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Journal: The Journal of biological chemistry


Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a polymicrobial imbalance of the vaginal microbiota associated with reproductive infections, preterm birth, and other adverse health outcomes. Sialidase activity in vaginal fluids is diagnostic of BV and sialic acid-rich components of mucus have protective and immunological roles. However, while mucus degradation is believed to be important in the etiology and complications associated with BV, the role(s) of sialidases and the participation of individual bacterial species in the degradation of mucus barriers in BV have not been investigated. Here we demonstrate that the BV-associated bacterium Gardnerella vaginalis uses sialidase to break down and deplete sialic-acid-containing mucus components in the vagina. Biochemical evidence using purified sialoglycan substrates supports a model in which 1) G. vaginalis extracellular sialidase hydrolyzes mucosal sialoglycans, 2) liberated sialic acid (N-acetylneuraminic acid) is transported into the bacterium, a process inhibited by excess N-glycolylneuraminic acid, and 3) sialic acid catabolism is initiated by an intracellular aldolase/lyase mechanism. G. vaginalis engaged in sialoglycan foraging in vitro, in the presence of human vaginal mucus, and in vivo, in a murine vaginal model, in each case leading to depletion of sialic acids. Comparison of sialic acid levels in human vaginal specimens also demonstrated significant depletion of mucus sialic acids in women with BV compared to women with a normal lactobacilli-dominated microbiota. Taken together, these studies show that G. vaginalis utilizes sialidase to support the degradation, foraging, and depletion of protective host mucus barriers, and that this process of mucus barrier degradation and depletion also occurs in the clinical setting of BV.

Concepts: Childbirth, Bacteria, Cervix, Lactic acid, Vagina, Bacterial vaginosis, Gardnerella vaginalis, Clue cell


Mycobacteria are shaped by a thick envelope made of an array of uniquely structured lipids and polysaccharides. However, the spatial organizations of these molecules remain unclear. Here we show that exposure to an esterase from Mycobacterium smegmatis (Msmeg_1529), hydrolyzing the ester linkage of trehalose dimycolate (TDM) in vitro, triggers rapid and efficient lysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycobacterium bovis BCG, and Mycobacterium marinum. Exposure to the esterase immediately releases free mycolic acids, while concomitantly depleting trehalose mycolates. Moreover, lysis could be competitively inhibited by an excess of purified TDM and was abolished by a S124A mutation affecting the catalytic activity of the esterase. These findings are consistent with an indispensible structural role of trehalose mycolates in architectural design of the exposed surface of mycobacterial envelope. Importantly, we also demonstrate that the esterase-mediated rapid lysis of M. tuberculosis significantly improves its detection in paucibacillary samples.

Concepts: Tuberculosis, Mycobacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycobacterium smegmatis, Mycobacterium bovis, Corynebacterineae, Acid fast bacilli, Mycobacterium marinum


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are antidepressants used for the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders. Here we demonstrate that incubation (2 h) of murine islets or Min6 β cell line with the SSRIs paroxetine, fluoxetine or sertraline inhibited insulin-induced Tyr phosphorylation of insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-2 protein and the activation of its downstream targets Akt and S6K1. Inhibition was dose-dependent with half-maximal effects at ~15-20 μM. It correlated with a rapid phosphorylation and activation of the IRS kinase GSK3β. Introduction of GSK3β-siRNAs eliminated the inhibitory effects of the SSRIs. Inhibition of IRS-2 action by 30 μM SSRIs was associated with a marked inhibition of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion from murine and human pancreatic islets. Secretion induced by basic secretagogues (KCl and Arg) was not affected by these drugs. Prolonged treatment (16h) of Min6 cells with sertraline resulted in the induction of iNOS; activation of an ER stress and the initiation of the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR), manifested by enhanced transcription of ATF4 and CHOP. This triggered an apoptotic process, manifested by enhanced caspase 3/7 activity, that resulted in beta cell death. These findings implicate SSRIs as inhibitors of IRS protein function and insulin action through the activation of GSK3β. They further suggest that SSRIs inhibit insulin secretion; induce the UPR; activate an apoptotic process and trigger beta cell death. Given that SSRIs promote insulin resistance while inhibiting insulin secretion, these drugs might accelerate the transition from an insulin resistant state to overt diabetes.

Concepts: Insulin, Islets of Langerhans, Beta cell, Serotonin, Antidepressant, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Sertraline, Fluoxetine


The microtubule-associated protein targeting protein for Xenopus kinesin-like protein 2 (TPX2) plays a key role in spindle assembly and is required for mitosis in human cells. In interphase, TPX2 is actively imported into the nucleus to prevent its premature activity in microtubule organization. To date, no function has been assigned to nuclear TPX2. We now report that TPX2 plays a role in the cellular response to DNA double strand breaks induced by ionizing radiation. Loss of TPX2 leads to inordinately strong and transient accumulation of ionizing radiation-dependent Ser-139-phosphorylated Histone 2AX (γ-H2AX) at G(0) and G(1) phases of the cell cycle. This is accompanied by the formation of increased numbers of high intensity γ-H2AX ionizing radiation-induced foci. Conversely, cells overexpressing TPX2 have reduced levels of γ-H2AX after ionizing radiation. Consistent with a role for TPX2 in the DNA damage response, we found that the protein accumulates at DNA double strand breaks and associates with the mediator of DNA damage checkpoint 1 (MDC1) and the ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) kinase, both key regulators of γ-H2AX amplification. Pharmacologic inhibition or depletion of ATM or MDC1, but not of DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK), antagonizes the γ-H2AX phenotype caused by TPX2 depletion. Importantly, the regulation of γ-H2AX signals by TPX2 is not associated with apoptosis or the mitotic functions of TPX2. In sum, our study identifies a novel and the first nuclear function for TPX2 in the cellular responses to DNA damage.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Cell nucleus, Chromosome, DNA repair, Cell cycle, Mitosis


The actin-based molecular motor myosin VI functions in the endocytic uptake pathway, both during the early stages of clathrin-mediated uptake and in later transport to/from early endosomes. This study uses fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) to examine the turnover rate of myosin VI during endocytosis. The results demonstrate that myosin VI turns over dynamically on endocytic structures with a characteristic half-life common to both the large insert isoform of myosin VI on clathrin-coated structures and the no-insert isoform on early endosomes. This half-life is shared by the myosin VI-binding partner Dab2 and is identical for full-length myosin VI and the cargo-binding tail region. The 4-fold slower half-life of an artificially dimerized construct of myosin VI on clathrin-coated structures suggests that wild type myosin VI does not function as a stable dimer, but either as a monomer or in a monomer/dimer equilibrium. Taken together, these FRAP results offer insight into both the basic turnover dynamics and the monomer/dimer nature of myosin VI.

Concepts: Fluorescence, Molecular biology, Function, Dynamics, Endosome, Receptor-mediated endocytosis, Dynamin, Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching


Activation of lipid metabolism is an early event in carcinogenesis and a central hallmark of many tumors. Fatty acid synthase (FASN) is a key lipogenic enzyme catalyzing the terminal steps in the de novo biogenesis of fatty acids. In cancer cells, FASN may act as a metabolic oncogene given that it confers growth and survival advantages to these cells, whereas its inhibition effectively and selectively kills tumor cells. Hormones like estrogens and growth factors contribute to the transcriptional regulation of FASN expression also through the activation of downstream signaling and a crosstalk among diverse transduction pathways. In this study, we demonstrate for the first time that 17β-estradiol (E2) and the selective GPER ligand G-1 regulate FASN expression and activity through the GPER-mediated signaling which involved the EGFR/ERK/c-fos/AP1 transduction pathway, as ascertained by using specific pharmacological inhibitors, performing gene-silencing experiments and ChiP assays in breast SkBr3, colorectal LoVo, hepatocarcinoma HepG2 cancer cells and breast cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). In addition, the proliferative effects induced by E2 and G-1 in these cells involved FASN as the inhibitor of its activity, named cerulenin, abolished the growth response to both ligands. Our data suggest that GPER may be included among the transduction mediators involved by estrogens in regulating FASN expression and activity in cancer cells and CAFs that strongly contribute to cancer progression.

Concepts: Gene expression, Cancer, Oncology, Signal transduction, Metabolism, Fatty acid metabolism, Enzyme inhibitor, Fatty acid synthase


Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato is the causative agent of Lyme disease (LD). Recent studies have shown that recognition of the spirochete is mediated mainly by TLR2 and NOD2. The latter receptor has been associated with the induction of the intracellular degradation process called autophagy. The present study demonstrated for the first time the induction of autophagy by exposure to B. burgdorferi and that autophagy modulates the B. burgdorferi-dependent cytokine production. Human PBMCs treated with autophagy inhibitors showed an increased IL-1β and IL-6 production in response to the exposure of the spirochete, while TNFα production was unchanged. Autophagy induction against B. burgdorferi was dependent on reactive oxygen species (ROS) since cells from patients with chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), which are defective in ROS production, also produced elevated IL-1β. Further, the enhanced production of the pro-inflammatory cytokines was because of the elevated mRNA expression in the absence of autophagy. Our results thus demonstrate the induction of autophagy, which in-turn modulates cytokine production, by B. burgdorferi for the first time.

Concepts: Bacteria, Cytokine, Reactive oxygen species, Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia, Spirochaetes, Spirochaete


Lavender essential oils are predominantly constituted of regular monoterpenes, for example linalool, 1, 8 cineole and camphor. However, they also contain irregular monoterpenes including lavandulol and lavandulyl acetate. Although the majority of genes responsible for the production of regular monoterpenes in lavenders are now known, enzymes (including LPPS) catalyzing the biosynthesis of irregular monoterpenes in these plants have not been described. Here, we report the isolation and functional characterization of a novel cis prenyl diphosphate synthase cDNA, termed L. x intermedia lavandulyl diphosphate synthase (LiLPPS), through a homology based cloning strategy. The LiLPPS ORF, encoding for a 305 amino acids long protein, was expressed in E. coli and the recombinant protein was purified by NiNTA affinity chromatography. The ca. 34.5 kDa bacterially produced protein specifically catalyzed the head to middle condensation of two DMAPP units to LPP in vitro with apparent Km and kcat values of 208 microM and 0.1, respectively. LiLPPS is a homodimeric enzyme with a sigmoidal saturation curve and hill coefficient of 2.7, suggesting a positive cooperative interaction among its catalytic sites. LiLPPS could be used to modulate the production of lavandulol and its derivatives in plants through metabolic engineering.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Amino acid, Metabolism, Enzyme, Escherichia coli, Essential oil, Lavender


Based on previous comparative genomic analyses, a set of nearly 600 polypeptides, of which ~300 have unknown physiological function, was identified that is present in green algae and flowering and nonflowering plants, but not present (or highly diverged) in non-photosynthetic organisms. The gene encoding one of these GreenCut proteins, CPLD38, is in the same operon as ndhL in most cyanobacteria; NdhL is part of a complex essential for cyanobacterial respiration. A cpld38 mutant of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii did not grow on minimal medium, was high light sensitive under photoheterotrophic conditions, had lower accumulation of photosynthetic complexes, reduced photosynthetic electron flow to P700+, and reduced photochemical efficiency of photosystem II; these phenotypes were rescued by a wild-type copy of CPLD38. Biophysical and biochemical analyses demonstrated that cytochrome b6f function was severely compromised, and levels of transcripts and polypeptide subunits associated with the cytochrome b6f complex were also significantly lower in the mutant; the subunits of the cytochrome b6f complex turned over much more rapidly in mutant than in wild-type cells. Interestingly, PTOX2 and NDA2, two major proteins involved in chlororespiration, were more than 5-fold higher in mutant relative to wild-type cells, suggesting a shift from photosynthesis toward chlororespiratory metabolism in mutant cells, which is supported by experiments that quantify the reduction state of the plastoquinone pool. These findings support the hypothesis that CPLD38 impacts the stability of the cytochrome b6f complex and may play a key role in balancing redox inputs to the quinone pool from photosynthesis and chlororespiration.

Concepts: Cyanobacteria, Photosynthesis, Protein, Gene, Carbon dioxide, Photosystem, Plastocyanin, Plastoquinone


The 11 members of the Membrane-associated RING-CH (MARCH) ubiquitin ligase family are relatively unexplored. Upon exogenous (over)expression, a number of these ligases can affect the trafficking of membrane molecules, but only in case of MARCH-1 endogenous functions have been demonstrated. Of the other endogenous MARCH proteins, no functions or substrates are known. We report here that TRAIL-receptor ®1 is a physiological substrate of the endogenous MARCH-8 ligase. The two human TRAIL death receptors play a role in immunosurveillance and are targets for cancer therapy, since they selectively induce apoptosis in tumor cells. We demonstrate that TRAIL-R1 is downregulated from the cell surface, with great preference over TRAIL-R2, by exogenous expression of MARCH ligases that are implicated in endosomal trafficking, such as MARCH-1 and -8. MARCH-8 attenuated TRAIL-R1 cell surface expression and apoptosis signaling by virtue of its ligase activity. This suggested that ubiquitination of TRAIL-R1 was instrumental in its downregulation by MARCH-8. Indeed, in cells with endogenous MARCH expression, TRAIL-R1 was ubiquitinated at steady-state, with the conserved membrane-proximal lysine 273 as interaction and potential acceptor site. This residue was also essential for the interaction of TRAIL-R1 with MARCH-1 and MARCH-8 and its downregulation by these ligases. Gene silencing identified MARCH-8 as the endogenous ligase that ubiquitinates TRAIL-R1 and attenuates its cell surface expression. These findings reveal that endogenous MARCH-8 regulates the steady-state cell surface expression of TRAIL-R1.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Cancer, Enzyme, Posttranslational modification, Proteasome, Ubiquitin, Ubiquitin ligase