Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

Publications

The Babraham Institute Publications database contains details of all publications resulting from our research groups and scientific services.

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Title / Authors / Details Open Access Download

BNC1 regulates cell heterogeneity in human pluripotent stem cell derived-epicardium.
Gambardella L, McManus SA, Moignard V, Sebukhan D, Delaune A, Andrews S, Bernard WG, Morrison MA, Riley PR, Göttgens B, Le Novère NG, Sinha S

The murine developing epicardium heterogeneously expresses the transcription factors TCF21 and WT1. Here, we show that this cell heterogeneity is conserved in human epicardium, regulated by BNC1 and associated with cell fate and function. Single cell RNAseq of epicardium derived from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC-epi) revealed that distinct epicardial sub-populations are defined by high levels of expression for the transcription factors BNC1 or TCF21. WT1 cells are included in the BNC1 population, which was confirmed in human foetal hearts. THY1 emerged as a membrane marker of the TCF21 population. We show that THY1 cells can differentiate into cardiac fibroblast (CF) and smooth muscle cells (SMC), while THY1 cells were predominantly restricted to SMC. Knocking down BNC1 during the establishment of the epicardial populations resulted in a homogeneous, predominantly, TCF21 population. Network inference methods using transcriptomic data from the different cell lineages derived from the hPSC-epi, delivered a core transcriptional network organized around WT1, TCF21 and BNC1. This study is a step towards engineering sub-populations of epicardial cells with selective biological activities and unveils a list of epicardial regulators.

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Development (Cambridge, England), , 1477-9129, , 2019

PMID: 31767620

Dual-mechanism ERK1/2 inhibitors exploit a distinct binding mode to block phosphorylation and nuclear accumulation of ERK1/2.
Kidger AM, Munck JM, Saini HK, Balmanno K, Minihane E, Courtin A, Graham B, O'Reilly M, Odle R, Cook SJ

The RAS-regulated RAF-MEK1/2-ERK1/2 signalling pathway is frequently deregulated in cancer due to activating mutations of growth factor receptors, RAS or BRAF. Both RAF and MEK1/2 inhibitors are clinically approved and various ERK1/2 inhibitors (ERKi) are currently undergoing clinical trials. To date ERKi display two distinct mechanisms of action (MoA); catalytic ERKi solely inhibit ERK1/2 catalytic activity, whereas dual mechanism ERKi additionally prevent the activating phosphorylation of ERK1/2 at its T-E-Y motif by MEK1/2. These differences may impart significant differences in biological activity because T-E-Y phosphorylation is the signal for nuclear entry of ERK1/2, allowing them to access many key transcription factor targets. Here, we characterised the MoA of five ERKi and examined their functional consequences in terms of ERK1/2 signalling, gene expression and anti-proliferative efficacy. We demonstrate that catalytic ERKi promote a striking nuclear accumulation of p-ERK1/2 in KRAS mutant cell lines. In contrast, dual mechanism ERKi exploit a distinct binding mode to block ERK1/2 phosphorylation by MEK1/2, exhibit superior potency and prevent the nuclear accumulation of ERK1/2. Consequently, dual-mechanism ERKi exhibit more durable pathway inhibition and enhanced suppression of ERK1/2-dependent gene expression compared to catalytic ERKi, resulting in increased efficacy across BRAF and RAS mutant cell lines.

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Molecular cancer therapeutics, , 1538-8514, , 2019

PMID: 31748345

A nutritional memory effect counteracts benefits of dietary restriction in old mice.
Hahn O, Drews LF, Nguyen A, Tatsuta T, Gkioni L, Hendrich O, Zhang Q, Langer T, Pletcher S, Wakelam MJO, Beyer A, Grönke S, Partridge L

Dietary restriction (DR) during adulthood can greatly extend lifespan and improve metabolic health in diverse species. However, whether DR in mammals is still effective when applied for the first time at old age remains elusive. Here, we report results of a late-life DR switch experiment employing 800 mice, in which 24 months old female mice were switched from ad libitum (AL) to DR or vice versa. Strikingly, the switch from DR-to-AL acutely increases mortality, whereas the switch from AL-to-DR causes only a weak and gradual increase in survival, suggesting a memory of earlier nutrition. RNA-seq profiling in liver, brown (BAT) and white adipose tissue (WAT) demonstrate a largely refractory transcriptional and metabolic response to DR after AL feeding in fat tissue, particularly in WAT, and a proinflammatory signature in aged preadipocytes, which is prevented by chronic DR feeding. Our results provide evidence for a nutritional memory as a limiting factor for DR-induced longevity and metabolic remodeling of WAT in mammals.

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Nature metabolism, 1, 2522-5812, 1059-1073, 2019

PMID: 31742247

An mTORC1-to-CDK1 Switch Maintains Autophagy Suppression during Mitosis.
Odle RI, Walker SA, Oxley D, Kidger AM, Balmanno K, Gilley R, Okkenhaug H, Florey O, Ktistakis NT, Cook SJ

Since nuclear envelope breakdown occurs during mitosis in metazoan cells, it has been proposed that macroautophagy must be inhibited to maintain genome integrity. However, repression of macroautophagy during mitosis remains controversial and mechanistic detail limited to the suggestion that CDK1 phosphorylates VPS34. Here, we show that initiation of macroautophagy, measured by the translocation of the ULK complex to autophagic puncta, is repressed during mitosis, even when mTORC1 is inhibited. Indeed, mTORC1 is inactive during mitosis, reflecting its failure to localize to lysosomes due to CDK1-dependent RAPTOR phosphorylation. While mTORC1 normally represses autophagy via phosphorylation of ULK1, ATG13, ATG14, and TFEB, we show that the mitotic phosphorylation of these autophagy regulators, including at known repressive sites, is dependent on CDK1 but independent of mTOR. Thus, CDK1 substitutes for inhibited mTORC1 as the master regulator of macroautophagy during mitosis, uncoupling autophagy regulation from nutrient status to ensure repression of macroautophagy during mitosis.

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Molecular cell, , 1097-4164, , 2019

PMID: 31733992

Targeting melanoma's MCL1 bias unleashes the apoptotic potential of BRAF and ERK1/2 pathway inhibitors.
Sale MJ, Minihane E, Monks NR, Gilley R, Richards FM, Schifferli KP, Andersen CL, Davies EJ, Vicente MA, Ozono E, Markovets A, Dry JR, Drew L, Flemington V, Proia T, Jodrell DI, Smith PD, Cook SJ

BRAF and MEK1/2 inhibitors are effective in melanoma but resistance inevitably develops. Despite increasing the abundance of pro-apoptotic BIM and BMF, ERK1/2 pathway inhibition is predominantly cytostatic, reflecting residual pro-survival BCL2 family activity. Here, we show that uniquely low BCL-X expression in melanoma biases the pro-survival pool towards MCL1. Consequently, BRAF or MEK1/2 inhibitors are synthetic lethal with the MCL1 inhibitor AZD5991, driving profound tumour cell death that requires BAK/BAX, BIM and BMF, and inhibiting tumour growth in vivo. Combination of ERK1/2 pathway inhibitors with BCL2/BCL-w/BCL-X inhibitors is stronger in CRC, correlating with a low MCL1:BCL-X ratio; indeed the MCL1:BCL-X ratio is predictive of ERK1/2 pathway inhibitor synergy with MCL1 or BCL2/BCL-w/BCL-X inhibitors. Finally, AZD5991 delays acquired BRAFi/MEKi resistance and enhances the efficacy of an ERK1/2 inhibitor in a model of acquired BRAFi + MEKi resistance. Thus combining ERK1/2 pathway inhibitors with MCL1 antagonists in melanoma could improve therapeutic index and patient outcomes.

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Nature communications, 10, 2041-1723, 5167, 2019

PMID: 31727888

Autophagosome biogenesis machinery.
Walker SA, Ktistakis NT

We review current knowledge of the process of autophagosome formation with special emphasis on the very early steps: turning on the autophagy pathway, assembling the autophagy machinery, and building the autophagosome. The pathway is remarkably well co-ordinated spatially and temporally, and it shows broad conservation across species and cell types, including neurons. In addition, although much current knowledge derives mostly from settings of non-selective autophagy, recent work also indicates that selective autophagy, and more specifically mitophagy, shows similar dynamics. Having an understanding of this remarkable process may help the design of novel therapeutics for neurodegeneration and other pathologies.

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Journal of molecular biology, , 1089-8638, , 2019

PMID: 31705882

Lipidomics: Current state of the art in a fast moving field.
O'Donnell VB, Ekroos K, Liebisch G, Wakelam M

Lipids are essential for all facets of life. They play three major roles: energy metabolism, structural, and signaling. They are dynamic molecules strongly influenced by endogenous and exogenous factors including genetics, diet, age, lifestyle, drugs, disease and inflammation. As precision medicine starts to become mainstream, there is a huge burgeoning interest in lipids and their potential to act as unique biomarkers or prognostic indicators. Lipids comprise a large component of all metabolites (around one-third), and our expanding knowledge about their dynamic behavior is fueling the hope that mapping their regulatory biochemical pathways on a systems level will revolutionize our ability to prevent, diagnose, and stratify major human diseases. Up to now, clinical lipid measurements have consisted primarily of total cholesterol or triglycerides, as a measure for cardiovascular risk and response to lipid lowering drugs. Nowadays, we are able to measure thousands of individual lipids that make up the lipidome. nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry (NMR) metabolomics is also being increasingly used in large cohort studies where it can report on total levels of selected lipid classes, and relative levels of fatty acid saturation. To support the application of lipidomics research, LIPID MAPS was established in 2003, and since then has gone on to become the go-to resource for several lipid databases, lipid drawing tools, data deposition, and more recently lipidomics informatics tools, and a lipid biochemistry encyclopedia, LipidWeb. Alongside this, the recently established Lipidomics Standards Initiative plays a key role in standardization of lipidomics methodologies. This article is categorized under: Laboratory Methods and Technologies > Metabolomics Analytical and Computational Methods > Analytical Methods.

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Wiley interdisciplinary reviews. Systems biology and medicine, , 1939-005X, e1466, 2019

PMID: 31646749

The Parkinson's gene PINK1 activates Akt via PINK1 kinase-dependent regulation of the phospholipid PI(3,4,5)P.
Furlong RM, Lindsay A, Anderson KE, Hawkins PT, Sullivan AM, O'Neill C

Akt signalling is central to cell survival, metabolism, protein and lipid homeostasis, and is impaired in Parkinson's disease(PD). Akt activation is reduced in the PD brain, and by many PD-causing genes, including PINK1(PTEN-induced putative kinase-1). This study investigated the mechanisms by which PINK1 regulates Akt signalling. Our results reveal for the first time that PINK1 constitutively activates Akt in a PINK1-kinase dependent manner in the absence of growth factors, and enhances Akt activation in normal growth medium. In PINK1 modified MEFs, agonist-induced Akt signalling failed in the absence of PINK1, due to significantly impaired PINK1 kinase-dependent increases in PI(3,4,5)P at both plasma membrane and Golgi. In the absence of PINK1, PI(3,4,5)P levels did not increase in the Golgi, and there was significant Golgi fragmentation, a recognised characteristic of PD neuropathology. PINK1 kinase activity protected the Golgi from fragmentation in an Akt-dependent fashion. This study demonstrates a new role for PINK1 as a primary upstream activator of Akt via PINK1 kinase-dependent regulation of its primary activator PI(3,4,5)P, providing novel mechanistic information on how loss of PINK1 impairs Akt signalling in PD.

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Journal of cell science, , 1477-9137, , 2019

PMID: 31540955

Targeting of early endosomes by autophagy facilitates EGFR recycling and signalling.
Fraser J, Simpson J, Fontana R, Kishi-Itakura C, Ktistakis NT, Gammoh N

Despite recently uncovered connections between autophagy and the endocytic pathway, the role of autophagy in regulating endosomal function remains incompletely understood. Here, we find that the ablation of autophagy-essential players disrupts EGF-induced endocytic trafficking of EGFR. Cells lacking ATG7 or ATG16L1 exhibit increased levels of phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate (PI(3)P), a key determinant of early endosome maturation. Increased PI(3)P levels are associated with an accumulation of EEA1-positive endosomes where EGFR trafficking is stalled. Aberrant early endosomes are recognised by the autophagy machinery in a TBK1- and Gal8-dependent manner and are delivered to LAMP2-positive lysosomes. Preventing this homeostatic regulation of early endosomes by autophagy reduces EGFR recycling to the plasma membrane and compromises downstream signalling and cell survival. Our findings uncover a novel role for the autophagy machinery in maintaining early endosome function and growth factor sensing.

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EMBO reports, , 1469-3178, e47734, 2019

PMID: 31448519

Open Access

Dosage compensation plans: protein aggregation provides additional insurance against aneuploidy.
Samant RS, Masto VB, Frydman J

Gene dosage alterations caused by aneuploidy are a common feature of most cancers yet pose severe proteotoxic challenges. Therefore, cells have evolved various dosage compensation mechanisms to limit the damage caused by the ensuing protein level imbalances. For instance, for heteromeric protein complexes, excess nonstoichiometric subunits are rapidly recognized and degraded. In this issue of , Brennan et al. (pp. 1031-1047) reveal that sequestration of nonstoichiometric subunits into aggregates is an alternative mechanism for dosage compensation in aneuploid budding yeast and human cell lines. Using a combination of proteomic and genetic techniques, they found that excess proteins undergo either degradation or aggregation but not both. Which route is preferred depends on the half-life of the protein in question. Given the multitude of diseases linked to either aneuploidy or protein aggregation, this study could serve as a springboard for future studies with broad-spanning implications.

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Genes & development, 33, 1549-5477, 1027-1030, 2019

PMID: 31371460

Selective Autophagy of Mitochondria on a Ubiquitin-Endoplasmic-Reticulum Platform.
Zachari M, Gudmundsson SR, Li Z, Manifava M, Shah R, Smith M, Stronge J, Karanasios E, Piunti C, Kishi-Itakura C, Vihinen H, Jokitalo E, Guan JL, Buss F, Smith AM, Walker SA, Eskelinen EL, Ktistakis NT

The dynamics and coordination between autophagy machinery and selective receptors during mitophagy are unknown. Also unknown is whether mitophagy depends on pre-existing membranes or is triggered on the surface of damaged mitochondria. Using a ubiquitin-dependent mitophagy inducer, the lactone ivermectin, we have combined genetic and imaging experiments to address these questions. Ubiquitination of mitochondrial fragments is required the earliest, followed by auto-phosphorylation of TBK1. Next, early essential autophagy proteins FIP200 and ATG13 act at different steps, whereas ULK1 and ULK2 are dispensable. Receptors act temporally and mechanistically upstream of ATG13 but downstream of FIP200. The VPS34 complex functions at the omegasome step. ATG13 and optineurin target mitochondria in a discontinuous oscillatory way, suggesting multiple initiation events. Targeted ubiquitinated mitochondria are cradled by endoplasmic reticulum (ER) strands even without functional autophagy machinery and mitophagy adaptors. We propose that damaged mitochondria are ubiquitinated and dynamically encased in ER strands, providing platforms for formation of the mitophagosomes.

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Developmental cell, , 1878-1551, , 2019

PMID: 31353311

Open Access

Autophagy, Inflammation, and Metabolism (AIM) Center in its second year.
Deretic V, Prossnitz E, Burge M, Campen MJ, Cannon J, Liu KJ, Liu M, Hall P, Sklar LA, Allers L, Mariscal L, Garcia SA, Weaver J, Baehrecke EH, Behrends C, Cecconi F, Codogno P, Chen GC, Elazar Z, Eskelinen EL, Fourie B, Gozuacik D, Hong W, Jo EK, Johansen T, Juhász G, Kimchi A, Ktistakis N, Kroemer G, Mizushima N, Münz C, Reggiori F, Rubinsztein D, Ryan K, Schroder K, Shen HM, Simonsen A, Tooze SA, Vaccaro M, Yoshimori T, Yu L, Zhang H, Klionsky DJ

The NIH-funded center for autophagy research named Autophagy, Inflammation, and Metabolism (AIM) Center of Biomedical Research Excellence, located at the University of New Mexico Health Science Center is now completing its second year as a working center with a mission to promote autophagy research locally, nationally, and internationally. The center has thus far supported a cadre of 6 junior faculty (mentored PIs; mPIs) at a near-R01 level of funding. Two mPIs have graduated by obtaining their independent R01 funding and 3 of the remaining 4 have won significant funding from NIH in the form of R21 and R56 awards. The first year and a half of setting up the center has been punctuated by completion of renovations and acquisition and upgrades for equipment supporting autophagy, inflammation and metabolism studies. The scientific cores usage, and the growth of new studies is promoted through pilot grants and several types of enablement initiatives. The intent to cultivate AIM as a scholarly hub for autophagy and related studies is manifested in its Vibrant Campus Initiative, and the Tuesday AIM Seminar series, as well as by hosting a major scientific event, the 2019 AIM symposium, with nearly one third of the faculty from the International Council of Affiliate Members being present and leading sessions, giving talks, and conducting workshop activities. These and other events are often videostreamed for a worldwide scientific audience, and information about events at AIM and elsewhere are disseminated on Twitter and can be followed on the AIM web site. AIM intends to invigorate research on overlapping areas between autophagy, inflammation and metabolism with a number of new initiatives to promote metabolomic research. With the turnover of mPIs as they obtain their independent funding, new junior faculty are recruited and appointed as mPIs. All these activities are in keeping with AIM's intention to enable the next generation of autophagy researchers and help anchor, disseminate, and convey the depth and excitement of the autophagy field.

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Autophagy, 15, 1554-8635, 1829-1833, 2019

PMID: 31234750

Identification of a novel orally bioavailable ERK5 inhibitor with selectivity over p38α and BRD4.
Myers SM, Miller DC, Molyneux L, Arasta M, Bawn RH, Blackburn TJ, Cook SJ, Edwards N, Endicott JA, Golding BT, Griffin RJ, Hammonds T, Hardcastle IR, Harnor SJ, Heptinstall AB, Lochhead PA, Martin MP, Martin NC, Newell DR, Owen PJ, Pang LC, Reuillon T, Rigoreau LJM, Thomas HD, Tucker JA, Wang LZ, Wong AC, Noble MEM, Wedge SR, Cano C

Extracellular regulated kinase 5 (ERK5) signalling has been implicated in driving a number of cellular phenotypes including endothelial cell angiogenesis and tumour cell motility. Novel ERK5 inhibitors were identified using high throughput screening, with a series of pyrrole-2-carboxamides substituted at the 4-position with an aroyl group being found to exhibit IC values in the micromolar range, but having no selectivity against p38α MAP kinase. Truncation of the N-substituent marginally enhanced potency (∼3-fold) against ERK5, but importantly attenuated inhibition of p38α. Systematic variation of the substituents on the aroyl group led to the selective inhibitor 4-(2-bromo-6-fluorobenzoyl)-N-(pyridin-3-yl)-1H-pyrrole-2-carboxamide (IC 0.82 μM for ERK5; IC > 120 μM for p38α). The crystal structure (PDB 5O7I) of this compound in complex with ERK5 has been solved. This compound was orally bioavailable and inhibited bFGF-driven Matrigel plug angiogenesis and tumour xenograft growth. The selective ERK5 inhibitor described herein provides a lead for further development into a tool compound for more extensive studies seeking to examine the role of ERK5 signalling in cancer and other diseases.

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European journal of medicinal chemistry, 178, 1768-3254, 530-543, 2019

PMID: 31212132

Vismodegib resistant mutations are not selected in multifocal relapses of locally advanced basal cell carcinoma after vismodegib discontinuation.
Ighilahriz M, Benfodda M, Sharpe H, Soufir N, Mourah S, Dumaz N, Battistella M, Savina A, Bouquet F, Nikolaev S, Basset-Seguin N

Hedgehog pathway inhibitors (HPI) inactivating SMO , have become first line treatment for patients with locally advanced BCC (laBCC). HPI safety and efficacy have been shown in clinical trials . Nevertheless, common adverse events lead to treatment discontinuation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV, , 1468-3083, , 2019

PMID: 31187903

Severe biallelic loss-of-function mutations in nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyltransferase 2 (NMNAT2) in two fetuses with fetal akinesia deformation sequence.
Lukacs M, Gilley J, Zhu Y, Orsomando G, Angeletti C, Liu J, Yang X, Park J, Hopkin RJ, Coleman MP, Zhai RG, Stottmann RW

The three nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyltransferase (NMNAT) family members synthesize the electron carrier nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and are essential for cellular metabolism. In mammalian axons, NMNAT activity appears to be required for axon survival and is predominantly provided by NMNAT2. NMNAT2 has recently been shown to also function as a chaperone to aid in the refolding of misfolded proteins. Nmnat2 deficiency in mice, or in its ortholog dNmnat in Drosophila, results in axon outgrowth and survival defects. Peripheral nerve axons in NMNAT2-deficient mice fail to extend and innervate targets, and skeletal muscle is severely underdeveloped. In addition, removing NMNAT2 from established axons initiates axon death by Wallerian degeneration. We report here on two stillborn siblings with fetal akinesia deformation sequence (FADS), severely reduced skeletal muscle mass and hydrops fetalis. Clinical exome sequencing identified compound heterozygous NMNAT2 variant alleles in both cases. Both protein variants are incapable of supporting axon survival in mouse primary neuron cultures when overexpressed. In vitro assays demonstrate altered protein stability and/or defects in NAD synthesis and chaperone functions. Thus, both patient NMNAT2 alleles are null or severely hypo-morphic. These data indicate a previously unknown role for NMNAT2 in human neurological development and provide the first direct molecular evidence to support the involvement of Wallerian degeneration in a human axonal disorder. SIGNIFICANCE: Nicotinamide Mononucleotide Adenylyltransferase 2 (NMNAT2) both synthesizes the electron carrier Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD) and acts a protein chaperone. NMNAT2 has emerged as a major neuron survival factor. Overexpression of NMNAT2 protects neurons from Wallerian degeneration after injury and declining levels of NMNAT2 have been implicated in neurodegeneration. While the role of NMNAT2 in neurodegeneration has been extensively studied, the role of NMNAT2 in human development remains unclear. In this work, we present the first human variants in NMNAT2 identified in two fetuses with severe skeletal muscle hypoplasia and fetal akinesia. Functional studies in vitro showed that the mutations impair both NMNAT2 NAD synthase and chaperone functions. This work identifies the critical role of NMNAT2 in human development.

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Experimental neurology, 320, 1090-2430, 112961, 2019

PMID: 31136762

Homozygous NMNAT2 mutation in sisters with polyneuropathy and erythromelalgia.
Huppke P, Wegener E, Gilley J, Angeletti C, Kurth I, Drenth JPH, Stadelmann C, Barrantes-Freer A, Brück W, Thiele H, Nürnberg P, Gärtner J, Orsomando G, Coleman MP

We identified a homozygous missense mutation in the gene encoding NAD synthesizing enzyme NMNAT2 in two siblings with childhood onset polyneuropathy with erythromelalgia. No additional homozygotes for this rare allele, which leads to amino acid substitution T94M, were present among the unaffected relatives tested or in the 60,000 exomes of the ExAC database. For axons to survive, axonal NMNAT2 activity has to be maintained above a threshold level but the T94M mutation confers a partial loss of function both in the ability of NMNAT2 to support axon survival and in its enzymatic properties. Electrophysiological tests and histological analysis of sural nerve biopsies in the patients were consistent with loss of distal sensory and motor axons. Thus, it is likely that NMNAT2 mutation causes this pain and axon loss phenotype making this the first disorder associated with mutation of a key regulator of Wallerian-like axon degeneration in humans. This supports indications from numerous animal studies that the Wallerian degeneration pathway is important in human disease and raises important questions about which other human phenotypes could be linked to this gene.

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Experimental neurology, 320, 1090-2430, 112958, 2019

PMID: 31132363

Who plays the ferryman: ATG2 channels lipids into the forming autophagosome.
Ktistakis NT

Expansion of the autophagosomal membrane requires a mechanism to supply lipids while excluding most membrane proteins. In this issue, Valverde et al. (2019. https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.201811139) identify ATG2, a member of the autophagy-related protein family, as a lipid transfer protein and provide important novel insights on how autophagosomes grow.

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The Journal of cell biology, , 1540-8140, , 2019

PMID: 31076453

MEK1/2 inhibitor withdrawal reverses acquired resistance driven by BRAF amplification whereas KRAS amplification promotes EMT-chemoresistance.
Sale MJ, Balmanno K, Saxena J, Ozono E, Wojdyla K, McIntyre RE, Gilley R, Woroniuk A, Howarth KD, Hughes G, Dry JR, Arends MJ, Caro P, Oxley D, Ashton S, Adams DJ, Saez-Rodriguez J, Smith PD, Cook SJ

Acquired resistance to MEK1/2 inhibitors (MEKi) arises through amplification of BRAF or KRAS to reinstate ERK1/2 signalling. Here we show that BRAF amplification and MEKi resistance are reversible following drug withdrawal. Cells with BRAF amplification are addicted to MEKi to maintain a precise level of ERK1/2 signalling that is optimal for cell proliferation and survival, and tumour growth in vivo. Robust ERK1/2 activation following MEKi withdrawal drives a p57-dependent G1 cell cycle arrest and senescence or expression of NOXA and cell death, selecting against those cells with amplified BRAF. p57 expression is required for loss of BRAF amplification and reversal of MEKi resistance. Thus, BRAF amplification confers a selective disadvantage during drug withdrawal, validating intermittent dosing to forestall resistance. In contrast, resistance driven by KRAS amplification is not reversible; rather ERK1/2 hyperactivation drives ZEB1-dependent epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and chemoresistance, arguing strongly against the use of drug holidays in cases of KRAS amplification.

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Nature communications, 10, 2041-1723, 2030, 2019

PMID: 31048689

Macropinocytosis and autophagy crosstalk in nutrient scavenging.
Florey O, Overholtzer M

Adaptive strategies used by cells to scavenge and recycle essential nutrients are important for survival in nutrient-depleted environments such as cancer tissues. Autophagy and macropinocytosis are two major mechanisms that promote nutrient recycling and scavenging, which share considerable, yet poorly understood, cross-regulation. Here we review recent findings that connect these starvation response mechanisms and discuss the implications of their crosstalk. This article is part of the Theo Murphy meeting issue 'Macropinocytosis'.

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Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 374, 1471-2970, 20180154, 2019

PMID: 30967004

Open Access

The homophilic receptor PTPRK selectively dephosphorylates multiple junctional regulators to promote cell-cell adhesion.
Fearnley GW, Young KA, Edgar JR, Antrobus R, Hay IM, Liang WC, Martinez-Martin N, Lin W, Deane JE, Sharpe HJ

Cell-cell communication in multicellular organisms depends on the dynamic and reversible phosphorylation of protein tyrosine residues. The receptor-linked protein tyrosine phosphatases (RPTPs) receive cues from the extracellular environment and are well placed to influence cell signaling. However, the direct events downstream of these receptors have been challenging to resolve. We report here that the homophilic receptor PTPRK is stabilized at cell-cell contacts in epithelial cells. By combining interaction studies, quantitative tyrosine phosphoproteomics, proximity labeling and dephosphorylation assays we identify high confidence PTPRK substrates. PTPRK directly and selectively dephosphorylates at least five substrates, including Afadin, PARD3 and δ-catenin family members, which are all important cell-cell adhesion regulators. In line with this, loss of PTPRK phosphatase activity leads to disrupted cell junctions and increased invasive characteristics. Thus, identifying PTPRK substrates provides insight into its downstream signaling and a potential molecular explanation for its proposed tumor suppressor function.

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eLife, 8, 2050-084X, , 2019

PMID: 30924770

Open Access

Methods for measuring misfolded protein clearance in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Samant RS, Frydman J

Protein misfolding in the cell is linked to an array of diseases, including cancers, cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and numerous neurodegenerative disorders. Therefore, investigating cellular pathways by which misfolded proteins are trafficked and cleared ("protein quality control") is of both mechanistic and therapeutic importance. The clearance of most misfolded proteins involves the covalent attachment of one or more ubiquitin molecules; however, the precise fate of the ubiquitinated protein varies greatly, depending on the linkages present in the ubiquitin chain. Here, we discuss approaches for quantifying linkage-specific ubiquitination and clearance of misfolded proteins in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae-a model organism used extensively for interrogation of protein quality control pathways, but which presents its own unique challenges for cell and molecular biology experiments. We present a fluorescence microscopy-based assay for monitoring the clearance of misfolded protein puncta, a cycloheximide-chase assay for calculating misfolded protein half-life, and two antibody-based methods for quantifying specific ubiquitin linkages on tagged misfolded proteins, including a 96-well plate-based ELISA. We hope these methods will be of use to the protein quality control, protein degradation, and ubiquitin biology communities.

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Methods in enzymology, 619, 1557-7988, 27-45, 2019

PMID: 30910025

Entosis Controls a Developmental Cell Clearance in C. elegans.
Lee Y, Hamann JC, Pellegrino M, Durgan J, Domart MC, Collinson LM, Haynes CM, Florey O, Overholtzer M

Metazoan cell death mechanisms are diverse and include numerous non-apoptotic programs. One program called entosis involves the invasion of live cells into their neighbors and is known to occur in cancers. Here, we identify a developmental function for entosis: to clear the male-specific linker cell in C. elegans. The linker cell leads migration to shape the gonad and is removed to facilitate fusion of the gonad to the cloaca. We find that the linker cell is cleared in a manner involving cell-cell adhesions and cell-autonomous control of uptake through linker cell actin. Linker cell entosis generates a lobe structure that is deposited at the site of gonad-to-cloaca fusion and is removed during mating. Inhibition of lobe scission inhibits linker cell death, demonstrating that the linker cell invades its host while alive. Our findings demonstrate a developmental function for entosis: to eliminate a migrating cell and facilitate gonad-to-cloaca fusion, which is required for fertility.

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Cell reports, 26, 2211-1247, 3212-3220.e4, 2019

PMID: 30893595

Open Access

ER platforms mediating autophagosome generation.
Ktistakis NT

The origin of the autophagosomal membrane started to be debated by scientists working in the field within one year of the modern definition of autophagy in 1963. There is now converging evidence from older and newer studies that the endoplasmic reticulum is involved in formation of autophagosomes. Thus, it is possible to trace from early morphological work - done without the benefit of molecular descriptions - to recent studies - dissecting how specific proteins nucleate autophagosome biogenesis - a long series of experimental findings that are beginning to answer the 55-year old question with some confidence. The view that has emerged is that specialised regions of the endoplasmic reticulum, in dynamic cross talk with most intracellular organelles via membrane contact sites, provide a platform for autophagosome biogenesis.

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Biochimica et biophysica acta. Molecular and cell biology of lipids, , 1879-2618, , 2019

PMID: 30890442

Phosphorylation of Syntaxin 17 by TBK1 Controls Autophagy Initiation.
Kumar S, Gu Y, Abudu YP, Bruun JA, Jain A, Farzam F, Mudd M, Anonsen JH, Rusten TE, Kasof G, Ktistakis N, Lidke KA, Johansen T, Deretic V

Syntaxin 17 (Stx17) has been implicated in autophagosome-lysosome fusion. Here, we report that Stx17 functions in assembly of protein complexes during autophagy initiation. Stx17 is phosphorylated by TBK1 whereby phospho-Stx17 controls the formation of the ATG13FIP200 mammalian pre-autophagosomal structure (mPAS) in response to induction of autophagy. TBK1 phosphorylates Stx17 at S202. During autophagy induction, Stx17 transfers from the Golgi, where its steady-state pools localize, to the ATG13FIP200 mPAS. Stx17 was in complexes with ATG13 and FIP200, whereas its non-phosphorylatable mutant Stx17 was not. Stx17 or TBK1 knockouts blocked ATG13 and FIP200 puncta formation. Stx17 or TBK1 knockouts reduced the formation of ATG13 protein complexes with FIP200 and ULK1. Endogenous Stx17 colocalized with LC3B following induction of autophagy. Stx17 knockout diminished LC3 response and reduced sequestration of the prototypical bulk autophagy cargo lactate dehydrogenase. We conclude that Stx17 is a TBK1 substrate and that together they orchestrate assembly of mPAS.

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Developmental cell, , 1878-1551, , 2019

PMID: 30827897

Frontline Science: TNF-α and GM-CSF1 priming augments the role of SOS1/2 in driving activation of Ras, PI3K-γ, and neutrophil proinflammatory responses.
Suire S, Baltanas FC, Segonds-Pichon A, Davidson K, Santos E, Hawkins PT, Stephens LR

Circulating neutrophils are, by necessity, quiescent and relatively unresponsive to acute stimuli. In regions of inflammation, mediators can prime neutrophils to react to acute stimuli with stronger proinflammatory, pathogen-killing responses. In neutrophils G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)-driven proinflammatory responses, such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation and accumulation of the key intracellular messenger phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate (PIP ), are highly dependent on PI3K-γ, a Ras-GTP, and Gβγ coincidence detector. In unprimed cells, the major GPCR-triggered activator of Ras is the Ras guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF), Ras guanine nucleotide releasing protein 4 (RasGRP4). Although priming is known to increase GPCR-PIP signaling, the mechanisms underlying this augmentation remain unclear. We used genetically modified mice to address the role of the 2 RasGEFs, RasGRP4 and son of sevenless (SOS)1/2, in neutrophil priming. We found that following GM-CSF/TNFα priming, RasGRP4 had only a minor role in the enhanced responses. In contrast, SOS1/2 acquired a substantial role in ROS formation, PIP accumulation, and ERK activation in primed cells. These results suggest that SOS1/2 signaling plays a key role in determining the responsiveness of neutrophils in regions of inflammation.

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Journal of leukocyte biology, , 1938-3673, , 2019

PMID: 30720883

Open Access