Solid stress in brain tumours causes neuronal loss and neurological dysfunction and can be reversed

The compression of brain tissue by a tumour mass is believed to be a major cause of the clinical symptoms seen in patients with brain cancer. However, the biological consequences of these physical stresses on brain tissue are unknown. Here, via imaging studies in patients and by using mouse models of human brain tumours, we show that a subgroup of primary and metastatic brain tumours, classified as nodular on the basis of their growth pattern, exert solid stress on the surrounding brain tissue, causing a decrease in local vascular perfusion as well as neuronal death and impaired function. We demonstrate a causal link between solid stress and neurological dysfunction by applying and removing cerebral compression, which respectively mimic the mechanics of tumour growth and of surgical resection. We also show that, in mice, treatment with lithium reduces solid-stress-induced neuronal death and improves motor coordination. Our findings indicate that brain-tumour-generated solid stress impairs neurological function in patients, and that lithium as a therapeutic intervention could counter these effects.

Jehanne Hilairet

Myosin II Activity Is Selectively Needed for Migration in Highly Confined Microenvironments in

Upon infection, mature dendritic cells (mDCs) migrate from peripheral tissue to lymph nodes (LNs) to activate T lymphocytes and initiate the adaptive immune response. This fast and tightly regulated process is tuned by different microenvironmental factors, such as the physical properties of the tissue. Mechanistically, mDCs migration mostly relies on acto-myosin flow and contractility that depend on non-muscular Myosin IIA (MyoII) activity. However, the specific contribution of this molecular motor for mDCs navigation in complex microenvironments has yet to be fully established. Here, we identified a specific role of MyoII activity in the regulation of mDCs migration in highly confined microenvironments. Using microfluidic systems, we observed that during mDCs chemotaxis in 3D collagen gels under defined CCL21 gradients, MyoII activity was required to sustain their fast speed but not to orientate them toward the chemokine. Indeed, despite the fact that mDCs speed declined, these cells still migrated through the 3D gels, indicating that this molecular motor has a discrete function during their motility in this irregular microenvironment. Consistently, using microchannels of different sizes, we found that MyoII activity was essential to maintain fast cell speed specifically under strong confinement. Analysis of cell motility through micrometric holes further demonstrated that cell contractility facilitated mDCs passage only over very small gaps. Altogether, this work highlights that high contractility acts as an adaptation mechanism exhibited by mDCs to optimize their motility in restricted landscapes. Hence, MyoII activity ultimately facilitates their navigation in highly confined areas of structurally irregular tissues, contributing to the fine-tuning of their homing to LNs to initiate adaptive immune responses.

Macropinocytosis Overcomes Directional Bias in Dendritic Cells Due to Hydraulic Resistance and

The migration of immune cells can be guided by physical cues imposed by the environment, such as geometry, rigidity, or hydraulic resistance (HR). Neutrophils preferentially follow paths of least HR in vitro, a phenomenon known as barotaxis. The mechanisms and physiological relevance of barotaxis remain unclear. We show that barotaxis results from the amplification of a small force imbalance by the actomyosin cytoskeleton, resulting in biased directional choices. In immature dendritic cells (DCs), actomyosin is recruited to the cell front to build macropinosomes. These cells are therefore insensitive to HR, as macropinocytosis allows fluid transport across these cells. This may enhance their space exploration capacity in vivo. Conversely, mature DCs down-regulate macropinocytosis and are thus barotactic. Modeling suggests that HR may help guide these cells to lymph nodes where they initiate immune responses. Hence, DCs can either overcome or capitalize on the physical obstacles they encounter, helping their immune-surveillance function.

Inter-Organ Growth Coordination Is Mediated by the Xrp1-Dilp8 Axis in Drosophila.

How organs scale with other body parts is not mechanistically understood. We have addressed this question using the Drosophila imaginal disc model. When the growth of one disc domain is perturbed, other parts of the disc and other discs slow down their growth, maintaining proper inter-disc and intra-disc proportions. We show here that the relaxin-like Dilp8 is required for this inter-organ coordination. Our work also reveals that the stress-response transcription factor Xrp1 plays a key role upstream of dilp8 in linking organ growth status with the systemic growth response. In addition, we show that the small ribosomal subunit protein RpS12 is required to trigger Xrp1-dependent non-autonomous response. Our work demonstrates that RpS12, Xrp1, and Dilp8 form an independent regulatory module that ensures intra- and inter-organ growth coordination during development.

Christine Lansche

Purification of tubulin with controlled post-translational modifications by

In vitro reconstitutions of microtubule assemblies have provided essential mechanistic insights into the molecular bases of microtubule dynamics and their interactions with associated proteins. The tubulin code has emerged as a regulatory mechanism for microtubule functions, which suggests that tubulin isotypes and post-translational modifications (PTMs) play important roles in controlling microtubule functions. To investigate the tubulin code mechanism, it is essential to analyze different tubulin variants in vitro. Until now, this has been difficult, as most reconstitution experiments have used heavily post-translationally modified tubulin purified from brain tissue. Therefore, we developed a protocol that allows purification of tubulin with controlled PTMs from limited sources through cycles of polymerization and depolymerization. Although alternative protocols using affinity purification of tubulin also yield very pure tubulin, our protocol has the unique advantage of selecting for fully functional tubulin, as non-polymerizable tubulin is excluded in the successive polymerization cycles. It thus provides a novel procedure for obtaining tubulin with controlled PTMs for in vitro reconstitution experiments. We describe specific procedures for tubulin purification from adherent cells, cells grown in suspension cultures and single mouse brains. The protocol can be combined with drug treatment, transfection of cells before tubulin purification or enzymatic treatment during the purification process. The amplification of cells and their growth in spinner bottles takes ~13 d; the tubulin purification takes 6-7 h. The tubulin can be used in total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF)-microscopy-based experiments or pelleting assays for the investigation of intrinsic properties of microtubules and their interactions with associated proteins.

Julien Vibert

Sarah Watson

Cécile Thirant

Olivier Mirabeau

Amandine Ferrand

An essential role for α4A-tubulin in platelet biogenesis.

During platelet biogenesis, microtubules (MTs) are arranged into submembranous structures (the marginal band) that encircle the cell in a single plane. This unique MT array has no equivalent in any other mammalian cell, and the mechanisms responsible for this particular mode of assembly are not fully understood. One possibility is that platelet MTs are composed of a particular set of tubulin isotypes that carry specific posttranslational modifications. Although β1-tubulin is known to be essential, no equivalent roles of α-tubulin isotypes in platelet formation or function have so far been reported. Here, we identify α4A-tubulin as a predominant α-tubulin isotype in platelets. Similar to β1-tubulin, α4A-tubulin expression is up-regulated during the late stages of megakaryocyte differentiation. Missense mutations in the α4A-tubulin gene cause macrothrombocytopenia in mice and humans. Defects in α4A-tubulin lead to changes in tubulin tyrosination status of the platelet tubulin pool. Ultrastructural defects include reduced numbers and misarranged MT coils in the platelet marginal band. We further observed defects in megakaryocyte maturation and proplatelet formation in -mutant mice. We have, thus, discovered an α-tubulin isotype with specific and essential roles in platelet biogenesis.

Loss of the deglutamylase CCP5 perturbs multiple steps of spermatogenesis and leads to male

Sperm cells are highly specialized mammalian cells, and their biogenesis requires unique intracellular structures. Perturbation of spermatogenesis often leads to male infertility. Here, we assess the role of a post-translational modification of tubulin, glutamylation, in spermatogenesis. We show that mice lacking the tubulin deglutamylase CCP5 (also known as AGBL5) do not form functional sperm. In these mice, spermatids accumulate polyglutamylated tubulin, accompanied by the occurrence of disorganized microtubule arrays, in particular in the sperm manchette. Spermatids further fail to re-arrange their intracellular space and accumulate organelles and cytosol, while nuclei condense normally. Strikingly, spermatids lacking CCP5 show supernumerary centrioles, suggesting that glutamylation could control centriole duplication. We show that most of these observed defects are also present in mice in which CCP5 is deleted only in the male germ line, strongly suggesting that they are germ-cell autonomous. Our findings reveal that polyglutamylation is, beyond its known importance for sperm flagella, an essential regulator of several microtubule-based functions during spermatogenesis. This makes enzymes involved in glutamylation prime candidates for being genes involved in male sterility.

Kinesin-3 Responds to Local Microtubule Dynamics to Target Synaptic Cargo Delivery to the

Neurons in the CNS establish thousands of en passant synapses along their axons. Robust neurotransmission depends on the replenishment of synaptic components in a spatially precise manner. Using live-cell microscopy and single-molecule reconstitution assays, we find that the delivery of synaptic vesicle precursors (SVPs) to en passant synapses in hippocampal neurons is specified by an interplay between the kinesin-3 KIF1A motor and presynaptic microtubules. Presynaptic sites are hotspots of dynamic microtubules rich in GTP-tubulin. KIF1A binds more weakly to GTP-tubulin than GDP-tubulin and competes with end-binding (EB) proteins for binding to the microtubule plus end. A disease-causing mutation within KIF1A that reduces preferential binding to GDP- versus GTP-rich microtubules disrupts SVP delivery and reduces presynaptic release upon neuronal stimulation. Thus, the localized enrichment of dynamic microtubules along the axon specifies a localized unloading zone that ensures the accurate delivery of SVPs, controlling presynaptic strength in hippocampal neurons.

Lana Ghanem

Patricia Uguen

The anti-cancer drug 5-fluorouracil affects cell cycle regulators and potential regulatory long

5-fluorouracil (5-FU) was isolated as an inhibitor of thymidylate synthase, which is important for DNA synthesis. The drug was later found to also affect the conserved 3′-5′ exoribonuclease EXOSC10/Rrp6, a catalytic subunit of the RNA exosome that degrades and processes protein-coding and non-coding transcripts. Work on 5-FU’s cytotoxicity has been focused on mRNAs and non-coding transcripts such as rRNAs, tRNAs and snoRNAs. However, the effect of 5-FU on long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), which include regulatory transcripts important for cell growth and differentiation, is poorly understood. RNA profiling of synchronized 5-FU treated yeast cells and protein assays reveal that the drug specifically inhibits a set of cell cycle regulated genes involved in mitotic division, by decreasing levels of the paralogous Swi5 and Ace2 transcriptional activators. We also observe widespread accumulation of different lncRNA types in treated cells, which are typically present at high levels in a strain lacking EXOSC10/Rrp6. 5-FU responsive lncRNAs include potential regulatory antisense transcripts that form double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) with overlapping sense mRNAs. Some of these transcripts encode proteins important for cell growth and division, such as the transcription factor Ace2, and the RNA exosome subunit EXOSC6/Mtr3. In addition to revealing a transcriptional effect of 5-FU action via DNA binding regulators involved in cell cycle progression, our results have implications for the function of putative regulatory lncRNAs in 5-FU mediated cytotoxicity. The data raise the intriguing possibility that the drug deregulates lncRNAs/dsRNAs involved in controlling eukaryotic cell division, thereby highlighting a new class of promising therapeutical targets.

Transcription-dependent spreading of the Dal80 yeast GATA factor across the body of highly

GATA transcription factors are highly conserved among eukaryotes and play roles in transcription of genes implicated in cancer progression and hematopoiesis. However, although their consensus binding sites have been well defined in vitro, the in vivo selectivity for recognition by GATA factors remains poorly characterized. Using ChIP-Seq, we identified the Dal80 GATA factor targets in yeast. Our data reveal Dal80 binding to a large set of promoters, sometimes independently of GATA sites, correlating with nitrogen- and/or Dal80-sensitive gene expression. Strikingly, Dal80 was also detected across the body of promoter-bound genes, correlating with high expression. Mechanistic single-gene experiments showed that Dal80 spreading across gene bodies requires active transcription. Consistently, Dal80 co-immunoprecipitated with the initiating and post-initiation forms of RNA Polymerase II. Our work suggests that GATA factors could play dual, synergistic roles during transcription initiation and post-initiation steps, promoting efficient remodeling of the gene expression program in response to environmental changes.

Postdoctoral Position In Genome Integrity And Cancer

A1-year fully funded postdoctoral position with the possibility of extension (see below) is available in the “Homologous Recombination and Cancer” group headed by Dr. Aura Carreira at the Institut Curie, Orsay site (located in the campus of Paris SUD Univ., south of Paris), France.

Project description

Our lab interrogates the mechanisms of the cell to preserve genome integrity using human BRCA2 protein as a model. We are interested in the function of BRCA2 and the consequences of its mutation in breast cancer predisposition. During the last few years we have identified a new DNA binding domain in BRCA2 that is defective in breast cancer variants, defined a role of BRCA2 as mediator in meiotic recombination and contributed to the work that first describes BRCA2 hypomorphic variants conferring increased moderate risk of breast cancerRecently, we have uncovered a role of BRCA2 in mitosis that allows proper chromosome segregation. Which of the functions of BRCA2, when defective, drive tumor formation is a long-standing question that we are also investigating using functional assays and “omics” approaches.

In this project, the candidate will tackle relevant questions about the function of BRCA2 protein using cell biology and biochemistry tools.

Techniques: The project will involve cell imaging, biochemistry, protein purification, genetics, molecular biology.

Work environment

Our laboratory is part of the “Genotoxic Stress and Cancer” (UMR 3348 CNRS) Unit of the Institut Curie, Orsay site (France). The Department is dedicated to the study of the DNA damage response, genome instability, replication stress and gene regulation mechanisms in human and model organisms. The successful candidate will benefit from top-level scientific environment of Institut Curie, the expertise of the other groups working in our Unit, our collaborators on this project (Sophie Zinn-Justin, CEA, France), from state-of-the-art facilities available at Institut Curie.

Candidate requirements

  • Recent PhD with at least one first-author international publication
  • Enthusiastic and highly motivated researcher with strong interest in the mechanisms of preserving genome integrity
  • Ability to work independently
  • Excellent communication skills, fluency in English
  • The ideal candidate would have experience in one or more of the following areas: biochemistry, protein purification, cell imaging, DNA repair, molecular biology.

Following the 1-year contract, the candidate will have the opportunity to continue his/her project in the lab by applying to the different Fellowships available for postdocs (first deadline September).

To apply, please send: curriculum vitae, motivation letter and the names/contact information of 2/3 referees to Aura Carreira:   before April 30th.

The position is available immediately but the start date is flexible.

For more information about the interests of the group visit: