Posts Tagged ‘functions’

A cannabinoid link between mitochondria and memory

Cellular activity in the brain depends on the high energetic support provided by mitochondria, the cell organelles which use energy sources to generate ATP. Acute cannabinoid intoxication induces amnesia in humans and animals, and the activation of type-1 cannabinoid receptors present at brain mitochondria membranes (mtCB1) can directly alter mitochondrial energetic activity. Although the pathological impact of chronic mitochondrial dysfunctions in the brain is well established, the involvement of acute modulation of mitochondrial activity in high brain functions, including learning and memory, is unknown. Here, we show that acute cannabinoid-induced memory impairment in mice requires activation of hippocampal mtCB1 receptors. Genetic exclusion of CB1 receptors from hippocampal mitochondria prevents cannabinoid-induced reduction of mitochondrial mobility, synaptic transmission and memory formation. mtCB1 receptors signal through intra-mitochondrial Gαi protein activation and consequent inhibition of soluble-adenylyl cyclase (sAC). The resulting inhibition of protein kinase A (PKA)-dependent phosphorylation of specific subunits of the mitochondrial electron transport system eventually leads to decreased cellular respiration. Hippocampal inhibition of sAC activity or manipulation of intra-mitochondrial PKA signalling or phosphorylation of the Complex I subunit NDUFS2 inhibit bioenergetic and amnesic effects of cannabinoids. Thus, the G protein-coupled mtCB1 receptors regulate memory processes via modulation of mitochondrial energy metabolism. By directly linking mitochondrial activity to memory formation, these data reveal that bioenergetic processes are primary acute regulators of cognitive functions.

Different tissue phagocytes sample apoptotic cells to direct distinct homeostasis programs

Recognition and removal of apoptotic cells by professional phagocytes, including dendritic cells and macrophages, preserves immune self-tolerance and prevents chronic inflammation and autoimmune pathologies. The diverse array of phagocytes that reside within different tissues, combined with the necessarily prompt nature of apoptotic cell clearance, makes it difficult to study this process in situ. The full spectrum of functions executed by tissue-resident phagocytes in response to homeostatic apoptosis, therefore, remains unclear. Here we show that mouse apoptotic intestinal epithelial cells (IECs), which undergo continuous renewal to maintain optimal barrier and absorptive functions, are not merely extruded to maintain homeostatic cell numbers, but are also sampled by a single subset of dendritic cells and two macrophage subsets within a well-characterized network of phagocytes in the small intestinal lamina propria. Characterization of the transcriptome within each subset before and after in situ sampling of apoptotic IECs revealed gene expression signatures unique to each phagocyte, including macrophage-specific lipid metabolism and amino acid catabolism, and a dendritic-cell-specific program of regulatory CD4+ T-cell activation. A common ‘suppression of inflammation’ signature was noted, although the specific genes and pathways involved varied amongst dendritic cells and macrophages, reflecting specialized functions. Apoptotic IECs were trafficked to mesenteric lymph nodes exclusively by the dendritic cell subset and served as critical determinants for the induction of tolerogenic regulatory CD4+ T-cell differentiation. Several of the genes that were differentially expressed by phagocytes bearing apoptotic IECs overlapped with susceptibility genes for inflammatory bowel disease. Collectively, these findings provide new insights into the consequences of apoptotic cell sampling, advance our understanding of how homeostasis is maintained within the mucosa and set the stage for development of novel therapeutics to alleviate chronic inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease.

Local regulation of gene expression by lncRNA promoters, transcription and splicing

Mammalian genomes are pervasively transcribed to produce thousands of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). A few of these lncRNAs have been shown to recruit regulatory complexes through RNA–protein interactions to influence the expression of nearby genes, and it has been suggested that many other lncRNAs can also act as local regulators. Such local functions could explain the observation that lncRNA expression is often correlated with the expression of nearby genes. However, these correlations have been challenging to dissect and could alternatively result from processes that are not mediated by the lncRNA transcripts themselves. For example, some gene promoters have been proposed to have dual functions as enhancers, and the process of transcription itself may contribute to gene regulation by recruiting activating factors or remodelling nucleosomes. Here we use genetic manipulation in mouse cell lines to dissect 12 genomic loci that produce lncRNAs and find that 5 of these loci influence the expression of a neighbouring gene in cis. Notably, none of these effects requires the specific lncRNA transcripts themselves and instead involves general processes associated with their production, including enhancer-like activity of gene promoters, the process of transcription, and the splicing of the transcript. Furthermore, such effects are not limited to lncRNA loci: we find that four out of six protein-coding loci also influence the expression of a neighbour. These results demonstrate that cross-talk among neighbouring genes is a prevalent phenomenon that can involve multiple mechanisms and cis-regulatory signals, including a role for RNA splice sites. These mechanisms may explain the function and evolution of some genomic loci that produce lncRNAs and broadly contribute to the regulation of both coding and non-coding genes.

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