Barrier to autointegration factor (BAF) binds double-stranded DNA, selected histones, transcription regulators, lamins, and LAP2-emerin-MAN1 (LEM) domain proteins. During early Caenorhabditis elegans embryogenesis, BAF-1 is required to organize chromatin, capture segregated chromosomes within the nascent nuclear envelope, and assemble lamin and LEM domain proteins in reforming nuclei. In this study, we used C. elegans with a homozygous deletion of the baf-1 gene, which survives embryogenesis and larval stages, to report that BAF-1 regulates maturation and survival of the germline, cell migration, vulva formation, and the timing of seam cell fusion. In the seam cells, BAF-1 represses the expression of the EFF-1 fusogen protein, but fusion still occurs in C. elegans lacking both baf-1 and eff-1. This suggests the existence of an eff-1-independent mechanism for cell fusion. BAF-1 is also required to maintain the integrity of specific body wall muscles in adult animals, directly implicating BAF in the mechanism of human muscular dystrophies (laminopathies) caused by mutations in the BAF-binding proteins emerin and lamin A.
Barrier-to-autointegration factor (BAF) is an abundant, highly conserved, small and essential protein that binds to dsDNA, chromatin, nuclear lamina proteins, histones and various transcription factors. It was discovered as a cellular component of retrovirus pre-integration complex that inhibits their autointegration in vitro. BAF is also required for many cellular functions, including the higher-order organization of chromatin and the transcription of specific genes. Recent findings suggest further roles for BAF, including nuclear envelope assembly, regulating specific developmental processes and regulating retrovirus infectivity. At least some of these roles are controlled by phosphorylation of the BAF N-terminus by the vaccinia-related kinase. Here, we give an overview of recent advances in the field of BAF with special emphasis on evolution, interacting partners and functions.
Lamins are the main component of the nuclear lamina and considered to be the ancestors of all intermediate filament proteins. They are localized mainly at the nuclear periphery where they form protein complexes with integral proteins of the nuclear inner membrane, transcriptional regulators, histones and chromatin modifiers. Studying lamins in invertebrate species has unique advantages including the smaller number of lamin genes in the invertebrate genomes and powerful genetic analyses in Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster. These simpler nuclear lamina systems allow direct analyses of their structure and functions. Here we give an overview of recent advances in the field of invertebrate nuclear lamins with special emphasis on their evolution, assembly and functions.
We identify a highly specific mutation (jf18) in the Caenorhabditis elegans nuclear envelope protein matefin MTF-1/SUN-1 that provides direct evidence for active involvement of the nuclear envelope in homologous chromosome pairing in C. elegans meiosis. The reorganization of chromatin in early meiosis is disrupted in mtf-1/sun-1(jf18) gonads, concomitant with the absence of presynaptic homolog alignment. Synapsis is established precociously and nonhomologously. Wild-type leptotene/zygotene nuclei show patch-like aggregations of the ZYG-12 protein, which fail to develop in mtf-1/sun-1(jf18) mutants. These patches remarkably colocalize with a component of the cis-acting chromosomal pairing center (HIM-8) rather than the centrosome. Our data on this mtf-1/sun-1 allele challenge the previously postulated role of the centrosome/spindle organizing center in chromosome pairing, and clearly support a role for MTF-1/SUN-1 in meiotic chromosome reorganization and in homolog recognition, possibly by mediating local aggregation of the ZYG-12 protein in meiotic nuclei.
The intimate association between nuclear lamins and chromatin is thought to regulate higher order chromatin organization. Previous studies have mapped a region between the rod domain and the Ig fold in the tail domain of Drosophila melanogaster lamin Dm0, which binds chromatin in vitro via the histone H2A/H2B dimer. This region contains an evolutionarily conserved nuclear localization signal (NLS) KRKR, and a sequence composed of the amino acids TRAT. Here we show that binding of lamin Dm0 to chromatin requires both NLS and TRAT sequences. Substituting either of the threonine residues in the TRAT sequence with negatively charged residues decreases the binding of lamin Dm0 to chromatin, indicating that this binding could be regulated by phosphorylation. Both lamin Dm0 and C. elegans Ce-lamin bind directly to histone H2A in vitro and this binding requires the NLS. The amino and carboxyl tail domains of histone H2A are each essential, but not sufficient, for binding to lamin Dm0; only a polypeptide containing both histone H2A tail domains binds efficiently to lamin Dm0. Taken together, these results suggest that specific residues in lamin Dm0 and histone H2A mediate the attachment of the nuclear lamina to chromosomes in vivo, which could have implications on the understanding of laminopathic diseases.
BACKGROUND: In patients with acute respiratory failure, gas exchange is impaired due to the accumulation of fluid in the lung airspaces. This life-threatening syndrome is treated with mechanical ventilation, which is adjusted to maintain gas exchange, but can be associated with the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the lung. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a by-product of cellular energy utilization and its elimination is affected via alveolar epithelial cells. Signaling pathways sensitive to changes in CO2 levels were described in plants and neuronal mammalian cells. However, it has not been fully elucidated whether non-neuronal cells sense and respond to CO2. The Na,K-ATPase consumes approximately 40% of the cellular metabolism to maintain cell homeostasis. Our study examines the effects of increased pCO2 on the epithelial Na,K-ATPase a major contributor to alveolar fluid reabsorption which is a marker of alveolar epithelial function.
PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We found that short-term increases in pCO2 impaired alveolar fluid reabsorption in rats. Also, we provide evidence that non-excitable, alveolar epithelial cells sense and respond to high levels of CO2, independently of extracellular and intracellular pH, by inhibiting Na,K-ATPase function, via activation of PKCzeta which phosphorylates the Na,K-ATPase, causing it to endocytose from the plasma membrane into intracellular pools.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that alveolar epithelial cells, through which CO2 is eliminated in mammals, are highly sensitive to hypercapnia. Elevated CO2 levels impair alveolar epithelial function, independently of pH, which is relevant in patients with lung diseases and altered alveolar gas exchange.
Caenorhabditis elegans, a small (adults are ~1 mm long), free-living soil nematode that feeds on bacteria, is an ideal organism for applying various live microscopy techniques. The organism is transparent, thus it is possible to microscopically analyze the whole animal throughout its entire life. Its complete cell lineage is known, making it possible to follow developmental and differentiation processes in real time. Furthermore, the development of transgenic techniques, as well as RNA interference (RNAi) methods and sophisticated genetic analyses, and the availability of a large collection of mutant lines all make C. elegans especially attractive for live microscopy. This protocol describes useful techniques for preparing C. elegans for live microscopic analysis. Details of sample preparation depend on the developmental stage of the worm to be studied.
The nuclear lamina, a network of lamin filaments and lamin-associated proteins, is located between the inner nuclear membrane and the peripheral chromatin. The nuclear lamina is involved in numerous nuclear functions including maintaining nuclear shape, determining nuclear positioning, organizing chromatin and regulating the cell cycle, DNA replication, transcription, cell differentiation, apoptosis, and aging. Alterations in the composition of nuclear lamins and their associated proteins are currently emerging as an additional event involved in malignant transformation, tumor propagation and progression, thus identifying potential novel targets for future anti-cancer therapy. Here, we review the current knowledge on lamin expression patterns in cells of hematologic malignancies and give an overview on the roles of the nuclear lamina proteins in heterochromatin organization, apoptosis, and aging with special emphasis on the relevance in cancer development.
Nuclear lamins are type V intermediate filament proteins. They are the major building blocks of the peripheral nuclear lamina, a complex meshwork of proteins underlying the inner nuclear membrane. In addition to providing nuclear shape and mechanical stability, they are required for chromatin organization, transcription regulation, DNA replication, nuclear assembly and nuclear positioning. Over the past few years, interest in the lamins has increased because of the identification of at least 12 distinct human diseases associated with mutations in the LMNA gene, which encodes A-type lamins. These diseases, collectively termed laminopathies, affect muscle, adipose, bone, nerve and skin cells and range from muscular dystrophies to accelerated aging.
New studies in Drosophila have identified a novel nuclear envelope protein with a farnesyl moiety, termed Kugelkern/Charleston, that helps regulate the size, shape and position of cellular blastoderm nuclei.
In Caenorhabditis elegans, the antiapoptotic protein CED-9 is localized at the mitochondria, where it binds the proapoptotic protein CED-4. Induction of apoptosis begins when the proapoptotic protein EGL-1 is expressed and binds CED-9. The binding of EGL-1 to CED-9 releases CED-4 from CED-9 and causes the activation of the caspase CED-3. Upon its release from CED-9, CED-4 rapidly translocates to the nuclear envelope (NE) in a CED-3-independent manner. However, the identity of the NE receptor for CED-4 and its possible role in the execution of apoptosis has remained unknown. Here, we show that the inner nuclear membrane SUN-domain protein matefin/SUN-1 is the NE receptor for CED-4. Our data demonstrate that matefin/SUN-1 binds CED-4 and is specifically required for CED-4 translocation and maintenance at the NE. The role of matefin/SUN-1 in the execution of apoptosis is further suggested by the significant reduction in the number of apoptotic cells in the organism after matefin/SUN-1 down-regulation by RNAi. The finding that matefin/SUN-1 is required for the execution of apoptosis adds an important link between cytoplasmic and nuclear apoptotic events.
Lamins are nucleus-specific intermediate filament (IF) proteins that together with a complex set of membrane proteins form a filamentous meshwork tightly adhering to the inner nuclear membrane and being associated with the nuclear pore complexes. This so-called nuclear lamina provides mechanical stability and, in addition, has been implicated in the spatial organization of the heterochromatin. While increasing knowledge on the biological function of lamins has been obtained in recent years, the assembly mechanism of lamin filaments at the molecular level has remained largely elusive. Therefore, we have now more systematically investigated lamin assembly in vitro. Using Caenorhabditis elegans lamin, which has been reported to assemble into 10-nm filaments under low ionic strength conditions, we investigated the assembly kinetics of this protein into filaments in more detail using both His-tagged and un-tagged recombinant proteins. In particular, we have characterized distinct intermediates in the filament assembly process by analytical ultracentrifugation, electron and atomic force microscopy. In contrast to the general view that lamins assemble only slowly into filaments, we show that in vitro association reactions are extremely fast, and depending on the ionic conditions employed, significant filamentous assemblies form within seconds.
The novel SUN-domain family of nuclear envelope proteins interacts with various KASH-domain partners to form SUN-domain-dependent 'bridges' across the inner and outer nuclear membranes. These bridges physically connect the nucleus to every major component of the cytoskeleton. SUN-domain proteins have diverse roles in nuclear positioning, centrosome localization, germ-cell development, telomere positioning and apoptosis. By serving both as mechanical adaptors and nuclear envelope receptors, we propose that SUN-domain proteins connect cytoplasmic and nucleoplasmic activities.
Many nuclear proteins form lamin-dependent complexes, including LEM-domain proteins, nesprins and SUN-domain proteins. These complexes have roles in chromatin organization, gene regulation and signal transduction. Some link the nucleoskeleton to cytoskeletal structures, ensuring that the nucleus and centrosome assume appropriate intracellular positions. These complexes provide new insights into cell architecture, as well as a foundation for the understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie the human laminopathies - clinical disorders that range from Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy to the accelerated ageing seen in Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome.
Mutations in lamins cause premature aging syndromes in humans, including the Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS) and Atypical Werner Syndrome. It has been shown that HGPS cells in culture undergo age-dependent progressive changes in nuclear architecture. However, it is unknown whether similar changes in nuclear architecture occur during the normal aging process. We have observed that major changes of nuclear architecture accompany Caenorhabditis elegans aging. We found that the nuclear architecture in most nonneuronal cell types undergoes progressive and stochastic age-dependent alterations, such as changes of nuclear shape and loss of peripheral heterochromatin. Furthermore, we show that the rate of these alterations is influenced by the insulin/IGF-1 like signaling pathway and that reducing the level of lamin and lamin-associated LEM domain proteins leads to shortening of lifespan. Our work not only provides evidence for changes of nuclear architecture during the normal aging process of a multicellular organism, but also suggests that HGPS is likely a result of acceleration of the normal aging process. Because the nucleus is vital for many cellular functions, our studies raise the possibility that the nucleus is a prominent focal point for regulating aging.
Barrier-to-autointegration factor (BAF) binds dsDNA, LEM-domain proteins, and lamins. Caenorhabditis elegans BAF requires Ce-lamin and two LEM-domain proteins (Ce-emerin and Ce-MAN1) to localize during nuclear assembly. It was unknown whether Ce-lamin and LEM proteins, in turn, depend on Ce-BAF (mutually dependent structural roles). RNA interference-mediated down-regulation of Ce-BAF caused gross defects in chromosome segregation, chromatin decondensation, and mitotic progression as early as the two-cell stage, and embryos died at the approximately 100-cell stage. Nuclear pores reassembled, whereas Ce-lamin, Ce-emerin, and Ce-MAN1 bound chromatin but remained patchy and disorganized. The nuclear membranes formed but failed to enclose anaphase-bridged chromatin. Time-lapse imaging showed two phenotypes: anaphase-bridged chromatin that eventually resolved, and segregated chromatin that returned to the midzone. Thus, the assembly of BAF, lamins, and LEM-domain proteins is mutually dependent, and is required to capture segregated chromosomes within the nascent nuclear envelope. Embryos that escaped lethality by down-regulation of Ce-BAF grew into sterile adults with misplaced distal tip cells and gonads, further suggesting that mild postembryonic reductions in BAF disrupt tissue-specific functions.
During mitosis, a single nucleus gives rise to two nuclei that are identical to the parent nucleus. Mitosis consists of a continuous sequence of events that must be carried out once and only once. Two such important events are the disassembly of the nuclear envelope (NE) during the first stages of mitosis, and its accurate reassembly during the last stages of mitosis. NE breakdown (NEBD) is initiated when maturation-promoting factor (MPF) enters the nucleus and starts phosphorylating nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) and nuclear lamina proteins, followed by NPC and lamina breakdown. Nuclear reassembly starts when nuclear membranes assemble onto the chromatin. This article focuses on the different models of NEBD and reassembly with emphasis on recent data.