A missense mutation in the calsequestrin-1 gene (CASQ1) was found in a group of patients with a myopathy characterized by weakness, fatigue, and the presence of large vacuoles containing characteristic inclusions resulting from the aggregation of sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) proteins. The mutation affects a conserved aspartic acid in position 244 (p.Asp244Gly) located in one of the high-affinity Ca(2+) -binding sites of CASQ1 and alters the kinetics of Ca(2+) release in muscle fibers. Expression of the mutated CASQ1 protein in COS-7 cells showed a markedly reduced ability in forming elongated polymers, whereas both in cultured myotubes and in in vivo mouse fibers induced the formation of electron-dense SR vacuoles containing aggregates of the mutant CASQ1 protein that resemble those observed in muscle biopsies of patients. Altogether, these results support the view that a single missense mutation in the CASQ1 gene causes the formation of abnormal SR vacuoles containing aggregates of CASQ1, and other SR proteins, results in altered Ca(2+) release in skeletal muscle fibers, and, hence, is responsible for the clinical phenotype observed in these patients.
Obscurin is a large myofibrillar protein that contains several interacting modules, one of which mediates binding to muscle-specific ankyrins. Interaction between obscurin and the muscle-specific ankyrin sAnk1.5 regulates the organization of the sarcoplasmic reticulum in striated muscles. Additional muscle-specific ankyrin isoforms, ankB and ankG, are localized at the subsarcolemma level, at which they contribute to the organization of dystrophin and ?-dystroglycan at costameres. In this paper, we report that in mice deficient for obscurin, ankB was displaced from its localization at the M band, whereas localization of ankG at the Z disk was not affected. In obscurin KO mice, localization at costameres of dystrophin, but not of ?-dystroglycan, was altered, and the subsarcolemma microtubule cytoskeleton was disrupted. In addition, these mutant mice displayed marked sarcolemmal fragility and reduced muscle exercise tolerance. Altogether, the results support a model in which obscurin, by targeting ankB at the M band, contributes to the organization of subsarcolemma microtubules, localization of dystrophin at costameres, and maintenance of sarcolemmal integrity.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from human adult adipose tissue (A-MSCs) have a better differentiative ability than MSCs derived from the derma (D-MSCs). To test whether this difference is associated with differences in the content of multi-potent progenitors in A-MSCs, the number and the differentiative properties of multi-potent progenitors have been analyzed in various preparations of A-MSCs and D-MSCs. Adipogenic and osteogenic differentiation performed on colony-forming units have revealed that adipogenic and osteogenic progenitors are similar in the two populations, with only a slighty better performance of A-MSCs over D-MSCs from passages p0 to p15. An analysis of the presence of tri-, bi-, uni- and nulli-potent progenitors isolated immediately after isolation from tissues (p0) has shown comparable numbers of tri-potent and bi-potent progenitors in MSCs from the two tissues, whereas a higher content in uni-potent cells committed to adipocytes and a lower content in nulli-potent cells has been observed in A-MSCs. Furthermore, we have characterized the progenitors present in A-MSCs after six passages in vitro to verify the way in which in vitro culture can affect content in progenitor cells. We have observed that the percentage of tri-potent cells in A-MSCs at p6 remains similar to that observed at p0, although bi-potent and uni-potent progenitors committed to osteogenic differentiation increase at p6, whereas nulli-potent cells decrease at p6. These data indicate that the greater differentiative ability of A-MSC populations does not correlate directly with the number of multi-potent progenitors, suggesting that other factors influence the differentiation of bulk populations of A-MSCs.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are adult multipotent cells able to differentiate toward mature mesodermal lineages. In spite of more than a decade of investigation, little is known about the molecular mechanisms regulating the undifferentiated state and the identity of distinct functional subpopulations in these cells. Transcription factors that regulate the maintenance of the pluripotent state in embryonic stem cells, including NANOG, SOX2, and OCT4, have been proposed to play a similar role also in adult stem cells, although with conflicting results. We performed a critical evaluation of expression of these 3 transcription factors and found that NANOG, but not OCT-4 and SOX-2, is expressed in cultured human adult MSCs. Actually, NANOG was not expressed in freshly isolated MSCs, but was detected only after in vitro culture. NANOG was detected only in proliferating cells, but not in MSCs induced to differentiate. The percentage of cells expressing NANOG was maintained throughout early passages of MSCs, but then started to decrease in late passages in MSCs from adipose tissue and heart but not from bone marrow. However, the number of NANOG-expressing cells did not associate with the proliferative and differentiative capabilities of MSC populations, neither its expression appeared to identify cells having stem or progenitor cell properties. Accordingly, we propose that activation of NANOG expression in MSCs is associated with, although cannot directly regulate, the transition from in vivo quiescence to adaptation to in vitro growth conditions.
Neurotrophins and their receptors are known to play a role in the proliferation and survival of many different cell types of neuronal and non-neuronal lineages. In addition, there is much evidence in the literature showing that the p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75(NTR)), alone or in association with members of the family of Trk receptors, is expressed in a wide variety of stem cells, although its role in such cells has not been completely elucidated. In the present work we have investigated the expression of p75(NTR) and Trks in totipotent and pluripotent cells, the mouse pre-implantation embryo and embryonic stem and germ cells (ES and EG cells). p75(NTR) and TrkA can be first detected in the blastocyst from which ES cell lines are derived. Mouse ES cells retain p75(NTR)/TrkA expression. Nerve growth factor is the only neurotrophin able to stimulate ES cell growth in culture, without affecting the expression of stem cell markers, alkaline phosphatase, Oct4 and Nanog. Such proliferation effect was blocked by antagonizing either p75(NTR) or TrkA. Interestingly, immunoreactivity to anti-p75(NTR) antibodies is lost upon ES cell differentiation. The expression pattern of neurotrophin receptors in murine ES cells differs from human ES cells, that only express TrkB and C, and do not respond to NGF. In this paper we also show that, while primordial germ cells (PGC) do not express p75(NTR), when they are made to revert to an ES-like phenotype, becoming EG cells, expression of p75(NTR) is turned on.
Ca2+ release necessary for muscle contraction occurs at the junctional domain of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (j-SR). It requires the assembly of a large multi-protein complex containing the ryanodine receptor (RyR) and additional proteins, including triadin and calsequestrin. The signals which drive these proteins to the j-SR and how they assemble to form this multi-protein complex are poorly understood. To address aspects of these questions we studied the localization, dynamic properties and molecular interactions of triadin. We identified three regions, named TR1, TR2 and TR3, that contribute to the localization of triadin at the j-SR. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) experiments showed that triadin is stably associated with the j-SR and that this association is mediated by TR3. Protein pull-down experiments indicated that TR3 contains binding sites for calsequestrin-1 and that triadin clustering can be enhanced by binding to calsequestrin-1. These findings were confirmed by FRET experiments. Interestingly, the stable association of triadin to the j-SR was significantly decreased in myotubes from calsequestrin-1 knockout mice. Altogether, these results identify three regions in triadin that mediate targeting to the j-SR and reveal a role for calsequestrin-1 in promoting the stable association of triadin to the multi-protein complex associated with RyR.
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