[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Exercise has beneficial effects on human health, including protection against metabolic disorders such as diabetes. However, the cellular mechanisms underlying these effects are incompletely understood. The lysosomal degradation pathway, autophagy, is an intracellular recycling system that functions during basal conditions in organelle and protein quality control. During stress, increased levels of autophagy permit cells to adapt to changing nutritional and energy demands through protein catabolism. Moreover, in animal models, autophagy protects against diseases such as cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, infections, inflammatory diseases, ageing and insulin resistance. Here we show that acute exercise induces autophagy in skeletal and cardiac muscle of fed mice. To investigate the role of exercise-mediated autophagy in vivo, we generated mutant mice that show normal levels of basal autophagy but are deficient in stimulus (exercise- or starvation)-induced autophagy. These mice (termed BCL2 AAA mice) contain knock-in mutations in BCL2 phosphorylation sites (Thr69Ala, Ser70Ala and Ser84Ala) that prevent stimulus-induced disruption of the BCL2-beclin-1 complex and autophagy activation. BCL2 AAA mice show decreased endurance and altered glucose metabolism during acute exercise, as well as impaired chronic exercise-mediated protection against high-fat-diet-induced glucose intolerance. Thus, exercise induces autophagy, BCL2 is a crucial regulator of exercise- (and starvation)-induced autophagy in vivo, and autophagy induction may contribute to the beneficial metabolic effects of exercise.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most intrinsic death signals converge into the activation of pro-apoptotic BCL-2 family members BAX and BAK at the mitochondria, resulting in the release of cytochrome c and apoptosome activation. Chronic endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress leads to apoptosis through the upregulation of a subset of pro-apoptotic BH3-only proteins, activating BAX and BAK at the mitochondria. Here we provide evidence indicating that the full resistance of BAX and BAK double deficient (DKO) cells to ER stress is reverted by stimulation in combination with mild serum withdrawal. Cell death under these conditions was characterized by the appearance of classical apoptosis markers, caspase-9 activation, release of cytochrome c, and was inhibited by knocking down caspase-9, but insensitive to BCL-X(L) overexpression. Similarly, the resistance of BIM and PUMA double deficient cells to ER stress was reverted by mild serum withdrawal. Surprisingly, BAX/BAK-independent cell death did not require Cyclophilin D (CypD) expression, an important regulator of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore. Our results suggest the existence of an alternative intrinsic apoptosis pathway emerging from a cross talk between the ER and the mitochondria.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(6):e37782. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The threonine endopeptidase Taspase1 has a critical role in cancer cell proliferation and apoptosis. In this study, we developed and evaluated small molecule inhibitors of Taspase1 as a new candidate class of therapeutic modalities. Genetic deletion of Taspase1 in the mouse produced no overt deficiencies, suggesting the possibility of a wide therapeutic index for use of Taspase1 inhibitors in cancers. We defined the peptidyl motifs recognized by Taspase1 and conducted a cell-based dual-fluorescent proteolytic screen of the National Cancer Institute diversity library to identify Taspase1 inhibitors (TASPIN). On the basis of secondary and tertiary screens the 4-[(4-arsonophenyl)methyl]phenyl] arsonic acid NSC48300 was determined to be the most specific active compound. Structure-activity relationship studies indicated a crucial role for the arsenic acid moiety in mediating Taspase1 inhibition. Additional fluorescence resonance energy transfer-based kinetic analysis characterized NSC48300 as a reversible, noncompetitive inhibitor of Taspase1 (K(i) = 4.22 μmol/L). In the MMTV-neu mouse model of breast cancer and the U251 xenograft model of brain cancer, NSC48300 produced effective tumor growth inhibition. Our results offer an initial preclinical proof-of-concept to develop TASPINs for cancer therapy.
Cancer Research 12/2011; 72(3):736-46. · 9.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Acute exposure to ionizing radiation can cause lethal damage to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, a condition called the GI syndrome. Whether the target cells affected by radiation to cause the GI syndrome are derived from the epithelium or endothelium and whether the target cells die by apoptosis or other mechanisms are controversial issues. Studying mouse models, we found that selective deletion of the proapoptotic genes Bak1 and Bax from the GI epithelium or from endothelial cells did not protect mice from developing the GI syndrome after sub-total-body gamma irradiation. In contrast, selective deletion of p53 from the GI epithelium, but not from endothelial cells, sensitized irradiated mice to the GI syndrome. Transgenic mice overexpressing p53 in all tissues were protected from the GI syndrome after irradiation. These results suggest that the GI syndrome is caused by the death of GI epithelial cells and that these epithelial cells die by a mechanism that is regulated by p53 but independent of apoptosis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The proapoptotic proteins BAX and BAK constitute the mitochondrial apoptotic gateway that executes cellular demise after integrating death signals. The lethal BAK is kept in check by voltage-dependent anion channel 2 (VDAC2), a mammalian-restricted VDAC isoform. Here, we provide evidence showing a critical role for the VADC2-BAK complex in determining thymocyte survival in vivo. Genetic depletion of Vdac2 in the thymus resulted in excessive cell death and hypersensitivity to diverse death stimuli including engagement of the T cell receptor. These phenotypes were completely rescued by the concurrent deletion of Bak but not that of Bax. Thus, the VDAC2-BAK axis provides a mechanism that governs the homeostasis of thymocytes. Our study reveals a sophisticated built-in rheostat that likely fine-tunes immune competence to balance autoimmunity and immunodeficiency.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The proapoptotic BCL-2 family member BAD resides in a glucokinase-containing complex that regulates glucose-driven mitochondrial respiration. Here, we present genetic evidence of a physiologic role for BAD in glucose-stimulated insulin secretion by beta cells. This novel function of BAD is specifically dependent upon the phosphorylation of its BH3 sequence, previously defined as an essential death domain. We highlight the pharmacologic relevance of phosphorylated BAD BH3 by using cell-permeable, hydrocarbon-stapled BAD BH3 helices that target glucokinase, restore glucose-driven mitochondrial respiration and correct the insulin secretory response in Bad-deficient islets. Our studies uncover an alternative target and function for the BAD BH3 domain and emphasize the therapeutic potential of phosphorylated BAD BH3 mimetics in selectively restoring beta cell function. Furthermore, we show that BAD regulates the physiologic adaptation of beta cell mass during high-fat feeding. Our findings provide genetic proof of the bifunctional activities of BAD in both beta cell survival and insulin secretion.
Nature medicine 03/2008; 14(2):144-53. · 27.14 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We investigated the mechanism by which B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS)/BAFF, a tumor necrosis factor superfamily ligand, promotes B-cell survival and resistance to atrophy. BLyS stimulation activates 2 independent signaling pathways, Akt/mTOR and Pim 2, associated with cell growth and survival. BLyS blocks the cell volume loss (atrophy) that freshly isolated B cells normally undergo when maintained in vitro while concurrently increasing glycolytic activity and overall metabolism. This atrophy resistance requires Akt/mTOR. We used a genetic approach to resolve the contributions of Akt/mTOR and Pim kinase pathways to BLyS-mediated survival. Pim 2-deficient B cells are readily protected from death by BLyS stimulation, but this protection is completely abrogated by treatment with the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin. Furthermore, rapamycin treatment in vivo significantly reduces both follicular and marginal zone B cells in Pim-deficient but not healthy hosts. BLyS-dependent survival requires the antiapoptotic protein Mcl-1. Mcl-1 protein levels rise and fall in response to BLyS addition and withdrawal, respectively, and conditional deletion of the Mcl-1 gene renders B cells refractory to BLyS-mediated protection. Because BlyS is required for the normal homeostasis of all B cells, these data suggest a therapeutic strategy simultaneously inhibiting mTOR and Pim 2 could target pathogenic B cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Soft tissue sarcomas are mesenchymal tumors that are fatal in approximately one-third of patients. To explore mechanisms of sarcoma pathogenesis, we have generated a mouse model of soft tissue sarcoma. Intramuscular delivery of an adenovirus expressing Cre recombinase in mice with conditional mutations in Kras and Trp53 was sufficient to initiate high-grade sarcomas with myofibroblastic differentiation. Like human sarcomas, these tumors show a predilection for lung rather than lymph node metastasis. Using this model, we showed that a prototype handheld imaging device can identify residual tumor during intraoperative molecular imaging. Deletion of the Ink4a-Arf locus (Cdkn2a), but not Bak1 and Bax, could substitute for mutation of Trp53 in this model. Deletion of Bak1 and Bax, however, was able to substitute for mutation of Trp53 in the development of sinonasal adenocarcinoma. Therefore, the intrinsic pathway of apoptosis seems sufficient to mediate p53 tumor suppression in an epithelial cancer, but not in this model of soft tissue sarcoma.
Nature Medicine 09/2007; 13(8):992-7. · 22.86 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cytochrome c (CYT c) is a protein that employs the caspase recruitment domain (CARD)-containing proteins APAF-1 and CASP-9 to activate effectors CASP-3 and -7. By using affinity labeling techniques and mass spectrometry analysis, we show that histone H1.2 is a regulator of caspases upon UV irradiation. We demonstrated that histone H1.2 forms a protein complex with APAF-1, CASP-9 and CYT c upon UV irradiation. In cell-free systems, we show that histone H1.2 triggers activation of CASP-3 and -7 via APAF-1 and CASP-9. We therefore conclude that upon DNA damage histone H1.2 acts as a positive regulator of apoptosome formation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The multidomain pro-apoptotic proteins BAX and BAK constitute an essential gateway to mitochondrial dysfunction and programmed cell death. Among the "BCL-2 homology (BH) 3-only" members of pro-apoptotic proteins, truncated BID (tBID) has been implicated in direct BAX activation, although an explicit molecular mechanism remains elusive. We find that BID BH3 peptide alone at submicromolar concentrations cannot activate BAX or complement BID BH3 mutant-tBID in mitochondrial and liposomal release assays. Because tBID contains structurally defined membrane association domains, we investigated whether membrane targeting of BID BH3 peptide would be sufficient to restore its pro-apoptotic activity. We developed a Ni(2+)-nitrilotriacetic acid liposomal assay system that efficiently conjugates histidine-tagged peptides to a simulated outer mitochondrial membrane surface. Strikingly, nanomolar concentrations of a synthetic BID BH3 peptide that is chemically tethered to the liposomal membrane activated BAX almost as efficiently as tBID itself. These results highlight the importance of membrane targeting of the BID BH3 domain in tBID-mediated BAX activation and support a model in which tBID engages BAX to trigger its pro-apoptotic activity.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 01/2007; 281(48):36999-7008. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BAX is a multidomain proapoptotic BCL-2 family protein that resides in the cytosol until activated by an incompletely understood trigger mechanism, which facilitates BAX translocation to mitochondria and downstream death events. Whether BAX is activated by direct contact with select BH3-only members of the BCL-2 family is highly debated. Here we detect and quantify a direct binding interaction between BAX and a hydrocarbon-stapled BID BH3 domain, which triggers the functional activation of BAX at nanomolar doses in vitro. Chemical reinforcement of BID BH3 alpha helicity was required to reveal the direct BID BH3-BAX association. We confirm the specificity of this BH3 interaction by characterizing a stapled BAD BH3 peptide that interacts with antiapoptotic BCL-X(L) but does not bind or activate BAX. We further demonstrate that membrane targeting of stapled BID BH3 optimizes its ability to activate BAX, supporting a model in which BID directly engages BAX to trigger mitochondrial apoptosis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: TSC1, encoding hamartin, and TSC2, encoding tuberin, are tumor suppressor genes responsible for the autosomal dominantly inherited disease tuberous sclerosis (TSC). TSC affects approximately 1 in 6000 individuals and is characterized by the development of tumors, named hamartomas, in different organs. Hamartin and tuberin form a complex, of which tuberin is assumed to be the functional component. The TSC proteins have been implicated in the control of cell cycle and cell size. In addition to enhanced growth, reduced death rates can lead to tumor development. Therefore, defects in the apoptosis-inducing pathways contribute to neoplastic cell expansion. Here, we show that tuberin triggers apoptosis, accompanied by downregulation of p70S6K activity and of phosphorylation of BAD on residue Ser136, and by upregulation of the interaction of BAD/BCL-2 and BAD/BCL-XL. AKT phosphorylation negatively regulates tuberin's potential to trigger apoptosis. Experiments with BAD-/- cells demonstrate BAD to be a mediator of tuberin's effects on the regulation of apoptosis. Tuberin interferes with insulin-like growth factor-1-induced BAD Ser136 phosphorylation and cell survival. Our work proposes a model in which tuberin-mediated inhibition of p70S6K activates BAD to heterodimerize with BCL-2 and BCL-XL to promote apoptosis. A mutation of TSC2--as it occurs in TSC patients--attenuates this proapoptotic potential, underscoring the relevance of our findings for human pathophysiology.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Taspase1 was identified as the threonine endopeptidase that cleaves mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) for proper Hox gene expression in vitro. To investigate its functions in vivo, we generated Taspase1(-/-) mice. Taspase1 deficiency results in noncleavage (nc) of MLL and MLL2 and homeotic transformations. Remarkably, our in vivo studies uncover an unexpected role of Taspase1 in the cell cycle. Taspase1(-/-) animals are smaller in size. Taspase1(-/-) mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) exhibit impaired proliferation, and acute deletion of Taspase1 leads to a marked reduction of thymocytes. Taspase1 deficiency incurs down-regulation of Cyclin Es, As, and Bs and up-regulation of p16(Ink4a) . We show that MLL and MLL2 directly target E2Fs for Cyclin expression. The uncleaved precursor MLL displays a reduced histone H3 methyl transferase activity in vitro. Accordingly, chromatin immunoprecipitation assays demonstrate a markedly decreased histone H3 K4 trimethylation at Cyclin E1 and E2 genes in Taspase1(-/-) cells. Furthermore, MLL(nc/nc;2nc/nc) MEFs are also impaired in proliferation. Our data are consistent with a model in which precursor MLLs, activated by Taspase1, target to Cyclins through E2Fs to methylate histone H3 at K4, leading to activation. Lastly, Taspase1(-/-) cells are resistant to oncogenic transformation, and Taspase1 is overexpressed in many cancer cell lines. Thus, Taspase1 may serve as a target for cancer therapeutics.
Genes & Development 10/2006; 20(17):2397-409. · 12.44 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The major impediment to cure for many malignancies is the development of therapy resistance with resultant tumor progression. Genetic alterations leading to subversion of inherent apoptosis pathways are common themes in therapy resistance. Bcl-2 family proteins play a critical role in regulating mitochondrial apoptosis that governs chemotherapeutic effects, and defective engagement of these pathways contributes to treatment failure. We have studied the efficacy of BH3 peptidomimetics consisting of the minimal death, or BH3, domains of the proapoptotic BH3-only proteins Bid and Bad to induce apoptosis using neuroblastoma (NB) as a model system. We demonstrate that BH3 peptides, modified with an arginine homopolymer for membrane transduction (called r8-BidBH3 and r8-BadBH3, respectively), potently induce apoptosis in NB cells, including those with MYCN amplification. Cell death is caspase 9 dependent, consistent with a requirement for the intrinsic mitochondrial pathway. Substitutions at highly conserved residues within the r8-BidBH3 peptide abolish apoptotic efficacy supporting activity through specific BH domain interactions. Concomitant exposure to r8-BadBH3 and r8-BidBH3 at sublethal monotherapy doses revealed potent synergy consistent with a competitive displacement model, whereby BH3 peptides displace sequestered BH3 proteins to induce cell death. Further, BH3 peptides demonstrate antitumor efficacy in a xenograft model of NB in the absence of additional genotoxic or trophic stressors. These data provide proof of principle that targeted re-engagement of apoptosis pathways may be of therapeutic utility, and BH3-like compounds are attractive lead agents to re-establish therapy-induced apoptosis in refractory malignancies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Anti-apoptotic activity of BCL-2 is mediated by phosphorylation at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), but how this phosphorylation is regulated and the mechanism(s) by which it regulates apoptosis are unknown. We purified macromolecular complexes containing BCL-2 from ER membranes and found that BCL-2 co-purified with the main two subunits of the serine/threonine phosphatase, PP2A. The association of endogenous PP2A and BCL-2 at the ER was verified by co-immunoprecipitation and microcystin affinity purification. Knock down or pharmacological inhibition of PP2A caused degradation of phosphorylated BCL-2 and led to an overall reduction in BCL-2 levels. We found that this degradation was due to the action of the proteasome acting selectively at the ER. Conversely, overexpression of PP2A caused elevation in endogenous BCL-2. Most importantly, we found that PP2A knock down sensitized cells to several classes of death stimuli (including ER stress), but this effect was abolished in a genetic background featuring knock in of a non-phosphorylatable BCL-2 allele. These studies support the hypothesis that PP2A-mediated dephosphorylation of BCL-2 is required to protect BCL-2 from proteasome-dependent degradation, affecting resistance to ER stress.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2006; 281(32):23003-12. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We show that the antiapoptotic proteins BCL-2, BCL-XL, MCL-1, BFL-1, and BCL-w each bear a unique pattern of interaction with a panel of peptides derived from BH3 domains of BH3-only proteins. Cellular dependence on an antiapoptotic protein for survival can be decoded based on the pattern of mitochondrial sensitivity to this peptide panel, a strategy that we call BH3 profiling. Dependence on antiapoptotic proteins correlates with sequestration of activator BH3-only proteins like BID or BIM by antiapoptotic proteins. Sensitivity to the cell-permeable BCL-2 antagonist ABT-737 is also related to priming of BCL-2 by activator BH3-only molecules. Our data allow us to distinguish a cellular state we call "primed for death," which can be determined by BH3 profiling and which correlates with dependence on antiapoptotic family members for survival.
Cancer Cell 06/2006; 9(5):351-65. · 24.76 Impact Factor