Publications

The Babraham Institute Publications database contains details of all publications resulting from our research groups and scientific services.

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Title / Authors / Details Open Access Download

Genetic and genomic approaches to study placental development.
Hemberger M, Zechner U

Recent technological advances in genetic manipulation and expression profiling offer excellent opportunities to elucidate the molecular mechanisms controlling developmental processes during embryogenesis. Thus, this revolution also strongly benefits studies of the molecular genetics of placental development. Here we review the findings of several expression profiling analyses in extraembryonic tissues and assess how this work can contribute to the identification of essential components governing placental development. We further discuss the relevance of these components in the context of genetic manipulation experiments. In conclusion, the intelligent combination of genetic and genomic approaches will substantially accelerate the progress in identifying the key molecular pathways of placental development.

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Cytogenetic and genome research, 105, 1424-859X, 2004

PMID: 15237215

Trophoblast stem cells differentiate in vitro into invasive trophoblast giant cells.
Hemberger M, Hughes M, Cross JC

Trophoblast cells are characterized by an invasive behavior into the surrounding uterine tissue. In rodents, an early peri-/endovascular type of invasion exerted by trophoblast giant cells can be distinguished from a late interstitial type carried out by glycogen trophoblast cells. Analysis of the molecular mechanisms of trophoblast invasion has been hampered, however, by the complex temporal and spatial patterns of invasion. We utilized trophoblast stem (TS) cell lines to study trophoblast invasion in vitro and to establish a model that facilitates investigation of this process on the molecular level. Our results showed that trophoblast giant cells that differentiate from TS cells in vitro are capable of penetrating a reconstituted basement membrane matrix. Consequently, invasion rates were increased in various giant cell differentiation-promoting conditions. We also derived TS cell lines that are homozygous for a mutation of the Hand1 transcription factor. The Hand1-/- TS cells showed reduced levels of giant cell differentiation and exhibited an approximately 50% decrease in invasion rates. In summary, trophoblast giant cells that differentiate from TS cells in vitro recapitulate the invasive capacity of normal trophoblast cells in vivo. The TS cell system is a valuable tool to identify and quantitatively study regulators of trophoblast invasion.

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Developmental biology, 271, 0012-1606, 2004

PMID: 15223340

Tandem repeat hypothesis in imprinting: deletion of a conserved direct repeat element upstream of H19 has no effect on imprinting in the Igf2-H19 region.
Lewis A, Mitsuya K, Constancia M, Reik W

Igf2 and H19 are reciprocally imprinted genes on mouse distal chromosome 7. They share several regulatory elements, including a differentially methylated region (DMR) upstream of H19 that is paternally methylated throughout development. The cis-acting sequence requirements for targeting DNA methylation to the DMR remain unknown; however, it has been suggested that direct tandem repeats near DMRs could be involved. Previous studies of the imprinted Rasgrf1 locus demonstrate indeed that a direct repeat element adjacent to a DMR is responsible for establishing paternal allele-specific methylation at the DMR and therefore allelic expression of the Rasgrf1 transcript. We identified a prominent and conserved direct tandem repeat 1 kb upstream of the H19 DMR and proposed that it played a similar role in imprinted regulation of H19. To test our hypothesis, we generated mice harboring a 1.7-kb targeted deletion of the direct repeat element and analyzed fetal growth, allelic expression, and methylation within the Igf2-H19 region. Surprisingly the deletion had no effect on imprinting. These results together with deletions of other repeats close to imprinted genes suggest that direct repeats may not be important for the targeting of methylation at the majority of imprinted loci and that the Rasgrf1 locus may be an exception to this rule.

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Molecular and cellular biology, 24, 0270-7306, 2004

PMID: 15199123

Open Access

Mutagenesis of the ezrin-radixin-moesin binding domain of L-selectin tail affects shedding, microvillar positioning, and leukocyte tethering.
A Ivetic, O Florey, J Deka, DO Haskard, A Ager, AJ Ridley

L-selectin is a cell adhesion molecule that mediates the initial capture (tethering) and subsequent rolling of leukocytes along ligands expressed on endothelial cells. We have previously identified ezrin and moesin as novel binding partners of the 17-amino acid L-selectin tail, but the biological role of this interaction is not known. Here we identify two basic amino acid residues within the L-selectin tail that are required for binding to ezrin-radixinmoesin (ERM) proteins: arginine 357 and lysine 362. L-selectin mutants defective for ERM binding show reduced localization to microvilli and decreased phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate-induced shedding of the L-selectin ectodomain. Cells expressing these L-selectin mutants have reduced tethering to the L-selectin ligand P-selectin glycoprotein ligand-1, but rolling velocity on P-selectin glycoprotein ligand-1 is not affected. These results suggest that ERM proteins are required for microvillar positioning of L-selectin and that this is important both for leukocyte tethering and L-selectin shedding.

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The Journal of biological chemistry, 279, 32, 2004

PMID: 15178693

Open Access

Placental-specific insulin-like growth factor 2 (Igf2) regulates the diffusional exchange characteristics of the mouse placenta.
Sibley CP, Coan PM, Ferguson-Smith AC, Dean W, Hughes J, Smith P, Reik W, Burton GJ, Fowden AL, Constância M

Restricted fetal growth is associated with postnatal mortality and morbidity and may be directly related to alterations in the capacity of the placenta to supply nutrients. We proposed previously that imprinted genes can regulate nutrient supply by the placenta. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the insulin-like growth factor 2 gene (Igf2) transcribed from the placental-specific promoter (P0) regulates the development of the diffusional permeability properties of the mouse placenta. Using mice in which placental-specific Igf2 had been deleted (P0), we measured the transfer in vivo of three inert hydrophilic solutes of increasing size (14C-mannitol, 51CrEDTA, and 14C-inulin). At embryonic day 19, placental and fetal weights in P0 conceptuses were reduced to 66% and 76%, respectively, of wild type. In P0 mutants, the permeability.surface area product for the tracers at this stage of development was 68% of that of controls; this effect was independent of tracer size. Stereological analysis of histological sections revealed the surface area of the exchange barrier in the labyrinth of the mouse placenta to be reduced and thickness increased in P0 fetuses compared to wild type. As a result, the average theoretical diffusing capacity in P0 knockout placentas was dramatically reduced to 40% of that of wild-type placentas. These data show that placental Igf2 regulates the development of the diffusional exchange characteristics of the mouse placenta. This provides a mechanism for the role of imprinted genes in controlling placental nutrient supply and fetal growth. Altered placental Igf2 could be a cause of idiopathic intrauterine growth restriction in the human.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 101, 0027-8424, 2004

PMID: 15150410

Open Access

Antisense intergenic transcription in V(D)J recombination.
DJ Bolland, AL Wood, CM Johnston, SF Bunting, G Morgan, L Chakalova, PJ Fraser, AE Corcoran

Antigen receptor genes undergo variable, diversity and joining (V(D)J) recombination, which requires ordered large-scale chromatin remodeling. Here we show that antisense transcription, both genic and intergenic, occurs extensively in the V region of the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus. RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization demonstrates antisense transcription is strictly developmentally regulated and is initiated during the transition from DJ(H) to VDJ(H) recombination and terminates concomitantly with VDJ(H) recombination. Our data show antisense transcription is specific to the V region and suggest transcripts extend across several genes. We propose that antisense transcription remodels the V region to facilitate V(H)-to-DJ(H) recombination. These findings have wider implications for V(D)J recombination of other antigen receptor loci and developmental regulation of multigene loci.

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Nature immunology, 5, 6, 2004

PMID: 15107847

Germline stem cell number in the Drosophila ovary is regulated by redundant mechanisms that control Dpp signaling.
MO Casanueva, EL Ferguson

The available experimental data support the hypothesis that the cap cells (CpCs) at the anterior tip of the germarium form an environmental niche for germline stem cells (GSCs) of the Drosophila ovary. Each GSC undergoes an asymmetric self-renewal division that gives rise to both a GSC, which remains associated with the CpCs, and a more posterior located cystoblast (CB). The CB upregulates expression of the novel gene, bag of marbles (bam), which is necessary for germline differentiation. Decapentaplegic (Dpp), a BMP2/4 homologue, has been postulated to act as a highly localized niche signal that maintains a GSC fate solely by repressing bam transcription. Here, we further examine the role of Dpp in GSC maintenance. In contrast to the above model, we find that an enhancer trap inserted near the Dpp target gene, Daughters against Dpp (Dad), is expressed in additional somatic cells within the germarium, suggesting that Dpp protein may be distributed throughout the anterior germarium. However, Dad-lacZ expression within the germline is present only in GSCs and to a lower level in CBs, suggesting there are mechanisms that actively restrict Dpp signaling in germ cells. We demonstrate that one function of Bam is to block Dpp signaling downstream of Dpp receptor activation, thus establishing the existence of a negative feedback loop between the action of the two genes. Moreover, in females doubly mutant for bam and the ubiquitin protein ligase Smurf, the number of germ cells responsive to Dpp is greatly increased relative to the number observed in either single mutant. These data indicate that there are multiple, genetically redundant mechanisms that act within the germline to downregulate Dpp signaling in the Cb and its descendants, and raise the possibility that a Cb and its descendants must become refractory to Dpp signaling in order for germline differentiation to occur.

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Development (Cambridge, England), 131, 9, 2004

PMID: 15105369

Open Access

Phospholipase D.
McDermott M, Wakelam MJ, Morris AJ

Phospholipase D catalyses the hydrolysis of the phosphodiester bond of glycerophospholipids to generate phosphatidic acid and a free headgroup. Phospholipase D activities have been detected in simple to complex organisms from viruses and bacteria to yeast, plants, and mammals. Although enzymes with broader selectivity are found in some of the lower organisms, the plant, yeast, and mammalian enzymes are selective for phosphatidylcholine. The two mammalian phospholipase D isoforms are regulated by protein kinases and GTP binding proteins of the ADP-ribosylation and Rho families. Mammalian and yeast phospholipases D are also potently stimulated by phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate. This review discusses the identification, characterization, structure, and regulation of phospholipase D. Genetic and pharmacological approaches implicate phospholipase D in a diverse range of cellular processes that include receptor signaling, control of intracellular membrane transport, and reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton. Most ideas about phospholipase D function consider that the phosphatidic acid product is an intracellular lipid messenger. Candidate targets for phospholipase-D-generated phosphatidic acid include phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate 5-kinases and the raf protein kinase. Phosphatidic acid can also be converted to two other lipid mediators, diacylglycerol and lyso phosphatidic acid. Coordinated activation of these phospholipase-D-dependent pathways likely accounts for the pleitropic roles for these enzymes in many aspects of cell regulation.

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Biochemistry and cell biology = Biochimie et biologie cellulaire, 82, 0829-8211, 2004

PMID: 15052340

The tyrosine kinase Syk is required for light chain isotype exclusion but dispensable for the negative selection of B cells.
Meade J, Tybulewicz VL, Turner M

In this study we set out to test whether Syk was required for negative selection of immature B cells. B cells expressing a B cell antigen receptor (BCR) transgene (3-83, anti-H-2K(k)) underwent negative selection independently of Syk in both fetal liver organ culture and radiation chimera models. Furthermore, Syk-independent negative selection was not reversed by transgenic overexpression of Bcl-2. Receptor editing was not apparent in Syk-deficient B cells, presumably as a consequence of the failure of mature edited B cells to develop in the absence of Syk. Interestingly, light chain isotype exclusion by the BCR transgene failed in the absence of Syk. We observed a dramatic reduction in the overall BCR-mediated tyrosine phosphorylation of cellular proteins in Syk-deficient immature B cells. However, the tyrosine phosphorylation of a number of substrates including phospholipase C gamma 2, although reduced, was not completely abrogated. BCR ligation triggered an increase in calcium flux in the absence of Syk. Thus signaling events that mediate negative selection can still occur in the absence of Syk. This may be due to redundancy with zeta-associated protein 70 (ZAP-70), which we demonstrate to be expressed in immature B cells.

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European journal of immunology, 34, 0014-2980, 2004

PMID: 15048721

Divergent genetic and epigenetic post-zygotic isolation mechanisms in Mus and Peromyscus.
Zechner U, Shi W, Hemberger M, Himmelbauer H, Otto S, Orth A, Kalscheuer V, Fischer U, Elango R, Reis A, Vogel W, Ropers H, Rüschendorf F, Fundele R

Interspecific hybridization in the rodent genera Peromyscus and Mus results in abnormal placentation. In the Peromyscus interspecies hybrids, abnormal allelic interaction between an X-linked locus and the imprinted paternally expressed Peg3 locus was shown to cause the placental defects. In addition, loss-of-imprinting (LOI) of Peg3 was positively correlated with increased placental size. As in extreme cases this placental dysplasia constitutes a post-zygotic barrier against interspecies hybridization, this finding was the first direct proof that imprinted genes may be important in speciation and thus in evolution. In the Mus interspecies hybrids, a strong role of an X-linked locus in placental dysplasia has also been detected. However, here we show by backcross and allele specific expression analyses that neither LOI of Peg3 nor abnormal interactions between Peg3 and an X-linked locus are involved in generating placental dysplasia in Mus hybrids, although the placental phenotypes observed in the two genera seem to be identical. In contrast to this, another dysgenesis effect common to Peromyscus and Mus hybrids, altered foetal growth, is caused at least in part by the same X-chromosomal regions in both genera. These findings first underline the strong involvement of the X-chromosome in the genetics of speciation. Secondly, they indicate that disruption of epigenetic states, such as LOI, at specific loci may be involved in hybrid dysgenesis effects in one group, but not in another. Thus, we conclude that even in closely related groups divergent molecular mechanisms may be involved in the production of phenotypically similar post-zygotic barriers against hybridization.

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Journal of evolutionary biology, 17, 1010-061X, 2004

PMID: 15009278

The activation of G-protein gated inwardly rectifying K+ channels by a cloned Drosophila melanogaster neuropeptide F-like receptor.
V Reale, HM Chatwin, PD Evans

A Drosophila melanogaster G-protein-coupled receptor (NPFR76F) that is activated by neuropeptide F-like peptides has been expressed in Xenopus oocytes to determine its ability to regulate heterologously expressed G-protein-coupled inwardly rectifying potassium channels. The activated receptor produced inwardly rectifying potassium currents by a pertussis toxin-sensitive G-protein-mediated pathway and the effects were reduced in the presence of proteins, such as the betaARK 1 carboxy-tail fragment and alpha-transducin, which bind G-protein betagamma-subunits. Short Drosophila NPF-like peptides were more potent than long NPF-like peptides at coupling the receptor to the activation of inwardly rectifying potassium channels. The putative endogenous short Drosophila NPF-like peptides showed agonist-specific coupling depending on whether their actions were assessed as the activation of the inwardly rectifying potassium channels or as the activation of endogenous inward chloride channels through a co-expressed promiscuous G-protein, Galpha16. As inwardly rectifying potassium channels are known to be encoded in the Drosophila genome and the NPFR76F receptor is widely expressed in the Drosophila nervous system, the receptor could function to control neuronal excitability or slow wave potential generation in the Drosophila nervous system.

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The European journal of neuroscience, 19, 3, 2004

PMID: 14984407

ERK1/2 and p38 cooperate to induce a p21CIP1-dependent G1 cell cycle arrest.
DE Todd, RM Densham, SA Molton, K Balmanno, C Newson, CR Weston, AP Garner, L Scott, SJ Cook

To study the mechanisms by which mitogen- and stress-activated protein kinases regulate cell cycle re-entry, we have used a panel of conditional kinases that stimulate defined MAPK or SAPK cascades. Activation of DeltaMEKK3:ER* during serum restimulation of quiescent cells causes a strong activation of JNK1 and p38alpha but only a modest potentiation of serum-stimulated ERK1/2 activity. In CCl39 cells this promoted a sustained G1 arrest that correlated with decreased expression of cyclin D1 and Cdc25A, increased expression of p21CIP1 and inhibition of CDK2 activity. In Rat-1 cells, in which p21(CIP1) expression is silenced by methylation, DeltaMEKK3:ER* activation caused only a transient delay in the S phase entry rather than a sustained G1 arrest. Furthermore, p21CIP1-/- 3T3 cells were defective for the DeltaMEKK3:ER*-induced G1 cell cycle arrest compared to their wild-type counterparts. These results suggest that activated DeltaMEKK3:ER* inhibits the G1 --> S progression by two kinetically distinct mechanisms, with expression of p21CIP1 being required to ensure a sustained G1 cell cycle arrest. The ERK1/2 and p38alphabeta pathways cooperated to induce p21CIP1 expression and inhibition of p38alphabeta caused a partial reversal of the cell cycle arrest. In contrast, selective activation of ERK1/2 by DeltaRaf-1:ER* did not inhibit serum stimulated cell cycle re-entry. Finally, selective activation of JNK by DeltaMEKK1:ER* failed to inhibit cell cycle re-entry, even in cells that retained wild-type p53, arguing against a major role for JNK alone in antagonizing the G1 --> S transition.

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Oncogene, 23, 19, 2004

PMID: 14981547

Activation of Syk in neutrophils by antineutrophil cytoplasm antibodies occurs via Fcgamma receptors and CD18.
Hewins P, Williams JM, Wakelam MJ, Savage CO

Antineutrophil cytoplasm antibodies (ANCA) activate TNF-alpha-primed neutrophils to undergo a respiratory burst. The intracellular signals that mediate activation have not been studied extensively but could increase the understanding of the pathogenesis small vessel vasculitis. It was demonstrated that ANCA-IgG induced phosphorylation of the tyrosine kinase Syk in TNF-alpha-primed neutrophils from healthy donors. Syk was not phosphorylated in response to ANCA F(ab')(2). Furthermore, Syk phosphorylation was attenuated by blockade of both low-affinity Fcgamma receptors and CD18. Similarly, low-affinity Fcgamma receptor blockade reduced ANCA-induced superoxide production. In patient-derived neutrophils, the high-affinity Fcgamma receptor FcgammaRI was also demonstrated to be involved in ANCA-induced superoxide production. However, Syk phosphorylation was not attenuated by blockade of the FcgammaRI, present on neutrophils from vasculitis patients. The tyrosine kinase inhibitor 4-Amino-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-7-(t-butyl)pyrazolo[3,4-d]pyrimidine inhibited the ANCA-induced respiratory burst and Syk phosphorylation, suggesting that Src kinases lie upstream of Syk activation but downstream of ANCA engagement of Fcgamma receptors. Piceatannol, another tyrosine kinase inhibitor, also inhibited ANCA-induced Syk phosphorylation and the ANCA-stimulated respiratory burst, supporting the proposed functional role for Syk in ANCA signaling. ANCA-induced phosphorylation of Cbl and intracellular calcium transients, potential downstream mediators of Syk activation, were also blocked by tyrosine kinase inhibitors. While it has previously been shown that pertussis toxin diminishes the ANCA-induced respiratory burst, indicating heterotrimeric G protein involvement, Syk phosphorylation and calcium transients were unaffected by pertussis toxin. Collectively, these data show that Syk phosphorylation is induced during ANCA-triggered neutrophil activation.

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Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : JASN, 15, 1046-6673, 2004

PMID: 14978183

Open Access

Rational understanding of nicotinic receptors drug binding.
Grutter T, Le Novère N, Changeux JP

The atomic determination of the acetylcholine binding protein (AChBP), a molluscan cholinergic protein, homologous to the amino-terminal extracellular domain of nicotinic receptors (nAChRs), offers opportunities for the modeling of the acetylcholine binding site and its ligands. Recently, we constructed three-dimensional models of the N-terminal part of nAChR and docked in the putative ligand-binding pocket, different agonists (acetylcholine, nicotine and epibatidine) and antagonist (snake alpha-bungarotoxin). These hypothetical docking models offer a structural basis for rational design of drugs differentially binding to resting and active (or desensitized) conformations of the receptor site. These models thus pave the way to investigate, at the molecular level, the exciting challenge of the fast ion channel gating mechanisms by nicotinic agonists.

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Current topics in medicinal chemistry, 4, 1568-0266, 2004

PMID: 14965300

An extracellular protein microdomain controls up-regulation of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors by nicotine.
Sallette J, Bohler S, Benoit P, Soudant M, Pons S, Le Novère N, Changeux JP, Corringer PJ

In smoker's brain, rodent brain, and in cultured cells expressing nicotinic receptors, chronic nicotine treatment induces an increase in the total number of high affinity receptors for acetylcholine and nicotine, a process referred to as up-regulation. Up-regulation induced by 1 mm nicotine reaches 6-fold for alpha3beta2 nicotinic receptors transiently expressed in HEK 293 cells, whereas it is much smaller for alpha3beta4 receptors, offering a rationale to investigate the molecular mechanism underlying up-regulation. In this expression system binding sites are mainly intracellular, as shown by [(3)H]epibatidine binding experiments and competition with the impermeant ligand carbamylcholine. Systematic analysis of beta2/beta4 chimeras demonstrates the following. (i) The extracellular domain critically contributes to up-regulation. (ii) Only residues belonging to two beta2 segments, 74-89 and 106-115, confer up-regulation to beta4, mainly by decreasing the amount of binding sites in the absence of nicotine; on an atomic three-dimensional model of the alpha3beta2 receptor these amino acids form a compact microdomain that mainly contributes to the subunit interface and also faces the acetylcholine binding site. (iii) The beta4 microdomain is sufficient to confer to beta2 a beta4-like up-regulation. (iv) This microdomain makes an equivalent contribution to the up-regulation differences between alpha4beta2 and alpha4beta4. We propose that nicotine, by binding to immature oligomers, elicits a conformational reorganization of the microdomain, strengthening the interaction between adjacent subunits and, thus, facilitating maturation processes toward high affinity receptors. This mechanism may be central to nicotine addiction, since alpha4beta2 is the subtype exhibiting the highest degree of up-regulation in the brain.

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The Journal of biological chemistry, 279, 0021-9258, 2004

PMID: 14764595

Open Access

Competition for access to the rat major histocompatibility complex class I peptide-loading complex reveals optimization of peptide cargo in the absence of transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP) association.
Ford S, Antoniou A, Butcher GW, Powis SJ

Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules load peptides in the endoplasmic reticulum in a process during which the peptide cargo is normally optimized in favor of stable MHC-peptide interactions. A dynamic multimolecular assembly termed the peptide-loading complex (PLC) participates in this process and is composed of MHC class I molecules, calreticulin, ERp57, and tapasin bound to the transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP) peptide transporter. We have exploited the observation that the rat MHC class I allele RT1-Aa, when expressed in the rat C58 thymoma cell line, effectively competes and prevents the endogenous RT1-Au molecule from associating with TAP. However, stable RT1-Au molecules are assembled efficiently in competition with RT1-Aa, demonstrating that cargo optimization can occur in the absence of TAP association. Defined mutants of RT1-Aa, which do not allow formation of the PLC, fail to become thermostable in C58 cells. Wild-type RT1-Aa, which does allow PLC formation, also fails to become thermostable in this cell line, which carries the rat TAPB transporter that supplies peptides incompatible for RT1-Aa binding. Full optimization of RT1-Aa requires the presence of the TAP2A allele, which is capable of supplying suitable peptides. Thus, formation of the PLC alone is not sufficient for optimization of the MHC class I peptide cargo.

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The Journal of biological chemistry, 279, 0021-9258, 2004

PMID: 14764587

Open Access

Differential regulation of TCR-mediated gene transcription by Vav family members.
Zakaria S, Gomez TS, Savoy DN, McAdam S, Turner M, Abraham RT, Billadeau DD

Although all three Vav family members are expressed in T lymphocytes, the role that Vav3 plays in T cell activation is poorly defined. Here we show that, like Vav1, Vav3 undergoes rapid tyrosine phosphorylation after T cell receptor (TCR) cross-linkage and interacts with the adaptor molecules SLP76 and 3BP2 in a SH2-dependent manner. However, depletion of Vav1 but not Vav3 protein by RNA interference affects TCR-mediated IL-2 promoter activity. In contrast, Vav3 function is specifically required for coupling TCR stimulation to serum response element-mediated gene transcription. These data indicate that, although both Vav proteins are biochemically coupled to the TCR, they regulate distinct molecular pathways leading to defined gene transcriptional events.

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The Journal of experimental medicine, 199, 0022-1007, 2004

PMID: 14757747

Open Access

Mechanisms and implications of phosphoinositide 3-kinase delta in promoting neutrophil trafficking into inflamed tissue.
Puri KD, Doggett TA, Douangpanya J, Hou Y, Tino WT, Wilson T, Graf T, Clayton E, Turner M, Hayflick JS, Diacovo TG

The phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) catalytic subunit p110 delta is expressed in neutrophils and is thought to play a role in their accumulation at sites of inflammation by contributing to chemoattractant-directed migration. We report here that p110 delta is present in endothelial cells and participates in neutrophil trafficking by modulating the proadhesive state of these cells in response to tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha). Specifically, administration of the selective inhibitor of PI3K delta, IC87114, to animals reduced neutrophil tethering to and increased rolling velocities on cytokine-activated microvessels in a manner similar to that observed in mice deficient in p110 delta. These results were confirmed in vitro as inhibition of this isoform in endothelium, but not neutrophils, diminished cell attachment in flow. A role for PI3K delta in TNF alpha-induced signaling is demonstrated by a reduction in Akt-phosphorylation and phosphatidylinositol-dependent kinase 1 (PDK1) enzyme activity upon treatment of this cell type with IC87114. p110 delta expressed in neutrophils also contributes to trafficking as demonstrated by the impaired movement of these cells across inflamed venules in animals in which this catalytic subunit was blocked or genetically deleted, results corroborated in transwell migration assays. Thus, PI3K delta may be a reasonable therapeutic target in specific inflammatory conditions as blockade of its activity reduces neutrophil influx into tissues by diminishing their attachment to and migration across vascular endothelium.

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Blood, 103, 0006-4971, 2004

PMID: 14751923

Open Access

Immunological function in mice lacking the Rac-related GTPase RhoG.
Vigorito E, Bell S, Hebeis BJ, Reynolds H, McAdam S, Emson PC, McKenzie A, Turner M

RhoG is a low-molecular-weight GTPase highly expressed in lymphocytes that activates gene transcription and promotes cytoskeletal reorganization in vitro. To study the in vivo function of RhoG, we generated mice homozygous for a targeted disruption of the RhoG gene. Despite the absence of RhoG, the development of B and T lymphocytes was unaffected. However, there was an increase in the level of serum immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) and IgG2b as well as a mild increase of the humoral immune response to thymus-dependent antigens. In addition, B- and T-cell proliferation in response to antigen receptor cross-linking was slightly increased. Although RhoG deficiency produces a mild phenotype, our experiments suggest that RhoG may contribute to the negative regulation of immune responses. The lack of a strong phenotype could indicate a functional redundancy of RhoG with other Rac proteins in lymphocytes.

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Molecular and cellular biology, 24, 0270-7306, 2004

PMID: 14701744

Open Access

Enhancing and diminishing gene function in human embryonic stem cells.
Vallier L, Rugg-Gunn PJ, Bouhon IA, Andersson FK, Sadler AJ, Pedersen RA

It is widely recognized that gain- and loss-of-function approaches are essential for understanding the functions of specific genes, and such approaches would be particularly valuable in studies involving human embryonic stem (hES) cells. We describe a simple and efficient approach using lipofection to transfect hES cells, which enabled us to generate hES cell lines expressing naturally fluorescent green or red proteins without affecting cell pluripotency. We used these cell lines to establish a means of diminishing gene function using small interfering (si)RNAs, which were effective at knocking down gene expression in hES cells. We then demonstrated that stable expression of siRNA could knock down the expression of endogenous genes. Application of these gain- and loss-of-function approaches should have widespread use, not only in revealing the developmental roles of specific human genes, but also for their utility in modulating differentiation.

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Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio), 22, 1066-5099, 2004

PMID: 14688386

Open Access

Regulation of InsP3 receptor activity by neuronal Ca2+-binding proteins.
NN Kasri, AM Holmes, G Bultynck, JB Parys, MD Bootman, K Rietdorf, L Missiaen, F McDonald, H De Smedt, SJ Conway, AB Holmes, MJ Berridge, HL Roderick

Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (InsP(3)Rs) were recently demonstrated to be activated independently of InsP(3) by a family of calmodulin (CaM)-like neuronal Ca(2+)-binding proteins (CaBPs). We investigated the interaction of both naturally occurring long and short CaBP1 isoforms with InsP(3)Rs, and their functional effects on InsP(3)R-evoked Ca(2+) signals. Using several experimental paradigms, including transient expression in COS cells, acute injection of recombinant protein into Xenopus oocytes and (45)Ca(2+) flux from permeabilised COS cells, we demonstrated that CaBPs decrease the sensitivity of InsP(3)-induced Ca(2+) release (IICR). In addition, we found a Ca(2+)-independent interaction between CaBP1 and the NH(2)-terminal 159 amino acids of the type 1 InsP(3)R. This interaction resulted in decreased InsP(3) binding to the receptor reminiscent of that observed for CaM. Unlike CaM, however, CaBPs do not inhibit ryanodine receptors, have a higher affinity for InsP(3)Rs and more potently inhibited IICR. We also show that phosphorylation of CaBP1 at a casein kinase 2 consensus site regulates its inhibition of IICR. Our data suggest that CaBPs are endogenous regulators of InsP(3)Rs tuning the sensitivity of cells to InsP(3).

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The EMBO journal, 23, 2, 2004

PMID: 14685260

Formation of HLA-B27 homodimers and their relationship to assembly kinetics.
Antoniou AN, Ford S, Taurog JD, Butcher GW, Powis SJ

The human HLA-B27 class I molecule exhibits a strong association with the inflammatory arthritic disorder ankylosing spondylitis and other related arthropathies. Major histocompatibility complex class I heavy chains normally associate with beta(2)-microglobulin and peptide in the endoplasmic reticulum before transit to the cell surface. However, an unusual characteristic of HLA-B27 is its ability to form heavy chain homodimers through an unpaired cysteine at position 67 in the peptide groove. Homodimers have previously been detected within the ER and at the cell surface, but their mechanism of formation and role in disease remain undefined. Here we demonstrate, in the rat C58 thymoma cell line and in human HeLa cells transfected with HLA-B27, that homodimer formation involves not only cysteine at position 67 but also the conserved structural cysteine at position 164. We also show that homodimer formation can be induced in the non-disease-associated HLA class I allele HLA-A2 by slowing its assembly rate by incubation of cells at 26 degrees C, suggesting that homodimer formation in the endoplasmic reticulum may occur as a result of the slower folding kinetics of HLA-B27. Finally, we report an association between unfolded HLA-B27 molecules and immunoglobulin-binding protein at the cell surface.

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The Journal of biological chemistry, 279, 0021-9258, 2004

PMID: 14684742

Open Access

Extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1/2 are serum-stimulated "Bim(EL) kinases" that bind to the BH3-only protein Bim(EL) causing its phosphorylation and turnover.
R Ley, KE Ewings, K Hadfield, E Howes, K Balmanno, SJ Cook

Bim, a "BH3-only" protein, is expressed de novo following withdrawal of serum survival factors and promotes cell death. We have shown previously that activation of the ERK1/2 pathway promotes phosphorylation of Bim(EL), targeting it for degradation via the proteasome. However, the nature of the kinase responsible for Bim(EL) phosphorylation remained unclear. We now show that Bim(EL) is phosphorylated on at least three sites in response to activation of the ERK1/2 pathway. By using the peptidylprolyl isomerase, Pin1, as a probe for proline-directed phosphorylation, we show that ERK1/2-dependent phosphorylation of Bim(EL) occurs at (S/T)P motifs. ERK1/2 phosphorylates Bim(EL), but not Bim(S) or Bim(L), in vitro, and mutation of Ser(65) to alanine blocks the phosphorylation of Bim(EL) by ERK1/2 in vitro and in vivo and prevents the degradation of the protein following activation of the ERK1/2 pathway. We also find that ERK1/2, but not JNK, can physically associate with GST-Bim(EL), but not GST-Bim(L) or GST-Bim(S), in vitro. ERK1/2 also binds to full-length Bim(EL) in vivo, and we have localized a potential ERK1/2 "docking domain" lying within a 27-amino acid stretch of the Bim(EL) protein. Our findings provide new insights into the post-translational regulation of Bim(EL) and the role of the ERK1/2 pathway in cell survival signaling.

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The Journal of biological chemistry, 279, 10, 2004

PMID: 14681225

Open Access

An association between variants in the IGF2 gene and Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome: interaction between genotype and epigenotype.
Murrell A, Heeson S, Cooper WN, Douglas E, Apostolidou S, Moore GE, Maher ER, Reik W

Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome (BWS) is a fetal overgrowth disorder involving the deregulation of a number of genes, including IGF2 and CDKN1C, in the imprinted gene cluster on chromosome 11p15.5. In sporadic BWS cases the majority of patients have epimutations in this region. Loss of imprinting of the IGF2 gene is frequently observed in BWS, as is reduced CDKN1C expression related to loss of maternal allele-specific methylation (LOM) of the differentially methylated region KvDMR1. The causes of epimutations are unknown, although recently an association with assisted reproductive technologies has been described. To date the only genetic mutations described in BWS are in the CDKN1C gene. In order to screen for other genetic predispositions to BWS, the conserved sequences between human and mouse differentially methylated regions (DMRs) of the IGF2 gene were analyzed for variants. Four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were found in DMR0 (T123C, G358A, T382G and A402G) which occurred in three out of 16 possible haplotypes: TGTA, CATG and CAGA. DNA samples from a cohort of sporadic BWS patients and healthy controls were genotyped for the DMR0 SNPs. There was a significant increase in the frequency of the CAGA haplotype and a significant decrease in the frequency of the CATG haplotype in the patient cohort compared to controls. These associations were still significant in a BWS subgroup with KvDMR1 LOM, suggesting that the G allele at T382G SNP (CAGA haplotype) is associated with LOM at KvDMR1. This indicates either a genetic predisposition to LOM or interactions between genotype and epigenotype that impinge on the disease phenotype.

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Human molecular genetics, 13, 0964-6906, 2004

PMID: 14645199

Open Access