HSF1 (heat shock factor 1) is an evolutionarily conserved master transcriptional regulator of the heat shock response (HSR) in eukaryotic cells. In response to high temperatures, HSF1 upregulates genes encoding molecular chaperones, also called heat shock proteins, which assist the refolding or degradation of damaged intracellular proteins. Accumulating evidence reveals however that HSF1 participates in several other physiological and pathological processes such as differentiation, immune response, and multidrug resistance, as well as in ageing, neurodegenerative demise, and cancer. To address how HSF1 controls these processes one should systematically analyze its target genes. Here we present a novel database called HSF1Base (hsf1base.org) that contains a nearly comprehensive list of HSF1 target genes identified so far. The list was obtained by manually curating publications on individual HSF1 targets and analyzing relevant high throughput transcriptomic and chromatin immunoprecipitation data derived from the literature and the Yeastract database. To support the biological relevance of HSF1 targets identified by high throughput methods, we performed an enrichment analysis of (potential) HSF1 targets across different tissues/cell types and organisms. We found that general HSF1 functions (targets are expressed in all tissues/cell types) are mostly related to cellular proteostasis. Furthermore, HSF1 targets that are conserved across various animal taxa operate mostly in cellular stress pathways (e.g., autophagy), chromatin remodeling, ribosome biogenesis, and ageing. Together, these data highlight diverse roles for HSF1, expanding far beyond the HSR.
Autophagy functions as a main route for the degradation of superfluous and damaged constituents of the cytoplasm. Defects in autophagy are implicated in the development of various age-dependent degenerative disorders such as cancer, neurodegeneration and tissue atrophy, and in accelerated aging. To promote basal levels of the process in pathological settings, we previously screened a small molecule library for novel autophagy-enhancing factors that inhibit the myotubularin-related phosphatase MTMR14/Jumpy, a negative regulator of autophagic membrane formation. Here we identify AUTEN-99 (autophagy enhancer-99), which activates autophagy in cell cultures and animal models. AUTEN-99 appears to effectively penetrate through the blood-brain barrier, and impedes the progression of neurodegenerative symptoms in Drosophila models of Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases. Furthermore, the molecule increases the survival of isolated neurons under normal and oxidative stress-induced conditions. Thus, AUTEN-99 serves as a potent neuroprotective drug candidate for preventing and treating diverse neurodegenerative pathologies, and may promote healthy aging.
These results imply that AUTEN-67 impedes the progression of neurodegenerative symptoms characterizing HD, and that autophagy is a promising therapeutic target for treating this pathology. In humans, AUTEN-67 may have the potential to delay the onset and decrease the severity of HD.
SummaryA fascinating aspect of sexual dimorphism in various animal species is that the two sexes differ substantially in lifespan. In humans, for example, women's life expectancy exceeds that of men by 3–7 years. Whether this trait can be attributed to dissimilar lifestyles or genetic (regulatory) factors remains to be elucidated. Herein, we demonstrate that in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, the significantly longer lifespan of hermaphrodites—which are essentially females capable of sperm production—over males is established by TRA‐1, the terminal effector of the sex‐determination pathway. This transcription factor directly controls the expression of daf‐16/FOXO, which functions as a major target of insulin/IGF‐1 signaling (IIS) and key modulator of aging across diverse animal phyla. TRA‐1 extends hermaphrodite lifespan through promoting daf‐16 activity. Furthermore, TRA‐1 also influences reproductive growth in a DAF‐16‐dependent manner. Thus, the sex‐determination machinery is an important regulator of IIS in this organism. These findings provide a mechanistic insight into how longevity and development are specified unequally in the two genders. As TRA‐1 is orthologous to mammalian GLI (glioma‐associated) proteins, a similar sex‐specific mechanism may also operate in humans to determine lifespan.
Signaling networks represent the molecular mechanisms controlling a cell's response to various internal or external stimuli. Most currently available signaling databases contain only a part of the complex network of intertwining pathways, leaving out key interactions or processes. Hence, we have developed SignaLink3 (http://signalink.org/), a value-added knowledge-base that provides manually curated data on signaling pathways and integrated data from several types of databases (interaction, regulation, localisation, disease, etc.) for humans, and three major animal model organisms. SignaLink3 contains over 400 000 newly added human protein-protein interactions resulting in a total of 700 000 interactions for Homo sapiens, making it one of the largest integrated signaling network resources. Next to H. sapiens, SignaLink3 is the only current signaling network resource to provide regulatory information for the model species Caenorhabditis elegans and Danio rerio, and the largest resource for Drosophila melanogaster. Compared to previous versions, we have integrated gene expression data as well as subcellular localization of the interactors, therefore uniquely allowing tissue-, or compartment-specific pathway interaction analysis to create more accurate models. Data is freely available for download in widely used formats, including CSV, PSI-MI TAB or SQL.
Females and males differ substantially in various neuronal functions in divergent, sexually dimorphic animal species, including humans. Despite its developmental, physiological and medical significance, understanding the molecular mechanisms by which sex-specific differences in the anatomy and operation of the nervous system are established remains a fundamental problem in biology. Here, we show that in Caenorhabditis elegans (nematodes), the global sex-determining factor TRA-1 regulates food leaving (mate searching), male mating and adaptation to odorants in a sex-specific manner by repressing the expression of goa-1 gene, which encodes the Gα (i/o) subunit of heterotrimeric G (guanine-nucleotide binding) proteins triggering physiological responses elicited by diverse neurotransmitters and sensory stimuli. Mutations in tra-1 and goa-1 decouple behavioural patterns from the number of X chromosomes. TRA-1 binds to a conserved binding site located in the goa-1 coding region, and downregulates goa-1 expression in hermaphrodites, particularly during embryogenesis when neuronal development largely occurs. These data suggest that the sex-determination machinery is an important modulator of heterotrimeric G protein-mediated signalling and thereby various neuronal functions in this organism and perhaps in other animal phyla.
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