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Structural Basis for a Species-Specific Determinant of an SIV Vif Protein toward Hominid APOBEC3G Antagonism

Cell Host Microbe

2019 Emerman, Michael; Chesarino, Nicholas Michael

Primate lentiviruses encode a Vif protein that counteracts the host antiviral APOBEC3 (A3) family members. The adaptation of Vif to species-specific A3 determinants is a critical event that allowed the spillover of a lentivirus from monkey reservoirs to chimpanzees and subsequently to humans, which gave rise to HIV-1 and the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) pandemic. How Vif-A3 protein interactions are remodeled during evolution is unclear. Here, we report a 2.94 Å crystal structure of the Vif substrate receptor complex from simian immunodeficiency virus isolated from red-capped mangabey (SIVrcm). The structure of the SIVrcm Vif complex illuminates the stage of lentiviral Vif evolution that is immediately prior to entering hominid primates. Structure-function studies reveal the adaptations that allowed SIVrcm Vif to antagonize hominid A3G. These studies show a partitioning between an evolutionarily dynamic specificity determinant and a conserved protein interacting surface on Vif that enables adaptation while maintaining protein interactions required for potent A3 antagonism.

Misregulation of Drosophila Myc Disrupts Circadian Behavior and Metabolism

Cell Rep

2019 Eisenman, Robert N

Drosophila Myc (dMyc) is highly conserved and functions as a transcription factor similar to mammalian Myc. We previously found that oncogenic Myc disrupts the molecular clock in cancer cells. Here, we demonstrate that misregulation of dMyc expression affects Drosophila circadian behavior. dMyc overexpression results in a high percentage of arrhythmic flies, concomitant with increases in the expression of clock genes cyc, tim, cry, and cwo. Conversely, flies with hypomorphic mutations in dMyc exhibit considerable arrhythmia, which can be rescued by loss of dMnt, a suppressor of dMyc activity. Metabolic profiling of fly heads revealed that loss of dMyc and its overexpression alter steady-state metabolite levels and have opposing effects on histidine, the histamine precursor, which is rescued in dMyc mutants by ablation of dMnt and could contribute to effects of dMyc on locomotor behavior. Our results demonstrate a role of dMyc in modulating Drosophila circadian clock, behavior, and metabolism.

A burst of genetic innovation in Drosophila actin-related proteins for testis-specific function

Mol Biol Evol

2019 Malik, Harmit S; Schroeder, Courtney M; Natividad, Isabel; Valenzuela, John

Many cytoskeletal proteins perform fundamental biological processes and are evolutionarily ancient. For example, the superfamily of actin-related proteins (Arps) specialized early in eukaryotic evolution for diverse cellular roles in the cytoplasm and the nucleus. Despite its strict conservation across eukaryotes, we find that the Arp superfamily has undergone dramatic lineage-specific diversification in Drosophila. Our phylogenomic analyses reveal four independent Arp gene duplications that occurred in the common ancestor of the obscura group of Drosophila and have been mostly preserved in this lineage. All four obscura-specific Arp paralogs are predominantly expressed in the male germline and have evolved under positive selection. We focus our analyses on the divergent Arp2D paralog, which arose via a retroduplication event from Arp2, a component of the Arp2/3 complex that polymerizes branched actin networks. Computational modeling analyses suggests that Arp2D can replace Arp2 in the Arp2/3 complex and bind actin monomers. Together with the signature of positive selection, our findings suggest that Arp2D may augment Arp2's functions in the male germline. Indeed, we find that Arp2D is expressed during and following male meiosis, where it localizes to distinct locations such as actin cones-specialized cytoskeletal structures that separate bundled spermatids into individual mature sperm. We hypothesize that this unprecedented burst of genetic innovation in cytoskeletal proteins may have been driven by the evolution of sperm heteromorphism in the obscura group of Drosophila.

The serine transporter SdaC prevents cell lysis upon glucose depletion in Escherichia coli


2019 Subramaniam, Arvind R; Kriner, Michelle A

The amino acid serine plays diverse metabolic roles, yet bacteria actively degrade exogenously provided serine via deamination to pyruvate. Serine deamination is thought to be a detoxification mechanism due to the ability of serine to inhibit several biosynthetic reactions, but this pathway remains highly active even in nutrient-replete conditions. While investigating the physiological roles of serine deamination in different growth conditions, we discovered that Escherichia coli cells lacking the sdaCB operon, which encodes the serine transporter SdaC and the serine deaminase SdaB, lyse upon glucose depletion in a medium containing no exogenous serine but all other amino acids and nucleobases. Unexpectedly, this lysis phenotype can be recapitulated by deleting sdaC alone and can be rescued by heterologous expression of SdaC. Lysis of ΔsdaC cells can be prevented by omitting glycine from the medium, inhibiting the glycine cleavage system, or by increasing alanine availability. Together, our results reveal that the serine transporter SdaC plays a critical role in maintaining amino acid homeostasis during shifts in nutrient availability in E. coli.

Epigenome Regulation by Dynamic Nucleosome Unwrapping

Trends Biochem Sci

2020 Henikoff, Steven; Brahma, Sandipan

Gene regulation in eukaryotes requires the controlled access of sequence-specific transcription factors (TFs) to their sites in a chromatin landscape dominated by nucleosomes. Nucleosomes are refractory to TF binding, and often must be removed from regulatory regions. Recent genomic studies together with in vitro measurements suggest that the nucleosome barrier to TF binding is modulated by dynamic nucleosome unwrapping governed by ATP-dependent chromatin remodelers. Genome-wide occupancy and the regulation of subnucleosomal intermediates have gained recent attention with the application of high-resolution approaches for precision mapping of protein-DNA interactions. We summarize here recent findings on nucleosome substructures and TF binding dynamics, and highlight how unwrapped nucleosomal intermediates provide a novel signature of active chromatin.

Spliceosomal disruption of the non-canonical BAF complex in cancer


2019 Bradley, Robert K; Pangallo, Joseph R; Chew, Guo-Liang; North, Khrystyna Dilai

SF3B1 is the most commonly mutated RNA splicing factor in cancer1-4, but the mechanisms by which SF3B1 mutations promote malignancy are poorly understood. Here we integrated pan-cancer splicing analyses with a positive-enrichment CRISPR screen to prioritize splicing alterations that promote tumorigenesis. We report that diverse SF3B1 mutations converge on repression of BRD9, which is a core component of the recently described non-canonical BAF chromatin-remodelling complex that also contains GLTSCR1 and GLTSCR1L5-7. Mutant SF3B1 recognizes an aberrant, deep intronic branchpoint within BRD9 and thereby induces the inclusion of a poison exon that is derived from an endogenous retroviral element and subsequent degradation of BRD9 mRNA. Depletion of BRD9 causes the loss of non-canonical BAF at CTCF-associated loci and promotes melanomagenesis. BRD9 is a potent tumour suppressor in uveal melanoma, such that correcting mis-splicing of BRD9 in SF3B1-mutant cells using antisense oligonucleotides or CRISPR-directed mutagenesis suppresses tumour growth. Our results implicate the disruption of non-canonical BAF in the diverse cancer types that carry SF3B1 mutations and suggest a mechanism-based therapeutic approach for treating these malignancies.

Coordinated alterations in RNA splicing and epigenetic regulation drive leukaemogenesis


2019 Bradley, Robert K

Transcription and pre-mRNA splicing are key steps in the control of gene expression and mutations in genes regulating each of these processes are common in leukaemia1,2. Despite the frequent overlap of mutations affecting epigenetic regulation and splicing in leukaemia, how these processes influence one another to promote leukaemogenesis is not understood and, to our knowledge, there is no functional evidence that mutations in RNA splicing factors initiate leukaemia. Here, through analyses of transcriptomes from 982 patients with acute myeloid leukaemia, we identified frequent overlap of mutations in IDH2 and SRSF2 that together promote leukaemogenesis through coordinated effects on the epigenome and RNA splicing. Whereas mutations in either IDH2 or SRSF2 imparted distinct splicing changes, co-expression of mutant IDH2 altered the splicing effects of mutant SRSF2 and resulted in more profound splicing changes than either mutation alone. Consistent with this, co-expression of mutant IDH2 and SRSF2 resulted in lethal myelodysplasia with proliferative features in vivo and enhanced self-renewal in a manner not observed with either mutation alone. IDH2 and SRSF2 double-mutant cells exhibited aberrant splicing and reduced expression of INTS3, a member of the integrator complex3, concordant with increased stalling of RNA polymerase II (RNAPII). Aberrant INTS3 splicing contributed to leukaemogenesis in concert with mutant IDH2 and was dependent on mutant SRSF2 binding to cis elements in INTS3 mRNA and increased DNA methylation of INTS3. These data identify a pathogenic crosstalk between altered epigenetic state and splicing in a subset of leukaemias, provide functional evidence that mutations in splicing factors drive myeloid malignancy development, and identify spliceosomal changes as a mediator of IDH2-mutant leukaemogenesis.

Bringing Oncohistones into the Fold

Cancer Discov

2019 Henikoff, Steven; Sarthy, Jay F

Identification of cancer-associated mutations in core histone genes has proved challenging due to these genes' highly conserved nature and presence in large arrays. Recent analyses of cancer genomes, including one in this issue of Cancer Discovery, show that mutations in the histone fold can affect nucleosome stability, providing a novel mechanism by which oncohistones contribute to tumorigenesis.See related article by Bennett et al., p. 1438.

EvoChromo: towards a synthesis of chromatin biology and evolution


2019 Henikoff, Steven; Malik, Harmit S

Over the past few years, interest in chromatin and its evolution has grown. To further advance these interests, we organized a workshop with the support of The Company of Biologists to debate the current state of knowledge regarding the origin and evolution of chromatin. This workshop led to prospective views on the development of a new field of research that we term 'EvoChromo'. In this short Spotlight article, we define the breadth and expected impact of this new area of scientific inquiry on our understanding of both chromatin and evolution.

Deep Mutational Scanning Comprehensively Maps How Zika Envelope Protein Mutations Affect Viral Growth and Antibody Escape

J Virol

2019 Bloom, Jesse D; Lawrence, Daniel J. P.

Functional constraints on viral proteins are often assessed by examining sequence conservation among natural strains, but this approach is relatively ineffective for Zika virus because all known sequences are highly similar. Here we take an alternative approach to map functional constraints on Zika virus's envelope (E) protein by using deep mutational scanning to measure how all amino-acid mutations to the protein affect viral growth in cell culture. The resulting sequence-function map is consistent with existing knowledge about E protein structure and function, but also provides insight into mutation-level constraints in many regions of the protein that have not been well characterized in prior functional work. In addition, we extend our approach to completely map how mutations affect viral neutralization by two monoclonal antibodies, thereby precisely defining their functional epitopes. Overall, our study provides a valuable resource for understanding the effects of mutations to this important viral protein, and also offers a roadmap for future work to map functional and antigenic selection to Zika virus at high resolution.IMPORTANCE Zika virus has recently been shown to be associated with severe birth defects. The virus's E protein mediates its ability to infect cells, and is also the primary target of the antibodies that are elicited by natural infection and vaccines that are being developed against the virus. Therefore, determining the effects of mutations to this protein is important for understanding its function, its susceptibility to vaccine-mediated immunity, and its potential for future evolution. We completely mapped how amino-acid mutations to E protein affected the virus's ability to grow in cells in the lab and escape from several antibodies. The resulting maps relate changes in the E protein's sequence to changes in viral function, and therefore provide a valuable complement to existing maps of the physical structure of the protein.