ABSTRACT: Many proteins possess intrinsic disorder (ID) and lack a rigid three-dimensional structure in at least part of their sequence. ID has been hypothesized to influence protein-protein and protein-ligand interactions. We calculated ID for nearly 400 vertebrate and invertebrate members of the biomedically important nuclear hormone receptor (NHR) superfamily, including all 48 known human NHRs. The predictions correctly identified regions in 20 of the 23 NHRs suggested as disordered based on published X-ray and NMR structures. Of the four major NHR domains (N-terminal domain, DNA-binding domain, D-domain, and ligand-binding domain), we found ID to be highest in the D-domain, a region of NHRs critical in DNA recognition and heterodimerization, coactivator/corepressor interactions and protein-protein interactions. ID in the D-domain and LBD was significantly higher in "hub" human NHRs that have 10 or more downstream proteins in their interaction networks compared to "non-hub" NHRs that interact with fewer than 10 downstream proteins. ID in the D-domain and LBD was also higher in classic, ligand-activated NHRs than in orphan, ligand-independent NHRs in human. The correlation between ID in human and mouse NHRs was high. Less correlation was found for ID between mammalian and non-mammalian vertebrate NHRs. For some invertebrate species, particularly sea squirts ( Ciona), marked differences were observed in ID between invertebrate NHRs and their vertebrate orthologs. Our results indicate that variability of ID within NHRs, particularly in the D-domain and LBD, is likely an important evolutionary force in shaping protein-protein interactions and NHR function. This information enables further understanding of these therapeutic targets.
Project description:Nuclear hormone receptors (NHRs) are transcription factors that regulate numerous physiological and developmental processes and represent important drug targets. NHR-49, an ortholog of Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 4 (HNF4), has emerged as a key regulator of lipid metabolism and life span in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. However, many aspects of NHR-49 function remain poorly understood, including whether and how it regulates individual sets of target genes and whether its activity is modulated by a ligand. A recent study identified three gain-of-function (gof) missense mutations in nhr-49 (nhr-49(et7), nhr-49(et8), and nhr-49(et13), respectively). These substitutions all affect the ligand-binding domain (LBD), which is critical for ligand binding and protein interactions. Thus, these alleles provide an opportunity to test how three specific residues contribute to NHR-49 dependent gene regulation. We used computational and molecular methods to delineate how these mutations alter NHR-49 activity. We find that despite originating from a screen favoring the activation of specific NHR-49 targets, all three gof alleles cause broad upregulation of NHR-49 regulated genes. Interestingly, nhr-49(et7) and nhr-49(et8) exclusively affect nhr-49 dependent activation, whereas the nhr-49(et13) surprisingly affects both nhr-49 mediated activation and repression, implicating the affected residue as dually important. We also observed phenotypic non-equivalence of these alleles, as they unexpectedly caused a long, short, and normal life span, respectively. Mechanistically, the gof substitutions altered neither protein interactions with the repressive partner NHR-66 and the coactivator MDT-15 nor the subcellular localization or expression of NHR-49. However, in silico structural modeling revealed that NHR-49 likely interacts with small molecule ligands and that the missense mutations might alter ligand binding, providing a possible explanation for increased NHR-49 activity. In sum, our findings indicate that the three nhr-49 gof alleles are non-equivalent, and highlight the conserved V411 residue affected by et13 as critical for gene activation and repression alike.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The nuclear receptors (NRs) are an important class of transcription factors that are conserved across animal phyla. Canonical NRs consist of a DNA-binding domain (DBD) and ligand-binding domain (LBD). While most animals have 20-40 NRs, nematodes of the genus Caenorhabditis have experienced a spectacular proliferation and divergence of NR genes. The LBDs of evolutionarily-conserved Caenorhabditis NRs have diverged sharply from their Drosophila and vertebrate orthologs, while the DBDs have been strongly conserved. The NR2E family of NRs play critical roles in development, especially in the nervous system. In this study, we explore the phylogenetics and function of the NR2E family of Caenorhabditis elegans, using an in vivo assay to test LBD function. RESULTS: Phylogenetic analysis reveals that the NR2E family of NRs consists of three broadly-conserved clades of orthologous NRs. In C. elegans, these clades are defined by nhr-67, fax-1 and nhr-239. The vertebrate orthologs of nhr-67 and fax-1 are Tlx and PNR, respectively. While the nhr-239 clade includes orthologs in insects (Hr83), an echinoderm, and a hemichordate, the gene appears to have been lost from vertebrate lineages. The C. elegans and C. briggsae nhr-239 genes have an apparently-truncated and highly-diverged LBD region. An additional C. elegans NR2E gene, nhr-111, appears to be a recently-evolved paralog of fax-1; it is present in C. elegans, but not C. briggsae or other animals with completely-sequenced genomes. Analysis of the relatively unstudied nhr-111 and nhr-239 genes demonstrates that they are both expressed--nhr-111 very broadly and nhr-239 in a small subset of neurons. Analysis of the FAX-1 LBD in an in vivo assay revealed that it is not required for at least some developmental functions. CONCLUSIONS: Our analysis supports three conserved clades of NR2E receptors, only two of which are represented in vertebrates, indicating three ancestral NR2E genes in the urbilateria. The lack of a requirement for a FAX-1 LBD suggests that the relatively high level of sequence divergence for Caenorhabditis LBDs reflects relaxed selection on the primary sequence as opposed to divergent positive selection. This observation is consistent with a model in which divergence of some Caenorhabditis LBDs is allowed, at least in part, by the absence of a ligand requirement.
Project description:Nuclear hormone receptors (NHRs) are ligand-gated transcription factors that control adaptive host responses following recognition of specific endogenous or exogenous ligands. Although NHRs have expanded dramatically in C. elegans compared to other metazoans, the biological function of only a few of these genes has been characterized in detail. Here, we demonstrate that an NHR can activate an anti-pathogen transcriptional program. Using genetic epistasis experiments, transcriptome profiling analyses and chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing, we show that, in the presence of an immunostimulatory small molecule, NHR-86 binds to the promoters of immune effectors to activate their transcription. NHR-86 is not required for resistance to the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa at baseline, but activation of NHR-86 by this compound drives a transcriptional program that provides protection against this pathogen. Interestingly, NHR-86 targets immune effectors whose basal regulation requires the canonical p38 MAPK PMK-1 immune pathway. However, NHR-86 functions independently of PMK-1 and modulates the transcription of these infection response genes directly. These findings characterize a new transcriptional regulator in C. elegans that can induce a protective host response towards a bacterial pathogen.
Project description:The genome of Caenorhabditis elegans encodes more than 280 nuclear hormone receptors (NHRs) in contrast to the 48 NHRs in humans and 18 NHRs in Drosophila. The majority of the C. elegans NHRs are categorized as supplementary nuclear receptors (supnrs) that evolved by successive duplications of a single ancestral gene. The evolutionary pressures that lead to the expansion of NHRs in nematodes, as well as the function of the majority of supnrs, are not known. Here, we have studied the expression of seven genes organized in a cluster on chromosome V: nhr-206, nhr-208, nhr-207, nhr-209, nhr-154, nhr-153 and nhr-136. Reverse transcription-quantitative PCR and analyses using transgenic lines carrying GFP fusion genes with their putative promoters revealed that all seven genes of this cluster are expressed and five have partially overlapping expression patterns including in the pharynx, intestine, certain neurons, the anal sphincter muscle, and male specific cells. Four genes in this cluster are conserved between C. elegans and Caenorhabditis briggsae whereas three genes are present only in C. elegans, the apparent result of a relatively recent expansion. Interestingly, we find that a subset of the conserved and non-conserved genes in this cluster respond transcriptionally to fasting in tissue-specific patterns. Our results reveal the diversification of the temporal, spatial, and metabolic gene expression patterns coupled with evolutionary drift within supnr family members.
Project description:Germline-encoded pattern recognition receptors (e.g. Toll-like receptors) play key roles in innate immune activation. However, some metazoans, such as C. elegans, do not have canonical mechanisms of pattern recognition, yet they are able to mount anti-pathogen immune defenses. Here, we demonstrate that a nuclear hormone receptor (NHR), a ligand-gated transcription factor, functions in immune activation and pathogen defense. NHRs have expanded dramatically in C. elegans compared to other metazoans. Because NHRs often function redundantly, it has been challenging experimentally to characterize the biology of individual NHRs. Here, we use genetic epistasis experiments, transcriptome profiling analyses and chromatin immunoprecipitation to show NHR-86 is sufficient to activate protective immune defenses against the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Interestingly, NHR-86 drives the transcription of immune effectors whose basal regulation requires the canonical p38 MAPK PMK-1 immune pathway. However, NHR-86 functions independently of PMK-1 and directly induces the transcription of infection response genes in a manner that confers protection from bacterial infection. Importantly, we found that nhr-86 does control immune gene expression and is necessary for host defense against a different pathogen, Enterococcus faecalis. Our findings characterize an ancient role of an NHR in innate immunity, and suggest that the expansion of the NHR protein family in C. elegans has been fueled in part by the need to activate immune defenses in response to pathogen attack. Overall design: DNA binding profile of NHR-86 in C. elegans animals treated with immunostimulator molecule R24 in NHR-86::GFP transgenic animals
Project description:Germline-encoded pattern recognition receptors (e.g. Toll-like receptors) play key roles in innate immune activation. However, some metazoans, such as C. elegans, do not have canonical mechanisms of pattern recognition, yet they are able to mount anti-pathogen immune defenses. Here, we demonstrate that a nuclear hormone receptor (NHR), a ligand-gated transcription factor, functions in immune activation and pathogen defense. NHRs have expanded dramatically in C. elegans compared to other metazoans. Because NHRs often function redundantly, it has been challenging experimentally to characterize the biology of individual NHRs. Here, we use genetic epistasis experiments, transcriptome profiling analyses and chromatin immunoprecipitation to show NHR-86 is sufficient to activate protective immune defenses against the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Interestingly, NHR-86 drives the transcription of immune effectors whose basal regulation requires the canonical p38 MAPK PMK-1 immune pathway. However, NHR-86 functions independently of PMK-1 and directly induces the transcription of infection response genes in a manner that confers protection from bacterial infection. Importantly, we found that nhr-86 does control immune gene expression and is necessary for host defense against a different pathogen, Enterococcus faecalis. Our findings characterize an ancient role of an NHR in innate immunity, and suggest that the expansion of the NHR protein family in C. elegans has been fueled in part by the need to activate immune defenses in response to pathogen attack. Overall design: Transcriptional profiles of C. elegans animals treated with immunostimulator molecule R24 in wild-type and nhr-86 loss of function animals
Project description:Small-molecule ligands of nuclear hormone receptors (NHRs) govern the transcriptional regulation of metazoan development, cell differentiation, and metabolism. However, the physiological ligands of many NHRs remain poorly characterized, primarily due to lack of robust analytical techniques. Using comparative metabolomics, we identified endogenous steroids that act as ligands of the C. elegans NHR, DAF-12, a vitamin D and liver X receptor homolog regulating larval development, fat metabolism, and lifespan. The identified molecules feature unexpected chemical modifications and include only one of two DAF-12 ligands reported earlier, necessitating a revision of previously proposed ligand biosynthetic pathways. We further show that ligand profiles are regulated by a complex enzymatic network, including the Rieske oxygenase DAF-36, the short-chain dehydrogenase DHS-16, and the hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase HSD-1. Our results demonstrate the advantages of comparative metabolomics over traditional candidate-based approaches and provide a blueprint for the identification of ligands for other C. elegans and mammalian NHRs.
Project description:The molecular recognition of the ROR? nuclear hormone receptor (NHR) ligand-binding domain (LBD) has been extensively studied with numerous X-ray crystal structures. However, the picture afforded by these complexes is static and does not fully explain the functional behavior of the LBD. In particular, the apo structure of the LBD seems to be in a fully active state, with no obvious differences to the agonist-bound structure. Further, several atypical in vivo inverse agonists have surprisingly been found to co-crystallize with the LBD in agonist mode (with co-activator), leading to a disconnection between molecular recognition and functional activity. Moreover, the experimental structures give no clues on how ROR? LBD binders access the interior of the LBD. To address all these points, we probe here, with a variety of simulation techniques, the fine structural balance of the ROR? LBD in its apo vs. holo form, the differences in flexibility and stability of the LBD in complex with agonists vs. inverse agonists and how binders diffuse in and out of the LBD in unbiased simulations. Our data conclusively point to the stability afforded by the so-called "agonist lock" between H479 and Y502 and the precise location of Helix 12 (H12) for the competence of the LBD to bind co-activator proteins. We observe the "water trapping" mechanism suggested previously for the atypical inverse agonists and discover a different behavior for the latter when co-activator is present or absent, which might help explain their conflicting data. Additionally, we unveil the same entry/exit path for agonists and inverse agonist into and out of the LBD for ROR?, suggesting it belongs to the type III NHR sub-family.
Project description:Gene regulatory networks (GRNs) provide insights into the mechanisms of differential gene expression at a systems level. GRNs that relate to metazoan development have been studied extensively. However, little is still known about the design principles, organization and functionality of GRNs that control physiological processes such as metabolism, homeostasis and responses to environmental cues. In this study, we report the first experimentally mapped metazoan GRN of Caenorhabditis elegans metabolic genes. This network is enriched for nuclear hormone receptors (NHRs). The NHR family has greatly expanded in nematodes: humans have 48 NHRs, but C. elegans has 284, most of which are uncharacterized. We find that the C. elegans metabolic GRN is highly modular and that two GRN modules predominantly consist of NHRs. Network modularity has been proposed to facilitate a rapid response to different cues. As NHRs are metabolic sensors that are poised to respond to ligands, this suggests that C. elegans GRNs evolved to enable rapid and adaptive responses to different cues by a concurrence of NHR family expansion and modular GRN wiring.
Project description:Much of the early work on Nuclear Hormone Receptors (NHRs) focused on their essential roles as mediators of sex steroid hormone signaling in reproductive development and function, and thyroid hormone-dependent formation of the central nervous system. However, as NHRs display tissue-specific distributions and activities, it is not surprising that they are involved and vital in numerous aspects of human development and essential for homeostasis of all organ systems. Much attention has recently been focused on the role of NHRs in energy balance, metabolism, and lipid homeostasis. Dysregulation of NHR function has been implicated in numerous pathologies including cancers, metabolic obesity and syndrome, Type II diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, hyperlipidemia, male and female infertility and other reproductive disorders. This review will discuss the dysregulation of NHR function by environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), and the associated pathological consequences of exposure in numerous tissues and organ systems, as revealed by experimental, clinical, and epidemiological studies.