2014 Vol. 5, No. 8

Aneuploidy in pluripotent stem cells and implications for cancerous transformation
Jie Na, Duncan Baker, Jing Zhang, Peter W. Andrews, Ivana Barbaric
2014, 5(8): 569-579. doi: 10.1007/s13238-014-0073-9
Owing to a unique set of attributes, human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) have emerged as a promising cell source for regenerative medicine, disease modeling and drug discovery. Assurance of genetic stability over long term maintenance of hPSCs is pivotal in this endeavor, but hPSCs can adapt to life in culture by acquiring non-random genetic changes that render them more robust and easier to grow. In separate studies between 12.5% and 34% of hPSC lines were found to acquire chromosome abnormalities over time, with the incidence increasing with passage number. The predominant genetic changes found in hPSC lines involve changes in chromosome number and structure (particularly of chromosomes 1, 12, 17 and 20), reminiscent of the changes observed in cancer cells. In this review, we summarize current knowledge on the causes and consequences of aneuploidy in hPSCs and highlight the potential links with genetic changes observed in human cancers and early embryos. We point to the need for comprehensive characterization of mechanisms underpinning both the acquisition of chromosomal abnormalities and selection pressures, which allow mutations to persist in hPSC cultures. Elucidation of these mechanisms will help to design culture conditions that minimize the appearance of aneuploid hPSCs. Moreover, aneuploidy in hPSCs may provide a unique platform to analyse the driving forces behind the genome evolution that may eventually lead to cancerous transformation.
Transitions between epithelial and mesenchymal states during cell fate conversions
Xiang Li, Duanqing Pei, Hui Zheng
2014, 5(8): 580-591. doi: 10.1007/s13238-014-0064-x
Cell fate conversion is considered as the changing of one type of cells to another type including somatic cell reprogramming (de-differentiation), differentiation, and trans-differentiation. Epithelial and mesenchymal cells are two major types of cells and the transitions between these two cell states as epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) have been observed during multiple cell fate conversions including embryonic development, tumor progression and somatic cell reprogramming. In addition, MET and sequential EMT-MET during the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from fibroblasts have been reported recently. Such observation is consistent with multiple rounds of sequential EMT-MET during embryonic development which could be considered as a reversed process of reprogramming at least partially. Therefore in current review, we briefly discussed the potential roles played by EMT, MET, or even sequential EMT-MET during different kinds of cell fate conversions. We also provided some preliminary hypotheses on the mechanisms that connect cell state transitions and cell fate conversions based on results collected from cell cycle, epigenetic regulation, and stemness acquisition.
Regulation of the pentose phosphate pathway in cancer
Peng Jiang, Wenjing Du, Mian Wu
2014, 5(8): 592-602. doi: 10.1007/s13238-014-0082-8
Energy metabolism is significantly reprogrammed in many human cancers, and these alterations confer many advantages to cancer cells, including the promotion of biosynthesis, ATP generation, detoxification and support of rapid proliferation. The pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) is a major pathway for glucose catabolism. The PPP directs glucose flux to its oxidative branch and produces a reduced form of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH), an essential reductant in anabolic processes. It has become clear that the PPP plays a critical role in regulating cancer cell growth by supplying cells with not only ribose-5-phosphate but also NADPH for detoxification of intracellular reactive oxygen species, reductive biosynthesis and ribose biogenesis. Thus, alteration of the PPP contributes directly to cell proliferation, survival and senescence. Furthermore, recent studies have shown that the PPP is regulated oncogenically and/or metabolically by numerous factors, including tumor suppressors, oncoproteins and intracellular metabolites. Dysregulation of PPP flux dramatically impacts cancer growth and survival. Therefore, a better understanding of how the PPP is reprogrammed and the mechanism underlying the balance between glycolysis and PPP flux in cancer will be valuable in developing therapeutic strategies targeting this pathway.
Research articles
Characterization of human αβTCR repertoire and discovery of D-D fusion in TCRβ chains
Peipei Liu, Di Liu, Xi Yang, Jing Gao, Yan Chen, Xue Xiao, Fei Liu, Jing Zou, Jun Wu, Juncai Ma, Fangqing Zhao, Xuyu Zhou, George F. Gao, Baoli Zhu
2014, 5(8): 603-615. doi: 10.1007/s13238-014-0060-1
The characterization of the human T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire has made remarkable progress, with most of the work focusing on the TCRβ chains. Here, we analyzed the diversity and complexity of both the TCRα and TCRβ repertoires of three healthy donors. We found that the diversity of the TCRα repertoire is higher than that of the TCRβ repertoire, whereas the usages of the V and J genes tended to be preferential with similar TRAV and TRAJ patterns in all three donors. The V-J pairings, like the V and J gene usages, were slightly preferential. We also found that the TRDV1 gene rearranges with the majority of TRAJ genes, suggesting that TRDV1 is a shared TRAV/DV gene (TRAV42/DV1). Moreover, we uncovered the presence of tandem TRBD (TRB D gene) usage in ∼2% of the productive human TCRβ CDR3 sequences.
Mechanism of the Rpn13-induced activation of Uch37
Lianying Jiao, Songying Ouyang, Neil Shaw, Gaojie Song, Yingang Feng, Fengfeng Niu, Weicheng Qiu, Hongtao Zhu, Li-Wei Hung, Xiaobing Zuo, V. Eleonora Shtykova, Ping Zhu, Yu-Hui Dong, Ruxiang Xu, Zhi-Jie Liu
2014, 5(8): 616-630. doi: 10.1007/s13238-014-0046-z
Uch37 is a de-ubiquitinating enzyme that is activated by Rpn13 and involved in the proteasomal degradation of proteins. The full-length Uch37 was shown to exhibit low iso-peptidase activity and is thought to be auto-inhibited. Structural comparisons revealed that within a homodimer of Uch37, each of the catalytic domains was blocking the other's ubiquitin (Ub)-binding site. This blockage likely prevented Ub from entering the active site of Uch37 and might form the basis of auto-inhibition. To understand the mode of auto-inhibition clearly and shed light on the activation mechanism of Uch37 by Rpn13, we investigated the Uch37-Rpn13 complex using a combination of mutagenesis, biochemical, NMR, and smallangle X-ray scattering (SAXS) techniques. Our results also proved that Uch37 oligomerized in solution and had very low activity against the fluorogenic substrate ubiquitin-7-amino-4-methylcoumarin (Ub-AMC) of de-ubiquitinating enzymes. Uch37ΔHb,Hc,KEKE, a truncation removal of the C-terminal extension region (residues 256-329) converted oligomeric Uch37 into a monomeric form that exhibited iso-peptidase activity comparable to that of a truncation-containing the Uch37 catalytic domain only. We also demonstrated that Rpn13C (Rpn13 residues 270-407) could disrupt the oligomerization of Uch37 by sequestering Uch37 and forming a Uch37-Rpn13 complex. Uch37 was activated in such a complex, exhibiting 12-fold-higher activity than Uch37 alone. Time-resolved SAXS (TR-SAXS) and FRET experiments supported the proposed mode of auto-inhibition and the activation mechanism of Uch37 by Rpn13. Rpn13 activated Uch37 by forming a 1:1 stoichiometric complex in which the active site of Uch37 was accessible to Ub.
Role of helicity of α-helical antimicrobial peptides to improve specificity
Yibing Huang, Liyan He, Guirong Li, Naicui Zhai, Hongyu Jiang, Yuxin Chen
2014, 5(8): 631-642. doi: 10.1007/s13238-014-0061-0
A major barrier to the use of antimicrobial peptides as antibiotics is the toxicity or ability to lyse eukaryotic cells. In this study, a 26-residue amphipathic α-helical antimicrobial peptide A12L/A20L (Ac-KWKSFLKTFKSLK KTVLHTLLKAISS-amide) was used as the framework to design a series of D-and L-diastereomeric peptides and study the relationships of helicity and biological activities of α-helical antimicrobial peptides. Peptide helicity was measured by circular dichroism spectroscopy and demonstrated to correlate with the hydrophobicity of peptides and the numbers of D-amino acid substitutions. Therapeutic index was used to evaluate the selectivity of peptides against prokaryotic cells. By introducing D-amino acids to replace the original L-amino acids on the non-polar face or the polar face of the helix, the hemolytic activity of peptide analogs have been significantly reduced. Compared to the parent peptide, the therapeutic indices were improved of 44-fold and 22-fold against Gram-negative and Grampositive bacteria, respectively. In addition, D-and L-diastereomeric peptides exhibited lower interaction with zwitterionic eukaryotic membrane and showed the significant membrane damaging effect to bacterial cells. Helicity was proved to play a crucial role on peptide specificity and biological activities. By simply replacing the hydrophobic or the hydrophilic amino acid residues on the non-polar or the polar face of these amphipathic derivatives of the parent peptide with D-amino acids, we demonstrated that this method could have excellent potential for the rational design of antimicrobial peptides with enhanced specificity.
Lysosomal chymotrypsin induces mitochondrial fission in apoptotic cells by proteolytic activation of calcineurin
Qianqian Chen, Juan Zhang, Kai Zhao, Wei Li, Qi Miao, Yang Sun, Xingyu Zhao, Taotao Wei, Fuyu Yang
2014, 5(8): 643-647. doi: 10.1007/s13238-014-0085-5