During the process of reprogramming to induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, somatic cells switch from oxidative to glycolytic metabolism, a transition associated with profound mitochondrial reorganization. Neither the importance of mitochondrial remodelling for cell reprogramming, nor the molecular mechanisms controlling this process are well understood. Here, we show that an early wave of mitochondrial fragmentation occurs upon expression of reprogramming factors. Reprogramming-induced mitochondrial fission is associated with a minor decrease in mitochondrial mass but not with mitophagy. The pro-fission factor Drp1 is phosphorylated early in reprogramming, and its knockdown and inhibition impairs both mitochondrial fragmentation and generation of iPS cell colonies. Drp1 phosphorylation depends on Erk activation in early reprogramming, which occurs, at least in part, due to downregulation of the MAP kinase phosphatase Dusp6. Taken together, our data indicate that mitochondrial fission controlled by an Erk-Drp1 axis constitutes an early and necessary step in the reprogramming process to pluripotency.

 

Disrupted organ growth leads to disease development. Hypertrophy underlies postnatal heart growth and is triggered after stress, but the molecular mechanisms involved in these processes are largely unknown. Here we show that cardiac activation of p38γ and p38δ increases during postnatal development and by hypertrophy-inducing stimuli. p38γ/δ promote cardiac hypertrophy by phosphorylating the mTORC1 and mTORC2 inhibitor DEPTOR, which leads to its degradation and mTOR activation. Hearts from mice lacking one or both kinases are below normal size, have high levels of DEPTOR, low activity of the mTOR pathway and reduced protein synthesis. The phenotype of p38γ/δ−/− mice is reverted by overactivation of mTOR with amino acids, shRNA-mediated knockdown of Deptor, or cardiomyocyte overexpression of active p38γ and p38δ. Moreover, in WT mice, heart weight is reduced by cardiac overexpression of DEPTOR. Our results demonstrate that p38γ/δ control heart growth by modulating mTOR pathway through DEPTOR phosphorylation and subsequent degradation.

 

Earlier in the past century, infections were regarded as the most likely cause of childhood B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (pB-ALL). However, there is a lack of relevant biologic evidence supporting this hypothesis. We present in vivo genetic evidence mechanistically connecting inherited susceptibility to pB-ALL and postnatal infections by showing that pB-ALL was initiated in Pax5 heterozygous mice only when they were exposed to common pathogens. Strikingly, these murine pB-ALLs closely resemble the human disease. Tumor exome sequencing revealed activating somatic, nonsynonymous mutations of Jak3 as a second hit. Transplantation experiments and deep sequencing suggest that inactivating mutations in Pax5 promote leukemogenesis by creating an aberrant progenitor compartment that is susceptible to malignant transformation through accumulation of secondary Jak3 mutations. Thus, treatment of Pax5+/− leukemic cells with specificJAK1/3 inhibitors resulted in increased apoptosis. These results uncover the causal role of infection in pB-ALL development.

 

AIRAPL (arsenite-inducible RNA-associated protein-like) is an evolutionarily conserved regulator of cellular proteostasis linked to longevity in nematodes, but its biological function in mammals is unknown. We show herein that AIRAPL-deficient mice develop a fully-penetrant myeloproliferative neoplastic process. Proteomic analysis of AIRAPL-deficient mice revealed that this protein exerts its antineoplastic function through the regulation of the insulin/insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) signaling pathway. We demonstrate that AIRAPL interacts with newly synthesized insulin-related growth factor-1 receptor (IGF1R) polypeptides, promoting their ubiquitination and proteasome-mediated degradation. Accordingly, genetic and pharmacological IGF1R inhibitory strategies prevent the hematological disease found in AIRAPL-deficient mice as well as that in mice carrying the Jak2V617F mutation, thereby demonstrating the causal involvement of this pathway in the pathogenesis of myeloproliferative neoplasms. Consistent with its proposed role as a tumor suppressor of myeloid transformation, AIRAPL expression is widely abrogated in human myeloproliferative disorders. Collectively, these findings support the oncogenic relevance of proteostasis deregulation in hematopoietic cells, and they unveil novel therapeutic targets for these frequent hematological neoplasias.

 

The survival of commensal bacteria requires them to evade host peptidases. Gram-negative bacteria from the human gut microbiome encode a relative of the human endopeptidase inhibitor, α2-macroglobulin (α2M). Escherichia coli α2M (ECAM) is a ∼ 180-kDa multidomain membrane-anchored pan-peptidase inhibitor, which is cleaved by host endopeptidases in an accessible bait region. Structural studies by electron microscopy and crystallography reveal that this cleavage causes major structural rearrangement of more than half the 13-domain structure from a native to a compact induced form. It also exposes a reactive thioester bond, which covalently traps the peptidase. Subsequently, peptidase-laden ECAM is shed from the membrane and may dimerize. Trapped peptidases are still active except against very large substrates, so inhibition potentially prevents damage of large cell envelope components, but not host digestion. Mechanistically, these results document a novel monomeric "snap trap."

 

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