Rudolf Virchow Center

Würzburg, Germany

Rudolf Virchow Center

Würzburg, Germany
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Chouhan N.S.,Rudolf Virchow Center | Wolf R.,Rudolf Virchow Center | Heisenberg M.,Rudolf Virchow Center
Learning and Memory | Year: 2017

Starvation causes a motivational state that facilitates diverse behaviors such as feeding, walking, and search. Starved Drosophila can form odor/feeding-time associations but the role of starvation in encoding of "time" is poorly understood. Here we show that the extent of starvation is correlated with the fly's ability to establish odor/feeding-time memories. Prolonged starvation promotes odor/feeding-time associations after just a single cycle of reciprocal training. We also show that starvation is required for acquisition but is dispensable for retrieval of odor/feeding-time memory. Finally, even with extended starvation, a functional circadian oscillator is indispensable for establishing odor/feeding-time memories.

Bhushan S.,Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich | Bhushan S.,Rudolf Virchow Center | Hoffmann T.,Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich | Seidelt B.,Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich | And 6 more authors.
PLoS Biology | Year: 2011

As nascent polypeptide chains are synthesized, they pass through a tunnel in the large ribosomal subunit. Interaction between specific nascent chains and the ribosomal tunnel is used to induce translational stalling for the regulation of gene expression. One well-characterized example is the Escherichia coli SecM (secretion monitor) gene product, which induces stalling to up-regulate translation initiation of the downstream secA gene, which is needed for protein export. Although many of the key components of SecM and the ribosomal tunnel have been identified, understanding of the mechanism by which the peptidyl transferase center of the ribosome is inactivated has been lacking. Here we present a cryo-electron microscopy reconstruction of a SecM-stalled ribosome nascent chain complex at 5.6 Å. While no cascade of rRNA conformational changes is evident, this structure reveals the direct interaction between critical residues of SecM and the ribosomal tunnel. Moreover, a shift in the position of the tRNA-nascent peptide linkage of the SecM-tRNA provides a rationale for peptidyl transferase center silencing, conditional on the simultaneous presence of a Pro-tRNAPro in the ribosomal A-site. These results suggest a distinct allosteric mechanism of regulating translational elongation by the SecM stalling peptide. © 2011 Bhushan et al.

News Article | February 15, 2017

The small protein ubiquitin regulates a plethora of physiological and pathophysiological processes in the human body. It lives up to its name quite literally by being ubiquitous, both in terms of its abundance and its far-reaching regulatory impact. How ubiquitin exerts its diverse functions is intensely studied all over the world. Finding answers to this question is essential to exploit the ubiquitin system efficiently for therapeutic purposes. Researchers from Würzburg have taken a key step towards this goal. Their results reveal new ways of regulating a ubiquitin ligase. "Ubiquitin ligases are enzymes that decorate cellular target proteins with ubiquitin and thus determine the fate of these target proteins," says Dr. Sonja Lorenz, senior author on the study. Ubiquitin can act as a "molecular postal code" that can guide target proteins to specific locations in the cell, lead them to serve distinct functions, carry molecular signals, integrate into large complexes, or even be destroyed. Sonja Lorenz heads a research group at the Rudolf Virchow Center for Experimental Biomedicine at the University of Würzburg. Her team and colleagues study a particular ubiquitin ligase, HUWE1, that has been ascribed key roles in tumor formation and is considered a promising, yet unexploited cancer-therapeutic target. Their new results on the molecular mechanism of HUWE1 are reported in the journal eLife. With almost 4.400 amino acids HUWE1 is an extremely large protein. Its three-dimensional structure, for the most part, is unknown. "The enormous size of HUWE1 and its flexibility present a considerable challenge for structural biologists," says Sonja Lorenz. To get a handle on the protein giant, her research team followed the ancient Roman principle "divide et impera - divide and rule" and has initially determined the atomic structure of a portion of HUWE1 using X-ray crystallography. This structure reveals a new and intriguing feature of HUWE1: Two HUWE1 molecules can pair up to form a complex known as a "dimer", thereby shutting down their enzymatic activities. How does the cell prevent HUWE1 from forming dimers when the enzyme needs to be active? The Würzburg researchers also provide an answer to this question: HUWE1 exists in a fine-tuned balance of inactive dimers and single, active molecules. "Various cellular factors can regulate this balance," says Sonja Lorenz. The tumor suppressor protein p14ARF is one such factor. It inhibits HUWE1, but is frequently lost in cancer cells. The new study provides the first mechanistic explanation of how p14ARF inhibits HUWE1. "The effects of p14ARF on the structure and activity of HUWE1 are extremely exciting," says Sonja Lorenz. "They open up a range of possibilities to manipulate HUWE1 activity that we are following up on." Dr. Sonja Lorenz holds an Emmy Noether grant from the German Research Foundation with which she established her lab at the Rudolf Virchow Center of the University of Würzburg in April 2014. She is the deputy speaker of the new Research Training Group 2243, "Understanding Ubiquitylation: From Molecular Mechanisms to Disease", that will start in April 2017. Her studies on the interplay of HUWE1 and p14ARF are supported by the Wilhelm Sander-Foundation for medical research. The human ubiquitin ligase HUWE1 is regulated by a conformational switch. Bodo Sander, Wenshan Xu, Martin Eilers, Nikita Popov, Sonja Lorenz. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.21036

Pham M.,University of Heidelberg | Stoll G.,University of Würzburg | Nieswandt B.,Rudolf Virchow Center | Bendszus M.,University of Heidelberg | Kleinschnitz C.,University of Würzburg
Journal of Molecular Medicine | Year: 2012

Ischemic stroke is a devastating disease which, in most cases, is caused by thrombotic occlusion of brain arteries. The molecular mechanisms involved in microvascular thrombus formation during focal cerebral ischemia are not well understood. As a consequence, the current antithrombotic drugs used to treat acute stroke or prevent stroke recurrence either show limited efficacy or put patients at risk for serious bleeding complications. The serine protease blood coagulation factor XII (FXII) initiates the intrinsic pathway of coagulation which, together with the extrinsic pathway, culminates in the formation of fibrin. A physiological function of FXII in clot formation and hemostasis in vivo has been questioned for more than 50 years. This was mainly due to the fact that hereditary FXII deficiency does not induce any bleeding phenotype in humans. However, recent studies in transgenic mice challenged this concept by demonstrating that FXII deficiency prevents pathological thrombus formation, but does not affect regular hemostasis. These findings entailed investigations in relevant disease models of thromboembolism including ischemic stroke. The present review summarizes the pathophysiological role of FXII in experimental cerebral ischemia and highlights novel therapeutic strategies based on FXII inhibition. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.

Yang Z.,Rudolf Virchow Center | Bertolucci F.,Seckenheimerhauptstrasse 197a | Wolf R.,Rudolf Virchow Center | Heisenberg M.,Rudolf Virchow Center
Current Biology | Year: 2013

In a wide range of animals, uncontrollable stressful events can induce a condition called "learned helplessness." In mammals it is associated with low general activity, poor learning, disorders of sleep and feeding, ulcers, and reduced immune status, as well as with increased serotonin in parts of the brain. It is considered an animal model of depression in humans [1-4]. Here we investigate learned helplessness in Drosophila, showing that this behavioral state consists of a cognitive and a modulatory, possibly mood-like, component. A fly, getting heated as soon as it stops walking, reliably resumes walking to escape the heat. If, in contrast, the fly is not in control of the heat, it learns that its behavior has no effect and quits responding. In this state, the fly walks slowly and takes longer and more frequent rests, as if it were "depressed." This downregulation of walking behavior is more pronounced in females than in males. Learned helplessness in Drosophila is an example of how, in a certain situation, behavior is organized according to its expected consequences. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Bhushan S.,Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich | Bhushan S.,Rudolf Virchow Center | Meyer H.,Helmholtz Center Munich | Meyer H.,TU Munich | And 8 more authors.
Molecular Cell | Year: 2010

Specific regulatory nascent chains establish direct interactions with the ribosomal tunnel, leading to translational stalling. Despite a wealth of biochemical data, structural insight into the mechanism of translational stalling in eukaryotes is still lacking. Here we use cryo-electron microscopy to visualize eukaryotic ribosomes stalled during the translation of two diverse regulatory peptides: the fungal arginine attenuator peptide (AAP) and the human cytomegalovirus (hCMV) gp48 upstream open reading frame 2 (uORF2). The C terminus of the AAP appears to be compacted adjacent to the peptidyl transferase center (PTC). Both nascent chains interact with ribosomal proteins L4 and L17 at tunnel constriction in a distinct fashion. Significant changes at the PTC were observed: the eukaryotic-specific loop of ribosomal protein L10e establishes direct contact with the CCA end of the peptidyl-tRNA (P-tRNA), which may be critical for silencing of the PTC during translational stalling. Our findings provide direct structural insight into two distinct eukaryotic stalling processes. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.

Kraft P.,University of Würzburg | Gob E.,University of Würzburg | Schuhmann M.K.,University of Würzburg | Gobel K.,University of Munster | And 10 more authors.
Stroke | Year: 2013

Background and Purpose: Lymphocytes are important players in the pathophysiology of acute ischemic stroke. The interaction of lymphocytes with endothelial cells and platelets, termed thrombo-inflammation, fosters microvascular dysfunction and secondary infarct growth. FTY720, a sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor modulator, blocks the egress of lymphocytes from lymphoid organs and has been shown to reduce ischemic neurodegeneration; however, the underlying mechanisms are unclear. We investigated the mode of FTY720 action in models of cerebral ischemia. Methods: Transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (tMCAO) was induced in wild-type and lymphocyte-deficient Rag1-/- mice treated with FTY720 (1 mg/kg) or vehicle immediately before reperfusion. Stroke outcome was assessed 24 hours later. Immune cells in the blood and brain were counted by flow cytometry. The integrity of the blood-brain barrier was analyzed using Evans Blue dye. Thrombus formation was determined by immunohistochemistry and Western blot, and was correlated with cerebral perfusion. Results: FTY720 significantly reduced stroke size and improved functional outcome in wild-type mice on day 1 and day 3 after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion. This protective effect was lost in lymphocyte-deficient Rag1-/-mice and in cultured neurons subjected to hypoxia. Less lymphocytes were present in the cerebral vasculature of FTY720-treated wild-type mice, which in turn reduced thrombosis and increased cerebral perfusion. In contrast, FTY720 was unable to prevent blood-brain barrier breakdown and transendothelial immune cell trafficking after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion. Conclusions: Induction of lymphocytopenia and concomitant reduction of microvascular thrombosis are key modes of FTY720 action in stroke. In contrast, our findings in Rag1-/- mice and cultured neurons argue against direct neuroprotective effects of FTY720. © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.

Bonito N.A.,Imperial College London | Drechsler J.,Rudolf Virchow Center | Stoecker S.,Imperial College London | Carmo C.R.,Imperial College London | And 4 more authors.
Oncogene | Year: 2014

Interleukin (IL)-6-type cytokines such as IL-6, oncostatin M (OSM) and leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF) signal through receptor complexes that are critically dependent on gp130. The latter is the common signal-transducing molecule that couples these cytokines to their downstream effectors, Janus kinases (JAKs) and signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs). IL-6-type cytokine signalling additionally involves the recruitment and activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1 and ERK2. Both STATs and ERKs regulate responses mediated by members of the IL-6 family. Here, we show that ERK2, but not ERK1, also controls the expression and function of gp130 per se, as silencing ERK2 in human osteosarcoma U2OS cells inhibits the expression of gp130. This does not simply reflect quantitative differences between ERK1 and ERK2, and the effects are not restricted to osteosarcoma cells, as they can be extended to several other cancer cell types analysed to date (such as breast, prostate, lung and cervical cancer cells). Importantly, ERK2 binds to the GP130 promoter, where it perhaps interacts with the transcriptional machinery. Indeed, its role in the transcriptional regulation of the GP130 gene was corroborated using luciferase reporter assays and messenger RNA stability experiments. Considering the pivotal role that gp130 has in cancer and inflammation these data thus identify novel non-overlapping functions for ERK1 and ERK2 that are biologically relevant. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Koenig S.,Rudolf Virchow Center | Wolf R.,Rudolf Virchow Center | Heisenberg M.,Rudolf Virchow Center
PLoS ONE | Year: 2016

A visual stimulus at a particular location of the visual field may elicit a behavior while at the same time equally salient stimuli in other parts do not. This property of visual systems is known as selective visual attention (SVA). The animal is said to have a focus of attention (FoA) which it has shifted to a particular location. Visual attention normally involves an attention span at the location to which the FoA has been shifted. Here the attention span ismeasured in Drosophila. The fly is tethered and hence has its eyes fixed in space. It can shift its FoA internally. This shift is revealed using two simultaneous test stimuli with characteristic responses at their particular locations. In tethered flight a wild type fly keeps its FoA at a certain location for up to 4s. Flies with a mutation in the radish gene, that has been suggested to be involved in attention-like mechanisms, display a reduced attention span of only 1s. © 2016 Koenig et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Stoll G.,University of Würzburg | Kleinschnitz C.,University of Würzburg | Nieswandt B.,Rudolf Virchow Center
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences | Year: 2010

Interferencewith early steps of platelet adhesion/activation by inhibition of the vonWillebrand factor (vWF) receptor glycoprotein (GP)Ib, its ligand vWF, or the collagen receptor GPVI, profoundly limits infarction in the mouse stroke model of transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (tMCAO). A similar pathogenic role was revealed for coagulation factor XII (FXII). Although these findings strongly suggest that microvascular thrombus formation is the leading pathophysiological event in acute stroke, recent studies have shown that thesemolecules have the additional capacity to guide inflammatory processes, thereby providing an intriguing alternative mechanistic explanation for these observations. Surprisingly,mice lacking T cells are also protected fromacute stroke, and these T cell effects are antigen independent. Thus, acute ischemic stroke can be redefined as a thrombo-inflammatory disorder, andmultifunctional molecules such as GPIb, GPVI, and FXII may provide new therapeutic targets linking inflammation and thrombus formation. © 2010 New York Academy of Sciences.

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