Characterization and expression of a heart-selective alternatively spliced variant of alpha II-spectrin, cardi+, during development in the rat.
ABSTRACT: Spectrin is a large, flexible protein that stabilizes membranes and organizes proteins and lipids into microdomains in intracellular organelles and at the plasma membrane. Alternative splicing occurs in spectrins, but it is not yet clear if these small variations in structure alter spectrin's functions. Three alternative splice sites have been identified previously for alpha II-spectrin. Here we describe a new alternative splice site, a 21-amino acid sequence in the 21st spectrin repeat that is only expressed in significant amounts in cardiac muscle (GenBank GQ502182). The insert, which we term alpha II-cardi+, results in an insertion within the high affinity nucleation site for binding of alpha-spectrins to beta-spectrins. To assess the developmental regulation of the alpha II-cardi+ isoform, we used qRT-PCR and quantitative immunoblotting methods to measure the levels of this form and the alpha II-cardi- form in the cardiac muscles of rats, from embryonic day 16 (E16) through adulthood. The alpha II-cardi+ isoform constituted approximately 26% of the total alpha II-spectrin in E16 hearts but decreased to approximately 6% of the total after 3 weeks of age. We used long-range RT-PCR and Southern blot hybridization to examine possible linkage of the alpha II-cardi+ alternatively spliced sequence with alternatively spliced sequences of alpha II-spectrin that had been previously reported. We identified two new isoforms of alpha II-spectrin containing the cardi+ insert. These were named alpha II Sigma 9 and alpha II Sigma 10 in accordance with the spectrin naming conventions. In vitro studies of recombinant alpha II-spectrin polypeptides representing the two splice variants of alpha II-spectrin, alpha II-cardi+ and alpha II-cardi-, revealed that the alpha II-cardi+ subunit has lower affinity for the complementary site in repeats 1-4 of betaII-spectrin, with a K(D) value of approximately 1 nM, as measured by surface plasmon resonance (SPR). In addition, the alpha II-cardi+ form showed 1.8-fold lower levels of binding to its site on beta II-spectrin than the alpha II-cardi- form, both by SPR and blot overlay. This suggests that the 21-amino acid insert prevented some of the alpha II-cardi+ form from interacting with beta II-spectrin. Fusion proteins expressing the alpha II-cardi+ sequence within the two terminal spectrin repeats of alpha II-spectrin were insoluble in solution and aggregated in neonatal myocytes, consistent with the possibility that this insert removes a significant portion of the protein from the population that can bind beta subunits. Neonatal rat cardiomyocytes infected with adenovirus encoding GFP-fusion proteins of repeats 18-21 of alpha II-spectrin with the cardi+ insert formed many new processes. These processes were only rarely seen in myocytes expressing the fusion protein lacking the insert or in controls expressing only GFP. Our results suggest that the embryonic mammalian heart expresses a significant amount of alpha II-spectrin with a reduced avidity for beta-spectrin and the ability to promote myocyte growth.
Project description:The Caenorhabditis elegans genome encodes one alpha spectrin subunit, a beta spectrin subunit (beta-G), and a beta-H spectrin subunit. Our experiments show that the phenotype resulting from the loss of the C. elegans alpha spectrin is reproduced by tandem depletion of both beta-G and beta-H spectrins. We propose that alpha spectrin combines with the beta-G and beta-H subunits to form alpha/beta-G and alpha/beta-H heteromers that perform the entire repertoire of spectrin function in the nematode. The expression patterns of nematode beta-G spectrin and vertebrate beta spectrins exhibit three striking parallels including: (1) beta spectrins are associated with the sites of cell-cell contact in epithelial tissues; (2) the highest levels of beta-G spectrin occur in the nervous system; and (3) beta spectrin-G in striated muscle is associated with points of attachment of the myofilament apparatus to adjacent cells. Nematode beta-G spectrin associates with plasma membranes at sites of cell-cell contact, beginning at the two-cell stage, and with a dramatic increase in intensity after gastrulation when most cell proliferation has been completed. Strikingly, depletion of nematode beta-G spectrin by RNA-mediated interference to undetectable levels does not affect the establishment of structural and functional polarity in epidermis and intestine. Contrary to recent speculation, beta-G spectrin is not associated with internal membranes and depletion of beta-G spectrin was not associated with any detectable defects in secretion. Instead beta-G spectrin-deficient nematodes arrest as early larvae with progressive defects in the musculature and nervous system. Therefore, C. elegans beta-G spectrin is required for normal muscle and neuron function, but is dispensable for embryonic elongation and establishment of early epithelial polarity. We hypothesize that heteromeric spectrin evolved in metazoans in response to the needs of cells in the context of mechanically integrated tissues that can withstand the rigors imposed by an active organism.
Project description:The Spectrin cytoskeleton is known to be polarised in epithelial cells, yet its role remains poorly understood. Here, we show that the Spectrin cytoskeleton controls Hippo signalling. In the developing Drosophila wing and eye, loss of apical Spectrins (alpha/beta-heavy dimers) produces tissue overgrowth and mis-regulation of Hippo target genes, similar to loss of Crumbs (Crb) or the FERM-domain protein Expanded (Ex). Apical beta-heavy Spectrin binds to Ex and co-localises with it at the apical membrane to antagonise Yki activity. Interestingly, in both the ovarian follicular epithelium and intestinal epithelium of Drosophila, apical Spectrins and Crb are dispensable for repression of Yki, while basolateral Spectrins (alpha/beta dimers) are essential. Finally, the Spectrin cytoskeleton is required to regulate the localisation of the Hippo pathway effector YAP in response to cell density human epithelial cells. Our findings identify both apical and basolateral Spectrins as regulators of Hippo signalling and suggest Spectrins as potential mechanosensors.
Project description:Spectrins are a major component of the membrane skeleton in many cell types where they are thought to contribute to cell form and membrane organization. Diversity among spectrin isoforms, especially their beta subunits, is associated with diversity in cell shape and membrane architecture. Here we describe a spectrin isoform from Drosophila that consists of a conventional alpha spectrin subunit complexed with a novel high molecular weight beta subunit (430 kD) that we term beta H. The native alpha beta H molecule binds actin filaments with high affinity and has a typical spectrin morphology except that it is longer than most other spectrin isoforms and includes two knoblike structures that are attributed to a unique domain of the beta H subunit. Beta H is encoded by a different gene than the previously described Drosophila beta-spectrin subunit but shows sequence similarity to beta-spectrin as well as vertebrate dystrophin, a component of the membrane skeleton in muscle. By size and sequence similarity, dystrophin is more similar to this newly described beta-spectrin isoform (beta H) than to other members of the spectrin gene family such as alpha-spectrin and alpha-actinin.
Project description:Spectrins are plasma membrane-associated cytoskeletal proteins implicated in several aspects of synaptic development and function, including presynaptic vesicle tethering and postsynaptic receptor aggregation. To test these hypotheses, we characterized Drosophila mutants lacking either alpha- or beta-spectrin. The Drosophila genome contains only one alpha-spectrin and one conventional beta-spectrin gene, making it an ideal system to genetically manipulate spectrin levels and examine the resulting synaptic alterations. Both spectrin proteins are strongly expressed in the Drosophila neuromusculature and highly enriched at the glutamatergic neuromuscular junction. Protein null alpha- and beta-spectrin mutants are embryonic lethal and display severely disrupted neurotransmission without altered morphological synaptogenesis. Contrary to current models, the absence of spectrins does not alter postsynaptic glutamate receptor field function or the ultrastructural localization of presynaptic vesicles. However, the subcellular localization of numerous synaptic proteins is disrupted, suggesting that the defects in presynaptic neurotransmitter release may be attributable to inappropriate assembly, transport, or localization of proteins required for synaptic function.
Project description:Spectrins, components of the membrane skeleton, are implicated in various cellular functions. Understanding the diversity of these functions requires better characterization of the interacting domains of spectrins, such as the SH3 domain. Yeast two-hybrid screening of a kidney cDNA library revealed that the SH3 domain of alpha II-spectrin binds specifically isoform A of low-molecular-weight phosphotyrosine phosphatase (LMW-PTP). The alpha II-spectrin SH3 domain does not interact with LMW-PTP B or C nor does LMW-PTP A interact with the alpha I-spectrin SH3 domain. The interaction of spectrin with LMW-PTP A led us to look for a tyrosine-phosphorylated residue in alpha II-spectrin. Western blotting showed that alpha II-spectrin is tyrosine phosphorylated in vivo. Using mutagenesis on recombinant peptides, we identified the residue Y1176 located in the calpain cleavage site of alpha II-spectrin, near the SH3 domain, as an in vitro substrate for Src kinase and LMW-PTP A. This Y1176 residue is also an in vivo target for kinases and phosphatases in COS cells. Phosphorylation of this residue decreases spectrin sensitivity to calpain in vitro. Similarly, the presence of phosphatase inhibitors in cell culture is associated with the absence of spectrin cleavage products. This suggests that the Y1176 phosphorylation state could modulate spectrin cleavage by calpain and may play an important role during membrane skeleton remodeling.
Project description:The alpha and beta chains of spectrin are homologous, yet they have acquired different structural features that work in synergy to give the multimer its overall properties. The primary amino acid sequence of each spectrin subunit is dominated by tandemly repeated 106-residue motifs. By comparing the complete Drosophila beta-spectrin sequence with other spectrins we have discovered evidence that a higher-order, 848-amino acid supra-motif is tandemly repeated in both alpha- and beta-spectrin. These data argue that alpha- and beta-spectrin, rather than evolving independently from sequences encoding the ancestral 106-residue motifs, must have arisen after the establishment of a large supra-motif composed of eight of the 106-residue motifs. Our data suggest the segment structure of a progenitor gene that gave rise to both alpha- and beta-spectrin as well as dystrophin. The structural differences that evolved after the split between the alpha- and beta-spectrin genes confer the independent functions that exist in their products today.
Project description:Mechanosensing of fibroblasts plays a key role in the development of fibrosis. So far, no effective treatments are available to treat this devastating disorder. Spectrins regulate cell morphology and are potential mechanosensors in a variety of non-erythroid cells, but little is known about the role of spectrins in fibroblasts. We investigate whether ?II- and ?II-spectrin are required for the phenotypic properties of adult human dermal (myo)fibroblasts. Knockdown of ?II- or ?II-spectrin in fibroblasts did not affect cell adhesion, cell size and YAP nuclear/cytosolic localization. We further investigated whether ?II- and ?II-spectrin play a role in the phenotypical switch from fibroblasts to myofibroblasts under the influence of the pro-fibrotic cytokine TGF?1. Knockdown of spectrins did not affect myofibroblast formation, nor did we observe changes in the organization of ?SMA stress fibers. Focal adhesion assembly was unaffected by spectrin deficiency, as was collagen type I mRNA expression and protein deposition. Wound closure was unaffected as well, showing that important functional properties of myofibroblasts are unchanged without ?II- or ?II-spectrin. In fact, fibroblasts stimulated with TGF?1 demonstrated significantly lower endogenous mRNA levels of ?II- and ?II-spectrin. Taken together, despite the diverse roles of spectrins in a variety of other cells, ?II- and ?II-spectrin do not regulate cell adhesion, cell size and YAP localization in human dermal fibroblasts and are not required for the dermal myofibroblast phenotypical switch.
Project description:The different genes that encode mammalian spectrins give rise to proteins differing in their apparent stiffness. To explore this, we have compared the thermal stabilities of the structural repeats of brain spectrin subunits (alphaII and betaII) with those of erythrocyte spectrin (alphaI and betaI). The unfolding transition midpoints (T(m)) of the 36 alphaII- and betaII-spectrin repeats extend between 24 and 82 degrees C, with an average higher by some 10 degrees C than that of the alphaI- and betaI-spectrin repeats. This difference is reflected in the T(m) values of the intact brain and erythrocyte spectrins. Two of three tandem-repeat constructs from brain spectrin exhibited strong cooperative coupling, with elevation of the T(m) of the less stable partner corresponding to coupling free energies of approximately -4.4 and -3.5 kcal/mol. The third tandem-repeat construct, by contrast, exhibited negligible cooperativity. Tandem-repeat mutants, in which a part of the "linker" helix that connects the two domains was replaced with a corresponding helical segment from erythroid spectrin, showed only minor perturbation of the thermal melting profiles, without breakdown of cooperativity. Thus, the linker regions, which tolerate few point mutations without loss of cooperative function, have evidently evolved to permit conformational coupling in specified regions. The greater structural stability of the repeats in alphaII- and betaII-spectrin may account, at least in part, for the higher rigidity of brain compared to erythrocyte spectrin.
Project description:The dominant paradigm for spectrin function is that (??)2-spectrin tetramers or higher order oligomers form membrane-associated two-dimensional networks in association with F-actin to reinforce the plasma membrane. Tetramerization is an essential event in such structures. We characterize the tetramerization interaction between ?-spectrin and ?-spectrins in Drosophila. Wild-type ?-spectrin binds to both ?- and ?H-chains with high affinity, resembling other non-erythroid spectrins. However, ?-spec(R22S), a tetramerization site mutant homologous to the pathological ?-spec(R28S) allele in humans, eliminates detectable binding to ?-spectrin and reduces binding to ?H-spectrin ?1000-fold. Even though spectrins are essential proteins, ?-spectrin(R22S) rescues ?-spectrin mutants to adulthood with only minor phenotypes indicating that tetramerization, and thus conventional network formation, is not the essential function of non-erythroid spectrin. Our data provide the first rigorous test for the general requirement for tetramer-based non-erythroid spectrin networks throughout an organism and find that they have very limited roles, in direct contrast to the current paradigm.
Project description:Spectrins are multi-domain, elastic proteins that provide elasticity to the plasma membrane of erythrocytes and select nucleated cells. Spectrins have also been found in the nucleus of non-erythrocytes, but their function remains to be uncovered. It has been hypothesized that a spring-like spectrin network exists within the lamina nucleoskeleton, however, experiments testing a spectrin network?s mechanical impact on the nucleus are lacking. Here, we knock-down levels of nuclear ?II-spectrin with the goal of disrupting this nucleoskeletal spectrin network. We mechanically test live cells with intranuclear particle tracking and compression assays to probe changes in nuclear mechanics with decreases in ?II-spectrin. We show no changes in chromatin mechanics or in the stiffness of nuclei under compression. However, we do observe a reduction in the ability of nuclei with decreased ?II-spectrin to recover after compression. These results establish spectrin as a nucleoskeletal component that specifically contributes to elastic recovery after compression.