Cellular senescence suppresses cancer by halting the growth of premalignant cells, yet the accumulation of senescent cells is thought to drive age-related pathology through a senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), the function of which is unclear. To understand the physiological role(s) of the complex senescent phenotype, we generated a mouse model in which senescent cells can be visualized and eliminated in living animals. We show that senescent fibroblasts and endothelial cells appear very early in response to a cutaneous wound, where they accelerate wound closure by inducing myofibroblast differentiation through the secretion of platelet-derived growth factor AA (PDGF-AA). In two mouse models, topical treatment of senescence-free wounds with recombinant PDGF-AA rescued the delayed wound closure and lack of myofibroblast differentiation. These findings define a beneficial role for the SASP in tissue repair and help to explain why the SASP evolved. Using a mouse model in which senescent cells can be visualized and eliminated, Demaria et al. show that senescent cells appear in response to skin injury and that these cells promote healing by secreting PDGF-AA, which promotes optimal wound closure. In mice lacking senescent cells, wound closure is slower.
The widespread availability of programmable site-specific nucleases now enables targeted gene disruption in the zebrafish. In this study, we applied site-specific nucleases to generate zebrafish lines bearing individual mutations in more than 20 genes. We found that mutations in only a small proportion of genes caused defects in embryogenesis. Moreover, mutants for ten different genes failed to recapitulate published Morpholino-induced phenotypes (morphants). The absence of phenotypes in mutant embryos was not likely due to maternal effects or failure to eliminate gene function. Consistently, a comparison of published morphant defects with the Sanger Zebrafish Mutation Project revealed that approximately 80% of morphant phenotypes were not observed in mutant embryos, similar to our mutant collection. Based on these results, we suggest that mutant phenotypes become the standard metric to define gene function in zebrafish, after which Morpholinos that recapitulate respective phenotypes could be reliably applied for ancillary analyses. Kok et al. report that their frameshift mutations seldom replicate published morphant phenotypes. Neither maternal effects nor failures to follow standard knockdown guidelines readily account for the discrepancy. While mutants may be slightly more prone to amelioration by long-term compensatory mechanisms, many morphant phenotypes are likely attributable to off-target effects.
Pericytes, the mural cells of blood microvessels, have recently come into focus as regulators of vascular morphogenesis and function during development, cardiovascular homeostasis, and disease. Pericytes are implicated in the development of diabetic retinopathy and tissue fibrosis, and they are potential stromal targets for cancer therapy. Some pericytes are probably mesenchymal stem or progenitor cells, which give rise to adipocytes, cartilage, bone, and muscle. However, there is still confusion about the identity, ontogeny, and progeny of pericytes. Here, we review the history of these investigations, indicate emerging concepts, and point out problems and promise in the field of pericyte biology.
The histone-modifying complexes PRC2 and TrxG/MLL play pivotal roles in determining the activation state of genes controlling pluripotency, lineage commitment, and cell differentiation. Long noncoding RNAs (IncRNAs) can bind to either complex, and some have been shown to act as modulators of PRC2 or TrxG/MLL activity. Here we show that the lateral mesoderm-specific IncRNA Fendrr is essential for proper heart and body wall development in the mouse. Embryos lacking Fendrr displayed upregulation of several transcription factors controlling lateral plate or cardiac mesoderm differentiation, accompanied by a drastic reduction in PRC2 occupancy along with decreased H3K27 trimethylation and/or an increase in H3K4 trimethylation at their promoters. Fendrr binds to both the PRC2 and TrxG/MLL complexes, suggesting that it acts as modulator of chromatin signatures that define gene activity. Thus, we identified an IncRNA that plays an essential role in the regulatory networks controlling the fate of lateral mesoderm derivatives.
The embryonic stem cell (ESC) transcriptional and epigenetic networks are controlled by a multilayer regulatory circuitry, including core transcription factors (TFs), posttranscriptional modifier microRNAs (miRNAs), and some other regulators. However, the role of large intergenic noncoding RNAs (lincRNAs) in this regulatory circuitry and their underlying mechanism remains undefined. Here, we demonstrate that a lincRNA, , may function as a key competing endogenous RNA to link the network of miRNAs and core TFs, e.g., Oct4, Sox2, and Nanog. We show that shares miRNA-response elements with these core TFs and that prevents these core TFs from miRNA-mediated suppression in self-renewing human ESC. We suggest that forms a feedback loop with core TFs and miRNAs to regulate ESC maintenance and differentiation. These results may provide insights into the functional interactions of the components of genetic networks during development and may lead to new therapies for many diseases. ► A lincRNA-RoR function as a key competing endogenous RNA in hESCs ► prevents core TFs from microRNA-mediated suppression ► forms a feedback loop with core TFs and microRNAs ► is a key regulator of hESC self-renewal and differentiation Stem cell self-renewal is maintained by several transcription factors whose expression is partially regulated by miR-145. Wang et al. find that the long intergenic noncoding RNA contains miR-145 binding sites and acts as a sponge to prevent miR-145-mediated downregulation of self-renewal transcription factors, such as Nanog, Oct4, and Sox2.
Differentiation of embryonic stem (ES) cells from a pluripotent to a committed state involves global changes in genome expression patterns. Gene activity is critically determined by chromatin structure and interactions of chromatin binding proteins. Here, we show that major architectural chromatin proteins are hyperdynamic and bind loosely to chromatin in ES cells. Upon differentiation, the hyperdynamic proteins become immobilized on chromatin. Hyperdynamic binding is a property of pluripotent cells, but not of undifferentiated cells that are already lineage committed. ES cells lacking the nucleosome assembly factor HirA exhibit elevated levels of unbound histones, and formation of embryoid bodies is accelerated. In contrast, ES cells, in which the dynamic exchange of H1 is restricted, display differentiation arrest. We suggest that hyperdynamic binding of structural chromatin proteins is a functionally important hallmark of pluripotent ES cells that contributes to the maintenance of plasticity in undifferentiated ES cells and to establishing higher-order chromatin structure.
Mitochondria participate in apoptosis through a range of mechanisms that vary between vertebrates and invertebrates. In vertebrates, they release intermembrane space proteins, such as cytochrome , to promote caspase activation in the cytosol. This process is the result of the loss of integrity of the outer mitochondrial membrane caused by proapoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family. This event is always accompanied by a fissioning of the organelle. Fission of mitochondria has also been reported to participate in apoptosis in and . However, in these organisms, mitochondrial membrane permeabilization does not occur and the mechanism by which mitochondrial dynamics participates in cell death remains elusive.
The histone-modifying complexes PRC2 and TrxG/MLL play pivotal roles in determining the activation state of genes controlling pluripotency, lineage commitment, and cell differentiation. Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) can bind to either complex, and some have been shown to act as modulators of PRC2 or TrxG/MLL activity. Here we show that the lateral mesoderm-specific lncRNA is essential for proper heart and body wall development in the mouse. Embryos lacking displayed upregulation of several transcription factors controlling lateral plate or cardiac mesoderm differentiation, accompanied by a drastic reduction in PRC2 occupancy along with decreased H3K27 trimethylation and/or an increase in H3K4 trimethylation at their promoters. binds to both the PRC2 and TrxG/MLL complexes, suggesting that it acts as modulator of chromatin signatures that define gene activity. Thus, we identified an lncRNA that plays an essential role in the regulatory networks controlling the fate of lateral mesoderm derivatives. ► Gene targeting reveals an essential function for the lncRNA in mouse ► is required for proper development of the heart and body wall ► is involved in the epigenetic modification of gene promoters ► binds to the PRC2 and TrxG/MLL complexes and to target promoters Grote et al. identify a tissue-specific long noncoding RNA, Fendrr, that is required for proper heart and body wall development in mouse embryos. Fendrr binds to histone-modifying complexes and to target promoters and acts as modulator of chromatin signatures that define gene activity in lateral mesoderm and its derivatives.
Fatty acids (FAs) provide cellular energy under starvation, yet how they mobilize and move into mitochondria in starved cells, driving oxidative respiration, is unclear. Here, we clarify this process by visualizing FA trafficking with a fluorescent FA probe. The labeled FA accumulated in lipid droplets (LDs) in well-fed cells but moved from LDs into mitochondria when cells were starved. Autophagy in starved cells replenished LDs with FAs, increasing LD number over time. Cytoplasmic lipases removed FAs from LDs, enabling their transfer into mitochondria. This required mitochondria to be highly fused and localized near LDs. When mitochondrial fusion was prevented in starved cells, FAs neither homogeneously distributed within mitochondria nor became efficiently metabolized. Instead, FAs reassociated with LDs and fluxed into neighboring cells. Thus, FAs engage in complex trafficking itineraries regulated by cytoplasmic lipases, autophagy, and mitochondrial fusion dynamics, ensuring maximum oxidative metabolism and avoidance of FA toxicity in starved cells. Mobilization of fatty acids (FAs) to mitochondria is crucial for cellular survival during nutrient stress. By visualizing FAs in live cells, Rambold et al. demonstrate that coordinated organelle dynamics—involving liberation of FAs from lipid droplets, autophagy, and mitochondrial fission/fusion—control FA flow to sustain mitochondrial respiration during nutrient stress.
First discovered in , the Hippo signaling pathway is a conserved regulator of organ size. Central to this pathway is a kinase cascade leading from the tumor suppressor Hippo (Mst1 and Mst2 in mammals) to the oncoprotein Yki (YAP and TAZ in mammals), a transcriptional coactivator of target genes involved in cell proliferation and survival. Here, I review recent progress in elucidating the molecular mechanism and physiological function of Hippo signaling in and mammals. These studies suggest that the core Hippo kinase cascade integrates multiple upstream inputs, enabling dynamic regulation of tissue homeostasis in animal development and physiology.
Signaling by the Wnt family of secreted glycolipoproteins via the transcriptional coactivator β-catenin controls embryonic development and adult homeostasis. Here we review recent progress in this so-called canonical Wnt signaling pathway. We discuss Wnt ligands, agonists, and antagonists, and their interactions with Wnt receptors. We also dissect critical events that regulate β-catenin stability, from Wnt receptors to the cytoplasmic β-catenin destruction complex, and nuclear machinery that mediates β-catenin-dependent transcription. Finally, we highlight some key aspects of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in human diseases including congenital malformations, cancer, and osteoporosis, and discuss potential therapeutic implications.
Multivesicular bodies (MVBs) deliver cargo destined for degradation to the vacuole or lysosome. The ESCRT (endosomal sorting complex required for transport) pathway is a key mediator of MVB biogenesis, but it also plays critical roles in retroviral budding and cytokinetic abscission. Despite these diverse roles, the ESCRT pathway can be simply seen as a cargo-recognition and membrane-sculpting machine viewable from three distinct perspectives: (1) the ESCRT proteins themselves, (2) the cargo they sort, and (3) the membrane they deform. Here, we review ESCRT function from these perspectives and discuss how ESCRTs may drive vesicle budding.
Lipid droplets (LDs) store metabolic energy and membrane lipid precursors. With excess metabolic energy, cells synthesize triacylglycerol (TG) and form LDs that grow dramatically. It is unclear how TG synthesis relates to LD formation and growth. Here, we identify two LD subpopulations: smaller LDs of relatively constant size, and LDs that grow larger. The latter population contains isoenzymes for each step of TG synthesis. Glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase 4 (GPAT4), which catalyzes the first and rate-limiting step, relocalizes from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to a subset of forming LDs, where it becomes stably associated. ER-to-LD targeting of GPAT4 and other LD-localized TG synthesis isozymes is required for LD growth. Key features of GPAT4 ER-to-LD targeting and function in LD growth are conserved between and mammalian cells. Our results explain how TG synthesis is coupled with LD growth and identify two distinct LD subpopulations based on their capacity for localized TG synthesis. ► Triacylglyceride (TG) synthesis is coupled with lipid droplet (LD) growth ► Two LD populations exist: growing LDs, containing TG enzymes, and small LDs ► Specific TG synthesis enzymes move from the ER to LDs through membrane bridges ► LD localization of TG enzymes mediates expansion of a subset of LDs Lipid droplets (LDs) store metabolic energy and membrane lipid precursors. Wilfling et al. identify two LD populations distinct in their capacity for localized triacylglycerol (TG) synthesis, which is coupled to LD growth. TG synthesis enzymes relocate via membrane bridges from the ER to the LD surface to mediate LD expansion.
VE-cadherin is a component of endothelial cell-to-cell adherens junctions, and it has a key role in the maintenance of vascular integrity. During embryo development, VE-cadherin is required for the organization of a stable vascular system, and in the adult it controls vascular permeability and inhibits unrestrained vascular growth. The mechanisms of action of VE-cadherin are complex and include reshaping and organization of the endothelial cell cytoskeleton and modulation of gene transcription. Here we review some of the most important pathways through which VE-cadherin modulates vascular homeostasis and discuss the emerging concepts in the overall biological role of this protein.
The selective clearance of organelles by autophagy is critical for the regulation of cellular homeostasis in organisms from yeast to humans. Removal of damaged organelles clears the cell of potentially toxic byproducts and enables reuse of organelle components for bioenergetics. Thus, defects in organelle clearance may be detrimental to the health of the cells, contributing to cancer, neurodegeneration, and inflammatory diseases. Organelle-specific autophagy can clear mitochondria, peroxisomes, lysosomes, ER, chloroplasts, and the nucleus. Here, we review our understanding of the mechanisms that regulate the clearance of organelles by autophagy and highlight gaps in our knowledge of these processes. The selective clearance of organelles by autophagy is critical for the regulation of cellular homeostasis in organisms from yeast to humans. Defects in organelle clearance can be detrimental and contribute to cancer, neurodegeneration, and inflammatory diseases. Anding and Baehrecke review the understanding of the regulation of organelle clearance by autophagy.
Microvascular endothelial cells (ECs) within different tissues are endowed with distinct but as yet unrecognized structural, phenotypic, and functional attributes. We devised EC purification, cultivation, profiling, and transplantation models that establish tissue-specific molecular libraries of ECs devoid of lymphatic ECs or parenchymal cells. These libraries identify attributes that confer ECs with their organotypic features. We show that clusters of transcription factors, angiocrine growth factors, adhesion molecules, and chemokines are expressed in unique combinations by ECs of each organ. Furthermore, ECs respond distinctly in tissue regeneration models, hepatectomy, and myeloablation. To test the data set, we developed a transplantation model that employs generic ECs differentiated from embryonic stem cells. Transplanted generic ECs engraft into regenerating tissues and acquire features of organotypic ECs. Collectively, we demonstrate the utility of informational databases of ECs toward uncovering the extravascular and intrinsic signals that define EC heterogeneity. These factors could be exploited therapeutically to engineer tissue-specific ECs for regeneration. Endothelial cells are now appreciated as a source of complex combinations of growth factors, known as Angiocrine factors, which direct tissue-specific microenvironments. Nolan et al. transcriptionally profiled microvascular endothelial cells from steady-state and regenerating tissues to create a database capable of identifying the characteristics of endothelial cell heterogeneity.
Cells must duplicate their mass in order to proliferate. Glucose and glutamine are the major nutrients consumed by proliferating mammalian cells, but the extent to which these and other nutrients contribute to cell mass is unknown. We quantified the fraction of cell mass derived from different nutrients and found that the majority of carbon mass in cells is derived from other amino acids, which are consumed at much lower rates than glucose and glutamine. While glucose carbon has diverse fates, glutamine contributes most to protein, suggesting that glutamine's ability to replenish tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates (anaplerosis) is primarily used for amino acid biosynthesis. These findings demonstrate that rates of nutrient consumption are indirectly associated with mass accumulation and suggest that high rates of glucose and glutamine consumption support rapid cell proliferation beyond providing carbon for biosynthesis. Hosios et al. analyze nutrient contributors to cell mass and find that although glucose and glutamine have the highest consumption rates, the majority of proliferative cell mass actually derives from non-glutamine amino acids. This quantitative analysis provides a framework for understanding proliferative metabolism of mammalian cells and cancer metabolism.
We discuss the upstream regulators of myogenesis that lead to the activation of myogenic determination genes and subsequent differentiation, focusing on the mouse model. Key upstream genes, such as and , and , or , participate in gene regulatory networks at different sites of skeletal muscle formation. MicroRNAs also intervene, with emerging evidence for the role of other noncoding RNAs. Myogenic determination and subsequent differentiation depend on members of the MyoD family. We discuss new insights into mechanisms underlying the transcriptional activity of these factors.
The epithelial-mesenchymal transition is a highly conserved cellular program that allows polarized, immotile epithelial cells to convert to motile mesenchymal cells. This important process was initially recognized during several critical stages of embryonic development and has more recently been implicated in promoting carcinoma invasion and metastasis. In this review, we summarize and compare major signaling pathways that regulate the epithelial-mesenchymal transitions during both development and tumor metastasis. Studies in both fields are critical for our molecular understanding of cell migration and morphogenesis.
Solid tumors are not simply clones of cancer cells. Instead, they are abnormal organs composed of multiple cell types and extracellular matrix. Some aspects of tumor development resemble processes seen in developing organs, whereas others are more akin to tissue remodeling. Some microenvironments, particularly those associated with tissue injury, are favorable for progression of mutant cells, whereas others restrict it. Cancer cells can also instruct surrounding tissues to undergo changes that promote malignancy. Understanding the complex ways in which cancer cells interact with their surroundings, both locally in the tumor organ and systemically in the body as a whole, has implications for effective cancer prevention and therapy.