Erhard Hohenester

Imperial College London, Londinium, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (84)474.33 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The dynamic interplay between the extracellular matrix and embryonic stem cells (ESCs) constitutes one of the key steps in understanding stem cell differentiation in vitro. Here we report a biologically-active laminin-111 fragment generated by matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP2) processing, which is highly up-regulated during differentiation. We show that the β1-chain-derived fragment interacts via α3β1-integrins, thereby triggering the down-regulation of MMP2 in mouse and human ESCs. Additionally, the expression of MMP9 and E-cadherin is up-regulated in mouse ESCs-key players in the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. We also demonstrate that the fragment acts through the α3β1-integrin/extracellular matrix metalloproteinase inducer complex. This study reveals a previously unidentified role of laminin-111 in early stem cell differentiation that goes far beyond basement membrane assembly and a mechanism by which an MMP2-cleaved laminin fragment regulates the expression of E-cadherin, MMP2, and MMP9.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2014; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The discoidin domain receptors, DDR1 and DDR2, are receptor tyrosine kinases that are activated by collagen. DDR activation does not appear to occur by the common mechanism of ligand-induced receptor dimerisation: the DDRs form stable non-covalent dimers in the absence of ligand and ligand-induced autophosphorylation of cytoplasmic tyrosines is unusually slow and sustained. Here we sought to identify functionally important dimer contacts within the extracellular region of DDR1 by using cysteine-scanning mutagenesis. Cysteine substitutions close to the transmembrane domain resulted in receptors that formed covalent dimers with high efficiency, both in the absence and presence of collagen. Enforced covalent dimerisation did not result in constitutive activation and did not affect the ability of collagen to induce receptor autophosphorylation. Cysteines further away from the transmembrane domain were also cross-linked with high efficiency, but some of these mutants could no longer be activated. Furthermore, the extracellular juxtamembrane region of DDR1 tolerated large deletions as well as insertions of flexible segments, with no adverse effect on activation. These findings indicate that the extracellular juxtamembrane region of DDR1 is exceptionally flexible and does not constrain the basal or ligand-activated state of the receptor. DDR1 transmembrane signalling thus appears to occur without conformational coupling through the juxtamembrane region, but requires specific receptor interactions further away from the cell membrane. A plausible mechanism to explain these findings is signalling by DDR1 clusters.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 03/2014; · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • Erhard Hohenester
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    ABSTRACT: The extracellular matrix critically controls cell behaviour. Many cell-matrix interactions are mediated by transmembrane receptors of the integrin family. In the last two years, the structural changes resulting from ligand binding to integrins α5β1, αvβ3 and αIIbβ3 have been mapped in unprecedented detail. The structure of integrin αXβ2 has revealed how ligand binding to the α I domain is transmitted to the rest of the ectodomain. The structural characterisation of the cytosolic regulator talin has been continued, revealing how the integrin binding site is blocked in auto-inhibited talin. Finally, structures of the discoidin domain receptors DDR1 and DDR2 have begun to reveal how these atypical receptor tyrosine kinases become activated by the major matrix component collagen.
    Current Opinion in Structural Biology 01/2014; 29:10–16. · 8.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Decorin, the prototypical small leucine-rich proteoglycan, binds to collagen and thereby regulates collagen assembly into fibrils. The crystal structure of the decorin core protein revealed a tight dimer formed by the association of two monomers via their concave faces (Scott, P. G., McEwan, P. A., Dodd, C. M., Bergmann, E. M., Bishop, P. N., and Bella, J. (2004) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101, 15633-15638). Whether decorin binds collagen as a dimer has been controversial. Using analytical ultracentrifugation, we determined a dissociation constant of 1.37 ± 0.30 μM for the mouse decorin dimer. Dimerisation could be abolished by engineering glycosylation sites into the dimer interface; other interface mutants remained dimeric. The monomeric mutants were as stable as wild-type decorin in thermal unfolding experiments. Mutations on the concave face of decorin abolished collagen binding, regardless of whether the mutant proteins retained the ability to dimerise or not. We conclude that the concave face of decorin mediates collagen binding and that the dimer therefore must dissociate in order to bind collagen.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 10/2013; · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Propofol is the most important intravenous general anesthetic in current clinical use. It acts by potentiating GABAA (γ-aminobutyric acid type A) receptors, but where it binds to this receptor is not known and has been a matter of some debate. We synthesized a new propofol analog photolabeling reagent whose biological activity is very similar to that of propofol. We confirmed that this reagent labeled known propofol binding sites in human serum albumin that have been identified using X-ray crystallography. Using a combination of protiated and deuterated versions of the reagent to label mammalian receptors in intact membranes, we identified a new binding site for propofol in GABAA receptors consisting of both β3 homopentamers and α1β3 heteropentamers. The binding site is located within the β subunit at the interface between the transmembrane domains and the extracellular domain and lies close to known determinants of anesthetic sensitivity in the transmembrane segments TM1 and TM2.
    Nature Chemical Biology 09/2013; · 12.95 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The GFOGER motif in collagens (O denotes hydroxyproline) represents a high-affinity binding site for all collagen-binding integrins. Other GxOGER motifs require integrin activation for maximal binding. The E318W mutant of the integrin α2β1 I domain displays a relaxed collagen specificity, typical of an active state. E318W binds more strongly than the wild-type α2 I domain to GMOGER, and forms a 2:1 complex with a homotrimeric, collagen-like, GFOGER peptide. Crystal structure analysis of this complex reveals two E318W I domains, A and B, bound to a single triple helix. The E318W I domains are virtually identical to the collagen-bound wild-type I domain, suggesting that the E318W mutation activates the I domain by destabilising the unligated conformation. E318W I domain A interacts with two collagen chains similarly to wild-type I domain (high-affinity mode). E318W I domain B makes favourable interactions with only one collagen chain (low-affinity mode). This observation suggests that single GxOGER motifs in the heterotrimeric collagens V and IX may support binding of activated integrins.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(7):e69833. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Alan Purvis, Erhard Hohenester
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    ABSTRACT: The polymerisation of laminins into a cell-associated network is a key process in basement membrane assembly. Network formation is mediated by the homologous short arm tips of the laminin heterotrimer, which each consist of a globular laminin N terminal (LN) domain followed by a tandem of laminin-type epidermal growth factor-like (LEa) domains. How the short arms interact in the laminin network is unclear. Here, we have addressed this question by reconstituting laminin network nodes in solution and analysing them by size exclusion chromatography and light scattering. Recombinant LN LEa1-4 fragments of the laminin α1, α2, α5, β1 and γ1 chains were monomeric in solution. The β1 and γ1 fragments formed the only detectable binary complex and ternary complexes of 1:1:1 stoichiometry with all α chain fragments. Ternary complex formation required calcium and did not occur at 4 degrees C, like the polymerisation of full-length laminins. Experiments with chimaeric short arm fragments demonstrated that the LEa2-4 regions of the β1 and γ1 fragments are dispensable for ternary complex formation and an engineered glycan in the β1 LEa1 domain was also tolerated. In contrast, mutation of Ser68 in the β1 LN domain (corresponding to a Pierson syndrome mutation in the closely related β2 chain) abolished ternary complex formation. We conclude that authentic ternary nodes of the laminin network can be reconstituted for structure-function studies.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 11/2012; · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • Federico Carafoli, Erhard Hohenester
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    ABSTRACT: The discoidin domain receptors, DDR1 and DDR2, are two closely related receptor tyrosine kinases that are activated by triple-helical collagen in a slow and sustained manner. The DDRs have important roles in embryo development and their dysregulation is associated with human diseases, such as fibrosis, arthritis and cancer. The extracellular region of DDRs consists of a collagen-binding discoidin (DS) domain and a DS-like domain. The transmembrane region mediates the ligand-independent dimerisation of DDRs and is connected to the tyrosine kinase domain by an unusually long juxtamembrane domain. The major DDR binding site in fibrillar collagens is a GVMGFO motif (O is hydroxyproline), which is recognised by an amphiphilic trench at the top of the DS domain. How collagen binding leads to DDR activation is not understood. GVMGFO-containing triple-helical peptides activate DDRs with the characteristic slow kinetics, suggesting that the supramolecular structure of collagen is not required. Activation can be blocked allosterically by monoclonal antibodies that bind to the DS-like domain. Thus, collagen most likely causes a conformational change within the DDR dimer, which may lead to the formation of larger DDR clusters. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Emerging recognition and activation mechanisms of receptor tyrosine kinases.
    Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 11/2012; · 4.66 Impact Factor
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    Erhard Hohenester, Peter D Yurchenco
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    ABSTRACT: The heterotrimeric laminins are a defining component of all basement membranes and self-assemble into a cell-associated network. The three short arms of the cross-shaped laminin molecule form the network nodes, with a strict requirement for one α, one β and one γ arm. The globular domain at the end of the long arm binds to cellular receptors, including integrins, α-dystroglycan, heparan sulfates and sulfated glycolipids. Collateral anchorage of the laminin network is provided by the proteoglycans perlecan and agrin. A second network is then formed by type IV collagen, which interacts with the laminin network through the heparan sulfate chains of perlecan and agrin and additional linkage by nidogen. This maturation of basement membranes becomes essential at later stages of embryo development.
    Cell adhesion & migration 10/2012; 7(1). · 2.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Collagenases of the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) family play major roles in morphogenesis, tissue repair, and human diseases, but how they recognize and cleave the collagen triple helix is not fully understood. Here, we report temperature-dependent binding of a catalytically inactive MMP-1 mutant (E200A) to collagen through the cooperative action of its catalytic and hemopexin domains. Contact between the two molecules was mapped by screening the Collagen Toolkit peptide library and by hydrogen/deuterium exchange. The crystal structure of MMP-1(E200A) bound to a triple-helical collagen peptide revealed extensive interactions of the 115-Å-long triple helix with both MMP-1 domains. An exosite in the hemopexin domain, which binds the leucine 10 residues C-terminal to the scissile bond, is critical for collagenolysis and represents a unique target for inhibitor development. The scissile bond is not correctly positioned for hydrolysis in the crystallized complex. A productive binding mode is readily modeled, without altering the MMP-1 structure or the exosite interactions, by axial rotation of the collagen homotrimer. Interdomain flexing of the enzyme and a localized excursion of the collagen chain closest to the active site, facilitated by thermal loosening of the substrate, may lead to the first transition state of collagenolysis.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2012; 109(31):12461-6. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The discoidin domain receptors, DDR1 and DDR2, are constitutively dimeric receptor tyrosine kinases that are activated by triple-helical collagen. Aberrant DDR signaling contributes to several human pathologies, including many cancers. We have generated monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that inhibit DDR1 signaling without interfering with collagen binding. The crystal structure of the monomeric DDR1 extracellular region bound to the Fab fragment of mAb 3E3 reveals that the collagen-binding discoidin (DS) domain is tightly associated with the following DS-like domain, which contains the epitopes of all mAbs. A conserved surface patch in the DS domain outside the collagen-binding site is shown to be required for signaling. Thus, the active conformation of the DDR1 dimer involves collagen-induced contacts between the DS domains, in addition to the previously identified association of transmembrane helices. The mAbs likely inhibit signaling by sterically blocking the extracellular association of DDR1 subunits.
    Structure 04/2012; 20(4):688-97. · 5.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The heterotrimeric laminins are a defining component of basement membranes and essential for tissue formation and function in all animals. The three short arms of the cross-shaped laminin molecule are composed of one chain each and their tips mediate the formation of a polymeric network. The structural basis for laminin polymerisation is unknown. We have determined crystal structures of the short-arm tips of the mouse laminin β1 and γ1 chains, which are grossly similar to the previously determined structure of the corresponding α5 chain region. The short-arm tips consist of a laminin N-terminal (LN) domain that is attached like the head of a flower to a rod-like stem formed by tandem laminin-type epidermal growth factor-like (LE) domains. The LN domain is a β-sandwich with elaborate loop regions that differ between chains. The γ1 LN domain uniquely contains a calcium binding site. The LE domains have little regular structure and are stabilised by cysteines that are disulphide-linked 1-3, 2-4, 5-6 and 7-8 in all chains. The LN surface is not conserved across the α, β and γ chains, but within each chain subfamily there is a striking concentration of conserved residues on one face of the β-sandwich, while the opposite face invariably is shielded by glycans. We propose that the extensive conserved patches on the β and γ LN domains mediate the binding of these two chains to each other, and that the α chain LN domain subsequently binds to the composite β-γ surface. Mutations in the laminin β2 LN domain causing Pierson syndrome are likely to impair the folding of the β2 chain or its ability to form network interactions.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(7):e42473. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Erhard Hohenester
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    ABSTRACT: The recognition of pathogen surfaces by mannan-binding lectin activates MASP proteases, leading to complement activation. A crystal structure by Gingras et al. (2011) in this issue of Structure now shows how the collagen-like stems of mannan-binding lectin bind MASP-1 through a minimalist set of interactions.
    Structure 11/2011; 19(11):1538-40. · 5.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The polymerization of laminin into a cell-associated network--a key step in basement membrane assembly--is mediated by the laminin amino-terminal (LN) domains at the tips of the three short arms of the laminin αβγ-heterotrimer. The crystal structure of a laminin α5LN-LE1-2 fragment shows that the LN domain is a β-jelly roll with several elaborate insertions that is attached like a flower head to the stalk-like laminin-type epidermal growth factor-like tandem. A surface loop that is strictly conserved in the LN domains of all α-short arms is required for stable ternary association with the β- and γ-short arms in the laminin network.
    EMBO Reports 02/2011; 12(3):276-82. · 7.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dystroglycan is a ubiquitously expressed cell adhesion protein. Its principal role has been determined as a component of the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex of muscle, where it constitutes a key component of the costameric cell adhesion system. To investigate more fundamental aspects of dystroglycan function in cell adhesion, we examined the role of dystroglycan in the dynamics and assembly of cellular adhesions in myoblasts. We show that beta-dystroglycan is recruited to adhesion structures and, based on staining for vinculin, that overexpression or depletion of dystroglycan affects both size and number of fibrillar adhesions. Knockdown of dystroglycan increases the size and number of adhesions, whereas overexpression decreases the number of adhesions. Dystroglycan knockdown or overexpression affects the ability of cells to adhere to different substrates, and has effects on cell migration that are consistent with effects on the formation of fibrillar adhesions. Using an SH3 domain proteomic screen, we identified vinexin as a binding partner for dystroglycan. Furthermore, we show that dystroglycan can interact indirectly with vinculin by binding to the vinculin-binding protein vinexin, and that this interaction has a role in dystroglycan-mediated cell adhesion and spreading. For the first time, we also demonstrate unequivocally that beta-dystroglycan is a resident of focal adhesions.
    Journal of Cell Science 01/2010; 123(Pt 1):118-27. · 5.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The discoidin domain receptors, DDR1 and DDR2, are widely expressed receptor tyrosine kinases that are activated by triple-helical collagen. They control important aspects of cell behavior and are dysregulated in several human diseases. The major DDR2-binding site in collagens I-III is a GVMGFO motif (O is hydroxyproline) that also binds the matricellular protein SPARC. We have determined the crystal structure of the discoidin domain of human DDR2 bound to a triple-helical collagen peptide. The GVMGFO motifs of two collagen chains are recognized by an amphiphilic pocket delimited by a functionally critical tryptophan residue and a buried salt bridge. Collagen binding results in structural changes of DDR2 surface loops that may be linked to the process of receptor activation. A comparison of the GVMGFO-binding sites of DDR2 and SPARC reveals a striking case of convergent evolution in collagen recognition.
    Structure 12/2009; 17(12):1573-81. · 5.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Activation of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling is initiated by a multiprotein complex formation between FGF, FGF receptor (FGFR), and heparan sulfate proteoglycan on the cell membrane. Cross-talk with other factors could affect this complex assembly and modulate the biological response of cells to FGF. We have previously demonstrated that anosmin-1, a glycosylated extracellular matrix protein, interacts with the FGFR1 signaling complex and enhances its activity in an IIIc isoform-specific and HS-dependent manner. The molecular mechanism of anosmin-1 action on FGFR1 signaling, however, remains unknown. Here, we show that anosmin-1 directly binds to FGFR1 with high affinity. This interaction involves domains in the N terminus of anosmin-1 (cysteine-rich region, whey acidic protein-like domain and the first fibronectin type III domain) and the D2-D3 extracellular domains of FGFR1. In contrast, anosmin-1 binds to FGFR2IIIc with much lower affinity and displays negligible binding to FGFR3IIIc. We also show that FGFR1-bound anosmin-1, although capable of binding to FGF2 alone, cannot bind to a FGF2.heparin complex, thus preventing FGFR1.FGF2.heparin complex formation. By contrast, heparin-bound anosmin-1 binds to pre-formed FGF2.FGFR1 complex, generating an anosmin-1.FGFR1.FGF2.heparin complex. Furthermore, a functional interaction between anosmin-1 and the FGFR1 signaling complex is demonstrated by immunofluorescence co-localization and Transwell migration assays where anosmin-1 was shown to induce opposing effects during chemotaxis of human neuronal cells. Our study provides molecular and cellular evidence for a modulatory action of anosmin-1 on FGFR1 signaling, whereby binding of anosmin-1 to FGFR1 and heparin can play a dual role in assembly and activity of the ternary FGFR1.FGF2.heparin complex.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2009; 284(43):29905-20. · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • Amyloid. 07/2009; 4(4).
  • Federico Carafoli, Naomi J Clout, Erhard Hohenester
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    ABSTRACT: Laminins are large heterotrimeric glycoproteins with many essential functions in basement membrane assembly and function. Cell adhesion to laminins is mediated by a tandem of five laminin G-like (LG) domains at the C terminus of the alpha chain. Integrin binding requires an intact LG1-3 region, as well as contributions from the coiled coil formed by the alpha, beta, and gamma chains. We have determined the crystal structure at 2.8-A resolution of the LG1-3 region of the laminin alpha2 chain (alpha 2LG1-3). The three LG domains adopt typical beta-sandwich folds, with canonical calcium binding sites in LG1 and LG2. LG2 and LG3 interact through a substantial interface, but LG1 is completely dissociated from the LG2-3 pair. We suggest that the missing gamma chain tail may be required to stabilize the interaction between LG1 and LG2-3 in the biologically active conformation. A global analysis of N-linked glycosylation sites shows that the beta-sandwich faces of LG1 are free of carbohydrate modifications in all five laminin alpha chains, suggesting that these surfaces may harbor the integrin binding site. The alpha 2LG1-3 structure provides the first atomic view of the integrin binding region of laminins.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 07/2009; 284(34):22786-92. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Protein interactions with the collagen triple helix play a critical role in collagen fibril formation, cell adhesion, and signaling. However, structural insight into sequence-specific collagen recognition is limited to an integrin-peptide complex. A GVMGFO motif in fibrillar collagens (O denotes 4-hydroxyproline) binds 3 unrelated proteins: von Willebrand factor (VWF), discoidin domain receptor 2 (DDR2), and the extracellular matrix protein SPARC/osteonectin/BM-40. We report the crystal structure at 3.2 A resolution of human SPARC bound to a triple-helical 33-residue peptide harboring the promiscuous GVMGFO motif. SPARC recognizes the GVMGFO motifs of the middle and trailing collagen chains, burying a total of 720 A(2) of solvent-accessible collagen surface. SPARC binding does not distort the canonical triple helix of the collagen peptide. In contrast, a critical loop in SPARC is substantially remodelled upon collagen binding, creating a deep pocket that accommodates the phenylalanine residue of the trailing collagen chain ("Phe pocket"). This highly restrictive specificity pocket is shared with the collagen-binding integrin I-domains but differs strikingly from the shallow collagen-binding grooves of the platelet receptor glycoprotein VI and microbial adhesins. We speculate that binding of the GVMGFO motif to VWF and DDR2 also results in structural changes and the formation of a Phe pocket.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2008; 105(47):18273-7. · 9.81 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

4k Citations
474.33 Total Impact Points


  • 1999–2014
    • Imperial College London
      • • Department of Life Sciences
      • • Division of Cell and Molecular Biology
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 1997–2009
    • Birkbeck, University of London
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2008
    • Lerner Research Institute
      Cleveland, Ohio, United States
  • 2007
    • Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
      New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States
  • 2006
    • University College London
      • Division of Medicine
      London, ENG, United Kingdom
  • 1998–2006
    • Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
      • Department of Molecular Medicine
      München, Bavaria, Germany
  • 1993–2004
    • Universität Basel
      • Department of Biophysical Chemistry
      Bâle, Basel-City, Switzerland
  • 2000
    • WWF United Kingdom
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 1996
    • University of Cologne
      • Institute of Biochemistry
      Köln, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
    • University of London
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 1994
    • Purdue University
      • Department of Chemistry
      West Lafayette, IN, United States