Structural determination of the nuclear pore complex has been limited by the complexity and size of this cellular megalith. By taking advantage of exceptionally stable nucleoporins from the thermophilic fungus Chaetomium thermophilum, Amlacher et al. (2011) provide new insight into a core element of the nuclear pore scaffold.
The Caenorhabditis elegans inner nuclear envelope protein matefin/SUN-1 plays a conserved, pivotal role in the process of genome haploidization. CHK-2-dependent phosphorylation of SUN-1 regulates homologous chromosome pairing and interhomolog recombination in Caenorhabditis elegans. Using time-lapse microscopy, we characterized the movement of matefin/SUN-1::GFP aggregates (the equivalent of chromosomal attachment plaques) and showed that the dynamics of matefin/SUN-1 aggregates remained unchanged throughout leptonene/zygotene, despite the progression of pairing. Movement of SUN-1 aggregates correlated with chromatin polarization. We also analyzed the requirements for the formation of movement-competent matefin/SUN-1 aggregates in the context of chromosome structure and found that chromosome axes were required to produce wild-type numbers of attachment plaques. Abrogation of synapsis led to a deceleration of SUN-1 aggregate movement. Analysis of matefin/SUN-1 in a double-strand break deficient mutant revealed that repair intermediates influenced matefin/SUN-1 aggregate dynamics. Investigation of movement in meiotic regulator mutants substantiated that proper orchestration of the meiotic program and effective repair of DNA double-strand breaks were necessary for the wild-type behavior of matefin/SUN-1 aggregates.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an end product of cellular respiration, a process by which organisms including all plants, animals, many fungi and some bacteria obtain energy. CO2 has several physiologic roles in respiration, pH buffering, autoregulation of the blood supply and others. Here we review recent findings from studies in mammalian lung cells, Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster that help shed light on the molecular sensing and response to hypercapnia.
Fibroblasts derived from Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) patients and dermal cells derived from healthy old humans in culture display age-dependent progressive changes in nuclear architecture due to accumulation of farnesylated lamin A. Treating human HGPS cells or mice expressing farnesylated lamin A with farnesyl transferase inhibitors (FTIs) reverses nuclear phenotypes and extends lifespan. Aging adult Caenorhabditis elegans show changes in nuclear architecture resembling those seen in HGPS fibroblasts, as well as a decline in motility, phenotypes which are also inhibited by the FTI gliotoxin. However, it was not clear whether these effects were due to loss of farnesylation or to side effects of this drug. Here, we used a different FTI, manumycin or downregulated polyprenyl synthetase with RNAi to test the roles of farnesylation in C. elegans aging. Our results show that the age-dependent changes in nuclear morphology depend on farnesylation. We also demonstrate that inhibition of farnesylation does not affect motility or lifespan, suggesting that the effects of blocking protein prenylation on nuclear morphology could be separated from their effects on motility and lifespan. These results provide further understanding of the role of lamin and farnesylation in the normal aging process and in HGPS.
Specific mutations in human LMNA or loss of ZMPSTE26 activity cause abnormal processing of lamin A and early aging diseases, including Hutchinson Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS). HGPS fibroblasts in culture undergo age-dependent progressive changes in nuclear architecture. Treating these cells with farnesyl transferase inhibitors (FTIs) reverse these nuclear phenotypes and also extend lifespan of mice HGPS models. Dermal cells derived from healthy old humans also accumulate the abnormally processed lamin A. However, the effect of FTIs on normal aging cells was not tested. Aging adult C. elegans cells show changes in nuclear architecture similar to HGPS fibroblasts and down regulating lamin expression in adult C. elegans reduces their lifespan. Here, we show that nuclei of adult C. elegans, in which lamin is down-regulated, have similar phenotypes to normal aging nuclei, but at an earlier age. We further show that treating adult C. elegans with the FTI gliotoxin reverses nuclear phenotypes and improves motility of aging worms. However, the average lifespan of the gliotoxin-treated animals was similar to that of untreated animals. These results suggest that lamins are involved in the process of normal aging in C. elegans.
The nuclear lamina is a proteinaceous structure located underneath the inner nuclear membrane (INM), where it associates with the peripheral chromatin. It contains lamins and lamin-associated proteins, including many integral proteins of the INM, chromatin modifying proteins, transcriptional repressors and structural proteins. A fraction of lamins is also present in the nucleoplasm, where it forms stable complexes and is associated with specific nucleoplasmic proteins. The lamins and their associated proteins are required for most nuclear activities, mitosis and for linking the nucleoplasm to all major cytoskeletal networks in the cytoplasm. Mutations in nuclear lamins and their associated proteins cause about 20 different diseases that are collectively called laminopathies'. This review concentrates mainly on lamins, their structure and their roles in DNA replication, chromatin organization, adult stem cell differentiation, aging, tumorogenesis and the lamin mutations leading to laminopathic diseases.
In eukaryotes, mRNA molecules are transcribed from nuclear DNA and commute through a labyrinth of nucleoplasmic passageways to the nuclear envelope where they are exported to the cytoplasm. New findings provide tools and insights into the biophysical properties that govern mRNA translocations en route to the cytoplasm and suggest that mRNA molecules move in a discontinuous manner due to transient interactions with the nuclear environment.
SUN-domain proteins interact directly with KASH-domain proteins to form protein complexes that connect the nucleus to every major cytoskeleton network. SUN-KASH protein complexes are also required for attaching centrosomes to the nuclear periphery and for alignment of homologous chromosomes, their pairing and recombination in meiosis. Other functions that require SUN-domain proteins include the regulation of apoptosis and maturation and survival of the germline. Laminopathic diseases affect the distribution of the SUN-KASH complexes, and mutations in KASH-domain proteins can cause Emery Dreifuss muscular dystrophy and recessive cerebellar ataxia. This review describes our current knowledge of the role of SUN-KASH domain protein complexes during development, meiosis and disease.
Nuclear lamins are involved in most nuclear activities and are essential for retaining the mechano-elastic properties of the nucleus. They are nuclear intermediate filament (IF) proteins forming a distinct meshwork-like layer adhering to the inner nuclear membrane, called the nuclear lamina. Here, we present for the first time, the three-dimensional supramolecular organization of lamin 10 nm filaments and paracrystalline fibres. We show that Caenorhabditis elegans nuclear lamin forms 10 nm IF-like filaments, which are distinct from their cytoplasmic counterparts. The IF-like lamin filaments are composed of three and four tetrameric protofilaments, each of which contains two partially staggered anti-parallel head-to-tail polymers. The beaded appearance of the lamin filaments stems from paired globular tail domains, which are spaced regularly, alternating between 21 nm and 27 nm. A mutation in an evolutionarily conserved residue that causes Hutchison-Gilford progeria syndrome in humans alters the supramolecular structure of the lamin filaments. On the basis of our structural analysis, we propose an assembly pathway that yields the observed 10 nm IF-like lamin filaments and paracrystalline fibres. These results serve also as a platform for understanding the effect of laminopathic mutations on lamin supramolecular organization.
Hypercapnia (high CO(2) levels) occurs in a number of lung diseases and it is associated with worse outcomes in patients with chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD). However, it is largely unknown how hypercapnia is sensed and responds in nonneuronal cells. Here, we used C. elegans to study the response to nonanesthetic CO(2) levels and show that levels exceeding 9% induce aberrant motility that is accompanied by age-dependent deterioration of body muscle organization, slowed development, reduced fertility and increased life span. These effects occur independently of the IGF-R, dietary restriction, egg laying or mitochondrial-induced aging pathways. Transcriptional profiling analysis shows specific and dynamic changes in gene expression after 1, 6, or 72 h of exposure to 19% CO(2) including increased transcription of several 7-transmembrane domain and innate immunity genes and a reduction in transcription of many of the MSP genes. Together, these results suggest specific physiological and molecular responses to hypercapnia, which appear to be independent of early heat shock and HIF mediated pathways.
Elevated CO(2) levels (hypercapnia) frequently occur in patients with obstructive pulmonary diseases and are associated with increased mortality. However, the effects of hypercapnia on non-neuronal tissues and the mechanisms that mediate these effects are largely unknown. Here, we develop Drosophila as a genetically tractable model for defining non-neuronal CO(2) responses and response pathways. We show that hypercapnia significantly impairs embryonic morphogenesis, egg laying, and egg hatching even in mutants lacking the Gr63a neuronal CO(2) sensor. Consistent with previous reports that hypercapnic acidosis can suppress mammalian NF-kappaB-regulated innate immune genes, we find that in adult flies and the phagocytic immune-responsive S2* cell line, hypercapnia suppresses induction of specific antimicrobial peptides that are regulated by Relish, a conserved Rel/NF-kappaB family member. Correspondingly, modest hypercapnia (7-13%) increases mortality of flies inoculated with E. faecalis, A. tumefaciens, or S. aureus. During E. faecalis and A. tumefaciens infection, increased bacterial loads were observed, indicating that hypercapnia can decrease host resistance. Hypercapnic immune suppression is not mediated by acidosis, the olfactory CO(2) receptor Gr63a, or by nitric oxide signaling. Further, hypercapnia does not induce responses characteristic of hypoxia, oxidative stress, or heat shock. Finally, proteolysis of the Relish IkappaB-like domain is unaffected by hypercapnia, indicating that immunosuppression acts downstream of, or in parallel to, Relish proteolytic activation. Our results suggest that hypercapnic immune suppression is mediated by a conserved response pathway, and illustrate a mechanism by which hypercapnia could contribute to worse outcomes of patients with advanced lung disease, who frequently suffer from both hypercapnia and respiratory infections.
Genome haploidization during meiosis depends on recognition and association of parental homologous chromosomes. The C. elegans SUN/KASH domain proteins Matefin/SUN-1 and ZYG-12 have a conserved role in this process. They bridge the nuclear envelope, connecting the cytoplasm and the nucleoplasm to transmit forces that allow chromosome movement and homolog pairing and prevent nonhomologous synapsis. Here, we show that Matefin/SUN-1 forms rapidly moving aggregates at putative chromosomal attachment sites in the meiotic transition zone (TZ). We analyzed requirements for aggregate formation and identified multiple phosphotarget residues in the nucleoplasmic domain of Matefin/SUN-1. These CHK-2 dependent phosphorylations occur in leptotene/zygotene, diminish during pachytene and are involved in pairing. Mimicking phosphorylation causes an extended TZ and univalents at diakinesis. Our data suggest that the properties of the nuclear envelope are altered during the time window when homologs are sorted and Matefin/SUN-1 aggregates form, thereby controling the movement, homologous pairing and interhomolog recombination of chromosomes.
Carbon dioxide (CO(2)) is an important gaseous molecule that maintains biosphere homeostasis and is an important cellular signalling molecule in all organisms. The transport of CO(2) through membranes has fundamental roles in most basic aspects of life in both plants and animals. There is a growing interest in understanding how CO(2) is transported into cells, how it is sensed by neurons and other cell types and in understanding the physiological and molecular consequences of elevated CO(2) levels (hypercapnia) at the cell and organism levels. Human pulmonary diseases and model organisms such as fungi, C. elegans, Drosophila and mice have been proven to be important in understanding of the mechanisms of CO(2) sensing and response.
The nuclear lamina is found between the inner nuclear membrane and the peripheral chromatin. Lamins are the main components of the nuclear lamina, where they form protein complexes with integral proteins of the inner nuclear membrane, transcriptional regulators, histones and chromatin modifiers. Lamins are required for mechanical stability, chromatin organization, Pol II transcription, DNA replication, nuclear assembly, and nuclear positioning. Mutations in human lamins cause at least 13 distinct human diseases, collectively termed laminopathies, affecting muscle, adipose, bone, nerve and skin cells, and range from muscular dystrophies to accelerated aging. Caenorhabditis elegans has unique advantages in studying lamins and nuclear lamina genes including low complexity of lamina genes and the unique ability of bacterially expressed C. elegans lamin protein to form stable 10 nm fibers. In addition, transgenic techniques, simple application of RNA interference, sophisticated genetic analyses, and the production of a large collection of mutant lines, all make C. elegans especially attractive for studying the functions of its nuclear lamina genes. In this chapter we will include a short review of our current knowledge of nuclear lamina in C. elegans and will describe electron microscopy techniques used for their analyses.
Specific mutations in the human gene encoding lamin A or in the lamin A-processing enzyme, Zmpste24, cause premature aging. New data on mice and humans suggest that these mutations affect adult stem cells by interfering with the Notch and Wnt signaling pathways.
Lamins are nuclear intermediate filament proteins and the major building blocks of the nuclear lamina. Besides providing nuclear shape and mechanical stability, lamins are required for chromatin organization, transcription regulation, DNA replication, nuclear assembly, nuclear positioning, and apoptosis. Mutations in human lamins cause many different heritable diseases, affecting various tissues and causing early aging. Although many of these mutations result in nuclear deformation, their effects on lamin filament assembly are unknown. Caenorhabditis elegans has a single evolutionarily conserved lamin protein, which can form stable 10-nm-thick filaments in vitro. To gain insight into the molecular basis of lamin filament assembly and the effects of laminopathic mutations on this process, we investigated mutations in conserved residues of the rod and tail domains that are known to cause various laminopathies in human. We show that 8 of 14 mutant lamins present WT-like assembly into filaments or paracrystals, whereas 6 mutants show assembly defects. Correspondingly, expressing these mutants in transgenic animals shows abnormal distribution of Ce-lamin, abnormal nuclear shape or change in lamin mobility. These findings help in understanding the role of individual residues and domains in laminopathy pathology and, eventually, promote the development of therapeutic interventions.