Thakor, Nehalkumar

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    Probabilistic models of uORF-mediated ATF4 translation control
    (Elsevier, 2022) Marasco, Olivia N. J. M.; Roussel, Marc R.; Thakor, Nehal
    ATF4 is a key transcription factor that activates transcription of genes needed to respond to cellular stress. Although the mRNA encoding ATF4 is present at constant levels in the cell during the initial response, translation of ATF4 increases under conditions of cellular stress while the global translation rate decreases. We study two models for the control system that regulates the translation of ATF4, both based on the Vattem-Wek hypothesis. This hypothesis is based on a race to reload, following the translation of a small upstream open reading frame (uORF), the ternary complex that brings the initiator tRNA to the ribosome as the 40S subunit scans along the mRNA, encountering first a start codon for an inhibitory uORF whose reading frame overlaps the start of the ATF4 coding sequence. We develop a pair of simple, analytic, probabilistic models, one of which assumes all nucleotide triplets have identical kinetic properties, while the other recognizes the existence of triplets at which the ternary complex loads more efficiently. We also consider two different functions representing the dependence of the rate of initiation at uORF1 on the ternary complex concentration. In keeping with the theme of this Special Issue, we studied the properties of these models in a Maple document, which can easily be modified to consider different parameters, translation rate initiation functions, and so on.
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    Depletion of eukaryotic initiation factor 5B (eIF5B) reprograms the cellular transcriptome and leads to activation of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and c-Jun N-terminal Kinase (JNK).
    (Springer, 2021) Bressler, Kamiko R.; Ross, Joseph A.; Ilnytskyy, Slava; Vanden Dungen, Keiran; Taylor, Katrina; Patel, Kush; Zovoilis, Athanasios; Kovalchuk, Igor; Thakor, Nehal
    During the integrated stress response (ISR), global translation initiation is attenuated; however, noncanonical mechanisms allow for the continued translation of specific transcripts. Eukaryotic initiation factor 5B (eIF5B) has been shown to play a critical role in canonical translation as well as in noncanonical mechanisms involving internal ribosome entry site (IRES) and upstream open reading frame (uORF) elements. The uORF-mediated translation regulation of activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) mRNA plays a pivotal role in the cellular ISR. Our recent study confirmed that eIF5B depletion removes uORF2-mediated repression of ATF4 translation, which results in the upregulation of growth arrest and DNA damage-inducible protein 34 (GADD34) transcription. Accordingly, we hypothesized that eIF5B depletion may reprogram the transcriptome profile of the cell. Here, we employed genome-wide transcriptional analysis on eIF5B-depleted cells. Further, we validate the up- and downregulation of several transcripts from our RNA-seq data using RT-qPCR. We identified upregulated pathways including cellular response to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, and mucin-type O-glycan biosynthesis, as well as downregulated pathways of transcriptional misregulation in cancer and T cell receptor signaling. We also confirm that depletion of eIF5B leads to activation of the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) arm of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. This data suggests that depletion of eIF5B reprograms the cellular transcriptome and influences critical cellular processes such as ER stress and ISR.
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    Eukaryotic initiation factor 5B (eIF5B) regulates temozolomide-mediated apoptosis in brain tumor stem cells (BTSCs)
    (Canadian Science Publishing, 2019) Ross, Joseph A.; Ahn, Bo Young; King, Jennifer; Bressler, Kamiko R.; Senger, Donna L.; Thakor, Nehal
    Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is among the deadliest cancers, owing in part to complex inter- and intra-tumor heterogeneity and the presence of a population of stem-like cells called brain tumor stem cells (BTSCs/BTICs). These cancer stem cells survive treatment and confer resistance to the current therapies—namely, radiation and the chemotherapeutic, temozolomide (TMZ). TMZ induces cell death by alkylating DNA, and BTSCs resist this mechanism via a robust DNA damage response. Hence, recent studies aimed to sensitize BTSCs to TMZ using combination therapy, such as inhibition of DNA repair machinery. We have previously demonstrated in established GBM cell lines that eukaryotic initiation factor 5B (eIF5B) promotes the translation of pro-survival and anti-apoptotic proteins. Consequently, silencing eIF5B sensitizes these cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. However, established cell lines do not always recapitulate the features of human glioma. Therefore, we investigated this mechanism in patient-derived BTSCs. We show that silencing eIF5B leads to increased TMZ sensitivity in two BTSC lines, BT25 and BT48. Depletion of eIF5B decreases levels of anti-apoptotic proteins in BT48 and sensitizes these cells to TMZ-induced activation of caspase-3, cleavage of PARP, and apoptosis. We suggest that eIF5B represents a rational target to sensitize GBM tumors to the current standard-of-care.
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    Cellular roles of the human Obg-like ATPase 1 (hOLA1) and its YchF homologs
    (Canadian Science Publishing, 2020) Balasingam, Nirujah; Brandon, Harland E.; Ross, Joseph A.; Wieden, Hans-Joachim; Thakor, Nehal
    P-loop NTPases comprise one of the major superfamilies of nucleotide binding proteins, which mediate a variety of cellular processes, such as mRNA translation, signal transduction, cell motility, and growth regulation. In this review, we discuss the structure and function of two members of the ancient Obg-related family of P-loop GTPases: human Obg-like ATPase 1 (hOLA1), and its bacterial/plant homolog, YchF. After a brief discussion of nucleotide binding proteins in general and the classification of the Obg-related family in particular, we discuss the sequence and structural features of YchF and hOLA1. We then explore the various functional roles of hOLA1 in mammalian cells during stress response and cancer progression, and of YchF in bacterial cells. Finally, we directly compare and contrast the structure and function of hOLA1 with YchF before summarizing the future perspectives of hOLA1 research. This review is timely, given the variety of recent studies aimed at understanding the roles of hOLA1 and YchF in such critical processes as cellular-stress response, oncogenesis, and protein synthesis.
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    Applications and limitations of regulatory RNA elements in synthetic biology and biotechnology
    (Wiley, 2019) Nshogozabahizi, J. C.; Aubrey, K. L.; Ross, J. A.; Thakor, Nehal
    Synthetic biology requires the design and implementation of novel enzymes, genetic circuits or even entire cells, which can be controlled by the user. RNA‐based regulatory elements have many important functional properties in this regard, such as their modular nature and their ability to respond to specific external stimuli. These properties have led to the widespread exploration of their use as gene regulation devices in synthetic biology. In this review, we focus on two major types of RNA elements: riboswitches and RNA thermometers (RNATs). We describe their general structure and function, before discussing their potential uses in synthetic biology (e.g. in the production of biofuels and biodegradable plastics). We also discuss their limitations, and novel strategies to implement RNA‐based regulatory devices in biotechnological applications. We close with a description of some common model organisms used in synthetic biology, with a focus on the current applications and limitations of RNA‐based regulation.