2012 Vol. 3, No. 8

News and views
Meeting report: The second Tianjin Forum on tumor microenvironment, Tianjin, China, June 22-24, 2012
Qiangzhe Zhang, Lu-Yuan Li
2012, 3(8): 561-563. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2809-8
To forge a solid immune recognition
Yan Shi
2012, 3(8): 564-570. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2933-5
CCR10 and its ligands in regulation of epithelial immunity and diseases
Na Xiong, Yaoyao Fu, Shaomin Hu, Mingcan Xia, Jie Yang
2012, 3(8): 571-580. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2927-3
Epithelial tissues covering the external and internal surface of a body are constantly under physical, chemical or biological assaults. To protect the epithelial tissues and maintain their homeostasis, multiple layers of immune defense mechanisms are required. Besides the epithelial tissue-resident immune cells that provide the first line of defense, circulating immune cells are also recruited into the local tissues in response to challenges. Chemokines and chemokine receptors regulate tissue-specific migration, maintenance and functions of immune cells. Among them, chemokine receptor CCR10 and its ligands chemokines CCL27 and CCL28 are uniquely involved in the epithelial immunity. CCL27 is expressed predominantly in the skin by keratinocytes while CCL28 is expressed by epithelial cells of various mucosal tissues. CCR10 is expressed by various subsets of innate-like T cells that are programmed to localize to the skin during their developmental processes in the thymus. Circulating T cells might be imprinted by skin-associated antigen-presenting cells to express CCR10 for their recruitment to the skin during the local immune response. On the other hand, IgA antibody-producing B cells generated in mucosa-associated lymphoid tissues express CCR10 for their migration and maintenance at mucosal sites. Increasing evidence also found that CCR10/ligands are involved in regulation of other immune cells in epithelial immunity and are frequently exploited by epithelium-localizing or -originated cancer cells for their survival, proliferation and evasion from immune surveillance. Herein, we review current knowledge on roles of CCR10/ligands in regulation of epithelial immunity and diseases and speculate on related important questions worth further investigation.
New insight into the oncogenic mechanism of the retroviral oncoprotein Tax
Hua Cheng, Tong Ren, Shao-cong Sun
2012, 3(8): 581-589. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2047-0
Human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1), an etiological factor that causes adult T cell leukemia and lymphoma (ATL), infects over 20 million people worldwide. About 1 million of HTLV-1-infected patients develop ATL, a highly aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma without an effective therapy. The pX region of the HTLV-1 viral genome encodes an oncogenic protein, Tax, which plays a central role in transforming CD4+ T lymphocytes by deregulating oncogenic signaling pathways and promoting cell cycle progression. Expression of Tax following viral entry is critical for promoting survival and proliferation of human T cells and is required for initiation of oncogenesis. Tax exhibits diverse functions in host cells, and this oncoprotein primarily targets IκB kinase complex in the cytoplasm, resulting in persistent activation of NF-κB and upregulation of its responsive gene expressions that are crucial for T cell survival and cell cycle progression. We here review recent advances for the pathological roles of Tax in modulating IκB kinase activity. We also discuss our recent observation that Tax connects the IκB kinase complex to autophagy pathways. Understanding Tax-mediated pathogenesis will provide insights into development of new therapeutics in controlling HTLV-1-associated diseases.
Herpesviral infection and Toll-like receptor 2
Ming-sheng Cai, Mei-li Li, Chun-fu Zheng
2012, 3(8): 590-601. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2059-9
In the last decade, substantial progress has been made in understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in the initial host responses to viral infections. Herpesviral infections can provoke an inflammatory cytokine response, however, the innate pathogen-sensing mechanisms that transduce the signal for this response are poorly understood. In recent years, it has become increasingly evident that the Toll-like receptors (TLRs), which are germline-encoded pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), function as potent sensors for infection. TLRs can induce the activation of the innate immunity by recruiting specific intracellular adaptor proteins to initiate signaling pathways, which then culminating in activation of the nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) and interferon-regulatory factors (IRFs) that control the transcription of genes encoding type I interferon (IFN I) and other inflammatory cytokines. Furthermore, activation of innate immunity is critical for mounting adaptive immune responses. In parallel, common mechanisms used by viruses to counteract TLR-mediated responses or to actively subvert these pathways that block recognition and signaling through TLRs for their own benefit are emerging. Recent findings have demonstrated that TLR2 plays a crucial role in initiating the inflammatory process, and surprisingly that the response TLR2 triggers might be overzealous in its attempt to counter the attack by the virus. In this review, we summarize and discuss the recent advances about the specific role of TLR2 in triggering inflammatory responses in herpesvirus infection and the consequences of the alarms raised in the host that they are assigned to protect.
Functional annotation from the genome sequence of the giant panda
Tong Huo, Yinjie Zhang, Jianping Lin
2012, 3(8): 602-608. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2914-8
The giant panda is one of the most critically endangered species due to the fragmentation and loss of its habitat. Studying the functions of proteins in this animal, especially specific trait-related proteins, is therefore necessary to protect the species. In this work, the functions of these proteins were investigated using the genome sequence of the giant panda. Data on 21,001 proteins and their functions were stored in the Giant Panda Protein Database, in which the proteins were divided into two groups:20,179 proteins whose functions can be predicted by GeneScan formed the known-function group, whereas 822 proteins whose functions cannot be predicted by GeneScan comprised the unknown-function group. For the known-function group, we further classified the proteins by molecular function, biological process, cellular component, and tissue specificity. For the unknown-function group, we developed a strategy in which the proteins were filtered by crossBlast to identify panda-specific proteins under the assumption that proteins related to the panda-specific traits in the unknown-function group exist. After this filtering procedure, we identified 32 proteins (2 of which are membrane proteins) specific to the giant panda genome as compared against the dog and horse genomes. Based on their amino acid sequences, these 32 proteins were further analyzed by functional classification using SVM-Prot, motif prediction using MyHits, and interacting protein prediction using the Database of Interacting Proteins. Nineteen proteins were predicted to be zinc-binding proteins, thus affecting the activities of nucleic acids. The 32 panda-specific proteins will be further investigated by structural and functional analysis.
Research articles
Crystal structure and functional implication of the RUN domain of human NESCA
Qifan Sun, Chuanhui Han, Lan Liu, Yizhi Wang, Hongyu Deng, Lin Bai, Tao Jiang
2012, 3(8): 609-617. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2052-3
NESCA, a newly discovered signaling adapter protein in the NGF-pathway, contains a RUN domain at its N-terminus. Here we report the crystal structure of the NESCA RUN domain determined at 2.0-Å resolution. The overall fold of the NESCA RUN domain comprises nine helices, resembling the RUN domain of RPIPx and the RUN1 domain of Rab6IP1. However, compared to the other RUN domains, the RUN domain of NESCA has significantly different surface electrostatic distributions at the putative GTPase-interacting interface. We demonstrate that the RUN domain of NESCA can bind H-Ras, a downstream signaling molecule of TrkA, with high affinity. Moreover, NESCA RUN can directly interact with TrkA. These results provide new insights into how NESCA participates in the NGF-TrkA signaling pathway.
Bulk-like endocytosis plays an important role in the recycling of insulin granules in pancreatic beta cells
Du Wen, Yanhong Xue, Kuo Liang, Tianyi Yuan, Jingze Lu, Wei Zhao, Tao Xu, Liangyi Chen
2012, 3(8): 618-626. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2938-0
Although bulk endocytosis has been found in a number of neuronal and endocrine cells, the molecular mechanism and physiological function of bulk endocytosis remain elusive. In pancreatic beta cells, we have observed bulk-like endocytosis evoked both by flash photolysis and trains of depolarization. Bulk-like endocytosis is a clathrin-independent process that is facilitated by enhanced extracellular Ca2+ entry and suppressed by the inhibition of dynamin function. Moreover, defects in bulklike endocytosis are accompanied by hyperinsulinemia in primary beta cells dissociated from diabetic KKAy mice, which suggests that bulk-like endocytosis plays an important role in maintaining the exo-endocytosis balance and beta cell secretory capability.
Reactive carbonyl compounds (RCCs) cause aggregation and dysfunction of fibrinogen
Ya-Jie Xu, Min Qiang, Jin-Ling Zhang, Ying Liu, Rong-Qiao He
2012, 3(8): 627-640. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2057-y
Fibrinogen is a key protein involved in coagulation and its deposition on blood vessel walls plays an important role in the pathology of atherosclerosis. Although the causes of fibrinogen (fibrin) deposition have been studied in depth, little is known about the relationship between fibrinogen deposition and reactive carbonyl compounds (RCCs), compounds which are produced and released into the blood and react with plasma protein especially under conditions of oxidative stress and inflammation. Here, we investigated the effect of glycolaldehyde on the activity and deposition of fibrinogen compared with the common RCCs acrolein, methylglyoxal, glyoxal and malondialdehyde. At the same concentration (1 mmol/L), glycolaldehyde and acrolein had a stronger suppressive effect on fibrinogen activation than the other three RCCs. Fibrinogen aggregated when it was respectively incubated with glycolaldehyde and the other RCCs, as demonstrated by SDS-PAGE, electron microscopy and intrinsic fluorescence intensity measurements. Staining with Congo Red showed that glycolaldehyde-and acroleinfibrinogen distinctly formed amyloid-like aggregations. Furthermore, the five RCCs, particularly glycolaldehyde and acrolein, delayed human plasma coagulation. Only glycolaldehyde showed a markedly suppressive effect on fibrinogenesis, none did the other four RCCs when their physiological blood concentrations were employyed, respectively. Taken together, it is glycolaldehyde that suppresses fibrinogenesis and induces protein aggregation most effectively, suggesting a putative pathological process for fibrinogen (fibrin) deposition in the blood.