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Concept: Tyrosine


Both kynurenic acid and 2-acyl lysophosphatidic acid have been postulated to be the endogenous agonists of GPR35. However, controversy remains whether alternative endogenous agonists exist. The molecular targets accounted for many nongenomic actions of thyroid hormones are mostly unknown. Here we report the agonist activity of multiple tyrosine metabolites at the GPR35. Tyrosine metabolism intermediates that contain carboxylic acid and/or catechol functional groups were first selected. Whole cell dynamic mass redistribution (DMR) assays enabled by label-free optical biosensor were then used to characterize their agonist activity in native HT-29. Molecular assays including β-arrestin translocation, ERK phosphorylation and receptor internalization confirmed that GPR35 functions as a receptor for 5,6-dihydroxyindole-2-carboxylic acid, 3,3',5'-triiodothyronine, 3,3',5-triiodothyronine, gentisate, rosmarinate, and 3-nitrotyrosine. These results suggest that multiple tyrosine metabolites are alternative endogenous ligands of GPR35, and GPR35 may represent a druggable target for treating certain diseases associated with abnormality of tyrosine metabolism.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Signal transduction, Metabolism, Hormone, Thyroid, Agonist, Tyrosine


Leucine is a proteogenic amino acid that also regulates many aspects of mammalian physiology, in large part by activating the mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) protein kinase, a master growth controller. Amino acids signal to mTORC1 through the Rag guanosine triphosphatases (GTPases). Several factors regulate the Rags, including GATOR1, a GTPase-activating protein (GAP); GATOR2, a positive regulator of unknown function; and Sestrin2, a GATOR2-interacting protein that inhibits mTORC1 signaling. We find that leucine, but not arginine, disrupts the Sestrin2-GATOR2 interaction by binding to Sestrin2 with a dissociation constant of 20 μM, which is the leucine concentration that half-maximally activates mTORC1. The leucine-binding capacity of Sestrin2 is required for leucine to activate mTORC1 in cells. These results indicate that Sestrin2 is a leucine sensor for the mTORC1 pathway.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Acid, Amine, Ammonia, Essential amino acid, Tyrosine, Leucine


The human gut microbiota produces dozens of metabolites that accumulate in the bloodstream, where they can have systemic effects on the host. Although these small molecules commonly reach concentrations similar to those achieved by pharmaceutical agents, remarkably little is known about the microbial metabolic pathways that produce them. Here we use a combination of genetics and metabolic profiling to characterize a pathway from the gut symbiont Clostridium sporogenes that generates aromatic amino acid metabolites. Our results reveal that this pathway produces twelve compounds, nine of which are known to accumulate in host serum. All three aromatic amino acids (tryptophan, phenylalanine and tyrosine) serve as substrates for the pathway, and it involves branching and alternative reductases for specific intermediates. By genetically manipulating C. sporogenes, we modulate serum levels of these metabolites in gnotobiotic mice, and show that in turn this affects intestinal permeability and systemic immunity. This work has the potential to provide the basis of a systematic effort to engineer the molecular output of the gut bacterial community.

Concepts: Protein, Bacteria, Gut flora, Amino acid, Metabolism, Phenylalanine, Aromatic amino acids, Tyrosine


The catecholamines dopamine (DA), norepinephrine (NE) and epinephrine (E) are neurotransmitters and hormones that mediate stress responses in tissues and plasma. The expression of β-amyloid precursor protein (APP) is responsive to stress and is high in tissues rich in catecholamines. We recently reported that APP is a ferroxidase, subsuming, in neurons and other cells, the iron-export activity that ceruloplasmin mediates in glia. Here we report that, like ceruloplasmin, APP also oxidizes synthetic amines and catecholamines catalytically (K(m) NE=0.27 mM), through a site encompassing its ferroxidase motif and selectively inhibited by zinc. Accordingly, APP knockout mice have significantly higher levels of DA, NE and E in brain, plasma and select tissues. Consistent with this, these animals have increased resting heart rate and systolic blood pressure as well as suppressed prolactin and lymphocyte levels. These findings support a role for APP in extracellular catecholaminergic clearance.

Concepts: Neurotransmitter, Epinephrine, Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Monoamine oxidase, Tyrosine, L-DOPA, Catecholamine


Mitochondrial health is critical for skeletal muscle function and is improved by exercise training through both mitochondrial biogenesis and removal of damaged/dysfunctional mitochondria via mitophagy. The mechanisms underlying exercise-induced mitophagy have not been fully elucidated. Here, we show that acute treadmill running in mice causes mitochondrial oxidative stress at 3-12 h and mitophagy at 6 h post-exercise in skeletal muscle. These changes were monitored using a novel fluorescent reporter gene, pMitoTimer, that allows assessment of mitochondrial oxidative stress and mitophagy in vivo, and were preceded by increased phosphorylation of AMP activated protein kinase (Ampk) at tyrosine 172 and of unc-51 like autophagy activating kinase 1 (Ulk1) at serine 555. Using mice expressing dominant negative and constitutively active Ampk in skeletal muscle, we demonstrate that Ulk1 activation is dependent on Ampk. Furthermore, exercise-induced metabolic adaptation requires Ulk1. These findings provide direct evidence of exercise-induced mitophagy and demonstrate the importance of Ampk-Ulk1 signaling in skeletal muscle.Exercise is associated with biogenesis and removal of dysfunctional mitochondria. Here the authors use a mitochondrial reporter gene to demonstrate the occurrence of mitophagy following exercise in mice, and show this is dependent on AMPK and ULK1 signaling.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Cell, Signal transduction, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Oxidative phosphorylation, Muscle, Tyrosine


The structural basis for allosteric regulation of phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH), whose dysfunction causes phenylketonuria (PKU), is poorly understood. A new morpheein model for PAH allostery is proposed to consist of a dissociative equilibrium between two architecturally different tetramers whose interconversion requires a ∼90° rotation between the PAH catalytic and regulatory domains, the latter of which contains an ACT domain. This unprecedented model is supported by in vitro data on purified full length rat and human PAH. The conformational change is both predicted to and shown to render the tetramers chromatographically separable using ion exchange methods. One novel aspect of the activated tetramer model is an allosteric phenylalanine binding site at the inter-subunit interface of ACT domains. Amino acid ligand-stabilized ACT domain dimerization follows the multimerization and ligand binding behavior of ACT domains present in other proteins in the PDB. Spectroscopic, chromatographic, and electrophoretic methods demonstrate a PAH equilibrium consisting of two architecturally distinct tetramers as well as dimers. We postulate that PKU-associated mutations may shift the PAH quaternary structure equilibrium in favor of the low activity assemblies. Pharmacological chaperones that stabilize the ACT:ACT interface can potentially provide PKU patients with a novel small molecule therapeutic.

Concepts: Allosteric regulation, Proteins, Protein, Enzyme, Biochemistry, Phenylketonuria, Tyrosine, Phenylalanine hydroxylase


Abstract Background: Thyroid dysfunction is very common and is associated with neurodevelopmental impairments in preterm infants. Objectives: This study was conducted to determine the incidence and natural course of various thyroid dysfunctions and their impacts on neurodevelopmental outcomes among premature infants. Methods: A total of 177 infants were enrolled who were born at <34 weeks or whose birth weight was <1500 g and who underwent repeat thyroid function tests. We analyzed how various thyroid dysfunctions affected neurodevelopmental outcomes at 18 months of corrected age. Results: Thyroid dysfunction was noted in 88 infants. Hypothyroxinemia was observed in 23 infants, and their thyroid function was influenced by variable clinical factors. Free T4 levels were all normalized without thyroxine medication, and neurodevelopmental outcomes were not affected. In contrast, hyperthyrotropinemia was not associated with other clinical factors. Among 58 subjects who had hyperthyrotropinemia, only 31 infants showed normal thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels at follow-up tests. The remaining 27 infants had persistently high TSH levels, which significantly and poorly influenced the neurodevelopmental outcomes. Conclusions: Thyroid dysfunction is common among preterm infants. With the exception of persistent hyperthyrotropinemia, it generally does not affect neurodevelopmental outcomes. However, the beneficial effects of thyroid hormone therapy in patients with persistent hyperthyrotropinemia merits further study.

Concepts: Thyroid-stimulating hormone, Hypothyroidism, Thyroid, Thyroid hormone, Triiodothyronine, Thyroxine, Tyrosine, Thyroglobulin


Extracellular phosphorylation of proteins was suggested in the late 1800s when it was demonstrated that casein contains phosphate. More recently, extracellular kinases that phosphorylate extracellular serine, threonine, and tyrosine residues of numerous proteins have been identified. However, the functional significance of extracellular phosphorylation of specific residues in the nervous system is poorly understood. Here we show that synaptic accumulation of GluN2B-containing N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) and pathological pain are controlled by ephrin-B-induced extracellular phosphorylation of a single tyrosine (p*Y504) in a highly conserved region of the fibronectin type III (FN3) domain of the receptor tyrosine kinase EphB2. Ligand-dependent Y504 phosphorylation modulates the EphB-NMDAR interaction in cortical and spinal cord neurons. Furthermore, Y504 phosphorylation enhances NMDAR localization and injury-induced pain behavior. By mediating inducible extracellular interactions that are capable of modulating animal behavior, extracellular tyrosine phosphorylation of EphBs may represent a previously unknown class of mechanism mediating protein interaction and function.

Concepts: Nervous system, Protein, Neuron, Signal transduction, Protein kinase, Cell signaling, Phosphorylation, Tyrosine


Defining perturbations in protein kinase activity within biological samples can provide insight into disease mechanisms as well as potential targets for drug development. In this article, we present a method that utilizes a phosphorylation-sensitive amino acid, termed CSox, to afford kinase-selective biosensors capable of reporting on enzymatic activity directly in biological samples. These sensors produce an increase in fluorescence in response to phosphorylation of an amino acid residue adjacent to CSox. Probes can be designed for either serine/threonine or tyrosine kinases, and analysis can be performed using standard fluorescence equipment. The procedures provided herein represent our optimized protocols for the design, validation, and application of CSox-based protein kinase activity sensors. Curr. Protoc. Chem. Biol. 6:135-156 © 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Concepts: Protein, Gene, Amino acid, Molecular biology, Signal transduction, Adenosine triphosphate, Protein kinase, Tyrosine


Sialic acid is a carbohydrate moiety of κ-casein glycomacropeptide (GMP), which is a 64 amino acid residue C-terminal sialylated phosphorylated glycopeptide released from κ-casein by the action of chymosin during cheese making. GMP lacks aromatic amino acids including phenylalanine, tyrosine, and tryptophan. Because of its unique amino acid composition and various biological activities, GMP is thought to be a potential ingredient for dietetic foods (e.g., a food for PKU patients) and pharmaceuticals. Thus, increased attention has been given to the development of techniques to purify GMP. In this review, techniques of GMP purification described in patents and scientific research papers were introduced. A sialic acid assay is the important method to track GMP isolation and purification processes, for which the thiobarbituric acid reaction with 1-propanol as a chromophore extracting solvent is an inexpensive, practical and specific technique. Sephacryl S-200 gel filtration chromatography, cellulose acetate electrophoresis, and sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis are the major techniques to identify sialic acid specific to GMP. Sephacryl S-200 chromatography and cellulose acetate electrophoresis are also used to detect GMP sialic acid in whey pearmeate and whey added commercial margarine samples. Future research includes development of an economical industrial scale method to produce high purity GMP.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Amine, Molecular biology, Cell wall, SDS-PAGE, Phenylalanine, Tyrosine