Publications by authors named "Donald G McEwen"

10 Publications

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p53 binding prevents phosphatase-mediated inactivation of diphosphorylated c-Jun N-terminal kinase.

J Biol Chem 2012 May 30;287(21):17554-17567. Epub 2012 Mar 30.

Departments of Biochemistry and The University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, Texas 78229; Greehey Children's Cancer Research Institute, The University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, Texas 78229. Electronic address:

c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) is a serine/threonine phosphotransferase whose sustained activation in response to genotoxic stress promotes apoptosis. In Drosophila, the normally rapid JNK-dependent apoptotic response to genotoxic stress is significantly delayed in Dmp53 (Drosophila p53) mutants. Likewise, the extent of JNK activity after UV irradiation is dependent on p53 in murine embryonic fibroblasts with loss of p53 resulting in diminished JNK activity. Together, these results suggest that p53 potentiates the JNK-dependent response to genotoxic stress; however, the mechanism whereby p53 stimulates JNK activity remains undefined. Here, we demonstrate that both Drosophila and human p53 can directly stimulate JNK activity independently of p53-dependent gene transcription. Furthermore, we demonstrate that both the Drosophila and human p53 orthologs form a physical complex with diphosphorylated JNK ((DP)JNK) both in vivo and in vitro, suggesting that the interaction is evolutionarily conserved. Focusing on human p53, we demonstrate that the interaction maps to the DNA binding domain (hp53(DBD)). Intriguingly, binding of p53(DBD) alone to (DP)JNK prevented its inactivation by MAPK phosphatase (MKP)-5; however, JNK was still able to phosphorylate c-Jun while in a complex with the p53(DBD). Apparent dissociation constants for the p53(DBD)·(DP)JNK (274 ± 14 nm) and MKP-5·(DP)JNK (55 ± 8 nm) complexes were established; however, binding of MKP-5 and p53 to JNK was not mutually exclusive. Together, these results suggest that stress-dependent increases in p53 levels potentiate JNK activation by preventing its rapid dephosphorylation by MKPs and that the simultaneous activation of p53 and JNK may constitute a "fail-safe" switch for the JNK-dependent apoptotic response.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M111.319277DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3366850PMC
May 2012

PTEN loss defines a TGF-β-induced tubule phenotype of failed differentiation and JNK signaling during renal fibrosis.

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol 2012 May 1;302(9):F1210-23. Epub 2012 Feb 1.

Department of Pathology, University of Texas Health Science Center, 7703 Floyd Curl Dr., San Antonio, TX 78229, USA.

We investigated the signaling basis for tubule pathology during fibrosis after renal injury. Numerous signaling pathways are activated physiologically to direct tubule regeneration after acute kidney injury (AKI) but several persist pathologically after repair. Among these, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β is particularly important because it controls epithelial differentiation and profibrotic cytokine production. We found that increased TGF-β signaling after AKI is accompanied by PTEN loss from proximal tubules (PT). With time, subpopulations of regenerating PT with persistent loss of PTEN (phosphate and tension homolog) failed to differentiate, became growth arrested, expressed vimentin, displayed profibrotic JNK activation, and produced PDGF-B. These tubules were surrounded by fibrosis. In contrast, PTEN recovery was associated with epithelial differentiation, normal tubule repair, and less fibrosis. This beneficial outcome was promoted by TGF-β antagonism. Tubule-specific induction of TGF-β led to PTEN loss, JNK activation, and fibrosis even without prior AKI. In PT culture, high TGF-β depleted PTEN, inhibited differentiation, and activated JNK. Conversely, TGF-β antagonism increased PTEN, promoted differentiation, and decreased JNK activity. Cre-Lox PTEN deletion suppressed differentiation, induced growth arrest, and activated JNK. The low-PTEN state with JNK signaling and fibrosis was ameliorated by contralateral nephrectomy done 2 wk after unilateral ischemia, suggesting reversibility of the low-PTEN dysfunctional tubule phenotype. Vimentin-expressing tubules with low-PTEN and JNK activation were associated with fibrosis also after tubule-selective AKI, and with human chronic kidney diseases of diverse etiology. By preventing tubule differentiation, the low-PTEN state may provide a platform for signals initiated physiologically to persist pathologically and cause fibrosis after injury.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajprenal.00660.2011DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3362177PMC
May 2012

The growth-suppressive function of the polycomb group protein polyhomeotic is mediated by polymerization of its sterile alpha motif (SAM) domain.

J Biol Chem 2012 Mar 24;287(12):8702-13. Epub 2012 Jan 24.

Department of Biochemistry, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas 78229-3990, USA.

Polyhomeotic (Ph), a member of the Polycomb Group (PcG), is a gene silencer critical for proper development. We present a previously unrecognized way of controlling Ph function through modulation of its sterile alpha motif (SAM) polymerization leading to the identification of a novel target for tuning the activities of proteins. SAM domain containing proteins have been shown to require SAM polymerization for proper function. However, the role of the Ph SAM polymer in PcG-mediated gene silencing was uncertain. Here, we first show that Ph SAM polymerization is indeed required for its gene silencing function. Interestingly, the unstructured linker sequence N-terminal to Ph SAM can shorten the length of polymers compared with when Ph SAM is individually isolated. Substituting the native linker with a random, unstructured sequence (RLink) can still limit polymerization, but not as well as the native linker. Consequently, the increased polymeric Ph RLink exhibits better gene silencing ability. In the Drosophila wing disc, Ph RLink expression suppresses growth compared with no effect for wild-type Ph, and opposite to the overgrowth phenotype observed for polymer-deficient Ph mutants. These data provide the first demonstration that the inherent activity of a protein containing a polymeric SAM can be enhanced by increasing SAM polymerization. Because the SAM linker had not been previously considered important for the function of SAM-containing proteins, our finding opens numerous opportunities to manipulate linker sequences of hundreds of polymeric SAM proteins to regulate a diverse array of intracellular functions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M111.336115DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3308824PMC
March 2012

The TβR-I pre-helix extension is structurally ordered in the unbound form and its flanking prolines are essential for binding.

J Mol Biol 2011 Sep 29;412(4):601-18. Epub 2011 Jul 29.

Department of Biochemistry, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA.

Transforming growth factor β isoforms (TGF-β) are among the most recently evolved members of a signaling superfamily with more than 30 members. TGF-β play vital roles in regulating cellular growth and differentiation, and they signal through a highly restricted subset of receptors known as TGF-β type I receptor (TβR-I) and TGF-β type II receptor (TβR-II). TGF-β's specificity for TβR-I has been proposed to arise from its pre-helix extension, a five-residue loop that binds in the cleft between TGF-β and TβR-II. The structure and backbone dynamics of the unbound form of the TβR-I extracellular domain were determined using NMR to investigate the extension's role in binding. This showed that the unbound form is highly similar to the bound form in terms of both the β-strand framework that defines the three-finger toxin fold and the extension and its characteristic cis-Ile54-Pro55 peptide bond. The NMR data further showed that the extension and two flanking 3(10) helices are rigid on the nanosecond-to-picosecond timescale. The functional significance of several residues within the extension was investigated by binding studies and reporter gene assays in cultured epithelial cells. These demonstrated that the pre-helix extension is essential for binding, with Pro55 and Pro59 each playing a major role. These findings suggest that the pre-helix extension and its flanking prolines evolved to endow the TGF-β signaling complex with its unique specificity, departing from the ancestral promiscuity of the bone morphogenetic protein subfamily, where the binding interface of the type I receptor is highly flexible.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jmb.2011.07.046DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3576881PMC
September 2011

Polycomb group targeting through different binding partners of RING1B C-terminal domain.

Structure 2010 Aug;18(8):966-75

Department of Biochemistry, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, MSC 7760, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229-3990, USA.

RING1B, a Polycomb Group (PcG) protein, binds methylated chromatin through its association with another PcG protein called Polycomb (Pc). However, RING1B can associate with nonmethylated chromatin suggesting an alternate mechanism for RING1B interaction with chromatin. Here, we demonstrate that two proteins with little sequence identity between them, the Pc cbox domain and RYBP, bind the same surface on the C-terminal domain of RING1B (C-RING1B). Pc cbox and RYBP each fold into a nearly identical, intermolecular beta sheet with C-RING1B and a loop structure which are completely different in the two proteins. Both the beta sheet and loop are required for stable binding and transcription repression. Further, a mutation engineered to disrupt binding on the Drosophila dRING1 protein prevents chromatin association and PcG function in vivo. These results suggest that PcG targeting to different chromatin locations relies, in part, on binding partners of C-RING1B that are diverse in sequence and structure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.str.2010.04.013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4445678PMC
August 2010

Inhibition of mitochondrial division through covalent modification of Drp1 protein by 15 deoxy-Delta(12,14)-prostaglandin J2.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2010 Apr 20;395(1):17-24. Epub 2010 Mar 20.

Department of Pathology, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA.

Arachidonic acid derived endogenous electrophile 15d-PGJ2 has gained much attention in recent years due to its potent anti-proliferative and anti-inflammatory actions mediated through thiol modification of cysteine residues in its target proteins. Here, we show that 15d-PGJ2 at 1 microM concentration converts normal mitochondria into large elongated and interconnected mitochondria through direct binding to mitochondrial fission protein Drp1 and partial inhibition of its GTPase activity. Mitochondrial elongation induced by 15d-PGJ2 is accompanied by increased assembly of Drp1 into large oligomeric complexes through plausible intermolecular interactions. The role of decreased GTPase activity of Drp1 in the formation of large oligomeric complexes is evident when Drp1 is incubated with a non-cleavable GTP analog, GTPgammaS or by a mutation that inactivated GTPase activity of Drp1 (K38A). The mutation of cysteine residue (Cys644) in the GTPase effector domain, a reported target for modification by reactive electrophiles, to alanine mimicked K38A mutation induced Drp1 oligomerization and mitochondrial elongation, suggesting the importance of cysteine in GED to regulate the GTPase activity and mitochondrial morphology. Interestingly, treatment of K38A and C644A mutants with 15d-PGJ2 resulted in super oligomerization of both mutant Drp1s indicating that 15d-PGJ2 may further stabilize Drp1 oligomers formed by loss of GTPase activity through covalent modification of middle domain cysteine residues. The present study documents for the first time the regulation of a mitochondrial fission activity by a prostaglandin, which will provide clues for understanding the pathological and physiological consequences of accumulation of reactive electrophiles during oxidative stress, inflammation and degeneration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrc.2010.03.093DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2859997PMC
April 2010

Cytokine/Jak/Stat signaling mediates regeneration and homeostasis in the Drosophila midgut.

Cell 2009 Jun;137(7):1343-55

Division of Basic Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.

Cells in intestinal epithelia turn over rapidly due to damage from digestion and toxins produced by the enteric microbiota. Gut homeostasis is maintained by intestinal stem cells (ISCs) that divide to replenish the intestinal epithelium, but little is known about how ISC division and differentiation are coordinated with epithelial cell loss. We show here that when enterocytes (ECs) in the Drosophila midgut are subjected to apoptosis, enteric infection, or JNK-mediated stress signaling, they produce cytokines (Upd, Upd2, and Upd3) that activate Jak/Stat signaling in ISCs, promoting their rapid division. Upd/Jak/Stat activity also promotes progenitor cell differentiation, in part by stimulating Delta/Notch signaling, and is required for differentiation in both normal and regenerating midguts. Hence, cytokine-mediated feedback enables stem cells to replace spent progeny as they are lost, thereby establishing gut homeostasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2009.05.014DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2753793PMC
June 2009

Puckered, a Drosophila MAPK phosphatase, ensures cell viability by antagonizing JNK-induced apoptosis.

Development 2005 Sep 3;132(17):3935-46. Epub 2005 Aug 3.

Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280, USA.

MAPK phosphatases (MKPs) are important negative regulators of MAPKs in vivo, but ascertaining the role of specific MKPs is hindered by functional redundancy in vertebrates. Thus, we characterized MKP function by examining the function of Puckered (Puc), the sole Drosophila Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK)-specific MKP, during embryonic and imaginal disc development. We demonstrate that Puc is a key anti-apoptotic factor that prevents apoptosis in epithelial cells by restraining basal JNK signaling. Furthermore, we demonstrate that JNK signaling plays an important role in gamma-irradiation-induced apoptosis, and examine how JNK signaling fits into the circuitry regulating this process. Radiation upregulates both JNK activity and puc expression in a p53-dependent manner, and apoptosis induced by loss of Puc can be suppressed by p53 inactivation. JNK signaling acts upstream of both Reaper and effector caspases. Finally, we demonstrate that JNK signaling directs normal developmentally regulated apoptotic events. However, if cell death is prevented, JNK activation can trigger tissue overgrowth. Thus, MKPs are key regulators of the delicate balance between proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis during development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/dev.01949DOI Listing
September 2005

Fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 gene: regulation by serum response factor.

Mol Endocrinol 2004 Jan 16;18(1):241-51. Epub 2003 Oct 16.

Department of Pathology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, Texas 78229-3900, USA.

We have previously identified a cis-acting sequence in the proximal promoter of the fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) gene that strongly activates transcription in chondrocytic cells. Here we report that the transcriptional activity of this sequence (FRE3) requires serum response factor and its cognate recognition motif, serum response element. Although the FRE3 contains consensus sequence motifs for several transcription factors, the serum response element is paramount for the transcriptional activity of the FRE3. Additionally, the transcriptional activity of the proximal promoter of the FGFR3 gene is suppressed by mutation of the serum response element. Serum response factor binds to the FRE3 as evidenced by gel shift experiments and antibody supershift experiments and expression of a dominant negative form of serum response factor suppresses the activity of FRE3. Additionally, serum response factor binds to the FGFR3 gene in vivo, as demonstrated by chromatin immunoprecipitation. Serum response factor is an important regulator of cardiac, skeletal, and smooth muscle gene expression; these data suggest that serum response factor is also an important determinant of chondrocyte gene expression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/me.2003-0312DOI Listing
January 2004

The ballet of morphogenesis: unveiling the hidden choreographers.

Cell 2002 May;109(3):271-4

Department of Biology and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 27599, USA.

Several recent papers reveal new insights into the mechanisms by which cells turn their perceptions about fate into action, focusing on the role of Wnt signal transduction in cell polarization and migration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0092-8674(02)00739-0DOI Listing
May 2002