Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UT MD Anderson scientists uncover the nuclear life of actin

25.03.2013
Protein with key job in muscle function moonlights in nucleus to help regulate genes

A key building block of life, actin is one of the most abundant and highly conserved proteins in eukaryotic cells.

First discovered in muscle cells more than 70 years ago, actin has a well-established identity as a cytoplasmic protein that works by linking itself in chains to form filaments. Fibers formed by these actin polymers are crucial to muscle contraction.

So it came as a surprise when scientists discovered actin in the nucleus. Labs have been working for the past few decades to figure out exactly what it's doing there.

A new study published this week in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology reveals that actin has a new and fundamental nuclear function, and that surprisingly, it accomplishes this task in its single-molecule (monomeric) form – not through polymerization.

Senior author of the study Xuetong "Snow" Shen, Ph.D., associate professor in The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Department of Molecular Carcinogenesis, has been fascinated by the mystery of nuclear actin. In collaboration with researchers from Colorado State University, his lab developed a unique model system to nail down actin's function in the nucleus by studying the actin-containing INO80 chromatin remodeling complex.

In 2000, as a postdoc at NIH in Carl Wu's lab, Shen identified actin as a component of the INO80 complex, adding to the growing list of evidence that actin indeed has a life in the nucleus. However, how actin actually works in the nucleus remains fuzzy due to lack of clear experimental systems.

"Our model system opened up a new opportunity to look in depth at the function of nuclear actin as it relates to gene regulation, genome stability, and ultimately cancer," Snow said.

A nuclear role for monomeric actin

Because yeast have only a single actin gene, the authors reasoned that studying INO80 in yeast cells would allow a direct assessment of the protein's nuclear function. In contrast, mammals have at least six forms of actin coded by separate genes, making their study more difficult.

The researchers used both genetic and biochemical methods to dissect actin's role in the INO80 complex. The INO80 complex normally functions in the nucleus to rearrange chromatin ¬– the intertwined proteins and DNA that are packaged into chromosomes – regulating the expression of many different genes.

The authors found that a mutant form of actin impairs the ability of INO80 to function correctly, implicating actin in the process of chromatin remodeling – an exploding field of research with applications in cancer diagnosis and treatment.

In the cytoplasm, actin functions primarily as a polymer. Cytoplasmic actin is a component of the cytoskeleton and the muscle contractile machinery, and is essential for cell mobility, including cancer metastasis. Actin inside the INO80 complex is arranged in a clever way such that it cannot polymerize; instead, actin's monomeric form appears to interact with chromatin.

"Our study challenges the dogma that actin functions through polymerization, revealing a novel and likely a fundamental mechanism for monomeric nuclear actin," Shen said.

New findings for an ancient complex

Because actin and several of the other INO80 components are so highly conserved, even in human cells, this mechanism likely represents an ancient, fundamental role of actin, which has been preserved through evolution.

Shen's group is now teasing out the exact mechanism by which nuclear actin interacts with chromatin. They also hope to extend the results to human cells and to identify potential ways by which nuclear actin could be involved in cancer.

Chromatin is critical for maintaining the delicate balance between gene activation and repression, Shen said. "Disrupting this regulation can lead to cancer, and it remains to be seen whether nuclear actin has a role in this process."

Lead authors of the study are Prabodh Kapoor, Ph.D., and Mingming Chen, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellows in Shen's lab. Co-authors are Duane David Winkler, Ph.D., and Karolin Luger, Ph.D., of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Colorado State University. Shen, senior author, also is a member of the Center for Cancer Epigenetics at MD Anderson.

The research was funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute (K22CA100017) and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (RO1GM093104), both of the National Institutes of Health, the Center for Cancer Epigenetics, the Theodore N. Law Endowment for Scientific Achievement at MD Anderson and by MD Anderson's Odyssey postdoctoral program to Kapoor

About MD Anderson

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world's most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. MD Anderson is one of only 40 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute. For eight of the past 10 years, including 2011, MD Anderson has ranked No. 1 in cancer care in "America's Best Hospitals," a survey published annually in U.S. News & World Report.

Get M. D. Anderson News Via RSS Follow MDAnderson News on Twitter

Scott Merville | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mdanderson.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory

26.04.2017 | Life Sciences

New survey hints at exotic origin for the Cold Spot

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA examines newly formed Tropical Depression 3W in 3-D

26.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>