Winters Christine A.

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Christine A.

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  • Preprint
    Inhibition of phosphatase activity facilitates the formation and maintenance of NMDA-induced calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase ii clusters in hippocampal neurons
    ( 2004-10-04) Tao-Cheng, Jung-Hwa ; Vinade, Lucia ; Winters, Christine A. ; Reese, Thomas S. ; Dosemeci, Ayse
    The majority of hippocampal neurons in dissociated cultures and in intact brain exhibit clustering of CaMKII into spherical structures with an average diameter of 110 nm when subjected to conditions that mimic ischemia and excitotoxicity (Tao-Cheng et al., 2001). Because clustering of CaMKII would reduce its effective concentration within the neuron, it may represent a cellular strategy to prevent excessive CaMKII-mediated phosphorylation during episodes of Ca2+ overload. Here we employ a relatively mild excitatory stimulus to promote sub-maximal clustering for the purpose of studying the conditions for the formation and disappearance of CaMKII clusters. Treatment with 30 µM NMDA for 2 min produced CaMKII clustering in ~15 percent of dissociated hippocampal neurons in culture, as observed by pre-embedding immunogold electron microscopy. These CaMKII clusters could be labeled with antibodies specific to the phospho form (Thr286) of CaMKII, suggesting that at least some of the CaMKII molecules in clusters are autophosphorylated. To test whether phosphorylation is involved in the formation and maintenance of CaMKII clusters, the phosphatase inhibitors calyculin A (5 nM) or okadaic acid (1 µM) were included in the incubation medium. With inhibitors more neurons exhibited CaMKII clusters in response to 2 min NMDA treatment. Furthermore, 5 min after the removal of NMDA and Ca2+, CaMKII clusters remained and could still be labeled with the phospho-specific antibody. In contrast, in the absence of phosphatase inhibitors, no clusters were detected 5 min after the removal of NMDA and Ca2+ from the medium. These results suggest that phosphatases type 1 and/or 2A regulate the formation and disappearance of CaMKII clusters.
  • Article
    Placozoan fiber cells: mediators of innate immunity and participants in wound healing
    (Nature Research, 2021-12-02) Mayorova, Tatiana D. ; Hammar, Katherine M. ; Jung, Jae H. ; Aronova, Maria A. ; Zhang, Guofeng ; Winters, Christine A. ; Reese, Thomas S. ; Smith, Carolyn L.
    Placozoa is a phylum of non-bilaterian marine animals. These small, flat organisms adhere to the substrate via their densely ciliated ventral epithelium, which mediates mucociliary locomotion and nutrient uptake. They have only six morphological cell types, including one, fiber cells, for which functional data is lacking. Fiber cells are non-epithelial cells with multiple processes. We used electron and light microscopic approaches to unravel the roles of fiber cells in Trichoplax adhaerens, a representative member of the phylum. Three-dimensional reconstructions of serial sections of Trichoplax showed that each fiber cell is in contact with several other cells. Examination of fiber cells in thin sections and observations of live dissociated fiber cells demonstrated that they phagocytose cell debris and bacteria. In situ hybridization confirmed that fiber cells express genes involved in phagocytic activity. Fiber cells also are involved in wound healing as evidenced from microsurgery experiments. Based on these observations we conclude that fiber cells are multi-purpose macrophage-like cells. Macrophage-like cells have been described in Porifera, Ctenophora, and Cnidaria and are widespread among Bilateria, but our study is the first to show that Placozoa possesses this cell type. The phylogenetic distribution of macrophage-like cells suggests that they appeared early in metazoan evolution.
  • Article
    Cells containing aragonite crystals mediate responses to gravity in Trichoplax adhaerens (Placozoa), an animal lacking neurons and synapses
    (Public Library of Science, 2018-01-17) Mayorova, Tatiana D. ; Smith, Carolyn L. ; Hammar, Katherine M. ; Winters, Christine A. ; Pivovarova, Natalia B. ; Aronova, Maria A. ; Leapman, Richard D. ; Reese, Thomas S.
    Trichoplax adhaerens has only six cell types. The function as well as the structure of crystal cells, the least numerous cell type, presented an enigma. Crystal cells are arrayed around the perimeter of the animal and each contains a birefringent crystal. Crystal cells resemble lithocytes in other animals so we looked for evidence they are gravity sensors. Confocal microscopy showed that their cup-shaped nuclei are oriented toward the edge of the animal, and that the crystal shifts downward under the influence of gravity. Some animals spontaneously lack crystal cells and these animals behaved differently upon being tilted vertically than animals with a typical number of crystal cells. EM revealed crystal cell contacts with fiber cells and epithelial cells but these contacts lacked features of synapses. EM spectroscopic analyses showed that crystals consist of the aragonite form of calcium carbonate. We thus provide behavioral evidence that Trichoplax are able to sense gravity, and that crystal cells are likely to be their gravity receptors. Moreover, because placozoans are thought to have evolved during Ediacaran or Cryogenian eras associated with aragonite seas, and their crystals are made of aragonite, they may have acquired gravity sensors during this early era.
  • Article
    The ventral epithelium of Trichoplax adhaerens deploys in distinct patterns cells that secrete digestive enzymes, mucus or diverse neuropeptides
    (Company of Biologists, 2019-08-09) Mayorova, Tatiana D. ; Hammar, Katherine M. ; Winters, Christine A. ; Reese, Thomas S. ; Smith, Carolyn L.
    The disk-shaped millimeter-sized marine animal, Trichoplax adhaerens, is notable because of its small number of cell types and primitive mode of feeding. It glides on substrates propelled by beating cilia on its lower surface and periodically pauses to feed on underlying microorganisms, which it digests externally. Here, a combination of advanced electron and light microscopic techniques are used to take a closer look at its secretory cell types and their roles in locomotion and feeding. We identify digestive enzymes in lipophils, a cell type implicated in external digestion and distributed uniformly throughout the ventral epithelium except for a narrow zone near its edge. We find three morphologically distinct types of gland cell. The most prevalent contains and secretes mucus, which is shown to be involved in adhesion and gliding. Half of the mucocytes are arrayed in a tight row around the edge of the ventral epithelium while the rest are scattered further inside, in the region containing lipophils. The secretory granules in mucocytes at the edge label with an antibody against a neuropeptide that was reported to arrest ciliary beating during feeding. A second type of gland cell is arrayed in a narrow row just inside the row of mucocytes while a third is located more centrally. Our maps of the positions of the structurally distinct secretory cell types provide a foundation for further characterization of the multiple peptidergic cell types in Trichoplax and the microscopic techniques we introduce provide tools for carrying out these studies.