Background: Epitope tags are useful for the labeling and detection of proteins using immunoblotting, immunoprecipitation, and immunostaining techniques. Because of their small size, they are unlikely to affect the tagged protein’s biochemical properties.
Background: Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a widely expressed cytoplasmic protein tyrosine kinase involved in integrin-mediated signal transduction. It plays an important role in the control of several biological processes, including cell spreading, migration, and survival (1). Activation of FAK by integrin clustering leads to autophosphorylation at Tyr397, which is a binding site for the Src family kinases PI3K and PLCγ (2-5). Recruitment of Src family kinases results in the phosphorylation of Tyr407, Tyr576, and Tyr577 in the catalytic domain, and Tyr871 and Tyr925 in the carboxy-terminal region of FAK (6,7).
Background: Fanconi anemia (FA) is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder resulting in symptoms that include chromosomal breakage, bone marrow failure, hypersensitivity to DNA cross-linking agents (such as mitomycin C), and a predisposition to cancer (1). In response to DNA damage, the FA nuclear complex (FANCA, FANCB, FANCC, FANCE, FANCF, FANCG, FANCM) induces mono-ubiquitination of FANCD2 and FANCI (2).Monoubiquitination of FANCD2 induces localization of FANCD2 to sites of DNA damage, where it interacts with BRCA1 (4). FANCJ/BRIP1, FANCD1/BRCA2, and FANCN/PALB2 are also recruited to sites of DNA damage. FA signaling is important in maintenance of chromosome stability and control of mitosis (3).
Background: The Forkhead family of transcription factors is involved in tumorigenesis of rhabdomyosarcoma and acute leukemias (1-3). Within the family, three members (FoxO1, FoxO4, and FoxO3a) have sequence similarity to the nematode orthologue DAF-16, which mediates signaling via a pathway involving IGFR1, PI3K, and Akt (4-6). Active forkhead members act as tumor suppressors by promoting cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Increased expression of any FoxO member results in the activation of the cell cycle inhibitor p27 Kip1. Forkhead transcription factors also play a part in TGF-β-mediated upregulation of p21 Cip1, a process negatively regulated through PI3K (7). Increased proliferation results when forkhead transcription factors are inactivated through phosphorylation by Akt at Thr24, Ser256, and Ser319, which results in nuclear export and inhibition of transcription factor activity (8). Forkhead transcription factors can also be inhibited by the deacetylase sirtuin (SirT1) (9).
Background: The Fos family of nuclear oncogenes includes c-Fos, FosB, Fos-related antigen 1 (FRA1), and Fos-related antigen 2 (FRA2) (1). While most Fos proteins exist as a single isoform, the FosB protein exists as two isoforms: full-length FosB and a shorter form, FosB2 (Delta FosB), which lacks the carboxy-terminal 101 amino acids (1-3). The expression of Fos proteins is rapidly and transiently induced by a variety of extracellular stimuli including growth factors, cytokines, neurotransmitters, polypeptide hormones, and stress. Fos proteins dimerize with Jun proteins (c-Jun, JunB, and JunD) to form Activator Protein-1 (AP-1), a transcription factor that binds to TRE/AP-1 elements and activates transcription. Fos and Jun proteins contain the leucine-zipper motif that mediates dimerization and an adjacent basic domain that binds to DNA. The various Fos/Jun heterodimers differ in their ability to transactivate AP-1 dependent genes. In addition to increased expression, phosphorylation of Fos proteins by Erk kinases in response to extracellular stimuli may further increase transcriptional activity (4-6). Phosphorylation of c-Fos at Ser32 and Thr232 by Erk5 increases protein stability and nuclear localization (5). Phosphorylation of FRA1 at Ser252 and Ser265 by Erk1/2 increases protein stability and leads to overexpression of FRA1 in cancer cells (6). Following growth factor stimulation, expression of FosB and c-Fos in quiescent fibroblasts is immediate, but very short-lived, with protein levels dissipating after several hours (7). FRA1 and FRA2 expression persists longer, and appreciable levels can be detected in asynchronously growing cells (8). Deregulated expression of c-Fos, FosB, or FRA2 can result in neoplastic cellular transformation; however, Delta FosB lacks the ability to transform cells (2,3).
Background: Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) was initially identified as an enzyme that regulates glycogen synthesis in response to insulin (1). GSK-3 is a ubiquitously expressed serine/threonine protein kinase that phosphorylates and inactivates glycogen synthase. GSK-3 is a critical downstream element of the PI3K/Akt cell survival pathway whose activity can be inhibited by Akt-mediated phosphorylation at Ser21 of GSK-3α and Ser9 of GSK-3β (2,3). GSK-3 has been implicated in the regulation of cell fate in Dictyostelium and is a component of the Wnt signaling pathway required for Drosophila, Xenopus, and mammalian development (4). GSK-3 has been shown to regulate cyclin D1 proteolysis and subcellular localization (5).
Background: Acetylation of the histone tail causes chromatin to adopt an "open" conformation, allowing increased accessibility of transcription factors to DNA. The identification of histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and their large multiprotein complexes has yielded important insights into how these enzymes regulate transcription (1,2). HAT complexes interact with sequence-specific activator proteins to target specific genes. In addition to histones, HATs can acetylate nonhistone proteins, suggesting multiple roles for these enzymes (3). In contrast, histone deacetylation promotes a "closed" chromatin conformation and typically leads to repression of gene activity (4). Mammalian histone deacetylases can be divided into three classes on the basis of their similarity to various yeast deacetylases (5). Class I proteins (HDACs 1, 2, 3, and 8) are related to the yeast Rpd3-like proteins, those in class II (HDACs 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, and 10) are related to yeast Hda1-like proteins, and class III proteins are related to the yeast protein Sir2. Inhibitors of HDAC activity are now being explored as potential therapeutic cancer agents (6,7).
Background: Heat shock protein (HSP) 27 is one of the small HSPs that are constitutively expressed at different levels in various cell types and tissues. Like other small HSPs, HSP27 is regulated at both the transcriptional and posttranslational levels (1). In response to stress, the HSP27 expression increases several-fold to confer cellular resistance to the adverse environmental change. HSP27 is phosphorylated at Ser15, Ser78, and Ser82 by MAPKAPK-2 as a result of the activation of the p38 MAP kinase pathway (2,3). Phosphorylation of HSP27 causes a change in its tertiary structure, which shifts from large homotypic multimers to dimers and monomers (4). It has been shown that phosphorylation and increased concentration of HSP27 modulates actin polymerization and reorganization (5,6).
Background: The inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) family consists of an evolutionarily conserved group of apoptosis inhibitors containing a conserved 70 amino acid BIR (baculovirus inhibitor repeat) domain (1,2). Human members of this family include c-IAP1, c-IAP2, XIAP, survivin, livin, and NAIP. Overexpression of IAP family members, particularly survivin and livin, in cancer cell lines and primary tumors suggests an important role for these proteins in cancer progression (3-5). In general, the IAP proteins function through direct interactions to inhibit the activity of several caspases, including caspase-3, caspase-7, and caspase-9 (5,6). In addition, binding of IAP family members to the mitochondrial protein Smac blocks their interaction with caspase-9, thereby allowing the processing and activation of the caspase (2).
Background: The NF-κB/Rel transcription factors are present in the cytosol in an inactive state, complexed with the inhibitory IκB proteins (1-3). Most agents that activate NF-κB do so through a common pathway based on phosphorylation-induced, proteasome-mediated degradation of IκB (3-7). The key regulatory step in this pathway involves activation of a high molecular weight IκB kinase (IKK) complex whose catalysis is generally carried out by three tightly associated IKK subunits. IKKα and IKKβ serve as the catalytic subunits of the kinase and IKKγ serves as the regulatory subunit (8,9). Activation of IKK depends upon phosphorylation at Ser177 and Ser181 in the activation loop of IKKβ (Ser176 and Ser180 in IKKα), which causes conformational changes, resulting in kinase activation (10-13).
Background: The innate immune system works as the first line of defense in protection from pathogenic microbes and host-derived signals of cellular distress. One way in which these “danger” signals trigger inflammation is through activation of inflammasomes, which are multiprotein complexes that assemble in the cytosol after exposure to pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) or danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) and result in the activation of caspase-1 and subsequent cleavage of proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β and IL-18 (Reviewd in 1-6). Inflammasome complexes typically consist of a cytosolic pattern recognition receptor (PRR; a nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich-repeat [NLR] or AIM2-like receptor [ALR] family member), an adaptor protein (ASC/TMS1), and pro-caspase-1. A number of distinct inflammasome complexes have been identified, each with a unique PRR and activation triggers. The best characterized is the NLRP3 complex, which contains NLRP3, ASC/TMS1, and pro-caspase-1. The NLRP3 inflammasome is activated in a two-step process. First, NF-κB signaling is induced through PAMP- or DAMP-mediated activation of TLR4 or TNFR, resulting in increased expression of NLRP3, pro-IL-1β, and pro-IL-18 (priming step, signal 1). Next, indirect activation of NLRP3 occurs by a multitude of signals (whole pathogens, PAMPs/DAMPs, potassium efflux, lysosomal-damaging environmental factors [uric acid, silica, alum] and endogenous factors [amyloid-β, cholesterol crystals], and mitochondrial damage), leading to complex assembly and activation of caspase-1 (signal 2). The complex inflammasome structure is built via domain interactions among the protein components. Other inflammasomes are activated by more direct means: double-stranded DNA activates the AIM2 complex, anthrax toxin activates NLRP1, and bacterial flagellin activates NLRC4. Activated caspase-1 induces secretion of proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β and -18, but also regulates metabolic enzyme expression, phagosome maturation, vasodilation, and pyroptosis, an inflammatory programmed cell death. Inflammasome signaling contributes to the onset of a number of diseases, including atherosclerosis, type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and autoimmune disorders.