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PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 114:(35) pp. 9481-9486. (2017)

Changes in aggregation states of light-harvesting complexes as a mechanism for modulating energy transfer in desert crust cyanobacteria

Bar Eyal L, Ranjbar Choubeh R, Cohen E, Eisenberg I, Tamburu C, Dorogi M, Unnep R, Appavou MS, Nevo R, Raviv U, Reich Z, Garab G, van Amerongen H, Paltiel Y, Keren N

In this paper we propose an energy dissipation mechanism that is completely reliant on changes in the aggregation state of the phycobilisome light-harvesting antenna components. All photosynthetic organisms regulate the efficiency of excitation energy transfer (EET) to fit light energy supply to biochemical demands. Not many do this to the extent required of desert crust cyanobacteria. Following predawn dew deposition, they harvest light energy with maximum efficiency until desiccating in the early morning hours. In the desiccated state, absorbed energy is completely quenched. Time and spectrally resolved fluorescence emission measurements of the desiccated desert crust Leptolyngbya ohadii strain identified (i) reduced EET between phycobilisome components, (ii) shorter fluorescence lifetimes, and (iii) red shift in the emission spectra, compared with the hydrated state. These changes coincide with a loss of the ordered phycobilisome structure, evident from small-angle neutron and X-ray scattering and cryo-transmission electron microscopy data. Based on these observations we propose a model where in the hydrated state the organized rod structure of the phycobilisome supports directional EET to reaction centers with minimal losses due to thermal dissipation. In the desiccated state this structure is lost, giving way to more random aggregates. The resulting EET path will exhibit increased coupling to the environment and enhanced quenching.

PLANT PHYSIOLOGY 175:(1) pp. 555-567. (2017)

Proline accumulation is regulated by transcription factors associated with phosphate starvation

Aleksza D, Horvath GV, Sandor G, Szabados L

Proline accumulation in plants is a well-documented physiological response to osmotic stress caused by drought or salinity. In Arabidopsis thaliana the stress and ABA-induced Delta1-PYRROLINE-5-CARBOXYLATE SYNTHETASE 1 (P5CS1) gene was previously shown to control proline biosynthesis in such adverse conditions. To identify regulatory factors which control the transcription of P5CS1, yeast one hybrid (Y1H) screens were performed with a genomic fragment of P5CS1, containing 1.2 kB promoter and 0.8 kB transcribed regions. The transcription factors PHOSPHATE STARVATION RESPONSE 1 (PHR1) and PHR1-LIKE 1 (PHL1) were identified to bind to P5CS1 sequences in the first intron, which carry a conserved PHR1-binding site (P1BS) motif. PHR1 and PHL1 binding to P1BS was confirmed by Y1H, electrophoretic mobility assay (EMSA) and chromatin immune precipitation (ChIP). Phosphate starvation led to gradual increase in proline content in wild type Arabidopsis plants as well as transcriptional activation of P5CS1 and PROLINE DEHYDROGENASE 2 (PDH2) genes. Induction of P5CS1 transcription and proline accumulation during phosphate deficiency was considerably reduced by phr1 and phl1 mutations and was impaired in the ABA deficient aba2-3 and ABA insensitive abi4-1 mutants. Growth and viability of phr1phl1 double mutant was reduced in phosphate-depleted medium, it was slightly diminished in the aba2-3 mutant, suggesting that ABA mediates growth retardation in such stress. Our results reveal a previously unknown link between proline metabolism and phosphate nutrition, and show that proline biosynthesis is target of crosstalk between ABA signaling and regulation of phosphate homeostasis through PHR1 and PHL1-mediated transcriptional activation of the P5CS1 gene.

PLOS GENETICS 13:(8) Paper e1006968. 35 p. (2017)

Kek-6: A truncated-Trk-like receptor for Drosophila neurotrophin 2 regulates structural synaptic plasticity

Ulian-Benitez S, Bishop S, Foldi I, Wentzell J, Okenwa C, Forero MG, Zhu BF, Moreira M, Phizacklea M, McIlroy G, Li GY, Gay NJ, Hidalgo A

Neurotrophism, structural plasticity, learning and long-term memory in mammals critically depend on neurotrophins binding Trk receptors to activate tyrosine kinase (TyrK) signaling, but Drosophila lacks full-length Trks, raising the question of how these processes occur in the fly. Paradoxically, truncated Trk isoforms lacking the TyrK predominate in the adult human brain, but whether they have neuronal functions independently of full-length Trks is unknown. Drosophila has TyrK-less Trk-family receptors, encoded by the kekkon (kek) genes, suggesting that evolutionarily conserved functions for this receptor class may exist. Here, we asked whether Keks function together with Drosophila neurotrophins (DNTs) at the larval glutamatergic neuromuscular junction (NMJ). We tested the eleven LRR and Igcontaining (LIG) proteins encoded in the Drosophila genome for expression in the central nervous system (CNS) and potential interaction with DNTs. Kek-6 is expressed in the CNS, interacts genetically with DNTs and can bind DNT2 in signaling assays and co-immunoprecipitations. Ligand binding is promiscuous, as Kek-6 can also bind DNT1, and Kek-2 and Kek-5 can also bind DNT2. In vivo, Kek-6 is found presynaptically in motoneurons, and DNT2 is produced by the muscle to function as a retrograde factor at the NMJ. Kek-6 and DNT2 regulate NMJ growth and synaptic structure. Evidence indicates that Kek-6 does not antagonise the alternative DNT2 receptor Toll-6. Instead, Kek-6 and Toll-6 interact physically, and together regulate structural synaptic plasticity and homeostasis. Using pull-down assays, we identified and validated CaMKII and VAP33A as intracellular partners of Kek-6, and show that they regulate NMJ growth and active zone formation downstream of DNT2 and Kek-6. The synaptic functions of Kek-6 could be evolutionarily conserved. This raises the intriguing possibility that a novel mechanism of structural synaptic plasticity involvingtruncated Trk-family receptors independently of TyrK signaling may also operate in the human brain.

ELIFE 6: Paper e29942. 3 p. (2017)

POST-TRANSLATIONAL MODIFICATIONS Reversing ADP-ribosylation

Moeller GK, Timinszky G

The modification of serines by molecules of ADP-ribose plays an important role in signaling that the DNA in a cell has been damaged and needs to be repaired.

EMBO JOURNAL 36:(13) pp. 1811-1836. (2017)

Molecular definitions of autophagy and related processes.

Galluzzi L, Baehrecke EH, Juhasz G, Kroemer G

Over the past two decades, the molecular machinery that underlies autophagic responses has been characterized with ever increasing precision in multiple model organisms. Moreover, it has become clear that autophagy and autophagy-related processes have profound implications for human pathophysiology. However, considerable confusion persists about the use of appropriate terms to indicate specific types of autophagy and some components of the autophagy machinery, which may have detrimental effects on the expansion of the field. Driven by the overt recognition of such a potential obstacle, a panel of leading experts in the field attempts here to define several autophagy-related terms based on specific biochemical features. The ultimate objective of this collaborative exchange is to formulate recommendations that facilitate the dissemination of knowledge within and outside the field of autophagy research.

JOURNAL OF CELL BIOLOGY 216:(7) pp. 1937-1947. (2017)

Rab2 promotes autophagic and endocytic lysosomal degradation.

Lorincz P, Toth S, Benko P, Lakatos Z, Boda A, Glatz G, Zobel M, Bisi S, Hegedus K, Takats S, Scita G, Juhasz G

Rab7 promotes fusion of autophagosomes and late endosomes with lysosomes in yeast and metazoan cells, acting together with its effector, the tethering complex HOPS. Here we show that another small GTPase, Rab2, is also required for autophagosome and endosome maturation and proper lysosome function in Drosophila melanogaster We demonstrate that Rab2 binds to HOPS, and that its active, GTP-locked form associates with autolysosomes. Importantly, expression of active Rab2 promotes autolysosomal fusions unlike that of GTP-locked Rab7, suggesting that its amount is normally rate limiting. We also demonstrate that RAB2A is required for autophagosome clearance in human breast cancer cells. In conclusion, we identify Rab2 as a key factor for autophagic and endocytic cargo delivery to and degradation in lysosomes.

CELL SYSTEMS 4:(6) pp. 651-655. (2017)

Advanced Cell Classifier: User-Friendly Machine-Learning-Based Software for Discovering Phenotypes in High-Content Imaging Data.

Piccinini F, Balassa T, Szkalisity A, Molnar C, Paavolainen L, Kujala K, Buzas K, Sarazova M, Pietiainen V, Kutay U, Smith K, Horvath P

High-content, imaging-based screens now routinely generate data on a scale that precludes manual verification and interrogation. Software applying machine learning has become an essential tool to automate analysis, but these methods require annotated examples to learn from. Efficiently exploring large datasets to find relevant examples remains a challenging bottleneck. Here, we present Advanced Cell Classifier (ACC), a graphical software package for phenotypic analysis that addresses these difficulties. ACC applies machine-learning and image-analysis methods to high-content data generated by large-scale, cell-based experiments. It features methods to mine microscopic image data, discover new phenotypes, and improve recognition performance. We demonstrate that these features substantially expedite the training process, successfully uncover rare phenotypes, and improve the accuracy of the analysis. ACC is extensively documented, designed to be user-friendly for researchers without machine-learning expertise, and distributed as a free open-source tool at www.cellclassifier.org.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CARDIOLOGY 241: pp. 364-372. (2017)

A Novel ‘Splice Site’ HCN4 Gene mutation, c.1737+1 G>T, Causes Familial Bradycardia, Reduced Heart Rate Response, Impaired Chronotropic Competence and Increased Short-Term Heart Rate Variability

Lidia Hategan, Beáta Csányi, Balázs Ördög, Kornél Kákonyi, Annamária Tringer, Orsolya Kiss, Andrea Orosz, László Sághy, István Nagy, Zoltán Hegedűs, László Rudas, Márta Széll, András Varró, Tamás Forster, Róbert Sepp

Background: The most important molecular determinant of heart rate regulation in sino-atrial pacemaker cells includes hyperpolarization-activated, cyclic nucleotide-gated ion channels, the major isoform of which is encoded by the HCN4 gene. Mutations affecting the HCN4 gene are associated primarily with sick sinus syndrome.
Methods and results: A novel c. 1737+ 1 G>T 'splice-site' HCN4 mutation was identified in a large family with familial bradycardia which co-segregated with the disease providing a two-point LOD score of 4.87. Twelve out of the 22 investigated familymembers [4 males, 8 females average age 36 (SD 6) years] were considered as clinically affected (heart rate < 60/min on resting ECG). Minimum[36 (SD 7) vs. 47 (SD 5) bpm, p = 0.0087) and average heart rates [62 (SD 8) vs. 73 (SD 8) bpm, p = 0.0168) were significantly lower in carriers on 24-hour Holter recordings. Under maximum exercise test carriers achieved significantly lower heart rates than non-carrier family members, and percent heart rate reserve and percent corrected heart rate reserve were significantly lower in carriers. Applying rigorous criteria for chronotropic incompetence a higher number of carriers exhibited chronotropic incompetence. Parameters, characterizing short-term variability of heart rate (i.e. rMSSD and pNN50%) were increased in carrier family members, even after normalization for heart rate, in the 24-hour ECG recordings with the same relative increase in 5-minute recordings.
Conclusions: The identified novel 'splice-site' HCN4 gene mutation, c. 1737+ 1 G>T, causes familial bradycardia and leads to reduced heart rate response, impaired chronotropic competence and increased short-term heart rate variability in the mutation carriers. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 114:(26) pp. 6854-6859. (2017)

Host-secreted antimicrobial peptide enforces symbiotic selectivity in Medicago truncatula.

Wang Q, Yang S, Liu J, Terecskei K, Abraham E, Gombar A, Domonkos A, Szucs A, Kormoczi P, Wang T, Fodor L, Mao L, Fei Z, Kondorosi E, Kalo P, Kereszt A, Zhu H

Legumes engage in root nodule symbioses with nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria known as rhizobia. In nodule cells, bacteria are enclosed in membrane-bound vesicles called symbiosomes and differentiate into bacteroids that are capable of converting atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia. Bacteroid differentiation and prolonged intracellular survival are essential for development of functional nodules. However, in the Medicago truncatula-Sinorhizobium meliloti symbiosis, incompatibility between symbiotic partners frequently occurs, leading to the formation of infected nodules defective in nitrogen fixation (Fix-). Here, we report the identification and cloning of the M. truncatula NFS2 gene that regulates this type of specificity pertaining to S. meliloti strain Rm41. We demonstrate that NFS2 encodes a nodule-specific cysteine-rich (NCR) peptide that acts to promote bacterial lysis after differentiation. The negative role of NFS2 in symbiosis is contingent on host genetic background and can be counteracted by other genes encoded by the host. This work extends the paradigm of NCR function to include the negative regulation of symbiotic persistence in host-strain interactions. Our data suggest that NCR peptides are host determinants of symbiotic specificity in M. truncatula and possibly in closely related legumes that form indeterminate nodules in which bacterial symbionts undergo terminal differentiation.

PLANT CELL AND ENVIRONMENT 40:(7) pp. 1104-1114. (2017)

Expression of the UVR8 photoreceptor in different tissues reveals tissue-autonomous features of UV-B signalling

Bernula P, Crocco CD, Arongaus AB, Ulm R, Nagy F, Viczian A

The Arabidopsis UV-B photoreceptor UV RESISTANCE LOCUS 8 (UVR8) orchestrates the expression of hundreds of genes, many of which can be associated with UV-B tolerance. UV-B does not efficiently penetrate into tissues, yet UV-B regulates complex growth and developmental responses. To unravel to what extent and how UVR8 located in different tissues contributes to UV-B-induced responses, we expressed UVR8 fused to the YELLOW FLUORESCENT PROTEIN (YFP) under the control of tissue-specific promoters in a uvr8 null mutant background. We show that (1) UVR8 localized in the epidermis plays a major role in regulating cotyledon expansion, and (2) expression of UVR8 in the mesophyll is important to protect adult plants from the damaging effects of UV-B. We found that UV-B induces transcription of selected genes, including the key transcriptional regulator ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL 5 (HY5), only in tissues that express UVR8. Thus, we suggest that tissue-autonomous and simultaneous UVR8 signalling in different tissues mediates, at least partly, developmental and defence responses to UV-B.

PLOS BIOLOGY 15:(5) Paper e2000644. 26 p. (2017)

Phenotypic heterogeneity promotes adaptive evolution

Bodi Z, Farkas Z, Nevozhay D, Kalapis D, Lazar V, Csorgo B, Nyerges A, Szamecz B, Fekete G, Papp B, Araujo H, Oliveira JL, Moura G, Santos MAS, Szekely T, Balazsi G, Pal C

Genetically identical cells frequently display substantial heterogeneity in gene expression, cellular morphology and physiology. It has been suggested that by rapidly generating a subpopulation with novel phenotypic traits, phenotypic heterogeneity (or plasticity) accelerates the rate of adaptive evolution in populations facing extreme environmental challenges. This issue is important as cell-to-cell phenotypic heterogeneity may initiate key steps in microbial evolution of drug resistance and cancer progression. Here, we study how stochastic transitions between cellular states influence evolutionary adaptation to a stressful environment in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We developed inducible synthetic gene circuits that generate varying degrees of expression stochasticity of an antifungal resistance gene. We initiated laboratory evolutionary experiments with genotypes carrying different versions of the genetic circuit by exposing the corresponding populations to gradually increasing antifungal stress. Phenotypic heterogeneity altered the evolutionary dynamics by transforming the adaptive landscape that relates genotype to fitness. Specifically, it enhanced the adaptive value of beneficial mutations through synergism between cell-to-cell variability and genetic variation. Our work demonstrates that phenotypic heterogeneity is an evolving trait when populations face a chronic selection pressure. It shapes evolutionary trajectories at the genomic level and facilitates evolutionary rescue from a deteriorating environmental stress.

BIOTECHNOLOGY FOR BIOFUELS 10: Paper 116. 5 p. (2017)

On the pathways feeding the H-2 production process in nutrient-replete, hypoxic conditions. Commentary on the article "Low oxygen levels contribute to improve photohydrogen production in mixotrophic non-stressed Chlamydomonas cultures", by Jurado-Oller et al., Biotechnology for Biofuels, published September 7, 2015; 8: 149

Scoma A, Toth SZ

Background: Under low O-2 concentration ( hypoxia) and low light, Chlamydomonas cells can produce H-2 gas in nutrient-replete conditions. This process is hindered by the presence of O-2, which inactivates the [FeFe]-hydrogenase enzyme responsible for H-2 gas production shifting algal cultures back to normal growth. The main pathways accounting for H-2 production in hypoxia are not entirely understood, as much as culture conditions setting the optimal redox state in the chloroplast supporting long-lasting H-2 production. The reducing power for H-2 production can be provided by photosystem II (PSII) and photofermentative processes during which proteins are degraded via yet unknown pathways. In hetero- or mixotrophic conditions, acetate respiration was proposed to indirectly contribute to H-2 evolution, although this pathway has not been described in detail.
Main body: Recently, Jurado-Oller et al. (Biotechnol Biofuels 8: 149, 7) proposed that acetate respiration may substantially support H-2 production in nutrient-replete hypoxic conditions. Addition of low amounts of O-2 enhanced acetate respiration rate, particularly in the light, resulting in improved H-2 production. The authors surmised that acetate oxidation through the glyoxylate pathway generates intermediates such as succinate and malate, which would be in turn oxidized in the chloroplast generating FADH(2) and NADH. The latter would enter a PSII-independent pathway at the level of the plastoquinone pool, consistent with the light dependence of H-2 production. The authors concluded that the water-splitting activity of PSII has a minor role in H-2 evolution in nutrient-replete, mixotrophic cultures under hypoxia. However, their results with the PSII inhibitor DCMU also reveal that O-2 or acetate additions promoted acetate respiration over the usually dominant PSII-dependent pathway. The more oxidized state experienced by these cultures in combination with the relatively short experimental time prevented acclimation to hypoxia, thus precluding the PSII-dependent pathway from contributing to H-2 production.
Conclusions: In Chlamydomonas, continuous H-2 gas evolution is expected once low O-2 partial pressure and optimal reducing conditions are set. Under nutrient-replete conditions, the electrogenic processes involved in H-2 photoproduction may rely on various electron transport pathways. Understanding how physiological conditions select for specific metabolic routes is key to achieve economic viability of this renewable energy source.

PLANT PHYSIOLOGY 173:(3) pp. 1750-1762. (2017)

ABA Suppresses Root Hair Growth via the OBP4 Transcriptional Regulator

Rymen B, Kawamura A, Schafer S, Breuer C, Iwase A, Shibata M, Ikeda M, Mitsuda N, Koncz C, Ohme-Takagi M, Matsui M, Sugimoto K

Plants modify organ growth and tune morphogenesis in response to various endogenous and environmental cues. At the cellular level, organ growth is often adjusted by alterations in cell growth, but the molecular mechanisms underlying this control remain poorly understood. In this study, we identify the DNA BINDING WITH ONE FINGER (DOF)-type transcription regulator OBF BINDING PROTEIN4 (OBP4) as a repressor of cell growth. Ectopic expression of OBP4 in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) inhibits cell growth, resulting in severe dwarfism and the repression of genes involved in the regulation of water transport, root hair development, and stress responses. Among the basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors known to control root hair growth, OBP4 binds the ROOT HAIR DEFECTIVE6-LIKE2 (RSL2) promoter to repress its expression. The accumulation of OBP4 proteins is detected in expanding root epidermal cells, and its expression level is increased by the application of abscisic acid (ABA) at concentrations sufficient to inhibit root hair growth. ABA-dependent induction of OBP4 is associated with the reduced expression of RSL2. Furthermore, ectopic expression of OBP4 or loss of RSL2 function results in ABA-insensitive root hair growth. Taken together, our results suggest that OBP4-mediated transcriptional repression of RSL2 contributes to the ABA-dependent inhibition of root hair growth in Arabidopsis.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 114:(19) pp. 5041-5046. (2017)

Morphotype of bacteroids in different legumes correlates with the number and type of symbiotic NCR peptides

Montiel J, Downie JA, Farkas A, Bihari P, Herczeg R, Balint B, Mergaert P, Kereszt A, Kondorosi E

In legume nodules, rhizobia differentiate into nitrogen-fixing forms called bacteroids, which are enclosed by a plant membrane in an organelle-like structure called the symbiosome. In the Inverted Repeat-Lacking Clade (IRLC) of legumes, this differentiation is terminal due to irreversible loss of cell division ability and is associated with genome amplification and different morphologies of the bacteroids that can be swollen, elongated, spherical, and elongatedbranched, depending on the host plant. In Medicago truncatula, this process is orchestrated by nodule-specific cysteine-rich peptides (NCRs) delivered into developing bacteroids. Here, we identified the predicted NCR proteins in 10 legumes representing different subclades of the IRLC with distinct bacteroid morphotypes. Analysis of their expression and predicted sequences establishes correlations between the composition of the NCR family and the morphotypes of bacteroids. Although NCRs have a single origin, their evolution has followed different routes in individual lineages, and enrichment and diversification of cationic peptides has resulted in the ability to impose major morphological changes on the endosymbionts. The wide range of effects provoked by NCRs such as cell enlargement, membrane alterations and permeabilization, and biofilm and vesicle formation is dependent on the amino acid composition and charge of the peptides. These effects are strongly influenced by the rhizobial surface polysaccharides that affect NCR-induced differentiation and survival of rhizobia in nodule cells.

JOURNAL OF CELL BIOLOGY 216:(5) pp. 1421-1438. (2017)

Three-tier regulation of cell number plasticity by neurotrophins and Tolls in Drosophila

Foldi I, Anthoney N, Harrison N, Gangloff M, Verstak B, Nallasivan MP, AlAhmed S, Zhu BF, Phizacklea M, Losada-Perez M, Moreira M, Gay NJ, Hidalgo A

Cell number plasticity is coupled to circuitry in the nervous system, adjusting cell mass to functional requirements. In mammals, this is achieved by neurotrophin (NT) ligands, which promote cell survival via their Trk and p75NTR receptors and cell death via p75NTR and Sortilin. Drosophila NTs (DNTs) bind Toll receptors instead to promote neuronal survival, but whether they can also regulate cell death is unknown. In this study, we show that DNTs and Tolls can switch from promoting cell survival to death in the central nervous system (CNS) via a three-tier mechanism. First, DNT cleavage patterns result in alternative signaling outcomes. Second, different Tolls can preferentially promote cell survival or death. Third, distinct adaptors downstream of Tolls can drive either apoptosis or cell survival. Toll-6 promotes cell survival via MyD88-NF-kappa B and cell death via Wek-Sarm-JNK. The distribution of adaptors changes in space and time and may segregate to distinct neural circuits. This novel mechanism for CNS cell plasticity may operate in wider contexts.

EMBO JOURNAL 36:(9) pp. 1261-1278. (2017)

Arabidopsis RETINOBLASTOMA RELATED directly regulates DNA damage responses through functions beyond cell cycle control

Horvath BM, Kourova H, Nagy S, Nemeth E, Magyar Z, Papdi C, Ahmad Z, Sanchez-Perez GF, Perilli S, Blilou I, Pettkó-Szandtner A, Darula Z, Meszaros T, Binarova P, Bogre L, Scheres B

The rapidly proliferating cells in plant meristems must be protected from genome damage. Here, we show that the regulatory role of the Arabidopsis RETINOBLASTOMA RELATED (RBR) in cell proliferation can be separated from a novel function in safeguarding genome integrity. Upon DNA damage, RBR and its binding partner E2FA are recruited to heterochromatic γH2AX-labelled DNA damage foci in an ATM- and ATR-dependent manner. These γH2AX-labelled DNA lesions are more dispersedly occupied by the conserved repair protein, AtBRCA1, which can also co-localise with RBR foci. RBR and AtBRCA1 physically interact in vitro and in planta. Genetic interaction between the RBR-silenced amiRBR and Atbrca1 mutants suggests that RBR and AtBRCA1 may function together in maintaining genome integrity. Together with E2FA, RBR is directly involved in the transcriptional DNA damage response as well as in the cell death pathway that is independent of SOG1, the plant functional analogue of p53. Thus, plant homologs and analogues of major mammalian tumour suppressor proteins form a regulatory network that coordinates cell proliferation with cell and genome integrity.

NATURE COMMUNICATIONS 8: Paper 15127. 12 p. (2017)

De novo evolved interference competition promotes the spread of biofilm defectors

Martin M, Dragos A, Holscher T, Maroti G, Balint B, Westermann M, Kovacs AT

Biofilms are social entities where bacteria live in tightly packed agglomerations, surrounded by self-secreted exopolymers. Since production of exopolymers is costly and potentially exploitable by non-producers, mechanisms that prevent invasion of non-producing mutants are hypothesized. Here we study long-term dynamics and evolution in Bacillus subtilis biofilm populations consisting of wild-type (WT) matrix producers and mutant non-producers. We show that non-producers initially fail to incorporate into biofilms formed by the WT cells, resulting in 100-fold lower final frequency compared to the WT. However, this is modulated in a long-term scenario, as non-producers evolve the ability to better incorporate into biofilms, thereby slightly decreasing the productivity of the whole population. Detailed molecular analysis reveals that the unexpected shift in the initially stable biofilm is coupled with newly evolved phage-mediated interference competition. Our work therefore demonstrates how collective behaviour can be disrupted as a result of rapid adaptation through mobile genetic elements.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 114:(17) pp. 4543-4548. (2017)

Ploidy-dependent changes in the epigenome of symbiotic cells correlate with specific patterns of gene expression

Nagymihaly M, Veluchamy A, Gyorgypal Z, Ariel F, Jegu T, Benhamed M, Szucs A, Kereszt A, Mergaert P, Kondorosi E

The formation of symbiotic nodule cells in Medicago truncatula is driven by successive endoreduplication cycles and transcriptional reprogramming in different temporal waves including the activation of more than 600 cysteine-rich NCR genes expressed only in nodules. We show here that the transcriptional waves correlate with growing ploidy levels and have investigated how the epigenome changes during endoreduplication cycles. Differential DNA methylation was found in only a small subset of symbiotic nodule-specific genes, including more than half of the NCR genes, whereas in most genes DNA methylation was unaffected by the ploidy levels and was independent of the genes' active or repressed state. On the other hand, expression of nodule-specific genes correlated with ploidy-dependent opening of the chromatin as well as, in a subset of tested genes, with reduced H3K27me3 levels combined with enhanced H3K9ac levels. Our results suggest that endoreduplication-dependent epigenetic changes contribute to transcriptional reprogramming in the differentiation of symbiotic cells.

NEW PHYTOLOGIST 214:(2) pp. 668-681. (2017)

Expression of the eRF1 translation termination factor is controlled by an autoregulatory circuit involving readthrough and nonsense-mediated decay in plants

Nyiko T, Auber A, Szabadkai L, Benkovics A, Auth M, Merai Z, Kerenyi Z, Dinnyes A, Nagy F, Silhavy D

When a ribosome reaches a stop codon, the eukaryotic Release Factor 1 (eRF1) binds to the A site of the ribosome and terminates translation. In yeasts and plants, both over- and underexpression of eRF1 lead to altered phenotype indicating that eRF1 expression should be strictly controlled. However, regulation of eRF1 level is still poorly understood. Here we show that expression of plant eRF1 is controlled by a complex negative autoregulatory circuit, which is based on the unique features of the 3'untranslated region (3'UTR) of the eRF1-1 transcript. The stop codon of the eRF1-1 mRNA is in a translational readthrough promoting context, while its 3'UTR induces nonsense-mediated decay (NMD), a translation termination coupled mRNA degradation mechanism. We demonstrate that readthrough partially protects the eRF1-1 mRNA from its 3'UTR induced NMD, and that elevated eRF1 levels inhibit readthrough and stimulate NMD. Thus, high eRF1 level leads to reduced eRF1-1 expression, as weakened readthrough fails to protect the eRF1-1 mRNA from the more intense NMD. This eRF1 autoregulatory circuit might serve to finely balance general translation termination efficiency.

NEW PHYTOLOGIST 214:(2) pp. 668-681. (2017)

Regulation of ascorbate biosynthesis in green algae has evolved to enable rapid stress-induced response via the VTC2 gene encoding GDP-l-galactose phosphorylase

Vidal-Meireles A, Neupert J, Zsigmond L, Rosado-Souza L, Kovacs L, Nagy V, Galambos A, Fernie AR, Bock R, Toth SZ

Ascorbate (vitamin C) plays essential roles in stress resistance, development, signaling, hormone biosynthesis and regulation of gene expression; however, little is known about its biosynthesis in algae. In order to provide experimental proof for the operation of the Smirnoff-Wheeler pathway described for higher plants and to gain more information on the regulation of ascorbate biosynthesis in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, we targeted the VTC2 gene encoding GDP-l-galactose phosphorylase using artificial microRNAs. Ascorbate concentrations in VTC2 amiRNA lines were reduced to 10% showing that GDP-l-galactose phosphorylase plays a pivotal role in ascorbate biosynthesis. The VTC2 amiRNA lines also grow more slowly, have lower chlorophyll content, and are more susceptible to stress than the control strains. We also demonstrate that: expression of the VTC2 gene is rapidly induced by H2 O2 and 1 O2 resulting in a manifold increase in ascorbate content; in contrast to plants, there is no circadian regulation of ascorbate biosynthesis; photosynthesis is not required per se for ascorbate biosynthesis; and Chlamydomonas VTC2 lacks negative feedback regulation by ascorbate in the physiological concentration range. Our work demonstrates that ascorbate biosynthesis is also highly regulated in Chlamydomonas albeit via mechanisms distinct from those previously described in land plants.

MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND EVOLUTION 34:(2) pp. 380-390. (2017)

No Evidence That Protein Noise-Induced Epigenetic Epistasis Constrains Gene Expression Evolution

Boross G, Papp B

Changes in gene expression can affect phenotypes and therefore both its level and stochastic variability are frequently under selection. It has recently been proposed that epistatic interactions influence gene expression evolution: gene pairs where simultaneous knockout is more deleterious than expected should evolve reduced expression noise to avoid concurrent low expression of both proteins. In apparent support, yeast genes with many epistatic partners have low expression variation both among isogenic individuals and between species. However, the specific predictions and basic assumptions of this verbal model remain untested. Using bioinformatics analysis, we first demonstrate that the model's predictions are unsupported by available large-scale data. Based on quantitative biochemical modeling, we then show that epistasis between expression reductions (epigenetic epistasis) is not expected to aggravate the fitness cost of stochastic expression, which is in sharp contrast to the verbal argument. This nonintuitive result can be readily explained by the typical diminishing return of fitness on gene activity and by the fact that expression noise not only decreases but also increases the abundance of proteins. Overall, we conclude that stochastic variation in epistatic partners is unlikely to drive noise minimization or constrain gene expression divergence on a genomic scale.

PLANT CELL AND ENVIRONMENT 40:(3) pp. 378-389. (2017)

Dissecting the Photoprotective Mechanism Encoded by the flv4-2 Operon: a Distinct Contribution of Sll0218 in Photosystem II Stabilization

Bersanini L, Allahverdiyeva Y, Battchikova N, Heinz S, Lespinasse M, Ruohisto E, Mustila H, Nickelsen J, Vass I, Aro EM

In Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, the flv4-2 operon encodes the flavodiiron proteins Flv2 and Flv4 together with a small protein, Sll0218, providing photoprotection for Photosystem II (PSII). Here, the distinct roles of Flv2/Flv4 and Sll0218 were addressed, using a number of flv4-2 operon mutants. In the sll0218 mutant, the presence of Flv2/Flv4 rescued PSII functionality as compared with sll0218-flv2, where neither Sll0218 nor the Flv2/Flv4 heterodimer are expressed. Nevertheless, both the sll0218 and sll0218-flv2 mutants demonstrated deficiency in accumulation of PSII proteins suggesting a role for Sll0218 in PSII stabilization, which was further supported by photoinhibition experiments. Moreover, the accumulation of PSII assembly intermediates occurred in Sll0218-lacking mutants. The YFP-tagged Sll0218 protein localized in a few spots per cell at the external side of the thylakoid membrane, and biochemical membrane fractionation revealed clear enrichment of Sll0218 in the PratA-defined membranes, where the early biogenesis steps of PSII occur. Further, the characteristic antenna uncoupling feature of the flv4-2 operon mutants is shown to be related to PSII destabilization in the absence of Sll0218. It is concluded that the Flv2/Flv4 heterodimer supports PSII functionality, while the Sll0218 protein assists PSII assembly and stabilization, including optimization of light harvesting. This work clarifies and dissects the roles of the flv4-2 operon-encoded proteins, Flv2/Flv4 heterodimer and the elusive Sll0218, in photoprotection of the photosynthetic apparatus in Synechosystis. While Flv2/Flv4 heterodimer is involved in an alternative electron transfer route, the Sll0218 protein is localized to specific cell compartments where photosynthetic complexes are assembled, and it is involved in the stabilization of Photosystem II complexes.

NUCLEIC ACIDS RESEARCH 45:(1) Paper gkw1315. 17 p. (2017)

DNA-dependent protease activity of human Spartan facilitates replication of DNA-protein crosslink-containing DNA.

Morocz M, Zsigmond E, Toth R, Enyedi MZ, Pinter L, Haracska L

Mutations in SPARTAN are associated with early onset hepatocellular carcinoma and progeroid features. A regulatory function of Spartan has been implicated in DNA damage tolerance pathways such as translesion synthesis, but the exact function of the protein remained unclear. Here, we reveal the role of human Spartan in facilitating replication of DNA-protein crosslink-containing DNA. We found that purified Spartan has a DNA-dependent protease activity degrading certain proteins bound to DNA. In concert, Spartan is required for direct DPC removal in vivo; we also show that the protease Spartan facilitates repair of formaldehyde-induced DNA-protein crosslinks in later phases of replication using the bromodeoxyuridin (BrdU) comet assay. Moreover, DNA fibre assay indicates that formaldehyde-induced replication stress dramatically decreases the speed of replication fork movement in Spartan-deficient cells, which accumulate in the G2/M cell cycle phase. Finally, epistasis analysis mapped these Spartan functions to the RAD6-RAD18 DNA damage tolerance pathway. Our results reveal that Spartan facilitates replication of DNA-protein crosslink-containing DNA enzymatically, as a protease, which may explain its role in preventing carcinogenesis and aging.

BLOOD 129:(11) pp. E26-E37. (2017)

Ex vivo drug response profiling detects recurrent sensitivity patterns in drug-resistant acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Frismantas V, Dobay MP, Horvath P, Bourquin JP

Drug sensitivity and resistance testing on diagnostic leukemia samples should provide important functional information to guide actionable target and biomarker discovery. We provide proof of concept data by profiling 60 drugs on 68 acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) samples mostly from resistant disease in cocultures of bone marrow stromal cells. Patient-derived xenografts retained the original pattern of mutations found in the matched patient material. Stromal coculture did not prevent leukemia cell cycle activity, but a specific sensitivity profile to cell cycle-related drugs identified samples with higher cell proliferation both in vitro and in vivo as leukemia xenografts. In patients with refractory relapses, individual patterns of marked drug resistance and exceptional responses to new agents of immediate clinical relevance were detected. The BCL2inhibitor venetoclax was highly active below 10 nM in B-cell precursor ALL (BCP-ALL) subsets, including MLL-AF4 and TCF3-HLF ALL, and in some T-cell ALLs (T-ALLs), predicting in vivo activity as a single agent and in combination with dexamethasone and vincristine. Unexpected sensitivity to dasatinib with half maximal inhibitory concentration values below 20 nM was detected in 2 independent T-ALL cohorts, which correlated with similar cytotoxic activity of the SRC inhibitor KX2-391 and inhibition of SRC phosphorylation. A patient with refractory T-ALL was treated with dasatinib on the basis of drug profiling information and achieved a 5-month remission. Thus, drug profiling captures disease-relevant features and unexpected sensitivity to relevant drugs, which warrants further exploration of this functional assay in the context of clinical trials to develop drug repurposing strategies for patients with urgent medical needs.

NATURE 541:(7637) pp. 417-420. (2017)

Microenvironmental autophagy promotes tumour growth.

Katheder NS, Khezri R, O'Farrell F, Schultz SW, Jain A, Rahman MM, Schink KO, Theodossiou TA, Johansen T, Juhasz G, Bilder D, Brech A, Stenmark H, Rusten TE

As malignant tumours develop, they interact intimately with their microenvironment and can activate autophagy, a catabolic process which provides nutrients during starvation. How tumours regulate autophagy in vivo and whether autophagy affects tumour growth is controversial. Here we demonstrate, using a well characterized Drosophila melanogaster malignant tumour model, that non-cell-autonomous autophagy is induced both in the tumour microenvironment and systemically in distant tissues. Tumour growth can be pharmacologically restrained using autophagy inhibitors, and early-stage tumour growth and invasion are genetically dependent on autophagy within the local tumour microenvironment. Induction of autophagy is mediated by Drosophila tumour necrosis factor and interleukin-6-like signalling from metabolically stressed tumour cells, whereas tumour growth depends on active amino acid transport. We show that dormant growth-impaired tumours from autophagy-deficient animals reactivate tumorous growth when transplanted into autophagy-proficient hosts. We conclude that transformed cells engage surrounding normal cells as active and essential microenvironmental contributors to early tumour growth through nutrient-generating autophagy.

EUROPEAN UROLOGY 71:(3) pp. 319-327. (2017)

Comprehensive Drug Testing of Patient-derived Conditionally Reprogrammed Cells from Castration-resistant Prostate Cancer

Saeed K, Rahkama V, Eldfors S, Bychkov D, Mpindi JP, Yadav B, Paavolainen L, Aittokallio T, Heckman C, Wennerberg K, Peehl DM, Horvath P, Mirtti T, Rannikko A, Kallioniemi O, Östling P, af Hällström TM

Background: Technology development to enable the culture of human prostate cancer (PCa) progenitor cells is required for the identification of new, potentially curative therapies for PCa. Objective: We established and characterized patient-derived conditionally reprogrammed cells (CRCs) to assess their biological properties and to apply these to test the efficacies of drugs. Design, setting, and participants: CRCs were established from seven patient samples with disease ranging from primary PCa to advanced castration-resistant PCa (CRPC). The CRCs were characterized by genomic, transcriptomic, protein expression, and drug profiling. Outcome measurements and statistical analysis: The phenotypic quantification of the CRCs was done based on immunostaining followed by image analysis with Advanced Cell Classifier using Random Forest supervised machine learning. Copy number aberrations (CNAs) were called from whole-exome sequencing and transcriptomics using in-house pipelines. Dose-response measurements were used to generate multiparameter drug sensitivity scores using R-statistical language. Results and limitations: We generated six benign CRC cultures which all had an androgen receptor-negative, basal/transit-amplifying phenotype with few CNAs. In three-dimensional cell culture, these cells could re-express the androgen receptor. The CRCs from a CRPC patient (HUB.5) displayed multiple CNAs, many of which were shared with the parental tumor. We carried out high-throughput drug-response studies with 306 emerging and clinical cancer drugs. Using the benign CRCs as controls, we identified the Bcl-2 family inhibitor navitoclax as the most potent cancer-specific drug for the CRCs from a CRPC patient. Other drug efficacies included taxanes, mepacrine, and retinoids. Conclusions: Comprehensive cancer pharmacopeia-wide drug testing of CRCs from a CRPC patient highlighted both known and novel drug sensitivities in PCa, including navitoclax, which is currently being tested in clinical trials of CRPC. Patient summary: We describe an approach to generate patient-derived cancer cells from advanced prostate cancer and apply such cells to discover drugs that could be applied in clinical trials for castration-resistant prostate cancer. Proof-of-concept study with the aim of generating patient-derived ex vivo models of prostate cancer combined with high-throughput drug testing to identify potential efficacies among 306 existing and emerging cancer drugs highlighting the effect of navitoclax in an advanced disease model. © 2016 European Association of Urology.

JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY LETTERS 8:(1) pp. 257-263. (2017)

Two-Dimensional Spectroscopy of Chlorophyll a Excited-State Equilibration in Light-Harvesting Complex II

Akhtar P, Zhang C, Do TN, Garab G, Lambrev PH, Tan HS

Excited-state relaxation dynamics and energy-transfer processes in the chlorophyll a (Chl a) manifold of the light-harvesting complex II (LHCII) were examined at physiological temperature using femtosecond two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy (2DES). The experiments were done under conditions free from singlet-singlet annihilation and anisotropic decay. Energy transfer between the different domains of the Chl a manifold was found to proceed on time scales from hundreds of femtoseconds to five picoseconds, before reaching equilibration. No component slower than 10 ps was observed in the spectral equilibration dynamics. We clearly observe the bidirectional (uphill and downhill) energy transfer of the equilibration process between excited states. This bidirectional energy flow, although implicit in the modeling and simulation of the EET processes, has not been observed in any prior transient absorption studies. Furthermore, we identified the spectral forms associated with the different energy transfer lifetimes in the equilibration process.

PLOS PATHOGENS 12:(7) p. e1005746. (2016)

Transdifferentiation and Proliferation in Two Distinct Hemocyte Lineages in Drosophila melanogaster Larvae after Wasp Infection

Anderl I, Vesala L, Ihalainen TO, Vanha-Aho LM, Ando I, Ramet M, Hultmark D

Cellular immune responses require the generation and recruitment of diverse blood cell types that recognize and kill pathogens. In Drosophila melanogaster larvae, immune-inducible lamellocytes participate in recognizing and killing parasitoid wasp eggs. However, the sequence of events required for lamellocyte generation remains controversial. To study the cellular immune system, we developed a flow cytometry approach using in vivo reporters for lamellocytes as well as for plasmatocytes, the main hemocyte type in healthy larvae. We found that two different blood cell lineages, the plasmatocyte and lamellocyte lineages, contribute to the generation of lamellocytes in a demand-adapted hematopoietic process. Plasmatocytes transdifferentiate into lamellocyte-like cells in situ directly on the wasp egg. In parallel, a novel population of infection-induced cells, which we named lamelloblasts, appears in the circulation. Lamelloblasts proliferate vigorously and develop into the major class of circulating lamellocytes. Our data indicate that lamellocyte differentiation upon wasp parasitism is a plastic and dynamic process. Flow cytometry with in vivo hemocyte reporters can be used to study this phenomenon in detail.

CURRENT OPINION IN PLANT BIOLOGY 34: pp. 100-106. (2016)

DREAMs make plant cells to cycle or to become quiescent

Magyar Z, Bogre L, Ito M

Cell cycle phase specific oscillation of gene transcription has long been recognized as an underlying principle for ordered processes during cell proliferation. The G1/S-specific and G2/M-specific cohorts of genes in plants are regulated by the E2F and the MYB3R transcription factors. Mutant analysis suggests that activator E2F functions might not be fully required for cell cycle entry. In contrast, the two activator-type MYB3Rs are part of positive feedback loops to drive the burst of mitotic gene expression, which is necessary at least to accomplish cytokinesis. Repressor MYB3Rs act outside the mitotic time window during cell cycle progression, and are important for the shutdown of mitotic genes to impose quiescence in mature organs. The two distinct classes of E2Fs and MYB3Rs together with the RETINOBLATOMA RELATED are part of multiprotein complexes that may be evolutionary related to what is known as DREAM complex in animals. In plants, there are multiple such complexes with distinct compositions and functions that may be involved in the coordinated cell cycle and developmental regulation of E2F targets and mitotic genes.

PLANT PHYSIOLOGY 172:(3) pp. 1418-1431. (2016)

An NADPH-Oxidase/Polyamine Oxidase Feedback Loop Controls Oxidative Burst Under Salinity

Gemes K, Kim YJ, Park KY, Moschou PN, Andronis E, Valassaki C, Roussis A, Roubelakis-Angelakis KA

The apoplastic polyamine oxidase (PAO) catalyzes the oxidation of the higher polyamines spermidine and spermine, contributing to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) accumulation. However, it is yet unclear whether apoplastic PAO is part of a network that coordinates the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) under salinity or if it acts independently. Here, we unravel that NADPH oxidase and apoplastic PAO cooperate to control the accumulation of H2O2 and superoxides (O2.-) in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). To examine to what extent apoplastic PAO constitutes part of a ROS-generating network, we examined ROS accumulation in guard cells of plants overexpressing or down-regulating apoplastic PAO (lines S2.2 and A2, respectively) or down-regulating NADPH oxidase (line AS-NtRbohD/F). The H2O2-specific probe benzene sulfonyl-H2O2 showed that, under salinity, H2O2 increased in S2.2 and decreased in A2 compared with the wild type. Surprisingly, the O2.--specific probe benzene sulfonyl-So showed that O2.- levels correlated positively with that of apoplastic PAO (i.e. showed high and low levels in S2.2 and A2, respectively). By using AS-NtRbohD/F lines and a pharmacological approach, we could show that H2O2 and O2.- accumulation at the onset of salinity stress was dependent on NADPH oxidase, indicating that NADPH oxidase is upstream of apoplastic PAO. Our results suggest that NADPH oxidase and the apoplastic PAO form a feed-forward ROS amplification loop, which impinges on oxidative state and culminates in the execution of programmed cell death. We propose that the PAO/NADPH oxidase loop is a central hub in the plethora of responses controlling salt stress tolerance, with potential functions extending beyond stress tolerance.

NATURE REVIEWS DRUG DISCOVERY 15:(11) pp. 751-769. (2016)

Screening out irrelevant cell-based models of disease

Horvath P, Aulner N, Bickle M, Davies AM, Del Nery E, Ebner D, Montoya MC, Ostling P, Pietiainen V, Price LS, Shorte SL, Turcatti G, von Schantz C, Carragher NO

The common and persistent failures to translate promising preclinical drug candidates into clinical success highlight the limited effectiveness of disease models currently used in drug discovery. An apparent reluctance to explore and adopt alternative cell-and tissue-based model systems, coupled with a detachment from clinical practice during assay validation, contributes to ineffective translational research. To help address these issues and stimulate debate, here we propose a set of principles to facilitate the definition and development of disease-relevant assays, and we discuss new opportunities for exploiting the latest advances in cell-based assay technologies in drug discovery, including induced pluripotent stem cells, three-dimensional (3D) co-culture and organ-on-a-chip systems, complemented by advances in single-cell imaging and gene editing technologies. Funding to support precompetitive, multidisciplinary collaborations to develop novel preclinical models and cell-based screening technologies could have a key role in improving their clinical relevance, and ultimately increase clinical success rates.

NEW PHYTOLOGIST 212:(2) pp. 472-484. (2016)

Symbiodinium sp cells produce light-induced intra- and extracellular singlet oxygen, which mediates photodamage of the photosynthetic apparatus and has the potential to interact with the animal host in coral symbiosis

Rehman AU, Szabo M, Deak Z, Sass L, Larkum A, Ralph P, Vass I

Coral bleaching is an important environmental phenomenon, whose mechanism has not yet been clarified. The involvement of reactive oxygen species (ROS) has been implicated, but direct evidence of what species are involved, their location and their mechanisms of production remains unknown. Histidine-mediated chemical trapping and singlet oxygen sensor green (SOSG) were used to detect intra- and extracellular singlet oxygen (O-1(2)) in Symbiodinium cultures. Inhibition of the Calvin-Benson cycle by thermal stress or high light promotes intracellular O-1(2) formation. Histidine addition, which decreases the amount of intracellular O-1(2), provides partial protection against photosystem II photoinactivation and chlorophyll (Chl) bleaching. O-1(2) production also occurs in cell-free medium of Symbiodinium cultures, an effect that is enhanced under heat and light stress and can be attributed to the excretion of O-1(2)-sensitizing metabolites from the cells. Confocal microscopy imaging using SOSG showed most extracellular O-1(2) around the cell surface, but it is also produced across the medium distant from the cells. We demonstrate, for the first time, both intra- and extracellular O-1(2) production in Symbiodinium cultures. Intracellular O-1(2) is associated with photosystem II photodamage and pigment bleaching, whereas extracellular O-1(2) has the potential to mediate the breakdown of symbiotic interaction between zooxanthellae and their animal host during coral bleaching.

PLANT CELL AND ENVIRONMENT 39:(9) pp. 2074-2084. (2016)

Gene mining in halophytes: functional identification of stress tolerance genes in Lepidium crassifolium

Rigo G, Valkai I, Farago D, Kiss E, Van Houdt S, Van de Steene N, A Hannah M, Szabados L

Extremophile plants are valuable sources of genes conferring tolerance traits, which can be explored to improve stress tolerance of crops. Lepidium crassifolium is a halophytic relative of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, and displays tolerance to salt, osmotic and oxidative stresses. We have employed the modified Conditional cDNA Overexpression System to transfer a cDNA library from L. crassifolium to the glycophyte A. thaliana. By screening for salt, osmotic and oxidative stress tolerance through in vitro growth assays and non-destructive chlorophyll fluorescence imaging, 20 Arabidopsis lines were identified with superior performance under restrictive conditions. Several cDNA inserts were cloned and confirmed to be responsible for the enhanced tolerance by analysing independent transgenic lines. Examples include full-length cDNAs encoding proteins with high homologies to GDSL-lipase/esterase or acyl CoA-binding protein or proteins without known function, which could confer tolerance to one or several stress conditions. Our results confirm that random gene transfer from stress tolerant to sensitive plant species is a valuable tool to discover novel genes with potential for biotechnological applications.

CURRENT OPINION IN COLLOID & INTERFACE SCIENCE 23: pp. 29-40. (2016)

The interfacial tension concept, as revealed by fluctuations

Násztor Zoltán, Bogár Ferenc, Dér András

Abstract A simple, didactic model that could have conclusively interpreted the complexity of specific salt (Hofmeister-) effects on protein solubility and function, using a single physical quantity as a central parameter, has long been missing. Via surveying a row of recent papers we show in this review that a phenomenological formalism based on the salt-induced change of protein–water interfacial tension (∆γ) is able to account for a wide range of Hofmeister effects, including also such “exceptions”, where inverse or “V-shaped” Hofmeister series occurs. A close relationship between protein–water interfacial tension and conformational fluctuations is pinpointed on theoretical grounds, then it is shown how one can use a complex experimental arsenal to demonstrate conformational fluctuations on two prototypical proteins, the membrane protein bacteriorhodopsin and the cytoplasmic protein myoglobin. Finally, via the results of recent and new molecular dynamics simulations on a model peptide, the tryptophan-cage miniprotein, independent evidences are given in favor of the interfacial tension concept, at the same time demonstrating the predictive power of the theory. It is shown that salt-induced fluctuation changes of surface-exposed amino acid groups can be used as a sensitive measure for mapping the local features of Hofmeister effects on protein conformations. General implications of the interfacial tension concept are also discussed.

MOLECULAR THERAPY 24:(8) pp. 1369-1377. (2016)

Structural Determinants of Sleeping Beauty Transposase Activity

Abrusan G, Yant SR, Szilagyi A, Marsh JA, Mates L, Izsvak Z, Barabas O, Ivics Z

Transposases are important tools in genome engineering, and there is considerable interest in engineering more efficient ones. Here, we seek to understand the factors determining their activity using the Sleeping Beauty transposase. Recent work suggests that protein coevolutionary information can be used to classify groups of physically connected, coevolving residues into elements called "sectors", which have proven useful for understanding the folding, allosteric interactions, and enzymatic activity of proteins. Using extensive mutagenesis data, protein modeling and analysis of folding energies, we show that (i) The Sleeping Beauty transposase contains two sectors, which span across conserved domains, and are enriched in DNA-binding residues, indicating that the DNA binding and endonuclease functions of the transposase coevolve; (ii) Sector residues are highly sensitive to mutations, and most mutations of these residues strongly reduce transposition rate; (iii) Mutations with a strong effect on free energy of folding in the DDE domain of the transposase significantly reduce transposition rate. (iv) Mutations that influence DNA and protein-protein interactions generally reduce transposition rate, although most hyperactive mutants are also located on the protein surface, including residues with protein-protein interactions. This suggests that hyperactivity results from the modification of protein interactions, rather than the stabilization of protein fold.

SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE 8:(350) p. 350ra103. (2016)

The chaperone co-inducer BGP-15 alleviates ventilation-induced diaphragm dysfunction

Salah H, Li M, Cacciani N, Gastaldello S, Ogilvie H, Akkad H, Namuduri AV, Morbidoni V, Artemenko KA, Balogh G, Martinez-Redondo V, Jannig P, Hedstrom Y, Dworkin B, Bergquist J, Ruas J, Vigh L, Salviati L, Larsson L

Ventilation-induced diaphragm dysfunction (VIDD) is a marked decline in diaphragm function in response to mechanical ventilation, which has negative consequences for individual patients' quality of life and for the health care system, but specific treatment strategies are still lacking. We used an experimental intensive care unit (ICU) model, allowing time-resolved studies of diaphragm structure and function in response to long-term mechanical ventilation and the effects of a pharmacological intervention (the chaperone co-inducer BGP-15). The marked loss of diaphragm muscle fiber function in response to mechanical ventilation was caused by posttranslational modifications (PTMs) of myosin. In a rat model, 10 days of BGP-15 treatment greatly improved diaphragm muscle fiber function (by about 100%), although it did not reverse diaphragm atrophy. The treatment also provided protection from myosin PTMs associated with HSP72 induction and PARP-1 inhibition, resulting in improvement of mitochondrial function and content. Thus, BGP-15 may offer an intervention strategy for reducing VIDD in mechanically ventilated ICU patients.

NATURE COMMUNICATIONS 7: Paper 12454. 12 p. (2016)

In situ high-resolution structure of the baseplate antenna complex in Chlorobaculum tepidum

Nielsen JT, Kulminskaya NV, Bjerring M, Linnanto JM, Ratsep M, Pedersen MO, Lambrev PH, Dorogi M, Garab G, Thomsen K, Jegerschold C, Frigaard NU, Lindahl M, Nielsen NC

Photosynthetic antenna systems enable organisms harvesting light and transfer the energy to the photosynthetic reaction centre, where the conversion to chemical energy takes place. One of the most complex antenna systems, the chlorosome, found in the photosynthetic green sulfur bacterium Chlorobaculum (Cba.) tepidum contains a baseplate, which is a scaffolding super-structure, formed by the protein CsmA and bacteriochlorophyll a. Here we present the first high-resolution structure of the CsmA baseplate using intact fully functional, light-harvesting organelles from Cba. tepidum, following a hybrid approach combining five complementary methods: solid-state NMR spectroscopy, cryo-electron microscopy, isotropic and anisotropic circular dichroism and linear dichroism. The structure calculation was facilitated through development of new software, GASyCS for efficient geometry optimization of highly symmetric oligomeric structures. We show that the baseplate is composed of rods of repeated dimers of the strongly amphipathic CsmA with pigments sandwiched within the dimer at the hydrophobic side of the helix.

PLANT CELL AND ENVIRONMENT 39:(7) pp. 1460-1472. (2016)

Ascorbate accumulation during sulphur deprivation and its effects on photosystem II activity and H production of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Nagy V, Vidal-Meireles A, Tengolics R, Rakhely G, Garab G, Kovacs L, Toth SZ

In nature, H2 production in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii serves as a safety valve during the induction of photosynthesis in anoxia and it prevents the over-reduction of the photosynthetic electron transport chain. Sulphur deprivation of C. reinhardtii also triggers a complex metabolic response resulting in the induction of various stress-related genes, downregulation of photosynthesis, the establishment of anaerobiosis and expression of active hydrogenase. Photosystem II (PSII) plays dual role in H2 production because it supplies electrons but the evolved O2 inhibits the hydrogenase. Here we show that upon sulphur deprivation the ascorbate content in C. reinhardtii increases about 100-fold, reaching the mM range; at this concentration ascorbate inactivates the Mn-cluster of PSII and afterwards it can donate electrons to tyrozin Z+ at a slow rate. This stage is followed by donor-side induced photoinhibition, leading to the loss of charge separation activity in PSII and reaction center degradation. The time point at which maximum ascorbate concentration is reached in the cell is critical for the establishment of anaerobiosis and initiation of H2 production. We also show that ascorbate influenced H2 evolution via altering the photosynthetic electron transport rather than hydrogenase activity and starch degradation.

ACS SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY 5:(7) pp. 619-631. (2016)

Efflux Pump Control Alters Synthetic Gene Circuit Function

Diao JC, Charlebois DA, Neyozhay D, Bodi Z, Pal C, Balazsi G

Synthetic biology aims to design new biological systems for predefined purposes, such as the controlled secretion of biofuels, pharmaceuticals, or other chemicals. Synthetic gene circuits regulating an efflux pump from the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) protein family could achieve this. However, ABC efflux pumps can also drive out intracellular inducer molecules that control the gene circuits. This will introduce an implicit feedback that could alter gene circuit function in ways that are poorly understood. Here, we used two synthetic gene circuits inducible by tetracycline family molecules to regulate the expression of a yeast ABC pump (Pdr5p) that pumps out the inducer. Pdr5p altered the dose-responses of the original gene circuits substantially in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. While one aspect of the change could be attributed to the efflux pumping function of Pdr5p, another aspect remained unexplained. Quantitative modeling indicated that reduced regulator gene expression in addition to efflux pump function could fully explain the altered dose-responses. These predictions were validated experimentally. Overall, we highlight how efflux pumps can alter gene circuit dynamics and demonstrate the utility of mathematical modeling in understanding synthetic gene circuit function in new circumstances.

ELIFE 5: Paper e14226. 27 p. (2016)

MiniCORVET is a Vps8-containing hemocyte- and nephrocyte-specific early endosomal tether in Drosophila

Lorincz P, Lakatos Z, Varga A, Maruzs T, Simon-Vecsei Z, Darula Z, Benko P, Csordas G, Lippai M, Ando I, Hegedus K, Medzihradszky K, Takats S, Juhasz G

Yeast studies identified two heterohexameric tethering complexes, which consist of 4 shared (Vps11, Vps16, Vps18 and Vps33) and 2 specific subunits: Vps3 and Vps8 (CORVET) versus Vps39 and Vps41 (HOPS). CORVET is an early and HOPS is a late endosomal tether. The function of HOPS is well known in animal cells, while CORVET is poorly characterized. Here we show that Drosophila Vps8 is highly expressed in hemocytes and nephrocytes, and localizes to early endosomes despite the lack of a clear Vps3 homolog. We find that Vps8 forms a complex and acts together with Vps16A, Dor/Vps18 and Car/Vps33A, and loss of any of these proteins leads to fragmentation of endosomes. Surprisingly, Vps11 deletion causes enlargement of endosomes, similar to loss of the HOPS-specific subunits Vps39 and Lt/Nps41. We thus identify a 4 subunit-containing miniCORVET complex as an unconventional early endosomal tether in Drosophila.

NEW PHYTOLOGIST 211:(2) pp. 584-598. (2016)

Characterization of photomorphogenic responses and signaling cascades controlled by phytochrome-A expressed in different tissues

Kirchenbauer D, Viczian A, Adam E, Hegedus Z, Klose C, Lepper M, Hiltbrunner A, Kircher S, Schaefer E, Nagy F

The photoreceptor phytochrome A acts as a light-dependent molecular switch and regulates responses initiated by very low fluences of light (VLFR) and high fluences (HIR) of far-red light. PhyA is expressed ubiquitously, but how phyA signaling is orchestrated to regulate photo-morphogenesis is poorly understood. To address this issue, we generated transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana phyA-201 mutant lines expressing the biologically active phyA-YFP photoreceptor in different tissues, and analyzed the expression of several reporter genes, including ProHY5: HY5-GFP and Pro35S: CFP-PIF1, and various FR-HIR-dependent physiological responses. We show that phyA action in one tissue is critical and sufficient to regulate flowering time and root growth; control of cotyledon and hypocotyl growth requires simultaneous phyA activity in different tissues; and changes detected in the expression of reporters are not restricted to phyA-containing cells. We conclude that FR-HIR-controlled morphogenesis in Arabidopsis is mediated partly by tissue-specific and partly by intercellular signaling initiated by phyA. Intercellular signaling is critical for many FR-HIR induced responses, yet it appears that phyA modulates the abundance and activity of key regulatory transcription factors in a tissue-autonomous fashion.

TRENDS IN PLANT SCIENCE 21:(7) pp. 594-608. (2016)

The Role of SWI/SNF Chromatin Remodeling Complexes in Hormone Crosstalk

Sarnowska E, Gratkowska DM, Sacharowski SP, Cwiek P, Tohge T, Fernie AR, Siedlecki JA, Koncz C, Sarnowski TJ

SWI/SNF-type ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complexes (CRCs) are evolutionarily conserved multiprotein machineries controlling DNA accessibility by regulating chromatin structure. We summarize here recent advances highlighting the role of SWI/SNF in the regulation of hormone signaling pathways and their crosstalk in Arabidopsis thaliana. We discuss the functional interdependences of SWI/SNF complexes and key elements regulating developmental and hormone signaling pathways by indicating intriguing similarities and differences in plants and humans, and summarize proposed mechanisms of SWI/SNF action on target loci. We postulate that, given their viability, several plant SWI/SNF mutants may serve as an attractive model for searching for conserved functions of SWI/SNF CRCs in hormone signaling, cell cycle control, and other regulatory pathways.

PLOS GENETICS 12:(5) Paper e1006022. 22 p. (2016)

BOD1 Is Required for Cognitive Function in Humans and Drosophila

Esmaeeli-Nieh S, Fenckova M, Porter IM, Motazacker MM, Nijhof B, Castells-Nobau A, Asztalos Z, Weissmann R, Behjati F, Tzschach A, Felbor U, Scherthan H, Sayfati SM, Ropers HH, Kahrizi K, Najmabadi H, Swedlow JR, Schenck A, Kuss AW

Here we report a stop-mutation in the BOD1 (Biorientation Defective 1) gene, which co-segregates with intellectual disability in a large consanguineous family, where individuals that are homozygous for the mutation have no detectable BOD1 mRNA or protein. The BOD1 protein is required for proper chromosome segregation, regulating phosphorylation of PLK1 substrates by modulating Protein Phosphatase 2A (PP2A) activity during mitosis. We report that fibroblast cell lines derived from homozygous BOD1 mutation carriers show aberrant localisation of the cell cycle kinase PLK1 and its phosphatase PP2A at mitotic kinetochores. However, in contrast to the mitotic arrest observed in BOD1-siRNA treated HeLa cells, patient-derived cells progressed through mitosis with no apparent segregation defects but at an accelerated rate compared to controls. The relatively normal cell cycle progression observed in cultured cells is in line with the absence of gross structural brain abnormalities in the affected individuals. Moreover, we found that in normal adult brain tissues BOD1 expression is maintained at considerable levels, in contrast to PLK1 expression, and provide evidence for synaptic localization of Bod1 in murine neurons. These observations suggest that BOD1 plays a cell cycle-independent role in the nervous system. To address this possibility, we established two Drosophila models, where neuron-specific knockdown of BOD1 caused pronounced learning deficits and significant abnormalities in synapse morphology. Together our results reveal novel postmitotic functions of BOD1 as well as pathogenic mechanisms that strongly support a causative role of BOD1 deficiency in the aetiology of intellectual disability. Moreover, by demonstrating its requirement for cognitive function in humans and Drosophila we provide evidence for a conserved role of BOD1 in the development and maintenance of cognitive features.

NATURE COMMUNICATIONS 7: Paper 11654. (2016)

A voltage-dependent chloride channel fine-tunes photosynthesis in plants

Herdean A, Teardo E, Nilsson AK, Pfeil BE, Johansson ON, Ünnep R, Nagy G, Zsiros O, Dana S, Solymosi K, Garab G, Szabó I, Spetea C, Lundin B

In natural habitats, plants frequently experience rapid changes in the intensity of sunlight. To cope with these changes and maximize growth, plants adjust photosynthetic light utilization in electron transport and photoprotective mechanisms. This involves a proton motive force (PMF) across the thylakoid membrane, postulated to be affected by unknown anion (Cl-) channels. Here we report that a bestrophin-like protein from Arabidopsis thaliana functions as a voltage-dependent Cl- channel in electrophysiological experiments. AtVCCN1 localizes to the thylakoid membrane, and fine-tunes PMF by anion influx into the lumen during illumination, adjusting electron transport and the photoprotective mechanisms. The activity of AtVCCN1 accelerates the activation of photoprotective mechanisms on sudden shifts to high light. Our results reveal that AtVCCN1, a member of a conserved anion channel family, acts as an early component in the rapid adjustment of photosynthesis in variable light environments.

BIOTECHNOLOGY FOR BIOFUELS 9: Paper 102. 14 p. (2016)

Conversion of H2 and CO2 to CH4 and acetate in fed-batch biogas reactors by mixed biogas community: a novel route for the power-to-gas concept

Márk Szuhaj, Norbert Ács, Roland Tengölics, Attila Bodor, Gábor Rákhely, Kornél L Kovács, Zoltán Bagi

Background: Applications of the power-to-gas principle for the handling of surplus renewable electricity have been proposed. The feasibility of using hydrogenotrophic methanogens as CH4 generating catalysts has been demonstrated. Laboratory and scale-up experiments have corroborated the benefits of the CO2 mitigation via biotechnological conversion of H-2 and CO2 to CH4. A major bottleneck in the process is the gas-liquid mass transfer of H-2.
Results: Fed-batch reactor configuration was tested at mesophilic temperature in laboratory experiments in order to improve the contact time and H-2 mass transfer between the gas and liquid phases. Effluent from an industrial biogas facility served as biocatalyst. The bicarbonate content of the effluent was depleted after some time, but the addition of stoichiometric CO2 sustained H-2 conversion for an extended period of time and prevented a pH shift. The microbial community generated biogas from the added a-cellulose substrate with concomitant H-2 conversion, but the organic substrate did not facilitate H-2 consumption. Fed-batch operational mode allowed a fourfold increase in volumetric H-2 load and a 6.5-fold augmentation of the CH4 formation rate relative to the CSTR reactor configuration. Acetate was the major by-product of the reaction.
Conclusions: Fed-batch reactors significantly improve the efficiency of the biological power-to-gas process. Besides their storage function, biogas fermentation effluent reservoirs can serve as large-scale bio CH4 reactors. On the basis of this recognition, a novel concept is proposed, which merges biogas technology with other means of renewable electricity production for improved efficiency and sustainability.

NATURE COMMUNICATIONS 7: p. 11607. (2016)

Adaptive evolution of complex innovations through stepwise metabolic niche expansion.

Szappanos B, Fritzemeier J, Csorgo B, Lazar V, Lu X, Fekete G, Balint B, Herczeg R, Nagy I, Notebaart RA, Lercher MJ, Pal C, Papp B

A central challenge in evolutionary biology concerns the mechanisms by which complex metabolic innovations requiring multiple mutations arise. Here, we propose that metabolic innovations accessible through the addition of a single reaction serve as stepping stones towards the later establishment of complex metabolic features in another environment. We demonstrate the feasibility of this hypothesis through three complementary analyses. First, using genome-scale metabolic modelling, we show that complex metabolic innovations in Escherichia coli can arise via changing nutrient conditions. Second, using phylogenetic approaches, we demonstrate that the acquisition patterns of complex metabolic pathways during the evolutionary history of bacterial genomes support the hypothesis. Third, we show how adaptation of laboratory populations of E. coli to one carbon source facilitates the later adaptation to another carbon source. Our work demonstrates how complex innovations can evolve through series of adaptive steps without the need to invoke non-adaptive processes.

NUCLEIC ACIDS RESEARCH 44:(7) pp. 3176-3189. (2016)16)

The PCNA-associated protein PARI negatively regulates homologous recombination via the inhibition of DNA repair synthesis

Burkovics P, Dome L, Juhasz S, Altmannova V, Sebesta M, Pacesa M, Fugger K, Sorensen CS, Lee MY, Haracska L, Krejci L

Successful and accurate completion of the replication of damage-containing DNA requires mainly recombination and RAD18-dependent DNA damage tolerance pathways. RAD18 governs at least two distinct mechanisms: translesion synthesis (TLS) and template switching (TS)-dependent pathways. Whereas TS is mainly error-free, TLS can work in an error-prone manner and, as such, the regulation of these pathways requires tight control to prevent DNA errors and potentially oncogenic transformation and tumorigenesis. In humans, the PCNA-associated recombination inhibitor (PARI) protein has recently been shown to inhibit homologous recombination (HR) events. Here, we describe a biochemical mechanism in which PARI functions as an HR regulator after replication fork stalling and during double-strand break repair. In our reconstituted biochemical system, we show that PARI inhibits DNA repair synthesis during recombination events in a PCNA interaction-dependent way but independently of its UvrD-like helicase domain. In accordance, we demonstrate that PARI inhibits HR in vivo, and its knockdown suppresses the UV sensitivity of RAD18-depleted cells. Our data reveal a novel human regulatory mechanism that limits the extent of HR and represents a new potential target for anticancer therapy.

PLANT PHYSIOLOGY 2016: Paper 15.01679. (2016)

Response of Organ Structure and Physiology to Autotetraploidization in Early Development of Energy Willow Salix viminalis L.

Dudits D, Torok K, Cseri A, Paul K, Nagy AV, Nagy B, Sass L, Ferenc G, Vankova R, Dobrev P, Vass I, Ayaydin F

The biomass productivity of the energy willow Salix viminalis as a short-rotation woody crop depends on organ structure and functions that are under the control of genome size. Colchicine treatment of axillary buds resulted in a set of autotetraploid S. viminalis var. Energo genotypes (polyploid Energo [PP-E]; 2n = 4x = 76) with variation in the green pixel-based shoot surface area. In cases where increased shoot biomass was observed, it was primarily derived from larger leaf size and wider stem diameter. Autotetraploidy slowed primary growth and increased shoot diameter (a parameter of secondary growth). The duplicated genome size enlarged bark and wood layers in twigs sampled in the field. The PP-E plants developed wider leaves with thicker midrib and enlarged palisade parenchyma cells. Autotetraploid leaves contained significantly increased amounts of active gibberellins, cytokinins, salicylic acid, and jasmonate compared with diploid individuals. Greater net photosynthetic CO2 uptake was detected in leaves of PP-E plants with increased chlorophyll and carotenoid contents. Improved photosynthetic functions in tetraploids were also shown by more efficient electron transport rates of photosystems I and II. Autotetraploidization increased the biomass of the root system of PP-E plants relative to diploids. Sections of tetraploid roots showed thickening with enlarged cortex cells. Elevated amounts of indole acetic acid, active cytokinins, active gibberellin, and salicylic acid were detected in the root tips of these plants. The presented variation in traits of tetraploid willow genotypes provides a basis to use autopolyploidization as a chromosome engineering technique to alter the organ development of energy plants in order to improve biomass productivity.

MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND EVOLUTION 33:(5) pp. 1257-1269. (2016)

Indispensability of Horizontally Transferred Genes and Its Impact on Bacterial Genome Streamlining

Karcagi I, Draskovits G, Umenhoffer K, Fekete G, Kovacs K, Mehi O, Baliko G, Szappanos B, Gyorfy Z, Feher T, Bogos B, Blattner FR, Pal C, Posfai G, Papp B

Why are certain bacterial genomes so small and compact? The adaptive genome streamlining hypothesis posits that selection acts to reduce genome size because of themetabolic burden of replicating DNA. To reveal the impact of genome streamlining on cellular traits, we reduced the Escherichia coli genome by up to 20% by deleting regions which have been repeatedly subjects of horizontal transfer in nature. Unexpectedly, horizontally transferred genes not only confer utilization of specific nutrients and elevate tolerance to stresses, but also allow efficient usage of resources to build new cells, and hence influence fitness in routine and stressful environments alike. Genome reduction affected fitness not only by gene loss, but also by induction of a general stress response. Finally, we failed to find evidence that the advantage of smaller genomes would be due to a reduced metabolic burden of replicating DNA or a link with smaller cell size. We conclude that as the potential energetic benefit gained by deletion of short genomic segments is vanishingly small compared with the deleterious side effects of these deletions, selection for reduced DNA synthesis costs is unlikely to shape the evolution of small genomes.

NANOMEDICINE: NANOTECHNOLOGY BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE 2016: p. 1. (2016)

Silver nanoparticles modulate ABC transporter activity and enhance chemotherapy in multidrug resistant cancer

Kovács Dávid, Szőke Krisztina, Igaz Nóra, Spengler Gabriella, Molnár József, Tóth Tímea, Madarász Dániel, Rázga Zsolt, Kónya Zoltán, Boros Imre M, Kiricsi Mónika

The emergence of multidrug resistant (MDR) cancer phenotypes dramatically attenuates the efficiency of antineoplastic drug treatments often leading to the failure of chemotherapy. Therefore there is an urgent need to engineer new therapeutically useful agents and propose innovative approaches able to defeat resistant cancer cells. Although the remarkable anti-cancer features of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) have already been delineated their impact on MDR cancer has never been investigated. Herein, we report that AgNPs have a notable anti-proliferative effect and induce apoptosis mediated cell death both in drug sensitive and in MDR cancer cells. Furthermore we show evidence that AgNPs exert an inhibitory action on the efflux activity of MDR cancer cells which feature could be exploited to enhance drug accumulation. We verified synergistic interactions of AgNPs with six different antineoplastic agents on drug resistant cells which emphasizes the excellent potential of AgNPs as combinational partners in the chemotherapy of MDR cancer.

AUTOPHAGY 12:(2) pp. 273-286. (2016)

AUTEN-67, an autophagy-enhancing drug candidate with potent antiaging and neuroprotective effects.

Papp D, Kovacs T, Billes V, Varga M, Tarnoci A, Hackler L Jr, Puskas LG, Liliom H, Tarnok K, Schlett K, Borsy A, Padar Z, Kovacs AL, Hegedus K, Juhasz G, Komlos M, Erdos A, Gulyas B, Vellai T

Autophagy is a major molecular mechanism that eliminates cellular damage in eukaryotic organisms. Basal levels of autophagy are required for maintaining cellular homeostasis and functioning. Defects in the autophagic process are implicated in the development of various age-dependent pathologies including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as in accelerated aging. Genetic activation of autophagy has been shown to retard the accumulation of damaged cytoplasmic constituents, delay the incidence of age-dependent diseases and extend life span in genetic models. This implies that autophagy serves as a therapeutic target in treating such pathologies. Although several autophagy-inducing chemical agents have been identified, the majority of them operate upstream of the core autophagic process, thereby exerting undesired side effects. Here, we screened a small-molecule library for specific inhibitors of MTMR14, a myotubularin-related phosphatase antagonizing the formation of autophagic membrane structures, and isolated AUTEN-67 (autophagy enhancer-67) that significantly increases autophagic flux in cell lines and in vivo models. AUTEN-67 promotes longevity and protects neurons from undergoing stress-induced cell death. It also restores nesting behavior in a murine model of Alzheimer disease, without apparent side effects. Thus, AUTEN-67 is a potent drug candidate for treating autophagy-related diseases.

ELIFE 5: Paper e12245. 18 p. (2016)

Mutation in Atg5 reduces autophagy and leads to ataxia with developmental delay

Kim M, Sandford E, Gatica D, Qiu Y, Liu X, Zheng Y, Schulman BA, Xu J, Semple I, Ro SH, Kim B, Mavioglu RN, Tolun A, Jipa A, Takats S, Karpati M, Li JZ, Yapici Z, Juhasz G, Lee JH, Klionsky DJ, Burmeister M

Autophagy is required for the homeostasis of cellular material and is proposed to be involved in many aspects of health. Defects in the autophagy pathway have been observed in neurodegenerative disorders; however, no genetically-inherited pathogenic mutations in any of the core autophagy-related (ATG) genes have been reported in human patients to date. We identified a homozygous missense mutation, changing a conserved amino acid, in ATG5 in two siblings with congenital ataxia, mental retardation, and developmental delay. The subjects' cells display a decrease in autophagy flux and defects in conjugation of ATG12 to ATG5. The homologous mutation in yeast demonstrates a 30-50% reduction of induced autophagy. Flies in which Atg5 is substituted with the mutant human ATG5 exhibit severe movement disorder, in contrast to flies expressing the wild-type human protein. Our results demonstrate the critical role of autophagy in preventing neurological diseases and maintaining neuronal health.

NATURE COMMUNICATIONS 7: Paper 11126. 8 p. (2016)

Sleeping Beauty transposase structure allows rational design of hyperactive variants for genetic engineering

Voigt F, Wiedemann L, Zuliani C, Querques I, Sebe A, Mates L, Izsvak Z, Ivics Z, Barabas O

Sleeping Beauty (SB) is a prominent Tc1/mariner superfamily DNA transposon that provides a popular genome engineering tool in a broad range of organisms. It is mobilized by a transposase enzyme that catalyses DNA cleavage and integration at short specific sequences at the transposon ends. To facilitate SB's applications, here we determine the crystal structure of the transposase catalytic domain and use it to model the SB transposase/transposon end/target DNA complex. Together with biochemical and cell-based transposition assays, our structure reveals mechanistic insights into SB transposition and rationalizes previous hyperactive transposase mutations. Moreover, our data enables us to design two additional hyperactive transposase variants. Our work provides a useful resource and proof-of-concept for structure-based engineering of tailored SB transposases.

JOURNAL OF INVESTIGATIVE DERMATOLOGY 136:(4) pp. 862-865. (2016)

Bacterial sepsis increases survival in metastatic melanoma: Chlamydophila pneumoniae induces macrophage polarization and tumor regression

Buzas K, Marton A, Vizler C, Gyukity-Sebestyen E, Harmati M, Nagy K, Zvara A, Katona RL, Tubak V, Endresz V, Nemeth IB, Olah J, Vigh L, Biro T, Kemeny L

PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 113:(9) pp. 2502-2507. (2016)

A highly precise and portable genome engineering method allows comparison of mutational effects across bacterial species

Nyerges A, Csorgo B, Nagy I, Balint B, Bihari P, Lazar V, Apjok G, Umenhoffer K, Bogos B, Posfai G, Pal C

Currently available tools for multiplex bacterial genome engineering are optimized for a few laboratory model strains, demand extensive prior modification of the host strain, and lead to the accumulation of numerous off-target modifications. Building on prior development of multiplex automated genome engineering (MAGE), our work addresses these problems in a single framework. Using a dominant-negative mutant protein of the methyl-directed mismatch repair (MMR) system, we achieved a transient suppression of DNA repair in Escherichia coli, which is necessary for efficient oligonucleotide integration. By integrating all necessary components into a broad-host vector, we developed a new workflow we term pORTMAGE. It allows efficient modification of multiple loci, without any observable off-target mutagenesis and prior modification of the host genome. Because of the conserved nature of the bacterial MMR system, pORTMAGE simultaneously allows genome editing and mutant library generation in other biotechnologically and clinically relevant bacterial species. Finally, we applied pORTMAGE to study a set of antibiotic resistance-conferring mutations in Salmonella enterica and E. coli. Despite over 100 million y of divergence between the two species, mutational effects remained generally conserved. In sum, a single transformation of a pORTMAGE plasmid allows bacterial species of interest to become an efficient host for genome engineering. These advances pave the way toward biotechnological and therapeutic applications. Finally, pORTMAGE allows systematic comparison of mutational effects and epistasis across a wide range of bacterial species.

CHEMICAL COMMUNICATIONS Paper 10.1039/C5CC09257D. (2016)

Foldameric probes for membrane interactions by induced β-sheet folding

Zsófia Hegedüs, Ildikó Makra, Norbert Imre, Anasztázia Hetényi, István M Mándity, Éva Monostori, Tamás A Martinek

Design strategies were devised for alpha/beta-peptide foldameric analogues of the antiangiogenic anginex with the goal of mimicking the diverse structural features from the unordered conformation to a folded beta-sheet in response to membrane interactions. Structure-activity relationships were investigated in the light of different beta-sheet folding levels.