Rab small GTPases are highly conserved master regulators of membrane traffic in all eukaryotes. The same as the activation and inactivation of other small GTPases, the activation and inactivation of Rabs are tightly controlled by specific GEFs (guanine nucleotide exchange factors) and GAPs (GTPase-activating proteins), respectively. Although almost all Rab-GAPs reported thus far have a TBC (Tre-2/Bub2/Cdc16)/Rab-GAP domain in common, recent accumulating evidence has indicated the existence of a number of structurally unrelated types of Rab-GEFs, including DENN proteins, VPS9 proteins, Sec2 proteins, TRAPP complexes, heterodimer GEFs (Mon1–Ccz1, HPS1–HPS4 (BLOC-3 complex), Ric1–Rgp1 and Rab3GAP1/2), and other GEFs (e.g., REI-1 and RPGR). In this review article we provide an up-to-date overview of the structures and functions of all putative Rab-GEFs in mammals, with a special focus on their substrate Rabs, interacting proteins, associations with genetic diseases, and intracellular localizations.
The Ras-ERK pathway controls cell proliferation and differentiation, whereas the PI3K-Akt pathway plays a role in the process of cell-cycle progression and cell survival. Both pathways are activated by many stimuli such as epidermal growth factor (EGF), and coordinately regulate each other through cross-talk. However, it remains unclear how cells accommodate the dynamics and interplay between the Ras-ERK and PI3K-Akt pathways to regulate cell-fate decisions, mainly because of the lack of good tools to visualize ERK and Akt activities simultaneously in live cells. Here, we developed a multiplexed fluorescence system for imaging ERK and Akt signaling and the cell-cycle status at the single cell level. Based on the principle of the kinase translocation reporter (KTR), we created Akt-FoxO3a-KTR, which shuttled between nucleus and cytoplasm in a manner regulated by Akt phosphorylation. To simultaneously measure ERK, Akt and the cell-cycle status, we generated a polycistronic vector expressing ERK-KTR, Akt-FoxO3a-KTR, a cell-cycle reporter and a nuclear reporter, and applied linear unmixing to these four images to remove spectral overlap among fluorescent proteins. The specificity and sensitivity of ERK-KTR and Akt-FoxO3a-KTR were characterized quantitatively. We examined the cellular heterogeneity of relationship between ERK and Akt activities under a basal or EGF-stimulated condition, and found that ERK and Akt were regulated in a highly cooperative and cell-cycle-dependent manner. Our study provides a useful tool for quantifying the dynamics among ERK and Akt activities and the cell cycle in a live cell, and for addressing the mechanisms underlying intrinsic resistance to molecularly targeted drugs.
The Golgi stress response is a homeostatic mechanism that controls the capacity of the Golgi apparatus in accordance with cellular demands. When the capacity of the Golgi apparatus becomes insufficient (Golgi stress), transcription levels of Golgi-related genes encoding glycosylation enzymes, a Golgi structural protein, and components of vesicular transport are upregulated through a common cis-acting enhancer—the Golgi apparatus stress response element (GASE). Here, we identified the transcription factor MLX as a GASE-binding protein. MLX resides in the cytoplasm and does not bind to GASE in normal growth conditions, whereas MLX translocates into the nucleus and specifically binds to GASE in response to Golgi stress. Suppression of MLX expression increased transcriptional induction of target genes of the Golgi stress response, whereas overexpression of MLX reduced GASE-binding of TFE3 as well as transcriptional induction from GASE, suggesting that MLX is a transcriptional repressor of the mammalian Golgi stress response.
Protein phosphorylation plays an important role in the physiological regulation of cardiac function. Myocardial contraction and pathogenesis of cardiac diseases have been reported to be associated with adaptive or maladaptive protein phosphorylation; however, phosphorylation signaling in the heart is not fully elucidated. We recently developed a novel kinase-interacting substrate screening (KISS) method for exhaustive screening of protein kinase substrates, using mass spectrometry and affinity chromatography. First, we examined protein phosphorylation by extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and protein kinase A (PKA), which has been relatively well studied in cardiomyocytes. The KISS method showed that ERK and PKA mediated the phosphorylation of known cardiac-substrates of each kinase such as Rps6ka1 and cTnI, respectively. Using this method, we found about 330 proteins as Rho-kinase-mediated substrates, whose substrate in cardiomyocytes is unknown. Among them, CARP/Ankrd1, a muscle ankyrin repeat protein, was confirmed as a novel Rho-kinase-mediated substrate. We also found that non-phosphorylatable form of CARP repressed cardiac hypertrophy-related gene Myosin light chain-2v (MLC-2v) promoter activity, and decreased cell size of heart derived H9c2 myoblasts more efficiently than wild type-CARP. Thus, focused proteomics enable us to reveal a novel signaling pathway in the heart.
In flowering plants, fertilization of the central cell gives rise to an embryo-nourishing endosperm. Recently, we reported that the endosperm absorbs the adjacent synergid cell through a cell-fusion, terminating the pollen tube guidance by a rapid inactivation of the synergid cell. Although this synergid-endosperm fusion (SE fusion) initiates soon after fertilization, it was still unknown whether the triggers of SE fusion are stimuli during fertilization or other seed developmental processes. To further dissect out the SE fusion process, we investigated the SE fusion in an Arabidopsis mutant defective for MULTICOPY SUPPRESSOR OF IRA1 (MSI1), a subunit of the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2). The mutant msi1 develops autonomous endosperm without fertilization. Time-lapse imaging revealed a rapid efflux of the synergid contents during the autonomous endosperm development, indicating that the initiation of SE fusion is under the control of some of the events triggered by fertilization of the central cell distinct from the discharge of pollen tube contents and plasma membrane fusion.
Polarized epithelial cells contain a characteristic array of microtubules in which non-centrosomal microtubules are aligned along the apical-to-basal axis of the cell with their minus ends oriented towards the apical pole. Although this unique orientation of microtubules was discovered in the late 1980s, how this orientation is established remains unresolved partly because of limited information about molecular factors that regulate the minus ends of non-centrosomal microtubules. Recent studies, however, identified novel minus end–associated proteins, revealing mechanisms by which the polarized arrays of microtubules are established in epithelial cells. These studies have also demonstrated the importance of apico-basally orientated microtubules in intra-structural organization of cells. This review focuses on recent progress of our understanding of the molecular basis for epithelium-specific microtubule assembly and function.
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