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Dhivya Kumar, Richard E Mains and Betty A Eipper

A critical role for peptide C-terminal amidation was apparent when the first bioactive peptides were identified. The conversion of POMC into adrenocorticotropic hormone and then into α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone, an amidated peptide, provided a model system for identifying the amidating enzyme. Peptidylglycine α-amidating monooxygenase (PAM), the only enzyme that catalyzes this modification, is essential; mice lacking PAM survive only until mid-gestation. Purification and cloning led to the discovery that the amidation of peptidylglycine substrates proceeds in two steps: peptidylglycine α-hydroxylating monooxygenase catalyzes the copper- and ascorbate-dependent α-hydroxylation of the peptidylglycine substrate; peptidyl-α-hydroxyglycine α-amidating lyase cleaves the N–C bond, producing amidated product and glyoxylate. Both enzymes are contained in the luminal domain of PAM, a type 1 integral membrane protein. The structures of both catalytic cores have been determined, revealing how they interact with metals, molecular oxygen, and substrate to catalyze both reactions. Although not essential for activity, the intrinsically disordered cytosolic domain is essential for PAM trafficking. A phylogenetic survey led to the identification of bifunctional membrane PAM in Chlamydomonas, a unicellular eukaryote. Accumulating evidence points to a role for PAM in copper homeostasis and in retrograde signaling from the lumen of the secretory pathway to the nucleus. The discovery of PAM in cilia, cellular antennae that sense and respond to environmental stimuli, suggests that much remains to be learned about this ancient protein.

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Quinn Dufurrena, Nils Bäck, Richard Mains, Louis Hodgson, Herbert Tanowitz, Prashant Mandela, Betty Eipper and Regina Kuliawat

Key features for progression to pancreatic β-cell failure and disease are loss of glucose responsiveness and an increased ratio of secreted proinsulin to insulin. Proinsulin and insulin are stored in secretory granules (SGs) and the fine-tuning of hormone output requires signal-mediated recruitment of select SG populations according to intracellular location and age. The GTPase Rac1 coordinates multiple signaling pathways that specify SG release, and Rac1 activity is controlled in part by GDP/GTP exchange factors (GEFs). To explore the function of two large multidomain GEFs, Kalirin and Trio in β-cells, we manipulated their Rac1-specific GEF1 domain activity by using small-molecule inhibitors and by genetically ablating Kalirin. We examined age-related SG behavior employing radiolabeling protocols. Loss of Kalirin/Trio function attenuated radioactive proinsulin release by reducing constitutive-like secretion and exocytosis of 2-h-old granules. At later chase times or at steady state, Kalirin/Trio manipulations decreased glucose-stimulated insulin output. Finally, use of a Rac1 FRET biosensor with cultured β-cell lines demonstrated that Kalirin/Trio GEF1 activity was required for normal rearrangement of Rac1 to the plasma membrane in response to glucose. Rac1 activation can be evoked by both glucose metabolism and signaling through the incretin glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor. GLP-1 addition restored Rac1 localization/activity and insulin secretion in the absence of Kalirin, thereby assigning Kalirin’s participation to stimulatory glucose signaling.