The paracellular pathway of an epithelial cellular sheet can be divided into two parts: one between two adjacent cells sealed by tight junctions (TJs) and one at tricellular contacts (TCs), where the corners of three cells meet. At TCs of epithelial cells, there is a specialized mode of TJs, namely tricellular TJs (tTJs), required for full barrier function of the cellular sheet. However, tTJs have not been described in endothelial cells to date. Here, we investigated whether tTJs occur in endothelial cells by analyzing the TC localizations of tTJ markers, tricellulin and angulin family proteins (angulin-1/LSR, angulin-2/ILDR1, and angulin-3/ILDR2), by immunofluorescence staining of frozen sections of various tissues from adult mice. Endothelial TCs in most tissues revealed no detectable staining of tricellulin or angulins. However, tricellulin and angulin-1/LSR were specifically concentrated in TCs of brain and retinal endothelial cells, which form the blood–brain barrier (BBB) and inner blood–retinal barrier (BRB), respectively. Even in the brain, endothelial cells in the choroid plexus and the median eminence, one of the circumventricular organs, did not show concentration of tricellulin or angulins at TCs. These findings indicate the existence of tTJs in endothelial cells in vivo and suggest that tTJs impart important characteristics to the BBB and inner BRB.
The serine/threonine kinase Akt plays a critical role in cell proliferation, survival, and tumorigenesis. As a central kinase in the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathway, its activation mechanism at the plasma membrane has been well characterized. However, the subcellular Akt activity in living cells is still largely unknown. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based biosensors have emerged as indispensable tools to visualize the subcellular activities of signaling molecules. In this study, we developed a highly specific FRET biosensor for Akt based on the Eevee backbone, called Eevee-iAkt. Using inhibitors targeting kinases upstream and downstream of Akt, we showed that Eevee-iAkt specifically monitors Akt activity in living cells. To visualize Akt activity at different subcellular compartments, we targeted Eevee-iAkt to raft and non-raft regions of the plasma membrane, mitochondria, and nucleus in HeLa and Cos7 cells. Interestingly, we revealed substantial differences in Akt activation between HeLa and Cos7 cells upon epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulation: Akt was transiently activated in HeLa cells with comparable levels at the plasma membrane, cytosol, and mitochondria. In contrast, sustained and spatially localized Akt activation was observed in EGF-stimulated Cos7 cells. We found high Akt activity at the plasma membrane, low activity in the cytosol, and no detectable activity at the mitochondria and nucleus in Cos7 cells. The Eevee-iAkt biosensor was shown to be a valuable tool to study the functional relationship between subcellular Akt activation and its anti-apoptotic role in living cells.
Microfold (M) cells are intestinal epithelial cells specialized for sampling and transport of luminal antigens to gut-associated lymphoid tissue for initiation of both mucosal and systemic immune responses. Therefore, M-cell targeted vaccination has the potential to be a better immunization strategy. Glycoprotein 2 (GP2), an antigen uptake receptor for FimH+ bacteria on M cells, can be a good target for this purpose. Aptamers are oligonucleotides that bind to a variety of target molecules with high specificity and affinity. Together with its low toxic feature, aptamers serves as a tool of molecular-targeted delivery. In this study, we used Systematic Evolution of Ligands by EXponential enrichment (SELEX) to isolate aptamers specific to murine GP2 (mGP2). After ten rounds of SELEX, eleven different aptamer sequences were selected. Among them, the most frequently appeared sequence (~60%) were aptamer NO. 1 (Apt1), and the second most (~7%) were aptamer NO. 5 (Apt5). In vitro binding experiment confirmed that only Apt1 and Apt5 specifically bound to mGP2 among eleven aptamers initially selected. Apt1 showed the strongest affinity with mGP2, with the Kd value of 110±2.6 nM evaluated by BIACORE. Binding assays with mutants of Apt1 suggest that, in addition to the loop structure, the nucleotide sequence, AAAUA, in the loop is important for binding to mGP2. Furthermore, this aptamer was able to bind to mGP2 expressed on the cell surface. These results suggest that this mGP2-specific aptamer could serve as a valuable tool for testing M-cell-targeted vaccine delivery in the murine model system.
Multiple type I and II hair keratins are expressed in hair-forming cells but the role of each protein in hair fiber formation remains obscure. In this study, recombinant proteins of human type I hair keratins (K35, K36 and K38) and type II hair keratins (K81 and K85) were prepared using bacterial expression systems. The heterotypic subunit interactions between the type I and II hair keratins were characterized using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and surface plasmon resonance (SPR). Gel electrophoresis showed that the heterotypic complex-forming urea concentrations differ depending on the combination of keratins. K35-K85 and K36-K81 formed relatively stable heterotypic complexes. SPR revealed that soluble K35 bound to immobilized K85 with a higher affinity than to immobilized K81. The in vitro intermediate filament (IF) assembly of the hair keratins was explored by negative-staining electron microscopy. While K35-K81, K36-K81 and K35-K36-K81 formed IFs, K35-K85 afforded tight bundles of short IFs and large paracrystalline assemblies, and K36-K85 formed IF tangles. K85 promotes lateral association rather than elongation of short IFs. The in vitro assembly properties of hair keratins depended on the combination of type I and II hair keratins. Our data suggest the functional significance of K35-K85 and K36-K81 with distinct assembly properties in the formation of macrofibrils.
The microtubule (MT) cytoskeleton is essential for cellular morphogenesis, cell migration, and cell division. MT organization is primarily mediated by a variety of MT-associated proteins. Among these proteins, plus-end-tracking proteins (+TIPs) are evolutionarily conserved factors that selectively accumulate at growing MT plus ends. Cytoplasmic linker protein (CLIP)-170 is a +TIP that associates with diverse proteins to determine the behavior of MT ends and their linkage to intracellular structures, including mitotic chromosomes. However, how CLIP-170 activity is spatially and temporally controlled is largely unknown. Here, we show that phosphorylation at Ser312 in the third serine-rich region of CLIP-170 is increased during mitosis. Polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1) is responsible for this phosphorylation during the mitotic phase of dividing cells. In vitro analysis using a purified CLIP-170 N-terminal fragment showed that phosphorylation by Plk1 diminishes CLIP-170 binding to the MT ends and lattice without affecting binding to EB3. Furthermore, we demonstrate that during mitosis, stable kinetochore/MT attachment and subsequent chromosome alignment require CLIP-170 and a proper phosphorylation/dephosphorylation cycle at Ser312. We propose that CLIP-170 phosphorylation by Plk1 regulates proper chromosome alignment by modulating the interaction between CLIP-170 and MTs in mitotic cells and that CLIP-170 activity is stringently controlled by its phosphorylation state, which depends on the cellular context.
Protein Kinase D (PKD) 1, 2, and 3 are members of the PKD family. PKDs influence many cellular processes, including cell polarity, structure of the Golgi, polarized transport from the Golgi to the basolateral plasma membrane, and actin polymerization. However, the role of the PKD family in cell polarity has not yet been elucidated in vivo. Here, we show that KO mice displayed similar localization of the apical and basolateral proteins, transport of VSV-G and a GPI-anchored protein, and similar localization of actin filaments. As DKO mice were embryonic lethal, we generated MEFs that lacked all PKD isoforms from the PKD1 and PKD2 double floxed mice using Cre recombinase and PKD3 siRNA. We observed a similar localization of various organelles, a similar time course in the transport of VSV-G and a GPI-anchored protein, and a similar distribution of F-actin in the PKD-null MEFs. Collectively, our results demonstrate that the complete deletion of PKDs does not affect the transport of VSV-G or a GPI-anchored protein, and the distribution of F-actin. However, simultaneous deletion of PKD1 and PKD2 affect embryonic development, demonstrating their functional redundancy during development.
The transcription of ribosomal RNA genes (rDNA) is a rate-limiting step in ribosome biogenesis and changes profoundly in response to environmental conditions. Recently we reported that JmjC demethylase KDM2A reduces rDNA transcription on starvation, with accompanying demethylation of dimethylated Lys 36 of histone H3 (H3K36me2) in rDNA promoter. Here, we characterized the functions of two domains of KDM2A, JmjC and CxxC-ZF domains. After knockdown of endogenous KDM2A, KDM2A was exogenously expressed. The exogenous wild-type KDM2A demethylated H3K36me2 in the rDNA promoter on starvation and reduced rDNA transcription as endogenous KDM2A. The exogenous KDM2A with a mutation in the JmjC domain lost the demethylase activity and did not reduce rDNA transcription on starvation, showing that the demethylase activity of KDM2A itself is required for the control of rDNA transcription. The exogenous KDM2A with a mutation in the CxxC-ZF domain retained the demethylase activity but did not reduce rDNA transcription on starvation. It was found that the CxxC-ZF domain of KDM2A bound to the rDNA promoter with unmethylated CpG dinucleotides in vitro and in vivo. The exogenous KDM2A with the mutation in the CxxC-ZF domain failed to reduce H3K36me2 in the rDNA promoter on starvation. Further, it was suggested that KDM2A that bound to the rDNA promoter was activated on starvation. Our results demonstrate that KDM2A binds to the rDNA promoter with unmethylated CpG sequences via the CxxC-ZF domain, demethylates H3K36me2 in the rDNA promoter in response to starvation in a JmjC domain-dependent manner, and reduces rDNA transcription.