2013 Vol. 4, No. 11

Mutation of the critical pH-gating residues histidine 231 to glutamate increase open probability of outer membrane protein G in planar lipid bilayer
Mu Yu, Peibei Sun, Yao He, Liang Xiao, Demeng Sun, Longhua Zhang, Changlin Tian
2013, 4(11): 803-806. doi: 10.1007/s13238-013-3070-5
The enigmatic ERH protein: its role in cell cycle, RNA splicing and cancer
Meng-Tzu Weng, Ji Luo
2013, 4(11): 807-812. doi: 10.1007/s13238-013-3056-3
Enhancer of rudimentary homolog (ERH) is a small, highly conserved protein among eukaryotes. Since its discovery nearly 20 years ago, its molecular function has remained enigmatic. It has been implicated to play a role in transcriptional regulation and in cell cycle. We recently showed that ERH binds to the Sm complex and is required for the mRNA splicing of the mitotic motor protein CENP-E. Furthermore, cancer cells driven by mutations in the KRAS oncogene are particularly sensitive to RNAi-mediated suppression of ERH function, and ERH expression is inversely correlated with survival in colorectal cancer patients whose tumors harbor KRAS mutation. These recent findings indicate that ERH plays an important role in cell cycle through its mRNA splicing activity and is critically required for genomic stability and cancer cell survival.
MicroRNA-21 in the pathogenesis of acute kidney injury
Ya-Feng Li, Ying Jing, Jielu Hao, Nathan C Frankfort, Xiaoshuang Zhou, Bing Shen, Xinyan Liu, Lihua Wang, Rongshan Li
2013, 4(11): 813-819. doi: 10.1007/s13238-013-3085-y
Acute kidney injury (AKI), associated with significant morbidity and mortality, is widely known to involve epithelial apoptosis, excessive inflammation, and fibrosis in response to ischemia or reperfusion injury, which results in either chronic pathological changes or death. Therefore, it is imperative that investigations are conducted in order to find effective, early diagnoses, and therapeutic targets needed to help prevent and treat AKI. However, the mechanisms modulating the pathogenesis of AKI still remain largely undetermined. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), small noncoding RNA molecules, play an important role in several fundamental biological and pathological processes by a post transcriptional regulatory function of gene expression. MicroRNA-21 (miR-21) is a recently identified, typical miRNA that is functional as a regulator known to be involved in apoptosis as well as inflammatory and fibrotic signaling pathways in AKI. As a result, miR-21 is now considered a novel biomarker when diagnosing and treating AKI. This article reviews the correlative literature and research progress regarding the roles of miR-21 in AKI.
Toward pluripotency by reprogramming: mechanisms and application
Tao Wang, Stephen T. Warren, Peng Jin
2013, 4(11): 820-832. doi: 10.1007/s13238-013-3074-1
The somatic epigenome can be reprogrammed to a pluripotent state by a combination of transcription factors. Altering cell fate involves transcription factors cooperation, epigenetic reconfiguration, such as DNA methylation and histone modification, posttranscriptional regulation by microRNAs, and so on. Nevertheless, such reprogramming is inefficient. Evidence suggests that during the early stage of reprogramming, the process is stochastic, but by the late stage, it is deterministic. In addition to conventional reprogramming methods, dozens of small molecules have been identified that can functionally replace reprogramming factors and significantly improve induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) reprogramming. Indeed, iPS cells have been created recently using chemical compounds only. iPSCs are thought to display subtle genetic and epigenetic variability; this variability is not random, but occurs at hotspots across the genome. Here we discuss the progress and current perspectives in the field. Research into the reprogramming process today will pave the way for great advances in regenerative medicine in the future.
Research articles
Protein interactions in the murine cytomegalovirus capsid revealed by cryoEM
Wong H. Hui, Qiyi Tang, Hongrong Liu, Ivo Atanasov, Fenyong Liu, Hua Zhu, Z. Hong Zhou
2013, 4(11): 833-845. doi: 10.1007/s13238-013-3060-7
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is distinct among members of the Herpesviridae family for having the largest dsDNA genome (230 kb). Packaging of large dsDNA genome is known to give rise to a highly pressurized viral capsid, but molecular interactions conducive to the formation of CMV capsid resistant to pressurization have not been described. Here, we report a cryo electron microscopy (cryoEM) structure of the murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) capsid at a 9.1 Å resolution and describe the molecular interactions among the ~3000 protein molecules in the MCMV capsid at the secondary structure level. Secondary structural elements are resolved to provide landmarks for correlating with results from sequence-based prediction and for structure-based homology modeling. The major capsid protein (MCP) upper domain (MCPud) contains α-helices and β-sheets conserved with those in MCPud of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), with the largest differences identified as a "saddle loop" region, located at the tip of MCPud and involved in interaction with the smallest capsid protein (SCP). Interactions among the bacteriophage HK97-like floor domain of MCP, the middle domain of MCP, the hook and clamp domains of the triplex proteins (hoop and clamp domains of TRI-1 and clamp domain of TRI-2) contribute to the formation of a mature capsid. These results offer a framework for understanding how cytomegalovirus uses various secondary structural elements of its capsid proteins to build a robust capsid for packaging its large dsDNA genome inside and for attaching unique functional tegument proteins outside.
Origin and molecular characterization of the human-infecting H6N1 influenza virus in Taiwan
Weifeng Shi, Yi Shi, Ying Wu, Di Liu, George F. Gao
2013, 4(11): 846-853. doi: 10.1007/s13238-013-3083-0
In June 2013, the first human H6N1 influenza virus infection was confirmed in Taiwan. However, the origin and molecular characterization of this virus, A/Taiwan/2/2013 (H6N1), have not been well studied thus far. In the present report, we performed phylogenetic and coalescent analyses of this virus and compared its molecular profile/characteristics with other closely related strains. Molecular characterization of H6N1 revealed that it is a typical avian influenza virus of low pathogenicity, which might not replicate and propagate well in the upper airway in mammals. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the virus clusters with A/chicken/Taiwan/A2837/2013 (H6N1) in seven genes, except PB1. For the PB1 gene, A/Taiwan/2/2013 was clustered with a different H6N1 lineage from A/chicken/Taiwan/A2837/2013. Although a previous study demonstrated that the PB2, PA, and M genes of A/Taiwan/2/2013 might be derived from the H5N2 viruses, coalescent analyses revealed that these H5N2 viruses were derived from more recent strains than that of the ancestor of A/Taiwan/2/2013. Therefore, we propose that A/Taiwan/2/2013 is a reassortant from different H6N1 lineages circulating in chickens in Taiwan. Furthermore, compared to avian isolates, a single P186L (H3 numbering) substitution in the hemagglutinin H6 of the human isolate might increase the mammalian receptor binding and, hence, this strain's pathogenicity in humans. Overall, human infection with this virus seems an accidental event and is unlikely to cause an influenza pandemic. However, its co-circulation and potential reassortment with other influenza subtypes are still worthy of attention.
Developing controllable hypermutable Clostridium cells through manipulating its methyl-directed mismatch repair system
Guodong Luan, Zhen Cai, Fuyu Gong, Hongjun Dong, Zhao Lin, Yanping Zhang, Yin Li
2013, 4(11): 854-862. doi: 10.1007/s13238-013-3079-9
Development of controllable hypermutable cells can greatly benefit understanding and harnessing microbial evolution. However, there have not been any similar systems developed for Clostridium, an important bacterial genus. Here we report a novel two-step strategy for developing controllable hypermutable cells of Clostridium acetobutylicum, an important and representative industrial strain. Firstly, the mutS/L operon essential for methyldirected mismatch repair (MMR) activity was inactivated from the genome of C. acetobutylicum to generate hypermutable cells with over 250-fold increased mutation rates. Secondly, a proofreading control system carrying an inducibly expressed mutS/L operon was constructed. The hypermutable cells and the proofreading control system were integrated to form a controllable hypermutable system SMBMutC, of which the mutation rates can be regulated by the concentration of anhydrotetracycline (aTc). Duplication of the miniPthl-tetR module of the proofreading control system further significantly expanded the regulatory space of the mutation rates, demonstrating hypermutable Clostridium cells with controllable mutation rates are generated. The developed C. acetobutylicum strain SMBMutC2 showed higher survival capacities than the control strain facing butanol-stress, indicating greatly increased evolvability and adaptability of the controllable hypermutable cells under environmental challenges.
IL-21 accelerates xenogeneic graft-versus-host disease correlated with increased B-cell proliferation
Xiaoran Wu, Yi Tan, Qiao Xing, Shengdian Wang
2013, 4(11): 863-871. doi: 10.1007/s13238-013-3088-8
Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a prevalent and potential complication of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. An animal model, xenogeneic GVHD (X-GVHD), that mimics accurately the clinical presentation of GVHD would provide a tool for investigating the mechanism involved in disease pathogenesis. Murine models indicated that inhibiting IL-21 signaling was a good therapy to reduce GVHD by impairing T cell functions. We sought to investigate the effect of exogenous human IL-21 on the process of X-GVHD. In this study, human IL-21 was expressed by hydrodynamic gene delivery in BALB/cRag2-/- IL-2Rγc-/- (BRG) immunodeficient mice which were intravenously transplanted human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (hPBMCs). We found that human IL-21 exacerbated X-GVHD and resulted in rapid fatality. As early as 6 days after hPBMCs transplanted to BRG mice, a marked expansion of human CD19+ B cells, but not T cells, was observed in spleen of IL-21-treated mice. Compared with control group, IL-21 induced robust immunoglobulin secretion, which was accompanied by increased accumulation of CD19+ CD38high plasma cells in spleen. In addition, we demonstrated that B-cell depletion was able to ameliorate X-GVHD. These results are the first to find in vivo expansion and differentiation of human B cells in response to IL-21, and reveal a correlation between the expansion of B cells and the exacerbation of xenogeneic GVHD. Our findings show evidence of the involvement of B cells in X-GVHD and may have implications in the treatment of the disease.
CD1dhiCD5+ B cells differentiate into antibody-secreting cells under the stimulation with calreticulin fragment
Tengteng Zhang, Yun Xia, Lijuan Zhang, Wanrong Bao, Chao Hong, Xiao-Ming Gao
2013, 4(11): 872-881. doi: 10.1007/s13238-013-3062-5
Calreticulin (CRT) is a multifunctional molecule in both intracellular and extracellular environment. We have previously found that a recombinant CRT fragment (rCRT/39-272) could modulate T cell-mediated immunity in mice via activation and expansion of CD1dhiCD5+ B cells as well as induction of CRT-specific regulatory antibodies. Antibody secreting cells (ASCs) are terminally differentiated B cells responsible for producing antibodies to participate in positive immune response as well as immune regulation. In this study, we demonstrate that rCRT/39-272 differentiates murine CD1dhiCD5+ B cells into ASCs marked by increased expression of plasma cell-associated transcription factors and production of polyreactive antibodies against DNA and CRT in vitro. Intraperitoneal administration of rCRT/39-272 augmented differentiation of CD1dhiCD5+ B cells into ASCs in naïve mice or mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Thus, we propose that ASC differentiation and subsequent antibody production of CD1dhiCD5+ B cells are key steps in CRT-mediated immunoregulation on inflammatory T cell responses.