• Volume 36, Issue 3

August 2011,   pages  397-553

• Editorial

• Forty years of the 93D puff of Drosophila melanogaster

The 93D puff of Drosophila melanogaster became attractive in 1970 because of its singular inducibility by benzamide and has since then remained a major point of focus in my laboratory. Studies on this locus in my and several other laboratories during the past four decades have revealed that

1. this locus is developmentally active,

2. it is a member of the heat shock gene family but selectively inducible by amides,

3. the 93D or heat shock RNA omega (hsr𝜔) gene produces multiple nuclear and cytoplasmic large non-coding RNAs (hsr𝜔-n, hsr𝜔-pre-c and hsr𝜔-c),

4. a variety of RNA-processing proteins, especially the hnRNPs, associate with its &gt;10 kb nuclear (hsr𝜔-n) transcript to form the nucleoplasmic omega speckles,

5. its genomic architecture and hnRNP-binding properties with the nuclear transcript are conserved in different species although the primary base sequence has diverged rapidly,

6. heat shock causes the omega speckles to disappear and all the omega speckle associated proteins and the hsr𝜔-n transcript to accumulate at the 93D locus,

7. the hsr𝜔-n transcript directly or indirectly affects the localization/stability/activity of a variety of proteins including hnRNPs, Sxl, Hsp83, CBP, DIAP1, JNK-signalling members, proteasome constituents, lamin C, ISWI, HP1 and poly(ADP)-ribose polymerase and

8. a balanced level of its transcripts is essential for the orderly relocation of various proteins, including hnRNPs, RNA pol II and HP1, to developmentally active chromosome regions during recovery from heat stress. In view of such multitudes of interactions, it appears that large non-coding RNAs like those produced by the hsr𝜔 gene may function as hubs to coordinate multiple cellular networks and thus play important roles in maintenance of cellular homeostasis.

• The Chriz–Z4 complex recruits JIL-1 to polytene chromosomes, a requirement for interband-specific phosphorylation of H3S10

The conserved band-interband pattern is thought to reflect the looped-domain organization of insect polytene chromosomes. Previously, we have shown that the chromodomain protein Chriz and the zinc-finger protein Z4 are essentially required for the maintenance of polytene chromosome structure. Here we show that both proteins form a complex that recruits the JIL-1 kinase to polytene chromosomes, enabling local H3S10 phosphorylation of interband nucleosomal histones. Interband targeting domains were identified at the N-terminal regions of Chriz and Z4, and our data suggest partial cooperation of the complex with the BEAF boundary element protein in polytene and diploid cells. Reducing the core component Chriz by RNAi results in destabilization of the complex and a strong reduction of interband-specific histone H3S10 phosphorylation.

• Dynamics of nuclear matrix proteome during embryonic development in Drosophila melanogaster

Embryonic development is a complex and dynamic process that involves spatiotemporal expression of genes in a highly coordinated manner. Multiple levels of nuclear architecture maintain the fidelity of gene expression programme. One of the components of nuclear architecture, which is believed to play an important role in regulation of gene expression, is the nuclear matrix (NuMat). Many studies over the past few years have tried to analyse the components of this non-chromatin scaffolding of the nucleus and have provided evidences of its structural and functional complexity. However, the relationship of NuMat with the process of embryonic development still remains poorly understood. Here, we report a comparative analysis of the NuMat proteomes of early and late stage Drosophila melanogaster embryos and show that 65% of the NuMat proteome is dynamic during development. Our study establishes links between the dynamics of nuclear architecture and embryonic development and provides tools to further understand the process such as cellular differentiation in the context of higher-order nuclear organization.

• N-terminal PDZ-like domain of chromatin organizer SATB1 contributes towards its function as transcription regulator

The special AT-rich DNA-binding protein 1 (SATB1) is a matrix attachment region (MAR)-binding protein that acts as a global repressor via recruitment of CtBP1:HDAC1-containing co-repressors to its binding targets. The N-terminal PSD95/Dlg-A/ZO-1 (PDZ)-like domain of SATB1 mediates interactions with several chromatin proteins. In the present study, we set out to address whether the PDZ-domain-mediated interactions of SATB1 are critical for its in vivo function as a global repressor. We reasoned that since the N-terminal PDZ-like domain (amino acid residues 1–204) lacks DNA binding activity, it would fail to recruit the interacting partners of SATB1 to its genomic binding sites and hence would not repress the SATB1-regulated genes. Indeed, in vivo MAR-linked luciferase reporter assay revealed that overexpression of the PDZ-like domain resulted in de-repression, indicating that the PDZ-like domain exerts a dominant negative effect on genes regulated by SATB1. Next, we developed a stable dominant negative model in human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293T cells that conditionally expressed the N-terminal 1–204 region harbouring the PDZ-like domain of SATB1. To monitor the effect of sequestration of the interaction partners on the global gene regulation by SATB1, transcripts from the induced and uninduced clones were subjected to gene expression profiling. Clustering of expression data revealed that 600 out of 19000 genes analysed were significantly upregulated upon overexpression of the PDZ-like domain. Induced genes were found to be involved in important signalling cascades and cellular functions. These studies clearly demonstrated the role of PDZ domain of SATB1 in global gene regulation presumably through its interaction with other cellular proteins.

• Lamins, laminopathies and disease mechanisms: Possible role for proteasomal degradation of key regulatory proteins

Lamins are major structural proteins of the nucleus and are essential for nuclear integrity and organization of nuclear functions. Mutations in the human lamin genes lead to highly degenerative genetic diseases that affect a number of different tissues such as muscle, adipose or neuronal tissues, or cause premature ageing syndromes. New findings on the role of lamins in cellular signalling pathways, as well as in ubiquitin-mediated proteasomal degradation, have given important insights into possible mechanisms of pathogenesis.

• MicroRNA functional network in pancreatic cancer: From biology to biomarkers of disease

MicroRNAs (miRs), the 17- to 25-nucleotide-long non-coding RNAs, regulate expression of approximately 30% of the protein-coding genes at the post-transcriptional level and have emerged as critical components of the complex functional pathway networks controlling important cellular processes, such as proliferation, development, differentiation, stress response' and apoptosis. Abnormal expression levels of miRs, regulating critical cancerassociated pathways, have been implicated to play important roles in the oncogenic processes, functioning both as oncogenes and as tumour suppressor genes. Elucidation of the genetic networks regulated by the abnormally expressing miRs in cancer cells is proving to be extremely significant in understanding the role of these miRs in the induction of malignant-transformation-associated phenotypic changes. As a result, the miRs involved in the oncogenic transformation process are being investigated as novel biomarkers of disease detection and prognosis as well as potential therapeutic targets for human cancers. In this \article, we review the existing literature in the field documenting the significance of aberrantly expressed miRs in human pancreatic cancer and discuss how the oncogenic miRs may be involved in the genetic networks regulating functional pathways deregulated in this malignancy.

• FKBP immunophilins and Alzheimer's disease: A chaperoned affair

The FK506-binding protein (FKBP) family of immunophilins consists of proteins with a variety of protein–protein interaction domains and versatile cellular functions. Analysis of the functions of immunophilins has been the focus of studies in recent years and has led to the identification of various molecular pathways in which FKBPs play an active role. All FKBPs contain a domain with prolyl cis/trans isomerase (PPIase) activity. Binding of the immunosuppressant molecule FK506 to this domain inhibits their PPIase activity while mediating immune suppression through inhibition of calcineurin. The larger members, FKBP51 and FKBP52, interact with Hsp90 and exhibit chaperone activity that is shown to regulate steroid hormone signalling. From these studies it is clear that FKBP proteins are expressed ubiquitously but show relatively high levels of expression in the nervous system. Consistent with this expression, FKBPs have been implicated with both neuroprotection and neurodegeneration. This review will focus on recent studies involving FKBP immunophilins in Alzheimer’s-disease-related pathways.

• Multimodality molecular imaging of disease progression in living subjects

The enormous advances in our understanding of the progression of diseases at the molecular level have been supplemented by the new field of ‘molecular imaging’, which provides for in vivo visualization of molecular events at the cellular level in living organisms. Molecular imaging is a noninvasive assessment of gene and protein function, protein–protein interaction and/or signal transduction pathways in animal models of human disease and in patients to provide insights into molecular pathogenesis. Five major imaging techniques are currently available to assess the structural and functional alterations in vivo in small animals. These are

1. optical bioluminescence and fluorescence imaging techniques,

2. radionuclide-based positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emitted computed tomography (SPECT),

3. X-ray-based computed tomography (CT),

4. magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and

5. ultrasound imaging (US).

Functional molecular imaging requires an imaging probe that is specific for a given molecular event. In preclinical imaging, involving small animal models, the imaging probe could be an element of a direct (direct imaging’) or an indirect (indirect imaging’) event. Reporter genes are essential for indirect imaging and provide a general integrated platform for many different applications. Applications of multimodality imaging using combinations of bioluminescent, fluorescent and PET reporter genes in unified fusion vectors developed by us for recording events from single live cells to whole animals with high sensitivity and accurate quantification are discussed. Such approaches have immense potential to track progression of metastasis, immune cell trafficking, stem cell therapy, transgenic animals and even molecular interactions in living subjects.

• Autonomous and non-autonomous traits mediate social cooperation in Dictyostelium discoideum

In the trishanku (triA) mutant of the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, aggregates are smaller than usual and the spore mass is located mid-way up the stalk, not at the apex. We have monitored aggregate territory size, spore allocation and fruiting body morphology in chimaeric groups of (quasi-wild-type) Ax2 and triA cells. Developmental canalisation breaks down in chimaeras and leads to an increase in phenotypic variation. A minority of triA cells causes largely Ax2 aggregation streams to break up; the effect is not due to the counting factor. Most chimaeric fruiting bodies resemble those ofAx2 or triA. Others are double-deckers with a single stalk and two spore masses, one each at the terminus and midway along the stalk. The relative number of spores belonging to the two genotypes depends both on the mixing ratio and on the fruiting body morphology. In double-deckers formed from 1:1 chimaeras, the upper spore mass has more Ax2 spores, and the lower spore mass more triA spores, than expected. Thus, the traits under study depend partly on the cells’ own genotype and partly on the phenotypes, and so genotypes, of other cells: they are both autonomous and non-autonomous. These findings strengthen the parallels between multicellular development and behaviour in social groups. Besides that, they reinforce the point that a trait can be associated with a genotype only in a specified context.

• Evo-devo: Hydra raises its Noggin

Noggin, along with other secreted bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) inhibitors, plays a crucial role in neural induction and neural tube patterning as well as in somitogenesis, cardiac morphogenesis and formation of the skeleton in vertebrates. The BMP signalling pathway is one of the seven fundamental pathways that drive embryonic development and pattern formation in animals. Understanding its evolutionary origin and role in pattern formation is, therefore, important to evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo).We have studied the evolutionary origin of BMP–Noggin antagonism in hydra, which is a powerful diploblastic model to study evolution of pattern-forming mechanisms because of the unusual cellular dynamics during its pattern formation and its remarkable ability to regenerate. We cloned and characterized the noggin gene from hydra and found it to exhibit considerable similarity with its orthologues at the amino acid level. Microinjection of hydra Noggin mRNA led to duplication of the dorsoventral axis in Xenopus embryos, demonstrating its functional conservation across the taxa. Our data, along with those of others, indicate that the evolutionarily conserved antagonism between BMP and its inhibitors predates bilateral divergence. This article reviews the various roles of Noggin in different organisms and some of our recent work on hydra Noggin in the context of evolution of developmental signalling pathways.

• Non-apoptotic function of apoptotic proteins in the development of Malpighian tubules of Drosophila melanogaster

Drosophila metamorphosis is characterized by the histolysis of larval structures by programmed cell death, which paves the way for the establishment of adult-specific structures under the influence of the steroid hormone ecdysone. Malpighian tubules function as an excretory system and are one of the larval structures that are not destroyed during metamorphosis and are carried over to adulthood. The pupal Malpighian tubules evade destruction in spite of expressing apoptotic proteins, Reaper, Hid, Grim, Dronc and Drice. Here we show that in the Malpighian tubules expression of apoptotic proteins commences right from embryonic development and continues throughout the larval stages. Overexpression of these proteins in the Malpighian tubules causes larval lethality resulting in malformed tubules. The number and regular organization of principal and stellate cells of Malpighian tubules is disturbed, in turn disrupting the physiological functioning of the tubules as well. Strikingly, the localization of 𝛽-tubulin, F-actin and Disclarge (Dlg) is also disrupted. These results suggest that the apoptotic proteins could be having non-apoptotic function in the development of Malpighian tubules.

• Is hexamerin receptor a GPI-anchored protein in Achaea janata (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)?

The process of uptake of hexamerins during metamorphosis from insect haemolymph by fat body cells is reminiscent of receptor-mediated endocytosis. Previously, we had identified a hexamerin-binding protein (HBP) and reported for the first time that uptake of hexamerins is dependent on the phosphorylation of HBP partly by a tyrosine kinase, which is, in turn, activated by 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E). However, the exact nature of HBP and the mechanism of interaction are still unknown. Here we report the possibility of HBP being a GPI-anchored protein in the fat body of Achaea janata and its role in the tyrosine-kinase-mediated phosphorylation signalling. Digestion of fat body membrane preparation with bacterial phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C (PI-PLC), and the subsequent recognition by antibodies specific for the cross-reacting determinant (CRD), revealed that HBP is glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored protein and, further, that the hexamerin binding to HBP was inhibited after digestion. Hexamerin overlay assay (HOA) of co-immunoprecipitated in vitro phosphorylated HBP showed exclusive binding to ∼120 kDa protein. Lectin-binding analysis of hexamerins revealed the presence of 𝑁-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc) and 𝑁-acetylglucosamine (GluNAc), whereas HBP showed the presence of GalNac alone. Mild chemical deglycosylation studies and binding interaction in the presence of sugars revealed that glycan moieties are possibly not involved in the interaction between HBP and hexamerins. Taken together, these results suggest that HBP may be a GPI-anchored protein, and interaction and activation of HBP is through lipid-linked non-receptor src tyrosine kinases. However, additional studies are needed to prove that HBP is a GPI-anchored protein.

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