• Immune-responsive gene 1 protein links metabolism to immunity by catalyzing itaconic acid production.

      Michelucci, Alessandro; Cordes, Thekla; Ghelfi, Jenny; Pailot, Arnaud; Reiling, Norbert; Goldmann, Oliver; Binz, Tina; Wegner, André; Tallam, Aravind; Rausell, Antonio; et al. (2013-05-07)
      Immunoresponsive gene 1 (Irg1) is highly expressed in mammalian macrophages during inflammation, but its biological function has not yet been elucidated. Here, we identify Irg1 as the gene coding for an enzyme producing itaconic acid (also known as methylenesuccinic acid) through the decarboxylation of cis-aconitate, a tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediate. Using a gain-and-loss-of-function approach in both mouse and human immune cells, we found Irg1 expression levels correlating with the amounts of itaconic acid, a metabolite previously proposed to have an antimicrobial effect. We purified IRG1 protein and identified its cis-aconitate decarboxylating activity in an enzymatic assay. Itaconic acid is an organic compound that inhibits isocitrate lyase, the key enzyme of the glyoxylate shunt, a pathway essential for bacterial growth under specific conditions. Here we show that itaconic acid inhibits the growth of bacteria expressing isocitrate lyase, such as Salmonella enterica and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Furthermore, Irg1 gene silencing in macrophages resulted in significantly decreased intracellular itaconic acid levels as well as significantly reduced antimicrobial activity during bacterial infections. Taken together, our results demonstrate that IRG1 links cellular metabolism with immune defense by catalyzing itaconic acid production.
    • Protumorigenic role of Timeless in hepatocellular carcinoma.

      Elgohary, Nahla; Pellegrino, Rossella; Neumann, Olaf; Elzawahry, Heba M; Saber, Magdy M; Zeeneldin, Ahmed A; Geffers, Robert; Ehemann, Volker; Schemmer, Peter; Schirmacher, Peter; et al. (2015-02)
      The mammalian timeless (TIM) protein interacts with proteins of the endogenous clock and essentially contributes to the circadian rhythm. In addition, TIM is involved in maintenance of chromosome integrity, growth control and development. Thus, we hypothesized that TIM may exert a potential protumorigenic function in human hepatocarcinogenesis. TIM was overexpressed in a subset of human HCCs both at the mRNA and the protein level. siRNA-mediated knockdown of TIM reduced cell viability due to the induction of apoptosis and G2 arrest. The latter was mediated via CHEK2 phosphorylation. In addition, siRNA-treated cells showed a significantly reduced migratory capacity and reduced expression levels of various proteins. Mechanistically, TIM directly interacts with the eukaryotic elongation factor 1A2 (EEF1A2), which binds to actin filaments to promote tumor cell migration. siRNA-mediated knockdown of TIM reduced EEF1A2 protein levels thereby affecting ribosomal protein biosynthesis. Thus, overexpression of TIM exerts oncogenic function in human HCCs, which is mediated via CHEK2 and EEF1A2.