Lamins are intermediate filament proteins that form a scaffold, termed nuclear lamina, at the nuclear periphery. A small fraction of lamins also localize throughout the nucleoplasm. Lamins bind to a growing number of nuclear protein complexes and are implicated in both nuclear and cytoskeletal organization, mechanical stability, chromatin organization, gene regulation, genome stability, differentiation, and tissue-specific functions. The laminbased complexes and their specific functions also provide insights into possible disease mechanisms for human laminopathies, ranging from muscular dystrophy to accelerated aging, as observed in Hutchinson-Gilford progeria and atypical Werner syndromes. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Biochemistry Volume 84 is June 02, 2015. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.
Lamins are nuclear intermediate filament (IF) proteins. They assemble to fibrous structures that are positioned between the inner nuclear membrane and the peripheral chromatin. A small fraction of lamins is also present in the nucleoplasm. Lamins are required to maintain the nuclear structure and, together with their associated proteins, are involved in most nuclear activities. Mutations in lamins cause >14 distinct diseases, called laminopathies, that include heart, muscle, fat and early aging diseases. However, it is not clear how lamins are organized in vivo and how the disease mutations affect lamin organization and functions. Here, we will review structural aspects of lamin assembly, discuss differences between peripheral and nucleoplasmic lamins and describe the protein complexes that lamins form.
This article discusses three reviews on the theme of nuclear organization. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Biochemistry Volume 84 is June 02, 2015. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.
Barrier to autointegration factor (BAF) is an essential component of the nuclear lamina that binds lamins, LEM-domain proteins, histones, and DNA. Under normal conditions, BAF protein is highly mobile when assayed by fluorescence recovery after photobleaching and fluorescence loss in photobleaching. We report that Caenorhabditis elegans BAF-1 mobility is regulated by caloric restriction, food deprivation, and heat shock. This was not a general response of chromatin-associated proteins, as food deprivation did not affect the mobility of heterochromatin protein HPL-1 or HPL-2. Heat shock also increased the level of BAF-1 Ser-4 phosphorylation. By using missense mutations that affect BAF-1 binding to different partners we find that, overall, the ability of BAF-1 mutants to be immobilized by heat shock in intestinal cells correlated with normal or increased affinity for emerin in vitro. These results show BAF-1 localization and mobility at the nuclear lamina are regulated by stress and unexpectedly reveal BAF-1 immobilization as a specific response to caloric restriction in C. elegans intestinal cells.
In humans the superfamily of intermediate filament (IF) proteins is encoded by more than 70 different genes, which are expressed in a cell- and tissue-specific manner. IFs assemble into approximately 10 nm-wide filaments that account for the principal structural elements at the nuclear periphery, nucleoplasm, and cytoplasm. They are also required for organizing the microtubule and microfilament networks. In this review, we focus on the dynamics of IFs and how modifications regulate it. We also discuss the role of nuclear IF organization in determining nuclear mechanics as well as that of cytoplasmic IFs organization in maintaining cell stiffness, formation of lamellipodia, regulation of cell migration, and permitting cell adhesion.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an important molecule in cell metabolism. It is also a byproduct of many physiological processes. In humans, impaired lung function and lung diseases disrupt the body's ability to dispose of CO2 and elevate its levels in the body (hypercapnia). Animal models allow further understanding of how CO2 is sensed in the body and what are the physiological responses to high CO2 levels. This information can provide new strategies in the battle against the detrimental effects of CO2 accumulation in lung diseases. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans provides us with such a model animal due to its natural ability to sense and navigate through varying concentrations of CO2, as well as the fact that it can be genetically manipulated with ease. Here we describe the different methods used to measure the effects elevated levels of CO2 have on the molecular sensing mechanism and physiology of C. elegans.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a key molecule in many biological processes; however, mechanisms by which organisms sense and respond to high CO2 levels remain largely unknown. Here we report that acute CO2 exposure leads to a rapid cessation in the contraction of the pharynx muscles in Caenorhabditis elegans. To uncover the molecular mechanisms underlying this response, we performed a forward genetic screen and found that hid-1, a key component in neuropeptide signaling, regulates this inhibition in muscle contraction. Surprisingly, we found that this hid-1-mediated pathway is independent of any previously known pathways controlling CO2 avoidance and oxygen sensing. In addition, animals with mutations in unc-31 and egl-21 (neuropeptide secretion and maturation components) show impaired inhibition of muscle contraction following acute exposure to high CO2 levels, in further support of our findings. Interestingly, the observed response in the pharynx muscle requires the BAG neurons, which also mediate CO2 avoidance. This novel hid-1-mediated pathway sheds new light on the physiological effects of high CO2 levels on animals at the organism-wide level.
Lamins are nuclear intermediate filament proteins that are conserved in all multicellular animals. Proteins that resemble lamins are also found in unicellular organisms and in plants. Lamins form a proteinaceous meshwork that outlines the nucleoplasmic side of the inner nuclear membrane, while a small fraction of lamin molecules is also present in the nucleoplasm. They provide structural support for the nucleus and help regulate many other nuclear activities. Much of our knowledge on the function of nuclear lamins and their associated proteins comes from studies in invertebrate organisms and specifically in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. The simpler lamin system and the powerful genetic tools offered by these model organisms greatly promote such studies. Here we provide an overview of recent advances in the biology of invertebrate nuclear lamins, with special emphasis on their assembly, cellular functions and as models for studying the molecular basis underlying the pathology of human heritable diseases caused by mutations in lamins A/C.
Lamins are nuclear intermediate filaments. In addition to their structural roles, they are implicated in basic nuclear functions such as chromatin organization, DNA replication, transcription, DNA repair, and cell-cycle progression. Mutations in human LMNA gene cause several diseases termed laminopathies. One of the laminopathic diseases is Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS), which is caused by a spontaneous mutation and characterized by premature aging. HGPS phenotypes share certain similarities with several apparently comparable medical conditions, such as aging and atherosclerosis, with the conspicuous absence of neuronal degeneration and cancer rarity during the short lifespan of the patients. Cell lines from HGPS patients are characterized by multiple nuclear defects, which include abnormal morphology, altered histone modification patterns, and increased DNA damage. These cell lines provide insight into the molecular pathways including senescence that require lamins A and B1. Here, we review recent data on HGPS phenotypes through the lens of transcriptional deregulation caused by lack of functional lamin A, progerin accumulation, and lamin B1 silencing.
Emerin and LEM2 are ubiquitous inner nuclear membrane proteins conserved from humans to Caenorhabditis elegans. Loss of human emerin causes Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD). To test the roles of emerin and LEM2 in somatic cells, we used null alleles of both genes to generate C. elegans animals that were either hypomorphic (LEM-2-null and heterozygous for Ce-emerin) or null for both proteins. Single-null and hypomorphic animals were viable and fertile. Double-null animals used the maternal pool of Ce-emerin to develop to the larval L2 stage, then arrested. Nondividing somatic cell nuclei appeared normal, whereas dividing cells had abnormal nuclear envelope and chromatin organization and severe defects in postembryonic cell divisions, including the mesodermal lineage. Life span was unaffected by loss of Ce-emerin alone but was significantly reduced in LEM-2-null animals, and double-null animals had an even shorter life span. In addition to striated muscle defects, double-null animals and LEM-2-null animals showed unexpected defects in smooth muscle activity. These findings implicate human LEM2 mutations as a potential cause of EDMD and further suggest human LEM2 mutations might cause distinct disorders of greater severity, since C. elegans lacking only LEM-2 had significantly reduced life span and smooth muscle activity.
Elevated CO(2) levels (hypercapnia) occur in patients with respiratory diseases and impair alveolar epithelial integrity, in part, by inhibiting Na,K-ATPase function. Here, we examined the role of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) in CO(2) signaling in mammalian alveolar epithelial cells as well as in diptera, nematodes and rodent lungs. In alveolar epithelial cells, elevated CO(2) levels rapidly induced activation of JNK leading to downregulation of Na,K-ATPase and alveolar epithelial dysfunction. Hypercapnia-induced activation of JNK required AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and protein kinase C-ζ leading to subsequent phosphorylation of JNK at Ser-129. Importantly, elevated CO(2) levels also caused a rapid and prominent activation of JNK in Drosophila S2 cells and in C. elegans. Paralleling the results with mammalian epithelial cells, RNAi against Drosophila JNK fully prevented CO(2)-induced downregulation of Na,K-ATPase in Drosophila S2 cells. The importance and specificity of JNK CO(2) signaling was additionally demonstrated by the ability of mutations in the C. elegans JNK homologs, jnk-1 and kgb-2 to partially rescue the hypercapnia-induced fertility defects but not the pharyngeal pumping defects. Together, these data provide evidence that deleterious effects of hypercapnia are mediated by JNK which plays an evolutionary conserved, specific role in CO(2) signaling in mammals, diptera and nematodes.
Lamins are the major components of the nuclear lamina, a filamentous layer underlying the inner nuclear membrane and attached to the peripheral chromatin. Lamins are required for maintaining nuclear shape and are involved in most nuclear activities. Here, we studied the 3D organization of the nuclear lamina formed upon the expression of Caenorhabditis elegans lamin (Ce-lamin) within the nucleus of a Xenopus laevis oocyte. We show that Ce-lamin forms an intricate 3D meshwork of 5-6 nm lamin protofilaments. The diverse protofilament interactions and organization may shed light upon the unique mechano-elastic properties of the nuclear lamina scaffold supporting the nuclear envelope. The Q159K Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome-linked mutation alters interactions between protofilaments within the lamina, leading to the formation of more bundled arrays of less isotropically-oriented protofilaments. Using this system, we show for the first time the organization of lamin proteins that were translated and assembled within the environment of a living cell.
The small nematode Caenorhabditis elegans displays a spectrum of DNA damage responses similar to humans. In order to identify new DNA damage response genes, we isolated in a forward genetic screen 14 new mutations conferring hypersensitivity to ionizing radiation. We present here our characterization of lem-3, one of the genes identified in this screen. LEM-3 contains a LEM domain and a GIY nuclease domain. We confirm that LEM-3 has DNase activity in vitro. lem-3(lf) mutants are hypersensitive to various types of DNA damage, including ionizing radiation, UV-C light and crosslinking agents. Embryos from irradiated lem-3 hermaphrodites displayed severe defects during cell division, including chromosome mis-segregation and anaphase bridges. The mitotic defects observed in irradiated lem-3 mutant embryos are similar to those found in baf-1 (barrier-to-autointegration factor) mutants. The baf-1 gene codes for an essential and highly conserved protein known to interact with the other two C. elegans LEM domain proteins, LEM-2 and EMR-1. We show that baf-1, lem-2, and emr-1 mutants are also hypersensitive to DNA damage and that loss of lem-3 sensitizes baf-1 mutants even in the absence of DNA damage. Our data suggest that BAF-1, together with the LEM domain proteins, plays an important role following DNA damage - possibly by promoting the reorganization of damaged chromatin.
The nuclear lamina is a major structural element of the nucleus and is predominately composed of the intermediate filament lamin proteins. Missense mutations in the human lamins A/C cause a family of laminopathic diseases, with no known mechanistic link between the position of the mutation and the resulting disease phenotypes. The Caenorhabditis elegans lamin (Ce-lamin) is structurally and functionally homologous to human lamins, and recent advances have allowed detailed structural analysis of Ce-lamin filaments both in vitro and in vivo. Here, we studied the effect of laminopathic mutations on Ce-lamin filament assembly in vitro and the corresponding physiological phenotypes in animals. We focused on three disease-linked mutations, Q159K, T164P, and L535P, which have previously been shown to affect lamin structure and nuclear localization. Mutations prevented the proper assembly of Ce-lamin into filament and/or paracrystalline arrays. Disease-like phenotypes were observed in strains expressing low levels of these mutant lamins, including decreased fertility and motility coincident with muscle lesions. In addition, the Q159K- and T164P-expressing strains showed a reduced lifespan. Thus, different disease-linked mutations in Ce-lamin exhibit major effects in vivo and in vitro. Using C. elegans as a model system, a comprehensive analysis of the effects of specific lamin mutations from the level of in vitro filament assembly to the physiology of the organism will help uncover the mechanistic differences between these different lamin mutations.
Lamins are nuclear intermediate filament proteins. They provide mechanical stability, organize chromatin and regulate transcription, replication, nuclear assembly and nuclear positioning. Recent studies provide new insights into the role of lamins in development, differentiation and tissue response to mechanical, reactive oxygen species and thermal stresses. These studies also propose the existence of separate filament networks for A- and B-type lamins and identify new roles for the different networks. Furthermore, they show changes in lamin composition in different cell types, propose explanations for the more than 14 distinct human diseases caused by lamin A and lamin C mutations and propose a role for lamin B1 in these diseases.
Mutations in the human LMNA gene underlie many laminopathic diseases, including Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD); however, a mechanistic link between the effect of mutations on lamin filament assembly and disease phenotypes has not been established. We studied the ΔK46 Caenorhabditis elegans lamin mutant, corresponding to EDMD-linked ΔK32 in human lamins A and C. Cryo-electron tomography of lamin ΔK46 filaments in vitro revealed alterations in the lateral assembly of dimeric head-to-tail polymers, which causes abnormal organization of tetrameric protofilaments. Green fluorescent protein (GFP):ΔK46 lamin expressed in C. elegans was found in nuclear aggregates in postembryonic stages along with LEM-2. GFP:ΔK46 also caused mislocalization of emerin away from the nuclear periphery, consistent with a decreased ability of purified emerin to associate with lamin ΔK46 filaments in vitro. GFP:ΔK46 animals had motility defects and muscle structure abnormalities. These results show that changes in lamin filament structure can translate into disease-like phenotypes via altering the localization of nuclear lamina proteins, and suggest a model for how the ΔK32 lamin mutation may cause EDMD in humans.
The nuclear lamina is a protein-rich network located directly underneath the inner nuclear membrane of metazoan nuclei. The components of the nuclear lamina have been implicated in nearly all nuclear functions; therefore, understanding the structural, mechanical, and signal transducing properties of these proteins is crucial. In addition, mutations in many of these proteins cause a wide range of human diseases, the laminopathies. The structure, function, and interaction of the lamina proteins are conserved among metazoans, emphasizing their fundamental roles in the nucleus. Several of the advances in the field of the nuclear lamina have come from studies performed in Caenorhabditis elegans or on C. elegans proteins expressed in vitro. Here, we discuss the current knowledge about the nuclear lamina, including an overview of the technical tools offered by C. elegans that make it a powerful model organism for the study of the nuclear lamina and laminopathic diseases.
BACKGROUND: In worms, as in other organisms, many tissue-specific promoters are sequestered at the nuclear periphery when repressed and shift inward when activated. It has remained unresolved, however, whether the association of facultative heterochromatin with the nuclear periphery, or its release, has functional relevance for cell or tissue integrity.
RESULTS: Using ablation of the unique lamin gene in C. elegans, we show that lamin is necessary for the perinuclear positioning of heterochromatin. We then express at low levels in otherwise wild-type worms a lamin carrying a point mutation, Y59C, which in humans is linked to an autosomal-dominant form of Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy. Using embryos and differentiated tissues, we track the subnuclear position of integrated heterochromatic arrays and their expression. In LMN-1 Y59C-expressing worms, we see abnormal retention at the nuclear envelope of a gene array bearing a muscle-specific promoter. This correlates with impaired activation of the array-borne myo-3 promoter and altered expression of a number of muscle-specific genes. However, an equivalent array carrying the intestine-specific pha-4 promoter is expressed normally and shifts inward when activated in gut cells of LMN-1 Y59C worms. Remarkably, adult LMN-1 Y59C animals have selectively perturbed body muscle ultrastructure and reduced muscle function.
CONCLUSION: Lamin helps sequester heterochromatin at the nuclear envelope, and wild-type lamin permits promoter release following tissue-specific activation. A disease-linked point mutation in lamin impairs muscle-specific reorganization of a heterochromatic array during tissue-specific promoter activation in a dominant manner. This dominance and the correlated muscle dysfunction in LMN-1 Y59C worms phenocopies Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy.
In metazoan cells, the heterochromatin is generally localized at the nuclear periphery, whereas active genes are preferentially found in the nuclear interior. In the present paper, we review current evidence showing that components of the nuclear lamina interact directly with heterochromatin, which implicates the nuclear lamina in a mechanism of specific gene retention at the nuclear periphery and release to the nuclear interior upon gene activation. We also discuss recent data showing that mutations in lamin proteins affect gene positioning and expression, providing a potential mechanism for how these mutations lead to tissue-specific diseases.