Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

Publications simon-walker

Title / Authors / Details Open Access Download

Assembly of early machinery for autophagy induction: novel insights from high resolution microscopy.
Ktistakis NT, Walker SA, Karanasios E

Oncotarget, , 1949-2553, , 2016

PMID: 27829241

Open Access

Dynamics of mTORC1 activation in response to amino acids.
Manifava M, Smith M, Rotondo S, Walker S, Niewczas I, Zoncu R, Clark J, Ktistakis NT

Amino acids are essential activators of mTORC1 via a complex containing RAG GTPases, RAGULATOR and the vacuolar ATPase. Sensing of amino acids causes translocation of mTORC1 to lysosomes, an obligate step for activation. To examine the spatial and temporal dynamics of this translocation, we used live imaging of the mTORC1 component RAPTOR and a cell permeant fluorescent analogue of di-leucine methyl ester. Translocation to lysosomes is a transient event, occurring within 2 min of aa addition and peaking within 5 min. It is temporally coupled with fluorescent leucine appearance in lysosomes and is sustained in comparison to aa stimulation. Sestrin2 and the vacuolar ATPase are negative and positive regulators of mTORC1 activity in our experimental system. Of note, phosphorylation of canonical mTORC1 targets is delayed compared to lysosomal translocation suggesting a dynamic and transient passage of mTORC1 from the lysosomal surface before targetting its substrates elsewhere.

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eLife, 5, 2050-084X, , 2016

PMID: 27725083

Open Access

Autophagy initiation by ULK complex assembly on ER tubulovesicular regions marked by ATG9 vesicles.
Karanasios E, Walker SA, Okkenhaug H, Manifava M, Hummel E, Zimmermann H, Ahmed Q, Domart MC, Collinson L, Ktistakis NT

Autophagosome formation requires sequential translocation of autophagy-specific proteins to membranes enriched in PI3P and connected to the ER. Preceding this, the earliest autophagy-specific structure forming de novo is a small punctum of the ULK1 complex. The provenance of this structure and its mode of formation are unknown. We show that the ULK1 structure emerges from regions, where ATG9 vesicles align with the ER and its formation requires ER exit and coatomer function. Super-resolution microscopy reveals that the ULK1 compartment consists of regularly assembled punctate elements that cluster in progressively larger spherical structures and associates uniquely with the early autophagy machinery. Correlative electron microscopy after live imaging shows tubulovesicular membranes present at the locus of this structure. We propose that the nucleation of autophagosomes occurs in regions, where the ULK1 complex coalesces with ER and the ATG9 compartment.

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Nature communications, 7, 2041-1723, 12420, 2016

PMID: 27510922

Open Access

Localizing the lipid products of PI3Kγ in neutrophils.
Norton L, Lindsay Y, Deladeriere A, Chessa T, Guillou H, Suire S, Lucocq J, Walker S, Andrews S, Segonds-Pichon A, Rausch O, Finan P, Sasaki T, Du CJ, Bretschneider T, Ferguson GJ, Hawkins PT, Stephens L

Class I phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks) are important regulators of neutrophil migration in response to a range of chemoattractants. Their primary lipid products PtdIns(3,4,5)P3 and PtdIns(3,4)P2 preferentially accumulate near to the leading edge of migrating cells and are thought to act as an important cue organizing molecular and morphological polarization. We have investigated the distribution and accumulation of these lipids independently in mouse neutrophils using eGFP-PH reportersand electron microscopy (EM). We found that authentic mouse neutrophils rapidly polarized their Class I PI3K signalling, as read-out by eGFP-PH reporters, both at the up-gradient leading edge in response to local stimulation with fMLP as well as spontaneously and randomly in response to uniform stimulation. EM studies revealed these events occurred at the plasma membrane, were dominated by accumulation of PtdIns(3,4,5)P3, but not PtdIns(3,4)P2, and were dependent on PI3Kγ and its upstream activation by both Ras and Gβγs.

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Advances in biological regulation, , 2212-4934, , 2015

PMID: 26596865

Open Access

A novel phosphate-starvation response in fission yeast requires the endocytic function of Myosin I.
Petrini E, Baillet V, Cridge J, Hogan CJ, Guillaume C, Ke H, Brandetti E, Walker S, Koohy H, Spivakov M, Varga-Weisz P

Endocytosis is essential for uptake of many substances into the cell, but how it links to nutritional signalling is poorly understood. Here we show a novel role for endocytosis in regulating the response to low phosphate in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Loss of function of Myo1, Sla2/End4 or Arp2, proteins involved in the early steps of endocytosis, led to increased proliferation in low phosphate media compared to controls. We show that once cells are deprived of phosphate they undergo a quiescence response that is dependent on the endocytic function of Myo1. Transcriptomic analysis revealed a wide perturbation of gene expression with induction of stress-regulated genes upon phosphate starvation in wildtype but not Δmyo1 cells. Thus, endocytosis plays a pivotal role in mediating the cellular response to nutrients, bridging the external environment and internal molecular functions of the cell.

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Journal of cell science, , 1477-9137, , 2015

PMID: 26345368

Open Access

The Rac-FRET mouse reveals tight spatiotemporal control of Rac activity in primary cells and tissues.
AK Johnsson, Y Dai, M Nobis, MJ Baker, EJ McGhee, S Walker, JP Schwarz, S Kadir, JP Morton, KB Myant, DJ Huels, A Segonds-Pichon, OJ Sansom, KI Anderson, P Timpson, HC Welch

The small G protein family Rac has numerous regulators that integrate extracellular signals into tight spatiotemporal maps of its activity to promote specific cell morphologies and responses. Here, we have generated a mouse strain, Rac-FRET, which ubiquitously expresses the Raichu-Rac biosensor. It enables FRET imaging and quantification of Rac activity in live tissues and primary cells without affecting cell properties and responses. We assessed Rac activity in chemotaxing Rac-FRET neutrophils and found enrichment in leading-edge protrusions and unexpected longitudinal shifts and oscillations during protruding and stalling phases of migration. We monitored Rac activity in normal or disease states of intestinal, liver, mammary, pancreatic, and skin tissue, in response to stimulation or inhibition and upon genetic manipulation of upstream regulators, revealing unexpected insights into Rac signaling during disease development. The Rac-FRET strain is a resource that promises to fundamentally advance our understanding of Rac-dependent responses in primary cells and native environments.

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Cell reports, 6, 6, 1153-64, 2014

PMID: 24630994
DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.02.024

Open Access

Etoposide Induces Nuclear Re-Localisation of AID.
LJ Lambert, S Walker, J Feltham, HJ Lee, W Reik, J Houseley

During B cell activation, the DNA lesions that initiate somatic hypermutation and class switch recombination are introduced by activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID). AID is a highly mutagenic protein that is maintained in the cytoplasm at steady state, however AID is shuttled across the nuclear membrane and the protein transiently present in the nucleus appears sufficient for targeted alteration of immunoglobulin loci. AID has been implicated in epigenetic reprogramming in primordial germ cells and cell fusions and in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), however AID expression in non-B cells is very low. We hypothesised that epigenetic reprogramming would require a pathway that instigates prolonged nuclear residence of AID. Here we show that AID is completely re-localised to the nucleus during drug withdrawal following etoposide treatment, in the period in which double strand breaks (DSBs) are repaired. Re-localisation occurs 2-6 hours after etoposide treatment, and AID remains in the nucleus for 10 or more hours, during which time cells remain live and motile. Re-localisation is cell-cycle dependent and is only observed in G2. Analysis of DSB dynamics shows that AID is re-localised in response to etoposide treatment, however re-localisation occurs substantially after DSB formation and the levels of re-localisation do not correlate with γH2AX levels. We conclude that DSB formation initiates a slow-acting pathway which allows stable long-term nuclear localisation of AID, and that such a pathway may enable AID-induced DNA demethylation during epigenetic reprogramming.

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PloS one, 8, 12, e82110, 2013

PMID: 24324754
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082110

Open Access

The immune system GTPase GIMAP6 interacts with the Atg8 homologue GABARAPL2 and is recruited to autophagosomes.
Pascall JC, Rotondo S, Mukadam AS, Oxley D, Webster J, Walker SA, Piron J, Carter C, Ktistakis NT, Butcher GW

The GIMAPs (GTPases of the immunity-associated proteins) are a family of small GTPases expressed prominently in the immune systems of mammals and other vertebrates. In mammals, studies of mutant or genetically-modified rodents have indicated important roles for the GIMAP GTPases in the development and survival of lymphocytes. No clear picture has yet emerged, however, of the molecular mechanisms by which they perform their function(s). Using biotin tag-affinity purification we identified a major, and highly specific, interaction between the human cytosolic family member GIMAP6 and GABARAPL2, one of the mammalian homologues of the yeast autophagy protein Atg8. Chemical cross-linking studies performed on Jurkat T cells, which express both GIMAP6 and GABARAPL2 endogenously, indicated that the two proteins in these cells readily associate with one another in the cytosol under normal conditions. The GIMAP6-GABARAPL2 interaction was disrupted by deletion of the last 10 amino acids of GIMAP6. The N-terminal region of GIMAP6, however, which includes a putative Atg8-family interacting motif, was not required. Over-expression of GIMAP6 resulted in increased levels of endogenous GABARAPL2 in cells. After culture of cells in starvation medium, GIMAP6 was found to localise in punctate structures with both GABARAPL2 and the autophagosomal marker MAP1LC3B, indicating that GIMAP6 re-locates to autophagosomes on starvation. Consistent with this finding, we have demonstrated that starvation of Jurkat T cells results in the degradation of GIMAP6. Whilst these findings raise the possibility that the GIMAPs play roles in the regulation of autophagy, we have been unable to demonstrate an effect of GIMAP6 over-expression on autophagic flux.

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PloS one, 8, 1932-6203, e77782, 2013

PMID: 24204963

Open Access

Dynamic association of the ULK1 complex with omegasomes during autophagy induction.
Karanasios E, Stapleton E, Manifava M, Kaizuka T, Mizushima N, Walker SA, Ktistakis NT

Induction of autophagy requires the ULK1 protein kinase complex and the Vps34 lipid kinase complex. PtdIns3P synthesised by Vps34 accumulates in omegasomes, membrane extensions of the ER within which some autophagosomes form. The ULK1 complex is thought to target autophagosomes independently of PtdIns3P, and its functional relationship to omegasomes is unclear. Here we show that the ULK1 complex colocalises with omegasomes in a PtdIns3P-dependent way. Live-cell imaging of Atg13 (a ULK1 complex component), omegasomes and LC3 establishes and annotates for the first time a complete sequence of steps leading to autophagosome formation, as follows. Upon starvation, the ULK1 complex forms puncta associated with the ER and sporadically with mitochondria. If PtdIns3P is available, these puncta become omegasomes. Subsequently, the ULK1 complex exits omegasomes and autophagosomes bud off. If PtdIns3P is unavailable, ULK1 puncta are greatly reduced in number and duration. Atg13 contains a region with affinity for acidic phospholipids, required for translocation to punctate structures and autophagy progression.

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Journal of cell science, 126, 1477-9137, 5224-38, 2013

PMID: 24013547

Open Access

Live cell imaging of early autophagy events: omegasomes and beyond.
E Karanasios, E Stapleton, SA Walker, M Manifava, NT Ktistakis

Autophagy is a cellular response triggered by the lack of nutrients, especially the absence of amino acids. Autophagy is defined by the formation of double membrane structures, called autophagosomes, that sequester cytoplasm, long-lived proteins and protein aggregates, defective organelles, and even viruses or bacteria. Autophagosomes eventually fuse with lysosomes leading to bulk degradation of their content, with the produced nutrients being recycled back to the cytoplasm. Therefore, autophagy is crucial for cell homeostasis, and dysregulation of autophagy can lead to disease, most notably neurodegeneration, ageing and cancer. Autophagosome formation is a very elaborate process, for which cells have allocated a specific group of proteins, called the core autophagy machinery. The core autophagy machinery is functionally complemented by additional proteins involved in diverse cellular processes, e.g. in membrane trafficking, in mitochondrial and lysosomal biology. Coordination of these proteins for the formation and degradation of autophagosomes constitutes the highly dynamic and sophisticated response of autophagy. Live cell imaging allows one to follow the molecular contribution of each autophagy-related protein down to the level of a single autophagosome formation event and in real time, therefore this technique offers a high temporal and spatial resolution. Here we use a cell line stably expressing GFP-DFCP1, to establish a spatial and temporal context for our analysis. DFCP1 marks omegasomes, which are precursor structures leading to autophagosomes formation. A protein of interest (POI) can be marked with either a red or cyan fluorescent tag. Different organelles, like the ER, mitochondria and lysosomes, are all involved in different steps of autophagosome formation, and can be marked using a specific tracker dye. Time-lapse microscopy of autophagy in this experimental set up, allows information to be extracted about the fourth dimension, i.e. time. Hence we can follow the contribution of the POI to autophagy in space and time.

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Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE, , 77, , 2013

PMID: 23929131
DOI: 10.3791/50484

Characteristics and requirements of basal autophagy in HEK 293 cells.
Musiwaro P, Smith M, Manifava M, Walker SA, Ktistakis NT

Basal autophagy-here defined as macroautophagic activity during cellular growth in normal medium containing amino acids and serum-appears to be highly active in many cell types and in animal tissues. Here we characterized this pathway in mammalian HEK 293 cells. First, we examined, side by side, three compounds that are widely used to reveal basal autophagy by blocking maturation of autophagosomes: bafilomycin A 1 (BafA1), chloroquine and vinblastine. Only BafA1 appeared to be without complicating side effects. Chloroquine partially inhibited mechanistic target of rapamycin (MTOR) activity, which would induce autophagy induction as well as block autophagosome maturation. Vinblastine caused the distribution of early omegasome components into punctate phagophore assembly sites, and therefore it would also induce autophagy, complicating interpretation. Basal autophagy was significantly sensitive to inhibition by wortmannin, and therefore required formation of phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PtdIns3P), but it was twice as resistant to wortmannin as starvation-induced autophagy. We also determined that basal autophagy was significantly suppressed by MTOR activation brought about by overexpression of RHEB or activated RAGs. Finally we investigated the spatial relationship of nascent autophagosomes to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) or to mitochondria by live imaging experiments under conditions that reveal basal autophagy (with BafA1 treatment), or upon MTOR inactivation (which would result in autophagy induction). Side-by-side comparison showed that under both basal and induced autophagy, 100% of autophagosomes first appeared in close proximity to ER strands. In parallel measurements, 40% were in close proximity to mitochondria under both conditions. We concluded that in HEK 293 cells, basal autophagy is mechanistically similar to that induced by MTOR inactivation in all aspects examined.

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Autophagy, 9, 1554-8635, 1407-17, 2013

PMID: 23800949

Intra-axonal calcium changes after axotomy in wild-type and slow Wallerian degeneration axons.
R Adalbert, G Morreale, M Paizs, L Conforti, SA Walker, HL Roderick, MD Bootman, L Siklós, MP Coleman

Calcium accumulation induces the breakdown of cytoskeleton and axonal fragmentation in the late stages of Wallerian degeneration. In the early stages there is no evidence for any long-lasting, extensive increase in intra-axonal calcium but there does appear to be some redistribution. We hypothesized that changes in calcium distribution could have an early regulatory role in axonal degeneration in addition to the late executionary role of calcium. Schmidt-Lanterman clefts (SLCs), which allow exchange of metabolites and ions between the periaxonal and extracellular space, are likely to have an increased role when axon segments are separated from the cell body, so we used the oxalate-pyroantimonate method to study calcium at SLCs in distal stumps of transected wild-type and slow Wallerian degeneration (Wld(S)) mutant sciatic nerves, in which Wallerian degeneration is greatly delayed. In wild-type nerves most SLCs show a step gradient of calcium distribution, which is lost at around 20% of SLCs within 3mm of the lesion site by 4-24h after nerve transection. To investigate further the association with Wallerian degeneration, we studied nerves from Wld(S) rats. The step gradient of calcium distribution in Wld(S) is absent in around 20% of the intact nerves beneath SLCs but 4-24h following injury, calcium distribution in transected axons remained similar to that in uninjured nerves. We then used calcium indicators to study influx and buffering of calcium in injured neurites in primary culture. Calcium penetration and the early calcium increase in this system were indistinguishable between Wld(S) and wild-type axons. However, a significant difference was observed during the following hours, when calcium increased in wild-type neurites but not in Wld(S) neurites. We conclude that there is little relationship between calcium distribution and the early stages of Wallerian degeneration at the time points studied in vivo or in vitro but that Wld(S) neurites fail to show a later calcium rise that could be a cause or consequence of the later stages of Wallerian degeneration.

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Neuroscience, 225, , 44-54, 2012

PMID: 22960623
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.08.056

Open Access

High-throughput analysis of calcium signalling kinetics in astrocytes stimulated with different neurotransmitters.
LR James, S Andrews, S Walker, PR de Sousa, A Ray, NA Russell, TC Bellamy

Astrocytes express a wide range of receptors for neurotransmitters and hormones that are coupled to increases in intracellular Ca(2+) concentration, enabling them to detect activity in both neuronal and vascular networks. There is increasing evidence that astrocytes are able to discriminate between different Ca(2+)-linked stimuli, as the efficiency of some Ca(2+) dependent processes--notably release of gliotransmitters--depends on the stimulus that initiates the Ca(2+) signal. The spatiotemporal complexity of Ca(2+) signals is substantial, and we here tested the hypothesis that variation in the kinetics of Ca(2+) responses could offer a means of selectively engaging downstream targets, if agonists exhibited a "signature shape" in evoked Ca(2+) response. To test this, astrocytes were exposed to three different receptor agonists (ATP, glutamate and histamine) and the resultant Ca(2+) signals were analysed for systematic differences in kinetics that depended on the initiating stimulus. We found substantial heterogeneity between cells in the time course of Ca(2+) responses, but the variation did not correlate with the type or concentration of the stimulus. Using a simple metric to quantify the extent of difference between populations, it was found that the variation between agonists was insufficient to allow signal discrimination. We conclude that the time course of global intracellular Ca(2+) signals does not offer the cells a means for distinguishing between different neurotransmitters.

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PloS one, 6, 10, e26889, 2011

PMID: 22046396
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026889

The autoimmunity-related GIMAP5 GTPase is a lysosome-associated protein.
VW Wong, AE Saunders, A Hutchings, JC Pascall, C Carter, NA Bright, SA Walker, NT Ktistakis, GW Butcher

A mutation in the rat GIMAP5 gene predisposes for autoimmunity, most famously in the BB rat model of autoimmune type 1 diabetes mellitus. This mutation is associated with severe peripheral T lymphopenia, as is mutation of the same gene in mice, but the mechanism by which GIMAP5 normally protects T cells from death is unknown. GIMAP5 is a putative small GTPase, a class of proteins which often fulfil their functions in the vicinity of cellular membranes. The objective of this study was to determine the normal intracellular location of GIMAP5 in lymphoid cells. Combining studies in rat, mouse and human systems, novel monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) were used to examine the localization of GIMAP5 and the closely-related protein, GIMAP1, in lymphoid cells by means of confocal microscopy and sub-cellular fractionation combined with immunoblotting. Additionally, human Jurkat T cells that inducibly express epitope-tagged GIMAP5 were established and used in electron microscopy (EM). Endogenous GIMAP5 was found to be located in a membraneous compartment/s which was also detected by established markers of lysosomes. GIMAP1, by contrast, was found to be located in the Golgi apparatus. EM studies of the inducible Jurkat T cells also found GIMAP5 in lysosomes and, in addition, in multivesicular bodies. This study establishes that the endogenous location of GIMAP5 is in lysosomes and related compartments and provides a clearer context for hypotheses about its mechanism of action.

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Self/nonself, 1, 3, 259-268, 2010

PMID: 21487483
DOI: 10.4161/self.1.3.12819

Open Access

Ca2+-dependent monomer and dimer formation switches CAPRI Protein between Ras GTPase-activating protein (GAP) and RapGAP activities.
Y Dai, SA Walker, E de Vet, S Cook, HC Welch, PJ Lockyer

CAPRI is a member of the GAP1 family of GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs) for small G proteins. It is known to function as an amplitude sensor for intracellular Ca(2+) levels stimulated by extracellular signals and has a catalytic domain with dual RasGAP and RapGAP activities. Here, we have investigated the mechanism that switches CAPRI between its two GAP activities. We demonstrate that CAPRI forms homodimers in vitro and in vivo in a Ca(2+)-dependent manner. The site required for dimerization was pinpointed by deletion and point mutations to a helix motif that forms a hydrophobic face in the extreme C-terminal tail of the CAPRI protein. Deletion of this helix motif abolished dimer formation but did not affect translocation of CAPRI to the plasma membrane upon cell stimulation with histamine. We found that dimeric and monomeric CAPRI coexist in cells and that the ratio of dimeric to monomeric CAPRI increases upon cell stimulation with histamine. Free Ca(2+) at physiologically relevant concentrations was both necessary and sufficient for dimer formation. Importantly, the monomeric and dimeric forms of CAPRI exhibited differential GAP activities in vivo; the wild-type form of CAPRI had stronger RapGAP activity than RasGAP activity, whereas a monomeric CAPRI mutant showed stronger RasGAP than RapGAP activity. These results demonstrate that CAPRI switches between its dual GAP roles by forming monomers or homodimers through a process regulated by Ca(2+). We propose that Ca(2+)-dependent dimerization of CAPRI may serve to coordinate Ras and Rap1 signaling pathways.

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The Journal of biological chemistry, 286, 22, 19905-16, 2011

PMID: 21460216
DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M110.201301

Open Access

PtdIns3P and Rac direct the assembly of the NADPH oxidase on a novel, pre-phagosomal compartment during FcR-mediated phagocytosis in primary mouse neutrophils.
KE Anderson, TA Chessa, K Davidson, RB Henderson, S Walker, T Tolmachova, K Grys, O Rausch, MC Seabra, VL Tybulewicz, LR Stephens, PT Hawkins

The generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase is an important mechanism by which neutrophils kill pathogens. The oxidase is composed of a membrane-bound cytochrome and 4 soluble proteins (p67(phox), p40(phox), p47(phox), and GTP-Rac). These components form an active complex at the correct time and subcellular location through a series of incompletely understood mutual interactions, regulated, in part, by GTP/GDP exchange on Rac, protein phosphorylation, and binding to lipid messengers. We have used a variety of assays to follow the spatiotemporal assembly of the oxidase in genetically engineered primary mouse neutrophils, during phagocytosis of both serum- and immunoglobulin G-opsonized targets. The oxidase assembles directly on serum-Staphylococcus aureus-containing phagosomes within seconds of phagosome formation; this process is only partially dependent (∼ 30%) on PtdIns3P binding to p40(phox), but totally dependent on Rac1/2 binding to p67(phox). In contrast, in response to immunoglobulin G-targets, the oxidase first assembles on a tubulovesicular compartment that develops at sites of granule fusion to the base of the emerging phagosome; oxidase assembly and activation is highly dependent on both PtdIns3P-p40(phox) and Rac2-p67(phox) interactions and delivery to the phagosome is regulated by Rab27a. These results define a novel pathway for oxidase assembly downstream of FcR-activation.

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Blood, 116, 23, 4978-89, 2010

PMID: 20813901
DOI: 10.1182/blood-2010-03-275602

Open Access

Comparison of the T-tubule system in adult rat ventricular and atrial myocytes, and its role in excitation-contraction coupling and inotropic stimulation.
I Smyrnias, W Mair, D Harzheim, SA Walker, HL Roderick, MD Bootman

Narrow, tubular, inward projections of the sarcolemma ('T-tubules') are an established feature of adult mammalian ventricular myocytes that enables them to generate the whole-cell Ca2+ transients and produce coordinated contraction. Loss of T-tubules can occur during ageing and under pathological conditions, leading to altered cardiac excitation-contraction coupling. In contrast to adult ventricular cells, atrial myocytes do not generally express an extensive T-tubule system at any stage of development, and therefore rely on Ca2+ channels around their periphery for the induction of Ca2+ signalling and excitation-contraction coupling. Consequently, the characteristics of systolic Ca2+ signals in adult ventricular and atrial myocytes are temporally and spatially distinct. However, although atrial myocytes do not have the same regularly spaced convoluted T-tubule structures as adult ventricular cells, it has been suggested that a proportion of adult atrial cells have a more rudimentary tubule system. We examined the structure and function of these atrial tubules, and explored their impact on the initiation and recovery of Ca2+ signalling in electrically paced myocytes. The atrial responses were compared to those in adult ventricular cells that had intact T-tubules, or that had been chemically detubulated. We found that tubular structures were present in a significant minority of adult atrial myocytes, and were unlike the T-tubules in adult ventricular cells. In those cells where they were present, the atrial tubules significantly altered the on-set, amplitude, homogeneity and recovery of Ca2+ transients. The properties of adult atrial myocyte Ca2+ signals were different from those in adult ventricular cells, whether intact or detubulated. Excitation-contraction coupling in detubulated adult ventricular myocytes, therefore, does not approximate to atrial signalling, even though Ca2+ signals are initiated in the periphery of the cells in both of these situations. Furthermore, inotropic responses to endothelin-1 were entirely dependent on T-tubules in adult ventricular myocytes, but not in atrial cells. Our data reveal that that the T-tubules in atrial cells impart significant functional properties, but loss of these tubular membranes does not affect Ca2+ signalling as dramatically as detubulation in ventricular myocytes.

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Cell calcium, 47, 3, 210-23, 2010

PMID: 20106523
DOI: 10.1016/j.ceca.2009.10.001

Severely dystrophic axons at amyloid plaques remain continuous and connected to viable cell bodies.
R Adalbert, A Nogradi, E Babetto, L Janeckova, SA Walker, M Kerschensteiner, T Misgeld, MP Coleman

Synapse loss precedes cell death in Alzheimer's disease, but the timing of axon degeneration relative to these events, and the causal relationships remain unclear. Axons become so severely dystrophic near amyloid plaques that their interruption, causing permanent loss of function, extensive synapse loss, and potentially cell death appears imminent. However, it remains unclear whether axons are truly interrupted at plaques and whether cell bodies fail to support their axons and dendrites. We traced TgCRND8 mouse axons longitudinally through, distal to, and proximal from dystrophic regions. The corresponding neurons not only survived but remained morphologically unaltered, indicating absence of axonal damage signalling or a failure to respond to it. Axons, no matter how dystrophic, remained continuous and initially morphologically normal outside the plaque region, reflecting support by metabolically active cell bodies and continued axonal transport. Immunochemical and ultrastructural studies showed dystrophic axons were tightly associated with disruption of presynaptic transmission machinery, suggesting local functional impairment. Thus, we rule out long-range degeneration axons or dendrites as major contributors to early synapse loss in this model, raising the prospect of a therapeutic window for functional rescue of individual neurons lasting months or even years after their axons become highly dystrophic. We propose that multi-focal pathology has an important role in the human disease in bringing about the switch from local, and potentially recoverable, synapse loss into permanent loss of neuronal processes and eventually their cell bodies.

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Brain : a journal of neurology, 132, Pt 2, 402-16, 2009

PMID: 19059977
DOI: 10.1093/brain/awn312

Open Access

Dynamic imaging of calcium and STIM1 in the same cell using wide-field and TIRF microscopy.
S Walker, N Cunniffe, M Bootman, HL Roderick

BioTechniques, 45, 3, 347-8, 2008

PMID: 18778263
DOI: 10.2144/000112957

P-Rex2 regulates Purkinje cell dendrite morphology and motor coordination.
S Donald, T Humby, I Fyfe, A Segonds-Pichon, SA Walker, SR Andrews, WJ Coadwell, P Emson, LS Wilkinson, HC Welch

The small GTPase Rac controls cell morphology, gene expression, and reactive oxygen species formation. Manipulations of Rac activity levels in the cerebellum result in motor coordination defects, but activators of Rac in the cerebellum are unknown. P-Rex family guanine-nucleotide exchange factors activate Rac. We show here that, whereas P-Rex1 expression within the brain is widespread, P-Rex2 is specifically expressed in the Purkinje neurons of the cerebellum. We have generated P-Rex2(-/-) and P-Rex1(-/-)/P-Rex2(-/-) mice, analyzed their Purkinje cell morphology, and assessed their motor functions in behavior tests. The main dendrite is thinned in Purkinje cells of P-Rex2(-/-) pups and dendrite structure appears disordered in Purkinje cells of adult P-Rex2(-/-) and P-Rex1(-/-)/P-Rex2(-/-) mice. P-Rex2(-/-) mice show a mild motor coordination defect that progressively worsens with age and is more pronounced in females than in males. P-Rex1(-/-)/P-Rex2(-/-) mice are ataxic, with reduced basic motor activity and abnormal posture and gait, as well as impaired motor coordination even at a young age. We conclude that P-Rex1 and P-Rex2 are important regulators of Purkinje cell morphology and cerebellar function.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105, 11, 4483-8, 2008

PMID: 18334636
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0712324105

Open Access

A human CD4 monoclonal antibody for the treatment of T-cell lymphoma combines inhibition of T-cell signaling by a dual mechanism with potent Fc-dependent effector activity.
DA Rider, CE Havenith, R de Ridder, J Schuurman, C Favre, JC Cooper, S Walker, O Baadsgaard, S Marschner, JG vandeWinkel, J Cambier, PW Parren, DR Alexander

Zanolimumab is a human IgG1 antibody against CD4, which is in clinical development for the treatment of cutaneous and nodal T-cell lymphomas. Here, we report on its mechanisms of action. Zanolimumab was found to inhibit CD4+ T cells by combining signaling inhibition with the induction of Fc-dependent effector mechanisms. First, T-cell receptor (TCR) signal transduction is inhibited by zanolimumab through a fast, dual mechanism, which is activated within minutes. Ligation of CD4 by zanolimumab effectively inhibits early TCR signaling events but, interestingly, activates signaling through the CD4-associated tyrosine kinase p56lck. An uncoupling of p56lck from the TCR by anti-CD4 allows the kinase to transmit direct inhibitory signals via the inhibitory adaptor molecules Dok-1 and SHIP-1. Second, CD4+ T cells are killed by induction of antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity, to which CD45RO+ cells are more sensitive than CD45RA+ cells. Finally, zanolimumab induces down-modulation of CD4 from cell surfaces via a slow Fc-dependent mechanism. In conclusion, zanolimumab rapidly inhibits T-cell signaling via a dual mechanism of action combined with potent Fc-dependent lysis of CD4+ T cells and may act long-term by down-regulating CD4.

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Cancer research, 67, 20, 9945-53, 2007

PMID: 17942927
DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-07-1148

PI(3)Kgamma has an important context-dependent role in neutrophil chemokinesis.
GJ Ferguson, L Milne, S Kulkarni, T Sasaki, S Walker, S Andrews, T Crabbe, P Finan, G Jones, S Jackson, M Camps, C Rommel, M Wymann, E Hirsch, P Hawkins, L Stephens

The directional movement of cells in a gradient of external stimulus is termed chemotaxis and is important in many aspects of development and differentiated cell function. Phophoinositide 3-kinases (PI(3)Ks) are thought to have critical roles within the gradient-sensing machinery of a variety of highly motile cells, such as mammalian phagocytes, allowing these cells to respond quickly and efficiently to shallow gradients of soluble stimuli. Our analysis of mammalian neutrophil migration towards ligands such as fMLP shows that, although PtdIns(3,4)P(2) and PtdIns(3,4,5)P(3) accumulate in a PI(3)Kgamma-dependent fashion at the up-gradient leading-edge, this signal is not required for efficient gradient-sensing and gradient-biased movement. PI(3)Kgamma activity is however, a critical determinant of the proportion of cells that can move, that is, respond chemokinetically, in reaction to fMLP. Furthermore, this dependence of chemokinesis on PI(3)Kgamma activity is context dependent, both with respect to the state of priming of the neutrophils and the type of surface on which they are migrating. We propose this effect of PI(3)Kgamma is through roles in the regulation of some aspects of neutrophil polarization that are relevant to movement, such as integrin-based adhesion and the accumulation of polymerized (F)-actin at the leading-edge.

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Nature cell biology, 9, 1, 86-91, 2007

PMID: 17173040
DOI: 10.1038/ncb1517

Cutting edge: the phosphoinositide 3-kinase p110 delta is critical for the function of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells.
Patton DT, Garden OA, Pearce WP, Clough LE, Monk CR, Leung E, Rowan WC, Sancho S, Walker LS, Vanhaesebroeck B, Okkenhaug K

CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) contribute to the maintenance of peripheral tolerance by inhibiting the expansion and function of conventional T cells. Treg development and homeostasis are regulated by the Ag receptor, costimulatory receptors such as CD28 and CTLA-4, and cytokines such as IL-2, IL-10, and TGF-beta. Here we show that the proportions of Tregs in the spleen and lymph nodes of mice with inactive p110delta PI3K (p110deltaD910A/D910A) are reduced despite enhanced Treg selection in the thymus. p110deltaD910A/D910A CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ Tregs showed attenuated suppressor function in vitro and failed to secrete IL-10. In adoptive transfer experiments, p110deltaD910A/D910A T cells failed to protect against experimental colitis. The identification of p110delta as an intracellular signaling protein that regulates the activity of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ Tregs may facilitate the further elucidation of the molecular mechanisms responsible for Treg-mediated suppression.

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Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950), 177, 0022-1767, 6598-602, 2006

PMID: 17082571

Open Access

The slow Wallerian degeneration protein, WldS, binds directly to VCP/p97 and partially redistributes it within the nucleus.
H Laser, L Conforti, G Morreale, TG Mack, M Heyer, JE Haley, TM Wishart, B Beirowski, SA Walker, G Haase, A Celik, R Adalbert, D Wagner, D Grumme, RR Ribchester, M Plomann, MP Coleman

Slow Wallerian degeneration (Wld(S)) mutant mice express a chimeric nuclear protein that protects sick or injured axons from degeneration. The C-terminal region, derived from NAD(+) synthesizing enzyme Nmnat1, is reported to confer neuroprotection in vitro. However, an additional role for the N-terminal 70 amino acids (N70), derived from multiubiquitination factor Ube4b, has not been excluded. In wild-type Ube4b, N70 is part of a sequence essential for ubiquitination activity but its role is not understood. We report direct binding of N70 to valosin-containing protein (VCP; p97/Cdc48), a protein with diverse cellular roles including a pivotal role in the ubiquitin proteasome system. Interaction with Wld(S) targets VCP to discrete intranuclear foci where ubiquitin epitopes can also accumulate. Wld(S) lacking its N-terminal 16 amino acids (N16) neither binds nor redistributes VCP, but continues to accumulate in intranuclear foci, targeting its intrinsic NAD(+) synthesis activity to these same foci. Wild-type Ube4b also requires N16 to bind VCP, despite a more C-terminal binding site in invertebrate orthologues. We conclude that N-terminal sequences of Wld(S) protein influence the intranuclear location of both ubiquitin proteasome and NAD(+) synthesis machinery and that an evolutionary recent sequence mediates binding of mammalian Ube4b to VCP.

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Molecular biology of the cell, 17, 3, 1075-84, 2006

PMID: 16371511
DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E05-04-0375

Open Access