We investigate herein the interaction between nucleolin (NCL) and a set of G4 sequences derived from the CEB25 human minisatellite that adopt a parallel topology while differing in the length of the central loop (from nine nucleotides to one nucleotide). It is revealed that NCL strongly binds to long-loop (five to nine nucleotides) G4 while interacting weakly with the shorter variants (loop with fewer than three nucleotides). Photo-cross-linking experiments using 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrU)-modified sequences further confirmed the loop-length dependency, thereby indicating that the WT-CEB25-L191 (nine-nucleotide loop) is the best G4 substrate. Quantitative proteomic analysis (LC-MS/MS) of the product(s) obtained by photo-cross-linking NCL to this sequence enabled the identification of one contact site corresponding to a 15-amino acid fragment located in helix α2 of RNA binding domain 2 (RBD2), which sheds light on the role of this structural element in G4-loop recognition. Then, the ability of a panel of benchmark G4 ligands to prevent the NCL-G4 interaction was explored. It was found that only the most potent ligand PhenDC3 can inhibit NCL binding, thereby suggesting that the terminal guanine quartet is also a strong determinant of G4 recognition, putatively through interaction with the RGG domain. This study describes the molecular mechanism by which NCL recognizes G4-containing long loops and leads to the proposal of a model implying a concerted action of RBD2 and RGG domains to achieve specific G4 recognition via a dual loop-quartet interaction.
Telomeres are difficult-to-replicate sites whereby replication itself may threaten telomere integrity. We investigate, in fission yeast, telomere replication dynamics in telomerase-negative cells to unmask problems associated with telomere replication. Two-dimensional gel analysis reveals that replication of telomeres is severely impaired and correlates with an accumulation of replication intermediates that arises from stalled and collapsed forks. In the absence of telomerase, Rad51, Mre11-Rad50-Nbs1 (MRN) complex, and its co-factor CtIP become critical to maintain telomeres, indicating that homologous recombination processes these intermediates to facilitate fork restart. We further show that a catalytically dead mutant of telomerase prevents Ku recruitment to telomeres, suggesting that telomerase and Ku both compete for the binding of telomeric-free DNA ends that are likely to originate from a reversed fork. We infer that Ku removal at collapsed telomeric forks allows telomerase to repair broken telomeres, thereby shielding telomeres from homologous recombination.
Although fibroblast heterogeneity is recognized in primary tumors, both its characterization in and its impact on metastases remain unknown. Here, combining flow cytometry, immu- nohistochemistry and RNA-sequencing on breast cancer samples, we identify four Cancer- Associated Fibroblast (CAF) subpopulations in metastatic lymph nodes (LN). Two myofi- broblastic subsets, CAF-S1 and CAF-S4, accumulate in LN and correlate with cancer cell invasion. By developing functional assays on primary cultures, we demonstrate that these subsets promote metastasis through distinct functions. While CAF-S1 stimulate cancer cell migration and initiate an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition through CXCL12 and TGFβ pathways, highly contractile CAF-S4 induce cancer cell invasion in 3-dimensions via NOTCH signaling. Patients with high levels of CAFs, particularly CAF-S4, in LN at diagnosis are prone to develop late distant metastases. Our findings suggest that CAF subset accumulation in LN is a prognostic marker, suggesting that CAF subsets could be examined in axillary LN at diagnosis.
Outcomes for metastatic Ewing sarcoma and osteosarcoma are dismal and have not changed for decades. Oxidative stress attenuates melanoma metastasis, and melanoma cells must reduce oxidative stress to metastasize. We explored this in sarcomas by screening for oxidative stress sensitizers, which identified the class I HDAC inhibitor MS-275 as enhancing vulnerability to reactive oxygen species (ROS) in sarcoma cells. Mechanistically, MS-275 inhibits YB-1 deacetylation, decreasing its binding to 5′-UTRs of NFE2L2 encoding the antioxidant factor NRF2, thereby reducing NFE2L2 translation and synthesis of NRF2 to increase cellular ROS. By global acetylomics, MS-275 promotes rapid acetylation of the YB-1 RNA-binding protein at lysine-81, blocking binding and translational activation of NFE2L2, as well as known YB-1 mRNA targets, HIF1A, and the stress granule nucleator, G3BP1. MS-275 dramatically reduces sarcoma metastasis in vivo, but an MS-275-resistant YB-1K81-to-alanine mutant restores metastatic capacity and NRF2, HIF1α, and G3BP1 synthesis in MS-275-treated mice. These studies describe a novel function for MS-275 through enhanced YB-1 acetylation, thus inhibiting YB-1 translational control of key cytoprotective factors and its pro-metastatic activity.
Rhabdoid tumors (RTs) are genomically simple pediatric cancers driven by the biallelic inactivation of SMARCB1, leading to SWI/SNF chromatin remodeler complex deficiency. Comprehensive evaluation of the immune infiltrates of human and mice RTs, including immunohistochemistry, bulk RNA sequencing and DNA methylation profiling studies showed a high rate of tumors infiltrated by T and myeloid cells. Single-cell RNA (scRNA) and T cell receptor sequencing highlighted the heterogeneity of these cells and revealed therapeutically targetable exhausted effector and clonally expanded tissue resident memory CD8 T subpopulations, likely representing tumor-specific cells. Checkpoint blockade therapy in an experimental RT model induced the regression of established tumors and durable immune responses. Finally, we show that one mechanism mediating RTs immunogenicity involves SMARCB1-dependent re-expression of endogenous retroviruses and interferon-signaling activation.
Pediatric malignancies including Ewing sarcoma (EwS) feature a paucity of somatic alterations except for pathognomonic driver-mutations that cannot explain overt variations in clinical outcome. Here, we demonstrate in EwS how cooperation of dominant oncogenes and regulatory germline variants determine tumor growth, patient survival and drug response. Binding of the oncogenic EWSR1-FLI1 fusion transcription factor to a polymorphic enhancer-like DNA element controls expression of the transcription factor MYBL2 mediating these phenotypes. Whole-genome and RNA sequencing reveals that variability at this locus is inherited via the germline and is associated with variable inter-tumoral MYBL2 expression. High MYBL2 levels sensitize EwS cells for inhibition of its upstream activating kinase CDK2 in vitro and in vivo, suggesting MYBL2 as a putative biomarker for anti-CDK2-therapy. Collectively, we establish cooperation of somatic mutations and regulatory germline variants as a major determinant of tumor progression and highlight the importance of integrating the regulatory genome in precision medicine.
The glucocorticoid receptor (GR) acts as a ubiquitous cortisol-dependent transcription factor (TF). To identify co-factors, we used protein-fragment complementation assays and found that GR recognizes FLI1 and additional ETS family proteins, TFs relaying proliferation and/or migration signals. Following steroid-dependent translocation of FLI1 and GR to the nucleus, the FLI1-specific domain (FLS) binds with GR and strongly enhances GR’s transcriptional activity. This interaction has functional consequences in Ewing sarcoma (ES), childhood and adolescence bone malignancies driven by fusions between EWSR1 and FLI1. In vitro, GR knockdown inhibited the migration and proliferation of ES cells, and in animal models, antagonizing GR (or lowering cortisol) retarded both tumor growth and metastasis from bone to lung. Taken together, our findings offer mechanistic rationale for repurposing GR-targeting drugs for the treatment of patients with ES.
SMARCB1 is a tumor suppressor gene, which is part of SWI/SNF complex involved in transcriptional regulation. Recently, loss of SMARCB1 expression has been reported in gastrointestinal carcinomas. Our purpose was to evaluate the incidence and prognostic value of SMARCB1 loss in colon carcinoma (CC). Patients with stage III CC (n= 1695), and a second cohort of 23 patients with poorly differentiated CC were analyzed. Immunohistochemistry for SMARCB1 was performed on tissue microarrays, and cases with loss of expression were controlled on whole sections. Loss of SMARCB1 was compared with the clinico-pathological and molecular characteristics, and the prognostic value was evaluated. Loss of SMARCB1 was identified in 12 of 1695 (0.7%) patients with stage III CC. Whole section controls showed a complete loss in only one of these cases, corresponding to a medullary carcinoma. SMARCB1 loss was not associated with histological grade, tumor size nor survival. In the cohort of poorly differentiated CC, we detected 2/23 (8.7%) cases with loss of SMARCB1; one was rhabdoid while the other had medullary and mucinous histology. These 2 cases were deficient for MisMatched Repair (dMMR) and mutated for BRAF. SMARCB1 loss is rare in stage III CC, but appears more frequent in poorly differentiated CC.
The clinically aggressive alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) subtype is characterized by expression of the oncogenic fusion protein PAX3-FOXO1, which is critical for tumorigenesis and cell survival. Here, we studied the mechanism of cell death induced by loss of PAX3-FOXO1 expression and identified a novel pharmacologic combination therapy that interferes with PAX3-FOXO1 biology at different levels. Depletion of PAX3-FOXO1 in fusion-positive (FP)-RMS cells induced intrinsic apoptosis in a NOXA-dependent manner. This was pharmacologically mimicked by the BH3 mimetic navitoclax, identified as top compound in a screen from 208 targeted compounds. In a parallel approach, and to identify drugs that alter the stability of PAX3-FOXO1 protein, the same drug library was screened and fusion protein levels were directly measured as a read-out. This revealed that inhibition of Aurora kinase A most efficiently negatively affected PAX3-FOXO1 protein levels. Interestingly, this occurred through a novel specific phosphorylation event in and binding to the fusion protein. Aurora kinase A inhibition also destabilized MYCN, which is both a functionally important oncogene and transcriptional target of PAX3-FOXO1. Combined treatment with an Aurora kinase A inhibitor and navitoclax in FP-RMS cell lines and patient-derived xenografts synergistically induced cell death and significantly slowed tumor growth. These studies identify a novel functional interaction of Aurora kinase A with both PAX3-FOXO1 and its effector MYCN, and reveal new opportunities for targeted combination treatment of FP-RMS. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings show that Aurora kinase A and Bcl-2 family proteins are potential targets for FP-RMS.
Studies on uveal melanomas (UMs) have demonstrated the prognostic value of 8q gain and monosomy 3, but the prognosis of UMs with partial deletion of chromosome 3 remains to be defined.
Microtubules are important components of the eukaryotic cytoskeleton. Their structural organization is regulated by nucleotide binding and many microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs). While cryo-EM and X-ray crystallography have provided detailed views of interactions between MAPs with the microtubule lattice, little is known about how MAPs and their intrinsically disordered regions interact with the dynamic microtubule surface. NMR carries the potential to directly probe such interactions but so far has been precluded by the low tubulin yield. We present a protocol to produce [C, N]-labeled, functional microtubules (MTs) from human cells for solid-state NMR studies. This approach allowed us to demonstrate that MAPs can differently modulate the fast time-scale dynamics of C-terminal tubulin tails, suggesting distinct interaction modes. Our results pave the way for in-depth NMR studies of protein dynamics involved in MT assembly and their interactions with other cellular components.
Microtubules are core components of the eukaryotic cytoskeleton with essential roles in cell division, shaping, motility and intracellular transport. Despite their functional heterogeneity, microtubules have a highly conserved structure made from almost identical molecular building blocks: the tubulin proteins. Alternative tubulin isotypes and a variety of post-translational modifications control the properties and functions of the microtubule cytoskeleton, a concept known as the ‘tubulin code’. Here we review the current understanding of the molecular components of the tubulin code and how they impact microtubule properties and functions. We discuss how tubulin isotypes and post-translational modifications control microtubule behaviour at the molecular level and how this translates into physiological functions at the cellular and organism levels. We then go on to show how fine-tuning of microtubule function by some tubulin modifications can affect homeostasis and how perturbation of this fine-tuning can lead to a range of dysfunctions, many of which are linked to human disease.
Neurons are highly complex cells that heavily rely on intracellular transport to distribute a range of functionally essential cargoes within the cell. Post-translational modifications of tubulin are emerging as mechanisms for regulating microtubule functions, but their impact on neuronal transport is only marginally understood. Here, we have systematically studied the impact of post-translational polyglutamylation on axonal transport. In cultured hippocampal neurons, deletion of a single deglutamylase, CCP1 (also known as AGTPBP1), is sufficient to induce abnormal accumulation of polyglutamylation, i.e. hyperglutamylation. We next investigated how hyperglutamylation affects axonal transport of a range of functionally different neuronal cargoes: mitochondria, lysosomes, LAMP1 endosomes and BDNF vesicles. Strikingly, we found a reduced motility for all these cargoes, suggesting that polyglutamylation could act as a regulator of cargo transport in neurons. This, together with the recent discovery that hyperglutamylation induces neurodegeneration, makes it likely that perturbed neuronal trafficking could be one of the central molecular causes underlying this novel type of degeneration.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.
Microtubules are polymerized dimers of α- and β-tubulin that underlie a broad range of cellular activities. Acetylation of α-tubulin by the acetyltransferase ATAT1 modulates microtubule dynamics and functions in neurons. However, it remains unclear how this enzyme acetylates microtubules over long distances in axons. Here, we show that loss of ATAT1 impairs axonal transport in neurons in vivo, and cell-free motility assays confirm a requirement of α-tubulin acetylation for proper bidirectional vesicular transport. Moreover, we demonstrate that the main cellular pool of ATAT1 is transported at the cytosolic side of neuronal vesicles that are moving along axons. Together, our data suggest that axonal transport of ATAT1-enriched vesicles is the predominant driver of α-tubulin acetylation in axons.
Microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) were initially discovered as proteins that bind to and stabilize microtubules. Today, an ever-growing number of MAPs reveals a more complex picture of these proteins as organizers of the microtubule cytoskeleton that have a large variety of functions. MAPs enable microtubules to participate in a plethora of cellular processes such as the assembly of mitotic and meiotic spindles, neuronal development, and the formation of the ciliary axoneme. Although some subgroups of MAPs have been exhaustively characterized, a strikingly large number of MAPs remain barely characterized other than their interactions with microtubules. We provide a comprehensive view on the currently known MAPs in mammals. We discuss their molecular mechanisms and functions, as well as their physiological role and links to pathologies.