All Publications

  • Limbic Neurons Shape Sex Recognition and Social Behavior in Sexually Naive Males. Cell Bayless, D. W., Yang, T., Mason, M. M., Susanto, A. A., Lobdell, A., Shah, N. M. 2019


    Sexually naive animals have to distinguish between the sexes because they show species-typical interactions with males and females without meaningful prior experience. However, central neural pathways in naive mammals that recognize sex of other individuals remain poorly characterized. We examined the role of the principal component of the bed nucleus of stria terminalis (BNSTpr), a limbic center, in social interactions in mice. We find that activity of aromatase-expressing BNSTpr (AB) neurons appears to encode sex of other animals and subsequent displays of mating in sexually naive males. Silencing these neurons in males eliminates preference for female pheromones and abrogates mating success, whereas activating them even transiently promotes male-male mating. Surprisingly, female AB neurons do not appear to control sex recognition, mating, or maternal aggression. In summary, AB neurons represent sex of other animals and govern ensuing social behaviors in sexually naive males.

    View details for PubMedID 30712868

  • Social Control of Hypothalamus-Mediated Male Aggression. Neuron Yang, T. n., Yang, C. F., Chizari, M. D., Maheswaranathan, N. n., Burke, K. J., Borius, M. n., Inoue, S. n., Chiang, M. C., Bender, K. J., Ganguli, S. n., Shah, N. M. 2017; 95 (4): 955–70.e4


    How environmental and physiological signals interact to influence neural circuits underlying developmentally programmed social interactions such as male territorial aggression is poorly understood. We have tested the influence of sensory cues, social context, and sex hormones on progesterone receptor (PR)-expressing neurons in the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) that are critical for male territorial aggression. We find that these neurons can drive aggressive displays in solitary males independent of pheromonal input, gonadal hormones, opponents, or social context. By contrast, these neurons cannot elicit aggression in socially housed males that intrude in another male's territory unless their pheromone-sensing is disabled. This modulation of aggression cannot be accounted for by linear integration of environmental and physiological signals. Together, our studies suggest that fundamentally non-linear computations enable social context to exert a dominant influence on developmentally hard-wired hypothalamus-mediated male territorial aggression.

    View details for PubMedID 28757304

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5648542

  • Characterizing PKA-Mediated Phosphorylation of Plexin Using Purified Proteins SEMAPHORIN SIGNALING: METHODS AND PROTOCOLS Yang, T., Terman, J. R., Terman 2017; 1493: 147–59


    Protein phosphorylation is one of the widely used posttranslational modifications that alter protein function in vivo. We recently showed phosphorylation of Drosophila Plexin A by cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-dependent protein kinase (PKA) and subsequent inhibition of plexin-mediated repulsive guidance. This phosphorylation occurs in the active site of the plexin GTPase-activating protein (GAP) domain, which in turn inhibits endogenous GAP activity toward Ras/Rap family small GTP-binding proteins by recruiting the phospho-serine/threonine-binding protein 14-3-3ε. Here we describe how phosphorylation of Plexin A can be detected and quantitated using an in vitro kinase assay and radioactive [γ-P32] adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP).

    View details for PubMedID 27787848

  • Molecular and neural control of sexually dimorphic social behaviors CURRENT OPINION IN NEUROBIOLOGY Yang, T., Shah, N. M. 2016; 38: 89-95


    Sexually reproducing animals exhibit sex differences in behavior. Sexual dimorphisms in mating, aggression, and parental care directly contribute to reproductive success of the individual and survival of progeny. In this review, we discuss recent advances in our understanding of the molecular and neural network mechanisms underlying these behaviors in mice. Notable advances include novel insights into the sensory control of social interactions and the identification of molecularly-specified neuronal populations in the brain that control mating, aggression, and parental behaviors. In the case of the latter, these advances mark a watershed because scientists can now focus on discrete neural pathways in an effort to understand how the brain encodes these fundamental social behaviors.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.conb.2016.04.015

    View details for Web of Science ID 000379556700015

    View details for PubMedID 27162162

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4985614

  • Regulating small G protein signaling to coordinate axon adhesion and repulsion. Small GTPases Yang, T., Terman, J. R. 2012; 4 (1): 34-41


    Small GTPases play critical roles in diverse biological events including regulating both the cytoskeletal and adhesive properties of cells. The importance of small GTPases to these events stems from their ability to be turned on and off, respectively, by specific GEFs and GAPs. In neurons, for example, regulation of small GTPase activity by extracellular guidance cues controls axonal and dendritic process shape, extension and navigation. Here, we discuss recent findings that indicate a specific regulator of small GTPase signaling, the Plexin transmembrane GAP, is differentially controlled by specific extracellular cues to guide growing axons. In particular, Plexins are receptors for one of the largest families of axon guidance cues, Semaphorins and negatively regulate cell morphology and motility by serving as GAPs for Ras/Rap family GTPases. Recent observations reveal that Plexin's GAP activity is controlled by the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA), which phosphorylates Plexin and generates a binding site for the phospho-serine/threonine binding protein 14-3-3ε. This PKA-mediated Plexin-14-3-3ε interaction prevents Plexin from associating with its GTPase substrate, and thus antagonizes Semaphorin signaling. We now further examine these interactions and how they provide a new logic by which axon guidance signaling pathways over-ride one another to steer growing axons. We also further explore how Plexin interacting proteins, including Ras, PKA and 14-3-3 may interact with the Plexin GAP domain. Our observations also further indicate that 14-3-3 proteins may have conserved roles in the regulation of GTPase activity.

    View details for DOI 10.4161/sgtp.22765

    View details for PubMedID 23247636

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3620100

  • 14-3-3 epsilon Couples Protein Kinase A to Semaphorin Signaling and Silences Plexin RasGAP-Mediated Axonal Repulsion NEURON Yang, T., Terman, J. R. 2012; 74 (1): 108–21


    The biochemical means through which multiple signaling pathways are integrated in navigating axons is poorly understood. Semaphorins are among the largest families of axon guidance cues and utilize Plexin (Plex) receptors to exert repulsive effects on axon extension. However, Semaphorin repulsion can be silenced by other distinct cues and signaling cascades, raising questions of the logic underlying these events. We now uncover a simple biochemical switch that controls Semaphorin/Plexin repulsive guidance. Plexins are Ras/Rap family GTPase activating proteins (GAPs) and we find that the PlexA GAP domain is phosphorylated by the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA). This PlexA phosphorylation generates a specific binding site for 14-3-3ε, a phospho-binding protein that we find to be necessary for axon guidance. These PKA-mediated Plexin-14-3-3ε interactions prevent PlexA from interacting with its Ras family GTPase substrate and antagonize Semaphorin repulsion. Our results indicate that these interactions switch repulsion to adhesion and identify a point of convergence for multiple guidance molecules.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.12.034

    View details for Web of Science ID 000302893800013

    View details for PubMedID 22500634

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3857333

  • Guidance Receptor Degradation Is Required for Neuronal Connectivity in the Drosophila Nervous System PLOS BIOLOGY Williamson, W., Yang, T., Terman, J. R., Hiesinger, P. 2010; 8 (12): e1000553


    Axon pathfinding and synapse formation rely on precise spatiotemporal localization of guidance receptors. However, little is known about the neuron-specific intracellular trafficking mechanisms that underlie the sorting and activity of these receptors. Here we show that loss of the neuron-specific v-ATPase subunit a1 leads to progressive endosomal guidance receptor accumulations after neuronal differentiation. In the embryo and in adult photoreceptors, these accumulations occur after axon pathfinding and synapse formation is complete. In contrast, receptor missorting occurs sufficiently early in neurons of the adult central nervous system to cause connectivity defects. An increase of guidance receptors, but not of membrane proteins without signaling function, causes specific gain-of-function phenotypes. A point mutant that promotes sorting but prevents degradation reveals spatiotemporally specific guidance receptor turnover and accelerates developmental defects in photoreceptors and embryonic motor neurons. Our findings indicate that a neuron-specific endolysosomal degradation mechanism is part of the cell biological machinery that regulates guidance receptor turnover and signaling.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000553

    View details for Web of Science ID 000285500100001

    View details for PubMedID 21151882

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2998435

  • Mical links semaphorins to F-actin disassembly NATURE Hung, R., Yazdani, U., Yoon, J., Wu, H., Yang, T., Gupta, N., Huang, Z., van Berkel, W. H., Terman, J. R. 2010; 463 (7282): 823–27


    How instructive cues present on the cell surface have their precise effects on the actin cytoskeleton is poorly understood. Semaphorins are one of the largest families of these instructive cues and are widely studied for their effects on cell movement, navigation, angiogenesis, immunology and cancer. Semaphorins/collapsins were characterized in part on the basis of their ability to drastically alter actin cytoskeletal dynamics in neuronal processes, but despite considerable progress in the identification of semaphorin receptors and their signalling pathways, the molecules linking them to the precise control of cytoskeletal elements remain unknown. Recently, highly unusual proteins of the Mical family of enzymes have been found to associate with the cytoplasmic portion of plexins, which are large cell-surface semaphorin receptors, and to mediate axon guidance, synaptogenesis, dendritic pruning and other cell morphological changes. Mical enzymes perform reduction-oxidation (redox) enzymatic reactions and also contain domains found in proteins that regulate cell morphology. However, nothing is known of the role of Mical or its redox activity in mediating morphological changes. Here we report that Mical directly links semaphorins and their plexin receptors to the precise control of actin filament (F-actin) dynamics. We found that Mical is both necessary and sufficient for semaphorin-plexin-mediated F-actin reorganization in vivo. Likewise, we purified Mical protein and found that it directly binds F-actin and disassembles both individual and bundled actin filaments. We also found that Mical utilizes its redox activity to alter F-actin dynamics in vivo and in vitro, indicating a previously unknown role for specific redox signalling events in actin cytoskeletal regulation. Mical therefore is a novel F-actin-disassembly factor that provides a molecular conduit through which actin reorganization-a hallmark of cell morphological changes including axon navigation-can be precisely achieved spatiotemporally in response to semaphorins.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature08724

    View details for Web of Science ID 000274394300043

    View details for PubMedID 20148037

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3215588

  • Crystal structure of the plexin A3 intracellular region reveals an autoinhibited conformation through active site sequestration PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA He, H., Yang, T., Terman, J. R., Zhang, X. 2009; 106 (37): 15610–15


    Plexin cell surface receptors bind to semaphorin ligands and transduce signals for regulating neuronal axon guidance. The intracellular region of plexins is essential for signaling and contains a R-Ras/M-Ras GTPase activating protein (GAP) domain that is divided into two segments by a Rho GTPase-binding domain (RBD). The regulation mechanisms for plexin remain elusive, although it is known that activation requires both binding of semaphorin to the extracellular region and a Rho-family GTPase (Rac1 or Rnd1) to the RBD. Here we report the crystal structure of the plexin A3 intracellular region. The structure shows that the N- and C-terminal portions of the GAP homologous regions together form a GAP domain with an overall fold similar to other Ras GAPs. However, the plexin GAP domain adopts a closed conformation and cannot accommodate R-Ras/M-Ras in its substrate-binding site, providing a structural basis for the autoinhibited state of plexins. A comparison with the plexin B1 RBD/Rnd1 complex structure suggests that Rnd1 binding alone does not induce a conformational change in plexin, explaining the requirement of both semaphorin and a Rho GTPase for activation. The structure also identifies an N-terminal segment that is important for regulation. Both the N-terminal segment and the RBD make extensive interactions with the GAP domain, suggesting the presence of an allosteric network connecting these three domains that integrates semaphorin and Rho GTPase signals to activate the GAP. The importance of these interactions in plexin signaling is shown by both cell-based and in vivo axon guidance assays.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0906923106

    View details for Web of Science ID 000269806600021

    View details for PubMedID 19717441

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2747167

  • A crucial role of WW45 in developing epithelial tissues in the mouse EMBO JOURNAL Lee, J., Kim, T., Yang, T., Koo, B., Oh, S., Lee, K., Oh, H., Lee, S., Kong, Y., Kim, J., Lim, D. 2008; 27 (8): 1231–42


    The role and molecular mechanisms of a new Hippo signalling pathway are not fully understood in mammals. Here, we generated mice that lack WW45 and revealed a crucial role for WW45 in cell-cycle exit and epithelial terminal differentiation. Many organs in the mutant mouse embryos displayed hyperplasia accompanied by defects in terminal differentiation of epithelial progenitor cells owing to impaired proliferation arrest rather than intrinsic acceleration of proliferation during differentiation. Importantly, the MST1 signalling pathway is specifically activated in differentiating epithelial cells. Moreover, WW45 is required for MST1 activation and translocation to the nucleus for subsequent LATS1/2 activation upon differentiation signal. LATS1/2 phosphorylates YAP, which, in turn, translocates from the nucleus into the cytoplasm, resulting in cell-cycle exit and terminal differentiation of epithelial progenitor cells. Collectively, these data provide compelling evidence that WW45 is a key mediator of MST1 signalling in the coordinate coupling of proliferation arrest with terminal differentiation for proper epithelial tissue development in mammals.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/emboj.2008.63

    View details for Web of Science ID 000255291500005

    View details for PubMedID 18369314

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2367404

  • The centrosomal protein RAS association domain family protein 1A (RASSF1A)-binding protein 1 regulates mitotic progression by recruiting RASSF1A to spindle poles JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Song, M. S., Chang, J. S., Song, S. J., Yang, T. H., LEE, H., Lim, D. S. 2005; 280 (5): 3920-3927


    The protein RAS association domain family protein 1A (RASSF1A), which is encoded by a gene that is frequently silenced in many types of sporadic tumor, functions in mitosis as a regulator of the anaphase-promoting complex (APC). With the use of a yeast two-hybrid screen, we identified a human protein, previously designated C19ORF5, that interacts with RASSF1A. This protein, here redesignated RASSF1A-binding protein 1 (RABP1), contains two microtubule-associated protein domains, and its association with RASSF1A was confirmed in mammalian cells by immunoprecipitation and immunofluorescence analyses. RABP1 was found to be localized to the centrosome throughout the cell cycle in a manner dependent on its microtubule-associated protein domains. Ectopic expression of RABP1 induced both stabilization of mitotic cyclins and mitotic arrest at prometaphase in a RASSF1A-dependent manner. It also increased the extent of association between RASSF1A and Cdc20. Conversely depletion of RABP1 by RNA interference prevented both the localization of RASSF1A to the spindle poles as well as its binding to Cdc20, resulting in premature destruction of mitotic cyclins and acceleration of mitotic progression. These findings indicate that RABP1 is required for the recruitment of RASSF1A to the spindle poles and for its inhibition of APC-Cdc20 activity during mitosis.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M409115200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000226983900094

    View details for PubMedID 15546880