A PUF Hub Drives Self-Renewal in Caenorhabditis elegans Germline Stem Cells.
ABSTRACT: Stem cell regulation relies on extrinsic signaling from a niche plus intrinsic factors that respond and drive self-renewal within stem cells. A priori, loss of niche signaling and loss of the intrinsic self-renewal factors might be expected to have equivalent stem cell defects. Yet this simple prediction has not been borne out for most stem cells, including Caenorhabditis elegans germline stem cells (GSCs). The central regulators of C. elegans GSCs include extrinsically acting GLP-1/Notch signaling from the niche; intrinsically acting RNA-binding proteins in the PUF family, termed FBF-1 and FBF-2 (collectively FBF); and intrinsically acting PUF partner proteins that are direct Notch targets. Abrogation of either GLP-1/Notch signaling or its targets yields an earlier and more severe GSC defect than loss of FBF-1 and FBF-2, suggesting that additional intrinsic regulators must exist. Here, we report that those missing regulators are two additional PUF proteins, PUF-3 and PUF-11 Remarkably, an fbf-1fbf-2 ; puf-3puf-11 quadruple null mutant has a GSC defect virtually identical to that of a glp-1/Notch null mutant. PUF-3 and PUF-11 both affect GSC maintenance, both are expressed in GSCs, and epistasis experiments place them at the same position as FBF within the network. Therefore, action of PUF-3 and PUF-11 explains the milder GSC defect in fbf-1fbf-2 mutants. We conclude that a "PUF hub," comprising four PUF proteins and two PUF partners, constitutes the intrinsic self-renewal node of the C. elegans GSC RNA regulatory network. Discovery of this hub underscores the significance of PUF RNA-binding proteins as key regulators of stem cell maintenance.
Project description:Central questions in regenerative biology include how stem cells are maintained and how they transition from self-renewal to differentiation. Germline stem cells (GSCs) in Caeno-rhabditis elegans provide a tractable in vivo model to address these questions. In this system, Notch signaling and PUF RNA binding proteins, FBF-1 and FBF-2 (collectively FBF), maintain a pool of GSCs in a naïve state. An open question has been how Notch signaling modulates FBF activity to promote stem cell self-renewal. Here we report that two Notch targets, SYGL-1 and LST-1, link niche signaling to FBF. We find that SYGL-1 and LST-1 proteins are cytoplasmic and normally restricted to the GSC pool region. Increasing the distribution of SYGL-1 expands the pool correspondingly, and vast overexpression of either SYGL-1 or LST-1 generates a germline tumor. Thus, SYGL-1 and LST-1 are each sufficient to drive "stemness" and their spatial restriction prevents tumor formation. Importantly, SYGL-1 and LST-1 can only drive tumor formation when FBF is present. Moreover, both proteins interact physically with FBF, and both are required to repress a signature FBF mRNA target. Together, our results support a model in which SYGL-1 and LST-1 form a repressive complex with FBF that is crucial for stem cell maintenance. We further propose that progression from a naïve stem cell state to a state primed for differentiation relies on loss of SYGL-1 and LST-1, which in turn relieves FBF target RNAs from repression. Broadly, our results provide new insights into the link between niche signaling and a downstream RNA regulatory network and how this circuitry governs the balance between self-renewal and differentiation.
Project description:A stem cell's immediate microenvironment creates an essential "niche" to maintain stem cell self-renewal. Many niches and their intercellular signaling pathways are known, but for the most part, the key downstream targets of niche signaling remain elusive. Here, we report the discovery of two GLP-1/Notch target genes, lst-1 (lateral signaling target) and sygl-1 (synthetic Glp), that function redundantly to maintain germ-line stem cells (GSCs) in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Whereas lst-1 and sygl-1 single mutants appear normal, lst-1 sygl-1 double mutants are phenotypically indistinguishable from glp-1/Notch mutants. Multiple lines of evidence demonstrate that GLP-1/Notch signaling activates lst-1 and sygl-1 expression in GSCs within the niche. Therefore, these two genes fully account for the role of GLP-1/Notch signaling in GSC maintenance. Importantly, lst-1 and sygl-1 are not required for GLP-1/Notch signaling per se. We conclude that lst-1 and sygl-1 forge a critical link between Notch signaling and GSC maintenance.
Project description:The PUF family of RNA binding proteins has a conserved role in maintaining stem cell self-renewal. FBF is a C. elegans PUF that is required to maintain germline stem cells (GSCs). To understand how FBF controls GSCs, we sought to identify is target mRNAs. Briefly, we immunoprecipitated FBF-mRNA complexes from worm extracts and then used microarrays to identify the FBF-associated mRNAs. To focus on germline targets of FBF, we used a FBF-GFP transgene under the control of a germline promoter and we used an anti-GFP antibody to purify FBF-GFP from worm extracts. In parallel, we also processed a strain expressing TUBULIN-GFP in the germline to control for mRNAs that non-specifically co-purify with GFP. We found that FBF associates with >1,000 unique mRNAs and likely controls a broad network of key cellular and developmental regulators. Experiment Overall Design: Worm extracts were prepared from synchronized adult C. elegans (24 h after L4 stage) expressing either a rescuing FBF-1-GFP or TUB-GFP transgene under the control of a germline promoter (pie-1). An immoblized anti-GFP antibody was then used to purify the GFP fusion proteins from extracts. RNA was then extracted from the pellets and analyzed on Affymetrix microarrays. Four biological replicates were performed, each consisting of a FBF-GFP and a TUB-GFP sample processed in parallel.
Project description:PUF RNA-binding proteins have diverse roles in animal development, with a broadly conserved role in stem cells. Two paradigmatic PUF proteins, FBF-1 and FBF-2, promote both self-renewal and differentiation in the C. elegans germline. The LST-1 protein is a pivotal regulator of self-renewal and is oncogenic when mis-expressed. Here, we demonstrate that LST-1 self-renewal activity resides within a predicted disordered region that harbors two KXXL motifs. We find that the KXXL motifs mediate the binding of LST-1 to FBF, and that point mutations of these motifs abrogate LST-1 self-renewal activity. The LST-1-FBF partnership is therefore crucial to stem cell maintenance and is a key element in the FBF regulatory network. A distinct region within LST-1 determines its spatial expression and size of the GSC pool. Most importantly, the molecular understanding of how an IDR-rich protein works in an essential partnership with a conserved stem cell regulator and RNA-binding protein suggests broad new avenues for combinatorial control.
Project description:Stem cells are essential for tissue generation during the development of multicellular creatures, and for tissue homeostasis in adults. The great therapeutic promise of stem cells makes understanding their regulation a high priority. PUF RNA-binding proteins have a conserved role in promoting self-renewal of germline stem cells. Here we use a genome-wide approach to identify putative target mRNAs for the Caenorhabditis elegans PUF protein known as FBF. We find that putative FBF targets represent approximately 7% of all protein-coding genes in C. elegans, implicating FBF as a broad-spectrum gene regulator. These putative FBF targets are enriched for regulators of meiotic entry and other components of the meiotic program as well as regulators of key developmental pathways. We suggest that these targets may be critical for FBF's role in stem cell maintenance. Comparison of likely FBF target mRNAs with putative PUF target mRNAs from Drosophila and humans reveals 40 shared targets, including several established stem cell regulators. We speculate that shared PUF targets represent part of a broadly used module of stem cell control.
Project description:Steroid hormones are known systemic regulators of multiple normal and cancerous tissues; however, whether or how they impact the fate and function of adult stem cells is unclear. In the Drosophila ovary, insulin signals modulate the proliferation and self-renewal of germline stem cells (GSCs), yet despite evidence that additional systemic factors control GSC activity, these have remained largely unknown. Here, we report that ecdysone, a steroid hormone structurally related to mammalian sex steroids, directly regulates adult GSC proliferation and self-renewal independently of insulin signaling. Ecdysone controls GSCs through a functional interaction with the chromatin remodeling factors ISWI, an intrinsic epigenetic factor required for GSC fate and activity, and Nurf301, the largest subunit of the ISWI-containing NURF chromatin remodeling complex. Our findings support a link between systemic steroid hormones and the intrinsic chromatin remodeling machinery as a potential mechanism to promote broad transcriptional programs required for adult stem cell self-renewal.
Project description:Stem cell populations are maintained by keeping a balance between self-renewal (proliferation) and differentiation of dividing stem cells. Within the Caenorhabditis elegans germline, the key regulator maintaining this balance is the canonical Notch signaling pathway, with GLP-1/Notch activity promoting the proliferative fate. We identified the Pumilio homolog, PUF-8, as an inhibitor of the proliferative fate of stem cells in the C. elegans germline. puf-8(0) strongly enhances overproliferation of glp-1(gf) mutants and partially suppresses underproliferation of a weak glp-1(lf) mutant. The germline tumor that is formed in a puf-8(0); glp-1(gf) double mutant is due to a failure of germ cells to enter meiotic prophase. puf-8 likely inhibits the proliferative fate through negatively regulating GLP-1/Notch signaling or by functioning parallel to it.
Project description:Stem cells have an innate ability to occupy their stem cell niche, which in turn, is optimized to house stem cells. Organ aging is associated with reduced stem cell occupancy in the niche, but the mechanisms involved are poorly understood. Here, we report that Notch signaling is increased with age in Drosophila female germline stem cells (GSCs), and this results in their removal from the niche. Clonal analysis revealed that GSCs with low levels of Notch signaling exhibit increased adhesiveness to the niche, thereby out-competing their neighbors with higher levels of Notch; adhesiveness is altered through regulation of E-cadherin expression. Experimental enhancement of Notch signaling in GSCs hastens their age-dependent loss from the niche, and such loss is at least partially mediated by Sex lethal. However, disruption of Notch signaling in GSCs does not delay GSC loss during aging, and nor does it affect BMP signaling, which promotes self-renewal of GSCs. Finally, we show that in contrast to GSCs, Notch activation in the niche (which maintains niche integrity, and thus mediates GSC retention) is reduced with age, indicating that Notch signaling regulates GSC niche occupancy both intrinsically and extrinsically. Our findings expose a novel role of Notch signaling in controlling GSC-niche adhesion in response to aging, and are also of relevance to metastatic cancer cells, in which Notch signaling suppresses cell adhesion.
Project description:The PUF family of RNA binding proteins has a conserved role in maintaining stem cell self-renewal. FBF is a C. elegans PUF that is required to maintain germline stem cells (GSCs). To understand how FBF controls GSCs, we sought to identify is target mRNAs. Briefly, we immunoprecipitated FBF-mRNA complexes from worm extracts and then used microarrays to identify the FBF-associated mRNAs. To focus on germline targets of FBF, we used a FBF-GFP transgene under the control of a germline promoter and we used an anti-GFP antibody to purify FBF-GFP from worm extracts. In parallel, we also processed a strain expressing TUBULIN-GFP in the germline to control for mRNAs that non-specifically co-purify with GFP. We found that FBF associates with >1,000 unique mRNAs and likely controls a broad network of key cellular and developmental regulators.
Project description:Glioblastoma (GBM) stem cells (GSC) are a subpopulation of tumor cells that display stem-like characteristics (stemness) and play unique roles in tumor propagation, therapeutic resistance, and tumor recurrence. Therapeutic targets in GSCs are a focus of increasing interest to improve GBM therapy. Here we report that the hyaluronan-mediated motility receptor (HMMR) is highly expressed in GBM tumors, where it supports the self-renewal and tumorigenic potential of GSCs. HMMR silencing impairs GSC self-renewal and inhibits the expression of GSC markers and regulators. Furthermore, HMMR silencing suppresses GSC-derived tumor growth and extends the survival of mice bearing GSC xenografts. Conversely, HMMR overexpression promotes GSC self-renewal and intracranial tumor propagation. In human GBM tumor specimens, HMMR expression is correlated positively with the expression of stemness-associated markers and regulators. Our findings identify HMMR as a candidate therapeutic target to GSCs as a GBM treatment strategy.