News

  • 1 2019

    The Dai lab has published their work on Ovol2-Zeb1 control of migration and proliferation in EMBO Reports

    Directional migration is inherently important for epithelial tissue regeneration and repair, but how it is precisely controlled and coordinated with cell proliferation is unclear. Here, we report that Ovol2, a transcriptional repressor that inhibits epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), plays a crucial role in adult skin epithelial regeneration and repair. Ovol2-deficient mice show compromised wound healing characterized by aberrant epidermal cell migration and proliferation, as well as delayed anagen progression characterized by defects in hair follicle matrix cell proliferation and subsequent differentiation. Epidermal keratinocytes and bulge hair follicle stem cells (Bu-HFSCs) lacking Ovol2 fail to expand in culture and display molecular alterations consistent with enhanced EMT and reduced proliferation. Live imaging of wound explants and Bu-HFSCs reveals increased migration speed but reduced directionality, and post-mitotic cell cycle arrest. Remarkably, simultaneous deletion of Zeb1 encoding an EMT-promoting factor restores directional migration to Ovol2-deficient Bu-HFSCs. Taken together, our findings highlight the important function of an Ovol2-Zeb1 EMT-regulatory circuit in controlling the directional migration of epithelial stem and progenitor cells to facilitate adult skin epithelial regeneration and repair. Read More

  • 12 2018

    The Atwood lab has published their work on Src-mediated cerebellar ataxia in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    The genetically heterogeneous spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) are caused by Purkinje neuron dysfunction and degeneration, but their underlying pathological mechanisms remain elusive. The Src family of nonreceptor tyrosine kinases (SFK) are essential for nervous system homeostasis and are increasingly implicated in degenerative disease. Here we reveal that the SFK suppressor Missing-in-metastasis (MTSS1) is an ataxia locus that links multiple SCAs. MTSS1 loss results in increased SFK activity, reduced Purkinje neuron arborization, and low basal firing rates, followed by cell death. Surprisingly, mouse models for SCA1, SCA2, and SCA5 show elevated SFK activity, with SCA1 and SCA2 displaying dramatically reduced MTSS1 protein levels through reduced gene expression and protein translation, respectively. Treatment of each SCA model with a clinically approved Src inhibitor corrects Purkinje neuron basal firing and delays ataxia progression in MTSS1 mutants. Our results identify a common SCA therapeutic target and demonstrate a key role for MTSS1/SFK in Purkinje neuron survival and ataxia progression. Read More

  • 9 2018

    The Atwood lab has published their work on actin-mediated primary cilia signaling and length control in Journal of Cell Biology

    Primary cilia are polarized organelles that allow detection of extracellular signals such as Hedgehog (Hh). How the cytoskeleton supporting the cilium generates and maintains a structure that finely tunes cellular response remains unclear. Here, we find that regulation of actin polymerization controls primary cilia and Hh signaling. Disrupting actin polymerization, or knockdown of N-WASp/Arp3, increases ciliation frequency, axoneme length, and Hh signaling. Cdc42, a potent actin regulator, recruits both atypical protein pinase C iota/lambda (aPKC) and Missing-in-Metastasis (MIM) to the basal body to maintain actin polymerization and restrict axoneme length. Transcriptome analysis implicates the Src pathway as a major aPKC effector. aPKC promotes whereas MIM antagonizes Src activity to maintain proper levels of primary cilia, actin polymerization, and Hh signaling. Hh pathway activation requires Smoothened-, Gli-, and Gli1-specific activation by aPKC. Surprisingly, longer axonemes can amplify Hh signaling, except when aPKC is disrupted, reinforcing the importance of the Cdc42-aPKC-Gli axis in actin-dependent regulation of primary cilia signaling. Read More

  • 6 2018

    The Plikus lab has published their work on wound regeneration in rats in Journal of Investigative Dermatology

    Large excisional wounds in mice prominently regenerate new hair follicles (HFs) and fat, yet humans are deficient for this regenerative behavior. Currently, wound-induced regeneration remains a clinically desirable, but only partially understood phenomenon. We show that large excisional wounds in rats across seven strains fail to regenerate new HFs. We compared wound transcriptomes between mice and rats at the time of scab detachment, which coincides with the onset of HF regeneration in mice. In both species, wound dermis and epidermis share core dermal and epidermal transcriptional programs, respectively, yet prominent interspecies differences exist. Compared with mice, rat epidermis expresses distinct transcriptional and epigenetic factors, markers of epidermal repair, hyperplasia, and inflammation, and lower levels of WNT signaling effectors and regulators. When recombined on the surface of excisional wounds with vibrissa dermal papillae, partial-thickness skin grafts containing distal pelage HF segments, but not interfollicular epidermis, readily regenerated new vibrissa-like HFs. Together, our findings establish rats as a nonregenerating rodent model for excisional wound healing and suggest that low epidermal competence and associated transcriptional profile may contribute to its regenerative deficiency. Future comparison between rat and mouse may lend further insight into the mechanism of wounding-induced regeneration and causes for its deficit. Read More

  • 3 2018

    The Ganesan lab has published their work on PIKfyve control of melanosome biogenesis in PLoS Genetics

    PIKfyve, VAC14, and FIG4 form a complex that catalyzes the production of PI(3,5)P2, a signaling lipid implicated in process ranging from lysosome maturation to neurodegeneration. While previous studies have identified VAC14 and FIG4 mutations that lead to both neurodegeneration and coat color defects, how PIKfyve regulates melanogenesis is unknown. In this study, we sought to better understand the role of PIKfyve in melanosome biogenesis. Melanocyte-specific PIKfyve knockout mice exhibit greying of the mouse coat and the accumulation of single membrane vesicle structures in melanocytes resembling multivesicular endosomes. PIKfyve inhibition blocks melanosome maturation, the processing of the melanosome protein PMEL, and the trafficking of the melanosome protein TYRP1. Taken together, these studies identify a novel role for PIKfyve in controlling the delivery of proteins from the endosomal compartment to the melanosome, a role that is distinct from the role of PIKfyve in the reformation of lysosomes from endolysosomes. Read More

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