Representative publications

Regulation of MT1-MMP Activity through Its Association with ERMs
Henar Suárez, Soraya López-Martín, Víctor Toribio, Moreno Zamai, M. Victoria Hernández-Riquer, Laura Genís, Alicia G. Arroyo, María Yáñez-Mó

Membrane-bound proteases play a key role in biology by degrading matrix proteins or shedding adhesion receptors. MT1-MMP metalloproteinase is critical during cancer invasion, angiogenesis, and development. MT1-MMP activity is strictly regulated by internalization, recycling, autoprocessing but also through its incorporation into tetraspanin-enriched microdomains (TEMs), into invadopodia, or by its secretion on extracellular vesicles (EVs). We identified a juxtamembrane positively charged cluster responsible for the interaction of MT1-MMP with ERM (ezrin/radixin/moesin) cytoskeletal connectors in breast carcinoma cells. Linkage to ERMs regulates MT1-MMP subcellular distribution and internalization, but not its incorporation into extracellular vesicles. MT1-MMP association to ERMs and insertion into TEMs are independent phenomena, so that mutation of the ERM-binding motif in the cytoplasmic region of MT1-MMP does not preclude its association with the tetraspanin CD151, but impairs the accumulation and coalescence of CD151/MT1-MMP complexes at actin-rich structures. Conversely, gene deletion of CD151 does not impact on MT1-MMP colocalization with ERM molecules. At the plasma membrane MT1-MMP autoprocessing is severely dependent on ERM association and seems to be the dominant regulator of the enzyme collagenolytic activity. This newly characterized MT1-MMP/ERM association can thus be of relevance for tumor cell invasion.

Addition of a Viral Immunomodulatory Domain to Etanercept Generates a Bifunctional Chemokine and TNF Inhibitor
Alí Alejo, Carolina Sánchez, Sylvie Amu, Padraic G. Fallon, Antonio Alcamí

The inhibition of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) through the use of either antibodies or soluble receptors is a highly effective strategy for the clinical control of chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Different viruses have similarly exploited this concept by expressing a set of specifically tailored secreted TNF decoy receptors to block host inflammatory responses. Poxviruses have been shown to encode at least two distinct molecules, termed Cytokine response modifier D (CrmD) and CrmB, in which a TNF inhibitor is combined with a chemokine inhibitor on the same molecule. The ectromelia virus CrmD protein was found to be a critical determinant of virulence in vivo, being able to control local inflammation to allow further viral spread and the establishment of a lethal infection. Strikingly, both the TNF and the chemokine inhibitory domains are required for the full activity of CrmD, suggesting a model in which inhibition of TNF is supported by the concomitant blockade of a reduced set of chemokines. Inspired by this model, we reasoned that a similar strategy could be applied to modify the clinically used human TNF receptor (etanercept), producing a generation of novel, more effective therapeutic agents. Here we show the analysis of a set of fusion proteins derived from etanercept by addition of a viral chemokine-binding protein. A bifunctional inhibitor capable of binding to and blocking the activity of TNF as well as a set of chemokines is generated that is active in the prevention of arthritis in a murine disease model.

Unraveling human adult hippocampal neurogenesis
Miguel Flor-García, Julia Terreros-Roncal, Elena P. Moreno-Jiménez, Jesús Ávila, Alberto Rábano, María Llorens-Martín

Adult neurogenesis occurs in a few selected regions of the mammalian brain. One such region is the hippocampus, the so-called gateway to memory, where adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN) occurs. Here, we provide a comprehensive description of the methods used in our laboratory to unambiguously detect a population of immature neurons in the human hippocampus until the 10th decade of life. The criteria used to refine and develop the current protocol include obtaining post-mortem human samples of remarkable quality and under tightly controlled conditions for immunohistochemistry (IHC) studies, optimizing tissue processing and histological procedures, establishing criteria to reliably validate antibody signal and performing unbiased stereological cell counts. Moreover, we provide a detailed description of the parameters that, in our view, should be reported in human AHN studies. The opposing results obtained by introducing slight variations in the methodological conditions should be considered by future studies that seek to increase our knowledge of this fascinating process. By applying simple and inexpensive tissue pre-treatments, this protocol, which can be completed in 7 days, might be applicable to a variety of IHC studies performed on other tissues of human (or animal) origin.

The Mgs1/WRNIP1 ATPase is required to prevent a recombination salvage pathway at damaged replication forks
Alberto Jiménez-Martín, Irene Saugar, Chinnu Rose Joseph, Alexandra Mayer, Carl P. Lehmann, Barnabas Szakal, Dana Branzei, José Antonio Tercero

DNA damage tolerance (DDT) is crucial for genome integrity maintenance. DDT is mainly carried out by template switch recombination, an error-free mode of overcoming DNA lesions, or translesion DNA synthesis, which is error-prone. Here, we investigated the role of Mgs1/WRNIP1 in modulating DDT. Using budding yeast, we found that elimination of Mgs1 in cells lacking Rad5, an essential protein for DDT, activates an alternative mode of DNA damage bypass, driven by recombination, which allows chromosome replication and cell viability under stress conditions that block DNA replication forks. This salvage pathway is RAD52 and RAD59 dependent, requires the DNA polymerase δ and PCNA modification at K164, and is enabled by Esc2 and the PCNA unloader Elg1, being inhibited when Mgs1 is present. We propose that Mgs1 is necessary to prevent a potentially toxic recombination salvage pathway at sites of perturbed replication, which, in turn, favors Rad5-dependent template switching, thus helping to preserve genome stability.

Sfrp1 deficiency makes retinal photoreceptors prone to degeneration
Elsa Cisneros, Fabiana di Marco, Javier Rueda-Carrasco, Concepción Lillo, Guadalupe Pereyra, María Jesús Martín-Bermejo, Alba Vargas, Rocío Sanchez, África Sandonís, Pilar Esteve, Paola Bovolenta

Millions of individuals worldwide suffer from impaired vision, a condition with multiple origins that often impinge upon the light sensing cells of the retina, the photoreceptors, affecting their integrity. The molecular components contributing to this integrity are however not yet fully understood. Here we have asked whether Secreted Frizzled Related Protein 1 (SFRP1) may be one of such factors. SFRP1 has a context-dependent function as modulator of Wnt signalling or of the proteolytic activity of A Disintegrin And Metalloproteases (ADAM) 10, a main regulator of neural cell-cell communication. We report that in Sfrp1−/− mice, the outer limiting membrane (OLM) is discontinuous and the photoreceptors disorganized and more prone to light-induced damage. Sfrp1 loss significantly enhances the effect of the Rpe65Leu450Leu genetic variant -present in the mouse genetic background- which confers sensitivity to light-induced stress. These alterations worsen with age, affect visual function and are associated to an increased proteolysis of Protocadherin 21 (PCDH21), localized at the photoreceptor outer segment, and N-cadherin, an OLM component. We thus propose that SFRP1 contributes to photoreceptor fitness with a mechanism that involves the maintenance of OLM integrity. These conclusions are discussed in view of the broader implication of SFRP1 in neurodegeneration and aging.

Structural basis for the dimerization of Gemin5 and its role in protein recruitment and translation control
María Moreno-Morcillo, Rosario Francisco-Velilla, Azman Embarc-Buh, Javier Fernández-Chamorro, Santiago Ramón-Maiques, Encarnacion Martinez-Salas

In all organisms, a selected type of proteins accomplishes critical roles in cellular processes that govern gene expression. The multifunctional protein Gemin5 cooperates in translation control and ribosome binding, besides acting as the RNA-binding protein of the survival of motor neuron (SMN) complex. While these functions reside on distinct domains located at each end of the protein, the structure and function of the middle region remained unknown. Here, we solved the crystal structure of an extended tetratricopeptide (TPR)-like domain in human Gemin5 that self-assembles into a previously unknown canoe-shaped dimer. We further show that the dimerization module is functional in living cells driving the interaction between the viral-induced cleavage fragment p85 and the full-length Gemin5, which anchors splicing and translation members. Disruption of the dimerization surface by a point mutation in the TPR-like domain prevents this interaction and also abrogates translation enhancement induced by p85. The characterization of this unanticipated dimerization domain provides the structural basis for a role of the middle region of Gemin5 as a central hub for protein-protein interactions.

Polarized sorting of Patched enables cytoneme‐mediated Hedgehog reception in the Drosophila wing disc
Laura González‐Méndez, Ana‐Citlali Gradilla, David Sánchez‐Hernández, Esperanza González, Adrián Aguirre‐Tamaral, Carlos Jiménez‐Jiménez, Milagros Guerra, Gustavo Aguilar, Germán Andrés, Juan M Falcón‐Pérez, Isabel Guerrero

Hedgehog (Hh) signal molecules play a fundamental role in development, adult stem cell maintenance and cancer. Hh can signal at a distance, and we have proposed that its graded distribution across Drosophila epithelia is mediated by filopodia‐like structures called cytonemes. Hh reception by Patched (Ptc) happens at discrete sites along presenting and receiving cytonemes, reminiscent of synaptic processes. Here, we show that a vesicle fusion mechanism mediated by SNARE proteins is required for Ptc placement at contact sites. Transport of Ptc to these sites requires multivesicular bodies (MVB s) formation via ESCRT machinery, in a manner different to that regulating Ptc/Hh lysosomal degradation after reception. These MVB s include extracellular vesicle (EV) markers and, accordingly, Ptc is detected in the purified exosomal fraction from cultured cells. Blockage of Ptc trafficking and fusion to basolateral membranes result in low levels of Ptc presentation for reception, causing an extended and flattened Hh gradient.

AMPK activation does not enhance autophagy in neurons in contrast to MTORC1 inhibition: different impact on β-amyloid clearance
Irene Benito-Cuesta, Lara Ordóñez-Gutiérrez, Francisco Wandosell

The physiological AKT-MTORC1 and AMPK signaling pathways are considered key nodes in the regulation of anabolism-catabolism, and particularly of macroautophagy/autophagy. Indeed, it is reported that these are altered processes in neurodegenerative proteinopathies such as Alzheimer disease (AD), mainly characterized by deposits of β-amyloid (Aβ) and hyperphosphorylated MAPT. These accumulations disrupt the optimal neuronal proteostasis, and hence, the recovery/enhancement of autophagy has been proposed as a therapeutic approach against these proteinopathies. The purpose of the present study was to characterize the modulation of autophagy by MTORC1 and AMPK signaling pathways in the highly specialized neurons, as well as their repercussions on Aβ production. Using a double transgenic mice model of AD, we demonstrated that MTORC1 inhibition, either in vivo or ex vivo (primary neuronal cultures), was able to reduce amyloid secretion through moderate autophagy induction in neurons. The pharmacological prevention of autophagy in neurons augmented the Aβ secretion and reversed the effect of rapamycin, confirming the anti-amyloidogenic effects of autophagy in neurons. Inhibition of AMPK with compound C generated the expected decrease in autophagy induction, though surprisingly did not increase the Aβ secretion. In contrast, increased activity of AMPK with metformin, AICAR, 2DG, or by gene overexpression did not enhance autophagy but had different effects on Aβ secretion: whereas metformin and 2DG diminished the secreted Aβ levels, AICAR and PRKAA1/AMPK gene overexpression increased them. We conclude that AMPK has a significantly different role in primary neurons than in other reported cells, lacking a direct effect on autophagy-dependent amyloidosis.

Broad and Dynamic Diversification of Infectious Hepatitis C Virus in a Cell Culture Environment
Isabel Gallego, María Eugenia Soria, Carlos García-Crespo, Qian Chen, Patricia Martínez-Barragán, Soumaya Khalfaoui, Brenda Martínez-González, Irene Sanchez-Martin, Inés Palacios-Blanco, Ana Isabel de Ávila, Damir García-Cehic, Juan Ignacio Esteban, Jordi Gómez, Carlos Briones, Josep Gregori, Josep Quer, Celia Perales, Esteban Domingo

Previous studies documented that long-term hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication in human hepatoma Huh-7.5 cells resulted in viral fitness gain, expansion of the mutant spectrum, and several phenotypic alterations. In the present work, we show that mutational waves (changes in frequency of individual mutations) occurred continuously and became more prominent as the virus gained fitness. They were accompanied by an increasing proportion of heterogeneous genomic sites that affected 1 position in the initial HCV population and 19 and 69 positions at passages 100 and 200, respectively. Analysis of biological clones of HCV showed that these dynamic events affected infectious genomes, since part of the fluctuating mutations became incorporated into viable genomes. While 17 mutations were scored in 3 biological clones isolated from the initial population, the number reached 72 in 3 biological clones from the population at passage 200. Biological clones differed in their responses to antiviral inhibitors, indicating a phenotypic impact of viral dynamics. Thus, HCV adaptation to a specific constant environment (cell culture without external influences) broadens the mutant repertoire and does not focus the population toward a limited number of dominant genomes. A retrospective examination of mutant spectra of foot-and-mouth disease virus passaged in cell cultures suggests a parallel behavior here described for HCV. We propose that virus diversification in a constant environment has its basis in the availability of multiple alternative mutational pathways for fitness gain. This mechanism of broad diversification should also apply to other replicative systems characterized by high mutation rates and large population sizes.

IMPORTANCE The study shows that extensive replication of an RNA virus in a constant biological environment does not limit exploration of sequence space and adaptive options. There was no convergence toward a restricted set of adapted genomes. Mutational waves and mutant spectrum broadening affected infectious genomes. Therefore, profound modifications of mutant spectrum composition and consensus sequence diversification are not exclusively dependent on environmental alterations or the intervention of population bottlenecks.

GRK2 levels in myeloid cells modulate adipose-liver crosstalk in high fat diet-induced obesity
Rocío Vila-Bedmar, Marta Cruces-Sande, Alba C. Arcones, Hanneke L. D. M. Willemen, Patricia Prieto, Isabel Moreno-Indias, Daniel Díaz-Rodríguez, Sara Francisco, Rafael I. Jaén, Carolina Gutiérrez-Repiso, Cobi J. Heijnen, Lisardo Boscá, Manuel Fresno, Annemieke Kavelaars, Federico Mayor Jr, Cristina Murga

Macrophages are key effector cells in obesity-associated inflammation. G protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 (GRK2) is highly expressed in different immune cell types. Using LysM-GRK2+/− mice, we uncover that a reduction of GRK2 levels in myeloid cells prevents the development of glucose intolerance and hyperglycemia after a high fat diet (HFD) through modulation of the macrophage pro-inflammatory profile. Low levels of myeloid GRK2 confer protection against hepatic insulin resistance, steatosis and inflammation. In adipose tissue, pro-inflammatory cytokines are reduced and insulin signaling is preserved. Macrophages from LysM-GRK2+/− mice secrete less pro-inflammatory cytokines when stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and their conditioned media has a reduced pathological influence in cultured adipocytes or naïve bone marrow-derived macrophages. Our data indicate that reducing GRK2 levels in myeloid cells, by attenuating pro-inflammatory features of macrophages, has a relevant impact in adipose-liver crosstalk, thus preventing high fat diet-induced metabolic alterations.

Structural Determinants Responsible for the Preferential Insertion of Ribonucleotides by Bacterial NHEJ PolDom
Alejandro Sánchez-Salvador, Miguel de Vega

The catalytic active site of the Polymerization Domain (PolDom) of bacterial Ligase D is designed to promote realignments of the primer and template strands and extend mispaired 3′ ends. These features, together with the preferred use of ribonucleotides (NTPs) over deoxynucleotides (dNTPs), allow PolDom to perform efficient double strand break repair by nonhomologous end joining when only a copy of the chromosome is present and the intracellular pool of dNTPs is depleted. Here, we evaluate (i) the role of conserved histidine and serine/threonine residues in NTP insertion, and (ii) the importance in the polymerization reaction of a conserved lysine residue that interacts with the templating nucleotide. To that extent, we have analyzed the biochemical properties of variants at the corresponding His651, Ser768, and Lys606 of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PolDom (Pa-PolDom). The results show that preferential insertion of NMPs is principally due to the histidine that also contributes to the plasticity of the active site to misinsert nucleotides. Additionally, Pa-PolDom Lys606 stabilizes primer dislocations. Finally, we show that the active site of PolDom allows the efficient use of 7,8-dihydro-8-oxo-riboguanosine triphosphate (8oxoGTP) as substrate, a major nucleotide lesion that results from oxidative stress, inserting with the same efficiency both the anti and syn conformations of 8oxoGMP.

IL-23 signaling regulation of pro-inflammatory T-cell migration uncovered by phosphoproteomics
Candelas Álvarez-Salamero, Raquel Castillo-González, Gloria Pastor-Fernández, Isabel R. Mariblanca, Jesús Pino, Danay Cibrian, María N. Navarro

Interleukin 23 (IL-23) triggers pathogenic features in pro-inflammatory, IL-17-secreting T cells (Th17 and Tγδ17) that play a key role in the development of inflammatory diseases. However, the IL-23 signaling cascade remains largely undefined. Here, we used quantitative phosphoproteomics to characterize IL-23 signaling in primary murine Th17 cells. We quantified 6,888 phosphorylation sites in Th17 cells and found 168 phosphorylations regulated upon IL-23 stimulation. IL-23 increased the phosphorylation of the myosin regulatory light chain (RLC), an actomyosin contractibility marker, in Th17 and Tγδ17 cells. IL-23-induced RLC phosphorylation required Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) and Rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK) catalytic activity, and further study of the IL-23/ROCK connection revealed an unexpected role of IL-23 in the migration of Tγδ17 and Th17 cells through ROCK activation. In addition, pharmacological inhibition of ROCK reduced Tγδ17 recruitment to inflamed skin upon challenge with inflammatory agent Imiquimod. This work (i) provides new insights into phosphorylation networks that control Th17 cells, (ii) widely expands the current knowledge on IL-23 signaling, and (iii) contributes to the increasing list of immune cells subsets characterized by global phosphoproteomic approaches.

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