Nickie C Chan

University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Publications (6)25.61 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Microsporidia are a group of highly adapted obligate intracellular parasites that are now recognized as close relatives of fungi. Their adaptation to parasitism has resulted in broad and severe reduction at (i) a genomic level by extensive gene loss, gene compaction, and gene shortening; (ii) a biochemical level with the loss of much basic metabolism; and (iii) a cellular level, resulting in lost or cryptic organelles. Consistent with this trend, the mitochondrion is severely reduced, lacking ATP synthesis and other typical functions and apparently containing only a fraction of the proteins of canonical mitochondria. We have investigated the mitochondrial protein import apparatus of this reduced organelle in the microsporidian Encephalitozoon cuniculi and find evidence of reduced and modified machinery. Notably, a putative outer membrane receptor, Tom70, is reduced in length but maintains a conserved structure chiefly consisting of tetratricopeptide repeats. When expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, EcTom70 inserts with the correct topology into the outer membrane of mitochondria but is unable to complement the growth defects of Tom70-deficient yeast. We have scanned genomic data using hidden Markov models for other homologues of import machinery proteins and find evidence of severe reduction of this system.
    Eukaryotic Cell 12/2008; 8(1):19-26. DOI:10.1128/EC.00313-08 · 3.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mitochondria cannot be made de novo. Mitochondrial biogenesis requires that up to 1000 proteins are imported into mitochondria, and the protein import pathway relies on hetero-oligomeric translocase complexes in both the inner and outer mitochondrial membranes. The translocase in the outer membrane, the TOM complex, is composed of a core complex formed from the beta-barrel channel Tom40 and additional subunits each with single, alpha-helical transmembrane segments. How alpha-helical transmembrane segments might be assembled onto a transmembrane beta-barrel in the context of a membrane environment is a question of fundamental importance. The master receptor subunit of the TOM complex, Tom20, recognizes the targeting sequence on incoming mitochondrial precursor proteins, binds these protein ligands, and then transfers them to the core complex for translocation across the outer membrane. Here we show that the transmembrane segment of Tom20 contains critical residues essential for docking the Tom20 receptor into its correct environment within the TOM complex. This crucial docking reaction is catalyzed by the unique assembly factor Mim1/Tom13. Mutations in the transmembrane segment that destabilize Tom20, or deletion of Mim1, prevent Tom20 from functioning as a receptor for protein import into mitochondria.
    Journal of Molecular Biology 03/2008; 376(3):694-704. DOI:10.1016/j.jmb.2007.12.021 · 3.96 Impact Factor
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    Nickie C Chan, Trevor Lithgow
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    ABSTRACT: The sorting and assembly machinery (SAM) complex functions in the assembly of beta-barrel proteins into the mitochondrial outer membrane. It is related to the Omp85/YaeT machinery in bacterial outer membranes, but the eukaryotic SAM complex is distinguished by two peripheral subunits, Sam37 and Sam35, that sit on the cytosolic face of the complex. The function of these subunits in beta-barrel protein assembly is currently unclear. By screening a library of sam35 mutants, we show that 13 distinct alleles were each specifically suppressed by overexpression of SAM37. Two of these mutants, sam35-409 and sam35-424, show distinct phenotypes that enable us to distinguish the function of Sam35 from that of Sam37. Sam35 is required for the SAM complex to bind outer membrane substrate proteins: destabilization of Sam35 inhibits substrate binding by Sam50. Sam37 acts later than Sam35, apparently to assist release of substrates from the SAM complex. Very different environments surround bacteria and mitochondria, and we discuss the role of Sam35 and Sam37 in terms of the problems peculiar to mitochondrial protein substrates.
    Molecular biology of the cell 02/2008; 19(1):126-36. DOI:10.1091/mbc.E07-08-0796 · 5.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Saccharomyces cerevisiae basic leucine zipper transcription factor Hac1p is synthesized in response to the accumulation of unfolded polypeptides in the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), and it is responsible for up-regulation of approximately 5% of all yeast genes, including ER-resident chaperones and protein-folding catalysts. Hac1p is one of the most short-lived yeast proteins, having a half-life of approximately 1.5 min. Here, we have shown that Hac1p harbors a functional PEST degron and that degradation of Hac1p by the proteasome involves the E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme Ubc3/Cdc34p and the SCF(Cdc4) E3 complex. Consistent with the known nuclear localization of Cdc4p, rapid degradation of Hac1p requires the presence of a functional nuclear localization sequence, which we demonstrated to involve basic residues in the sequence (29)RKRAKTK(35). Two-hybrid analysis demonstrated that the PEST-dependent interaction of Hac1p with Cdc4p requires Ser146 and Ser149. Turnover of Hac1p may be dependent on transcription because it is inhibited in cell mutants lacking Srb10 kinase, a component of the SRB/mediator module of the RNA polymerase II holoenzyme. Stabilization of Hac1p by point mutation or deletion, or as the consequence of defects in components of the degradation pathway, results in increased unfolded protein response element-dependent transcription and improved cell viability under ER stress conditions.
    Molecular Biology of the Cell 03/2007; 18(2):426-40. DOI:10.1091/mbc.E06-04-0304 · 4.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In fungi and animals the translocase in the outer mitochondrial membrane (TOM complex) consists of multiple components including the receptor subunit Tom70. Genome sequence analyses suggest no Tom70 receptor subunit exists in plants or protozoans, raising questions about its ancestry, function and the importance of its activity. Here we characterise the relationships within the Tom70 family of proteins. We find that in both fungi and animals, a conserved domain structure exists within the Tom70 family, with a transmembrane segment followed by 11 tetratricopeptide repeat motifs organised in three distinct domains. The C-terminal domain of Tom70 is highly conserved, and crucial for the import of hydrophobic substrate proteins, including those with and those without N-terminal presequences. Tom70 likely arose after fungi and animals diverged from other eukaryote lineages including plants, and subsequent gene duplication gave rise to a paralogue specific to the Saccharomyces group of yeasts. In animals and in fungi, Tom70 plays a fundamental role in the import of precursor proteins, by assisting relatively hydrophobic regions of substrate proteins into the translocation channel in the outer mitochondrial membrane. Proteins that function equivalently to Tom70 may have arisen independently in plants and protists.
    Journal of Molecular Biology 06/2006; 358(4):1010-22. DOI:10.1016/j.jmb.2006.02.062 · 3.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mitochondria evolved from a bacterial endosymbiont ancestor in which the integral outer membrane proteins would have been beta-barrel structured within the plane of the membrane. Initial proteomics on the outer membrane from yeast mitochondria suggest that while most of the protein components are integral in the membrane, most of these mitochondrial proteins behave as if they have alpha-helical transmembrane domains, rather than beta-barrels. These proteins are usually predicted to have a single alpha-helical transmembrane segment at either the N- or C-terminus, however, more complex topologies are also seen. We purified the novel outer membrane protein Om14 and show it is encoded in the gene YBR230c. Protein sequencing revealed an intron is spliced from the transcript, and both transcription from the YBR230c gene and steady-state level of the Om14 protein is dramatically less in cells grown on glucose than in cells grown on nonfermentable carbon sources. Hydropathy predictions together with data from limited protease digestion show three alpha-helical transmembrane segments in Om14. The alpha-helical outer membrane proteins provide functions derived after the endosymbiotic event, and require the translocase in the outer mitochondrial membrane complex for insertion into the outer membrane.
    FEBS Journal 05/2006; 273(7):1507-15. DOI:10.1111/j.1742-4658.2006.05171.x · 3.99 Impact Factor