VEGF is required for growth and survival in neonatal mice.
We employed two independent approaches to inactivate the angiogenic protein VEGF in newborn mice: inducible, Cre-loxP- mediated gene targeting, or administration of mFlt(1-3)-IgG, a soluble VEGF receptor chimeric protein. Partial inhibition of VEGF achieved by inducible gene targeting resulted in increased mortality, stunted body growth and impaired organ development, most notably of the liver. Administration of mFlt(1-3)-IgG, which achieves a higher degree of VEGF inhibition, resulted in nearly complete growth arrest and lethality. Ultrastructural analysis documented alterations in endothelial and other cell types. Histological and biochemical changes consistent with liver and renal failure were observed. Endothelial cells isolated from the liver of mFlt(1-3)-IgG-treated neonates demonstrated an increased apoptotic index, indicating that VEGF is required not only for proliferation but also for survival of endothelial cells. However, such treatment resulted in less significant alterations as the animal matured, and the dependence on VEGF was eventually lost some time after the fourth postnatal week. Administration of mFlt(1-3)-IgG to juvenile mice failed to induce apoptosis in liver endothelial cells. Thus, VEGF is essential for growth and survival in early postnatal life. However, in the fully developed animal, VEGF is likely to be involved primarily in active angiogenesis processes such as corpus luteum development. (+info
Cell polarization: chemotaxis gets CRACKing.
An early stage in the establishment of cell polarity during chemotaxis of Dictyostelium dicoideum has been identified by a recent study; the new results also show that the development of cell polarity does not rely upon cytoskeletal rearrangement, and may use a spatial sensing mechanism. (+info
Deletion analysis of the Drosophila Inscuteable protein reveals domains for cortical localization and asymmetric localization.
The Drosophila Inscuteable protein acts as a key regulator of asymmetric cell division during the development of the nervous system  . In neuroblasts, Inscuteable localizes into an apical cortical crescent during late interphase and most of mitosis. During mitosis, Inscuteable is required for the correct apical-basal orientation of the mitotic spindle and for the asymmetric segregation of the proteins Numb   , Prospero    and Miranda   into the basal daughter cell. When Inscuteable is ectopically expressed in epidermal cells, which normally orient their mitotic spindle parallel to the embryo surface, these cells reorient their mitotic spindle and divide perpendicularly to the surface . Like the Inscuteable protein, the inscuteable RNA is asymmetrically localized . We show here that inscuteable RNA localization is not required for Inscuteable protein localization. We found that a central 364 amino acid domain - the Inscuteable asymmetry domain - was necessary and sufficient for Inscuteable localization and function. Within this domain, a separate 100 amino acid region was required for asymmetric localization along the cortex, whereas a 158 amino acid region directed localization to the cell cortex. The same 158 amino acid fragment could localize asymmetrically when coexpressed with the full-length protein, however, and could bind to Inscuteable in vitro, suggesting that this domain may be involved in the self-association of Inscuteable in vivo. (+info
Bcl-2 regulates amplification of caspase activation by cytochrome c.
Caspases, a family of specific proteases, have central roles in apoptosis . Caspase activation in response to diverse apoptotic stimuli involves the relocalisation of cytochrome c from mitochondria to the cytoplasm where it stimulates the proteolytic processing of caspase precursors. Cytochrome c release is controlled by members of the Bcl-2 family of apoptosis regulators  . The anti-apoptotic members Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL may also control caspase activation independently of cytochrome c relocalisation or may inhibit a positive feedback mechanism    . Here, we investigate the role of Bcl-2 family proteins in the regulation of caspase activation using a model cell-free system. We found that Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL set a threshold in the amount of cytochrome c required to activate caspases, even in soluble extracts lacking mitochondria. Addition of dATP (which stimulates the procaspase-processing factor Apaf-1  ) overcame inhibition of caspase activation by Bcl-2, but did not prevent the control of cytochrome c release from mitochondria by Bcl-2. Cytochrome c release was accelerated by active caspase-3 and this positive feedback was negatively regulated by Bcl-2. These results provide evidence for a mechanism to amplify caspase activation that is suppressed at several distinct steps by Bcl-2, even after cytochrome c is released from mitochondria. (+info
Plasma membrane recruitment of RalGDS is critical for Ras-dependent Ral activation.
In COS cells, Ral GDP dissociation stimulator (RalGDS)-induced Ral activation was stimulated by RasG12V or a Rap1/Ras chimera in which the N-terminal region of Rap1 was ligated to the C-terminal region of Ras but not by Rap1G12V or a Ras/Rap1 chimera in which the N-terminal region of Ras was ligated to the C-terminal region of Rap1, although RalGDS interacted with these small GTP-binding proteins. When RasG12V, Ral and the Rap1/Ras chimera were individually expressed in NIH3T3 cells, they localized to the plasma membrane. Rap1Q63E and the Ras/Rap1 chimera were detected in the perinuclear region. When RalGDS was expressed alone, it was abundant in the cytoplasm. When coexpressed with RasG12V or the Rap1/Ras chimera, RalGDS was detected at the plasma membrane, whereas when coexpressed with Rap1Q63E or the Ras/Rap1 chimera, RalGDS was observed in the perinuclear region. RalGDS which was targeted to the plasma membrane by the addition of Ras farnesylation site (RalGDS-CAAX) activated Ral in the absence of RasG12V. Although RalGDS did not stimulate the dissociation of GDP from Ral in the absence of the GTP-bound form of Ras in a reconstitution assay using the liposomes, RalGDS-CAAX could stimulate it without Ras. RasG12V activated Raf-1 when they were coexpressed in Sf9 cells, whereas RasG12V did not affect the RalGDS activity. These results indicate that Ras recruits RalGDS to the plasma membrane and that the translocated RalGDS induces the activation of Ral, but that Rap1 does not activate Ral due to distinct subcellular localization. (+info
B-MYB transactivates its own promoter through SP1-binding sites.
B-MYB is an ubiquitous protein required for mammalian cell growth. In this report we show that B-MYB transactivates its own promoter through a 120 bp segment proximal to the transcription start site. The B-MYB-responsive element does not contain myb-binding sites and gel-shift analysis shows that SP1, but not B-MYB, protein contained in SAOS2 cell extracts binds to the 120 bp B-myb promoter fragment. B-MYB-dependent transactivation is cooperatively increased in the presence of SP1, but not SP3 overexpression. When the SP1 elements of the B-myb promoter are transferred in front of a heterologous promoter, an increased response to B-MYB results. In contrast, c-MYB, the prototype member of the Myb family, is not able to activate the luciferase construct containing the SP1 elements. With the use of an SP1-GAL4 fusion protein, we have determined that the cooperative activation occurs through the domain A of SP1. These observations suggest that B-MYB functions as a coactivator of SP1, and that diverse combinations of myb and SP1 sites may dictate the responsiveness of myb-target genes to the various members of the myb family. (+info
A single membrane-embedded negative charge is critical for recognizing positively charged drugs by the Escherichia coli multidrug resistance protein MdfA.
The nature of the broad substrate specificity phenomenon, as manifested by multidrug resistance proteins, is not yet understood. In the Escherichia coli multidrug transporter, MdfA, the hydrophobicity profile and PhoA fusion analysis have so far identified only one membrane-embedded charged amino acid residue (E26). In order to determine whether this negatively charged residue may play a role in multidrug recognition, we evaluated the expression and function of MdfA constructs mutated at this position. Replacing E26 with the positively charged residue lysine abolished the multidrug resistance activity against positively charged drugs, but retained chloramphenicol efflux and resistance. In contrast, when the negative charge was preserved in a mutant with aspartate instead of E26, chloramphenicol recognition and transport were drastically inhibited; however, the mutant exhibited almost wild-type multidrug resistance activity against lipophilic cations. These results suggest that although the negative charge at position 26 is not essential for active transport, it dictates the multidrug resistance character of MdfA. We show that such a negative charge is also found in other drug resistance transporters, and its possible significance regarding multidrug resistance is discussed. (+info
Assembly requirements of PU.1-Pip (IRF-4) activator complexes: inhibiting function in vivo using fused dimers.
Gene expression in higher eukaryotes appears to be regulated by specific combinations of transcription factors binding to regulatory sequences. The Ets factor PU.1 and the IRF protein Pip (IRF-4) represent a pair of interacting transcription factors implicated in regulating B cell-specific gene expression. Pip is recruited to its binding site on DNA by phosphorylated PU.1. PU.1-Pip interaction is shown to be template directed and involves two distinct protein-protein interaction surfaces: (i) the ets and IRF DNA-binding domains; and (ii) the phosphorylated PEST region of PU.1 and a lysine-requiring putative alpha-helix in Pip. Thus, a coordinated set of protein-protein and protein-DNA contacts are essential for PU.1-Pip ternary complex assembly. To analyze the function of these factors in vivo, we engineered chimeric repressors containing the ets and IRF DNA-binding domains connected by a flexible POU domain linker. When stably expressed, the wild-type fused dimer strongly repressed the expression of a rearranged immunoglobulin lambda gene, thereby establishing the functional importance of PU.1-Pip complexes in B cell gene expression. Comparative analysis of the wild-type dimer with a series of mutant dimers distinguished a gene regulated by PU.1 and Pip from one regulated by PU.1 alone. This strategy should prove generally useful in analyzing the function of interacting transcription factors in vivo, and for identifying novel genes regulated by such complexes. (+info