Einat Zalckvar

Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

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Publications (8)111.98 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Genome-scale screening studies are gradually accumulating a wealth of data on the putative involvement of hundreds of genes in various cellular responses or functions. A fundamental challenge is to chart the molecular pathways that underlie these systems. ANAT is an interactive software tool, implemented as a Cytoscape plug-in, for elucidating functional networks of proteins. It encompasses a number of network inference algorithms and provides access to networks of physical associations in several organisms. In contrast to existing software tools, ANAT can be used to infer subnetworks that connect hundreds of proteins to each other or to a given set of "anchor" proteins, a fundamental step in reconstructing cellular subnetworks. The interactive component of ANAT provides an array of tools for evaluating and exploring the resulting subnetwork models and for iteratively refining them. We demonstrate the utility of ANAT by studying the crosstalk between the autophagic and apoptotic cell death modules in humans, using a network of physical interactions. Relative to published software tools, ANAT is more accurate and provides more features for comprehensive network analysis. The latest version of the software is available at http://www.cs.tau.ac.il/~bnet/ANAT_SI.
    Science Signaling 01/2011; 4(196):pl1. · 7.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Systems biology, a combined computational and experimental approach to analyzing complex biological systems, has recently been applied to understanding the pathways that regulate programmed cell death. This approach has become especially crucial because recent advances have resulted in an expanded view of the network, to include not just a single death module (apoptosis) but multiple death programs, including programmed necrosis and autophagic cell death. Current research directions in the systems biology field range from quantitative analysis of subprocesses of individual death pathways to the study of interconnectivity among the various death modules of the larger network. These initial studies have provided great advances in our understanding of programmed cell death and have important clinical implications for drug target research.
    Trends in Biochemical Sciences 10/2010; 35(10):556-64. · 13.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The mammalian cell death network comprises three distinct functional modules: apoptosis, autophagy and programmed necrosis. Currently, the field lacks systems level approaches to assess the extent to which the intermodular connectivity affects cell death performance. Here, we developed a platform that is based on single and double sets of RNAi-mediated perturbations targeting combinations of apoptotic and autophagic genes. The outcome of perturbations is measured both at the level of the overall cell death responses, using an unbiased quantitative reporter, and by assessing the molecular responses within the different functional modules. Epistatic analyses determine whether seemingly unrelated pairs of proteins are genetically linked. The initial running of this platform in etoposide-treated cells, using a few single and double perturbations, identified several levels of connectivity between apoptosis and autophagy. The knock down of caspase3 turned on a switch toward autophagic cell death, which requires Atg5 or Beclin-1. In addition, a reciprocal connection between these two autophagic genes and apoptosis was identified. By applying computational tools that are based on mining the protein-protein interaction database, a novel biochemical pathway connecting between Atg5 and caspase3 is suggested. Scaling up this platform into hundreds of perturbations potentially has a wide, general scope of applicability, and will provide the basis for future modeling of the cell death network.
    Cell death and differentiation 02/2010; 17(8):1244-53. · 8.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Beclin 1, an essential autophagic protein, is a BH3-only protein that binds Bcl-2 anti-apoptotic family members. The dissociation of Beclin 1 from the Bcl-2 inhibitors is essential for its autophagic activity, and therefore is tightly controlled. We recently revealed a novel phosphorylation-based mechanism by which death-associated protein kinase (DAPk) regulates this process. We found that DAPk phosphorylates Beclin 1 on T119, a critical residue within its BH3 domain, and thus promotes Beclin 1 dissociation from Bcl-X(L) and autophagy induction. Here we report that T119 phosphorylation also reduces the interaction between Beclin 1 and Bcl-2, in line with the high degree of structural homology between the BH3 binding pockets of Bcl-2 and Bcl-X(L) proteins. Our results reveal a new phosphorylation-based mechanism that reduces the interaction of Beclin 1 with its inhibitors to activate the autophagic machinery.
    Autophagy 08/2009; 5(5):720-2. · 12.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Genome-scale screening studies are gradually accumulating a wealth of data on the putative involvement of hundreds of genes/proteins in various cellular responses or functions. A fundamental challenge is to chart out the protein pathways that underlie these systems. Previous approaches to the problem have either employed a local optimization criterion, aiming to infer each pathway independently, or a global criterion, searching for the overall most parsimonious subnetwork. Here, we study the trade-off between the two approaches and present a new intermediary scheme that provides explicit control over it. We demonstrate its utility in the analysis of the apoptosis network in humans, and the telomere length maintenance (TLM) system in yeast. Our results show that in the majority of real-life cases, the intermediary approach provides the most plausible solutions. We use a new set of perturbation experiments measuring the role of essential genes in telomere length regulation to further study the TLM network. Surprisingly, we find that the proteasome plays an important role in telomere length regulation through its associations with transcription and DNA repair circuits.
    Molecular Systems Biology 02/2009; 5:248. · 11.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Autophagy, an evolutionarily conserved process, has functions both in cytoprotective and programmed cell death mechanisms. Beclin 1, an essential autophagic protein, was recently identified as a BH3-domain-only protein that binds to Bcl-2 anti-apoptotic family members. The dissociation of beclin 1 from its Bcl-2 inhibitors is essential for its autophagic activity, and therefore should be tightly controlled. Here, we show that death-associated protein kinase (DAPK) regulates this process. The activated form of DAPK triggers autophagy in a beclin-1-dependent manner. DAPK phosphorylates beclin 1 on Thr 119 located at a crucial position within its BH3 domain, and thus promotes the dissociation of beclin 1 from Bcl-XL and the induction of autophagy. These results reveal a substrate for DAPK that acts as one of the core proteins of the autophagic machinery, and they provide a new phosphorylation-based mechanism that reduces the interaction of beclin 1 with its inhibitors to activate the autophagic machinery.
    EMBO Reports 02/2009; 10(3):285-92. · 7.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The functional relationship between apoptosis ('self-killing') and autophagy ('self-eating') is complex in the sense that, under certain circumstances, autophagy constitutes a stress adaptation that avoids cell death (and suppresses apoptosis), whereas in other cellular settings, it constitutes an alternative cell-death pathway. Autophagy and apoptosis may be triggered by common upstream signals, and sometimes this results in combined autophagy and apoptosis; in other instances, the cell switches between the two responses in a mutually exclusive manner. On a molecular level, this means that the apoptotic and autophagic response machineries share common pathways that either link or polarize the cellular responses.
    Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology 10/2007; 8(9):741-52. · 37.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The tumor suppressor functions of p19(ARF) have been attributed to its ability to induce cell cycle arrest or apoptosis by activating p53 and regulating ribosome biogenesis. Here we describe another cellular function of p19(ARF), involving a short isoform (smARF, short mitochondrial ARF) that localizes to a Proteinase K-resistant compartment of the mitochondria. smARF is a product of internal initiation of translation at Met45, which lacks the nucleolar functional domains. The human p14(ARF) mRNA likewise produces a shorter isoform. smARF is maintained at low levels via proteasome-mediated degradation, but it increases in response to viral and cellular oncogenes. Ectopic expression of smARF reduces mitochondrial membrane potential (DeltaPsim) without causing cytochrome c release or caspase activation. The dissipation of DeltaPsim does not depend on p53 or Bcl-2 family members. smARF induces massive autophagy and caspase-independent cell death that can be partially rescued by knocking down ATG5 or Beclin-1, suggesting a different prodeath function for this short isoform.
    Molecular Cell 06/2006; 22(4):463-75. · 15.28 Impact Factor