The EMBO Journal
ISSN / EISSN : 0261-4189 / 1460-2075
Published by: EMBO (10.15252)
Total articles ≅ 27,870
Latest articles in this journal
The EMBO Journal; https://doi.org/10.15252/embj.2021109256
The control of mRNA stability plays a central role in regulating gene expression patterns. Recent studies have revealed that codon composition in the open reading frame determines mRNA stability in multiple organisms. Based on genome-wide correlation approaches, this previously unrecognized role for the genetic code is attributable to the kinetics of the codon-decoding process by the ribosome. However, complementary experimental analyses are required to clarify the codon effects on mRNA stability and the related cotranslational mRNA decay pathways, for example, those triggered by aberrant ribosome stalling. In the current study, we performed a set of reporter-based analyses to define codon-mediated mRNA decay and ribosome stall-dependent mRNA decay in zebrafish embryos. Our analysis showed that the effect of codons on mRNA stability stems from the decoding process, independent of the ribosome quality control factor Znf598 and stalling-dependent mRNA decay. We propose that codon-mediated mRNA decay is rather triggered by transiently slowed ribosomes engaging in a productive translation cycle in zebrafish embryos.
The EMBO Journal; https://doi.org/10.15252/embj.2021109800
All living organisms adapt their membrane lipid composition in response to changes in their environment or diet. These conserved membrane-adaptive processes have been studied extensively. However, key concepts of membrane biology linked to regulation of lipid composition including homeoviscous adaptation maintaining stable levels of membrane fluidity, and gel-fluid phase separation resulting in domain formation, heavily rely upon in vitro studies with model membranes or lipid extracts. Using the bacterial model organisms Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis, we now show that inadequate in vivo membrane fluidity interferes with essential complex cellular processes including cytokinesis, envelope expansion, chromosome replication/segregation and maintenance of membrane potential. Furthermore, we demonstrate that very low membrane fluidity is indeed capable of triggering large-scale lipid phase separation and protein segregation in intact, protein-crowded membranes of living cells; a process that coincides with the minimal level of fluidity capable of supporting growth. Importantly, the in vivo lipid phase separation is not associated with a breakdown of the membrane diffusion barrier function, thus explaining why the phase separation process induced by low fluidity is biologically reversible.
The EMBO Journal; https://doi.org/10.15252/embj.2021108599
CDK4/6 inhibitors arrest the cell cycle in G1-phase. They are approved to treat breast cancer and are also undergoing clinical trials against a range of other tumour types. To facilitate these efforts, it is important to understand why a cytostatic arrest in G1 causes long-lasting effects on tumour growth. Here, we demonstrate that a prolonged G1 arrest following CDK4/6 inhibition downregulates replisome components and impairs origin licencing. Upon release from that arrest, many cells fail to complete DNA replication and exit the cell cycle in a p53-dependent manner. If cells fail to withdraw from the cell cycle following DNA replication problems, they enter mitosis and missegregate chromosomes causing excessive DNA damage, which further limits their proliferative potential. These effects are observed in a range of tumour types, including breast cancer, implying that genotoxic stress is a common outcome of CDK4/6 inhibition. This unanticipated ability of CDK4/6 inhibitors to induce DNA damage now provides a rationale to better predict responsive tumour types and effective combination therapies, as demonstrated by the fact that CDK4/6 inhibition induces sensitivity to chemotherapeutics that also cause replication stress.
The EMBO Journal; https://doi.org/10.15252/embj.2021108290
Nucleotide metabolism fuels normal DNA replication and is also primarily targeted by the DNA replication checkpoint when replication stalls. To reveal a comprehensive interconnection between genome maintenance and metabolism, we analyzed the metabolomic changes upon replication stress in the budding yeast S. cerevisiae. We found that upon treatment of cells with hydroxyurea, glucose is rapidly diverted to the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway (PPP). This effect is mediated by the AMP-dependent kinase, SNF1, which phosphorylates the transcription factor Mig1, thereby relieving repression of the gene encoding the rate-limiting enzyme of the PPP. Surprisingly, NADPH produced by the PPP is required for efficient recruitment of replication protein A (RPA) to single-stranded DNA, providing the signal for the activation of the Mec1/ATR–Rad53/CHK1 checkpoint signaling kinase cascade. Thus, SNF1, best known as a central energy controller, determines a fast mode of replication checkpoint activation through a redox mechanism. These findings establish that SNF1 provides a hub with direct links to cellular metabolism, redox, and surveillance of DNA replication in eukaryotes.
The EMBO Journal; https://doi.org/10.15252/embj.2021109108
Haploinsufficiency of the progranulin (PGRN)-encoding gene (GRN) causes frontotemporal lobar degeneration (GRN-FTLD) and results in microglial hyperactivation, TREM2 activation, lysosomal dysfunction, and TDP-43 deposition. To understand the contribution of microglial hyperactivation to pathology, we used genetic and pharmacological approaches to suppress TREM2-dependent transition of microglia from a homeostatic to a disease-associated state. Trem2 deficiency in Grn KO mice reduced microglia hyperactivation. To explore antibody-mediated pharmacological modulation of TREM2-dependent microglial states, we identified antagonistic TREM2 antibodies. Treatment of macrophages from GRN-FTLD patients with these antibodies led to reduced TREM2 signaling due to its enhanced shedding. Furthermore, TREM2 antibody-treated PGRN-deficient microglia derived from human-induced pluripotent stem cells showed reduced microglial hyperactivation, TREM2 signaling, and phagocytic activity, but lysosomal dysfunction was not rescued. Similarly, lysosomal dysfunction, lipid dysregulation, and glucose hypometabolism of Grn KO mice were not rescued by TREM2 ablation. Synaptic loss and neurofilament light-chain (NfL) levels, a biomarker for neurodegeneration, were further elevated in the Grn/Trem2 KO cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). These findings suggest that TREM2-dependent microglia hyperactivation in models of GRN deficiency does not promote neurotoxicity, but rather neuroprotection.
The EMBO Journal; https://doi.org/10.15252/embj.2021110343
Leptin receptor-positive skeletal progenitors constitute an essential cell population in the bone, yet their heterogeneity remains incompletely understood. In this issue, Mo et al (2021) report a single-cell RNA sequencing resource that deconvolutes the pool of LEPR+ skeletal cells under homeostatic and various pathologic conditions, uncovering context-dependent contributions to diverse cell types and functions.
The EMBO Journal; https://doi.org/10.15252/embj.2021109175
Cellular proteins begin to fold as they emerge from the ribosome. The folding landscape of nascent chains is not only shaped by their amino acid sequence but also by the interactions with the ribosome. Here, we combine biophysical methods with cryo-EM structure determination to show that folding of a β-barrel protein begins with formation of a dynamic α-helix inside the ribosome. As the growing peptide reaches the end of the tunnel, the N-terminal part of the nascent chain refolds to a β-hairpin structure that remains dynamic until its release from the ribosome. Contacts with the ribosome and structure of the peptidyl transferase center depend on nascent chain conformation. These results indicate that proteins may start out as α-helices inside the tunnel and switch into their native folds only as they emerge from the ribosome. Moreover, the correlation of nascent chain conformations with reorientation of key residues of the ribosomal peptidyl-transferase center suggest that protein folding could modulate ribosome activity.
The EMBO Journal; https://doi.org/10.15252/embj.2021108946
Cellular senescence is a state of stable growth arrest and a desired outcome of tumor suppressive interventions. Treatment with many anti-cancer drugs can cause premature senescence of non-malignant cells. These therapy-induced senescent cells can have pro-tumorigenic and pro-disease functions via activation of an inflammatory secretory phenotype (SASP). Inhibitors of cyclin-dependent kinases 4/6 (CDK4/6i) have recently proven to restrain tumor growth by activating a senescence-like program in cancer cells. However, the physiological consequence of exposing the whole organism to pharmacological CDK4/6i remains poorly characterized. Here, we show that exposure to CDK4/6i induces non-malignant cells to enter a premature state of senescence dependent on p53. We observe in mice and breast cancer patients that the CDK4/6i-induced senescent program activates only a partial SASP enriched in p53 targets but lacking pro-inflammatory and NF-κB-driven components. We find that CDK4/6i-induced senescent cells do not acquire pro-tumorigenic and detrimental properties but retain the ability to promote paracrine senescence and undergo clearance. Our results demonstrate that SASP composition is exquisitely stress-dependent and a predictor for the biological functions of different senescence subsets.
The EMBO Journal, Volume 41; https://doi.org/10.15252/embj.2021109962