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[en] Highlights: • Low levels Atg7 lead to reduced autophagic flux in S. Cerevisiae. • Low levels of Atg7 lead to the formation of fewer and smaller autophagosomes. • A refined simulation improves estimates of autophagic body number from TEM images. The induction of bulk autophagy by nitrogen starvation in baker's yeast (S. cerevisiae) involves the upregulation of many autophagy related proteins, including Atg7. One way to investigate the importance of this upregulation is to measure the size and number of autophagosomes formed when insufficient amounts of that protein are available. Atg8 is known to affect autophagosome size, consistent with its role in phagophore expansion. Atg7 is upstream of Atg8, and might therefore be expected to affect only autophagosome size. We used electron microscopy to measure the size and number of autophagosomes formed with limiting amounts of Atg7 and found them to be both smaller and fewer than normal. This suggests that Atg7 may have an Atg8-independent role in autophagosome initiation in addition to its Atg8-dependent role in autophagosome expansion. We also present an improved simulation for estimating original autophagic body number based on the number of cross-sections observed in ultrathin sections.
[en] Highlights: • The microvillus formation was decreased in occludin knockout cells. • Phosphorylation of ezrin was decreased in occludin knockout cells. • The microvillus formation were increased by transfection of occludin. • Phosphorylation of ezrin was increased by transfection of occludin. Apical and basolateral cell membranes are separated by tight junctions (TJs). Microvilli are limited to the apical cell membrane. TJs and microvilli are the landmarks for epithelial cell polarity. However, the direct relationship between TJ proteins (TJPs) and the components of microvilli remains unclear. In this study, we investigated whether occludin, which is considered to be a functional TJP, is involved in microvillus formation. In occludin knockout mouse hepatic cells (OcKO cells), the microvillus density was less than that in wild-type (WT) cells and the length of microvilli was short. Immunoreactivity of ezrin was decreased in OcKO cells compared with that in WT cells. Although there was no change in the expression level of ezrin, phosphorylation of ezrin was decreased in OcKO cells. The microvillus density and the length of microvilli were increased in OcKO cells by transfection of full-length mouse occludin and COOH-terminal domains of occludin. These results suggested that occludin induced microvillus formation via phosphorylation of ezrin and that the COOH-terminal domain of occludin, which is localized in non-TJ areas, might be able to induce microvilli formation. Our results provide new insights into the function of occludin.
[en] Coronaviruses (CoVs) can cause life-threatening respiratory diseases. Their infectious entry requires viral spike (S) proteins, which attach to cell receptors, undergo proteolytic cleavage, and then refold in a process that catalyzes virus-cell membrane fusion. Fusion-inhibiting peptides bind to S proteins, interfere with refolding, and prevent infection. Here we conjugated fusion-inhibiting peptides to various lipids, expecting this to secure peptides onto cell membranes and thereby increase antiviral potencies. Cholesterol or palmitate adducts increased antiviral potencies up to 1000-fold. Antiviral effects were evident after S proteolytic cleavage, implying that lipid conjugates affixed the peptides at sites of protease-triggered fusion activation. Unlike lipid-free peptides, the lipopeptides suppressed CoV S protein-directed virus entry taking place within endosomes. Cell imaging revealed intracellular peptide aggregates, consistent with their endocytosis into compartments where CoV entry takes place. These findings suggest that lipidations localize antiviral peptides to protease-rich sites of CoV fusion, thereby protecting cells from diverse CoVs. - Graphical abstract: Early and late CoV entry is depicted as virus-cell fusion at cell surfaces and endosomes, respectively. Scissors represent virus-activating proteases. The HR2 peptides are in green, with lipid-free peptides as monomers (middle panel) and lipopeptides as micellar aggregates (right panel). - Highlights: • Lipidation increases antiviral activities of CoV fusion-inhibiting peptides. • Fusion-inhibiting peptides target proteolytically-triggered CoV spike proteins. • Lipidated peptides suppress CoVs that are occluded within endosomes before cytosolic entry.
[en] Highlights: • The polychaete O. undecimdonta uses a luciferin-luciferase bioluminescence system. • O. undecimdonta bioluminescence does not require additional cofactors. • The luciferase of the Japanese fireworm is 329 amino acids long. • Recombinant luciferase is not secreted when expressed in human cells. • Exogenous luciferin does not seem to penetrate cell membranes-only lysate luminesces. Odontosyllis undecimdonta is a marine syllid polychaete that produces bright internal and exuded bioluminescence. Despite over fifty years of biochemical investigation into Odontosyllis bioluminescence, the light-emitting small molecule substrate and catalyzing luciferase protein have remained a mystery. Here we describe the discovery of a bioluminescent protein fraction from O. undecimdonta, the identification of the luciferase using peptide and RNA sequencing, and the in vitro reconstruction of the bioluminescence reaction using highly purified O. undecimdonta luciferin and recombinant luciferase. Lastly, we found no identifiably homologous proteins in publicly available datasets. This suggests that the syllid polychaetes contain an evolutionarily unique luciferase among all characterized luminous taxa.
[en] The membrane-spanning domain (MSD) of human immunodeficiency virus type I (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein (Env) is critical for its biological activity. Initial studies have defined an almost invariant 'core' structure in the MSD and demonstrated that it is crucial for anchoring Env in the membrane and virus entry. We show here that amino acid substitutions in the MSD 'core' do not influence specific virus-cell attachment, nor CD4 receptor and CXCR4 coreceptor recognition by Env. However, substitutions within the MSD 'core' delayed the kinetics and reduced the efficiency of cell-cell fusion mediated by Env. Although we observed no evidence that membrane fusion mediated by the MSD core mutants was arrested at a hemifusion stage, impaired Env fusogenicity was correlated with minor conformational changes in the V2, C1, and C5 regions in gp120 and the immunodominant loop in gp41. These changes could delay initiation of the conformational changes required in the fusion process.
[en] Highlights: • Cx43 distinctly forms gap junctions and hemichannels (HCs) in human skin and gingiva. • Compared to human gingival fibroblasts, skin fibroblasts contained few Cx43 HCs. • Cx43 distinctly regulates gene expression in human gingival and skin fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are the most abundant connective tissue cells and play an important role in wound healing. It is possible that faster and scarless wound healing in oral mucosal gingiva relative to skin may relate to the distinct phenotype of the fibroblasts residing in these tissues. Connexin 43 (Cx43) is the most ubiquitous Cx in skin (SFBLs) and gingival fibroblasts (GFBLs), and assembles into hemichannels (HCs) and gap junctions (GJs) on the cell membrane. We hypothesized that SFBLs and GFBLs display distinct expression or function of Cx43, and that this may partly underlie the different wound healing outcomes in skin and gingiva. Here we show that Cx43 distinctly formed Cx43 GJs and HCs in human skin and gingiva in vivo. However, in SFBLs, in contrast to GFBLs, only a small proportion of total Cx43 assembled into HC plaques. Using an in vivo-like 3D culture model, we further show that the GJ, HC, and channel-independent functions of Cx43 distinctly regulated wound healing-related gene expression in GFBLs and SFBLs. Therefore, the distinct wound healing outcomes in skin and gingiva may partly relate to the inherently different assembly and function of Cx43 in the resident fibroblasts.
[en] Highlights: • Fibronectin can polymerize into amyloid-like aggregates. • Fibronectin amyloid-like aggregates promote a sparsed cell migration. • The supramolecular state of fibronectin could fine-tune cell phenotype. Fibronectin (Fn) is an extracellular matrix (ECM) multifunctional glycoprotein essential for regulating cells behaviors. Within ECM, Fn is found as polymerized fibrils. Apart from fibrils, Fn could also form other kind of supramolecular assemblies such as aggregates. To gain insight into the impact of Fn aggregates on cell behavior, we generated several Fn oligomeric assemblies. These assemblies displayed various amyloid-like properties but were not cytotoxic. In presence of the more amyloid-like structured assemblies of Fn, the cell-ECM networks were altered and the cell shapes shifted toward extended mesenchymal morphologies. Additionnaly, the Fn amyloid-like aggregates promoted a single-cell and sparsed migration of SKOV3 cancer cells, which was associated with a relocalization of αv integrins from plasma membrane to perinuclear vesicles. These data pointed out that the features of supramolecular Fn assemblies could represent a higher level of fine-tuning cell phenotype, and especially migration of cancer cells.
[en] Certain short polycations, such as TAT and polyarginine, rapidly pass through the plasma membranes of mammalian cells by an unknown mechanism called transduction as well as by endocytosis and macropinocytosis. These cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) promise to be medically useful when fused to biologically active peptides. I offer a simple model in which one or more CPPs and the phosphatidylserines of the inner leaflet form a kind of capacitor with a voltage in excess of about 200 mV, high enough to create a molecular electropore. The model is consistent with an empirical upper limit on the cargo peptide of 40–60 amino acids and with experimental data on how the transduction of a polyarginine-fluorophore into mouse C2C12 myoblasts depends on the number of arginines in the CPP and on the CPP concentration. The model makes three testable predictions