Recent papers from Molecular Cell

Recent papers from Molecular Cell

Molecular Cell

 

 

 

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  • Single-Molecule Imaging Uncovers Rules Governing Nonsense-Mediated mRNA Decay
    Nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) is a surveillance system that degrades mRNAs containing a premature termination codon (PTC) and plays important roles in protein homeostasis and disease. The efficiency of NMD is variable, impacting the clinical outcome of genetic mutations. However, limited resolution of bulk analyses has hampered the study of NMD efficiency. Here, we develop an assay to visualize NMD of individual mRNA molecules in real time. We find that NMD occurs with equal probability during each round of translation of an mRNA molecule. However, this probability is variable and depends on the exon sequence downstream of the PTC, the PTC-to-intron distance, and the number of introns both upstream and downstream of the PTC. Additionally, a subpopulation of mRNAs can escape NMD, further contributing to variation in NMD efficiency. Our study uncovers real-time dynamics of NMD, reveals key mechanisms that influence NMD efficiency, and provides a powerful method to study NMD.
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  • RPA Phosphorylation Inhibits DNA Resection
    Genetic recombination in all kingdoms of life initiates when helicases and nucleases process (resect) the free DNA ends to expose single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) overhangs. Resection regulation in bacteria is programmed by a DNA sequence, but a general mechanism limiting resection in eukaryotes has remained elusive. Using single-molecule imaging of reconstituted human DNA repair factors, we identify phosphorylated RPA (pRPA) as a negative resection regulator. Bloom’s syndrome (BLM) helicase together with exonuclease 1 (EXO1) and DNA2 nucleases catalyze kilobase-length DNA resection on nucleosome-coated DNA. The resulting ssDNA is rapidly bound by RPA, which further stimulates DNA resection. RPA is phosphorylated during resection as part of the DNA damage response (DDR). Remarkably, pRPA inhibits DNA resection in cellular assays and in vitro via inhibition of BLM helicase. pRPA suppresses BLM initiation at DNA ends and promotes the intrinsic helicase strand-switching activity. These findings establish that pRPA provides a feedback loop between DNA resection and the DDR.
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  • Arc Oligomerization Is Regulated by CaMKII Phosphorylation of the GAG Domain: An Essential Mechanism for Plasticity and Memory Formation
    Arc is a synaptic protein essential for memory consolidation. Recent studies indicate that Arc originates in evolution from a Ty3-Gypsy retrotransposon GAG domain. The N-lobe of Arc GAG domain acquired a hydrophobic binding pocket in higher vertebrates that is essential for Arc’s canonical function to weaken excitatory synapses. Here, we report that Arc GAG also acquired phosphorylation sites that can acutely regulate its synaptic function. CaMKII phosphorylates the N-lobe of the Arc GAG domain and disrupts an interaction surface essential for high-order oligomerization. In Purkinje neurons, CaMKII phosphorylation acutely reverses Arc’s synaptic action. Mutant Arc that cannot be phosphorylated by CaMKII enhances metabotropic receptor-dependent depression in the hippocampus but does not alter baseline synaptic transmission or long-term potentiation. Behavioral studies indicate that hippocampus- and amygdala-dependent learning requires Arc GAG domain phosphorylation. These studies provide an atomic model for dynamic and local control of Arc function underlying synaptic plasticity and memory.
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  • Lysosome Positioning Influences mTORC2 and AKT Signaling
    Growth factor signaling is initiated at the plasma membrane and propagated through the cytoplasm for eventual relay to intracellular organelles such as lysosomes. The serine/threonine kinase mTOR participates in growth factor signaling as a component of two multi-subunit complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2. mTORC1 associates with lysosomes, and its activity depends on the positioning of lysosomes within the cytoplasm, although there is no consensus regarding the exact effect of perinuclear versus peripheral distribution. mTORC2 and its substrate kinase AKT have a widespread distribution, but they are thought to act mainly at the plasma membrane. Using cell lines with knockout of components of the lysosome-positioning machinery, we show that perinuclear clustering of lysosomes delays reactivation of not only mTORC1, but also mTORC2 and AKT upon serum replenishment. These experiments demonstrate the existence of pools of mTORC2 and AKT that are sensitive to lysosome positioning.
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  • Cyclin F Controls Cell-Cycle Transcriptional Outputs by Directing the Degradation of the Three Activator E2Fs
    E2F1, E2F2, and E2F3A, the three activators of the E2F family of transcription factors, are key regulators of the G1/S transition, promoting transcription of hundreds of genes critical for cell-cycle progression. We found that during late S and in G2, the degradation of all three activator E2Fs is controlled by cyclin F, the substrate receptor of 1 of 69 human SCF ubiquitin ligase complexes. E2F1, E2F2, and E2F3A interact with the cyclin box of cyclin F via their conserved N-terminal cyclin binding motifs. In the short term, E2F mutants unable to bind cyclin F remain stable throughout the cell cycle, induce unscheduled transcription in G2 and mitosis, and promote faster entry into the next S phase. However, in the long term, they impair cell fitness. We propose that by restricting E2F activity to the S phase, cyclin F controls one of the main and most critical transcriptional engines of the cell cycle.
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  • RNA Targets Ribogenesis Factor WDR43 to Chromatin for Transcription and Pluripotency Control
    Transcription regulation underlies stem cell function and development. Here, we elucidate an unexpected role of an essential ribogenesis factor, WDR43, as a chromatin-associated RNA-binding protein (RBP) and release factor in modulating the polymerase (Pol) II activity for pluripotency regulation. WDR43 binds prominently to promoter-associated noncoding/nascent RNAs, occupies thousands of gene promoters and enhancers, and interacts with the Pol II machinery in embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Nascent transcripts and transcription recruit WDR43 to active promoters, where WDR43 facilitates releases of the elongation factor P-TEFb and paused Pol II. Knockdown of WDR43 causes genome-wide defects in Pol II release and pluripotency-associated gene expression. Importantly, auxin-mediated rapid degradation of WDR43 drastically reduces Pol II activity, precluding indirect consequences. These results reveal an RNA-mediated recruitment and feedforward regulation on transcription and demonstrate an unforeseen role of an RBP in promoting Pol II elongation and coordinating high-level transcription and translation in ESC pluripotency.
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  • SLC19A1 Is an Importer of the Immunotransmitter cGAMP
    2′3′-cyclic-GMP-AMP (cGAMP) is a second messenger that activates the antiviral stimulator of interferon genes (STING) pathway. We recently identified a novel role for cGAMP as a soluble, extracellular immunotransmitter that is produced and secreted by cancer cells. Secreted cGAMP is then sensed by host cells, eliciting an antitumoral immune response. Due to the antitumoral effects of cGAMP, other CDN-based STING agonists are currently under investigation in clinical trials for metastatic solid tumors. However, it is unknown how cGAMP and other CDNs cross the cell membrane to activate intracellular STING. Using a genome-wide CRISPR screen, we identified SLC19A1 as the first known importer of cGAMP and other CDNs, including the investigational new drug 2′3′-bisphosphosphothioate-cyclic-di-AMP (2′3′-CDAS). These discoveries will provide insight into cGAMP’s role as an immunotransmitter and aid in the development of more targeted CDN-based cancer therapeutics.
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  • Transcription Restart Establishes Chromatin Accessibility after DNA Replication
    DNA replication is highly disruptive to chromatin, leading to eviction of nucleosomes, RNA polymerase, and regulatory factors. When and how transcription resumes on DNA following DNA replication is unknown. Here we develop a replication-coupled assay for transposase-accessible chromatin (repli-ATAC-seq) to investigate active chromatin restoration post-replication in mouse embryonic stem cells. We find that nascent chromatin is inaccessible and transcriptionally silenced, with accessibility and RNA polymerase occupancy re-appearing within 30 minutes. Chromatin accessibility restores differentially genome wide, with super enhancers regaining transcription factor occupancy faster than other genomic features. We also identify opportunistic and transiently accessible chromatin within gene bodies after replication. Systematic inhibition of transcription shows that transcription restart is required to re-establish active chromatin states genome wide and resolve opportunistic binding events resulting from DNA replication. Collectively, this establishes a central role for transcription in overcoming the genome-wide chromatin inaccessibility imposed by DNA replication every cell division.
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  • Co-transcriptional Loading of RNA Export Factors Shapes the Human Transcriptome
    During gene expression, RNA export factors are mainly known for driving nucleo-cytoplasmic transport. While early studies suggested that the exon junction complex (EJC) provides a binding platform for them, subsequent work proposed that they are only recruited by the cap binding complex to the 5′ end of RNAs, as part of TREX. Using iCLIP, we show that the export receptor Nxf1 and two TREX subunits, Alyref and Chtop, are recruited to the whole mRNA co-transcriptionally via splicing but before 3′ end processing. Consequently, Alyref alters splicing decisions and Chtop regulates alternative polyadenylation. Alyref is recruited to the 5′ end of RNAs by CBC, and our data reveal subsequent binding to RNAs near EJCs. We demonstrate that eIF4A3 stimulates Alyref deposition not only on spliced RNAs close to EJC sites but also on single-exon transcripts. Our study reveals mechanistic insights into the co-transcriptional recruitment of mRNA export factors and how this shapes the human transcriptome.