Beiging of white adipose tissue (WAT) is a particularly appealing target for therapeutics in the treatment of metabolic diseases through norepinephrine (NE)-mediated signaling pathways. Although previous studies report NE clearance mechanisms via SLC6A2 on sympathetic neurons or proinflammatory macrophages in adipose tissues (ATs), the low catecholamine clearance capacity of SLC6A2 may limit the cleaning efficiency. Here, we report that mouse organic cation transporter 3 (Oct3; Slc22a3) is highly expressed in WAT and displays the greatest uptake rate of NE as a selective non-neural route of NE clearance in white adipocytes, which differs from other known routes such as adjacent neurons or macrophages. We further show that adipocytes express high levels of NE degradation enzymes Maoa, Maob, and Comt, providing the molecular basis on NE clearance by adipocytes together with its reuptake transporter Oct3. Under NE administration, ablation of Oct3 induces higher body temperature, thermogenesis, and lipolysis compared with littermate controls. After prolonged cold challenge, inguinal WAT (ingWAT) in adipose-specific Oct3-deficient mice shows much stronger browning characteristics and significantly elevated expression of thermogenic and mitochondrial biogenesis genes than in littermate controls, and this response involves enhanced beta-adrenergic receptor (beta-AR)/protein kinase A (PKA)/cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-responsive element binding protein (Creb) pathway activation. Glycolytic genes are reprogrammed to significantly higher levels to compensate for the loss of ATP production in adipose-specific Oct3 knockout (KO) mice, indicating the fundamental role of glucose metabolism during beiging. Inhibition of beta-AR largely abolishes the higher lipolytic and thermogenic activities in Oct3-deficient ingWAT, indicating the NE overload in the vicinity of adipocytes in Oct3 KO adipocytes. Of note, reduced functional alleles in human OCT3 are also identified to be associated with increased basal metabolic rate (BMR). Collectively, our results demonstrate that Oct3 governs beta-AR activity as a NE recycling transporter in white adipocytes, offering potential therapeutic applications for metabolic disorders.
Feeding preference is critical for insect adaptation and survival. However, little is known regarding the determination of insect feeding preference, and the genetic basis is poorly understood. As a model lepidopteran insect with economic importance, the domesticated silkworm, Bombyx mori, is a well-known monophagous insect that predominantly feeds on fresh mulberry leaves. This species-specific feeding preference provides an excellent model for investigation of host-plant selection of insects, although the molecular mechanism underlying this phenomenon remains unknown. Here, we describe the gene GR66, which encodes a putative bitter gustatory receptor (GR) that is responsible for the mulberry-specific feeding preference of B. mori. With the aid of a transposon-based, clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein-9 nuclease (Cas9) system, the GR66 locus was genetically mutated, and homozygous mutant silkworm strains with truncated gustatory receptor 66 (GR66) proteins were established. GR66 mutant larvae acquired new feeding activity, exhibiting the ability to feed on a number of plant species in addition to mulberry leaves, including fresh fruits and grain seeds that are not normally consumed by wild-type (WT) silkworms. Furthermore, a feeding choice assay revealed that the mutant larvae lost their specificity for mulberry. Overall, our findings provide the first genetic and phenotypic evidences that a single bitter GR is a major factor affecting the insect feeding preference.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) play an important role in physiology and disease and represent the most productive drug targets. Orphan GPCRs, with their endogenous ligands unknown, were considered a source of drug targets and consequently attract great interest to identify their endogenous cognate ligands for deorphanization. However, a contrary view to the ubiquitous existence of endogenous ligands for every GPCR is that there might be a significant overlooked fraction of orphan GPCRs that function constitutively in a ligand-independent manner only. Here, we investigated the evolution of the bombesin receptor-ligand family in vertebrates in which one memberbombesin receptor subtype-3 (BRS3)is a potential orphan GPCR. With analysis of 17 vertebrate BRS3 structures and 10 vertebrate BRS3 functional data, our results demonstrated that nonplacental vertebrate BRS3 still connects to the original ligandsneuromedin B (NMB) and gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP)because of adaptive evolution, with significantly changed protein structure, especially in three altered key residues (Q127R, P205S, and R294H) originally involved in ligand binding/activation, whereas the placental mammalian BRS3 lost the binding affinity to NMB/GRP and constitutively activates Gs/Gq/G12 signaling in a ligand-independent manner. Moreover, the N terminus of placental mammalian BRS3 underwent positive selection, exhibiting significant structural differences compared to nonplacental vertebrate BRS3, and this domain plays an important role in constitutive activity of placental mammalian BRS3. In conclusion, constitutively active BRS3 is a genuinely orphan GPCR in placental mammals, including human. To our knowledge, this study identified the first example that might represent a new group of genuinely orphan GPCRs that will never be deorphanized by the discovery of a natural ligand and provided new perspectives in addition to the current ligand-driven GPCR deorphanization. Author summary The current model on G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) is that they have at least one endogenous ligand for the activation of the heterotrimeric G proteins that controls lots of physiological functions. Currently, 140 out of approximately 800 GPCRs are referred to as orphan because of a lack of knowledge about their endogenous ligands, and they attract great interest in major medical institutes and pharmaceutical companies. Can a ligand-receptor model apply to all the GPCRs? Our study shows that it probably cannot. By studying the evolution of a classic orphan GPCR-bombesin receptor subtype-3 (BRS3), we show that placental mammalian BRS3 is constitutively active, in contrast to nonplacental vertebrate BRS3, which actually connects to its original ligandsneuromedin B (NMB) and gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP). Protein structure analysis and experiment data also suggest that placental mammalian BRS3, including human BRS3, lost connection with its original ligands during placental mammalian evolution. Therefore, we propose a new point of view that a considerable number of orphan GPCRs do not have endogenous ligands and might represent a new group of GPCRs that are genuinely orphan GPCRs and will never be deorphanized by discovery of a natural ligand. This new finding will provide new perspectives in current ligand-driven GPCR deorphanization.
The brain uses its intrinsic dynamics to actively predict observed sensory inputs, especially under perceptual ambiguity. However, it remains unclear how this inference process is neurally implemented in biasing perception of ambiguous inputs towards the predicted percepts. The process of perceptual inference can be well illustrated by the phenomenon of bistable apparent motion in the Ternus display, in which subjective perception spontaneously alternates between element motion (EM) and group motion (GM) percepts depending on whether two consecutively presented frames are grouped over time or not. The frequency of alpha-band oscillations has long been hypothesized to gate the temporal window of perceptual grouping over time. Under this hypothesis, variation in the intrinsic alpha frequency should predict perceptual outcome of the bistable Ternus display. Moreover, we hypothesize that the perception system employs this prior knowledge on intrinsic alpha frequency to resolve perceptual ambiguity, by shifting perceptual inference towards the predicted percepts. Using electroencephalography and intracranial recordings, we showed that both between and within subjects, lower prestimulus alpha frequencies (PAFs) predicted the EM percepts since the two frames fell in the same alpha cycle and got temporally integrated, while higher PAFs predicted the GM percepts since the two frames fell in different alpha cycles. Multivariate decoding analysis between the EM percepts with lower PAFs and the GM percepts with higher PAFs further revealed a representation of the subsequently reported bistable percept in the neural signals shortly before the actual appearance of the second frame. Therefore, perceptual inference, based on variation in intrinsic PAFs, biases poststimulus neural representations by inducing preactivation of the predicted percepts. In addition, enhanced prestimulus blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signals and network dynamics in the frontoparietal network, together with reduced prestimulus alpha power, upon perceiving the EM percepts suggest that temporal grouping is an attention-demanding process. Author summary Our subjective perception of the external world is constantly shaped not only by sensory inputs but also by the real-time internal status of our own brain. Upon facing an ambiguous sensory input, our brain employs its intrinsic dynamics to bias perception towards the predicted percept, resolving in this manner perceptual ambiguity. However, it remains poorly understood how this process is implemented in the brain. Using electroencephalogram and functional MRI in healthy participants and intracranial recordings in epileptic patients, we show that neural rhythms in the alpha frequency (8-13 Hz)one of the predominant neural oscillations in the visual systemgate the time window for perceptual grouping: two consecutively presented frames in a constant ambiguous dynamic visual scene will be temporally integrated if they fall in the same alpha cycle but spatially integrated if they fall in different alpha cycles. Moreover, our brain employs the real-time speed of its intrinsic alpha oscillations to actively predict the most possibly observed percepts by inducing preactivation of neural representations that resemble the one evoked by the actual stimuli, even before it is presented.
Functional MRI (fMRI) studies have traditionally relied on intersubject normalization based on global brain morphology, which cannot establish proper functional correspondence between subjects due to substantial intersubject variability in functional organization. Here, we reliably identified a set of discrete, homologous functional regions in individuals to improve intersubject alignment of fMRI data. These functional regions demonstrated marked intersubject variability in size, position, and connectivity. We found that previously reported intersubject variability in functional connectivity maps could be partially explained by variability in size and position of the functional regions. Importantly, individual differences in network topography are associated with individual differences in task-evoked activations, suggesting that these individually specified regions may serve as the localizer to improve the alignment of task-fMRI data. We demonstrated that aligning task-fMRI data using the regions derived from resting state fMRI may lead to increased statistical power of task-fMRI analyses. In addition, resting state functional connectivity among these homologous regions is able to capture the idiosyncrasies of subjects and better predict fluid intelligence (gF) than connectivity measures derived from group-level brain atlases. Critically, we showed that not only the connectivity but also the size and position of functional regions are related to human behavior. Collectively, these findings suggest that identifying homologous functional regions across individuals can benefit a wide range of studies in the investigation of connectivity, task activation, and brain-behavior associations. Author summary No two individuals are alike. The size, shape, position, and connectivity patterns of brain functional regions can vary drastically between individuals. While interindividual differences in functional organization are well recognized, to date, standard procedures for functional neuroimaging research still rely on aligning different subjects' data to a nominal average brain based on global brain morphology. We developed an approach to reliably identify homologous functional regions in each individual and demonstrated that aligning data based on these homologous functional regions can significantly improve the study of resting state functional connectivity, task-fMRI activations, and brain-behavior associations. Moreover, we showed that individual differences in size, position, and connectivity of brain functional regions are dissociable, and each can provide nonredundant information in explaining human behavior.
While sexual reproduction is pervasive in eukaryotic cells, the strategies employed by fungal species to achieve and complete sexual cycles is highly diverse and complex. Many fungi, including Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe, are homothallic (able to mate with their own mitotic descendants) because of homothallic switching (HO) endonuclease-mediated mating-type switching. Under laboratory conditions, the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans can undergo both heterothallic and homothallic (opposite- and same-sex) mating. However, both mating modes require the presence of cells with two opposite mating types (MTLa/a and /) in close proximity. Given the predominant clonal feature of this yeast in the human host, both opposite- and same-sex mating would be rare in nature. In this study, we report that glucose starvation and oxidative stress, common environmental stresses encountered by the pathogen, induce the development of mating projections and efficiently permit same-sex mating in C. albicans with an a mating type (MTLa/a). This induction bypasses the requirement for the presence of cells with an opposite mating type and allows efficient sexual mating between cells derived from a single progenitor. Glucose starvation causes an increase in intracellular oxidative species, overwhelming the Heat Shock transcription Factor 1 (Hsf1)- and Heat shock protein (Hsp)90-mediated stress-response pathway. We further demonstrate that Candida TransActivating protein 4 (Cta4) and Cell Wall Transcription factor 1 (Cwt1), downstream effectors of the Hsf1-Hsp90 pathway, regulate same-sex mating in C. albicans through the transcriptional control of the master regulator of a-type mating, MTLa2, and the pheromone precursor-encoding gene Mating factor precursor (MF). Our results suggest that mating could occur much more frequently in nature than was originally appreciated and that same-sex mating could be an important mode of sexual reproduction in C. albicans. Author summary Candida albicans is notorious as a human fungal pathogen that causes millions of incidents of thrush and systemic infection every year. Sexual reproduction plays a pivotal role in the biology and survival of pathogenic fungal pathogens. However, C. albicans is predominantly clonal, suggesting that mating and recombination between isolates would be rare in nature. Here, we report that environmental stresses induce the development of mating projections and efficient same-sex mating in C. albicans. This induction represents a novel mode of homothallism that is independent of the HO endonuclease-mediated mating-type switching observed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe. This represents a seminal example of how an environmentally relevant stress induces homothallic mating in fungi.
Given the disposability of somatic tissue, selection can favor a higher mutation rate in the early segregating soma than in germline, as seen in some animals. Although in plants intraorganismic mutation rate heterogeneity is poorly resolved, the same selectionist logic can predict a lower rate in shoot than in root and in longer-lived terminal tissues (e.g., leaves) than in ontogenetically similar short-lived ones (e.g., petals), and that mutation rate heterogeneity should be deterministic with no significant differences between biological replicates. To address these expectations, we sequenced 754 genomes from various tissues of eight plant species. Consistent with a selectionist model, the rate of mutation accumulation per unit time in shoot apical meristem is lower than that in root apical tissues in perennials, in which a high proportion of mutations in shoots are themselves transmissible, but not in annuals, in which somatic mutations tend not to be transmissible. Similarly, the number of mutations accumulated in leaves is commonly lower than that within a petal of the same plant, and there is no more heterogeneity in accumulation rates between replicate branches than expected by chance. High mutation accumulation in runners of strawberry is, we argue, the exception that proves the rule, as mutation transmission patterns indicate that runner has a restricted germline. However, we also find that in vitro callus tissue has a higher mutation rate (per unit time) than the wild-grown comparator, suggesting nonadaptive mutational "fragility". As mutational fragility does not obviously explain why the shoot-root difference varies with plant longevity, we conclude that some mutation rate variation between tissues is consistent with selectionist theory but that a mechanistic null of mutational fragility should be considered.
ClC-1 protein channels facilitate rapid passage of chloride ions across cellular membranes, thereby orchestrating skeletal muscle excitability. Malfunction of ClC-1 is associated with myotonia congenita, a disease impairing muscle relaxation. Here, we present the cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structure of human ClC-1, uncovering an architecture reminiscent of that of bovine ClC-K and CLC transporters. The chloride conducting pathway exhibits distinct features, including a central glutamate residue ("fast gate") known to confer voltage-dependence (a mechanistic feature not present in ClC-K), linked to a somewhat rearranged central tyrosine and a narrower aperture of the pore toward the extracellular vestibule. These characteristics agree with the lower chloride flux of ClC-1 compared with ClC-K and enable us to propose a model for chloride passage in voltage-dependent CLC channels. Comparison of structures derived from protein studied in different experimental conditions supports the notion that pH and adenine nucleotides regulate ClC-1 through interactions between the so-called cystathionine-beta-synthase (CBS) domains and the intracellular vestibule ("slow gating"). The structure also provides a framework for analysis of mutations causing myotonia congenita and reveals a striking correlation between mutated residues and the phenotypic effect on voltage gating, opening avenues for rational design of therapies against ClC-1-related diseases.
During the second World Summit of Human Gene Editing, Jiankui He presented the gene-editing project that led to the birth of two baby girls with man-made C-C chemokine receptor type 5 (CCR5) mutations. This extremely irresponsible behavior violated the ethical consensus of scientists all over the world. His presentation revealed a troubling lack not only of basic medical ethics but also of the requisite understanding of genetics and gene editing. Here, we review the rationale and design of his experiment along with the presented data, and provide our scientific criticism of this misconduct.
The Orai channel is characterized by voltage independence, low conductance, and high Ca2+ selectivity and plays an important role in Ca2+ influx through the plasma membrane (PM). How the channel is activated and promotes Ca2+ permeation is not well understood. Here, we report the crystal structure and cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) reconstruction of a Drosophila melanogaster Orai (dOrai) mutant (P288L) channel that is constitutively active according to electrophysiology. The open state of the Orai channel showed a hexameric assembly in which 6 transmembrane 1 (TM1) helices in the center form the ion-conducting pore, and 6 TM4 helices in the periphery form extended long helices. Orai channel activation requires conformational transduction from TM4 to TM1 and eventually causes the basic section of TM1 to twist outward. The wider pore on the cytosolic side aggregates anions to increase the potential gradient across the membrane and thus facilitate Ca2+ permeation. The open-state structure of the Orai channel offers insights into channel assembly, channel activation, and Ca2+ permeation.
During spermatogenesis, interconnected haploid spermatids segregate undesired cellular contents into residual bodies (RBs) before detaching from RBs. It is unclear how this differentiation process is controlled to produce individual spermatids or motile spermatozoa. Here, we developed a live imaging system to visualize and investigate this process in C. elegans. We found that non-muscle myosin 2 (NMY-2)/myosin II drives incomplete cytokinesis to generate connected haploid spermatids, which are then polarized to segregate undesired cellular contents into RBs under the control of myosin II and myosin VI. NMY-2/myosin II extends from the pseudo-cleavage furrow formed between two haploid spermatids to the spermatid poles, thus promoting RB expansion. In the meantime, defective spermatogenesis 15 (SPE-15)/myosin VI migrates from spermatids towards the expanding RB to promote spermatid budding. Loss of myosin II or myosin VI causes distinct cytoplasm segregation defects, while loss of both myosins completely blocks RB formation. We found that the final separation of spermatids from RBs is achieved through myosin VI-mediated cytokinesis, while myosin II is dispensable at this step. SPE-15/myosin VI and F-actin form a detergent-resistant actomyosin VI ring that undergoes continuous contraction to promote membrane constriction between spermatid and RB. We further identified that RGS-GAIP-interacting protein C terminus (GIPC)-1 and GIPC-2 cooperate with myosin VI to regulate contractile ring formation and spermatid release. Our study reveals distinct roles of myosin II and myosin VI in spermatid differentiation and uncovers a novel myosin VI-mediated cytokinesis process that controls spermatid release.
Cellular senescence is a driver of various aging-associated disorders, including osteoarthritis. Here, we identified a critical role for Yes-associated protein (YAP), a major effector of Hippo signaling, in maintaining a younger state of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) and ameliorating osteoarthritis in mice. Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/CRISPR associated protein 9 nuclease (Cas9)-mediated knockout (KO) of YAP in hMSCs resulted in premature cellular senescence. Mechanistically, YAP cooperated with TEA domain transcriptional factor (TEAD) to activate the expression of forkhead box D1 (FOXD1), a geroprotective protein. YAP deficiency led to the down-regulation of FOXD1. In turn, overexpression of YAP or FOXD1 rejuvenated aged hMSCs. Moreover, intra-articular administration of lentiviral vector encoding YAP or FOXD1 attenuated the development of osteoarthritis in mice. Collectively, our findings reveal YAP-FOXD1, a novel aging-associated regulatory axis, as a potential target for gene therapy to alleviate osteoarthritis.
Hepatitis A virus (HAV), an enigmatic and ancient pathogen, is a major causative agent of acute viral hepatitis worldwide. Although there are effective vaccines, antivirals against HAV infection are still required, especially during fulminant hepatitis outbreaks. A more in-depth understanding of the antigenic characteristics of HAV and the mechanisms of neutralization could aid in the development of rationally designed antiviral drugs targeting HAV. In this paper, 4 new antibodies-F4, F6, F7, and F9-are reported that potently neutralize HAV at 50% neutralizing concentration values (neut(50)) ranging from 0.1 nM to 0.85 nM. High-resolution cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structures of HAV bound to F4, F6, F7, and F9, together with results of our previous studies on R10 fragment of antigen binding (Fab)-HAV complex, shed light on the locations and nature of the epitopes recognized by the 5 neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (NAbs). All the epitopes locate within the same patch and are highly conserved. The key structure-activity correlates based on the antigenic sites have been established. Based on the structural data of the single conserved antigenic site and key structure-activity correlates, one promising drug candidate named golvatinib was identified by in silico docking studies. Cell-based antiviral assays confirmed that golvatinib is capable of blocking HAV infection effectively with a 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) of approximately 1 mu M. These results suggest that the single conserved antigenic site from complete HAV capsid is a good antiviral target and that golvatinib could function as a lead compound for anti-HAV drug development.
Chz1 is a specific chaperone for the histone variant H2A.Z in budding yeast. The ternary complex formed by Chz1 and H2A.Z-H2B dimer is the major in vivo substrate of Swi2/snif2-related 1 (SWR1), the ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling enzyme that deposits H2A.Z into chromatin. However, the structural basis for the binding preference of Chz1 for H2A.Z over H2A and the mechanism by which Chz1 modulates the histone replacement remain elusive. Here, we show that Chz1 utilizes 2 distinct structural domains to engage the H2A.Z-H2B dimer for optimal and specific recognition of H2A.Z. The middle region of Chz1 (Chz1-M) directly interacts with 2 highly conserved H2A.Z-specific residues (Gly98 and Ala57) and dictates a modest preference for H2A.Z-H2B. In addition, structural and biochemical analysis show that the C-terminal region of Chz1 (Chz1-C) harbors a conserved DEF/Y motif, which reflects the consecutive D/E residues followed by a single aromatic residue, to engage an arginine finger and a hydrophobic pocket in H2A.Z-H2B, enhancing the binding preference for H2A.Z-H2B. Furthermore, Chz1 facilitates SWR1-mediated H2A.Z deposition by alleviating inhibition caused by aggregation of excess free histones, providing insights into how Chz1 controls the bioavailability of H2A.Z to assist SWR1 in promoter-specific installation of a histone mark. Our study elucidates a novel H2A.Z-recognition mechanism and uncovers a molecular rationale for binding of free histone by specialized histone chaperones in vivo.
Regulatory T (Treg) cells play central roles in maintaining immune homeostasis and self-tolerance. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying Treg cell homeostasis and suppressive function are still not fully understood. Here, we report that the deletion of another P subfamily members of the forkhead box (Foxp) subfamily member Foxp1 in Treg cells led to increased numbers of activated Treg (aTreg) cells at the expense of quiescent Treg cells, and also resulted in impaired Treg suppressive function. Mice with Foxp1-deficient Treg cells developed spontaneous inflammatory disease with age; they also had more severe inflammatory disease in colitis and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) models. Mechanistically, we found that Foxp1 bound to the conserved noncoding sequence 2 (CNS2) element of the Foxp3 locus and helped maintain Treg suppressive function by stabilizing the Foxp3 expression. Furthermore, we found that Foxp1 and Foxp3 coordinated the regulation of cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (CTLA-4) expression levels. Taken together, our study demonstrates that Foxp1 plays critical roles in both maintaining Treg cell quiescence during homeostasis and regulating Treg suppressive function.