Table of contents
Volume 2, Issue 12, pp. 454 - 493, December 2015
Groupthink: chromosomal clustering during transcriptional memory
Kevin A. Morano
Yeast proteinopathy models: a robust tool for deciphering the basis of neurodegeneration
Amit Shrestha and Lynn A. Megeney
Protein quality control or proteostasis is an essential determinant of basic cell health and aging. Eukaryotic cells have evolved a number of proteostatic mechanisms to ensure that proteins retain functional conformation, or are rapidly degraded when proteins misfold or self-aggregate. Disruption of proteostasis is now widely recognized as a key feature of aging related illness, specifically neurodegenerative disease. For example, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) each target and afflict distinct neuronal cell subtypes, yet this diverse array of human pathologies share the defining feature of aberrant protein aggregation within the affected cell population. Here, we review the use of budding yeast as a robust proxy to study the intersection between proteostasis and neurodegenerative disease. The humanized yeast model has proven to be an amenable platform to identify both, conserved proteostatic mechanisms across eukaryotic phyla and novel disease specific molecular dysfunction. Moreover, we discuss the intriguing concept that yeast specific proteins may be utilized as bona fide therapeutic agents, to correct proteostasis errors across various forms of neurodegeneration.
A central role for TOR signalling in a yeast model for juvenile CLN3 disease
Michael E. Bond, Rachel Brown, Charalampos Rallis, Jürg Bähler and Sara E. Mole
Yeasts provide an excellent genetically tractable eukaryotic system for investigating the function of genes in their biological context, and are especially relevant for those conserved genes that cause disease. We study the role of btn1, the orthologue of a human gene that underlies an early onset neurodegenerative disease (juvenile CLN3 disease, neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCLs) or Batten disease) in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. A global screen for genetic interactions with btn1 highlighted a conserved key signalling hub in which multiple components functionally relate to this conserved disease gene. This signalling hub includes two major mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades, and centers on the Tor kinase complexes TORC1 and TORC2. We confirmed that yeast cells modelling CLN3 disease exhibit features consistent with dysfunction in the TORC pathways, and showed that modulating TORC function leads to a comprehensive rescue of defects in this yeast disease model. The same pathways may be novel targets in the development of therapies for the NCLs and related diseases.
INO1 transcriptional memory leads to DNA zip code-dependent interchromosomal clustering
Donna Garvey Brickner, Robert Coukos and Jason H. Brickner
Many genes localize at the nuclear periphery through physical interaction with the nuclear pore complex (NPC). We have found that the yeast INO1 gene is targeted to the NPC both upon activation and for several generations after repression, a phenomenon called epigenetic transcriptional memory. Targeting of INO1 to the NPC requires distinct cis-acting promoter DNA zip codes under activating conditions and under memory conditions. When at the nuclear periphery, active INO1 clusters with itself and with other genes that share the GRS I zip code. Here, we show that during memory, the two alleles of INO1 cluster in diploids and endogenous INO1 clusters with an ectopic INO1 in haploids. After repression, INO1 does not cluster with GRS I – containing genes. Furthermore, clustering during memory requires Nup100 and two sets of DNA zip codes, those that target INO1 to the periphery when active and those that target it to the periphery after repression. Therefore, the interchromosomal clustering of INO1 that occurs during transcriptional memory is dependent upon, but mechanistically distinct from, the clustering of active INO1. Finally, while localization to the nuclear periphery is not regulated through the cell cycle during memory, clustering of INO1 during memory is regulated through the cell cycle.
Histone deacetylases: revealing the molecular base of dimorphism in pathogenic fungi
Alberto Elías-Villalobos, Dominique Helmlinger and José I. Ibeas
Fungi, as every living organism, interact with the external world and have to adapt to its fluctuations. For pathogenic fungi, such interaction involves adapting to the hostile environment of their host. Survival depends on the capacity of fungi to detect and respond to external stimuli, which is achieved through a tight and efficient genetic control. Chromatin modifications represent a well-known layer of regulation that controls gene expression in response to environmental signals. However, less is known about the chromatin modifications that are involved in fungal virulence and the specific cues and signalling pathways that target chromatin modifications to specific genes. In a recently published study, our research group identified one such regulatory pathway. We demonstrated that the histone deacetylase (HDAC) Hos2 is involved in yeast-to-hyphal transition (dimorphism) and it is associated with the virulence of the maize pathogen Ustilago maydis, the causative agent of smut disease in corn. Hos2 activates mating-type genes by directly binding to their gene bodies. Furthermore, Hos2 acts downstream of the nutrient-sensing cyclic AMP-Protein Kinase A pathway. We also found that another HDAC, Clr3, contributes to this regulation, possibly in cooperation with Hos2. As a whole, our data suggest that there is a direct link between changes in the environment and acetylation of nucleosomes within certain genes. We propose that histone acetylation is critical to the proper timing and induction of transcription of the genes encoding factors that coordinate changes in morphology with pathogenesis.