Sirtuin-mediated nuclear differentiation and programmed degradation in Tetrahymena

Keck Science Department of Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges, WM Keck Science Center, Claremont, CA 91711, USA.
BMC Cell Biology (Impact Factor: 2.34). 09/2011; 12(1):40. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2121-12-40
Source: PubMed


The NAD(+)-dependent histone deacetylases, known as "sirtuins", participate in a variety of processes critical for single- and multi-cellular life. Recent studies have elucidated the importance of sirtuin activity in development, aging, and disease; yet, underlying mechanistic pathways are not well understood. Specific sirtuins influence chromatin structure and gene expression, but differences in their pathways as they relate to distinct chromatin functions are just beginning to emerge. To further define the range of global chromatin changes dependent on sirtuins, unique biological features of the ciliated protozoan Tetrahymena thermophila can be exploited. This system offers clear spatial and temporal separation of multiple whole genome restructuring events critical for the life cycle.
Inhibition with nicotinamide revealed that sirtuin deacetylase activity in Tetrahymena cells promotes chromatin condensation during meiotic prophase, differentiation of heterochromatin from euchromatin during development, and chromatin condensation/degradation during programmed nuclear death. We identified a class I sirtuin, called Thd14, that resides in mitochondria and nucleoli during vegetative growth, and forms a large sub-nuclear aggregate in response to prolonged cell starvation that may be peripherally associated with nucleoli. During sexual conjugation and development Thd14 selectively concentrates in the parental nucleus prior to its apoptotic-like degradation.
Sirtuin activity is important for several functionally distinct events requiring global chromatin condensation. Our findings suggest a novel role for sirtuins in promoting programmed pycnosis by acting on chromatin destined for degradation. The sirtuin Thd14, which displays physiological-dependent differential localization within the nucleus, is a candidate for a chromatin condensation enzyme that is coupled to nuclear degradation.

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    • "Using an inhibitor of autophagy, the phosphoinositide 3 kinase inhibitor, wortmannin, macronuclear degradation in Tetrahymena was also prevented (Yakisich and Kapler, 2004). Interestingly, nicotinamide, a sirtuin inhibitor that may impact on autophagy (Zheng et al., 2012), also blocks both macronuclear and micronuclear degradation (Slade et al., 2011), Finally, there is evidence that during macronuclear death the nuclear envelope is transformed converting the macronucleus into an autophagic vesicle to which lysosomes fuse directly (Akematsu et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: One of the most dramatic examples of nuclear morphogenesis occurs during conjugation in Tetrahymena when the micronucleus elongates to a size longer than the cell itself. After contraction to a spherical shape, the nucleus moves directly to chromosome separation in the first meiotic division. Here we investigate the consequences of interrupting the elongation process. Colchicine, a microtubule inhibitor, caused retraction of elongated structures. With time, cells began to lose their micronuclei, and by five hours more than half of the paired cells had at least one cell missing a micronucleus. After reversing the colchicine block, existing micronuclei did not undergo elongation again, nor did meiosis occur. These observations indicate that micronuclear elongation is critical to subsequent meiotic division. Further, nuclear elimination occurs, which could be due to meiotic failure or possibly a problem downstream from meiosis. An analysis of the process of colchicine-induced micronuclear degeneration indicated that it was regulated by a caspase-dependent mechanism, characteristic of apoptosis, and then resorbed by a lysosome-dependent autophagic mechanism. Amicronucleate cells failed to grow when returned to nutrient medium, likely because of a lesion in the post-conjugation reconstruction of a functioning oral apparatus. The ease by which a large number of nuclei are induced to "self-destruct" may make this system useful in investigating the link between colchicine treatment and nuclear death in Tetrahymena, and in investigating how nuclear death could be regulated in living cells more generally. Finally, we note that this phenomenon might relate to the evolution of amicronucleate species of Tetrahymena.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · Biology Open
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    ABSTRACT: The ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila can be said to undergo a variety of developmental programs. During vegetative growth, cells coordinate a variety of cell-cycle operations including macronuclear DNA synthesis and a-mitotic fission, micronuclear DNA synthesis and mitosis, cytokinesis and an elaborate program of cortical morphogenesis that replicates the cortical organelles. When starved, cells undergo oral replacement, transformation into fast-swimming dispersal forms or, when encountering cells of a complementary mating type, conjugation. Conjugation involves a 12 hour program of meiosis, mitosis, nuclear exchange and karyogamy, and two postzygotic divisions of the fertilization nucleus. This chapter reviews experimental data exploring the developmental dependencies associated with both vegetative and conjugal development.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2012 · Methods in cell biology
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    ABSTRACT: Programmed nuclear death (PND) in the ciliate protozoan Tetrahymena thermophila is a novel type of autophagy that occurs during conjugation, in which only the parental somatic macronucleus is destined to die and is then eliminated from the progeny cytoplasm. Other coexisting nuclei, however, such as new micro- and macronuclei are unaffected. PND starts with condensation in the nucleus followed by apoptotic DNA fragmentation, lysosomal acidification, and final resorption. Because of the peculiarity in the process and the absence of some ATG genes in this organism, the mechanism of PND has remained unclear. In this study, we focus on the role of class III phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PtdIns3K, corresponding to yeast Vps34) in order to identify central regulators of PND. We identified the sole Tetrahymena thermophila ortholog (TtVPS34) to yeast Vps34 and human PIK3C3 (the catalytic subunit of PtdIns3K), through phylogenetic analysis, and generated the gene knockdown mutant for functional analysis. Loss of TtVPS34 activity prevents autophagosome formation on the parental macronucleus, and this nucleus escapes from the lysosomal pathway. In turn, DNA fragmentation and final resorption of the nucleus are drastically impaired. These phenotypes are similar to the situation in the ATG8Δ mutants of Tetrahymena, implying an inextricable link between TtVPS34 and TtATG8s in controlling PND as well as general macroautophagy. On the other hand, TtVPS34 does not appear responsible for the nuclear condensation and does not affect the progeny nuclear development. These results demonstrate that TtVPS34 is critically involved in the nuclear degradation events of PND in autophagosome formation rather than with an involvement in commitment to the death program.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2013 · Autophagy