We have designed a tagged probe [sphingolipid binding domain (SBD)] to facilitate the tracking of intracellular movements of sphingolipids in living neuronal cells. SBD is a small peptide consisting of the SBD of the amyloid precursor protein. It can be conjugated to a fluorophore of choice and exogenously applied to cells, thus allowing for in vivo imaging. Here, we present evidence to describe the characteristics of the SBD association with the plasma membrane. Our experiments demonstrate that SBD binds to isolated raft fractions from human neuroblastomas and insect neuronal cells. In protein-lipid overlay experiments, SBD interacts with a subset of glycosphingolipids and sphingomyelin, consistent with its raft association in neurons. We also provide evidence that SBD is taken up by neuronal cells in a cholesterol-and sphingolipid-dependent manner via detergent-resistant microdomains. Furthermore, using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy to assay the mobility of SBD in live cells, we show that SBD's behavior at the plasma membrane is similar to that of the previously described raft marker cholera toxin B, displaying both a fast and a slow component. Our data suggest that fluorescently tagged SBD can be used to investigate the dynamic nature of glycosphingolipid-rich detergentresistant microdomains that are cholesterol-dependent. Previously, cholera toxin B (CtxB) was used to study the intracellular trafficking of raft-borne lipids (4-8). Studies on the uptake mechanisms, intracellular itineraries, and biophysical properties of raft-associated proteins at the plasma membrane have revealed heterogeneity in their trafficking and dynamic behavior (9-12). Currently, very little is known about how different ligands associate with raft domains, to what extent the lipid content in those domains differs, and what effect raft lipids have on intracellular targeting. To begin to answer these questions, it will be necessary to develop a diverse battery of markers to characterize the determinants of binding and trafficking behaviors.Here, we present the biochemical and biophysical characterization of a novel, fluorescently tagged sphingolipid binding raft probe, the sphingolipid binding domain (SBD), derived from the amyloid b peptide (Ab). This motif, identified by Fantini (13) in several glycolipidassociated proteins, was postulated to form a V3 loop structure that interacts with the sugar rings in glycosphingolipid head groups. In a separate study (S. Steinert and E. Lee, unpublished data), we showed that fluorescent SBD is targeted to endolysosmal compartments in a cholesterol-dependent manner and that it interacts with
BackgroundThe uptake and intracellular trafficking of sphingolipids, which self-associate into plasma membrane microdomains, is associated with many pathological conditions, including viral and toxin infection, lipid storage disease, and neurodegenerative disease. However, the means available to label the trafficking pathways of sphingolipids in live cells are extremely limited. In order to address this problem, we have developed an exogenous, non-toxic probe consisting of a 25-amino acid sphingolipid binding domain, the SBD, derived from the amyloid peptide Aβ, and conjugated by a neutral linker with an organic fluorophore. The current work presents the characterization of the sphingolipid binding and live cell trafficking of this novel probe, the SBD peptide. SBD was the name given to a motif originally recognized by Fantini et al  in a number of glycolipid-associated proteins, and was proposed to interact with sphingolipids in membrane microdomains.Methodology/Principal FindingsIn accordance with Fantini's model, optimal SBD binding to membranes depends on the presence of sphingolipids and cholesterol. In synthetic membrane binding assays, SBD interacts preferentially with raft-like lipid mixtures containing sphingomyelin, cholesterol, and complex gangliosides in a pH-dependent manner, but is less glycolipid-specific than Cholera toxin B (CtxB). Using quantitative time-course colocalization in live cells, we show that the uptake and intracellular trafficking route of SBD is unlike that of either the non-raft marker Transferrin or the raft markers CtxB and Flotillin2-GFP. However, SBD traverses an endolysosomal route that partially intersects with raft-associated pathways, with a major portion being diverted at a late time point to rab11-positive recycling endosomes. Trafficking of SBD to acidified compartments is strongly disrupted by cholesterol perturbations, consistent with the regulation of sphingolipid trafficking by cholesterol.Conclusions/SignificanceThe current work presents the characterization and trafficking behavior of a novel sphingolipid-binding fluorescent probe, the SBD peptide. We show that SBD binding to membranes is dependent on the presence of cholesterol, sphingomyelin, and complex glycolipids. In addition, SBD targeting through the endolysosomal pathway in neurons is highly sensitive to cholesterol perturbations, making it a potentially useful tool for the analysis of sphingolipid trafficking in disease models that involve changes in cholesterol metabolism and storage.
Drosophila Crumbs (Crb) is a key regulator of epithelial polarity and fulfils a plethora of other functions, such as growth regulation, morphogenesis of photoreceptor cells and prevention of retinal degeneration. This raises the question how a single gene regulates such diverse functions, which in mammals are controlled by three different paralogs. Here, we show that in Drosophila different Crb protein isoforms are differentially expressed as a result of alternative splicing. All isoforms are transmembrane proteins that differ by just one EGF-like repeat in their extracellular portion. Unlike Crb_A, which is expressed in most embryonic epithelia from early stages onward, Crb_C is expressed later and only in a subset of embryonic epithelia. Flies specifically lacking Crb_C are homozygous viable and fertile. Strikingly, these flies undergo light-dependent photoreceptor degeneration despite the fact that the other isoforms are expressed and properly localised at the stalk membrane. This allele now provides an ideal possibility to further unravel the molecular mechanisms by which Drosophila crb protects photoreceptor cells from the detrimental consequences of light-induced cell stress.
The uptake and trafficking behavior of a fluorescent glycosphingolipid analog is described in Drosophila neurons, opening the door to analysis of models of neurodegenerative lipid storage diseases. The study also documents “hijacking,” whereby a lactosyl ceramide analog diverts the route of another cargo present at the membrane simultaneously.
During the Drosophila life-cycle two sets of neuromuscular junctions are generated: the embryonic/larval NMJs develop during the first half, followed by the period of metamorphosis during which the adult counterpart is generated. Development of the adult innervation pattern is preceded by a withdrawal of larval NMJs, which occurs at the onset of metamorphosis, and is followed by adult-specific motor neuron outgrowth to innervate the newly developing adult fibers. Establishment of the adult innervation pattern occurs in the context of a broader restructuring of the nervous system, which results in the development of neural circuits that are necessary to carry out behaviors specific to the adult. In this article, we follow development of the dorsal longitudinal muscle (DLM) innervation pattern through metamorphosis. We find that the initial period of motor neuron elaboration is followed by a phase of extensive pruning resulting in a threefold reduction of neuromuscular contacts. This event establishes the adult pattern of second order branching. Subsequent higher order branching from the second order "contact" points generates the characteristic multiterminal innervation pattern of the DLMs. Boutons begin to appear after the pruning phase, and are much smaller than their larval counterparts. Additionally, we demonstrate that the DLM innervation is altered in the hyperexcitable double mutant, ether a go-go Shaker, and that the phenotype is suppressed by the hypoexcitable mutant, nap(ts1). Our results demonstrate that electrical activity regulates the patterning of DLM innervation during metamorphosis.
During its life cycle, Drosophila makes two sets of neuromuscular junctions (NMJs), embryonic/larval and adult, which serve distinct stage-specific functions. During metamorphosis, the larval NMJs are restructured to give rise to their adult counterparts, a process that is integrated into the overall remodeling of the nervous system. The NMJs of the prothoracic muscles and the mesothoracic dorsal longitudinal (flight) muscles have been previously described. Given the diversity and complexity of adult muscle groups, we set out to examine the less complex abdominal muscles. The large bouton sizes of these NMJs are particularly advantageous for easy visualization. Specifically, we have characterized morphological attributes of the ventral abdominal NMJ and show that an embryonic motor neuron identity gene, dHb9, is expressed at these adult junctions. We quantified bouton numbers and size and examined the localization of synaptic markers. We have also examined the formation of boutons during metamorphosis and examined the localization of presynaptic markers at these stages. To test the usefulness of the ventral abdominal NMJs as a model system, we characterized the effects of altering electrical activity and the levels of the cell adhesion molecule, FasciclinII (FasII). We show that both manipulations affect NMJ formation and that the effects are specific as they can be rescued genetically. Our results indicate that both activity and FasII affect development at the adult abdominal NMJ in ways that are distinct from their larval and adult thoracic counterparts
Absolute (molar) quantification of proteins determines their molar ratios in complexes, networks, and metabolic pathways. MS Western workflow is employed to determine molar abundances of proteins potentially critical for morphogenesis and phototransduction (PT) in eyes of Drosophila melanogaster using a single chimeric 264 kDa protein standard that covers, in total, 197 peptides from 43 proteins. The majority of proteins are independently quantified with two to four proteotypic peptides with the coefficient of variation of less than 15%, better than 1000-fold dynamic range and sub-femtomole sensitivity. Here, the molar abundance of proteins of the PT machinery and of the rhabdomere, the photosensitive organelle, is determined in eyes of wild-type flies as well as in crumbs (crb) mutant eyes, which exhibit perturbed rhabdomere morphogenesis.
Sphingolipid metabolites are involved in the regulation of autophagy, a degradative recycling process that is required to prevent neuronal degeneration. Drosophila blue cheese mutants neurodegenerate due to perturbations in autophagic flux, and consequent accumulation of ubiquitinated aggregates. Here, we demonstrate that blue cheese mutant brains exhibit an elevation in total ceramide levels; surprisingly, however, degeneration is ameliorated when the pool of available ceramides is further increased, and exacerbated when ceramide levels are decreased by altering sphingolipid catabolism or blocking de novo synthesis. Exogenous ceramide is seen to accumulate in autophagosomes, which are fewer in number and show less efficient clearance in blue cheese mutant neurons. Sphingolipid metabolism is also shifted away from salvage toward de novo pathways, while pro-growth Akt and MAP pathways are down-regulated, and ER stress is increased. All these defects are reversed under genetic rescue conditions that increase ceramide generation from salvage pathways. This constellation of effects suggests a possible mechanism whereby the observed deficit in a potentially ceramide-releasing autophagic pathway impedes survival signaling and exacerbates neuronal death.
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