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In a screen for human kinases that regulate Xenopus laevis embryogenesis, we identified Nagk and other components of the UDP-GlcNAc glycosylation salvage pathway as regulators of anteroposterior patterning and Wnt signaling. We find that the salvage pathway does not affect other major embryonic signaling pathways (Fgf, TGFβ, Notch, or Shh), thereby demonstrating specificity for Wnt signaling. We show that the role of the salvage pathway in Wnt signaling is evolutionarily conserved in zebrafish and Drosophila. Finally, we show that GlcNAc is essential for the growth of intestinal enteroids, which are highly dependent on Wnt signaling for growth and maintenance. We propose that the Wnt pathway is sensitive to alterations in the glycosylation state of a cell and acts as a nutritional sensor in order to couple growth/proliferation with its metabolic status. We also propose that the clinical manifestations observed in congenital disorders of glycosylation (CDG) in humans may be due, in part, to their effects on Wnt signaling during development.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
We recently reported the case of a young patient with multisystem failure carrying a de novo mutation in SLC12A2, the gene encoding the Na-K-2Cl cotransporter-1 (NKCC1). Heterologous expression studies in nonepithelial cells failed to demonstrate dominant-negative effects. In this study, we examined expression of the mutant cotransporter in epithelial cells. Using Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells grown on glass coverslips, permeabilized support, and Matrigel, we show that the fluorescently tagged mutant cotransporter is expressed in cytoplasm and at the apical membrane and affects epithelium integrity. Expression of the mutant transporter at the apical membrane also results in the mislocalization of some of the wild-type transporter to the apical membrane. This mistargeting is specific to NKCC1 as the Na-K-ATPase remains localized on the basolateral membrane. To assess transporter localization in vivo, we created a mouse model using CRISPR/cas9 that reproduces the 11 bp deletion in exon 22 of Slc12a2. Although the mice do not display an overt phenotype, we show that the colon and salivary gland expresses wild-type NKCC1 abundantly at the apical pole, confirming the data obtained in cultured epithelial cells. Enough cotransporter must remain, however, on the basolateral membrane to participate in saliva secretion, as no significant decrease in saliva production was observed in the mutant mice.
UNC-8 and MEC-4 are two members of the degenerin/epithelial Na channel (DEG/ENaC) family of voltage-independent Na channels that share a high degree of sequence homology and functional similarity. For example, both can be hyperactivated by genetic mutations [UNC-8(d) and MEC-4(d)] that induce neuronal death by necrosis. Both depend in vivo on chaperone protein MEC-6 for function, as demonstrated by the finding that neuronal death induced by hyperactive UNC-8 and MEC-4 channels is prevented by null mutations in mec-6. UNC-8 and MEC-4 differ functionally in three major ways: 1) MEC-4 is calcium permeable, whereas UNC-8 is not; 2) UNC-8, but not MEC-4, is blocked by extracellular calcium and magnesium in the micromolar range; and 3) MEC-6 increases the number of MEC-4 channels at the cell surface in oocytes but does not have this effect on UNC-8. We previously reported that Capermeability of MEC-4 is conferred by the second transmembrane domain. We show here that the extracellular "finger" domain of UNC-8 is sufficient to mediate inhibition by divalent cations and that regulation by MEC-6 also depends on this region. Thus, our work confirms that the finger domain houses residues involved in gating of this channel class and shows for the first time that the finger domain also mediates regulation by chaperone protein MEC-6. Given that the finger domain is the most divergent region across the DEG/ENaC family, we speculate that it influences channel trafficking and function in a unique manner depending on the channel subunit.
Alternative gene splicing gives rise to N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor ion channels with defined functional properties and unique contributions to calcium signaling in a given chemical environment in the mammalian brain. Splice variants possessing the exon-5-encoded motif at the amino-terminal domain (ATD) of the GluN1 subunit are known to display robustly altered deactivation rates and pH sensitivity, but the underlying mechanism for this functional modification is largely unknown. Here, we show through cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) that the presence of the exon 5 motif in GluN1 alters the local architecture of heterotetrameric GluN1-GluN2 NMDA receptors and creates contacts with the ligand-binding domains (LBDs) of the GluN1 and GluN2 subunits, which are absent in NMDA receptors lacking the exon 5 motif. The unique interactions established by the exon 5 motif are essential to the stability of the ATD/LBD and LBD/LBD interfaces that are critically involved in controlling proton sensitivity and deactivation.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Constitutive WNT activity drives the growth of various human tumors, including nearly all colorectal cancers (CRCs). Despite this prominence in cancer, no WNT inhibitor is currently approved for use in the clinic largely due to the small number of druggable signaling components in the WNT pathway and the substantial toxicity to normal gastrointestinal tissue. We have shown that pyrvinium, which activates casein kinase 1α (CK1α), is a potent inhibitor of WNT signaling. However, its poor bioavailability limited the ability to test this first-in-class WNT inhibitor in vivo. We characterized a novel small-molecule CK1α activator called SSTC3, which has better pharmacokinetic properties than pyrvinium, and found that it inhibited the growth of CRC xenografts in mice. SSTC3 also attenuated the growth of a patient-derived metastatic CRC xenograft, for which few therapies exist. SSTC3 exhibited minimal gastrointestinal toxicity compared to other classes of WNT inhibitors. Consistent with this observation, we showed that the abundance of the SSTC3 target, CK1α, was decreased in WNT-driven tumors relative to normal gastrointestinal tissue, and knocking down CK1α increased cellular sensitivity to SSTC3. Thus, we propose that distinct CK1α abundance provides an enhanced therapeutic index for pharmacological CK1α activators to target WNT-driven tumors.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.
DNA damage and secondary structures can stall the replication machinery. Cells possess numerous tolerance mechanisms to complete genome duplication in the presence of such impediments. In addition to translesion synthesis (TLS) polymerases, most eukaryotic cells contain a multifunctional replicative enzyme called primase-polymerase (PrimPol) that is capable of directly bypassing DNA damage by TLS, as well as repriming replication downstream of impediments. Here, we report that PrimPol is recruited to reprime through its interaction with RPA. Using biophysical and crystallographic approaches, we identify that PrimPol possesses two RPA-binding motifs and ascertained the key residues required for these interactions. We demonstrate that one of these motifs is critical for PrimPol's recruitment to stalled replication forks in vivo. In addition, biochemical analysis reveals that RPA serves to stimulate the primase activity of PrimPol. Together, these findings provide significant molecular insights into PrimPol's mode of recruitment to stalled forks to facilitate repriming and restart.
Zinc is vastly present in the mammalian brain and controls functions of various cell surface receptors to regulate neurotransmission. A distinctive characteristic of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors containing a GluN2A subunit is that their ion channel activity is allosterically inhibited by a nano-molar concentration of zinc that binds to an extracellular domain called an amino-terminal domain (ATD). Despite physiological importance, the molecular mechanism underlying the high-affinity zinc inhibition has been incomplete because of the lack of a GluN2A ATD structure. Here we show the first crystal structures of the heterodimeric GluN1-GluN2A ATD, which provide the complete map of the high-affinity zinc-binding site and reveal distinctive features from the ATD of the GluN1-GluN2B subtype. Perturbation of hydrogen bond networks at the hinge of the GluN2A bi-lobe structure affects both zinc inhibition and open probability, supporting the general model in which the bi-lobe motion in ATD regulates the channel activity in NMDA receptors.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The regulation of β-catenin turnover is the central mechanism governing activation of the Wnt signaling pathway. All components of the pathway are present in the early embryo of Xenopus laevis, and Xenopus egg extracts have been used to recapitulate complex biological reactions such as microtubule dynamics, DNA replication, chromatin assembly, and phases of the cell cycle. Herein, we describe a biochemical method for analyzing β-catenin degradation using radiolabeled and luciferase-fusion proteins in Xenopus egg extracts. We show that in such a biochemical system, cytoplasmic β-catenin degradation is regulated by soluble components of the Wnt pathway as well as small molecules.
Upon Notch pathway activation, the receptor is cleaved to release the Notch intracellular domain (NICD), which translocates to the nucleus to activate gene transcription. Using Xenopus egg extracts, we have identified a Notch1-specific destruction signal (N1-Box). We show that mutations in the N1-Box inhibit NICD1 degradation and that the N1-Box is transferable for the promotion of degradation of heterologous proteins in Xenopus egg extracts and in cultured human cells. Mutation of the N1-Box enhances Notch1 activity in cultured human cells and zebrafish embryos. Human cancer mutations within the N1-Box enhance Notch1 signaling in transgenic zebrafish, highlighting the physiological relevance of this destruction signal. We find that binding of the Notch nuclear factor, CSL, to the N1-Box blocks NICD1 turnover. Our studies reveal a mechanism by which degradation of NICD1 is regulated by the N1-Box to minimize stochastic flux and to establish a threshold for Notch1 pathway activation.
Copyright © 2016 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Wnt/β-catenin signal transduction directs metazoan development and is deregulated in numerous human congenital disorders and cancers. In the absence of Wnt stimulation, a multiprotein "destruction complex," assembled by the scaffold protein Axin, targets the key transcriptional activator β-catenin for proteolysis. Axin is maintained at very low levels that limit destruction complex activity, a property that is currently being exploited in the development of novel therapeutics for Wnt-driven cancers. Here, we use an in vivo approach in Drosophila to determine how tightly basal Axin levels must be controlled for Wnt/Wingless pathway activation, and how Axin stability is regulated. We find that for nearly all Wingless-driven developmental processes, a three- to fourfold increase in Axin is insufficient to inhibit signaling, setting a lower-limit for the threshold level of Axin in the majority of in vivo contexts. Further, we find that both the tumor suppressor adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) and the ADP-ribose polymerase Tankyrase (Tnks) have evolutionarily conserved roles in maintaining basal Axin levels below this in vivo threshold, and we define separable domains in Axin that are important for APC- or Tnks-dependent destabilization. Together, these findings reveal that both APC and Tnks maintain basal Axin levels below a critical in vivo threshold to promote robust pathway activation following Wnt stimulation.
Copyright © 2016 by the Genetics Society of America.