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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.
Although the use of model systems for studying the mechanism of mutations that have a large effect is common, we highlight here the ways that zebrafish-model-system studies of a gene, GRIK5, that contributes to the polygenic liability to develop eye diseases have helped to illuminate a mechanism that implicates vascular biology in eye disease. A gene-expression prediction derived from a reference transcriptome panel applied to BioVU, a large electronic health record (EHR)-linked biobank at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, implicated reduced GRIK5 expression in diverse eye diseases. We tested the function of GRIK5 by depletion of its ortholog in zebrafish, and we observed reduced blood vessel numbers and integrity in the eye and increased vascular permeability. Analyses of EHRs in >2.6 million Vanderbilt subjects revealed significant comorbidity of eye and vascular diseases (relative risks 2-15); this comorbidity was confirmed in 150 million individuals from a large insurance claims dataset. Subsequent studies in >60,000 genotyped BioVU participants confirmed the association of reduced genetically predicted expression of GRIK5 with comorbid vascular and eye diseases. Our studies pioneer an approach that allows a rapid iteration of the discovery of gene-phenotype relationships to the primary genetic mechanism contributing to the pathophysiology of human disease. Our findings also add dimension to the understanding of the biology driven by glutamate receptors such as GRIK5 (also referred to as GLUK5 in protein form) and to mechanisms contributing to human eye diseases.
Copyright © 2019 American Society of Human Genetics. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Hypothalamic melanocortin neurons play a pivotal role in weight regulation. Here, we examined the contribution of Semaphorin 3 (SEMA3) signaling to the development of these circuits. In genetic studies, we found 40 rare variants in SEMA3A-G and their receptors (PLXNA1-4; NRP1-2) in 573 severely obese individuals; variants disrupted secretion and/or signaling through multiple molecular mechanisms. Rare variants in this set of genes were significantly enriched in 982 severely obese cases compared to 4,449 controls. In a zebrafish mutagenesis screen, deletion of 7 genes in this pathway led to increased somatic growth and/or adiposity demonstrating that disruption of Semaphorin 3 signaling perturbs energy homeostasis. In mice, deletion of the Neuropilin-2 receptor in Pro-opiomelanocortin neurons disrupted their projections from the arcuate to the paraventricular nucleus, reduced energy expenditure, and caused weight gain. Cumulatively, these studies demonstrate that SEMA3-mediated signaling drives the development of hypothalamic melanocortin circuits involved in energy homeostasis.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Failure to properly repair damaged due to myocardial infarction is a major cause of heart failure. In contrast with adult mammals, zebrafish hearts show remarkable regenerative capabilities after substantial damage. To characterize protein dynamics during heart regeneration, we employed an HPLC-ESI-MS/MS (mass spectrometry) approach. Myocardium tissues were taken from sham-operated fish and ventricle-resected sample at three different time points (2, 7, and 14 days); dynamics of protein expression were analyzed by an ion-current-based quantitative platform. More than 2000 protein groups were quantified in all 16 experiments. Two hundred and nine heart-regeneration-related protein groups were quantified and clustered into six time-course patterns. Functional analysis indicated that multiple molecular function and metabolic pathways were involved in heart regeneration. Interestingly, Ingenuity Pathway Analysis revealed that P53 signaling was inhibited during the heart regeneration, which was further verified by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (Q-PCR). In summary, we applied systematic proteomics analysis on regenerating zebrafish heart, uncovered the dynamics of regenerative genes expression and regulatory pathways, and provided invaluable insight into design regenerative-based strategies in human hearts.
Cytochrome P450 (P450) 17A1 catalyzes the oxidations of progesterone and pregnenolone and is the major source of androgens. The enzyme catalyzes both 17α-hydroxylation and a subsequent 17α,20-lyase reaction, and several mechanisms have been proposed for the latter step. Zebrafish P450 17A2 catalyzes only the 17α-hydroxylations. We previously reported high similarity of the crystal structures of zebrafish P450 17A1 and 17A2 and human P450 17A1. Five residues near the heme, which differed, were changed. We also crystallized this five-residue zebrafish P450 17A1 mutant, and the active site still resembled the structure in the other proteins, with some important differences. These P450 17A1 and 17A2 mutants had catalytic profiles more similar to each other than did the wildtype proteins. Docking with these structures can explain several minor products, which require multiple enzyme conformations. The 17α-hydroperoxy (OOH) derivatives of the steroids were used as oxygen surrogates. Human P450 17A1 and zebrafish P450s 17A1 and P450 17A2 readily converted these to the lyase products in the absence of other proteins or cofactors (with catalytically competent kinetics) plus hydroxylated 17α-hydroxysteroids. The 17α-OOH results indicate that a "Compound I" (FeO) intermediate is capable of formation and can be used to rationalize the products. We conclude that zebrafish P450 17A2 is capable of lyase activity with the 17α-OOH steroids because it can achieve an appropriate conformation for lyase catalysis in this system that is precluded in the conventional reaction.
Genetic mutations in the human small heat shock protein αB-crystallin have been implicated in autosomal cataracts and skeletal myopathies, including heart muscle diseases (cardiomyopathy). Although these mutations lead to modulation of their chaperone activity , the functions of αB-crystallin in the maintenance of both lens transparency and muscle integrity remain unclear. This lack of information has hindered a mechanistic understanding of these diseases. To better define the functional roles of αB-crystallin, we generated loss-of-function zebrafish mutant lines by utilizing the CRISPR/Cas9 system to specifically disrupt the two αB-crystallin genes, α and α We observed lens abnormalities in the mutant lines of both genes, and the penetrance of the lens phenotype was higher in α than α mutants. This finding is in contrast with the lack of a phenotype previously reported in αB-crystallin knock-out mice and suggests that the elevated chaperone activity of the two zebrafish orthologs is critical for lens development. Besides its key role in the lens, we uncovered another critical role for αB-crystallin in providing stress tolerance to the heart. The αB-crystallin mutants exhibited hypersusceptibility to develop pericardial edema when challenged by crowding stress or exposed to elevated cortisol stress, both of which activate glucocorticoid receptor signaling. Our work illuminates the involvement of αB-crystallin in stress tolerance of the heart presumably through the proteostasis network and reinforces the critical role of the chaperone activity of αB-crystallin in the maintenance of lens transparency.
© 2018 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.
The COPII coat complex, which mediates secretory cargo trafficking from the endoplasmic reticulum, is a key control point for subcellular protein targeting. Because misdirected proteins cannot function, protein sorting by COPII is critical for establishing and maintaining normal cell and tissue homeostasis. Indeed, mutations in COPII genes cause a range of human pathologies, including cranio-lenticulo-sutural dysplasia (CLSD), which is characterized by collagen trafficking defects, craniofacial abnormalities, and skeletal dysmorphology. Detailed knowledge of the COPII pathway is required to understand its role in normal cell physiology and to devise new treatments for disorders in which it is disrupted. However, little is known about how vertebrates dynamically regulate COPII activity in response to developmental, metabolic, or pathological cues. Several COPII proteins are modified by O-linked β-N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc), a dynamic form of intracellular protein glycosylation, but the biochemical and functional effects of these modifications remain unclear. Here, we use a combination of chemical, biochemical, cellular, and genetic approaches to demonstrate that site-specific O-GlcNAcylation of COPII proteins mediates their protein-protein interactions and modulates cargo secretion. In particular, we show that individual O-GlcNAcylation sites of SEC23A, an essential COPII component, are required for its function in human cells and vertebrate development, because mutation of these sites impairs SEC23A-dependent in vivo collagen trafficking and skeletogenesis in a zebrafish model of CLSD. Our results indicate that O-GlcNAc is a conserved and critical regulatory modification in the vertebrate COPII-dependent trafficking pathway.
While innate behaviors are conserved throughout the animal kingdom, it is unknown whether common signaling pathways regulate the development of neuronal populations mediating these behaviors in diverse organisms. Here, we demonstrate that the Wnt/ß-catenin effector Lef1 is required for the differentiation of anxiolytic hypothalamic neurons in zebrafish and mice, although the identity of Lef1-dependent genes and neurons differ between these 2 species. We further show that zebrafish and Drosophila have common Lef1-dependent gene expression in their respective neuroendocrine organs, consistent with a conserved pathway that has diverged in the mouse. Finally, orthologs of Lef1-dependent genes from both zebrafish and mouse show highly correlated hypothalamic expression in marmosets and humans, suggesting co-regulation of 2 parallel anxiolytic pathways in primates. These findings demonstrate that during evolution, a transcription factor can act through multiple mechanisms to generate a common behavioral output, and that Lef1 regulates circuit development that is fundamentally important for mediating anxiety in a wide variety of animal species.
Cranial neural crest cells are a multipotent cell population that generate all the elements of the pharyngeal cartilage with differentiation into chondrocytes tightly regulated by temporal intracellular and extracellular cues. Here, we demonstrate a novel role for miR-27, a highly enriched microRNA in the pharyngeal arches, as a positive regulator of chondrogenesis. Knock down of miR-27 led to nearly complete loss of pharyngeal cartilage by attenuating proliferation and blocking differentiation of pre-chondrogenic cells. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a key regulator in integrin-mediated extracellular matrix (ECM) adhesion and has been proposed to function as a negative regulator of chondrogenesis. We show that FAK is downregulated in the pharyngeal arches during chondrogenesis and is a direct target of miR-27. Suppressing the accumulation of FAK in miR-27 morphants partially rescued the severe pharyngeal cartilage defects observed upon knock down of miR-27. These data support a crucial role for miR-27 in promoting chondrogenic differentiation in the pharyngeal arches through regulation of FAK.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The cellular responses that occur following acute kidney injury (AKI) are complex and dynamic, involving multiple cells types and molecular pathways. For this reason, early selection of defined molecular targets for therapeutic intervention is unlikely to be effective in complex in vivo models of AKI, let alone Phase 3 clinical trials in patients with even more complex AKI pathobiology. Phenotypic screening using zebrafish provides an attractive alternative that does not require prior knowledge of molecular targets and may identify compounds that modify multiple targets that might be missed in more traditional target-based screens. In this review, we discuss results of an academic drug discovery campaign that used zebrafish as a primary screening tool to discover compounds with favorable absorption, metabolism, and toxicity that enhance repair when given late after injury in multiple models of AKI. We discuss how this screening campaign is being integrated into a more comprehensive, phenotypic, and target-based screen for lead compound optimization.
© 2017 S. Karger AG, Basel.