Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
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Animal Molecular Physiology

Dr. Frank Möhrlen

Genovese F, Bauersachs HG, Gräßer I, Kupke J, Magin L, Daiber P, Nakajima J, Möhrlen F, Messlinger K, Frings S. (2016). Possible role of calcitonin gene-related peptide in trigeminal modulation of glomerular microcircuits of the rodent olfactory bulb. Eur J Neurosci. 45: 587-600
Abstract
Chemosensation in the mammalian nose comprises detection of odorants, irritants and pheromones. While the traditional view assigned one distinct sub-system to each stimulus type, recent research has produced a more complex picture. Odorants are not only detected by olfactory sensory neurons but also by the trigeminal system. Irritants, in turn, may have a distinct odor, and some pheromones are detected by the olfactory epithelium. Moreover, it is well established that irritants change odor perception and vice versa. A wealth of psychophysical evidence on olfactory-trigeminal interactions in humans contrasts with a paucity of structural insight. In particular, it is unclear whether the two systems communicate just by sharing stimuli, or whether neuronal connections mediate cross-modal signaling. One connection could exist in the olfactory bulb that performs the primary processing of olfactory signals and receives trigeminal innervation. In the present study, neuroanatomical tracing of the mouse ethmoid system illustrates how peptidergic fibers enter the glomerular layer of the olfactory bulb, where local microcircuits process and filter the afferent signal. Biochemical assays reveal release of calcitonin gene-related peptide from olfactory bulb slices and attenuation of cAMP signaling by the neuropeptide. In the non-stimulated tissue, the neuropeptide specifically inhibited the basal activity of calbindin-expressing periglomerular interneurons, but did not affect the basal activity of neurons expressing calretinin, parvalbumin, or tyrosine hydroxylase, nor the activity of astrocytes. This study represents a first step towards understanding trigeminal neuromodulation of olfactory-bulb microcircuits and provides a working hypothesis for trigeminal inhibition of olfactory signal processing. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Pubmed 
Bartels MF, Winterhalter PR, Yu J, Liu Y, Lommel M, Möhrlen F, Hu H, Feizi T, Westerlind U, Ruppert T, Strahl S. (2016). Protein O-Mannosylation in the Murine Brain: Occurrence of Mono-O-Mannosyl Glycans and Identification of New Substrates. PLoS One. 11(11):e0166119.
Abstract
Protein O-mannosylation is a post-translational modification essential for correct development of mammals. In humans, deficient O-mannosylation results in severe congenital muscular dystrophies often associated with impaired brain and eye development. Although various O-mannosylated proteins have been identified in the recent years, the distribution of O-mannosyl glycans in the mammalian brain and target proteins are still not well defined. In the present study, rabbit monoclonal antibodies directed against the O-mannosylated peptide YAT(α1-Man)AV were generated. Detailed characterization of clone RKU-1-3-5 revealed that this monoclonal antibody recognizes O-linked mannose also in different peptide and protein contexts. Using this tool, we observed that mono-O-mannosyl glycans occur ubiquitously throughout the murine brain but are especially enriched at inhibitory GABAergic neurons and at the perineural nets. Using a mass spectrometry-based approach, we further identified glycoproteins from the murine brain that bear single O-mannose residues. Among the candidates identified are members of the cadherin and plexin superfamilies and the perineural net protein neurocan. In addition, we identified neurexin 3, a cell adhesion protein involved in synaptic plasticity, and inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor 5, a protease inhibitor important in stabilizing the extracellular matrix, as new O-mannosylated glycoproteins.
Genovese F, Thews M, Möhrlen F, Frings S (2016). Properties of an optogenetic model for olfactory stimulation. Journal of Physiology   595: 3501-3516
Abstract
© 2016 The Authors. The Journal of Physiology © 2016 The Physiological Society.
Zhang W, Schmelzeisen S, Parthier D, Frings S, Möhrlen F. (2015). Anoctamin Calcium-Activated Chloride Channels May Modulate Inhibitory Transmission in the Cerebellar Cortex. PLoS One. 10(11):e0142160.
Abstract
Calcium-activated chloride channels of the anoctamin (alias TMEM16) protein family fulfill critical functions in epithelial fluid transport, smooth muscle contraction and sensory signal processing. Little is known, however, about their contribution to information processing in the central nervous system. Here we examined the recent finding that a calcium-dependent chloride conductance impacts on GABAergic synaptic inhibition in Purkinje cells of the cerebellum. We asked whether anoctamin channels may underlie this chloride conductance. We identified two anoctamin channel proteins, ANO1 and ANO2, in the cerebellar cortex. ANO1 was expressed in inhibitory interneurons of the molecular layer and the granule cell layer. Both channels were expressed in Purkinje cells but, while ANO1 appeared to be retained in the cell body, ANO2 was targeted to the dendritic tree. Functional studies confirmed that ANO2 was involved in a calcium-dependent mode of ionic plasticity that reduces the efficacy of GABAergic synapses. ANO2 channels attenuated GABAergic transmission by increasing the postsynaptic chloride concentration, hence reducing the driving force for chloride influx. Our data suggest that ANO2 channels are involved in a Ca2+-dependent regulation of synaptic weight in GABAergic inhibition. Thus, in balance with the chloride extrusion mechanism via the co-transporter KCC2, ANO2 appears to regulate ionic plasticity in the cerebellum.
Vocke K, Dauner K, Hahn A, Ulbrich A, Broecker J, Keller S, Frings S, Möhrlen F. (2013). Calmodulin-dependent activation and inactivation of anoctamin calcium-gated chloride channels. J Gen Physiol. 142(4):381-404.
Abstract
Calcium-dependent chloride channels serve critical functions in diverse biological systems. Driven by cellular calcium signals, the channels codetermine excitatory processes and promote solute transport. The anoctamin (ANO) family of membrane proteins encodes three calcium-activated chloride channels, named ANO 1 (also TMEM16A), ANO 2 (also TMEM16B), and ANO 6 (also TMEM16F). Here we examined how ANO 1 and ANO 2 interact with Ca(2+)/calmodulin using nonstationary current analysis during channel activation. We identified a putative calmodulin-binding domain in the N-terminal region of the channel proteins that is involved in channel activation. Binding studies with peptides indicated that this domain, a regulatory calmodulin-binding motif (RCBM), provides two distinct modes of interaction with Ca(2+)/calmodulin, one at submicromolar Ca(2+) concentrations and one in the micromolar Ca(2+) range. Functional, structural, and pharmacological data support the concept that calmodulin serves as a calcium sensor that is stably associated with the RCBM domain and regulates the activation of ANO 1 and ANO 2 channels. Moreover, the predominant splice variant of ANO 2 in the brain exhibits Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent inactivation, a loss of channel activity within 30 s. This property may curtail ANO 2 activity during persistent Ca(2+) signals in neurons. Mutagenesis data indicated that the RCBM domain is also involved in ANO 2 inactivation, and that inactivation is suppressed in the retinal ANO 2 splice variant. These results advance the understanding of Ca(2+) regulation in anoctamin Cl(-) channels and its significance for the physiological function that anoctamin channels subserve in neurons and other cell types.
Dauner K(1), Möbus C, Frings S, Möhrlen F. (2013). Targeted expression of anoctamin calcium-activated chloride channels in rod photoreceptor terminals of the rodent retina. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 54(5):3126-36.
Abstract
PURPOSE: In the vertebrate retina, calcium-activated chloride channels are expressed in photoreceptor synaptic terminals. These channels are involved in the control of transmitter release in the dark. The search for their molecular identity has recently lead to the localization of the protein anoctamin 2 (also TMEM16B) in the outer plexiform layer of the rodent retina. Since both rod and cone photoreceptors have their terminals in this layer, it was not clear which of these express anoctamin 2. Here, we examine rod spherules and cone pedicles for expression of anoctamin 2. METHODS: Expression of anoctamin genes was studied in the rat eye using RT-PCR. Immunohistochemical experiments were used to localize anoctamins and chloride transporters with their regulatory kinases. Photoreceptor synaptic proteins, as well as the lectins Peanut agglutinin and Griffonia simplicifolia agglutinin, were used to distinguish retinal structures. RESULTS: Anoctamin 1, 2, and 10 were found to be expressed in the eye. Anoctamin 2 was expressed as a splice variant that includes exon 15 of the genomic structure. The protein is exclusively expressed in rod terminals and is not present in cone pedicles. Expression is not clustered at the ribbon complex, but spread across the presynaptic membrane where it colocalizes with the plasma membrane calcium pump. The electroneutral chloride transporter NKCC1 is expressed in photoreceptor terminals, together with its regulatory kinases SPAK and OSR1. CONCLUSIONS: Rod photoreceptor terminals possess the molecular machinery for chloride accumulation and for the generation of calcium-dependent chloride currents conducted through anoctamin 2 channels. We discuss this finding in the framework of the established hypothesis that calcium-activated chloride channels are part of a feedback inhibition mechanism that limits transmitter release in the dark.
Daiber P(1), Genovese F, Schriever VA, Hummel T, Möhrlen F, Frings S. (2012). Neuropeptide receptors provide a signalling pathway for trigeminal modulation of olfactory transduction. Eur J Neurosci. 37(4):572-82.
Abstract
The mammalian olfactory epithelium contains olfactory receptor neurons and trigeminal sensory endings. The former mediate odor detection, the latter the detection of irritants. The two apparently parallel chemosensory systems are in reality interdependent in various well-documented ways. Psychophysical studies have shown that virtually all odorants can act as irritants, and that most irritants have an odor. Thus, the sensory perception of odorants and irritants is based on simultaneous input from the two systems. Moreover, functional interactions between the olfactory system and the trigeminal system exist on both peripheral and central levels. Here we examine the impact of trigeminal stimulation on the odor response of olfactory receptor neurons. Using an odorant with low trigeminal potency (phenylethyl alcohol) and a non-odorous irritant (CO(2) ), we have explored this interaction in psychophysical experiments with human subjects and in electroolfactogram (EOG) recordings from rats. We have demonstrated that simultaneous activation of the trigeminal system attenuates the perception of odor intensity and distorts the EOG response. On the molecular level, we have identified a route for this cross-modal interaction. The neuropeptide calcitonin-gene related peptide (CGRP), which is released from trigeminal sensory fibres upon irritant stimulation, inhibits the odor response of olfactory receptor neurons. CGRP receptors expressed by these neurons mediate this neuromodulatory effect. This study demonstrates a site of trigeminal-olfactory interaction in the periphery. It reveals a pathway for trigeminal impact on olfactory signal processing that influences odor perception.
Pubmed 
Dauner K(1), Lissmann J, Jeridi S, Frings S, Möhrlen F. (2012). Expression patterns of anoctamin 1 and anoctamin 2 chloride channels in the mammalian nose. Cell Tissue Res. 347(2):327-41.
Abstract
Calcium-activated chloride channels are expressed in chemosensory neurons of the nose and contribute to secretory processes and sensory signal transduction. These channels are thought to be members of the family of anoctamins (alternative name: TMEM16 proteins), which are opened by micromolar concentrations of intracellular Ca(2+). Two family members,ANO 1 (TMEM16A) and ANO 2 (TMEM16B), are expressed in the various sensory and respiratory tissues of the nose.We have examined the tissue specificity and sub-cellular localization of these channels in the nasal respiratory epithelium and in the five chemosensory organs of the nose: the main olfactory epithelium, the septal organ of Masera, the vomeronasal organ, the Grueneberg ganglion and the trigeminal system. We have found that the two channels show mutually exclusive expression patterns. ANO 1 is present in the apical membranes of various secretory epithelia in which it is co-localized with the water channel aquaporin 5. It has also been detected in acinar cells and duct cells of subepithelial glands and in the supporting cells of sensory epithelia. In contrast, ANO 2 expression is restricted to chemosensory neurons in which it has been detected in microvillar and ciliary surface structures. The different expression patterns of ANO 1 and ANO 2 have been observed in the olfactory, vomeronasal and respiratory epithelia. No expression has been detected in the Grueneberg ganglion or trigeminal sensory fibers. On the basis of this differential expression, we derive the main functional features of ANO 1 and ANO 2 chloride channels in the nose and suggest their significance for nasal physiology.
Ungerer N(1), Mücke N, Broecker J, Keller S, Frings S, Möhrlen F. (2011). Distinct binding properties distinguish LQ-type calmodulin-binding domains in cyclic nucleotide-gated channels. Biochemistry. 50(15):3221-8.
Abstract
Cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) channels operate as transduction channels in photoreceptors and olfactory receptor neurons. Direct binding of cGMP or cAMP opens these channels which conduct a mixture of monovalent cations and Ca(2+). Upon activation, CNG channels generate intracellular Ca(2+) signals that play pivotal roles in the transduction cascades of the visual and olfactory systems. Channel activity is controlled by negative feedback mechanisms that involve Ca(2+)-calmodulin, for which all CNG channels possess binding sites. Here we compare the binding properties of the two LQ-type calmodulin binding sites, both of which are thought to be involved in channel regulation. They reside on the isoforms CNGB1 and CNGA4. The CNGB1 subunit is present in rod photoreceptors and olfactory receptor neurons. The CNGA4 subunit is only expressed in olfactory receptor neurons, and there are conflicting results as to its role in calmodulin-mediated feedback inhibition. We examined the interaction of Ca(2+)-calmodulin with two recombinant proteins that encompass either of the two LQ sites. Comparing binding properties, we found that the LQ site of CNGB1 binds Ca(2+)-calmodulin at 10-fold lower Ca(2+) levels than the LQ site of CNGA4. Our data provide biochemical evidence against a contribution of CNGA4 to feedback inhibition. In accordance with previous work on photoreceptor CNG channels, our results indicate that feedback control is the exclusive role of the B-subunits in photoreceptors and olfactory receptor neurons.
Hengl T(1), Kaneko H, Dauner K, Vocke K, Frings S, Möhrlen F. (2010). Molecular components of signal amplification in olfactory sensory cilia. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 107(13):6052-7.
Abstract
The mammalian olfactory system detects an unlimited variety of odorants with a limited set of odorant receptors. To cope with the complexity of the odor world, each odorant receptor must detect many different odorants. The demand for low odor selectivity creates problems for the transduction process: the initial transduction step, the synthesis of the second messenger cAMP, operates with low efficiency, mainly because odorants bind only briefly to their receptors. Sensory cilia of olfactory receptor neurons have developed an unusual solution to this problem. They accumulate chloride ions at rest and discharge a chloride current upon odor detection. This chloride current amplifies the receptor potential and promotes electrical excitation. We have studied this amplification process by examining identity, subcellular localization, and regulation of its molecular components. We found that the Na(+)/K(+)/2Cl(-) cotransporter NKCC1 is expressed in the ciliary membrane, where it mediates chloride accumulation into the ciliary lumen. Gene silencing experiments revealed that the activity of this transporter depends on the kinases SPAK and OSR1, which are enriched in the cilia together with their own activating kinases, WNK1 and WNK4. A second Cl(-) transporter, the Cl(-)/HCO(3)(-) exchanger SLC4A1, is expressed in the cilia and may support Cl(-) accumulation. The calcium-dependent chloride channel TMEM16B (ANO2) provides a ciliary pathway for the excitatory chloride current. These findings describe a specific set of ciliary proteins involved in anion-based signal amplification. They provide a molecular concept for the unique strategy that allows olfactory sensory neurons to operate as efficient transducers of weak sensory stimuli.
Waldeck C(1), Vocke K, Ungerer N, Frings S, Möhrlen F. (2009). Activation and desensitization of the olfactory cAMP-gated transduction channel: identification of functional modules. J Gen Physiol. 134(5):397-408.
Abstract
Olfactory receptor neurons respond to odor stimulation with a receptor potential that results from the successive activation of cyclic AMP (cAMP)-gated, Ca(2+)-permeable channels and Ca(2+)-activated chloride channels. The cAMP-gated channels open at micromolar concentrations of their ligand and are subject to a Ca(2+)-dependent feedback inhibition by calmodulin. Attempts to understand the operation of these channels have been hampered by the fact that the channel protein is composed of three different subunits, CNGA2, CNGA4, and CNGB1b. Here, we explore the individual role that each subunit plays in the gating process. Using site-directed mutagenesis and patch clamp analysis, we identify three functional modules that govern channel operation: a module that opens the channel, a module that stabilizes the open state at low cAMP concentrations, and a module that mediates rapid Ca(2+)-dependent feedback inhibition. Each subunit could be assigned to one of these functions that, together, define the gating logic of the olfactory transduction channel.
Klimmeck D(1), Daiber PC, Brühl A, Baumann A, Frings S, Möhrlen F. (2009). Bestrophin 2: an anion channel associated with neurogenesis in chemosensory systems. J Comp Neurol. 515(5):585-99.
Abstract
The chemosensory neuroepithelia of the vertebrate olfactory system share a life-long ability to regenerate. Novel neurons proliferate from basal stem cells that continuously replace old or damaged sensory neurons. The sensory neurons of the mouse and rat olfactory system specifically express bestrophin 2, a member of the bestrophin family of calcium-activated chloride channels. This channel was recently proposed to operate as a transduction channel in olfactory sensory cilia. We raised a polyclonal antibody against bestrophin 2 and characterized the expression pattern of this protein in the mouse main olfactory epithelium, septal organ of Masera, and vomeronasal organ. Comparison with the maturation markers growth-associated protein 43 and olfactory marker protein revealed that bestrophin 2 was expressed in developing sensory neurons of all chemosensory neuroepithelia, but was restricted to proximal cilia in mature sensory neurons. Our results suggest that bestrophin 2 plays a critical role during differentiation and growth of axons and cilia. In mature olfactory receptor neurons, it appears to support growth and function of sensory cilia.
Pubmed 
Mayer U(1), Küller A, Daiber PC, Neudorf I, Warnken U, Schnölzer M, Frings S, Möhrlen F. (2009). The proteome of rat olfactory sensory cilia. Proteomics. 9(2):322-34.
Abstract
Olfactory sensory neurons expose to the inhaled air chemosensory cilia which bind odorants and operate as transduction organelles. Odorant receptors in the ciliary membrane activate a transduction cascade which uses cAMP and Ca(2+) for sensory signaling in the ciliary lumen. Although the canonical transduction pathway is well established, molecular components for more complex aspects of sensory transduction, like adaptation, regulation, and termination of the receptor response have not been systematically identified. Moreover, open questions in olfactory physiology include how the cilia exchange solutes with the surrounding mucus, assemble their highly polarized set of proteins, and cope with noxious substances in the ambient air. A specific ciliary proteome would promote research efforts in all of these fields. We have improved a method to detach cilia from rat olfactory sensory neurons and have isolated a preparation specifically enriched in ciliary membrane proteins. Using LC-ESI-MS/MS analysis, we identified 377 proteins which constitute the olfactory cilia proteome. These proteins represent a comprehensive data set for olfactory research since more than 80% can be attributed to the characteristic functions of olfactory sensory neurons and their cilia: signal processing, protein targeting, neurogenesis, solute transport, and cytoprotection. Organellar proteomics thus yielded decisive information about the diverse physiological functions of a sensory organelle.
Morcos M(1), Du X, Pfisterer F, Hutter H, Sayed AA, Thornalley P, Ahmed N, Baynes J, Thorpe S, Kukudov G, Schlotterer A, Bozorgmehr F, El Baki RA, Stern D, Moehrlen F, Ibrahim Y, Oikonomou D, Hamann A, Becker C, Zeier M, Schwenger V, Miftari N, Humpert P, Hammes HP, Buechler M, Bierhaus A, Brownlee M, Nawroth PP. (2008). Glyoxalase-1 prevents mitochondrial protein modification and enhances lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans. Aging Cell. 7(2):260-9.
Abstract
Studies of mutations affecting lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans show that mitochondrial generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) plays a major causative role in organismal aging. Here, we describe a novel mechanism for regulating mitochondrial ROS production and lifespan in C. elegans: progressive mitochondrial protein modification by the glycolysis-derived dicarbonyl metabolite methylglyoxal (MG). We demonstrate that the activity of glyoxalase-1, an enzyme detoxifying MG, is markedly reduced with age despite unchanged levels of glyoxalase-1 mRNA. The decrease in enzymatic activity promotes accumulation of MG-derived adducts and oxidative stress markers, which cause further inhibition of glyoxalase-1 expression. Over-expression of the C. elegans glyoxalase-1 orthologue CeGly decreases MG modifications of mitochondrial proteins and mitochondrial ROS production, and prolongs C. elegans lifespan. In contrast, knock-down of CeGly increases MG modifications of mitochondrial proteins and mitochondrial ROS production, and decreases C. elegans lifespan.
 

 

Funk K(1), Woitecki A, Franjic-Würtz C, Gensch T, Möhrlen F, Frings S. (2008). Modulation of chloride homeostasis by inflammatory mediators in dorsal root ganglion neurons. Mol Pain. 4:32.

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Chloride currents in peripheral nociceptive neurons have been implicated in the generation of afferent nociceptive signals, as Cl- accumulation in sensory endings establishes the driving force for depolarizing, and even excitatory, Cl- currents. The intracellular Cl- concentration can, however, vary considerably between individual DRG neurons. This raises the question, whether the contribution of Cl- currents to signal generation differs between individual afferent neurons, and whether the specific Cl- levels in these neurons are subject to modulation. Based on the hypothesis that modulation of the peripheral Cl- homeostasis is involved in the generation of inflammatory hyperalgesia, we examined the effects of inflammatory mediators on intracellular Cl- concentrations and on the expression levels of Cl- transporters in rat DRG neurons. RESULTS: We developed an in vitro assay for testing how inflammatory mediators influence Cl- concentration and the expression of Cl- transporters. Intact DRGs were treated with 100 ng/ml NGF, 1.8 microM ATP, 0.9 microM bradykinin, and 1.4 microM PGE2 for 1-3 hours. Two-photon fluorescence lifetime imaging with the Cl--sensitive dye MQAE revealed an increase of the intracellular Cl- concentration within 2 hours of treatment. This effect coincided with enhanced phosphorylation of the Na+-K+-2Cl- cotransporter NKCC1, suggesting that an increased activity of that transporter caused the early rise of intracellular Cl- levels. Immunohistochemistry of NKCC1 and KCC2, the main neuronal Cl- importer and exporter, respectively, exposed an inverse regulation by the inflammatory mediators. While the NKCC1 immunosignal increased, that of KCC2 declined after 3 hours of treatment. In contrast, the mRNA levels of the two transporters did not change markedly during this time. These data demonstrate a fundamental transition in Cl- homeostasis toward a state of augmented Cl- accumulation, which is induced by a 1-3 hour treatment with inflammatory mediators. CONCLUSION: Our findings indicate that inflammatory mediators impact on Cl- homeostasis in DRG neurons. Inflammatory mediators raise intracellular Cl- levels and, hence, the driving force for depolarizing Cl- efflux. These findings corroborate current concepts for the role of Cl- regulation in the generation of inflammatory hyperalgesia and allodynia. As the intracellular Cl- concentration rises in DRG neurons, afferent signals can be boosted by excitatory Cl- currents in the presynaptic terminals. Moreover, excitatory Cl- currents in peripheral sensory endings may also contribute to the generation or modulation of afferent signals, especially in inflamed tissue.
Klimmeck D(1), Mayer U, Ungerer N, Warnken U, Schnölzer M, Frings S, Möhrlen F. (2007). Calcium-signaling networks in olfactory receptor neurons. Neuroscience. 151(3):901-12.
Abstract
The olfactory neuroepithelium represents a unique interface between the brain and the external environment. Olfactory function comprises a distinct set of molecular tasks: sensory signal transduction, cytoprotection and adult neurogenesis. A multitude of biochemical studies has revealed the central role of Ca(2+) signaling in the function of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). We set out to establish Ca(2+)-dependent signaling networks in ORN cilia by proteomic analysis. We subjected a ciliary membrane preparation to Ca(2+)/calmodulin-affinity chromatography using mild detergent conditions in order to maintain functional protein complexes involved in olfactory Ca(2+) signaling. Thus, calmodulin serves as a valuable tool to gain access to novel Ca(2+)-regulated protein complexes. Tandem mass spectrometry (nanoscale liquid-chromatography-electrospray injection) identified 123 distinct proteins. Ninety-seven proteins (79%) could be assigned to specific olfactory functions, including 32 to sensory signal transduction and 40 to cytoprotection. We point out novel perspectives for research on the Ca(2+)-signaling networks in the olfactory system of the rat.
Mayer U(1), Ungerer N, Klimmeck D, Warnken U, Schnölzer M, Frings S, Möhrlen F. (2007). Proteomic analysis of a membrane preparation from rat olfactory sensory cilia. Chem Senses. 33(2):145-62.
Abstract
The cilia of mammalian olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) represent the sensory interface that is exposed to the air within the nasal cavity. The cilia are the site where odorants bind to specific receptors and initiate olfactory transduction that leads to excitation of the neuron. This process involves a multitude of ciliary proteins that mediate chemoelectrical transduction, amplification, and adaptation of the primary sensory signal. Many of these proteins were initially identified by their enzymatic activities using a membrane protein preparation from olfactory cilia. This so-called "calcium-shock" preparation is a versatile tool for the exploration of protein expression, enzyme kinetics, regulatory mechanisms, and ciliary development. To support such studies, we present a first proteomic analysis of this membrane preparation. We subjected the cilia preparation to liquid chromatography-electrospray ionisation (LC-ESI-MS/MS) tandem mass spectrometry and identified 268 proteins, of which 49% are membrane proteins. A detailed analysis of their cellular and subcellular localization showed that the cilia preparation obtained by calcium shock not only is highly enriched in ORN proteins but also contains a significant amount of nonciliary material. Although our proteomic study does not identify the entire set of ciliary and nonciliary proteins, it provides the first estimate of the purity of the calcium-shock preparation and provides valuable biochemical information for further research.
Gilbert D(1), Franjic-Würtz C, Funk K, Gensch T, Frings S, Möhrlen F. (2007). Differential maturation of chloride homeostasis in primary afferent neurons of the somatosensory system. Int J Dev Neurosci. 25(7):479-89.
Abstract
Recent research into the generation of hyperalgesia has revealed that both the excitability of peripheral nociceptors and the transmission of their afferent signals in the spinal cord are subject to modulation by Cl(-) currents. The underlying Cl(-) homeostasis of nociceptive neurons, in particular its postnatal maturation, is, however, poorly understood. Here we measure the intracellular Cl(-) concentration, [Cl(-)]i, of somatosensory neurons in intact dorsal root ganglia of mice. Using two-photon fluorescence-lifetime imaging microscopy, we determined [Cl(-)]i in newborn and adult animals. We found that the somatosensory neurons undergo a transition of Cl(-) homeostasis during the first three postnatal weeks that leads to a decline of [Cl(-)]i in most neurons. Immunohistochemistry showed that a major fraction of neurons in the dorsal root ganglia express the cation-chloride co-transporters NKCC1 and KCC2, indicating that the molecular equipment for Cl(-) accumulation and extrusion is present. RT-PCR analysis showed that the transcription pattern of electroneutral Cl(-) co-transporters does not change during the maturation process. These findings demonstrate that dorsal root ganglion neurons undergo a developmental transition of chloride homeostasis during the first three postnatal weeks. This process parallels the developmental "chloride switch" in the central nervous system. However, while most CNS neurons achieve homogeneously low [Cl(-)]i levels - which is the basis of GABAergic and glycinergic inhibition - somatosensory neurons maintain a heterogeneous pattern of [Cl(-)]i values. This suggests that Cl(-) currents are excitatory in some somatosensory neurons, but inhibitory in others. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that Cl(-) homeostasis in somatosensory neurons is regulated through posttranslational modification of cation-chloride co-transporters.
Gilbert D(1), Funk K, Dekowski B, Lechler R, Keller S, Möhrlen F, Frings S, Hagen V. (2007). Caged capsaicins: New tools for the examination of TRPV1 channels in somatosensory neurons. Chembiochem. 8(1):89-97.
Abstract
The vanilloid capsaicin, N-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzyl)-8-methylnon-6-enamide, is the pungent ingredient of chili peppers and is used in pain research as an activating ligand of heat-sensitive transduction channels in nociceptive neurons. Here we describe the synthesis and application of two capsaicin derivatives modified at the hydroxy function of the vanillyl motif: alpha-carboxy-4,5-dimethoxy-2-nitrobenzyl-caged (CDMNB-caged) capsaicin and {7-[bis(carboxymethyl)amino]coumarin-4-yl}methoxycarbonyl-caged (BCMACMOC-caged) capsaicin. These compounds show dramatically reduced pungency, but release active capsaicin upon irradiation with UV light. CDMNB-caged capsaicin can be used to perform concentration-jump experiments, while BCMACMOC-caged capsaicin is membrane-impermeant and can be applied selectively to the intracellular or extracellular sides of a plasma membrane. Both compounds can serve as valuable research tools in pain physiology.
Kaneko H(1), Möhrlen F, Frings S. (2006). Calmodulin contributes to gating control in olfactory calcium-activated chloride channels. J Gen Physiol. 127(6):737-48.
Abstract
In sensory neurons of the peripheral nervous system, receptor potentials can be amplified by depolarizing Cl currents. In mammalian olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs), this anion-based signal amplification results from the sequential activation of two distinct types of transduction channels: cAMP-gated Ca channels and Ca-activated Cl channels. The Cl current increases the initial receptor current about 10-fold and leads to the excitation of the neuron. Here we examine the activation mechanism of the Ca-dependent Cl channel. We focus on calmodulin, which is known to mediate Ca effects on various ion channels. We show that the cell line Odora, which is derived from OSN precursor cells in the rat olfactory epithelium, expresses Ca-activated Cl channels. Single-channel conductance, ion selectivity, voltage dependence, sensitivity to niflumic acid, and Ca sensitivity match between Odora channels and OSN channels. Transfection of Odora cells with CaM mutants reduces the Ca sensitivity of the Cl channels. This result points to the participation of calmodulin in the gating process of Ca-ativated Cl channels, and helps to understand how signal amplification works in the olfactory sensory cilia. Calmodulin was previously shown to mediate feedback inhibition of cAMP-synthesis and of the cAMP-gated Ca channels in OSNs. Our results suggest that calmodulin may also be instrumental in the generation of the excitatory Cl current. It appears to play a pivotal role in the peripheral signal processing of olfactory sensory information. Moreover, recent results from other peripheral neurons, as well as from smooth muscle cells, indicate that the calmodulin-controlled, anion-based signal amplification operates in various cell types where it converts Ca signals into membrane depolarization.
Teo R(1), Möhrlen F, Plickert G, Müller WA, Frank U. (2005). An evolutionary conserved role of Wnt signaling in stem cell fate decision. Dev Biol. 289(1):91-9.
Abstract
Wnt/Frizzled/ss-catenin-based signaling systems play diverse roles in metazoan development, being involved not only in the establishment of body axes in embryogenesis but also in regulating stem cell fate in mammalian post-embryonic development. We have studied the role the canonical Wnt cascade plays in stem cell fate determination in Hydractinia, a member of the ancient metazoan phylum Cnidaria, by analyzing two key molecules in this pathway, frizzled and ss-catenin, and blocking GSK-3. Generally, frizzled was expressed in cells able to divide but absent in post-mitotic, terminally differentiated cells such as nerve cells and nematocytes. Transcripts of frizzled were identified in all embryonic stages beginning with maternal transcripts in the oocyte. Following gastrulation and in the planula larva, frizzled expression concentrated in the central endodermal mass from which the first interstitial stem cells and their derivatives arise. In post-metamorphic development, high levels of frizzled transcripts were detected in interstitial stem cells. Activating downstream events of the Wnt-cascade in the post-metamorphic life phase by blocking GSK-3 with paullones induced recruitment of nematocytes and nerve cells from the pool of interstitial stem cells. Terminal differentiation was preceded by an initial burst of proliferation of frizzled-positive i-cells. In activated i-cells, ss-catenin appeared in the cytoplasm, later in the nucleus. It was subsequently again observed in the cytoplasm and eventually faded out during terminal differentiation. Our results suggest an ancient role of Wnt signaling in stem cell fate determination.
Guduric-Fuchs J(1), Möhrlen F, Frohme M, Frank U. (2004). A fragile X mental retardation-like gene in a cnidarian. Gene. 343(2):231-8.
Abstract
The fragile X mental retardation syndrome in humans is caused by a mutational loss of function of the fragile X mental retardation gene 1 (FMR1). FMR1 is an RNA-binding protein, involved in the development and function of the nervous system. Despite of its medical significance, the evolutionary origin of FMR1 has been unclear. Here, we report the molecular characterization of HyFMR1, an FMR1 orthologue, from the cnidarian hydroid Hydractinia echinata. Cnidarians are the most basal metazoans possessing neurons. HyFMR1 is expressed throughout the life cycle of Hydractinia. Its expression pattern correlates to the position of neurons and their precursor stem cells in the animal. Our data indicate that the origin of the fraxile X related (FXR) protein family dates back at least to the common ancestor of cnidarians and bilaterians. The lack of FXR proteins in other invertebrates may have been due to gene loss in particular lineages.
Mali B(1), Möhrlen F, Frohme M, Frank U. (2004). A putative double role of a chitinase in a cnidarian: pattern formation and immunity. Dev Comp Immunol. 28(10):973-81.
Abstract
Chitinases are enzymes that degrade chitin, the second most abundant polymer in nature. They are ubiquitous among living organisms where they play a role in development, food-digestion and innate immunity. We have cloned and characterized the first cnidarian chitinase cDNA from the hydroid Hydractinia. The Hydractinia chitinase exhibits a typical secreted family 18 hydrolases primary structure. In situ hybridization and RT-PCR experiments showed that it is exclusively expressed in ectodermal tissues of the animal, only following metamorphosis while undetectable in embryonic and larval stages. Most prominent expression was observed in the stolonal compartment of colonies, structures that are covered by a chitinous periderm. Chitinase mRNA was detected in new branching points along stolons and in hyperplastic stolons indicating a role of the enzyme in pattern formation and allorecognition. It was also expressed in polyps where it was mostly restricted to their basal portion. This expression pattern suggests that HyChit1 also fulfills a role in host defense, probably against fungal and nematode pathogens. Endodermal expression of HyChit1 has never been observed, suggesting that the enzyme does not participate in food-digestion.
Müller WA(1), Teo R, Möhrlen F. (2004). Patterning a multi-headed mutant in Hydractinia: enhancement of head formation and its phenotypic normalization. Int J Dev Biol. 48(1):9-15.
Abstract
In a mutant strain of Hydractinia (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa), the polyps develop ectopic supernumerary tentacles and heads (hypostomes) after an initial phase of wild-type growth. In order to elucidate the molecular mechanisms implicated in the development of aberrant phenotypes, we tried to enhance or suppress the expressivity of this hypomorphic mutation by exposing subclones to factors supposedly influencing pattern formation. Upon iterated treatment with alsterpaullone, an inhibitor of GSK-3, the formation of additional, ectopic head structures and the budding of new polyps were dramatically accelerated and enhanced. The endogenous stolon-inducing factor (SIF) had opposite effects by reducing head forming potential while increasing stolon-forming potential. SIF could be used to rescue extremely aberrant phenotypes. In these mutant colonies, long polyps with multiple heads eventually detach from stolons and lose the ability to regenerate stolons. Upon exposure to SIF, such free-floating multi-headed polyps resumed production of stolons and acquired wild-type morphology. We conclude that a canonical WNT signaling cascade is involved in patterning the body axis of polyps and in the initiation of budding, and that SIF counteracts this signaling system.
Pubmed 
Möhrlen F(1), Hutter H, Zwilling R. (2003). The astacin protein family in Caenorhabditis elegans. Eur J Biochem. 270(24):4909-20.
Abstract
In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, 40 genes code for astacin-like proteins (nematode astacins, NAS). The astacins are metalloproteases present in bacteria, invertebrates and vertebrates and serve a variety of physiological functions like digestion, hatching, peptide processing, morphogenesis and pattern formation. With the exception of one distorted pseudogene, all the other C. elegans astacins are expressed and are evidently functional. For 13 genes we found splicing patterns differing from the Genefinder predictions in WormBase, sometimes markedly. The GFP expression pattern for NAS-4 shows a specific localization in anterior pharynx cells and in the whole digestive tract (as the secreted form). In contrast, NAS-7 is found in the head of adult hermaphrodites, but not in pharynx cells or in the lumen of the digestive tract. In embryos, NAS-7 fluorescence becomes detectable just before hatching. In C. elegans astacins, three basic structural and functional moieties can be discerned: a prepro portion, the central catalytic chain and long C-terminal extensions with presumably regulatory functions. Within the regulatory moiety, EFG-like, CUB, SXC, and TSP-1 domains can be distinguished. Based on structural differences of the regulatory unit we established six NAS subgroups, which seemingly represented different functional and evolutionary clusters. This pattern deduced exclusively from the domain arrangement in the regulatory moiety is perfectly reflected in an evolutionary tree constructed solely from amino acid sequence information of the catalytic chain. Related catalytic chains tend to have related regulatory extensions. The notable gene, NAS-39 shows a striking resemblance to human BMP-1 and the tolloids.
Pubmed 
Wagner W(1), Möhrlen F, Schnetter W. (2002). Characterization of the proteolytic enzymes in the midgut of the European Cockchafer, Melolontha melolontha (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae). Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 32(7):803-14.
Abstract
In previous studies we showed that the resistance of the European Cockchafer, Melolontha melolontha, towards the Scarab specific Cry8C toxin of Bacillus thuringiensis japonensis strain Buibui is due to the complexity of proteinases in the midgut of the pest insect. In this study these proteinases were identified and characterized using a combination of synthetic substrates and specific inhibitors in zymograms, activity blots, and photometric/fluorometric assays. In the midgut juice three trypsin-like and three elastase-like serine proteinases are predominantly present. In addition, two metalloendoproteinases were detected. At least one of them is most likely to belong to the astacin family, proteinases which normally do not play a role in general protein digestion outside the decapod crustacean. Furthermore, a free aminopeptidase as well as a membrane-associated aminopeptidase, isolated from the brush boarder membrane vesicles (BBMV) of the midgut epithelium, were characterized.
Pubmed 
Möhrlen F(1), Baus S, Gruber A, Rackwitz HR, Schnölzer M, Vogt G, Zwilling R. (2001). Activation of pro-astacin. Immunological and model peptide studies on the processing of immature astacin, a zinc-endopeptidase from the crayfish Astacus astacus. Eur J Biochem. 268(9):2540-6.
Abstract
To contribute knowledge of the processing and activation of invertebrate proteolytic enzymes, we studied the metalloprotease astacin, a digestive enzyme from the freshwater crayfish Astacus astacus (decapod crustacean). It is the prototype of the protein family of astacins, members of which occur in organisms from bacteria to man and are involved in a variety of physiological reactions. According to its genomic structure, astacin is produced as a zymogen [Geier, G., Jacob, E., Stöcker, W. & Zwilling, R. (1997) Arch. Biochem. Biophys. 337, 300-307]. To localize and follow the processing of pro-astacin in different parts of the digestive tract, we synthesized two peptides covering the pro part of pro-astacin and raised antibodies against them. In addition, antiserum against the whole active astacin was produced. Using immunohistochemical investigation, we detected pro-astacin in the F cells of the hepatopancreas and all the way into the tubular lumen and the collecting ducts of this gland. Immunoblot assays revealed only active astacin, and never pro-astacin, present in the cardiac stomach. We conclude from these studies that astacin is secreted into the lumen of the hepatopancreatic tubules in its pro form and is activated on its way to the stomach. To investigate which of the two endopeptidases found in the digestive tract of crayfish, astacin or trypsin, is responsible for cleaving the propeptide from pro-astacin, we synthesized different peptides that mimick the activation site. MS analysis of the cleavage products of astacin and trypsin showed that astacin is capable of catalyzing its own activation. Any contribution of trypsin would require the successive action of an aminopeptidase. Substituting glycine for arginine at position -1 of the activation site does not prevent astacin activity. As most members of the astacin protein family have basic amino-acid residues in this position, in these cases also astacin-specific cleavage would be possible.
Pubmed 
 

 


/var/www/cos/ / http://www.cos.uni-heidelberg.de/ Dr. Frank Möhrlen _e