Joshi, KK, Matlack TL, Rongo C.  2016.  Dopamine signaling promotes the xenobiotic stress response and protein homeostasis.. The EMBO journal. Abstract
Multicellular organisms encounter environmental conditions that adversely affect protein homeostasis (proteostasis), including extreme temperatures, toxins, and pathogens. It is unclear how they use sensory signaling to detect adverse conditions and then activate stress response pathways so as to offset potential damage. Here, we show that dopaminergic mechanosensory neurons in C. elegans release the neurohormone dopamine to promote proteostasis in epithelia. Signaling through the DA receptor DOP-1 activates the expression of xenobiotic stress response genes involved in pathogenic resistance and toxin removal, and these genes are required for the removal of unstable proteins in epithelia. Exposure to a bacterial pathogen (Pseudomonas aeruginosa) results in elevated removal of unstable proteins in epithelia, and this enhancement requires DA signaling. In the absence of DA signaling, nematodes show increased sensitivity to pathogenic bacteria and heat-shock stress. Our results suggest that dopaminergic sensory neurons, in addition to slowing down locomotion upon sensing a potential bacterial feeding source, also signal to frontline epithelia to activate the xenobiotic stress response so as to maintain proteostasis and prepare for possible infection.
Park, EC, Rongo C.  2016.  The p38 MAP kinase pathway modulates the hypoxia response and glutamate receptor trafficking in aging neurons.. eLife. 5 Abstract
Neurons are sensitive to low oxygen (hypoxia) and employ a conserved pathway to combat its effects. Here, we show that p38 MAP Kinase (MAPK) modulates this hypoxia response pathway in C. elegans. Mutants lacking p38 MAPK components pmk-1 or sek-1 resemble mutants lacking the hypoxia response component and prolyl hydroxylase egl-9, with impaired subcellular localization of Mint orthologue LIN-10, internalization of glutamate receptor GLR-1, and depression of GLR-1-mediated behaviors. Loss of p38 MAPK impairs EGL-9 protein localization in neurons and activates the hypoxia-inducible transcription factor HIF-1, suggesting that p38 MAPK inhibits the hypoxia response pathway through EGL-9. As animals age, p38 MAPK levels decrease, resulting in GLR-1 internalization; this age-dependent downregulation can be prevented through either p38 MAPK overexpression or removal of CDK-5, an antagonizing kinase. Our findings demonstrate that p38 MAPK inhibits the hypoxia response pathway and determines how aging neurons respond to hypoxia through a novel mechanism.
Zhang, D, Dubey J, Koushika SP, Rongo C.  2016.  RAB-6.1 and RAB-6.2 Promote Retrograde Transport in C. elegans.. PloS one. 11(2):e0149314. Abstract
Retrograde transport is a critical mechanism for recycling certain membrane cargo. Following endocytosis from the plasma membrane, retrograde cargo is moved from early endosomes to Golgi followed by transport (recycling) back to the plasma membrane. The complete molecular and cellular mechanisms of retrograde transport remain unclear. The small GTPase RAB-6.2 mediates the retrograde recycling of the AMPA-type glutamate receptor (AMPAR) subunit GLR-1 in C. elegans neurons. Here we show that RAB-6.2 and a close paralog, RAB-6.1, together regulate retrograde transport in both neurons and non-neuronal tissue. Mutants for rab-6.1 or rab-6.2 fail to recycle GLR-1 receptors, resulting in GLR-1 turnover and behavioral defects indicative of diminished GLR-1 function. Loss of both rab-6.1 and rab-6.2 results in an additive effect on GLR-1 retrograde recycling, indicating that these two C. elegans Rab6 isoforms have overlapping functions. MIG-14 (Wntless) protein, which undergoes retrograde recycling, undergoes a similar degradation in intestinal epithelia in both rab-6.1 and rab-6.2 mutants, suggesting a broader role for these proteins in retrograde transport. Surprisingly, MIG-14 is localized to separate, spatially segregated endosomal compartments in rab-6.1 mutants compared to rab-6.2 mutants. Our results indicate that RAB-6.1 and RAB-6.2 have partially redundant functions in overall retrograde transport, but also have their own unique cellular- and subcellular functions.
Park, EC, Ghose P, Shao Z, Ye Q, Kang L, Xu XZ, Powell-Coffman JA, Rongo C.  2012.  Hypoxia regulates glutamate receptor trafficking through an HIF-independent mechanism.. EMBO Journal. Epub ahead of print AbstractWebsite
Oxygen influences behaviour in many organisms, with low levels (hypoxia) having devastating consequences for neuron survival. How neurons respond physiologically to counter the effects of hypoxia is not fully understood. Here, we show that hypoxia regulates the trafficking of the glutamate receptor GLR-1 in C. elegans neurons. Either hypoxia or mutations in egl-9, a prolyl hydroxylase cellular oxygen sensor, result in the internalization of GLR-1, the reduction of glutamate-activated currents, and the depression of GLR-1-mediated behaviours. Surprisingly, hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1, the canonical substrate of EGL-9, is not required for this effect. Instead, EGL-9 interacts with the Mint orthologue LIN-10, a mediator of GLR-1 membrane recycling, to promote LIN-10 subcellular localization in an oxygen-dependent manner. The observed effects of hypoxia and egl-9 mutations require the activity of the proline-directed CDK-5 kinase and the CDK-5 phosphorylation sites on LIN-10, suggesting that EGL-9 and CDK-5 compete in an oxygen-dependent manner to regulate LIN-10 activity and thus GLR-1 trafficking. Our findings demonstrate a novel mechanism by which neurons sense and respond to hypoxia.
Zhang, D, Isack NR, Glodowski DR, Liu J, Chen CC, Xu XZ, Grant BD, Rongo C.  2012.  RAB-6.2 and the retromer regulate glutamate receptor recycling through a retrograde pathway.. The Journal of Cell Biology. 196:85-101. AbstractWebsite
Regulated membrane trafficking of AMPA-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs) is a key mechanism underlying synaptic plasticity, yet the pathways used by AMPARs are not well understood. In this paper, we show that the AMPAR subunit GLR-1 in Caenorhabditis elegans utilizes the retrograde transport pathway to regulate AMPAR synaptic abundance. Mutants for rab-6.2, the retromer genes vps-35 and snx-1, and rme-8 failed to recycle GLR-1 receptors, resulting in GLR-1 turnover and behavioral defects indicative of diminished GLR-1 function. In contrast, expression of constitutively active RAB-6.2 drove the retrograde transport of GLR-1 from dendrites back to cell body Golgi. We also find that activated RAB-6.2 bound to and colocalized with the PDZ/phosphotyrosine binding domain protein LIN-10. RAB-6.2 recruited LIN-10. Moreover, the regulation of GLR-1 transport by RAB-6.2 required LIN-10 activity. Our results demonstrate a novel role for RAB-6.2, its effector LIN-10, and the retromer complex in maintaining synaptic strength by recycling AMPARs along the retrograde transport pathway.
Liu, G, Rogers J, Murphy CT, Rongo C.  2011.  EGF signalling activates the ubiquitin proteasome system to modulate C. elegans lifespan. EMBO J. 30:2990-3003. AbstractWebsite
Epidermal growth factor (EGF) signalling regulates growth and differentiation. Here, we examine the function of EGF signalling in Caenorhabditis elegans lifespan. We find that EGF signalling regulates lifespan via the Ras-MAPK pathway and the PLZF transcription factors EOR-1 and EOR-2. As animals enter adulthood, EGF signalling upregulates the expression of genes involved in the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS), including the Skp1-like protein SKR-5, while downregulating the expression of HSP16-type chaperones. Using reporters for global UPS activity, protein aggregation, and oxidative stress, we find that EGF signalling alters protein homoeostasis in adults by increasing UPS activity and polyubiquitination, while decreasing protein aggregation. We show that SKR-5 and the E3/E4 ligases that comprise the ubiquitin fusion degradation (UFD) complex are required for the increase in UPS activity observed in adults, and that animals that lack SKR-5 or the UFD have reduced lifespans and indications of oxidative stress. We propose that as animals enter fertile adulthood, EGF signalling switches the mechanism for maintaining protein homoeostasis from a chaperone-based approach to an approach involving protein elimination via augmented UPS activity.
Rongo, C.  2011.  Epidermal growth factor and aging: A signaling molecule reveals a new eye opening function. Aging. 3(9):1-10. AbstractWebsite
Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) is known for its role in promoting cell division and cellular differentiation in developing animals, but we know surprising little about what EGF does in vivo in mature adult animals. Here I review EGF signaling, emphasizing several recent studies that uncovered an unexpected role for EGF in promoting longevity and healthspan in mature adult C. elegans. EGF, acting through phospholipase Cγ and the IP3 receptor signaling, maintains pharyngeal and body wall muscle function in aging adults, and delays the accumulation of lipofuscin-enriched aging pigments within intestinal cells. EGF also acts through the Ras/ERK pathway to regulate protein homeostasis by promoting the expression of antioxidant genes, stimulating the activity of the Ubiquitin Proteasome System (UPS), and repressing the expression of small heat shock protein chaperones. The effects of EGF signaling on lifespan are largely independent of Insulin/IGF-like Signaling (IIS), as the effects of EGF signaling mutants on lifespan and heathspan are not affected by mutations in the DAF-2 insulin receptor or the DAF-16 FOXO transcription factor. Nevertheless, these two signal pathways have multiple points of overlap, coordination, and cross regulation. I propose that the IIS and EGF signaling pathways respond to environment and to developmental timing, respectively, so as to coordinate the appropriate physiological strategy that cells use to maintain protein homeostasis.
Shi, A, Chen CC, Banerjee R, Glodowski D, Audhya A, Rongo C, Grant BD.  2010.  EHBP-1 functions with RAB-10 during endocytic recycling in Caenorhabditis elegans. Mol Biol Cell. 21:2930-43. AbstractWebsite
Caenorhabditis elegans RAB-10 functions in endocytic recycling in polarized cells, regulating basolateral cargo transport in the intestinal epithelia and postsynaptic cargo transport in interneurons. A similar role was found for mammalian Rab10 in MDCK cells, suggesting that a conserved mechanism regulates these related pathways in metazoans. In a yeast two-hybrid screen for binding partners of RAB-10 we identified EHBP-1, a calponin homology domain (CH) protein, whose mammalian homolog Ehbp1 was previously shown to function during endocytic transport of GLUT4 in adipocytes. In vivo we find that EHBP-1-GFP colocalizes with RFP-RAB-10 on endosomal structures of the intestine and interneurons and that ehbp-1 loss-of-function mutants share with rab-10 mutants specific endosome morphology and cargo localization defects. We also show that loss of EHBP-1 disrupts transport of membrane proteins to the plasma membrane of the nonpolarized germline cells, a defect that can be phenocopied by codepletion of RAB-10 and its closest paralog RAB-8. These results indicate that RAB-10 and EHBP-1 function together in many cell types and suggests that there are differences in the level of redundancy among Rab family members in polarized versus nonpolarized cells.
Sampathkumar, P, Ozyurt SA, Miller SA, Bain KT, Rutter ME, Gheyi T, Abrams B, Wang Y, Atwell S, Luz JG et al..  2010.  Structures of PHR domains from Mus musculus Phr1 (Mycbp2) explain the loss-of-function mutation (Gly1092-->Glu) of the C. elegans ortholog RPM-1. J Mol Biol. 397:883-92. AbstractWebsite
PHR [PAM (protein associated with Myc)-HIW (Highwire)-RPM-1 (regulator of presynaptic morphology 1)] proteins are conserved, large multi-domain E3 ubiquitin ligases with modular architecture. PHR proteins presynaptically control synaptic growth and axon guidance and postsynaptically regulate endocytosis of glutamate receptors. Dysfunction of neuronal ubiquitin-mediated proteasomal degradation is implicated in various neurodegenerative diseases. PHR proteins are characterized by the presence of two PHR domains near the N-terminus, which are essential for proper localization and function. Structures of both the first and second PHR domains of Mus musculus (mouse) Phr1 (MYC binding protein 2, Mycbp2) have been determined, revealing a novel beta sandwich fold composed of 11 antiparallel beta-strands. Conserved loops decorate the apical side of the first PHR domain (MmPHR1), yielding a distinct conserved surface feature. The surface of the second PHR domain (MmPHR2), in contrast, lacks significant conservation. Importantly, the structure of MmPHR1 provides insights into a loss-of-function mutation, Gly1092-->Glu, observed in the Caenorhabditis elegans ortholog RPM-1.
Kramer, LB, Shim J, Previtera ML, Isack NR, Lee MC, Firestein BL, Rongo C.  2010.  UEV-1 is an ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme variant that regulates glutamate receptor trafficking in C. elegans neurons. PLoS One. 5:e14291. AbstractWebsite
The regulation of AMPA-type glutamate receptor (AMPAR) membrane trafficking is a key mechanism by which neurons regulate synaptic strength and plasticity. AMPAR trafficking is modulated through a combination of receptor phosphorylation, ubiquitination, endocytosis, and recycling, yet the factors that mediate these processes are just beginning to be uncovered. Here we identify the ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme variant UEV-1 as a regulator of AMPAR trafficking in vivo. We identified mutations in uev-1 in a genetic screen for mutants with altered trafficking of the AMPAR subunit GLR-1 in C. elegans interneurons. Loss of uev-1 activity results in the accumulation of GLR-1 in elongated accretions in neuron cell bodies and along the ventral cord neurites. Mutants also have a corresponding behavioral defect--a decrease in spontaneous reversals in locomotion--consistent with diminished GLR-1 function. The localization of other synaptic proteins in uev-1-mutant interneurons appears normal, indicating that the GLR-1 trafficking defects are not due to gross deficiencies in synapse formation or overall protein trafficking. We provide evidence that GLR-1 accumulates at RAB-10-containing endosomes in uev-1 mutants, and that receptors arrive at these endosomes independent of clathrin-mediated endocytosis. UEV-1 homologs in other species bind to the ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme Ubc13 to create K63-linked polyubiquitin chains on substrate proteins. We find that whereas UEV-1 can interact with C. elegans UBC-13, global levels of K63-linked ubiquitination throughout nematodes appear to be unaffected in uev-1 mutants, even though UEV-1 is broadly expressed in most tissues. Nevertheless, ubc-13 mutants are similar in phenotype to uev-1 mutants, suggesting that the two proteins do work together to regulate GLR-1 trafficking. Our results suggest that UEV-1 could regulate a small subset of K63-linked ubiquitination events in nematodes, at least one of which is critical in regulating GLR-1 trafficking.
Emtage, L, Chang H, Tiver R, Rongo C.  2009.  MAGI-1 modulates AMPA receptor synaptic localization and behavioral plasticity in response to prior experience. PLoS One. 4:e4613. AbstractWebsite
It is well established that the efficacy of synaptic connections can be rapidly modified by neural activity, yet how the environment and prior experience modulate such synaptic and behavioral plasticity is only beginning to be understood. Here we show in C. elegans that the broadly conserved scaffolding molecule MAGI-1 is required for the plasticity observed in a glutamatergic circuit. This mechanosensory circuit mediates reversals in locomotion in response to touch stimulation, and the AMPA-type receptor (AMPAR) subunits GLR-1 and GLR-2, which are required for reversal behavior, are localized to ventral cord synapses in this circuit. We find that animals modulate GLR-1 and GLR-2 localization in response to prior mechanosensory stimulation; a specific isoform of MAGI-1 (MAGI-1L) is critical for this modulation. We show that MAGI-1L interacts with AMPARs through the intracellular domain of the GLR-2 subunit, which is required for the modulation of AMPAR synaptic localization by mechanical stimulation. In addition, mutations that prevent the ubiquitination of GLR-1 prevent the decrease in AMPAR localization observed in previously stimulated magi-1 mutants. Finally, we find that previously-stimulated animals later habituate to subsequent mechanostimulation more rapidly compared to animals initially reared without mechanical stimulation; MAGI-1L, GLR-1, and GLR-2 are required for this change in habituation kinetics. Our findings demonstrate that prior experience can cause long-term alterations in both behavioral plasticity and AMPAR localization at synapses in an intact animal, and indicate a new, direct role for MAGI/S-SCAM proteins in modulating AMPAR localization and function in the wake of variable sensory experience.
Park, EC, Glodowski DR, Rongo C.  2009.  The ubiquitin ligase RPM-1 and the p38 MAPK PMK-3 regulate AMPA receptor trafficking. PLoS One. 4:e4284. AbstractWebsite
Ubiquitination occurs at synapses, yet its role remains unclear. Previous studies demonstrated that the RPM-1 ubiquitin ligase organizes presynaptic boutons at neuromuscular junctions in C. elegans motorneurons. Here we find that RPM-1 has a novel postsynaptic role in interneurons, where it regulates the trafficking of the AMPA-type glutamate receptor GLR-1 from synapses into endosomes. Mutations in rpm-1 cause the aberrant accumulation of GLR-1 in neurites. Moreover, rpm-1 mutations enhance the endosomal accumulation of GLR-1 observed in mutants for lin-10, a Mint2 ortholog that promotes GLR-1 recycling from Syntaxin-13 containing endosomes. As in motorneurons, RPM-1 negatively regulates the pmk-3/p38 MAPK pathway in interneurons by repressing the protein levels of the MAPKKK DLK-1. This regulation of PMK-3 signaling is critical for RPM-1 function with respect to GLR-1 trafficking, as pmk-3 mutations suppress both lin-10 and rpm-1 mutations. Positive or negative changes in endocytosis mimic the effects of rpm-1 or pmk-3 mutations, respectively, on GLR-1 trafficking. Specifically, RAB-5(GDP), an inactive mutant of RAB-5 that reduces endocytosis, mimics the effect of pmk-3 mutations when introduced into wild-type animals, and occludes the effect of pmk-3 mutations when introduced into pmk-3 mutants. By contrast, RAB-5(GTP), which increases endocytosis, suppresses the effect of pmk-3 mutations, mimics the effect of rpm-1 mutations, and occludes the effect of rpm-1 mutations. Our findings indicate a novel specialized role for RPM-1 and PMK-3/p38 MAPK in regulating the endosomal trafficking of AMPARs at central synapses.
Glodowski, DR, Chen CC, Schaefer H, Grant BD, Rongo C.  2007.  RAB-10 regulates glutamate receptor recycling in a cholesterol-dependent endocytosis pathway. Mol Biol Cell. 18:4387-96. AbstractWebsite
Regulated endocytosis of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs) is critical for synaptic plasticity. However, the specific combination of clathrin-dependent and -independent mechanisms that mediate AMPAR trafficking in vivo have not been fully characterized. Here, we examine the trafficking of the AMPAR subunit GLR-1 in Caenorhabditis elegans. GLR-1 is localized on synaptic membranes, where it regulates reversals of locomotion in a simple behavioral circuit. Animals lacking RAB-10, a small GTPase required for endocytic recycling of intestinal cargo, are similar in phenotype to animals lacking LIN-10, a postsynaptic density 95/disc-large/zona occludens-domain containing protein: GLR-1 accumulates in large accretions and animals display a decreased frequency of reversals. Mutations in unc-11 (AP180) or itsn-1 (Intersectin 1), which reduce clathrin-dependent endocytosis, suppress the lin-10 but not rab-10 mutant phenotype, suggesting that LIN-10 functions after clathrin-mediated endocytosis. By contrast, cholesterol depletion, which impairs lipid raft formation and clathrin-independent endocytosis, suppresses the rab-10 but not the lin-10 phenotype, suggesting that RAB-10 functions after clathrin-independent endocytosis. Animals lacking both genes display additive GLR-1 trafficking defects. We propose that RAB-10 and LIN-10 recycle AMPARs from intracellular endosomal compartments to synapses along distinct pathways, each with distinct sensitivities to cholesterol and the clathrin-mediated endocytosis machinery.
Charych, EI, Akum BF, Goldberg JS, Jornsten RJ, Rongo C, Zheng JQ, Firestein BL.  2006.  Activity-independent regulation of dendrite patterning by postsynaptic density protein PSD-95. J Neurosci. 26:10164-76. AbstractWebsite
Dendritic morphology determines many aspects of neuronal function, including action potential propagation and information processing. However, the question remains as to how distinct neuronal dendrite branching patterns are established. Here, we report that postsynaptic density-95 (PSD-95), a protein involved in dendritic spine maturation and clustering of synaptic signaling proteins, plays a novel role in regulating dendrite outgrowth and branching, independent of its synaptic functions. In immature neurons, overexpression of PSD-95 decreases the proportion of primary dendrites that undergo additional branching, resulting in a marked reduction of secondary dendrite number. Conversely, knocking down PSD-95 protein in immature neurons increases secondary dendrite number. The effect of PSD-95 is activity-independent and is antagonized by cypin, a nonsynaptic protein that regulates PSD-95 localization. Binding of cypin to PSD-95 correlates with formation of stable dendrite branches. Finally, overexpression of PSD-95 in COS-7 cells disrupts microtubule organization, indicating that PSD-95 may modulate microtubules to regulate dendritic branching. Whereas many factors have been identified which regulate dendrite number, our findings provide direct evidence that proteins primarily involved in synaptic functions can also play developmental roles in shaping how a neuron patterns its dendrite branches.
Schaefer, H, Rongo C.  2006.  KEL-8 is a substrate receptor for CUL3-dependent ubiquitin ligase that regulates synaptic glutamate receptor turnover. Mol Biol Cell. 17:1250-60. AbstractWebsite
The regulated localization of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA)-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs) to synapses is an important component of synaptic signaling and plasticity. Regulated ubiquitination and endocytosis determine the synaptic levels of AMPARs, but it is unclear which factors conduct these processes. To identify genes that regulate AMPAR synaptic abundance, we screened for mutants that accumulate high synaptic levels of the AMPAR subunit GLR-1 in Caenorhabditis elegans. GLR-1 is localized to postsynaptic clusters, and mutants for the BTB-Kelch protein KEL-8 have increased GLR-1 levels at clusters, whereas the levels and localization of other synaptic proteins seem normal. KEL-8 is a neuronal protein and is localized to sites adjacent to GLR-1 postsynaptic clusters along the ventral cord neurites. KEL-8 is required for the ubiquitin-mediated turnover of GLR-1 subunits, and kel-8 mutants show an increased frequency of spontaneous reversals in locomotion, suggesting increased levels of GLR-1 are present at synapses. KEL-8 binds to CUL-3, a Cullin 3 ubiquitin ligase subunit that we also find mediates GLR-1 turnover. Our findings indicate that KEL-8 is a substrate receptor for Cullin 3 ubiquitin ligases that is required for the proteolysis of GLR-1 receptors and suggest a novel postmitotic role in neurons for Kelch/CUL3 ubiquitin ligases.
Chang, HC, Rongo C.  2005.  Cytosolic tail sequences and subunit interactions are critical for synaptic localization of glutamate receptors. J Cell Sci. 118:1945-56. AbstractWebsite
AMPA-type glutamate receptors mediate excitatory synaptic transmission in the nervous system. The receptor subunit composition and subcellular localization play an important role in regulating synaptic strength. GLR-1 and GLR-2 are the Caenorhabditis elegans subunits most closely related to the mammalian AMPA-type receptors. These subunits are expressed in overlapping sets of interneurons, and contain type-I PDZ binding motifs in their carboxy-terminal cytosolic tail sequences. We report that GLR-1 and GLR-2 may form a heteromeric complex, the localization of which depends on either GLR-1 or GLR-2 tail sequences. Subunit interactions alone can mediate synaptic localization as endogenous GLR-1, or GLR-2 subunits can rescue the localization defects of subunits lacking tail sequences. Moreover, GLR-2 cytosolic tail sequences are sufficient to confer synaptic localization on a heterologous reporter containing a single-transmembrane domain. The localization of this GLR-2 reporter requires both a PDZ-binding motif in the GLR-2 tail sequence, and sequences outside of this motif. The PDZ protein LIN-10 regulates the localization of the reporter through the sequences outside of the PDZ-binding motif. Our results suggest that multiple synaptic localization signals reside in the cytosolic tail sequence of the receptor subunits, and that channel assembly can rescue the synaptic localization defects of individual mutant subunits as long as there are also wild-type subunits in the receptor complex.
Glodowski, DR, Wright T, Martinowich K, Chang HC, Beach D, Rongo C.  2005.  Distinct LIN-10 domains are required for its neuronal function, its epithelial function, and its synaptic localization. Mol Biol Cell. 16:1417-26. AbstractWebsite
alpha-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA)-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs) mediate excitatory neurotransmission at neuronal synapses, and their regulated localization plays a role in synaptic plasticity. In Caenorhabditis elegans, the PDZ and PTB domain-containing protein LIN-10 is required both for the synaptic localization of the AMPAR subunit GLR-1 and for vulval fate induction in epithelia. Here, we examine the role that different LIN-10 domains play in GLR-1 localization. We find that an amino-terminal region of LIN-10 directs LIN-10 protein localization to the Golgi and to synaptic clusters. In addition, mutations in the carboxyl-terminal PDZ domains prevent LIN-10 from regulating GLR-1 localization in neurons but do not prevent LIN-10 from functioning in the vulval epithelia. A mutation in the amino terminus prevents the protein from functioning in the vulval epithelia but does not prevent it from functioning to regulate GLR-1 localization in neurons. Finally, we show that human Mint2 can substitute for LIN-10 to facilitate GLR-1 localization in neurons and that the Mint2 amino terminus is critical for this function. Together, our data suggest that LIN-10 uses distinct modular domains for its functions in neurons and epithelial cells and that during evolution its vertebrate ortholog Mint2 has retained the ability to direct AMPAR localization in neurons.
Umemura, T, Rapp P, Rongo C.  2005.  The role of regulatory domain interactions in UNC-43 CaMKII localization and trafficking. J Cell Sci. 118:3327-38. AbstractWebsite
Calcium and calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) plays a fundamental role in the synaptic plasticity events that underlie learning and memory. Regulation of CaMKII kinase activity occurs through an autoinhibitory mechanism in which a regulatory domain of the kinase occupies the catalytic site and calcium/calmodulin activates the kinase by binding to and displacing this regulatory domain. A single putative ortholog of CaMKII, encoded by unc-43, is present in the Caenorhabditis elegans nervous system. Here we examined UNC-43 subcellular localization in the neurons of intact animals and show that UNC-43 is localized to clusters in ventral cord neurites, as well as to an unlocalized pool within these neurites. A mutation that mimics autophosphorylation within the regulatory domain results in an increase in the levels of UNC-43 in the unlocalized neurite pool. Multiple residues of CaMKII facilitate the interaction between the catalytic domain and the regulatory domain, thereby keeping the kinase inactive. Whereas most mutations in these residues result in an increased neurite pool of UNC-43, we have identified two residues that result in the opposite effect when mutated: a decreased neurite pool of UNC-43. The activity of UNC-2, a voltage-dependent calcium channel, is also required for UNC-43 to accumulate in the neurites, suggesting that neural activity regulates the localization of UNC-43. Our results suggest that the activation of UNC-43 by calcium/calmodulin displaces the autoinhibitory domain, thereby exposing key residues of the catalytic domain that allow for protein translocation to the neurites.
Shim, J, Umemura T, Nothstein E, Rongo C.  2004.  The unfolded protein response regulates glutamate receptor export from the endoplasmic reticulum. Mol Biol Cell. 15:4818-28. AbstractWebsite
Alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA)-type glutamate receptors mediate the majority of excitatory signaling in the CNS, and the functional properties and subcellular fate of these receptors depend on receptor subunit composition. Subunit assembly is thought to occur in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), although we are just beginning to understand the underlying mechanism. Here we examine the trafficking of Caenorhabditis elegans glutamate receptors through the ER. Our data indicate that neurons require signaling by the unfolded protein response (UPR) to move GLR-1, GLR-2, and GLR-5 subunits out of the ER and through the secretory pathway. In contrast, other neuronal transmembrane proteins do not require UPR signaling for ER exit. The requirement for the UPR pathway is cell type and age dependent: impairment for receptor trafficking increases as animals age and does not occur in all neurons. Expression of XBP-1, a component of the UPR pathway, is elevated in neurons during development. Our results suggest that UPR signaling is a critical step in neural function that is needed for glutamate receptor assembly and secretion.
Rongo, C.  2002.  A fresh look at the role of CaMKII in hippocampal synaptic plasticity and memory. Bioessays. 24:223-33. AbstractWebsite
Advances in molecular, genetic, and cell biological techniques have allowed neuroscientists to delve into the cellular machinery of learning and memory. The calcium and calmodulin-dependent kinase type II (CaMKII) is one of the best candidates for being a molecular component of the learning and memory machinery in the mammalian brain. It is present in abundance at synapses and its enzymatic properties and responsiveness to intracellular Ca(2+) fit a model whereby Ca(2+) currents activate the kinase and lead to changes in synaptic efficacy. Indeed, such plastic properties of synapses are thought to be important for memory formation. Genetic analysis of the alpha isoform of CaMKII in mice support the hypothesis that CaMKII signaling is required to initiate the formation of new spatial memories in the hippocampus. CaMKII is also required for the correct induction of long-term potentiation (LTP) in the hippocampus, consistent with the widely held belief that LTP is a mechanism for learning and memory. Recent cell biological, genetic, and physiological analyses suggest that one of the cellular explanations for LTP and CaMKII function might be the trafficking of AMPA-type receptors to synapses in response to neural activity.
Koppen, M, Simske JS, Sims PA, Firestein BL, Hall DH, Radice AD, Rongo C, Hardin JD.  2001.  Cooperative regulation of AJM-1 controls junctional integrity in Caenorhabditis elegans epithelia. Nat Cell Biol. 3:983-91. AbstractWebsite
The function of epithelial cell sheets depends on the integrity of specialized cell-cell junctions that connect neighbouring cells. We have characterized the novel coiled-coil protein AJM-1, which localizes to an apical junctional domain of Caenorhabditis elegans epithelia basal to the HMR-HMP (cadherin-catenin) complex. In the absence of AJM-1, the integrity of this domain is compromised. Proper AJM-1 localization requires LET-413 and DLG-1, homologues of the Drosophila tumour suppressors Scribble and Discs large, respectively. DLG-1 physically interacts with AJM-1 and is required for its normal apical distribution, and LET-413 mediates the rapid accumulation of both DLG-1 and AJM-1 in the apical domain. In the absence of both dlg-1 and let-413 function AJM-1 is almost completely lost from apical junctions in embryos, whereas HMP-1 (alpha-catenin) localization is only mildly affected. We conclude that LET-413 and DLG-1 cooperatively control AJM-1 localization and that AJM-1 controls the integrity of a distinct apical junctional domain in C. elegans.
Firestein, BL, Rongo C.  2001.  DLG-1 is a MAGUK similar to SAP97 and is required for adherens junction formation. Mol Biol Cell. 12:3465-75. AbstractWebsite
Cellular junctions are critical for intercellular communication and for the assembly of cells into tissues. Cell junctions often consist of tight junctions, which form a permeability barrier and prevent the diffusion of lipids and proteins between cell compartments, and adherens junctions, which control the adhesion of cells and link cortical actin filaments to attachment sites on the plasma membrane. Proper tight junction formation and cell polarity require the function of membrane-associated guanylate kinases (MAGUKs) that contain the PDZ protein-protein interaction domain. In contrast, less is known about how adherens junctions are assembled. Here we describe how the PDZ-containing protein DLG-1 is required for the proper formation and function of adherens junctions in Caenorhabditis elegans. DLG-1 is a MAGUK protein that is most similar in sequence to mammalian SAP97, which is found at both synapses of the CNS, as well as at cell junctions of epithelia. DLG-1 is localized to adherens junctions, and DLG-1 localization is mediated by an amino-terminal domain shared with SAP97 but not found in other MAGUK family members. DLG-1 recruits other proteins and signaling molecules to adherens junctions, while embryos that lack DLG-1 fail to recruit the proteins AJM-1 and CPI-1 to adherens junctions. DLG-1 is required for the proper organization of the actin cytoskeleton and for the morphological elongation of embryos. In contrast to other proteins that have been observed to affect adherens junction assembly and function, DLG-1 is not required to maintain cell polarity. Our results suggest a new function for MAGUK proteins distinct from their role in cell polarity.
Rongo, C.  2001.  Disparate cell types use a shared complex of PDZ proteins for polarized protein localization. Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. 12:349-59. AbstractWebsite
Based on their morphology and function, epithelial cells and neurons appear to have very little in common; however, growing evidence indicates that these two disparate cell types share an underlying polarization pathway responsible for sorting proteins to specific subcellular sites. An evolutionarily conserved complex of PDZ domain-containing proteins thought to be responsible for polarized protein localization has been identified from both brain and epithelial tissue, both from mammals and from the nematode C. elegans. Some of the most recent data on PDZ proteins and the proteins with which they interact are summarized. In particular, some of the more recently proposed models for their function in cells, and the in vivo and in vitro data that support these models are focussed upon.
Rongo, C, Kaplan JM.  1999.  CaMKII regulates the density of central glutamatergic synapses in vivo. Nature. 402:195-9. AbstractWebsite
Synaptic connections undergo a dynamic process of stabilization or elimination during development, and this process is thought to be critical in memory and learning and in establishing the specificity of synaptic connections. The type II calcium- and calmodulin-dependent protein kinase (CaMKII) has been proposed to be pivotal in regulating synaptic strength and in maturation of synapses during development. Here we describe how CaMKII regulates the formation of central glutamatergic synapses in Caenorhabditis elegans. During larval development, the density of ventral nerve cord synapses containing the GLR-1 glutamate receptor is held constant despite marked changes in neurite length. The coupling of synapse number to neurite length requires both CaMKII and voltage-gated calcium channels. CaMKII regulates GLR-1 by at least two distinct mechanisms: regulating transport of GLR-1 from cell bodies to neurites; and regulating the addition or maintenance of GLR-1 to postsynaptic elements.
Rongo, C, Whitfield CW, Rodal A, Kim SK, Kaplan JM.  1998.  LIN-10 is a shared component of the polarized protein localization pathways in neurons and epithelia. Cell. 94:751-9. AbstractWebsite
We tested the model that neurons and epithelial cells use a shared mechanism for polarized protein sorting by comparing the pathways for localizing basolateral and postsynaptic proteins in C. elegans. GLR-1 glutamate receptors are localized to postsynaptic elements of central synapses and, when ectopically expressed, to basolateral membranes of epithelial cells. Proper localization of GLR-1 in both neurons and epithelia requires the PDZ protein LIN-10, defining LIN-10 as a shared component of the basolateral and postsynaptic localization pathways. Changing the GLR-1 carboxy-terminal sequence from a group I PDZ-binding consensus (-TAV) to a group II consensus (-FYV) restores GLR-1 synaptic localization in lin-10 mutants. Thus, these interneurons utilize at least two separate postsynaptic localization pathways.