How do peptide synthetases generate structural diversity?
Many low-molecular-weight peptides of microbial origin are synthesized nonribosomally on large multifunctional proteins, termed peptide synthetases. These enzymes contain repeated building blocks in which several defined domains catalyze specific reactions of peptide synthesis. The order of these domains within the enzyme determines the sequence and structure of the peptide product. (+info
Conserved domains and lack of evidence for polyglutamine length polymorphism in the chicken homolog of the Machado-Joseph disease gene product ataxin-3.
Ataxin-3 is a protein of unknown function which is mutated in Machado-Joseph disease by expansion of a genetically unstable CAG repeat encoding polyglutamine. By analysis of chicken ataxin-3 we were able to identify four conserved domains of the protein and detected widespread expression in chicken tissues. In the first such analysis in a non-primate species we found that in contrast to primates, the chicken CAG repeat is short and genetically stable. (+info
Thymic selection by a single MHC/peptide ligand: autoreactive T cells are low-affinity cells.
In H2-M- mice, the presence of a single peptide, CLIP, bound to MHC class II molecules generates a diverse repertoire of CD4+ cells. In these mice, typical self-peptides are not bound to class II molecules, with the result that a very high proportion of H2-M- CD4+ cells are responsive to the various peptides displayed on normal MHC-compatible APC. We show here, however, that such "self" reactivity is controlled by low-affinity CD4+ cells. These cells give spectacularly high proliferative responses but are virtually unreactive in certain other assays, e.g., skin graft rejection; responses to MHC alloantigens, by contrast, are intense in all assays. Possible explanations for why thymic selection directed to a single peptide curtails self specificity without affecting alloreactivity are discussed. (+info
Role of nitric oxide-cGMP pathway in adrenomedullin-induced vasodilation in the rat.
We previously reported that adrenomedullin (AM), a potent vasodilator peptide discovered in pheochromocytoma cells, stimulates nitric oxide (NO) release in the rat kidney. To further investigate whether the NO-cGMP pathway is involved in the mechanisms of AM-induced vasodilation, we examined the effects of E-4021, a cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase inhibitor, on AM-induced vasorelaxation in aortic rings and perfused kidneys isolated from Wistar rats. We also measured NO release from the kidneys using a chemiluminescence assay. AM (10(-10) to 10(-7) mol/L) relaxed the aorta precontracted with phenylephrine in a dose-dependent manner. Denudation of endothelium (E) attenuated the vasodilatory action of AM (10(-7) mol/L AM: intact (E+) -25.7+/-5.2% versus denuded (E-) -7. 8+/-0.6%, P<0.05). On the other hand, pretreatment with 10(-8) mol/L E-4021 augmented AM-induced vasorelaxation in the intact aorta (-49. 0+/-7.9%, P<0.05) but not in the denuded one. E-4021 also enhanced acetylcholine (ACh)-induced vasorelaxation in the rat intact aorta (10(-7) mol/L ACh -36.6+/-8.4% versus 10(-8) mol/L E-4021+10(-7) mol/L ACh -62.7+/-3.1%, P<0.05). In perfused kidneys, AM-induced vasorelaxation was also augmented by preincubation with E-4021 (10(-9) mol/L AM -15.4+/-0.6% versus 10(-8) mol/L E-4021+10(-9) mol/L AM -23.6+/-1.2%, P<0.01). AM significantly increased NO release from rat kidneys (DeltaNO: +11.3+/-0.8 fmol. min-1. g-1 kidney at 10(-9) mol/L AM), which was not affected by E-4021. E-4021 enhanced ACh-induced vasorelaxation (10(-9) mol/L ACh -9.7+/-1.7% versus 10(-8) mol/L E-4021+10(-9) mol/L ACh -18.8+/-2.9%, P<0.01) but did not affect ACh-induced NO release from the kidneys. In the aorta and the kidney, 10(-4) mol/L of NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester, an NO synthase inhibitor, and 10(-5) mol/L of methylene blue, a guanylate cyclase inhibitor, reduced the vasodilatory effect of AM. These results suggest that the NO-cGMP pathway is involved in the mechanism of AM-induced vasorelaxation, at least in the rat aorta and kidney. (+info
Central peptidergic neurons are hyperactive during collateral sprouting and inhibition of activity suppresses sprouting.
Little is known regarding the effect of chronic changes in neuronal activity on the extent of collateral sprouting by identified CNS neurons. We have investigated the relationship between activity and sprouting in oxytocin (OT) and vasopressin (VP) neurons of the hypothalamic magnocellular neurosecretory system (MNS). Uninjured MNS neurons undergo a robust collateral-sprouting response that restores the axon population of the neural lobe (NL) after a lesion of the contralateral MNS (). Simultaneously, lesioned rats develop chronic urinary hyperosmolality indicative of heightened neurosecretory activity. We therefore tested the hypothesis that sprouting MNS neurons are hyperactive by measuring changes in cell and nuclear diameters, OT and VP mRNA pools, and axonal cytochrome oxidase activity (COX). Each of these measures was significantly elevated during the period of most rapid axonal growth between 1 and 4 weeks after the lesion, confirming that both OT and VP neurons are hyperactive while undergoing collateral sprouting. In a second study the hypothesis that chronic inhibition of neuronal activity would interfere with the sprouting response was tested. Chronic hyponatremia (CH) was induced 3 d before the hypothalamic lesion and sustained for 4 weeks to suppress neurosecretory activity. CH abolished the lesion-induced increases in OT and VP mRNA pools and virtually eliminated measurable COX activity in MNS terminals. Counts of the total number of axon profiles in the NL revealed that CH also prevented axonal sprouting from occurring. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that increased neuronal activity is required for denervation-induced collateral sprouting to occur in the MNS. (+info
The amyloid precursor protein interacts with Go heterotrimeric protein within a cell compartment specialized in signal transduction.
The function of the beta-amyloid protein precursor (betaAPP), a transmembrane molecule involved in Alzheimer pathologies, is poorly understood. We recently reported the presence of a fraction of betaAPP in cholesterol and sphingoglycolipid-enriched microdomains (CSEM), a caveolae-like compartment specialized in signal transduction. To investigate whether betaAPP actually interferes with cell signaling, we reexamined the interaction between betaAPP and Go GTPase. In strong contrast with results obtained with reconstituted phospholipid vesicles (Okamoto et al., 1995), we find that incubating total neuronal membranes with 22C11, an antibody that recognizes an N-terminal betaAPP epitope, reduces high-affinity Go GTPase activity. This inhibition is specific of Galphao and is reproduced, in the absence of 22C11, by the addition of the betaAPP C-terminal domain but not by two distinct mutated betaAPP C-terminal domains that do not bind Galphao. This inhibition of Galphao GTPase activity by either 22C11 or wild-type betaAPP cytoplasmic domain suggests that intracellular interactions between betaAPP and Galphao could be regulated by extracellular signals. To verify whether this interaction is preserved in CSEM, we first used biochemical, immunocytochemical, and ultrastructural techniques to unambiguously confirm the colocalization of Galphao and betaAPP in CSEM. We show that inhibition of basal Galphao GTPase activity also occurs within CSEM and correlates with the coimmunoprecipitation of Galphao and betaAPP. The regulation of Galphao GTPase activity by betaAPP in a compartment specialized in signaling may have important consequences for our understanding of the physiopathological functions of betaAPP. (+info
Interferon-alpha does not improve outcome at one year in patients with diffuse cutaneous scleroderma: results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
OBJECTIVE: To determine whether interferon-alpha (IFNalpha) reduces the severity of skin involvement in early (<3 years) diffuse scleroderma. METHODS: In a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial, 35 patients with early scleroderma received subcutaneous injections of either IFNalpha (13.5 x 10(6) units per week in divided doses) or indistinguishable placebo. Outcomes assessed were the modified Rodnan skin score, as determined by a single observer at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months, as well as data on renal, cardiac, and lung function. Pre- and posttreatment skin biopsy samples were analyzed and blood was obtained for assessment of procollagen peptide levels. RESULTS: There were 11 withdrawals from the IFNalpha group and 3 from the placebo group due to either toxicity, lack of efficacy, or death. In the intent-to-treat analysis, there was a greater improvement in the skin score in the placebo group between 0 and 12 months (mean change IFNalpha -4.7 versus placebo -7.5; P = 0.36). There was also a greater deterioration in lung function in patients receiving active therapy, as assessed by either the forced vital capacity (mean change IFNalpha -8.2 versus placebo +1.3; P = 0.01) or the diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide (mean change IFNalpha -9.3 versus placebo +4.7; P = 0.002). Skin biopsy showed no significant decrease in collagen synthesis in the IFNalpha group, and no significant differences in the levels of procollagen peptides were seen between the 2 groups. CONCLUSION: This study suggests that IFNalpha is of no value in the treatment of scleroderma, and that it may in fact be deleterious. (+info
Basic homopolyamino acids, histones and protamines are potent antagonists of angiogenin binding to ribonuclease inhibitor.
A radio-ribonuclease inhibitor assay based on the interaction of 125I-angiogenin with ribonuclease inhibitor (RI) was used to detect pancreatic-type ribonucleases and potential modulators of their action. We show that highly basic proteins including the homopolypeptides poly-arginine, poly-lysine and poly-ornithine, core histones, spermatid-specific S1 protein and the protamines HP3 and Z3 were strong inhibitors of angiogenin binding to RI. A minimum size of poly-arginine and poly-lysine was required for efficient inhibition. The inhibition likely resulted from direct association of the basic proteins with the acidic inhibitor, as RI bound to poly-lysine and protamines while 125I-angiogenin did not. Antagonists of the angiogenin-RI interaction are potential regulators of either angiogenin-triggered angiogenesis and/or intracellular RI function, depending on their preferential target. (+info