Reversible ubiquitylation of proteins contributes to their integrity, abundance and activity. The RE1-silencing transcription factor (REST) plays key physiological roles and is dysregulated in a spectrum of disease. It is rapidly turned over and is phosphorylated, polyubiquitylated and degraded en masse during neuronal differentiation and cell cycle progression. Through siRNA screening we identified the deubiquitylase USP15 as a key regulator of cellular REST. Both antagonism of REST polyubiquitylation and rescue of endogenous REST levels are dependent on the deubiquitylase activity of USP15. However, USP15 depletion does not destabilize pre-existing REST, but rather specifically impairs de novo REST synthesis. Indeed, we find that a small fraction of endogenous USP15 is associated with polysomes. In accordance with these findings, USP15 does not antagonize the degradation of phosphorylated REST at mitosis. Instead it is required for the rapid accumulation of newly synthesized REST on mitotic exit, thus playing a key role in its cell cycle oscillations. Importantly, this study reveals a novel role for a DUB in specifically promoting new protein synthesis.
Enteric nervous system (ENS) progenitor cells isolated from mouse and human bowel can be cultured in vitro as neurospheres which are aggregates of the proliferating progenitor cells, together with neurons and glial cells derived from them. To investigate the factors regulating progenitor cell proliferation and differentiation, we first characterised cell proliferation in mouse ENS neurospheres by pulse chase experiments using thymidine analogs. We demonstrate rapid and continuous cell proliferation near the neurosphere periphery, after which postmitotic cells move away from the periphery to become distributed throughout the neurosphere. While many proliferating cells expressed glial markers, expression of the neuronal markers ?-tubulin III (Tuj1) and nitric oxide synthase was detected in increasing numbers of post-mitotic cells after a delay of several days. Treatment of both mouse and human neurospheres with the ?-secretase inhibitor N-[N-(3,5-Difluorophenacetyl)-L-alanyl]-S-phenylglycine t-butyl ester (DAPT) reduced expression of the transcription factors Hes1 and Hes5, demonstrating inhibition of Notch signaling. DAPT treatment also inhibited progenitor cell proliferation and increased the numbers of differentiating neurons expressing Tuj1 and nitric oxide synthase. To confirm that the cellular effects of DAPT treatment were due to inhibition of Notch signaling, siRNA knockdown of RBPj?, a key component of the canonical Notch signaling pathway, was demonstrated both to reduce proliferation and to increase neuronal differentiation in neurosphere cells. These observations indicate that Notch signaling promotes progenitor cell proliferation and inhibits neuronal differentiation in ENS neurospheres.
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