The CryoCapsule is a tool dedicated to correlative light to electron microscopy experiments. Focused on simplifying the specimen manipulation throughout the entire workflow from live-cell imaging to freeze substitution following cryofixation by high pressure freezing, we introduce here a step by step procedure to use the CryoCapsule either with the high pressure freezing machines: HPM010 or the HPM100.
Skin pigmentation is tightly linked to the transfer of melanin from melanocytes to neighboring keratinocytes. For decades, cellular mechanisms underlying pigment transfer have remained enigmatic. Tarafder et al. identify a keratinocyte-initiated process coupling the exocytosis and endocytosis of melanin as a major pigment transfer mode in epidermis. These findings open new paths in our understanding of melanocyte-keratinocyte communication regulating pigmentation.
Correlating complementary multiple scale images of the same object is a straightforward means to decipher biological processes. Light microscopy and electron microscopy are the most commonly used imaging techniques, yet despite their complementarity, the experimental procedures available to correlate them are technically complex. We designed and manufactured a new device adapted to many biological specimens, the CryoCapsule, that simplifies the multiple sample preparation steps, which at present separate live cell fluorescence imaging from contextual high-resolution electron microscopy, thus opening new strategies for full correlative light to electron microscopy. We tested the biological application of this highly optimized tool on three different specimens: the in vitro Xenopus laevis mitotic spindle, melanoma cells over-expressing YFP-langerin sequestered in organized membranous subcellular organelles and a pigmented melanocytic cell in which the endosomal system was labeled with internalized fluorescent transferrin.
Early endosomes consist of vacuolar sorting and tubular recycling domains that segregate components fated for degradation in lysosomes or reuse by recycling to the plasma membrane or Golgi. The tubular transport intermediates that constitute recycling endosomes function in cell polarity, migration, and cytokinesis. Endosomal tubulation and fission require both actin and intact microtubules, but although factors that stabilize recycling endosomal tubules have been identified, those required for tubule generation from vacuolar sorting endosomes (SEs) remain unknown. We show that the microtubule motor KIF13A associates with recycling endosome tubules and controls their morphogenesis. Interfering with KIF13A function impairs the formation of endosomal tubules from SEs with consequent defects in endosome homeostasis and cargo recycling. Moreover, KIF13A interacts and cooperates with RAB11 to generate endosomal tubules. Our data illustrate how a microtubule motor couples early endosome morphogenesis to its motility and function.
During the past years, exogenous DNA molecules have been used in gene and molecular therapy. At present, it is not known how these DNA molecules reach the cell nucleus. We used an in cell single-molecule approach to observe the motion of exogenous short DNA molecules in the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells. Our observations suggest an active transport of the DNA along the cytoskeleton filaments. We used an in vitro motility assay, in which the motion of single-DNA molecules along cytoskeleton filaments in cell extracts is monitored; we demonstrate that microtubule-associated motors are involved in this transport. Precipitation of DNA-bound proteins and mass spectrometry analyses reveal the preferential binding of the kinesin KIFC1 on DNA. Cell extract depletion of kinesin KIFC1 significantly decreases DNA motion, confirming the active implication of this molecular motor in the intracellular DNA transport.
Melanocytes are essential for skin homeostasis and protection, and their defects in humans lead to a wide array of diseases that are potentially extremely severe. To date, the analysis of molecular mechanisms and the function of human melanocytes have been limited because of the difficulties in accessing large numbers of cells with the specific phenotypes. This issue can now be addressed via a differentiation protocol that allows melanocytes to be obtained from pluripotent stem cell lines, either induced or of embryonic origin, based on the use of moderate concentrations of a single cytokine, bone morphogenic protein 4. Human melanocytes derived from pluripotent stem cells exhibit all the characteristic features of their adult counterparts. This includes the enzymatic machinery required for the production and functional delivery of melanin to keratinocytes. Melanocytes also integrate appropriately into organotypic epidermis reconstructed in vitro. The availability of human cells committed to the melanocytic lineage in vitro will enable the investigation of those mechanisms that guide the developmental processes and will facilitate analysis of the molecular mechanisms responsible for genetic diseases. Access to an unlimited resource may also prove a vital tool for the treatment of hypopigmentation disorders when donors with matching haplotypes become available in clinically relevant banks of pluripotent stem cell lines.
Melanosomes are lysosome-related organelles in retinal pigment epithelial cells and epidermal melanocytes in which melanin pigments are synthesized and stored. Melanosomes are generated by multistep processes in which an immature unpigmented organelle forms and then subsequently matures. Such maturation requires inter-organellar transport of protein cargos required for pigment synthesis but also recruitment of effector proteins necessary for the correct transport of melanosomes to the cell periphery. Several studies have started to unravel the main pathways and mechanisms exploited by melanosomal proteins involved in melanosome structure and melanin synthesis. A major unexpected finding seen early in melanosome biogenesis showed the similarities between the fibrillar sheets of premelanosomes and amyloid fibrils. Late steps of melanosome formation are dependent on pathways regulated by proteins encoded by genes mutated in genetic diseases such as the Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrom (HPS) and different types of albinism. Altogether the findings from the past recent years have started to unravel how specialized cells integrate unique and ubiquitous molecular mechanisms in subverting the endosomal system to generate cell-type specific structures and their associated functions. Further dissection of the melanosomal system will likely shed light not only on the biogenesis of lysosome-related organelles but also on general aspects of vesicular transport in the endosomal system.
The Golgi-associated retrograde protein (GARP) complex mediates tethering and fusion of endosome-derived transport carriers to the trans-Golgi network (TGN). In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, GARP comprises four subunits named Vps51p, Vps52p, Vps53p, and Vps54p. Orthologues of the GARP subunits, except for Vps51p, have been identified in all other eukaryotes. A yeast two-hybrid screen of a human cDNA library yielded a phylogenetically conserved protein, Ang2/Fat-free, which interacts with human Vps52, Vps53 and Vps54. Human Ang2 is larger than yeast Vps51p, but exhibits significant homology in an N-terminal coiled-coil region that mediates assembly with other GARP subunits. Biochemical analyses show that human Ang2, Vps52, Vps53 and Vps54 form an obligatory 1:1:1:1 complex that strongly interacts with the regulatory Habc domain of the TGN SNARE, Syntaxin 6. Depletion of Ang2 or the GARP subunits similarly impairs protein retrieval to the TGN, lysosomal enzyme sorting, endosomal cholesterol traffic¤ and autophagy. These findings indicate that Ang2 is the missing component of the GARP complex in most eukaryotes.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are many-faceted compounds involved in cell defense against pathogens, as well as in cell signaling. Their involvement in the response to infection in epithelial cells remains poorly documented. Here, we investigated the production of ROS during infection with Chlamydia trachomatis, a strict intracellular pathogen, in HeLa cells. C. trachomatis induced a transient increase in the ROS level within a few hours, followed by a return to basal level 9 hours after infection. At this time point, the host enzyme dedicated to ROS production, NADPH oxidase, could no longer be activated by external stimuli, such as interleukin-1beta. In addition, Rac, a regulatory subunit of the NADPH oxidase complex, was relocated to the membrane of the compartment in which the bacteria develop, the inclusion, while other subunits were not. Altogether, these results indicate that C. trachomatis infection elicits the production of ROS and that the bacteria rapidly target the activity of NADPH oxidase to shut it down. Prevention of ROS production at the onset of the bacterial developmental cycle might delay the host response to infection.
Specialized cell types exploit endosomal trafficking to deliver protein cargoes to cell type-specific lysosome-related organelles (LROs), but how endosomes are specified for this function is not known. In this study, we show that the clathrin adaptor AP-1 and the kinesin motor KIF13A together create peripheral recycling endosomal subdomains in melanocytes required for cargo delivery to maturing melanosomes. In cells depleted of AP-1 or KIF13A, a subpopulation of recycling endosomes redistributes to pericentriolar clusters, resulting in sequestration of melanosomal enzymes like Tyrp1 in vacuolar endosomes and consequent inhibition of melanin synthesis and melanosome maturation. Immunocytochemistry, live cell imaging, and electron tomography reveal AP-1- and KIF13A-dependent dynamic close appositions and continuities between peripheral endosomal tubules and melanosomes. Our results reveal that LRO protein sorting is coupled to cell type-specific positioning of endosomes that facilitate endosome-LRO contacts and are required for organelle maturation.
Pathogens use diverse molecular machines to penetrate host cells and manipulate intracellular vesicular trafficking. Viruses employ glycoproteins, functionally and structurally similar to the SNARE proteins, to induce eukaryotic membrane fusion. Intracellular pathogens, on the other hand, need to block fusion of their infectious phagosomes with various endocytic compartments to escape from the degradative pathway. The molecular details concerning the mechanisms underlying this process are lacking. Using both an in vitro liposome fusion assay and a cellular assay, we showed that SNARE-like bacterial proteins block membrane fusion in eukaryotic cells by directly inhibiting SNARE-mediated membrane fusion. More specifically, we showed that IncA and IcmG/DotF, two SNARE-like proteins respectively expressed by Chlamydia and Legionella, inhibit the endocytic SNARE machinery. Furthermore, we identified that the SNARE-like motif present in these bacterial proteins encodes the inhibitory function. This finding suggests that SNARE-like motifs are capable of specifically manipulating membrane fusion in a wide variety of biological environments. Ultimately, this motif may have been selected during evolution because it is an efficient structural motif for modifying eukaryotic membrane fusion and thus contribute to pathogen survival.
Myosin VI has been implicated in various steps of organelle dynamics. However, the molecular mechanism by which this myosin contributes to membrane traffic is poorly understood. Here, we report that myosin VI is associated with a lysosome-related organelle, the melanosome. Using an actin-based motility assay and video microscopy, we observed that myosin VI does not contribute to melanosome movements. Myosin VI expression regulates instead the organization of actin networks in the cytoplasm. Using a cell-free assay, we showed that myosin VI recruited actin at the surface of isolated melanosomes. Myosin VI is involved in the endocytic-recycling pathway, and this pathway contributes to the transport of a melanogenic enzyme to maturing melanosomes. We showed that depletion of myosin VI accumulated a melanogenic enzyme in enlarged melanosomes and increased their melanin content. We confirmed the requirement of myosin VI to regulate melanosome biogenesis by analysing the morphology of melanosomes in choroid cells from of the Snells waltzer mice that do not express myosin VI. Together, our results provide new evidence that myosin VI regulates the organization of actin dynamics at the surface of a specialized organelle and unravel a novel function of this myosin in regulating the biogenesis of this organelle.
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