Insect evolution: Redesigning the fruitfly.
Homeotic mutations in Drosophila can result in dramatic phenotypes that suggest the possibility for rapid morphological evolution, but dissection of the genetic pathway downstream of Ultrabithorax is beginning to reveal how wing morphology may have evolved by more gradual transformations. (+info)
Potential variance affecting homeotic Ultrabithorax and Antennapedia phenotypes in Drosophila melanogaster.
Introgression of homeotic mutations into wild-type genetic backgrounds results in a wide variety of phenotypes and implies that major effect modifiers of extreme phenotypes are not uncommon in natural populations of Drosophila. A composite interval mapping procedure was used to demonstrate that one major effect locus accounts for three-quarters of the variance for haltere to wing margin transformation in Ultrabithorax flies, yet has no obvious effect on wild-type development. Several other genetic backgrounds result in enlargement of the haltere significantly beyond the normal range of haploinsufficient phenotypes, suggesting genetic variation in cofactors that mediate homeotic protein function. Introgression of Antennapedia produces lines with heritable phenotypes ranging from almost complete suppression to perfect antennal leg formation, as well as transformations that are restricted to either the distal or proximal portion of the appendage. It is argued that the existence of "potential" variance, which is genetic variation whose effects are not observable in wild-type individuals, is a prerequisite for the uncoupling of genetic from phenotypic divergence. (+info)
Bak BH3 peptides antagonize Bcl-xL function and induce apoptosis through cytochrome c-independent activation of caspases.
The Bcl-2 homology 3 (BH3) domain is crucial for the death-inducing and dimerization properties of pro-apoptotic members of the Bcl-2 protein family, including Bak, Bax, and Bad. Here we report that synthetic peptides corresponding to the BH3 domain of Bak bind to Bcl-xL, antagonize its anti-apoptotic function, and rapidly induce apoptosis when delivered into intact cells via fusion to the Antennapedia homeoprotein internalization domain. Treatment of HeLa cells with the Antennapedia-BH3 fusion peptide resulted in peptide internalization and induction of apoptosis within 2-3 h, as indicated by caspase activation and subsequent poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage, as well as morphological characteristics of apoptosis. A point mutation within the BH3 peptide that blocks its ability to bind to Bcl-xL abolished its apoptotic activity, suggesting that interaction of the BH3 peptide with Bcl-2-related death suppressors, such as Bcl-xL, may be critical for its activity in cells. While overexpression of Bcl-xL can block BH3-induced apoptosis, treatment with BH3 peptides resensitized Bcl-xL-expressing cells to Fas-mediated apoptosis. BH3-induced apoptosis was blocked by caspase inhibitors, demonstrating a dependence on caspase activation, but was not accompanied by a dramatic early loss of mitochondrial membrane potential or detectable translocation of cytochrome c from mitochondria to cytosol. These findings demonstrate that the BH3 domain itself is capable of inducing apoptosis in whole cells, possibly by antagonizing the function of Bcl-2-related death suppressors. (+info)
Activity regulation of Hox proteins, a mechanism for altering functional specificity in development and evolution.
The closely related Hox transcription factors Ultrabithorax (Ubx) and Antennapedia (Antp) respectively direct first abdominal (A1) and second thoracic (T2) segment identities in Drosophila. It has been proposed that their functional differences derive from their differential occupancy of DNA target sites. Here we show that a hybrid version of Ubx (Ubx-VP16), which possesses an enhanced transcriptional activation function, no longer directs A1 denticle pattern in embryonic epidermal cells. Instead, it mimics Antp in directing T2 denticle pattern, and it can rescue the cuticular loss-of-function phenotype of Antp mutants. In cells that do not produce denticles, Ubx-VP16 appears to have largely retained its normal repressive regulatory functions. These results suggest that the modulation of Hox activation and repression functions can account for segment-specific morphological differences that are controlled by different members of the Hox family. Our results also are consistent with the idea that activity regulation underlies the phenotypic suppression phenomenon in which a more posterior Hox protein suppresses the function of a more anterior member of the Hox cluster. The acquisition of novel activation and repression potentials in Hox proteins may be an important mechanism underlying the generation of subtle morphological differences during evolution. (+info)
The control of trunk Hox specificity and activity by Extradenticle.
We characterize a 37-bp element (fkh) derived from the fork head (fkh) gene, a natural target of the Hox gene Sex combs reduced (Scr). In vitro, Scr cooperatively binds to this DNA with the Hox cofactor Extradenticle (Exd), and the activation of this enhancer in vivo requires Scr and exd. Other Hox/Exd heterodimers do not activate this element in vivo and do not bind this element with high affinity in vitro. The amino-terminal arm of the Scr homeodomain is crucial for the specific activation of this element in vivo. By mutating two base pairs within this element, we can convert the Scr/Exd-binding site to a Hox/Exd consensus site that binds several different Hox/Exd heterodimers. This element, fkh[250(con)], is activated by Scr, Antennapedia (Antp), and Ultrabithorax (Ubx) but repressed by abdominal-A (abd-A). We also show that Scr and Exd are only able to activate the fkh element during the early stages of embryogenesis because, by stage 11, Scr negatively regulates the gene homothorax (hth), which is required for the nuclear localization of Exd. These results suggest that Exd is a specificity cofactor for the trunk Hox genes, and that the control of Exd subcellular localization is a mechanism to regulate Hox activity during development. (+info)
Structural organization and sequence of the homeotic gene Antennapedia of Drosophila melanogaster.
The structure of the Drosophila melanogaster Antennapedia (Antp) gene has been investigated by the isolation and sequencing of different cDNAs and genomic clones. Northern analysis, S1 mapping and primer extension experiments reveal a complex and unusual gene structure. The gene is composed of two promoters, eight exons spanning >100 kb, and two termination processing regions. Four major polyadenylated transcripts were found, two of them starting at a second internal promoter in front of exon 3. All four transcripts have extremely long untranslated leader and trailer sequences in the range of 1-2 kb. Despite the complex transcriptional organization, the open reading frame is the same in all transcripts, and starts in exon 5 giving rise to a protein of mol. wt. 42 800. The putative protein is rich in glutamine (18%) and proline (10%). The homeobox, a region which previously has been shown to be highly conserved among homeotic genes, is contained in the open reading frame and located in the last exon. Functional implications of the complex structure with respect to development and its relation to the mutant phenotypes are discussed. (+info)
A p21(Waf1/Cip1)carboxyl-terminal peptide exhibited cyclin-dependent kinase-inhibitory activity and cytotoxicity when introduced into human cells.
In the present study, we report the cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk)-inhibitory activity of a series of p21waf1/cip1 (p21) peptide fragments spanning the whole protein against the cyclin D1/Cdk4 and cyclin E/Cdk2 enzymes. The most potent p21 peptide tested in our initial peptide series, designated W10, spanned amino acids 139 to 164, a region of p21 that has been found independently to bind to proliferating cell nuclear antigen and also to inhibit Cdk activity. We go on to report the importance of putative beta-strand and 3(10)-helix motifs in the W10 peptide for cyclin-dependent kinase-inhibitory activity. We also describe the cellular activity of W10 and derivatives that were chemically linked to an antennapedia peptide, the latter segment acting as a cell membrane carrier. We found that the W10AP peptide exhibited growth inhibition that resulted from necrosis in human lymphoma CA46 cells. Furthermore, regions in the W10 peptide responsible for Cdk-inhibition were also important for the degree of this cellular activity. These studies provide insights that may eventually, through further design, yield agents for the therapy of cancer. (+info)
Regulation of epidermal bullous pemphigoid antigen 1 (BPAG1) synthesis by homeoprotein transcription factors.
In a recent gene-trap screen, we identified the gene coding for Epidermal Bullous Pemphigoid Antigen 1 (BPAG1) as a putative transcriptional target of Engrailed and of other homeoproteins with a glutamine in position 50 of their homeodomain. We now show that the nuclear addressing of the homeodomains of Engrailed (EnHD) and Antennapedia (AntpHD) upregulates BPAG1e transcription in immortalized human keratinocytes (GMA24FIA) expressing En1. This upregulation is not observed with AntpHD-Q50A, a variant of AntpHD in which a single mutation abolishes its high-affinity binding to target DNA, thus strongly suggesting that BPAG1e upregulation homeodomains reflects their specific recognition of homeoprotein-binding sites in the BPAG1e locus. This is further confirmed by DNase I footprinting and electrophoretic mobility shift assays that reveal, within the cloned BPAG1e promoter, several sites of direct interaction with EnHD and Engrailed. Co-transfection experiments in GMA24FIA human keratinocytes, COS-7 simian fibroblasts, and CHP-100 human neuroepithelial cells show that Engrailed, Hoxa-5, and Hoxc-8 regulate BPAG1e promoter activity and that this regulation is context-dependent. Finally, using a mouse line with LacZ inserted within the En1 locus, we identify the keratinocytes of the ventral paws, including the epithelial cells of the eccrine tubules, as a strong site of En1 expression throughout adulthood. We therefore propose that BPAG1e, a 230 kDa keratin-binding protein expressed in keratinocytes and participating in the maintenance of hemidesmosomes at the dermis-epidermis border, is directly regulated by homeoprotein transcription factors. (+info)