Publications by authors named "Wolfgang Helmhart"

10 Publications

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Sgol2 provides a regulatory platform that coordinates essential cell cycle processes during meiosis I in oocytes.

Elife 2013 Nov 5;2:e01133. Epub 2013 Nov 5.

Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Accurate chromosome segregation depends on coordination between cohesion resolution and kinetochore-microtubule interactions (K-fibers), a process regulated by the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC). How these diverse processes are coordinated remains unclear. We show that in mammalian oocytes Shugoshin-like protein 2 (Sgol2) in addition to protecting cohesin, plays an important role in turning off the SAC, in promoting the congression and bi-orientation of bivalents on meiosis I spindles, in facilitating formation of K-fibers and in limiting bivalent stretching. Sgol2's ability to protect cohesin depends on its interaction with PP2A, as is its ability to silence the SAC, with the latter being mediated by direct binding to Mad2. In contrast, its effect on bivalent stretching and K-fiber formation is independent of PP2A and mediated by recruitment of MCAK and inhibition of Aurora C kinase activity respectively. By virtue of its multiple interactions, Sgol2 links many of the processes essential for faithful chromosome segregation. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01133.001.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01133DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3816256PMC
November 2013

Cohesin's concatenation of sister DNAs maintains their intertwining.

Mol Cell 2011 Oct;44(1):97-107

Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QU, UK.

The contribution of DNA catenation to sister chromatid cohesion is unclear partly because it has never been observed directly within mitotic chromosomes. Differential sedimentation-velocity and gel electrophoresis reveal that sisters of 26 kb circular minichromosomes are held together by catenation as well as by cohesin. The finding that chemical crosslinking of cohesin's three subunit interfaces entraps sister DNAs of circular but not linear minichromosomes implies that cohesin functions using a topological principle. Importantly, cohesin holds both catenated and uncatenated DNAs together in this manner. In the vicinity of centromeres, catenanes are resolved by spindle forces, but linkages mediated directly by cohesin resist these forces even after complete decatenation. Crucially, persistence of catenation after S phase depends on cohesin. We conclude that by retarding Topo II-driven decatenation, cohesin mediates sister chromatid cohesion by an indirect mechanism as well as one involving entrapment of sister DNAs inside its tripartite ring.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2011.07.034DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3240746PMC
October 2011

Structure and function of the PP2A-shugoshin interaction.

Mol Cell 2009 Aug;35(4):426-41

Department of Biological Structure, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.

Accurate chromosome segregation during mitosis and meiosis depends on shugoshin proteins that prevent precocious dissociation of cohesin from centromeres. Shugoshins associate with PP2A, which is thought to dephosphorylate cohesin and thereby prevent cleavage by separase during meiosis I. A crystal structure of a complex between a fragment of human Sgo1 and an AB'C PP2A holoenzyme reveals that Sgo1 forms a homodimeric parallel coiled coil that docks simultaneously onto PP2A's C and B' subunits. Sgo1 homodimerization is a prerequisite for PP2A binding. While hSgo1 interacts only with the AB'C holoenzymes, its relative, Sgo2, interacts with all PP2A forms and may thus lead to dephosphorylation of distinct substrates. Mutant shugoshin proteins defective in the binding of PP2A cannot protect centromeric cohesin from separase during meiosis I or support the spindle assembly checkpoint in yeast. Finally, we provide evidence that PP2A's recruitment to chromosomes may be sufficient to protect cohesin from separase in mammalian oocytes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2009.06.031DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2749713PMC
August 2009

Role of cleavage by separase of the Rec8 kleisin subunit of cohesin during mammalian meiosis I.

J Cell Sci 2009 Aug;122(Pt 15):2686-98

Research Institute of Molecular Pathology, A-1030 Vienna, Austria.

Proteolytic activity of separase is required for chiasma resolution during meiosis I in mouse oocytes. Rec8, the meiosis-specific alpha-kleisin subunit of cohesin, is a key target of separase in yeast. Is the equivalent protein also a target in mammals? We show here that separase cleaves mouse Rec8 at three positions in vitro but only when the latter is hyper-phosphorylated. Expression of a Rec8 variant (Rec8-N) that cannot be cleaved in vitro at these sites causes sterility in male mice. Their seminiferous tubules lack a normal complement of 2 C secondary spermatocytes and 1 C spermatids and contain instead a high proportion of cells with enlarged nuclei. Chromosome spreads reveal that Rec8-N expression has no effect in primary spermatocytes but produces secondary spermatocytes and spermatids with a 4 C DNA content, suggesting that the first and possibly also the second meiotic division is abolished. Expression of Rec8-N in oocytes causes chromosome segregation to be asynchronous and delays its completion by 2-3 hours during anaphase I, probably due to inefficient proteolysis of Rec8-N by separase. Despite this effect, chromosome segregation must be quite accurate as Rec8-N does not greatly reduce female fertility. Our data is consistent with the notion that Rec8 cleavage is important and probably crucial for the resolution of chiasmata in males and females.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jcs.035287DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2909317PMC
August 2009

Regulation of APC/C activity in oocytes by a Bub1-dependent spindle assembly checkpoint.

Curr Biol 2009 Mar 26;19(5):369-80. Epub 2009 Feb 26.

Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QU, United Kingdom.

Background: Missegregation of chromosomes during meiosis in human females causes aneuploidy, including trisomy 21, and is thought also to be the major cause of age-related infertility. Most errors are thought to occur at the first meiotic division. The high frequency of errors raises questions as to whether the surveillance mechanism known as the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) that controls the anaphase-promoting complex or cyclosome (APC/C) operates effectively in oocytes. Experimental approaches hitherto used to inactivate the SAC in oocytes suffer from a number of drawbacks.

Results: Bub1 protein was depleted specifically in oocytes with a Zp3-Cre transgene to delete exons 7 and 8 from a floxed BUB1(F) allele. Loss of Bub1 greatly accelerates resolution of chiasmata and extrusion of polar bodies. It also causes defective biorientation of bivalents, massive chromosome missegregation at meiosis I, and precocious loss of cohesion between sister centromeres. By using a quantitative assay for APC/C-mediated securin destruction, we show that the APC/C is activated in an exponential fashion, with activity peaking 12-13 hr after GVBD, and that this process is advanced by 5 hr in oocytes lacking Bub1. Importantly, premature chiasmata resolution does not occur in Bub1-deficient oocytes also lacking either the APC/C's Apc2 subunit or separase. Finally, we show that Bub1's kinase domain is not required to delay APC/C activation.

Conclusions: We conclude that far from being absent or ineffective, the SAC largely determines the timing of APC/C and hence separase activation in oocytes, delaying it for about 5 hr.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2009.01.064DOI Listing
March 2009

Evidence that loading of cohesin onto chromosomes involves opening of its SMC hinge.

Cell 2006 Nov;127(3):523-37

Institute of Molecular Pathology, Dr. Bohr-Gasse 7, 1030 Vienna, Austria.

Cohesin is a multisubunit complex that mediates sister-chromatid cohesion. Its Smc1 and Smc3 subunits possess ABC-like ATPases at one end of 50 nm long coiled coils. At the other ends are pseudosymmetrical hinge domains that interact to create V-shaped Smc1/Smc3 heterodimers. N- and C-terminal domains within cohesin's kleisin subunit Scc1 bind to Smc3 and Smc1 ATPase heads respectively, thereby creating a huge tripartite ring. It has been suggested that cohesin associates with chromosomes by trapping DNA within its ring. Opening of the ring due to cleavage of Scc1 by separase destroys sister-chromatid cohesion and triggers anaphase. We show that cohesin's hinges are not merely dimerization domains. They are essential for cohesin's association with chromosomes, which is blocked by artificially holding hinge domains together but not by preventing Scc1's dissociation from SMC ATPase heads. Our results suggest that entry of DNA into cohesin's ring requires transient dissociation of Smc1 and Smc3 hinge domains.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2006.08.048DOI Listing
November 2006

Resolution of chiasmata in oocytes requires separase-mediated proteolysis.

Cell 2006 Jul;126(1):135-46

Research Institute of Molecular Pathology, Dr. Bohr-Gasse 7, A-1030 Vienna, Austria.

In yeast, resolution of chiasmata in meiosis I requires proteolytic cleavage along chromosome arms of cohesin's Rec8 subunit by separase. Since activation of separase by the anaphase-promoting complex (APC/C) is supposedly not required for meiosis I in Xenopus oocytes, it has been suggested that animal cells might resolve chiasmata by a separase-independent mechanism related to the so-called "prophase pathway" that removes cohesin from chromosome arms during mitosis. By expressing Cre recombinase from a zona pellucida promoter, we have deleted a floxed allele of separase specifically in mouse oocytes. This prevents removal of Rec8 from chromosome arms and resolution of chiasmata. It also hinders extrusion of the first polar body (PBE) and causes female sterility. mRNA encoding wild-type but not catalytically inactive separase restores chiasma resolution. Both types of mRNA restore PBE. Proteolytic activity of separase is therefore essential for Rec8's removal from chromosome arms and for chiasma resolution but not for PBE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2006.05.033DOI Listing
July 2006

Protein phosphatase 2A protects centromeric sister chromatid cohesion during meiosis I.

Nature 2006 May 15;441(7089):53-61. Epub 2006 Mar 15.

Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP), Dr. Bohr-Gasse 7, A-1030 Vienna, Austria.

Segregation of homologous maternal and paternal centromeres to opposite poles during meiosis I depends on post-replicative crossing over between homologous non-sister chromatids, which creates chiasmata and therefore bivalent chromosomes. Destruction of sister chromatid cohesion along chromosome arms due to proteolytic cleavage of cohesin's Rec8 subunit by separase resolves chiasmata and thereby triggers the first meiotic division. This produces univalent chromosomes, the chromatids of which are held together by centromeric cohesin that has been protected from separase by shugoshin (Sgo1/MEI-S332) proteins. Here we show in both fission and budding yeast that Sgo1 recruits to centromeres a specific form of protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A). Its inactivation causes loss of centromeric cohesin at anaphase I and random segregation of sister centromeres at the second meiotic division. Artificial recruitment of PP2A to chromosome arms prevents Rec8 phosphorylation and hinders resolution of chiasmata. Our data are consistent with the notion that efficient cleavage of Rec8 requires phosphorylation of cohesin and that this is blocked by PP2A at meiosis I centromeres.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature04664DOI Listing
May 2006

Structure and stability of cohesin's Smc1-kleisin interaction.

Mol Cell 2004 Sep;15(6):951-64

Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP), Dr. Bohr-Gasse 7, A-1030 Vienna, Austria.

A multisubunit complex called cohesin forms a huge ring structure that mediates sister chromatid cohesion, possibly by entrapping sister DNAs following replication. Cohesin's kleisin subunit Scc1 completes the ring, connecting the ABC-like ATPase heads of a V-shaped Smc1/3 heterodimer. Proteolytic cleavage of Scc1 by separase triggers sister chromatid disjunction, presumably by breaking the Scc1 bridge. One half of the SMC-kleisin bridge is revealed here by a crystal structure of Smc1's ATPase complexed with Scc1's C-terminal domain. The latter forms a winged helix that binds a pair of beta strands in Smc1's ATPase head. Mutation of conserved residues within the contact interface destroys Scc1's interaction with Smc1/3 heterodimers and eliminates cohesin function. Interaction of Scc1's N terminus with Smc3 depends on prior C terminus connection with Smc1. There is little or no turnover of Smc1-Scc1 interactions within cohesin complexes in vivo because expression of noncleavable Scc1 after DNA replication does not hinder anaphase.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2004.08.030DOI Listing
September 2004

Sister-chromatid cohesion mediated by the alternative RF-CCtf18/Dcc1/Ctf8, the helicase Chl1 and the polymerase-alpha-associated protein Ctf4 is essential for chromatid disjunction during meiosis II.

J Cell Sci 2004 Jul 29;117(Pt 16):3547-59. Epub 2004 Jun 29.

Research Institute of Molecular Pathology, Dr. Bohrgasse 7, A-1030 Vienna, Austria.

Cohesion between sister chromatids mediated by a multisubunit complex called cohesin is established during DNA replication and is essential for the orderly segregation of chromatids during anaphase. In budding yeast, a specialized replication factor C called RF-C(Ctf18/Dcc1/Ctf8) and the DNA-polymerase-alpha-associated protein Ctf4 are required to maintain sister-chromatid cohesion in cells arrested for long periods in mitosis. We show here that CTF8, CTF4 and a helicase encoded by CHL1 are required for efficient sister chromatid cohesion in unperturbed mitotic cells, and provide evidence that Chl1 functions during S-phase. We also show that, in contrast to mitosis, RF-C(Ctf18/Dcc1/Cft8), Ctf4 and Chl1 are essential for chromosome segregation during meiosis and for the viability of meiotic products. Our finding that cells deleted for CTF8, CTF4 or CHL1 undergo massive meiosis II non-disjunction suggests that the second meiotic division is particularly sensitive to cohesion defects. Using a functional as well as a cytological assay, we demonstrate that CTF8, CHL1 and CTF4 are essential for cohesion between sister centromeres during meiosis but dispensable for cohesin's association with centromeric DNA. Our finding that mutants in fission yeast ctf18 and dcc1 have similar defects suggests that the involvement of the alternative RF-C(Ctf18/Dcc1/Ctf8) complex in sister chromatid cohesion might be highly conserved.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jcs.01231DOI Listing
July 2004