Wnt signals orient mitotic spindles in development, but it remains unclear how Wnt signaling is spatially controlled to achieve precise spindle orientation. Here, we show that C. elegans syndecan (SDN-1) is required for precise orientation of a mitotic spindle in response to a Wnt cue. We find that SDN-1 is the predominant heparan sulfate (HS) proteoglycan in the early C. elegans embryo, and that loss of HS biosynthesis or of the SDN-1 core protein results in misorientation of the spindle of the ABar blastomere. The ABar and EMS spindles both reorient in response to Wnt signals, but only ABar spindle reorientation is dependent on a new cell contact and on HS and SDN-1. SDN-1 transiently accumulates on the ABar surface as it contacts C, and is required for local concentration of Dishevelled (MIG-5) in the ABar cortex adjacent to C. These findings establish a new role for syndecan in Wnt-dependent spindle orientation.
Reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton is an early cellular response to various extracellular signals. Sema3A, a repulsive axon guidance molecule, induces the reorganization of actin cytoskeleton in the growth cones. Collapsin response mediator protein 1 (CRMP1) mediates the intracellular Sema3A signalling through its Ser522 phosphorylation. Here we show that UNC-33, CRMP1 C. elegans homologue, interacts with FLN-1, an actin-binding Filamin-A orthologue. In nematodes, this interaction participates in the projection of DD/VD motor neurons. CRMP1 binds both the actin-binding domain and the last immunoglobulin-like repeat of Filamin-A. The alanine mutants of Filamin-A or CRMP1 in their interacting residues suppress the Sema3A repulsion in neurons. Conversely, a phosphor-mimicking mutant CRMP1(Ser522Asp) enhances the Sema3A response. Atomic-force microscopy analysis reveals that the V-shaped Filamin-A changes to a condensed form with CRMP1(Ser522Asp). CRMP1(Ser522Asp) weakens the F-actin gelation crosslinked by Filamin-A. Thus, phosphorylated CRMP1 may remove Filamin-A from the actin cytoskeleton to facilitate its remodelling.
Autophagosome formation is promoted by the PI3 kinase complex and negatively regulated by myotubularin phosphatases, indicating that regulation of local phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PtdIns3P) levels is important for this early phase of autophagy. Here, we show that the Caenorhabditis elegans myotubularin phosphatase MTM-3 catalyzes PtdIns3P turnover late in autophagy. MTM-3 acts downstream of the ATG-2/EPG-6 complex and upstream of EPG-5 to promote autophagosome maturation into autolysosomes. MTM-3 is recruited to autophagosomes by PtdIns3P, and loss of MTM-3 causes increased autophagic association of ATG-18 in a PtdIns3P-dependent manner. Our data reveal critical roles of PtdIns3P turnover in autophagosome maturation and/or autolysosome formation.
In this study, we selected 181 nematode glycogenes that are orthologous to human glycogenes and examined their RNAi phenotypes. The results are deposited in the Caenorhabditis elegans Glycogene Database (CGGDB) at AIST, Tsukuba, Japan. The most prominent RNAi phenotypes observed are disruptions of cell cycle progression in germline mitosis/meiosis and in early embryonic cell mitosis. Along with the previously reported roles of chondroitin proteoglycans, glycosphingolipids and GPI-anchored proteins in cell cycle progression, we show for the first time that the inhibition of the functions of N-glycan synthesis genes (cytoplasmic alg genes) resulted in abnormal germline formation, ER stress and small body size phenotypes. The results provide additional information on the roles of glycoconjugates in the cell cycle progression mechanisms of germline and embryonic cells.
Single/low-copy transgene integration is essential for avoiding overexpression, ectopic expression and gene silencing in the germline. Here, we present an overview of a method that uses ultraviolet and trimethylpsoralen (UV/TMP) to generate single/low-copy gene integrations in Caenorhabditis elegans. Single/low-copy transgenes from extrachromosomal arrays are integrated into the genome using positive selection based on temperature sensitivity with a vps-45 rescue fragment and negative selection based on benzimidazole sensitivity with a ben-1 rescue fragment. The copy number of the integrated transgenes is determined using quantitative PCR. Our UV/TMP integration method, which is based on familiar extrachromosomal transgenics, provides a simple approach for generating single/low-copy gene integrations.
Microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2) and Tau are abundant neuronal microtubule-associated proteins. Both proteins have highly homologous carboxyl-terminal sequences that function as microtubule-binding domains. Whereas Tau is widely accepted as a pathoetiological factor in human tauopathies, including Alzheimer's disease (AD), it is not known whether there is a relationship between MAP2 and tauopathy. To better understand the pathological roles of MAP2 and Tau, we compared their behaviors in transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans in which MAP2 or Tau was expressed pan-neuronally. Both MAP2 and Tau elicited severe neuronal dysfunction and neuritic abnormalities, despite the absence of detergent-insoluble aggregates in worm neurons. Biochemical analysis revealed that the expressed MAP2 or Tau in worms was highly phosphorylated and did not bind to microtubules. Newly raised antibodies to MAP2 that effectively distinguished between the highly homologous carboxyl-terminal sequences of MAP2 and Tau showed that MAP2 was not involved in the growth process of neurofibrillary tangles in the AD brain. These results indicate that Tau and MAP2 have different fates in the inclusion formation and raise the possibility that MAP2 plays a significant role in neurotoxicity in the AD brain despite the absence of MAP2-aggregates.
Sensory neurons adopt distinct morphologies and functional modalities to mediate responses to specific stimuli. Transcription factors and their downstream effectors orchestrate this outcome but are incompletely defined. Here, we show that different classes of mechanosensory neurons in C. elegans are distinguished by the combined action of the transcription factors MEC-3, AHR-1, and ZAG-1. Low levels of MEC-3 specify the elaborate branching pattern of PVD nociceptors, whereas high MEC-3 is correlated with the simple morphology of AVM and PVM touch neurons. AHR-1 specifies AVM touch neuron fate by elevating MEC-3 while simultaneously blocking expression of nociceptive genes such as the MEC-3 target, the claudin-like membrane protein HPO-30, that promotes the complex dendritic branching pattern of PVD. ZAG-1 exercises a parallel role to prevent PVM from adopting the PVD fate. The conserved dendritic branching function of the Drosophila AHR-1 homolog, Spineless, argues for similar pathways in mammals.
Efficient clearance of apoptotic cells by phagocytes is important for development, tissue homeostasis, and the prevention of autoimmune responses. Phagosomes containing apoptotic cells undergo acidification and mature from Rab5-positive early to Rab7-positive late stages. Phagosomes finally fuse with lysosomes to form phagolysosomes, which degrade apoptotic cells; however, the molecular mechanism underlying phagosome-lysosome fusion is not fully understood. Here we show that the Caenorhabditis elegans Arf-like small GTPase Arl8 (ARL-8) is involved in phagolysosome formation and is required for the efficient removal of apoptotic cells. Loss of function of arl-8 results in the accumulation of apoptotic germ cells. Both the engulfment of the apoptotic cells by surrounding somatic sheath cells and the phagosomal maturation from RAB-5- to RAB-7-positive stages occur in arl-8 mutants. However, the phagosomes fail to fuse with lysosomes in the arl-8 mutants, leading to the accumulation of RAB-7-positive phagosomes and the delayed degradation of apoptotic cells. ARL-8 localizes primarily to lysosomes and physically interacts with the homotypic fusion and protein sorting complex component VPS-41. Collectively our findings reveal that ARL-8 facilitates apoptotic cell removal in vivo by mediating phagosome-lysosome fusion during phagocytosis.
Glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT) is involved in the first step in glycerolipid synthesis and is localized in both the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria. To clarify the functional differences between ER-GPAT and mitochondrial (Mt)-GPAT, we generated both GPAT mutants in C. elegans and demonstrated that Mt-GPAT is essential for mitochondrial fusion. Mutation of Mt-GPAT caused excessive mitochondrial fragmentation. The defect was rescued by injection of lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), a direct product of GPAT, and by inhibition of LPA acyltransferase, both of which lead to accumulation of LPA in the cells. Mitochondrial fragmentation in Mt-GPAT mutants was also rescued by inhibition of mitochondrial fission protein DRP-1 and by overexpression of mitochondrial fusion protein FZO-1/mitofusin, suggesting that the fusion/fission balance is affected by Mt-GPAT depletion. Mitochondrial fragmentation was also observed in Mt-GPAT-depleted HeLa cells. A mitochondrial fusion assay using HeLa cells revealed that Mt-GPAT depletion impaired mitochondrial fusion process. We postulate from these results that LPA produced by Mt-GPAT functions not only as a precursor for glycerolipid synthesis but also as an essential factor of mitochondrial fusion.
In Caenorhabditis elegans, the P4-ATPase TAT-1 and its chaperone, the Cdc50 family protein CHAT-1, maintain membrane phosphatidylserine (PS) asymmetry, which is required for membrane tubulation during endocytic sorting and recycling. Loss of tat-1 and chat-1 disrupts endocytic sorting, leading to defects in both cargo recycling and degradation. In this study, we identified the C. elegans aspartyl aminopeptidase DNPP-1, loss of which suppresses the sorting and recycling defects in tat-1 mutants without reversing the PS asymmetry defect. We found that tubular membrane structures containing recycling cargoes were restored in dnpp-1 tat-1 double mutants and that these tubules overlap with RME-1-positive recycling endosomes. The restoration of the tubular structures in dnpp-1 tat-1 mutants requires normal functions of RAB-5, RAB-10, and RME-1. In tat-1 mutants, we observed alterations in membrane surface charge and targeting of positively charged proteins that were reversed by loss of dnpp-1. DNPP-1 displays a specific aspartyl aminopeptidase activity in vitro, and its enzymatic activity is required for its function in vivo. Our data reveal the involvement of an aminopeptidase in regulating endocytic sorting and recycling and suggest possible roles of peptide signaling and/or protein metabolism in these processes.
C. elegans PUD-1 and PUD-2, two proteins up-regulated in daf-2(loss-of-function) (PUD), are homologous 17-kD proteins with a large abundance increase in long-lived daf-2 mutant animals of reduced insulin signaling. In this study, we show that both PUD-1 and PUD-2 are abundantly expressed in the intestine and hypodermis, and form a heterodimer. We have solved their crystal structure to 1.9-Å resolution and found that both proteins adopt similar ?-sandwich folds in the V-shaped dimer. In contrast, their homologs PUD-3, PUD-4, PUDL-1 and PUDL-2 are all monomeric proteins with distinct expression patterns in C. elegans. Thus, the PUD-1/PUD-2 heterodimer probably has a function distinct from their family members. Neither overexpression nor deletion of pud-1 and pud-2 affected the lifespan of WT or daf-2 mutant animals, suggesting that their induction in daf-2 worms does not contribute to longevity. Curiously, deletion of pud-1 and pud-2 was associated with a protective effect against paralysis induced by the amyloid ?-peptide (1-42), which further enhanced the protection conferred by daf-2(RNAi) against A?.
Mammalian phosphatidylinositol (PI) has a unique fatty acid composition in that 1-stearoyl-2-arachidonoyl species is predominant. This fatty acid composition is formed through fatty acid remodeling by sequential deacylation and reacylation. We recently identified three Caenorhabditis elegans acyltransferases (ACL-8, ACL-9, and ACL-10) that incorporate stearic acid into the sn-1 position of PI. Mammalian LYCAT, which is the closest homolog of ACL-8, ACL-9, and ACL-10, was originally identified as a lysocardiolipin acyltransferase by an in vitro assay and was subsequently reported to possess acyltransferase activity toward various anionic lysophospholipids. However, the in vivo role of mammalian LYCAT in phospholipid fatty acid metabolism has not been well elucidated. In this study, we generated LYCAT-deficient mice and demonstrated that LYCAT determined the fatty acid composition of PI in vivo. LYCAT-deficient mice were outwardly healthy and fertile. In the mice, stearoyl-CoA acyltransferase activity toward the sn-1 position of PI was reduced, and the fatty acid composition of PI, but not those of other major phospholipids, was altered. Furthermore, expression of mouse LYCAT rescued the phenotype of C. elegans acl-8 acl-9 acl-10 triple mutants. Our data indicate that LYCAT is a determinant of PI molecular species and its function is conserved in C. elegans and mammals.
Myo-inositol is one of the major organic osmolytes in the brain and the kidney. The accumulation of intracellular organic osmolytes allows cells to regulate intracellular osmolality without altering cytoplasmic ionic strength and to adapt to hyperosmotic conditions. Two types of myo-inositol transporters, sodium/myo-inositol transporter and H(+)/myo-inositol transporter (HMIT), have been identified. Sodium/myo-inositol transporters are induced by osmotic stress and might be involved in the intracellular accumulation of myo-inositol in mammals. The role of HMIT, however, remains unknown. In the present study, we characterized three Caenorhabditis elegansHMIT genes, hmit-1.1, hmit-1.2, and hmit-1.3. hmit-1.1 was expressed in the intestine, and hmit-1.2 was expressed in the glia and the excretory canal, which is an osmotic regulatory organ that is functionally analogous to the kidney. hmit-1.3 was expressed in the intestine and the glia. The expression of hmit-1.1 and hmit-1.2 but not hmit-1.3, was markedly induced under hyperosmotic conditions. Animals with mutant hmit-1.1 and hmit-1.2 were hypersensitive to osmotic stress. The defects of hmit-1.1 and hmit-1.2 mutants were rescued by hmit-1.1 and hmit-1.2 transgenes, respectively, and by modified human HMIT. In human cell lines, HMIT expression was induced in hyperosmotic conditions. These findings indicate that the C. elegans HMIT family has a crucial role in the osmoprotective response.
Adenosine 5-triphosphate (ATP) is the major energy currency and is involved in many biological processes. The ATP-monitoring system for cells in animals can be helpful to study the relationship between energy metabolism and biological processes. The fluorescent ATP biosensor ATeam (ATP indicator based on Epsilon subunit for Analytical Measurements), which has been reported to monitor ATP levels in cultured cells on the basis of fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), was introduced into nematodes by microinjection and UV-irradiation method. To confirm whether ATeam functions as an ATP sensor in nematode cells, the authors measured FRET of ATeam in cells of transgenic nematode. The ATeam was expressed in target cells in nematode. In vulva cells, ATP levels in the cytosol were higher than those in mitochondria. ATeam also sensed ATP level change in cultured cells from the transgenic nematode. These experiments indicated that ATeam is available for detection of changes in ATP levels in nematode cells.
Ceramide glucosyltransferase (Ugcg) [uridine diphosphate (UDP)-glucose:N-acylsphingosine D-glucosyltransferase or UDP-glucose ceramide glucosyltransferase (GlcT): EC 18.104.22.168] catalyzes formation of glucosylceramide (GlcCer) from ceramide and UDP-glucose. There is only one Ugcg gene in the mouse genome, which is essential in embryogenesis and brain development. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has three Ugcg genes (cgt-1, cgt-2 and cgt-3), and double RNAi of the cgt-1 and cgt-3 genes results in lethality at the L1 larval stage. In this study, we isolated knockout worms for the three genes and characterized the gene functions. Each gene product showed active enzymatic activity when expressed in GM95 cells deficient in glycosphingolipids (GSLs). When each gene function was disrupted, the brood size of the animal markedly decreased, and abnormal oocytes and multinucleated embryos were formed. The CGT-3 protein had the highest Ugcg activity, and knockout of its gene resulted in the severest phenotype. When cgt-3 RNAi was performed on rrf-1 worms lacking somatic RNAi machinery but with intact germline RNAi machinery, a number of abnormal oocytes and multinucleated eggs were observed, although the somatic phenotype, i.e., L1 lethal effects of cgt-1/cgt-3 RNAi, was completely suppressed. Cell surface expression of GSLs and sphingomyelin, which are important components of membrane domains, was affected in the RNAi-treated embryos. In the embryos, an abnormality in cytokinesis was also observed. From these results, we concluded that the Ugcg gene is indispensable in the germline and that an ample supply of GlcCer is needed for oocytes and fertilized eggs to maintain normal membranes and to proceed through the normal cell cycle.
Phosphatidylinositol (PI), an important constituent of membranes, contains stearic acid as the major fatty acid at the sn-1 position. This fatty acid is thought to be incorporated into PI through fatty acid remodeling by sequential deacylation and reacylation. However, the genes responsible for the reaction are unknown, and consequently, the physiological significance of the sn-1 fatty acid remains to be elucidated. Here, we identified acl-8, -9, and -10, which are closely related to each other, and ipla-1 as strong candidates for genes involved in fatty acid remodeling at the sn-1 position of PI. In both ipla-1 mutants and acl-8 acl-9 acl-10 triple mutants of Caenorhabditis elegans, the stearic acid content of PI is reduced, and asymmetric division of stem cell-like epithelial cells is defective. The defects in asymmetric division of these mutants are suppressed by a mutation of the same genes involved in intracellular retrograde transport, suggesting that ipla-1 and acl genes act in the same pathway. IPLA-1 and ACL-10 have phospholipase A(1) and acyltransferase activity, respectively, both of which recognize the sn-1 position of PI as their substrate. We propose that the sn-1 fatty acid of PI is determined by ipla-1 and acl-8, -9, -10 and crucial for asymmetric divisions.
Synthesis of extracellular sulfated molecules requires active 3-phosphoadenosine 5-phosphosulfate (PAPS). For sulfation to occur, PAPS must pass through the Golgi membrane, which is facilitated by Golgi-resident PAPS transporters. Caenorhabditis elegans PAPS transporters are encoded by two genes, pst-1 and pst-2. Using the yeast heterologous expression system, we characterized PST-1 and PST-2 as PAPS transporters. We created deletion mutants to study the importance of PAPS transporter activity. The pst-1 deletion mutant exhibited defects in cuticle formation, post-embryonic seam cell development, vulval morphogenesis, cell migration, and embryogenesis. The pst-2 mutant exhibited a wild-type phenotype. The defects observed in the pst-1 mutant could be rescued by transgenic expression of pst-1 and hPAPST1 but not pst-2 or hPAPST2. Moreover, the phenotype of a pst-1;pst-2 double mutant were similar to those of the pst-1 single mutant, except that larval cuticle formation was more severely defected. Disaccharide analysis revealed that heparan sulfate from these mutants was undersulfated. Gene expression reporter analysis revealed that these PAPS transporters exhibited different tissue distributions and subcellular localizations. These data suggest that pst-1 and pst-2 play different physiological roles in heparan sulfate modification and development.
Late endocytic organelles including lysosomes are highly dynamic acidic organelles. Late endosomes and lysosomes directly fuse for content mixing to form hybrid organelles, from which lysosomes are reformed. It is not fully understood how these processes are regulated and maintained. Here we show that the Caenorhabditis elegans ARL-8 GTPase is localized primarily to lysosomes and involved in late endosome-lysosome fusion in the macrophage-like coelomocytes. Loss of arl-8 results in an increase in the number of late endosomal/lysosomal compartments, which are smaller than wild type. In arl-8 mutants, late endosomal compartments containing endocytosed macromolecules fail to fuse with lysosomal compartments enriched in the aspartic protease ASP-1. Furthermore, loss of arl-8 strongly suppresses formation of enlarged late endosome-lysosome hybrid organelles caused by mutations of cup-5, which is the orthologue of human mucolipin-1. These findings suggest that ARL-8 mediates delivery of endocytosed macromolecules to lysosomes by facilitating late endosome-lysosome fusion.
Presynaptic assembly requires the packaging of requisite proteins into vesicular cargoes in the cell soma, their long-distance microtubule-dependent transport down the axon, and, finally, their reconstitution into functional complexes at prespecified sites. Despite the identification of several molecules that contribute to these events, the regulatory mechanisms defining such discrete states remain elusive. We report the characterization of an Arf-like small G protein, ARL-8, required during this process. arl-8 mutants prematurely accumulate presynaptic cargoes within the proximal axon of several neuronal classes, with a corresponding failure to assemble presynapses distally. This proximal accumulation requires the activity of several molecules known to catalyze presynaptic assembly. Dynamic imaging studies reveal that arl-8 mutant vesicles exhibit an increased tendency to form immotile aggregates during transport. Together, these results suggest that arl-8 promotes a trafficking identity for presynaptic cargoes, facilitating their efficient transport by repressing premature self-association.
UNC-51 is a serine/threonine protein kinase conserved from yeast to humans. The yeast homolog Atg1 regulates autophagy (catabolic membrane trafficking) required for surviving starvation. In C. elegans, UNC-51 regulates the axon guidance of many neurons by a different mechanism than it and its homologs use for autophagy. UNC-51 regulates the subcellular localization (trafficking) of UNC-5, a receptor for the axon guidance molecule UNC-6/Netrin; however, the molecular details of the role for UNC-51 are largely unknown. Here, we report that UNC-51 physically interacts with LET-92, the catalytic subunit of serine/threonine protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A-C), which plays important roles in many cellular functions. A low allelic dose of LET-92 partially suppressed axon guidance defects of weak, but not severe, unc-51 mutants, and a low allelic dose of PP2A regulatory subunits A (PAA-1/PP2A-A) and B (SUR-6/PP2A-B) partially enhanced the weak unc-51 mutants. We also found that LET-92 can work cell-non-autonomously on axon guidance in neurons, and that LET-92 colocalized with UNC-51 in neurons. In addition, PP2A dephosphorylated phosphoproteins that had been phosphorylated by UNC-51. These results suggest that, by forming a complex, PP2A cooperates with UNC-51 to regulate axon guidance by regulating phosphorylation. This is the first report of a serine/threonine protein phosphatase functioning in axon guidance in vivo.
Chromosome fragmentation is a hallmark of apoptosis, conserved in diverse organisms. In mammals, caspases activate apoptotic chromosome fragmentation by cleaving and inactivating an apoptotic nuclease inhibitor. We report that inactivation of the Caenorhabditis elegans dcr-1 gene, which encodes the Dicer ribonuclease important for processing of small RNAs, compromises apoptosis and blocks apoptotic chromosome fragmentation. DCR-1 was cleaved by the CED-3 caspase to generate a C-terminal fragment with deoxyribonuclease activity, which produced 3 hydroxyl DNA breaks on chromosomes and promoted apoptosis. Thus, caspase-mediated activation of apoptotic DNA degradation is conserved. DCR-1 functions in fragmenting chromosomal DNA during apoptosis, in addition to processing of small RNAs, and undergoes a protease-mediated conversion from a ribonuclease to a deoxyribonuclease.
FoxO transcription factors control development and longevity in diverse species. Although FoxO regulation via changes in its subcellular localization is well established, little is known about how FoxO activity is regulated in the nucleus. Here, we show that the conserved C. elegans protein EAK-7 acts in parallel to the serine/threonine kinase AKT-1 to inhibit the FoxO transcription factor DAF-16. Loss of EAK-7 activity promotes diapause and longevity in a DAF-16/FoxO-dependent manner. Whereas akt-1 mutation activates DAF-16/FoxO by promoting its translocation from the cytoplasm to the nucleus, eak-7 mutation increases nuclear DAF-16/FoxO activity without influencing DAF-16/FoxO subcellular localization. Thus, EAK-7 and AKT-1 inhibit DAF-16/FoxO activity via distinct mechanisms. Our results implicate EAK-7 as a FoxO regulator and highlight the biological impact of a regulatory pathway that governs the activity of nuclear FoxO without altering its subcellular location.
Systemic magnesium homeostasis in mammals is primarily governed by the activities of the TRPM6 and TRPM7 cation channels, which mediate both uptake by the intestinal epithelial cells and reabsorption by the distal convoluted tubule cells in the kidney. In the nematode, C. elegans, intestinal magnesium uptake is dependent on the activities of the TRPM channel proteins, GON-2 and GTL-1. In this paper we provide evidence that another member of the TRPM protein family, GTL-2, acts within the C. elegans excretory cell to mediate the excretion of excess magnesium. Thus, the activity of GTL-2 balances the activities of the paralogous TRPM channel proteins, GON-2 and GTL-1.
In eukaryotes, different subcellular organelles have distinct cholesterol concentrations, which is thought to be critical for biological functions. Oxysterol-binding protein-related proteins (ORPs) have been assumed to mediate nonvesicular cholesterol trafficking in cells; however, their in vivo functions and therefore the biological significance of cholesterol in each organelle are not fully understood. Here, by generating deletion mutants of ORPs in Caenorhabditis elegans, we show that ORPs are required for the formation and function of multivesicular bodies (MVBs). In an RNAi enhancer screen using obr quadruple mutants (obr-1; -2; -3; -4), we found that MVB-related genes show strong genetic interactions with the obr genes. In obr quadruple mutants, late endosomes/lysosomes are enlarged and membrane protein degradation is retarded, although endocytosed soluble proteins are normally delivered to lysosomes and degraded. We also found that the cholesterol content of late endosomes/lysosomes is reduced in the mutants. In wild-type worms, cholesterol restriction induces the formation of enlarged late endosomes/lysosomes, as observed in obr quadruple mutants, and increases embryonic lethality upon knockdown of MVB-related genes. Finally, we show that knockdown of ORP1L, a mammalian ORP family member, induces the formation of enlarged MVBs in HeLa cells. Our in vivo findings suggest that the proper cholesterol level of late endosomes/lysosomes generated by ORPs is required for normal MVB formation and MVB-mediated membrane protein degradation.
During apoptosis, dying cells are swiftly removed by phagocytes. It is not fully understood how apoptotic cells are recognized by phagocytes. Here we report the identification and characterization of the Caenorhabditis elegans ttr-52 gene, which encodes a transthyretin-like protein and is required for efficient cell corpse engulfment. The TTR-52 protein is expressed in, and secreted from, C. elegans endoderm and clusters around apoptotic cells. Genetic analysis indicates that TTR-52 acts in the cell corpse engulfment pathway mediated by CED-1, CED-6 and CED-7 and affects clustering of the phagocyte receptor CED-1 around apoptotic cells. TTR-52 recognizes surface-exposed phosphatidylserine (PtdSer) in vivo and binds to both PtdSer and the extracellular domain of CED-1 in vitro. TTR-52 is therefore the first bridging molecule identified in C. elegans that mediates recognition of apoptotic cells by crosslinking the PtdSer eat me signal with the phagocyte receptor CED-1.
In multicellular organisms, the surface barrier is essential for maintaining the internal environment. In mammals, the barrier is the stratum corneum. Fatty acid transport protein 4 (FATP4) is a key factor involved in forming the stratum corneum barrier. Mice lacking Fatp4 display early neonatal lethality with features such as tight, thick, and shiny skin, and a defective skin barrier. These symptoms are strikingly similar to those of a human skin disease called restrictive dermopathy. FATP4 is a member of the FATP family that possesses acyl-CoA synthetase activity for very long chain fatty acids. How Fatp4 contributes to skin barrier function, however, remains to be elucidated. In the present study, we characterized two Caenorhabditis elegans genes, acs-20 and acs-22, that are homologous to mammalian FATPs. Animals with mutant acs-20 exhibited defects in the cuticle barrier, which normally prevents the penetration of small molecules. acs-20 mutant animals also exhibited abnormalities in the cuticle structure, but not in epidermal cell fate or cell integrity. The acs-22 mutants rarely showed a barrier defect, whereas acs-20;acs-22 double mutants had severely disrupted barrier function. Moreover, the barrier defects of acs-20 and acs-20;acs-22 mutants were rescued by acs-20, acs-22, or human Fatp4 transgenes. We further demonstrated that the incorporation of exogenous very long chain fatty acids into sphingomyelin was reduced in acs-20 and acs-22 mutants. These findings indicate that C. elegans Fatp4 homologue(s) have a crucial role in the surface barrier function and this model might be useful for studying the fundamental molecular mechanisms underlying human skin barrier and relevant diseases.
The National BioResource Project (NBRP) is a Japanese project that aims to establish a system for collecting, preserving and providing bioresources for use as experimental materials for life science research. It is promoted by 27 core resource facilities, each concerned with a particular group of organisms, and by one information center. The NBRP database is a product of this project. Thirty databases and an integrated database-retrieval system (BioResource World: BRW) have been created and made available through the NBRP home page (http://www.nbrp.jp). The 30 independent databases have individual features which directly reflect the data maintained by each resource facility. The BRW is designed for users who need to search across several resources without moving from one database to another. BRW provides access to a collection of 4.5-million records on bioresources including wild species, inbred lines, mutants, genetically engineered lines, DNA clones and so on. BRW supports summary browsing, keyword searching, and searching by DNA sequences or gene ontology. The results of searches provide links to online requests for distribution of research materials. A circulation system allows users to submit details of papers published on research conducted using NBRP resources.
The intestine plays an essential role in organism-wide regulatory networks in both vertebrates and invertebrates. In Caenorhabditis elegans, class 1 flr genes (flr-1, flr-3 and flr-4) act in the intestine and control growth rates and defecation cycle periods, while class 2 flr genes (flr-2, flr-5, flr-6 and flr-7) are characterized by mutations that suppress the slow growth of class 1 flr mutants. This study revealed that flr-2 gene controls antibacterial defense and intestinal color, confirming that flr-2 regulates intestinal functions. flr-2 encoded the only glycoprotein hormone alpha subunit in C. elegans and was expressed in certain neurons. Furthermore, FLR-2 bound to another secretory protein GHI-1, which belongs to a family of lipid- and lipopolysaccharide-binding proteins. A ghi-1 deletion mutation partially suppressed the short defecation cycle periods of class 1 flr mutants, and this effect was enhanced by flr-2 mutations. Thus, FLR-2 acts as a signaling molecule for the neural control of intestinal functions, which is achieved in a functional network involving class 1 and class 2 flr genes as well as ghi-1. These results are informative to studies of glycoprotein hormone signaling in higher animals.
The nematode C. elegans is a small and simple animal, which is easy to culture and store. Many detailed descriptions, biological resources, and methods for genetical and biochemical analyses have accumulated due to past research activities, and C. elegans is readily useful for molecular analyses with transgenic, RNAi, and mutants. Thus, C. elegans is an ideal model organism for detailed molecular analyses and functional genomics.
Galectins are a family of beta-galactoside-binding proteins that are widely found among animal species and that regulate diverse biological phenomena. To study the biological function of glycolipid-binding galectins, we purified recombinant Caenorhabditis elegans galectins (LEC-1-11) and studied their binding to C. elegans glycolipids. We found that LEC-8 binds to glycolipids in C. elegans through carbohydrate recognition. It has been reported that Cry5B-producing Bacillus thuringiensis strains can infect C. elegans and that the C. elegans Cry5B receptor molecules are glycolipids. We found that Cry5B and LEC-8 bound to C. elegans glycolipid-coated plates in a dose-dependent manner and that Cry5B binding to glycolipids was inhibited by the addition of LEC-8. LEC-8 is usually expressed strongly in the pharyngeal-intestinal valve and intestinal-rectal valve and is expressed weakly in intestine. However, when C. elegans were fed Escherichia coli expressing Cry5B, intestinal LEC-8::EGFP protein levels increased markedly. In contrast, LEC-8::EGFP expression triggered by Cry5B was reduced in toxin-resistant C. elegans mutants, which had mutations in genes involved in biosynthesis of glycolipids. Moreover, the LEC-8-deficient mutant was more susceptible to Cry5B than wild-type worms. These results suggest that the glycolipid-binding lectin LEC-8 contributes to host defense against bacterial infection by competitive binding to target glycolipid molecules.
Intra-Golgi retrograde transport is assumed to maintain Golgi function by recycling Golgi-resident proteins to younger cisternae in the progression of entire Golgi stack from cis to trans. GS28 (Golgi SNARE of 28 kDa, also known as GOS28) is a Golgi-localized SNARE protein and has been implicated in intra-Golgi retrograde transport. However, the in vivo functions of GS28, and consequently, the roles of the intra-Golgi retrograde transport in animal development are largely unknown. In this study, we generated deletion mutants of Caenorhabditis elegans GS28 and performed a synthetic lethal RNAi screen using GS28 mutants. We found that another Golgi-localized SNARE, Ykt6, functions cooperatively with GS28 in embryonic development. During post-embryonic development, GS28 mutants exhibited reduced seam cell numbers and a missing ray phenotype under Ykt6 knockdown conditions, suggesting that cell proliferation and/or differentiation of stem cell-like seam cells are impaired in GS28- and Ykt6-depleted worms. We also demonstrated that GS28 and Ykt6 act redundantly for the proper expression of Golgi-resident proteins in adult intestinal cells. This study reveals the in vivo importance of the Golgi-localized SNAREs GS28 and Ykt6.
DNase II enzymes are acidic endonucleases that have been implicated in mediating apoptotic DNA degradation, a critical cell death execution event. C. elegans genome contains three DNase II homologues, NUC-1, CRN-6, and CRN-7, but their expression patterns, acting sites, and roles in apoptotic DNA degradation and development are unclear. We have conducted a comprehensive analysis of three C. elegans DNase II genes and found that nuc-1 plays a major role, crn-6 plays an auxiliary role, and crn-7 plays a negligible role in resolving 3 OH DNA breaks generated in apoptotic cells. Promoter swapping experiments suggest that crn-6 but not crn-7 can partially substitute for nuc-1 in mediating apoptotic DNA degradation and both fail to replace nuc-1 in degrading bacterial DNA in intestine. Despite of their restricted and largely non-overlapping expression patterns, both CRN-6 and NUC-1 can mediate apoptotic DNA degradation in many cells, suggesting that they are likely secreted nucleases that are retaken up by other cells to exert DNA degradation functions. Removal or disruption of NUC-1 secretion signal eliminates NUC-1s ability to mediate DNA degradation across its expression border. Furthermore, blocking cell corpse engulfment does not affect apoptotic DNA degradation mediated by nuc-1, suggesting that NUC-1 acts in apoptotic cells rather than in phagocytes to resolve 3 OH DNA breaks. Our study illustrates how multiple DNase II nucleases play differential roles in apoptotic DNA degradation and development and reveals an unexpected mode of DNase II action in mediating DNA degradation.
TAP-like (TAPL; ABCB9) is a half-type ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter that localizes in lysosome and putatively conveys peptides from cytosol to lysosome. However, the physiological role of this transporter remains to be elucidated. Comparison of genome databases reveals that TAPL is conserved in various species from a simple model organism, Caenorhabditis elegans, to mammals. C. elegans possesses homologous TAPL genes: haf-4 and haf-9. In this study, we examined the tissue-specific expression of these two genes and analyzed the phenotypes of the loss-of-function mutants for haf-4 and haf-9 to elucidate the in vivo function of these genes. Both HAF-4 and HAF-9 tagged with green fluorescent protein (GFP) were mainly localized on the membrane of nonacidic but lysosome-associated membrane protein homologue (LMP-1)-positive intestinal granules from larval to adult stage. The mutants for haf-4 and haf-9 exhibited granular defects in late larval and young adult intestinal cells, associated with decreased brood size, prolonged defecation cycle, and slow growth. The intestinal granular phenotype was rescued by the overexpression of the GFP-tagged wild-type protein, but not by the ATP-unbound form of HAF-4. These results demonstrate that two ABC transporters, HAF-4 and HAF-9, are related to intestinal granular formation and some other physiological aspects.
Endogenous small RNAs (endo-siRNAs) interact with Argonaute (AGO) proteins to mediate sequence-specific regulation of diverse biological processes. Here, we combine deep-sequencing and genetic approaches to explore the biogenesis and function of endo-siRNAs in C. elegans. We describe conditional alleles of the Dicer-related helicase, drh-3, that abrogate both RNA interference and the biogenesis of endo-siRNAs, called 22G-RNAs. DRH-3 is a core component of RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP) complexes essential for several distinct 22G-RNA systems. We show that, in the germline, one system is dependent on worm-specific AGOs, including WAGO-1, which localizes to germline nuage structures called P granules. WAGO-1 silences certain genes, transposons, pseudogenes, and cryptic loci. Finally, we demonstrate that components of the nonsense-mediated decay pathway function in at least one WAGO-mediated surveillance pathway. These findings broaden our understanding of the biogenesis and diversity of 22G-RNAs and suggest additional regulatory functions for small RNAs.
Although the solute carrier 35B1 (SLC35B1) is evolutionarily conserved, its functions in metazoans remain unknown. To elucidate its function, we examined developmental roles of an SLC35B1 family gene (HUT-1: homolog of UDP-Gal transporter) in Caenorhabditis elegans. We isolated a deletion mutant of the gene and characterized phenotypes of the mutant and hut-1 RNAi-treated worms. GFP-HUT-1 reporter analysis was performed to examine gene expression patterns. We also tested whether several nucleotide sugar transporters can compensate for hut-1 deficiency. The hut-1 deletion mutant and RNAi worms showed larval growth defect and lethality with disrupted intestinal morphology. Inactivation of hut-1 induced chronic endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, and hut-1 showed genetic interactions with the atf-6, pek-1, and ire-1 genes involved in unfolded protein response signaling. ER ultrastructure and ER marker distribution in hut-1-deficient animals showed that HUT-1 is required for maintenance of ER structure. Reporter analysis revealed that HUT-1 is an ER protein ubiquitously expressed in tissues, including the intestine. Lethality and the ER stress phenotype of the mutant were rescued with the human hut-1 ortholog UGTrel1. These results indicate important roles for hut-1 in development and maintenance of ER homeostasis in C. elegans.
RNAi-related pathways regulate diverse processes, from developmental timing to transposon silencing. Here, we show that in C. elegans the Argonaute CSR-1, the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase EGO-1, the Dicer-related helicase DRH-3, and the Tudor-domain protein EKL-1 localize to chromosomes and are required for proper chromosome segregation. In the absence of these factors chromosomes fail to align at the metaphase plate and kinetochores do not orient to opposing spindle poles. Surprisingly, the CSR-1-interacting small RNAs (22G-RNAs) are antisense to thousands of germline-expressed protein-coding genes. Nematodes assemble holocentric chromosomes in which continuous kinetochores must span the expressed domains of the genome. We show that CSR-1 interacts with chromatin at target loci but does not downregulate target mRNA or protein levels. Instead, our findings support a model in which CSR-1 complexes target protein-coding domains to promote their proper organization within the holocentric chromosomes of C. elegans.
Cell death related nuclease 4 (CRN-4) is one of the apoptotic nucleases involved in DNA degradation in Caenorhabditis elegans. To understand how CRN-4 is involved in apoptotic DNA fragmentation, we analyzed CRN-4s biochemical properties, in vivo cell functions, and the crystal structures of CRN-4 in apo-form, Mn(2+)-bound active form, and Er(3+)-bound inactive form. CRN-4 is a dimeric nuclease with the optimal enzyme activity in cleaving double-stranded DNA in apoptotic salt conditions. Both mutational studies and the structures of the Mn(2+)-bound CRN-4 revealed the geometry of the functional nuclease active site in the N-terminal DEDDh domain. The C-terminal domain, termed the Zn-domain, contains basic surface residues ideal for nucleic acid recognition and is involved in DNA binding, as confirmed by deletion assays. Cell death analysis in C. elegans further demonstrated that both the nuclease active site and the Zn-domain are required for crn-4s function in apoptosis. Combining all of the data, we suggest a structural model where chromosomal DNA is bound at the Zn-domain and cleaved at the DEDDh nuclease domain in CRN-4 when the cell is undergoing apoptosis.
The insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 signaling pathway of Caenorhabditis elegans regulates larval diapause and adult lifespan through the sole insulin receptor-like protein, DAF-2. In the present study, the physiological function and expression pattern of INS-17, one of the C. elegans insulin-like peptides, were examined by disruption and overexpression of the gene, and by the use of a reporter gene. INS-17 might function as a DAF-2 antagonist in the regulation of larval diapause, but not of the adult lifespan. The reporter protein was intensively expressed during larval diapause. It showed a drastic decrease in amount after larval diapause, which matches well the physiological function of INS-17.
HBx is a multifunctional hepatitis B virus (HBV) protein that is crucial for HBV infection and pathogenesis and a contributing cause of hepatocyte carcinogenesis. However, the host targets and mechanisms of action of HBx are poorly characterized. We show here that expression of HBx in Caenorhabditis elegans induces both necrotic and apoptotic cell death, mimicking an early event of liver infection by HBV. Genetic and biochemical analyses indicate that HBx interacts directly with the B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) homolog CED-9 (cell death abnormal) through a Bcl-2 homology 3 (BH3)-like motif to trigger both cytosolic Ca(2+) increase and cell death. Importantly, Bcl-2 can substitute for CED-9 in mediating HBx-induced cell killing in C. elegans, suggesting that CED-9 and Bcl-2 are conserved cellular targets of HBx. A genetic suppressor screen of HBx-induced cell death has produced many mutations, including mutations in key regulators from both apoptosis and necrosis pathways, indicating that this screen can identify new apoptosis and necrosis genes. Our results suggest that C. elegans could serve as an animal model for identifying crucial host factors and signaling pathways of HBx and aid in development of strategies to treat HBV-induced liver disorders.
The NHERF (Na(+)/H(+) exchanger regulatory factor) family has been proposed to play a key role in regulating transmembrane protein localization and retention at the plasma membrane. Due to the high homology between the family members, potential functional compensations have been a concern in sorting out the function of individual NHERF numbers. Here, we studied C. elegans NRFL-1 (C01F6.6) (nherf-like protein 1), the sole C. elegans orthologue of the NHERF family, which makes worm a model with low genetic redundancy of NHERF homologues. Integrating bioinformatic knowledge of C. elegans proteins into yeast two-hybrid scheme, we identified NRFL-1 as an interactor of AAT-6, a member of the C. elegans AAT (amino acid transporter) family. A combination of GST pull-down assay, localization study, and co-immunoprecipitation confirmed the binding and characterized the PDZ interaction. AAT-6 localizes to the luminal membrane even in the absence of NRFL-1 when the worm is up to four-day old. A fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) analysis suggested that NRFL-1 immobilizes AAT-6 at the luminal membrane. When the nrfl-1 deficient worm is six-day or older, in contrast, the membranous localization of AAT-6 is not observed, whereas AAT-6 tightly localizes to the membrane in worms with NRFL-1. Sorting out the in vivo functions of the C. elegans NHERF protein, we found that NRFL-1, a PDZ-interactor of AAT-6, is responsible for the immobilization and the age-dependent maintenance of AAT-6 on the intestinal luminal membrane.
Ras-family GTPases regulate a wide variety of cellular functions including cell growth and differentiation. Di-Ras, which belongs to a distinct subfamily of Ras-family GTPases, is expressed predominantly in brain, but the role of Di-Ras in nervous systems remains totally unknown. Here, we report that the Caenorhabditis elegans Di-Ras homologue drn-1 is expressed specifically in neuronal cells and involved in synaptic function at neuromuscular junctions. Loss of function of drn-1 conferred resistance to the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor aldicarb and partially suppressed the aldicarb-hypersensitive phenotypes of heterotrimeric G-protein mutants, in which acetylcholine release is up-regulated. drn-1 mutants displayed no apparent defects in the axonal distribution of the membrane-bound second messenger diacylglycerol (DAG), which is a key stimulator of acetylcholine release. Finally, we have identified EPAC-1, a C. elegans Epac homologue, as a binding partner for DRN-1. Deletion mutants of epac-1 displayed an aldicarb-resistant phenotype as drn-1 mutants. Genetic analysis of drn-1 and epac-1 showed that they acted in the same pathway to control acetylcholine release. Furthermore, DRN-1 and EPAC-1 were co-immunoprecipitated. These findings suggest that DRN-1 may function cooperatively with EPAC-1 to modulate synaptic activity in C. elegans.
Phosphatidylinositol (PI) is a constituent of biomembranes and a precursor of all phosphoinositides (PIPs). A prominent characteristic of PI is that its sn-2 position is highly enriched in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), such as arachidonic acid or eicosapentaenoic acid. However, the biological significance of PUFA-containing PI remains unknown. We previously identified Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) mboa-7 as an acyltransferase that incorporates PUFAs into the sn-2 position of PI. In this study, we performed an RNAi enhancer screen against PI kinases and phosphatases using mboa-7 mutants that have a reduced PUFA content in PI. Among the genes tested, knockdown of vps-34, a catalytic subunit of class III PI 3-kinase that produces PI 3-phosphate (PI3P) from PI, caused severe growth defects in mboa-7 mutants. In both vps-34 RNAi-treated wild-type worms and mboa-7 mutants, the size of PI3P-positive early endosomes was significantly decreased. We also performed an RNAi enhancer screen against PI3P-related genes and found that, like knockdown of vps-34, knockdown of autophagy-related genes caused severe growth defects in mboa-7 mutants. Finally, we showed that autophagic clearance of protein aggregates is impaired in mboa-7 mutants. Taken together, these results suggest that the PUFA chain in PI has a role in some PI3P signaling.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) normally confined to the cytoplasmic leaflet of plasma membrane (PM) is externalized to the exoplasmic leaflet (exPS) during apoptosis, where it serves as an "eat-me" signal to phagocytes. In addition, some living cells such as macrophages also express exPS.
In Caenorhabditis elegans, insulin/insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 signaling (IIS) is an important pathway that controls larval diapause and adult lifespan. The IIS pathway is modulated by many insulin-like peptides (ILPs) through the DAF-2 receptor, the sole insulin/IGF-1 receptor-like protein in C. elegans. We previously identified the ILP, INS-18, and predicted its tertiary structure to be similar to the crystal structures of human insulin and IGF-1. In this study, the physiological function of INS-18 was first examined by gene disruption and overexpression, and we identified INS-18 as a DAF-2 antagonist required for larval diapause and longevity. Analysis of the INS-18 expression pattern using a reporter gene showed it to be expressed in nerve cells, including hermaphrodite-specific neurons (HSNs) at the adult stage. Other ILP expressions have not been previously observed in HSNs, and we believe that INS-18 expression in these cells may contribute to longevity by regulating reproduction. Loss of the DAF-16 transcription factor located downstream of the IIS pathway completely blocked ins-18 expression. We propose a positive feedback model for the regulation of ins-18 expression in which an antagonist binding to the DAF-2 receptor increases ins-18 gene expression, thus leading to increased INS-18 protein levels and increased DAF-2 receptor binding. Thus, this study provides a new insight into the hormonal regulation of insulin, an important and widespread process in the animal kingdom.
The unfolded protein response (UPR) is an intracellular stress-signaling pathway that counteracts the accumulation of misfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Because defects in ER protein folding are associated with many pathological states, including metabolic, neurologic, genetic, and inflammatory diseases, it is important to understand how the UPR maintains ER protein-folding homeostasis. All metazoans have conserved the fundamental UPR transducers IRE1, ATF6, and PERK. In Caenorhabditis elegans, the UPR is required to prevent larval lethality and intestinal degeneration. Although ire-1-null worms are viable, they are particularly sensitive to ER stress. To identify genes that are required for development of ire-1-null worms, we performed a comprehensive RNA interference screen to find 10 genes that exhibit synthetic growth and intestinal defects with the ire-1(v33) mutant but not with atf-6(tm1153) or pek-1(ok275) mutants. The expression of two of these genes, exos-3 and F48E8.6, was induced by ER stress, and their knockdown in a wild-type strain caused ER stress. Because these genes encode subunits of the exosome complex that functions in mRNA surveillance, we analyzed other gene products required for nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD). Our results demonstrate that defects in smg-1, smg-4, and smg-6 in C. elegans and SMG6 in mammalian cells cause ER stress and sensitize to the lethal effects of ER stress. Although ER stress did not activate mRNA surveillance complex assembly, ER stress did induce SMG6 expression, and NMD regulators were constitutively localized to the ER. Importantly, the findings demonstrate a unique and fundamental interaction where NMD-mediated mRNA quality control is required to prevent ER stress.
Small RNAs regulate diverse biological processes by directing effector proteins called Argonautes to silence complementary mRNAs. Maturation of some classes of small RNAs involves terminal 2-O-methylation to prevent degradation. This modification is catalyzed by members of the conserved HEN1 RNA methyltransferase family. In animals, Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) and some endogenous and exogenous small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are methylated, whereas microRNAs are not. However, the mechanisms that determine animal HEN1 substrate specificity have yet to be fully resolved. In Caenorhabditis elegans, a HEN1 ortholog has not been studied, but there is evidence for methylation of piRNAs and some endogenous siRNAs. Here, we report that the worm HEN1 ortholog, HENN-1 (HEN of Nematode), is required for methylation of C. elegans small RNAs. Our results indicate that piRNAs are universally methylated by HENN-1. In contrast, 26G RNAs, a class of primary endogenous siRNAs, are methylated in female germline and embryo, but not in male germline. Intriguingly, the methylation pattern of 26G RNAs correlates with the expression of distinct male and female germline Argonautes. Moreover, loss of the female germline Argonaute results in loss of 26G RNA methylation altogether. These findings support a model wherein methylation status of a metazoan small RNA is dictated by the Argonaute to which it binds. Loss of henn-1 results in phenotypes that reflect destabilization of substrate small RNAs: dysregulation of target mRNAs, impaired fertility, and enhanced somatic RNAi. Additionally, the henn-1 mutant shows a weakened response to RNAi knockdown of germline genes, suggesting that HENN-1 may also function in canonical RNAi. Together, our results indicate a broad role for HENN-1 in both endogenous and exogenous gene silencing pathways and provide further insight into the mechanisms of HEN1 substrate discrimination and the diversity within the Argonaute family.
A disintegrin-like and metalloprotease with thrombospondin type I motif (ADAMTS9) is a member of the secreted metalloprotease family that is believed to digest extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins outside of cells. Its Caenorhabditis elegans orthologue, GON-1, is involved in ECM degradation and is required for gonad morphogenesis. ADAMTS9 and GON-1 have similar domain structures, and both have a unique C-terminal domain called the "GON domain," whose function remains unknown. Here we show that down-regulation of human ADAMTS9 and C. elegans GON-1 results in the inhibition of protein transport from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to the Golgi. This phenotype was rescued by the expression of the GON domain localizing in the ER in human cells and C. elegans. We propose a novel function of ADAMTS9 and GON-1 in the ER that promotes protein transport from the ER to the Golgi. This function is GON-domain dependent but protease activity independent.
Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchor attachment is one of the most common posttranslational protein modifications. Using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, we determined that GPI-anchored proteins are present in germline cells and distal tip cells, which are essential for the maintenance of the germline stem cell niche. We identified 24 C. elegans genes involved in GPI-anchor synthesis. Inhibition of various steps of GPI-anchor synthesis by RNA interference or gene knockout resulted in abnormal development of oocytes and early embryos, and both lethal and sterile phenotypes were observed. The piga-1 gene (orthologue of human PIGA) codes for the catalytic subunit of the phosphatidylinositol N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase complex, which catalyzes the first step of GPI-anchor synthesis. We isolated piga-1-knockout worms and found that GPI-anchor synthesis is indispensable for the maintenance of mitotic germline cell number. The knockout worms displayed 100% lethality, with decreased mitotic germline cells and abnormal eggshell formation. Using cell-specific rescue of the null allele, we showed that expression of piga-1 in somatic gonads and/or in germline is sufficient for normal embryonic development and the maintenance of the germline mitotic cells. These results clearly demonstrate that GPI-anchor synthesis is indispensable for germline formation and for normal development of oocytes and eggs.
?-Synuclein is causative for autosomal dominant familial Parkinson disease and dementia with Lewy bodies, and the phosphorylation of ?-synuclein at residue Ser-129 is a key posttranslational modification detected in Parkinson disease/dementia with Lewy bodies lesions. However, the role of Ser-129 phosphorylation on the pathogenesis of Parkinson disease/dementia with Lewy bodies remains unclear. Here we investigated the neurotoxicity of Ser-129-substituted ?-synuclein in the transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans (Tg worm) model of synucleinopathy. Tg worms pan-neuronally overexpressing nonphosphorylatable (S129A) ?-synuclein showed severe defects including motor dysfunction, growth retardation, and synaptic abnormalities. In contrast, Tg worms expressing phosphorylation mimic (S129D) ?-synuclein exhibited nearly normal phenotypes. Biochemical fractionation revealed that the level of membrane-bound ?-synuclein was significantly increased in S129A-?-synuclein Tg worms, whereas S129D- as well as A30P-?-synuclein displayed lower membrane binding properties. Furthermore, A30P/S129A double mutant ?-synuclein did not cause neuronal dysfunction and displayed low membrane binding property. In human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells, localization of S129A-?-synuclein to membranes was significantly increased. Finally, gene expression profiling of S129A-Tg worms revealed a dramatic up-regulation of Daf-16/FOXO pathway genes, which likely act against the dysfunction caused by S129A-?-synuclein. These results imply a role of Ser-129 phosphorylation of ?-synuclein in the attenuation of ?-synuclein-induced neuronal dysfunction and downstream stress response by lowering the membrane binding property.
Transgenic strains of Caenorhabditis elegans are typically generated by injecting DNA into the germline to form multi-copy extrachromosomal arrays. These transgenes are semi-stable and their expression is silenced in the germline. Mos1 transposon or microparticle bombardment methods have been developed to create single- or low-copy chromosomal integrated lines. Here we report an alternative method using ultraviolet trimethylpsoralen (UV/TMP) to generate single/low-copy gene integrations.
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