Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Department of

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Expression of Human Hipks in Drosophila Demonstrates Their Shared and Unique Functions in a Developmental Model

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2021-10-04
Abstract: 

Homeodomain-interacting protein kinases (HIPKs) are a family of four conserved proteins essential for vertebrate development, as demonstrated by defects in the eye, brain, and skeleton that culminate in embryonic lethality when multiple HIPKs are lost in mice. While HIPKs are essential for development, functional redundancy between the four vertebrate HIPK paralogues has made it difficult to compare their respective functions. Because understanding the unique and shared functions of these essential proteins could directly benefit the fields of biology and medicine, we addressed the gap in knowledge of the four vertebrate HIPK paralogues by studying them in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, where reduced genetic redundancy simplifies our functional assessment. The single hipk present in the fly allowed us to perform rescue experiments with human HIPK genes that provide new insight into their individual functions not easily assessed in vertebrate models. Further, the abundance of genetic tools and established methods for monitoring specific developmental pathways and gross morphological changes in the fly allowed for functional comparisons in endogenous contexts. We first performed rescue experiments to demonstrate the extent to which each of the human HIPKs can functionally replace Drosophila Hipk for survival and morphological development. We then showed the ability of each human HIPK to modulate Armadillo/β-catenin levels, JAK/STAT activity, proliferation, growth, and death, each of which have previously been described for Hipks, but never all together in comparable tissue contexts. Finally, we characterized novel developmental phenotypes induced by human HIPKs to gain insight to their unique functions. Together, these experiments provide the first direct comparison of all four vertebrate HIPKs to determine their roles in a developmental context.

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Tandem Bioorthogonal Labeling Uncovers Endogenous Cotranslationally O-GlcNAc Modified Nascent Proteins

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-09-01
Abstract: 

Hundreds of nuclear, cytoplasmic, and mitochondrial proteins within multicellular eukaryotes have hydroxyl groups of specific serine and threonine residues modified by the monosaccharide N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc). This modification, known as O-GlcNAc, has emerged as a central regulator of both cell physiology and human health. A key emerging function of O-GlcNAc appears to be to regulate cellular protein homeostasis. We previously showed, using overexpressed model proteins, that O-GlcNAc modification can occur cotranslationally and that this process prevents premature degradation of such nascent polypeptide chains. Here, we use tandem metabolic engineering strategies to label endogenously occurring nascent polypeptide chains within cells using O-propargyl-puromycin (OPP) and target the specific subset of nascent chains that are cotranslationally glycosylated with O-GlcNAc by metabolic saccharide engineering using tetra-O-acetyl-2-N-azidoacetyl-2-deoxy-d-galactopyranose (Ac4GalNAz). Using various combinations of sequential chemoselective ligation strategies, we go on to tag these analytes with a series of labels, allowing us to define conditions that enable their robust labeling. Two-step enrichment of these glycosylated nascent chains, combined with shotgun proteomics, allows us to identify a set of endogenous cotranslationally O-GlcNAc modified proteins. Using alternative targeted methods, we examine three of these identified proteins and further validate their cotranslational O-GlcNAcylation. These findings detail strategies to enable isolation and identification of extremely low abundance endogenous analytes present within complex protein mixtures. Moreover, this work opens the way to studies directed at understanding the roles of O-GlcNAc and other cotranslational protein modifications and should stimulate an improved understanding of the role of O-GlcNAc in cytoplasmic protein quality control and proteostasis.

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20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) signaling regulates amnioserosa morphogenesis during Drosophila dorsal closure: EcR modulates gene expression in a complex with the AP-1 subunit, Jun

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2021-08-17
Abstract: 

Steroid hormones influence diverse biological processes throughout the animal life cycle, including metabolism, stress resistance, reproduction, and lifespan. In insects, the steroid hormone, 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E), is the central hormone regulator of molting and metamorphosis, and plays roles in tissue morphogenesis. For example, amnioserosa contraction, which is a major driving force in Drosophila dorsal closure (DC), is defective in embryos mutant for 20E biosynthesis. Here, we show that 20E signaling modulates the transcription of several DC participants in the amnioserosa and other dorsal tissues during late embryonic development, including zipper, which encodes for non-muscle myosin. Canonical ecdysone signaling typically involves the binding of Ecdysone receptor (EcR) and Ultraspiracle heterodimers to ecdysone-response elements (EcREs) within the promoters of responsive genes to drive expression. During DC, however, we provide evidence that 20E signaling instead acts in parallel to the JNK cascade via a direct interaction between EcR and the AP-1 transcription factor subunit, Jun, which together binds to genomic regions containing AP-1 binding sites but no EcREs to control gene expression. Our work demonstrates a novel mode of action for 20E signaling in Drosophila that likely functions beyond DC, and may provide further insights into mammalian steroid hormone receptor interactions with AP-1.

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20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) signaling regulates amnioserosa morphogenesis during Drosophila dorsal closure: EcR modulates gene expression in a complex with the AP-1 subunit, Jun

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2021-07-23
Abstract: 

Steroid hormones influence diverse biological processes throughout the animal life cycle, including metabolism, stress resistance, reproduction, and lifespan. In insects, the steroid hormone, 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E), is the central hormone regulator of molting and metamorphosis, and plays roles in tissue morphogenesis. For example, amnioserosa contraction, which is a major driving force in Drosophila dorsal closure (DC), is defective in embryos mutant for 20E biosynthesis. Here, we show that 20E signaling modulates the transcription of several DC participants in the amnioserosa and other dorsal tissues during late embryonic development, including zipper, which encodes for non-muscle myosin. Canonical ecdysone signaling typically involves the binding of Ecdysone receptor (EcR) and Ultraspiracle heterodimers to ecdysone-response elements (EcREs) within the promoters of responsive genes to drive expression. During DC, however, we provide evidence that 20E signaling instead acts in parallel to the JNK cascade via a direct interaction between EcR and the AP-1 transcription factor subunit, Jun, which together binds to genomic regions containing AP-1 binding sites but no EcREs to control gene expression. Our work demonstrates a novel mode of action for 20E signaling in Drosophila that likely functions beyond DC, and may provide further insights into mammalian steroid hormone receptor interactions with AP-1.

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Metabolism of Vertebrate Amino Sugars with N-Glycolyl Groups: INTRACELLULAR β-O-LINKED N-GLYCOLYLGLUCOSAMINE (GlcNGc), UDP-GlcNGc, AND THE BIOCHEMICAL AND STRUCTURAL RATIONALE FOR THE SUBSTRATE TOLERANCE OF β-O-LINKED β-N-ACETYLGLUCOSAMINIDASE

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012-08-17
Abstract: 

TheO-GlcNAcmodificationinvolvestheattachmentofsingle-O-linkedN-acetylglucosamine residues to serine and threo-nine residues of nucleocytoplasmic proteins. Interestingly, pre-vious biochemical and structural studies have shown thatO-GlcNAcase (OGA), the enzyme that removesO-GlcNAc fromproteins, has an active site pocket that tolerates variousN-acylgroups in addition to theN-acetyl group of GlcNAc. Theremarkable sequence and structural conservation of residuescomprising this pocket suggest functional importance. Wehypothesized this pocket enables processing of metabolic vari-ants ofO-GlcNAc that could be formed due to inaccuracy withinthe metabolic machinery of the hexosamine biosynthetic path-way. In the accompanying paper (Bergfeld, A. K., Pearce, O. M.,Diaz, S. L.,Pham, T., and Varki, A. (2012)J. Biol. Chem.287,28865–28881),N-glycolylglucosamine (GlcNGc) wasshown to be acatabolite of NeuNGc. Here, we show that the hexosamine sal-vage pathway can convert GlcNGc to UDP-GlcNGc, which isthen used to modify proteins withO-GlcNGc. The kinetics of incorporation and removal ofO-GlcNGc in cells occur in adynamic manner on a time frame similar to that ofO-GlcNAc.Enzymatic activity ofO-GlcNAcase (OGA) toward a GlcNGcglycoside reveals OGA can process glycolyl-containing sub-strates fairly efficiently. A bacterial homolog (BtGH84) of OGA,from a human gut symbiont, also processesO-GlcNGc sub-strates, and the structure of this enzyme bound to a GlcNGc-derived species reveals the molecular basis for tolerance andbinding of GlcNGc. Together, these results demonstrate thatanalogs of GlcNAc, such as GlcNGc, are metabolically viablespecies and that the conserved active site pocket of OGA likelyevolved to enable processing of mis-incorporated analogs ofO-GlcNAc and thereby prevent their accumulation. Such plas-ticity in carbohydrate processing enzymes may be a generalfeature arising from inaccuracy in hexosamine metabolicpathways.

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Insights into O-Linked N-Acetylglucosamine ([0-9]O-GlcNAc) Processing and Dynamics through Kinetic Analysis of O-GlcNAc Transferase and O-GlcNAcase Activity on Protein Substrates*

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012-05-01
Abstract: 

Cellular O-linked N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) levels are modulated by two enzymes: uridine diphosphate-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine:polypeptidyltransferase (OGT) and O-GlcNAcase (OGA). To quantitatively address the activity of these enzymes on protein substrates, we generated five structurally diverse proteins in both unmodified and O-GlcNAc-modified states. We found a remarkably invariant upper limit for k(cat)/K(m) values for human OGA (hOGA)-catalyzed processing of these modified proteins, which suggests that hOGA processing is driven by the GlcNAc moiety and is independent of the protein. Human OGT (hOGT) activity ranged more widely, by up to 15-fold, suggesting that hOGT is the senior partner in fine tuning protein O-GlcNAc levels. This was supported by the observation that K(m,app) values for UDP-GlcNAc varied considerably (from 1 μM to over 20 μM), depending on the protein substrate, suggesting that some OGT substrates will be nutrient-responsive, whereas others are constitutively modified. The ratios of k(cat)/K(m) values obtained from hOGT and hOGA kinetic studies enable a prediction of the dynamic equilibrium position of O-GlcNAc levels that can be recapitulated in vitro and suggest the relative O-GlcNAc stoichiometries of target proteins in the absence of other factors. We show that changes in the specific activities of hOGT and hOGA measured in vitro on calcium/calmodulin-dependent kinase IV (CaMKIV) and its pseudophosphorylated form can account for previously reported changes in CaMKIV O-GlcNAc levels observed in cells. These studies provide kinetic evidence for the interplay between O-GlcNAc and phosphorylation on proteins and indicate that these effects can be mediated by changes in hOGT and hOGA kinetic activity.

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Supervisor(s): 
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

Multi-Omic Data Integration Allows Baseline Immune Signatures to Predict Hepatitis B Vaccine Response in a Small Cohort

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-11-30
Abstract: 

Background: Vaccination remains one of the most effective means of reducing the burden of infectious diseases globally. Improving our understanding of the molecular basis for effective vaccine response is of paramount importance if we are to ensure the success of future vaccine development efforts.

Methods: We applied cutting edge multi-omics approaches to extensively characterize temporal molecular responses following vaccination with hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine. Data were integrated across cellular, epigenomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and fecal microbiome profiles, and correlated to final HBV antibody titres.

Results: Using both an unsupervised molecular-interaction network integration method (NetworkAnalyst) and a data-driven integration approach (DIABLO), we uncovered baseline molecular patterns and pathways associated with more effective vaccine responses to HBV. Biological associations were unravelled, with signalling pathways such as JAK-STAT and interleukin signalling, Toll-like receptor cascades, interferon signalling, and Th17 cell differentiation emerging as important pre-vaccination modulators of response.

Conclusion: This study provides further evidence that baseline cellular and molecular characteristics of an individual’s immune system influence vaccine responses, and highlights the utility of integrating information across many parallel molecular datasets.

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Alpine Snow Algae Microbiome Diversity in the Coast Range of British Columbia

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-07-28
Abstract: 

Snow algae blooms contain bacteria, fungi, and other microscopic organisms. We surveyed 55 alpine snow algae blooms, collecting a total of 68 samples, from 12 mountains in the Coast Range of British Columbia, Canada. We used microscopy and rDNA metabarcoding to document biodiversity and query species and taxonomic associations. Across all samples, we found 173 algal, 2,739 bacterial, 380 fungal, and 540 protist/animalia operational taxonomic units (OTUs). In a previous study, we reported that most algal species were distributed along an elevational gradient. In the current study, we were surprised to find no corresponding distribution in any other taxa. We also tested the hypothesis that certain bacterial and fungal taxa co-occur with specific algal taxa. However, despite previous evidence that particular genera co-occur, we found no significant correlations between taxa across our 68 samples. Notably, seven bacterial, one fungal, and two cercozoan OTUs were widely distributed across our study regions. Taken together, these data suggest that any mutualisms with algae may not be taxon specific. We also report evidence of snow algae predation by rotifers, tardigrades, springtails, chytrid fungi, and ciliates, establishing the framework for a complex food web.

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Sticking With It: ER-PM Membrane Contact Sites as a Coordinating Nexus for Regulating Lipids and Proteins at the Cell Cortex

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-07-22
Abstract: 

Membrane contact sites between the cortical endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and the plasma membrane (PM) provide a direct conduit for small molecule transfer and signaling between the two largest membranes of the cell. Contact is established through ER integral membrane proteins that physically tether the two membranes together, though the general mechanism is remarkably non-specific given the diversity of different tethering proteins. Primary tethers including VAMP-associated proteins (VAPs), Anoctamin/TMEM16/Ist2p homologs, and extended synaptotagmins (E-Syts), are largely conserved in most eukaryotes and are both necessary and sufficient for establishing ER-PM association. In addition, other species-specific ER-PM tether proteins impart unique functional attributes to both membranes at the cell cortex. This review distils recent functional and structural findings about conserved and species-specific tethers that form ER-PM contact sites, with an emphasis on their roles in the coordinate regulation of lipid metabolism, cellular structure, and responses to membrane stress.

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Substrate‐Guided Front‐Face Reaction Revealed by Combined Structural Snapshots and Metadynamics for the Polypeptide N‐Acetylgalactosaminyltransferase 2

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-06-20
Abstract: 

The retaining glycosyltransferase GalNAc-T2 is a member of a large family of human polypeptide GalNActransferases that is responsible for the post-translational modification of many cell-surface proteins. By the use of combined structural and computational approaches, we provide the first set of structural snapshots of the enzyme during the catalytic cycle and combine these with quantum-mechanics/molecular-mechanics (QM/MM) metadynamics to unravel the catalytic mechanism of this retaining enzyme at the atomicelectronic level of detail. Our study provides a detailed structural rationale for an ordered bi–bi kinetic mechanism and reveals critical aspects of substrate recognition, which dictate the specificity for acceptor Thr versus Ser residues andenforce a front-face SNi-type reaction in which the substrate Nacetyl sugar substituent coordinates efficient glycosyl transfer.

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