ResearchPad - melanocytes https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[A genome-wide association study of deafness in three canine breeds]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14705 Congenital deafness in the domestic dog is usually related to the presence of white pigmentation, which is controlled primarily by the piebald locus on chromosome 20 and also by merle on chromosome 10. Pigment-associated deafness is also seen in other species, including cats, mice, sheep, alpacas, horses, cows, pigs, and humans, but the genetic factors determining why some piebald or merle dogs develop deafness while others do not have yet to be determined. Here we perform a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify regions of the canine genome significantly associated with deafness in three dog breeds carrying piebald: Dalmatian, Australian cattle dog, and English setter. We include bilaterally deaf, unilaterally deaf, and matched control dogs from the same litter, phenotyped using the brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) hearing test. Principal component analysis showed that we have different distributions of cases and controls in genetically distinct Dalmatian populations, therefore GWAS was performed separately for North American and UK samples. We identified one genome-wide significant association and 14 suggestive (chromosome-wide) associations using the GWAS design of bilaterally deaf vs. control Australian cattle dogs. However, these associations were not located on the same chromosome as the piebald locus, indicating the complexity of the genetics underlying this disease in the domestic dog. Because of this apparent complex genetic architecture, larger sample sizes may be needed to detect the genetic loci modulating risk in piebald dogs.

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<![CDATA[Endothelin receptor Aa regulates proliferation and differentiation of Erb-dependent pigment progenitors in zebrafish]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c803c68d5eed0c484ad88f6

Skin pigment patterns are important, being under strong selection for multiple roles including camouflage and UV protection. Pigment cells underlying these patterns form from adult pigment stem cells (APSCs). In zebrafish, APSCs derive from embryonic neural crest cells, but sit dormant until activated to produce pigment cells during metamorphosis. The APSCs are set-aside in an ErbB signaling dependent manner, but the mechanism maintaining quiescence until metamorphosis remains unknown. Mutants for a pigment pattern gene, parade, exhibit ectopic pigment cells localised to the ventral trunk, but also supernumerary cells restricted to the Ventral Stripe. Contrary to expectations, these melanocytes and iridophores are discrete cells, but closely apposed. We show that parade encodes Endothelin receptor Aa, expressed in the blood vessels, most prominently in the medial blood vessels, consistent with the ventral trunk phenotype. We provide evidence that neuronal fates are not affected in parade mutants, arguing against transdifferentiation of sympathetic neurons to pigment cells. We show that inhibition of BMP signaling prevents specification of sympathetic neurons, indicating conservation of this molecular mechanism with chick and mouse. However, inhibition of sympathetic neuron differentiation does not enhance the parade phenotype. Instead, we pinpoint ventral trunk-restricted proliferation of neural crest cells as an early feature of the parade phenotype. Importantly, using a chemical genetic screen for rescue of the ectopic pigment cell phenotype of parade mutants (whilst leaving the embryonic pattern untouched), we identify ErbB inhibitors as a key hit. The time-window of sensitivity to these inhibitors mirrors precisely the window defined previously as crucial for the setting aside of APSCs in the embryo, strongly implicating adult pigment stem cells as the source of the ectopic pigment cells. We propose that a novel population of APSCs exists in association with medial blood vessels, and that their quiescence is dependent upon Endothelin-dependent factors expressed by the blood vessels.

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<![CDATA[Elevated Levels of SOX10 in Serum from Vitiligo and Melanoma Patients, Analyzed by Proximity Ligation Assay]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db37ab0ee8fa60bd39ac

Background

The diagnosis of malignant melanoma currently relies on clinical inspection of the skin surface and on the histopathological status of the excised tumor. The serum marker S100B is used for prognostic estimates at later stages of the disease, but analyses are marred by false positives and inadequate sensitivity in predicting relapsing disorder.

Objectives

To investigate SOX10 as a potential biomarker for melanoma and vitiligo.

Methods

In this study we have applied proximity ligation assay (PLA) to detect the transcription factor SOX10 as a possible serum marker for melanoma. We studied a cohort of 110 melanoma patients. We further investigated a second cohort of 85 patients with vitiligo, which is a disease that also affects melanocytes.

Results

The specificity of the SOX10 assay in serum was high, with only 1% of healthy blood donors being positive. In contrast, elevated serum SOX10 was found with high frequency among vitiligo and melanoma patients. In patients with metastases, lack of SOX10 detection was associated with treatment benefit. In two responding patients, a change from SOX10 positivity to undetectable levels was seen before the response was evident clinically.

Conclusions

We show for the first time that SOX10 represents a promising new serum melanoma marker for detection of early stage disease, complementing the established S100B marker. Our findings imply that SOX10 can be used to monitor responses to treatment and to assess if the treatment is of benefit at stages earlier than what is possible radiologically.

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<![CDATA[KIR and HLA Genotypes Implicated in Reduced Killer Lymphocytes Immunity Are Associated with Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada Disease]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9ecab0ee8fa60b6cbc3

Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) and natural killer (NK) cells are killer lymphocytes that provide defense against viral infections and tumor transformation. Analogous to that of CTL, interactions of killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) with specific human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I ligands calibrate NK cell education and response. Gene families encoding KIRs and HLA ligands are located on different chromosomes, and feature variation in the number and type of genes. The independent segregation of KIR and HLA genes results in variable KIR-HLA interactions in individuals, which may impact disease susceptibility. We tested whether KIR-HLA combinations are associated with Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada (VKH) disease, a bilateral granulomatous panuveitis that has strong association with HLA-DR4. We present a case control study of 196 VKH patients and 209 controls from a highly homogeneous native population of Japan. KIR and HLA class I genes were typed using oligonucleotide hybridization method and analyzed using two-tailed Fisher’s exact probabilities. The incidence of Bx-KIR genotypes was decreased in VKH patients (odds ratio [OR] 0.58, P = 0.007), due primarily to a decrease in centromeric B-KIR motif and its associated KIRs 2DS2, 2DL2, 2DS3, and 2DL5B. HLA-B22, implicated in poor immune response, was increased in VKH (OR = 4.25, P = 0.0001). HLA-Bw4, the ligand for KIR3DL1, was decreased in VKH (OR = 0.59, P = 0.01). The KIR-HLA combinations 2DL2+C1/C2 and 3DL1+Bw4, which function in NK education, were also decreased in VKH (OR = 0.49, P = 0.012; OR = 0.59, P = 0.013). Genotypes missing these two inhibitory KIR-HLA combinations in addition to missing activating KIRs 2DS2 and 2DS3 were more common in VKH (OR = 1.90, P = 0.002). These results suggest that synergistic hyporesponsiveness of NK cells (due to poor NK education along with missing of activating KIRs) and CTL (due to HLA-B22 restriction) fail to mount an effective immune response against viral-infection that may trigger VKH pathogenesis in genetically susceptible individuals, such as HLA-DR4 carriers.

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<![CDATA[Argonaute Family Protein Expression in Normal Tissue and Cancer Entities]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da23ab0ee8fa60b7f911

The members of the Argonaute (AGO) protein family are key players in miRNA-guided gene silencing. They enable the interaction between small RNAs and their respective target mRNA(s) and support the catalytic destruction of the gene transcript or recruit additional proteins for downstream gene silencing. The human AGO family consists of four AGO proteins (AGO1-AGO4), but only AGO2 harbors nuclease activity. In this study, we characterized the expression of the four AGO proteins in cancer cell lines and normal tissues with a new mass spectrometry approach called AGO-APP (AGO Affinity Purification by Peptides). In all analyzed normal tissues, AGO1 and AGO2 were most prominent, but marked tissue-specific differences were identified. Furthermore, considerable changes during development were observed by comparing fetal and adult tissues. We also identified decreased overall AGO expression in melanoma derived cell lines compared to other tumor cell lines and normal tissues, with the largest differences in AGO2 expression. The experiments described in this study suggest that reduced amounts of AGO proteins, as key players in miRNA processing, have impact on several cellular processes. Deregulated miRNA expression has been attributed to chromosomal aberrations, promoter regulation and it is known to have a major impact on tumor development and progression. Our findings will further increase our basic understanding of the molecular basis of miRNA processing and its relevance for disease.

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<![CDATA[Liposomal C6 Ceramide Activates Protein Phosphatase 1 to Inhibit Melanoma Cells]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da0eab0ee8fa60b78cf9

Melanoma is one common skin cancer. In the present study, the potential anti-melanoma activity by a liposomal C6 ceramide was tested in vitro. We showed that the liposomal C6 (ceramide) was cytotoxic and anti-proliferative against a panel of human melanoma cell lines (SK-Mel2, WM-266.4 and A-375 and WM-115). In addition, liposomal C6 induced caspase-dependent apoptotic death in the melanoma cells. Reversely, its cytotoxicity was attenuated by several caspase inhibitors. Intriguingly, liposomal C6 was non-cytotoxic to B10BR mouse melanocytes and primary human melanocytes. Molecularly, liposomal C6 activated protein phosphatase 1 (PP1) to inactivate Akt-mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling in melanoma cells. On the other hand, PP1 shRNA knockdown or exogenous expression of constitutively activate Akt1 (CA-Akt1) restored Akt-mTOR activation and significantly attenuated liposomal C6-mediated cytotoxicity and apoptosis in melanoma cells. Our results suggest that liposomal C6 activates PP1 to inhibit melanoma cells.

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<![CDATA[NAD(P)H:Quinone Oxidoreductase-1 Expression Sensitizes Malignant Melanoma Cells to the HSP90 Inhibitor 17-AAG]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daf4ab0ee8fa60bc250a

The KEAP1-NRF2 pathway regulates cellular redox homeostasis by transcriptional induction of genes associated with antioxidant synthesis and detoxification in response to oxidative stress. Previously, we reported that KEAP1 mutation elicits constitutive NRF2 activation and resistance to cisplatin (CDDP) and dacarbazine (DTIC) in human melanomas. The present study was conducted to clarify whether an HSP90 inhibitor, 17-AAG, efficiently eliminates melanoma with KEAP1 mutation, as the NRF2 target gene, NQO1, is a key enzyme in 17-AAG bioactivation. In melanoma and non-small cell lung carcinoma cell lines with or without KEAP1 mutations, NQO1 expression and 17-AAG sensitivity are inversely correlated. NQO1 is highly expressed in normal melanocytes and in several melanoma cell lines despite the presence of wild-type KEAP1, and the NQO1 expression is dependent on NRF2 activation. Because either CDDP or DTIC produces reactive oxygen species that activate NRF2, we determined whether these agents would sensitize NQO1-low melanoma cells to 17-AAG. Synergistic cytotoxicity of the 17-AAG and CDDP combination was detected in four out of five NQO1-low cell lines, but not in the cell line with KEAP1 mutation. These data indicate that 17-AAG could be a potential chemotherapeutic agent for melanoma with KEAP1 mutation or NQO1 expression.

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<![CDATA[The evolution of Sex-linked barring alleles in chickens involves both regulatory and coding changes in CDKN2A]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db5aab0ee8fa60bdf3ce

Sex-linked barring is a fascinating plumage pattern in chickens recently shown to be associated with two non-coding and two missense mutations affecting the ARF transcript at the CDKN2A tumor suppressor locus. It however remained a mystery whether all four mutations are indeed causative and how they contribute to the barring phenotype. Here, we show that Sex-linked barring is genetically heterogeneous, and that the mutations form three functionally different variant alleles. The B0 allele carries only the two non-coding changes and is associated with the most dilute barring pattern, whereas the B1 and B2 alleles carry both the two non-coding changes and one each of the two missense mutations causing the Sex-linked barring and Sex-linked dilution phenotypes, respectively. The data are consistent with evolution of alleles where the non-coding changes occurred first followed by the two missense mutations that resulted in a phenotype more appealing to humans. We show that one or both of the non-coding changes are cis-regulatory mutations causing a higher CDKN2A expression, whereas the missense mutations reduce the ability of ARF to interact with MDM2. Caspase assays for all genotypes revealed no apoptotic events and our results are consistent with a recent study indicating that the loss of melanocyte progenitors in Sex-linked barring in chicken is caused by premature differentiation and not apoptosis. Our results show that CDKN2A is a major locus driving the differentiation of avian melanocytes in a temporal and spatial manner.

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<![CDATA[Pigmentary Markers in Danes – Associations with Quantitative Skin Colour, Nevi Count, Familial Atypical Multiple-Mole, and Melanoma Syndrome]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da52ab0ee8fa60b8e300

To investigate whether pigmentation genes involved in the melanogenic pathway (melanogenesis) contributed to melanoma predisposition, we compared pigmentary genetics with quantitative skin pigmentation measurements, the number of atypical nevi, the total nevus count, and the familial atypical multiple mole and melanoma (FAMMM) syndrome. We typed 32 pigmentary SNP markers and sequenced MC1R in 246 healthy individuals and 116 individuals attending periodic control for malignant melanoma development, 50 of which were diagnosed with FAMMM. It was observed that individuals with any two grouped MC1R variants (missense, NM_002386:c. 456C > A (p.TYR152*), or NM_002386:c.83_84insA (p.Asn29Glnfs*14) had significantly (p<0.001) lighter skin pigmentation of the upper-inner arm than those with none or one MC1R variant. We did not observe any significant association of the MC1R variants with constitutive pigmentation measured on the buttock area. We hypothesize that the effect of MC1R variants on arm pigmentation is primarily reflecting the inability to tan when subjected to UVR. A gender specific effect on skin pigmentation was also observed, and it was found that the skin pigmentation of females on average were darker than that of males (p<0.01). We conclude that MC1R variants are associated with quantitative skin colour in a lightly pigmented Danish population. We did not observe any association between any pigmentary marker and the FAMMM syndrome. We suggest that the genetics of FAMMM is not related to the genetics of the pigmentary pathway.

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<![CDATA[The differential expression of MC1R regulators in dorsal and ventral quail plumages during embryogenesis: Implications for plumage pattern formation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db52ab0ee8fa60bdc902

Melanin pigmentation patterns are ubiquitous in animals and function in crypsis, physical protection, thermoregulation and signalling. In vertebrates, pigmentation patterns formed over large body regions as well as within appendages (hair/feathers) may be due to the differential distribution of pigment producing cells (melanocytes) and/or regulation of the melanin synthesis pathway. We took advantage of the pigmentation patterns of Japanese quail embryos (pale ventrum and patterned feathers dorsally) to explore the role of genes and their transcripts in regulating the function of the melanocortin-1-receptor (MC1R) via 1. activation: pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC), endoproteases prohormone convertase 1 (PC1) and 2 (PC2), and 2. inhibition—agouti signaling and agouti-related protein (ASIP and AGRP, respectively). Melanocytes are present in all feather follicles at both 8 and 12 days post-fertilisation (E8/E12), so differential deposition of melanocytes is not responsible for pigmentation patterns in embryonic quail. POMC transcripts expressed were a subset of those found in chicken and POMC expression within feather follicles was strong. PC1 was not expressed in feather follicles. PC2 was strongly expressed in all feather follicles at E12. ASIP transcript expression was variable and we report four novel ASIP transcripts. ASIP is strongly expressed in ventral feather follicles, but not dorsally. AGRP expression within feather follicles was weak. These results demonstrate that the pale-bellied quail phenotype probably involves inhibition of MC1R, as found previously. However, quail may require MC1R activation for eumelanogenesis in dorsal feathers which may have important implications for an understanding of colour pattern formation in vertebrates.

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<![CDATA[Regional Fluctuation in the Functional Consequence of LINE-1 Insertion in the Mitf Gene: The Black Spotting Phenotype Arisen from the Mitfmi-bw Mouse Lacking Melanocytes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da3fab0ee8fa60b897a8

Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (Mitf) is a key regulator for differentiation of melanoblasts, precursors to melanocytes. The mouse homozygous for the black-eyed white (Mitfmi-bw) allele is characterized by the white-coat color and deafness with black eyes due to the lack of melanocytes. The Mitfmi-bw allele carries LINE-1, a retrotransposable element, which results in the Mitf deficiency. Here, we have established the black spotting mouse that was spontaneously arisen from the homozygous Mitfmi-bw mouse lacking melanocytes. The black spotting mouse shows multiple black patches on the white coat, with age-related graying. Importantly, each black patch also contains hair follicles lacking melanocytes, whereas the white-coat area completely lacks melanocytes. RT-PCR analyses of the pigmented patches confirmed that the LINE-1 insertion is retained in the Mitf gene of the black spotting mouse, thereby excluding the possibility of the somatic reversion of the Mitfmi-bw allele. The immunohistochemical analysis revealed that the staining intensity for beta-catenin was noticeably lower in hair follicles lacking melanocytes of the homozygous Mitfmi-bw mouse and the black spotting mouse, compared to the control mouse. In contrast, the staining intensity for beta-catenin and cyclin D1 was higher in keratinocytes of the black spotting mouse, compared to keratinocytes of the control mouse and the Mitfmi-bw mouse. Moreover, the keratinocyte layer appears thicker in the Mitfmi-bw mouse, with the overexpression of Ki-67, a marker for cell proliferation. We also show that the presumptive black spots are formed by embryonic day 15.5. Thus, the black spotting mouse provides the unique model to explore the molecular basis for the survival and death of developing melanoblasts and melanocyte stem cells in the epidermis. These results indicate that follicular melanocytes are responsible for maintaining the epidermal homeostasis; namely, the present study has provided evidence for the link between melanocyte development and the epidermal microenvironment.

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<![CDATA[Integrated Genomics Identifies miR-32/MCL-1 Pathway as a Critical Driver of Melanomagenesis: Implications for miR-Replacement and Combination Therapy]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9eeab0ee8fa60b6d900

Aims

Cutaneous malignant melanoma is among the deadliest human cancers, broadly resistant to most clinical therapies. A majority of patients with BRAFV600E melanomas respond well to inhibitors such as vemurafenib, but all ultimately relapse. Moreover, there are no viable treatment options available for other non-BRAF melanoma subtypes in the clinic. A key to improving treatment options lies in a better understanding of mechanisms underlying melanoma progression, which are complex and heterogeneous.

Methods

In this study we integrated gene and microRNA (miRNA) expression data from genetically engineered mouse models of highly and poorly malignant melanocytic tumors, as well as available human melanoma databases, and discovered an important role for a pathway centered on a tumor suppressor miRNA, miR-32.

Results

Malignant tumors frequently exhibited poor expression of miR-32, whose targets include NRAS, PI3K and notably, MCL-1. Accordingly, MCL-1 was often highly expressed in melanomas, and when knocked down diminished oncogenic potential. Forced MCL-1 overexpression transformed immortalized primary mouse melanocytes, but only when also expressing activating mutations in BRAF, CRAF or PI3K. Importantly, both miR-32 replacement therapy and the MCL-1-specific antagonist sabutoclax demonstrated single-agent efficacy, and acted synergistically in combination with vemurafenib in preclinical melanoma models.

Conclusions

We here identify miR-32/MCL-1 pathway members as key early genetic events driving melanoma progression, and suggest that their inhibition may be an effective anti-melanoma strategy irrespective of NRAS, BRAF, and PTEN status.

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<![CDATA[A structural variant in the 5’-flanking region of the TWIST2 gene affects melanocyte development in belted cattle]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db5fab0ee8fa60be12b5

Belted cattle have a circular belt of unpigmented hair and skin around their midsection. The belt is inherited as a monogenic autosomal dominant trait. We mapped the causative variant to a 37 kb segment on bovine chromosome 3. Whole genome sequence data of 2 belted and 130 control cattle yielded only one private genetic variant in the critical interval in the two belted animals. The belt-associated variant was a copy number variant (CNV) involving the quadruplication of a 6 kb non-coding sequence located approximately 16 kb upstream of the TWIST2 gene. Increased copy numbers at this CNV were strongly associated with the belt phenotype in a cohort of 333 cases and 1322 controls. We hypothesized that the CNV causes aberrant expression of TWIST2 during neural crest development, which might negatively affect melanoblasts. Functional studies showed that ectopic expression of bovine TWIST2 in neural crest in transgenic zebrafish led to a decrease in melanocyte numbers. Our results thus implicate an unsuspected involvement of TWIST2 in regulating pigmentation and reveal a non-coding CNV underlying a captivating Mendelian character.

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<![CDATA[Primary Cilia Negatively Regulate Melanogenesis in Melanocytes and Pigmentation in a Human Skin Model]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daaaab0ee8fa60ba8f93

The primary cilium is an organelle protruding from the cell body that senses external stimuli including chemical, mechanical, light, osmotic, fluid flow, and gravitational signals. Skin is always exposed to the external environment and responds to external stimuli. Therefore, it is possible that primary cilia have an important role in skin. Ciliogenesis was reported to be involved in developmental processes in skin, such as keratinocyte differentiation and hair formation. However, the relation between skin pigmentation and primary cilia is largely unknown. Here, we observed that increased melanogenesis in melanocytes treated with a melanogenic inducer was inhibited by a ciliogenesis inducer, cytochalasin D, and serum-free culture. However, these inhibitory effects disappeared in GLI2 knockdown cells. In addition, activation of sonic hedgehog (SHH)-smoothened (Smo) signaling pathway by a Smo agonist, SAG inhibited melanin synthesis in melanocytes and pigmentation in a human skin model. On the contrary, an inhibitor of primary cilium formation, ciliobrevin A1, activated melanogenesis in melanocytes. These results suggest that skin pigmentation may be regulated partly by the induction of ciliogenesis through Smo-GLI2 signaling.

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<![CDATA[Tyrosinase-Cre-Mediated Deletion of the Autophagy Gene Atg7 Leads to Accumulation of the RPE65 Variant M450 in the Retinal Pigment Epithelium of C57BL/6 Mice]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db04ab0ee8fa60bc7a83

Targeted gene knockout mouse models have helped to identify roles of autophagy in many tissues. Here, we investigated the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of Atg7f/f Tyr-Cre mice (on a C57BL/6 background), in which Cre recombinase is expressed under the control of the tyrosinase promoter to delete the autophagy gene Atg7. In line with pigment cell-directed blockade of autophagy, the RPE and the melanocytes of the choroid showed strong accumulation of the autophagy adaptor and substrate, sequestosome 1 (Sqstm1)/p62, relative to the levels in control mice. Immunofluorescence and Western blot analysis demonstrated that the RPE, but not the choroid melanocytes, of Atg7f/f Tyr-Cre mice also had strongly increased levels of retinoid isomerohydrolase RPE65, a pivotal enzyme for the maintenance of visual perception. In contrast to Sqstm1, genes involved in retinal regeneration, i.e. Lrat, Rdh5, Rgr, and Rpe65, were expressed at higher mRNA levels. Sequencing of the Rpe65 gene showed that Atg7f/f and Atg7f/f Tyr-Cre mice carry a point mutation (L450M) that is characteristic for the C57BL/6 mouse strain and reportedly causes enhanced degradation of the RPE65 protein by an as-yet unknown mechanism. These results suggest that the increased abundance of RPE65 M450 in the RPE of Atg7f/f Tyr-Cre mice is, at least partly, mediated by upregulation of Rpe65 transcription; however, our data are also compatible with the hypothesis that the RPE65 M450 protein is degraded by Atg7-dependent autophagy in Atg7f/f mice. Further studies in mice of different genetic backgrounds are necessary to determine the relative contributions of these mechanisms.

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<![CDATA[The Response of microRNAs to Solar UVR in Skin-Resident Melanocytes Differs between Melanoma Patients and Healthy Persons]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da7dab0ee8fa60b9926e

The conversion of melanocytes into cutaneous melanoma is largely dictated by the effects of solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Yet to be described, however, is exactly how these cells are affected by intense solar UVR while residing in their natural microenvironment, and whether their response differs in persons with a history of melanoma when compared to that of healthy individuals. By using laser capture microdissection (LCM) to isolate a pure population of melanocytes from a small area of skin that had been intermittingly exposed or un-exposed to physiological doses of solar UVR, we can now report for the first time that the majority of UV-responsive microRNAs (miRNAs) in the melanocytes of a group of women with a history of melanoma are down-regulated when compared to those in the melanocytes of healthy controls. Among the miRNAs that were commonly and significantly down-regulated in each of these women were miR-193b (P<0.003), miR-342-3p (P<0.003), miR186 (P<0.007), miR-130a (P<0.007), and miR-146a (P<0.007). To identify genes potentially released from inhibition by these repressed UV-miRNAs, we analyzed databases (e.g., DIANA-TarBase) containing experimentally validated microRNA-gene interactions. In the end, this enabled us to construct UV-miRNA-gene regulatory networks consisting of individual genes with a probable gain-of-function being intersected not by one, but by several down-regulated UV-miRNAs. Most striking, however, was that these networks typified well-known regulatory modules involved in controlling the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and processes associated with the regulation of immune-evasion. We speculate that these pathways become activated by UVR resulting in miRNA down regulation only in melanocytes susceptible to melanoma, and that these changes could be partially responsible for empowering these cells toward tumor progression.

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<![CDATA[The Mitochondrial m-AAA Protease Prevents Demyelination and Hair Greying]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dab2ab0ee8fa60babee3

The m-AAA protease preserves proteostasis of the inner mitochondrial membrane. It ensures a functional respiratory chain, by controlling the turnover of respiratory complex subunits and allowing mitochondrial translation, but other functions in mitochondria are conceivable. Mutations in genes encoding subunits of the m-AAA protease have been linked to various neurodegenerative diseases in humans, such as hereditary spastic paraplegia and spinocerebellar ataxia. While essential functions of the m-AAA protease for neuronal survival have been established, its role in adult glial cells remains enigmatic. Here, we show that deletion of the highly expressed subunit AFG3L2 in mature mouse oligodendrocytes provokes early-on mitochondrial fragmentation and swelling, as previously shown in neurons, but causes only late-onset motor defects and myelin abnormalities. In contrast, total ablation of the m-AAA protease, by deleting both Afg3l2 and its paralogue Afg3l1, triggers progressive motor dysfunction and demyelination, owing to rapid oligodendrocyte cell death. Surprisingly, the mice showed premature hair greying, caused by progressive loss of melanoblasts that share a common developmental origin with Schwann cells and are targeted in our experiments. Thus, while both neurons and glial cells are dependant on the m-AAA protease for survival in vivo, complete ablation of the complex is necessary to trigger death of oligodendrocytes, hinting to cell-autonomous thresholds of vulnerability to m-AAA protease deficiency.

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<![CDATA[Structure-based mutational analysis of ICAT residues mediating negative regulation of β-catenin co-transcriptional activity]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db50ab0ee8fa60bdbd42

ICAT (Inhibitor of β-CAtenin and TCF) is a small acidic protein that negatively regulates β-catenin co-transcriptional activity by competing with TCF/LEF factors in their binding to β-catenin superhelical core. In melanoma cells, ICAT competes with LEF1 to negatively regulate the M-MITF and NEDD9 target genes. The structure of ICAT consists of two domains: the 3-helix bundle N-terminal domain binds to β-catenin Armadillo (Arm) repeats 10–12 and the C-terminal tail binds to Arm repeats 5–9. To elucidate the structural mechanisms governing ICAT/β-catenin interactions in melanoma cells, three ICAT residues Y15, K19 and V22 in the N-terminal domain, contacting hydrophobic β-catenin residue F660, were mutated and interaction was assessed by immunoprecipitation. Despite the moderate hydrophobicity of the contact, its removal completely abolished the interaction. In the ICAT C-terminal tail consensus sequence, neutralization of the electrostatic interactions between residues D66, E75 and β-catenin residues K435, K312, coupled to deletion of the hydrophobic contact between F71 and β-catenin R386, markedly reduced, but failed to abolish the ICAT-mediated negative regulation of M-MITF and NEDD9 promoters. We conclude that in melanoma cells, anchoring of ICAT N-terminal domain to β-catenin through the hook made by residue F660, trapped in the pincers formed by ICAT residues Y15 and V22, is crucial for stabilizing the ICAT/β-catenin complex. This is a prerequisite for binding of the consensus peptide to Arm repeats 5–9 and competition with LEF1. Differences between ICAT and LEF1 in their affinity for β-catenin may rely on the absence in ICAT of hydrophilic residues between D66 and F71.

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<![CDATA[PERK Is a Haploinsufficient Tumor Suppressor: Gene Dose Determines Tumor-Suppressive Versus Tumor Promoting Properties of PERK in Melanoma]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da04ab0ee8fa60b75343

The unfolded protein response (UPR) regulates cell fate following exposure of cells to endoplasmic reticulum stresses. PERK, a UPR protein kinase, regulates protein synthesis and while linked with cell survival, exhibits activities associated with both tumor progression and tumor suppression. For example, while cells lacking PERK are sensitive to UPR-dependent cell death, acute activation of PERK triggers both apoptosis and cell cycle arrest, which would be expected to contribute tumor suppressive activity. We have evaluated these activities in the BRAF-dependent melanoma and provide evidence revealing a complex role for PERK in melanoma where a 50% reduction is permissive for BrafV600E-dependent transformation, while complete inhibition is tumor suppressive. Consistently, PERK mutants identified in human melanoma are hypomorphic with dominant inhibitory function. Strikingly, we demonstrate that small molecule PERK inhibitors exhibit single agent efficacy against BrafV600E-dependent tumors highlighting the clinical value of targeting PERK.

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<![CDATA[Cellular and ultrastructural characterization of the grey-morph phenotype in southern right whales (Eubalaena australis)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db4fab0ee8fa60bdb867

Southern right whales (SRWs, Eubalena australis) are polymorphic for an X-linked pigmentation pattern known as grey morphism. Most SRWs have completely black skin with white patches on their bellies and occasionally on their backs; these patches remain white as the whale ages. Grey morphs (previously referred to as partial albinos) appear mostly white at birth, with a splattering of rounded black marks; but as the whales age, the white skin gradually changes to a brownish grey color. The cellular and developmental bases of grey morphism are not understood. Here we describe cellular and ultrastructural features of grey-morph skin in relation to that of normal, wild-type skin. Melanocytes were identified histologically and counted, and melanosomes were measured using transmission electron microscopy. Grey-morph skin had fewer melanocytes when compared to wild-type skin, suggesting reduced melanocyte survival, migration, or proliferation in these whales. Grey-morph melanocytes had smaller melanosomes relative to wild-type skin, normal transport of melanosomes to surrounding keratinocytes, and normal localization of melanin granules above the keratinocyte nuclei. These findings indicate that SRW grey-morph pigmentation patterns are caused by reduced numbers of melanocytes in the skin, as well as by reduced amounts of melanin production and/or reduced sizes of mature melanosomes. Grey morphism is distinct from piebaldism and albinism found in other species, which are genetic pigmentation conditions resulting from the local absence of melanocytes, or the inability to synthesize melanin, respectively.

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