Molecular Bases of Disease
Hepatocyte estrogen sulfotransferase inhibition protects female mice from concanavalin A–induced T cell–mediated hepatitis independent of estrogensAutoimmune hepatitis (AIH) is a typical T cell–mediated chronic liver disease with a higher incidence in females. However, the molecular mechanism for the female predisposition is poorly understood. Estrogen sulfotransferase (Est) is a conjugating enzyme best known for its function in sulfonating and deactivating estrogens. The goal of this study is to investigate whether and how Est plays a role in the higher incidence of AIH in females. Concanavalin A (ConA) was used to induce T cell–mediated hepatitis in female mice.
Depletion of plasma thymidine results in growth retardation and mitochondrial myopathy in mice overexpressing human thymidine phosphorylasePlasma thymidine levels in rodents are higher than in other mammals including humans, possibly due to a different pattern and lower level of thymidine phosphorylase expression. Here, we generated a novel knock-in (KI) mouse line with high systemic expression of human thymidine phosphorylase to investigate this difference in nucleotide metabolism in rodents. The KI mice showed growth retardation around weaning and died by 4 weeks of age with a decrease in plasma thymidine level compared with the litter-control WT mice.
RhoA rescues cardiac senescence by regulating Parkin-mediated mitophagyHeart failure is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. RhoA, a small GTPase, governs actin dynamics in various tissue and cell types, including cardiomyocytes; however, its involvement in cardiac function has not been fully elucidated. Here, we generated cardiomyocyte-specific RhoA conditional knockout (cKO) mice, which demonstrated a significantly shorter lifespan with left ventricular dilation and severely impaired ejection fraction. We found that the cardiac tissues of the cKO mice exhibited structural disorganization with fibrosis and also exhibited enhanced senescence compared with control mice.
Cardiolipin metabolism regulates expression of muscle transcription factor MyoD1 and muscle developmentThe mitochondrial phospholipid cardiolipin (CL) is critical for numerous essential biological processes, including mitochondrial dynamics and energy metabolism. Mutations in the CL remodeling enzyme TAFAZZIN cause Barth syndrome, a life-threatening genetic disorder that results in severe physiological defects, including cardiomyopathy, skeletal myopathy, and neutropenia. To study the molecular mechanisms whereby CL deficiency leads to skeletal myopathy, we carried out transcriptomic analysis of the TAFAZZIN-knockout (TAZ-KO) mouse myoblast C2C12 cell line.
Biochemical analysis of SARS-CoV-2 Nsp13 helicase implicated in COVID-19 and factors that regulate its catalytic functionsReplication of the 30-kilobase genome of SARS-CoV-2, responsible for COVID-19, is a key step in the coronavirus life cycle that requires a set of virally encoded nonstructural proteins such as the highly conserved Nsp13 helicase. However, the features that contribute to catalytic properties of Nsp13 are not well established. Here, we biochemically characterized the purified recombinant SARS-CoV-2 Nsp13 helicase protein, focusing on its catalytic functions, nucleic acid substrate specificity, nucleotide/metal cofactor requirements, and displacement of proteins from RNA molecules proposed to be important for its proofreading role during coronavirus replication.
Differentiated embryonic chondrocyte expressed gene-1 is a central signaling component in the development of collagen-induced rheumatoid arthritisRheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the most common autoimmune diseases and affects almost 1% of the population. Differentiated embryo-chondrocyte expressed gene-1 (DEC1) has been associated with both osteogenesis and osteoclastogenesis. RA condition is marked by inflammatory hyperplasia, and DEC1 is known to support inflammatory reactions and implicated in antiapoptosis and cell invasion. Here, our goal was to test the hypothesis that DEC1 enhances RA development induced by collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), a well-recognized protocol for developing RA animal models.
A novel compound targets the feline infectious peritonitis virus nucleocapsid protein and inhibits viral replication in cell cultureFeline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a serious viral illness in cats, caused by feline coronavirus. Once a cat develops clinical FIP, the prognosis is poor. The effective treatment strategy for coronavirus infections with immunopathological complications such as SARS-CoV-2, MERS, and FIP is focused on antiviral and immunomodulatory agents to inhibit virus replication and enhance the protective immune response. In this article we report the binding and conformational alteration of feline alphacoronavirus (FCoV) nucleocapsid protein by a novel compound K31.
Increased angiotensin II coupled with decreased Adra1a expression enhances cardiac hypertrophy in pregnancy-associated hypertensive miceCardiac hypertrophy is a crucial risk factor for hypertensive disorders during pregnancy, but its progression during pregnancy remains unclear. We previously showed cardiac hypertrophy in a pregnancy-associated hypertensive (PAH) mouse model, in which an increase in angiotensin II (Ang II) levels was induced by human renin and human angiotensinogen, depending on pregnancy conditions. Here, to elucidate the factors involved in the progression of cardiac hypertrophy, we performed a comprehensive analysis of changes in gene expression in the hearts of PAH mice and compared them with those in control mice.
Loss of small GTPase Rab7 activation in prion infection negatively affects a feedback loop regulating neuronal cholesterol metabolismPrion diseases are fatal and infectious neurodegenerative diseases that occur in humans and animals. They are caused by the misfolding of the cellular prion protein PrPc into the infectious isoform PrPSc. PrPSc accumulates mostly in endolysosomal vesicles of prion-infected cells, eventually causing neurodegeneration. In response to prion infection, elevated cholesterol levels and a reduction in membrane-attached small GTPase Rab7 have been observed in neuronal cells. Here, we investigated the molecular events causing an impaired Rab7 membrane attachment and the potential mechanistic link with elevated cholesterol levels in prion infection.
A liquid-to-solid phase transition of Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase 1 initiated by oxidation and disease mutationCu/Zn superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) has a high propensity to misfold and form abnormal aggregates when it is subjected to oxidative stress or carries mutations associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. However, the transition from functional soluble SOD1 protein to aggregated SOD1 protein is not completely clear. Here, we propose that liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) represents a biophysical process that converts soluble SOD1 into aggregated SOD1. We determined that SOD1 undergoes LLPS in vitro and cells under oxidative stress.
Phosphorylation alters the mechanical stiffness of a model fragment of the dystrophin homologue utrophinDuchenne muscular dystrophy is a lethal muscle wasting disease caused by the absence of the protein dystrophin. Utrophin is a dystrophin homologue currently under investigation as a protein replacement therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Dystrophin is hypothesized to function as a molecular shock absorber that mechanically stabilizes the sarcolemma. While utrophin is homologous with dystrophin from a molecular and biochemical perspective, we have recently shown that full-length utrophin expressed in eukaryotic cells is stiffer than what has been reported for dystrophin fragments expressed in bacteria.
How T118M peripheral myelin protein 22 predisposes humans to Charcot–Marie–Tooth diseaseData from gnomAD indicate that a missense mutation encoding the T118M variation in human peripheral myelin protein 22 (PMP22) is found in roughly one of every 75 genomes of western European lineage (1:120 in the overall human population). It is unusual among PMP22 variants that cause Charcot–Marie–Tooth (CMT) disease in that it is not 100% penetrant. Here, we conducted cellular and biophysical studies to determine why T118M PMP22 predisposes humans to CMT, but with only incomplete penetrance. We found that T118M PMP22 is prone to mistraffic but differs even from the WT protein in that increased expression levels do not result in a reduction in trafficking efficiency.
An optimized Western blot assay provides a comprehensive assessment of the physiological endoproteolytic processing of the prion proteinThe prion protein (PrPC) is subjected to several conserved endoproteolytic events producing bioactive fragments that are of increasing interest for their physiological functions and their implication in the pathogenesis of prion diseases and other neurodegenerative diseases. However, systematic and comprehensive investigations on the full spectrum of PrPC proteoforms have been hampered by the lack of methods able to identify all PrPC-derived proteoforms. Building on previous knowledge of PrPC endoproteolytic processing, we thus developed an optimized Western blot assay able to obtain the maximum information about PrPC constitutive processing and the relative abundance of PrPC proteoforms in a complex biological sample.
Neurodegeneration risk factor, EIF2AK3 (PERK), influences tau protein aggregationTauopathies are neurodegenerative diseases caused by pathologic misfolded tau protein aggregation in the nervous system. Population studies implicate EIF2AK3 (eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 alpha kinase 3), better known as PERK (protein kinase R-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase), as a genetic risk factor in several tauopathies. PERK is a key regulator of intracellular proteostatic mechanisms—unfolded protein response and integrated stress response. Previous studies found that tauopathy-associated PERK variants encoded functional hypomorphs with reduced signaling in vitro.
Measurements of Na+-occluded intermediates during the catalytic cycle of the Na+/K+-ATPase provide novel insights into the mechanism of Na+ transportThe Na+/K+-ATPase is an integral plasma membrane glycoprotein of all animal cells that couples the exchange of intracellular Na+ for extracellular K+ to the hydrolysis of ATP. The asymmetric distribution of Na+ and K+ is essential for cellular life and constitutes the physical basis of a series of fundamental biological phenomena. The pumping mechanism is explained by the Albers–Post model. It involves the presence of gates alternatively exposing Na+/K+-ATPase transport sites to the intracellular and extracellular sides and includes occluded states in which both gates are simultaneously closed.
Calmodulin variant E140G associated with long QT syndrome impairs CaMKIIδ autophosphorylation and L-type calcium channel inactivationLong QT syndrome (LQTS) is a human inherited heart condition that can cause life-threatening arrhythmia including sudden cardiac death. Mutations in the ubiquitous Ca2+-sensing protein calmodulin (CaM) are associated with LQTS, but the molecular mechanism by which these mutations lead to irregular heartbeats is not fully understood. Here, we use a multidisciplinary approach including protein biophysics, structural biology, confocal imaging, and patch-clamp electrophysiology to determine the effect of the disease-associated CaM mutation E140G on CaM structure and function.
Arginine-rich C9ORF72 ALS proteins stall ribosomes in a manner distinct from a canonical ribosome-associated quality control substrateHexanucleotide expansion mutations in C9ORF72 are a frequent cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We previously reported that long arginine-rich dipeptide repeats (DPRs), mimicking abnormal proteins expressed from the hexanucleotide expansion, caused translation stalling when expressed in cell culture models. Whether this stalling provides a mechanism of pathogenicity remains to be determined. Here, we explored the molecular features of DPR-induced stalling and examined whether known mechanisms such as ribosome quality control (RQC) regulate translation elongation on sequences that encode arginine-rich DPRs.
A midposition NOTCH3 truncation in inherited cerebral small vessel disease may affect the protein interactomeMutations in NOTCH3 underlie cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL), the most common inherited cerebral small vessel disease. Two cleavages of NOTCH3 protein, at Asp80 and Asp121, were previously described in CADASIL pathological samples. Using monoclonal antibodies developed against a NOTCH3 neoepitope, we identified a third cleavage at Asp964 between an Asp-Pro sequence. We characterized the structural requirements for proteolysis at Asp964 and the vascular distribution of the cleavage event.
Mapping the KRAS proteoform landscape in colorectal cancer identifies truncated KRAS4B that decreases MAPK signalingThe KRAS gene is one of the most frequently mutated oncogenes in human cancer and gives rise to two isoforms, KRAS4A and KRAS4B. KRAS post-translational modifications (PTMs) have the potential to influence downstream signaling. However, the relationship between KRAS PTMs and oncogenic mutations remains unclear, and the extent of isoform-specific modification is unknown. Here, we present the first top–down proteomics study evaluating both KRAS4A and KRAS4B, resulting in 39 completely characterized proteoforms across colorectal cancer cell lines and primary tumor samples.
Temperature instability of a mutation at a multidomain junction in Na,K-ATPase isoform ATP1A3 (p.Arg756His) produces a fever-induced neurological syndromeATP1A3 encodes the α3 isoform of Na,K-ATPase. In the brain, it is expressed only in neurons. Human ATP1A3 mutations produce a wide spectrum of phenotypes, but particular syndromes are associated with unique substitutions. For arginine 756, at the junction of membrane and cytoplasmic domains, mutations produce encephalopathy during febrile infections. Here we tested the pathogenicity of p.Arg756His (R756H) in isogenic mammalian cells. R756H protein had sufficient transport activity to support cells when endogenous ATP1A1 was inhibited.
Lack of ApoE inhibits ADan amyloidosis in a mouse model of familial Danish dementiaThe Apolipoprotein E-ε4 allele (APOE-ε4) is the strongest genetic risk factor for late onset Alzheimer disease (AD). ApoE plays a critical role in amyloid-β (Aβ) accumulation in AD, and genetic deletion of the murine ApoE gene in mouse models results in a decrease or inhibition of Aβ deposition. The association between the presence of ApoE and amyloid in amyloidoses suggests a more general role for ApoE in the fibrillogenesis process. However, whether decreasing levels of ApoE would attenuate amyloid pathology in different amyloidoses has not been directly addressed.
Ubiquitin-specific peptidase 14 maintains estrogen receptor α stability via its deubiquitination activity in endometrial cancerUSP14 deubiquitinates ERα to maintain its stability in ECEndometrial cancer (EC) is one of the common gynecological malignancies of which the incidence has been rising for decades. It is considered that continuously unopposed estrogen exposure is the main risk factor for EC initiation. Thus, exploring the modulation of estrogen/estrogen receptor α (ERα) signaling pathway in EC would be helpful to well understand the mechanism of EC development and find the potential target for EC therapy. Ubiquitin-specific peptidase 14 (USP14), a member of the proteasome-associated deubiquitinating enzyme family, plays a crucial role in a series of tumors.
The interaction between E3 ubiquitin ligase Parkin and mitophagy receptor PHB2 links inner mitochondrial membrane ubiquitination to efficient mitophagyThe autophagic clearance of mitochondria has been defined as mitophagy, which is triggered by mitochondrial damage and serves as a major pathway for mitochondrial homeostasis and cellular quality control. PINK1 and Parkin-mediated mitophagy is the most extensively studied form of mitophagy, which has been linked to the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The current paradigm of this particular mitophagy pathway is that the ubiquitination of the outer mitochondrial membrane is the key step to enable the recognition of damaged mitochondria by the core autophagic component autophagosome.
Loss of transcription factor EB dysregulates the G1/S transition and DNA replication in mammary epithelial cellsTriple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) poses significant challenges for treatment given the lack of targeted therapies and increased probability of relapse. It is pertinent to identify vulnerabilities in TNBC and develop newer treatments. Our prior research demonstrated that transcription factor EB (TFEB) is necessary for TNBC survival by regulating DNA repair, apoptosis signaling, and the cell cycle. However, specific mechanisms by which TFEB targets DNA repair and cell cycle pathways are unclear, and whether these effects dictate TNBC survival is yet to be determined.
Suppression of amyloid-β fibril growth by drug-engineered polymorph transformationFibrillization of the protein amyloid β is assumed to trigger Alzheimer’s pathology. Approaches that target amyloid plaques, however, have garnered limited clinical success, and their failures may relate to the scarce understanding of the impact of potential drugs on the intertwined stages of fibrillization. Here, we demonstrate that bexarotene, a T-cell lymphoma medication with known antiamyloid activity both in vitro and in vivo, suppresses amyloid fibrillization by promoting an alternative fibril structure.