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  • 2020 - Freezing and piercing of in vitro asymmetric plasma membrane by α-synuclein

    Abstract : Synucleinopathies are neurological diseases that are characterized by the accumulation of aggregates of a cytosolic protein, α-synuclein, at the plasma membrane. Even though the pathological role of the protein is established, the mechanism by which it damages neurons remains unclear due to the difficulty to correctly mimic the plasma membrane in vitro. Using a microfluidic setup in which the composition of the plasma membrane, including the asymmetry of the two leaflets, is recapitulated, we demonstrate a triple action of α-synuclein on the membrane. First, it changes membrane topology by inducing pores of discrete sizes, likely nucleated from membrane-bound proteins and subsequently enlarged by proteins in solution. Second, protein binding to the cytosolic leaflet increases the membrane capacitance by thinning it and/or changing its relative permittivity. Third, α-synuclein insertion inside the membrane hydrophobic core immobilizes the lipids in both leaflets, including the opposing protein-free extracellular one.
    Authors : Paul Heo , Frederic Pincet
  • 2019 - JUNO, the receptor of sperm IZUMO1, is expressed by the human oocyte and is essential for human fertilisation

    Abstract : STUDY QUESTION: Is JUNO protein present at the surface membrane of human oocytes and involved in the fertilisation process? SUMMARY ANSWER: JUNO protein is expressed on the plasma membrane of human oocytes and its inhibition by a monoclonal antibody completely blocks gamete fusion. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Fusion of gamete membranes is the culminating event of the fertilisation process, but its molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. Until now, three molecules have been shown to be essential: CD9 tetraspanin in the oocyte, Izumo1 protein on the sperm and Juno, its corresponding receptor on the oocyte. Oocyte CD9 and sperm IZUMO1 have been identified in human gametes and their interaction is also well-conserved among several mammalian species. The presence of JUNO on human oocytes, however, has not yet been reported, nor has its role in fertilisation been investigated. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: We selected an anti-human JUNO antibody in order to investigate the presence of JUNO on the oocyte membrane surface and studied its potential involvement in gamete membrane interaction during fertilisation. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: Monoclonal antibodies against human JUNO (anti-hJUNO mAb) were produced by immunisation of mice with HEK cells transfected with the putative human JUNO sequence (HEK-hJUNO). These antibodies were used for immunostaining experiments and in vitro fertilisation assays with human gametes (GERMETHEQUE Biobank). MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Three hybridoma supernatants, verified by immunostaining, revealed specifically HEK-hJUNO cells. The three purified monoclonal antibodies, FJ2E4 (IgG1), FJ8E8 (IgG1) and FJ4F5 (IgG2a), recognised the soluble recombinant human JUNO protein and, in a western blot of HEK-hJUNO extracts, a protein with an expected MW of 25 kDa. In addition, soluble recombinant human IZUMO protein inhibited the binding of anti-hJUNO mAbs to cells expressing hJUNO. Using these anti-hJUNO mAbs in immunostaining, we identified the presence of JUNO protein at the plasma membrane of human oocytes. Furthermore, we revealed a progressive expression of JUNO according to oocyte maturity. Finally, we showed that human zona-free oocytes, inseminated in the presence of anti-hJUNO mAb, were not fertilised by human sperm. These results suggest that, as seen in the mouse, JUNO is indeed involved in human gamete membrane fusion during fertilisation.
    Authors : C. Jean, F. Haghighirad, Y. Zhu, M. Chalbi, A. Ziyyat, E. Rubinstein, C. Gourier , P. Yip, J.P. Wolf, J.E. Lee, C. Boucheix, and V. Barraud-Lange
  • 2019 - Anisotropic cellular forces support mechanical integrity of the Stratum Corneum barrier

    Abstract : The protective function of biological surfaces that are exposed to the exterior of living organisms is the result of a complex arrangement and interaction of cellular components. This is the case for the most external cornified layer of skin, the stratum corneum (SC). This layer is made of corneocytes, the elementary ‘flat bricks’ that are held together through adhesive junctions. Despite the well-known protective role of the SC under high mechanical stresses and rapid cell turnover, the subtleties regarding the adhesion and mechanical interaction among the individual corneocytes are still poorly known. Here, we explore the adhesion of single corneocytes at different depths of the SC, by pulling them using glass microcantilevers, and measuring their detachment forces. We measured their interplanar adhesion between SC layers, and their peripheral adhesion among cells within a SC layer. Both adhesions increased considerably with depth. At the SC surface, with respect to adhesion, the corneocyte population exhibited a strong heterogeneity, where detachment forces differed by more than one order of magnitude for corneocytes located side by side. The measured detachment forces indicated that in the upper-middle layers of SC, the peripheral adhesion was stronger than the interplanar one. We conclude that the stronger peripheral adhesion of corneocytes in the SC favors an efficient barrier which would be able to resist strong stresses.
    Authors : Shuo Guo, Yegor Domanov, Mark Donovan, Bertrand Ducos, Yves Pomeau, Christine Gourier , Eric Perez , Gustavo S. Luengo
  • 2019 - Highly Reproducible Physiological Asymmetric Membrane with Freely Diffusing Embedded Proteins in a 3D-Printed Microfluidic Setup

    Abstract : Experimental setups to produce and to monitor model membranes have been successfully used for decades and brought invaluable insights into many areas of biology. However, they all have limitations that prevent the full in vitro mimicking and monitoring of most biological processes. Here, a suspended physiological bilayer-forming chip is designed from 3D-printing techniques. This chip can be simultaneously integrated to a confocal microscope and a path-clamp amplifier. It is composed of poly(dimethylsiloxane) and consists of a ≈100 μm hole, where the horizontal planar bilayer is formed, connecting two open crossed-channels, which allows for altering of each lipid monolayer separately. The bilayer, formed by the zipping of two lipid leaflets, is free-standing, horizontal, stable, fluid, solvent-free, and flat with the 14 types of physiologically relevant lipids, and the bilayer formation process is highly reproducible. Because of the two channels, asymmetric bilayers can be formed by making the two lipid leaflets of different composition. Furthermore, proteins, such as transmembrane, peripheral, and pore-forming proteins, can be added to the bilayer in controlled orientation and keep their native mobility and activity. These features allow in vitro recapitulation of membrane process close to physiological conditions.
    Authors : Paul Heo , Sathish Ramakrishnan, Jeff Coleman, James E. Rothman, Jean-Baptiste Fleury, and Frederic Pincet
  • 2019 - SNARE machinery is optimized for ultrafast fusion

    Abstract : SNARE proteins zipper to form complexes (SNAREpins) that power vesicle fusion with target membranes in a variety of biological processes. A single SNAREpin takes about 1 s to fuse two bilayers, yet a handful can ensure release of neurotransmitters from synaptic vesicles much faster: in a 10th of a millisecond. We propose that, similar to the case of muscle myosins, the ultrafast fusion results from cooperative action of many SNAREpins. The coupling originates from mechanical interactions induced by confining scaffolds. Each SNAREpin is known to have enough energy to overcome the fusion barrier of 25–35 kBT; however, the fusion barrier only becomes relevant when the SNAREpins are nearly completely zippered, and from this state, each SNAREpin can deliver only a small fraction of this energy as mechanical work. Therefore, they have to act cooperatively, and we show that at least three of them are needed to ensure fusion in less than a millisecond. However, to reach the prefusion state collectively, starting from the experimentally observed half-zippered metastable state, the SNAREpins have to mechanically synchronize, which takes more time as the number of SNAREpins increases. Incorporating this somewhat counterintuitive idea in a simple coarse-grained model results in the prediction that there should be an optimum number of SNAREpins for submillisecond fusion: three to six over a wide range of parameters. Interestingly, in situ cryoelectron microscope tomography has very recently shown that exactly six SNAREpins participate in the fusion of each synaptic vesicle. This number is in the range predicted by our theory.
    Authors : Fabio Manca, Frederic Pincet , Lev Truskinovskye, James E. Rothman, Lionel Foret and Matthieu Caruel

212 publications