Abstract: Cells are constantly adjusting to the mechanical properties of their surroundings, operating a complex mechanochemical feedback, which hinges on mechanotransduction mechanisms. Whereas adhesion structures have been shown to play a central role in mechanotransduction, it now emerges that the nucleus may act as a mechanosensitive structure. Here, we review recent advances demonstrating that mechanical stress emanating from the cytoskeleton can activate pathways in the nucleus which eventually impact both its structure and the transcriptional machinery.
Abstract: RhoBTB proteins constitute a subfamily of atypical Rho GTPases represented in mammals by RhoBTB1, RhoBTB2, and RhoBTB3. Their characteristic feature is a carboxyl terminal extension that harbors two BTB domains capable of assembling cullin 3-dependent ubiquitin ligase complexes. The expression of all three RHOBTB genes has been found reduced or abolished in a variety of tumors. They are considered tumor suppressor genes and recent studies have strengthened their implication in tumorigenesis through regulation of the cell cycle and apoptosis. RhoBTB3 is also involved in retrograde transport from endosomes to the Golgi apparatus. One aspect that makes RhoBTB proteins atypical among the Rho GTPases is their proposed mechanism of activation. No specific guanine nucleotide exchange factors or GTPase activating proteins are known. Instead, RhoBTB might be activated through interaction with other proteins that relieve their auto-inhibited conformation and inactivated through auto-ubiquitination and destruction in the proteasome. In this review we discuss our current knowledge on the molecular mechanisms of action of RhoBTB proteins and the implications for tumorigenesis and other pathologic conditions.
Abstract: Rho GTPases regulate cellular morphology and dynamics, and some are key drivers of cancer progression. This superfamily offers attractive potential targets for therapeutic intervention, with RhoA, Rac1 and Cdc42 being prime examples. The challenges in developing agents that act on these signaling enzymes include the lack of obvious druggable pockets and their membrane-bound activities. However, progress in targeting the similar Ras protein is illuminating new strategies for specifically inhibiting oncogenic GTPases. The structures of multiple signaling and regulatory states of Rho proteins have been determined, and the post-translational modifications including acylation and phosphorylation points have been mapped and their functional effects examined. The development of inhibitors to probe the significance of overexpression and mutational hyperactivation of these GTPases underscores their importance in cancer progression. The ability to integrate in silico, in vitro, and in vivo investigations of drug-like molecules indicates the growing tractability of GTPase systems for lead optimization. Although no Rho-targeted drug molecules have yet been clinically approved, this family is clearly showing increasing promise for the development of precision medicine and combination cancer therapies.
Abstract: Fibers are ubiquitous in biology, and include tensile materials produced by specialized glands (such as silks), extracellular fibrils that reinforce exoskeletons and connective tissues (such as chitin and collagen), as well as intracellular filaments that make up the metazoan cytoskeleton (such as F-actin, microtubules, and intermediate filaments). Hagfish gland thread cells are unique in that they produce a high aspect ratio fiber from cytoskeletal building blocks within the confines of their cytoplasm. These threads are elaborately coiled into structures that readily unravel when they are ejected into seawater from the slime glands. In this review we summarize what is currently known about the structure and function of gland thread cells and we speculate about the mechanism that these cells use to produce a mechanically robust fiber that is almost one hundred thousand times longer than it is wide. We propose that a key feature of this mechanism involves the unidirectional rotation of the cell’s nucleus, which would serve to twist disorganized filaments into a coherent thread and impart a torsional stress on the thread that would both facilitate coiling and drive energetic unravelling in seawater.
Abstract: Autophagy plays a critical role in cell metabolism by degrading and recycling internal components when challenged with limited nutrients. This fundamental and conserved mechanism is based on a membrane trafficking pathway in which nascent autophagosomes engulf cytoplasmic cargo to form vesicles that transport their content to the lysosome for degradation. Based on this simple scheme, autophagy modulates cellular metabolism and cytoplasmic quality control to influence an unexpectedly wide range of normal mammalian physiology and pathophysiology. In this review, we summarise recent advancements in three broad areas of autophagy regulation. We discuss current models on how autophagosomes are initiated from endogenous membranes. We detail how the uncoordinated 51-like kinase (ULK) complex becomes activated downstream of mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (MTORC1). Finally, we summarise the upstream signalling mechanisms that can sense amino acid availability leading to activation of MTORC1.
Abstract: Nuclear factor (NF)-κB has evolved as a latent, inducible family of transcription factors fundamental in the control of the inflammatory response. The transcription of hundreds of genes involved in inflammation and immune homeostasis require NF-κB, necessitating the need for its strict control. The inducible ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of the cytoplasmic inhibitor of κB (IκB) proteins promotes the nuclear translocation and transcriptional activity of NF-κB. More recently, an additional role for ubiquitination in the regulation of NF-κB activity has been identified. In this case, the ubiquitination and degradation of the NF-κB subunits themselves plays a critical role in the termination of NF-κB activity and the associated transcriptional response. While there is still much to discover, a number of NF-κB ubiquitin ligases and deubiquitinases have now been identified which coordinate to regulate the NF-κB transcriptional response. This review will focus the regulation of NF-κB subunits by ubiquitination, the key regulatory components and their impact on NF-κB directed transcription.