Highlights • ESCRT proteins, lipids and tetraspanins can independently generate intraluminal vesicles. • Different RAB proteins can target multivesicular compartments to the plasma membrane. • Vesicles with different densities, and probably different origins, are co-secreted.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are no longer viewed as just a toxic by-product of mitochondrial respiration, but are now appreciated for their role in regulating a myriad of cellular signaling pathways. H2 O2 , a type of ROS, is a signaling molecule that confers target specificity through thiol oxidation. Although redox-dependent signaling has been implicated in numerous cellular processes, the mechanism by which the ROS signal is transmitted to its target protein in the face of highly reactive and abundant antioxidants is not fully understood. In this review of redox-signaling biology, we discuss the possible mechanisms for H2 O2 -dependent signal transduction.
Cells migrate in multiple different ways depending on their environment, which includes the extracellular matrix composition, interactions with other cells, and chemical stimuli. For all types of cell migration, Rho GTPases play a central role, although the relative contribution of each Rho GTPase depends on the environment and cell type. Here, I review recent advances in our understanding of how Rho GTPases contribute to different types of migration, comparing lamellipodium-driven versus bleb-driven migration modes. I also describe how cells migrate across the endothelium. In addition to Rho, Rac and Cdc42, which are well known to regulate migration, I discuss the roles of other less-well characterized members of the Rho family.
Highlights • The first step in metastasis is invasion of tumor cells into the stroma. • Stromal collagen is dramatically remodeled during tumor progression. • Tumor cells can invade the stroma as single cells or collectively. • The microenvironment influences the mode and dynamics of cancer cell migration.
The AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a sensor of energy status that, when activated by metabolic stress, maintains cellular energy homeostasis by switching on catabolic pathways and switching off ATP-consuming processes. Recent results suggest that activation of AMPK by the upstream kinase LKB1 in response to nutrient lack occurs at the surface of the lysosome. AMPK is also crucial in regulation of whole body energy balance, particularly by mediating effects of hormones acting on the hypothalamus. Recent crystal structures of complete AMPK heterotrimers have illuminated its complex mechanisms of activation, involving both allosteric activation and increased net phosphorylation mediated by effects on phosphorylation and dephosphorylation. Finally, AMPK is negatively regulated by phosphorylation of the ‘ST loop’ within the catalytic subunit.
Autophagy, a cellular catabolic pathway, is evolutionarily conserved from yeast to mammals. Central to this process is the formation of autophagosomes, double-membrane vesicles responsible for delivering long-lived proteins and excess or damaged organelle into the lysosome for degradation and reuse of the resulting macromolecules. In addition to the hallmark discovery of core molecular machinery components involved in autophagosome formation, complex signaling cascades controlling autophagy have also begun to emerge, with mTOR as a central but far from exclusive player. Malfunction of autophagy has been linked to a wide range of human pathologies, including cancer, neurodegeneration, and pathogen infection. Here we highlight the recent advances in identifying and understanding the core molecular machinery and signaling pathways that are involved in mammalian autophagy.
The release of extracellular vesicles (EVs) is a highly conserved process exploited by diverse organisms as a mode of intercellular communication. Vesicles of sizes ranging from 30 to 1000 nm, or even larger, are generated by blebbing of the plasma membrane (microvesicles) or formed in multivesicular endosomes (MVEs) to be secreted by exocytosis as exosomes. Exosomes, microvesicles and other EVs contain membrane and cytosolic components that include proteins, lipids and RNAs, a composition that differs related to their site of biogenesis. Several mechanisms are involved in vesicle formation at the plasma membrane or in endosomes, which is reflected in their heterogeneity, size and composition. EVs have significant promise for therapeutics and diagnostics and for understanding physiological and pathological processes all of which have boosted research to find modulators of their composition, secretion and targeting.
The functional versatility of Wnt/β-catenin signaling can be seen by its ability to act in stem cells of the embryo and of the adult as well as in cancer stem cells. During embryogenesis, stem cells demonstrate a requirement for β-catenin in mediating the response to Wnt signaling for their maintenance and transition from a pluripotent state. In adult stem cells, Wnt signaling functions at various hierarchical levels to contribute to specification of different tissues. This has raised the possibility that the tightly regulated self-renewal mediated by Wnt signaling in stem and progenitor cells is subverted in cancer cells to allow malignant progression. Intensive work is currently being performed to resolve how intrinsic and extrinsic factors that regulate Wnt/β-catenin signaling coordinate the stem and cancer stem cell states.
Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) is the hallmark intermediate filament (IF; also known as nanofilament) protein in astrocytes, a main type of glial cells in the central nervous system (CNS). Astrocytes have a range of control and homeostatic functions in health and disease. Astrocytes assume a reactive phenotype in acute CNS trauma, ischemia, and in neurodegenerative diseases. This coincides with an upregulation and rearrangement of the IFs, which form a highly complex system composed of GFAP (10 isoforms), vimentin, synemin, and nestin. We begin to unravel the function of the IF system of astrocytes and in this review we discuss its role as an important crisis-command center coordinating cell responses in situations connected to cellular stress, which is a central component of many neurological diseases.
An epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a process of cell remodeling critical during embryonic development and organogenesis. During an EMT, epithelial cells lose their polarized organization and acquire migratory and invasive capabilities. While a plethora of experimental results have indicated that manipulating an EMT also affects cancer metastasis, its reverse process, a mesenchymal to epithelial transition (MET), seems to support metastatic outgrowth in distant organs. Moreover, recent reports investigating cancer cells circulating in the blood stream or employing genetic lineage-tracing have questioned a critical role of an EMT in metastasis formation. Hence, we need to better understand the molecular networks underlying the cell plasticity conferred by an EMT or a MET and its functional contribution to malignant tumor progression.
Cells release different types of vesicular carriers of membrane and cytosolic components into the extracellular space. These vesicles are generated within the endosomal system or at the plasma membrane. Among the various kinds of secreted membrane vesicles, exosomes are vesicles with a diameter of 40–100 nm that are secreted upon fusion of multivesicular endosomes with the cell surface. Exosomes transfer not only membrane components but also nucleic acid between different cells, emphasizing their role in intercellular communication. This ability is likely to underlie the different physiological and pathological events, in which exosomes from different cell origins have been implicated. Only recently light have been shed on the subcellular compartments and mechanisms involved in their biogenesis and secretion opening new avenues to understand their functions.
Transdifferentiation of epithelial cells into cells with mesenchymal properties and appearance, that is, epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT), is essential during development, and occurs in pathological contexts, such as in fibrosis and cancer progression. Although EMT can be induced by many extracellular ligands, TGF-β and TGF-β-related proteins have emerged as major inducers of this transdifferentiation process in development and cancer. Additionally, it is increasingly apparent that signaling pathways cooperate in the execution of EMT. This update summarizes the current knowledge of the coordination of TGF-β-induced Smad and non-Smad signaling pathways in EMT, and the remarkable ability of Smads to cooperate with other transcription-directed signaling pathways in the control of gene reprogramming during EMT.
The Atg1/ULK complex plays an essential role in the initiation of autophagy: receiving signals of cellular nutrient status, recruiting downstream Atg proteins to the autophagosome formation site, and governing autophagosome formation. Recent studies of mammalian Atg1 homologs (ULK1 and ULK2) have identified several novel interacting proteins, FIP200, mAtg13, and Atg101. FIP200 and Atg101 are not conserved in Saccharomyces cerevisiae , despite the high conservation rates of other downstream Atg proteins between the yeast and mammals. Furthermore, through studies of the Atg1/ULK1 complex, the molecular mechanism by which (m)TORC1 regulates autophagy is now being clarified in detail.
Autophagy, once viewed exclusively as a cytoplasmic auto-digestive process, has its less intuitive but biologically distinct non-degradative roles. One manifestation of these functions of the autophagic machinery is the process termed secretory autophagy. Secretory autophagy facilitates unconventional secretion of the cytosolic cargo such as leaderless cytosolic proteins, which unlike proteins endowed with the leader (N-terminal signal) peptides cannot enter the conventional secretory pathway normally operating via the endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi apparatus. Secretory autophagy may also export more complex cytoplasmic cargo and help excrete particulate substrates. Autophagic machinery and autophagy as a process also affect conventional secretory pathways, including the constitutive and regulated secretion, as well as promote alternative routes for trafficking of integral membrane proteins to the plasma membrane. Thus, autophagy and autophagic factors are intimately intertwined at many levels with secretion and polarized sorting in eukaryotic cells.
The target of rapamycin (TOR) is a highly conserved serine/threonine kinase and a central controller of cell growth, metabolism and aging. Mammalian TOR (mTOR) is activated in response to nutrients, growth factors and cellular energy. Dysregulated mTOR signaling has been implicated in major disease. Here we review recent findings on the role of mTOR in cancer, metabolic disorders, neurological diseases, and inflammation.
Mammalian TOR (mTOR) signaling controls growth, metabolism and energy homeostasis in a cell autonomous manner. Recent findings indicate that mTOR signaling in one tissue can also affect other organs thereby affecting whole body metabolism and energy homeostasis in a non-cell autonomous manner. It is thus not surprising that mTOR signaling mediates aging and is often deregulated in metabolic disorders, such as obesity, diabetes and cancer. This review discusses the regulation of cellular and whole body energy metabolism by mTOR, with particular focus on the non-cell autonomous function of mTOR.
mTOR [mechanistic target of rapamycin] is a serine/threonine protein kinase that, as part of mTORC1 (mTOR complex 1), acts as an important molecular connection between nutrient signals and the metabolic processes indispensable for cell growth. While there has been pronounced interest in the upstream mechanisms regulating mTORC1, the full range of downstream molecular targets through which mTORC1 signaling stimulates cell growth is only recently emerging. It is now evident that mTORC1 promotes cell growth primarily through the activation of key anabolic processes. Through a diverse set of downstream targets, mTORC1 promotes the biosynthesis of macromolecules, including proteins, lipids, and nucleotides to build the biomass underlying cell, tissue, and organismal growth. Here, we focus on the metabolic functions of mTORC1 as they relate to the control of cell growth. As dysregulated mTORC1 underlies a variety of human diseases, including cancer, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and neurological disorders, understanding the metabolic program downstream of mTORC1 provides insights into its role in these pathological states.
The classic paradigm of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) activation was based on the understanding that agonist binding to a receptor induces or stabilizes a conformational change to an ‘active’ conformation. In the past decade, however, it has been appreciated that ligands can induce distinct ‘active’ receptor conformations with unique downstream functional signaling profiles. Building on the initial recognition of the existence of such ‘biased ligands’, recent years have witnessed significant developments in several areas of GPCR biology. These include increased understanding of structural and biophysical mechanisms underlying biased agonism, improvements in characterization and quantification of ligand efficacy, as well as clinical development of these novel ligands. Here we review recent major developments in these areas over the past several years.
Lipid droplets (LDs) are found in most cells, where they play central roles in energy and membrane lipid metabolism. The de novo biogenesis of LDs is a fascinating, yet poorly understood process involving the formation of a monolayer bound organelle from a bilayer membrane. Additionally, large LDs can form either by growth of existing LDs or by the combination of smaller LDs through several distinct mechanisms. Here, we review recent insights into the molecular process governing LD biogenesis and highlight areas of incomplete knowledge.
The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a key regulator of cell and tissue function. Traditionally, the ECM has been thought of primarily as a physical scaffold that binds cells and tissues together. However, the ECM also elicits biochemical and biophysical signaling. Controlled proteolysis and remodeling of the ECM network regulate tissue tension, generate pathways for migration, and release ECM protein fragments to direct normal developmental processes such as branching morphogenesis. Collagens are major components of the ECM of which basement membrane type IV and interstitial matrix type I are the most prevalent. Here we discuss how abnormal expression, proteolysis and structure of these collagens influence cellular functions to elicit multiple effects on tumors, including proliferation, initiation, invasion, metastasis, and therapy response.