Insight
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Publications in Life Science Alliance by NOMIS researchers

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

May 15, 2023

The LINC complex tethers the cell nucleus to the cytoskeleton to regulate mechanical forces during cell migration, differentiation, and various diseases. The function of LINC complexes relies on the interaction between highly conserved SUN and KASH proteins that form higher-order assemblies capable of load bearing. These structural details have emerged from in vitro assembled LINC complexes; however, the principles of in vivo assembly remain obscure. Here, we report a conformation-specific SUN2 antibody as a tool to visualize LINC complex dynamics in situ. Using imaging, biochemical, and cellular methods, we find that conserved cysteines in SUN2 undergo KASH-dependent inter- and intramolecular disulfide bond rearrangements. Disruption of the SUN2 terminal disulfide bond compromises SUN2 localization, turnover, LINC complex assembly in addition to cytoskeletal organization and cell migration. Moreover, using pharmacological and genetic perturbations, we identify components of the ER lumen as SUN2 cysteines redox state regulators. Overall, we provide evidence for SUN2 disulfide bond rearrangement as a physiologically relevant structural modification that regulates LINC complex functions. © 2023 Sharma and Hetzer.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Developmental Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

February 1, 2022

The clinical outcome of SARS-CoV-2 infections, which can range from asymptomatic to lethal, is crucially shaped by the concentration of antiviral antibodies and by their affinity to their targets. However, the affinity of polyclonal antibody responses in plasma is difficult to measure. Here we used microfluidic antibody affinity profiling (MAAP) to determine the aggregate affinities and concentrations of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in plasma samples of 42 seropositive individuals, 19 of which were healthy donors, 20 displayed mild symptoms, and 3 were critically ill. We found that dissociation constants, Kd, of anti-receptor-binding domain antibodies spanned 2.5 orders of magnitude from sub-nanomolar to 43 nM. Using MAAP we found that antibodies of seropositive individuals induced the dissociation of pre-formed spike-ACE2 receptor complexes, which indicates that MAAP can be adapted as a complementary receptor competition assay. By comparison with cytopathic effect-based neutralisation assays, we show that MAAP can reliably predict the cellular neutralisation ability of sera, which may be an important consideration when selecting the most effective samples for therapeutic plasmapheresis and tracking the success of vaccinations.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Developmental Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

April 1, 2021

Intronic hexanucleotide repeat expansions (HREs) in C9ORF72 are the most frequent genetic cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a devastating, incurable motoneuron (MN) disease. The mechanism by which HREs trigger pathogenesis remains elusive. The discovery of repeat-Associated non-ATG (RAN) translation of dipeptide repeat proteins (DPRs) from HREs along with reduced exonic C9ORF72 expression suggests gain of toxic functions (GOFs) through DPRs versus loss of C9ORF72 functions (LOFs). Through multiparametric high-content (HC) live profiling in spinal MNs from induced pluripotent stem cells and comparison to mutant FUS and TDP43, we show that HRE C9ORF72 caused a distinct, later spatiotemporal appearance of mainly proximal axonal organelle motility deficits concomitant to augmented DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), RNA foci, DPRs, and apoptosis. We show that both GOFs and LOFs were necessary to yield the overall C9ORF72 pathology. Increased RNA foci and DPRs concurred with onset of axon trafficking defects, DSBs, and cell death, although DSB induction itself did not phenocopy C9ORF72 mutants. Interestingly, the majority of LOF-specific DEGs were shared with HRE-mediated GOF DEGs. Finally, C9ORF72 LOF was sufficient albeit to a smaller extent to induce premature distal axonal trafficking deficits and increased DSBs.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Developmental Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

August 1, 2020

Genome-wide association studies have implicated the TAM receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) Mer in liver disease, yet our understanding of the role that Mer and its related RTKs Tyro3 and Axl play in liver homeostasis and the response to acute injury is limited. We find that Mer and Axl are most prominently expressed in hepatic Kupffer and endothelial cells and that as mice lacking these RTKs age, they develop profound liver disease characterized by apoptotic cell accumulation and immune activation. We further find that Mer is critical to the phagocytosis of apoptotic hepatocytes generated in settings of acute hepatic injury, and that Mer and Axl act in concert to inhibit cytokine production in these settings. In contrast, we find that Axl is uniquely important in mitigating liver damage during acetaminophen intoxication. Although Mer and Axl are protective in acute injury models, we find that Axl exacerbates fibrosis in a model of chronic injury. These divergent effects have important implications for the design and implementation of TAM-directed therapeutics that might target these RTKs in the liver.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Developmental Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

June 30, 2020

Transmission of prion infectivity to susceptible murine cell lines has simplified prion titration assays and has greatly reduced the need for animal experimentation. However, murine cell models suffer from technical and biological constraints. Human cell lines might be more useful, but they are much more biohazardous and are often poorly infectible. Here, we describe the human clonal cell line hovS, which lacks the human PRNP gene and expresses instead the ovine PRNP VRQ allele. HovS cells were highly susceptible to the PG127 strain of sheep-derived murine prions, reaching up to 90% infected cells in any given culture and were maintained in a continuous infected state for at least 14 passages. Infected hovS cells produced proteinase K–resistant prion protein (PrPSc), pelletable PrP aggregates, and bona fide infectious prions capable of infecting further generations of naïve hovS cells and mice expressing the VRQ allelic variant of ovine PrPC. Infection in hovS led to prominent cytopathic vacuolation akin to the spongiform changes observed in individuals suffering from prion diseases. In addition to expanding the toolbox for prion research to human experimental genetics, the hovS cell line provides a human-derived system that does not require human prions. Hence, the manipulation of scrapie-infected hovS cells may present fewer biosafety hazards than that of genuine human prions.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Developmental Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

January 20, 2020

Nucleoporin 93 (Nup93) expression inversely correlates with the survival of triple-negative breast cancer patients. However, our knowledge of Nup93 function in breast cancer besides its role as structural component of the nuclear pore complex is not understood. Combination of functional assays and genetic analyses suggested that chromatin interaction of Nup93 partially modulates the expression of genes associated with actin cytoskeleton remodeling and epithelial to mesenchymal transition, resulting in impaired invasion of triple-negative, claudin-low breast cancer cells. Nup93 depletion induced stress fiber formation associated with reduced cell migration/proliferation and impaired expression of mesenchymal-like genes. Silencing LIMCH1, a gene responsible for actin cytoskeleton remodeling and up-regulated upon Nup93 depletion, partially restored the invasive phenotype of cancer cells. Loss of Nup93 led to significant defects in tumor establishment/propagation in vivo, whereas patient samples revealed that high Nup93 and low LIMCH1 expression correlate with late tumor stage. Our approach identified Nup93 as contributor of triple-negative, claudin-low breast cancer cell invasion and paves the way to study the role of nuclear envelope proteins during breast cancer tumorigenesis.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Developmental Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

January 1, 2019

FUS (fused in sarcoma) plays a key role in several steps of RNA metabolism, and dominant mutations in this protein are associated with neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we show that FUS is a component of the cellular response to topoisomerase I (TOP1)–induced DNA breakage; relocalising to the nucleolus in response to RNA polymerase II (Pol II) stalling at sites of TOP1-induced DNA breaks. This relocalisation is rapid and dynamic, reversing following the removal of TOP1-induced breaks and coinciding with the recovery of global transcription. Importantly, FUS relocalisation following TOP1-induced DNA breakage is associated with increased FUS binding at sites of RNA polymerase I transcription in ribosomal DNA and reduced FUS binding at sites of RNA Pol II transcription, suggesting that FUS relocates from sites of stalled RNA Pol II either to regulate pre-mRNA processing during transcriptional stress or to modulate ribosomal RNA biogenesis. Importantly, FUS-mutant patient fibroblasts are hypersensitive to TOP1-induced DNA breakage, highlighting the possible relevance of these findings to neurodegeneration.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Developmental Biology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

January 1, 2018

Frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients with C9orf72 mutation show cytoplasmic poly-GR and poly-PR aggregates. Short poly-(Gly-Arg) and poly-(Pro-Arg) (poly-GR/PR) repeats localizing to the nucleolus are toxic in various model systems, but no interactors have been validated in patients. Here, the neuronal interactomes of cytoplasmic GFP-(GR)149 and nucleolar (PR)175-GFP revealed overlapping RNA-binding proteins, including components of stress granules, nucleoli, and ribosomes. Over-expressing the poly-GR/PR interactors STAU1/2 and YBX1 caused cytoplasmic aggregation of poly-GR/PR in large stress granule–like structures, whereas NPM1 recruited poly-GR into the nucleolus. Poly-PR expression reduced ribosome levels and translation consistent with reduction of synaptic proteins detected by proteomics. Surprisingly, truncated GFP-(GR)53, but not GFP-(GR)149, localized to the nucleolus and reduced ribosome levels and translation similar to poly-PR, suggesting that impaired ribosome biogenesis may be driving the acute toxicity observed in vitro. In patients, only ribosomes and STAU2 co-aggregated with poly-GR/PR. Partial sequestration of ribosomes may chronically impair protein synthesis even in the absence of nucleolar localization and contribute to pathogenesis.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Biomedical Research, Developmental Biology