Recent papers from Molecular Cell

Recent papers from Molecular Cell

Molecular Cell

 

 

 

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  • An Early mtUPR: Redistribution of the Nuclear Transcription Factor Rox1 to Mitochondria Protects against Intramitochondrial Proteotoxic Aggregates
    The mitochondrial proteome is built mainly by import of nuclear-encoded precursors, which are targeted mostly by cleavable presequences. Presequence processing upon import is essential for proteostasis and survival, but the consequences of dysfunctional protein maturation are unknown. We find that impaired presequence processing causes accumulation of precursors inside mitochondria that form aggregates, which escape degradation and unexpectedly do not cause cell death. Instead, cells survive via activation of a mitochondrial unfolded protein response (mtUPR)-like pathway that is triggered very early after precursor accumulation. In contrast to classical stress pathways, this immediate response maintains mitochondrial protein import, membrane potential, and translation through translocation of the nuclear HMG-box transcription factor Rox1 to mitochondria. Rox1 binds mtDNA and performs a TFAM-like function pivotal for transcription and translation. Induction of early mtUPR provides a reversible stress model to mechanistically dissect the initial steps in mtUPR pathways with the stressTFAM Rox1 as the first line of defense.
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  • Loss of Dynamic RNA Interaction and Aberrant Phase Separation Induced by Two Distinct Types of ALS/FTD-Linked FUS Mutations
    FUS is a nuclear RNA-binding protein, and its cytoplasmic aggregation is a pathogenic signature of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). It remains unknown how the FUS-RNA interactions contribute to phase separation and whether its phase behavior is affected by ALS-linked mutations. Here we demonstrate that wild-type FUS binds single-stranded RNA stoichiometrically in a length-dependent manner and that multimers induce highly dynamic interactions with RNA, giving rise to small and fluid condensates. In contrast, mutations in arginine display a severely altered conformation, static binding to RNA, and formation of large condensates, signifying the role of arginine in driving proper RNA interaction. Glycine mutations undergo rapid loss of fluidity, emphasizing the role of glycine in promoting fluidity. Strikingly, the nuclear import receptor Karyopherin-β2 reverses the mutant defects and recovers the wild-type FUS behavior. We reveal two distinct mechanisms underpinning potentially disparate pathogenic pathways of ALS-linked FUS mutants.
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  • MIGA2 Links Mitochondria, the ER, and Lipid Droplets and Promotes De Novo Lipogenesis in Adipocytes
    Physical contact between organelles is vital to the function of eukaryotic cells. Lipid droplets (LDs) are dynamic organelles specialized in lipid storage that interact physically with mitochondria in several cell types. The mechanisms coupling these organelles are, however, poorly understood, and the cell-biological function of their interaction remains largely unknown. Here, we discover in adipocytes that the outer mitochondrial membrane protein MIGA2 links mitochondria to LDs. We identify an amphipathic LD-targeting motif and reveal that MIGA2 binds to the membrane proteins VAP-A or VAP-B in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). We find that in adipocytes MIGA2 is involved in promoting triglyceride (TAG) synthesis from non-lipid precursors. Our data indicate that MIGA2 links reactions of de novo lipogenesis in mitochondria to TAG production in the ER, thereby facilitating efficient lipid storage in LDs. Based on its presence in many tissues, MIGA2 is likely critical for lipid and energy homeostasis in a wide spectrum of cell types.
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  • PTPS Facilitates Compartmentalized LTBP1 S-Nitrosylation and Promotes Tumor Growth under Hypoxia
    GTP cyclohydrolase I (GTPCH), 6-pyruvoyltetrahydropterin synthase (PTPS), and sepiapterin reductase (SR) are sequentially responsible for de novo synthesis of tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), a known co-factor for nitric oxide synthase (NOS). The implication of BH4-biosynthesis process in tumorigenesis remains to be investigated. Here, we show that PTPS, which is highly expressed in early-stage colorectal cancer, is phosphorylated at Thr 58 by AMPK under hypoxia; this phosphorylation promotes PTPS binding to LTBP1 and subsequently drives iNOS-mediated LTBP1 S-nitrosylation through proximal-coupling BH4 production within the PTPS/iNOS/LTBP1 complex. In turn, LTBP1 S-nitrosylation results in proteasome-dependent LTBP1 protein degradation, revealing an inverse relationship between PTPS pT58 and LTBP1 stability. Physiologically, the repressive effect of PTPS on LTBP1 leads to impaired transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) secretion and thereby maintains tumor cell growth under hypoxia. Our findings illustrate a molecular mechanism underlying the regulation of LTBP1-TGF-β signaling by the BH4-biosynthesis pathway and highlight the specific requirement of PTPS for tumor growth.
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  • Distinct Binding Preferences between Ras and Raf Family Members and the Impact on Oncogenic Ras Signaling
    The Ras GTPases are frequently mutated in human cancer, and, although the Raf kinases are essential effectors of Ras signaling, the tumorigenic properties of specific Ras-Raf complexes are not well characterized. Here, we examine the ability of individual Ras and Raf proteins to interact in live cells using bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) technology. We find that C-Raf binds all mutant Ras proteins with high affinity, whereas B-Raf exhibits a striking preference for mutant K-Ras. This selectivity is mediated by the acidic, N-terminal segment of B-Raf and requires the K-Ras polybasic region for high-affinity binding. In addition, we find that C-Raf is critical for mutant H-Ras-driven signaling and that events stabilizing B-Raf/C-Raf dimerization, such as Raf inhibitor treatment or certain B-Raf mutations, can allow mutant H-Ras to engage B-Raf with increased affinity to promote tumorigenesis, thus revealing a previously unappreciated role for C-Raf in potentiating B-Raf function.
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  • AUTACs: Cargo-Specific Degraders Using Selective Autophagy
    Protein silencing represents an essential tool in biomedical research. Targeted protein degradation (TPD) strategies exemplified by PROTACs are rapidly emerging as modalities in drug discovery. However, the scope of current TPD techniques is limited because many intracellular materials are not substrates of proteasomal clearance. Here, we described a novel targeted-clearance strategy (autophagy-targeting chimera [AUTAC]) that contains a degradation tag (guanine derivatives) and a warhead to provide target specificity. As expected from the substrate scope of autophagy, AUTAC degraded fragmented mitochondria as well as proteins. Mitochondria-targeted AUTAC accelerated both the removal of dysfunctional fragmented mitochondria and the biogenesis of functionally normal mitochondria in patient-derived fibroblast cells. Cytoprotective effects against acute mitochondrial injuries were also seen. Canonical autophagy is viewed as a nonselective bulk decomposition system, and none of the available autophagy-inducing agents exhibit useful cargo selectivity. With its target specificity, AUTAC provides a new modality for research on autophagy-based drugs.
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  • Cas9 Allosteric Inhibition by the Anti-CRISPR Protein AcrIIA6
    In the arms race against bacteria, bacteriophages have evolved diverse anti-CRISPR proteins (Acrs) that block CRISPR-Cas immunity. Acrs play key roles in the molecular coevolution of bacteria with their predators, use a variety of mechanisms of action, and provide tools to regulate Cas-based genome manipulation. Here, we present structural and functional analyses of AcrIIA6, an Acr from virulent phages, exploring its unique anti-CRISPR action. Our cryo-EM structures and functional data of AcrIIA6 binding to Streptococcus thermophilus Cas9 (St1Cas9) show that AcrIIA6 acts as an allosteric inhibitor and induces St1Cas9 dimerization. AcrIIA6 reduces St1Cas9 binding affinity for DNA and prevents DNA binding within cells. The PAM and AcrIIA6 recognition sites are structurally close and allosterically linked. Mechanistically, AcrIIA6 affects the St1Cas9 conformational dynamics associated with PAM binding. Finally, we identify a natural St1Cas9 variant resistant to AcrIIA6 illustrating Acr-driven mutational escape and molecular diversification of Cas9 proteins.
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  • The Control Centers of Biomolecular Phase Separation: How Membrane Surfaces, PTMs, and Active Processes Regulate Condensation
    cular condensation is emerging as an essential process for cellular compartmentalization. The formation of biomolecular condensates can be driven by liquid-liquid phase separation, which arises from weak, multivalent interactions among proteins and nucleic acids. A substantial body of recent work has revealed that diverse cellular processes rely on biomolecular condensation and that aberrant phase separation may cause disease. Many proteins display an intrinsic propensity to undergo phase separation. However, the mechanisms by which cells regulate phase separation to build functional condensates at the appropriate time and location are only beginning to be understood. Here, we review three key cellular mechanisms that enable the control of biomolecular phase separation: membrane surfaces, post-translational modifications, and active processes. We discuss how these mechanisms may function in concert to provide robust control over biomolecular condensates and suggest new research avenues that will elucidate how cells build and maintain these key centers of cellular compartmentalization.
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  • Dinucleotide Degradation by REXO2 Maintains Promoter Specificity in Mammalian Mitochondria
    Oligoribonucleases are conserved enzymes that degrade short RNA molecules of up to 5 nt in length and are assumed to constitute the final stage of RNA turnover. Here we demonstrate that REXO2 is a specialized dinucleotide-degrading enzyme that shows no preference between RNA and DNA dinucleotide substrates. A heart- and skeletal-muscle-specific knockout mouse displays elevated dinucleotide levels and alterations in gene expression patterns indicative of aberrant dinucleotide-primed transcription initiation. We find that dinucleotides act as potent stimulators of mitochondrial transcription initiation in vitro. Our data demonstrate that increased levels of dinucleotides can be used to initiate transcription, leading to an increase in transcription levels from both mitochondrial promoters and other, nonspecific sequence elements in mitochondrial DNA. Efficient RNA turnover by REXO2 is thus required to maintain promoter specificity and proper regulation of transcription in mammalian mitochondria.