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Concept: Adenylate cyclase


The neuropeptide Pigment Dispersing Factor (PDF) is essential for normal circadian function in Drosophila. It synchronizes the phases of M pacemakers, while in E pacemakers it decelerates their cycling and supports their amplitude. The PDF receptor (PDF-R) is present in both M and subsets of E cells. Activation of PDF-R stimulates cAMP increases in vitro and in M cells in vivo. The present study asks: What is the identity of downstream signaling components that are associated with PDF receptor in specific circadian pacemaker neurons? Using live imaging of intact fly brains and transgenic RNAi, we show that adenylate cyclase AC3 underlies PDF signaling in M cells. Genetic disruptions of AC3 specifically disrupt PDF responses: they do not affect other Gs-coupled GPCR signaling in M cells, they can be rescued, and they do not represent developmental alterations. Knockdown of the Drosophila AKAP-like scaffolding protein Nervy also reduces PDF responses. Flies with AC3 alterations show behavioral syndromes consistent with known roles of M pacemakers as mediated by PDF. Surprisingly, disruption of AC3 does not alter PDF responses in E cells–the PDF-R(+) LNd. Within M pacemakers, PDF-R couples preferentially to a single AC, but PDF-R association with a different AC(s) is needed to explain PDF signaling in the E pacemakers. Thus critical pathways of circadian synchronization are mediated by highly specific second messenger components. These findings support a hypothesis that PDF signaling components within target cells are sequestered into “circadian signalosomes,” whose compositions differ between E and M pacemaker cell types.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Signal transduction, Adenosine triphosphate, In vivo, In vitro, Artificial pacemaker, Adenylate cyclase


In the marine fish intestine luminal, HCO(3) (-) can remove divalent ions (calcium and magnesium) by precipitation in the form of carbonate aggregates. The process of epithelial HCO(3) (-) secretion is under endocrine control, therefore, in this study we aimed to characterize the involvement of transmembrane (tmACs) and soluble (sACs) adenylyl cyclases on the regulation of bicarbonate secretion (BCS) and water absorption in the intestine of the sea bream (Sparus aurata). We observed that all sections of sea bream intestine are able to secrete bicarbonate as measured by pH-Stat in Ussing chambers. In addition, gut sac preparations reveal net water absorption in all segments of the intestine, with significantly higher absorption rates in the anterior intestine that in the rectum. BCS and water absorption are positively correlated in all regions of the sea bream intestinal tract. Furthermore, stimulation of tmACs (10 μM FK + 500 μM IBMX) causes a significant decrease in BCS, bulk water absorption and short circuit current (Isc) in a region dependent manner. In turn, stimulation of sACs with elevated HCO(3) (-) results in a significant increase in BCS, and bulk water absorption in the anterior intestine, an action completely reversed by the sAC inhibitor KH7 (200 μM). Overall, the results reveal a functional relationship between BCS and water absorption in marine fish intestine and modulation by tmACs and sAC. In light of the present observations, it is hypothesized that the endocrine effects on intestinal BCS and water absorption mediated by tmACs are locally and reciprocally modulated by the action of sACs in the fish enterocyte, thus fine-tuning the process of carbonate aggregate production in the intestinal lumen.

Concepts: Digestive system, Large intestine, Intestine, Gastroenterology, Small intestine, Sparidae, Adenylate cyclase


It is well established that reduction of Ca(2+) influx through L-type voltage-dependent Ca(2+) channel (L-type VDCC), or increase of cytosolic cAMP concentration ([cAMP]c), inhibit contractile activity of smooth muscles in response to transmitters released from sympathetic nerves. Surprisingly, in this work we observed that simultaneous administration of L-type VDCC blocker (verapamil) and [cAMP]c enhancers (rolipram, IBMX and forskolin) potentiated purinergic contractions evoked by electrical field stimulation of rat vas deferens, instead of inhibiting them. These results, including its role in sympathetic transmission, can be considered as a “calcium paradox”. On the other hand, this potentiation was prevented by reduction of [cAMP]c by inhibition of adenylyl cyclase (SQ 22536) or depletion of Ca(2+) storage of sarco-endoplasmic reticulum by blockade of Ca(2+) reuptake (thapsigargin). In addition, cytosolic Ca(2+) concentration ([Ca(2+)]c) evaluated by fluorescence microscopy in rat adrenal medullary slices was significantly reduced by verapamil or rolipram. In contrast, simultaneous incubation of adrenal slices with these compounds significantly increased [Ca(2+)]c. This effect was prevented by thapsigargin. Thus, a reduction of [Ca(2+)]c due to blockade of Ca(2+) influx through L-type VDCC could stimulate adenylyl cyclase activity increasing [cAMP]c thereby stimulating Ca(2+) release from endoplasmic reticulum, resulting in augmented transmitter release in sympathetic nerves and contraction.

Concepts: Adenosine triphosphate, Endoplasmic reticulum, Inhibitor, Autonomic nervous system, Xanthine oxidase inhibitor, Adrenal medulla, Vas deferens, Adenylate cyclase


The cellular messenger cAMP regulates multiple cellular functions, including signaling in cilia and flagella. The cAMP dynamics in these subcellular compartments are ill-defined. We introduce a novel FRET-based cAMP biosensor with nanomolar sensitivity that is out of reach for other sensors. To measure cAMP dynamics in the sperm flagellum, we generated transgenic mice and reveal that the hitherto methods determining total cAMP levels do not reflect changes in free cAMP levels. Moreover, cAMP dynamics in the midpiece and principal piece of the flagellum are distinctively different. The sole cAMP source in the flagellum is the soluble adenylate cyclase (SACY). Although bicarbonate-dependent SACY activity requires Ca(2+), basal SACY activity is suppressed by Ca(2+). Finally, we also applied the sensor to primary cilia. Our new cAMP biosensor features unique characteristics that allow gaining new insights into cAMP signaling and unravel the molecular mechanisms underlying ciliary function in vitro and in vivo.

Concepts: Sperm, In vivo, Flagellum, In vitro, Cytoskeleton, Adenylate cyclase


We have identified a variant in ADCY3 (encoding adenylate cyclase 3) associated with markedly increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the Greenlandic population. The variant disrupts a splice acceptor site, and carriers have decreased ADCY3 RNA expression. Additionally, we observe an enrichment of rare ADCY3 loss-of-function variants among individuals with type 2 diabetes in trans-ancestry cohorts. These findings provide new information on disease etiology relevant for future treatment strategies.

Concepts: DNA, Cancer, Insulin, Diabetes mellitus type 2, Diabetes mellitus, Obesity, Adenylate cyclase


Autonomous thyroid adenomas (ATAs) are a frequent cause of hyperthyroidism. Mutations in the genes encoding the TSH receptor (TSHR) or the Gs protein α subunit (GNAS) are found in approximately 70% of ATAs. The involvement of other genes and the pathogenesis of the remaining cases are presently unknown. Here, we performed whole-exome sequencing in 19 ATAs that were paired with normal DNA samples and identified a recurrent hot-spot mutation (c.1712A>G; p.Gln571Arg) in the enhancer of zeste homolog 1 (EZH1) gene, which codes for a catalytic subunit of the polycomb complex. Targeted screening in an independent cohort confirmed that this mutation occurs with high frequency (27%) in ATAs. EZH1 mutations were strongly associated with known (TSHR, GNAS) or presumed (adenylate cyclase 9 [ADCY9]) alterations in cAMP pathway genes. Furthermore, functional studies revealed that the p.Gln571Arg EZH1 mutation caused increased histone H3 trimethylation and increased proliferation of thyroid cells. In summary, this study revealed that a hot-spot mutation in EZH1 is the second most frequent genetic alteration in ATAs. The association between EZH1 and TSHR mutations suggests a 2-hit model for the pathogenesis of these tumors, whereby constitutive activation of the cAMP pathway and EZH1 mutations cooperate to induce the hyperproliferation of thyroid cells.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Genetics, Histone, DNA repair, Point mutation, Adenylate cyclase


cAMP-signaling plays an essential role in modulating the proliferation of different cell types, including cancer cells. Until now, the regulation of this pathway was restricted to the transmembrane class of adenylyl cyclases. In the present study, a significant overexpression of soluble adenylyl cyclase (sAC), an alternative source of cAMP, was found in human prostate carcinoma and, therefore, the contribution of this cyclase was investigated in the prostate carcinoma cell lines LNCaP and PC3. Suppression of sAC activity by treatment with the sAC-specific inhibitor KH7 or by sAC-specific knockdown mediated by siRNA or shRNA transfection prevented the proliferation of prostate carcinoma cells, led to lactate dehydrogenase release, and induced apoptosis. Cell cycle analysis revealed a significant rise in the G2-phase population 12 hours after sAC inhibition, which was accompanied by the down-regulation of cyclin B1 and CDK1. sAC-dependent regulation of proliferation involves the EPAC/Rap-1/B-Raf signaling pathway. In contrast, protein kinase A does not play a role. In conclusion, the present study suggests a novel sAC-dependent signaling pathway that controls the proliferation of prostate carcinoma cells.

Concepts: Gene expression, Cancer, Signal transduction, Adenosine triphosphate, Prostate cancer, Cell cycle, Prostate, Adenylate cyclase


Corals are an ecologically and evolutionarily significant group, providing the framework for coral reef biodiversity while representing one of the most basal of metazoan phyla. However, little is known about fundamental signaling pathways in corals. Here we investigate the dynamics of cAMP, a conserved signaling molecule that can regulate virtually every physiological process. Bioinformatics revealed corals have both transmembrane and soluble adenylyl cyclases (AC). Endogenous cAMP levels in live corals followed a potential diel cycle, as they were higher during the day compared to the middle of the night. Coral homogenates exhibited some of the highest cAMP production rates ever to be recorded in any organism; this activity was inhibited by calcium ions and stimulated by bicarbonate. In contrast, zooxanthellae or mucus had >1000-fold lower AC activity. These results suggest that cAMP is an important regulator of coral physiology, especially in response to light, acid/base disturbances and inorganic carbon levels.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Biology, Physiology, Coral, Coral reef, Calcium, Cnidaria, Adenylate cyclase


Fertilization competence is acquired in the female tract in a process known as capacitation. Capacitation is needed for the activation of motility (e.g. hyperactivation) and to prepare the sperm for an exocytotic process known as acrosome reaction. While the HCO(3)–dependent soluble adenylyl cyclase Adcy10 plays a role in motility, less is known about the source of cAMP in the sperm head. Transmembrane adenylyl cyclases (tmACs) are another possible source of cAMP. These enzymes are regulated by stimulatory heterotrimeric Gs proteins; however, the presence of Gs or tmACs in mammalian sperm has been controversial. In this manuscript, we used Western blotting and cholera toxin-dependent ADP ribosylation to show Gs presence in the sperm head. Also, we showed that forskolin, a tmAC specific activator, induces cAMP accumulation in sperm from both WT and Adcy10 null mice. This increase is blocked by the tmAC inhibitor SQ-22536 but not by the Adcy10 inhibitor KH7. While Gs immunoreactivity and tmAC activity are detected in the sperm head, PKA is only found in the tail, where Adcy10 was previously shown to reside. Consistent with an acrosomal localization, Gs reactivity is lost in acrosome reacted sperm, and forskolin is able to increase intracellular Ca(2+) and induce the acrosome reaction. Altogether, these data suggest that cAMP pathways are compartmentalized in sperm, with Gs and tmAC in the head and Adcy10 and PKA in the flagellum.

Concepts: Molecular biology, Signal transduction, Sperm, Spermatozoon, Acrosome, Adenylate cyclase, Acrosome reaction


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) modulate cytoplasmic signalling in response to extracellular stimuli, and are important therapeutic targets in a wide range of diseases. Structure determination of GPCRs in all activation states is important to elucidate the precise mechanism of signal transduction and to facilitate optimal drug design. However, due to their inherent instability, crystallisation of GPCRs in complex with cytoplasmic signalling proteins, such as heterotrimeric G proteins and β-arrestins, has proved challenging. Here, we describe the design of a minimal G protein, mini-Gs, which is composed solely of the GTPase domain from the adenylate cyclase stimulating G protein Gs Mini-Gs is a small, soluble protein, which efficiently couples GPCRs in the absence of Gβγ subunits. We engineered mini-Gs, using rational design mutagenesis, to form a stable complex with detergent-solubilised β1-adrenergic receptor (β1AR). Mini G proteins induce similar pharmacological and structural changes in GPCRs as heterotrimeric G proteins, but eliminate many of the problems associated with crystallisation of these complexes, specifically their large size, conformational dynamics and instability in detergent. They are therefore novel tools, which will facilitate the biochemical and structural characterisation of GPCRs in their active conformation.

Concepts: Protein, Signal transduction, Cell membrane, Cell signaling, Membrane biology, G protein-coupled receptor, G protein, Adenylate cyclase