Bart Geverts

Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands

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Publications (17)86.65 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We present a Monte Carlo simulation environment for modelling complex biological molecular interaction networks and for the design, validation, and quantitative analysis of FRAP assays to study these. The program is straightforward in its implementation and can be instructed through an intuitive script language. The simulation tool fits very well in a systems biology research setting that aims to maintain an interactive cycle of experiment-driven modelling and model-driven experimentation: the model and the experiment are in the same simulation. The full program can be obtained by request to the authors.
    Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 01/2015; 1251:109-33. · 1.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Due to the tremendous progress in microscopic imaging of fluorescently labeled proteins in living cells, the insight into the highly dynamic behavior of transcription factors has rapidly increased over the past decade. However, a consistent quantitative scheme of their action is still lacking. Using the androgen receptor as a model system, we combined three different fluorescence microscopy assays: single-molecule microscopy, photobleaching and correlation spectroscopy, to provide a quantitative model of the action of this transcription factor. This approach enabled us to distinguish two types of AR-DNA binding: very brief interactions, in the order of a few hundred milliseconds, and hormone-induced longer-lasting interactions, with a characteristic binding time of several seconds. In addition, freely mobile ARs were slowed down in the presence of hormone, suggesting the formation of large AR-coregulator complexes in the nucleoplasm upon hormone activation. Our data suggest a model in which mobile, hormone-induced transcription factor-coregulator complexes probe DNA by briefly binding at random sites, and only forming relatively stable transcription initiation complexes when bound to specific recognition sequences.
    Journal of Cell Science 01/2014; · 5.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent advances in live cell imaging have provided a wealth of data on the dynamics of transcription factors. However, a consistent quantitative description of these dynamics, explaining how transcription factors find their target sequences in the vast amount of DNA inside the nucleus, is still lacking. In the present study, we have combined two quantitative imaging methods, single-molecule microscopy and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching, to determine the mobility pattern of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), two ligand-activated transcription factors. For dexamethasone-activated GR, both techniques showed that approximately half of the population is freely diffusing, while the remaining population is bound to DNA. Of this DNA-bound population about half the GRs appeared to be bound for short periods of time (∼0.7 s) and the other half for longer time periods (∼2.3 s). A similar pattern of mobility was seen for the MR activated by aldosterone. Inactive receptors (mutant or antagonist-bound receptors) show a decreased DNA binding frequency and duration, but also a higher mobility for the diffusing population. Likely, very brief (≤1 ms) interactions with DNA induced by the agonists underlie this difference in diffusion behavior. Surprisingly, different agonists also induce different mobilities of both receptors, presumably due to differences in ligand-induced conformational changes and receptor complex formation. In summary, our data provide a consistent quantitative model of the dynamics of GR and MR, indicating three types of interactions with DNA, which fit into a model in which frequent low-affinity DNA binding facilitates the search for high-affinity target sequences.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(3):e90532. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Focal adhesions (FAs) are specialized membrane associated multi-protein complexes that link the cell to the extra-cellular matrix and enable cell proliferation, survival, and motility. Despite the extensive description of the molecular composition of FAs, the complex regulation of FA dynamics is largely unclear. Here, we have applied photobleaching assays on the whole cell to allow the determination of protein dynamics in every single focal adhesion. We identified that the focal adhesion proteins FAK and paxillin exist in two different states: a diffusive cytoplasmic pool and a transiently immobile FA-bound fraction with variable residence times. Interestingly, the average residence time of both proteins increased with focal adhesion size. Moreover, increasing integrin clustering by modulating surface collagen density increased residence time of FAK but not paxillin. Finally, this approach was applied to measure FAK and paxillin dynamics using nocodazole treatment followed by washout. This revealed an opposite residence time of FAK and paxillin in maturing and disassembling FAs, which depends on the ventral and peripheral cellular position of the FAs.
    Journal of Cell Science 07/2012; · 5.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The leukemia-associated fusion protein MN1-TEL combines the transcription-activating domains of MN1 with the DNA-binding domain of the transcriptional repressor TEL. Quantitative photobleaching experiments revealed that ∼20% of GFP-tagged MN1 and TEL is transiently immobilised, likely due to indirect or direct DNA binding, since transcription inhibition abolished immobilisation. Interestingly, ∼50% of the MN1-TEL fusion protein was immobile with much longer binding times than unfused MN1 and TEL. MN1-TEL immobilisation was not observed when the TEL DNA-binding domain was disrupted, suggesting that MN1-TEL stably occupies TEL recognition sequences, preventing binding of factors required for proper transcription regulation, which may contribute to leukemogenesis.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(9):e46085. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fluorescent protein labelling, as well as impressive progress in live cell imaging have revolutionised the view on how essential nuclear functions like gene transcription regulation and DNA repair are organised. Here, we address questions like how DNA-interacting molecules find and bind their target sequences in the vast amount of DNA. In addition, we discuss methods that have been developed for quantitative analysis of data from fluorescence recovery after photobleaching experiments (FRAP).
    Chromosome Research 01/2011; 19(1):83-98. · 3.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Gene transcription in mammalian cells is a dynamic process involving regulated assembly of transcription complexes on chromatin in which the TATA-binding protein (TBP) plays a central role. Here, we investigate the dynamic behaviour of TBP by a combination of fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) and biochemical assays using human cell lines of different origin. The majority of nucleoplasmic TBP and other TFIID subunits associate with chromatin in a highly dynamic manner. TBP dynamics are regulated by the joint action of the SNF2-related BTAF1 protein and the NC2 complex. Strikingly, both BTAF1 and NC2 predominantly affect TBP dissociation rates, leaving the association rate unchanged. Chromatin immunoprecipitation shows that BTAF1 negatively regulates TBP and NC2 binding to active promoters. Our results support a model for a BTAF1-mediated release of TBP-NC2 complexes from chromatin.
    Journal of Cell Science 08/2010; 123(Pt 15):2663-71. · 5.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The androgen receptor protein has specific domains involved in DNA binding, ligand binding, and transactivation, whose activities need to be integrated during transcription activation. The hinge region, more particular a (629)RKLKK(633) motif, seems to play a crucial role in this process. Indeed, although the motif is not part of the DNA-binding domain, its positive residues are involved in optimal DNA binding and nuclear translocation as shown by mutation analysis. When the mutated ARs are forced into the nucleus, however, the residues seem to play different roles in transactivation. Moreover, we show by FRAP analysis that during activation, the AR is distributed in the nucleus in a mobile and two immobile fractions, and that mutations in the (629)RKLKK(633) motif affect the distribution of the AR over these three intranuclear fractions. Taken together, the (629)RKLKK(633) motif is a multifunctional motif that integrates nuclear localization, receptor stability, DNA binding, transactivation potential and intranuclear mobility.
    Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS 02/2010; 67(11):1919-27. · 5.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Proteins involved in chromatin-interacting processes, like gene transcription, DNA replication, and DNA repair, bind directly or indirectly to DNA, leading to their immobilisation. However, to reach their target sites in the DNA the proteins have to somehow move through the nucleus. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) has been shown to be a strong approach to study exactly these properties, i.e. mobility and (transient) immobilisation of the proteins under investigation. Here, we provide and discuss detailed protocols for some of the FRAP procedures that we have used to study protein behaviour in living cell nuclei. In addition, we provide examples of their application in the investigation of the androgen receptor (AR), a hormone-inducible transcription factor, and of two DNA-maintenance factors, the telomere binding proteins TRF1 and TRF2. We also provide protocols for qualitative FRAP analysis and a general scheme for computer modelling of the presented FRAP procedures that can be used to quantitatively analyse experimental FRAP curves.
    Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 02/2009; 464:363-85. · 1.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nucleotide excision repair (NER) is the principal pathway for counteracting cytotoxic and mutagenic effects of UV irradiation. To provide insight into the in vivo regulation of the DNA damage recognition step of global genome NER (GG-NER), we constructed cell lines expressing fluorescently tagged damaged DNA binding protein 1 (DDB1). DDB1 is a core subunit of a number of cullin 4-RING ubiquitin ligase complexes. UV-activated DDB1-DDB2-CUL4A-ROC1 ubiquitin ligase participates in the initiation of GG-NER and triggers the UV-dependent degradation of its subunit DDB2. We found that DDB1 rapidly accumulates on DNA damage sites. However, its binding to damaged DNA is not static, since DDB1 constantly dissociates from and binds to DNA lesions. DDB2, but not CUL4A, was indispensable for binding of DDB1 to DNA damage sites. The residence time of DDB1 on the damage site is independent of the main damage-recognizing protein of GG-NER, XPC, as well as of UV-induced proteolysis of DDB2. The amount of DDB1 that is temporally immobilized on damaged DNA critically depends on DDB2 levels in the cell. We propose a model in which UV-dependent degradation of DDB2 is important for the release of DDB1 from continuous association to unrepaired DNA and makes DDB1 available for its other DNA damage response functions.
    Molecular and Cellular Biology 11/2008; 28(24):7402-13. · 5.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To investigate how the nucleotide excision repair initiator XPC locates DNA damage in mammalian cell nuclei we analyzed the dynamics of GFP-tagged XPC. Photobleaching experiments showed that XPC constantly associates with and dissociates from chromatin in the absence of DNA damage. DNA-damaging agents retard the mobility of XPC, and UV damage has the most pronounced effect on the mobility of XPC-GFP. XPC exhibited a surprising distinct dynamic behavior and subnuclear distribution compared with other NER factors. Moreover, we uncovered a novel regulatory mechanism for XPC. Under unchallenged conditions, XPC is continuously exported from and imported into the nucleus, which is impeded when NER lesions are present. XPC is omnipresent in the nucleus, allowing a quick response to genotoxic stress. To avoid excessive DNA probing by the low specificity of the protein, the steady-state level in the nucleus is controlled by nucleus-cytoplasm shuttling, allowing temporally higher concentrations of XPC in the nucleus under genotoxic stress conditions.
    Journal of Cell Science 10/2008; 121(Pt 17):2850-9. · 5.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Protein ubiquitination is critical for numerous cellular functions, including DNA damage response pathways. Histones are the most abundant monoubiquitin conjugates in mammalian cells; however, the regulation and the function of monoubiquitinated H2A (uH2A) and H2B (uH2B) remain poorly understood. In particular, little is known about mammalian deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) that catalyze the removal of ubiquitin from uH2A/uH2B. Here we identify the ubiquitin-specific protease 3 USP3 as a deubiquitinating enzyme for uH2A and uH2B. USP3 dynamically associates with chromatin and deubiquitinates H2A/H2B in vivo. The ZnF-UBP domain of USP3 mediates uH2A-USP3 interaction. Functional ablation of USP3 by RNAi leads to delay of S phase progression and to accumulation of DNA breaks, with ensuing activation of DNA damage checkpoint pathways. In addition, we show that in response to ionizing radiation, (1) uH2A redistributes and colocalizes in gamma-H2AX DNA repair foci and (2) USP3 is required for full deubiquitination of ubiquitin-conjugates/uH2A and gamma-H2AX dephosphorylation. Our studies identify USP3 as a novel regulator of H2A and H2B ubiquitination, highlight its role in preventing replication stress, and suggest its involvement in the response to DNA double-strand breaks. Together, our results implicate USP3 as a novel chromatin modifier in the maintenance of genome integrity.
    Current Biology 12/2007; 17(22):1972-7. · 9.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Embryonic stem (ES) cells are able to grow indefinitely (self-renewal) and have the potential to differentiate into all adult cell types (pluripotency). The regulatory network that controls pluripotency is well characterized, whereas the molecular basis for the transition from self-renewal to the differentiation of ES cells is much less understood, although dynamic epigenetic gene silencing and chromatin compaction are clearly implicated. In this study, we report that UTF1 (undifferentiated embryonic cell transcription factor 1) is involved in ES cell differentiation. Knockdown of UTF1 in ES and carcinoma cells resulted in a substantial delay or block in differentiation. Further analysis using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching assays, subnuclear fractionations, and reporter assays revealed that UTF1 is a stably chromatin-associated transcriptional repressor protein with a dynamic behavior similar to core histones. An N-terminal Myb/SANT domain and a C-terminal domain containing a putative leucine zipper are required for these properties of UTF1. These data demonstrate that UTF1 is a strongly chromatin-associated protein involved in the initiation of ES cell differentiation.
    The Journal of Cell Biology 10/2007; 178(6):913-24. · 10.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Damage DNA binding protein 2 (DDB2) has a high affinity for UV-damaged DNA and has been implicated in the initial steps of global genome nucleotide excision repair (NER) in mammals. DDB2 binds to CUL4A and forms an E3 ubiquitin ligase. In this study, we have analyzed the properties of DDB2 and CUL4A in vivo. The majority of DDB2 and CUL4A diffuse in the nucleus with a diffusion rate consistent with a high molecular mass complex. Essentially all DDB2 binds to UV-induced DNA damage, where each molecule resides for approximately 2 minutes. After the induction of DNA damage, DDB2 is proteolytically degraded with a half-life that is two orders of magnitude larger than its residence time on a DNA lesion. This indicates that binding to damaged DNA is not the primary trigger for DDB2 breakdown. The bulk of DDB2 binds to and dissociates from DNA lesions independently of damage-recognition protein XPC. Moreover, the DDB2-containing E3 ubiquitin ligase is bound to many more damaged sites than XPC, suggesting that there is little physical interaction between the two proteins. We propose a scenario in which DDB2 prepares UV-damaged chromatin for assembly of the NER complex.
    Journal of Cell Science 09/2007; 120(Pt 15):2706-16. · 5.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To maintain genome integrity, eukaryotic cells initiate DNA replication once per cell cycle after assembling prereplicative complexes (preRCs) on chromatin at the end of mitosis and during G1. In S phase, preRCs are disassembled, precluding initiation of another round of replication. Cdt1 is a key member of the preRC and its correct regulation via proteolysis and by its inhibitor Geminin is essential to prevent premature re-replication. Using quantitative fluorescence microscopy, we study the interactions of Cdt1 with chromatin and Geminin in living cells. We find that Cdt1 exhibits dynamic interactions with chromatin throughout G1 phase and that the protein domains responsible for chromatin and Geminin interactions are separable. Contrary to existing in vitro data, we show that Cdt1 simultaneously binds Geminin and chromatin in vivo, thereby recruiting Geminin onto chromatin. We propose that dynamic Cdt1-chromatin associations and the recruitment of Geminin to chromatin provide spatio-temporal control of the licensing process.
    The EMBO Journal 04/2007; 26(5):1303-14. · 9.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The androgen receptor (AR) is a member of the steroid receptor family, a group of transcription factors that activate steroid-regulated genes. Live cell studies of several steroid receptors have shown that the mobility of the liganded receptor is strongly reduced compared to the unliganded receptor. To investigate the nature of this reduced mobility, we generated Hep3B cells stably expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP)-AR at physiological levels. Computer-aided analysis of photobleaching experiments showed that in the presence of ligand on average one out of five ARs is immobilized, each individual AR being immobile for 1-2 min. This immobilization depended on DNA binding since GFP-ARs mutated in the DNA-binding domain were not immobilized. Interestingly, a truncated AR lacking the ligand-binding domain (LBD) displayed substantially shorter immobilizations, in the order of seconds, although its transcriptional activation function was stronger. Our data suggest the LBD has a role in maintaining the stability of AR-DNA complexes.
    Journal of Structural Biology 08/2004; 147(1):50-61. · 3.36 Impact Factor
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