Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Biological Research]]> vol. 35 num. 2 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[Cellular Signaling]]> <![CDATA[Introduction to supramolecular complex formation in cell signaling and disease]]> <![CDATA[Lipid rafts: cell surface platforms for T cell signaling]]> The Src family tyrosine kinase Lck is essential for T cell development and T cell receptor (TCR)* signaling. Lck is post-translationally fatty acylated at its N-terminus conferring membrane targeting and concentration in plasma membrane lipid rafts, which are lipid-based organisational platforms. Confocal fluorescence microscopy shows that Lck colocalises in rafts with GPI-linked proteins, the adaptor protein LAT and Ras, but not with non-raft membrane proteins including the protein tyrosine phosphatase CD45. The TCR also associates with lipid rafts and its cross-linking causes coaggregation of raft-associated proteins including Lck, but not of CD45. Cross-linking of either the TCR or rafts strongly induces specific tyrosine phosphorylation of the TCR in the rafts. Remarkably, raft patching alone induces signalling events analogous to TCR stimulation, with the same dependence on expression of key TCR signalling molecules. Our results indicate a mechanism whereby TCR engagement promotes aggregation of lipid rafts, which facilitates colocalisation of signaling proteins including Lck, LAT, and the TCR, while excluding CD45, thereby potentiating protein tyrosine phosphorylation and downstream signaling. We are currently testing this hypothesis as well as using imaging techniques such as fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) microscopy to study the dynamics of proteins and lipids in lipid rafts in living cells undergoing signaling events. Recent data show that the key phosphoinositide PI(4,5)P2 is concentrated in T cell lipid rafts and that on stimulation of the cells it is rapidly converted to PI(3,4,5)P3 and diacylglycerol within rafts. Thus rafts are hotspots for both protein and lipid signalling pathways. <![CDATA[New insights to the functional role of the T cell-Antigen Presenting Cell immunological synapse]]> Three innovative and complementary morphological approaches were employed to study the T cell/antigen presenting cell (APC) interaction: (i) high resolution three-dimensional confocal microscopy of the T cell-APC contact site; (ii) time lapse video recording in living T cells of [Ca2+]I and changes in distribution of various GFP fusion proteins with TCR/CD3-zetacomplex associated- and other signaling components; (iii) measurement of lateral TCR mobility and that of recruited signaling components using techniques based on fluorescence recovery after photo-bleaching. These approaches were combined with biochemical and functional experiments to investigate two principal issues: (A) Recruitment and the three-dimensional arrangement of receptors and signaling components at the contact site between human CD4+ T lymphocytes and APCs, (B) Structure of the immunological synapse formed at the contact site between cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) and target cells. We discuss evidence indicating that TCR engagement and triggering can occur in the absence of large-scale molecular segregation into the T cell-APC contact site. Taken together our results indicate that although not required for TCR engagement and triggering, formation of the IS is important to reinforce TCR-mediated signal transduction and achieve full T cell activation. <![CDATA[Posttranslational protein S-palmitoylation and the compartmentalization of signaling molecules in neurons]]> Protein domains play a fundamental role in the spatial and temporal organization of intracellular signaling systems. While protein phosphorylation has long been known to modify the interactions that underlie this organization, the dynamic cycling of lipids should now be included amongst the posttranslational processes determining specificity in signal transduction. The characteristics of this process are reminiscent of the properties of protein and lipid phosphorylation in determining compartmentalization through SH2 or PH domains. Recent studies have confirmed the functional importance of protein S-palmitoylation in the compartmentalization of signaling molecules that support normal physiological function in cell division and apoptosis, and synaptic transmission and neurite outgrowth. In neurons, S-palmitoylation and targeting of proteins to rafts are regulated differentially in development by a number of processes, including some related to synaptogenesis and synaptic plasticity. Alterations in the S-palmitoylation state of proteins substantially affect their cellular function, raising the possibility of new therapeutic targets in cancer and nervous system injury and disease. <![CDATA[Caveolae and caveolae-like membrane domains in cellular signaling and disease: Identification of downstream targets for the tumor suppressor protein caveolin-1]]> Caveolae are small, flask-shaped invaginations of the plasma membrane present on a large number of mammalian cells. Recent results obtained with knock-out mice for the gene caveolin-1 demonstrate that expression of caveolin-1 protein is essential for caveolae formation in vivo. Caveolae are implicated in a wide variety of cellular events including transcytosis, cholesterol trafficking and as cellular centers important in coordinating signalling events. Caveolae share this role and the property of detergent insolubility with plasma membrane assemblies rich in glycosphingolipids and cholesterol, often called lipid rafts, but preferably referred to here as caveolae-like membrane domains. Due to such widespread presence and usage in cellular function, caveolae and related domains are implicated in human diseases, including cancer. In particular, the protein caveolin-1 is suggested to function as a tumor suppressor protein. Evidence demonstrating such a role for caveolin-1 in human colon carcinoma cells will be discussed together with data from microarray experiments seeking to identify caveolin-1 target genes responsible for such behavior. <![CDATA[Caveolin-1-mediated post-transcriptional regulation of inducible nitric oxide synthase in human colon carcinoma cells]]> Reactive oxygen species are now widely recognized as important players contributing both to cell homeostasis and the development of disease. In this respect nitric oxide (NO) is no exception. The discussion here will center on regulation of the inducible form of nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) for two reasons. First, only iNOS produces micromolar NO concentrations, amounts that are high by comparison with the picomolar to nanomolar concentrations resulting from Ca2+-controlled NO production by endothelial eNOS or neuronal nNOS. Second, iNOS is not constitutively expressed in cells and regulation of this isoenzyme, in contrast to endothelial eNOS or neuronal nNOS, is widely considered to occur at the transcriptional level only. In particular, we were interested in the possibility that caveolin-1, a protein that functions as a tumor suppressor in colon carcinoma cells (Bender et al., 2002; this issue), might regulate iNOS activity. Our results provide evidence for the existence of a post-transcriptional mechanism controlling iNOS protein levels that involves caveolin-1-dependent sequestration of iNOS within a detergent-insoluble compartment. Interestingly, despite the high degree of conservation of the caveolin-1 scaffolding domain binding motif within all NOS enzymes, the interaction detected between caveolin-1 and iNOS in vitro is crucially dependent on presence of a caveolin-1 sequence element immediately adjacent to the scaffolding domain. A model is presented summarizing the salient aspects of these results. These observations are important in the context of tumor biology, since down-regulation of caveolin-1 is predicted to promote uncontrolled iNOS activity, genotoxic damage and thereby facilitate tumor development in humans <![CDATA[Calcium signal compartmentalization]]> Cytosolic calcium signals are produced by suddenly increasing the concentration of free calcium ions (Ca2+). This can occur by opening channels permeable to Ca2+ either in the surface cell membrane or in the membranes of intracellular organelles containing high Ca2+ concentrations. Ca2+ signals can control several different processes, even in the same cell. In pancreatic acinar cells, for example, Ca2+ signals do not only control the normal secretion of digestive enzymes, but can also activate autodigestion and programmed cell death. Recent technical advances have shown that different patterns of Ca2+ signals can be created, in space and time, which allow specific cellular responses to be elicited. The mechanisms responsible for Ca2+ signal compartmentalization are now largely known and will be described on the basis of recent studies of Ca2+ transport pathways and their regulation in pancreatic acinar cells. It turns out that the Ca2+ handling as well as the structural characteristics of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and the mitochondria are of particular importance. Using a variety of Ca2+-sensitive fluorescent probes placed in different sub-cellular compartments in combination with local uncaging of caged Ca2+, many new insights into Ca2+ signal generation, compartmentalization and termination have recently been obtained <![CDATA[Redox regulation of calcium release in skeletal and cardiac muscle]]> In skeletal and cardiac muscle cells, specific isoforms of the Ryanodine receptor channels mediate Ca2+ release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum. These channels are highly susceptible to redox modifications, which regulate channel activity. In this work, we studied the effects of Ca2+ (endogenous agonist) and Mg2+ (endogenous inhibitor) on the kinetics of Ca2+ release from sarcoplasmic reticulum vesicles isolated from skeletal or cardiac mammalian muscle. Native skeletal vesicles exhibited maximal stimulation of release kinetics by 10-20 µM [Ca2+], whereas in native cardiac vesicles, maximal stimulation of release required only 1 µM [Ca2+]. In 10 µM [Ca2+], free [Mg2+] < 0.1 mM produced marked inhibition of release from skeletal vesicles but free [Mg2+] ­ 0.8 mM did not affect release from cardiac vesicles. Incubation of skeletal or cardiac vesicles with the oxidant thimerosal increased their susceptibility to stimulation by Ca2+ and decreased the inhibitory effect of Mg2+ in skeletal vesicles. Sulfhydryl-reducing agents fully reversed the effects of thimerosal. The endogenous redox species, glutathione disulfide and S-nitrosoglutathione, also stimulated release from skeletal sarcoplasmic reticulum vesicles. In 10 µM [Ca2+], 35S-nitrosoglutathione labeled a protein fraction enriched in release channels through S-glutathiolation. Free [Mg2+] 1 mM or decreasing free [Ca2+] to the nM range prevented this reaction. Possible physiological and pathological consequences of redox modification of release channels on Ca2+ signaling in heart and muscle cells are discussed <![CDATA[IP<SUB>3</SUB> dependent Ca<SUP>2+</SUP> signals in muscle cells are involved in regulation of gene expression]]> Potassium depolarization of cultured muscle cells was employed to study cellular responses linked to calcium signaling. Events occurring after depolarization include i) A transient increase of the IP3 mass (2-10s); ii) A slow calcium transient (5 to 25s) that propagates as a low concentration wave along the myotube showing a distinct calcium transient at the level of cell nuclei. Due to the presence of IP3 receptors both in the SR (A-band region) and in the nuclear envelope, these two events appear to be related; iii) Phosphorylation of mitogen activated kinases (ERK 1/2) and of the transcription factor CREB (30 s-10 min), as well as expression of the early genes c-fos, c-jun and egr-1 mRNA (5-15 min). Several independent pieces of evidence, including results obtained using inhibitors specific for individual steps, allowed us to connect these in a sequential manner. As the same type of signaling cascade can be triggered by oxidants, neurotransmitters and hormones, the ensemble of results allows us to propose a general model to describe signaling events that link membrane stimulation to regulation of gene transcription in skeletal muscle cells <![CDATA[Molecular interplay between ion channels and the regulation of apoptosis]]> Apoptosis is the programmed and deliberate destruction of specific cells. This process occurs during normal development and maintains cellular homeostasis. Disruption or malfunction of apoptosis is implicated in diseases like cancer, AIDS as well as neurodegenerative disorders. The movement of monovalent ions appears to set the stage for the induction of the self-destruction machinery by creating an intracellular environment that favors activation and coordinated execution of the apoptotic program. Understanding the components and steps involved in this intricate process can further our insight to diseases and reveal new approaches for therapeutic treatment <![CDATA[Ion movements in cell death: from protection to execution]]> Cell death is preceded by severe disruption of inorganic ion homeostasis. Seconds to minutes after an injury, calcium, protons, sodium, potassium and chloride are exchanged between the cell and its environment. Simultaneously, ions are shifted between membrane compartments inside the cell, whereby mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum play a crucial role. Depending of the type and severity of injury, two mutually exclusive metastable states can be reached, which predict the final outcome. Cells characterized by large increases in cytosolic [Ca2+], [Na+]; and [Mg2+] swell and die by necrosis; alternatively, cells characterized by high [H+]and low [K+], with normal [Na+] and normal to moderate [Ca2+] increases die by apoptosis. The levels of these ions represent central determinants in signaling events leading to cell death. Their movements are explained mechanistically by specific modulation of membrane transport proteins including channels, pumps and carriers <![CDATA[Non-selective cation channels and oxidative stress- induced cell swelling]]> Necrosis is considered as a non-specific form of cell death that induces tissue inflammation and is preceded by cell swelling. This increase in cell volume has been ascribed mainly to defective outward pumping of Na+ caused by metabolic depletion and/or to increased Na+ influx via membrane transporters. A specific mechanism of swelling and necrosis driven by the influx of Na+ through nonselective cation channels has been recently proposed (<A HREF="#2">Barros et al., 2001a</A>). We have characterized further the properties of the nonselective cation channel (NSCC) in HTC cells. The NSCC shows a conductance of ~18 pS, is equally permeable to Na+ and K+, impermeant to Ca2+, requires high intracellular Ca2+ as well as low intracellular ATP for activation and is inhibited by flufenamic acid. Hydrogen peroxide induced a significant increase in cell volume that was dependent on external Na+. We propose that the NSCC, which is ubiquitous though largely inactive in healthy cells, becomes activated under severe oxidative stress. The ensuing Na+ influx initiates via positive feedback a series of metabolic and electrolytic disturbances, resulting in cell death by necrosis <![CDATA[Phospholipid synthesis, diacylglycerol compartmentation, and apoptosis]]> Apoptosis is a means by which organisms dispose of unwanted cells without inducing an inflammatory response. Alterations in apoptosis is a common process by which cells become cancerous. Paradoxically, many cancer chemotherapeutics preferentially kill cancer cells by inducing apoptosis. Diacylglycerol is a lipid second messenger that regulates cell growth and apoptosis and is produced during signal transduction by hydrolysis of membrane phospholipids. Protein kinase Cs are a family of diacylglycerol responsive enzymes that are recruited to cellular membranes as a consequence of diacylglycerol production where they phosphorylate specific target proteins responsible for regulating cell growth. In this review, we will first summarize our current understanding of the role of specific proteins kinase C isoforms in the induction of cell growth/apoptosis. Subsequently, we will discuss how insights gained in lipid-mediated regulation of protein kinase Cs promotes our understanding of the role specific family members play in regulating cell growth. Finally, other diacylglycerol binding proteins involved in regulating apoptosis will be discussed <![CDATA[Signaling triggered by Thy-1 interaction with ß<SUB>3</SUB> integrin on astrocytes is an essential step towards unraveling neuronal Thy-1 function]]> Thy-1 is an abundant neuronal glycoprotein in mammals. Despite such prevalence, Thy-1 function remains largely obscure in the absence of a defined ligand. Recently described evidence that Thy-1 interacts with ß3 integrin on astrocytes will be discussed. Thy-1 binding to ß3 integrin triggers tyrosine phosphorylation of focal adhesion proteins in astrocytes, thereby promoting focal adhesion formation, cell attachment and spreading. Thy-1 has been reported to modulate neurite outgrowth by triggering a cellular response in neurons. However, our data indicate that Thy-1 can also initiate signaling events that promote adhesion of adjacent astrocytes to the underlying surface. Preliminary results suggest that morphological changes observed in the actin cytoskeleton of astrocytes as a consequence of Thy-1 binding is mediated by small GTPases from the Rho family. Our findings argue that Thy-1 functions in a bimodal fashion, as a receptor on neuronal cells and as a ligand for ß3 integrin receptor on astrocytes. Since Thy-1 is implicated in the inhibition of neurite outgrowth, signaling events in astrocytes are likely to play an important role in this process <![CDATA[Regulation of Rho Family GTPases by Cell-Cell and Cell-Matrix Adhesion]]> Integrins and cadherins are transmembrane adhesion receptors that are necessary for cells to interact with the extracellular matrix or adjacent cells, respectively. Integrins and cadherins initiate signaling pathways that modulate the activity of Rho family GTPases. The Rho proteins Cdc42, Rac1, and RhoA regulate the actin cytoskeleton. Cdc42 and Rac1 are primarily involved in the formation of protrusive structures, while RhoA generates myosin-based contractility. Here we examine the differential regulation of RhoA, Cdc42, and Rac1 by integrin and cadherin signaling. Integrin and cadherin signaling leads to a decrease in RhoA activity and activation of Cdc42 and Rac1. When the normal RhoA suppression is antagonized or RhoA signaling is increased, cells exhibited impaired spreading on the matrix protein fibronectin and decreased cell-cell adhesion. Spreading on fibronectin and the formation of cell-cell adhesions is decreased in cells expressing dominant negative forms of Cdc42 or Rac1. These data demonstrate that integrins and cadherins regulate Rho proteins in a comparable manner and lead us to speculate that these changes in Rho protein activity participate in a feedback mechanism that promotes further cell-matrix or cell-cell interaction, respectively <![CDATA[Cytohesins and centaurins control subcellular trafficking of macromolecular signaling complexes: Regulation by phosphoinositides and ADP-Ribosylation Factors]]> The ADP-ribosylation factor family of small GTP-binding proteins are implicated in the regulation of vesicular transport and control of cytoskeletal and cell adhesion events. The phosphoinositide 3-kinase, phosphoinositide 4-P 5-kinase and phospholipase D signaling pathways are major regulators of ARF signaling cascades. Two families of ARF regulatory molecules, the cytohesin ARF-Guanine nucleotide Exchange Factors and the centaurin GTPase-Activating Proteins provide key targets for the action of these lipid signals. A critical feature of the regulation of ARF signaling is coordinated recruitment of exchange factors, ARFs and GAPs to appropriate subcellular locations. These complexes drive repetitive cycles of ARF activation and membrane association that underlie the processes of cell movement as well as endosomal uptake and intracellular redistribution of signaling molecules. Cytohesins and centaurins bind specifically to a variety of other signaling proteins and these interactions may provide routes for regulated recruitment to the sites of ARF activation. Through their ability to control endosomal trafficking/recycling of these supramolecular signaling complexes ARF and phospholipid signaling pathways may have consequences that reach as far as the regulation of gene transcription and control of cell fate <![CDATA[Extracellular signals, cell interactions and transcription factors involved in the induction of the neural crest cells]]> The neural crest is induced at the border between the neural plate and the epidermis. A complex set of signals is required for the specification of the crest cells between the epidermis and the neural plate. Here we discuss evidence supporting a model for neural crest induction in which different signals contribute in a sequential order. First, a gradient of bone morphogenic proteins (BMPs) is established in the ectoderm that results in segreggation into neural plate, neural folds and epidermis at increasing levels of BMP activity. Thus, the neural folds are induced at a precise threshold concentration of BMP, but this neural fold has an anterior character. In a second step, these anterior neural folds are transformed into prospective neural crest by posteriorizing signals due to fibroblast growth factor, Wnts and retinoic acid. Finally, the induced cells interact to complete neural crest induction by a process that requires Notch/Delta signaling. Once neural crest formation has been induced by this combination of extracellular and intracellular signals, a cascade of transcription factors is activated in these cells that culminates in the ultimate steps of neural crest differentiation <![CDATA[Wnt signaling: A complex issue]]> The development of tissues and organs in multicellular organisms is controlled by the interplay of several signaling pathways that cross-talk to provide positional information and induce cell fate specification. Together with other families of secreted factors such as TGFßs, FGFs, Hedgehog and Notch proteins, Wnt growth factors are crucially implicated in these processes. Here, we will first discuss molecular mechanisms and then consider some biological consequences of Wnt signaling <![CDATA[T-kininogen inhibits kinin-mediated activation of ERK in endothelial cells]]> Serum levels of T-kininogen increase dramatically as rats approach the end of their lifespan. Stable expression of the protein in Balb/c 3T3 fibroblasts leads to a dramatic inhibition of cell proliferation, as well as inhibition of the ERK signaling pathway. T-kininogen is a potent inhibitor of cysteine proteinases, and we have described that the inhibition of ERK activity occurs, at least in part, via stabilization of the MAP kinase phosphatase, MKP-1. Since fibroblasts are not a physiological target of T-kininogen, we have now purified the protein from rat serum, and used it to assess the effect of T-kininogen on endothelial cells. Adding purified T-kininogen to EAhy 926 hybridoma cells resulted in inhibition of basal ERK activity levels, as estimated using appropriate anti-phospho ERK antibodies. Furthermore, exogenously added T-kininogen inhibited the activation of the ERK pathway induced by either bradykinin or T-kinin. We conclude that the age-related increase in hepatic T-kininogen gene expression and serum levels of the protein could have dramatic consequences on endothelial cell physiology, both under steady state conditions, and after activation by cell-specific stimuli. Our results are consistent with T-kininogen being an important modulator of the senescent phenotype in vivo <![CDATA[Modulation of nuclear receptor dependent transcription]]> Nuclear receptors comprise a family of transcription factors that regulate gene expression in a ligand dependent manner. They can activate or repress target genes by binding directly to DNA response elements as homo- or hetero-dimers or by binding to other classes of DNA-bound transcription factors. These activities have been linked to the formation of complexes with molecules that appear to serve as coactivators or corepressors, causing local modification of chromatin structure in order to regulate expression of their target genes. Several members of nuclear receptor family are directly associated with human malignancies including breast cancer, prostate cancer and leukaemia. The pathogenesis of each of these diseases is underpinned by the activities of a member of the superfamily; estrogen receptor-a (ERa) in breast cancer, androgen receptor (AR) in prostate cancer, and retinoic acid receptor a (RARa) in acute promyelocytic leukaemia <![CDATA[The S6 kinase Signaling Pathway In The Control of Development and Growth]]> The discussion will focus on the role of the ribosomal protein S6 kinase (S6K) signaling pathway in the regulation of cell growth and proliferation. Although 40S ribosomal protein S6 phosphorylation was first described 25 years ago (<A HREF="#20">Gressner and Wool, 1974</A>), it only recently has been implicated in the translational up-regulation of mRNAs coding for the components of protein synthetic apparatus (<A HREF="#15">Fumagalli and Thomas, 2000</A>). These mRNAs contain an oligopyrimidine tract at their 5' transcriptional start site, termed a 5'TOP, which has been shown to be essential for their regulation at the translational level (<A HREF="#32">Meyuhas et al., 1996</A>). In parallel, a great deal of information has accumulated concerning the identification of the signaling pathway and the regulatory phosphorylation sites involved in controlling S6K activation (<A HREF="#13">Dufner and Thomas, 1999</A>). Despite this knowledge we are only beginning to identify the direct upstream elements involved in growth factor-induced kinase activation (<A HREF="#9">Dennis et al., 2001</A>; <A HREF="#38">Pullen et al., 1998</A>). Use of the immunosuppressant rapamycin, a bacterial macrolide, in conjunction with dominant interfering and activated forms of S6K1 has helped to establish the role of this signaling cascade in the regulation of growth and proliferation (<A HREF="#11">Dennis and Thomas, 2002</A>). In addition, current studies employing the mouse as well as Drosophila melanogaster have provided new insights into physiological function of S6K in the animal (<A HREF="#33">Montagne et al., 1999</A>; <A HREF="#36">Pende et al., 2000</A>). Loss of dS6K function in Drosophila melanogaster demonstrated its paramount importance in development and growth control (<A HREF="#33">Montagne et al., 1999</A>), whereas deletion of the S6K1 gene in the mouse led to an animal of reduced size and the identification of the S6K1 homologue, S6K2 (<A HREF="#44">Shima et al., 1998</A>). Such mice are significantly smaller during fetal development (<A HREF="#44">Shima et al., 1998</A>) and hypoinsulinemic in the adult, conditions known to lead to type 2 diabetes (<A HREF="#36">Pende et al., 2000</A>).