Publications

The Babraham Institute Publications database contains details of all publications resulting from our research groups and scientific services. Pre-prints by Institute authors can be viewed on the Institute's bioRxiv channel. We believe that free and open access to the outputs of publicly‐funded research offers significant social and economic benefits, as well as aiding the development of new research. We are working to provide Open Access to as many publications as possible and these can be identified below by the padlock icons. Where this hasn't been possible, subscriptions may be required to view the full text.
 

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Title / Authors / Details Open Access Download

Identification of serum biomarkers for colon cancer by proteomic analysis.
Ward DG, Suggett N, Cheng Y, Wei W, Johnson H, Billingham LJ, Ismail T, Wakelam MJ, Johnson PJ, Martin A

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is often diagnosed at a late stage with concomitant poor prognosis. Early detection greatly improves prognosis; however, the invasive, unpleasant and inconvenient nature of current diagnostic procedures limits their applicability. No serum-based test is currently of sufficient sensitivity or specificity for widespread use. In the best currently available blood test, carcinoembryonic antigen exhibits low sensitivity and specificity particularly in the setting of early disease. Hence, there is great need for new biomarkers for early detection of CRC. We have used surface-enhanced laser desorbtion/ionisation (SELDI) to investigate the serum proteome of 62 CRC patients and 31 noncancer subjects. We have identified proteins (complement C3a des-arg, alpha1-antitrypsin and transferrin) with diagnostic potential. Artificial neural networks trained using only the intensities of the SELDI peaks corresponding to identified proteins were able to classify the patients used in this study with 95% sensitivity and 91% specificity.

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British journal of cancer , 2006

PMID: 16755300

Open Access

Noncanonical RNAs from transcripts of the Drosophila muscleblind gene.
Houseley JM,Garcia-Casado Z,Pascual M,Paricio N,O'Dell KM,Monckton DG,Artero RD

It has become increasingly evident that eukaryotic cells produce RNA molecules from coding genes with constitutions other than those of typically spliced mRNA transcripts. Here we describe new cDNAs from the Drosophila melanogaster muscleblind (mbl) locus that identify two such atypical RNA molecules: RNAs containing an incomplete exon 2 tandem repetition (mblE2E2') or having exons with a different order compared to the corresponding genomic DNA (mblE2E3'E2'; exon scrambling). The existence of exon duplications and rearrangements in the genomic locus that might explain such cDNAs was ruled out by genomic Southern blotting and in silico analysis of the Drosophila genome sequence. The incomplete exon 2 tandem repetition was confirmed by sequencing reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) products, rapid amplification of cDNA ends, and detection of a band consistent with cDNA sizes in total RNA northern blots. RT-PCRs with exon-specific primers downstream of exon 2 were unable to amplify products other than those expected from canonical mbl isoforms, thus indicating that no other exons were efficiently spliced downstream of exon 2. Moreover, mblE2E2' transcripts seem to be poorly polyadenylated, if at all, and behave aberrantly in a polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) mobility assay. Taken together, lack of polyadenylation, lack of downstream splicing events, small size of mblE2E2', and PAGE behavior all suggest that these noncanonical transcripts may be circular RNAs. The functional implications for these noncanonical transcripts are unclear. A developmental expression profile of mblE2E2' revealed an almost constant expression except during early embryogenesis and early adulthood. The protein putatively encoded is unlikely to be functional because an in-frame stop codon occurs almost immediately after the splice site. Such noncanonical transcripts have previously been observed in vertebrates, and these data provide the first experimental evidence for similar phenomena in invertebrates.

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The Journal of heredity , 0

PMID: 16714427

Open Access

Changing cellular location of CheZ predicted by molecular simulations.
Lipkow K

In the chemotaxis pathway of the bacterium Escherichia coli, signals are carried from a cluster of receptors to the flagellar motors by the diffusion of the protein CheY-phosphate (CheYp) through the cytoplasm. A second protein, CheZ, which promotes dephosphorylation of CheYp, partially colocalizes with receptors in the plasma membrane. CheZ is normally dimeric in solution but has been suggested to associate into highly active oligomers in the presence of CheYp. A model is presented here and supported by Brownian dynamics simulations, which accounts for these and other experimental data: A minority component of the receptor cluster (dimers of CheA(short)) nucleates CheZ oligomerization and CheZ molecules move from the cytoplasm to a bound state at the receptor cluster depending on the current level of cellular stimulation. The corresponding simulations suggest that dynamic CheZ localization will sharpen cellular responses to chemoeffectors, increase the range of detectable ligand concentrations, and make adaptation more precise and robust. The localization and activation of CheZ constitute a negative feedback loop that provides a second tier of adaptation to the system. Subtle adjustments of this kind are likely to be found in many other signaling pathways.

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PLoS computational biology , 2006

PMID: 16683020

Open Access

The alternative stimulatory G protein alpha-subunit XLalphas is a critical regulator of energy and glucose metabolism and sympathetic nerve activity in adult mice.
T Xie, A Plagge, O Gavrilova, S Pack, W Jou, EW Lai, M Frontera, G Kelsey, LS Weinstein

The complex imprinted Gnas locus encodes several gene products including G(s)alpha, the ubiquitously expressed G protein alpha-subunit required for receptor-stimulated cAMP generation, and the neuroendocrine-specific G(s)alpha isoform XLalphas. XLalphas is only expressed from the paternal allele, whereas G(s)alpha is biallelically expressed in most tissues. XLalphas knock-out mice (Gnasxl(m+/p-)) have poor suckling and perinatal lethality, implicating XLalphas as critical for postnatal feeding. We have now examined the metabolic phenotype of adult Gnasxl(m+/p-) mice. Gnasxl(m+/p-) mice had reduced fat mass and lipid accumulation in adipose tissue, with increased food intake and metabolic rates. Gene expression profiling was consistent with increased lipid metabolism in adipose tissue. These changes likely result from increased sympathetic nervous system activity rather than adipose cell-autonomous effects, as we found that XLalphas is not normally expressed in adult adipose tissue, and Gnasxl(m+/p-) mice had increased urinary norepinephrine levels but not increased metabolic responsiveness to a beta3-adrenergic agonist. Gnasxl(m+/p-) mice were hypolipidemic and had increased glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. The similar metabolic profile observed in some prior paternal Gnas knock-out models results from XLalphas deficiency (or deficiency of the related alternative truncated protein XLN1). XLalphas (or XLN1) is a negative regulator of sympathetic nervous system activity in mice.

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The Journal of biological chemistry , 2006

PMID: 16672216

Open Access

Cancer survival is dependent on season of diagnosis and sunlight exposure.
Lim HS,Roychoudhuri R,Peto J,Schwartz G,Baade P,Moller H

Sunlight is essential for the production of vitamin D in the body. Evidence exists to suggest that vitamin D metabolites may have a role in tumor growth suppression. In this large study, involving over a million cancer patients from the United Kingdom, we have analyzed the role of season of diagnosis and sunlight exposure in cancer survival for cancers of the breast, colorectum, lung, prostate and at all sites combined. We used population-based data from the Thames Cancer Registry to analyze cancer survival in periods 0-1 and 0-5 years after diagnosis. The analysis was performed using Cox proportional regression analysis adjusting for age and period at diagnosis and including season of diagnosis and sunlight exposure in the preceding months as factors in the analysis. We found evidence of substantial seasonality in cancer survival, with diagnosis in summer and autumn associated with improved survival compared with that in winter, especially in female breast cancer patients and both male and female lung cancer patients (hazard ratios 0.86 [95% CI 0.83-0.89], 0.95 [95% CI 0.92-0.97] and 0.95 [95% CI 0.93-0.98] respectively). Cumulative sunlight exposure in the months preceding diagnosis was also a predictor of subsequent survival, although season of diagnosis was a stronger predictor than cumulative sunlight exposure. We found seasonality in cancer survival to be stronger in women than in men. Our results add to a growing body of evidence that vitamin D metabolites play an important role in cancer survival.

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International journal of cancer. Journal international du cancer , 2006

PMID: 16671100

NAD(+) and axon degeneration revisited: Nmnat1 cannot substitute for Wld(S) to delay Wallerian degeneration.
L Conforti, G Fang, B Beirowski, MS Wang, L Sorci, S Asress, R Adalbert, A Silva, K Bridge, XP Huang, G Magni, JD Glass, MP Coleman

The slow Wallerian degeneration protein (Wld(S)), a fusion protein incorporating full-length nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyltransferase 1 (Nmnat1), delays axon degeneration caused by injury, toxins and genetic mutation. Nmnat1 overexpression is reported to protect axons in vitro, but its effect in vivo and its potency remain unclear. We generated Nmnat1-overexpressing transgenic mice whose Nmnat activities closely match that of Wld(S) mice. Nmnat1 overexpression in five lines of transgenic mice failed to delay Wallerian degeneration in transected sciatic nerves in contrast to Wld(S) mice where nearly all axons were protected. Transected neurites in Nmnat1 transgenic dorsal root ganglion explant cultures also degenerated rapidly. The delay in vincristine-induced neurite degeneration following lentiviral overexpression of Nmnat1 was significantly less potent than for Wld(S), and lentiviral overexpressed enzyme-dead Wld(S) still displayed residual neurite protection. Thus, Nmnat1 is significantly weaker than Wld(S) at protecting axons against traumatic or toxic injury in vitro, and has no detectable effect in vivo. The full protective effect of Wld(S) requires more N-terminal sequences of the protein.

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Cell death and differentiation , 2007

PMID: 16645633

Open Access

Cancer and laterality: a study of the five major paired organs (UK).
Roychoudhuri R,Putcha V,Moller H

The human body displays marked asymmetry: paired organs differ bilaterally exerting effects upon cancer incidence and progression. However the factors involved remain contentious. In this large study involving over a quarter of a million cancer patients, we examine the epidemiological correlates of cancer laterality including incidence, stage at diagnosis and survival in the five major paired organs: the breasts, lungs, kidneys, testes and ovaries.

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Cancer causes & control : CCC , 2006

PMID: 16633912

Analysis of intact phosphoinositides in biological samples.
TR Pettitt, SK Dove, A Lubben, SD Calaminus, MJ Wakelam

It is now apparent that each of the known, naturally occurring polyphosphoinositides, the phosphatidylinositol monophosphates (PtdIns3P, PtdIns4P, PtdIns5P), phosphatidylinositol bisphosphates [PtdIns(3,4)P(2), PtdIns(3,5)P(2), PtdIns(4,5)P(2)], and phosphatidylinositol trisphosphate [PtdIns(3,4,5)P(3)], have distinct roles in regulating many cellular events, including intracellular signaling, migration, and vesicular trafficking. Traditional identification techniques require [(32)P]inorganic phosphate or [(3)H]inositol radiolabeling, acidified lipid extraction, deacylation, and ion-exchange head group separation, which are time-consuming and not suitable for samples in which radiolabeling is impractical, thus greatly restricting the study of these lipids in many physiologically relevant systems. Thus, we have developed a novel, high-efficiency, buffered citrate extraction methodology to minimize acid-induced phosphoinositide degradation, together with a high-sensitivity liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) protocol using an acetonitrile-chloroform-methanol-water-ethylamine gradient with a microbore silica column that enables the identification and quantification of all phosphoinositides in a sample. The liquid chromatograph is sufficient to resolve PtdInsP(3) and PtdInsP(2) regioisomers; however, the PtdInsP regioisomers require a combination of LC and diagnostic fragmentation to MS(3). Data are presented using this approach for the analysis of phosphoinositides in human platelet and yeast samples.

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Journal of lipid research , 2006

PMID: 16632799

Open Access

Critical role for the p110alpha phosphoinositide-3-OH kinase in growth and metabolic regulation.
Foukas LC, Claret M, Pearce W, Okkenhaug K, Meek S, Peskett E, Sancho S, Smith AJ, Withers DJ, Vanhaesebroeck B

The eight catalytic subunits of the mammalian phosphoinositide-3-OH kinase (PI(3)K) family form the backbone of an evolutionarily conserved signalling pathway; however, the roles of most PI(3)K isoforms in organismal physiology and disease are unknown. To delineate the role of p110alpha, a ubiquitously expressed PI(3)K involved in tyrosine kinase and Ras signalling, here we generated mice carrying a knockin mutation (D933A) that abrogates p110alpha kinase activity. Homozygosity for this kinase-dead p110alpha led to embryonic lethality. Mice heterozygous for this mutation were viable and fertile, but displayed severely blunted signalling via insulin-receptor substrate (IRS) proteins, key mediators of insulin, insulin-like growth factor-1 and leptin action. Defective responsiveness to these hormones led to reduced somatic growth, hyperinsulinaemia, glucose intolerance, hyperphagia and increased adiposity in mice heterozygous for the D933A mutation. This signalling function of p110alpha derives from its highly selective recruitment and activation to IRS signalling complexes compared to p110beta, the other broadly expressed PI(3)K isoform, which did not contribute to IRS-associated PI(3)K activity. p110alpha was the principal IRS-associated PI(3)K in cancer cell lines. These findings demonstrate a critical role for p110alpha in growth factor and metabolic signalling and also suggest an explanation for selective mutation or overexpression of p110alpha in a variety of cancers.

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Nature , 2006

PMID: 16625210

Phosphatidic acid- and phosphatidylserine-binding proteins.
CL Stace, NT Ktistakis

Phosphatidic acid and phosphatidylserine are negatively charged abundant phospholipids with well-recognized structural roles in cellular membranes. They are also signaling lipids since their regulated formation (or appearance) can constitute an important signal for downstream responses. The list of potential effectors for these lipids is expanding rapidly and includes proteins involved in virtually all aspects of cellular regulation. Because it is not always clear whether these effectors recognize the specific phospholipids or a general negatively-charged membrane environment, questions about specificity must be addressed on a case by case basis. In this review we present an up to date list of potential phosphatidic acid- and phosphatidylserine-binding proteins.

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Biochimica et biophysica acta , 2006

PMID: 16624617

RhoG regulates the neutrophil NADPH oxidase.
Condliffe AM, Webb LM, Ferguson GJ, Davidson K, Turner M, Vigorito E, Manifava M, Chilvers ER, Stephens LR, Hawkins PT

RhoG is a Rho family small GTPase implicated in cytoskeletal regulation, acting either upstream of or in parallel to Rac1. The precise function(s) of RhoG in vivo has not yet been defined. We have identified a novel role for RhoG in signaling the neutrophil respiratory burst stimulated by G protein-coupled receptor agonists. Bone marrow-derived neutrophils from RhoG knockout (RhoG(-/-)) mice exhibited a marked impairment of oxidant generation in response to C5a or fMLP, but normal responses to PMA or opsonized zymosan and normal bacterial killing. Activation of Rac1 and Rac2 by fMLP was diminished in RhoG(-/-) neutrophils only at very early (5 s) time points (by 25 and 32%, respectively), whereas chemotaxis in response to soluble agonists was unaffected by lack of RhoG. Additionally, fMLP-stimulated phosphorylation of protein kinase B and p38MAPK, activation of phospholipase D, and calcium fluxes were equivalent in wild-type and RhoG(-/-) neutrophils. Our results define RhoG as a critical component of G protein-coupled receptor-stimulated signaling cascades in murine neutrophils, acting either via a subset of total cellular Rac relevant to oxidase activation and/or by a novel and as yet undefined interaction with the neutrophil NADPH oxidase.

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Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) , 2006

PMID: 16621998

Open Access

Limited evolutionary conservation of imprinting in the human placenta.
Monk D, Arnaud P, Apostolidou S, Hills FA, Kelsey G, Stanier P, Feil R, Moore GE

The epigenetic phenomenon of genomic imprinting provides an additional level of gene regulation that is confined to a limited number of genes, frequently, but not exclusively, important for embryonic development. The evolution and maintenance of imprinting has been linked to the balance between the allocation of maternal resources to the developing fetus and the mother's well being. Genes that are imprinted in both the embryo and extraembryonic tissues show extensive conservation between a mouse and a human. Here we examine the human orthologues of mouse genes imprinted only in the placenta, assaying allele-specific expression and epigenetic modifications. The genes from the KCNQ1 domain and the isolated human orthologues of the imprinted genes Gatm and Dcn all are expressed biallelically in the human, from first-trimester trophoblast through to term. This lack of imprinting is independent of promoter CpG methylation and correlates with the absence of the allelic histone modifications dimethylation of lysine-9 residue of H3 (H3K9me2) and trimethylation of lysine-27 residue of H3 (H3K27me3). These specific histone modifications are thought to contribute toward regulation of imprinting in the mouse. Genes from the IGF2R domain show polymorphic concordant expression in the placenta, with imprinting demonstrated in only a minority of samples. Together these findings have important implications for understanding the evolution of mammalian genomic imprinting. Because most human pregnancies are singletons, this absence of competition might explain the comparatively relaxed need in the human for placental-specific imprinting.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , 2006

PMID: 16614068

Open Access

Imprinted genes, placental development and fetal growth.
Fowden AL, Sibley C, Reik W, Constancia M

In mammals, imprinted genes have an important role in feto-placental development. They affect the growth, morphology and nutrient transfer capacity of the placenta and, thereby, control the nutrient supply for fetal growth. In particular, the reciprocally imprinted Igf2-H19 gene complex has a central role in these processes and matches the placental nutrient supply to the fetal nutrient demands for growth. Comparison of Igf2P0 and complete Igf2 null mice has shown that interplay between placental and fetal Igf2 regulates both placental growth and nutrient transporter abundance. In turn, epigenetic modification of imprinted genes via changes in DNA methylation may provide a mechanism linking environmental cues to placental phenotype, with consequences for development both before and after birth. Changes in expression of imprinted genes, therefore, have major implications for developmental programming and may explain the poor prognosis of the infant born small for gestational age and the wide spectrum of adult-onset diseases that originate in utero.

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Hormone research , 2006

PMID: 16612114

Imprinting the Gnas locus.
Plagge A, Kelsey G

Gnas is an enigmatic and rather complex imprinted gene locus. A single transcription unit encodes three, and possibly more, distinct proteins. These are determined by overlapping transcripts from alternative promoters with different patterns of imprinting. The canonical Gnas transcript codes for Gsalpha, a highly conserved signalling protein and an essential intermediate in growth, differentiation and homeostatic pathways. Monoallelic expression of Gnas is highly tissue-restricted. The alternative transcripts encode XLalphas, an unusual variant of Gsalpha, and the chromogranin-like protein Nesp55. These transcripts are expressed specifically from the paternal and maternal chromosomes, respectively. Their existence in the Gnas locus might imply functional connections amongst them or with Gsalpha. In this review, we consider how imprinting of Gnas was discovered, the phenotypic consequences of mutations in each of the gene products, both in the mouse and human, and provide some conjectures to explain why this elaborate imprinted locus has evolved in this manner in mammals.

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Cytogenetic and genome research , 2006

PMID: 16575178

How imprinting centres work.
Lewis A, Reik W

Imprinted genes tend to be clustered in the genome. Most of these clusters have been found to be under the control of discrete DNA elements called imprinting centres (ICs) which are normally differentially methylated in the germline. ICs can regulate imprinted expression and epigenetic marks at many genes in the region, even those which lie several megabases away. Some of the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which ICs control other genes and regulatory regions in the cluster are becoming clear. One involves the insulation of genes on one side of the IC from enhancers on the other, mediated by the insulator protein CTCF and higher-order chromatin interactions. Another mechanism may involve non-coding RNAs that originate from the IC, targeting histone modifications to the surrounding genes. Given that several imprinting clusters contain CTCF dependent insulators and/or non-coding RNAs, it is likely that one or both of these two mechanisms regulate imprinting at many loci. Both mechanisms involve a variety of epigenetic marks including DNA methylation and histone modifications but the hierarchy of and interactions between these modifications are not yet understood. The challenge now is to establish a chain of developmental events beginning with differential methylation of an IC in the germline and ending with imprinting of many genes, often in a lineage dependent manner.

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Cytogenetic and genome research , 2006

PMID: 16575166

Chromatin signatures of pluripotent cell lines.
V Azuara, P Perry, S Sauer, M Spivakov, HF Jørgensen, RM John, M Gouti, M Casanova, G Warnes, M Merkenschlager, AG Fisher

Epigenetic genome modifications are thought to be important for specifying the lineage and developmental stage of cells within a multicellular organism. Here, we show that the epigenetic profile of pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ES) is distinct from that of embryonic carcinoma cells, haematopoietic stem cells (HSC) and their differentiated progeny. Silent, lineage-specific genes replicated earlier in pluripotent cells than in tissue-specific stem cells or differentiated cells and had unexpectedly high levels of acetylated H3K9 and methylated H3K4. Unusually, in ES cells these markers of open chromatin were also combined with H3K27 trimethylation at some non-expressed genes. Thus, pluripotency of ES cells is characterized by a specific epigenetic profile where lineage-specific genes may be accessible but, if so, carry repressive H3K27 trimethylation modifications. H3K27 methylation is functionally important for preventing expression of these genes in ES cells as premature expression occurs in embryonic ectoderm development (Eed)-deficient ES cells. Our data suggest that lineage-specific genes are primed for expression in ES cells but are held in check by opposing chromatin modifications.

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Nature cell biology , 2006

PMID: 16570078

Complete sequence assembly and characterization of the C57BL/6 mouse Ig heavy chain V region.
CM Johnston, AL Wood, DJ Bolland, AE Corcoran

The mechanisms that regulate variable (V) gene selection during the development of the mouse IgH repertoire are not fully understood, due in part to the absence of the complete locus sequence. To better understand these processes, we have assembled the entire 2.5-Mb mouse IgH (Igh) V region sequence of the C57BL/6 strain from public sequences and present the first complete annotated map of the region, including V genes, pseudogenes, repeats, and nonrepetitive intergenic sequences. In so doing, we have discovered a new V gene family, VH16. We have identified clusters of conserved region-specific intergenic sequences and have verified our assembly by genic and intergenic Southern blotting. We have observed that V pseudogenes are not evenly spread throughout the V region, but rather cluster together. The largest J558 family, which spans more than half of the locus, has two strikingly different domains, which suggest points of evolutionary divergence or duplication. The 5' end contains widely spaced J558 genes interspersed with 3609 genes and is pseudogene poor. The 3' end contains closely spaced J558 genes, no 3609 genes, and is pseudogene rich. Each occupies a different branch of the phylogenetic tree. Detailed analysis of 500-bp upstream of all functional genes has revealed several conserved binding sites, general and B cell-specific, as well as key differences between families. This complete and definitive assembly of the mouse Igh V region will facilitate detailed study of promoter function and large-scale mechanisms associated with V(D)J recombination including locus contraction and antisense intergenic transcription.

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Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) , 2006

PMID: 16547259

Open Access

Surveillance of nuclear-restricted pre-ribosomes within a subnucleolar region of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Dez C,Houseley J,Tollervey D

We previously hypothesized that HEAT-repeat (Huntington, elongation A subunit, TOR) ribosome synthesis factors function in ribosome export. We report that the HEAT-repeat protein Sda1p is a component of late 60S pre-ribosomes and is required for nuclear export of both ribosomal subunits. In strains carrying the ts-lethal sda1-2 mutation, pre-60S particles were rapidly degraded following transfer to 37 degrees C. Polyadenylated forms of the 27S pre-rRNA and the 25S rRNA were detected, suggesting the involvement of the Trf4p/Air/Mtr4p polyadenylation complex (TRAMP). The absence of Trf4p suppressed polyadenylation and stabilized the pre-rRNA and rRNA. The absence of the nuclear exosome component Rrp6p also conferred RNA stabilization, with some hyperadenylation. We conclude that the nuclear-restricted pre-ribosomes are polyadenylated by TRAMP and degraded by the exosome. In sda1-2 strains at 37 degrees C, pre-40S and pre-60S ribosomes initially accumulated in the nucleoplasm, but then strongly concentrated in a subnucleolar focus, together with exosome and TRAMP components. Localization of pre-ribosomes to this focus was lost in sda1-2 strains lacking Trf4p or Rrp6p. We designate this nucleolar focus the No-body and propose that it represents a site of pre-ribosome surveillance.

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The EMBO journal , 2006

PMID: 16541108

Open Access

Imprinting of IGF2 P0 transcript and novel alternatively spliced INS-IGF2 isoforms show differences between mouse and human.
Monk D, Sanches R, Arnaud P, Apostolidou S, Hills FA, Abu-Amero S, Murrell A, Friess H, Reik W, Stanier P, Constância M, Moore GE

Genomic imprinting is limited to a subset of genes that play critical roles in fetal growth, development and behaviour. One of the most studied imprinted genes encodes insulin-like growth factor 2, and aberrant imprinting and DNA methylation of this gene is associated with the growth disorders Beckwith-Wiedemann and Silver-Russell syndromes and many human cancers. Specific isoforms of this gene have been shown to be essential for normal placental function, as mice carrying paternal null alleles for the Igf2-P0 transcript are growth restricted at birth. We report here the identification of three novel human transcripts from the IGF2 locus. One is equivalent to the mouse Igf2-P0 transcript, whereas the two others (INSIGF long and short) originate from the upstream INS gene that alternatively splices to downstream IGF2 exons. In order to elucidate the molecular mechanisms involved in the complex imprinting of these novel IGF2 transcripts, both the allele-specific expression and methylation for all the IGF2 promoters including P0 and the INSIGF transcripts were analysed in human tissues. Similar to the mouse, the human IGF2-P0 transcript is paternally expressed; however, its expression is not limited to placenta. This expression correlates with tissue-specific promoter methylation on the maternal allele. The two novel INSIGF transcripts reported here use the INS promoter and show highly restricted tissue expression profiles including the pancreas. As previously reported for INS in the yolk sac, we demonstrate complex, tissue-specific imprinting of these transcripts. The finding of additional transcripts within this locus will have important implications for IGF2 regulation in both cancer and metabolism.

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Human molecular genetics , 2006

PMID: 16531418

Open Access

Cellular Notch responsiveness is defined by phosphoinositide 3-kinase-dependent signals.
McKenzie G, Ward G, Stallwood Y, Briend E, Papadia S, Lennard A, Turner M, Champion B, Hardingham GE

Notch plays a wide-ranging role in controlling cell fate, differentiation and development. The PI3K-Akt pathway is a similarly conserved signalling pathway which regulates processes such as differentiation, proliferation and survival. Mice with disrupted Notch and PI3K signalling show phenotypic similarities during haematopoietic cell development, suggesting functional interaction between these pathways.

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BMC cell biology , 2006

PMID: 16507111

Open Access

Regulation of placental efficiency for nutrient transport by imprinted genes.
Angiolini E, Fowden A, Coan P, Sandovici I, Smith P, Dean W, Burton G, Tycko B, Reik W, Sibley C, Constância M

Intrauterine growth and development can impact upon the long-term health of an individual. The fetus is dependent upon the placenta for its supply of nutrients and oxygen from the mother. In turn, the functional capacity of the placenta to supply that demand is under the control of the fetal and maternal genomes. Recent evidence suggests that imprinted genes, a class of genes found in placental mammals whose expression depends on their parental origin, have multiple roles in the placenta. The imprinted genes regulate the growth and transport capacity of the placenta, thereby controlling the supply of nutrients. They may also regulate the growth rate of fetal tissues directly, thereby controlling nutrient demand by the fetus. Recent studies using mice with deletions or disruption of imprinted genes with an altered balance between placental and fetal growth and changes in placental efficiency are indicative of feto-placental signalling of fetal nutrient demand. We propose that signalling mechanisms involving growth demand signals and nutrient transporters are likely to occur and are important for fine tuning normal fetal growth.

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Placenta , 2006

PMID: 16503350

Regulation of higher-order chromatin structures by nucleosome-remodelling factors.
PD Varga-Weisz, PB Becker

Nucleosome-remodelling factors are key facilitators of chromatin dynamics. At the level of single nucleosomes, they are involved in nucleosome-repositioning, altering histone-DNA interactions, disassembly of nucleosomes, and the exchange of histones with variants of different properties. The fundamental nature of chromatin dictates that nucleosome-remodelling affects all aspects of eukaryotic DNA metabolism, but much less is known about the functional interactions of nucleosome-remodelling factors with folded chromatin fibres. Because remodelling machines are abundant constituents of eukaryotic nuclei and, therefore, have ample potential to interact with chromatin, they might also affect higher-order chromatin architecture. Recent observations support roles for nucleosome-remodelling factors at the supra-nucleosomal level.

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Current opinion in genetics & development , 2006

PMID: 16503135

Characterization of p87PIKAP, a novel regulatory subunit of phosphoinositide 3-kinase gamma that is highly expressed in heart and interacts with PDE3B.
Voigt P, Dorner MB, Schaefer M

Phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) gamma has been implicated in a vast array of physiological settings including the activation of different leukocyte species and the regulation of myocardial contractility. Activation of PI3Kgamma is primarily mediated by Gbetagamma subunits of heterotrimeric G proteins, which are recognized by a p101 regulatory subunit. Here, we describe the identification and characterization of a novel regulatory subunit of PI3Kgamma, which we termed p87(PIKAP) (PI3Kgamma adapter protein of 87 kDa). It is homologous to p101 in areas that we have recently shown that they mediate binding to the catalytic p110gamma subunit and to Gbetagamma. Like p101, p87(PIKAP) binds to both p110gamma and Gbetagamma and mediates activation of p110gamma downstream of G protein-coupled receptors. In contrast to p101, p87(PIKAP) is highly expressed in heart and may therefore be crucial to PI3Kgamma cardiac function. Moreover, p87(PIKAP) and p101 are both expressed in dendritic cells, macrophages, and neutrophils, raising the possibility of regulatory subunit-dependent differences in PI3Kgamma signaling within the same cell type. We further provide evidence that p87(PIKAP) physically interacts with phosphodiesterase (PDE) 3B, suggesting that p87(PIKAP) is also involved in the recently described noncatalytic scaffolding interaction of p110gamma with PDE3B. However, coexpression of PDE3B and PI3Kgamma subunits was not sufficient to reconstitute the regulatory effect of PI3Kgamma on PDE3B activity observed in heart, implying further molecules to be present in the complex regulating PDE3B in heart.

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The Journal of biological chemistry ,

PMID: 16476736

lazaro encodes a lipid phosphate phosphohydrolase that regulates phosphatidylinositol turnover during Drosophila phototransduction.
I Garcia-Murillas, T Pettitt, E Macdonald, H Okkenhaug, P Georgiev, D Trivedi, B Hassan, M Wakelam, P Raghu

An essential step in Drosophila phototransduction is the hydrolysis of phosphatidylinositol 4,5 bisphosphate PI(4,5)P2 by phospholipase Cbeta (PLCbeta) to generate a second messenger that opens the light-activated channels TRP and TRPL. Although the identity of this messenger remains unknown, recent evidence has implicated diacylglycerol kinase (DGK), encoded by rdgA, as a key enzyme that regulates its levels, mediating both amplification and response termination. In this study, we demonstrate that lazaro (laza) encodes a lipid phosphate phosphohydrolase (LPP) that functions during phototransduction. We demonstrate that the synergistic activity of laza and rdgA regulates response termination during phototransduction. Analysis of retinal phospholipids revealed a reduction in phosphatidic acid (PA) levels and an associated reduction in phosphatidylinositol (PI) levels. Together our results demonstrate the contribution of PI depletion to the rdgA phenotype and provide evidence that depletion of PI and its metabolites might be a key signal for TRP channel activation in vivo.

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Neuron , 2006

PMID: 16476663

Open Access