* joint first author # joint corresponding author

Michaela Wilsch-Bräuninger#, Jula Peters, Wieland Huttner#
High-resolution 3D ultrastructural analysis of developing mouse neocortex reveals long slender processes of endothelial cells that enter neural cells.
Front Cell Dev Biol, 12 Art. No. 1344734 (2024)
Open Access DOI
The development of the neocortex involves an interplay between neural cells and the vasculature. However, little is known about this interplay at the ultrastructural level. To gain a 3D insight into the ultrastructure of the developing neocortex, we have analyzed the embryonic mouse neocortex by serial block-face scanning electron microscopy (SBF-SEM). In this study, we report a first set of findings that focus on the interaction of blood vessels, notably endothelial tip cells (ETCs), and the neural cells in this tissue. A key observation was that the processes of ETCs, located either in the ventricular zone (VZ) or subventricular zone (SVZ)/intermediate zone (IZ), can enter, traverse the cytoplasm, and even exit via deep plasma membrane invaginations of the host cells, including apical progenitors (APs), basal progenitors (BPs), and newborn neurons. More than half of the ETC processes were found to enter the neural cells. Striking examples of this ETC process "invasion" were (i) protrusions of apical progenitors or newborn basal progenitors into the ventricular lumen that contained an ETC process inside and (ii) ETC process-containing protrusions of neurons that penetrated other neurons. Our observations reveal a - so far unknown - complexity of the ETC-neural cell interaction.

Mengfei Gao, Dishi Wang, Michaela Wilsch-Bräuninger, Weihua Leng, Jonathan Schulte, Nina Morgner, Dietmar Appelhans, T-Y Dora Tang
Cell Free Expression in Proteinosomes Prepared from Native Protein-PNIPAAm Conjugates.
Macromol Biosci, 24(3) Art. No. e2300464 (2024)
Open Access DOI
Towards the goal of building synthetic cells from the bottom-up, the establishment of micrometer-sized compartments that contain and support cell free transcription and translation that couple cellular structure to function is of critical importance. Proteinosomes, formed from crosslinked cationized protein-polymer conjugates offer a promising solution to membrane-bound compartmentalization with an open, semi-permeable membrane. Critically, to date, there has been no demonstration of cell free transcription and translation within water-in-water proteinosomes. Herein, a novel approach to generate proteinosomes that can support cell free transcription and translation is presented. This approach generates proteinosomes directly from native protein-polymer (BSA-PNIPAAm) conjugates. These native proteinosomes offer an excellent alternative as a synthetic cell chassis to other membrane bound compartments. Significantly, the native proteinosomes are stable under high salt conditions that enables the ability to support cell free transcription and translation and offer enhanced protein expression compared to proteinosomes prepared from traditional methodologies. Furthermore, the integration of native proteinosomes into higher order synthetic cellular architectures with membrane free compartments such as liposomes is demonstrated. The integration of bioinspired architectural elements with the central dogma is an essential building block for realizing minimal synthetic cells and is key for exploiting artificial cells in real-world applications.

Landi Sun✳︎#, Jana Meissner✳︎, Jianfeng He, Lihong Cui, Tobias Fürstenhaupt, Xin Liang#
Resolving the In Situ Three-Dimensional Structure of Fly Mechanosensory Organelles Using Serial Section Electron Tomography.
Bio Protoc, 14(4) Art. No. e4940 (2024)
Open Access DOI
Mechanosensory organelles (MOs) are specialized subcellular entities where force-sensitive channels and supporting structures (e.g., microtubule cytoskeleton) are organized in an orderly manner. The delicate structure of MOs needs to be resolved to understand the mechanisms by which they detect forces and how they are formed. Here, we describe a protocol that allows obtaining detailed information about the nanoscopic ultrastructure of fly MOs by using serial section electron tomography (SS-ET). To preserve fine structural details, the tissues are cryo-immobilized using a high-pressure freezer followed by freeze-substitution at low temperature and embedding in resin at room temperature. Then, sample sections are prepared and used to acquire the dual-axis tilt series images, which are further processed for tomographic reconstruction. Finally, tomograms of consecutive sections are combined into a single larger volume using microtubules as fiducial markers. Using this protocol, we managed to reconstruct the sensory organelles, which provide novel molecular insights as to how fly mechanosensory organelles work and are formed. Based on our experience, we think that, with minimal modifications, this protocol can be adapted to a wide range of applications using different cell and tissue samples. Key features • Resolving the high-resolution 3D ultrastructure of subcellular organelles using serial section electron tomography (SS-ET). • Compared with single-axis tilt series, dual-axis tilt series provides a much wider coverage of Fourier space, improving resolution and features in the reconstructed tomograms. • The use of high-pressure freezing and freeze-substitution maximally preserves the fine structural details.

Jana Karbanová✳︎, Ilker A Deniz✳︎, Michaela Wilsch-Bräuninger, Rita Alexandra de Sousa Couto, Christine A. Fargeas, Mark F Santos, Aurelio Lorico#, Denis Corbeil#
Extracellular lipidosomes containing lipid droplets and mitochondria are released during melanoma cell division.
Cell Commun Signal, 22(1) Art. No. 57 (2024)
Open Access DOI
The incidence of melanoma is increasing worldwide. Since metastatic melanoma is highly aggressive, it is important to decipher all the biological aspects of melanoma cells. In this context, we have previously shown that metastatic FEMX-I melanoma cells release small (< 150 nm) extracellular vesicles (EVs) known as exosomes and ectosomes containing the stem (and cancer stem) cell antigenic marker CD133. EVs play an important role in intercellular communication, which could have a micro-environmental impact on surrounding tissues.

Suhrid Ghosh#, Weihua Leng, Michaela Wilsch-Bräuninger, Mariana Barrera-Velázquez, Pierre Léopold#, Suzanne Eaton
A local insulin reservoir in Drosophila alpha cell homologs ensures developmental progression under nutrient shortage.
Curr Biol, 32(8) 1788-1797 (2022)
Insulin/insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signaling (IIS) controls many aspects of development and physiology. In Drosophila, a conserved family of insulin-like peptides called Dilps is produced by brain neurosecretory cells, and it regulates organismal growth and developmental timing. To accomplish these systemic functions, the Dilps are secreted into the general circulation, and they signal to peripheral tissues in an endocrine fashion. Here, we describe the local uptake and storage of Dilps in the corpora cardiaca (CC), an endocrine organ composed of alpha cell homologs known to produce the glucagon-like adipokinetic hormone (AKH). We show that Dilp uptake by the CC relies on the expression of an IGF-binding protein called ImpL2. Following their uptake, immunogold staining demonstrates that Dilps are co-packaged with AKH in dense-core vesicles for secretion. In response to nutrient shortage, this specific Dilp reservoir is released and activates IIS in a paracrine manner in the prothoracic gland. This stimulates the production of the steroid hormone ecdysone and initiates entry into pupal development. We therefore uncover a sparing mechanism whereby insulin stores in CC serve to locally activate IIS and the production of ecdysone in the PG, accelerating developmental progression in adverse food conditions.

David N Azulay✳︎, Oliver Spaeker✳︎, Mnar Ghrayeb, Michaela Wilsch-Bräuninger, Ernesto Scoppola, Manfred Burghammer, Ivo Zizak, Luca Bertinetti, Yael Politi#, Liraz Chai#
Multiscale X-ray study of Bacillus subtilis biofilms reveals interlinked structural hierarchy and elemental heterogeneity.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U.S.A., 119(4) Art. No. e2118107119 (2022)
Biofilms are multicellular microbial communities that encase themselves in an extracellular matrix (ECM) of secreted biopolymers and attach to surfaces and interfaces. Bacterial biofilms are detrimental in hospital and industrial settings, but they can be beneficial, for example, in agricultural as well as in food technology contexts. An essential property of biofilms that grants them with increased survival relative to planktonic cells is phenotypic heterogeneity, the division of the biofilm population into functionally distinct subgroups of cells. Phenotypic heterogeneity in biofilms can be traced to the cellular level; however, the molecular structures and elemental distribution across whole biofilms, as well as possible linkages between them, remain unexplored. Mapping X-ray diffraction across intact biofilms in time and space, we revealed the dominant structural features in Bacillus subtilis biofilms, stemming from matrix components, spores, and water. By simultaneously following the X-ray fluorescence signal of biofilms and isolated matrix components, we discovered that the ECM preferentially binds calcium ions over other metal ions, specifically, zinc, manganese, and iron. These ions, remaining free to flow below macroscopic wrinkles that act as water channels, eventually accumulate and may possibly lead to sporulation. The possible link between ECM properties, regulation of metal ion distribution, and sporulation across whole, intact biofilms unravels the importance of molecular-level heterogeneity in shaping biofilm physiology and development.

Tooba Quidwai, Jiaolong Wang, Emma A Hall, Narcis A Petriman, Weihua Leng, Petra Kiesel, Jonathan N Wells, Laura C Murphy, Margaret A Keighren, Joseph A Marsh, Esben Lorentzen, Gaia Pigino, Pleasantine Mill
A WDR35-dependent coat protein complex transports ciliary membrane cargo vesicles to cilia.
Elife, 10 Art. No. e69786 (2021)
Open Access DOI
Intraflagellar transport (IFT) is a highly conserved mechanism for motor-driven transport of cargo within cilia, but how this cargo is selectively transported to cilia is unclear. WDR35/IFT121 is a component of the IFT-A complex best known for its role in ciliary retrograde transport. In the absence of WDR35, small mutant cilia form but fail to enrich in diverse classes of ciliary membrane proteins. In Wdr35 mouse mutants, the non-core IFT-A components are degraded and core components accumulate at the ciliary base. We reveal deep sequence homology of WDR35 and other IFT-A subunits to α and ß' COPI coatomer subunits, and demonstrate an accumulation of 'coat-less' vesicles which fail to fuse with Wdr35 mutant cilia. We determine that recombinant non-core IFT-As can bind directly to lipids and provide the first in-situ evidence of a novel coat function for WDR35, likely with other IFT-A proteins, in delivering ciliary membrane cargo necessary for cilia elongation.

Ye Peng, Ja-Yeon Choi, Tobias Fürstenhaupt, Kyoung Bai, Yi Zhang, Dustin Banham
New approach for rapidly determining Pt accessibility of Pt/C fuel cell catalysts.
J Mater Chem A, 9(23) 13471-13476 (2021)
Open Access DOI
A rapid method for evaluating accessibility of Pt within Pt/C catalysts for proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) is provided. This method relies on 3-electrode techniques which are available to most materials scientists, and will accelerate development of next-generation PEMFC catalysts with optimal distribution of Pt within the carbon support.

Sarita Hebbar✳︎, Malte Lehmann✳︎, Sarah Behrens, Catrin Hälsig, Weihua Leng, Michaela Yuan, Sylke Winkler, Elisabeth Knust
Mutations in the splicing regulator Prp31 lead to retinal degeneration in Drosophila.
Biol Open, 10(1) Art. No. bio052332 (2021)
Open Access DOI
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a clinically heterogeneous disease affecting 1.6 million people worldwide. The second-largest group of genes causing autosomal dominant RP in human encodes regulators of the splicing machinery. Yet, how defects in splicing factor genes are linked to the aetiology of the disease remains largely elusive. To explore possible mechanisms underlying retinal degeneration caused by mutations in regulators of the splicing machinery, we induced mutations in Drosophila Prp31, the orthologue of human PRPF31, mutations in which are associated with RP11. Flies heterozygous mutant for Prp31 are viable and develop normal eyes and retina. However, photoreceptors degenerate under light stress, thus resembling the human disease phenotype. Degeneration is associated with increased accumulation of the visual pigment rhodopsin 1 and increased mRNA levels of twinfilin, a gene associated with rhodopsin trafficking. Reducing rhodopsin levels by raising animals in a carotenoid-free medium not only attenuates rhodopsin accumulation, but also retinal degeneration. Given a similar importance of proper rhodopsin trafficking for photoreceptor homeostasis in human, results obtained in flies presented here will also contribute to further unravel molecular mechanisms underlying the human disease.This paper has an associated First Person interview with the co-first authors of the article.

Elisabeth Nüske, Guendalina Marini, Doris Richter, Weihua Leng, Aliona Bogdanova, Titus Franzmann, Gaia Pigino, Simon Alberti
Filament formation by the translation factor eIF2B regulates protein synthesis in starved cells.
Biol Open, 9(7) Art. No. bio.046391 (2020)
Open Access DOI
Cells exposed to starvation have to adjust their metabolism to conserve energy and protect themselves. Protein synthesis is one of the major energy-consuming processes and as such has to be tightly controlled. Many mechanistic details about how starved cells regulate the process of protein synthesis are still unknown. Here, we report that the essential translation initiation factor eIF2B forms filaments in starved budding yeast cells. We demonstrate that filamentation is triggered by starvation-induced acidification of the cytosol, which is caused by an influx of protons from the extracellular environment. We show that filament assembly by eIF2B is necessary for rapid and efficient downregulation of translation. Importantly, this mechanism does not require the kinase Gcn2. Furthermore, analysis of site-specific variants suggests that eIF2B assembly results in enzymatically inactive filaments that promote stress survival and fast recovery of cells from starvation. We propose that translation regulation through filament assembly is an efficient mechanism that allows yeast cells to adapt to fluctuating environments.

Guendalina Marini, Elisabeth Nüske, Weihua Leng, Simon Alberti, Gaia Pigino
Reorganization of budding yeast cytoplasm upon energy depletion.
Mol Biol Cell, 31(12) 1232-1245 (2020)
Yeast cells, when exposed to stress, can enter a protective state in which cell division, growth, and metabolism are down-regulated. They remain viable in this state until nutrients become available again. How cells enter this protective survival state and what happens at a cellular and subcellular level are largely unknown. In this study, we used electron tomography to investigate stress-induced ultrastructural changes in the cytoplasm of yeast cells. After ATP depletion, we observed significant cytosolic compaction and extensive cytoplasmic reorganization, as well as the emergence of distinct membrane-bound and membraneless organelles. Using correlative light and electron microscopy, we further demonstrated that one of these membraneless organelles was generated by the reversible polymerization of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2B, an essential enzyme in the initiation of protein synthesis, into large bundles of filaments. The changes we observe are part of a stress-induced survival strategy, allowing yeast cells to save energy, protect proteins from degradation, and inhibit protein functionality by forming assemblies of proteins.

Siamak Redhai✳︎, Clare Pilgrim✳︎, Pedro Gaspar, Lena van Giesen, Tatiana Lopes, Olena Riabinina, Théodore Grenier, Alexandra Milona, Bhavna Chanana, Jacob B Swadling, Yi-Fang Wang, Farah Dahalan, Michaela Yuan, Michaela Wilsch-Brauninger, Wei-Hsiang Lin, Nathan Dennison, Paolo Capriotti, Mara K N Lawniczak, Richard A Baines, Tobias Warnecke, Nikolai Windbichler, Francois Leulier, Nicholas W Bellono, Irene Miguel-Aliaga
An intestinal zinc sensor regulates food intake and developmental growth.
Nature, 580(7802) 263-268 (2020)
In cells, organs and whole organisms, nutrient sensing is key to maintaining homeostasis and adapting to a fluctuating environment1. In many animals, nutrient sensors are found within the enteroendocrine cells of the digestive system; however, less is known about nutrient sensing in their cellular siblings, the absorptive enterocytes1. Here we use a genetic screen in Drosophila melanogaster to identify Hodor, an ionotropic receptor in enterocytes that sustains larval development, particularly in nutrient-scarce conditions. Experiments in Xenopus oocytes and flies indicate that Hodor is a pH-sensitive, zinc-gated chloride channel that mediates a previously unrecognized dietary preference for zinc. Hodor controls systemic growth from a subset of enterocytes-interstitial cells-by promoting food intake and insulin/IGF signalling. Although Hodor sustains gut luminal acidity and restrains microbial loads, its effect on systemic growth results from the modulation of Tor signalling and lysosomal homeostasis within interstitial cells. Hodor-like genes are insect-specific, and may represent targets for the control of disease vectors. Indeed, CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing revealed that the single hodor orthologue in Anopheles gambiae is an essential gene. Our findings highlight the need to consider the instructive contributions of metals-and, more generally, micronutrients-to energy homeostasis.

Sider Penkov✳︎, Bharath Kumar Raghuraman✳︎, Cihan Erkut, Jana Oertel, Roberta Galli, Eduardo Jacobo Miranda Ackerman, Daniela Vorkel, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Edmund Koch, Karim Fahmy, Andrej Shevchenko, Teymuras V. Kurzchalia
A metabolic switch regulates the transition between growth and diapause in C. elegans.
BMC Biol, 18(1) Art. No. 31 (2020)
Open Access DOI
Metabolic activity alternates between high and low states during different stages of an organism's life cycle. During the transition from growth to quiescence, a major metabolic shift often occurs from oxidative phosphorylation to glycolysis and gluconeogenesis. We use the entry of Caenorhabditis elegans into the dauer larval stage, a developmentally arrested stage formed in response to harsh environmental conditions, as a model to study the global metabolic changes and underlying molecular mechanisms associated with growth to quiescence transition.

Kirstin Meyer, Hernán Morales-Navarrete, Sarah Seifert, Michaela Wilsch-Braeuninger, Uta Dahmen, Elly M. Tanaka, Lutz Brusch, Yannis Kalaidzidis, Marino Zerial
Bile canaliculi remodeling activates YAP via the actin cytoskeleton during liver regeneration.
Mol Syst Biol, 16(2) Art. No. e8985 (2020)
Open Access DOI
The mechanisms of organ size control remain poorly understood. A key question is how cells collectively sense the overall status of a tissue. We addressed this problem focusing on mouse liver regeneration. Using digital tissue reconstruction and quantitative image analysis, we found that the apical surface of hepatocytes forming the bile canalicular network expands concomitant with an increase in F-actin and phospho-myosin, to compensate an overload of bile acids. These changes are sensed by the Hippo transcriptional co-activator YAP, which localizes to apical F-actin-rich regions and translocates to the nucleus in dependence of the integrity of the actin cytoskeleton. This mechanism tolerates moderate bile acid fluctuations under tissue homeostasis, but activates YAP in response to sustained bile acid overload. Using an integrated biophysical-biochemical model of bile pressure and Hippo signaling, we explained this behavior by the existence of a mechano-sensory mechanism that activates YAP in a switch-like manner. We propose that the apical surface of hepatocytes acts as a self-regulatory mechano-sensory system that responds to critical levels of bile acids as readout of tissue status.

Johannes Baumgart✳︎, Marcel Kirchner✳︎, Stefanie Redemann, Alec Bond, Jeffrey Woodruff, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Frank Jülicher, Thomas Müller-Reichert, Anthony Hyman, Jan Brugués
Soluble tubulin is significantly enriched at mitotic centrosomes.
J Cell Biol, 218(12) 3977-3985 (2019)
During mitosis, the centrosome expands its capacity to nucleate microtubules. Understanding the mechanisms of centrosomal microtubule nucleation is, however, constrained by a lack of knowledge of the amount of soluble and polymeric tubulin at mitotic centrosomes. Here we combined light microscopy and serial-section electron tomography to measure the amount of dimeric and polymeric tubulin at mitotic centrosomes in early C. elegans embryos. We show that a C. elegans one-cell stage centrosome at metaphase contains >10,000 microtubules with a total polymer concentration of 230 µM. Centrosomes concentrate soluble α/β tubulin by about 10-fold over the cytoplasm, reaching peak values of 470 µM, giving a combined total monomer and polymer tubulin concentration at centrosomes of up to 660 µM. These findings support in vitro data suggesting that microtubule nucleation in C. elegans centrosomes is driven in part by concentrating soluble tubulin.

Johanna Lattner, Weihua Leng, Elisabeth Knust, Marko Brankatschk#, David Flores-Benitez#
Crumbs organizes the transport machinery by regulating apical levels of PI(4,5)P2 in Drosophila.
Elife, 8 Art. No. e50900 (2019)
Open Access DOI
An efficient vectorial intracellular transport machinery depends on a well-established apico-basal polarity and is a prerequisite for the function of secretory epithelia. Despite extensive knowledge on individual trafficking pathways, little is known about the mechanisms coordinating their temporal and spatial regulation. Here, we report that the polarity protein Crumbs is essential for apical plasma membrane phospholipid-homeostasis and efficient apical secretion. Through recruiting βHeavy-Spectrin and MyosinV to the apical membrane, Crumbs maintains the Rab6-, Rab11- and Rab30-dependent trafficking and regulates the lipid phosphatases Pten and Ocrl. Crumbs knock-down results in increased apical levels of PI(4,5)P2 and formation of a novel, Moesin- and PI(4,5)P2-enriched apical membrane sac containing microvilli-like structures. Our results identify Crumbs as an essential hub required to maintain the organization of the apical membrane and the physiological activity of the larval salivary gland.

Christian Franke, Urska Repnik, Sandra Segeletz, Nicolas Brouilly, Yannis Kalaidzidis, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Marino Zerial
Correlative single-molecule localization microscopy and electron tomography reveals endosome nanoscale domains.
Traffic, 20(8) 601-617 (2019)
Open Access DOI
Many cellular organelles, including endosomes, show compartmentalization into distinct functional domains, which, however, cannot be resolved by diffraction-limited light microscopy. Single molecule localization microscopy (SMLM) offers nanoscale resolution but data interpretation is often inconclusive when the ultrastructural context is missing. Correlative light electron microscopy (CLEM) combining SMLM with electron microscopy (EM) enables correlation of functional subdomains of organelles in relation to their underlying ultrastructure at nanometer resolution. However, the specific demands for EM sample preparation and the requirements for fluorescent single-molecule photo-switching are opposed. Here, we developed a novel superCLEM workflow that combines triple-color SMLM (dSTORM & PALM) and electron tomography using semi-thin Tokuyasu thawed cryosections. We applied the superCLEM approach to directly visualize nanoscale compartmentalization of endosomes in HeLa cells. Internalized, fluorescently labeled Transferrin and EGF were resolved into morphologically distinct domains within the same endosome. We found that the small GTPase Rab5 is organized in nanodomains on the globular part of early endosomes. The simultaneous visualization of several proteins in functionally distinct endosomal sub-compartments demonstrates the potential of superCLEM to link the ultrastructure of organelles with their molecular organization at nanoscale resolution.

Landi Sun, Yuan Gao, Jianfeng He, Lihong Cui, Jana Meissner, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Bo Li, Xiqiao Feng, Xin Liang
Ultrastructural organization of NompC in the mechanoreceptive organelle of Drosophila campaniform mechanoreceptors.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U.S.A., 116(15) 7343-7352 (2019)
Mechanoreceptive organelles (MOs) are specialized subcellular entities in mechanoreceptors that transform extracellular mechanical stimuli into intracellular signals. Their ultrastructures are key to understanding the molecular nature and mechanics of mechanotransduction. Campaniform sensilla detect cuticular strain caused by muscular activities or external stimuli in Drosophila Each campaniform sensillum has an MO located at the distal tip of its dendrite. Here we analyzed the molecular architecture of the MOs in fly campaniform mechanoreceptors using electron microscopic tomography. We focused on the ultrastructural organization of NompC (a force-sensitive channel) that is linked to the array of microtubules in these MOs via membrane-microtubule connectors (MMCs). We found that NompC channels are arranged in a regular pattern, with their number increasing from the distal to the proximal end of the MO. Double-length MMCs in nompC 29+29ARs confirm the ankyrin-repeat domain of NompC (NompC-AR) as a structural component of MMCs. The unexpected finding of regularly spaced NompC-independent linkers in nompC3 suggests that MMCs may contain non-NompC components. Localized laser ablation experiments on mechanoreceptor arrays in halteres suggest that MMCs bear tension, providing a possible mechanism for why the MMCs are longer when NompC-AR is duplicated or absent in mutants. Finally, mechanical modeling shows that upon cuticular deformation, sensillar architecture imposes a rotational activating force, with the proximal end of the MO, where more NOMPC channels are located, being subject to larger forces than the distal end. Our analysis reveals an ultrastructural pattern of NompC that is structurally and mechanically optimized for the sensory functions of campaniform mechanoreceptors.

Lakshmi Balasubramanian, Vanessa Zuzarte-Luís, Tabish Syed, Debakshi Mullick, Saptarathi Deb, Harish Ranga-Prasad, Jana Meissner, Ana Almeida, Tobias Furstenhaupt, Kaleem Siddiqi, Miguel Prudêncio, Cecilia M P Rodrigues, Maria M Mota, Varadharajan Sundaramurthy
Association of Plasmodium berghei With the Apical Domain of Hepatocytes Is Necessary for the Parasite's Liver Stage Development.
Front Cell Infect Microbiol, 9 Art. No. 451 (2019)
Open Access DOI
Plasmodium parasites undergo a dramatic transformation during the liver stage of their life cycle, amplifying over 10,000-fold inside infected hepatocytes within a few days. Such a rapid growth requires large-scale interactions with, and manipulations of, host cell functions. Whereas hepatocyte polarity is well-known to be critical for liver function, little is presently known about its involvement during the liver stage of Plasmodium development. Apical domains of hepatocytes are critical components of their polarity machinery and constitute the bile canalicular network, which is central to liver function. Here, we employed high resolution 3-D imaging and advanced image analysis of Plasmodium-infected liver tissues to show that the parasite associates preferentially with the apical domain of hepatocytes and induces alterations in the organization of these regions, resulting in localized changes in the bile canalicular architecture in the liver tissue. Pharmacological perturbation of the bile canalicular network by modulation of AMPK activity reduces the parasite's association with bile canaliculi and arrests the parasite development. Our findings using Plasmodium-infected liver tissues reveal a host-Plasmodium interaction at the level of liver tissue organization. We demonstrate for the first time a role for bile canaliculi, a central component of the hepatocyte polarity machinery, during the liver stage of Plasmodium development.

Laurence Walch, Emilie Pellier, Weihua Leng, Goran Lakisic, Alexis Gautreau, Vincent Contremoulins, Jean-Marc Verbavatz#, Catherine L Jackson#
GBF1 and Arf1 interact with Miro and regulate mitochondrial positioning within cells.
Sci Rep, 8(1) Art. No. 17121 (2018)
Open Access DOI
The spatial organization of cells depends on coordination between cytoskeletal systems and intracellular organelles. The Arf1 small G protein and its activator GBF1 are important regulators of Golgi organization, maintaining its morphology and function. Here we show that GBF1 and its substrate Arf1 regulate the spatial organization of mitochondria in a microtubule-dependent manner. Miro is a mitochondrial membrane protein that interacts through adaptors with microtubule motor proteins such as cytoplasmic dynein, the major microtubule minus end directed motor. We demonstrate a physical interaction between GBF1 and Miro, and also between the active GTP-bound form of Arf1 and Miro. Inhibition of GBF1, inhibition of Arf1 activation, or overexpression of Miro, caused a collapse of the mitochondrial network towards the centrosome. The change in mitochondrial morphology upon GBF1 inhibition was due to a two-fold increase in the time engaged in retrograde movement compared to control conditions. Electron tomography revealed that GBF1 inhibition also resulted in larger mitochondria with more complex morphology. Miro silencing or drug inhibition of cytoplasmic dynein activity blocked the GBF1-dependent repositioning of mitochondria. Our results show that blocking GBF1 function promotes dynein- and Miro-dependent retrograde mitochondrial transport along microtubules towards the microtubule-organizing center, where they form an interconnected network.

Andreas Müller, Martin Neukam, Anna Ivanova, Anke Sönmez, Carla Münster, Susanne Kretschmar, Yannis Kalaidzidis, Thomas Kurth, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Michele Solimena
A Global Approach for Quantitative Super Resolution and Electron Microscopy on Cryo and Epoxy Sections Using Self-labeling Protein Tags.
Sci Rep, 7 Art. No. 23 (2017)
Open Access PDF DOI
Correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM) is a powerful approach to investigate the molecular ultrastructure of labeled cell compartments. However, quantitative CLEM studies are rare, mainly due to small sample sizes and the sensitivity of fluorescent proteins to strong fixatives and contrasting reagents for EM. Here, we show that fusion of a self-labeling protein to insulin allows for the quantification of age-distinct insulin granule pools in pancreatic beta cells by a combination of super resolution and transmission electron microscopy on Tokuyasu cryosections. In contrast to fluorescent proteins like GFP organic dyes covalently bound to self-labeling proteins retain their fluorescence also in epoxy resin following high pressure freezing and freeze substitution, or remarkably even after strong chemical fixation. This enables for the assessment of age-defined granule morphology and degradation. Finally, we demonstrate that this CLEM protocol is highly versatile, being suitable for single and dual fluorescent labeling and detection of different proteins with optimal ultrastructure preservation and contrast.

Kimberley Laband, Rémi Le Borgne, Frances Edwards, Marine Stefanutti, Julie C Canman, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Julien Dumont
Chromosome segregation occurs by microtubule pushing in oocytes.
Nat Commun, 8(1) 1499-1499 (2017)
Open Access DOI
During cell division, spindle microtubules ensure an equal repartition of chromosomes between the two daughter cells. While the kinetochore-dependent mechanisms that drive mitotic chromosome segregation are well understood, in oocytes of most species atypical spindles assembled in absence of centrosomes entail poorly understood mechanisms of chromosome segregation. In particular, the structure(s) responsible for force generation during meiotic chromosome separation in oocytes is unclear. Using quantitative light microscopy, electron tomography, laser-mediated ablation, and genetic perturbations in the Caenorhabditis elegans oocyte, we studied the mechanism of chromosome segregation in meiosis. We find spindle poles are largely dispensable, and in fact act as brakes for chromosome segregation. Instead, our results suggest that CLS-2-dependent microtubules of the meiotic central spindle, located between the segregating chromosomes and aligned along the axis of segregation, are essential. Our results support a model in which inter-chromosomal microtubules of the central spindle push chromosomes apart during meiotic anaphase in oocytes.

Anna Shevchenko✳︎, Yimin Yang✳︎, Andrea Knaust, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Huijuan Mai, Bo Wang, Changsui Wang, Andrej Shevchenko
Open sesame: Identification of sesame oil and oil soot ink in organic deposits of Tang Dynasty lamps from Astana necropolis in China.
PLoS ONE, 12(2) Art. No. e0158636 (2017)
Lamp illuminants evidence the exploitation of natural resources, animal and plant domestication, commerce, religious practices and nutrition of ancient populations. However, the physicochemical analysis of their major constituent-burned, degraded and aged mixture of triacylglycerols is imprecise and may lead to ambiguous interpretations. We applied proteomics to analyze fuel deposits from eight lamps dated by 6th to 8th centuries AD that were excavated at the Astana necropolis (Xinjiang, China) and determined their origin by identifying organism-specific proteins. Proteomics evidence corroborated and detailed the assignments of source organism relying upon comparative profiling of intact triacylglycerols by shotgun lipidomics. We found that ruminant (mostly, sheep) fat, cattle ghee and sesame oil were common combustibles in Astana and concluded that sesame as an oilseed appeared in China under Tang Dynasty concomitantly with the expansion of Buddhism.

Mykola Mylenko, Sebastian Boland, Sider Penkov, Julio Sampaio, Benoit Lombardot, Daniela Vorkel, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Teymuras V. Kurzchalia
NAD+ Is a Food Component That Promotes Exit from Dauer Diapause in Caenorhabditis elegans.
PLoS ONE, 11(12) Art. No. e0167208 (2016)
Open Access PDF DOI
The free-living soil nematode Caenorhabditis elegans adapts its development to the availability of food. When food is scarce and population density is high, worms enter a developmentally arrested non-feeding diapause stage specialized for long-term survival called the dauer larva. When food becomes available, they exit from the dauer stage, resume growth and reproduction. It has been postulated that compound(s) present in food, referred to as the "food signal", promote exit from the dauer stage. In this study, we have identified NAD+ as a component of bacterial extract that promotes dauer exit. NAD+, when dissolved in alkaline medium, causes opening of the mouth and ingestion of food. We also show that to initiate exit from the dauer stage in response to NAD+ worms require production of serotonin. Thus, C. elegans can use redox cofactors produced by dietary organisms to sense food.

Liliana Malinovska, Sandra Palm, Kimberley Gibson, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Simon Alberti
Dictyostelium discoideum has a highly Q/N-rich proteome and shows an unusual resilience to protein aggregation.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U.S.A., 112(20) 2620-2629 (2015)
Many protein-misfolding diseases are caused by proteins carrying prion-like domains. These proteins show sequence similarity to yeast prion proteins, which can interconvert between an intrinsically disordered and an aggregated prion state. The natural presence of prions in yeast has provided important insight into disease mechanisms and cellular proteostasis. However, little is known about prions in other organisms, and it is not yet clear whether the findings in yeast can be generalized. Using bioinformatics tools, we show that Dictyostelium discoideum has the highest content of prion-like proteins of all organisms investigated to date, suggesting that its proteome has a high overall aggregation propensity. To study mechanisms regulating these proteins, we analyze the behavior of several well-characterized prion-like proteins, such as an expanded version of human huntingtin exon 1 (Q103) and the prion domain of the yeast prion protein Sup35 (NM), in D. discoideum. We find that these proteins remain soluble and are innocuous to D. discoideum, in contrast to other organisms, where they form cytotoxic cytosolic aggregates. However, when exposed to conditions that compromise molecular chaperones, these proteins aggregate and become cytotoxic. We show that the disaggregase Hsp101, a molecular chaperone of the Hsp100 family, dissolves heat-induced aggregates and promotes thermotolerance. Furthermore, prion-like proteins accumulate in the nucleus, where they are targeted by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Our data suggest that D. discoideum has undergone specific adaptations that increase the proteostatic capacity of this organism and allow for an efficient regulation of its prion-like proteome.

Maja Petkovic, Aymen Jemaiel, Frédéric Daste, Christian G Specht, Ignacio Izeddin, Daniela Vorkel, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Xavier Darzacq, Antoine Triller, Karl H Pfenninger, David Tareste, Catherine L Jackson, Thierry Galli
The SNARE Sec22b has a non-fusogenic function in plasma membrane expansion.
Nat Cell Biol, 16(5) 434-444 (2014)
Development of the nervous system requires extensive axonal and dendritic growth during which neurons massively increase their surface area. Here we report that the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-resident SNARE Sec22b has a conserved non-fusogenic function in plasma membrane expansion. Sec22b is closely apposed to the plasma membrane SNARE syntaxin1. Sec22b forms a trans-SNARE complex with syntaxin1 that does not include SNAP23/25/29, and does not mediate fusion. Insertion of a long rigid linker between the SNARE and transmembrane domains of Sec22b extends the distance between the ER and plasma membrane, and impairs neurite growth but not the secretion of VSV-G. In yeast, Sec22 interacts with lipid transfer proteins, and inhibition of Sec22 leads to defects in lipid metabolism at contact sites between the ER and plasma membrane. These results suggest that close apposition of the ER and plasma membrane mediated by Sec22 and plasma membrane syntaxins generates a non-fusogenic SNARE bridge contributing to plasma membrane expansion, probably through non-vesicular lipid transfer.

Ivana Petrovska, Elisabeth Nüske, Matthias Munder, Gayathrie Kulasegaran, Liliana Malinovska, Sonja Kroschwald, Doris Richter, Karim Fahmy, Kimberley Gibson, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Simon Alberti
Filament formation by metabolic enzymes is a specific adaptation to an advanced state of cellular starvation.
Elife, 3 Art. No. e02409 (2014)
Open Access PDF DOI
One of the key questions in biology is how the metabolism of a cell responds to changes in the environment. In budding yeast, starvation causes a drop in intracellular pH, but the functional role of this pH change is not well understood. Here, we show that the enzyme glutamine synthetase (Gln1) forms filaments at low pH and that filament formation leads to enzymatic inactivation. Filament formation by Gln1 is a highly cooperative process, strongly dependent on macromolecular crowding, and involves back-to-back stacking of cylindrical homo-decamers into filaments that associate laterally to form higher order fibrils. Other metabolic enzymes also assemble into filaments at low pH. Hence, we propose that filament formation is a general mechanism to inactivate and store key metabolic enzymes during a state of advanced cellular starvation. These findings have broad implications for understanding the interplay between nutritional stress, the metabolism and the physical organization of a cell.

Sider Penkov, Akira Ogawa, Ulrike Schmidt, Dhananjay Tate, Vyacheslav Zagoriy, Sebastian Boland, Margit Gruner, Daniela Vorkel, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Ralf J Sommer, Hans-Joachim Knölker, Teymuras V. Kurzchalia
A wax ester promotes collective host finding in the nematode Pristionchus pacificus.
Nat Chem Biol, 10(4) 281-285 (2014)
Survival of nematode species depends on how successfully they disperse in the habitat and find a new host. As a new strategy for collective host finding in the nematode Pristionchus pacificus, dauer larvae synthesize an extremely long-chain polyunsaturated wax ester (nematoil) that covers the surface of the animal. The oily coat promotes congregation of up to one thousand individuals into stable 'dauer towers' that can reach a beetle host more easily.

Stefanie Redemann, Britta Weber, Marit Möller, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Anthony Hyman, Daniel Baum, Steffen Prohaska, Thomas Müller-Reichert
The segmentation of microtubules in electron tomograms using Amira.
Methods Mol Biol, 1136 261-278 (2014)
The development of automatic tools for the three-dimensional reconstruction of the microtubule cytoskeleton is crucial for large-scale analysis of mitotic spindles. Recently, we have published a method for the semiautomatic tracing of microtubules based on 3D template matching (Weber et al., J Struct Biol 178:129-138, 2012). Here, we give step-by-step instructions for the automatic tracing of microtubules emanating from centrosomes in the early mitotic Caenorhabditis elegans embryo. This approach, integrated in the visualization and data analysis software Amira, is applicable to tomographic data sets from other model systems.

Kimberley Gibson, Daniela Vorkel, Jana Meissner, Jean-Marc Verbavatz
Fluorescing the electron: strategies in correlative experimental design.
Methods Cell Biol, 124 23-54 (2014)
Correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM) encompasses a growing number of imaging techniques aiming to combine the benefits of light microscopy, which allows routine labeling of molecules and live-cell imaging of fluorescently tagged proteins with the resolution and ultrastructural detail provided by electron microscopy (EM). Here we review three different strategies that are commonly used in CLEM and we illustrate each approach with one detailed example of their application. The focus is on different options for sample preparation with their respective benefits as well as on the imaging workflows that can be used. The three strategies cover: (1) the combination of live-cell imaging with the high resolution of EM (time-resolved CLEM), (2) the need to identify a fluorescent cell of interest for further exploration by EM (cell sorting), and (3) the subcellular correlation of a fluorescent feature in a cell with its associated ultrastructural features (spatial CLEM). Finally, we discuss future directions for CLEM exploring the possibilities for combining super-resolution microscopy with EM.

Britta Weber, Erin M Tranfield, Johanna L Höög, Daniel Baum, Claude Antony, Tony Hyman, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Steffen Prohaska
Automated Stitching of Microtubule Centerlines across Serial Electron Tomograms.
PLoS ONE, 9(12) Art. No. e113222 (2014)
Open Access PDF DOI
Tracing microtubule centerlines in serial section electron tomography requires microtubules to be stitched across sections, that is lines from different sections need to be aligned, endpoints need to be matched at section boundaries to establish a correspondence between neighboring sections, and corresponding lines need to be connected across multiple sections. We present computational methods for these tasks: 1) An initial alignment is computed using a distance compatibility graph. 2) A fine alignment is then computed with a probabilistic variant of the iterative closest points algorithm, which we extended to handle the orientation of lines by introducing a periodic random variable to the probabilistic formulation. 3) Endpoint correspondence is established by formulating a matching problem in terms of a Markov random field and computing the best matching with belief propagation. Belief propagation is not generally guaranteed to converge to a minimum. We show how convergence can be achieved, nonetheless, with minimal manual input. In addition to stitching microtubule centerlines, the correspondence is also applied to transform and merge the electron tomograms. We applied the proposed methods to samples from the mitotic spindle in C. elegans, the meiotic spindle in X. laevis, and sub-pellicular microtubule arrays in T. brucei. The methods were able to stitch microtubules across section boundaries in good agreement with experts' opinions for the spindle samples. Results, however, were not satisfactory for the microtubule arrays. For certain experiments, such as an analysis of the spindle, the proposed methods can replace manual expert tracing and thus enable the analysis of microtubules over long distances with reasonable manual effort.

Michal Surma, Christian Klose, Debby Peng, Michael Shales, Caroline Mrejen, Adam Stefanko, Hannes Braberg, David E Gordon, Daniela Vorkel, Christer S. Ejsing, Robert Farese, Kai Simons, Nevan J Krogan, Robert Ernst
A Lipid E-MAP Identifies Ubx2 as a Critical Regulator of Lipid Saturation and Lipid Bilayer Stress
Mol Cell, 51(4) 519-530 (2013)
Biological membranes are complex, and the mechanisms underlying their homeostasis are incompletely understood. Here, we present a quantitative genetic interaction map (E-MAP) focused on various aspects of lipid biology, including lipid metabolism, sorting, and trafficking. This E-MAP contains ∼250,000 negative and positive genetic interaction scores and identifies a molecular crosstalk of protein quality control pathways with lipid bilayer homeostasis. Ubx2p, a component of the endoplasmic-reticulum-associated degradation pathway, surfaces as a key upstream regulator of the essential fatty acid (FA) desaturase Ole1p. Loss of Ubx2p affects the transcriptional control of OLE1, resulting in impaired FA desaturation and a severe shift toward more saturated membrane lipids. Both the induction of the unfolded protein response and aberrant nuclear membrane morphologies observed in cells lacking UBX2 are suppressed by the supplementation of unsaturated FAs. Our results point toward the existence of dedicated bilayer stress responses for membrane homeostasis.

Jerome Gilleron, William Querbes, Anja Zeigerer, Anna Borodovsky, Giovanni Marsico, Undine Schubert, Kevin Manygoats, Sarah Seifert, Cordula Andree, Martin Stöter, Hila Epstein-Barash, Ligang Zhang, Victor Koteliansky, Kevin Fitzgerald, Eugenio Fava, Marc Bickle, Yannis Kalaidzidis, Akin Akinc, Martin A Maier, Marino Zerial
Image-based analysis of lipid nanoparticle-mediated siRNA delivery, intracellular trafficking and endosomal escape.
Nat Biotechnol, 31(7) 638-646 (2013)
Delivery of short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) remains a key challenge in the development of RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutics. A better understanding of the mechanisms of siRNA cellular uptake, intracellular transport and endosomal release could critically contribute to the improvement of delivery methods. Here we monitored the uptake of lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) loaded with traceable siRNAs in different cell types in vitro and in mouse liver by quantitative fluorescence imaging and electron microscopy. We found that LNPs enter cells by both constitutive and inducible pathways in a cell type-specific manner using clathrin-mediated endocytosis as well as macropinocytosis. By directly detecting colloidal-gold particles conjugated to siRNAs, we estimated that escape of siRNAs from endosomes into the cytosol occurs at low efficiency (1-2%) and only during a limited window of time when the LNPs reside in a specific compartment sharing early and late endosomal characteristics. Our results provide insights into LNP-mediated siRNA delivery that can guide development of the next generation of delivery systems for RNAi therapeutics.

Andrea J Yool, Johann Morelle, Yvette Cnops, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Ewan M Campbell, Elizabeth A H Beckett, Grant W Booker, Gary Flynn, Olivier Devuyst
AqF026 is a pharmacologic agonist of the water channel aquaporin-1.
J Am Soc Nephrol, 24(7) 1045-1052 (2013)
Aquaporin-1 (AQP1) facilitates the osmotic transport of water across the capillary endothelium, among other cell types, and thereby has a substantial role in ultrafiltration during peritoneal dialysis. At present, pharmacologic agents that enhance AQP1-mediated water transport, which would be expected to increase the efficiency of peritoneal dialysis, are not available. Here, we describe AqF026, an aquaporin agonist that is a chemical derivative of the arylsulfonamide compound furosemide. In the Xenopus laevis oocyte system, extracellular AqF026 potentiated the channel activity of human AQP1 by >20% but had no effect on channel activity of AQP4. We found that the intracellular binding site for AQP1 involves loop D, a region associated with channel gating. In a mouse model of peritoneal dialysis, AqF026 enhanced the osmotic transport of water across the peritoneal membrane but did not affect the osmotic gradient, the transport of small solutes, or the localization and expression of AQP1 on the plasma membrane. Furthermore, AqF026 did not potentiate water transport in Aqp1-null mice, suggesting that indirect mechanisms involving other channels or transporters were unlikely. Last, in a mouse gastric antrum preparation, AqF026 did not affect the Na-K-Cl cotransporter NKCC1. In summary, AqF026 directly and specifically potentiates AQP1-mediated water transport, suggesting that it deserves additional investigation for applications such as peritoneal dialysis or clinical situations associated with defective water handling.

Xin Liang, Johnson Madrid, Roland Gärtner, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Christoph Schiklenk, Michaela Wilsch-Bräuninger, Aliona Bogdanova, Florian Stenger, Axel Voigt, Jonathon Howard
A NOMPC-dependent membrane-microtubule connector is a candidate for the gating spring in fly mechanoreceptors.
Curr Biol, 23(9) 755-763 (2013)
Mechanoreceptors contain compliant elements, termed "gating springs," that transfer macroscopic stimuli impinging on the cells into microscopic stimuli that open the mechanosensitive channels. Evidence for gating springs comes from mechanical experiments; they have not been identified molecularly or ultrastructurally.

Britta Weber, Garrett Greenan, Steffen Prohaska, Daniel Baum, Hans-Christian Hege, Thomas Müller-Reichert, Anthony A. Hyman, Jean-Marc Verbavatz
Automated tracing of microtubules in electron tomograms of plastic embedded samples of Caenorhabditis elegans embryos.
J Struct Biol, 178(2 SI) 129-138 (2012)
The ability to rapidly assess microtubule number in 3D image stacks from electron tomograms is essential for collecting statistically meaningful data sets. Here we implement microtubule tracing using 3D template matching. We evaluate our results by comparing the automatically traced centerlines to manual tracings in a large number of electron tomograms of the centrosome of the early Caenorhabditis elegans embryo. Furthermore, we give a qualitative description of the tracing results for three other types of samples. For dual-axis tomograms, the automatic tracing yields 4% false negatives and 8% false positives on average. For single-axis tomograms, the accuracy of tracing is lower (16% false negatives and 14% false positives) due to the missing wedge in electron tomography. We also implemented an editor specifically designed for correcting the automatic tracing. Besides, this editor can be used for annotating microtubules. The automatic tracing together with a manual correction significantly reduces the amount of manual labor for tracing microtubule centerlines so that large-scale analysis of microtubule network properties becomes feasible.

Mathias J. Gerl, Julio Sampaio, Lucie Kalvodova, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Andrej Shevchenko, Cornelia Schroeder, Kai Simons
Quantitative analysis of the lipidomes of the influenza virus envelope and MDCK cell apical membrane
J Cell Biol, 196(2) 213-221 (2012)
The influenza virus (IFV) acquires its envelope by budding from host cell plasma membranes. Using quantitative shotgun mass spectrometry, we determined the lipidomes of the host Madin–Darby canine kidney cell, its apical membrane, and the IFV budding from it. We found the apical membrane to be enriched in sphingolipids (SPs) and cholesterol, whereas glycerophospholipids were reduced, and storage lipids were depleted compared with the whole-cell membranes. The virus membrane exhibited a further enrichment of SPs and cholesterol compared with the donor membrane at the expense of phosphatidylcholines. Our data are consistent with and extend existing models of membrane raft-based biogenesis of the apical membrane and IFV envelope.

Thomas Kurth, Susanne Weiche, Daniela Vorkel, Susanne Kretschmar, Anja Menge
Histology of plastic embedded amphibian embryos and larvae.
Genesis, 50(3) 235-250 (2012)
Amphibians including the South African clawed frog Xenopus laevis, its close relative Xenopus tropicalis, and the Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) are important vertebrate models for cell biology, development and regeneration. For the analysis of embryos and larva with altered gene expression in gain-of-function or loss-of-function studies histology is increasingly important. Here, we discuss plastic or resin embedding of embryos as valuable alternatives to conventional paraffin embedding. For example, microwave-assisted tissue processing, combined with embedding in the glycol methacrylate Technovit 7100, is a fast, simple and reliable method to obtain state-of-the-art histology with high resolution of cellular details in less than a day. Microwave-processed samples embedded in Epon 812 are also useful for transmission electron microscopy. Finally, Technovit-embedded samples are well suited for serial section analysis of embryos labeled either by whole-mount immunofluorescence, or with tracers such as GFP or fluorescent dextrans. Therefore, plastic embedding offers a versatile alternative to paraffin embedding for routine histology and immunocytochemistry of amphibian embryos. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Francisco Pan-Montojo, Mathias Schwarz, Christian Winkler, Mike Arnhold, Gregory A O'Sullivan, Arun Pal, Jonas Said, Giovanni Marsico, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Margarita Rodrigo-Angulo, Gabriele Gille, Richard Funk, Heinz Reichmann
Environmental toxins trigger PD-like progression via increased alpha-synuclein release from enteric neurons in mice.
Sci Rep, 2 Art. No. 898 (2012)
Open Access PDF DOI
Pathological studies on Parkinson's disease (PD) patients suggest that PD pathology progresses from the enteric nervous system (ENS) and the olfactory bulb into the central nervous system. We have previously shown that environmental toxins acting locally on the ENS mimic this PD-like pathology progression pattern in mice. Here, we show for the first time that the resection of the autonomic nerves stops this progression. Moreover, our results show that an environmental toxin (i.e. rotenone) promotes the release of alpha-synuclein by enteric neurons and that released enteric alpha-synuclein is up-taken by presynaptic sympathetic neurites and retrogradely transported to the soma, where it accumulates. These results strongly suggest that pesticides can initiate the progression of PD pathology and that this progression is based on the transneuronal and retrograde axonal transport of alpha-synuclein. If confirmed in patients, this study would have crucial implications in the strategies used to prevent and treat PD.

Thomas Torsney-Weir, Ahmed Saad, Torsten Möller, Britta Weber, Hans-Christian Hege, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Steven Bergner
Tuner: principled parameter finding for image segmentation algorithms using visual response surface exploration.
IEEE Trans Vis Comput Graph, 17(12) 1892-1901 (2011)
In this paper we address the difficult problem of parameter-finding in image segmentation. We replace a tedious manual process that is often based on guess-work and luck by a principled approach that systematically explores the parameter space. Our core idea is the following two-stage technique: We start with a sparse sampling of the parameter space and apply a statistical model to estimate the response of the segmentation algorithm. The statistical model incorporates a model of uncertainty of the estimation which we use in conjunction with the actual estimate in (visually) guiding the user towards areas that need refinement by placing additional sample points. In the second stage the user navigates through the parameter space in order to determine areas where the response value (goodness of segmentation) is high. In our exploration we rely on existing ground-truth images in order to evaluate the "goodness" of an image segmentation technique. We evaluate its usefulness by demonstrating this technique on two image segmentation algorithms: a three parameter model to detect microtubules in electron tomograms and an eight parameter model to identify functional regions in dynamic Positron Emission Tomography scans.

Cihan Erkut, Sider Penkov, Hassan Khesbak, Daniela Vorkel, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Karim Fahmy, Teymuras V. Kurzchalia
Trehalose renders the dauer larva of Caenorhabditis elegans resistant to extreme desiccation.
Curr Biol, 21(15) 1331-1336 (2011)
Water is essential for life on Earth. In its absence, however, some organisms can interrupt their life cycle and temporarily enter an ametabolic state, known as anhydrobiosis [1]. It is assumed that sugars (in particular trehalose) are instrumental for survival under anhydrobiotic conditions [2]. However, the role of trehalose remained obscure because the corresponding evidence was purely correlative and based mostly on in vitro studies without any genetic manipulations of trehalose metabolism. In this study, we used C. elegans as a genetic model to investigate molecular mechanisms of anhydrobiosis. We show that the C. elegans dauer larva is a true anhydrobiote: under defined conditions it can survive even after losing 98% of its body water. This ability is correlated with a several fold increase in the amount of trehalose. Mutants unable to synthesize trehalose cannot survive even mild dehydration. Light and electron microscopy indicate that one of the major functions of trehalose is the preservation of membrane organization. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy of whole worms suggests that this is achieved by preserving homogeneous and compact packing of lipid acyl chains. By means of infrared spectroscopy, we can now distinguish a "dry, yet alive" larva from a "dry and dead" one.

Iwona M Pranke, Vincent Morello, Joëlle Bigay, Kimberley Gibson, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Bruno Antonny#, Catherine L Jackson#
alpha-Synuclein and ALPS motifs are membrane curvature sensors whose contrasting chemistry mediates selective vesicle binding.
J Cell Biol, 194(1) 89-103 (2011)
Membrane curvature sensors have diverse structures and chemistries, suggesting that they might have the intrinsic capacity to discriminate between different types of vesicles in cells. In this paper, we compare the in vitro and in vivo membrane-binding properties of two curvature sensors that form very different amphipathic helices: the amphipathic lipid-packing sensor (ALPS) motif of a Golgi vesicle tether and the synaptic vesicle protein α-synuclein, a causative agent of Parkinson's disease. We demonstrate the mechanism by which α-synuclein senses membrane curvature. Unlike ALPS motifs, α-synuclein has a poorly developed hydrophobic face, and this feature explains its dual sensitivity to negatively charged lipids and to membrane curvature. When expressed in yeast cells, these two curvature sensors were targeted to different classes of vesicles, those of the early secretory pathway for ALPS motifs and to negatively charged endocytic/post-Golgi vesicles in the case of α-synuclein. Through structures with complementary chemistries, α-synuclein and ALPS motifs target distinct vesicles in cells by direct interaction with different lipid environments.

Magali Prigent, Emmanuelle Boy-Marcotte, Laurent Chesneau, Kimberley Gibson, Sophie Dupré-Crochet, Hélène Tisserand, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Marie-Hélène Cuif
The RabGAP proteins Gyp5p and Gyl1p recruit the BAR domain protein Rvs167p for polarized exocytosis.
Traffic, 12(8) 1084-1097 (2011)
The RabGAP proteins Gyp5p and Gyl1p are involved in the control of polarized exocytosis at the small-bud stage in S. cerevisiae. Both Gyp5p and Gyl1p interact with the N-BAR domain protein Rvs167p, but the biological function of this interaction is unclear. We show here that Gyp5p and Gyl1p recruit Rvs167p to the small-bud tip, where it plays a role in polarized exocytosis. In gyp5Δgyl1Δ cells, Rvs167p is not correctly localized to the small-bud tip. Both a P473L mutation in the SH3 domain of Rvs167p and deletion of the proline-rich regions of Gyp5p and Gyl1p disrupt the interaction of Rvs167p with Gyp5p and Gyl1p and impair the localization of Rvs167p to the tips of small buds. We provide evidence for the accumulation of secretory vesicles in small buds of rvs167Δ cells and for defective Bgl2p secretion in rvs167Δ cultures enriched in small-budded cells at 13(°) C, implicating Rvs167p in polarized exocytosis. Moreover, both the accumulation of secretory vesicles in Rvs167p P473L cells cultured at 13(°) C and secretion defects in cells producing Gyp5p and Gyl1p without proline-rich regions strongly suggest that the function of Rvs167p in exocytosis depends on its ability to interact with Gyp5p and Gyl1p.

Corentin Laulier, Aurélia Barascu, Josée Guirouilh-Barbat, Gaëlle Pennarun, Catherine Le Chalony, François Chevalier, Gaëlle Palierne, Pascale Bertrand, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Bernard S Lopez
Bcl-2 Inhibits Nuclear Homologous Recombination by Localizing BRCA1 to the Endomembranes.
Cancer Res, 71(10) 3590-3602 (2011)
Genetic stability requires coordination of a network of pathways including DNA repair/recombination and apoptosis. In addition to its canonical anti-apoptotic role, Bcl-2 negatively impacts genome stability. In this study, we identified the breast cancer tumor suppressor BRCA1, which plays an essential role in homologous recombination (HR), as a target for Bcl-2 in the repression of HR. Indeed, ionizing radiation-induced BRCA1 foci assembly was repressed when Bcl-2 was expressed ectopically, in human SV40 fibroblasts, or spontaneously, in lymphoma t(14:18) cells and in HeLa and H460 cancer cell lines. Moreover, we showed that the transmembrane (TM) domain of Bcl-2 was required for both inhibition of BRCA1 foci assembly and the inhibition of HR induced by a double-strand break targeted into an intrachromosomal HR substrate by the meganuclease I-SceI. Fluorescence confocal microscopy, proximity ligation assay, and electron microscopy analyses as well as Western blot analysis of subcellular fractions showed that Bcl-2 and BRCA1 colocalized to mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum in a process requiring the TM domain of Bcl-2. Targeting BRCA1 to the endomembranes depletes BRCA1 from the nucleus and, thus, accounts for the inhibition of HR. Furthermore, our findings support an apoptosis-stimulatory role for the cytosolic form of BRCA1, suggesting a new tumor suppressor function of BRCA1. Together, our results reveal a new mode of BRCA1 regulation and for HR in the maintenance of genome stability. Cancer Res; 71(10); 3590-602. ©2011 AACR.

Emilie Ma, Arach Goldar, Jean-Marc Verbavatz, Marie-Claude Marsolier-Kergoat
Giant yeast cells with nonrecyclable ribonucleotide reductase.
Mol Genet Genomics, 285(5) 415-425 (2011)
Ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) catalyzes the reduction of ribonucleotides to deoxyribonucleotides and thereby provides the precursors required for DNA synthesis and repair. In an attempt to test cell resistance to a permanent replicational stress, we constructed a mutant Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain containing exclusively nonrecyclable catalytic subunits of RNR that become inactivated following the reduction of one ribonucleoside diphosphate. In this rnr1C883A rnr3Δ mutant, the synthesis of each deoxyribonucleotide thus requires the production of one Rnr1C883A protein, which means that 26 million Rnr1C883A proteins (half the protein complement of a wild-type cell) have to be produced during each cell cycle. rnr1C883A rnr3Δ cells grow under constant replicational stress, as evidenced by the constitutive activation of the checkpoint effector Rad53, and their S phase is considerably extended compared to the wild type. rnr1C883A rnr3Δ mutants also display additional abnormalities such as a median cell volume increased by a factor of 8, and the presence of massive inclusion bodies. However, they exhibit a good plating efficiency and can be propagated indefinitely. rnr1C883A rnr3Δ cells, which can be used as a protein overexpression system, thus illustrate the robustness of S. cerevisiae to multiple physiological parameters.

Julien Guizetti, Lothar Schermelleh, Jana Mäntler, Sandra Maar, Ina Poser, Heinrich Leonhardt, Thomas Müller-Reichert#, Daniel W Gerlich#
Cortical constriction during abscission involves helices of ESCRT-III-dependent filaments.
Science, 331(6024) 1616-1620 (2011)
After partitioning of cytoplasmic contents by cleavage furrow ingression, animal cells remain connected by an intercellular bridge, which subsequently splits by abscission. Here, we examined intermediate stages of abscission in human cells by using live imaging, three-dimensional structured illumination microscopy, and electron tomography. We identified helices of 17-nanometer-diameter filaments, which narrowed the cortex of the intercellular bridge to a single stalk. The endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT)-III co-localized with constriction zones and was required for assembly of 17-nanometer-diameter filaments. Simultaneous spastin-mediated removal of underlying microtubules enabled full constriction at the abscission site. The identification of contractile filament helices at the intercellular bridge has broad implications for the understanding of cell division and of ESCRT-III-mediated fission of large membrane structures.

Falko Riedel, Daniela Vorkel, Suzanne Eaton
Megalin-dependent yellow endocytosis restricts melanization in the Drosophila cuticle.
Development, 138(1) 149-158 (2011)
The cuticular exoskeleton of arthropods is a composite material comprising well-separated layers that differ in function and molecular constituents. Epidermal cells secrete these layers sequentially, synthesizing components of distal cuticle layers before proximal ones. Could the order of synthesis and secretion be sufficient to account for the precision with which cuticle components localize to specific layers? We addressed this question by studying the spatial restriction of melanization in the Drosophila wing. Melanin formation is confined to a narrow layer within the distal procuticle. Surprisingly, this tight localization depends on the multi-ligand endocytic receptor Megalin (Mgl). Mgl acts, in part, by promoting endocytic clearance of Yellow. Yellow is required for black melanin formation, and its synthesis begins as cuticle is secreted. Near the end of cuticle secretion, its levels drop precipitously by a mechanism that depends on Mgl and Rab5-dependent endocytosis. In the absence of Mgl, Yellow protein persists at higher levels and melanin granules form ectopically in more proximal layers of the procuticle. We propose that the tight localization of the melanin synthesis machinery to the distal procuticle depends not only on the timing of its synthesis and secretion, but also on the rapid clearance of these components before synthesis of subsequent cuticle layers.

Sider Penkov✳︎, Fanny Mende✳︎, Vyacheslav Zagoriy, Cihan Erkut, René Martin, Ulrike Pässler, Kai Schuhmann, Dominik Schwudke, Margit Gruner, Jana Mäntler, Thomas Müller-Reichert, Andrej Shevchenko, Hans-Joachim Knölker, Teymuras V. Kurzchalia
Maradolipids: Diacyltrehalose Glycolipids Specific to Dauer Larva in Caenorhabditis elegans.
Angew Chem Int Ed Engl, 49(49) 9430-9435 (2010)

Adam P. Kupinski, Thomas Müller-Reichert, Christian R. Eckmann
The Caenorhabditis elegans Ste20 kinase, GCK-3, is essential for postembryonic developmental timing and regulates meiotic chromosome segregation.
Dev Biol, 344(2) 758-771 (2010)
Ste20 kinases constitute a large family of serine/threonine kinases with a plethora of biological functions. Members of the GCK-VI subfamily have been identified as important regulators of osmohomeostasis across species functioning upstream of ion channels. Although the expression of the two highly similar mammalian GCK-VI kinases is eminent in a wide variety of tissues, which includes also the testis, their potential roles in development remain elusive. Caenorhabditis elegans contains a single ancestral ortholog termed GCK-3. Here, we report a comprehensive analysis of gck-3 function and demonstrate its requirement for several developmental processes independent of ion homeostasis, i.e., larval progression, vulva, and germ line formation. Consistent with a wide range of gck-3 function we find that endogenous GCK-3 is expressed ubiquitously. The serine/threonine kinase activity of GCK-3, but not its presumed C-terminal substrate interaction domain, is essential for gck-3 gene function. Although expressed in female germ cells, we find GCK-3 progressively accumulating during spermatogenesis where it promotes the first meiotic cell division and facilitates faithful chromosome segregation. In particular, we find that different levels of gck-3 activity appear to be important for various aspects of germ line development. Taken together, our findings suggest that members of the GCK-VI kinase subfamily may act as key regulators of many developmental processes and that this newly described role in meiotic progression might be conserved and an important part of sexual reproduction.

Yvonne Gloor, Mario Schöne, Bianca Habermann, Ebru Ercan, Mike Beck, Grit Weselek, Thomas Müller-Reichert, Christiane Walch-Solimena
Interaction between Sec7p and Pik1p: the first clue for the regulation of a coincidence detection signal.
Eur J Cell Biol, 89(8) 575-583 (2010)
Sec7p, a guanine nucleotide exchange factor, regulates the activation of small Arf GTPases, which function in the formation of distinct classes of transport carriers from the Golgi. The recruitment of a subset of Arf effectors depends on the cooperation between these GTPases and phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate. Here, we show that the catalytic domain of Sec7p interacts with a conserved region of the Golgi phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase Pik1p. We found that Sec7p and Pik1p as well as its product, colocalize at the late Golgi. Gea1p/Gea2p, an alternative pair of Arf activators, do not bind to Pik1p and function on a different Golgi sub-compartment. Sec7p and Pik1p interact with each other and cooperate in the formation of clathrin-coated vesicles. This interaction reveals a distinct role for Sec7p among the Golgi Arf-GEFs and provides a working model for the coordinated generation of Arf-GTP and phosphatiylinositol 4-phosphate as dual signal for specific recruitment of clathrin coats to the late Golgi.

Thomas Müller-Reichert, Garrett Greenan, Eileen T. O'Toole, Martin Srayko
The elegans of spindle assembly.
Cell Mol Life Sci, 67(13) 2195-2213 (2010)
The Caenorhabditis elegans one-cell embryo is a powerful system in which to study microtubule organization because this large cell assembles both meiotic and mitotic spindles within the same cytoplasm over the course of 1 h in a stereotypical manner. The fertilized oocyte assembles two consecutive acentrosomal meiotic spindles that function to reduce the replicated maternal diploid set of chromosomes to a single-copy haploid set. The resulting maternal DNA then unites with the paternal DNA to form a zygotic diploid complement, around which a centrosome-based mitotic spindle forms. The early C. elegans embryo is amenable to live-cell imaging and electron tomography, permitting a detailed structural comparison of the meiotic and mitotic modes of spindle assembly.

Susanne Bechstedt, Jörg Albert, David P. Kreil, Thomas Müller-Reichert, Martin Göpfert, Jonathon Howard
A doublecortin containing microtubule-associated protein is implicated in mechanotransduction in Drosophila sensory cilia.
Nat Commun, 1(1) Art. No. 11 (2010)
Mechanoreceptors are sensory cells that transduce mechanical stimuli into electrical signals and mediate the perception of sound, touch and acceleration. Ciliated mechanoreceptors possess an elaborate microtubule cytoskeleton that facilitates the coupling of external forces to the transduction apparatus. In a screen for genes preferentially expressed in Drosophila campaniform mechanoreceptors, we identified DCX-EMAP, a unique member of the EMAP family (echinoderm-microtubule-associated proteins) that contains two doublecortin domains. DCX-EMAP localizes to the tubular body in campaniform receptors and to the ciliary dilation in chordotonal mechanoreceptors in Johnston's organ, the fly's auditory organ. Adult flies carrying a piggyBac insertion in the DCX-EMAP gene are uncoordinated and deaf and display loss of mechanosensory transduction and amplification. Electron microscopy of mutant sensilla reveals loss of electron-dense materials within the microtubule cytoskeleton in the tubular body and ciliary dilation. Our results establish a catalogue of candidate genes for Drosophila mechanosensation and show that one candidate, DCX-EMAP, is likely to be required for mechanosensory transduction and amplification.

Nathaniel Peters, Dahlia E Perez, Mi Hye Song, Yan Liu, Thomas Müller-Reichert, Cathy Caron, Kenneth J. Kemphues, Kevin F O'Connell
Control of mitotic and meiotic centriole duplication by the Plk4-related kinase ZYG-1.
J Cell Sci, 123(Pt 5) 795-805 (2010)
Centriole duplication is of crucial importance during both mitotic and male meiotic divisions, but it is currently not known whether this process is regulated differently during the two modes of division. In Caenorhabditis elegans, the kinase ZYG-1 plays an essential role in both mitotic and meiotic centriole duplication. We have found that the C-terminus of ZYG-1 is necessary and sufficient for targeting to centrosomes and is important for differentiating mitotic and meiotic centriole duplication. Small truncations of the C-terminus dramatically lower the level of ZYG-1 at mitotic centrosomes but have little effect on the level of ZYG-1 at meiotic centrosomes. Interestingly, truncation of ZYG-1 blocks centrosome duplication in the mitotic cycle but leads to centrosome amplification in the meiotic cycle. Meiotic centriole amplification appears to result from the overduplication of centrioles during meiosis I and leads to the formation of multipolar meiosis II spindles. The extra centrioles also disrupt spermatogenesis by inducing the formation of supernumerary fertilization-competent spermatids that contain abnormal numbers of chromosomes and centrioles. Our data reveal differences in the regulation of mitotic and meiotic centrosome duplication, particularly with regard to ZYG-1 activity, and reveal an important role for centrosomes in spermatid formation.

Kent McDonald, Heinz Schwarz, Thomas Müller-Reichert, Rick Webb, Christopher Buser, Mary Morphew
"Tips and tricks" for high-pressure freezing of model systems.
Methods Cell Biol, 96 671-693 (2010)
High-pressure freezing (HPF) has been around since the mid-1980s as a cryopreparation technique for biological electron microscopy. It has taken quite some time to "catch on" but with the recent interest in cellular tomography and electron microscopy of vitreous cryosections it has been used more frequently. While HPF is relatively easy to do, there are a number of steps, such as loading the sample into the specimen carrier correctly, that are critical to the success of this method. In this chapter we discuss some of the "little" things that can make the difference between successful or unsuccessful freezing. We cover all aspects of HPF, from specimen loading to removing your sample from the carriers in polymerized resin. Our goal is to make it easier and more reliable for HPF users to get well-frozen samples for their research.

Thomas Müller-Reichert, Joel Mancuso, Ben Lich, Kent McDonald
Three-dimensional reconstruction methods for Caenorhabditis elegans ultrastructure.
Methods Cell Biol, 96 331-361 (2010)
The roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans is one of the major model organisms in modern cell and developmental biology. Here, we present methods for the three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of the worm ultrastructure. We describe the use of (1) serial-section analysis, (2) electron tomography, and (3) serial block face imaging by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Sample preparation for high-pressure freezing/freeze substitution (HPF/FS) has been extensively covered in a previous volume of this "Methods in Cell Biology" series and will only be described briefly. We will discuss these 3D methods in light of recent research activities related to worm and early embryo biology.

Electron microscopy of model systems
Methods in cell biology ; 96Amsterdam, Netherlands, Elsevier (2010), 724 S.

Julien Guizetti, Jana Mäntler, Thomas Müller-Reichert, Daniel W Gerlich
Correlative time-lapse imaging and electron microscopy to study abscission in HeLa cells.
Methods Cell Biol, 96 591-601 (2010)
HeLa cells are widely used as a model system to study cell division. The last step of cell division, abscission, occurs at an about 1 μm wide intercellular bridge that connects the post-mitotic sister cells. Abscission often occurs long after ingression of the cleavage furrow, and no efficient methods to synchronize cells to this stage are available. Here, we have developed a correlative fluorescence time-lapse imaging and electron microscopic approach using Aclar sheets with engraved grid patterns. This grid pattern, leaving a negative imprint on thin-layer embedded samples, allows identification of cells selected from the time-lapse imaging for serial-section electron microscopy. This method facilitates the ultrastructural analysis of specific stages of abscission.

Eileen T. O'Toole, Thomas Müller-Reichert
Electron tomography of microtubule end-morphologies in C. elegans embryos.
Methods Mol Biol, 545 135-144 (2009)
In this chapter we describe the preparation of early mitotic C. elegans embryos for the tomographic reconstruction of end-morphologies of spindle microtubules. Early embryos are prepared by high-pressure freezing and freeze-substitution for thin-layer embedding in Epon/Araldite. We further describe data acquisition, tomographic reconstruction, and 3-D modeling of microtubules in serially sectioned mitotic spindles. The presented techniques are applicable to other model systems.

Thomas Müller-Reichert, Jana Mäntler, Martin Srayko, Eileen T. O'Toole
Electron microscopy of the early Caenorhabditis elegans embryo.
J Microsc, 230(Pt 2) 297-307 (2008)
The early Caenorhabditis elegans embryo is currently a popular model system to study centrosome assembly, kinetochore organization, spindle formation, and cellular polarization. Here, we present and review methods for routine electron microscopy and 3D analysis of the early C. elegans embryo. The first method uses laser-induced chemical fixation to preserve the fine structure of isolated embryos. This approach takes advantage of time-resolved fixation to arrest development at specific stages. The second method uses high-pressure freezing of whole worms followed by freeze-substitution (HPF-FS) for ultrastructural analysis. This technique allows staging of developing early embryos within the worm uterus, and has the advantage of superior sample preservation required for high-resolution 3D reconstruction. The third method uses a correlative approach to stage isolated, single embryos by light microscopy followed by HPF-FS and electron tomography. This procedure combines the advantages of time-resolved fixation and superior ultrastructural preservation by high-pressure freezing and allows a higher throughput electron microscopic analysis. The advantages and disadvantages of these methods for different applications are discussed.

Thomas Müller-Reichert, Martin Srayko, Anthony A. Hyman, Eileen T. O'Toole, Kent McDonald
Correlative Light and Electron Microscopy of Early Caenorhabditis elegans Embryos in Mitosis.
In: Cellular electron microscopy. (Eds.) J. Richard McIntosh Methods in cell biology ; 79.,Amsterdam, Netherlands,Elsevier (2007),101-119 Ch. 4

Martin Srayko✳︎, Eileen T. O'Toole✳︎, Anthony A. Hyman, Thomas Müller-Reichert
Katanin disrupts the microtubule lattice and increases polymer number in C. elegans meiosis.
Curr Biol, 16(19) 1944-1949 (2006)
Katanin is a heterodimer that exhibits ATP-dependent microtubule-severing activity in vitro. In Xenopus egg extracts, katanin activity correlates with the addition of cyclin B/cdc2, suggesting a role for microtubule severing in the disassembly of long interphase microtubules as the cell prepares for mitosis. However, studies from plant cells, cultured neurons, and nematode embryos suggest that katanin could be required for the organization or postnucleation processing of microtubules, rather than the dissolution of microtubule structures. Here we reexamine katanin's role by studying acentrosomal female meiotic spindles in C. elegans embryos. In mutant embryos lacking katanin, microtubules form around meiotic chromatin but do not organize into bipolar spindles. By using electron tomography, we found that katanin converts long microtubule polymers into shorter microtubule fragments near meiotic chromatin. We further show that turning on katanin during mitosis also creates a large pool of short microtubules near the centrosome. Furthermore, the identification of katanin-dependent microtubule lattice defects supports a mechanism involving an initial perforation of the protofilament wall. Taken together, our data suggest that katanin is used during meiotic spindle assembly to increase polymer number from a relatively inefficient chromatin-based microtubule nucleation pathway.

Axel Ring✳︎, Soazig Le Lay✳︎, Jürgen A. Pohl, Paul Verkade, Wolfgang Stremmel
Caveolin-1 is required for fatty acid translocase (FAT/CD36) localization and function at the plasma membrane of mouse embryonic fibroblasts.
Biochim Biophys Acta, 1761(4) 416-423 (2006)
Several lines of evidence suggest that lipid rafts are involved in cellular fatty acid uptake and influence fatty acid translocase (FAT/CD36) function. However, it remains unknown whether caveolae, a specialized raft type, are required for this mechanism. Here, we show that wild-type (WT) mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) and caveolin-1 knockout (KO) MEFs, which are devoid of caveolae, have comparable overall expression of FAT/CD36 protein but altered subcellular FAT/CD36 localization and function. In WT MEFs, FAT/CD36 was isolated with both lipid raft enriched detergent-resistant membranes (DRMs) and detergent-soluble membranes (DSMs), whereas in cav-1 KO cells it was exclusively associated with DSMs. Subcellular fractionation demonstrated that FAT/CD36 in WT MEFs was localized intracellularly and at the plasma membrane level while in cav-1 KO MEFs it was absent from the plasma membrane. This mistargeting of FAT/CD36 in cav-1 KO cells resulted in reduced fatty acid uptake compared to WT controls. Adenoviral expression of caveolin-1 in KO MEFs induced caveolae formation, redirection of FAT/CD36 to the plasma membrane and rescue of fatty acid uptake. In conclusion, our data provide evidence that caveolin-1 is necessary to target FAT/CD36 to the plasma membrane. Caveolin-1 may influence fatty acid uptake by regulating surface availability of FAT/CD36.

Angela Huebner, Philipp Mann, Elvira Rohde, Angela M Kaindl, Martin Witt, Paul Verkade, Sibylle Jakubiczka, Mario Menschikowski, Gisela Stoltenburg-Didinger, Katrin Koehler
Mice lacking the nuclear pore complex protein ALADIN show female infertility but fail to develop a phenotype resembling human triple A syndrome.
Mol Cell Biol, 26(5) 1879-1887 (2006)
Triple A syndrome is a human autosomal recessive disorder characterized by adrenal insufficiency, achalasia, alacrima, and neurological abnormalities affecting the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems. In humans, this disease is caused by mutations in the AAAS gene, which encodes ALADIN, a protein that belongs to the family of WD-repeat proteins and localizes to nuclear pore complexes. To analyze the function of the gene in the context of the whole organism and in an attempt to obtain an animal model for human triple A syndrome, we generated mice lacking a functional Aaas gene. The Aaas-/- animals were found to be externally indistinguishable from their wild-type littermates, although their body weight was on the average lower than that of wild-type mice. Histological analysis of various tissues failed to reveal any differences between Aaas-/- and wild-type mice. Aaas-/- mice exhibit unexpectedly mild abnormal behavior and only minor neurological deficits. Our data show that the lack of ALADIN in mice does not lead to a triple A syndrome-like disease. Thus, in mice either the function of ALADIN differs from that in humans, its loss can be readily compensated for, or additional factors, such as environmental conditions or genetic modifiers, contribute to the disease.

Annely Brandt, Fani Papagiannouli, Nicole Wagner, Michaela Wilsch-Bräuninger, Marcus Braun, Eileen E Furlong, Silke Loserth, Christian Wenzl, Fanny Pilot, Nina Vogt, Thomas Lecuit, Georg Krohne, Jörg Grosshans
Developmental control of nuclear size and shape by Kugelkern and Kurzkern.
Curr Biol, 16(6) 543-552 (2006)
BACKGROUND: The shape of a nucleus depends on the nuclear lamina, which is tightly associated with the inner nuclear membrane and on the interaction with the cytoskeleton. However, the mechanism connecting the differentiation state of a cell to the shape changes of its nucleus are not well understood. We investigated this question in early Drosophila embryos, where the nuclear shape changes from spherical to ellipsoidal together with a 2.5-fold increase in nuclear length during cellularization. RESULTS: We identified two genes, kugelkern and kurzkern, required for nuclear elongation. In kugelkern- and kurzkern-depleted embryos, the nuclei reach only half the length of the wild-type nuclei at the end of cellularization. The reduced nuclear size affects chromocenter formation as marked by Heterochromatin protein 1 and expression of a specific set of genes, including early zygotic genes. kugelkern contains a putative coiled-coil domain in the N-terminal half of the protein, a nuclear localization signal (NLS), and a C-terminal CxxM-motif. The carboxyterminal CxxM motif is required for the targeting of Kugelkern to the inner nuclear membrane, where it colocalizes with lamins. Depending on the farnesylation motif, expression of kugelkern in Drosophila embryos or Xenopus cells induces overproliferation of nuclear membrane. CONCLUSIONS: Kugelkern is so far the first nuclear protein, except for lamins, that contains a farnesylation site. Our findings suggest that Kugelkern is a rate-determining factor for nuclear size increase. We propose that association of farnesylated Kugelkern with the inner nuclear membrane induces expansion of nuclear surface area, allowing nuclear growth.

Gregor Wollensak, Michaela Wilsch, Eberhard Spoerl, Theo Seiler
Collagen fiber diameter in the rabbit cornea after collagen crosslinking by riboflavin/UVA.
Cornea, 23(5) 503-507 (2004)
OBJECTIVE: Collagen crosslinking of the cornea has been developed recently as a quasiconservative treatment of keratoconus. Biomechanical in vitro measurements have demonstrated a significant increase in biomechanical stiffness of the crosslinked cornea. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of this new procedure on the collagen fiber diameter of the rabbit cornea. METHODS: The corneas of the right eyes of 10 New Zealand White albino rabbits were crosslinked by application of the photosensitizer riboflavin and exposure to UVA light (370 nm, 3 mW/cm2) for 30 minutes. The left fellow control eyes were either left untreated (rabbits 1-4), deepithelialized (rabbits 5-7), or deepithelialized and treated with riboflavin/dextran solution (rabbits 8-10) to exclude an influence of epithelial debridement or hydration changes on the fiber diameter. On ultrathin sections of samples from the anterior and posterior cornea, the collagen fiber diameter was measured semiautomatically with the help of morphometric computer software. RESULTS: In the anterior stroma, the collagen fiber diameter in the treated corneas was significantly increased by 12.2% (3.96 nm), and in the posterior stroma by 4.6% (1.63 nm), compared with the control fellow eyes. In the crosslinked eyes, the collagen fiber diameter was also significantly increased by, on average, 9.3% (3.1 nm) in the anterior compared with the posterior stroma within the same eye. CONCLUSIONS: Collagen crosslinking using riboflavin and UVA leads to a significant increase in corneal collagen diameter. This alteration is the morphologic correlate of the crosslinking process leading to an increase in biomechanical stability. The crosslinking effect is strongest in the anterior half of the stroma because of the rapid decrease in UVA irradiance across the corneal stroma as a result of riboflavin-enhanced UVA absorption.

Jürgen A. Pohl, Axel Ring, Robert Ehehalt, Henning Schulze-Bergkamen, Arno Schad, Paul Verkade, Wolfgang Stremmel
Long-chain fatty acid uptake into adipocytes depends on lipid raft function.
Biochemistry, 43(14) 4179-4187 (2004)
This study investigates the role of lipid rafts and caveolae, a subclass of lipid raft microdomains, in the binding and uptake of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) by 3T3-L1 cells during differentiation. Disruption of lipid rafts by beta-cyclodextrin (betaCD) or selective inhibition of caveolae by overexpression of a dominant-negative mutant of caveolin-3 (Cav(DGV)) resulted in disassembly of caveolae structures at the cell surface, as assessed by electron microscopy. While in 3T3-L1 fibroblasts, which express few caveolae, Cav(DGV) or betaCD had no effect on LCFA uptake, in 3T3-L1 adipocytes the same treatments decreased the level of [(3)H]oleic acid uptake by up to 55 +/- 8 and 49 +/- 7%, respectively. In contrast, cholesterol loading of 3T3-L1 adipocytes resulted in a 4-fold increase in the extent of caveolin-1 expression and a 1.7-fold increase in the level of LCFA uptake. Both the inhibitory and enhancing effects of these treatments were constantly increasing with the [(3)H]oleic acid incubation time up to 5 min. Incubation of 3T3-L1 adipocytes with [(3)H]stearate followed by isolation of a caveolin-1 positive detergent-resistant membrane (DRM) fraction revealed that [(3)H]stearate binds to caveolae. Fatty acid translocase (FAT/CD36) was found to be present in this DRM fraction as well. Our data thus strongly indicate a critical involvement of lipid rafts in the binding and uptake of LCFA into 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Furthermore, our findings suggest that caveolae play a pivotal role in lipid raft-dependent LCFA uptake. This transport mechanism is induced in conjunction with cell differentiation and might be mediated by FAT/CD36.

Klaus-Peter Knoch, Hendrik Bergert, Barbara Borgonovo, Hans-Detlev Saeger, Anke Altkrüger, Paul Verkade, Michele Solimena
Polypyrimidine tract-binding protein promotes insulin secretory granule biogenesis.
Nat Cell Biol, 6(3) 207-214 (2004)
Pancreatic beta-cells store insulin in secretory granules that undergo exocytosis upon glucose stimulation. Sustained stimulation depletes beta-cells of their granule pool, which must be quickly restored. However, the factors promoting rapid granule biogenesis are unknown. Here we show that beta-cell stimulation induces the nucleocytoplasmic translocation of polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB). Activated cytosolic PTB binds and stabilizes mRNAs encoding proteins of secretory granules, thus increasing their translation, whereas knockdown of PTB expression by RNA interference (RNAi) results in the depletion of secretory granules. These findings may provide insight for the understanding and treatment of diabetes, in which insulin secretion is typically impaired.

Robert Cerny, Daniel Meulemans, Jürgen Berger, Michaela Wilsch-Bräuninger, Thomas Kurth, Marianne Bronner-Fraser, Hans-Henning Epperlein
Combined intrinsic and extrinsic influences pattern cranial neural crest migration and pharyngeal arch morphogenesis in axolotl.
Dev Biol, 266(2) 252-269 (2004)
Cranial neural crest cells migrate in a precisely segmented manner to form cranial ganglia, facial skeleton and other derivatives. Here, we investigate the mechanisms underlying this patterning in the axolotl embryo using a combination of tissue culture, molecular markers, scanning electron microscopy and vital dye analysis. In vitro experiments reveal an intrinsic component to segmental migration; neural crest cells from the hindbrain segregate into distinct streams even in the absence of neighboring tissue. In vivo, separation between neural crest streams is further reinforced by tight juxtapositions that arise during early migration between epidermis and neural tube, mesoderm and endoderm. The neural crest streams are dense and compact, with the cells migrating under the epidermis and outside the paraxial and branchial arch mesoderm with which they do not mix. After entering the branchial arches, neural crest cells conduct an "outside-in" movement, which subsequently brings them medially around the arch core such that they gradually ensheath the arch mesoderm in a manner that has been hypothesized but not proven in zebrafish. This study, which represents the most comprehensive analysis of cranial neural crest migratory pathways in any vertebrate, suggests a dual process for patterning the cranial neural crest. Together with an intrinsic tendency to form separate streams, neural crest cells are further constrained into channels by close tissue apposition and sorting out from neighboring tissues.

Gregor Wollensak, Eberhard Spoerl, Michaela Wilsch, Theo Seiler
Keratocyte apoptosis after corneal collagen cross-linking using riboflavin/UVA treatment.
Cornea, 23(1) 43-49 (2004)
PURPOSE: Combined riboflavin/UVA treatment inducing collagen cross-links in the cornea has been shown to increase the biomechanical rigidity of the cornea and has been used successfully in the treatment of progressive keratoconus. The current study was undertaken to investigate the possible cytotoxic effect of combined riboflavin/UVA treatment on corneal keratocytes in vivo. METHODS: Thirty-four New Zealand white rabbits were treated with 0.1% riboflavin solution and surface UVA irradiances ranging from 0.75 to 4 mW/cm2 (1.35- 7.2 J/cm2) for 30 minutes. The animals were euthanized either 4 (n = 6) or 24 (n = 28) hours postoperatively. Four additional control eyes underwent epithelial debridement alone. The corneas of the enucleated eyes were evaluated in routine histologic sections. In addition, the TUNEL technique and transmission electron microscopy were used for the detection of keratocyte apoptosis. RESULTS: In the control eyes with corneal epithelial debridement only, apoptotic keratocytes were found in the anterior 50 microm of the corneal stroma 4 hours postoperatively. However, riboflavin/UVA-induced apoptosis was only visible in the rabbit eyes enucleated 24 hours postoperatively. In these eyes, we found apoptosis of keratocytes down to a variable stromal depth depending on the applied UVA irradiance. A cytotoxic UVA irradiance for keratocytes in the range of 0.5-0.7 mW/cm2 could be deduced. CONCLUSIONS: Riboflavin/UVA treatment leads to a dose-dependent keratocyte damage that can be expected in human corneas down to a depth of 300 microm using a surface UVA dose of 5.4 J/cm2. Future studies should be done to examine the keratocyte repopulation and exclude possible adverse sequelae of keratocyte loss like stromal scarring or thinning.

Arshad Desai, Sonja Rybina, Thomas Müller-Reichert, Andrej Shevchenko, Anna Shevchenko, Anthony A. Hyman, Karen Oegema
KNL-1 directs assembly of the microtubule-binding interface of the kinetochore in C. elegans.
Genes Dev, 17(19) 2421-2435 (2003)
Segregation of the replicated genome during cell division requires kinetochores, mechanochemical organelles that assemble on mitotic chromosomes to connect them to spindle microtubules. CENP-A, a histone H3 variant, and CENP-C, a conserved structural protein, form the DNA-proximal foundation for kinetochore assembly. Using RNA interference-based genomics in Caenorhabditis elegans, we identified KNL-1, a novel kinetochore protein whose depletion, like that of CeCENP-A or CeCENP-C, leads to a "kinetochore-null" phenotype. KNL-1 is downstream of CeCENP-A and CeCENP-C in a linear assembly hierarchy. In embryonic extracts, KNL-1 exhibits substoichiometric interactions with CeCENP-C and forms a near-stoichiometric complex with CeNDC-80 and HIM-10, the C. elegans homologs of Ndc80p/HEC1p and Nuf2p-two widely conserved outer kinetochore components. However, CeNDC-80 and HIM-10 are not functionally equivalent to KNL-1 because their inhibition, although preventing formation of a mechanically stable kinetochore-microtubule interface and causing chromosome missegregation, does not result in a kinetochore-null phenotype. The greater functional importance of KNL-1 may be due to its requirement for targeting multiple components of the outer kinetochore, including CeNDC-80 and HIM-10. Thus, KNL-1 plays a central role in translating the initiation of kinetochore assembly by CeCENP-A and CeCENP-C into the formation of a functional microtubule-binding interface.

Thomas Müller-Reichert, H Hohenberg, Eileen T. O'Toole, Kent McDonald
Cryoimmobilization and three-dimensional visualization of C. elegans ultrastructure.
J Microsc, 212(Pt 1) 71-80 (2003)
Caenorhabditis elegans is one of the most important genetic systems used in current biological research. Increasingly, these genetics-based research projects are including ultrastructural analyses in their attempts to understand the molecular basis for cell function. Here, we present and review state-of-the-art methods for both ultrastructural analysis and immunogold localization in C. elegans. For the initial cryofixation, high-pressure freezing is the method of choice, and in this article we describe two different strategies to prepare these nematode worms for rapid freezing. The first method takes advantage of transparent, porous cellulose capillary tubes to contain the worms, and the second packs the worms in E. coli and/or yeast paste prior to freezing. The latter method facilitates embedding of C. elegans in a thin layer of resin so individual worms can be staged, selected and precisely orientated for serial sectioning followed by immunolabelling or electron tomography.

Gregor Wollensak, Eberhard Spoerl, Michaela Wilsch, Theo Seiler
Endothelial cell damage after riboflavin-ultraviolet-A treatment in the rabbit.
J Cataract Refract Surg, 29(9) 1786-1790 (2003)
PURPOSE: To evaluate the possible cytotoxic effect of combined riboflavin-ultraviolet-A (UVA) treatment on the corneal endothelium. SETTING: Department of Ophthalmology, Technical University of Dresden, Dresden, Germany. METHODS: The right eyes of 34 New Zealand White rabbits were treated with riboflavin and various endothelial UVA doses ranging from 0.16 to 0.9 J/cm2 (0.09 to 0.5 mW/cm2, 370 nm) and postoperative enucleation times of 4 hours and 24 hours. The endothelial cells were evaluated in histological sections. The terminal deoxynulceotidyl transferase deoxy-UTP-nick-end labeling (TUNEL) technique and transmission electron microscopy were used to detect apoptosis. RESULTS: There was no endothelial damage in the 6 rabbit eyes enucleated at 4 hours. In those enucleated at 24 hours, there was significant necrosis and apoptosis of endothelial cells in the corneas treated with an endothelial dose of > or =0.65 J/cm2 (0.36 mW/cm2), which is about twice the endothelial UVA dose used in the treatment of keratoconus patients. CONCLUSIONS: In rabbit corneas with a corneal thickness less than 400 microm, the endothelial UVA dose reached a cytotoxic level of > or =0.65 J/cm2 (0.36 mW/cm2) using the standard surface UVA dose of 5.4 J/cm2 (3 mW/cm2). Pachymetry should be routinely performed before riboflavin-UVA treatment; in thinner corneas, irradiation should not be done because of the cytotoxic risk to the endothelium.

Folker Spitzenberger, Massimo Pietropaolo, Paul Verkade, Bianca Habermann, Sandra Lacas-Gervais, Hassan Mziaut, Susan Pietropaolo, Michele Solimena
Islet cell autoantigen of 69 kDa is an arfaptin-related protein associated with the Golgi complex of insulinoma INS-1 cells.
J Biol Chem, 278(28) 26166-26173 (2003)
Islet cell autoantigen of 69 kDa (ICA69) is a cytosolic protein of still unknown function. Involvement of ICA69 in neurosecretion has been suggested by the impairment of acetylcholine release at neuromuscular junctions upon mutation of its homologue gene ric-19 in C. elegans. In this study, we have further investigated the localization of ICA69 in neurons and insulinoma INS-1 cells. ICA69 was enriched in the perinuclear region, whereas it did not co-localize with markers of synaptic vesicles/synaptic-like microvesicles. Confocal microscopy and subcellular fractionation in INS-1 cells showed co-localization of ICA69 with markers of the Golgi complex and, to a minor extent, with immature insulin-containing secretory granules. The association of ICA69 with these organelles was confirmed by immunoelectron microscopy. Virtually no ICA69 immunogold labeling was observed on secretory granules near the plasma membrane, suggesting that ICA69 dissociates from secretory granule membranes during their maturation. In silico sequence and structural analyses revealed that the N-terminal region of ICA69 is similar to the region of arfaptins that interacts with ARF1, a small GTPase involved in vesicle budding at the Golgi complex and immature secretory granules. ICA69 is therefore a novel arfaptin-related protein that is likely to play a role in membrane trafficking at the Golgi complex and immature secretory granules in neurosecretory cells.

Thomas Müller-Reichert, Ingrid Sassoon, Eileen T. O'Toole, Maryse Romao, Anthony J. Ashford, Anthony A. Hyman, Claude Antony
Analysis of the distribution of the kinetochore protein Ndc10p in Saccharomyces cerevisiae using 3-D modeling of mitotic spindles.
Chromosoma, 111(7) 417-428 (2003)
Ndc10p is one of the DNA-binding constituents of the kinetochore in Saccharomyces cerevisiae but light microscopy analysis suggests that Ndc10p is not limited to kinetochore regions. We examined the localization of Ndc10p using immunoelectron microscopy and showed that Ndc10p is associated with spindle microtubules from S-phase through anaphase. By serial section reconstruction of mitotic spindles combined with immunogold detection, we showed that Ndc10p interacts with microtubules laterally as well as terminally. About 50% of the gold label in serial section reconstructions of short mitotic spindles was associated with the walls of spindle microtubules. Interaction of kinetochore components with microtubule walls was also shown for kinetochore protein Ndc80p. Our data suggest that at least a subset of kinetochore-associated protein is dispersed throughout the mitotic spindle.

Ulla Lahtinen, Masanori Honsho, Robert G. Parton, Kai Simons, Paul Verkade
Involvement of caveolin-2 in caveolar biogenesis in MDCK cells.
FEBS Lett, 538(1-3) 85-88 (2003)
Caveolins have been identified as key components of caveolae, specialized cholesterol-enriched raft domains visible as small flask-shaped invaginations of the plasma membrane. In polarized MDCK cells caveolin-1 and -2 are found together on basolateral caveolae whereas the apical membrane, where only caveolin-1 is present, lacks caveolae. Expression of a caveolin mutant prevented the formation of the large caveolin-1/-2 hetero-oligomeric complexes, and led to intracellular retention of caveolin-2 and disappearance of caveolae from the basolateral membrane. Correspondingly, in MDCK cells over-expressing caveolin-2 the basolateral membrane exhibited an increased number of caveolae. These results indicate the involvement of caveolin-2 in caveolar biogenesis.

Ann M Hopkins, Shaun V Walsh, Paul Verkade, Patrice Boquet, Asma Nusrat
Constitutive activation of Rho proteins by CNF-1 influences tight junction structure and epithelial barrier function.
J Cell Sci, 116(Pt 4) 725-742 (2003)
The apical-most epithelial intercellular junction, referred to as the tight junction (TJ), regulates paracellular solute flux in diverse physiological and pathological states. TJ affiliations with the apical filamentous actin (F-actin) cytoskeleton are crucial in regulating TJ function. F-actin organization is influenced by the Rho GTPase family, which also controls TJ function. To explore the role of Rho GTPases in regulating TJ structure and function, we utilized Escherichia coli cytotoxic necrotizing factor-1 (CNF-1) as a tool to activate constitutively Rho, Rac and Cdc42 signaling in T84 polarized intestinal epithelial monolayers. The biological effects of the toxin were polarized to the basolateral membrane, and included profound reductions in TJ gate function, accompanied by displacement of the TJ proteins occludin and zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1), and reorganization of junction adhesion molecule-1 (JAM-1) away from the TJ membrane. Immunogold electron microscopy revealed occludin and caveolin-1 internalization in endosomal/caveolar-like structures in CNF-treated cells. Immunofluorescence/confocal microscopy suggested that a pool of internalized occludin went to caveolae, early endosomes and recycling endosomes, but not to late endosomes. This provides a novel mechanism potentially allowing occludin to evade a degradative pathway, perhaps allowing efficient recycling back to the TJ membrane. In contrast to the TJ, the characteristic ring structure of proteins in adherens junctions (AJs) was largely preserved despite CNF-1 treatment. CNF-1 also induced displacement of a TJ-associated pool of phosphorylated myosin light chain (p-MLC), which is normally also linked to the F-actin contractile machinery in epithelial cells. The apical perjunctional F-actin ring itself was maintained even after toxin exposure, but there was a striking effacement of microvillous F-actin and its binding protein, villin, from the same plane. However, basal F-actin stress fibers became prominent and cabled following basolateral CNF-1 treatment, and the focal adhesion protein paxillin was tyrosine phosphorylated. This indicates differences in Rho GTPase-mediated control of distinct F-actin pools in polarized cells. Functionally, CNF-1 profoundly impaired TJ/AJ assembly in calcium switch assays. Re-localization of occludin but not E-cadherin along the lateral membrane during junctional reassembly was severely impaired by the toxin. A balance between activity and quiescence of Rho GTPases appears crucial for both the generation and maintenance of optimal epithelial barrier function. Overactivation of Rho, Rac and Cdc42 with CNF-1 seems to mirror key barrier-function disruptions previously reported for inactivation of RhoA.

Marek Drab, Paul Verkade, Marlies Elger, Michael Kasper, Matthias Lohn, Birgit Lauterbach, Jan Menne, Carsten Lindschau, Fanny Mende, Friedrich C. Luft, Aandreas Schedl, Hermann Haller, Teymuras V. Kurzchalia
Loss of caveolae, vascular dysfunction, and pulmonary defects in caveolin-1 gene-disrupted mice.
Science, 293(5539) 2449-2452 (2001)
Caveolae are plasma membrane invaginations that may play an important role in numerous cellular processes including transport, signaling, and tumor suppression. By targeted disruption of caveolin-1, the main protein component of caveolae, we generated mice that lacked caveolae. The absence of this organelle impaired nitric oxide and calcium signaling in the cardiovascular system, causing aberrations in endothelium-dependent relaxation, contractility, and maintenance of myogenic tone. In addition, the lungs of knockout animals displayed thickening of alveolar septa caused by uncontrolled endothelial cell proliferation and fibrosis, resulting in severe physical limitations in caveolin-1-disrupted mice. Thus, caveolin-1 and caveolae play a fundamental role in organizing multiple signaling pathways in the cell.

Asma Nusrat, C von Eichel-Streiber, J R Turner, Paul Verkade, J L Madara, C A Parkos
Clostridium difficile toxins disrupt epithelial barrier function by altering membrane microdomain localization of tight junction proteins.
Infect Immun, 69(3) 1329-1336 (2001)
The anaerobic bacterium Clostridium difficile is the etiologic agent of pseudomembranous colitis. C. difficile toxins TcdA and TcdB are UDP-glucosyltransferases that monoglucosylate and thereby inactivate the Rho family of GTPases (W. P. Ciesla, Jr., and D. A. Bobak, J. Biol. Chem. 273:16021-16026, 1998). We utilized purified reference toxins of C. difficile, TcdA-10463 (TcdA) and TcdB-10463 (TcdB), and a model intestinal epithelial cell line to characterize their influence on tight-junction (TJ) organization and hence to analyze the mechanisms by which they contribute to the enhanced paracellular permeability and disease pathophysiology of pseudomembranous colitis. The increase in paracellular permeability induced by TcdA and TcdB was associated with disorganization of apical and basal F-actin. F-actin restructuring was paralleled by dissociation of occludin, ZO-1, and ZO-2 from the lateral TJ membrane without influencing the subjacent adherens junction protein, E-cadherin. In addition, we observed decreased association of actin with the TJ cytoplasmic plaque protein ZO-1. Differential detergent extraction and fractionation in sucrose density gradients revealed TcdB-induced redistribution of occludin and ZO-1 from detergent-insoluble fractions constituting "raft-like" membrane microdomains, suggesting an important role of Rho proteins in maintaining the association of TJ proteins with such microdomains. These toxin-mediated effects on actin and TJ structure provide a mechanism for early events in the pathophysiology of pseudomembranous colitis.