Doctor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge (2010)
Jan Carette, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
In 1999, mutations in the gene encoding the microtubule severing AAA ATPase spastin were identified as a major cause of a genetic neurodegenerative condition termed hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP). This finding stimulated intense study of the spastin protein and over the last decade, a combination of cell biological, in vivo, in vitro and structural studies have provided important mechanistic insights into the cellular functions of the protein, as well as elucidating cell biological pathways that might be involved in axonal maintenance and degeneration. Roles for spastin have emerged in shaping the endoplasmic reticulum and the abscission stage of cytokinesis, in which spastin appears to couple membrane modelling to microtubule regulation by severing.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2011.08.010
View details for Web of Science ID 000300197200022
View details for PubMedID 21888932
Early endosomal cargo is typically targeted to either a degradative or recycling pathway. Despite established functions for the retromer and ESCRT complexes at late endosomes/multivesicular bodies, the mechanisms integrating and coordinating these functions remain largely unknown. Rab family GTPases are key membrane trafficking organizers and could contribute. Here, in the unicellular organism Trypanosoma brucei, we demonstrate that Rab28 locates to the endosomal pathway and partially colocalizes with Vps23, an ESCRT I component. Rab28 is required for turnover of endocytosed proteins and for lysosomal delivery of protein cargo. Using RNA interference we find that in Rab28-depleted cells, protein levels of ESCRT I (Vps23/28) and retromer (Vps26) are also decreased, suggesting that Rab28 is an important regulator of these factors. We suggest that Rab28 coordinates the activity of retromer-dependent trafficking and ESCRT-mediated degradative pathways.
View details for DOI 10.1242/jcs.079178
View details for Web of Science ID 000298145400006
View details for PubMedID 22100919
Rab small GTPases are important mediators of membrane transport, and orthologues frequently retain similar locations and functions, even between highly divergent taxa. In metazoan organisms Rab23 is an important negative regulator of Sonic hedgehog signaling and is crucial for correct development and differentiation of cellular lineages by virtue of an involvement in ciliary recycling. Previously, we reported that Trypanosoma brucei Rab23 localized to the nuclear envelope 1, which is clearly inconsistent with the mammalian location and function. As T. brucei is unicellular the potential that Rab23 has no role in cell signaling was possible. Here we sought to further investigate the role(s) of Rab23 in T. brucei to determine if Rab23 was an example of a Rab protein with divergent function in distinct taxa. METHODS/MAJOR FINDINGS: The taxonomic distribution of Rab23 was examined and compared with the presence of flagella/cilia in representative taxa. Despite evidence for considerable secondary loss, we found a clear correlation between a conventional flagellar structure and the presence of a Rab23 orthologue in the genome. By epitope-tagging, Rab23 was localized and found to be present at the flagellum throughout the cell cycle. However, RNAi knockdown did not result in a flagellar defect, suggesting that Rab23 is not required for construction or maintenance of the flagellum.The location of Rab23 at the flagellum is conserved between mammals and trypanosomes and the Rab23 gene is restricted to flagellated organisms. These data may suggest the presence of a Rab23-mediated signaling mechanism in trypanosomes.
View details for DOI 10.1186/1756-0500-4-190
View details for PubMedID 21676215
Intracellular trafficking is a major mechanism contributing to maintenance of the surface composition in most eukaryotic cells. In the case of unicellular eukaryotic pathogens, the surface also represents the host-parasite interface. Therefore, the parasite surface is both a critical player in immune recognition, from the host's point of view, or in immune evasion, from the pathogen's point. The African trypanosomes are remarkable in dwelling throughout their period in the mammalian host within the bloodstream and tissue spaces, and have evolved several mechanisms that facilitate chronic infection. Here, we discuss current understanding of intracellular trafficking pathways of trypanosomes, and relate these processes to immune evasion strategies by the parasite and avoidance of immune responses from the host.
View details for DOI 10.1016/S1937-6448(09)78001-3
View details for Web of Science ID 000271413700001
View details for PubMedID 19815176