Henning Beck

University of Tuebingen, Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

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Publications (4)18.3 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Compared to the cytoplasmic F-actin abundance in cells, nuclear F-actin levels are generally quite low. However, nuclear actin is present in certain cell types including oocytes and under certain cellular conditions including stress or serum stimulation. Currently, the architecture and polymerization status of nuclear actin networks has not been analyzed in great detail. In this study, we investigated the architecture and functions of such nuclear actin networks. We generated nuclear actin polymers by overexpression of actin proteins fused to a nuclear localization signal (NLS). Raising nuclear abundance of a NLS wild-type actin, we observed phalloidin- and LifeAct-positive actin bundles forming a nuclear cytoskeletal network consisting of curved F-actin. In contrast, a polymer-stabilizing actin mutant (NLS-G15S-actin) deficient in interacting with the actin-binding protein cofilin generated a nuclear actin network reminiscent of straight stress fiber-like microfilaments in the cytoplasm. We provide a first electron microscopic description of such nuclear actin polymers suggesting bundling of actin filaments. Employing different cell types from various species including neurons, we show that the morphology of and potential to generate nuclear actin are conserved. Finally, we demonstrate that nuclear actin affects cell function including morphology, serum response factor-mediated gene expression, and herpes simplex virus infection. Our data suggest that actin is able to form filamentous structures inside the nucleus, which share architectural and functional similarities with the cytoplasmic F-actin.
    Histochemie 10/2013; · 2.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Aberrant mitochondrial function, morphology, and transport are main features of neurodegenerative diseases. To date, mitochondrial transport within neurons is thought to rely mainly on microtubules, whereas actin might mediate short-range movements and mitochondrial anchoring. Here, we analyzed the impact of actin on neuronal mitochondrial size and localization. F-actin enhanced mitochondrial size and mitochondrial number in neurites and growth cones. In contrast, raising G-actin resulted in mitochondrial fragmentation and decreased mitochondrial abundance. Cellular F-actin/G-actin levels also regulate serum response factor (SRF)-mediated gene regulation, suggesting a possible link between SRF and mitochondrial dynamics. Indeed, SRF-deficient neurons display neurodegenerative hallmarks of mitochondria, including disrupted morphology, fragmentation, and impaired mitochondrial motility, as well as ATP energy metabolism. Conversely, constitutively active SRF-VP16 induced formation of mitochondrial networks and rescued huntingtin (HTT)-impaired mitochondrial dynamics. Finally, SRF and actin dynamics are connected via the actin severing protein cofilin and its slingshot phosphatase to modulate neuronal mitochondrial dynamics. In summary, our data suggest that the SRF-cofilin-actin signaling axis modulates neuronal mitochondrial function.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2012; 109(38):E2523-32. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Peritoneal carcinomatosis is an advanced form of metastatic disease characterized by cancer cell dissemination onto the peritoneum. It is commonly observed in ovarian and colorectal cancers and is associated with poor patient survival. Novel therapies consist of cytoreductive surgery in combination with intraperitoneal chemotherapy, aiming at tumor cell death induction. The resulting dying tumor cells are considered to be eliminated by professional as well as semi-professional phagocytes. In the present study, we have identified a hitherto unknown type of 'amateur' phagocyte in this environment: human peritoneal mesothelial cells (HMCs). We demonstrate that HMCs engulf corpses of dying ovarian and colorectal cancer cells, as well as other types of apoptotic cells. Flow cytometric, confocal and electron microscopical analyses revealed that HMCs ingest dying cell fragments in a dose- and time-dependent manner and the internalized material subsequently traffics into late phagolysosomes. Regarding the mechanisms of prey cell recognition, our results show that HMCs engulf apoptotic corpses in a serum-dependent and -independent fashion and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) analyses revealed that diverse opsonin receptor systems orchestrating dying cell clearance are expressed in HMCs at high levels. Our data strongly suggest that HMCs contribute to dying cell removal in the peritoneum, and future studies will elucidate in what manner this influences tumor cell dissemination and the antitumor immune response.
    Journal of Cell Science 05/2011; 124(Pt 10):1644-54. · 5.88 Impact Factor
  • B. Knöll, H. Beck
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    ABSTRACT: Actin, arranged for example in stress fibres, provides a fundamental cytoskeletal framework function to all cell types. Notably, there is now mounting evidence that, in addition to cytoplasmic cytoskeletal regulation, actin treadmilling provides a signal modulating nuclear gene expression. In altering gene regulation, cytoplasmic and most likely also a nucleus-resident actin provides an additional (gene) regulatory twist to cell motility. So far, the transcription factor serum response factor (SRF) alongside its myocardin-related transcription factor (MRTF) cofactors has emerged as the main target of actin dynamics. In this review, we discuss the impact of actin signalling on nuclear gene expression in the nervous system, where the actin-MRTF-SRF module contributes to various processes including neuronal motility. KeywordsActin–Serum response factor–Gene expression–Cytoskeleton–Nucleus
    01/2011; 2(1):1-5.