Homotypic and heterotypic interaction of the neurofibromatosis 2 tumor suppressor protein merlin and the ERM protein ezrin.
Ezrin, radixin and moesin (ERM) are homologous proteins, which are linkers between plasma membrane components and the actin-containing cytoskeleton. The ERM protein family members associate with each other in a homotypic and heterotypic manner. The neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2) tumor suppressor protein merlin (schwannomin) is structurally related to ERM members. Merlin is involved in tumorigenesis of NF2-associated and sporadic schwannomas and meningiomas, but the tumor suppressor mechanism is poorly understood. We have studied the ability of merlin to self-associate and bind ezrin. Ezrin was coimmunoprecipitated with merlin from lysates of human U251 glioma cells and from COS-1 cells transfected with cDNA encoding for merlin isoform I. The interaction was further studied and the association domains were mapped with the yeast two-hybrid system and with blot overlay and affinity precipitation experiments. The heterotypic binding of merlin and ezrin and the homotypic association of merlin involves interaction between the amino- and carboxy-termini. The amino-terminal association domain of merlin involves residues 1-339 and has similar features with the amino-terminal association domain of ezrin. The carboxy-terminal association domain cannot be mapped as precisely as in ezrin, but it requires residues 585-595 and a more amino-terminal segment. Unlike ezrin, merlin does not require activation for self-association but native merlin molecules can interact with each other. Heterodimerization between merlin and ezrin, however, occurs only following conformational alterations in both proteins. These results biochemically connect merlin to the cortical cytoskeleton and indicate differential regulation of merlin from ERM proteins. (+info)
Merlin: the neurofibromatosis 2 tumor suppressor.
In recent years, it has become clear that the ERMs occupy a crucial position as protein linkers that both respond to and participate in reorganization of membrane-cytoskeletal interactions. With the identification of new binding partners, the ERMs are also implicated in linked regulation of the activities of particular membrane proteins. Thus, they reside at a junction in a complex web of interactions that must respond to stimuli from both outside and inside the cell. As expected from its structural motifs, merlin behaves in a manner similar to the ERM proteins, but with some notable differences. Chief among these is the absence of intramolecular interaction to mask intermolecular interaction domains in isoform 2. The full range of merlin's intermolecular interactions remains to be delineated, but it can be expected from the comparison to ERMs that merlin also sits within a web of interactions that may involve multiple partners and signaling pathways, some of which it shares with the ERMs. Defining merlin's tumor suppressor function will likely require identifying those differences that are peculiarly important in the target cell types of NF2. However, the fact that inactivation of merlin in the mouse by targeted mutagenesis produces a variety of malignant tumors with a high rate of metastasis  suggests that merlin's suppression of tumor formation may involve different partners and pathways in different cell types and genetic backgrounds. Consequently, the disruptions due to merlin inactivation in the progression of malignant mesothelioma may represent a tumor suppressor role operating by a different pathway than that in schwannoma or meningioma. (+info)
Schwann cell hyperplasia and tumors in transgenic mice expressing a naturally occurring mutant NF2 protein.
Specific mutations in some tumor suppressor genes such as p53 can act in a dominant fashion. We tested whether this mechanism may also apply for the neurofibromatosis type-2 gene (NF2) which, when mutated, leads to schwannoma development. Transgenic mice were generated that express, in Schwann cells, mutant NF2 proteins prototypic of natural mutants observed in humans. Mice expressing a NF2 protein with an interstitial deletion in the amino-terminal domain showed high prevalence of Schwann cell-derived tumors and Schwann cell hyperplasia, whereas those expressing a carboxy-terminally truncated protein were normal. Our results indicate that a subset of mutant NF2 alleles observed in patients may encode products with dominant properties when overexpressed in specific cell lineages. (+info)
Novel alternatively spliced isoforms of the neurofibromatosis type 2 tumor suppressor are targeted to the nucleus and cytoplasmic granules.
We cloned novel splice variants Mer150, Mer151 and Mer162 of the neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2) tumor suppressor, which demonstrate a tissue-specific and development-specific expression pattern. Isoform Mer150 is created by cryptic splicing from exon 8 to 14 and represents an N-terminal truncation of 259 residues. Mer151 is characterized by in-frame splicing out of several exons and a modified C-terminus due to a frameshift in exons 13+14 and premature termination. Mer162 represents a head-to-tail isoform resulting from in-frame skipping of exons 5-16. As a common feature, the alpha-helical domain and a variable proportion of the ERM homology domain are spliced out in these isoforms. To investigate differences in subcellular localization, we expressed epitope-tagged cDNA constructs of the wild-type NF2 as well as of the three alternatively spliced transcripts in NIH 3T3 cells by nuclear microinjection or lipid-mediated transfection. Subcellular localization of Mer151 in filopodia and ruffling membranes was similar to the wild-type NF2. Mer151, however, was targeted to the nucleus, which was not observed for wild-type NF2, Mer150 or Mer162. A putative nuclear localization signal created by alternative splicing was identified in Mer151. In contrast to Mer151, Mer150 and Mer162 were not found in regions of the plasma membrane, but localized to a granular intracellular compartment. The results suggest that the recently described actin-binding domain in exon 10, but not the presence or absence of exons 2+3, is relevant for subcellular targeting. Although the NF2 protein is known as a cytoskeletal linker, additional functions in a cytoplasmic compartment and in the nucleus may exist. (+info)
Molecular genetic analysis of ependymal tumors. NF2 mutations and chromosome 22q loss occur preferentially in intramedullary spinal ependymomas.
Ependymal tumors are heterogeneous with regard to morphology, localization, age at first clinical manifestation, and prognosis. Several molecular alterations have been reported in these tumors, including allelic losses on chromosomes 10, 17, and 22 and mutations in the NF2 gene. However, in contrast to astrocytic gliomas, no consistent molecular alterations have been associated with distinct types of ependymal tumors. To evaluate whether morphological subsets of ependymomas are characterized by specific genetic lesions, we analyzed a series of 62 ependymal tumors, including myxopapillary ependymomas, subependymomas, ependymomas, and anaplastic ependymomas, for allelic losses on chromosome arms 10q and 22q and mutations in the PTEN and NF2 genes. Allelic losses on 10q and 22q were detected in 5 of 56 and 12 of 54 tumors, respectively. Six ependymomas carried somatic NF2 mutations, whereas no mutations were detected in the PTEN gene. All six of the NF2 mutations occurred in ependymomas of WHO grade II and were exclusively observed in tumors with a spinal localization (P = 0.0063). These findings suggest that a considerable fraction of spinal ependymomas are associated with molecular events involving chromosome 22 and that mutations in the NF2 gene may be of primary importance for their genesis. Furthermore, our data suggest that the more favorable clinical course of spinal ependymomas may relate to a distinct pattern of genetic alterations different from that of intracerebral ependymomas. (+info)
Nrf2, a Cap'n'Collar transcription factor, regulates induction of the heme oxygenase-1 gene.
Stress response elements, which mediate induction of the mouse heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) gene by several agents, resemble the binding site for the activator protein-1 (Jun/Fos), Maf, and Cap'n'Collar/basic leucine zipper (CNC-bZIP) families of proteins. In L929 fibroblasts, significant activation of an HO-1 enhancer-reporter fusion gene was observed only with the CNC-bZIP class of proteins with Nrf2 exhibiting the highest level of trans-activation, between 25- and 30-fold. To further examine the role of this factor in HO-1 gene regulation, a dominant-negative mutant, Nrf2M, was generated and conditionally expressed in L929 cells. The mutant protein was detected in cytoplasmic and nuclear fractions but did not affect cell growth. Under conditions of Nrf2M overexpression, HO-1 mRNA accumulation in response to heme, cadmium, zinc, arsenite, and tert-butylhydroquinone was inhibited by 85-95%. In contrast, overexpression of a dominant-negative mutant of c-Jun decreased L929 cell growth but did not inhibit HO-1 gene activation. Nrf2 does not homodimerize, but CNC-bZIP.small Maf protein heterodimers and Nrf2. Jun protein complexes are proposed to function as trans-activators. Co-expression of Jun proteins or p18, however, had no significant affect or inhibited Nrf2-mediated trans-activation. Taken together, these results implicate Nrf2 in the induction of the HO-1 gene but suggest that the Nrf2 partner in this function is a factor other than p18 or Jun proteins. (+info)
Expression level, subcellular distribution and rho-GDI binding affinity of merlin in comparison with Ezrin/Radixin/Moesin proteins.
Merlin, a neurofibromatosis type-2 tumor suppressor, shows significant sequence similarity to ERM (Ezrin/Radixin/Moesin) proteins, general actin filament/plasma membrane cross-linkers, which are regulated in a Rho-dependent manner. To understand its physiological functions, we compared merlin with ERM proteins in vivo and in vitro. Quantitative immunoblotting revealed that the molar ratio of merlin/ERM in cultured epithelial or non-epithelial cells was approximately 0.14 or approximately 0.05, respectively. After centrifugation of cell homogenate, merlin was mostly recovered in the insoluble fraction, whereas almost half of ERM proteins were found in the soluble fraction. Merlin and ERM proteins were concentrated at microvilli when introduced into fibroblasts. In contrast, in epithelial cells, introduced merlin was co-distributed with E-cadherin in lateral membranes, whereas ERM proteins were concentrated in apical microvilli. Finally, we examined the binding affinity of merlin to Rho GDP dissociation inhibitor (Rho-GDI), to which N-terminal halves of ERM proteins but not the full-length molecules specifically bind. In vitro binding assays revealed that the N-terminal halves of merlin isoform-I and -II as well as full-length merlin isoform-II bound to Rho-GDI with similar binding affinity to ERM proteins. Immunoprecipitation confirmed these findings in vivo. These findings do not favor the notion that merlin functions simply in a redundant or competitive manner to ERM proteins. (+info)
Interdomain interaction of merlin isoforms and its influence on intermolecular binding to NHE-RF.
Merlin, the neurofibromatosis 2 tumor suppressor protein, has two major isoforms with alternate C termini and is related to the ERM (ezrin, radixin, moesin) proteins. Regulation of the ERMs involves intramolecular and/or intermolecular head-to-tail associations between family members. We have determined whether merlin undergoes similar interactions, and our findings indicate that the C terminus of merlin isoform 1 is able to associate with its N-terminal domain in a head-to-tail fashion. However, the C terminus of isoform 2 lacks this property. Similarly, the N terminus of merlin can also associate with C terminus of moesin. We have also explored the effect of merlin self-association on binding to the regulatory cofactor of Na(+)-H(+) exchanger (NHE-RF), an interacting protein for merlin and the ERMs. Merlin isoform 2 captures more NHE-RF than merlin isoform 1 in affinity binding assays, suggesting that in full-length merlin isoform 1, the NHE-RF binding site is masked because of the self-interactions of merlin. Treatment with a phospholipid known to decrease self-association of ERMs enhances the binding of merlin isoform 1 to NHE-RF. Thus, although isoform 1 resembles the ERM proteins, which transition between inactive (closed) and active (open) states, isoform 2 is distinct, existing only in the active (open) state and presumably constitutively more available for interaction with other protein partners. (+info)