Sirtuin-mediated nuclear differentiation and programmed degradation in Tetrahymena

Keck Science Department of Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges, WM Keck Science Center, Claremont, CA 91711, USA.
BMC Cell Biology (Impact Factor: 2.84). 09/2011; 12:40. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2121-12-40
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The NAD(+)-dependent histone deacetylases, known as "sirtuins", participate in a variety of processes critical for single- and multi-cellular life. Recent studies have elucidated the importance of sirtuin activity in development, aging, and disease; yet, underlying mechanistic pathways are not well understood. Specific sirtuins influence chromatin structure and gene expression, but differences in their pathways as they relate to distinct chromatin functions are just beginning to emerge. To further define the range of global chromatin changes dependent on sirtuins, unique biological features of the ciliated protozoan Tetrahymena thermophila can be exploited. This system offers clear spatial and temporal separation of multiple whole genome restructuring events critical for the life cycle.
Inhibition with nicotinamide revealed that sirtuin deacetylase activity in Tetrahymena cells promotes chromatin condensation during meiotic prophase, differentiation of heterochromatin from euchromatin during development, and chromatin condensation/degradation during programmed nuclear death. We identified a class I sirtuin, called Thd14, that resides in mitochondria and nucleoli during vegetative growth, and forms a large sub-nuclear aggregate in response to prolonged cell starvation that may be peripherally associated with nucleoli. During sexual conjugation and development Thd14 selectively concentrates in the parental nucleus prior to its apoptotic-like degradation.
Sirtuin activity is important for several functionally distinct events requiring global chromatin condensation. Our findings suggest a novel role for sirtuins in promoting programmed pycnosis by acting on chromatin destined for degradation. The sirtuin Thd14, which displays physiological-dependent differential localization within the nucleus, is a candidate for a chromatin condensation enzyme that is coupled to nuclear degradation.

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    ABSTRACT: One of the most dramatic examples of nuclear morphogenesis occurs during conjugation in Tetrahymena when the micronucleus elongates to a size longer than the cell itself. After contraction to a spherical shape, the nucleus moves directly to chromosome separation in the first meiotic division. Here we investigate the consequences of interrupting the elongation process. Colchicine, a microtubule inhibitor, caused retraction of elongated structures. With time, cells began to lose their micronuclei, and by five hours more than half of the paired cells had at least one cell missing a micronucleus. After reversing the colchicine block, existing micronuclei did not undergo elongation again, nor did meiosis occur. These observations indicate that micronuclear elongation is critical to subsequent meiotic division. Further, nuclear elimination occurs, which could be due to meiotic failure or possibly a problem downstream from meiosis. An analysis of the process of colchicine-induced micronuclear degeneration indicated that it was regulated by a caspase-dependent mechanism, characteristic of apoptosis, and then resorbed by a lysosome-dependent autophagic mechanism. Amicronucleate cells failed to grow when returned to nutrient medium, likely because of a lesion in the post-conjugation reconstruction of a functioning oral apparatus. The ease by which a large number of nuclei are induced to "self-destruct" may make this system useful in investigating the link between colchicine treatment and nuclear death in Tetrahymena, and in investigating how nuclear death could be regulated in living cells more generally. Finally, we note that this phenomenon might relate to the evolution of amicronucleate species of Tetrahymena.
    04/2014; 3(5). DOI:10.1242/bio.20147708