Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Biochemical and biophysical research communications


Macroautophagy is a conserved degradative pathway and its deterioration is linked to disturbances in cellular proteostasis and multiple diseases. Here, we show that the RAB GTPase RAB18 modulates autophagy in primary human fibroblasts. The knockdown of RAB18 results in a decreased autophagic activity, while its overexpression enhances the degradative pathway. Importantly, this function of RAB18 is dependent on RAB3GAP1 and RAB3GAP2, which might act as RAB GEFs and stimulate the activity of the RAB GTPase. Moreover, the knockdown of RAB18 deteriorates proteostasis and results in the intracellular accumulation of ubiquitinated degradation-prone proteins. Thus, the RAB GTPase RAB18 is a positive modulator of autophagy and is relevant for the maintenance of cellular proteostasis.

Concepts: Fibroblast, Modulation, ACT, GTPase, Autophagy


Exercise enhances insulin sensitivity in skeletal muscle, but the underlying mechanism remains obscure. Recent data suggest that alternatively activated M2 macrophages enhance insulin sensitivity in insulin target organs such as adipose tissue and liver. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the role of anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages in exercise-induced enhancement of insulin sensitivity in skeletal muscle. C57BL6J mice underwent a single bout of treadmill running (20 m/min, 90 min). Twenty-four hours later, ex vivo insulin-stimulated 2-deoxy glucose uptake was found to be increased in plantaris muscle. This change was associated with increased number of CD163-expressing macrophages (i.e., M2-polarized macrophages) in skeletal muscle. Systemic depletion of macrophages by pretreatment of mice with clodronate-containing liposome abrogated both CD163-positive macrophage accumulation in skeletal muscle as well as the enhancement of insulin sensitivity after exercise, without affecting insulin-induced phosphorylation of Akt and AS160 or exercise-induced GLUT4 expression. These results suggest that accumulation of M2-polarized macrophages is involved in exercise-induced enhancement of insulin sensitivity in mouse skeletal muscle, independently of the phosphorylation of Akt and AS160 and expression of GLUT4.

Concepts: Insulin, Glucose, Obesity, Muscle, Cardiac muscle, Insulin resistance, Adipose tissue, Glycogen


Meteorin and its homologue meteorin-like (metrnl) are two novel proteins regulating glial cell differentiation in central nervous system. However, the roles of meteorin and metrnl in other organs or tissues have never been studied. In this study, we showed that meteorin and metrnl were expressed abundantly in white adipose, including visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissues, but to a much lesser extent in brown adipose tissue. Meteorin and metrnl were found to be secreted by explanted human white fat pads, 3T3-L1 preadipocytes and differentiated 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Moreover, meteorin and metrnl were detected in human blood by immunoblotting assay. The mRNA expression of meteorin and metrnl increased along with the 3T3-L1 cells differentiation. Overexpression of meteorin and metrnl using adenovirus promoted the formation of lipid droplets, increased PPARγ protein expression and enhanced mRNA expression of several other adipogenic genes in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Injection of adipose-specific aP2-promoter driven adenovirus expressing meteorin and metrnl markedly improved global insulin sensitivity and reversed insulin resistance induced by high fat diet in mice. At last, overexpression of meteorin and metrnl further magnified the phosphorylation of Akt upon insulin stimuli in 3T3-L1 cells. Collectively, our data suggests that meteorin and metrnl are two novel pro-differentiative adipokines participating in adipogenesis and regulation of insulin sensitivity.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene expression, Cellular differentiation, Adipose tissue, Tissues, Tissue, Adipocyte


Cells move along surfaces both as single cells and multi-cellular units. Recent research points toward pivotal roles for water flux through aquaporins (AQPs) in single cell migration. Their expression is known to facilitate this process by promoting rapid shape changes. However, little is known about the impact on migrating epithelial sheets during wound healing and epithelial renewal. Here, we investigate and compare the effects of AQP9 on single cell and epithelial sheet migration. To achieve this, MDCK-1 cells stably expressing AQP9 were subjected to migration assessment. We found that AQP9 facilitated cell locomotion at both the single and multi-cellular level. Furthermore, we identified major differences in the monolayer integrity and cell size upon expression of AQP9 during epithelial sheet migration, indicating a rapid volume-regulatory mechanism. We suggest a novel mechanism for epithelial wound healing based on AQP-induced swelling and expansion of the monolayer.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cell nucleus, Cell, Organism, Wound healing, Epithelium, Multicellular organism


Type VII collagen (Col7) is the major component of anchoring fibrils and very important for skin integrity. This is emphasized by the Col7 related skin blistering diseases dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa and epidermolysis bullosa acquisita. Structural data that provides insights into the interaction network of Col7 and thus providing a basis for a better understanding of the pathogenesis of the diseases is missing. We proved that the von-Willebrand-factor A like domain 2 (vWFA2) of Col7 is responsible for type I collagen binding. The interaction has a K(D) value of 90 μM as determined by SPR and is enthalpy driven as derived from the van’t Hoff equation. Furthermore, a hitherto unknown interaction of this domain with type IV collagen was identified. The interaction of vWFA2 with type I collagen is sensitive to the presence of magnesium ions, however, vWFA2 does not contain a magnesium binding site thus magnesium must bind to type I collagen. A lysine residue has been identified to be crucial for type I collagen binding. This allowed localization of the binding site. Mutational analysis suggests different interaction mechanisms in different species and that these interactions might be of covalent nature.

Concepts: Protein, Collagen, Atom, Epidermolysis bullosa, Structural proteins, Epidermolysis bullosa acquisita, Epidermolysis bullosa dystrophica, Van 't Hoff equation


The voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) and the adenine nucleotide translocase (ANT) have central roles in mitochondrial functions such as nucleotides transport and cell death. The interaction between VDAC, an outer mitochondrial membrane protein and ANT, an inner membrane protein, was studied in isolated mitochondria and in vitro. Both proteins were isolated from various mitochondrial sources and reconstituted in vitro using a biomimetic system composed of recombinant human VDAC isoform 1 (rhVDAC1) immobilized on a surface plasmon resonance (SPR) sensor chip surface. Two enriched-preparations of (H)ANT (ANT from heart, mainly ANT1) and (L)ANT (ANT from liver, mainly ANT2) isoforms interacted differently with rhVDAC1. Moreover, the pharmacological ANT inhibitors atractyloside and bongkrekic acid modulated this interaction. Thus, ANT-VDAC interaction depends both on ANT isoform identity and on the conformation of ANT.

Concepts: DNA, Cell, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Mitochondrion, Cytoplasm, Citric acid cycle, Translocase of the outer membrane


Recently, it was reported that bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) alone or BMP4 combined with fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) treatment enhanced mesodermal differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) that were cultured feeder-free on Matrigel. In this study, we show that mesodermal lineage-induced embryoid bodies (EBs) generate greater numbers of osteogenic and chondrogenic lineage cells. To induce the mesodermal lineage, hESCs were treated with BMP4 and FGF2 during the EB state. Quantitative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis showed that the treatment decreased endodermal and ectodermal lineage gene expression and increased mesodermal lineage gene expression. Importantly, the mesodermal lineage-induced EBs underwent enhanced osteogenic and chondrogenic differentiation after differentiation induction. This method could be useful to enhance the osteogenic or chondrogenic differentiation of hESCs.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Cell, Developmental biology, Stem cell, Cellular differentiation, Embryonic stem cell


The process of atherosclerosis is affected by interactions among numerous biological pathways. Accumulating evidence shows that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress plays a crucial role in the development of atherosclerosis. Rho-kinase is an effector of small GTP-binding protein Rho, and has been implicated as an atherogenic factor. Previous studies demonstrated that fasudil, a specific Rho-kinase inhibitor, exerts a cardioprotective effect by downregulating ER stress signaling. However, the molecular link between ER stress and Rho-kinase in endothelial cells has not been elucidated. In this study, we investigated the mechanisms by which fasudil regulates endothelial inflammation during ER stress. Tunicamycin, an established ER stress inducer, increased vascular cellular adhesion molecule (VCAM)-1 expression in endothelial cells. Intriguingly, fasudil inhibited VCAM-1 induction. From a mechanistic stand point, fasudil inhibited expression of activating transcription factor (ATF)4 and subsequent C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP) induction by tunicamycin. Furthermore, fasudil attenuated tunicamycin-induced phophorylation of p38MAPK that is crucial for the atherogenic response during ER stress. These findings indicate that Rho-kinase regulates ER stress-mediated VCAM-1 induction by ATF4- and p38MAPK-dependent signaling pathways. Rho-kinase inhibition by fasudil would be an important therapeutic approach against atherosclerosis, in particular, under conditions of ER stress.

Concepts: Inflammation, DNA, Atherosclerosis, Endoplasmic reticulum, Cell adhesion molecule, Endothelium, Unfolded protein response, VCAM-1


Cytosolic free calcium concentration ([Ca(2+)]i) is a central signalling element for the maintenance of endothelial barrier function. Under physiological conditions, it is controlled within narrow limits. Metabolic inhibition during ischemia/reperfusion, however, induces [Ca(2+)]i overload, which results in barrier failure. In a model of cultured porcine aortic endothelial monolayers (EC), we addressed the question of whether [Ca(2+)]i overload can be prevented by lithium treatment. [Ca(2+)]i and ATP were analysed using Fura-2 and HPLC, respectively. The combined inhibition of glycolytic and mitochondrial ATP synthesis by 2-desoxy-D-glucose (5 mM; 2-DG) plus sodium cyanide (5 mM; NaCN) caused a significant decrease in cellular ATP content (14 ± 1 nmol/mg protein vs. 18 ± 1 nmol/mg protein in the control, n = 6 culture dishes, P < 0.05), an increase in [Ca(2+)]i (278 ± 24 nM vs. 71 ± 2 nM in the control, n = 60 cells, P < 0.05), and the formation of gaps between adjacent EC. These observations indicate that there is impaired barrier function at an early state of metabolic inhibition. Glycolytic inhibition alone by 10 mM 2-DG led to a similar decrease in ATP content (14 ± 2 nmol/mg vs. 18 ± 1 nmol/mg in the control, P < 0.05) with a delay of 5 minutes. The [Ca(2+)]i response of EC was biphasic with a peak after 1 minute (183 ± 6 nM vs. 71 ±1 nM, n = 60 cells, P < 0.05) followed by a sustained increase in [Ca(2+)]i. A 24-hour pre-treatment with 10 mM of lithium chloride before the inhibition of ATP synthesis abolished both phases of the 2-DG-induced [Ca(2+)]i increase. This effect was not observed when lithium chloride was added simultaneously with 2-DG. We conclude that lithium chloride abolishes the injurious [Ca(2+)]i overload in EC and that this most likely occurs by preventing inositol 3-phosphate-sensitive Ca(2+)-release from the endoplasmic reticulum. Though further research is needed, these findings provide a novel option for therapeutic strategies to protect the endothelium against imminent barrier failure.

Concepts: Protein, Adenosine triphosphate, Mitochondrion, Endoplasmic reticulum, Calcium, Endothelium, Potassium, Lithium pharmacology


In recent years, various dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP-4) inhibitors have been released as therapeutic drugs for type 2 diabetes in many countries. In spite of their diverse chemical structures, no comparative studies of their binding modes in the active site of DPP-4 have been disclosed. We determined the co-crystal structure of vildagliptin with DPP-4 by X-ray crystallography and compared the binding modes of six launched inhibitors in DPP-4. The inhibitors were categorized into three classes on the basis of their binding subsites: (i) vildagliptin and saxagliptin (Class 1) form interactions with the core S1 and S2 subsites and a covalent bond with Ser630 in the catalytic triad; (ii) alogliptin and linagliptin (Class 2) form interactions with the S1' and/or S2' subsites in addition to the S1 and S2 subsites; and (iii) sitagliptin and teneligliptin (Class 3) form interactions with the S1, S2 and S2 extensive subsites. The present study revealed that the additional interactions with the S1', S2' or S2 extensive subsite may increase DPP-4 inhibition beyond the level afforded by the fundamental interactions with the S1 and S2 subsites and are more effective than forming a covalent bond with Ser630.

Concepts: Electron, Atom, Sociology, Hydrogen bond, Enzyme inhibitor, Covalent bond, Dipeptidyl peptidase-4, Development of dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors