Structures of an ActRIIB:activin A complex reveal a novel binding mode for TGF-beta ligand:receptor interactions.
ABSTRACT: The TGF-beta superfamily of ligands and receptors stimulate cellular events in diverse processes ranging from cell fate specification in development to immune suppression. Activins define a major subgroup of TGF-beta ligands that regulate cellular differentiation, proliferation, activation and apoptosis. Activins signal through complexes formed with type I and type II serine/threonine kinase receptors. We have solved the crystal structure of activin A bound to the extracellular domain of a type II receptor, ActRIIB, revealing the details of this interaction. ActRIIB binds to the outer edges of the activin finger regions, with the two receptors juxtaposed in close proximity, in a mode that differs from TGF-beta3 binding to type II receptors. The dimeric activin A structure differs from other known TGF-beta ligand structures, adopting a compact folded-back conformation. The crystal structure of the complex is consistent with recruitment of two type I receptors into a close packed arrangement at the cell surface and suggests that diversity in the conformational arrangements of TGF-beta ligand dimers could influence cellular signaling processes.
Project description:TGF? family ligands, which include the TGF?s, BMPs, and activins, signal by forming a ternary complex with type I and type II receptors. For TGF?s and BMPs, structures of ternary complexes have revealed differences in receptor assembly. However, structural information for how activins assemble a ternary receptor complex is lacking. We report the structure of an activin class member, GDF11, in complex with the type II receptor ActRIIB and the type I receptor Alk5. The structure reveals that receptor positioning is similar to the BMP class, with no interreceptor contacts; however, the type I receptor interactions are shifted toward the ligand fingertips and away from the dimer interface. Mutational analysis shows that ligand type I specificity is derived from differences in the fingertips of the ligands that interact with an extended loop specific to Alk4 and Alk5. The study also reveals differences for how TGF? and GDF11 bind to the same type I receptor, Alk5. For GDF11, additional contacts at the fingertip region substitute for the interreceptor interactions that are seen for TGF?, indicating that Alk5 binding to GDF11 is more dependent on direct contacts. In support, we show that a single residue of Alk5 (Phe84), when mutated, abolishes GDF11 signaling, but has little impact on TGF? signaling. The structure of GDF11/ActRIIB/Alk5 shows that, across the TGF? family, different mechanisms regulate type I receptor binding and specificity, providing a molecular explanation for how the activin class accommodates low-affinity type I interactions without the requirement of cooperative receptor interactions.
Project description:Activin receptor type IIB (ActRIIB), a type II TGF-beta serine/threonine kinase receptor, is integral to the activin and myostatin signaling pathway. Ligands such as activin and myostatin bind to activin type II receptors (ActRIIA, ActRIIB), and the GS domains of type I receptors are phosphorylated by type II receptors. Myostatin, a negative regulator of skeletal muscle growth, is regarded as a potential therapeutic target and binds to ActRIIB effectively, and to a lesser extent, to ActRIIA. The high-resolution structure of human ActRIIB kinase domain in complex with adenine establishes the conserved bilobal architecture consistent with all other catalytic kinase domains. The crystal structure reveals that the adenine has a considerably different orientation from that of the adenine moiety of ATP observed in other kinase structures due to the lack of an interaction by ribose-phosphate moiety and the presence of tautomers with two different protonation states at the N9 nitrogen. Although the Lys217-Glu230 salt bridge is absent, the unphosphorylated activation loop of ActRIIB adopts a conformation similar to that of the fully active form. Unlike the type I TGF-beta receptor, where a partially conserved Ser280 is a gatekeeper residue, the AcRIIB structure possesses Thr265 with a back pocket supported by Phe247. Taken together, these structural features provide a molecular basis for understanding the coupled activity and recognition specificity for human ActRIIB kinase domain and for the rational design of selective inhibitors.
Project description:This work provides evidence that the robust myoblast differentiation observed in L6E9 cells is causally linked to deficiency of myostatin, which, conversely, has been found to be expressed in C2C12 cells. However, despite the absence of endogenous myostatin, L6E9 myoblasts expressed functional Activin receptors type II (ActRIIs) and follistatin as well as the highly related TGF-beta members Activins and GDF11, suggesting that in this cell line the regulation of fiber size might be under the control of multiple regulators regardless of myostatin. In line with this hypothesis, delivery of a dominant-negative ActRIIb form or the increase of follistatin, as obtained via Trichostatin treatment or stable transfection of a short human follistatin form, enhanced the L6E9 cell differentiation and further increased the size of myotubes, suggesting that L6E9 myoblasts provide a spontaneous myostatin knock-out in vitro model to study TGF-beta ligands involved in developmental regulation of fiber size.
Project description:After the initial discovery of activins as important regulators of reproduction, novel and diverse roles have been unraveled for them. Activins are expressed in various tissues and have a broad range of activities including the regulation of gonadal function, hormonal homeostasis, growth and differentiation of musculoskeletal tissues, regulation of growth and metastasis of cancer cells, proliferation and differentiation of embryonic stem cells, and even higher brain functions. Activins signal through a combination of type I and II transmembrane serine/threonine kinase receptors. Activin receptors are shared by multiple transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) ligands such as myostatin, growth and differentiation factor-11 and nodal. Thus, although the activity of each ligand is distinct, they are also redundant, both physiologically and pathologically in vivo. Activin receptors activated by ligands phosphorylate the receptor-regulated Smads for TGF-beta, Smad2 and 3. The Smad proteins then undergo multimerization with the co-mediator Smad4, and translocate into the nucleus to regulate the transcription of target genes in cooperation with nuclear cofactors. Signaling through receptors and Smads is controlled by multiple mechanisms including phosphorylation and other posttranslational modifications such as sumoylation, which affect potein localization, stability and transcriptional activity. Non-Smad signaling also plays an important role in activin signaling. Extracellularly, follistatin and related proteins bind to activins and related TGF-beta ligands, and control the signaling and availability of ligands.The functions of activins through activin receptors are pleiotrophic, cell type-specific and contextual, and they are involved in the etiology and pathogenesis of a variety of diseases. Accordingly, activin signaling may be a target for therapeutic interventions. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on activin signaling and discuss the potential roles of this pathway as a molecular target of therapy for metabolic diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, cancers and neural damages.
Project description:The TGF-? family ligands myostatin, GDF11, and activins are negative regulators of skeletal muscle mass, which have been reported to primarily signal via the ActRIIB receptor on skeletal muscle and thereby induce muscle wasting described as cachexia. Use of a soluble ActRIIB-Fc "trap," to block myostatin pathway signaling in normal or cachectic mice leads to hypertrophy or prevention of muscle loss, perhaps suggesting that the ActRIIB receptor is primarily responsible for muscle growth regulation. Genetic evidence demonstrates however that both ActRIIB- and ActRIIA-deficient mice display a hypertrophic phenotype. Here, we describe the mode of action of bimagrumab (BYM338), as a human dual-specific anti-ActRIIA/ActRIIB antibody, at the molecular and cellular levels. As shown by X-ray analysis, bimagrumab binds to both ActRIIA and ActRIIB ligand binding domains in a competitive manner at the critical myostatin/activin binding site, hence preventing signal transduction through either ActRII. Myostatin and the activins are capable of binding to both ActRIIA and ActRIIB, with different affinities. However, blockade of either single receptor through the use of specific anti-ActRIIA or anti-ActRIIB antibodies achieves only a partial signaling blockade upon myostatin or activin A stimulation, and this leads to only a small increase in muscle mass. Complete neutralization and maximal anabolic response are achieved only by simultaneous blockade of both receptors. These findings demonstrate the importance of ActRIIA in addition to ActRIIB in mediating myostatin and activin signaling and highlight the need for blocking both receptors to achieve a strong functional benefit.
Project description:Fractures still present a significant burden to patients due to pain and periods of unproductivity. Numerous growth factors have been identified to regulate bone remodeling. However, to date, only the bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are used to enhance fracture healing in clinical settings. Activins are pleiotropic growth factors belonging to the TGF-? superfamily. We and others have recently shown that treatment with recombinant fusion proteins of activin receptors greatly increases bone mass in different animal models by trapping activins and other ligands thus inhibiting their signaling pathways. However, their effects on fracture healing are less known. Twelve-week old male C57Bl mice were subjected to a standardized, closed tibial fracture model. Animals were divided into control and treatment groups and were administered either PBS control or a soluble activin type IIB receptor (ActRIIB-Fc) intraperitoneally once a week for a duration of two or four weeks. There were no significant differences between the groups at two weeks but we observed a significant increase in callus mineralization in ActRIIB-Fc-treated animals by microcomputed tomography imaging at four weeks. Bone volume per tissue volume was 60%, trabecular number 55% and bone mineral density 60% higher in the 4-week calluses of the ActRIIB-Fc-treated mice (p<0.05 in all). Biomechanical strength of 4-week calluses was also significantly improved by ActRIIB-Fc treatment as stiffness increased by 64% and maximum force by 45% (p<0.05) compared to the PBS-injected controls. These results demonstrate that ActRIIB-Fc treatment significantly improves healing of closed long bone fractures. Our findings support the previous reports of activin receptors increasing bone mass but also demonstrate a novel approach for using ActRIIB-Fc to enhance fracture healing.
Project description:Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) family ligands are pleiotropic cytokines. Their physiological activities are not determined by a simple coupling of stimulus and response, but depend critically on context, i.e. the interplay of receptors, ligands, and regulators that form the TGF-β signal transduction system of a cell or tissue. How these different components combine to regulate signaling activities remains poorly understood. Here, we describe a ligand-mediated mechanism of signaling regulation. Based on the observation that the type II TGF-β family receptors ActRIIA, ActRIIB, and BMPRII interact with a large group of overlapping ligands at overlapping epitopes, we hypothesized high affinity ligands compete with low affinity ligands for receptor binding and signaling. We show activin A and other high affinity ligands directly inhibited signaling by the low affinity ligands BMP-2, BMP-7, and BMP-9. We demonstrate activin A functions as a competitive inhibitor that blocks the ligand binding epitope on type II receptors. We propose binding competition and signaling antagonism are integral functions of the TGF-β signal transduction system. These functions could help explain how activin A modulates physiological signaling during extraordinary cellular responses, such as injury and wound healing, and how activin A could elicit disease phenotypes such as cancer-related muscle wasting and fibrosis.
Project description:ActRIIB (activin receptor type-2B) is an activin receptor subtype constitutively expressed in the whole body, playing a role in cellular proliferation, differentiation, and metabolism. For its various physiological activities, ActRIIB interacts with activin and multiple other ligands including myostatin (MSTN), growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11), and bone morphogenetic protein 9 (BMP9). Notably, the protein-protein interaction (PPI) between ActRIIB and MSTN negatively controls muscular development. Therefore, this PPI has been targeted for effective treatment of muscle degenerative diseases such as muscular dystrophy and sarcopenia. Here, we report the identification of ligand-selective peptidic ActRIIB-antagonists by phage display technology. Our peptides bound to the extracellular domain of ActRIIB, inhibited PPIs between ActRIIB expressed on the cell surface and its ligands, and subsequently suppressed activation of Smad that serves as the downstream signal of the ActRIIB pathway. Interestingly, these peptidic antagonists displayed different ligand selectivities; the AR2mini peptide inhibited multiple ligands (activin A, MSTN, GDF11, and BMP9), AR9 inhibited MSTN and GDF11, while AR8 selectively inhibited MSTN. This is the first report of artificial peptidic ActRIIB-antagonists possessing ligand-selectivity.
Project description:Activins transduce the TGF-? pathway through a heteromeric signaling complex consisting of type I and type II receptors, and activins also inhibit bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling mediated by type I receptor ALK2. Recent studies indicated that activin A cross-activates the BMP pathway through ALK2R206H, a mutation associated with Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP). How activin A inhibits ALK2WT-mediated BMP signaling but activates ALK2R206H-mediated BMP signaling is not well understood, and here we offer some insights into its molecular mechanism. We first demonstrated that among four BMP type I receptors, ALK2 is the only subtype able to mediate the activin A-induced BMP signaling upon the dissociation of FKBP12. We further showed that BMP4 does not cross-signal TGF-? pathway upon FKBP12 inhibition. In addition, although the roles of type II receptors in the ligand-independent BMP signaling activated by FOP-associated mutant ALK2 have been reported, their roles in activin A-induced BMP signaling remains unclear. We demonstrated in this study that the known type II BMP receptors contribute to activin A-induced BMP signaling through their kinase activity. Together, the current study provided important mechanistic insights at the molecular level into further understanding physiological and pathophysiological BMP signaling.
Project description:Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), characterized by the formation of numerous kidney cysts, is caused by PKD1 or PKD2 mutations and affects 0.1% of the population. Although recent clinical studies indicate that reduction of cAMP levels slows progression of PKD, this finding has not led to an established safe and effective therapy for patients, indicating the need to find new therapeutic targets. The role of TGF-β in PKD is not clearly understood, but nuclear accumulation of phosphorylated SMAD2/3 in cyst-lining cells suggests the involvement of TGF-β signaling in this disease. In this study, we ablated the TGF-β type 1 receptor (also termed activin receptor-like kinase 5) in renal epithelial cells of PKD mice, which had little to no effect on the expression of SMAD2/3 target genes or the progression of PKD. Therefore, we investigated whether alternative TGF-β superfamily ligands account for SMAD2/3 activation in cystic epithelial cells. Activins are members of the TGF-β superfamily and drive SMAD2/3 phosphorylation via activin receptors, but activins have not been studied in the context of PKD. Mice with PKD had increased expression of activin ligands, even at early stages of disease. In addition, treatment with a soluble activin receptor IIB fusion (sActRIIB-Fc) protein, which acts as a soluble trap to sequester activin ligands, effectively inhibited cyst formation in three distinct mouse models of PKD. These data point to activin signaling as a key pathway in PKD and a promising target for therapy.