[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Synaptic vesicle (SV) release is spatially and temporally regulated by a network of proteins that form the presynaptic active zone (AZ). The hallmark of most AZs is an electron-dense projection (DP) surrounded by SVs. Despite their importance for our understanding of triggered SV release, high-resolution analyses of DP structures are limited. Using electron microscopy, we show that DPs at Caenorhabditis elegans neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) were highly structured, composed of building units forming bays in which SVs are docked to the AZ membrane. Furthermore, larger ribbonlike DPs that were multimers of the NMJ building unit are found at synapses between inter- and motoneurons. We also demonstrate that DP size is determined by the activity of the AZ protein SYD-2/Liprin-α. Whereas loss of syd-2 function led to smaller DPs, syd-2 gain-of-function mutants displayed larger ribbonlike DPs through increased recruitment of ELKS-1/ELKS. Therefore, our data suggest that a main role of SYD-2/Liprin-α in synaptogenesis is to regulate the polymerization of DPs.
The Journal of Cell Biology 12/2013; 203(5):849-63. · 10.82 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Local recycling of synaptic vesicles (SVs) allows neurons to sustain transmitter release. Extreme activity (e.g., during seizure) may exhaust synaptic transmission and, in vitro, induces bulk endocytosis to recover SV membrane and proteins; how this occurs in animals is unknown. Following optogenetic hyperstimulation of Caenorhabditis elegans motoneurons, we analyzed synaptic recovery by time-resolved behavioral, electrophysiological, and ultrastructural assays. Recovery of docked SVs and of evoked-release amplitudes (indicating readily-releasable pool refilling) occurred within ∼8-20 s (τ = 9.2 s and τ = 11.9 s), whereas locomotion recovered only after ∼60 s (τ = 20 s). During ∼11-s stimulation, 50- to 200-nm noncoated vesicles ("100nm vesicles") formed, which disappeared ∼8 s poststimulation, likely representing endocytic intermediates from which SVs may regenerate. In endophilin, synaptojanin, and dynamin mutants, affecting endocytosis and vesicle scission, resolving 100nm vesicles was delayed (>20 s). In dynamin mutants, 100nm vesicles were abundant and persistent, sometimes continuous with the plasma membrane; incomplete budding of smaller vesicles from 100nm vesicles further implicates dynamin in regenerating SVs from bulk-endocytosed vesicles. Synaptic recovery after exhaustive activity is slow, and different time scales of recovery at ultrastructural, physiological, and behavioral levels indicate multiple contributing processes. Similar processes may jointly account for slow recovery from acute seizures also in higher animals.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2013; · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alteration of cortical actin structures is the common final pathway leading to podocyte foot process effacement and proteinuria. The molecular mechanisms that safeguard podocyte foot process architecture and maintain the three-dimensional actin network remain elusive. Here, we demonstrate that neuronal Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (N-WASP), which promotes actin nucleation, is required to stabilize podocyte foot processes. Mice lacking N-WASP specifically in podocytes were born with normal kidney function but developed significant proteinuria 3 weeks after birth, suggesting an important role for N-WASP in maintaining foot processes. In addition, inducing deletion of N-WASP in adult mice resulted in severe proteinuria and kidney failure. Electron microscopy showed an accumulation of electron-dense patches of actin and strikingly altered morphology of podocyte foot processes. Although basic actin-based processes such as cell migration were not affected, primary cultures of N-WASP-deficient podocytes revealed significant impairment of dynamic actin reorganization events, including the formation of circular dorsal ruffles. Taken together, our findings suggest that N-WASP-mediated actin nucleation of branched microfilament networks is specifically required for the maintenance of foot processes, presumably sustaining the mechanical resistance of the filtration barrier.
Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 03/2013; · 8.99 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutations in the Tar DNA binding protein of 43 kDa (TDP-43; TARDBP) are associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43+ inclusions (FTLD-TDP). To determine the physiological function of TDP-43, we knocked out zebrafish Tardbp and its paralogue Tardbp (TAR DNA binding protein-like), which lacks the glycine-rich domain where ALS- and FTLD-TDP-associated mutations cluster. tardbp mutants show no phenotype, a result of compensation by a unique splice variant of tardbpl that additionally contains a C-terminal elongation highly homologous to the glycine-rich domain of tardbp. Double-homozygous mutants of tardbp and tardbpl show muscle degeneration, strongly reduced blood circulation, mispatterning of vessels, impaired spinal motor neuron axon outgrowth, and early death. In double mutants the muscle-specific actin binding protein Filamin Ca is up-regulated. Strikingly, Filamin C is similarly increased in the frontal cortex of FTLD-TDP patients, suggesting aberrant expression in smooth muscle cells and TDP-43 loss-of-function as one underlying disease mechanism.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2013; · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neurons secrete neuropeptides from dense core vesicles (DCVs) to modulate neuronal activity. Little is known about how neurons manage to differentially regulate the release of synaptic vesicles (SVs) and DCVs. To analyze this, we screened all Caenorhabditis elegans Rab GTPases and Tre2/Bub2/Cdc16 (TBC) domain containing GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs) for defects in DCV release from C. elegans motoneurons. rab-5 and rab-10 mutants show severe defects in DCV secretion, whereas SV exocytosis is unaffected. We identified TBC-2 and TBC-4 as putative GAPs for RAB-5 and RAB-10, respectively. Multiple Rabs and RabGAPs are typically organized in cascades that confer directionality to membrane-trafficking processes. We show here that the formation of release-competent DCVs requires a reciprocal exclusion cascade coupling RAB-5 and RAB-10, in which each of the two Rabs recruits the other's GAP molecule. This contributes to a separation of RAB-5 and RAB-10 domains at the Golgi-endosomal interface, which is lost when either of the two GAPs is inactivated. Taken together, our data suggest that RAB-5 and RAB-10 cooperate to locally exclude each other at an essential stage during DCV sorting.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10/2012; · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Caenorhabditis elegans RAB-10 and mammalian Rab10 are key regulators of endocytic recycling, especially in the basolateral recycling pathways of polarized epithelial cells. To understand better how RAB-10 contributes to recycling endosome function, we sought to identify RAB-10 effectors. One RAB-10-binding partner that we identified, CNT-1, is the only C. elegans homolog of the mammalian Arf6 GTPase-activating proteins ACAP1 and ACAP2. Arf6 is known to regulate endosome-to-plasma membrane transport, in part through activation of type I phophatidylinositol-4-phosphate 5 kinase. Here we show that CNT-1 binds to RAB-10 through its C-terminal ankyrin repeats and colocalizes with RAB-10 and ARF-6 on recycling endosomes in vivo. Furthermore, we find that RAB-10 is required for the recruitment of CNT-1 to endosomal membranes in the intestinal epithelium. Consistent with negative regulation of ARF-6 by RAB-10 and CNT-1, we found overaccumulation of endosomal phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate [PI(4,5)P2] in cnt-1 and rab-10 mutants and reduced endosomal PI(4,5)P2 levels in arf-6 mutants. These mutants produced similar effects on endosomal recruitment of the PI(4,5)P2-dependent membrane-bending proteins RME-1/Ehd and SDPN-1/Syndapin/Pacsin and resulted in endosomal trapping of specific recycling cargo. Our studies identify a RAB-10-to-ARF-6 regulatory loop required to regulate endosomal PI(4,5)P2, a key phosphoinositide in membrane traffic.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2012; 109(35):E2306-15. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Synapse formation and maturation requires bidirectional communication across the synaptic cleft. The trans-synaptic Neurexin-Neuroligin complex can bridge this cleft, and severe synapse assembly deficits are found in Drosophila melanogaster neuroligin (Nlg1, dnlg1) and neurexin (Nrx-1, dnrx) mutants. We show that the presynaptic active zone protein Syd-1 interacts with Nrx-1 to control synapse formation at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction. Mutants in Syd-1 (RhoGAP100F, dsyd-1), Nrx-1 and Nlg1 shared active zone cytomatrix defects, which were nonadditive. Syd-1 and Nrx-1 formed a complex in vivo, and Syd-1 was important for synaptic clustering and immobilization of Nrx-1. Consequently, postsynaptic clustering of Nlg1 was affected in Syd-1 mutants, and in vivo glutamate receptor incorporation was changed in Syd-1, Nrx-1 and Nlg1 mutants. Stabilization of nascent Syd-1-Liprin-α (DLiprin-α) clusters, important to initialize active zone formation, was Nlg1 dependent. Thus, cooperation between Syd-1 and Nrx-1-Nlg1 seems to orchestrate early assembly processes between pre- and postsynaptic membranes, promoting avidity of newly forming synaptic scaffolds.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dense core vesicles (DCVs) are thought to be generated at the late Golgi apparatus as immature DCVs, which subsequently undergo a maturation process through clathrin-mediated membrane remodeling events. This maturation process is required for efficient processing of neuropeptides within DCVs and for removal of factors that would otherwise interfere with DCV release. Previously, we have shown that the GTPase, RAB-2, and its effector, RIC-19, are involved in DCV maturation in Caenorhabditis elegans motoneurons. In rab-2 mutants, specific cargo is lost from maturing DCVs and missorted into the endosomal/lysosomal degradation route. Cargo loss could be prevented by blocking endosomal delivery. This suggests that RAB-2 is involved in retention of DCV components during the sorting process at the Golgi-endosomal interface. To understand how RAB-2 activity is regulated at the Golgi, we screened for RAB-2-specific GTPase activating proteins (GAPs). We identified a potential RAB-2 GAP, TBC-8, which is exclusively expressed in neurons and which, when depleted, shows similar DCV maturation defects as rab-2 mutants. We could demonstrate that RAB-2 binds to its putative GAP, TBC-8. Interestingly, TBC-8 also binds to the RAB-2 effector, RIC-19. This interaction appears to be conserved as TBC-8 also interacted with the human ortholog of RIC-19, ICA69. Therefore, we propose that a dynamic ON/OFF cycling of RAB-2 at the Golgi induced by the GAP/effector complex is required for proper DCV maturation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The plant hormone auxin is a mobile signal which affects nuclear transcription by regulating the stability of auxin/indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) repressor proteins. Auxin is transported polarly from cell to cell by auxin efflux proteins of the PIN family, but it is not as yet clear how auxin levels are regulated within cells and how access of auxin to the nucleus may be controlled. The Arabidopsis genome contains eight PINs, encoding proteins with a similar membrane topology. While five of the PINs are typically targeted polarly to the plasma membranes, the smallest members of the family, PIN5 and PIN8, seem to be located not at the plasma membrane but in endomembranes. Here we demonstrate by electron microscopy analysis that PIN8, which is specifically expressed in pollen, resides in the endoplasmic reticulum and that it remains internally localized during pollen tube growth. Transgenic Arabidopsis and tobacco plants were generated overexpressing or ectopically expressing functional PIN8, and its role in control of auxin homeostasis was studied. PIN8 ectopic expression resulted in strong auxin-related phenotypes. The severity of phenotypes depended on PIN8 protein levels, suggesting a rate-limiting activity for PIN8. The observed phenotypes correlated with elevated levels of free IAA and ester-conjugated IAA. Activation of the auxin-regulated synthetic DR5 promoter and of auxin response genes was strongly repressed in seedlings overexpressing PIN8 when exposed to 1-naphthalene acetic acid. Thus, our data show a functional role for endoplasmic reticulum-localized PIN8 and suggest a mechanism whereby PIN8 controls auxin thresholds and access of auxin to the nucleus, thereby regulating auxin-dependent transcriptional activity.
The Plant Journal 04/2012; 71(5):860-70. · 6.58 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Presynaptic nerve terminals are formed from preassembled vesicles that are delivered to the prospective synapse by kinesin-mediated axonal transport. However, precisely how the various cargoes are linked to the motor proteins remains unclear. Here, we report a transport complex linking syntaxin 1a (Stx) and Munc18, two proteins functioning in synaptic vesicle exocytosis at the presynaptic plasma membrane, to the motor protein Kinesin-1 via the kinesin adaptor FEZ1. Mutation of the FEZ1 ortholog UNC-76 in Caenorhabditis elegans causes defects in the axonal transport of Stx. We also show that binding of FEZ1 to Kinesin-1 and Munc18 is regulated by phosphorylation, with a conserved site (serine 58) being essential for binding. When expressed in C. elegans, wild-type but not phosphorylation-deficient FEZ1 (S58A) restored axonal transport of Stx. We conclude that FEZ1 operates as a kinesin adaptor for the transport of Stx, with cargo loading and unloading being regulated by protein kinases.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2012; 109(15):5862-7. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In yeast the Golgi-associated retrograde protein (GARP) complex is required for tethering of endosome-derived transport vesicles to the late Golgi. It consists of four subunits-Vps51p, Vps52p, Vps53p, and Vps54p-and shares similarities with other multimeric tethering complexes, such as the conserved oligomeric Golgi (COG) and the exocyst complex. Here we report the functional characterization of the GARP complex in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Furthermore, we identified the C. elegans Vps51 subunit, which is conserved in all eukaryotes. GARP mutants are viable but show lysosomal defects. We show that GARP subunits bind specific sets of Golgi SNAREs within the yeast two-hybrid system. This suggests that the C. elegans GARP complex also facilitates tethering as well as SNARE complex assembly at the Golgi. The GARP and COG tethering complexes may have overlapping functions for retrograde endosome-to-Golgi retrieval, since loss of both complexes leads to a synthetic lethal phenotype.
Molecular biology of the cell 05/2011; 22(14):2564-2578. · 5.98 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Export of proteins from the endoplasmic reticulum in COPII-coated vesicles occurs at defined sites that contain the scaffolding protein Sec16. We identify TFG-1, a new conserved regulator of protein secretion that interacts directly with SEC-16 and controls the export of cargoes from the endoplasmic reticulum in Caenorhabditis elegans. Hydrodynamic studies indicate that TFG-1 forms hexamers that facilitate the co-assembly of SEC-16 with COPII subunits. Consistent with these findings, TFG-1 depletion leads to a marked decline in both SEC-16 and COPII levels at endoplasmic reticulum exit sites. The sequence encoding the amino terminus of human TFG has been previously identified in chromosome translocation events involving two protein kinases, which created a pair of oncogenes. We propose that fusion of these kinases to TFG relocalizes their activities to endoplasmic reticulum exit sites, where they prematurely phosphorylate substrates during endoplasmic reticulum export. Our findings provide a mechanism by which translocations involving TFG can result in cellular transformation and oncogenesis.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aggregation of α-synuclein (αS) is involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD) and a variety of related neurodegenerative disorders. The physiological function of αS is largely unknown. We demonstrate with in vitro vesicle fusion experiments that αS has an inhibitory function on membrane fusion. Upon increased expression in cultured cells and in Caenorhabditis elegans, αS binds to mitochondria and leads to mitochondrial fragmentation. In C. elegans age-dependent fragmentation of mitochondria is enhanced and shifted to an earlier time point upon expression of exogenous αS. In contrast, siRNA-mediated downregulation of αS results in elongated mitochondria in cell culture. αS can act independently of mitochondrial fusion and fission proteins in shifting the dynamic morphologic equilibrium of mitochondria towards reduced fusion. Upon cellular fusion, αS prevents fusion of differently labelled mitochondrial populations. Thus, αS inhibits fusion due to its unique membrane interaction. Finally, mitochondrial fragmentation induced by expression of αS is rescued by coexpression of PINK1, parkin or DJ-1 but not the PD-associated mutations PINK1 G309D and parkin Δ1-79 or by DJ-1 C106A.
The EMBO Journal 10/2010; 29(20):3571-89. · 9.82 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: At presynaptic active zones (AZs), the frequently observed tethering of synaptic vesicles to an electron-dense cytomatrix represents a process of largely unknown functional significance. Here, we identified a hypomorphic allele, brpnude, lacking merely the last 1% of the C-terminal amino acids (17 of 1740) of the active zone protein Bruchpilot. In brpnude, electron-dense bodies were properly shaped, though entirely bare of synaptic vesicles. While basal glutamate release was unchanged, paired-pulse and sustained stimulation provoked depression. Furthermore, rapid recovery following sustained release was slowed. Our results causally link, with intramolecular precision, the tethering of vesicles at the AZ cytomatrix to synaptic depression.
Journal of Neuroscience 10/2010; 30(43):14340-5. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The relation of alpha-synuclein (alphaS) aggregation to Parkinson's disease (PD) has long been recognized, but the mechanism of toxicity, the pathogenic species and its molecular properties are yet to be identified. To obtain insight into the function different aggregated alphaS species have in neurotoxicity in vivo, we generated alphaS variants by a structure-based rational design. Biophysical analysis revealed that the alphaS mutants have a reduced fibrillization propensity, but form increased amounts of soluble oligomers. To assess their biological response in vivo, we studied the effects of the biophysically defined pre-fibrillar alphaS mutants after expression in tissue culture cells, in mammalian neurons and in PD model organisms, such as Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster. The results show a striking correlation between alphaS aggregates with impaired beta-structure, neuronal toxicity and behavioural defects, and they establish a tight link between the biophysical properties of multimeric alphaS species and their in vivo function.
The EMBO Journal 10/2009; 28(20):3256-68. · 9.82 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Small guanosine triphosphatases of the Rab family regulate intracellular vesicular trafficking. Rab2 is highly expressed in the nervous system, yet its function in neurons is unknown. In Caenorhabditis elegans, unc-108/rab-2 mutants have been isolated based on their locomotory defects. We show that the locomotion defects of rab-2 mutants are not caused by defects in synaptic vesicle release but by defects in dense core vesicle (DCV) signaling. DCVs in rab-2 mutants are often enlarged and heterogeneous in size; however, their number and distribution are not affected. This implicates Rab2 in the biogenesis of DCVs at the Golgi complex. We demonstrate that Rab2 is required to prevent DCV cargo from inappropriately entering late endosomal compartments during DCV maturation. Finally, we show that RIC-19, the C. elegans orthologue of the human diabetes autoantigen ICA69, is also involved in DCV maturation and is recruited to Golgi membranes by activated RAB-2. Thus, we propose that RAB-2 and its effector RIC-19 are required for neuronal DCV maturation.
The Journal of Cell Biology 09/2009; 186(6):897-914. · 10.82 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite a key role for dense core vesicles (DCVs) in neuronal function, there are major gaps in our understanding of DCV biogenesis. A genetic screen for Caenorhabditis elegans mutants with behavioral defects consistent with impaired DCV function yielded five mutations in UNC-108 (Rab2). A genetic analysis showed that unc-108 mutations impair a DCV function unrelated to neuropeptide release that, together with neuropeptide release, fully accounts for the role of DCVs in locomotion. An electron microscopy analysis of DCVs in unc-108 mutants, coupled with quantitative imaging of DCV cargo proteins, revealed that Rab2 acts in cell somas during DCV maturation to prevent the loss of soluble and membrane cargo. In Rab2 null mutants, two thirds of these cargoes move to early endosomes via a PI(3)P-dependent trafficking pathway, whereas aggregated neuropeptides are unaffected. These results reveal how neurons solve a challenging trafficking problem using the most highly conserved animal Rab.
The Journal of Cell Biology 09/2009; 186(6):881-95. · 10.82 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Synaptic vesicles fuse at active zone (AZ) membranes where Ca(2+) channels are clustered and that are typically decorated by electron-dense projections. Recently, mutants of the Drosophila melanogaster ERC/CAST family protein Bruchpilot (BRP) were shown to lack dense projections (T-bars) and to suffer from Ca(2+) channel-clustering defects. In this study, we used high resolution light microscopy, electron microscopy, and intravital imaging to analyze the function of BRP in AZ assembly. Consistent with truncated BRP variants forming shortened T-bars, we identify BRP as a direct T-bar component at the AZ center with its N terminus closer to the AZ membrane than its C terminus. In contrast, Drosophila Liprin-alpha, another AZ-organizing protein, precedes BRP during the assembly of newly forming AZs by several hours and surrounds the AZ center in few discrete punctae. BRP seems responsible for effectively clustering Ca(2+) channels beneath the T-bar density late in a protracted AZ formation process, potentially through a direct molecular interaction with intracellular Ca(2+) channel domains.
The Journal of Cell Biology 08/2009; 186(1):129-45. · 10.82 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutations in two genes encoding the putative kinases LRRK2 and PINK1 have been associated with inherited variants of Parkinson disease. The physiological role of both proteins is not known at present, but studies in model organisms have linked their mutants to distinct aspects of mitochondrial dysfunction, increased vulnerability to oxidative and endoplasmic reticulum stress, and intracellular protein sorting. Here, we show that a mutation in the Caenorhabditits elegans homologue of the PTEN-induced kinase pink-1 gene resulted in reduced mitochondrial cristae length and increased paraquat sensitivity of the nematode. Moreover, the mutants also displayed defects in axonal outgrowth of a pair of canal-associated neurons. We demonstrate that in the absence of lrk-1, the C. elegans homologue of human LRRK2, all phenotypic aspects of pink-1 loss-of-function mutants were suppressed. Conversely, the hypersensitivity of lrk-1 mutant animals to the endoplasmic reticulum stressor tunicamycin was reduced in a pink-1 mutant background. These results provide the first evidence of an antagonistic role of PINK-1 and LRK-1. Due to the similarity of the C. elegans proteins to human LRRK2 and PINK1, we suggest a common role of both factors in cellular functions including stress response and regulation of neurite outgrowth. This study might help to link pink-1/PINK1 and lrk-1/LRRK2 function to the pathological processes resulting from Parkinson disease-related mutants in both genes, the first manifestations of which are cytoskeletal defects in affected neurons.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 03/2009; 284(24):16482-91. · 4.65 Impact Factor