Natasha C Lucki

University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, United States

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Publications (11)58.28 Total impact

  • Kai Cai, Natasha C Lucki, Marion B Sewer
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    ABSTRACT: Diacylglycerol kinase theta (DGKθ) plays a pivotal role in regulating adrenocortical steroidogenesis by synthesizing the ligand for the nuclear receptor steroidogenic factor 1 (SF1). In response to activation of the cAMP signaling cascade nuclear DGK activity is rapidly increased, facilitating PA-mediated, SF1-dependent transcription of genes required for cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) biosynthesis. Based on our previous work identifying DGKθ as the enzyme that produces the agonist for SF1, we generated a tetracycline-inducible H295R stable cell line to expresses a short hairpin RNA (shRNA) against DGKθ and characterized the effect of silencing DGKθ on adrenocortical gene expression. Genome-wide DNA microarray analysis revealed that silencing DGKθ expression alters the expression of multiple genes, including steroidogenic genes, nuclear receptors and genes involved in sphingolipid, phospholipid and cholesterol metabolism. Interestingly, the expression of sterol regulatory element binding proteins (SREBPs) was also suppressed. Consistent with the suppression of SREBPs, we observed a down-regulation of multiple SREBPs target genes, including 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutary coenzyme A reductase (HMG-CoA red) and CYP51, concomitant with a decrease in cellular cholesterol. DGKθ knockdown cells exhibited a reduced capacity to metabolize PA, with a down-regulation of lipin and phospholipase D (PLD) isoforms. In contrast, suppression of DGKθ increased the expression of several genes in the sphingolipid metabolic pathway, including acid ceramidase (ASAH1) and sphingosine kinases (SPHK). In summary, these data demonstrate that DGKθ plays important role in steroid hormone production in human adrenocortical cells.
    Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 12/2013; · 4.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Diaphanous 1 (DIAPH1) is a Rho effector protein that coordinates cellular dynamics by regulating microfilament and microtubule function. We have previously shown that DIAPH1 plays an integral role in regulating the production of cortisol by controlling the rate of mitochondrial movement, whereby activation of the adrenocorticotropin (ACTH)/cAMP signaling pathway stimulates mitochondrial trafficking and promotes the interaction between RhoA and DIAPH1. In the current study we used mass spectrometry to identify DIAPH1 binding partners and found that DIAPH1 interacts with several proteins, including RhoA, dynamin-1, kinesin, β-tubulin, β-actin, OSBP (oxysterol-binding protein) related protein 2 (ORP2), and ORP10. Moreover, DIAPH1 is phosphorylated in response to dibutyryl cAMP (Bt(2)cAMP) at Thr-759 via a pathway that requires extracellular-signal related kinase (ERK). Alanine substitution of Thr-759 rendered DIAPH1 more stable and attenuated the interaction between DIAPH1 and kinesin, ORP2, and actin, but had no effect on the ability of the protein to interact with RhoA or β-tubulin. Finally, overexpression of a DIAPH1 T759A mutant significantly decreased the rate of Bt(2)cAMP-stimulated mitochondrial movement. Taken together, our findings establish a key role for phosphorylation in regulating the stability and function of DIAPH1.
    Molecular biology of the cell 01/2013; · 5.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) signaling increases glucocorticoid production by promoting the interaction of transcription factors and coactivator proteins with the promoter of steroidogenic genes. The nuclear receptor steroidogenic factor 1 (SF-1) is essential for steroidogenic gene transcription. Sphingosine (SPH) is a ligand for SF-1. Moreover, suppression of expression of acid ceramidase (ASAH1), an enzyme that produces SPH, increases the transcription of multiple steroidogenic genes. Given that SF-1 is a nuclear protein, we sought to define the molecular mechanisms by which ASAH1 regulates SF-1 function. We show that ASAH1 is localized in the nuclei of H295R adrenocortical cells and that cyclic AMP (cAMP) signaling promotes nuclear sphingolipid metabolism in an ASAH1-dependent manner. ASAH1 suppresses SF-1 activity by directly interacting with the receptor. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays revealed that ASAH1 is recruited to the promoter of various SF-1 target genes and that ASAH1 and SF-1 colocalize on the same promoter region of the CYP17A1 and steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR) genes. Taken together, these results demonstrate that ASAH1 is a novel coregulatory protein that represses SF-1 function by directly binding to the receptor on SF-1 target gene promoters and identify a key role for nuclear lipid metabolism in regulating gene transcription.
    Molecular and cellular biology 08/2012; 32(21):4419-31. · 6.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In H295R human adrenocortical cells, ACTH rapidly activates ceramide (Cer) and sphingosine (SPH) turnover with a concomitant increase in SPH-1-phosphate secretion. These bioactive lipids modulate adrenocortical steroidogenesis, primarily by acting as second messengers in the protein kinase A/cAMP-dependent pathway. Acid ceramidase (ASAH1) directly regulates the intracellular balance of Cer, SPH, and SPH-1-phosphate by catalyzing the hydrolysis of Cer into SPH. ACTH/cAMP signaling stimulates ASAH1 transcription and activity, supporting a role for this enzyme in glucocorticoid production. Here, the role of ASAH1 in regulating steroidogenic capacity was examined using a tetracycline-inducible ASAH1 short hairpin RNA H295R human adrenocortical stable cell line. We show that ASAH1 suppression increases the transcription of multiple steroidogenic genes, including Cytochrome P450 monooxygenase (CYP)17A1, CYP11B1/2, CYP21A2, steroidogenic acute regulatory protein, hormone-sensitive lipase, 18-kDa translocator protein, and the melanocortin-2 receptor. Induced gene expression positively correlated with enhanced histone H3 acetylation at target promoters. Repression of ASAH1 expression also induced the expression of members of the nuclear receptor nuclear receptor subfamily 4 (NR4A) family while concomitantly suppressing the expression of dosage-sensitive sex reversal, adrenal hypoplasia critical region, on chromosome X, gene 1. ASAH1 knockdown altered the expression of genes involved in sphingolipid metabolism and changed the cellular amounts of distinct sphingolipid species. Finally, ASAH1 silencing increased basal and cAMP-dependent cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone secretion, establishing ASAH1 as a pivotal regulator of steroidogenic capacity in the human adrenal cortex.
    Molecular Endocrinology 02/2012; 26(2):228-43. · 4.75 Impact Factor
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    Natasha C Lucki, Donghui Li, Marion B Sewer
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    ABSTRACT: In the acute phase of adrenocortical steroidogenesis, adrenocorticotrophin (ACTH) activates a cAMP/PKA-signaling pathway that promotes the transport of free cholesterol to the inner mitochondrial membrane. We have previously shown that ACTH rapidly stimulates the metabolism of sphingolipids and the secretion of sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) in H295R cells. In this study, we examined the effect of S1P on genes involved in the acute phase of steroidogenesis. We show that S1P increases the expression of steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR), 18-kDa translocator protein (TSPO), low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR), and scavenger receptor class B type I (SR-BI). S1P-induced StAR mRNA expression requires Gα(i) signaling, phospholipase C (PLC), Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent kinase II (CamKII), and ERK1/2 activation. S1P also increases intracellular Ca(2+), the phosphorylation of hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) at Ser(563), and cortisol secretion. Collectively, these findings identify multiple roles for S1P in the regulation of glucocorticoid biosynthesis.
    Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 08/2011; 348(1):165-75. · 4.04 Impact Factor
  • Natasha C Lucki, Marion B Sewer
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    ABSTRACT: Sphingolipid metabolites, such as ceramide (Cer), sphingosine (SPH), and sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), contribute to multiple aspects of carcinogenesis including cell proliferation, migration, angiogenesis, and tumor resistance. The cellular balance between Cer and S1P levels, for example, is an important determinant of cell fate, with the former inducing apoptosis and the later mitogenesis. Acid ceramidase (ASAH1) plays a pivotal role in regulating the intracellular concentration of these two metabolites by hydrolyzing Cer into SPH, which is rapidly phosphorylated to form S1P. Genistein is a phytoestrogen isoflavone that exerts agonist and antagonist effects on the proliferation of estrogen-dependent MCF-7 cells in a dose-dependent manner, primarily as a ligand for estrogen receptors. Genistein can also activate signaling through GPR30, a G-protein-coupled cell surface receptor. Based on the relationship between bioactive sphingolipids and tumorigenesis, we sought to determine the effect of genistein on ASAH1 transcription in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. We show herein that nanomolar concentrations of genistein induce ASAH1 transcription through a GPR30-dependent, pertussis toxin-sensitive pathway that requires the activation of c-Src and extracellular signal regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2). Activation of this pathway promotes histone acetylation and recruitment of phospho-estrogen receptor α and specificity protein-1 to the ASAH1 promoter, ultimately culminating in increased ceramidase activity. Finally, we show that genistein stimulates cyclin B2 expression and cell proliferation in an ASAH1-dependent manner. Collectively, these data identify a mechanism through which genistein promotes sphingolipid metabolism and support a role for ASAH1 in breast cancer cell growth.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 06/2011; 286(22):19399-409. · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • Natasha C Lucki, Marion B Sewer
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    ABSTRACT: Nuclear lipid metabolism is implicated in various processes, including transcription, splicing, and DNA repair. Sphingolipids play roles in numerous cellular functions, and an emerging body of literature has identified roles for these lipid mediators in distinct nuclear processes. Different sphingolipid species are localized in various subnuclear domains, including chromatin, the nuclear matrix, and the nuclear envelope, where sphingolipids exert specific regulatory and structural functions. Sphingomyelin, the most abundant nuclear sphingolipid, plays both structural and regulatory roles in chromatin assembly and dynamics in addition to being an integral component of the nuclear matrix. Sphingosine-1-phosphate modulates histone acetylation, sphingosine is a ligand for steroidogenic factor 1, and nuclear accumulation of ceramide has been implicated in apoptosis. Finally, nuclear membrane-associated ganglioside GM1 plays a pivotal role in Ca(2+) homeostasis. This review highlights research on the factors that control nuclear sphingolipid metabolism and summarizes the roles of these lipids in various nuclear processes.
    Annual Review of Physiology 02/2011; 74:131-51. · 19.55 Impact Factor
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    Natasha C Lucki, Marion B Sewer
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    ABSTRACT: Steroid hormones regulate various physiological processes including development, reproduction, and metabolism. These regulatory molecules are synthesized from cholesterol in endocrine organs - such as the adrenal glands and gonads - via a multi-step enzymatic process that is catalyzed by the cytochrome P450 superfamily of monooxygenases and hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases. Steroidogenesis is induced by trophic peptide hormones primarily via the activation of a cAMP/protein kinase A (PKA)-dependent pathway. However, other signaling molecules, including cytokines and growth factors, control the steroid hormone biosynthetic pathway. More recently, sphingolipids, including ceramide, sphingosine-1-phosphate, and sphingosine, have been found to modulate steroid hormone secretion at multiple levels. In this review, we provide a brief overview of the mechanisms by which sphingolipids regulate steroidogenesis. In addition, we discuss how steroid hormones control sphingolipid metabolism. Finally, we outline evidence supporting the emerging role of bioactive sphingolipids in various nuclear processes and discuss a role for nuclear sphingolipid metabolism in the control of gene transcription.
    Steroids 02/2010; 75(6):390-9. · 2.80 Impact Factor
  • Natasha Lucki, Marion B Sewer
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    ABSTRACT: Acid ceramidase (encoded by ASAH1) is a lipid hydrolase that catalyzes the conversion of ceramide (cer) into sphingosine (SPH) and a free fatty acid. Adrenocortical steroidogenesis is regulated by the trophic peptide hormone adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), which induces the expression of steroidogenic genes in the human adrenal cortex primarily via a cAMP/protein kinase A (PKA)-dependent pathway. ACTH also stimulates sphingolipid metabolism in H295R adrenocortical cells leading to changes in steroidogenic gene expression. Based on our previous data identifying SPH as an antagonist for the nuclear receptor steroidogenic factor 1 (SF-1) and the role of ACTH-stimulated changes in sphingolipid metabolism on steroidogenic gene transcription, the aim of the current study was to determine the role of ACTH signaling in regulating the expression of the ASAH1 gene in H295R cells. We show that activation of the ACTH signaling pathway induces ASAH1 gene expression by stimulating the binding of the cAMP-responsive element binding protein (CREB) to multiple regions of the ASAH1 promoter. CREB binding promotes the recruitment of the coactivators CREB binding protein (CBP) and p300 to the CREB-responsive regions of the promoter. Consistent with transcriptional activation, we show that cAMP signaling increases the trimethylation of Lys 4 on histone H3 (H3K4) along the ASAH1 promoter. Finally, RNA interference (RNAi) experiments demonstrate that CREB is indispensable for cAMP-induced ASAH1 transcription. These data identify the ACTH/cAMP signaling pathway and CREB as transcriptional regulators of the ASAH1 gene in the human adrenal cortex.
    Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 04/2009; 1791(8):706-13. · 4.66 Impact Factor
  • Natasha C Lucki, Marion B Sewer
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    ABSTRACT: Steroid hormones are essential regulators of a vast number of physiological processes. The biosynthesis of these chemical messengers occurs in specialized steroidogenic tissues via a multi-step process that is catalyzed by members of the cytochrome P450 superfamily of monooxygenases and hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases. Though numerous signaling mediators, including cytokines and growth factors control steroidogenesis, trophic peptide hormones are the primary regulators of steroid hormone production. These peptide hormones activate a cAMP/cAMP-dependent kinase (PKA) signaling pathway, however, studies have shown that crosstalk between multiple signal transduction pathways and signaling molecules modulates optimal steroidogenic capacity. Sphingolipids such as ceramide, sphingosine, sphingosine-1-phosphate, sphingomyelin, and gangliosides have been shown to control the steroid hormone biosynthetic pathway at multiple levels, including regulating steroidogenic gene expression and activity as well as acting as second messengers in signaling cascades. In this review, we provide an overview of recent studies that have investigated the role of sphingolipids in adrenal, gonadal, and neural steroidogenesis.
    Sub-cellular biochemistry 02/2008; 49:387-412.
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    ABSTRACT: Optimal levels of steroid hormone biosynthesis are assured by the integration of several regulatory mechanisms, including substrate delivery, enzymatic activity, and gene transcription. In the human adrenal cortex, optimal glucocorticoid secretion is achieved by the actions of adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), which exerts transcriptional pressure on all genes involved in steroidogenesis. One of these genes is CYP17, which encodes P450 17alpha-hydroxylase-17,20 lyase, a key enzyme in the production of cortisol and adrenal androgens. Levels of CYP17 transcription are regulated by multiple regulatory mechanisms that act to respond to various signaling cues. These cues are coordinated in a developmental, species-, and tissue-specific manner, with an additional time/circadian-dependent level of regulation. This brief review will highlight some of the signal transduction cascades and transcription factors that have been shown to modulate CYP17 gene expression in the adrenal cortex.
    Acta Chimica Slovenica 01/2008; 55(1):53-57. · 1.14 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

55 Citations
58.28 Total Impact Points


  • 2012–2013
    • University of California, San Diego
      • Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
      San Diego, CA, United States
  • 2008–2012
    • Georgia Institute of Technology
      • • School of Biology
      • • Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience
      Atlanta, GA, United States