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Schematic of phagocytic cell engulfing an apoptotic cell as mediated by recognition of phosphatidylserine (PS) signals.

Schematic of phagocytic cell engulfing an apoptotic cell as mediated by recognition of phosphatidylserine (PS) signals.

Ismail et al. characterized Tctex-1, a novel binding partner of kidney injury molecule-1 (KIM-1), and described the role both proteins have in efferocytosis, the phagocytosis of apoptotic cells. Efferocytosis is an important function in tissue repair, reducing inflammation and abnormal autoimmune responses. KIM-1 is a phosphatidylserine (PS) receptor and PS is a well-known identifier of apoptotic cells. The physical and functional interactions between Tctex-1 and KIM-1 were examined in proximal tubular epithelial cells (PTECs) which can act as amateur phagocytes. A previously unknown role for Tctex-1 in KIM-1-mediated efferocytosis in PTECs was described. Efferocytosis requires re-organization of the actin and microtubule networks, prompting the authors to examine actin cytoskeletal dynamics and the potential role of RhoA and Rac1 in efferocytosis mediated by Tctex-1/KIM-1. Notably, neither RhoA nor Rac1 activities were regulated by Tctex-1 during KIM-1-dependent efferocytosis in PTECs. These data suggested the unexpected hypothesis that non-canonical pathways not involving RhoA and Rac1 are utilized by Tctex-1. Cytoskeleton’s rhodamine-phalloidin, RhoA and Rac1 G-LISA activation assay kits, and Total RhoA ELISA (Cat. # PHDR1, BK124, BK128, BK150, respectively) were essential reagents in this study, the first to describe the physical and functional roles of Tctex-1 in KIM-1-dependent efferocytosis in kidney cells.

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Rhodamine Phalloidin (Cat. # PHDR1)

RhoA G-LISA Activation Assay Kit (Colorimetric format) (Cat. # BK124)

Rac1 G-LISA Activation Assay Kit (Colorimetric Based) (Cat. # BK128)

Total RhoA ELISA (Cat. # BK150)

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The cytoskeleton of adult neurons in the central nervous system (CNS) is composed of different structural proteins, including microtubules (MTs) and F-actin. Normal cellular functions (e.g., morphology, motility, development, transport) rely upon the dynamicity of MTs and F-actin. Additionally, cytoskeletal dysfunction underlies many CNS diseases and injuries. For instance, the cytoskeletal dynamics in the adult CNS following axonal injury are not conducive to growth cone formation, axon regeneration, and recovery of function. To understand the role of the MT and F-actin cytoskeleton in adult CNS injury recovery, and how to modulate them for axon regeneration demands an understanding of cytoskeletal dynamics following axonal injury1,2. This newsletter discusses the roles of the MT and F-actin cytoskeleton in axon regeneration in the adult CNS.

The dogma is that axon regeneration does not occur in adult CNS neurons under physiological conditions. In contrast, damaged axons in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) are regenerated following injury.  The focus on understanding this difference centers on two prominent regeneration-associated signaling cascades in the adult CNS: 1. activation of intrinsic regeneration-associated genes [RAGs]), and 2. external cues that inhibit axon re-growth1,2.

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    Rho activation in Swiss 3T3 cells. F-actin is visualized with fluorescent green phalloidin staining (Cat.# PHDG1) and nuclear blue DNA staining with Dapi. Cells were activated with Cat.# CN03.

    Rho activation in Swiss 3T3 cells. F-actin is visualized with fluorescent green phalloidin staining (Cat.# PHDG1) and nuclear blue DNA staining with Dapi. Cells were activated with Cat.# CN03.

    Corvol et al. investigated the gene Family with sequence similarity 13 member A (FAM13A) and its contribution to the pathophysiology of cystic fibrosis (CF), a monogenic lung disease characterized by an excessive inflammatory response. Disease severity varies and is influenced by genetic modifiers. Here, the authors confirm that FAM13A is a genetic modifier of the CF lung phenotype and can impact the severity of lung disease in CF patients. To mimic inflammation that accompanies CF, lung epithelial cells and primary human bronchial epithelial cells from CF patients were treated with IL-1β and TGF-β, pro-inflammatory cytokines. Each cytokine decreased expression of FAM13A. FAM13A has a Rho GTPase activating protein (GAP) domain, prompting the authors to measure RhoA activity and associated F-actin stress fiber formation following siRNA-mediated reduction in FAM13A expression. An increase in both occurred, whereas E-cadherin expression decreased. Additionally, TGF-β stimulation of siRNA-treated cells displayed a further reduction of E-cadherin concomitant with increased expression of α-smooth muscle actin and vimentin. These changes are characteristic of an epithelial to mesenchymal transition. Cytoskeleton’s RhoA pull-down activation assay kit (Cat. # BK036) was essential in identifying a molecular pathway underlying FAM13A-mediated alterations in CF lung phenotypes.

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    RhoA Pull-down Activation Assay Biochem Kit (bead pull-down format) (Cat. # BK036)

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    Neuronal polarity describes the spatial, morphological, structural, and functional differentiations that occur in neurons during early development that results in the formation of a single axon and multiple dendrites. Axons and dendrites are responsible for directional signaling in neurons - receiving, processing, and transmitting information from the postsynaptic dendrites to the axon of the postsynaptic neuron. The majority of excitatory inputs at the dendrites occur at dendritic spines. Polarization of the neuron begins with the loss of the symmetric shape of a round newborn neuron via formation of minor neurites1-4. Neuronal polarization depends upon: 1. the polarity of microtubules (MTs), one of the primary cytoskeletal polymers in cells, and 2. polarized cargo transport by kinesins and dynein along the MTs in axons and dendrites4,5.

    MTs are intrinsically polar filaments composed of alpha/beta-tubulin heterodimers with an exposed beta-tubulin at the plus end and an exposed alpha-tubulin at the minus end5-7. MT polarity directs: 1. location of MT assembly/disassembly; 2. where MT-associated proteins (MAPs; e.g., +TIPs, motors) bind MTs in the cell; and 3. motor-driven traffic along MTs. Importantly, MTs are integral for nearly all normal neuronal functions and MT disruption underlies several neural pathologies7-10...

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      Figure 1. Tubulin polymerization using the fluorescence based tubulin polymerization assay (BK011P). Tubulin was incubated alone (Control), with Paclitaxel or Vinblastine. Each condition was tested in duplicate. Polymerization was measured by excitation at 360 nm and emission at 420 nm.  The three Phases of tubulin polymerization are marked for the control polymerization curve; I: nucleation, II: growth, III: steady state equillibrium.

      Tubulin polymerization using the fluorescence based tubulin polymerization assay (Cat. # BK011P). Tubulin was incubated alone (Control), with Paclitaxel or Vinblastine. Each condition was tested in duplicate. Polymerization was measured by excitation at 360 nm and emission at 420 nm.  The three Phases of tubulin polymerization are marked for the control polymerization curve; I: nucleation, II: growth, III: steady state equillibrium.

      Burke et al. investigated the potential of tubulysin M, a potent tubulin binder and anti-mitotic tetrapeptide, as the cytotoxic component of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). Structurally, the C11 acetoxy moiety within the tubuvaline residue of tubulysins is important for their high potency. However, tubulysin activity is compromised when this moiety undergoes deacetylation. Replacement of this moiety with an ether or ester group created stabilized tubulysin M analogues. Wild-type tubulysin M and two stabilized analogues, both in free drug and conjugate form, were evaluated pre-clinically as anti-cancer therapeutics in in vitro and in vivo model systems. First, in vitro cell and biochemical potencies of the free forms of these tubulysins was determined. The free and conjugated forms were further evaluated using assorted cancer cell lines and in vivo tumor xenograft models, including those with multi-drug resistant phenotypes. Cytoskeleton Inc. produced sheep brain tubulin (Cat.# CS-T234S) in a specialized buffer for use in competitive fluorescence polarization tubulin binding assays to measure the biochemical potencies of tubulysin M and analogues in free drug form. These biochemical data complemented cell potency results and buttressed the rationale for further development and testing of stabilized tubulysins as a novel payload class for ADCs in targeted anti-cancer therapies.

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      Tubulin protein plus glycerol, Sheep Brain (>99% pure) (Cat. # CS-T234S)

      Immunofluorescence using Phosphotyrosine Antibody
      Immunofluorescence using Phosphotyrosine Antibody: Human epidermoid carcinoma A431 cells, untreated (3A) or treated (3B) with EGF (100 ng/ml for 3 minutes), and NIH3T3, untreated (3C) or treated (3D) with H2O2-activated sodium orthovanadate (100 µM for 10 minutes), were stained as described in the method. Phosphotyrosine and nuclei were visualized in green fluorescence and blue DAPI staining, respectively.

      Kline et al. recently studied regulation of intercellular bridges in Drosophila egg chambers. Known as ring canals, the bridges transfer cytoplasmic materials between neighboring cells; in this case, from nurse cells to the oocyte over the course of oogenesis. Ring canals are essential for maintaining an organism’s fertility. Ring canal size and stability rely upon dynamic re-organization of F-actin. Here, the Ste20 family kinase misshapen (msn) has a novel role in regulating ring canal size and stability with changes in msn expression levels or localization altering the F-actin cytoskeleton. Phosphotyrosine (pTyr) signal in ring canals strongly overlaps with actin in control egg chambers. pTyr signal was used as a read-out to measure msn localization and activity in control vs msn-RNAi-treated egg chambers. In the latter, pTyr localized to nurse cell membranes and most ring canals. However, pTyr fluorescence in ring canals was variable, even within the same egg chamber, and did not overlap with actin signal. Hence, msn is not necessary for recruiting actin to the ring canal, but is essential for maintaining a ring canal’s actin-based structure. Cytoskeleton’s anti-phosphotyrosine antibody (Cat.# APY03; clone 11G2) was essential in the subcellular localization of pTyr signal in control and msn-depleted ring canals.

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      Rab GTPases, members of the Ras super-family of GTPases, express at least 60 isoforms in humans1 with 24 enriched in, or specific for, the central nervous system (CNS)2. Rab GTPases are  integral regulators of intracellular membrane trafficking, regulating the formation, maturation, transport, tethering, and fusion of vesicles in the endomembrane system3. In neurons, Rab-mediated membrane/vesicle trafficking is involved in virtually every aspect of neuron physiology, and dysfunction has been implicated in several neurodegenerative diseases2,4-7 (Fig. 1). Indeed, dysfunctional membrane trafficking is an early marker of neurodegeneration5. Here, Rab-mediated trafficking defects in Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are reviewed.

      The cause of PD is primarily idiopathic – only a small fraction of PD cases are familial and attributable to mutations in proteins that also are involved in Rab activity and membrane trafficking. Mutant proteins include Rab39b, α-synuclein, PTEN-induced putative kinase (PINK1), and leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2)4,6,7. Rab39b is particularly interesting because loss-of-function mutations in this gene are directly linked to inherited early-onset PD with Lewy body pathology and also...

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                 Actin cytoskeleton morphological changes induced by Rho/Rac/Cdc42 Activator I (Cat. # CN04) treatment of Swiss 3T3 cells.  Cells were fixed, stained with Acti-stain™ 488 phalloidin (Cat. # PHDG1), and visualized by fluorescence microscopy.
        Neutrophil, a class of leukocytes, with segmented nucleus and intracellular granules; 2D rendering.

        Activation of cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-mediated molecular pathways induces changes in the morphology, motility, and adhesion of neutrophils, a class of leukocytes, early in vascular inflammation and in related diseases, including atherosclerosis, sickle cell anemia, stroke, and sepsis. Neutrophils migrate to sites of inflammation where they adhere to the vascular endothelium. Alterations in a cell’s shape, motile behavior, and/or adhesiveness, require dynamic re-organization of the actin cytoskeleton. Here, Silveira et al. report that actin polymerization was necessary for TNF’s effects, which in turn, focused attention on GTPases such as RhoA, a well-known regulator of actin cytoskeletal dynamics and F-actin re-modeling. As might be expected, TNF increased RhoA activity in neutrophils, but through RhoA-mediated pathways independent of the downstream effector protein Rho kinase. Instead, mDia, a regulator of actin nucleation and member of the formin family of Rho effector proteins, was implicated. SMIFH2, a formin inhibitor, eliminated TNF-mediated increases in neutrophil morphological changes and adhesion. Cytoskeleton’s RhoA G-LISA activation assay kit (Cat. # BK124) was essential in quantifying RhoA activity in a sensitive and reliable manner. Deciphering the molecular pathways responsible for TNF-stimulated changes in neutrophil morphology, motility, and adhesion offers a therapeutic target for reducing leukocyte-regulated inflammatory responses.

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        RhoA G-LISA Activation Assay Kit (Colorimetric format) 96 assays (Cat. # BK124)

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        In mammalian cells, the small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) family contains four isoforms (SUMO1, SUMO2, SUMO3, and SUMO4). SUMO2 and SUMO3 are almost identical, with only a difference in three amino acid residues. SUMO1 shares 48% identity with SUMO2/31. SUMO4 is about 85% identical to SUMO2/3, but it is unclear whether SUMO4 can be conjugated to substrates2. Similar to ubiquitination, SUMOylation requires a three enzymes system (E1, E2, and E3) to conjugate SUMO covalently to target substrates. Briefly, SUMO is first activated by the SUMO E1 activating heterodimeric enzyme SAE1/SAE2 by adenylation in an ATP-dependent reaction. The activated SUMO is then transferred to the SUMO E2 conjugating enzyme UBC9 and finally conjugated to a target protein by a SUMO E3 ligase (e.g., PIAS family members, Ran binding protein 2). The covalently linked SUMO can be removed by sentrin-specific proteases (SENPs), a process known as deSUMOylation3 (Fig. 1). SUMOylation is an essential post-translational modification (PTM) that regulates the activity, subcellular localization, stability, and functions of target proteins and thereby modulates almost all major cellular pathways4. Therefore, it is not surprising that many diseases are associated with dysregulation of SUMOylation. In this newsletter, the roles of SUMOylation/deSUMOylation in cancer are discussed.

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          Visualization of acetylated mitochondrial proteins in Swiss 3T3 cells. Acetylated mitochondrial-localized proteins were labeled with acetyl-lysine antibody (Cat. # AAC02) and alexa-488 secondary (green), or a fluorescent mitochondrial marker (mitotracker orange) shown in red.

          Visualization of acetylated mitochondrial proteins in Swiss 3T3 cells. Acetylated mitochondrial-localized proteins were labeled with acetyl-lysine antibody (Cat. # AAC02) and alexa-488 secondary (green), or a fluorescent mitochondrial marker (mitotracker orange) shown in red.

          Post-translational modification (PTM) crosstalk is recognized as a major cell-regulatory mechanism; a theory validated by in-depth, functional analysis of several well-investigated proteins. Recently, Horita et al. examined the PTM crosstalk that occurs in acetylated mitochondrial proteins in response to a mitochondrial stress-inducing agent, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Visual changes in the acetylated state of mitochondrial proteins were investigated by immunofluorescence and showed dynamic changes in response to H2O2. These investigators validated the acetylation state of 10 mitochondrial targets and also measured endogenous changes to the acetylation state of these proteins using Signal-Seeker acetyl-lysine detection tools. The endogenous acetylation (Ac), ubiquitination (Ub), SUMOylation 2/3 (SUMO 2/3), and tyrosine phosphorylation (pY) state of four target mitochondrial proteins were investigated with these toolkits to examine if PTM crosstalk commonly occurs on mitochondrial proteins. Each of the four proteins had unique PTM profiles, but diverging acetylation and ubiquitin or SUMO 2/3 signals appeared to be a common theme. Cytoskeleton’s pY, Ub, SUMO 2/3, and Ac Signal-Seeker PTM detection kits (Cat. # BK160, BK161, BK162, and BK163 respectively) were essential tools used in this study to examine endogenous and dynamic PTM crosstalk.

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          Signal-Seeker™ Phosphotyrosine Detection Kit (Cat. # BK160)

          Signal-Seeker™ Ubiquitination Detection Kit (Cat. # BK161)

          Signal-Seeker™ SUMOylation 2/3 Detection Kit (Cat. # BK162)

          Signal-Seeker™ Acetyl-Lysine Detection Kit (Cat. # BK163)

          BlastR Rapid Lysate Prep Kit (Cat. # BLR01)

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          Ras GTPases regulate cell proliferation pathways, making them important molecules in oncogenesis and cancer cell migration and invasion. The four isoforms of Ras, H-Ras, N-Ras, K-Ras4A, and K-Ras4B (due to alternative splicing), were identified over 30 years ago for their oncogenic activation in human tumors. Activating Ras mutations are single amino acid substitutions (e.g., G12C, G12V, G12D) and have been identified in approximately 30% of all human cancers.


          The same signaling pathways activate all Ras isoforms via guanine exchange factor (GEF)-mediated exchange of GDP for GTP, followed by binding to the same effector proteins. However, Ras oncogenic isoforms are differentially expressed aacross different cancers with oncogenic specificity significantly favoring K-Ras,. Indeed, K-Ras is the most common mutated Ras isoform (86% of all Ras mutations) and is correlated with over 21% of human cancers. In particular, K-Ras is the predominant or exclusive Ras gene mutated in three of the top four cancers with the highest mortality rates in the US: lung, colon, and pancreatic cancers. In most instances, the K-Ras4B is the primary isoform mutated in K-Ras-associated cancers. This newsletter discusses potential explanations for the biological basis of K-Ras’s oncogenic specificity.

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            Schematic of paclitaxel induced post-translational modifications of RhoGDI
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            Scientists at Cytoskeleton Inc. recently investigated post-translational modifications (PTMs) that regulate the Rho GTPase family of proteins. Here, the authors characterized the functional regulation of RhoGDIα by SUMOylation 2/3 (SUMO 2/3) and acetyl-lysine PTMs. These studies led to the identification of endogenous SUMO 2/3 and acetylation (Ac) modifications of RhoGDIα. Interestingly, the microtubule stabilizer paclitaxel induced both Ac and SUMO 2/3 of RhoGDIa in a time-dependent fashion.  These changes in the PTM state of RhoGDIα altered the protein’s ability to inhibit RhoA activity. Experiments performed with the HDAC inhibitor, TSA, provided evidence of crosstalk between RhoGDIa SUMO 2/3 and Ac in a cell-type dependent fashion and further support the hypothesis that these PTMs may alter RhoGDIa’s function. Cytoskeleton's SUMO 2/3, and Ac Signal-Seeker™ PTM detection kits (Cat. # BK162, and BK163, respectively) were essential reagents in this study, providing a novel toolset for simple and effective investigation of established and novel PTMs for any target protein.

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            Signal-Seeker™ Phosphotyrosine Detection Kit (Cat. # BK160)

            Signal-Seeker™ Ubiquitination Detection Kit (Cat. # BK161)

            Signal-Seeker™ SUMOylation 2/3 Detection Kit (Cat. # BK162)

            Signal-Seeker™ Acetyl-Lysine Detection Kit (Cat. # BK163)

            BlastR Rapid Lysate Prep Kit (Cat. # BLR01)

            Paclitaxel (Taxol) (Cat. # TXD01)

            Acti-stain 488 phalloidin (Cat. # PHDG1)

            RhoA G-LISA Activation Assay Kit (Colorimetric format) 96 assays (Cat. # BK124)

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            The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) is a well-characterized protein degradation system in cells whose dysfunction is implicated in many diseases, including neurodegeneration and cancer. Major UPS components are ubiquitin (Ub), Ub ligases, Ub hydrolases (deubiquitinases [DUBs]), and the proteasome. Activation of the UPS begins with attachment of an 8 kDa ubiquitin protein to a target protein by a three step cascade carried out by Ub ligases. Ub itself can be ubiquitinated, leading to poly-ubiquitination, a marker for proteasomal recognition and ultimately degradation (Fig. 1). This is an oversimplification as there are several unique Ub specific chains, as well as mono-ubiquitination, that can regulate multiple facets of a protein’s function. Due to the prevalence of UPS dysfunction in disease and an increased molecular understanding of how ubiquitination degrades protein, interest in targeting the UPS for therapeutic intervention has grown substantially.

            Given the proteasome’s role in regulated degradation of poly-ubiquitinated proteins and its dysfunction in cancer, researchers posited that inhibition of the proteasome may be effective for treating cancer cachexia (wasting syndrome). This hypothesis spurred the development of early proteasome inhibitors like MG-132. MG-132’s pharmacological properties precluded its use clinically; however, it launched the...

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                       Actin cytoskeleton morphological changes induced by Rho/Rac/Cdc42 Activator I (Cat. # CN04) treatment of Swiss 3T3 cells.  Cells were fixed, stained with Acti-stain™ 488 phalloidin (Cat. # PHDG1), and visualized by fluorescence microscopy.
              Actin cytoskeleton morphological changes induced by Rho/Rac/Cdc42 Activator I (Cat. # CN04) treatment of Swiss 3T3 cells.  Cells were fixed, stained with Acti-stain™ 488 phalloidin (Cat. # PHDG1), and visualized by fluorescence microscopy.

              Kim et al. recently evaluated the potential anti-tumor effects of aripiprazole (ARP), an atypical anti-psychotic used to treat neuropsychiatric disorders. In the search for novel anti-cancer therapeutics, the authors examined if ARP affects the viability and migration of various cancer cell lines (e.g., U251 glioma cells, MDA-MB-231, HEK293) by a variety of in vitro and in vivo experiments. ARP inhibited cancer cell growth, survival, and motility by inducing apoptosis. Next, possible molecular targets of ARP were explored. Many anti-cancer compounds target the oncogenic tyrosine kinase Src as it is important for cancer cell survival, proliferation, migration, and invasion. ARP inhibited phosphorylation of Src, its auto-phosphorylation activity, and Src’s kinase activity. To decipher how ARP affects Src, ARP’s effects on actin polymerization were examined as re-arrangement of the actin cytoskeleton activates Src. In conjunction with phalloidin staining images, the polymerization data demonstrated that the actin cytoskeletal dynamics were not molecular targets of ARP-mediated cancer cell apoptosis. Cytoskeleton’s actin polymerization assay kit (Cat.# BK003) was essential in demonstrating that ARP does not carry out its Src-mediated anti-tumor effects through an interaction with actin and regulation of actin dynamics, thus eliminating one molecular substrate in the search for ARP’s mechanism of anti-cancer actions.

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              Actin Polymerization Biochem Kit (fluorescence format): rabbit skeletal muscle actin (Cat. # BK003)

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              Dendritic spines are the post-synaptic component of most excitatory glutamatergic synapses and primary site of synaptic structural plasticity for modulating synaptic function. Activity-dependent structural plasticity in spines (i.e., spine morphogenesis) depends upon dynamic re-organization of F-actin, the primary structural component of spines. Spine morphogenesis is important for normal learning and memory and the development of neurodegenerative diseases and neurological disorders.

              The RhoA, Rac1, and Cdc42 GTPases regulate spine morphogenesis; RhoA inhibits spine growth and stability, whereas Rac1 and Cdc42 exert the opposite effect. In reality, Rho family regulation of spine structural plasticity is much more complex. Precise spatiotemporal regulation of Rho GTPases is with guanine exchange factors (GEFs) triggering  GTP/GDP exchange and GTPase activating proteins (GAPs) stimulating intrinsic GTPase activity. At least eight Rho family GEFs regulate spine morphogenesis and these GEFs are activated through a variety of receptor signaling pathways, including glutamatergic NMDA receptors (NMDARs) and receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). NMDARs mediate calcium influx and subsequent activation of calcium/calmodulin-dependent kinases (CaMKs), which phosphorylate Rho family GEFs, essential for GEF activity. In this newsletter, the regulation of spine structural plasticity by the Rho family GEFs Kalirin7 (Kal7; the most abundant isoform in adult brain), Trio-9 (the most abundant isoform in hippocampus), Tiam1, RasGRF2, DOCK10, DOCK180, ephrexin1, and ephrexin5 is discussed.

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                Protein post-translational modifications (PTMs) such as phosphorylation, acetylation, ubiquitination, and SUMOylation, to name but a few, have evolved to diversify the functions of a single protein and account for the vast increase in proteome complexity and functional diversity. A prime example of the complex and dynamic regulatory power PTMs confer is the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. This pathway regulates cellular proliferation, differentiation, and migration during embryonic development and adult cell homeostasis. In addition, dysregulation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling is implicated in multiple pathological conditions, including carcinogenesis and degenerative diseases. In canonical Wnt-mediated signaling, β-catenin is a key effector and interacts, as a co-transcription factor, with the DNA binding proteins TCF (T cell factor) and LEF-1 (lymphoid enhancer factor 1) to activate the transcription of Wnt/β-catenin target genes including cyclin D1, c-jun, and c-myc. In this newsletter, the functional regulation of β-catenin and TCF/LEF-1 by PTMs is discussed.

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                  Protocol video highlighting key steps and tools used in this comprehensive enrichment system.
                  Nucleation of actin filaments (F-actin) mediated by a complex consisting of the actin nucleation factors Arp2, Arp3, and WASP (VCA domain).

                  Tu et al. recently characterized the functional relationship between the novel actin bundling protein EFhd2 and actin during lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced macrophage migration, an important component of innate immune responses. The authors found that LPS-mediated macrophage migration depends upon EFhd2 and its regulation of actin polymerization and subsequent re-organization of the actin cytoskeleton. EFhd2 and F-actin co-localization in macrophages is essential for LPS’s actions and coincides with a LPS-induced increase in the ratio of F-actin to G-actin in these cells, an effect prevented by knock-out of EFhd2. Under cell-free conditions, EFhd2 increases actin polymerization in a concentration-dependent manner and to a magnitude similar to that induced by the nucleation factors Arp2/3 + VCA domain of the Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (WASP). This suggests that EFhd2’s effects are through a direct regulation of the actin cytoskeleton. Cytoskeleton’s actin polymerization assay kit, G-actin/F-actin in vivo assay kit, Acti-stain 555 phalloidin, Arp2/3 protein complex, and VCA domain of WASP (Cat. # BK003, BK037, PHDH1, RP01P, and VCG03, respectively) were essential reagents in this characterization study. These kits and reagents provided the tools necessary to examine how EFhd2 and its regulation of actin polymerization and cytoskeletal dynamics participate in LPS-induced macrophage motility.

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                  Actin Polymerization Biochem Kit (fluorescence format): rabbit skeletal muscle actin (Cat. # BK003)

                  G-Actin/F-actin In Vivo Assay Biochem Kit (Cat. # BK037)

                  Acti-stain 555 phalloidin (Cat. # PHDH1)

                  Arp2/3 protein complex: porcine brain (Cat. # RP01P)

                  WASP protein VCA domain: GST tagged: human (Cat. # VCG03)

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                  The multi-domain, tetrameric p53 protein was discovered in 19791-3, first mistakenly described as an oncogene, before its true function as a powerful tumor suppressor was realized4,5. p53 consists of two N-terminal transactivation domains (TAD1 and TAD2), a proline-rich domain (P-rich), a sequence-specific DNA binding domain (DBD), a linker domain, tetramerization domain (TD), and a lysine-rich, basic C-terminal regulatory (REG) domain5 (Fig. 1). As a transcription factor, p53 can regulate the expression of up to 3000 genes  involved in apoptosis, senescence, cell cycle arrest, DNA repair, apoptosis, tumor microenvironment, autophagy, and invasion/metastasis6-8. p53 functionality is spatiotemporally regulated by up to fifty post-translational modifications (PTMs)that occur within multiple domains9-12 (Fig. 1). Here, regulation of p53 by ubiquitination, phosphorylation, and acetylation is discussed.

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                    Protocol video highlighting key steps and tools used in this comprehensive enrichment system.

                    The use of peer-reviewed, video articles to report technical methodology are an expanding resource that has great benefits compared to text formats, such as providing intricate details that are not effectively captured in written manuscripts. Recently, Horita et al. employed this format to describe a methodology for investigating post-translational modification (PTM) crosstalk.

                    • Step-by-step instructions to detect acetylation, ubiquitination, SUMOylation 2/3, and tyrosine phosphorylation in a single lysate.
                    • Highlights critical components/steps such as a lysate filter system that effectively removes, rather than shears, contaminating genomic DNA. 
                    • Developed for use with the Signal-Seeker™ PTM detection kits that are effective tools for examining dynamic and endogenous levels of several different PTMs. 

                    As investigators move forward with PTM research and investigate a specific PTM’s physiologic role, it will be paramount to have effective tools and methodology, like those described in this study, to measure endogenous levels of a PTM for a target protein.

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                    Signal-Seeker™ Phosphotyrosine Detection Kit (30 assay) (Cat. # BK160)

                    Signal-Seeker™ Ubiquitination Detection Kit (30 assay) (Cat. # BK161)

                    Signal-Seeker™ SUMOylation 2/3 Detection Kit (30 assay) (Cat. # BK162)

                    Signal-Seeker™ Acetyl-Lysine Detection Kit (30 assay) (Cat. # BK163)

                    BlastR Rapid Lysate Prep Kit (Cat. # BLR01)

                    BlastR Rapid Filtration Kit (Cat. # BLR02)

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                    Intellectual disabilities (e.g., neurodevelopmental disorders, autism spectrum disorders [ASDs]) are associated with abnormal development of dendrites and dendritic spines. ASDs are a complex set of behaviorally defined disorders, characterized by impairments in social interaction, communication, and restricted or stereotyped behaviors. Recent studies estimate that 1% of the world-wide population has an ASD1. Dendritic spines are comprised of F-actin and the structural and functional plasticity of spines depend upon the dynamic regulation of actin by Rho-family GTPases. Indeed, Rac and PAK effector proteins are essential regulators of normal brain development and function, including dendritic spine initiation, elongation, and branching2-4. Recent genetic studies revealed that individuals with intellectual disabilities express mutated versions of genes involved in Rho-family GTPase signaling such as a Rho-family GTPase activating protein (GAP), the serine/threonine kinase PAK3, and the Rac/Cdc42 guanine exchange factor (GEF) aPIX5. In addition, the PAK inhibitor FRAX486 is an effective treatment for fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most common inherited form of autism and cognitive disability. FRAX486 reversed dendritic spine and behavioral abnormalities in an in vivo model of FXS6. Moreover, Rac1 activation or inhibition of cofilin, an actin depolymerizing protein, rescues ASD-like phenotypes in Shank3 knock-out mice, an in vivo model of ASDs7-12.

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                      Figure 1: Schematic representation of the entry points into the MT lumen. Showing, from left to right, a frayed/growing MT plus end capturing TAT and tau molecules, treadmilling, 2 nm2 pores, a 200 nm2 open MT plus end, and a breathing MT lattice.
                      Figure 1: Schematic representation of the entry points into the MT lumen. Showing, from left to right, a frayed/growing MT plus end capturing TAT and tau molecules, treadmilling, 2 nm2 pores, a 200 nm2 open MT plus end, and a breathing MT lattice.

                      Balabanian et al. recently investigated the functional regulation of kinesin-1 motility using intact microtubules (MTs) in the form of either a single filament or bundles that were isolated from living COS-7 cells. Post-translational modifications (PTMs), MT bundling, and binding of microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) are influential modulators of MT stability and motor protein activity. Here, the authors investigated the effects of the acetylation PTM, MT bundling, and binding of the MAP tau on kinesin-1 motility. Cytoskeleton’s SiR-tubulin live cell imaging probe and paclitaxel (Cat. # CY-SC002 and TXD01, respectively) were essential reagents in this kinesin-1 motility study, providing the tools necessary to examine the MT network in living cells and then confirm that it was maintained upon detergent extraction and isolation, followed by the necessary paclitaxel stabilization. The in vitro paclitaxel-stabilized, isolated MT single filaments and bundles faithfully recapitulated important structural attributes of an intact MT network in living cells. This in vitro model enabled the study of how kinesin-1 is functionally regulated by MT architecture, MAP binding, and PTMs such as acetylation. In sum, this model system provides a greater understanding of the physiological regulation of kinesin motors and kinesin-regulated transport of cargoes along MTs.

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                      5M7E Tubulin-BKM120 complex
                      Alpha/beta tubulin heterodimer in complex with tubulin tyrosine ligase, stathmin-4, and the small molecule compound BKM120 (Buparlisib).

                      Bohnacker et al. recently investigated the primary site of action of the anti-cancer therapeutic BKM120 (a.k.a., Buparlisib), a clinically-advanced phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor. Although PI3K inhibition is considered the primary mechanism of action, some studies report that BKM120 exerts potent off-target effects on tubulin, which raises questions about its substrate. Here, the authors aimed to decipher BKM120’s molecular interactions with tubulin and PI3K to identify its anti-tumorigenic site of action. The authors reported that BKM120’s anti-cancer activity is through mitotic arrest via microtubule destabilization, rather than PI3K inhibition. Chemical derivatives of BK120 were synthesized and examined to separate targeting of PI3K versus tubulin in pursuit of a more potent and selective PI3K inhibitor. The BKM120-derived molecule, PQR309, strongly inhibited PI3K with no detectable effect on tubulin polymerization and/or microtubule stability. Cytoskeleton’s 99% pure porcine brain tubulin, tubulin polymerization assay kit, biotinylated porcine brain tubulin, and TRITC rhodamine-labeled tubulin (Cat.# T240, BK006P, T333P, and TL590M, respectively) were essential reagents in this study, providing the tools necessary to examine how BKM120 and BKM120-derived molecules affected tubulin polymerization and microtubule dynamics as assessed by in vitro assembly and microtubule plus-end tracking assays, with the goal of designing novel, specific, and potent PI3K inhibitors.

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                      Tubulin protein (rhodamine): porcine brain (Cat. # TL590M)

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                      The profilin (Pfn) family of proteins were originally characterized and studied as regulators of actin polymerization. First identified in 1976, these small (14-17 kDa) proteins exist as four isoforms in humans (Pfn1-4). Pfn1 is expressed in most cell types, Pfn2 is primarily localized to the brain, and Pfn3 and Pfn4 are localized to the testes. Pfn expression is essential for the embryonic development of mice. However, forty years later, the role of Pfn proteins in regulating actin polymerization, activating intracellular signal transduction pathways via binding to polyphosphoinositides, regulating microtubule end turnover, binding ligands via poly-L-proline domains, and potentially suppressing tumorigenicity is still being investigated. This newsletter describes the different biological interactions that Pfns are involved in and how these interactions affect actin polymerization.

                      Profilins and Actin Polymerization

                      Cellular processes such as trafficking, motility, division, and growth require remodeling of the actin cytoskeleton. Pfns regulate actin polymerization and can both inhibit and promote actin polymerization. Pfns bind to monomeric G-actin in a 1:1 ratio with a binding affinity of 0.1 µM, effectively sequestering the G-actin from incorporation into growing filaments. Notably, the intracellular concentration of Pfns has been estimated to be 10-80 µM, which is not sufficient to maintain the high concentrations of G-actin found in the cell.

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                        GTPase target characterization of Ras and Rho GEFs using a GEF-mediated exchange assay with BODIPY-FL-GDP to measure changes in fluorescence emission intensity as fluorescent GDP was competed off by unlabeled 500 µM GTP. Rho GEFs Vav1, Vav2, Tiam1, and hDbs were tested against RhoA, Rac1, and Cdc42. GEFs were used at a concentration of 1 µM and GTPases at a concentration of 2 µM.

                        Rosenberg et al. recently investigated the molecular mechanism responsible for cortactin’s regulation of actin polymerization underlying the maturation and function of invadopodia in breast cancer cells. Release of epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulates formation of invadopodia, actin-enriched cell protrusions essential for extracellular matrix degradation and cancer cell invasion. The EGF receptor-Src-Arg kinase signaling cascade results in phosphorylation of cortactin. The authors found that two tyrosine-phosphorylated residues on cortactin (Y421 and Y466) bind the SH2 domain of Vav2, a guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) for Rho-family GTPases such as Rac. Tyrosine-phosphorylated cortactin recruits Vav2 to invadopodia, which facilitates their maturation and subsequent invadopodia-mediated matrix degradation and cancer cell invasion. Invadopodial function depends upon re-arrangement of the actin cytoskeleton, all of which requires phospho-cortactin-mediated recruitment of Vav2 to the invadopodia. Furthermore, Vav2’s regulation of actin cytoskeletal dynamics involves Rac3 activation, though the exact role of GTP-bound Rac3 remains unclear. Cytoskeleton’s RhoGEF Exchange Assay Kit and biotinylated actin (Cat. # BK100 and AB07, respectively) were essential reagents in this study, providing the tools necessary to identify Vav2’s substrate targets and effects on actin cytoskeletal dynamics to aid in the development of anti-cancer therapeutics that act by interfering with invadopodia function.

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                        Acetylation of the epsilon amino group of lysine residues (Nε-acetylation) is an ancient, highly conserved post-translational modification (PTM) that links acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) metabolism and cellular signaling. This occurs largely through the opposing activities of lysine acetyl transferases (KATs) and lysine deacetylases (KDACs). In humans, there are 3 major KAT families (GCN5, CBP/p300, and MYST) that all use acetyl-CoA as an essential cofactor to donate an acetyl group to target lysine residues. There are two KDAC families, the zinc-dependent histone deacetylases (HDAC1-11) and the NAD+-dependent sirtuins (SIRT1-7).

                        It is well documented that acetylation of nuclear histones plays a major role in regulating chromatin compaction and transcriptional activity wherein acetylation favors a more open, transcriptionally active chromatin. Recent proteomic studies have identified over 4,500 non-histone proteins as targets of acetylation, thereby establishing lysine acetylation as a major global PTM. This PTM is present in many, if not all, cellular compartments, including the nucleus, cytoplasm, cell membrane, and mitochondria. Functionally, reversible lysine acetylation has been shown to regulate enzyme activity, protein-protein interactions, and protein localization and stability. In addition, it plays critical regulatory roles in many cellular processes, including gene expression, cellular metabolism, apoptosis, cytoskeleton regulation, and membrane trafficking.

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                          Bottom: Rho activation in Swiss 3T3 cells. F-actin is visualized with fluorescent green phalloidin staining (Cat.# PHDG1) and nuclear blue DNA staining with Dapi. Cells were activated with Cat.# CN03.
                          Luo et al. recently discovered the novel GTPase activating protein (GAP), ARHGAP42, through a phosphotyrosine proteomics study. ARHGAP42 de-activates multiple Rho family GTPases, including RhoA. Here, the authors characterized the functional regulation of ARHGAP42 by the non-receptor tyrosine kinase Src and the subsequent downstream effects on ARHGAP42-mediated de-activation of GTP-bound (active) RhoA through engagement of RhoA’s GTPase function. The changes in ARHGAP42 and RhoA activities were correlated with changes in RhoA-regulated actin cytoskeletal dynamics and cell motility in mouse embryonic fibroblasts. ARHGAP42 associates with actin stress fibers and focal adhesions, is auto-inhibited by its N-terminal BAR (Bin/amphiphysin/Rvs) domain, and is activated by Src-mediated phosphorylation of tyrosine residue 376. Following this Src-mediated activation, ARHGAP42 de-activates RhoA through GAP-stimulated GTP hydrolysis which results in increased cell migration mediated by dynamic changes in focal adhesions and the actin cytoskeleton. Cytoskeleton’s RhoA G-LISA activation assay kit and RhoGAP assay kit (Cat. # BK124 and BK105, respectively) were essential reagents in this study, providing the tools necessary to measure the activities of both ARHGAP42 and RhoA to describe the novel functional regulation of ARHGAP42 by the non-receptor tyrosine kinase Src.

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                          The acetylation post-translational modification (PTM) of tubulin occurs primarily on the lysine at position 40 (Lys40) on the alpha-tubulins of assembled microtubules (MTs). The predominant alpha-tubulin acetyltransferase is TAT1/MEC-17. Deacetylation of acetylated tubulin is mediated by histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) or SIRT2, the mammalian homolog of silent information regulator 2/sirtuin type 2. Lys40 has long been considered the sole site of acetylation and while other lysine residues on alpha-tubulin and beta-tubulin are targets for acetylation based on proteomic analyses, functional studies focus on the Lys40 residue within the MT lumen. This newsletter discusses tubulin acetylation, MT stability, and the functionality of acetylated MTs (Fig. 1).

                          Acetylation is a marker for stabilized, long-lived MTs (defined as MTs resistant to nocodazole- and colchicine-induced depolymerization) with a half-life of hours. Notably, acetylation itself does not cause MT stabilization. However, a recent genetic ablation study strongly supports the conclusion that Lys40 acetylation is required for maintaining long-lived, stable MTs in mammalian cells. Loss of TAT1 resulted in a loss of stable, acetylated MTs that are normally present after nocodazole treatment eliminates dynamic MTs. Conversely, TAT1 overexpression significantly increased the amount of nocodazole-resistant (stable) MTs and fibroblasts lacking the tubulin deacetylase HDAC6 have more nocodazole-resistant MTs. The dogma that acetylation is restricted to stable MTs has been revised in recent years as tubulin acetylation is also found on subpopulations of dynamic MTs (half-life of minutes), such as those found in both young and mature neurons.

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                            Actin is an integral part of the neuronal cytoskeleton as it is involved in the regulation of neuronal polarization, cell morphology, the development of neuronal processes (i.e., growth cones with lamellipodial and filopodial extensions and dendritic spines), intracellular trafficking, and synaptic plasticity (dynamic changes in dendritic spine number and/or morphology)1-3. Actin’s presence in growth cones and dendritic spines have garnered the attention of scientists for decades; however, actin is also found in neuronal axons, though its presence there has been described as the “black sheep of the neuronal actin family”4. This is because the exact details of actin’s structure and role in the axon are unknown. Recently, significant advances have been made in unraveling the structure of axonal actin with the discovery of the periodic membrane skeleton (PMS) by nanoscopic microscopy5 (Fig. 1). This newsletter discusses the discovery, structure, and possible functions of the PMS in axons.

                            Discovered in 2013, the PMS is a type of cortical actin and the primary component of the actin cortex, a mixture of F-actin and actin binding proteins which supports eukaryotic cells’ plasma membrane and membrane-associated processes such as endo- and exocytosis and cell motility4,5. In neuronal axons, including the initial segment6, the PMS consists of short actin filaments bundled into evenly spaced rings that wrap around the circumference of the axon with a periodicity of 180-190 nanometers5-9 (Fig. 1). The short filaments are stabilized by an adducin cap which controls the diameter of actin rings and axons, as well as actin filament growth within the rings6,10. Adjacent actin rings are secured through cross-linkage by spectrin tetramers (bII in the axon proper and bIV in the axon initial segment)6,8,11.

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                              Comparison of BlastR lysis buffer to non-denaturing lysis buffers and detection of total SUMOylation 2/3, acetylation, ubiquitination, and tyrosyl phosphorylation profiles were detected with their respective antibodies.

                              Recently, Horita et al. examined the post-translational modification (PTM) profile changes in the EGFR→Ras→c-Fos signaling pathway in response to EGF stimulation. PTMs are dynamic and often reversible modifications that alter protein structure and function. While tyrosine phosphorylation (pY) is well-characterized in the EGFR signaling pathway, other PTMs like acetylation (Ac), SUMOylation (SUMO), and ubiquitination (Ub) have not been thoroughly investigated. A novel toolset termed Signal-Seeker™ kits were utilized to investigate the pY, Ac, SUMO, and Ub status of the EGFR signaling axis. All 10 of the previously identified PTMs of the EGFR→Ras→c-Fos signaling pathway were identified, and a novel modification, c-Fos Ac, was also discovered. Importantly, utilizing the toolset enabled investigation of the PTM status of proteins in various cellular compartments that ranged from low to high abundance. The dynamic and endogenous levels of these PTMs were investigated in a single lysis system, providing insight into potential crosstalk between these four PTMs. Cytoskeleton's pY, Ub, SUMO 2/3, and Ac Signal-Seeker™ PTM detection kits (Cat. # BK160, BK161, BK162, and BK163, respectively) were essential reagents in this study, and provide a novel toolset for simple and effective investigation of established and novel PTMs for any target protein.
                               
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                              Actin and Myosin Interactions

                              Actin and Myosin Interactions

                              Laha et al. recently developed a new thermometric approach for measuring temperature changes of individual proteins on a nanometer (nm) scale. Spatial and temporal resolution of 80 nm and 1 mK, respectively, was achieved by attaching 2 nm cadmium telluride quantum dots (CdTe QDs) directly to bovine cardiac and rabbit skeletal muscle myosins. The goal was to demonstrate that temperature changes of individual motors performing work (i.e., ATP hydrolysis) can be quantified by measuring the corresponding fluorescence intensity shifts of temperature-sensitive CdTe QDs. Heat released by myosin-mediated ATP hydrolysis was quantified as a means of calculating efficiency since heat loss is inversely related to work performed. Using this nanothermometry, rabbit skeletal myosin was more efficient than bovine cardiac myosin at ATP hydrolysis. Nanometer scale sensitivity significantly improved muscle efficiency measurements toward the goal of single cell thermometry to support efforts to provide early diagnosis and treatment of muscle and metabolic diseases on a nanoscale level. Cytoskeleton’s CytoPhos Phosphate Assay, rabbit skeletal muscle myosin, and bovine cardiac muscle myosin (Cat. # BK054, MY02, and MY03, respectively) were essential reagents in this study, providing the tools necessary to measure muscle efficiency as a function of a motor’s temperature change during work.

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                              Laha S.S. et al. 2017. Nanothermometry measure of muscle efficiency. Nano Lett. 17, 1262-1268.

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                              The ubiquitin E3 ligase Mdm2 (murine double minute 2; human homolog, Hdm2) is well known for its oncogenic activities and as the master regulator of the powerful tumor suppressor p531,2. Moreover, Mdm2 may function as an oncogenic protein independent of p533. Mdm2 is able to inhibit p53-mediated gene expression through two pathways: inhibition of transcriptional activity by direct binding and ubiquitin-mediated degradation via its E3 ligase activity4; however, the effectiveness of p53 inhibition by direct Mdm2 binding has been questioned5.

                              Under normal, non-stress conditions, Mdm2 maintains p53 expression and activity at a minimal level to tightly regulate its apoptotic/cell death transcriptional activities. Under conditions of cellular stress, Mdm2-mediated ubiquitination of p53 ceases, allowing p53 to activate transcription of apoptotic genes and those involved in inhibiting cell growth. Much research concludes this is due to Mdm2's auto-inhibition by self-ubiquitination1-3. However, this story appears to be more complex than originally thought5 and involves multiple post-translational modifications (PTMs). Here, we discuss Mdm2's regulation by ubiquitination, SUMOylation, phosphorylation, and acetylation6-8 (Fig. 1).

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                               FNR01 image overlay with phase contrast background. Fluorescent fibronectin (Cat. # FNR01) treated MCF10A cells (image kindly provided by A. Varadara and M. Karthykenyan, Univ. S.Carolina, Columbia, SC).

                              Arf activation by wild-type ARNO GEF in MDCK cells.  ARNO proteins localized with a 9e10 anti-myc primary antibody and CY2-conjugated secondary antibody (green).  F-actin labeled with rhodamine-phalloidin (red).  Cells expressing wild-type ARNO protein have robust lamellipodia (arrows).  Scale bar = 50 microns. Image provided by Dr. Lorraine Santy, Penn State University.

                              Recently, Rafiq et al. examined Arf1 control of podosome assembly. Podosomes are actin-rich structures surrounded by adhesion and scaffolding proteins that are involved in cell motility and invasion. Podosomes mediate the adhesion of motile cells to the extracellular matrix and are important for the attachment to, and degradation of, the matrix by motile cells. To better understand podosome formation and maintenance, the contribution of Arf1 and its guanine exchange factors (GEFs), as well as the signaling pathways downstream of Arf1 activation, were evaluated in macrophage-like THP1 cells and fibroblasts. Inhibition of Arf1 or the Arf GEF ARNO with small interfering RNAs (Arf1 and ARNO), pharmacological inhibitors (Brefeldin A [BFA] and SecinH3 for Arf1), or expression of dominant-negative mutants (Arf1 and ARNO) significantly impaired podosome formation and maintenance. Conversely, induction of podosome formation increased levels of active Arf1. Arf1 activity was inversely related to RhoA activity as Arf1 inhibition resulted in increased activation of RhoA and myosin IIA filament assembly. Notably, levels of active Rac1 and Cdc42 were unchanged following manipulation of Arf1 activity. Cytoskeleton’s Cdc42 and Arf1 G-LISA activation assay kits (Cat. # BK127 and BK132, respectively) and cell-permeable Rho inhibitor (Cat. # CT04) were essential reagents in this study, providing the tools necessary to measure the activity of multiple GTPases in a quantitative and sensitive manner.

                               

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                              Rafiq N.B.M. et al. 2017. Podosome assembly is controlled by the GTPase ARF1 and its nucleotide exchange factor ARNO. J. Cell Biol. 216, 181-197.

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                              Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), characterized by their unlimited self-renewal and differentiation potential, have garnered special attention as therapeutics because of their capacity to differentiate into any cells of the respective adult organism1.  There are two general types of PSCs: 1. embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and 2. induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). By definition, PSCs exist in a pluripotent state until differentiation into specialized cells. To maintain stem cells as pluripotent, select transcription factors activate pluripotency-promoting genes and concomitantly suppress differentiation-promoting genes. In turn, the expression level and transactivation ability of these transcription factors are regulated by post-translational modifications (PTMs)2,3. Three key pluripotent transcription factors are Oct4, Sox2, and Nanog3. Their regulation of transcription is complex with each transcription factor able to function independently of the other while also capable of  auto-inhibition (e.g., Oct4)4 or forming a heterodimer whereby one factor is regulated by the complex (e.g., Nanog activity is strictly regulated by the Oct4/Sox2 heterodimer)5,6. Understanding the precise regulation of the stability (expression level) and transcriptional activity (DNA-binding affinity) of Oct4, Sox2, and Nanog by PTMs is essential in the study of stem cell homeostasis7.


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                              The small GTPase ADP-ribosylation factor 6 (Arf6) belongs to the Arf subfamily of Ras superfamily GTPases. Of the three classes of Arf GTPases, Arf6 is the only member of class III and uniquely localizes to the plasma membrane and endosomes, positioning it to regulate cellular processes dependent upon dynamic changes in the actin cytoskeleton, including endocytosis, exocytosis, trafficking/recycling of membrane-localized proteins, and membrane protrusions (e.g., ruffles). These cellular functions underlie physiological and pathological cell motility and intracellular trafficking. Arf6 cycles between an inactive, GDP-bound state and an active, GTP-bound state to act as a molecular switch in the cellular processes listed above. Activation of Arf6 by exchange of GDP for GTP is mediated by guanine exchange factors (GEFs) while inactivation by GTP hydrolysis is mediated by GTPase activating proteins (GAPs)1-3. In this newsletter, we discuss the mechanistic roles Arf6 and its GEFs have in cancer cell invasion and metastasis.

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                              FNR01 image overlay with phase contrast background. Fluorescent fibronectin (Cat. # FNR01) treated MCF10A cells (image kindly provided by A. Varadaraj and M. Karthikenyan, Univ. S.Carolina, Columbia, SC).

                              FNR01 image overlay with phase contrast background. Fluorescent fibronectin (Cat. # FNR01) treated MCF10A cells (image kindly provided by A. Varadaraj and M. Karthikenyan, Univ. S.Carolina, Columbia, SC).

                              Recently, Varadaraj et al. examined transforming growth factor ß (TGF-ß) regulation of the extracellular matrix (ECM) protein fibronectin (FN). Soluble FN dimers polymerize to form insoluble, matrix-associated FN polymers in a process known as fibrillogenesis. The resulting FN fibril network is a scaffold for cell migration, repair, and adhesion mediated by binding to a5ß1 integrin receptors. TGF-ß stimulates ECM remodeling and cell migration through the induction of FN fibrillogenesis, which is necessary for TGF-ß’s effects. Here, the authors found that FN’s role in TGF-ß-mediated ECM remodeling and cell migration can occur via increased FN trafficking, i.e., recycling between the plasma membrane and cytosol. In response to TGF-β, cell surface FN is endocytosed and undergoes Rab11-mediated recycling and subsequent incorporation into fibrils, a process dependent on an interaction between the cytoplasmic domain of the type II TGF-β receptor (TβRII) and a5ß1 integrin. Cytoskeleton’s rhodamine-labeled and biotinylated fibronectin (Cat. # FNR01 and FNR03, respectively) were essential reagents in this interesting study, providing the tools necessary to discover that TGF-ß induces FN trafficking/recycling, a novel process that offers a rapid pathway by which FN can regulate cell migration, wound repair, and fibrosis.

                               

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                              Varadaraj A. et al. 2017. TGF-ß triggers rapid fibrillogenesis via a novel TßRII dependent fibronectin trafficking mechanism. Mol. Biol. Cell. DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E16-08-0601.

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                              The phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) is a tumor supressor protein discovered 20 years ago by two independent laboratories1. PTEN is also known to regulate diverse cellular functions such as adhesion, migration, proliferation, growth, and survival. PTEN is composed of five domains: an N-terminal phosphatidylinositol (4,5)-bisphosphate (PIP2)-binding domain, a catalytic tensin-type phosphatase domain, a C2 tensin-type domain that binds phospholipids, a C-terminal tail domain, and a PDZ-binding domain (Fig. 1). The role of PTEN as a tumor suppressor is attributed to its lipid phosphatase activity which inhibits the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway integral for cell survival and growth by converting phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)- trisphosphate (PIP3) into PIP2.


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                              Model: Profile of PD-L1 post-translational modifications and their roles in regulating PD-L1 protein levels.

                              Model: Profile of PD-L1 post-translational modifications and their roles in regulating PD-L1 protein levels.

                              Recently, Horita et al. profiled four post-translational modifications (PTMs) of the programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) protein, an important immune checkpoint inhibitor and key target in anti-cancer treatments. Using a set of high-affinity, high-specificity endogenous PTM detection reagents, the authors examined PD-L1's levels of tyrosine phosphorylation, ubiquitination, acetylation, and SUMOylation in A431 cells treated with epidermal growth factor (EGF). These studies led to the novel identification of PD-L1 modified tyrosine phosphorylation, acetylation, and mono- and multi-ubiquitination. Critical temporal studies led to the observation that mono- and multi-ubiquitination preceded an EGF-stimulated increase in total PD-L1 protein expression. Pharmacological inhibition of the EGF receptor (EGFR) activation further demonstrated that mono- and multi-ubiquitination of PD-L1 relies upon EGFR activation.  Importantly, inhibition of ubiquitin E1 activating enzyme blocked any increase in total PD-L1 protein, revealing a potential mechanistic role for ubiquitinated PD-L1 in the regulation of total PD-L1 protein levels. Cytoskeleton's Signal Seeker kits (Cat.# BK160, BK161, BK162), EGF (Cat.# CN02), anti-acetyl lysine antibody (Cat.# AAC01), and anti-tubulin antibody (Cat.# ATN02) were essential reagents in this study, providing the tools necessary for an insightful, novel characterization of PTMs that can regulate PD-L1, an important protein in immune homeostasis, and anti-cancer therapies.

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                              Horita H. et al. 2017. Identifying regulatory posttranslational modifications of PD-L1: A focus on monoubiquitination. Neoplasia. 19, 346-353.

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                              Worldwide, more than 47 million people have been diagnosed with dementia, and the majority of these cases are caused by Alzheimer’s disease (AD); aside from the social burden, this neurodegenerative disease has an associated cost of 1.09% of the global gross domestic product. Severe cognitive impairment that leads to deficits in skilled movements, language, and recognition are pathophysiological hallmarks of AD. On a molecular level, neuropathological hallmarks include formation of beta-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) comprised of paired helical filaments of hyper-phosphorylated Tau proteins. This newsletter focuses on the mechanistic control of Tau by post-translational modifications (PTMs) and the development of novel AD therapeutics based on regulating the PTM status of Tau.

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                              K-Ras bound to a small molecule to prevent activation by Cat. # SOS1

                              GDP-K-Ras complexed to a phenol moiety (small arrow head; PDB code 4EPT; 2-hydroxyphenyl)(pyrrolidin-1-yl)methanethione) as described in Sun Q. et al. 2012. Discovery of small molecules that bind to K-Ras and inhibit Sos-mediated activation. Angew Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 51, 6140–6143.

                              Recently, Sakamoto et al. discovered novel peptide inhibitors of the G12D mutant K-Ras GTPase. Of the three Ras isoforms (H-, K-, and N-), K-Ras is considered the most relevant anti-cancer drug target as K-Ras mutations underlie 86% of Ras-linked cancers with 83% of K-Ras mutations at the G12 residue. Development of K-Ras-targeting anti-cancer drugs remains elusive due to the paucity of small, druggable pockets on the GTPase’s surface and picomolar binding affinity between K-Ras and GDP/GTP nucleotides. Here, the authors screened random peptide libraries displayed on T7 phage against recombinant G12D K-Ras in the presence of GDP to identify selective G12D K-Ras inhibitors. Sequence optimization produced a selective G12D K-Ras inhibitor (IC50, 1.6 nM) in a SOS1-mediated GDP/GTP exchange assay. At 30 mM, this inhibitor also reduced proliferation and downstream K-Ras signaling in cancer cells. While less than optimal cell membrane permeability and loss of activity under reducing conditions were shortcomings with this peptide, the discovery of selective G12D K-Ras inhibitors provides a blueprint for the design of future, clinically-relevant K-Ras inhibitors. Cytoskeleton’s SOS1 exchange domain protein (564-1049 amino acids; Cat.# CS-SOS1) was used in the GDP/GTP exchange assay to confirm inhibition of G12D K-Ras activation using BODIPY-FL-GDP.

                               

                              Link to citation: 

                              Sakamoto K. et al. 2017. K-Ras(G12D)-selective inhibitory peptides generated by random peptide T7 phage display technology. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2017.01.147.

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                              Dendritic cells (DCs) are antigen-presenting cells of the mammalian immune system that exist in either an immature, unactivated state or a mature, activated state. Immature DCs (iDCs) patrol peripheral tissues for foreign and/or pathogenic antigens (i.e., antigen sampling), localizing to sites of inflammation. Once there, iDCs find and internalize antigens by phagocytosis, macropinocytosis, or cell surface receptor-mediated endocytosis. During these activities, iDCs fluctuate between fast and slow motility, respectively, presumably to provide an optimal speed for efficient antigen sampling and capture. Concomitant with antigen capture and processing, iDCs undergo maturation, including changes in F-actin and myosin II functional localization which underlies the shift to primarily fast motility. Degraded antigens are presented on the mature dendritic cell surface as major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-II-peptide complexes. Activated DCs migrate chemotactically via lymphatic vessels to naïve T cells in lymphoid organs (e.g., lymph nodes) where the captured antigens are presented to T cells (i.e., immunological synapse), thereby activating them and the adaptive immune system response (Fig. 1).

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                               	Swiss 3T3 cell stained with anti-vinculin (red), Dapi (blue nucleus) and F-actin is stained with Acti-stain™ 488 (green F-actin, Cat.# PHDG1).

                              Composition and architecture of extracellular matrix (ECM). Basement membrane is a type of ECM composed of laminin and collagen IV fibers embedded within a collagen I-enriched ECM.

                              FNR01 image overlay with phase contrast background. Fluorescent fibronectin (Cat. # FNR01) treated MCF10A cells (image kindly provided by A. Varadara and M. Karthykenyan, Univ. S.Carolina, Columbia, SC).

                              Recently, Guzman et al. characterized a novel 3D in vitro model of multicellular cancer cell invasion that offers adjustable physiological and biochemical parameters. Shortcomings of current models are poor microscopic imaging dynamics and inability to study transmigration of cancer cells across the basement membrane (BM) and then invasion of an extracellular matrix (ECM), as happens in vivo. The BM is a type of ECM that surrounds a tumor, formed in a multi-step process initiated by cancer cells binding laminin at the cell surface to form a scaffold upon which type IV collagen polymers form. This new model offers improved imaging dynamics while also recapitulating in vivo tumor cytoarchitecture with an intact, degradable, cell-assembled, sheet-like BM layer embedded in a collagen I-enriched ECM. Cytoskeleton’s HiLyte488-conjugated laminin (Cat. # LMN02) was used to confirm that in vitro BM layer formation paralleled the in vivo process; that is, the laminin scaffold was dispersed across the surface of the multicellular tumor spheroids in a thin, patchy layer, serving as the foundation of the BM layer. This innovative 3D cancer cell invasion model offers researchers the ability to both tease apart molecular mechanisms underlying invasion and test new therapeutics in a physiologically- and biochemically-relevant setting.

                               

                              Link to citation: 

                              Guzman A. et al. 2016. A novel 3D in vitro metastasis model elucidates differential invasive strategies during and after breaching basement membrane. Biomaterials. 115, 19-29.

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                              Phosphorylated Rac1 Modified GTPase Cycle
                              Legend: Rac1 GTPase cycle
                              regulation by phosphorylation

                              New SUMO Signal Seeker™ Kit and More!

                              The functional component of the SUMO 2/3 Enrichment Kit is an anti-SUMO-2/3 antibody (clone: 11G2) which is provided as a chemically crosslinked Protein G bead conjugate. The affinity bead reagent was optimized to give no detectable leaching of either heavy or light chains in an IP assay, making the resulting data extremely specific, sensitive and clean. The affinity beads immunoprecipitate a wide range of SUMO-2/3 targeted proteins in cell extracts). Both endogenous mono- and poly- SUMOylated proteins are easily detected with characteristic multiple bands in the Western Blot detection method.

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                              We are excited to introduce Spirochrome's latest offering for live cell studies of the endosomal pathway. The new SiR-Lysosome and SiR700-Lysosome products can simply be added to tissue culture media or injected into tissue and the endosomes and lysosomes will be rapidly labeled with red or far-red fluorescence respectively. As for other Spirochrome probes, the new probes are compatible with dual fluorescence microscopy, cell-permeable, fluorogenic, non-cytotoxic, and compatible with super-resolution microscopy. Read more about their research applications and citations below.

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                               	Swiss 3T3 cell stained with anti-vinculin (red), Dapi (blue nucleus) and F-actin is stained with Acti-stain™ 488 (green F-actin, Cat.# PHDG1).
                              Swiss 3T3 cell stained with anti-vinculin (red), DAPI (blue nucleus) and F-actin is stained with Acti-stain™ 488 (green F-actin stress fibers, Cat.# PHDG1).

                              Recently, Jeganathan et al. examined the role of intersectin-1s (ITSN-1s) in lung cancer proliferation, migration, and metastasis. These cellular processes require actin cytoskeleton re-arrangement typically regulated by RhoA, Rac1, and/or Cdc42 GTPases. ITSN-1s is a multi-domain adaptor protein linking cell surface receptors to intracellular signaling cascades. ITSN-1s’s expression levels are reduced in human lung cancer cells and tissues. Among many findings, the authors report that ITSN-1s down-regulates the epidermal growth factor receptor kinase substrate 8 (Eps8) via ubiquitination and degradation, which in turn decreases the Eps8 and Ras/Rac1 guanine exchange factor mSos1 complex. The Eps8/mSos1 complex activates Rac1 which mediates the subsequent actin cytoskeletal re-arrangements necessary for cancer cell migration and metastasis. Restoration of normal ITSN-1s levels decreases Rac1 activation, increases RhoA activation (leaving Cdc42 activity unaffected), and results in a cytoskeletal network unfavorable to cancer cell migration and metastasis. Cytoskeleton’s RhoA, Rac1, and Cdc42 pull-down activation assays (Cat.# BK036, BK035, and BK034, respectively) were essential for the quantification of RhoA, Rac1, and Cdc42 activities across different levels of ITSN-1s expression. These results suggest that ITSN-1s could serve not only as a novel therapeutic target, but also a prognostic and therapeutic response indicator for lung cancer (and maybe others).

                               

                              Link to citation: 

                              Jeganathan N. et al. 2016. Rac1-mediated cytoskeleton rearrangements induced by intersectin-1s deficiency promotes lung cancer cell proliferation, migration and metastasis. Mol. Cancer. 15, 59.

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                              Rac activation in Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts. F-actin is visualized with fluorescent green phalloidin staining (Cat.# PHDG1). DAPI is the blue nuclear stain. Phalloidin staining shows F-actin-rich lamellipodia. Cells were activated with Cat.# CN04.
                              Rac activation in Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts. F-actin is visualized with fluorescent green phalloidin staining (Cat.# PHDG1). DAPI is the blue nuclear stain. Phalloidin staining shows F-actin-rich lamellipodia. Cells were activated with Cat.# CN04.

                              Recently, Rom et al. examined molecular pathways involved in leukocyte-mediated neuroinflammation given its causative role in neuronal dysfunction associated with brain injuries and diseases. Neuroinflammation involves a compromised blood-brain barrier (BBB) as leukocytes need to engage brain endothelial cells. To do so, leukocytes utilize integrin adhesion receptors for rolling, arrest, adhesion, and transendothelial migration (TEM), processes requiring Rho-family GTPase-mediated rearrangement of the actin cytoskeleton. Here, the activation of VLA-4 and LFA-1 leukocyte integrins following inhibition of PARP (poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase 1) activity in leukocytes was studied with the goal of preventing BBB breakdown. Using primary human brain microvascular endothelial cells to model the BBB, PARP inhibitors reduced leukocyte adhesion and TEM, concomitant with decreased activation of the two integrins and RhoA and Rac1 GTPases, as well as a reduced F-/G-actin ratio. Cytoskeleton’s RhoA and Rac1 G-LISA activation assays (Cat.# BK124 and BK128, respectively), Acti-stain 488 phalloidin (Cat.# PHDG1), and cell-permeable Rho inhibitor (Cat.# CT04) and Rho/Rac/Cdc42 activator (Cat.# CN04) were essential reagents, allowing for sensitive and reliable quantification of RhoA and Rac1 activation under control and experimental conditions while also measuring dynamic actin cytoskeletal changes. These results suggest novel therapies for protecting BBB integrity following brain disease and injury.

                              Link to citation: 

                              Rom S. et al. 2016. PARP inhibition in leukocytes diminishes inflammation via effects on integrins/cytoskeleton and protects the blood-brain barrier. J. Inflammation. 13, 254.

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                              Effective treatments for central nervous system (CNS) injuries, diseases, and disorders remain a serious challenge for preclinical research scientists and clinicians This newsletter discusses some compounds that are in clinical trials or proteins/pathways that warrant consideration as therapeutic targets.

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                              Cardiovascular disease accounts for roughly one in every three deaths in the USA with heart disease accounting for the majority of these cases1.  The pathology of heart disease often involves the death or dysfunction of cardiomyocytes, specialized heart cells that produce the contractile, beating function of the heart.  Many different proteins and cell machinery, such as ion channels and pumps, cytoskeletal proteins, and receptors play a significant role in regulating the contractile ability of cardiomyocytes.  Interestingly, many of these proteins are regulated through post-translational modifications (PTMs), in part because PTMs allow for rapid, but subtle changes to a protein as part of an overall cellular response2.
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                              Ras and Rho-family GTPases regulate multiple cellular processes, including development, growth, motility, intracellular trafficking, gene expression, and the cell cycle1,2. Moreover, dysfunction of these GTPase are correlated with several human diseases (e.g., cancer, neurodegeneration, bacterial pathogenesis)3-5. Like all GTPases, Ras and Rho GTPases cycle between active (GTP-bound) and inactive (GDP-bound) states. Guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) regulate GTPase activation, driving the exchange of GDP for GTP in response to a variety of physiological and pathological extracellular signals1,2. Thus, GEFs are therapeutic targets; however, small molecule inhibitors require hydrophobic pockets for binding which are not typically found on GEFs (or  GTPases). Only recently have novel binding pockets on GEFs and GTPases been discovered6,7. In this light, the current newsletter explores small molecule inhibitors of Ras (N-, H-, K-Ras) and Rho (RhoA, Rac1, Cdc42) GEFs that inhibit through direct binding.

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                              Crystal structure of tubulin-colchicine complex.
                              Crystal structure of tubulin-stathimine-colchicine complex.

                              Recently, Zheng et al. identified and characterized a novel tubulin polymerization inhibitor discovered during anti-cancer compound screenings using the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-mimetic assay. The lead compound was a nitrobenzoate molecule (2-morpholin-4-yl-5-nitro-benzoic acid 4-methylsulfanyl-benzyl ester), designated as compound IMB5046. As part of the in vitro and in vivo characterization process, in vitro tubulin polymerization assays with 97% tubulin/3% microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) under cell-free conditions demonstrated that the compound inhibits tubulin polymerization, complementing findings from cell culture and mouse xenograft model studies. In addition, surface plasmon resonance (SPR) technology quantified the binding interaction of IMB5046 and tubulin, using biotinylated tubulin and streptavidin-coated sensor chips.  SPR data demonstrated a concentration-dependent, direct interaction and an equilibrium dissociation constant (Kd) of 31.9 µM for IMB5046. Cytoskeleton’s HTS-tubulin polymerization assay kit and >99% pure biotinylated porcine brain tubulin (Cat.# BK004P and T333P, respectively) were essential in this study, providing the necessary research tools to measure the effect of IMB5046 on in vitro tubulin polymerization as well as the binding kinetics with tubulin. In combination with the other findings, a unique, anti-cancer compound with novel chemical structure and the ability to inhibit tubulin polymerization in multidrug-resistant cancer cell lines has been discovered and described.

                              Link to citation: 

                              Zheng Y.-B. et al. 2016. A novel nitrobenzoate microtubule inhibitor that overcomes multidrug resistance exhibits antitumor activity. Sci. Rep. 6, 31472. 

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                              Tubulin Protein (Biotin): Porcine Brain, Cat. # T333P
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                              Figure 1. RhoGAP activity measured as GTP hydrolysis by RhoA protein. Each reaction contained reaction buffer + GTP with the addition of RhoA alone (RhoA), RhoGAP alone (GAP), or RhoA + RhoGAP (RhoA + GAP). Reactions were incubated at 37°C for 20 min. Phosphate generated by hydrolysis of GTP was measured by the addition of CytoPhos™ reagent and reading of absorbance at 650 nm.
                              Rho activation in Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts. F-actin is visualized with fluorescent green phalloidin staining (Cat.# PHDG1). DAPI is the blue nuclear stain. Phalloidin staining shows F-actin-rich stress fibers. Cells were activated with Cat.# CN04.

                              Recently, Zhan et al. investigated the molecular pathways underlying human epidermal stem cell (hESC) migration during wound repair to better understand the activity of these cells in the restoration of skin cell and hair follicle homeostasis during wound repair and healing. The authors discovered that nitric oxide (NO) stimulates hESC migration during wound repair and healing, and using the NO donor S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine (SNAP), demonstrated that NO promotes the migration of hESCs in vivo and in vitro. Furthermore, NO-mediated hESC migration in vitro requires cGMP-mediated activation of RhoA and Rac1 (but not Cdc42) signaling pathways. These signaling pathways were examined given that cell migration requires dynamic cell morphology changes which necessitate the re-arrangement of a cell’s actin cytoskeleton, which is strongly regulated by Rho-family GTPases. Cytoskeleton’s Cdc42, Rac1, and RhoA pull-down activation assays (Cat. # BK034, BK035, BK036, respectively) were essential in this study, providing researchers with the necessary research tools to measure Rho-family GTPase activities in a sensitive and consistent manner. These results provide valuable insight into the essential role that Rho-family GTPases have in NO-mediated hESC migration during wound repair and healing to restore proper cellular homeostasis.

                              Link to citation: 

                              Zhan R. et al. 2016. Nitric oxide promotes epidermal stem cell migration via cGMP-Rho GTPase signaling. Sci. Rep. 6, 30687.

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                              Cdc42 Pull-down Activation Assay Biochem Kit (bead pull-down format) - 50 Assays, Cat. # BK034

                              Rac1 Pull-down Activation Assay Biochem Kit (bead pull-down format) - 50 Assays, Cat. # BK035

                              RhoA Pull-down Activation Assay Biochem Kit (bead pull-down format) - 80 Assays, Cat. # BK036

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                              The tubulin homolog FtsZ (Filamenting temperature-sensitive mutant Z) protein is an essential prokaryotic cell divison protein. FtsZ is a GTPase that polymerizes in a nucleotide-dependent manner head-to-tail to form single-stranded filaments that assemble into a contractile ring called the Z-ring. This ring forms on the inside of the cytoplasmic membrane where it marks the future site of the septum of a dividing bacterial cell and is dynamically maintained through the course of cell division by continuous and rapid turnover of FtsZ polymers. FtsZ is the first protein to localize at the division site and recruits other proteins involved in bacterial cell division. Besides serving as a scaffold for other cell division proteins, FtsZ itself may exert cytokinetic forces that lead to cell division.

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                              Figure 1. RhoGAP activity measured as GTP hydrolysis by RhoA protein. Each reaction contained reaction buffer + GTP with the addition of RhoA alone (RhoA), RhoGAP alone (GAP), or RhoA + RhoGAP (RhoA + GAP). Reactions were incubated at 37°C for 20 min. Phosphate generated by hydrolysis of GTP was measured by the addition of CytoPhos™ reagent and reading of absorbance at 650 nm.
                              RhoGAP activity measured as GTP hydrolysis by RhoA protein. Each reaction contained reaction buffer + GTP with the addition of RhoA alone (RhoA), RhoGAP alone (GAP), or RhoA + RhoGAP (RhoA + GAP). Reactions were incubated at 37°C for 20 min. Phosphate generated by hydrolysis of GTP was measured by the addition of CytoPhos™ reagent and reading of absorbance at 650 nm.

                              Recently, Bendris et al. reported a novel pathway by which the multi-functional, multi-domain scaffold protein sorting nexin 9 (SNX9) controls breast cancer cell invasion and metastasis. SNX9 directly inhibits RhoA activity (and by extension, its downstream effector Rho-associated protein kinase), while exerting no significant direct effect on Cdc42. However, SNX9 directly activates Cdc42's downstream effector, neural Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein. The authors evaluated SNX9 for guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) and GTP-activating protein (GAP) activities. SNX9 displayed no direct GEF or GAP activity toward either GTPase. However, SNX9 did inhibit p50GAP-stimulated Cdc42, but not RhoA, GTPase activity. Thus, SNX9 controls the activity of RhoA and Cdc42 in a distinct and opposite manner. These GTPases and/or their downstream effectors control actin cytoskeletal dynamics underlying cell motility, a process integral in cancer cell invasion and metastasis. Cytoskeleton's RhoGAP Assay Kit (Cat. # BK105) was an essential reagent in this study, allowing researchers to determine if SNX9 affects RhoA and Cdc42 GTPase activities by acting either as a GAP itself or influencing the activity of p50GAP. This work advances the understanding of how RhoA and Cdc42 signaling pathways control the cell motility that underlies the invasive and metastatic behavior of cancer cells.

                              Link to citation: 

                              Bendris N. et al. 2016. SNX9 promotes metastasis by enhancing cancer cell invasion via differential regulation of RhoGTPases. Mol. Biol. Cell. 27, 1409-1419. 

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                              RhoGAP assay, 80-160 assays, Cat. # BK105

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                              The Ras GTPase superfamily, which includes Ras, Rho, Rab, Arf, and Ran subfamilies (among others), has been shown to regulate a wide spectrum of cellular functions. GTPases function as molecular switches, cycling between an inactive GDP-bound form and an active GTP-bound form. The Rho GTPase subfamily includes Rho, Rac, and CDC42, and is believed to be involved primarily in the regulation of cytoskeletal organization in response to extracellular growth factors...

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                              Microtubules assembled from HiLyte 488™ labeled tubulin (Cat. # TL488M).

                              Microtubules assembled from HiLyte 488™ labeled tubulin (Cat. # TL488M).

                              Recently, Hoj et al. further characterized compounds that were previously identified in a phenotypic, cell-based screen for inhibitors of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)-mediated scattering of epithelial cells. HGF-induced epithelial cell scattering is an in vitro model to study the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a key process in the sequential detachment, migration, and invasion of cancer cells at sites distal to the primary tumor. Thus, one potential class of anti-cancer compounds is HGF inhibitors or inhibitors of HGF-mediated signaling cascades. Here, a subset of the previously identified small-molecule compounds, those with no reported biological activity, were characterized across a variety of in vivo pharmacological and in vitro cellular and biochemical assays, including inhibition of tubulin polymerization using >99% pure tubulin to calculate maximal rates of polymerization and IC50 values for each compound. With >99% pure tubulin, inhibition was due to a direct interaction between tubulin and the compounds. Cytoskeleton's fluorescent tubulin polymerization assay kit (Cat. # BK011P) was an essential reagent in this study to not only calculate each compound's IC50 value, but also demonstrate that inhibition of tubulin polymerization is a key characteristic of compounds that also inhibit HGF-mediated epithelial cell scattering, a well-characterized and utilized in vitro model of EMT.

                               

                              Link to citation: 

                              Hoj T.H. et al. 2016. Small molecules revealed in a screen targeting epithelial scattering are inhibitors of microtubule polymerization.J. Biomol. Screen. doi: 10.1177/1087057116651850

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                              Cardiovascular disease accounts for roughly one in every three deaths in the USA with heart disease accounting for the majority of these cases.  The pathology of heart disease often involves the death or dysfunction of cardiomyocytes, specialized heart cells that produce the contractile, beating function of the heart.  Many different proteins and cell machinery, such as ion channels and pumps, cytoskeletal proteins, and receptors play a significant role in regulating the contractile ability of cardiomyocytes. 

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                              Cardiovascular disease accounts for roughly one in every three deaths in the USA with heart disease accounting for the majority of these cases1.  The pathology of heart disease often involves the death or dysfunction of cardiomyocytes, specialized heart cells that produce the contractile, beating function of the heart.  Many different proteins and cell machinery, such as ion channels and pumps, cytoskeletal proteins, and receptors play a significant role in regulating the contractile ability of cardiomyocytes.  Interestingly, many of these proteins are regulated through post-translational modifications (PTMs), in part because PTMs allow for rapid, but subtle changes to a protein as part of an overall cellular response2.
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                              Kinesin motor proteins regulate mitosis and anterograde cargo transport as exemplified by fast axonal transport (FAT) in neurons. Neurons depend on kinesins for cell cycle regulation, especially the assembly and function of the mitotic spindle, a macromolecular structure composed primarily of microtubules (MTs) that undergo cycles of polymerization and depolymerization to properly segregate duplicate chromosomes into separate daughter cells.

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                              HeLa CCL-2 cells were grown to 70% confluency at 37°C/5% CO2. Cells were untreated (lanes S1, P1, S2, P2) or treated with 3.3 mM of the tubulin polymerizing drug paclitaxel (i.e., taxol) for 60 min at 37°C/5% CO2 (lanes S3, P3, S4, P4). Cells were lysed and separated into supernatant (S) and pellet (P) fractions and analyzed by western blot quantitation of tubulin protein according to the Microtubules/Tubulin In Vivo Assay Kit (Cat. # BK038) instructions.

                              Rac activation in Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts. F-actin is visualized with fluorescent green phalloidin staining (Cat.# PHDG1). DAPI is the blue nuclear stain. Phalloidin staining shows F-actin-rich lamellipodia. Cells were activated with Cat.# CN04.

                              Recently, Lao et al. studied how PIAS3, the protein inhibitor of activated signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (the transcription factor STAT3) regulates the migration, invasion, and activation of fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs), a key component in the pathophysiology of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), specifically joint destruction. Rate of joint destruction is positively correlated with increased FLS motility, invasion, and activity. Here, the authors examined PIAS3-mediated regulation of FLS migration and invasion, and expression of matrix metalloproteinases in RA. Among other findings, PIAS3 knockdown with short hairpin RNA demonstrated that PIAS3 controls lamellipodium formation during FLS migration through activation of Rac1 GTPase as PIAS3 knockdown reduced both the activity of Rac1 and its downstream effector PAK1. Activation of this Rac1 pathway is integral in actin cytoskeleton remodeling which underlies lamellipodium formation and protrusion. Additional results strongly suggest that PIAS3-mediated regulation of Rac1 activation involves SUMOylation (specifically SUMO-1) of Rac1 by PIAS3, as it can act as a SUMO-E3 ligase. Cytoskeleton's Rac1 G-LISA activation assay kit (Cat. # BK128) was an essential reagent in this study, providing a sensitive and quantitative measurement of Rac1 activity following PIAS3 knockdown. These results expand understanding of the molecular pathways regulating FLS migration, invasion, and activation, and the subsequent joint destruction the cells mediate in RA.

                              Link to citation: 

                              Lao M. et al. 2016. Protein inhibitor of activated STAT3 regulates migration, invasion, and activation of fibroblast-like synoviocytes in rheumatoid arthritis. J. Immunol. 196, 596-606.

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                              HeLa CCL-2 cells were grown to 70% confluency at 37°C/5% CO2. Cells were untreated (lanes S1, P1, S2, P2) or treated with 3.3 mM of the tubulin polymerizing drug paclitaxel (i.e., taxol) for 60 min at 37°C/5% CO2 (lanes S3, P3, S4, P4). Cells were lysed and separated into supernatant (S) and pellet (P) fractions and analyzed by western blot quantitation of tubulin protein according to the Microtubules/Tubulin In Vivo Assay Kit (Cat. # BK038) instructions.
                              HeLa CCL-2 cells were grown to 70% confluency at 37°C/5% CO2. Cells were untreated (lanes S1, P1, S2, P2) or treated with 3.3 mM of the tubulin polymerizing drug paclitaxel (i.e., taxol) for 60 min at 37°C/5% CO2 (lanes S3, P3, S4, P4). Cells were lysed and separated into supernatant (S) and pellet (P) fractions and analyzed by western blot quantitation of tubulin protein according to the Microtubules/Tubulin In Vivo Assay Kit (Cat. # BK038) instructions.

                              Recently, Liu et al. studied how excessive alcohol consumption regulates downstream signaling cascades of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), focusing on the Akt/glycogen synthase kinase-3ß (GSK-3ß)/collapsing response mediator protein-2 (CRMP-2) pathway in rodent nucleus accumbens. Excessive alcohol increases protein levels of the microtubule (MT) binding protein CRMP-2 via mTORC1-mediated translation.  Additionally, Akt is activated, initiating a sequential cascade of GSK-3ß deactivation by Akt-mediated phosphorylation and a subsequent decrease in GSK-3ß -mediated phosphorylation of CRMP-2.  Phosphorylation of CRMP-2 inhibits its binding to MTs and the alcohol-induced reduction in CRMP-2 phosphorylation increases binding between CRMP-2 and MTs, as well as MT asssembly. The authors posit that these alcohol-induced changes in MT binding and protein levels underlie the neuroadaptations (i.e., structural plasticity) that occur in the development and/or maintenance of alcohol-drinking behaviors. Cytoskeleton’s Microtubule Binding Protein Spin-down Assay Kit (Cat. # BK029) and Microtubule/Tubulin In Vivo Assay Kit (Cat. # BK038) were essential reagents in this study, providing quantitation of both MT binding to CRMP-2 and changes in MT content after excessive alcohol consumption. These data suggest that CRMP-2 and its functional relationship with MTs is an essential step in the alcohol-induced neuroadaptations that underlie addiction and addictive behaviors.

                              Link to citation: 

                              Liu F. et al. 2016. mTORC1-dependent translation of collapsing response mediator protein-2 drives neuroadaptations underlying excessive alcohol-drinking behaviors. Mol. Psychiatry. Doi: 10.1038/mp.2016.12.

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                              Elevations in blood glucose levels are sensed in pancreatic b-cells, which respond through a complex signaling pathway involving mitochondrial-dependent glucose metabolism1. The culmination of this pathway is the mobilization of intracellular insulin-loaded vesicles that fuse with the cell membrane releasing their contents into the...

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                               A) Human epidermoid carcinoma A431 cells, untreated (top) or treated (bottom) with 5 M TSA (16 h). Acetylated cytoplasmic and nuclear proteins were visualized in green fluorescence.  B) Silver stain of acetyl-lysine immunoprecipitates from wild-type (WT) and muscle-specific knock-out of E1a-binding protein (mKO) mice.
                              Figure 1: Rac1 is activated in serum treated migrating Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts, as shown by staining for F-actin rich lamellipodia with rhodamine phalloidin (Cat. # PHDR1).

                              Recently, Qin et al. studied the interplay between matrix metalloproteinase-8 (MMP-8) and transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-b1) and the effect on each protein’s expression and activity levels in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells as HCC is responsible for most primary liver cancers.  MMPs are integral for tumor cell metastasis and invasion while TGF-b1 drives cancer progression via epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and induction of MPP expression.  The authors found that the proteins reciprocally activate each other, leading to increased EMTs and HCC metastasis and invasion in vitro. Moreover, each protein rescues the depleted expression of the other in vitro. In both cases, the PI3K/Akt/Rac1 signaling pathway is the primary mediator as demonstrated pharmacologically. Furthermore, overexpression of MMP-8 or TGF-b1 increases PI3K/Akt/Rac1 pathway activity whereas knockdown exerts the opposite effect.  Cytoskeleton’s Rac1 G-LISA activation assay kit (Cat.# BK128) was an essential reagent in this study as it provided consistent, sensitive, and quantitative measurement of Rac1 activity following manipulation of the expression and activity levels of MMP-8 and TGF-b1. Thus, Rac1 activation mediates the downstream effects of MMP-8/TGF-b1 interplay that results in increased EMT and HCC metastasis and invasion.

                              Link to citation: 

                              Qin G. et al. 2016. Reciprocal activation between MMP-8 and TGF-b1 stimulates EMT and malignant progression of hepatocellular carcinoma. Cancer Lett. 374, 85-95.

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                               A) Human epidermoid carcinoma A431 cells, untreated (top) or treated (bottom) with 5 M TSA (16 h). Acetylated cytoplasmic and nuclear proteins were visualized in green fluorescence.  B) Silver stain of acetyl-lysine immunoprecipitates from wild-type (WT) and muscle-specific knock-out of E1a-binding protein (mKO) mice.
                              A) Human epidermoid carcinoma A431 cells, untreated (top) or treated (bottom) with 5 M TSA (16 h). Acetylated cytoplasmic and nuclear proteins were visualized in green fluorescence.  B) Silver stain of acetyl-lysine immunoprecipitates from wild-type (WT) and muscle-specific knock-out of E1a-binding protein (mKO) mice.

                              Recently, LaBarge et al. examined the role of the acetyltransferase E1a-binding protein (p300) in skeletal muscle function and metabolism. Reversible acetylation, a well-known post-translational modification, is considered a regulator of mitochondrial metabolism and exercise-induced adaptation in skeletal muscles. This conclusion is based primarily on data derived from studies of deacetylases and skeletal muscle physiology with a dearth of information on how lysine acetyltransferases impact the same muscle physiology. While whole-body heterozygous and homozygous p300 knockout mice have muscle defects (along with neural and cardiac) and die in embryogenesis, to date, the role of p300 in skeletal muscle function has not been studied with a muscle-specific knock-out mouse model. Here, the authors created such an in vivo model and found that knocking out p300 affected neither the development nor function of adult skeletal muscle. Moreover, it was also not required for mitochondrial adaptation induced by endurance exercising. Cytoskeleton’s anti-acetyl lysine antibody (Cat. # AAC01) was an essential reagent in this study as it was used to confirm a functional loss of p300 in the knock-out mice. These mice had a significant reduction in total acetylation levels in skeletal muscle immunoprecipitates from knock-out, compared to wild-type, mice.

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                              LaBarge S.A. et al. 2016. p300 is not required for metabolic adaptation to endurance exercise training. FASEB J. Doi: 10.1096/fj.15-281741.

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                              The filamentous cytoskeleton is comprised of three distinctive polymer networks: actin filaments, intermediate filaments, and microtubules. Their interplay is responsible for cellular structure, motility, and material transport in order to maintain cellular homeostasis. Also, flexible and rapid cellular responses to external and internal stimuli are possible due...

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                              Rac Ruffles PAEC 40x1
                              F-actin is visualized with fluorescent green phalloidin staining (Cat.# PHDG1) and nuclear blue DNA staining with DAPI. Cells were activated with Cat.# CN04.

                              Recently, Jones et al. examined the role of Rho-family GTPases in the opposing effects of tetraspanins CD82 and CD37 in bone marrow-derived dendritic cell (BDMC) migration and T cell activation by antigen presentation. Tetraspanins regulate dendritic cell motility and antigen presentation. BMDC activation upregulates CD82, resulting in decreased cell migration and increased T cell activation via stabilization of T cell/dendritic cell interactions. Conversely, CD37 is downregulated and has the opposite response. Deletion of either protein alters cell morphology and the actin and tubulin cytoskeleton. To examine the role of RhoA, Rac1, and Cdc42 in these changes, GTPase activities in cells from either knock-out (CD37 or CD82) or wild-type mice were quantified. Using the cell-permeable Rho/Rac/Cdc42 activator CN04, the authors found that CD82 negatively regulates RhoA while CD37 (but not CD82) regulates Rac1. Both tetraspanins negatively regulate Cdc42. Cytoskeleton's cell permeable Rho/Rac/Cdc42 activator I (Cat.# CN04) and the RhoA (Cat.# BK124), Rac1 (Cat.# BK128), and Cdc42 (Cat.# BK127) G-LISA activation assays were essential reagents in this study. These reagents provided a sensitive measure of Rho-family GTPase activity to discover how these GTPases differentially contribute to the tetraspanin-mediated regulation of BDMC migration and T cell activation in the initiation of adaptive immunity.

                              Link to citation: 

                              Jones E.L. et al. 2016. Dendritic cell migration and antigen presentation are coordinated by the opposing functions of the tetraspanins CD82 and CD37. J. Immunol. Doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1500357.

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                              Intermediate filaments (IFs) are one of three filament systems comprising the cytoskeleton of metazoan cells. IFs are highly dynamic structures essential for organizing the actin and tubulin filament systems and regulating cell signaling, motility, structure, and adhesion during interphase and mitosis. The function and localization of IFs are regulated ...

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                              Rac Ruffles PAEC 40x1
                              F-actin is visualized with fluorescent green phalloidin staining (Cat.# PHDG1) and nuclear blue DNA staining with DAPI. Cells were activated with Cat.# CN03.

                              Recently, Li et al. examined the signaling pathways underlying podoplanin-mediated tumor invasion in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) tissues and cell lines. Overexpression of podoplanin, a transmembrane glycoprotein, characterizes multiple cancers; however, its exact role(s) in tumor progression/invasion remain unknown. Here, podoplanin overexpression increased tumor cell protrusions (i.e., invadopodia) and F-actin stress fibers in OSCC cells. Concomitantly, RhoA activity decreased whereas Cdc42 activity increased. Correspondingly, podoplanin knockdown reversed these activity patterns. Rac1 activity did not change after any treatments. Additionally, RhoA and Cdc42 engaged in cross-talk (e.g., RhoA inhibition resulted in increased Cdc42 activity). Activated Cdc42 (but not RhoA) was also found to co-precipitate with matrix metalloproteinase-14 (i.e., MT1-MMP) and binding increased with podoplanin overexpression and decreased with knockdown. Cytoskeleton’s Acti-stain 488 phalloidin (Cat.# PHDG1) and RhoA/Rac1/Cdc42 Activation Assay Kit (Cat.# BK030) were essential reagents in this study, providing: 1. detection of morphological changes in the actin cytoskeleton necessary for increased cellular protrusions and stress fibers; and 2. confirmation that this re-organization corresponded with opposing changes in RhoA and Cdc42 activity. Thus, podoplanin-mediated tumor cell protrusion and resulting motility relies upon an activation and inhibition of Cdc42 and RhoA, respectively, which, in turn, mediate the re-organization of the actin cytoskeleton.

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                              Li Y.-Y. et al. 2015. Podoplanin promotes the invasion of oral squamous cell carcinoma in coordination with MT1-MPP and Rho GTPases. Am. J. Cancer Res.5, 514-529.

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                              •  RhoA/Rac1/Cdc42 Activation Assay Combo Biochem Kit (pull-down format) 3x10 assays (Cat.# BK030)
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                              Temporal regulation of phosphotyrosine-modified Rac1 in response to epidermal growth factor stimulation

                              ascb15poster
                              Click here for a link to the pdf version

                              Abstract

                              The aim of this study was to develop an assay sensitive enough to detect endogenous pY‐modified Rac1 uponstimulation by EGF. The IP assay was used in conjunction with a Rac1 activation assay to follow temporal changesin endogenous Rac1 activation and tyrosyl phosphorylation in response to EGF stimulation of HeLa and A431 cells. Rac1 activation, monitored by PAK‐binding, followed a predicted time course in which...

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                              Law A., Hong S., Horita H. and Middleton K. 2015. Temporal regulation of phosphotyrosine-modified Rac1 in response to epidermal growth factor stimulation. Mol. Biol. Cell. ASCB Abstract Dec. B1230 / P2126. 

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                              • Rac1 Pulldown Activation Assay Kit (Cat. # BK035)
                              • Phosphotyrosine Antibody Mouse Monoclonal S7B10 (Cat. # APY03)
                              • Anti-Phosphotyrosine Affinity Beads (Cat.# APY03-beads

                               

                              Rac Ruffles PAEC 40x1
                              Acti-stain HiLyte 488 phalloidin (Cat.# PHDG1)
                              staining of ruffles characteristic of Rac activation
                              following treatement with a Rho/Rac/Cdc42
                              activation (Cat.#CN04) in porcine aortic endothelial
                              cells under 40X magnification.

                              Recently R. Zeineddine et al. examined the molecular signaling pathways underlying cell-to-cell transmission of aggregated copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1). Misfolding, aggregation, and transmission of SOD1 is implicated in in vitro and in vivo models of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Here, the authors examined the signaling pathways involved in macropinocytosis, a form of fluid-phase endocytosis, which provides the means by which macromolecules such as SOD1 aggregates are transmitted cell-to-cell. Macropinocytosis requires membrane ruffling, which in turn, depends upon re-arrangement of the actin cytoskeleton. Thus, the authors examined the activity of a known modulator of the actin cytoskeleton, the Rac1 GTPase, in motoneuron-like (NSC-34) cells. The authors found that exposure of NSC-34 cells to SOD1 aggregates initiates a cascade of sequential events: Rac1 activation > membrane ruffling > macropinocytosis > build-up of SOD1 aggregates intracellularly. Cytoskeleton’s absorbance-based Rac1 G-LISA activation assay kit (Cat. # BK128) was an essential reagent in this study, demonstrating that SOD1 aggregates induce Rac1 activation that leads to the formation of actin-based membrane ruffles. These two events are necessary for propagation of SOD1 protein aggregates (and other disease-associated protein aggregates) via macropinocytosis. These findings suggest therapeutic strategies for treating a multitude of neurodegenerative diseases.

                              Link to citation: 

                               R. Zeineddine et al. 2015. SOD1 protein aggregates stimulate macropinocytosis in neurons to facilitate their propagation. Mol. Neurodegener. 10, 57.

                              Products used in this citation:
                              •  Rac1 G-LISA Activation Assay Kit (Colorimetric Based) (Cat. # BK128) 

                               

                              Immunofluoresence of HeLa cell in
                               metaphase with ASM23 Ab (anti-SUMO2/3) and
                              ATN02 Ab (anti-tubulin)

                              Recently, C.R. Figueiredo et al. examined the mechanism of action underlying the anti-tumor effects of the complementarity-determining region (CDR) C36L1 synthetic peptide derived from the VL CDR1 of the C36 Fab fragment of the anti-vaccinia immunoglobulin.  This CDR exhibits both anti-tumor activity and functions as a microtubule destabilizing molecule.  Here, the authors investigated whether its microtubule-destabilizing effect is responsible for its anti-tumor activity. The authors found that the peptide induces apoptotic effects on multiple cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo, inhibits tumor cell migration and invasion, and arrests cell cycle primarily in the G2M phase. These effects follow internalization of the C36L1 peptide which then selectively binds to microtubules and destabilizes the tubulin filaments. Microtubule polymerization and depolymerization dynamics were examined in living cells and under cell-free conditions. Cytoskeleton’s fluorescent tubulin polymerization assay kit (Cat. # BK011P) was an essential reagent in this study, complementing the in vivo results and in vitro cell culture data which demonstrated conclusively that the C36L1 peptide targets microtubules in exerting its anti-tumor effects. These findings contribute to the growing and intense field of research focused on developing peptide-based cancer vaccines.

                              Link to citation: 

                               C.R. Figueiredo et al. 2015. A novel microtubule de-stabilizing complementarity-determining region C36L1 peptide displays anti-tumor activity against melanoma in vitro and in vivo. Sci. Rep. 5, 14310.

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                              • Tubulin Polymerization Assay: 99% pure porcine tubulin, fluorescence based (Cat. # BK011P)

                               

                              GTPase news


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                              Cytoskeleton, Inc. was founded in 1993 and coincidentally that was the era when the Rho family of small G-proteins was determined to be major regulators of cytoskeletal dynamics. This finding was established in a very direct way by the seminal paper authored by Drs. Anne Ridley and Alan Hall who at that time worked at the Medical Research Council in London(1). Since then, Click to read more

                               

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                              Microtubules (MTs) are comprised of a/b tubulin heterodimers which have polymerized into cylinderical structures. MTs serve as an essential component of a cell’s cytoskeleton as they regulate and participate in a variety of cellular functions that include motility, morphology, intracellular transport, signal transduction, and cell division (Fig. 1). The cell cycle consists of the sequential G1, S, G2, and M phases with MT polymerization and depolymerization (i.e., MT dynamics) playing a key role in the normal progression of this cycle to insure proper cell division (Fig. 1). The disruption of MT dynamics, and thereby the cell cycle, leads to cell death. As such, MTs are a well-recognized and often-studied target for cancer drug discovery efforts1-4...

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                              To maintain homeostasis, cells need to respond to changes in the intracellular and extracellular milieu. Some of the changes have to be acted upon quickly to avoid detrimental effects that can lead to cell damage or even death. One way that cells act is through protein post-translational modifications (PTMs) which enable... Click to read more

                               

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                              Recent advances in organic chemical synthesis have facilitated the ultimate aim of producing small cell-permeable compounds which can efficiently label the actin cytoskeleton and track its dynamic properties... Click to read more

                               

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                              Successful execution of mitosis requires exquisite regulation and interplay of a myriad of proteins. Recently, the post-translational modification (PTM) of SUMOylation has emerged as an important functional regulator of mitotic proteins1. SUMO (Small Ubiquitin-like MOdifier) proteins are covalently ligated to ... Click to read more

                               

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                              The Ras GTPase plays an important role in multiple signal transduction pathways involved in normal cell growth and differentiation as well as several forms of cancer1,2. The three isoforms of Ras, H-Ras, N-Ras, and K-Ras, were identified over 30 years ago for their oncogenic activation in human tumors1,2.   Aberrant Ras signaling has been identified in... Click to read more

                               

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                              YAP1 and the Hippo Pathway

                              The Hippo signal transduction pathway plays a critical role in the regulation of organ size through the coordinated modulation of cell fate(1). The core pathway memebers include two sets of serine/threonine kinases (MST1/2 and LATS1.2) that act... Click to read more

                               

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                              RalA and RalB GTPases regulate cell motility, morphology, signaling, vesicular trafficking, and endo/exocytosis. The regulation of these functions is critical for the development and spread of cancer1-4, implicating Ral in oncogenesis and metastasis. Both isoforms are integral for Ras-mediated tumorigenesis, metastasis, and invasion... Click to read more

                               

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                              The Kinesin Spindle Protein (KSP; a.k.a. Eg5 or KIF11) is a plus end-directed Kinesin-5 (a.k.a. BimC) subfamily member and has been the focus of significant drug development efforts for decades.  Currently, KSP (or its homologs) is a target for anti-mitotics (cancer)1,2, anti-parasitics (malaria)3, and anti-fungals4. As a microtubule (MT) cross-linking enzyme, KSP plays a critical role in mitotic spindle pole separation, and its inhibition results in the formation of monoaster spindles which is thought to lead to mitotic catastrophe and apoptosis (Fig. 1). The targeting of KSP as a treatment for cancer is well-documented1,2,5,6. The purpose of this newsletter is to briefly discuss KSP homologs as a therapeutic target for parasitic and fungal diseases...

                              Read more about KSP/Eg5 Inhibition Here.

                               

                               

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                              The activity of Rho family GTPases is regulated temporally and spatially by a variety of direct post-translational modifications (PTMs) that include prenylation, ubiquitination, oxidation, nitrosylation, and phosphorylation (Fig. 1). This newsletter focuses on control of RhoA function through phosphorylation. RhoA is a target for a growing number of kinases and as such, phosphorylation is emerging as a central theme in the regulation of this family of proteins2... Click to read more

                               

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                              Nov and Dec news


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                              Ras and Rho family GTPases are cytoskeletal small G-proteins that critically regulate multiple actin-dependent cell processes, including development, growth, motility, and intracellular trafficking1,2. Moreover, dysfunction of Ras and Rho family GTPases are correlated with several human diseases (e.g., cancer, neurodegeneration) and these GTPases are... Click to read more

                               

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                              Oct news


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                              Protein citrullination (a.k.a. deimination) is a novel arginine-directed post-translational modification (PTM) that results in a permanent change in the targeted protein.  Peptidylarginine deiminases (PADs) mediate the calcium-dependent deimination of the guanidino group of... Click to read more

                               

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                              Since the discovery of the first kinesin spindle protein (KSP, also known as Eg5, KIF11) inhibitor, monastrol, in 1999 (1), there have been a plethora of articles, 3D structures, and FDA applications based on the same binding site (review [2]). The binding site is called the allosteric monastrol binding site (AMBS) which functionally plays a significant role in transducing chemical energy to movement of the neck-linker region. Drugs that bind this site are non-competitive...

                               

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                              Sept news


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                              Recent reports have highlighted a new phase of research for molecular motors. In contrast to five or more years ago, when macromolecular approaches were used1, recent research has focused on... Click to read more

                               

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                              SUMOylation targeting cytoskeletal proteins news


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                              Upon translation, proteins are trafficked to their proper subcellular location so that they can perform their physiological functions. One mechanism that mediates correct protein localizationand function is post-translational modifications (PTMs). PTMs include protease cleavage, protein folding, and the attachment of molecules such as... Click to read more

                               

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                              kras and sos news


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                              K-Ras has been identified as the most important Ras protein in cancer research, accounting for over 21% of human cancers. Despite extensive research on these proteins, no effective Ras inhibitor has been identified, earning K-Ras the reputation of an undruggable protein... Here we discuss several leading concepts in the pursuit of identifying viable drug targets to control atypical Ras signaling... Click to read more

                               

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                              The Kinesin Spindle Protein (KSP; also known as Eg5 or KIF11) is a Kinesin-5 subfamily member and has been the focus of a significant drug development effort throughout the pharmaceutical industry for the last 15 years. KSP plays a critical role in mitotic spindle pole separation, and its inhibition results in the formation of monoaster spindles which is thought to lead to mitotic catastrophe and apoptosis1. From a therapeutic standpoint...


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                              Rho GTPases and ROS


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                              Redox agents, such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS), are key regulators in a variety of signal transduction pathways, including integrin signaling, extracellular matrix adhesion, and inflammation1-3.  Rho GTPases are also key regulators of many cellular processes, including cell growth, motility, and adhesion4. While redox agents and Rho GTPases operate through a wide array of... Click to read more

                               

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                              Lysine Acetylation Newsletter


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                              The calcium-sensitive sarcomeric complex is the key mechanochemical transducing unit in muscle cells. It contains myosin, actin, tromomyosin, and three different troponins, one of which, troponin C, binds calcium and facilitates myosin binding to F-actin. The functional sarcomere is controlled by... Click to read more

                               

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                              Lysine Acetylation Newsletter


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                              Lysine acetylation is a post-translational modification (PTM) crucial for regulating the function and localization of many eukaryotic proteins.  This PTM is reversible, regulated by histone deacetylases (HDACs) and histone acetyltransferases (HATs).  The first evidence of... Click to read more

                               

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                              Integrin-mediated redox control of beta-actin: PDI's Emergence


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                              Cell migration is an integral part of several biological processes including angiogenesis, wound healing, and immune surveillance(1).  Integrins are αβ heterodimeric transmembrane receptors that link a cell's dynamic interaction with the extracellular matrix (ECM) to the cytoskeletal rearrangements that are necessary to promote cell motility (See figure 1)... Click to read more

                               

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                              As Cytoskeleton’s Custom Services Department continues to grow and expand its offerings, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight some past research projects that benefited from work performed by Cytoskeleton’s Custom Services scientists.  The three main foci of Cytoskeleton’s Custom Services are: 1) Compound Screening, 2) Assay Development, and 3) Gene Cloning and Recombinant/Native Protein Purification.  The citations discussed below demonstrate our effectiveness in all three types of custom services...

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                              Dynein and Neurodegenerative Diseases Newsletter


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                              Cytoplasmic dynein 1 (hereafter referred to as dynein) is a 1.6 MDa multi-protein complex that serves as the primary ATP-hydrolyzing motor responsible for retrograde axonal transport along microtubules (MTs) in eukaryotic cells (Fig. 1A).   Additionally, dynein is essential for many other cellular processes, including mitochondrial movement, endosomal and lysosomal trafficking, transporting mis-folded proteins bound for degradation, nuclear positioning, and mitosis1-3 (Fig. 2)... Click to read more

                               

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                              Dynein newsletter


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                              In eukaryote cells, cytoplasmic dynein complex (CDC) and kinesin-14 family members are the only two types of motors known to move cargo to the minus-end of microtubules (MTs)1. This function is critical for cell metabolism, structure, and movement. The majority of these processes utilize CDC because of its high fidelity and steady processive movement. CDC’s wide range of roles is impressive and the roles are further defined by ancillary proteins which select cargo or an intracellular location... Click to read more

                               

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                              KIF7 is a Kinesin-4 family member that has been shown to play an important role in embryonic development and may play a role in the development of basal cell carcinomas. KIF7 functions in Hedgehog (Hh) signaling through the negative and positive regulation of the GLI family of transcription factors (i.e., GLI1, GLI2, and GLI3)1.  While the mechanism of this regulation is still being elucidated, it appears that in the absence of an Hh ligand, KIF7 negatively regulates GLI transcription factor activity, and in the presence of Hh signaling it positively influences GLI dependent signaling; possibly through KIF7’s Hh-dependent translocation from the base of primary cilia to the tip1.  Mice lacking KIF7 exhibit a ...

                              Read more about KIF7 Kinesin Motor Assay Here.

                               

                              Neurodegeneration newsletter


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                              The small G-protein Rhes (Ras Homolog Enriched in Striatum) is a 266 amino acid protein found predominantly in striatum, and to a lesser extent, the cerebral cortex (Falk et al., 1999).  Recent research has revealed that this GTPase may be key to understanding the paradoxical finding that while many different types of cells throughout the brain and body express wild-type and mutant huntingtin protein (mHTT), striatal neurons (and to a degree, cortical neurons) have a selective vulnerability in Huntington's disease (HD) (Harrison, 2012; Harrison and LaHoste, 2013)... Click to read more

                               

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                              monoubiquitination and regulation newsletter


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                              Ubiquitination is a post-translational modification (PTM) that involves the covalent attachment of an 8 kDa ubiquitin (Ub) peptide to one or more lysines of a target protein. Modification of a target protein may occur as a single Ub on a single lysine (monoubiquitination), a single Ub on multiple lysines (multiubiquitination) or as ubiquitinated chains in which lysines on the initial protein-conjugated ubiquitin are extended through sequential rounds of ubiquitination (polyubiquitination). The fact that ubiquitin contains seven lysine residues and polyubiquitination has been demonstrated to occur through... Click to read more

                               

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                              • Monoubiquitination Related Publications

                               

                              • Related Research Tools

                               

                               

                              Ras and Rho Prenylation News


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                              Ras and Rho GTPases are small G-proteins that cycle between an active GTP-bound form and inactive GDP-bound form.  Ras proteins, known for their role in cell proliferation, and Rho proteins, known for their involvement in cell morphology, have common post-translational modifications (PTMs) that have been identified as contributors to oncogenesis1,2.  Understanding Ras and Rho PTMs have been of interest for drug discovery groups for many years.  Recent studies of signaling pathways mediated by the Ras and Rho PTMs prenylation and/or palmitoylation have identified potential cancer drug targets1,2... Click to read more

                               

                              Also included in this newsletter:

                               

                              • Ras and Rho Related Publications

                               

                              • Ras and Rho Protein Research Tools

                               

                               

                              Invasion by actin-driven membrane protrusions: Cortactin in focus


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                              Cortactin’s multiple signaling domains

                              The actin binding protein cortactin plays an important role in several cellular functions involving plasma membrane changes that are dependent on a dendritic (i.e., branched) actin network: cell motility employing lamellipodia, clathrin dependent and independent endocytosis, host-pathogen interactions, maintenance of endothelial barrier integrity, and invadopodia-mediated cell invasion1.  Cortactin is a monomeric ~80 kDa protein that derives its name from its intracellular colocalization with cortical actin at the periphery of the cell2.  The amino terminus of cortactin harbors a... Click to read more

                               

                              Also included in this newsletter:

                               

                              • Actin Related Publications

                               

                              • Actin Protein Research Tools

                               

                               

                              Actin Modifications and the Cytoskeleton


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                              Actin, a highly expressed and ubiquitous cytoskeletal protein, is a major substrate for at least 17 post-translational modifications (PTMs)1.  PTMs are highly dynamic and often reversible processes where a protein’s functional properties are altered by addition of a chemical group or another protein to its amino acid residues.  With roles in cell growth, motility, trafficking, and division, it is imperative to ... Click to read more

                               

                              Also included in this newsletter:

                               

                              • Actin Related Publications

                               

                              • Actin Protein Research Tools

                               

                              Life inside a microtubule pdf newsletter


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                              Microtubules (MTs) are dynamic cytoskeletal structures with multiple functions in cell growth, division, and morphological change. This review focuses on the MT lumen as a possible functional entity.  The internal environment of the MT has its own peculiar biophysical state and is largely thought to be excluded from cytoplasmic influence, except for the 2 nm2 lateral pores1 and two 200 nm2 entrances at its ends2,3. Its biophysical state is outside the scope of this article, but it has very interesting vitreous, electromagnetic resonance, and optical properties4.... Click to read more

                               

                              Also included in this newsletter:

                               

                              • Microtubule Related Publications

                               

                              • Microtubule Protein Research Tools

                               

                              Tau in NeurodegenerationThis month, the focus is on Tau PTMs as Therapeutic Targets. This newsletter features the following:    

                               

                              • The Many Faces of Tau in Neurodegeneration

                               

                              • Tau Related Publications

                               

                              • Tau Protein Research Tools

                               


                              Click to download our April Newsletter.

                               

                              Fibronectin matrix assemblyThis month, the focus is on Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis drug discovery. This newsletter features the following:    

                               

                              • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Drug Discovery using Fluorescent Fibronectin Proteins

                               

                              • ECM Related Publications

                               

                              • ECM Protein Research Tools

                               


                              Click to download our March Newsletter.