HSPA2, a poorly characterized member of the HSPA (HSP70) chaperone family, is a testis-enriched protein involved in male germ cell differentiation. Previously, we revealed that HSPA2 is present in human stratified epithelia, including epidermis, however the contribution of this protein to epithelial biology remained unknown. Here, we show for the first time that HSPA2 is expressed in basal epidermal keratinocytes, albeit not in keratinocytes exhibiting features attributed to primitive undifferentiated progenitors, and participates in the keratinocyte differentiation process. We found that HSPA2 is dispensable for protection of HaCaT keratinocytes against heat shock-induced cytotoxicity. We also shown that lentiviral-mediated shRNA silencing of HSPA2 expression in HaCaT cells caused a set of phenotypic changes characteristic for keratinocytes committed to terminal differentiation such as reduced clonogenic potential, impaired adhesiveness and increased basal and confluency-induced expression of differentiation markers. Moreover, the fraction of undifferentiated cells that rapidly adhered to collagen IV was less numerous in HSPA2-deficient cells than in the control. In a 3D reconstructed human epidermis model, HSPA2 deficiency resulted in accelerated development of a filaggrin-positive layer. Collectively, our results clearly show a link between HSPA2 expression and maintenance of keratinocytes in an undifferentiated state in the basal layer of the epidermis. It seems that HSPA2 could retain keratinocytes from premature entry into the terminal differentiation process. Overall, HSPA2 appears to be necessary for controlling development of properly stratified epidermis and thus for maintenance of skin homeostasis.
TAp63, a member of the p53 family, has been shown to regulate energy metabolism. Here, we report coiled coil domain-containing 3 (CCDC3) as a new TAp63 target. TAp63, but not ΔNp63, p53 or p73, upregulates CCDC3 expression by directly binding to its enhancer region. The CCDC3 expression is markedly reduced in TAp63-null mouse embryonic fibroblasts and brown adipose tissues and by tumor necrosis factor alpha that reduces p63 transcriptional activity, but induced by metformin, an anti-diabetic drug that activates p63. Also, the expression of CCDC3 is positively correlated with TAp63 levels, but conversely with ΔNp63 levels, during adipocyte differentiation. Interestingly, CCDC3, as a secreted protein, targets liver cancer cells and increases long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, but decreases ceramide in the cells. CCDC3 alleviates glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and steatosis formation in transgenic CCDC3 mice on high-fat diet (HFD) by reducing the expression of hepatic PPARγ and its target gene CIDEA as well as other genes involved in de novo lipogenesis. Similar results are reproduced by hepatic expression of ectopic CCDC3 in mice on HFD. Altogether, these results demonstrate that CCDC3 modulates liver lipid metabolism by inhibiting liver de novo lipogenesis as a downstream player of the p63 network.
Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are single-stranded RNAs that are joined head to tail with largely unknown functions. Here we show that transfection of purified in vitro generated circRNA into mammalian cells led to potent induction of innate immunity genes and confers protection against viral infection. The nucleic acid sensor RIG-I is necessary to sense foreign circRNA, and RIG-I and foreign circRNA co-aggregate in cytoplasmic foci. CircRNA activation of innate immunity is independent of a 5' triphosphate, double-stranded RNA structure, or the primary sequence of the foreign circRNA. Instead, self-nonself discrimination depends on the intron that programs the circRNA. Use of a human intron to express a foreign circRNA sequence abrogates immune activation, and mature human circRNA is associated with diverse RNA binding proteins reflecting its endogenous splicing and biogenesis. These results reveal innate immune sensing of circRNA and highlight introns-the predominant output of mammalian transcription-as arbiters of self-nonself identity.