A Drosophila TNF-receptor-associated factor (TRAF) binds the ste20 kinase Misshapen and activates Jun kinase.
Two families of protein kinases that are closely related to Ste20 in their kinase domain have been identified - the p21-activated protein kinase (Pak) and SPS1 families [1-3]. In contrast to Pak family members, SPS1 family members do not bind and are not activated by GTP-bound p21Rac and Cdc42. We recently placed a member of the SPS1 family, called Misshapen (Msn), genetically upstream of the c-Jun amino-terminal (JNK) mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase module in Drosophila . The failure to activate JNK in Drosophila leads to embryonic lethality due to the failure of these embryos to stimulate dorsal closure [5-8]. Msn probably functions as a MAP kinase kinase kinase kinase in Drosophila, activating the JNK pathway via an, as yet, undefined MAP kinase kinase kinase. We have identified a Drosophila TNF-receptor-associated factor, DTRAF1, by screening for Msn-interacting proteins using the yeast two-hybrid system. In contrast to the mammalian TRAFs that have been shown to activate JNK, DTRAF1 lacks an amino-terminal 'Ring-finger' domain, and overexpression of a truncated DTRAF1, consisting of only its TRAF domain, activates JNK. We also identified another DTRAF, DTRAF2, that contains an amino-terminal Ring-finger domain. Msn specifically binds the TRAF domain of DTRAF1 but not that of DTRAF2. In Drosophila, DTRAF1 is thus a good candidate for an upstream molecule that regulates the JNK pathway by interacting with, and activating, Msn. Consistent with this idea, expression of a dominant-negative Msn mutant protein blocks the activation of JNK by DTRAF1. Furthermore, coexpression of Msn with DTRAF1 leads to the synergistic activation of JNK. We have extended some of these observations to the mammalian homolog of Msn, Nck-interacting kinase (NIK), suggesting that TRAFs also play a critical role in regulating Ste20 kinases in mammals. (+info
Identification of sonic hedgehog as a candidate gene responsible for the polydactylous mouse mutant Sasquatch.
The mouse mutants of the hemimelia-luxate group (lx, lu, lst, Dh, Xt, and the more recently identified Hx, Xpl and Rim4;     ) have in common preaxial polydactyly and longbone abnormalities. Associated with the duplication of digits are changes in the regulation of development of the anterior limb bud resulting in ectopic expression of signalling components such as Sonic hedgehog (Shh) and fibroblast growth factor-4 (Fgf4), but little is known about the molecular causes of this misregulation. We generated, by a transgene insertion event, a new member of this group of mutants, Sasquatch (Ssq), which disrupted aspects of both anteroposterior (AP) and dorsoventral (DV) patterning. The mutant displayed preaxial polydactyly in the hindlimbs of heterozygous embryos, and in both hindlimbs and forelimbs of homozygotes. The Shh, Fgf4, Fgf8, Hoxd12 and Hoxd13 genes were all ectopically expressed in the anterior region of affected limb buds. The insertion site was found to lie close to the Shh locus. Furthermore, expression from the transgene reporter has come under the control of a regulatory element that directs a pattern mirroring the endogenous expression pattern of Shh in limbs. In abnormal limbs, both Shh and the reporter were ectopically induced in the anterior region, whereas in normal limbs the reporter and Shh were restricted to the zone of polarising activity (ZPA). These data strongly suggest that Ssq is caused by direct interference with the cis regulation of the Shh gene. (+info
High-throughput screening of small molecules in miniaturized mammalian cell-based assays involving post-translational modifications.
BACKGROUND: Fully adapting a forward genetic approach to mammalian systems requires efficient methods to alter systematically gene products without prior knowledge of gene sequences, while allowing for the subsequent characterization of these alterations. Ideally, these methods would also allow function to be altered in a temporally controlled manner. RESULTS: We report the development of a miniaturized cell-based assay format that enables a genetic-like approach to understanding cellular pathways in mammalian systems using small molecules, rather than mutations, as the source of gene-product alterations. This whole-cell immunodetection assay can sensitively detect changes in specific cellular macromolecules in high-density arrays of mammalian cells. Furthermore, it is compatible with screening large numbers of small molecules in nanoliter to microliter culture volumes. We refer to this assay format as a 'cytoblot', and demonstrate the use of cytoblotting to monitor biosynthetic processes such as DNA synthesis, and post-translational processes such as acetylation and phosphorylation. Finally, we demonstrate the applicability of these assays to natural-product screening through the identification of marine sponge extracts exhibiting genotype-specific inhibition of 5-bromodeoxyuridine incorporation and suppression of the anti-proliferative effect of rapamycin. CONCLUSIONS: We show that cytoblots can be used for high-throughput screening of small molecules in cell-based assays. Together with small-molecule libraries, the cytoblot assay can be used to perform chemical genetic screens analogous to those used in classical genetics and thus should be applicable to understanding a wide variety of cellular processes, especially those involving post-transitional modifications. (+info
Interleukin-8 receptor modulates IgE production and B-cell expansion and trafficking in allergen-induced pulmonary inflammation.
We examined the role of the interleukin-8 (IL-8) receptor in a murine model of allergen-induced pulmonary inflammation using mice with a targeted deletion of the murine IL-8 receptor homologue (IL-8r-/-). Wild-type (Wt) and IL-8r-/- mice were systemically immunized to ovalbumin (OVA) and were exposed with either single or multiple challenge of aerosolized phosphate-buffered saline (OVA/PBS) or OVA (OVA/OVA). Analysis of cells recovered from bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) revealed a diminished recruitment of neutrophils to the airway lumen after single challenge in IL-8r-/- mice compared with Wt mice, whereas multiply challenged IL-8r-/- mice had increased B cells and fewer neutrophils compared with Wt mice. Both Wt and IL-8r-/- OVA/OVA mice recruited similar numbers of eosinophils to the BAL fluid and exhibited comparable degrees of pulmonary inflammation histologically. Both total and OVA-specific IgE levels were greater in multiply challenged IL-8r-/- OVA/OVA mice than in Wt mice. Both the IL-8r-/- OVA/OVA and OVA/PBS mice were significantly less responsive to methacholine than their respective Wt groups, but both Wt and IL-8r mice showed similar degrees of enhancement after multiple allergen challenge. The data demonstrate that the IL-8r modulates IgE production, airway responsiveness, and the composition of the cells (B cells and neutrophils) recruited to the airway lumen in response to antigen. (+info
Concomitant activation of pathways downstream of Grb2 and PI 3-kinase is required for MET-mediated metastasis.
The Met tyrosine kinase - the HGF receptor - induces cell transformation and metastasis when constitutively activated. Met signaling is mediated by phosphorylation of two carboxy-terminal tyrosines which act as docking sites for a number of SH2-containing molecules. These include Grb2 and p85 which couple the receptor, respectively, with Ras and PI 3-kinase. We previously showed that a Met mutant designed to obtain preferential coupling with Grb2 (Met2xGrb2) is permissive for motility, increases transformation, but - surprisingly - is impaired in causing invasion and metastasis. In this work we used Met mutants optimized for binding either p85 alone (Met2xPI3K) or p85 and Grb2 (MetPI3K/Grb2) to evaluate the relative importance of Ras and PI 3-kinase as downstream effectors of Met. Met2xPI3K was competent in eliciting motility, but not transformation, invasion, or metastasis. Conversely, MetP13K/Grb2 induced motility, transformation, invasion and metastasis as efficiently as wild type Met. Furthermore, the expression of constitutively active PI 3-kinase in cells transformed by the Met2xGrb2 mutant, fully rescued their ability to invade and metastasize. These data point to a central role for PI 3-kinase in Met-mediated invasiveness, and indicate that simultaneous activation of Ras and PI 3-kinase is required to unleash the Met metastatic potential. (+info
Polarized distribution of Bcr-Abl in migrating myeloid cells and co-localization of Bcr-Abl and its target proteins.
Bcr-Abl plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of Philadelphia chromosome-positive leukemia. Although a large number of substrates and interacting proteins of Bcr-Abl have been identified, it remains unclear whether Bcr-Abl assembles multi-protein complexes and if it does where these complexes are within cells. We have investigated the localization of Bcr-Abl in 32D myeloid cells attached to the extracellular matrix. We have found that Bcr-Abl displays a polarized distribution, colocalizing with a subset of filamentous actin at trailing portions of migrating 32D cells, and localizes on the cortical F-actin and on vesicle-like structures in resting 32D cells. Deletion of the actin binding domain of Bcr-Abl (Bcr-AbI-AD) dramatically enhances the localization of Bcr-Abl on the vesicle-like structures. These distinct localization patterns of Bcr-Abl and Bcr-Abl-AD enabled us to examine the localization of Bcr-Abl substrate and interacting proteins in relation to Bcr-Abl. We found that a subset of biochemically defined target proteins of Bcr-Abl redistributed and co-localized with Bcr-Abl on F-actin and on vesicle-like structures. The co-localization of signaling proteins with Bcr-Abl at its sites of localization supports the idea that Bcr-Abl forms a multi-protein signaling complex, while the polarized distribution and vesicle-like localization of Bcr-Abl may play a role in leukemogenesis. (+info
Telomerase reverse transcriptase gene is a direct target of c-Myc but is not functionally equivalent in cellular transformation.
The telomerase reverse transcriptase component (TERT) is not expressed in most primary somatic human cells and tissues, but is upregulated in the majority of immortalized cell lines and tumors. Here, we identify the c-Myc transcription factor as a direct mediator of telomerase activation in primary human fibroblasts through its ability to specifically induce TERT gene expression. Through the use of a hormone inducible form of c-Myc (c-Myc-ER), we demonstrate that Myc-induced activation of the hTERT promoter requires an evolutionarily conserved E-box and that c-Myc-ER-induced accumulation of hTERT mRNA takes place in the absence of de novo protein synthesis. These findings demonstrate that the TERT gene is a direct transcriptional target of c-Myc. Since telomerase activation frequently correlates with immortalization and telomerase functions to stabilize telomers in cycling cells, we tested whether Myc-induced activation of TERT gene expression represents an important mechanism through which c-Myc acts to immortalize cells. Employing the rat embryo fibroblast cooperation assay, we show that TERT is unable to substitute for c-Myc in the transformation of primary rodent fibroblasts, suggesting that the transforming activities of Myc extend beyond its ability to activate TERT gene expression and hence telomerase activity. (+info
Leptin suppression of insulin secretion and gene expression in human pancreatic islets: implications for the development of adipogenic diabetes mellitus.
Previously we demonstrated the expression of the long form of the leptin receptor in rodent pancreatic beta-cells and an inhibition of insulin secretion by leptin via activation of ATP-sensitive potassium channels. Here we examine pancreatic islets isolated from pancreata of human donors for their responses to leptin. The presence of leptin receptors on islet beta-cells was demonstrated by double fluorescence confocal microscopy after binding of a fluorescent derivative of human leptin (Cy3-leptin). Leptin (6.25 nM) suppressed insulin secretion of normal islets by 20% at 5.6 mM glucose. Intracellular calcium responses to 16.7 mM glucose were rapidly reduced by leptin. Proinsulin messenger ribonucleic acid expression in islets was inhibited by leptin at 11.1 mM, but not at 5.6 mM glucose. Leptin also reduced proinsulin messenger ribonucleic acid levels that were increased in islets by treatment with 10 nM glucagon-like peptide-1 in the presence of either 5.6 or 11.1 mM glucose. These findings demonstrate direct suppressive effects of leptin on insulin-producing beta-cells in human islets at the levels of both stimulus-secretion coupling and gene expression. The findings also further indicate the existence of an adipoinsular axis in humans in which insulin stimulates leptin production in adipocytes and leptin inhibits the production of insulin in beta-cells. We suggest that dysregulation of the adipoinsular axis in obese individuals due to defective leptin reception by beta-cells may result in chronic hyperinsulinemia and may contribute to the pathogenesis of adipogenic diabetes. (+info