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The phenotypes of ATG9, ATG16 and ATG9/16 knock-out mutants imply autophagy-dependent and -independent functions.Macroautophagy is a highly conserved intracellular bulk degradation system of all eukaryotic cells. It is governed by a large number of autophagy proteins (ATGs) and is crucial for many cellular processes. Here, we describe the phenotypes of Dictyostelium discoideum ATG16(-) and ATG9(-)/16(-) cells and compare them to the previously reported ATG9(-) mutant. ATG16 deficiency caused an increase in the expression of several core autophagy genes, among them atg9 and the two atg8 paralogues. The single and double ATG9 and ATG16 knock-out mutants had complex phenotypes and displayed severe and comparable defects in pinocytosis and phagocytosis. Uptake of Legionella pneumophila was reduced. In addition, ATG9(-) and ATG16(-) cells had dramatic defects in autophagy, development and proteasomal activity which were much more severe in the ATG9(-)/16(-) double mutant. Mutant cells showed an increase in poly-ubiquitinated proteins and contained large ubiquitin-positive protein aggregates which partially co-localized with ATG16-GFP in ATG9(-)/16(-) cells. The more severe autophagic, developmental and proteasomal phenotypes of ATG9(-)/16(-) cells imply that ATG9 and ATG16 probably function in parallel in autophagy and have in addition autophagy-independent functions in further cellular processes.
Structural, mechanistic and functional insight into gliotoxin bis-thiomethylation in Aspergillus fumigatus.Gliotoxin is an epipolythiodioxopiperazine (ETP) class toxin, contains a disulfide bridge that mediates its toxic effects via redox cycling and is produced by the opportunistic fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus Self-resistance against gliotoxin is effected by the gliotoxin oxidase GliT, and attenuation of gliotoxin biosynthesis is catalysed by gliotoxin S-methyltransferase GtmA. Here we describe the X-ray crystal structures of GtmA-apo (1.66 Å), GtmA complexed to S-adenosylhomocysteine (1.33 Å) and GtmA complexed to S-adenosylmethionine (2.28 Å), providing mechanistic insights into this important biotransformation. We further reveal that simultaneous elimination of the ability of A. fumigatus to dissipate highly reactive dithiol gliotoxin, via deletion of GliT and GtmA, results in the most significant hypersensitivity to exogenous gliotoxin observed to date. Indeed, quantitative proteomic analysis of ΔgliT::ΔgtmA reveals an uncontrolled over-activation of the gli-cluster upon gliotoxin exposure. The data presented herein reveal, for the first time, the extreme risk associated with intracellular dithiol gliotoxin biosynthesis-in the absence of an efficient dismutation capacity. Significantly, a previously concealed protective role for GtmA and functionality of ETP bis-thiomethylation as an ancestral protection strategy against dithiol compounds is now evident.