Extracellular vesicles are spherical bilayered proteolipids, harboring various bioactive molecules. Due to the complexity of the vesicular nomenclatures and components, online searches for extracellular vesicle-related publications and vesicular components are currently challenging.
Several cell types secrete small membranous vesicles that contain cell-specific collections of proteins, lipids, and genetic material. The function of these vesicles is to allow cell-to-cell signaling and the horizontal transfer of their cargo molecules. Here, we demonstrate that muscle cells secrete nano-sized vesicles and that their release increases during muscle differentiation. Analysis of these nanovesicles allowed us to characterize them as exosome-like particles and to define the potential role of the multifunctional protein Alix in their biogenesis.
The sea urchin provides a relatively simple and tractable system for analyzing the early stages of embryo development. Here, we use the sea urchin species, Paracentrotus lividus, to investigate the role of Alix in key stages of embryogenesis, namely the egg fertilization and the first cleavage division. Alix is a multifunctional protein involved in different cellular processes including endocytic membrane trafficking, filamentous (F)-actin remodeling, and cytokinesis. Alix homologues have been identified in different metazoans; in these organisms, Alix is involved in oogenesis and in determination/differentiation events during embryo development. Herein, we describe the identification of the sea urchin homologue of Alix, PlAlix. The deduced amino acid sequence shows that Alix is highly conserved in sea urchins. Accordingly, we detect the PlAlix protein cross-reacting with monoclonal Alix antibodies in extracts from P. lividus, at different developmental stages. Focusing on the role of PlAlix during early embryogenesis we found that PlAlix is a maternal protein that is expressed at increasingly higher levels from fertilization to the 2-cell stage embryo. In sea urchin eggs, PlAlix localizes throughout the cytoplasm with a punctuated pattern and, soon after fertilization, accumulates in larger puncta in the cytosol, and in microvilli-like protrusions. Together our data show that PlAlix is structurally conserved from sea urchin to mammals and may open new lines of inquiry into the role of Alix during the early stages of embryo development.
Muscle contractile proteins are expressed as a series of developmental isoforms that are in constant dynamic remodeling during embryogenesis, but how obsolete molecules are recognized and removed is not known. Ozz is a developmentally regulated protein that functions as the adaptor component of a RING-type ubiquitin ligase complex specific to striated muscle. Ozz(-/-) mutants exhibit defects in myofibrillogenesis and myofiber differentiation. Here we show that Ozz targets the rod portion of embryonic myosin heavy chain and preferentially recognizes the sarcomeric rather than the soluble pool of myosin. We present evidence that Ozz binding to the embryonic myosin isoform within sarcomeric thick filaments marks it for ubiquitination and proteolytic degradation, allowing its replacement with neonatal or adult isoforms. This unique function positions Ozz within a system that facilitates sarcomeric myosin remodeling during muscle maturation and regeneration. Our findings identify Ozz-E3 as the ubiquitin ligase complex that interacts with and regulates myosin within its fully assembled cytoskeletal structure.
Alix/AIP1 is a multifunctional adaptor protein that participates in basic cellular processes, including membrane trafficking and actin cytoskeleton assembly, by binding selectively to a variety of partner proteins. However, the mechanisms regulating Alix turnover, subcellular distribution, and function in muscle cells are unknown. We now report that Alix is expressed in skeletal muscle throughout myogenic differentiation. In myotubes, a specific pool of Alix colocalizes with Ozz, the substrate-binding component of the muscle-specific ubiquitin ligase complex Ozz-E3. We found that interaction of the two endogenous proteins in the differentiated muscle fibers changes Alix conformation and promotes its ubiquitination. This in turn regulates the levels of the protein in specific subcompartments, in particular the one containing the actin polymerization factor cortactin. In Ozz(-/-) myotubes, the levels of filamentous (F)-actin is perturbed, and Alix accumulates in large puncta positive for cortactin. In line with this observation, we show that the knockdown of Alix expression in C2C12 muscle cells affects the amount and distribution of F-actin, which consequently leads to changes in cell morphology, impaired formation of sarcolemmal protrusions, and defective cell motility. These findings suggest that the Ozz-E3 ligase regulates Alix at sites where the actin cytoskeleton undergoes remodeling.
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