AbstractVapor nanobubble (VNB) photoporation is a physical method for intracellular delivery that has gained significant interest in the past decade. It has successfully been used to introduce molecular cargo of diverse nature into different cell types with high throughput and minimal cytotoxicity. For translational purposes, it is important to understand whether and how photoporation affects cell homeostasis. To obtain a comprehensive view on the transcriptional rewiring that takes place after VNB photoporation, we performed a longitudinal shotgun RNA-sequencing experiment. Six hours after photoporation, we found a marked upregulation of LMNA transcripts as well as their protein products, the A-type lamins. At the same time point, we observed a significant increase in several heterochromatin marks, suggesting a global stiffening of the nucleus. These molecular features vanished 24 h after photoporation. Since VNB-induced chromatin condensation was prolonged in LMNA knockout cells, A-type lamins may be required for restoring the nucleus to its original state. Selective depletion of A-type lamins reduced cell viability after VNB photoporation, while pharmacological stimulation of LMNA transcription increased the percentage of successfully transfected cells that survived after photoporation. Therefore, our results suggest that cells respond to VNB photoporation by temporary upregulation of A-type lamins to facilitate their recovery.
AbstractNew therapeutic targets that could improve current antitumor therapy and overcome cancer resistance are urgently needed. Promising candidates are lysosomal cysteine cathepsins, proteolytical enzymes involved in various critical steps during cancer progression. Among them, cathepsin X, which acts solely as a carboxypeptidase, has received much attention. Our results indicate that the triazole-based selective reversible inhibitor of cathepsin X named Z9 (1-(2,3-dihydrobenzo[b][1,4]dioxin-6-yl)-2-((4-isopropyl-4H-1,2,4-triazol-3-yl)thio)ethan-1-one) significantly reduces tumor progression, both in vitro in cell-based functional assays and in vivo in two independent tumor mouse models: the FVB/PyMT transgenic and MMTV-PyMT orthotopic breast cancer mouse models. One of the mechanisms by which cathepsin X contributes to cancer progression is the compensation of cathepsin-B activity loss. Our results confirm that cathepsin-B inhibition is compensated by an increase in cathepsin X activity and protein levels. Furthermore, the simultaneous inhibition of both cathepsins B and X with potent, selective, reversible inhibitors exerted a synergistic effect in impairing processes of tumor progression in in vitro cell-based assays of tumor cell migration and spheroid growth. Taken together, our data demonstrate that Z9 impairs tumor progression both in vitro and in vivo and can be used in combination with other peptidase inhibitors as an innovative approach to overcome resistance to antipeptidase therapy.
AbstractMutations in the photoreceptor protein rhodopsin are known as one of the leading causes of retinal degeneration in humans. Two rhodopsin mutations, Y102H and I307N, obtained in chemically mutagenized mice, are currently the subject of increased interest as relevant models for studying the process of retinal degeneration in humans. Here, we report on the biochemical and functional characterization of the structural and functional alterations of these two rhodopsin mutants and we compare them with the G90V mutant previously analyzed, as a basis for a better understanding of in vivo studies. This mechanistic knowledge is fundamental to use it for developing novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of inherited retinal degeneration in retinitis pigmentosa. We find that Y102H and I307N mutations affect the inactive–active equilibrium of the receptor. In this regard, the mutations reduce the stability of the inactive conformation but increase the stability of the active conformation. Furthermore, the initial rate of the functional activation of transducin, by the I307N mutant is reduced, but its kinetic profile shows an unusual increase with time suggesting a profound effect on the signal transduction process. This latter effect can be associated with a change in the flexibility of helix 7 and an indirect effect of the mutation on helix 8 and the C-terminal tail of rhodopsin, whose potential role in the functional activation of the receptor has been usually underestimated. In the case of the Y102H mutant, the observed changes can be associated with conformational alterations affecting the folding of the rhodopsin intradiscal domain, and its presumed involvement in the retinal binding process by the receptor.
AbstractApical localization of Intercellular Adhesion Receptor (ICAM)-1 regulates the adhesion and guidance of leukocytes across polarized epithelial barriers. Here, we investigate the molecular mechanisms that determine ICAM-1 localization into apical membrane domains of polarized hepatic epithelial cells, and their effect on lymphocyte-hepatic epithelial cell interaction. We had previously shown that segregation of ICAM-1 into apical membrane domains, which form bile canaliculi and bile ducts in hepatic epithelial cells, requires basolateral-to-apical transcytosis. Searching for protein machinery potentially involved in ICAM-1 polarization we found that the SNARE-associated protein plasmolipin (PLLP) is expressed in the subapical compartment of hepatic epithelial cells in vitro and in vivo. BioID analysis of ICAM-1 revealed proximal interaction between this adhesion receptor and PLLP. ICAM-1 colocalized and interacted with PLLP during the transcytosis of the receptor. PLLP gene editing and silencing increased the basolateral localization and reduced the apical confinement of ICAM-1 without affecting apicobasal polarity of hepatic epithelial cells, indicating that ICAM-1 transcytosis is specifically impaired in the absence of PLLP. Importantly, PLLP depletion was sufficient to increase T-cell adhesion to hepatic epithelial cells. Such an increase depended on the epithelial cell polarity and ICAM-1 expression, showing that the epithelial transcytotic machinery regulates the adhesion of lymphocytes to polarized epithelial cells. Our findings strongly suggest that the polarized intracellular transport of adhesion receptors constitutes a new regulatory layer of the epithelial inflammatory response.
AbstractCoronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the illness caused by a novel coronavirus now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has led to more than 260 million confirmed infections and 5 million deaths to date. While vaccination is a powerful tool to control pandemic spread, medication to relieve COVID-19-associated symptoms and alleviate disease progression especially in high-risk patients is still lacking. In this study, we explore the suitability of the rapid accelerated fibrosarcoma/mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (Raf/MEK/ERK) pathway as a druggable target in the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infections. We find that SARS-CoV-2 transiently activates Raf/MEK/ERK signaling in the very early infection phase and that ERK1/2 knockdown limits virus replication in cell culture models. We demonstrate that ATR-002, a specific inhibitor of the upstream MEK1/2 kinases which is currently evaluated in clinical trials as an anti-influenza drug, displays strong anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity in cell lines as well as in primary air–liquid-interphase epithelial cell (ALI) cultures, with a safe and selective treatment window. We also observe that ATR-002 treatment impairs the SARS-CoV-2-induced expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and thus might prevent COVID-19-associated hyperinflammation, a key player in COVID-19 progression. Thus, our data suggest that the Raf/MEK/ERK signaling cascade may represent a target for therapeutic intervention strategies against SARS-CoV-2 infections and that ATR-002 is a promising candidate for further drug evaluation.
AbstractThe three-dimensional configuration of the genome ensures cell type-specific gene expression profiles by placing genes and regulatory elements in close spatial proximity. Here, we used in situ high-throughput chromosome conformation (in situ Hi-C), RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) and chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) to characterize the high-order chromatin structure signature of female germline stem cells (FGSCs) and identify its regulating key factor based on the data-driven of multiple omics data. By comparison with pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), adult stem cells (ASCs), and somatic cells at three major levels of chromatin architecture, A/B compartments, topologically associating domains, and chromatin loops, the chromatin architecture of FGSCs was most similar to that of other ASCs and largely different from that of PSCs and somatic cells. After integrative analysis of the three-dimensional chromatin structure, active compartment-associating loops (aCALs) were identified as a signature of high-order chromatin organization in FGSCs, which revealed that CCCTC-binding factor was a major factor to maintain the properties of FGSCs through regulation of aCALs. We found FGSCs belong to ASCs at chromatin structure level and characterized aCALs as the high-order chromatin structure signature of FGSCs. Furthermore, CTCF was identified to play a key role in regulating aCALS to maintain the biological functions of FGSCs. These data provide a valuable resource for future studies of the features of chromatin organization in mammalian stem cells and further understanding of the fundamental characteristics of FGSCs.