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Concept: Proteins


Previous work demonstrated that a soy-dairy protein blend (PB) prolongs hyperaminoacidemia and muscle protein synthesis in young adults after resistance exercise.

Concepts: Actin, Physical exercise, Proteins, Milk, Whey, Muscle, Metabolism, Whey protein


Proteins persist longer in the fossil record than DNA, but the longevity, survival mechanisms and substrates remain contested. Here, we demonstrate the role of mineral binding in preserving the protein sequence in ostrich (Struthionidae) eggshell, including from the palaeontological sites of Laetoli (3.8 Ma) and Olduvai Gorge (1.3 Ma) in Tanzania. By tracking protein diagenesis back in time we find consistent patterns of preservation, demonstrating authenticity of the surviving sequences. Molecular dynamics simulations of struthiocalcin-1 and -2, the dominant proteins within the eggshell, reveal that distinct domains bind to the mineral surface. It is the domain with the strongest calculated binding energy to the calcite surface that is selectively preserved. Thermal age calculations demonstrate that the Laetoli and Olduvai peptides are 50 times older than any previously authenticated sequence (equivalent to ~16 Ma at a constant 10°C).

Concepts: Molecular dynamics, Proteins, Peptide sequence, Mass spectrometry, Fossil, Protein structure, DNA, Protein


Nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyl transferase 2 (NMNAT2) is neuroprotective in numerous preclinical models of neurodegeneration. Here, we show that brain nmnat2 mRNA levels correlate positively with global cognitive function and negatively with AD pathology. In AD brains, NMNAT2 mRNA and protein levels are reduced. NMNAT2 shifts its solubility and colocalizes with aggregated Tau in AD brains, similar to chaperones, which aid in the clearance or refolding of misfolded proteins. Investigating the mechanism of this observation, we discover a novel chaperone function of NMNAT2, independent from its enzymatic activity. NMNAT2 complexes with heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) to refold aggregated protein substrates. NMNAT2’s refoldase activity requires a unique C-terminal ATP site, activated in the presence of HSP90. Furthermore, deleting NMNAT2 function increases the vulnerability of cortical neurons to proteotoxic stress and excitotoxicity. Interestingly, NMNAT2 acts as a chaperone to reduce proteotoxic stress, while its enzymatic activity protects neurons from excitotoxicity. Taken together, our data indicate that NMNAT2 exerts its chaperone or enzymatic function in a context-dependent manner to maintain neuronal health.

Concepts: Hsp90, Proteins, Brain, Chaperone, Enzyme, Protein folding, Protein, Heat shock protein


Reston viruses are the only Ebolaviruses that are not pathogenic in humans. We analyzed 196 Ebolavirus genomes and identified specificity determining positions (SDPs) in all nine Ebolavirus proteins that distinguish Reston viruses from the four human pathogenic Ebolaviruses. A subset of these SDPs will explain the differences in human pathogenicity between Reston and the other four ebolavirus species. Structural analysis was performed to identify those SDPs that are likely to have a functional effect. This analysis revealed novel functional insights in particular for Ebolavirus proteins VP40 and VP24. The VP40 SDP P85T interferes with VP40 function by altering octamer formation. The VP40 SDP Q245P affects the structure and hydrophobic core of the protein and consequently protein function. Three VP24 SDPs (T131S, M136L, Q139R) are likely to impair VP24 binding to human karyopherin alpha5 (KPNA5) and therefore inhibition of interferon signaling. Since VP24 is critical for Ebolavirus adaptation to novel hosts, and only a few SDPs distinguish Reston virus VP24 from VP24 of other Ebolaviruses, human pathogenic Reston viruses may emerge. This is of concern since Reston viruses circulate in domestic pigs and can infect humans, possibly via airborne transmission.

Concepts: Proteins, Reston ebolavirus, RNA, Microbiology, Gene, DNA, Protein, Virus


Shifts in myosin heavy chain (MHC) expression within skeletal muscle can be induced by a host of stimuli including, but not limited to, physical activity, alterations in neural activity, aging, and diet or obesity. Here, we hypothesized that both age and a long-term (2 year) high fat/high sugar diet (HFS) would induce a slow to fast MHC shift within the plantaris, soleus, and extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscles from rhesus monkeys. Furthermore, we tested whether supplementation with resveratrol, a naturally occurring compound that has been attributed with augmenting aerobic potential through mitochondrial proliferation, would counteract any diet-induced MHC changes by promoting a fast to slow isoform switch. In general, we found that MHC isoforms were not altered by aging during mid-life. The HFS diet had the largest impact within the soleus muscle where the greatest slow to fast isoform shifts were observed in both mRNA and protein indicators. As expected, long-term resveratrol treatment counteracted, or blunted, these diet-induced shifts within the soleus muscle. The plantaris muscle also demonstrated a fast-to-slow phenotypic response to resveratrol treatment. In conclusion, diet or resveratrol treatment impacts skeletal muscle phenotype in a muscle-specific manner and resveratrol supplementation may be one approach for promoting the fatigue-resistant MHC (type I) isoform especially if its expression is blunted as a result of a long-term high fat/sugar diet.

Concepts: Cytoskeleton, Proteins, Actin, Tibialis anterior muscle, Protein, Muscle, Primate, Myosin


During prion disease, an increase in misfolded prion protein (PrP) generated by prion replication leads to sustained overactivation of the branch of the unfolded protein response (UPR) that controls the initiation of protein synthesis. This results in persistent repression of translation, resulting in the loss of critical proteins that leads to synaptic failure and neuronal death. We have previously reported that localized genetic manipulation of this pathway rescues shutdown of translation and prevents neurodegeneration in a mouse model of prion disease, suggesting that pharmacological inhibition of this pathway might be of therapeutic benefit. We show that oral treatment with a specific inhibitor of the kinase PERK (protein kinase RNA-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase), a key mediator of this UPR pathway, prevented UPR-mediated translational repression and abrogated development of clinical prion disease in mice, with neuroprotection observed throughout the mouse brain. This was the case for animals treated both at the preclinical stage and also later in disease when behavioral signs had emerged. Critically, the compound acts downstream and independently of the primary pathogenic process of prion replication and is effective despite continuing accumulation of misfolded PrP. These data suggest that PERK, and other members of this pathway, may be new therapeutic targets for developing drugs against prion disease or other neurodegenerative diseases where the UPR has been implicated.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Gene, Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, Endoplasmic reticulum, Protein folding, Proteins, Prion, Protein


Conformational changes of Aβ peptide result in its transformation from native monomeric state to the toxic soluble dimers, oligomers and insoluble aggregates that are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Interactions of zinc ions with Aβ are mediated by the N-terminal Aβ1-16 domain and appear to play a key role in AD progression. There is a range of results indicating that these interactions trigger the Aβ plaque formation. We have determined structure and functional characteristics of the metal binding domains derived from several Aβ variants and found that their zinc-induced oligomerization is governed by conformational changes in the minimal zinc binding site 6HDSGYEVHH14. The residue H6 and segment 11EVHH14, which are part of this site are crucial for formation of the two zinc-mediated interaction interfaces in Aβ. These structural determinants can be considered as promising targets for rational design of the AD-modifying drugs aimed at blocking pathological Aβ aggregation.

Concepts: Peptide, Proteins, Oligomer, Alzheimer's disease, Silver, Aluminium, Monomer, Protein


How learned experiences persist as memory for a long time is an important question. In Drosophila the persistence of memory is dependent upon amyloid-like oligomers of the Orb2 protein. However, it is not clear how the conversion of Orb2 to the amyloid-like oligomeric state is regulated. The Orb2 has two protein isoforms, and the rare Orb2A isoform is critical for oligomerization of the ubiquitous Orb2B isoform. Here, we report the discovery of a protein network comprised of protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), Transducer of Erb-B2 (Tob), and Lim Kinase (LimK) that controls the abundance of Orb2A. PP2A maintains Orb2A in an unphosphorylated and unstable state, whereas Tob-LimK phosphorylates and stabilizes Orb2A. Mutation of LimK abolishes activity-dependent Orb2 oligomerization in the adult brain. Moreover, Tob-Orb2 association is modulated by neuronal activity and Tob activity in the mushroom body is required for stable memory formation. These observations suggest that the interplay between PP2A and Tob-LimK activity may dynamically regulate Orb2 amyloid-like oligomer formation and the stabilization of memories.

Concepts: Molecular biology, Quaternary structure, DNA, Protein, Oligomer, Proteins


Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is a hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). However, this physiological mechanism has multiple manifestations that range from impaired clearance of unfolded proteins to altered mitochondrial dynamics and apoptosis. While connections between the triggering of the unfolded protein response (UPR) and downstream mitochondrial dysfunction are poorly understood, the membranous contacts between the ER and mitochondria, called the mitochondria-associated membrane (MAM), could provide a functional link between these two mechanisms. Therefore, we investigated whether the guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase) Rab32, a known regulator of the MAM, mitochondrial dynamics, and apoptosis, could be associated with ER stress as well as mitochondrial dysfunction.

Concepts: Mitochondrion, Organelle, Metabolism, Proteins, Signal transduction, Cell, Endoplasmic reticulum


The proteostasis network has evolved to support protein folding under normal conditions and to expand this capacity in response to proteotoxic stresses. Nevertheless, many pathogenic states are associated with protein misfolding, revealing in vivo limitations on quality control mechanisms. One contributor to these limitations is the physical characteristics of misfolded proteins, as exemplified by amyloids, which are largely resistant to clearance. However, other limitations imposed by the cellular environment are poorly understood. To identify cell-based restrictions on proteostasis capacity, we determined the mechanism by which thermal stress cures the [PSI(+)]/Sup35 prion. Remarkably, Sup35 amyloid is disassembled at elevated temperatures by the molecular chaperone Hsp104. This process requires Hsp104 engagement with heat-induced non-prion aggregates in late cell-cycle stage cells, which promotes its asymmetric retention and thereby effective activity. Thus, cell division imposes a potent limitation on proteostasis capacity that can be bypassed by the spatial engagement of a quality control factor.

Concepts: Endoplasmic reticulum, Protein structure, Cell, Proteins, Chaperone, Prion, Protein, Protein folding