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Journal: Nature cell biology


Brown adipose tissue (BAT) uses the chemical energy of lipids and glucose to produce heat, a function that can be induced by cold exposure or diet. A key regulator of BAT is the gene encoding PR domain containing 16 (Prdm16), whose expression can drive differentiation of myogenic and white fat precursors to brown adipocytes. Here we show that after cold exposure, the muscle-enriched miRNA-133 is markedly downregulated in BAT and subcutaneous white adipose tissue (SAT) as a result of decreased expression of its transcriptional regulator Mef2. miR-133 directly targets and negatively regulates PRDM16, and inhibition of miR-133 or Mef2 promotes differentiation of precursors from BAT and SAT to mature brown adipocytes, thereby leading to increased mitochondrial activity. Forced expression of miR-133 in brown adipogenic conditions prevents the differentiation to brown adipocytes in both BAT and SAT precursors. Our results point to Mef2 and miR-133 as central upstream regulators of Prdm16 and hence of brown adipogenesis in response to cold exposure in BAT and SAT.

Concepts: Adenosine triphosphate, Oxidative phosphorylation, Adipocyte, Fat, Tissues, White adipose tissue, Brown adipose tissue, Adipose tissue


The ESCRT (endosomal sorting complex required for transport) machinery is responsible for scission of the cytokinetic bridge that connects daughter cells at the end of mitosis. Specific endosomes are now found to mediate local bridge constriction and actin clearance in human cells, which contribute to the recruitment of ESCRT components at the abscission site.

Concepts: Road transport, Road, Human, Chromosome, Eukaryote, Cell division, Cytokinesis, Golgi apparatus


Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) maintain lifelong blood production and increase blood cell numbers in response to chronic and acute injury. However, the mechanism(s) by which inflammatory insults are communicated to HSCs and their consequences for HSC activity remain largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that interleukin-1 (IL-1), which functions as a key pro-inflammatory ‘emergency’ signal, directly accelerates cell division and myeloid differentiation of HSCs through precocious activation of a PU.1-dependent gene program. Although this effect is essential for rapid myeloid recovery following acute injury to the bone marrow, chronic IL-1 exposure restricts HSC lineage output, severely erodes HSC self-renewal capacity, and primes IL-1-exposed HSCs to fail massive replicative challenges such as transplantation. Importantly, these damaging effects are transient and fully reversible on IL-1 withdrawal. Our results identify a critical regulatory circuit that tailors HSC responses to acute needs, and is likely to underlie deregulated blood homeostasis in chronic inflammation conditions.

Concepts: Gene, Cell division, Gene expression, Cellular differentiation, Inflammation, DNA, Bone marrow, Stem cell


Genomic instability is a key hallmark of cancer leading to tumour heterogeneity and therapeutic resistance. BRCA2 has a fundamental role in error-free DNA repair but also sustains genome integrity by promoting RAD51 nucleofilament formation at stalled replication forks. CDK2 phosphorylates BRCA2 (pS3291-BRCA2) to limit stabilizing contacts with polymerized RAD51; however, how replication stress modulates CDK2 activity and whether loss of pS3291-BRCA2 regulation results in genomic instability of tumours are not known. Here we demonstrate that the Hippo pathway kinase LATS1 interacts with CDK2 in response to genotoxic stress to constrain pS3291-BRCA2 and support RAD51 nucleofilaments, thereby maintaining genomic fidelity during replication stalling. We also show that LATS1 forms part of an ATR-mediated response to replication stress that requires the tumour suppressor RASSF1A. Importantly, perturbation of the ATR-RASSF1A-LATS1 signalling axis leads to genomic defects associated with loss of BRCA2 function and contributes to genomic instability and ‘BRCA-ness’ in lung cancers.

Concepts: DNA replication, Gene, Adenosine triphosphate, BRCA2, DNA, BRCA1, Oncology, Cancer


Growing microtubule end regions recruit a variety of proteins collectively termed +TIPs, which confer local functions to the microtubule cytoskeleton. +TIPs form dynamic interaction networks whose behaviour depends on a number of potentially competitive and hierarchical interaction modes. The rules that determine which of the various +TIPs are recruited to the limited number of available binding sites at microtubule ends remain poorly understood. Here we examined how the human dynein complex, the main minus-end-directed motor and an important +TIP (refs , , ), is targeted to growing microtubule ends in the presence of different +TIP competitors. Using a total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy-based reconstitution assay, we found that a hierarchical recruitment mode targets the large dynactin subunit p150Glued to growing microtubule ends via EB1 and CLIP-170 in the presence of competing SxIP-motif-containing peptides. We further show that the human dynein complex is targeted to growing microtubule ends through an interaction of the tail domain of dynein with p150Glued. Our results highlight how the connectivity and hierarchy within dynamic +TIP networks are orchestrated.

Concepts: Dynein, Eukaryote, Reflection, Microtubule, Kinesin, Total internal reflection fluorescence microscope, Human, Protein


During mouse postnatal eye development, the embryonic hyaloid vascular network regresses from the vitreous as an adaption for high-acuity vision. This process occurs with precisely controlled timing. Here, we show that opsin 5 (OPN5; also known as neuropsin)-dependent retinal light responses regulate vascular development in the postnatal eye. In Opn5-null mice, hyaloid vessels regress precociously. We demonstrate that 380-nm light stimulation via OPN5 and VGAT (the vesicular GABA/glycine transporter) in retinal ganglion cells enhances the activity of inner retinal DAT (also known as SLC6A3; a dopamine reuptake transporter) and thus suppresses vitreal dopamine. In turn, dopamine acts directly on hyaloid vascular endothelial cells to suppress the activity of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2) and promote hyaloid vessel regression. With OPN5 loss of function, the vitreous dopamine level is elevated and results in premature hyaloid regression. These investigations identify violet light as a developmental timing cue that, via an OPN5-dopamine pathway, regulates optic axis clearance in preparation for visual function.


A hallmark of ageing is dysfunction in nutrient signalling pathways that regulate glucose homeostasis, negatively affecting whole-body energy metabolism and ultimately increasing the organism’s susceptibility to disease. Maintenance of insulin sensitivity depends on functional mitochondrial networks, but is compromised by alterations in mitochondrial energy metabolism during ageing. Here we discuss metabolic paradigms that influence mammalian longevity, and highlight recent advances in identifying fundamental signalling pathways that influence metabolic health and ageing through mitochondrial perturbations.

Concepts: Glycogen, Carbohydrate, Organism, Nutrition, Mitochondrion, Adenosine triphosphate, Cellular respiration, Metabolism


Breaking the anterior-posterior symmetry in mammals occurs at gastrulation. Much of the signalling network underlying this process has been elucidated in the mouse; however, there is no direct molecular evidence of events driving axis formation in humans. Here, we use human embryonic stem cells to generate an in vitro three-dimensional model of a human epiblast whose size, cell polarity and gene expression are similar to a day 10 human epiblast. A defined dose of BMP4 spontaneously breaks axial symmetry, and induces markers of the primitive streak and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. We show that WNT signalling and its inhibitor DKK1 play key roles in this process downstream of BMP4. Our work demonstrates that a model human epiblast can break axial symmetry despite the absence of asymmetry in the initial signal and of extra-embryonic tissues or maternal cues. Our three-dimensional model is an assay for the molecular events underlying human axial symmetry breaking.


Although normally dormant, hair follicle stem cells (HFSCs) quickly become activated to divide during a new hair cycle. The quiescence of HFSCs is known to be regulated by a number of intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms. Here we provide several lines of evidence to demonstrate that HFSCs utilize glycolytic metabolism and produce significantly more lactate than other cells in the epidermis. Furthermore, lactate generation appears to be critical for the activation of HFSCs as deletion of lactate dehydrogenase (Ldha) prevented their activation. Conversely, genetically promoting lactate production in HFSCs through mitochondrial pyruvate carrier 1 (Mpc1) deletion accelerated their activation and the hair cycle. Finally, we identify small molecules that increase lactate production by stimulating Myc levels or inhibiting Mpc1 carrier activity and can topically induce the hair cycle. These data suggest that HFSCs maintain a metabolic state that allows them to remain dormant and yet quickly respond to appropriate proliferative stimuli.

Concepts: Bacteria, Stem cell, Adenosine triphosphate, Cell, Lactic acid, DNA, Lactate dehydrogenase, Protein


The c-Myc oncogene drives malignant progression and induces robust anabolic and proliferative programmes leading to intrinsic stress. The mechanisms enabling adaptation to MYC-induced stress are not fully understood. Here we reveal an essential role for activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) in survival following MYC activation. MYC upregulates ATF4 by activating general control nonderepressible 2 (GCN2) kinase through uncharged transfer RNAs. Subsequently, ATF4 co-occupies promoter regions of over 30 MYC-target genes, primarily those regulating amino acid and protein synthesis, including eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein 1 (4E-BP1), a negative regulator of translation. 4E-BP1 relieves MYC-induced proteotoxic stress and is essential to balance protein synthesis. 4E-BP1 activity is negatively regulated by mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1)-dependent phosphorylation and inhibition of mTORC1 signalling rescues ATF4-deficient cells from MYC-induced endoplasmic reticulum stress. Acute deletion of ATF4 significantly delays MYC-driven tumour progression and increases survival in mouse models. Our results establish ATF4 as a cellular rheostat of MYC activity, which ensures that enhanced translation rates are compatible with survival and tumour progression.