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    ABSTRACT: Brain-specific AP180 is present in clathrin coats at equal concentration to the adapter complex, AP2, and assembles clathrin faster than any other protein in vitro. Both AP180 and its ubiquitously expressed homolog clathrin assembly lymphoid myeloid leukemia protein (CALM) control vesicle size and shape in clathrin mediated endocytosis. The clathrin assembly role of AP180 is mediated by a long disordered C-terminal assembly domain. Within this assembly domain, a central acidic clathrin and adapter binding (CLAP) sub-domain contains all of the known short binding motifs for clathrin and AP2. The role of the remaining ∼16 kDa C-terminal sequence has not been clear. We show that this sequence has a separate function in ensuring efficient binding of clathrin, based on in vitro binding and ex vivo transferrin uptake assays. Sequence alignment suggests the C-terminal sub-domain is conserved in CALM.
    PLoS ONE 10/2014; 9(10):e110557. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0110557
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    ABSTRACT: Mechanisms that control surface expression and/or activity of large conductance calcium-activated potassium (BK) channels are important determinants of their (patho)physiological function. Indeed, BK channel dysfunction is associated with major human disorders ranging from epilepsy to hypertension and obesity. S-acylation (S-palmitoylation) represents a major reversible, post-translational modification controlling the properties and function of many proteins including ion channels. Recent evidence reveals that both pore-forming and regulatory subunits of BK channels are S-acylated and control channel trafficking and regulation by AGC-family protein kinases. The pore-forming α-subunit is S-acylated at two distinct sites within the N- and C-terminus, each site being regulated by different palmitoyl acyl transferases (zDHHCs) and acyl thioesterases (APTs). S-acylation of the N-terminus controls channel trafficking and surface expression whereas S-acylation of the C-terminal domain determines regulation of channel activity by AGC-family protein kinases. S-acylation of the regulatory β4-subunit controls ER exit and surface expression of BK channels but does not affect ion channel kinetics at the plasma membrane. Furthermore, a significant number of previously identified BK-channel interacting proteins have been shown, or are predicted to be, S-acylated. Thus, the BK channel multi-molecular signaling complex may be dynamically regulated by this fundamental post-translational modification and thus S-acylation likely represents an important determinant of BK channel physiology in health and disease.
    Frontiers in Physiology 08/2014; 5:281. DOI:10.3389/fphys.2014.00281
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    ABSTRACT: Protein S-acylation, the reversible covalent fatty-acid modification of cysteine residues, has emerged as a dynamic posttranslational modification (PTM) that controls the diversity, life cycle, and physiological function of numerous ligand- and voltage-gated ion channels. S-acylation is enzymatically mediated by a diverse family of acyltransferases (zDHHCs) and is reversed by acylthioesterases. However, for most ion channels, the dynamics and subcellular localization at which S-acylation and deacylation cycles occur are not known. S-acylation can control the two fundamental determinants of ion channel function: (1) the number of channels resident in a membrane and (2) the activity of the channel at the membrane. It controls the former by regulating channel trafficking and the latter by controlling channel kinetics and modulation by other PTMs. Ion channel function may be modulated by S-acylation of both pore-forming and regulatory subunits as well as through control of adapter, signaling, and scaffolding proteins in ion channel complexes. Importantly, cross-talk of S-acylation with other PTMs of both cysteine residues by themselves and neighboring sites of phosphorylation is an emerging concept in the control of ion channel physiology. In this review, I discuss the fundamentals of protein S-acylation and the tools available to investigate ion channel S-acylation. The mechanisms and role of S-acylation in controlling diverse stages of the ion channel life cycle and its effect on ion channel function are highlighted. Finally, I discuss future goals and challenges for the field to understand both the mechanistic basis for S-acylation control of ion channels and the functional consequence and implications for understanding the physiological function of ion channel S-acylation in health and disease.
    The Journal of General Physiology 05/2014; 143(6). DOI:10.1085/jgp.201411176
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    ABSTRACT: Interfacing neurons with silicon semiconductors is a challenge being tackled through various bioengineering approaches. Such constructs inform our understanding of neuronal coding and learning and ultimately guide us towards creating intelligent neuroprostheses. A fundamental pre-requisite is to dictate the spatial organization of neuronal cells. We sought to pattern neurons using photolithographically defined arrays of polymer parylene-C, activated with fetal calf serum. We used a purified human neuronal cell line (Lund Human Mesencaphalic, LUHMES) to establish whether neurons remain viable when isolated on-chip or whether they require a supporting cell substrate. When cultured in isolation, LUHMES neurons failed to pattern and did not show any morphological signs of differentiation. We therefore sought a cell type with which to pre-pattern parylene regions, hypothesizing that this cellular template would enable secondary neuronal adhesion and network formation. From a range of cell lines tested, HEK 293 cells patterned with highest accuracy. LUHMES neurons adhered to pre-established HEK 293 cell clusters and this co-culture environment promoted morphological differentiation of neurons. Neurites extended between islands of adherent cell somata, creating an orthogonally arranged neuronal network. HEK 293 cells appear to fulfill a role analogous to glia, dictating cell adhesion and generating an environment conducive to neuronal survival. We next replaced HEK 293 cells with slower growing glioma-derived precursors. These primary human cells patterned accurately on parylene and provided a similarly effective scaffold for neuronal adhesion. These findings advance the use of this microfabrication-compatible platform for neuronal patterning.
    Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A 05/2014; 102(5). DOI:10.1002/jbm.a.34813
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    ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a motor neuron degenerative disease characterized by a progressive, and ultimately fatal, muscle paralysis. The human VAMP-Associated Protein B (hVAPB) is the causative gene of ALS type 8. Previous studies have shown that a loss-of-function mechanism is responsible for VAPB-induced ALS. Recently, a novel mutation in hVAPB (V234I) has been identified but its pathogenic potential has not been assessed. We found that neuronal expression of the V234I mutant allele in Drosophila (DVAP-V260I) induces defects in synaptic structure and microtubule architecture that are opposite to those associated with DVAP mutants and transgenic expression of other ALS-linked alleles. Expression of DVAP-V260I also induces aggregate formation, reduced viability, wing postural defects, abnormal locomotion behavior, nuclear abnormalities, neurodegeneration and upregulation of the heat-shock-mediated stress response. Similar, albeit milder, phenotypes are associated with the overexpression of the wild-type protein. These data show that overexpressing the wild-type DVAP is sufficient to induce the disease and that DVAP-V260I is a pathogenic allele with increased wild-type activity. We propose that a combination of gain- and loss-of-function mechanisms is responsible for VAPB-induced ALS.
    Biology Open 12/2013; 3(1). DOI:10.1242/bio.20137070
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    ABSTRACT: Appropriate maintenance and regeneration of adult endocrine organs is important in both normal physiology and disease. We investigated cell proliferation, movement and differentiation in the adult mouse adrenal cortex, using different 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) labelling regimens and immunostaining for phenotypic steroidogenic cell markers. Pulse-labelling showed that cell division was largely confined to the outer cortex, with most cells moving inwards towards the medulla at around 13-20 µm per day, though a distinct labelled cell population remained in the outer 10% of the cortex. Pulse-chase-labelling coupled with phenotypic immunostaining showed that, unlike cells in the inner cortex, most BrdU-positive outer cortical cells did not express steroidogenic markers, while co-staining for BrdU and Ki67 revealed that some outer cortical BrdU-positive cells were induced to proliferate following acute adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) treatment. Extended pulse-chase-labelling identified cells in the outer cortex which retained BrdU label for up to 18-23 weeks. Together, these observations are consistent with the location of both slow-cycling stem/progenitor and transiently amplifying cell populations in the outer cortex. Understanding the relationships between these distinct adrenocortical cell populations will be crucial to clarify mechanisms underpinning adrenocortical maintenance and long-term adaptation to pathophysiological states.
    PLoS ONE 12/2013; 8(12):e81865. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0081865
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    ABSTRACT: Aversive visceral stimuli, such as those associated with sickness, suppress appetite. Yet an understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying illness-related anorexia has remained elusive. Carter et al. (2013) now identify a specific hindbrain → amygdala circuit that contributes to illness-induced loss of appetite.
    Cell metabolism 12/2013; 18(6):769-70. DOI:10.1016/j.cmet.2013.11.010
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    ABSTRACT: Low levels of survival of motor neuron (SMN) protein lead to spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). The major pathological hallmark of SMA is a loss of lower motor neurons from spinal cord and peripheral nerve. However, recent studies have revealed pathological changes in other cells and tissues of the neuromuscular system. Here, we demonstrate intrinsic, SMN-dependent defects in Schwann cells in SMA. Myelination in intercostal nerves was perturbed at early- and late-symptomatic stages of disease in two mouse models of SMA. Similarly, maturation of axo-glial interactions at paranodes was disrupted in SMA mice. In contrast, myelination of motor axons in the corticospinal tract of the spinal cord occurred normally. Schwann cells isolated from SMA mice had significantly reduced levels of SMN and failed to express key myelin proteins following differentiation, likely due to perturbations in protein translation and/or stability rather than transcriptional defects. Myelin protein expression was restored in SMA Schwann cells following transfection with an SMN construct. Co-cultures of healthy neurons with diseased Schwann cells revealed deficient myelination, suggestive of intrinsic defects in Schwann cells, as well as reduced neurite stability. Alongside myelination defects, SMA Schwann cells failed to express normal levels of key extracellular matrix proteins, including laminin α2. We conclude that Schwann cells require high levels of SMN protein for their normal development and function in vivo, with reduced levels of SMN resulting in myelination defects, delayed maturation of axo-glial interactions and abnormal composition of extracellular matrix in peripheral nerve.
    Human Molecular Genetics 12/2013; DOI:10.1093/hmg/ddt612
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    ABSTRACT: Neurons are more vulnerable to oxidative stress than astrocytes, the reasons for which have yet to be fully elucidated. Understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms which contribute to this enhanced vulnerability is key to efforts aimed at ameliorating neuronal health and resilience to oxidative stress, particularly in the context of neurodegenerative disease, which is characterized by progressive dysfunction and loss of neurons specifically, and in which oxidative stress is considered a central aetiological contributor. Biological factors which may influence neuronal susceptibility to oxidative stress, in normal and neurodegenerative contexts, are reviewed in the present article, with a focus on properties intrinsic to the neuronal cell type and on properties related to neuronal reliance on surrounding astrocytes.
    Biochemical Society Transactions 12/2013; 41(6):1541-1545. DOI:10.1042/BST20130245
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    ABSTRACT: Synaptobrevin II (sybII) is a key fusogenic molecule on synaptic vesicles (SVs) therefore the active maintenance of both its conformation and location in sufficient numbers on this organelle is critical in both mediating and sustaining neurotransmitter release. Recently three proteins have been identified having key roles in the presentation, trafficking and retrieval of sybII during the fusion and endocytosis of SVs. The nerve terminal protein α-synuclein catalyses sybII entry into SNARE complexes, whereas the monomeric adaptor protein AP180 is required for sybII retrieval during SV endocytosis. Overarching these events is the tetraspan SV protein synaptophysin, which is a major sybII interaction partner on the SV. This review will evaluate recent studies to propose working models for the control of sybII traffic by synaptophysin and other sybtraps (sybII trafficking partners) and suggest how dysfunction in sybII traffic may contribute to human disease.
    Traffic 11/2013; 15(3). DOI:10.1111/tra.12140
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