Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hot off the presses! Jan 07 Cell

The Jan 07 issue of the Cell is now up on Pubget (About Cell): if you're at a subscribing institution, just click the link in the latest link at the home page. (Note you'll only be able to get all the PDFs in the issue if your institution subscribes to Pubget.)

Latest Articles Include:

  • In This Issue
    - cell 144(1):1, 3 (2011)
  • Cell Culture: New Year's Diets
    - cell 144(1):5, 7 (2011)
    If 2011 shapes up like the previous year, then 30% of Americans will go on a diet. In fact, many of us have already jumped on a weight loss regime to counteract overindulgences during the holidays. In this Cell Culture, we take a peek at the biology behind popular diets, exploring the metabolic and neurological tricks that ramp up lipid metabolism and curb appetite before and during meals.
  • Cancer Genomes Evolve by Pulverizing Single Chromosomes
    - cell 144(1):9-10 (2011)
    A report in this issue describes "chromothripsis," a new mechanism for genetic instability in cancer cells. Chromothripsis appears to be a cataclysmic event in which a single chromosome is fragmented and then reassembled. The phenomenon raises important questions of how chromosome rearrangements can be confined to defined genome segments.
  • Mitochondrial Stress Signals Revise an Old Aging Theory
    - cell 144(1):11-12 (2011)
    In this issue, Durieux et al. (2011) describe a tissue-specific signal, originating from mitochondria, that acts cell non-autonomously to regulate life span in the nematode, C. elegans. This new finding provides a first step toward resolving the relative contributions of mitochondrial free radical damage and signaling mechanisms in aging.
  • Fishing for Biomarkers with Antigen Mimics
    - cell 144(1):13-15 (2011)
    Current efforts to identify antibodies that are biomarkers of disease rely on knowing the antigens they target. In many diseases, however, the relevant antigens are unknown. Reddy et al. (2010) now present an approach for discovering antibody biomarkers that avoids the need for antigen identification.
  • Epigenetics in Alternative Pre-mRNA Splicing
    - cell 144(1):16-26 (2011)
    Alternative splicing plays critical roles in differentiation, development, and disease and is a major source for protein diversity in higher eukaryotes. Analysis of alternative splicing regulation has traditionally focused on RNA sequence elements and their associated splicing factors, but recent provocative studies point to a key function of chromatin structure and histone modifications in alternative splicing regulation. These insights suggest that epigenetic regulation determines not only what parts of the genome are expressed but also how they are spliced.
  • Massive Genomic Rearrangement Acquired in a Single Catastrophic Event during Cancer Development
    - cell 144(1):27-40 (2011)
    Cancer is driven by somatically acquired point mutations and chromosomal rearrangements, conventionally thought to accumulate gradually over time. Using next-generation sequencing, we characterize a phenomenon, which we term chromothripsis, whereby tens to hundreds of genomic rearrangements occur in a one-off cellular crisis. Rearrangements involving one or a few chromosomes crisscross back and forth across involved regions, generating frequent oscillations between two copy number states. These genomic hallmarks are highly improbable if rearrangements accumulate over time and instead imply that nearly all occur during a single cellular catastrophe. The stamp of chromothripsis can be seen in at least 2%–3% of all cancers, across many subtypes, and is present in 25% of bone cancers. We find that one, or indeed more than one, cancer-causing lesion can emerge out of the genomic crisis. This phenomenon has important implications for the origins of genomic remodeling and t! emporal emergence of cancer. PaperClip To listen to this audio, enable JavaScript on your browser. However, you can download and play the audio by clicking on the icon below Download this Audio (2929 K)
  • The Cul4-Ddb1Cdt2 Ubiquitin Ligase Inhibits Invasion of a Boundary-Associated Antisilencing Factor into Heterochromatin
    - cell 144(1):41-54 (2011)
    Partitioning of chromosomes into euchromatic and heterochromatic domains requires mechanisms that specify boundaries. The S. pombe JmjC family protein Epe1 prevents the ectopic spread of heterochromatin and is itself concentrated at boundaries. Paradoxically, Epe1 is recruited to heterochromatin by HP1 silencing factors that are distributed throughout heterochromatin. We demonstrate here that the selective enrichment of Epe1 at boundaries requires its regulation by the conserved Cul4-Ddb1Cdt2 ubiquitin ligase, which directly recognizes Epe1 and promotes its polyubiquitylation and degradation. Strikingly, in cells lacking the ligase, Epe1 persists in the body of heterochromatin thereby inducing a defect in gene silencing. Epe1 is the sole target of the Cul4-Ddb1Cdt2 complex whose destruction is necessary for the preservation of heterochromatin. This mechanism acts parallel with phosphorylation of HP1/Swi6 by CK2 to restrict Epe1. We conclude that the ubiquitin-dependent! sculpting of the chromosomal distribution of an antisilencing factor is critical for heterochromatin boundaries to form correctly.
  • Crystal Structure and Allosteric Activation of Protein Kinase C βII
    - cell 144(1):55-66 (2011)
    Protein kinase C (PKC) isozymes are the paradigmatic effectors of lipid signaling. PKCs translocate to cell membranes and are allosterically activated upon binding of the lipid diacylglycerol to their C1A and C1B domains. The crystal structure of full-length protein kinase C βII was determined at 4.0 Å, revealing the conformation of an unexpected intermediate in the activation pathway. Here, the kinase active site is accessible to substrate, yet the conformation of the active site corresponds to a low-activity state because the ATP-binding side chain of Phe629 of the conserved NFD motif is displaced. The C1B domain clamps the NFD helix in a low-activity conformation, which is reversed upon membrane binding. A low-resolution solution structure of the closed conformation of PKCβII was derived from small-angle X-ray scattering. Together, these results show how PKCβII is allosterically regulated in two steps, with the second step defining a novel protein kinase regulat! ory mechanism.
  • Amyloid-like Aggregates Sequester Numerous Metastable Proteins with Essential Cellular Functions
    - cell 144(1):67-78 (2011)
    Protein aggregation is linked with neurodegeneration and numerous other diseases by mechanisms that are not well understood. Here, we have analyzed the gain-of-function toxicity of artificial β sheet proteins that were designed to form amyloid-like fibrils. Using quantitative proteomics, we found that the toxicity of these proteins in human cells correlates with the capacity of their aggregates to promote aberrant protein interactions and to deregulate the cytosolic stress response. The endogenous proteins that are sequestered by the aggregates share distinct physicochemical properties: They are relatively large in size and significantly enriched in predicted unstructured regions, features that are strongly linked with multifunctionality. Many of the interacting proteins occupy essential hub positions in cellular protein networks, with key roles in chromatin organization, transcription, translation, maintenance of cell architecture and protein quality control. We sugg! est that amyloidogenic aggregation targets a metastable subproteome, thereby causing multifactorial toxicity and, eventually, the collapse of essential cellular functions. PaperFlick To view the video inline, enable JavaScript on your browser. However, you can download and view the video by clicking on the icon below Download this Video (20161 K)
  • The Cell-Non-Autonomous Nature of Electron Transport Chain-Mediated Longevity
    - cell 144(1):79-91 (2011)
    The life span of C. elegans can be increased via reduced function of the mitochondria; however, the extent to which mitochondrial alteration in a single, distinct tissue may influence aging in the whole organism remains unknown. We addressed this question by asking whether manipulations to ETC function can modulate aging in a cell-non-autonomous fashion. We report that the alteration of mitochondrial function in key tissues is essential for establishing and maintaining a prolongevity cue. We find that regulators of mitochondrial stress responses are essential and specific genetic requirements for the electron transport chain (ETC) longevity pathway. Strikingly, we find that mitochondrial perturbation in one tissue is perceived and acted upon by the mitochondrial stress response pathway in a distal tissue. These results suggest that mitochondria may establish and perpetuate the rate of aging for the whole organism independent of cell-autonomous functions.
  • Dynamics between Stem Cells, Niche, and Progeny in the Hair Follicle
    - cell 144(1):92-105 (2011)
    Here, we exploit the hair follicle to define the point at which stem cells (SCs) become irreversibly committed along a differentiation lineage. Employing histone and nucleotide double-pulse-chase and lineage tracing, we show that the early SC descendents en route to becoming transit-amplifying cells retain stemness and slow-cycling properties and home back to the bulge niche when hair growth stops. These become the primary SCs for the next hair cycle, whereas initial bulge SCs become reserves for injury. Proliferating descendents further en route irreversibly lose their stemness, although they retain many SC markers and survive, unlike their transit-amplifying progeny. Remarkably, these progeny also home back to the bulge. Combining purification and gene expression analysis with differential ablation and functional experiments, we define critical functions for these non-SC niche residents and unveil the intriguing concept that an irreversibly committed cell in an SC li! neage can become an essential contributor to the niche microenvironment.
  • Presenilin-Dependent Receptor Processing Is Required for Axon Guidance
    - cell 144(1):106-118 (2011)
    The Alzheimer's disease-linked gene presenilin is required for intramembrane proteolysis of amyloid-β precursor protein, contributing to the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration that is characterized by loss of neuronal connections, but the role of Presenilin in establishing neuronal connections is less clear. Through a forward genetic screen in mice for recessive genes affecting motor neurons, we identified the Columbus allele, which disrupts motor axon projections from the spinal cord. We mapped this mutation to the Presenilin-1 gene. Motor neurons and commissural interneurons in Columbus mutants lacking Presenilin-1 acquire an inappropriate attraction to Netrin produced by the floor plate because of an accumulation of DCC receptor fragments within the membrane that are insensitive to Slit/Robo silencing. Our findings reveal that Presenilin-dependent DCC receptor processing coordinates the interplay between Netrin/DCC and Slit/Robo signaling. Thus, Presenilin is a key ! neural circuit builder that gates the spatiotemporal pattern of guidance signaling, thereby ensuring neural projections occur with high fidelity.
  • Tunable Signal Processing in Synthetic MAP Kinase Cascades
    - cell 144(1):119-131 (2011)
    The flexibility of MAPK cascade responses enables regulation of a vast array of cell fate decisions, but elucidating the mechanisms underlying this plasticity is difficult in endogenous signaling networks. We constructed insulated mammalian MAPK cascades in yeast to explore how intrinsic and extrinsic perturbations affect the flexibility of these synthetic signaling modules. Contrary to biphasic dependence on scaffold concentration, we observe monotonic decreases in signal strength as scaffold concentration increases. We find that augmenting the concentration of sequential kinases can enhance ultrasensitivity and lower the activation threshold. Further, integrating negative regulation and concentration variation can decouple ultrasensitivity and threshold from the strength of the response. Computational analyses show that cascading can generate ultrasensitivity and that natural cascades with different kinase concentrations are innately biased toward their distinct acti! vation profiles. This work demonstrates that tunable signal processing is inherent to minimal MAPK modules and elucidates principles for rational design of synthetic signaling systems.
  • Identification of Candidate IgG Biomarkers for Alzheimer's Disease via Combinatorial Library Screening
    - cell 144(1):132-142 (2011)
    The adaptive immune system is thought to be a rich source of protein biomarkers, but diagnostically useful antibodies remain unknown for a large number of diseases. This is, in part, because the antigens that trigger an immune response in many diseases remain unknown. We present here a general and unbiased approach to the identification of diagnostically useful antibodies that avoids the requirement for antigen identification. This method involves the comparative screening of combinatorial libraries of unnatural, synthetic molecules against serum samples obtained from cases and controls. Molecules that retain far more IgG antibodies from the case samples than the controls are identified and subsequently tested as capture agents for diagnostically useful antibodies. The utility of this method is demonstrated using a mouse model for multiple sclerosis and via the identification of two candidate IgG biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease.
  • Phenotypic Landscape of a Bacterial Cell
    - cell 144(1):143-156 (2011)
    The explosion of sequence information in bacteria makes developing high-throughput, cost-effective approaches to matching genes with phenotypes imperative. Using E. coli as proof of principle, we show that combining large-scale chemical genomics with quantitative fitness measurements provides a high-quality data set rich in discovery. Probing growth profiles of a mutant library in hundreds of conditions in parallel yielded > 10,000 phenotypes that allowed us to study gene essentiality, discover leads for gene function and drug action, and understand higher-order organization of the bacterial chromosome. We highlight new information derived from the study, including insights into a gene involved in multiple antibiotic resistance and the synergy between a broadly used combinatory antibiotic therapy, trimethoprim and sulfonamides. This data set, publicly available at, is a valuable resource for both the microbiological and bioinformatic! communities, as it provides high-confidence associations between hundreds of annotated and uncharacterized genes as well as inferences about the mode of action of several poorly understood drugs.
  • SnapShot: Chromatin Remodeling: INO80 and SWR1
    - cell 144(1):158-158.e2 (2011)

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