Identification and validation of modulators of exchange protein activated by cAMP (Epac) activity: structure-function implications for Epac activation and inhibition.
ABSTRACT: The signaling molecule cAMP primarily mediates its effects by activating PKA and/or exchange protein activated by cAMP (Epac). Epac has been implicated in many responses in cells, but its precise roles have been difficult to define in the absence of Epac inhibitors. Epac, a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for the low molecular weight G protein Rap, is directly activated by cAMP. Using a bioluminescence resonance energy transfer-based assay (CAMYEL) to examine modulators of Epac activity, we took advantage of its intramolecular movement that occurs upon cAMP binding to assess Epac activation. We found that the use of CAMYEL can detect the binding of cAMP analogs to Epac and their modulation of its activity and can distinguish between agonists (cAMP), partial agonists (8-chlorophenylthio-cAMP), and super agonists (8-chlorophenylthio-2'-O-Me-cAMP). The CAMYEL assay can also identify competitive and uncompetitive Epac inhibitors, e.g. (Rp)-cAMPS and CE3F4, respectively. To confirm the results with the CAMYEL assay, we used Swiss 3T3 cells and assessed the ability of cyclic nucleotide analogs to modulate the activity of Epac or PKA, determined by Rap1 activity or VASP phosphorylation, respectively. We used computational molecular modeling to analyze the interaction of analogs with Epac1. The results reveal a rapid means to identify modulators (potentially including allosteric inhibitors) of Epac activity that also provides insight into the mechanisms of Epac activation and inhibition.
Project description:In the heart, cAMP is a key regulator of excitation-contraction coupling and its biological effects are mainly associated with the activity of protein kinase A (PKA). The aim of this study was to investigate the contribution of the cAMP-binding protein Epac (Exchange protein directly activated by cAMP) in the regulation of the contractile properties of rat ventricular cardiac myocytes. We report that both PKA and Epac increased cardiac sarcomere contraction but through opposite mechanisms. Differently from PKA, selective Epac activation by the cAMP analog 8-(4-chlorophenylthio)-2'-O-methyl-cAMP (8-pCPT) reduced Ca(2+) transient amplitude and increased cell shortening in intact cardiomyocytes and myofilament Ca(2+) sensitivity in permeabilized cardiomyocytes. Moreover, ventricular myocytes, which were infected in vivo with a constitutively active form of Epac, showed enhanced myofilament Ca(2+) sensitivity compared to control cells infected with green fluorescent protein (GFP) alone. At the molecular level, Epac increased phosphorylation of 2 key sarcomeric proteins, cardiac Troponin I (cTnI) and cardiac Myosin Binding Protein-C (cMyBP-C). The effects of Epac activation on myofilament Ca(2+) sensitivity and on cTnI and cMyBP-C phosphorylation were independent of PKA and were blocked by protein kinase C (PKC) and Ca(2+) calmodulin kinase II (CaMKII) inhibitors. Altogether these findings identify Epac as a new regulator of myofilament function.
Project description:bTREK-1 K(+) channels set the resting membrane potential of bovine adrenal zona fasciculata (AZF) cells and function pivotally in the physiology of cortisol secretion. Adrenocorticotropic hormone controls the function and expression of bTREK-1 channels through signaling mechanisms that may involve cAMP and downstream effectors including protein kinase A (PKA) and exchange protein 2 directly activated by cAMP (Epac2). Using patch-clamp and Northern blot analysis, we explored the regulation of bTREK-1 mRNA and K(+) current expression by cAMP analogs and several of their putative metabolites in bovine AZF cells. At concentrations sufficient to activate both PKA and Epac2, 8-bromoadenosine-cAMP enhanced the expression of both bTREK-1 mRNA and K(+) current. N(6)-Benzoyladenosine-cAMP, which activates PKA but not Epac, also enhanced the expression of bTREK-1 mRNA and K(+) current measured at times from 24 to 96 h. An Epac-selective cAMP analog, 8-(4-chlorophenylthio)-2'-O-methyl-cAMP (8CPT-2'-OMe-cAMP), potently stimulated bTREK-1 mRNA and K(+) current expression, whereas the nonhydrolyzable Epac activator 8-(4-chlorophenylthio)-2'-O-methyl-cAMP, Sp-isomer was ineffective. Metabolites of 8CPT-2'-OMe-cAMP, including 8-(4-chlorophenylthio)-2'-O-methyladenosine-5'-O-monophosphate and 8CPT-2'-OMe-adenosine, promoted the expression of bTREK-1 transcripts and ion current with a temporal pattern, potency, and effectiveness resembling that of the parent compound. Likewise, at low concentrations, 8-(4-chlorophenylthio)-cAMP (8CPT-cAMP; 30 microM) but not its nonhydrolyzable analog 8-(4-chlorophenylthio)-cAMP, Sp-isomer, enhanced the expression of bTREK-1 mRNA and current. 8CPT-cAMP metabolites, including 8CPT-adenosine and 8CPT-adenine, also increased bTREK-1 expression. These results indicate that cAMP increases the expression of bTREK-1 mRNA and K(+) current through a cAMP-dependent but Epac2-independent mechanism. They further demonstrate that one or more metabolites of 8-(4-chlorophenylthio)-cAMP analogs potently stimulate bTREK-1 expression by activation of a novel cAMP-independent mechanism. These findings raise significant questions regarding the specificity of 8-(4-chlorophenylthio)-cAMP analogs as cAMP mimetics.
Project description:The Na(+)/H(+) exchanger 3 (NHE3) is expressed in the brush border membrane (BBM) of proximal tubules (PT). Its activity is down-regulated on increases in intracellular cAMP levels. The aim of this study was to investigate the contribution of the protein kinase A (PKA) and the exchange protein directly activated by cAMP (EPAC) dependent pathways in the regulation of NHE3 by adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP). Opossum kidney cells and murine kidney slices were treated with cAMP analogs, which selectively activate either PKA or EPAC. Activation of either pathway resulted in an inhibition of NHE3 activity. The EPAC-induced effect was independent of PKA as indicated by the lack of activation of the kinase and the insensitivity to the PKA inhibitor H89. Both PKA and EPAC inhibited NHE3 activity without inducing changes in the expression of the transporter in BBM. Activation of PKA, but not of EPAC, led to an increase of NHE3 phosphorylation. In contrast, activation of PKA, but not of EPAC, inhibited renal type IIa Na(+)-coupled inorganic phosphate cotransporter (NaPi-IIa), another Na-dependent transporter expressed in proximal BBM. PKA, but not EPAC, induced the retrieval of NaPi-IIa from BBM. Our results suggest that EPAC activation may represent a previously unrecognized mechanism involved in the cAMP regulation of NHE3, whereas regulation of NaPi-IIa is mediated by PKA but not by EPAC.
Project description:Epac1 is a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rap1 that is activated by direct binding of cAMP. In vitro studies suggest that cAMP relieves the interaction between the regulatory and catalytic domains of Epac. Here, we monitor Epac1 activation in vivo by using a CFP-Epac-YFP fusion construct. When expressed in mammalian cells, CFP-Epac-YFP shows significant fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). FRET rapidly decreases in response to the cAMP-raising agents, whereas it fully recovers after addition of cAMP-lowering agonists. Thus, by undergoing a cAMP-induced conformational change, CFP-Epac-YFP serves as a highly sensitive cAMP indicator in vivo. When compared with a protein kinase A (PKA)-based sensor, Epac-based cAMP probes show an extended dynamic range and a better signal-to-noise ratio; furthermore, as a single polypeptide, CFP-Epac-YFP does not suffer from the technical problems encountered with multisubunit PKA-based sensors. These properties make Epac-based FRET probes the preferred indicators for monitoring cAMP levels in vivo.
Project description:Pharmaceutical manipulation of cAMP levels exerts beneficial effects through the regulation of the exchange protein activated by cAMP (EPAC) and protein kinase A (PKA) signalling routes. Recent attention has turned to the specific regulation of EPAC isoforms (EPAC1 and EPAC2) as a more targeted approach to cAMP-based therapies. For example, EPAC2-selective agonists could promote insulin secretion from pancreatic ? cells, whereas EPAC1-selective agonists may be useful in the treatment of vascular inflammation. By contrast, EPAC1 and EPAC2 antagonists could both be useful in the treatment of heart failure. Here we discuss whether the best way forward is to design EPAC-selective agonists or antagonists and the current strategies being used to develop isoform-selective, small-molecule regulators of EPAC1 and EPAC2 activity.
Project description:Cyclic AMP activates two downstream factors, protein kinase A (PKA) and exchange protein directly activated by cAMP (EPAC) and both downstream signalings induce syncytialization, cell fusion and the production of hCG and progesterone. We used microarray to identify novel transcription factors related to syncytialization in two cAMP signaling-stimulated BeWo cells. Overall design: Human placenta choriocarcinoma cell line BeWo cells were treated without or with Epac- or PKA-selective cAMP analogs for 48 h, of which RNAs were extracted and subjected to Affymetrix microarrays.
Project description:The cAMP-dependent signaling pathways that orchestrate dendritic cell (DC) maturation remain to be defined in detail. Although cAMP was previously thought to signal exclusively through protein kinase A (PKA), it is now clear that cAMP also activates exchange protein activated by cAMP (Epac), a second major cAMP effector. Whether cAMP signaling via PKA is sufficient to drive DC maturation or whether Epac plays a role has not been examined. In this study, we used cAMP analogs to selectively activate PKA or Epac in human monocyte-derived DCs and examined the effect of these signaling pathways on several hallmarks of DC maturation. We show that PKA activation induces DC maturation as evidenced by the increased cell-surface expression of MHC class II, costimulatory molecules, and the maturation marker CD83. PKA activation also reduces DC endocytosis and stimulates chemotaxis to the lymph node-associated chemokines CXCL12 and CCL21. Although PKA signaling largely suppresses cytokine production, the net effect of PKA activation translates to enhanced DC activation of allogeneic T cells. In contrast to the stimulatory effects of PKA, Epac signaling has no effect on DC maturation or function. Rather, Epac suppresses the effects of PKA when both pathways are activated simultaneously. These data reveal a previously unrecognized crosstalk between the PKA and Epac signaling pathways in DCs and raise the possibility that therapeutics targeting PKA may generate immunogenic DCs, whereas those that activate Epac may produce tolerogenic DCs capable of attenuating allergic or autoimmune disease.
Project description:The identification of 2'-O-methyl substituted adenosine-3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP) analogs that activate the Epac family of cAMP-regulated guanine nucleotide exchange factors (cAMP-GEFs, also known as Epac1 and Epac2), has ushered in a new era of cyclic nucleotide research in which previously unrecognized signalling properties of the second messenger cAMP have been revealed. These Epac-Selective Cyclic AMP Analogs (ESCAs) incorporate a 2'-O-methyl substitution on the ribose ring of cAMP, a modification that impairs their ability to activate protein kinase A (PKA), while leaving intact their ability to activate Epac (the Exchange Protein directly Activated by Cyclic AMP). One such ESCA in wide-spread use is 8-pCPT-2'-O-Me-cAMP. It is a cell-permeant derivative of 2'-O-Me-cAMP, and it is a super activator of Epac. A wealth of newly published studies demonstrate that 8-pCPT-2'-O-Me-cAMP is a unique tool with which to asses atypical actions of cAMP that are PKA-independent. Particularly intriguing are recent reports demonstrating that ESCAs reproduce the PKA-independent actions of ligands known to stimulate Class I (Family A) and Class II (Family B) GTP-binding protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). This topical review summarizes the current state of knowledge regarding the molecular pharmacology and signal transduction properties of Epac-selective cAMP analogs. Special attention is focused on the rational drug design of ESCAs in order to improve their Epac selectivity, membrane permeability, and stability. Also emphasized is the usefulness of ESCAs as new tools with which to assess the role of Epac as a determinant of intracellular Ca2+ signalling, ion channel function, neurotransmitter release, and hormone secretion.
Project description:Exchange proteins directly activated by cAMP (Epac1 and Epac2) have been recently recognized as key players in ?-adrenergic-dependent cardiac arrhythmias. Whereas Epac1 overexpression can lead to cardiac hypertrophy and Epac2 activation can be arrhythmogenic, it is unknown whether distinct subcellular distribution of Epac1 vs. Epac2 contributes to differential functional effects. Here, we characterized and used a novel fluorescent cAMP derivate Epac ligand 8-[Pharos-575]-2'-O-methyladenosine-3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (?-O-Me-cAMP) in mice lacking either one or both isoforms (Epac1-KO, Epac2-KO, or double knockout, DKO) to assess isoform localization and function. Fluorescence of ?-O-Me-cAMP was enhanced by binding to Epac. Unlike several Epac-specific antibodies tested, ?-O-Me-cAMP exhibited dramatically reduced signals in DKO myocytes. In WT, the apparent binding affinity (Kd = 10.2 ± 0.8 µM) is comparable to that of cAMP and nonfluorescent Epac-selective agonist 8-(4-chlorophenylthio)-2-O-methyladenosine-3'-,5'-cyclicmonophosphate (OMe-CPT). ?-O-Me-cAMP readily entered intact myocytes, but did not activate PKA and its binding was competitively inhibited by OMe-CPT, confirming its Epac specificity. ?-O-Me-cAMP is a weak partial agonist for purified Epac, but functioned as an antagonist for four Epac signaling pathways in myocytes. Epac2 and Epac1 were differentially concentrated along T tubules and around the nucleus, respectively. Epac1-KO abolished OMe-CPT-induced nuclear CaMKII activation and export of transcriptional regulator histone deacetylase 5. In conclusion, Epac1 is localized and functionally involved in nuclear signaling, whereas Epac2 is located at the T tubules and regulates arrhythmogenic sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca leak.
Project description:To interact with the egg, the spermatozoon must undergo several biochemical and motility modifications in the female reproductive tract, collectively called capacitation. Only capacitated sperm can undergo acrosomal exocytosis, near or on the egg, a process that allows the sperm to penetrate and fertilize the egg. In the present study, we investigated the involvement of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-dependent processes on acrosomal exocytosis. Inhibition of protein kinase A (PKA) at the end of capacitation induced acrosomal exocytosis. This process is cAMP-dependent; however, the addition of relatively high concentration of the membrane-permeable 8-bromo-cAMP (8Br-cAMP, 0.1 mmol l-1) analog induced significant inhibition of the acrosomal exocytosis. The induction of acrosomal exocytosis by PKA inhibition was significantly inhibited by an exchange protein directly activated by cAMP (EPAC) ESI09 inhibitor. The EPAC selective substrate activated AE at relatively low concentrations (0.02-0.1 μmol l-1), whereas higher concentrations (>5 μmol l-1) were inhibitory to the AE induced by PKA inhibition. Inhibition of PKA revealed about 50% increase in intracellular cAMP levels, conditions under which EPAC can be activated to induce the AE. Induction of AE by activating the actin severing-protein, gelsolin, which causes F-actin dispersion, was inhibited by the EPAC inhibitor. The AE induced by PKA inhibition was mediated by phospholipase C activity but not by the Ca2+-channel, CatSper. Thus, inhibition of PKA at the end of the capacitation process induced EPAC/phospholipase C-dependent acrosomal exocytosis. EPAC mediates F-actin depolymerization and/or activation of effectors downstream to F-actin breakdown that lead to acrosomal exocytosis.