Susan Lindquist

Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

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Publications (225)3041.06 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: How disease-associated mutations impair protein activities in the context of biological networks remains mostly undetermined. Although a few renowned alleles are well characterized, functional information is missing for over 100,000 disease-associated variants. Here we functionally profile several thousand missense mutations across a spectrum of Mendelian disorders using various interaction assays. The majority of disease-associated alleles exhibit wild-type chaperone binding profiles, suggesting they preserve protein folding or stability. While common variants from healthy individuals rarely affect interactions, two-thirds of disease-associated alleles perturb protein-protein interactions, with half corresponding to "edgetic" alleles affecting only a subset of interactions while leaving most other interactions unperturbed. With transcription factors, many alleles that leave protein-protein interactions intact affect DNA binding. Different mutations in the same gene leading to different interaction profiles often result in distinct disease phenotypes. Thus disease-associated alleles that perturb distinct protein activities rather than grossly affecting folding and stability are relatively widespread. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Cell 04/2015; 161(3):647-660. DOI:10.1016/j.cell.2015.04.013 · 33.12 Impact Factor
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    01/2015; 1(1):59-72. DOI:10.1021/id5000212
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    ABSTRACT: The efficacy of hormonal therapies for advanced estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers is limited by the nearly inevitable development of acquired resistance. Efforts to block the emergence of resistance have met with limited success, largely because the mechanisms underlying it are so varied and complex. Here, we investigate a new strategy aimed at the very processes by which cancers evolve resistance. From yeast to vertebrates, heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) plays a unique role among molecular chaperones by promoting the evolution of heritable new traits. It does so by regulating the folding of a diverse portfolio of metastable client proteins, many of which mediate adaptive responses that allow organisms to adapt and thrive in the face of diverse challenges, including those posed by drugs. Guided by our previous work in pathogenic fungi, in which very modest HSP90 inhibition impairs resistance to mechanistically diverse antifungals, we examined the effect of similarly modest HSP90 inhibition on the emergence of resistance to antiestrogens in breast cancer models. Even though this degree of inhibition fell below the threshold for proteotoxic activation of the heat-shock response and had no overt anticancer activity on its own, it dramatically impaired the emergence of resistance to hormone antagonists both in cell culture and in mice. Our findings strongly support the clinical testing of combined hormone antagonist-low-level HSP90 inhibitor regimens in the treatment of metastatic estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. At a broader level, they also provide promising proof of principle for a generalizable strategy to combat the pervasive problem of rapidly emerging resistance to molecularly targeted therapeutics.
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    ABSTRACT: Structural conversion of one given protein sequence into different amyloid states, resulting in distinct phenotypes, is one of the most intriguing phenomena of protein biology. Despite great efforts the structural origin of prion diversity remains elusive, mainly because amyloids are insoluble yet noncrystalline and therefore not easily amenable to traditional structural-biology methods. We investigate two different phenotypic prion strains, weak and strong, of yeast translation termination factor Sup35 with respect to angular orientation of tyrosines using polarized light spectroscopy. By applying a combination of alignment methods the degree of fiber orientation can be assessed, which allows a relatively accurate determination of the aromatic ring angles. Surprisingly, the strains show identical average orientations of the tyrosines, which are evenly spread through the amyloid core. Small variations between the two strains are related to the local environment of a fraction of tyrosines outside the core, potentially reflecting differences in fibril packing.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2014; DOI:10.1073/pnas.1415663111 · 9.81 Impact Factor
  • Priyanka Narayan, Sepehr Ehsani, Susan Lindquist
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    ABSTRACT: The disheartening results of recent clinical trials for neurodegenerative disease (ND) therapeutics underscore the need for a more comprehensive understanding of the underlying disease biology before effective therapies can be devised. One hallmark of many NDs is a disruption in protein homeostasis. Therefore, investigating the role of protein homeostasis in these diseases is central to delineating their underlying pathobiology. Here, we review the seminal role that chemical biology has played in furthering the research on and treatment of dysfunctional protein homeostasis in NDs. We also discuss the vital and predictive role of model systems in identifying conserved homeostasis pathways and genes therein that are altered in neurodegeneration. Integrating approaches from chemical biology with the use of model systems yields a powerful toolkit with which to unravel the complexities of ND biology.
    Nature Chemical Biology 11/2014; 10(11):911-920. DOI:10.1038/nchembio.1663 · 13.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: No disease-modifying therapies are available for synucleinopathies, including Parkinson's disease (PD), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), and multiple systems atrophy (MSA). The lack of therapies has been impeded by a paucity of validated drug targets and problematic cell-based model systems. New approaches are therefore needed to identify genes and compounds that directly target the underlying cellular pathologies elicited by the pathological protein, α−synuclein (α−syn). This small, lipid-binding protein impinges on evolutionarily conserved processes such as vesicle trafficking and mitochondrial function. For decades, the genetically tractable, single-cell eukaryote, budding yeast, has been used to study nearly all aspects of cell biology. More recently, yeast has revealed key insights into the underlying cellular pathologies caused by α−syn. The robust cellular toxicity caused by α−syn expression facilitates unbiased high-throughput small-molecule screening. Critically, one must validate the discoveries made in yeast in disease-relevant neuronal models. Here, we describe two recent reports that together establish a yeast-to-human discovery platform for synucleinopathies. In this exemplar, genes and small molecules identified in yeast were validated in patient-derived neurons that present the same cellular phenotypes initially discovered in yeast. On validation, we returned to yeast, where unparalleled genetic approaches facilitated the elucidation of a small molecule's mode of action. This approach enabled the identification and neuronal validation of a previously unknown “druggable” node that interfaces with the underlying, precipitating pathologies caused by α−syn. Such platforms can provide sorely needed leads and fresh ideas for disease-modifying therapy for these devastating diseases. © 2014 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society
    Movement Disorders 09/2014; 29(10). DOI:10.1002/mds.25989 · 5.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In experimental science, organisms are usually studied in isolation, but in the wild, they compete and cooperate in complex communities. We report a system for cross-kingdom communication by which bacteria heritably transform yeast metabolism. An ancient biological circuit blocks yeast from using other carbon sources in the presence of glucose. [ GAR <sup>+</sup>], a protein-based epigenetic element, allows yeast to circumvent this textquotedblleftglucose repressiontextquotedblright and use multiple carbon sources in the presence of glucose. Some bacteria secrete a chemical factor that induces [ GAR <sup>+</sup>]. [ GAR <sup>+</sup>] is advantageous to bacteria because yeast cells make less ethanol and is advantageous to yeast because their growth and long-term viability is improved in complex carbon sources. This cross-kingdom communication is broadly conserved, providing a compelling argument for its adaptive value. By heritably transforming growth and survival strategies in response to the selective pressures of life in a biological community, [ GAR <sup>+</sup>] presents a unique example of Lamarckian inheritance.
    Cell 08/2014; 158:1083-1093. DOI:10.1016/j.cell.2014.07.025 · 33.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Jarosz and Lancaster are co-first authors [ GAR <sup>+</sup>] is a protein-based element of inheritance that allows yeast ( Saccharomyces cerevisiae ) to circumvent a hallmark of their biology: extreme metabolic specialization for glucose fermentation. When glucose is present, yeast will not use other carbon sources. [ GAR <sup>+</sup>] allows cells to circumvent this textquotedblleftglucose repression.textquotedblright [ GAR <sup>+</sup>] is induced in yeast by a factor secreted by bacteria inhabiting their environment. We report that de novo rates of [ GAR <sup>+</sup>] appearance correlate with the yeasttextquoterights ecological niche. Evolutionarily distant fungi possess similar epigenetic elements that are also induced by bacteria. As expected for a mechanism whose adaptive value originates from the selective pressures of life in biological communities, the ability of bacteria to induce [ GAR <sup>+</sup>] and the ability of yeast to respond to bacterial signals have been extinguished repeatedly during the extended monoculture of domestication. Thus, [ GAR <sup>+</sup>] is a broadly conserved adaptive strategy that links environmental and social cues to heritable changes in metabolism.
    Cell 08/2014; 158:1072-1082. DOI:10.1016/j.cell.2014.07.024 · 33.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Calcineurin (CN) is a highly conserved Ca(2+)-calmodulin (CaM)-dependent phosphatase that senses Ca(2+) concentrations and transduces that information into cellular responses. Ca(2+) homeostasis is disrupted by α-synuclein (α-syn), a small lipid binding protein whose misfolding and accumulation is a pathological hallmark of several neurodegenerative diseases. We report that α-syn, from yeast to neurons, leads to sustained highly elevated levels of cytoplasmic Ca(2+), thereby activating a CaM-CN cascade that engages substrates that result in toxicity. Surprisingly, complete inhibition of CN also results in toxicity. Limiting the availability of CaM shifts CN's spectrum of substrates toward protective pathways. Modulating CN or CN's substrates with highly selective genetic and pharmacological tools (FK506) does the same. FK506 crosses the blood brain barrier, is well tolerated in humans, and is active in neurons and glia. Thus, a tunable response to CN, which has been conserved for a billion years, can be targeted to rebalance the phosphatase's activities from toxic toward beneficial substrates. These findings have immediate therapeutic implications for synucleinopathies.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2014; 111(34). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1413201111 · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Expansions of preexisting polyglutamine (polyQ) tracts in at least nine different proteins cause devastating neurodegenerative diseases. There are many unique features to these pathologies, but there must also be unifying mechanisms underlying polyQ toxicity. Using a polyQ-expanded fragment of huntingtin exon-1 (Htt103Q), the causal protein in Huntington disease, we and others have created tractable models for investigating polyQ toxicity in yeast cells. These models recapitulate key pathological features of human diseases and provide access to an unrivalled genetic toolbox. To identify toxicity modifiers, we performed an unbiased overexpression screen of virtually every protein encoded by the yeast genome. Surprisingly, there was no overlap between our modifiers and those from a conceptually identical screen reported recently, a discrepancy we attribute to an artifact of their overexpression plasmid. The suppressors of Htt103Q toxicity recovered in our screen were strongly enriched for glutamine- and asparagine-rich prion-like proteins. Separated from the rest of the protein, the prion-like sequences of these proteins were themselves potent suppressors of polyQ-expanded huntingtin exon-1 toxicity, in both yeast and human cells. Replacing the glutamines in these sequences with asparagines abolished suppression and converted them to enhancers of toxicity. Replacing asparagines with glutamines created stronger suppressors. The suppressors (but not the enhancers) coaggregated with Htt103Q, forming large foci at the insoluble protein deposit in which proteins were highly immobile. Cells possessing foci had fewer (if any) small diffusible oligomers of Htt103Q. Until such foci were lost, cells were protected from death. We discuss the therapeutic implications of these findings.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2014; 111(33). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1412504111 · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Stromal cells within the tumor microenvironment are essential for tumor progression and metastasis. Surprisingly little is known about the factors that drive the transcriptional reprogramming of stromal cells within tumors. We report that the transcriptional regulator heat shock factor 1 (HSF1) is frequently activated in cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), where it is a potent enabler of malignancy. HSF1 drives a transcriptional program in CAFs that complements, yet is completely different from, the program it drives in adjacent cancer cells. This CAF program is uniquely structured to support malignancy in a non-cell-autonomous way. Two central stromal signaling molecules-TGF-β and SDF1-play a critical role. In early-stage breast and lung cancer, high stromal HSF1 activation is strongly associated with poor patient outcome. Thus, tumors co-opt the ancient survival functions of HSF1 to orchestrate malignancy in both cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous ways, with far-reaching therapeutic implications.
    Cell 07/2014; 158(3):564-78. DOI:10.1016/j.cell.2014.05.045 · 33.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chaperones are abundant cellular proteins that promote the folding and function of their substrate proteins (clients). In vivo, chaperones also associate with a large and diverse set of cofactors (cochaperones) that regulate their specificity and function. However, how these cochaperones regulate protein folding and whether they have chaperone-independent biological functions is largely unknown. We combined mass spectrometry and quantitative high-throughput LUMIER assays to systematically characterize the chaperone-cochaperone-client interaction network in human cells. We uncover hundreds of chaperone clients, delineate their participation in specific cochaperone complexes, and establish a surprisingly distinct network of protein-protein interactions for cochaperones. As a salient example of the power of such analysis, we establish that NUDC family cochaperones specifically associate with structurally related but evolutionarily distinct β-propeller folds. We provide a framework for deciphering the proteostasis network and its regulation in development and disease and expand the use of chaperones as sensors for drug-target engagement.
    Cell 07/2014; 158(2):434–448. DOI:10.1016/j.cell.2014.05.039 · 33.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: During heat shock and other proteotoxic stresses, cells regulate multiple steps in gene expression in order to globally repress protein synthesis and selectively upregulate stress response proteins. Splicing of several mRNAs is known to be inhibited during heat stress, often meditated by SRp38, but the extent and specificity of this effect have remained unclear. Here, we examined splicing regulation genome-wide during heat shock in mouse fibroblasts. We observed widespread retention of introns in transcripts from ∼1,700 genes, which were enriched for tRNA synthetase, nuclear pore, and spliceosome functions. Transcripts with retained introns were largely nuclear and untranslated. However, a group of 580+ genes biased for oxidation reduction and protein folding functions continued to be efficiently spliced. Interestingly, these unaffected transcripts are mostly cotranscriptionally spliced under both normal and stress conditions, whereas splicing-inhibited transcripts are mostly spliced posttranscriptionally. Altogether, our data demonstrate widespread repression of splicing in the mammalian heat stress response, disproportionately affecting posttranscriptionally spliced genes.
    Cell Reports 05/2014; 7(5). DOI:10.1016/j.celrep.2014.04.044 · 7.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Prions are self-templating protein aggregates that stably perpetuate distinct biological states and are of keen interest to researchers in both evolutionary and biomedical science. The best understood prions are from yeast and have a prion-forming domain with strongly biased amino acid composition, most notably enriched for Q or N. PLAAC is a web application that scans protein sequences for domains with P: rion-L: ike A: mino A: cid C: omposition. Users can upload sequence files, or paste sequences directly into a textbox. PLAAC ranks the input sequences by several summary scores and allows scores along sequences to be visualized. Text output files can be downloaded for further analyses, and visualizations saved in PDF and PNG formats. Availability and Implementation: The Ruby-based web framework, and the command-line software (implemented in Java, with visualization routines in R) are available at: under the MIT license. All software can be run under OS X, Windows, and Unix.,
    Bioinformatics 05/2014; 30(17). DOI:10.1093/bioinformatics/btu310 · 4.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cell signaling, one of key processes in both normal cellular function and disease, is coordinated by numerous interactions between membrane proteins that change in response to stimuli. We present a split ubiquitin-based method for detection of integral membrane protein-protein interactions (PPIs) in human cells, termed mammalian-membrane two-hybrid assay (MaMTH). We show that this technology detects stimulus (hormone or agonist)-dependent and phosphorylation-dependent PPIs. MaMTH can detect changes in PPIs conferred by mutations such as those in oncogenic ErbB receptor variants or by treatment with drugs such as the tyrosine kinase inhibitor erlotinib. Using MaMTH as a screening assay, we identified CRKII as an interactor of oncogenic EGFR(L858R) and showed that CRKII promotes persistent activation of aberrant signaling in non-small cell lung cancer cells. MaMTH is a powerful tool for investigating the dynamic interactomes of human integral membrane proteins.
    Nature Methods 03/2014; DOI:10.1038/nmeth.2895 · 25.95 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To understand the relationship of structure to the remarkably diverse bioactivities reported for withanolides, we obtained withaferin A (WA; 1) and 36 analogues (2-37), and compared their cytotoxicity to cytoprotective heat shock-inducing activity (HSA). Analyzing structure-activity relationships for the series, we found that the ring A enone is essential for both bioactivities. Acetylation of 27-OH of 4-epi-WA (28) to 33 enhanced, while introduction of β-OH to WA at C-12 (29) and C-15 (30) decreased both activities. Introduction of β-OAc to 4,27-diacetyl-WA (16) at C-15 (37) decreased HSA without affecting cytotoxicity, but at C-12 (36) it had minimal effect. Importantly, acetylation of 27-OH yielding 15 from 1, 16 from 14, and 35 from 34 enhanced HSA without increasing cytotoxicity. Our findings demonstrate that the withanolide scaffold can be modified to selectively enhance HSA, thereby assisting development of natural product-inspired drugs to combat protein aggregation-associated diseases by stimulating cellular defense mechanisms.
    Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 03/2014; 57(7). DOI:10.1021/jm401279n · 5.48 Impact Factor
  • ACS Chemical Biology 03/2014; 9(4). DOI:10.1021/cb5000339 · 5.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a common, progressive neurodegenerative disorder without effective disease-modifying therapies. The accumulation of amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) is associated with AD. However, identifying new compounds that antagonize the underlying cellular pathologies caused by Aβ has been hindered by a lack of cellular models amenable to high-throughput chemical screening. To address this gap, we use a robust and scalable yeast model of Aβ toxicity where the Aβ peptide transits through the secretory and endocytic compartments as it does in neurons. The pathogenic Aβ 1-42 peptide forms more oligomers and is more toxic than Aβ 1-40 and genome-wide genetic screens identified genes that are known risk factors for AD. Here, we report an unbiased screen of ∼140,000 compounds for rescue of Aβ toxicity. Of ∼30 hits, several were 8-hydroxyquinolines (8-OHQs). Clioquinol (CQ), an 8-OHQ previously reported to reduce Aβ burden, restore metal homeostasis, and improve cognition in mouse AD models, was also effective and rescued the toxicity of Aβ secreted from glutamatergic neurons in Caenorhabditis elegans. In yeast, CQ dramatically reduced Aβ peptide levels in a copper-dependent manner by increasing degradation, ultimately restoring endocytic function. This mirrored its effects on copper-dependent oligomer formation in vitro, which was also reversed by CQ. This unbiased screen indicates that copper-dependent Aβ oligomer formation contributes to Aβ toxicity within the secretory/endosomal pathways where it can be targeted with selective metal binding compounds. Establishing the ability of the Aβ yeast model to identify disease-relevant compounds supports its further exploitation as a validated early discovery platform.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2014; DOI:10.1073/pnas.1402228111 · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Synucleinopathies are neurodegenerative diseases associated with toxicity of the lipid-binding protein α-synuclein (α-syn). When expressed in yeast, α-syn associates with membranes at the endoplasmic reticulum and traffics with vesicles out to the plasma membrane. At higher levels it elicits a number of phenotypes, including blocking vesicle trafficking. The expression of α-syn splice isoforms varies with disease, but how these isoforms affect protein function is unknown. We investigated two of the most abundant isoforms, resulting in deletion of exon four (α-synΔ4) or exon six (α-synΔ6). α-SynΔ4, missing part of the lipid-binding domain, had reduced toxicity and membrane binding. α-SynΔ6, missing part of the protein-protein interaction domain, had reduced toxicity but no reduction in membrane binding. To compare the mechanism by which the splice isoforms exert toxicity, equally toxic strains were probed with genetic modifiers of α-syn-induced toxicity. Most modifiers equally altered the toxicity induced by the splice isoforms and full-length α-syn (α-synFL). However, the splice isoform strains responded differently to a sterol-binding protein, leading us to examine the effect of sterols on α-syn-induced toxicity. Upon inhibition of sterol synthesis, α-synFL and α-synΔ6, but not α-synΔ4, showed decreased plasma membrane association, increased vesicular association, and increased cellular toxicity. Thus, higher membrane sterol concentrations favor plasma membrane binding of α-synFL and α-synΔ6 and may be protective of synucleinopathy progression. Given the common use of cholesterol-reducing statins and these potential effects on membrane binding proteins, further investigation of how sterol concentration and α-syn splice isoforms affect vesicular trafficking in synucleinopathies is warranted.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2014; 111(8). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1324209111 · 9.81 Impact Factor
  • Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 01/2014; 12(11_Supplement):C132-C132. DOI:10.1158/1535-7163.TARG-13-C132 · 6.11 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

21k Citations
3,041.06 Total Impact Points


  • 2002–2015
    • Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
      • Department of Biology
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
    • Georgia Institute of Technology
      • School of Biology
      Atlanta, GA, United States
  • 2007–2014
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      • Department of Biology
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
    • Chulalongkorn University
      • Department of Microbiology
      Krung Thep, Bangkok, Thailand
  • 2013
    • University of Zurich
      Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland
    • Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2010
    • Harvard Medical School
      • Department of Neurology
      Boston, MA, United States
  • 1991–2010
    • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
      Ashburn, Virginia, United States
  • 2008
    • Johns Hopkins University
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 1996–2007
    • University of Chicago
      • • Department of Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
      • • Department of Organismal Biology & Anatomy
      Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • 2000–2004
    • Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics
      Dresden, Saxony, Germany
  • 2003
    • University of Kent
      Cantorbery, England, United Kingdom