2012 Vol. 3, No. 11

News and views
SARS-like virus in the Middle East: A truly bat-related coronavirus causing human diseases
Guangwen Lu, Di Liu
2012, 3(11): 803-805. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2811-1
Haploid embryonic stem cells: an ideal tool for mammalian genetic analyses
Linyu Shi, Hui Yang, Jinsong Li
2012, 3(11): 806-810. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2096-4
Identification of the function of all genes in the mammalian genome is critical in understanding basic mechanisms of biology. However, the diploidy of mammalian somatic cells has greatly hindered efforts to elucidate the gene function in numerous biological processes by mutagenesis-based genetic approaches. Recently, mouse haploid embryonic stem (haES) cells have been successfully isolated from parthenogenetic and androgenetic embryos, providing an ideal tool for genetic analyses. In these studies, mouse haES cells have already shown that they could be used in cell-based forward or reverse genetic screenings and in generating gene-targeting via homologous recombination. In particular, haES cells from androgenetic embryos can be employed as novel, renewable form of fertilization agent for yielding live-born mice via injection into oocytes, thus showing the possibility that genetic analysis can be extended from cellular level to organism level.
New components of the necroptotic pathway
Zhenru Zhou, Victor Han, Jiahuai Han
2012, 3(11): 811-817. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2083-9
Programmed necrosis, also known as necroptosis, has recently drawn great attention. As an important cellular regulation mechanism, knowledge of its signaling components is expanding. Necroptosisis demonstrated to be regulated by the RIP1 and RIP3 kinases, and its pathophysiological importance has been confirmed in a number of disease models. Here we review the new members of this necroptosis pathway, MLKL, PGAM5, Drp1 and DAI, and discuss some of their possible applications according to recent findings.
Specification of functional neurons and glia from human pluripotent stem cells
Yuan Jiang, Mei-Jiang Zhang, Bao-Yang Hu
2012, 3(11): 818-825. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2086-6
Human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) such as embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) hold great promise in regenerative medicine as they are an important source of functional cells for potential cell replacement. These human PSCs, similar to their counterparts of mouse, have the full potential to give rise to any type of cells in the body. However, for the promise to be fulfilled, it is necessary to convert these PSCs into functional specialized cells. Using the developmental principles of neural lineage specification, human ESCs and iPSCs have been effectively differentiated to regional and functional specific neurons and glia, such as striatal gama-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-ergic neurons, spinal motor neurons and myelin sheath forming oligodendrocytes. The human PSCs, in general differentiate after the similar developmental program as that of the mouse:they use the same set of cell signaling to tune the cell fate and they share a conserved transcriptional program that directs the cell fate transition. However, the human PSCs, unlike their counterparts of mouse, tend to respond divergently to the same set of extracellular signals at certain stages of differentiation, which will be a critical consideration to translate the animal model based studies to clinical application.
Direct lineage conversion: induced neuronal cells and induced neural stem cells
Zixiao Shi, Jianwei Jiao
2012, 3(11): 826-833. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2068-8
Cellular reprogramming to neural cells is an area of ongoing study in developmental neuroscience, and recent research has generated remarkable achievements. Several studies have shown that the ectopic expression of specific neural transcription factors can convert terminally differentiated cells into neural cells. Here, we review the most recent progress in the field of induced neuronal (iN) cells and induced neural stem (iNS) cells and their potential clinical applications.
Overcoming barriers to the clinical utilization of iPSCs: reprogramming efficiency, safety and quality
Suying Cao, Kyle Loh, Yangli Pei, Wei Zhang, Jianyong Han
2012, 3(11): 834-845. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2078-6
Differentiated cells can be reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells, known as "induced pluripotent stem cells" (iPSCs), through the overexpression of defined transcription factors. The creation of iPSC lines has opened new avenues for patient-specific cell replacement therapies for regenerative medicine. However, the clinical utilization of iPSCs is largely impeded by two limitations. The first limitation is the low efficiency of iPSCs generation from differentiated cells. The second limitation is that many iPSC lines are not authentically pluripotent, as many cell lines inefficiently differentiate into differentiated cell types when they are tested for their ability to complement embryonic development. Thus, the "quality" of iPSCs must be increased if they are to be differentiated into specialized cell types for cell replacement therapies. Overcoming these two limitations is paramount to facilitate the widespread employment of iPSCs for therapeutic purposes. Here, we summarize recent progress made in strategies enabling the efficient production of high-quality iPSCs, including choice of reprogramming factors, choice of target cell type, and strategies to improve iPSC quality.
The RNA Pol Ⅱ sub-complex hsRpb4/7 is required for viability of multiple human cell lines
Yang Zhao, Kim K. C. Li, King Pan Ng, Chi Ho Ng, Kevin A. W. Lee
2012, 3(11): 846-854. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2085-7
The evolutionarily conserved RNA Polymerase Ⅱ Rpb4/7 sub-complex has been thoroughly studied in yeast and impacts gene expression at multiple levels including transcription, mRNA processing and decay. In addition Rpb4/7 exerts differential effects on gene expression in yeast and Rpb4 is not obligatory for yeast (S. cerevisiae) survival. Specialised roles for human (hs) Rpb4/7 have not been extensively described and we have probed this question by depleting hsRpb4/7 in established human cell lines using RNA interference. We find that Rpb4/7 protein levels are inter-dependent and accordingly, the functional effects of depleting either protein are co-incident. hsRpb4/7 exhibits gene-specific effects and cells initially remain viable upon hsRpb4/7 depletion. However prolonged hsRpb4/7 depletion is cytotoxic in the range of cell lines tested. Protracted cell death occurs by an unknown mechanism and in some cases is accompanied by a pronounced elongated cell morphology. In conclusion we provide evidence for a gene-specific role of hsRpb4/7 in human cell viability.
Research articles
Establishment of hepatic and neural differentiation platforms of Wilson's disease specific induced pluripotent stem cells
Fei Yi, Jing Qu, Mo Li, Keiichiro Suzuki, Na Young Kim, Guang-Hui Liu, Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte
2012, 3(11): 855-863. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2064-z
The combination of disease-specific human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) and directed cell differentiation offers an ideal platform for modeling and studying many inherited human diseases. Wilson's disease (WD) is a monogenic disorder of toxic copper accumulation caused by pathologic mutations of the ATP7B gene. WD affects multiple organs with primary manifestations in the liver and central nervous system (CNS). In order to better investigate the cellular pathogenesis of WD and to develop novel therapies against various WD syndromes, we sought to establish a comprehensive platform to differentiate WD patient iPSC into both hepatic and neural lineages. Here we report the generation of patient iPSC bearing a Caucasian population hotspot mutation of ATP7B. Combining with directed cell differentiation strategies, we successfully differentiated WD iPSC into hepatocyte-like cells, neural stem cells and neurons. Gene expression analysis and cDNA sequencing confirmed the expression of the mutant ATP7B gene in all differentiated cells. Hence we established a platform for studying both hepatic and neural abnormalities of WD, which may provide a new tool for tissue-specific disease modeling and drug screening in the future.
Structural insights into the assembly of human translesion polymerase complexes
Wei Xie, Xuan Yang, Min Xu, Tao Jiang
2012, 3(11): 864-874. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2102-x
In addition to DNA repair pathways, cells utilize translesion DNA synthesis (TLS) to bypass DNA lesions during replication. During TLS, Y-family DNA polymerase (Polη, Polκ, Polι and Rev1) inserts specific nucleotide opposite preferred DNA lesions, and then Polζ consisting of two subunits, Rev3 and Rev7, carries out primer extension. Here, we report the complex structures of Rev3-Rev7-Rev1CTD and Rev3-Rev7-Rev1CTDPolκRIR. These two structures demonstrate that Rev1CTD contains separate binding sites for Polκ and Rev7. Our BIAcore experiments provide additional support for the notion that the interaction between Rev3 and Rev7 increases the affinity of Rev7 and Rev1. We also verified through FRET experiment that Rev1, Rev3, Rev7 and Polκ form a stable quaternary complex in vivo, thereby suggesting an efficient switching mechanism where the "inserter" polymerase can be immediately replaced by an "extender" polymerase within the same quaternary complex.
Proteolytic processing of SDF-1α by matrix metalloproteinase-2 impairs CXCR4 signaling and reduces neural progenitor cell migration
Hui Peng, Yumei Wu, Zhiyuan Duan, Pawel Ciborowski, Jialin C. Zheng
2012, 3(11): 875-882. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2092-8
Neural stem cells and neural progenitor cells (NPCs) exist throughout life and are mobilized to replace neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes after injury. Stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1, now named CXCL12) and its receptor CXCR4, an α-chemokine receptor, are critical for NPC migration into damaged areas of the brain. Our previous studies demonstrated that immune activated and/or HIV-1-infected human monocyte-derived-macrophages (MDMs) induced a substantial increase of SDF-1 production by human astrocytes. However, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2, a protein up-regulated in HIV-1-infected macrophages, is able to cleave four amino acids from the N-terminus of SDF-1, resulting in a truncated SDF-1(5-67). In this study, we investigate the diverse signaling and function induced by SDF-1α and SDF-1(5-67) in human cortical NPCs. SDF-1(5-67) was generated by incubating human recombinant SDF-1α with MMP-2 followed by protein determination via mass spectrometry, Western blotting and ELISA. SDF-1α induced time-dependent phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) 1/2, Akt-1, and diminished cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). In contrast, SDF-1(5-67) failed to induce these signaling. SDF-1α activation of CXCR4 induced migration of NPCs, an effect that is dependent on ERK1/2 and Akt-1 pathways; whereas SDF-1(5-67) failed to induce NPC migration. This observation provides evidence that MMP-2 may affect NPC migration through post-translational processing of SDF-1α.