C-Terminal Peptide Modifications Reveal Direct and Indirect Roles of Hedgehog Morphogen Cholesteroylation.
ABSTRACT: Hedgehog (Hh) morphogens are involved in embryonic development and stem cell biology and, if misregulated, can contribute to cancer. One important post-translational modification with profound impact on Hh biofunction is its C-terminal cholesteroylation during biosynthesis. The current hypothesis is that the cholesterol moiety is a decisive factor in Hh association with the outer plasma membrane leaflet of producing cells, cell-surface Hh multimerization, and its transport and signaling. Yet, it is not decided whether the cholesterol moiety is directly involved in all of these processes, because their functional interdependency raises the alternative possibility that the cholesterol initiates early processes directly and that these processes can then steer later stages of Hh signaling independent of the lipid. We generated variants of the C-terminal Hh peptide and observed that these cholesteroylated peptides variably impaired several post-translational processes in producing cells and Hh biofunction in Drosophila melanogaster eye and wing development. We also found that substantial Hh amounts separated from cholesteroylated peptide tags in vitro and in vivo and that tagged and untagged Hh variants lacking their C-cholesterol moieties remained bioactive. Our approach thus confirms that Hh cholesteroylation is essential during the early steps of Hh production and maturation but also suggests that it is dispensable for Hh signal reception at receiving cells.
Project description:Hedgehog (Hh) proteins are secreted molecules that function as organizers in animal development. In addition to being palmitoylated, Hh is the only metazoan protein known to possess a covalently-linked cholesterol moiety. The absence of either modification severely disrupts the organization of numerous tissues during development. It is currently not known how lipid-modified Hh is secreted and released from producing cells. We have performed a genome-wide RNAi screen in Drosophila melanogaster cells to identify regulators of Hh secretion. We found that cholesterol-modified Hh secretion is strongly dependent on coat protein complex I (COPI) but not COPII vesicles, suggesting that cholesterol modification alters the movement of Hh through the early secretory pathway. We provide evidence that both proteolysis and cholesterol modification are necessary for the efficient trafficking of Hh through the ER and Golgi. Finally, we identified several putative regulators of protein secretion and demonstrate a role for some of these genes in Hh and Wingless (Wg) morphogen secretion in vivo. These data open new perspectives for studying how morphogen secretion is regulated, as well as provide insight into regulation of lipid-modified protein secretion.
Project description:Hedgehog (HH) ligands, classical morphogens that pattern embryonic tissues in all animals, are covalently coupled to two lipids-a palmitoyl group at the N terminus and a cholesteroyl group at the C terminus. While the palmitoyl group binds and inactivates Patched 1 (PTCH1), the main receptor for HH ligands, the function of the cholesterol modification has remained mysterious. Using structural and biochemical studies, along with reassessment of previous cryo-electron microscopy structures, we find that the C-terminal cholesterol attached to Sonic hedgehog (Shh) binds the first extracellular domain of PTCH1 and promotes its inactivation, thus triggering HH signaling. Molecular dynamics simulations show that this interaction leads to the closure of a tunnel through PTCH1 that serves as the putative conduit for sterol transport. Thus, Shh inactivates PTCH1 by grasping its extracellular domain with two lipidic pincers, the N-terminal palmitate and the C-terminal cholesterol, which are both inserted into the PTCH1 protein core.
Project description:The Hedgehog (Hh) pathway controls embryonic development and postnatal tissue maintenance and regeneration. Inhibition of Hh receptor Patched (Ptch) by the Hh ligands relieves suppression of signaling cascades. Here, we report the cryo-EM structure of tetrameric Ptch1 in complex with the palmitoylated N-terminal signaling domain of human Sonic hedgehog (ShhNp) at a 4:2 stoichiometric ratio. The structure shows that four Ptch1 protomers are organized as a loose dimer of dimers. Each dimer binds to one ShhNp through two distinct inhibitory interfaces, one mainly through the N-terminal peptide and the palmitoyl moiety of ShhNp and the other through the Ca2+-mediated interface on ShhNp. Map comparison reveals that the cholesteryl moiety of native ShhN occupies a recently identified extracellular steroid binding pocket in Ptch1. Our structure elucidates the tetrameric assembly of Ptch1 and suggests an asymmetric mode of action of the Hh ligands for inhibiting the potential cholesterol transport activity of Ptch1.
Project description:The Hedgehog (Hh) family of secreted growth factors are morphogens that act in development to direct growth and patterning. Mutations in human Hh and other Hh pathway components have been linked to human diseases. Analysis of Hh distribution during development indicates that cholesterol modification and receptor mediated endocytosis affect the range of Hh signaling and the cellular localization of Hh.We have used an inducible, cell type-specific expression system to characterize the three-dimensional distribution of newly synthesized, GFP-tagged Hh in the developing Drosophila wing. Following induction of Hh-GFP expression in posterior producing cells, punctate structures containing Hh-GFP were observed in the anterior target cells. The distance of these particles from the expressing cells was quantified to determine the shape of the Hh gradient at different time points following induction. The majority of cholesterol-modified Hh-GFP was found associated with cells near the anterior/posterior (A/P) boundary, which express high levels of Hh target genes. Without cholesterol, the Hh gradient was flatter, with a lower percentage of particles near the source and a greater maximum distance. Inhibition of Dynamin-dependent endocytosis blocked formation of intracellular Hh particles, but did not prevent movement of newly synthesized Hh to the apical or basolateral surfaces of target cells. In the absence of both cholesterol and endocytosis, Hh particles accumulated in the extracellular space. Staining for the Hh receptor Ptc revealed four categories of Hh particles: cytoplasmic with and without Ptc, and cell surface with and without Ptc. Interestingly, mainly cholesterol-modified Hh is detected in the cytoplasmic particles lacking Ptc.We have developed a system to quantitatively analyze Hh distribution during gradient formation. We directly demonstrate that inhibition of Dynamin-dependent endocytosis is not required for movement of Hh across target cells, indicating that transcytosis is not required for Hh gradient formation. The localization of Hh in these cells suggests that Hh normally moves across both apical and basolateral regions of the target cells. We also conclude that cholesterol modification is required for formation of a specific subset of Hh particles that are both cytoplasmic and not associated with the receptor Ptc.
Project description:Discussions of therapeutic suppression of hedgehog (Hh) signaling almost exclusively focus on receptor antagonism; however, hedgehog's biosynthesis represents a unique and potentially targetable aspect of this oncogenic signaling pathway. Here, we review a key biosynthetic step called cholesterolysis from the perspectives of structure/function and small molecule inhibition. Cholesterolysis, also called cholesteroylation, generates cholesterol-modified Hh ligand via autoprocessing of a hedgehog precursor protein. Post-translational modification by cholesterol appears to be restricted to proteins in the hedgehog family. The transformation is essential for Hh biological activity and upstream of signaling events. Despite its decisive role in generating ligand, cholesterolysis remains conspicuously unexplored as a therapeutic target.
Project description:A healthy diet improves adult stem cell function and delays diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and neurodegeneration. Defining molecular mechanisms by which nutrients dictate stem cell behavior is a key step toward understanding the role of diet in tissue homeostasis. In this paper, we elucidate the mechanism by which dietary cholesterol controls epithelial follicle stem cell (FSC) proliferation in the fly ovary. In nutrient-restricted flies, the transmembrane protein Boi sequesters Hedgehog (Hh) ligand at the surface of Hh-producing cells within the ovary, limiting FSC proliferation. Upon feeding, dietary cholesterol stimulates S6 kinase-mediated phosphorylation of the Boi cytoplasmic domain, triggering Hh release and FSC proliferation. This mechanism enables a rapid, tissue-specific response to nutritional changes, tailoring stem cell divisions and egg production to environmental conditions sufficient for progeny survival. If conserved in other systems, this mechanism will likely have important implications for studies on molecular control of stem cell function, in which the benefits of low calorie and low cholesterol diets are beginning to emerge.
Project description:Hedgehog (Hh) signalling is important in development, stem cell biology and disease. In a variety of tissues, Hh acts as a morphogen to regulate growth and cell fate specification. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain morphogen movement, one of which is transport along filopodia-like protrusions called cytonemes. Here, we analyse the mechanism underlying Hh movement in the wing disc and the abdominal epidermis of Drosophila melanogaster. We show that, in both epithelia, cells generate cytonemes in regions of Hh signalling. These protrusions are actin-based and span several cell diameters. Various Hh signalling components localize to cytonemes, as well as to punctate structures that move along cytonemes and are probably exovesicles. Using in vivo imaging, we show that cytonemes are dynamic structures and that Hh gradient establishment correlates with cytoneme formation in space and time. Indeed, mutant conditions that affect cytoneme formation reduce both cytoneme length and Hh gradient length. Our results suggest that cytoneme-mediated Hh transport is the mechanistic basis for Hh gradient formation.
Project description:Hedgehog (Hh) signaling is highly conserved in all metazoan animals and plays critical roles in many developmental processes. Dysregulation of the Hh signaling cascade has been implicated in many diseases, including cancer. Although key components of the Hh pathway have been identified, significant gaps remain in our understanding of the regulation of individual Hh signaling molecules. Here, we report the identification of novel regulators of the Hh pathway, obtained from an in vivo RNA interference (RNAi) screen in Drosophila. By selectively targeting critical genes functioning in post-translational modification systems utilizing ubiquitin (Ub) and Ub-like proteins, we identify two novel genes (dUba3 and dUbc12) that negatively regulate Hh signaling activity. We provide in vivo and in vitro evidence illustrating that dUba3 and dUbc12 are essential components of the neddylation pathway; they function in an enzyme cascade to conjugate the ubiquitin-like NEDD8 modifier to Cullin proteins. Neddylation activates the Cullin-containing ubiquitin ligase complex, which in turn promotes the degradation of Cubitus interruptus (Ci), the downstream transcription factor of the Hh pathway. Our study reveals a conserved molecular mechanism of the neddylation pathway in Drosophila and sheds light on the complex post-translational regulations in Hh signaling.
Project description:Cholesterol modification of Hedgehog (Hh) ligands is fundamental for the activity of Hh signaling, and cholesterol biosynthesis is also required for intracellular Hh signaling transduction. Here, we investigated the roles and underlying mechanism of Hh signaling in metabolism of cholesterol. The main components of the Hh pathway are abundantly expressed in both human cytotrophoblasts and trophoblast-like cells. Activation of Hh signaling induces the conversion of cholesterol to progesterone (P4) and estradiol (E2) through up-regulating the expression of steroidogenic enzymes including P450 cholesterol side chain cleavage enzyme (P450scc), 3?-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (3?-HSD1), and aromatase. Moreover, inhibition of Hh signaling attenuates not only Hh-induced expression of steroidogenic enzymes but also the conversion of cholesterol to P4 and E2. Whereas Gli3 is required for Hh-induced P450scc expression, Gli2 mediates the induction of 3?-HSD1 and aromatase. Finally, in ovariectomized nude mice, systemic inhibition of Hh signaling by cyclopamine suppresses circulating P4 and E2 levels derived from a trophoblast-like choricarcinoma xenograft, and attenuates uterine response to P4 and E2. Together these results uncover a hitherto uncharacterized role of Hh signaling in metabolism of cholesterol.
Project description:How morphogen gradients are shaped is a major question in developmental biology, but remains poorly understood. Hedgehog (Hh) is a locally secreted ligand that reaches cells at a distance and acts as a morphogen to pattern the Drosophila wing and the vertebrate neural tube. The proper patterning of both structures relies on the precise control over the slope of Hh activity gradient. A number of hypotheses have been proposed to explain Hh movement and hence graded activity of Hh. A crux to all these models is that the covalent binding of cholesterol to Hh N-terminus is essential to achieve the correct slope of the activity gradient. Still, the behavior of cholesterol-free Hh (Hh-N) remains controversial: cholesterol has been shown to either increase or restrict Hh range depending on the experimental setting. Here, in fly embryos and wing imaginal discs, we show that cholesterol-free Hh diffuses at a long-range. This unrestricted diffusion of cholesterol-free Hh leads to an absence of gradient while Hh signaling strength remains uncompromised. These data support a model where cholesterol addition restricts Hh diffusion and can transform a leveled signaling activity into a gradient. In addition, our data indicate that the receptor Patched is not able to sequester cholesterol-free Hh. We propose that a morphogen gradient does not necessarily stem from the active transfer of a poorly diffusing molecule, but can be achieved by the restriction of a highly diffusible ligand.