NUP-1 Is a large coiled-coil nucleoskeletal protein in trypanosomes with lamin-like functions.

Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
PLoS Biology (Impact Factor: 12.69). 03/2012; 10(3):e1001287. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001287
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A unifying feature of eukaryotic nuclear organization is genome segregation into transcriptionally active euchromatin and transcriptionally repressed heterochromatin. In metazoa, lamin proteins preserve nuclear integrity and higher order heterochromatin organization at the nuclear periphery, but no non-metazoan lamin orthologues have been identified, despite the likely presence of nucleoskeletal elements in many lineages. This suggests a metazoan-specific origin for lamins, and therefore that distinct protein elements must compose the nucleoskeleton in other lineages. The trypanosomatids are highly divergent organisms and possess well-documented but remarkably distinct mechanisms for control of gene expression, including polycistronic transcription and trans-splicing. NUP-1 is a large protein localizing to the nuclear periphery of Trypanosoma brucei and a candidate nucleoskeletal component. We sought to determine if NUP-1 mediates heterochromatin organization and gene regulation at the nuclear periphery by examining the influence of NUP-1 knockdown on morphology, chromatin positioning, and transcription. We demonstrate that NUP-1 is essential and part of a stable network at the inner face of the trypanosome nuclear envelope, since knockdown cells have abnormally shaped nuclei with compromised structural integrity. NUP-1 knockdown also disrupts organization of nuclear pore complexes and chromosomes. Most significantly, we find that NUP-1 is required to maintain the silenced state of developmentally regulated genes at the nuclear periphery; NUP-1 knockdown results in highly specific mis-regulation of telomere-proximal silenced variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) expression sites and procyclin loci, indicating a disruption to normal chromatin organization essential to life-cycle progression. Further, NUP-1 depletion leads to increased VSG switching and therefore appears to have a role in control of antigenic variation. Thus, analogous to vertebrate lamins, NUP-1 is a major component of the nucleoskeleton with key roles in organization of the nuclear periphery, heterochromatin, and epigenetic control of developmentally regulated loci.

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    ABSTRACT: African trypanosomes survive the immune defense of their hosts by regularly changing their antigenic coat made of variant surface glycoprotein (VSG). The Trypanosoma brucei genome contains more than 1,000 VSG genes. To be expressed, a given VSG gene must be located in one of 15 telomeric regions termed "VSG expression sites" (ESs), each of which contains a polycistronic transcription unit that includes ES-associated genes. Only one ES is fully active at a time, so only one VSG gene is transcribed per cell. Although this monoallelic expression is controlled at the transcriptional level, the precise molecular mechanism for this control is not understood. Here we report that in single cells transcription is initiated on several ESs simultaneously, indicating that the monoallelic control is not determined only at transcription initiation, but also at further control steps such as transcription elongation or RNA processing.
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    ABSTRACT: The nuclear lamina is a complex protein mesh attached to the inner nuclear membrane (INM), which is also associated with nuclear pore complexes. It provides mechanical support to the nucleus and nuclear envelope, and as well as facilitating the connection of the nucleoskeleton to the cytoskeleton, it is also involved in chromatin organization, gene regulation, and signaling. In metazoans, the nuclear lamina consists of a polymeric layer of lamins and other interacting proteins responsible for its association with the INM and chromatin. In plants, field emission scanning electron microscopy of nuclei, and thin section transmission electron microscopy of isolated nucleoskeletons, reveals the lamina to have a similar structure to that of metazoans. Moreover, although plants lack lamin genes and the genes encoding most lamin-binding proteins, the main functions of the lamina are fulfilled in plants. Hence, it would appear that the plant lamina is not based on lamins and that other proteins substitute for lamins in plant cells. The nuclear matrix constituent proteins are the best characterized structural proteins in the plant lamina. Although these proteins do not display strong sequence similarity to lamins, their predicted secondary structure and sub-nuclear distribution, as well as their influence on nuclear size and shape, and on heterochromatin organization, suggest they could be functional lamin analogs. In this review we shall summarize what is currently known about the organization and composition of the plant nuclear lamina and its interacting complexes, and we will discuss the activity of this structure in the plant cell and its nucleus.
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