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  • Epigenetic priming targets tumor heterogeneity to shift transcriptomic phenotype of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma towards a Vitamin D susceptible state. Cell death & disease He, B., Stoffel, L., He, C. J., Cho, K., Li, A. M., Jiang, H., Flowers, B. M., Nguyen, K. T., Wang, K. W., Zhao, A. Y., Zhou, M. N., Ferreira, S., Attardi, L. D., Ye, J. 2024; 15 (1): 89


    As a highly heterogeneous tumor, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) exhibits non-uniform responses to therapies across subtypes. Overcoming therapeutic resistance stemming from this heterogeneity remains a significant challenge. Here, we report that Vitamin D-resistant PDAC cells hijacked Vitamin D signaling to promote tumor progression, whereas epigenetic priming with glyceryl triacetate (GTA) and 5-Aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-Aza) overcame Vitamin D resistance and shifted the transcriptomic phenotype of PDAC toward a Vitamin D-susceptible state. Increasing overall H3K27 acetylation with GTA and reducing overall DNA methylation with 5-Aza not only elevated the Vitamin D receptor (VDR) expression but also reprogrammed the Vitamin D-responsive genes. Consequently, Vitamin D inhibited cell viability and migration in the epigenetically primed PDAC cells by activating genes involved in apoptosis as well as genes involved in negative regulation of cell proliferation and migration, while the opposite effect of Vitamin D was observed in unprimed cells. Studies in genetically engineered mouse PDAC cells further validated the effects of epigenetic priming for enhancing the anti-tumor activity of Vitamin D. Using gain- and loss-of-function experiments, we further demonstrated that VDR expression was necessary but not sufficient for activating the favorable transcriptomic phenotype in respond to Vitamin D treatment in PDAC, highlighting that both the VDR and Vitamin D-responsive genes were prerequisites for Vitamin D response. These data reveal a previously undefined mechanism in which epigenetic state orchestrates the expression of both VDR and Vitamin D-responsive genes and determines the therapeutic response to Vitamin D in PDAC.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41419-024-06460-9

    View details for PubMedID 38272889

    View details for PubMedCentralID 5858034

  • A non-proteolytic release mechanism for HMCES-DNA-protein crosslinks EMBO JOURNAL Donsbach, M., Duerauer, S., Gruenert, F., Nguyen, K. T., Nigam, R., Yaneva, D., Weickert, P., Bezalel-Buch, R., Semlow, D. R., Stingele, J. 2023: e113360


    The conserved protein HMCES crosslinks to abasic (AP) sites in ssDNA to prevent strand scission and the formation of toxic dsDNA breaks during replication. Here, we report a non-proteolytic release mechanism for HMCES-DNA-protein crosslinks (DPCs), which is regulated by DNA context. In ssDNA and at ssDNA-dsDNA junctions, HMCES-DPCs are stable, which efficiently protects AP sites against spontaneous incisions or cleavage by APE1 endonuclease. In contrast, HMCES-DPCs are released in dsDNA, allowing APE1 to initiate downstream repair. Mechanistically, we show that release is governed by two components. First, a conserved glutamate residue, within HMCES' active site, catalyses reversal of the crosslink. Second, affinity to the underlying DNA structure determines whether HMCES re-crosslinks or dissociates. Our study reveals that the protective role of HMCES-DPCs involves their controlled release upon bypass by replication forks, which restricts DPC formation to a necessary minimum.

    View details for DOI 10.15252/embj.2022113360

    View details for Web of Science ID 001039430500001

    View details for PubMedID 37519246

  • N-Terminally arginylated ubiquitin is attached to histone H2A by RING1B E3 ligase in human cells BIOCHEMICAL AND BIOPHYSICAL RESEARCH COMMUNICATIONS Seo, D., Kim, D., Nguyen, K., Oh, J., Lee, J., Hwang, C. 2023; 666: 186-194


    Ubiquitin (Ub) is highly conserved in all eukaryotic organisms and begins at the N-terminus with Met and Gln. Our recent research demonstrates that N-terminally (Nt-) arginylated Ub can be produced in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. However, the existence of Nt-arginylated Ub in multicellular organisms remains unknown. Here we explore the mechanism for creating Nt-arginylated Ub using human embryonic kidney HEK293 cells that express various Nt-modified Ubs. We found that Gln-starting Q-Ub was converted into Glu-starting E-Ub by NTAQ1 Nt-deamidase and subsequently Nt-arginylated by ATE1 arginyltransferase in HEK293 cells. We also found that the resulting Arg-Glu-starting RE-Ub was mainly deposited on the Lys119 residue of histone H2A. Furthermore, RING1B E3 Ub ligase mediated the attachment of RE-Ub to H2A. These findings reveal a previously unknown type of histone ubiquitylation which greatly increases the combinatorial complexity of histone and ubiquitin codes.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bbrc.2023.02.022

    View details for Web of Science ID 001012085000001

    View details for PubMedID 36932026

  • Crystal structure of the Ate1 arginyl-tRNA-protein transferase and arginylation of N-degron substrates PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Kim, B., Kim, M., Oh, S., Nguyen, K., Kim, J., Varshavsky, A., Hwang, C., Song, H. 2022; 119 (31): e2209597119


    N-degron pathways are proteolytic systems that target proteins bearing N-terminal (Nt) degradation signals (degrons) called N-degrons. Nt-Arg of a protein is among Nt-residues that can be recognized as destabilizing ones by the Arg/N-degron pathway. A proteolytic cleavage of a protein can generate Arg at the N terminus of a resulting C-terminal (Ct) fragment either directly or after Nt-arginylation of that Ct-fragment by the Ate1 arginyl-tRNA-protein transferase (R-transferase), which uses Arg-tRNAArg as a cosubstrate. Ate1 can Nt-arginylate Nt-Asp, Nt-Glu, and oxidized Nt-Cys* (Cys-sulfinate or Cys-sulfonate) of proteins or short peptides. Ate1 genes of fungi, animals, and plants have been cloned decades ago, but a three-dimensional structure of Ate1 remained unknown. A detailed mechanism of arginylation is unknown as well. We describe here the crystal structure of the Ate1 R-transferase from the budding yeast Kluyveromyces lactis. The 58-kDa R-transferase comprises two domains that recognize, together, an acidic Nt-residue of an acceptor substrate, the Arg residue of Arg-tRNAArg, and a 3'-proximal segment of the tRNAArg moiety. The enzyme's active site is located, at least in part, between the two domains. In vitro and in vivo arginylation assays with site-directed Ate1 mutants that were suggested by structural results yielded inferences about specific binding sites of Ate1. We also analyzed the inhibition of Nt-arginylation activity of Ate1 by hemin (Fe3+-heme), and found that hemin induced the previously undescribed disulfide-mediated oligomerization of Ate1. Together, these results advance the understanding of R-transferase and the Arg/N-degron pathway.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.2209597119

    View details for Web of Science ID 000907752700017

    View details for PubMedID 35878037

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9351520