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Author: Donna J Webb (58)


Feb
2018

Cell migration is a tightly coordinated process that requires the spatiotemporal regulation of many molecular components. Because adaptor proteins can serve as integrators of cellular events, they are being increasingly studied as regulators of cell migration. Thedaptor protein containing aleckstrin-homology (PH) domain,hosphotyrosine binding (PTB) domain, andeucine zipper motif 1 (APPL1) is a 709-amino acid endosomal protein that plays a role in cell proliferation and survival as well as endosomal trafficking and signaling.

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Nov
2017

Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are major components of the carcinoma microenvironment that promote tumor progression. However, the mechanisms by which CAFs regulate cancer cell migration are poorly understood. In this study, we show that fibronectin (Fn) assembled by CAFs mediates CAF-cancer cell association and directional migration.

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Dec
1969

Endosomal adaptor proteins are important regulators of signaling pathways underlying many biological processes. These adaptors can integrate signals from multiple pathways via localization to specific endosomal compartments, as well as through multiple protein-protein interactions. One such adaptor protein that has been implicated in regulating signaling pathways is thedaptor protein containing aleckstrin homology (PH) domain,hosphotyrosine-binding (PTB) domain, andeucine zipper motif 1 (APPL1).

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Dec
1969

Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are major components of the surrounding stroma of carcinomas that emerge in the tumor microenvironment as a result of signals derived from the cancer cells. Biochemical cross-talk between cancer cells and CAFs as well as mechanical remodeling of the stromal extracellular matrix (ECM) by CAFs are important contributors to tumor cell migration and invasion, which are critical for cancer progression from a primary tumor to metastatic disease. In this review, we discuss key paracrine signaling pathways between CAFs and cancer cells that promote cancer cell migration and invasion.

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Dec
2016

Understanding blood-brain barrier responses to inflammatory stimulation (such as lipopolysaccharide mimicking a systemic infection or a cytokine cocktail that could be the result of local or systemic inflammation) is essential to understanding the effect of inflammatory stimulation on the brain. It is through the filter of the blood-brain barrier that the brain responds to outside influences, and the blood-brain barrier is a critical point of failure in neuroinflammation. It is important to note that this interaction is not a static response, but one that evolves over time.

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Jan
2017

Although a number of studies have reported that cells cultured on a stretchable substrate align away from or perpendicular to the stretch direction, how cells sense and respond to compression in a three-dimensional (3D) matrix remains an open question. We analyzed the reorientation of human prostatic normal tissue fibroblasts (NAFs) and cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in response to 3D compression using a Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) method. Results show that NAFs align to specific angles upon compression while CAFs exhibit a random distribution.

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Dec
1969

Dendritic spines and synapses are critical for neuronal communication, and they are perturbed in many neurological disorders; however, the study of these structures in living cells has been hindered by their small size. Super resolution microscopy, unlike conventional light microscopy, is diffraction unlimited and thus is well suited for imaging small structures, such as dendritic spines and synapses. Super resolution microscopy has already revealed important new information about spine and synapse morphology, actin remodeling, and nanodomain composition in both healthy cells and diseased states.

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Sep
2015

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a critical structure that serves as the gatekeeper between the central nervous system and the rest of the body. It is the responsibility of the BBB to facilitate the entry of required nutrients into the brain and to exclude potentially harmful compounds; however, this complex structure has remained difficult to model faithfully in vitro. Accurate in vitro models are necessary for understanding how the BBB forms and functions, as well as for evaluating drug and toxin penetration across the barrier.

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Apr
2015

Dendritic spines are actin-rich protrusions that establish excitatory synaptic contacts with surrounding neurons. Reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton is critical for the development and plasticity of dendritic spines, which is the basis for learning and memory. Rho family GTPases are emerging as important modulators of spines and synapses, predominantly through their ability to regulate actin dynamics.

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Feb
2015

Most investigations of cancer-stroma interactions have focused on biochemical signaling effects, with much less attention being paid to biophysical factors. In this study, we investigated the role of mechanical stimuli on human prostatic fibroblasts using a microfluidic platform that was adapted for our experiments and further developed for both repeatable performance among multiple assays and for compatibility with high-resolution confocal microscopy. Results show that mechanical stretching of normal tissue-associated fibroblasts (NAFs) alters the structure of secreted fibronectin.

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Jan
2015

Cell-matrix adhesions are of great interest because of their contribution to numerous biological processes, including cell migration, differentiation, proliferation, survival, tissue morphogenesis, wound healing, and tumorigenesis. Adhesions are dynamic structures that are classically defined on two-dimensional (2D) substrates, though the need to analyze adhesions in more physiologic three-dimensional (3D) environments is being increasingly recognized. However, progress has been greatly hampered by the lack of available tools to analyze adhesions in 3D environments.

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Dec
1969

Cell migration is fundamental to a variety of physiological processes, including tissue development, homeostasis, and regeneration. Migration has been extensively studied with cells on 2-dimensional (2D) substrates, but much less is known about cell migration in 3D environments. Tissues and organs are 3D, which is the native environment of cells in vivo, pointing to a need to understand migration and the mechanisms that regulate it in 3D environments.

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Jul
2014

Asef2, a 652-amino acid protein, is a guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) that regulates cell migration and other processes via activation of Rho family GTPases, including Rac. Binding of the tumor suppressor adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) to Asef2 is known to induce its GEF activity; however, little is currently known about other modes of Asef2 regulation. Here, we investigated the role of phosphorylation in regulating Asef2 activity and function.

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Dec
1969

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) dynamically controls exchange between the brain and the body, but this interaction cannot be studied directly in the intact human brain or sufficiently represented by animal models. Most existing in vitro BBB models do not include neurons and glia with other BBB elements and do not adequately predict drug efficacy and toxicity. Under the National Institutes of Health Microtissue Initiative, we are developing a three-dimensional, multicompartment, organotypic microphysiological system representative of a neurovascular unit of the brain.

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Apr
2014

A microfluidic cell co-culture platform that uses a liquid fluorocarbon oil barrier to separate cells into different culture chambers has been developed. Characterization indicates that the oil barrier could be effective for multiple days, and a maximum pressure difference between the oil barrier and aqueous media in the cell culture chamber could be as large as ~3.43 kPa before the oil barrier fails.

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Dec
2013

Non-muscle myosin II (MyoII) contractility is central to the regulation of numerous cellular processes, including migration. Rho is a well-characterized modulator of actomyosin contractility, but the function of other GTPases, such as Rac, in regulating contractility is currently not well understood. Here, we show that activation of Rac by the guanine nucleotide exchange factor Asef2 (also known as SPATA13) impairs migration on type I collagen through a MyoII-dependent mechanism that enhances contractility.

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Oct
2013

Myosin X (Myo10) is an unconventional myosin with two known isoforms: full-length (FL)-Myo10 that has motor activity, and a recently identified brain-expressed isoform, headless (Hdl)-Myo10, which lacks most of the motor domain. FL-Myo10 is involved in the regulation of filopodia formation in non-neuronal cells; however, the biological function of Hdl-Myo10 remains largely unknown. Here, we show that FL- and Hdl-Myo10 have important, but distinct, roles in the development of dendritic spines and synapses in hippocampal neurons.

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Aug
2013

Two novel microfluidic cell culture schemes, a vertically-layered set-up and a four chamber set-up, were developed for co-culturing central nervous system (CNS) neurons and glia. The cell chambers in these devices were separated by pressure-enabled valve barriers, which permitted us to control communication between the two cell types. The unique design of these devices facilitated the co-culture of glia with neurons in close proximity (∼50-100 μm), differential transfection of neuronal populations, and dynamic visualization of neuronal interactions, such as the development of synapses.

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Dec
1969

Signals regulating adhesion dynamics.

J Signal Transduct 2012 31;2012:785196. Epub 2012 Dec 31.
Donna J Webb, Claire M Brown, Kris A DeMali

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Feb
2013

This protocol describes procedures for performing fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) microscopy analysis by three different methods: acceptor photobleaching, sensitized emission and spectral imaging. We also discuss anisotropy and fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy-based FRET techniques. By using the specific example of the FRET probe Akind (Akt indicator), which is a version of Akt modified such that FRET occurs when the probe is activated by phosphorylation, indicating Akt activation.

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Dec
2012

Semitransparent porous silicon substrates have been developed for pairing nanostructure-initiator mass spectrometry (NIMS) imaging with traditional optical-based microscopy techniques. Substrates were optimized to generate the largest NIMS signal while maintaining sufficient transparency to allow visible light to pass through for optical microscopy. Using these substrates, both phase-contrast and NIMS images of phospholipids from a scratch-wounded cell monolayer were obtained.

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Dec
1969

Epi-fluorescence microscopy.

Methods Mol Biol 2013 ;931:29-59
Donna J Webb, Claire M Brown
Epi-fluorescence microscopy is available in most life sciences research laboratories, and when optimized can be a central laboratory tool. In this chapter, the epi-fluorescence light path is introduced and the various components are discussed in detail. Recommendations are made for incident lamp light sources, excitation and emission filters, dichroic mirrors, objective lenses, and charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras in order to obtain the most sensitive epi-fluorescence microscope.

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Apr
2012

Cell migration is a complex process that requires the integration of signaling events that occur in distinct locations within the cell. Adaptor proteins, which can localize to different subcellular compartments, where they bring together key signaling proteins, are emerging as attractive candidates for controlling spatially coordinated processes. However, their function in regulating cell migration is not well understood.

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Jun
2011

A versatile microfluidic platform allowing co-culture of multiple cell populations in close proximity with separate control of their microenvironments would be extremely valuable for many biological applications. Here, we report a simple and compact microfluidic platform that has these desirable features and allows for real-time, live-cell imaging of cell-cell interactions. Using a pneumatically/hydraulically controlled poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) valve barrier, distinct cell types can be cultured in side-by-side microfluidic chambers with their optimum culture media and treated separately without affecting the other cell population.

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Mar
2011

The formation and plasticity of dendritic spines and synapses, which are poorly understood on a molecular level, are critical for cognitive functions, such as learning and memory. The adaptor protein containing a PH domain, PTB domain, and leucine zipper motif (APPL1) is emerging as a critical regulator of various cellular processes in non-neuronal cells, but its function in the nervous system is not well understood. Here, we show that APPL1 localizes to dendritic spines and synapses and regulates the development of these structures in hippocampal neurons.

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Mar
2011

In this study, we developed a microfluidic cell co-culture platform that permits individual manipulation of the microenvironment of different cell types. Separation of the cell culture chambers is controlled by changing the position of a microfabricated valve, which serves as a barrier between the chambers. This unique feature of our platform allowed us to maintain healthy co-cultures of hippocampal neurons and glia for several weeks under optimal conditions.

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Nov
2010

The small size of dendritic spines belies the elaborate role they play in excitatory synaptic transmission and ultimately complex behaviors. The cytoskeletal architecture of the spine is predominately composed of actin filaments. These filaments, which at first glance might appear simple, are also surprisingly complex.

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Nov
2010

Dendritic spines are small actin-rich structures that receive the majority of excitatory synaptic input in the brain. The actin-based dynamics of spines are thought to mediate synaptic plasticity, which underlies cognitive processes, such as learning and memory. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms that regulate actin dynamics in spines and synapses.

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Mar
2010

APPL1 is a membrane-associated adaptor protein implicated in various cellular processes, including apoptosis, proliferation, and survival. Although there is increasing interest in the biological roles as well as the protein and membrane interactions of APPL1, a comprehensive phosphorylation profile has not been generated. In this study, we use mass spectrometry (MS) to identify 13 phosphorylated residues within APPL1.

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Dec
2009

Asef2 is a recently identified Rho-family guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) that has been implicated in the modulation of actin, but its function in cell migration and adhesion dynamics is not well understood. In this study, we show that Asef2 is an important regulator of cell migration and adhesion assembly and disassembly (turnover). Asef2 localizes with actin at the leading edge of cells.

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Jan
2009

Dendritic spines are actin-rich protrusions that comprise the postsynaptic sites of synapses and receive the majority of excitatory synaptic inputs in the central nervous system. These structures are central to cognitive processes, and alterations in their number, size, and morphology are associated with many neurological disorders. Although the actin cytoskeleton is thought to govern spine formation, morphology, and synaptic functions, we are only beginning to understand how modulation of actin reorganization by actin-binding proteins (ABPs) contributes to the function of dendritic spines and synapses.

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Jun
2008

Changes in the number, size, and shape of dendritic spines are associated with synaptic plasticity, which underlies cognitive functions such as learning and memory. This plasticity is attributed to reorganization of actin, but the molecular signals that regulate this process are poorly understood. In this study, we show neural Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (N-WASP) regulates the formation of dendritic spines and synapses in hippocampal neurons.

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Jan
2008

To determine the pharmacokinetics and safety of orally administered voriconazole in African grey parrots.
20 clinically normal Timneh African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus timneh).
In single-dose trials, 12 parrots were each administered 6, 12, and 18 mg of voriconazole/kg orally and plasma concentrations of voriconazole were determined via high-pressure liquid chromatography.

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Feb
2008

Cell migration requires the integration and coordination of specific focal adhesion dynamics at the cell front, center and rear. In this review, we will present our understanding of the regulation of adhesion turnover and disassembly in various regions of the cell. Adhesion turnover involves a number of tyrosine kinases and phosphatases, most of which are engaged in FAK signaling pathways.

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Oct
2007

In migrating cells, actin polymerization promotes protrusion of the leading edge, whereas actomyosin contractility powers net cell body translocation. Although they promote F-actin-dependent protrusions of the cell periphery upon adhesion to fibronectin (FN), Abl family kinases inhibit cell migration on FN. We provide evidence here that the Abl-related gene (Arg/Abl2) kinase inhibits fibroblast migration by attenuating actomyosin contractility and regulating focal adhesion dynamics.

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Mar
2007

The actin-based dynamics of dendritic spines play a key role in synaptic plasticity, which underlies learning and memory. Although it is becoming increasingly clear that modulation of actin is critical for spine dynamics, the upstream molecular signals that regulate the formation and plasticity of spines are poorly understood. In non-neuronal cells, integrins are critical modulators of the actin cytoskeleton, but their function in the nervous system is not well characterized.

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Sep
2006

The process of cell motility involves coordinate signaling events among proteins associated in interactive integrin-linked networks. Mass spectrometric analysis of immunoprecipitation-derived protein mixtures have provided efficient means of identifying proteomes. In this study, we investigate strategies to enhance the detection of interactome proteins for the known signaling module: PAK1, betaPIX, GIT1, and paxillin.

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Jul
2006

Promotion of the repair and regeneration of damaged adult neurons is a major goal of neurological science. In this study, the effects of G protein-coupled receptor kinase interacting protein 1 (GIT1) overexpression in human neuron cells were tested in human neuronal cells by using an adenoviral vector.
A recombinant GIT1 and enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) adenoviral vector (AdGIT1) was created by using a standard viral construction procedure.

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Aug
2006

G protein-coupled receptor kinase-interacting protein (GIT)1 is a multidomain, adaptor protein that regulates cellular processes, such as migration and protrusive activity, by bringing together various signaling molecules, including PIX, PAK, and paxillin. Mutants of GIT1, which lack the C-terminal paxillin binding domain, fail to mediate its effects on migration and protrusions, suggesting that sites within this domain are critical to GIT1 function. In this study, we show that serine 709, which is located within the paxillin binding domain, regulates GIT1 function.

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May
2006

Continuous adhesion formation and disassembly (adhesion turnover) in the protrusions of migrating cells is regulated by unclear mechanisms. We show that p21-activated kinase (PAK)-induced phosphorylation of serine 273 in paxillin is a critical regulator of this turnover. Paxillin-S273 phosphorylation dramatically increases migration, protrusion, and adhesion turnover by increasing paxillin-GIT1 binding and promoting the localization of a GIT1-PIX-PAK signaling module near the leading edge.

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Nov
2005

Methods for the simultaneous identification of interacting proteins and post-translational modifications of the focal adhesion adapter protein, paxillin, are presented. The strategy includes (1) lower-level, transient transfection of FLAG-GFP-Paxillin into HEK293 cells, (2) incubation of cells with phosphatase inhibitors prior to lysis, (3) purification of paxillin by anti-FLAG immunoprecipitation, (4) analysis of peptides generated from on-beads digestion using LTQ-FT or LTQ-ETD mass spectrometry, and (5) enrichment of phosphopeptide methyl esters with IMAC. Using the above strategies, we identify 29 phosphorylation sites (19 novel and 10 previously reported) and a novel glycosylation site on Ser 74.

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Jul
2005

Lamellipodial protrusion, which is the first step in cell movement, is driven by actin assembly and requires activity of the Arp2/3 actin-nucleating complex. However, it is unclear how actin assembly is dynamically regulated to support effective cell migration.
Cells deficient in cortactin have impaired cell migration and invasion.

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Mar
2005

Three of seven recently identified genes mutated in nonsyndromic mental retardation are involved in Rho family signaling. Two of the gene products, alpha-p-21-activated kinase (PAK) interacting exchange factor (alphaPIX) and PAK3, form a complex with the synaptic adaptor protein G-protein-coupled receptor kinase-interacting protein 1 (GIT1). Using an RNA interference approach, we show that GIT1 is critical for spine and synapse formation.

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Dec
1969

Cell migration is an essential process for normal development and homeostasis that can also contribute to important pathologies. Not surprisingly, there is considerable interest in understanding migration on a molecular level, but this is a difficult task. However, technologies are rapidly emerging to address the major intellectual challenges associated with migration.

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Nov
2004

Image correlation microscopy methodology was extended and used to determine retrospectively the density, dynamics and interactions of alpha5-integrin in migrating cells. Alpha5-integrin is present in submicroscopic clusters containing 3-4 integrins before it is discernibly organized. The integrin in nascent adhesions, as identified by the presence of paxillin, is approximately 1.

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Feb
2004

The adhesion protein talin and the phosphoinositide PIP2 are emerging as key modulators of adhesion dynamics. Recent genetic studies on talin demonstrate its physiological role in organizing adhesions, stabilizing integrin-actin linkages and mediating integrin signaling in vivo. Biophysical force measurements provide further evidence that it is required for the reinforcement of the extracellular matrix-integrin-actin connection.

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Feb
2004

Cell migration is a complex, highly regulated process that involves the continuous formation and disassembly of adhesions (adhesion turnover). Adhesion formation takes place at the leading edge of protrusions, whereas disassembly occurs both at the cell rear and at the base of protrusions. Despite the importance of these processes in migration, the mechanisms that regulate adhesion formation and disassembly remain largely unknown.

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