present and lacked predators. These temperature-dependent species interactions and consequent community biomass shifts occurred without signs of species loss or community collapse, and only modestly affected the temperature dependence of net ecosystem oxygen fluxes. The exponential increases in net ecosystem oxygen production and consumption were relatively insensitive to differences in trophic interactions among ecosystems. Furthermore, monotonic declines in phytoplankton standing stock suggested no threshold effects of warming across systems. We conclude that local changes in community structure, including temperature-dependent trophic cascades, may be compatible with prevailing and predictable effects of temperature on ecosystem functions related to fundamental effects of temperature on metabolism.
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Phenotypic selection with an intrabody library reveals an anti-apoptotic function of PKM2 requiring Mitofusin-1

Mon, 2019-06-10 23:00

by Tong Liu, Tomomi Kuwana, Hongkai Zhang, Matthew G. Vander Heiden, Richard A. Lerner, Donald D. Newmeyer

Bcl-2 family proteins control a decisive apoptotic event: mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP). To discover MOMP-regulating proteins, we expressed a library of intracellular single-chain variable fragments (scFvs) (“intrabodies”) and selected for those rescuing cells from apoptosis induced by BimS (the short isoform of Bim). One anti-apoptotic intrabody, intrabody 5 (IB5), recognized pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2), which is expressed in cancer cells. PKM2 deletion ablated this clonogenic rescue; thus, IB5 activated a latent cytoprotective function of PKM2. This resulted not from pyruvate kinase activity per se but rather from the formation of an active tetrameric conformation of PKM2. A stably tetrameric PKM2 mutant, K422R, promoted cell survival even in the absence of IB5, and IB5 further increased survival. Mitochondria isolated from IB5-expressing cells were relatively resistant to MOMP in vitro. In cells, IB5 expression up-regulated Mitofusin-1 (Mfn1) and increased mitochondrial length. Importantly, Mfn1 deficiency abrogated IB5’s cytoprotective effect. PKM2’s anti-apoptotic function could help explain its preferential expression in human cancer.
Categories: Biology, Journals

MooSciTIC: Training of trainers in West African research and higher education

Fri, 2019-06-07 23:00

by Ménonvè Atindehou, Kifouli Adéoti, Laura Estelle Yêyinou Loko, Thierry Beulé, Emmanuel Paradis, Gustave Djedatin, Christine Tranchant-Dubreuil, François Sabot, Latifou Lagnika, Estelle Jaligot

The MooSciTIC project is a capacity-building initiative targeting West African research scientists and higher education teachers. The project aimed to improve the self-reliance of researchers and upgrade research practices by providing on-site summer schools on trans-disciplinary topics such as scientific writing, communication, and integrity. Here, we explain how this program was designed and implemented and share the positive responses from our trainees, hoping to inspire similar initiatives.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Neurocomputational mechanisms at play when weighing concerns for extrinsic rewards, moral values, and social image

Thu, 2019-06-06 23:00

by Chen Qu, Elise Météreau, Luigi Butera, Marie Claire Villeval, Jean-Claude Dreher

Humans not only value extrinsic monetary rewards but also their own morality and their image in the eyes of others. Yet violating moral norms is frequent, especially when people know that they are not under scrutiny. When moral values and monetary payoffs are at odds, how does the brain weigh the benefits and costs of moral and monetary payoffs? Here, using a neurocomputational model of decision value (DV) and functional (f)MRI, we investigated whether different brain systems are engaged when deciding whether to earn money by contributing to a “bad cause” and when deciding whether to sacrifice money to contribute to a “good cause,” both when such choices were made privately or in public. Although similar principles of DV computations were used to solve these dilemmas, they engaged 2 distinct valuation systems. When weighing monetary benefits and moral costs, people were willing to trade their moral values in exchange for money, an effect accompanied by DV computation engaging the anterior insula and the lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC). In contrast, weighing monetary costs against compliance with one’s moral values engaged the ventral putamen. Moreover, regardless of the type of dilemma, a brain network including the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), anterior insula, and the right temporoparietal junction (TJP) was more engaged in public than in private settings. Together, these findings identify how the brain processes three sources of motivation: extrinsic rewards, moral values, and concerns for image.
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CRL4<sup>Mahj</sup> E3 ubiquitin ligase promotes neural stem cell reactivation

Thu, 2019-06-06 23:00

by Phuong Thao Ly, Ye Sing Tan, Chwee Tat Koe, Yingjie Zhang, Gengqiang Xie, Sharyn Endow, Wu-Min Deng, Fengwei Yu, Hongyan Wang

The ability of neural stem cells (NSCs) to transit between quiescence and proliferation is crucial for brain development and homeostasis. Drosophila Hippo pathway maintains NSC quiescence, but its regulation during brain development remains unknown. Here, we show that CRL4Mahj, an evolutionarily conserved E3 ubiquitin ligase, is essential for NSC reactivation (exit from quiescence). We demonstrate that damaged DNA-binding protein 1 (DDB1) and Cullin4, two core components of Cullin4-RING ligase (CRL4), are intrinsically required for NSC reactivation. We have identified a substrate receptor of CRL4, Mahjong (Mahj), which is necessary and sufficient for NSC reactivation. Moreover, we show that CRL4Mahj forms a protein complex with Warts (Wts/large tumor suppressor [Lats]), a kinase of the Hippo signaling pathway, and Mahj promotes the ubiquitination of Wts. Our genetic analyses further support the conclusion that CRL4Mahj triggers NSC reactivation by inhibition of Wts. Given that Cullin4B mutations cause mental retardation and cerebral malformation, similar regulatory mechanisms may be applied to the human brain.
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Transmissible cancer and the evolution of sex

Thu, 2019-06-06 23:00

by Frédéric Thomas, Thomas Madsen, Mathieu Giraudeau, Dorothée Misse, Rodrigo Hamede, Orsolya Vincze, François Renaud, Benjamin Roche, Beata Ujvari

The origin and subsequent maintenance of sex and recombination are among the most elusive and controversial problems in evolutionary biology. Here, we propose a novel hypothesis, suggesting that sexual reproduction not only evolved to reduce the negative effects of the accumulation of deleterious mutations and processes associated with pathogen and/or parasite resistance but also to prevent invasion by transmissible selfish neoplastic cheater cells, henceforth referred to as transmissible cancer cells. Sexual reproduction permits systematic change of the multicellular organism’s genotype and hence an enhanced detection of transmissible cancer cells by immune system. Given the omnipresence of oncogenic processes in multicellular organisms, together with the fact that transmissible cancer cells can have dramatic effects on their host fitness, our scenario suggests that the benefits of sex and concomitant recombination will be large and permanent, explaining why sexual reproduction is, despite its costs, the dominant mode of reproduction among eukaryotes.
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AMPK regulates germline stem cell quiescence and integrity through an endogenous small RNA pathway

Wed, 2019-06-05 23:00

by Pratik Kadekar, Richard Roy

During suboptimal growth conditions, Caenorhabditis elegans larvae undergo a global developmental arrest called “dauer.” During this stage, the germline stem cells (GSCs) become quiescent in an AMP-activated Protein Kinase (AMPK)-dependent manner, and in the absence of AMPK, the GSCs overproliferate and lose their reproductive capacity, leading to sterility when mutant animals resume normal growth. These defects correlate with the altered abundance and distribution of a number of chromatin modifications, all of which can be corrected by disabling components of the endogenous small RNA pathway, suggesting that AMPK regulates germ cell integrity by targeting an RNA interference (RNAi)-like pathway during dauer. The expression of AMPK in somatic cells restores all the germline defects, potentially through the transmission of small RNAs. Our findings place AMPK at a pivotal position linking energy stress detected in the soma to a consequent endogenous small RNA–mediated adaptation in germline gene expression, thereby challenging the “permeability" of the Weismann barrier.
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