Biologische Hochschulschriften (Goethe-Universität; nur lokal zugänglich)
Analyses of the human ribosome biogenesis co-factors PWP2, EMG1 and XPO5 / von Matthias Sebastian Leisegang
- Ribosome biogenesis is best understood in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In human or mammalian ribosome biogenesis, it has been shown that basic principles are conserved to yeast, but additional features have been reported. Our understanding about the interplay between proteins and RNA in human ribosome biogenesis is far from complete.
The present study focused on the analysis of the human ribosome biogenesis co-factors PWP2, EMG1 and Exportin 5 (XPO5) to understand the degree of conservation of ribosome biogenesis. The proteins were characterized in respect to their localization and interaction partners. For the early 90S co-factor, PWP2, it was possible to pull down and identify the human UTP-B complex with MALDI mass spectrometry. Besides the orthologues of the members of this complex known in yeast (TBL3, WDR3, WDR36, UTP6, UTP18), the human UTP-B complex is not only conserved from yeast to humans, but contains also additional components, like the DEAD-box RNA helicase DDX21, which lacks a yeast orthologue. DDX21 was localized to the nucleus, assembled to the native UTP-B complex and co-precipitated also with other UTP-B complex members, presumably extending the functions of this complex in ribosome biogenesis.
This phenomenon was also observed for the 90S co-factor EMG1, an RNA methyltransferase, whose mutant form causes the Bowen-Conradi syndrome, if aspartic acid is mutated to glycine at position 86. This study revealed that the mutant, EMG1-D86G, clearly lost its nucleolar localization and co-precipitated to histones for unknown reasons.
A participation of the nuclear export receptor XPO5 in human ribosome biogenesis was shown in this study. Pulldown analysis, sucrose density gradients and UV crosslinking and analysis of cDNAs of XPO5 revealed the involvement of XPO5 in pre-60S subunit maturation. Moreover, besides the known pre-miRNAs and tRNAs as substrates for nuclear export, XPO5 crosslinked to snoRNAs. XPO5 was further demonstrated to interact with the miRNA Let-7a, which has an important regulatory function for MYC, a transcription factor required for ribosome biogenesis.
All results support a role of these proteins in human ribosome biogenesis and therefore it seems that the biogenesis of ribosomes in human cells requires additional components, like DDX21 and XPO5.
HuR promotes tumorigenic characteristics in hepatocellular carcinoma
- In the absence of apparent mutations, alteration of gene expression patterns represents the key mechanism by which normal cells evolve to cancer cells.
Gene expression is tightly regulated by posttranscriptional processes. Within this context, RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) represent fundamental factors, since they control mechanisms, such as mRNA-stabilization, -translation and -degradation. Human antigen R (HuR) was among the first RBPs that have been directly associated to carcinogenesis. HuR modulates the stability and translation of mRNAs which encode proteins facilitating various ‘hallmarks of cancer’, namely proliferation, evasion of growth suppression, angiogenesis, cell death resistance, invasion and metastasis. Furthermore, it is well established that tumor-promoting inflammation contributes to tumorigenesis. In this process, monocytes are attracted to the site of the tumor and educated towards a tumor-promoting macrophage phenotype. While HuR has been extensively studied in various tumor cell types, little is known about HuR in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Thus, the aim of my work was to characterize the contribution of HuR to the development of cancer characteristics in HCC. I was particularly interested to investigate if HuR facilitates tumor-promoting inflammation, since a role for HuR has not been described in this context. To this end, I depleted HuR in HepG2 cells (HuR k/d) and used a co-culture model of HepG2 tumor spheroids and infiltrating monocytes to study the impact of HuR on the tumor microenvironment. I could show that depletion of HuR resulted in the reduction of cell numbers. Additionally, the expression of proliferation marker KI-67 and proto-oncogene c-Myc was reduced, supporting a proliferative role of HuR. Furthermore, exposure to cytotoxic staurosporine elevated apoptosis in HuR k/d cells compared to control cells. Concomitantly, the expression of the anti-apoptotic mediator B-cell lymphoma protein-2 (Bcl-2) was markedly reduced in the HuR k/d cells, pointing to an involvement of HuR in cell survival processes.
Accordingly, a pro-survival function of HuR was also observed in tumor spheroids, since HuR k/d spheroids exhibited a larger necrotic core region at earlier time points and showed elevated numbers of dead cells compared to control (Ctr.) spheroids. Interestingly, HuR k/d spheroids isplayed reduced numbers of infiltrated macrophages, suggesting that HuR contributes to a tumor-promoting, inflammatory microenvironment by recruiting monocytes/macrophages to the tumor site. Aiming at identifying HuR-regulated factors responsible for the recruitment of monocytes, I found reduced levels of the chemokine interleukin 8 (IL-8) in supernatants of HuR k/d spheroids, supporting a critical involvement of HuR in the chemoattraction of monocytes. Analyzing supernatants of co-cultures of macrophages and HuR k/d or Ctr. spheroids revealed additional differences in chemokine secretion patterns. Interestingly, protein levels of many chemokines were elevated in co-cultures of HuR k/d spheroids compared to control co-cultures. Albeit enhanced chemokine secretion was observed, less monocytes are recruited into HuR k/d spheroids, further underlining the necessity of HuR in cancer related monocyte/macrophage attraction and infiltration. Differences between chemokine profiles of mono- and co-cultured spheroids could be attributable to changes in spheroid-derived chemokines as a result of the crosstalk with the immune cells. Provided the chemokines originate from monocytes/macrophages, the different secretion patterns suggest that HuR contributes to the modulation of the functional phenotype of infiltrated macrophages, since the tumorenvironment is critically involved in the shaping of macrophage phenotypes. Regions of low-oxygen (hypoxia) represent another critical feature of tumors. Therefore, I next analyzed the impact of HuR on the hypoxic response. Loss of HuR attenuated hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) 2α expression after exposure to hypoxia, while HIF-1α protein levels remained unaltered. Considering previous results of our group, showing that HIF-2α depletion (HIF-2α k/d) resulted in the enhanced expression of HIF-1α protein, I aimed to determine the involvement of HuR in the compensatory upregulation of HIF-1α protein in HIF-2α k/d cells. I could demonstrate that not only total HuR protein levels, but specifically cytoplasmic HuR was elevated in HIF-2α depleted cells pointing to enhanced HuR activity. Silencing HuR in HIF-2α deficient cells attenuated enhanced HIF-1α protein expression, thus confirming a direct role of HuR in the compensatory upregulation of HIF-1α. This as also reflected on HIF-1α target gene expression. I further investigated the mechanism underlying the compensatory HIF-1α expression in HIF-2α deficient cells. Analyzing HIF-1α mRNA expression, I excluded enhanced HIF1-α transcription and stability to account for elevated HIF-1α expression in HIF-2α k/d cells. HIF-1α promoter activity assays confirmed the mRNA data. Furthermore, HIF-1α protein half-life was not elevated in HIF-2α k/d cells compared to control cells, indicating that HIF-1α protein stability is not altered in HIF-2α k/d cells. Analysis of the association of HIF-1α with the translational machinery using polysomal fractionation finally revealed an increased istribution of HIF-1α mRNA in the heavier polysomal fractions in HIF-2α k/d cells compared to control cells. Since augmented ribosome occupancy is an indicator for more efficient translation, I propose enhanced HIF-1α translation as underlying principle of the compensatory increase in HIF-1α protein levels in HIF-2α k/d cells. In summary, my results demonstrate that HuR is critical for the development of cancer characteristics in HCC. Future work analyzing the impact of HuR on tumor-promoting inflammation, specifically macrophage attraction and activation could provide new trategies to inhibit macrophage-driven tumor progression. Furthermore, I provide evidence that HuR contributes to the hypoxic response by regulating the expression of HIF-1α and HIF-2α. Targeting single HIF-isoforms for tumor therapy should be carefully considered, because of their compensatory regulation when one α-subunit is depleted. Thus, therapeutic strategies targeting factors such as HuR that control both α-subunits and at the same time prevent compensation might be more promising.
Diversity, biogeography and conservation status of the Bromeliaceae in Panama and Costa Rica
Daniel Cáceres González
Ecotoxicological assessment of small surface waters with emphasis on sediments : a case study in Hesse, Germany
- Chemical contamination of the environment and thus of aquatic ecosystems is steadily increasing.
Whenever environmental pollutants enter a water body, they affect not only the
water, but also the sediment. Substances that bind to sediment particles can be stored for
a long time, whereby sediments act as sinks for some contaminants. Therefore, sediment
assessments often more accurately describe the contamination of a water body than investigations
of the water itself. Among environmental chemicals, endocrine disrupting compounds
(EDCs) have gained more and more attention in recent years. Since they interfere
with endocrine systems and may disturb reproduction, they endanger the survival of populations
or even species. Hazardous substances enter the aquatic environment by different
pathways, with sewage treatment plants (STPs) belonging to the most important contamination
The main objective of this work is a comprehensive sediment assessment of predominantly
small surface waters in the German federal state of Hesse. The 50 study sites, located in 44
different creeks and small rivers, are situated in the densely populated and economically
important Frankfurt/Rhine-Main area, as well as in rural and less urbanized regions.
Chemical analytical data, provided by the Hessian Agency for the Environment and Geology
(HLUG), indicated different contamination levels of the study sites. In order to investigate
the general toxicity of the sediment samples, the oligochaete Lumbriculus variegatus
and the midge Chironomus riparius were exposed to whole sediments and apical endpoints
regarding biomass, survival, and reproduction were determined. In further experiments,
special attention was paid to the contamination with endocrine active compounds. For this
purpose, the reproductive success of the New Zealand mudsnail Potamopyrgus antipodarum
was analyzed after exposure to whole sediments. Additionally, a yeast-based reporter gene
assay was applied with sediment eluates to assess the estrogenic and androgenic activity of
the samples. Biotest results were compared with chemical analysis data to investigate
whether the test organisms reflect the measured pollution of the study sites and if the observed
effects can be explained by chemical contamination.
Five study sites, all located less than 1 km downstream of a STP discharger, were selected
for further investigations based on the results of the sediment monitoring. The sediments
from these sites were conspicuous due to their general toxic and/or estrogenic activity. In
order to investigate whether the observed effects can be ascribed to the effluents, an active
biomonitoring study was conducted with the mudsnail P. antipodarum and the zebra mussel
Dreissena polymorpha, exposed at study sites located up- and downstream of the discharger.
In addition to endocrine activity, genotoxic effects were investigated using the
comet assay and the micronucleus assay. Endocrine activity was examined based on the
reproductive output of P. antipodarum and the content of vitellogenin-like proteins in
D. polymorpha. Yeast-based reporter gene assays were used to estimate the endocrine potential
(estrogen, anti-estrogen, anti-androgen, dioxin-like) of sediment and water samples.
22% of the 50 sediments showed ecologically relevant effects in the biotests with L. variegatus
and C. riparius. Only one sediment caused a relevant effect on both test organisms,
while the other ten positively tested sediments affected either L. variegatus or C. riparius,
probably due to differences in inter-species sensitivities. This suggests that a combination
of different biotests is necessary for a comprehensive evaluation of sediment toxicity.
78% of the sediments caused a significantly increased number of embryos in P. antipodarum,
which could be ascribed to estrogenic contamination of the sediment samples. An
increase in the number of embryos by 60%, as observed in this study, and an associated
increase in population size may result in the displacement of other, less competitive species.
In the in vitro tests, 66% of the sediments showed estrogenic activity and 68% showed androgenic
activity. Maximum observed values were 40.9 ng EEQ/kg sediment (EEQ = estradiol
equivalent) for estrogenic and 93.4 ng TEQ/kg sediment (TEQ = testosterone
equivalent) for androgenic activity. Natural and synthetic hormones as well as alkylphenols
were the major contributors to the total estrogenicity of environmental samples in several
other studies, and are likely responsible for a large part of the estrogenic activity in this
case as well. Similarly, androgenic activity is mainly due to natural steroids and their metabolites.
Bioassay results reflect the analytically measured contamination levels at the study sites
only very infrequently. This can be ascribed to the occurrence of integrated effects of chemical
mixtures present in the sediments. Additionally, effects of substances not included in
the analytical program or of substances present in concentrations below the detection limit
of the chemical analytical investigations as well as varying bioavailabilities might be relevant.
The fact that a large part of the observed effects cannot be explained by the chemical
contamination demonstrates the need for effect studies in ecotoxicological sediment assessments.
In order to identify possible causes for the effects observed in the sediment monitoring, e.g.
contamination sources, the area types (urban fabrics, arable lands, pasturages, etc.) of the
catchment areas belonging to the study sites were analyzed. No significant differences were
found between the area profiles of the sampling sites with and without effects in the biotests.
The results indicate that the contamination responsible for the observed effects can
be ascribed to different sources. Furthermore, study sites whose sediments exerted significant
effects in biotests were located in anthropogenic as well as in predominantly natural
The active biomonitoring study at STPs revealed genotoxic and endocrine effects only sporadically.
However, in the in vitro tests considerable endocrine activities of sediment and
water samples were determined. No conclusive picture emerges as to whether the observed
effects occur more frequently downstream of the dischargers, and thus could be attributed
to a contamination by sewage. This indicates that contamination sources other than STP
dischargers, for example agricultural runoff, may contribute to the observed effects. Weaker
effects and biological activities downstream of a discharger compared to an upstream site
might be ascribed to a dilution effect by the effluents. A comparison of the measured in
vitro estrogenicity with exposure studies described in the literature shows that adverse effects
in aquatic organisms can be expected at the EEQ concentrations determined in the
The results of the sediment monitoring and the STP study revealed a widespread endocrine
pollution of small surface waters in Hesse. The fact that the bioassay results only rarely
reflect study site contamination as determined by chemical analysis demonstrates the need
for effect studies in comprehensive sediment assessments. In some cases STP dischargers
increased, in other cases they decreased the observed in vivo effects and in vitro activity of
environmental samples. Transferring the results obtained in laboratory studies to the field,
adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems can be expected. The study illustrates the need for
restrictive measures that contribute to the removal or reduction of environmental pollutants.
For the identification of substances that have so far not been linked to adverse effects
on the environment, methods such as effect-directed analyses (EDA) or toxicity identification
evaluation (TIE) should be increasingly applied in future studies. Furthermore,
bioassays for the assessment of endocrine activity should be implemented in standardized
Controlling gene expression with engineered catalytic riboswitches
- The importance of RNA in molecular and cell biology has long been underestimated. Besides transmitting genetic information, studies of recent years have revealed crucial tasks of RNA especially in gene regulation. Riboswitches are natural RNA-based genetic switches and known only for ten years. They directly sense small-molecule metabolites and regulate in response the expression of the corresponding metabolic genes. Within recent years, artificial riboswitches have been developed that operate according to user-defined demands. Hence, they represent powerful tools for synthetic biology.
This study focused on the development of engineered catalytic riboswitches for conditional gene expression in eukaryotes. A self-cleaving hammerhead ribozyme was linked to a tetracycline binding aptamer in order to regulate ribozyme cleavage allosterically with tetracycline. By integrating such a hybrid molecule into a gene of interest, mRNA cleavage and thereby gene expression is controllable in a ligand dependent manner. The linking domain between ribozyme and aptamer was randomised. Tetracycline inducible ribozymes were isolated after eleven cycles of in vitro selection (SELEX). 80% of the analysed ribozymes show cleavage that strongly depends on tetracycline. In the presence of 1 μM tetracycline, their cleavage rates are comparable to that of the parental hammerhead ribozyme. In the absence of tetracycline, cleavage rates are inhibited up to 333-fold. The allosteric ribozymes bind tetracycline with similar affinity and specificity as the parental aptamer. Ribozyme cleavage is fully induced within minutes after addition of tetracycline. Interestingly, the isolated linker domains exhibit structural consensus motives rather than consensus sequences.
When transferred to yeast, three switches reduced reporter gene expression by 30 - 60% in the presence of tetracycline; none of them controlled gene expression in mammalian cells. In vitro selected molecules do not necessarily retain their characteristics when applied in a cellular context. Therefore, high throughput screening and selection systems have been developed in mammalian cells. The screening system is based on two fluorescent reporter proteins (GFP and mCherry). 1152 individual constructs of the selected ribozyme pool were tested, but none of them reduced reporter gene expression significantly in the presence of tetracycline. The selection system employs a fusion peptide encoding two selection markers (Hygromycin B phosphotransferase and HSV thymidine kinase) facilitating both negative and positive selection. 6.5 x 104 individual constructs of the selected ribozyme pool are currently under investigation.
An ambiguous interface – on the transport mechanism of the ABC transport complex TAP
- The adaptive immune system protects against daily infections and malignant transformation. In this, the translocation of antigenic peptides by the transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP) into the ER lumen is an essential step in the antigen presentation by MHC I molecules. The heterodimeric ATP-binding cassette transporter (ABC) TAP consist of the two halftransporters TAP1 and TAP2. Each monomer contains an N-terminal transmembrane domain (TMD) and a conserved C-terminal nucleotide-binding domain (NBD). Together, the TMDs build the translocation core and the NBDs bind and hydrolyze ATP, energizing the peptide transport. TAP features an asymmetry in the two ATP-binding sites that are built of several conserved motifs. One motif is the D-loop with the consensus sequence SALD. The highly conserved aspartate of the D-loop of TAP1 reaches into the canonic ATP-binding site and contacts the Walker A motif and the H-loop of the opposite NBD, while the Asp of D-loop of TAP2 is part of the non-canonic ATP-binding site.
To examine this ABC transport complex in mechanistic detail, a purification and reconstitution procedure was established with the function of TAP being preserved. The heterodimeric TAP complex was purified via a His10-tag at TAP1 in a 1:1 ratio of the subunits. Nucleotide binding to the purified transporter was elucidated by tryptophan quenching assays and the affinity constants for MgADP and MgATP were determined to be 1.0 μM and 0.7 μM, respectevely. In addition, the TAP complex shows strict coupling between peptide binding and ATP hydrolysis, revealing no basal ATPase activity in the absence of peptides. Furthermore, TAP was reconstituted into proteoliposomes and the activity was tested by peptide transport and ATP hydrolysis. Interestingly, the kinetic parameters of the transporter in the reconstituted state are comparable to the data gained for TAP in microsomes.
To characterize the functional importance of the D-loop, D-loop mutants of either TAP1 or TAP2 were analyzed. Strikingly, TAP containing a mutated D-loop in TAP1 (D674A) shows an ATP-hydrolysis independent peptide translocation. Accordingly, the MHC I surface expression is similar to the wildtype situation. However, the same mutation in TAP2 (D638A) results in an ATPase dependent peptide transport similar to wildtype, whereas TAP containing mutations in both subunits leads to an inactive transporter. Although all D-loop mutants showed no altered peptide binding activity, the TAP1 mutant is inactive in peptide-stimulated ATPase activity. Strikingly, ATP or ADP binding is strictly required for the peptide translocation. Experiments carried out in proteoliposomes demonstrate that wildtype TAP can export peptides against their gradient when low peptide concentrations are offered. In contrast, the D674A mutant can facilitate peptide translocation along their concentration gradient in the two directions. At high peptide concentrations, TAP is trapped in a transport incompetent state induced by trans-inhibition. In conclusion, a TAP mutant that uncouples solute translocation from ATP hydrolysis was created. Since this passive substrate movement is strictly dependent on binding of ATP or ADP, an active transporter was turned into a “nucleotide-gated facilitator”.
In a cysteine cross-linking approach the conformational changes of TAP during peptide transport and the flexibility of the nucleotide binding domains were examined. Single cysteines were introduced in the D-loops of TAP1 and TAP2. Cross-linking by copper-phenantroline (CuPhe) was possible for all combinations. However, by adding ATP, ADP or peptide to the TAP complex no differences in the cross-linking efficiency were detected. By CuPhe cross-linking TAP was trapped in a conformation, in which the peptide binding site was not accessible. To complete a transport cycle, a flexibility of at least 17.8 Å of the NBDs is needed, since TAP cross-linked by CuPhe (2.0 Å) or bismaleimidoethane (BMOE, 8.0 Å) was transport inactive but when TAP was cross-linked by 1,11-bismaleimido-triethyleneglycol (BM[PEG]3, 17.8 Å) transport activity was preserved.
Die Rolle des Epstein-Barr-Virus bei der Entstehung des Burkitt-Lymphoms : virale microRNA-Expression und Erkennung viraler Genprodukte durch das angeborene Immunsystem
- Das Burkitt Lymphom ist ein aggressives B-Zelllymphom, das in tropischen Regionen Afrikas und in Neu Guinea endemisch auftritt und vor allem bei Kindern vorkommt. Die sporadische Form des Burkitt Lymphoms tritt weltweit in geringerer Häufigkeit auf und betrifft alle Altersschichten. In nahezu allen endemischen Fällen ist das Epstein-Barr Virus in den Tumorzellen nachweisbar, jedoch nur in ca. 20 % der sporadischen Fälle. Der Beitrag von EBV zur Entstehung EBV-positiver Burkitt Lymphome ist seit über 50 Jahren EBV-Forschung ungeklärt. Im Jahr 2004 wurden im Genom des Epstein-Barr Virus eine Reihe von microRNAs entdeckt, die potentiell für die Pathogenese des EBV-positiven Burkitt Lymphoms relevant sein könnten. Da die Expression der viralen microRNAs seither für das Burkitt Lymphom nur unvollständig beschrieben worden sind, wurden sie in dieser Arbeit systematisch analysiert und dadurch ein vollständiges Expressionsprofil erstellt. Es konnte dabei keine Unterscheidung zwischen endemischen und sporadischen Fällen erreicht werden, jedoch wurden hierbei erstmals Fälle identifiziert, die trotz nachgewiesener EBV-Assoziation keine viralen microRNAs enthielten. Neben den viralen microRNAs könnten im Burkitt Lymphom auch die zellulären microRNAs für die Tumorentstehung von Bedeutung sein. Deshalb wurde in dieser Arbeit auch die Expression der zellulären microRNAs aus Burkitt Lymphom-Biopsien charakterisiert. Durch hierarchisches „Clustering“ bildeten sich drei Gruppen, die hauptsächlich durch An- und Abwesenheit von zwei microRNAs (miR21 und miR92a) definiert wurden, denen onkogenes Potential zugeschrieben wird. Die Expressionsmuster der einzelnen Gruppen weisen auf zelluläre Mechanismen der Pathogenese des Burkitt Lymphoms hin.
Die genetische Charakteristik des Burkitt Lymphoms ist eine Chromosomentranslokation, welche das Protoonkogen c MYC unter die Kontrolle von regulatorischen Elementen der Immunglobulingene bringt. Durch die somit erhöhte Transkription von c-MYC entfaltet das Genprodukt sein onkogenes Potential. Mutationen im offenen Leserahmen können dieses Potential zusätzlich verstärken. Da c MYC ein pleiotroper Transkriptionsfaktor ist und somit auf eine ganze Reihe zellulärer Prozesse Einfluss hat, bewirkt die Translokation massive Veränderungen in der Zelle. Vorangegangene Untersuchungen der Arbeitsgruppe zeigten, dass die antivirale Interferonantwort durch hohe c MYC-Expression unterdrückt wird. Diese Beobachtung liefert eine mögliche Erklärung für die Immunevasion von Burkitt Lymphom-Zellen, trotz Anwesenheit des EBV-Genoms. In Zelllinien, die aus Burkitt Lymphom-Biopsien generiert wurden, konnte gezeigt werden, dass EBV eine Interferoninduktion auslöst, die durch c-MYC unterdrückt wird. In dieser Arbeit konnte auch gezeigt werden, dass Epstein-Barr-virale Nukleinsäureprodukte durch den zytosolischen Rezeptor RIG-I Interferon induzieren, dieser aber durch die hohe c-MYC-Expression transkriptionell gehemmt wird. Neben RIG-I wurden weitere Rezeptoren und Mediatoren der Interferoninduktionskaskade identifiziert, die ebenfalls transkriptionell von c-MYC unterdrückt werden. Diese Ergebnisse stützen die Hypothese, dass c-MYC durch Unterdrückung der angeborenen Immunität die Immunevasion von Burkitt Lymphom-Zellen ermöglicht.
Identification of erioflorin as a stabilizer of Pdcd4 by a HTS of natural products and discovery of its mechanism of action
- The tumor suppressor programmed cell death 4 (Pdcd4) exerts its function by inhibiting protein translation initiation. Specifically, it displaces the scaffold protein eukaryotic initiation factor 4G (eIF4G) from its binding to the eukaryotic initiation factor 4A (eIF4A). Thereby, Pdcd4 inhibits the helicase activity of eIF4A, which is necessary for the unwinding of highly structured 5’ untranslated regions (UTRs) of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) often found in oncogenes like c-myc to make them accessible for the translation machinery and subsequent protein production. Overexpression of Pdcd4 inhibits tumorigenesis in vitro and in vivo and inversely, Pdcd4 knockout mice show enhanced tumor formation. In line, Pdcd4 is lost in various tumor types and proposed as prognostic factor in colon carcinomas. Unlike most other tumor suppressors that are rendered nonfunctional by mutations (e.g., p53), Pdcd4 loss is not attributable to mutational inactivation. It is regulated via translational repression by microRNAs and increased degradation of the protein under tumor promoting, inflammatory conditions and mitogens. Specifically, proteasomal degradation of Pdcd4 is controlled by p70 S6 Kinase (p70S6K)-mediated phosphorylation in its degron sequence (serines 67, 71 and 76). Stimulation of the PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway by growth factors, hormones and cytokines initiates p70S6K activity. Phosphorylated Pdcd4 is subsequently recognized by the E3 ubiquitin ligase beta-transducin repeats-containing protein (β-TrCP) and marked with a polyubiquitin tail to be detected by the 26S proteasome for degradation. β-TrCP represents the substrate specific recognition subunit of the ubiquitin ligase complex responsible for protein-protein interaction with Pdcd4 as substrate for ubiquitin transfer and subsequent proteasomal disassembly.
The first part of the present work aimed at identifying novel stabilizers of the tumor suppressor Pdcd4 in a high throughput screen (HTS). As assay design, a fragment of Pdcd4 from amino acid 39 to 91, containing the phosphorylation sensitive degron sequence, was fused to a luciferase reporter gene construct. Stable expression of this Pdcd4(39-91)luciferase (Pdcd4(39-91)luc) fusion protein in HEK 293 cells served as read-out for the Pdcd4 protein amount to be detected in a high throughput compatible cell-based assay. Loss of Pdcd4(39-91)luc was induced by treatment with 12-O-
tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), a phorbolester, which activates the PI3K signaling cascade leading to degradation of Pdcd4. The cut-off for hit definition was set at >50% activity in rescuing the Pdcd4(39-91)luc signal from TPA-induced degradation. Activity was calculated relative to the difference of DMSO- and TPA-treated cells (ΔDMSO-TPA = RLUDMSO-RLUTPA). Initial screening of a protein kinase inhibitor library (PKI) revealed hit substances expected to show Pdcd4 stabilizing activity by inhibition of kinases involved in Pdcd4 downregulation, e.g., the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin, the PI3K inhibitors wortmannin and LY294002 and the PKC inhibitors GF 109203X and Ro 31-8220.
The Molecular Targets Laboratory (MTL) of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Frederick, USA, hosts one of the largest collections of crude natural product extracts as well as a big substance libraries from pure synthetic sources. Screening of over 15 000 pure compounds and over 135 000 natural product extracts identified 46 pure and 42 extract hits as Pdcd4 stabilizers. For nine synthetic and six natural product derived compounds (after bioassay-guided fractionation), dose-dependent activities for recovering the TPA-induced Pdcd4(39-91)luc loss defined IC50s in the low micromolar range. Most importantly, these compounds were confirmed to stabilize endogenous Pdcd4 protein levels from forced degradation as well. This result proved the assay design to be highly representative for endogenous cellular mechanisms regulating Pdcd4 protein stability. The next step was to stratify the hit substances according to their likely mechanism of action to be located either up- or downstream of the p70S6K-mediated phosphorylation of Pdcd4. Therefore, phosphorylation of S6, as proto-typical p70S6K target, was analyzed and uncovered two natural derived compounds to influence p70S6K activity. Four substances did not affect p70S6K phosphorylation activity and were therefore considered to stabilize Pdcd4 by acting downstream, i.e. on the β-TrCP-mediated proteasomal degradation.
In the second part of this work, one of these compounds, namely the sesquiterpene lactone erioflorin, isolated by bioassay-guided fraction from the active extract of Eriophyllum lanatum, Asteraceae, was further characterized in detail with respect to its molecular mechanism of action. Erioflorin dose-dependently protected both Pdcd4(39-91)luc and endogenous Pdcd4 protein from TPA-induced degradation with IC50s of 1.28
and 2.64 μM, respectively. Pdcd4 stabilizing activity was maximal at 5 μM erioflorin. Up to this concentration, erioflorin was verified not to inhibit p70S6K activity. In addition, it was observed that erioflorin rescued Pdcd4(39-91)luc from both, wild type and constitutively active p70S6K-mediated downregulation. Only wild type p70S6K was inhibitable by the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin which served as an upstream acting control. To study the next section of Pdcd4 regulation, i.e. recognition by the E3 ubiquitin ligase β-TrCP, Pdcd4(39-91)luc and endogenous Pdcd4 were immunoprecipitated from whole cell extracts with the corresponding antibodies. In this key experiment, treatment with TPA increased overexpressed β-TrCP binding to both and this coimmunoprecipitation could be strongly reduced by erioflorin treatment. This result strongly pointed to an inhibitory mechanism of the β-TrCP specific binding to Pdcd4 by erioflorin. In addition, erioflorin disrupted the binding of in vitro transcribed/translated β-TrCP to Pdcd4 in an in vitro interaction assay to exclude nonspecific intracellular signals. Furthermore, polyubiquitination of Pdcd4 was decreased by erioflorin treatment as well. To clarify questions regarding specificity of erioflorin for the E3 ubiquitin ligase β-TrCP, stability of another important β-TrCP target was explored, i.e. the tumor suppressor inhibitor of kappa B alpha (IκBα). Indeed, the tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα)-mediated loss of IκBα could be prevented by erioflorin cotreatment. On the other hand, the E3 ubiquitin ligase von Hippel Lindau protein (pVHL) was left unaffected as its target hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF-1α) could not be stabilized from oxygen-dependent degradation by erioflorin treatment. These results argued strongly for erioflorin being a specific inhibitor of β-TrCP-mediated protein degradation. Functional consequences of erioflorin treatment were investigated by observing its influence on the transcriptional activities of the transformation marker activator protein 1 (AP-1, an indirect downstream target of Pdcd4) and nuclear factor κB (NF-κB which is directly inhibited by IκBα). Indeed, erioflorin showed significant inhibition of AP-1 and NF-κB reporter constructs at 5 μM, a concentration for which an impact on cell viability was excluded. Finally to characterize the significance of erioflorin in a cell-based tumorigenesis assay, the highly invasive colon carcinoma cell line RKO was tested in a two dimensional migration assay. Erioflorin was discovered to significantly lower cell migration in a wound closure assay.
In conclusion, development of a high throughput compatible cell-based reporter assay successfully identified novel substances from pure synthetic and natural product derived background as potent stabilizers of the tumor suppressor Pdcd4. In addition, this work aimed at elucidating the detailed mechanism of action of the sesquiterpene lactone erioflorin from Eriophyllum lanatum, Asteraceae. Erioflorin was discovered to inhibit the E3 ubiquitin ligase β-TrCP, thereby preventing protein degradation of tumor suppressors like Pdcd4 and IκBα. This may offer the possibility to more specifically target protein degradation and generate less adverse side effects by blocking a particular E3 ubiquitin ligase compared to general proteasome inhibition.
An exciting in vivo function of ATP-sensitive potassium channels in substantia nigra dopamine neurons : implications for burst firing and novelty coding
- An exciting in vivo function of ATP-sensitive potassium channels in substantia nigra dopamine neurons Ð Implications for burst firing and novelty coding ÐPhasic burst activity is a key feature of dopamine (DA) midbrain neurons. This particular pattern of excitation of DA neurons occurs via a synaptically triggered transition from low-frequency background spiking to transient high-frequency discharges. Burst-firing mediated phasic DA release is critical for flexible switching of behavioural strategies in response to unexpected rewards, novelty and other salient stimuli. However, the cellular and molecular bases of burst signalling in distinct DA subpopulations of the substantia nigra (SN) or the ventral tegmental area (VTA) are unknown.
DA neuron excitability is controlled by synaptic network inputs, neurotransmitter receptors and ion channels, which generate action potentials and determine frequency and pattern of electrical activity in a complex interplay. ATP-sensitive potassium (K-ATP) channels are widely expressed throughout the brain, where in most cases they are believed to act as metabolically-controlled 'excitation brakes' by matching excitability to cellular energy states. However, their precise physiological in vivo function in DA neurons remains elusive.
To study burst firing and the underlying ionic mechanisms with single cell resolution, in vivo single-unit recordings were combined with juxtacellular neurobiotin labelling as well as immunohistochemical and anatomical identification of individual DA neurons. In vivo recordings were performed in adult isoflurane-anaesthetised wildtype (WT) and global K-ATP channel knockout mice, lacking the pore forming Kir6.2 subunit (Kir6.2-/-). In addition, DA cell-selective functional silencing of K-ATP channel activity in vivo was established using virus-mediated expression of dominant-negative Kir6.2 subunits. Careful control experiments ruled out any significant contributions from nonDA neurons as transduction was effectively limited to SN DA neurons rather than affecting those cells that innervate them. Virus-based K-ATP channel silencing in combination with juxtacellular recording and labelling was achieved to define the electrophysiological phenotype of individually identified, virally-transduced DA neurons in vivo.
Single-unit recordings revealed that K-ATP channels Ð in contrast to their conventional hyperpolarising role Ð in a subpopulation of DA neurons located in the medial SN (m-SN) act as cell-type selective gates for excitatory burst firing in vivo. The percentage of spikes in bursts was threefold reduced in Kir6.2-/- compared to WT mice. Classification of firing patterns based on visual inspection of autocorrelation histograms and on a newly developed spike-train-model confirmed the dramatic shift from phasic burst to tonic single-spike oscillatory firing in Kir6.2-/-. This significant decrease of burstiness was selective for m-SN DA neurons and was not exhibited by DA cells in the lateral SN or VTA. Virus-based K-ATP channel silencing in vivo unequivocally demonstrated that the activity of postsynaptic K-ATP channels was sufficient to disrupt bursting in m-SN DA neuron subtypes. Patch-clamp recordings in brain slices indicated an essential role of K-ATP channels for NMDA-mediated in vitro bursting. In accordance with previous studies in DA midbrain neurons, NMDA receptor stimulation triggered burst-like firing in m-SN DA cells in vitro, but only when K-ATP channels were co-activated in these neurons.
K-ATP channel-gated burst firing in m-SN DA neurons might be functionally relevant in awake, freely moving mice. To explore the behavioural consequences of SN DA neuron subtype-selective K-ATP channel suppression, spontaneous open field (OF) behaviour of mice with bilateral K-ATP silencing across the whole SN (medial + lateral) or in only the lateral SN was tested. Analysis of WT and global Kir6.2-/- mice showed reduced exploratory locomotor activity of Kir6.2-/- in a novel OF environment. Remarkably, K-ATP channel silencing in m-SN DA neurons phenocopied this novelty-exploration deficit, indicating that K-ATP channel-gated burst firing in medial but not lateral SN DA neurons is crucial for WT-like novelty-dependent exploratory behaviour.
In summary, a novel role of K-ATP channels in promoting the excitatory switch from tonic to phasic firing in vivo in a cell-type specific manner was discovered. The present PhD thesis provides several important insights into the pivotal function of K-ATP channels in medial SN DA cells, which project to the dorsomedial striatum, for burst firing and its important consequences for context-dependent exploratory behaviour.
In collaboration with two other research groups transcriptional up-regulation of K-ATP channel and NMDA receptor subunits and high levels of in vivo burst firing were detected in surviving SN DA neurons from Parkinson's disease (PD) patients Ð providing a potential link of K-ATP channel activity to neurodegenerative pathomechanisms of PD. Using high-resolution fMRI imaging another study in humans has recently identified distinct DA midbrain regions that are preferentially activated by either reward or novelty. Taken together, these human data and the results of the present PhD thesis suggest that burst-gating K-ATP channel function in SN DA neurons impacts on phenotypes in disease as well as in health.
Untersuchungen zur Struktur und Wirkungsweise von Toxinen aus den Giften der Kegel- (Conidae) und Schraubenschnecken (Terebridae) und deren molekularbiologische Grundlagen
- Sowohl die Gifte der Kegel- (Conidae) als auch die der Schraubenschnecken (Terebridae) enthalten eine Vielzahl pharmakologisch aktiver Peptide. Vor allem die Conopeptide bzw. Conotoxine aus den Giften der Kegelschnecken werden aufgrund ihrer Selektivität für Ionenkanäle und Rezeptoren seit langem als Werkzeuge in der neuropharmakologischen Forschung eingesetzt. Hier rücken gerade neuronale nikotinische Acetylcholinrezeptoren immer mehr in den Fokus der medizinischen Forschung, da sie vermutlich an der Entwicklung neurodegenerativer Erkrankungen wie Alzheimer, Parkinson, Demenz, Schizophrenie und Epilepsie beteiligt sind. Ziel dieser Dissertation war es daher, neue Inhibitoren in den Giften Kegelschnecken (Conidae) und der Schraubenschnecken (Terebridae) für nikotinische Acetylcholinrezeptoren, vor allem der neuronalen Subtypen, zu identifizieren. Es erfolgte die:
1. Identifizierung neuer αD-Conotoxine
Aus den Giften von Conus capitaneus und C. mustelinus konnten zwei native αDConotoxine (αD-CAP und αD-MUS) isoliert und charakterisiert werden. Beide Toxine sind Homodimere mit Molekulargewichten von 11 kDa und inhibieren nikotinische ACh-Rezeptoren. Sie blockieren die Subtypen α7>α3β2>α4β2, wobei sich αD-MUS als potenter als αD-CAP erweist (IC50-Werte von αD-MUS: α7 0,12 nM, α3β2 1,08 nM, α4β2 4,5 nM; IC50-Werte von αD-CAP α7 0,25 nM, α3β2 2,8 nM, α4β2 28,6 nM). Hingegen haben die αD-Conotoxine auf die Rezeptorsubtypen α3β4, α4β4 und α1β1γδ keinen hemmenden Einfluss. Zusätzlich konnten drei weitere αD-Conotoxine mit Hilfe der cDNA von C. vexillum und C. betulinus identifiziert werden. Eine Besonderheit hierbei war, dass innerhalb der Familie der αD-Conotoxine zwei unterschiedliche Signalsequenzen vorkommen und somit diese Sequenzen nicht stark konserviert sind.
2. Charakterisierung des α-Conotoxins SI aus dem Gift von C. striatus
Im Gift der Kegelschnecke Conus striatus wurde ein Peptid mit inhibierender Wirkung an α7-Rezeptoren nachgewiesen. Molekulare Masse (1.352,5 Da) und Aminosäuresequenz entsprachen dem α-Conotoxin SI, das als Antagonist muskulärer nACh-Rezeptoren bekannt ist. Da die Ergebnisse mehrere Jahre zurück lagen und bisher keine Analysen im Oozytenexpressions-System durchgeführt wurden, wurdeeine mögliche Aktivität sowohl an neuronalen als auch an muskulären nACh-Rezeptoren vermutet. Voltage Clamp-Messungen bestätigten die spezifische Wirkung am Muskeltyp, wodurch die Aktivität am α7-Rezeptorsubtyp einem anderen Conopeptid, zugewiesen werden muss, das als Beiprodukt isoliert wurde.
3. Identifizierung neuer Conotoxine der A-Superfamilie Mit molekularbiologischen Methoden unter Nutzung von cDNA-Bibliotheken gelang es, 27 Conotoxine (17 neue und 10 bekannte) aus der A-Superfamilie zu identifizieren: drei α- und zwei κA-Conotoxine aus Conus striatus, zwei α-Conotoxine aus C. betulinus, zwei α- und zwei κA-Conotoxine aus C. carinatus, drei α-Conotoxine aus C. catus, drei α- und zwei κA-Conotoxine aus C. circumcisus, ein α-Conotoxin aus. C. geographus, zwei aus C. imperialis, jeweils eines aus C. lividus, C. quercinus, C. sponsalis sowie zwei aus C. terebra Die Vielzahl der identifizierten α-Conotoxine belegt die hohe Diversität dieser Toxine in den Giften der Kegelschecken. Anhand von Vergleichen mit bereits bekannten Toxinen werden die möglichen Wirkungsweisen einiger neuer α-Conotoxine diskutiert. Für einen Teil der α-Conotoxine wurden 3D-Strukturmodelle erstellt, die Einblicke in die Bindung der Toxine an den Rezeptor geben können.
4. Untersuchung der Gifte der Terebridae
Die inhibierende Aktivität einiger Gifte (Terebra consobrina, T. argus, Myurella affinis, Acus felina, A. chlorata, A. maculata und Hastulopsis pertusa) an nACh-Rezeptoren (α7, α3β2, α4β2, α3β4, α4β4 und α1β1γδ) wurde erstmals nachgewiesen. An Kalium- und Natriumkanälen zeigten die Giftextrakte keine Wirkung. Die Giftextrakte von Myurella affinis und Acus maculata waren am potentesten und blockierten alle untersuchten nACh-Rezeptoren. Dies ist besonders ungewöhnlich, da diese Terebriden-Arten nach der Literatur (Puillandre & Holford, 2010) keinen Giftapparat besitzen sollen. Eine weitere Auffälligkeit aller Terebriden-Giftextrakte war neben der Selektivität für a7-Rezeptorsubtypen, eine hohe Aktivität gegenüber α4-enthaltenden Rezeptoren. In den Giften und mit Hilfe von cDNA-Bibliotheken von Kegelschnecken konnte eine Vielzahl neuer Inhibitoren für neuronale nikotinische Acetylcholinrezeptoren identifiziert werden. Sie zeigen ein breites Wirkungsspektrum, das die unterschiedlichsten nAChRSubtypen einschließt, was ihre Verwendung als pharmaklogische Werkzeuge begrenzt. Hingegen zeigen die Gifte der Schraubenschnecken ein Selektivitätsspektrum, das die Analyse ihrer Peptide als vielversprechend erscheinen lässt.