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The Journal of biological chemistry  2007;282(13):9834-9845.
Anthrax toxin, a three-component protein toxin secreted by Bacillus anthracis, assembles into toxic complexes at the surface of receptor-bearing eukaryotic cells. The protective antigen (PA) protein binds to receptors, either tumor endothelial cell marker 8 (TEM8) or capillary morphogenesis protein 2 (CMG2), and orchestrates the delivery of the lethal and edema factors into the cytosol. TEM8 is reported to be over-expressed during tumor angiogenesis, whereas CMG2 is more widely expressed in normal tissues. To extend prior work on targeting of tumor with modified anthrax toxins, we used phage display to select PA variants that preferentially bind to TEM8 as compared to CMG2. Substitutions were randomly introduced into residues 605-729 of PA, within the C-terminal domain 4 of PA, which is the principal region that contacts receptor. Candidates were characterized in cellular cytotoxicity assays with CHO cells expressing either TEM8 or CMG2. A PA mutant having the substitutions R659S and M662R had enhanced specificity toward TEM8 over-expressing CHO cells. This PA variant also displayed broad and potent tumoricidal activity to various human tumor cells, especially to HeLa and A549/ATCC cells. By contrast, the substitution N657Q significantly reduced toxicity to TEM8 but not CMG2 over-expressing CHO cells. Our results indicate that certain amino acid substitutions within PA domain 4 create anthrax toxins that selectively kill human tumor cells. The PA R659S/M662R protein may be useful as a therapeutic agent for cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC2530824  PMID: 17251181
2.  Targeting the anthrax receptors, TEM-8 and CMG-2, for anti-angiogenic therapy 
The anthrax toxin receptors tumor endothelial marker-8 (TEM-8) and capillary morphogenesis gene-2 (CMG-2) are responsible for allowing entry of anthrax toxin into host cells. However, these receptors were first discovered due to their enhanced expression on endothelial cells undergoing blood vessel growth or angiogenesis in in vitro or in vivo model systems. Targeting and inhibiting angiogenesis is an important strategy for current anti-cancer therapies and treatment of retinal diseases. Structures, tissue expression, and interactions of the TEM-8 and CMG-2 proteins have been documented, and functional roles for these receptors in angiogenesis have recently emerged. TEM-8 appears to regulate endothelial cell migration and tubule formation whereas a role for CMG-2 in endothelial proliferation has been documented. TEM-8 and CMG-2 bind differentially to extracellular matrix proteins including collagen I, collagen IV and laminin and these properties may be responsible for their apparent roles in regulating endothelial cell behavior during angiogenesis. TEM-8-binding moieties have also been suggested to be useful in selectively targeting anti-angiogenic and anti-tumorigenic therapies to tumor endothelium. Additionally, studies of modified forms of lethal toxin (LeTx) have demonstrated that targeted inhibition of MAPKs within tumor vessels may represent an efficacious anti-angiogenic strategy.
PMCID: PMC3066103  PMID: 21196249
Endothelial; angiogenesis; anthrax; intracellular signaling; extracellular matrix
3.  Expression of cmg1, an Exo-β-1,3-Glucanase Gene from Coniothyrium minitans, Increases during Sclerotial Parasitism 
During sclerotial infection of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum the mycoparasite Coniothyrium minitans penetrates through the host cell wall, which contains β-1,3-glucan as its major component. A PCR-based strategy was used to clone a β-1,3-glucanase-encoding gene, designated cmg1, from a cDNA library of the fungus. The nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequences of this gene showed high levels of similarity to the sequences of other fungal exo-β-1,3-glucanase genes. The calculated molecular mass of the deduced protein (without the predicted 24-amino-acid N-terminal secretion signal peptide) was 83,346 Da, and the estimated pI was 4.73. Saccharomyces cerevisiae INVSc1 expressing the cmg1 gene secreted a ∼100-kDa β-1,3-glucanase enzyme (as determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis) into the culture medium. N-terminal sequence analysis of the purified recombinant enzyme revealed that the secreted enzyme starts at Ala-32, seven amino acids downstream from the predicted signal peptidase cleavage site. The purified recombinant glucanase inhibited in vitro mycelial growth of S. sclerotiorum by 35 and 85% at concentrations of 300 and 600 μg ml−1, respectively. A single copy of the cmg1 gene is present in the genome of C. minitans. Northern analyses indicated increases in the transcript levels of cmg1 due to both carbon starvation and the presence of ground sclerotia of S. sclerotiorum; only slight repression was observed in the presence of 2% glucose. Expression of cmg1 increased during parasitic interaction with S. sclerotiorum.
PMCID: PMC92660  PMID: 11157256
4.  1,2,3,4,6-penta-O-galloyl-β-D-glucopyranose (PGG) Inhibits Angiogenesis via Inhibition of CMG2 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2013;56(5):1940-1945.
CMG2 is a transmembrane extracellular matrix binding protein that is also an anthrax toxin receptor. We have shown that high affinity CMG2 binders can inhibit angiogenesis and tumor growth. We recently described a high throughput FRET assay to identify CMG2 inhibitors. We now report the serendipitous discovery that PGG (1,2,3,4,6-penta-O-galloyl-β-D-glucopyranose) is a CMG2 inhibitor with anti-angiogenic activity. PGG is a gallotannin produced by a variety of medicinal plants that exhibits a wide variety of anti-tumor and other activities. We find that PGG inhibits CMG2 with a submicromolar IC50 and it also inhibits the migration of human dermal microvascular endothelial cells at similar concentrations in vitro. Finally, oral or intraperitoneal administration of PGG inhibits angiogenesis in the mouse corneal micropocket assay in vivo. Together, these results suggest that a portion of the in vivo anti-tumor activity of PGG may be the result of antiangiogenic activity mediated by inhibition of CMG2.
PMCID: PMC3600088  PMID: 23394144
pentagalloyl glucose; 5GG; angiogenesis; corneal neovascularization; cancer; polyphenol
5.  Improving the Anti-Toxin Abilities of the CMG2-Fc Fusion Protein with the Aid of Computational Design 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104674.
CMG2-Fc is a fusion protein composed of the extracellular domain of capillary morphogenesis protein 2 (CMG2) and the Fc region of human immunoglobulin G; CMG2-Fc neutralizes anthrax toxin and offers protection against Bacillus anthracis challenge. To enhance the efficacy of CMG2-Fc against anthrax toxin, we attempted to engineer a CMG2-Fc with an improved affinity for PA. Using the automatic design algorithm FoldX and visual inspection, we devised two CMG2-Fc variants that introduce mutations in the CMG2 binding interface and improve the computationally assessed binding affinity for PA. An experimental affinity assay revealed that the two variants showed increased binding affinity, and in vitro and in vivo toxin neutralization testing indicated that one of these mutants (CMG2-Fc(E117Q)) has superior activity against anthrax toxin and was suitable for further development as a therapeutic agent for anthrax infections. This study shows that the computational design of the PA binding interface of CMG2 to obtain CMG2-Fc variants with improving anti-toxin abilities is viable. Our results demonstrate that computational design can be further applied to generate other CMG2-Fc mutants with greatly improved therapeutic efficacy.
PMCID: PMC4125234  PMID: 25101992
6.  Phenolic Compounds as Antiangiogenic CMG2 Inhibitors from Costa Rican Endophytic Fungi 
Targeting and inhibiting CMG2 (Capillary Morphogenesis Gene protein 2) represents a new strategy for therapeutic agents for cancer and retinal diseases due to CMG2’s role in blood vessel growth (angiogenesis). A high throughput FRET (Förster Resonance Energy Transfer) assay was developed for the identification of CMG2 inhibitors as anti-angiogenetic agents. Bioassay-guided separation led to the isolation and identification of two new compounds (1 and 2) from CR252M, an endophytic fungus Coccomyces proteae collected from a Costa Rican rainforest, and one known compound (3) from CR1207B (Aurapex penicillata). Secondary in vitro assays indicated anti-angiogenic activity. Compound 3 inhibited the endothelial cell migration at 52 µM, but did not show any endothelial cell antiproliferative effect at 156 µM. The structure of the two new compounds, A (1) and B (2), were elucidated on the basis of extensive spectroscopic analysis, including 1D and 2D NMR experiments.
PMCID: PMC3563091  PMID: 22910038
Fungus; Coccomyces proteae; Aurapex penicillata; CMG2; Phenolic
7.  104 Immunogenicity and Safety Aspects of Adeno-Associated Virus–Like Particles (AAVLPS) as Carriers for B-Cell Vaccines 
The World Allergy Organization Journal  2012;5(Suppl 2):S51-S52.
Adeno-associated viruses (AAV) are non-human pathogenic and replication defective ssDNA viruses. The surface of AAV consists of 60 capsomers, which can be exploited for high density display of recombinant peptides. AAV-like particles (AAVLP) can be generated via assembly of the recombinant capsid protein VP3. The aim of this study was to evaluate the uptake mechanism, immunogenicity and safety aspects of an AAVLP-displayed B-cell epitope, taking ovalbumin (OVA) as a model antigen/allergen.
An OVA derived linear B-cell epitope and for control purposes OVA-non related peptide TP18 (cholesterol-ester transfer protein 18) were inserted into capsid protein VP3 of AAVLPs.
Life cell microscopy indicated that AAVLP internalized into HeLa epithelial cells and remained in intracellular vesicles up to 18 hours. When we immunized BALB/c subcutaneously, sera of AAVLP-OVA immunized mice showed similar titres of OVA-specific IgG1 compared to mice immunized with OVA protein. However, in OVA immunized mice high OVA-specific IgE levels could be recorded, whereas immunizations with OVA-AAVLP rendered background IgE levels only. In accordance, sera of OVA mice which permitted mast cell degranulation upon OVA trigger in a specific β-hexosaminidase release assay, whereas sera of OVA-AAVLP mice did not contain anaphylactogenic antibodies. In an in vivo anaphylaxis experiment, upon intravenous OVA challenge OVA-immunized mice presented significant drop of body temperature, whereas AAVLP-OVA mice remained unaffected.
Our study demonstrates the immunogenicity, safety and efficacy of AAVLP as display system of B-cell epitopes for vaccination.
PMCID: PMC3512624
8.  Fabrication and characterization of nuclear localization signal-conjugated glycol chitosan micelles for improving the nuclear delivery of doxorubicin 
Supramolecular micelles as drug-delivery vehicles are generally unable to enter the nucleus of nondividing cells. In the work reported here, nuclear localization signal (NLS)-modified polymeric micelles were studied with the aim of improving nuclear drug delivery.
In this research, cholesterol-modified glycol chitosan (CHGC) was synthesized. NLS-conjugated CHGC (NCHGC) was synthesized and characterized using proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering, and fluorescence spectroscopy. Doxorubicin (DOX), an anticancer drug with an intracellular site of action in the nucleus, was chosen as a model drug. DOX-loaded micelles were prepared by an emulsion/solvent evaporation method. The cellular uptake of different DOX formulations was analyzed by flow cytometry and confocal laser scanning microscopy. The cytotoxicity of blank micelles, free DOX, and DOX-loaded micelles in vitro was investigated by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay in HeLa and HepG2 cells.
The degree of substitution was 5.9 cholesterol and 3.8 NLS groups per 100 sugar residues of the NCHGC conjugate. The critical aggregation concentration of the NCHGC micelles in aqueous solution was 0.0209 mg/mL. The DOX-loaded NCHGC (DNCHGC) micelles were observed as being almost spherical in shape under transmission electron microscopy, and the size was determined as 248 nm by dynamic light scattering. The DOX-loading content of the DNCHGC micelles was 10.1%. The DOX-loaded micelles showed slow drug-release behavior within 72 hours in vitro. The DNCHGC micelles exhibited greater cellular uptake and higher amounts of DOX in the nuclei of HeLa cells than free DOX and DOX-loaded CHGC (DCHGC) micelles. The half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) values of free DOX, DCHGC, and DNCHGC micelles against HepG2 cells were 4.063, 0.591, and 0.171 μg/mL, respectively. Moreover, the IC50 values of free DOX (3.210 μg/mL) and the DCHGC micelles (1.413 μg/mL) against HeLa cells were nearly 6.96- and 3.07-fold (P < 0.01), respectively, higher than the IC50 value of the DNCHGC micelles (0.461 μg/mL).
The results of this study suggest that novel NCHGC micelles could be a potential carrier for nucleus-targeting delivery.
PMCID: PMC3459689  PMID: 23049255
polymeric micelles; drug delivery; nucleus-targeting delivery
9.  The Active-Site Cysteines of the Periplasmic Thioredoxin-Like Protein CcmG of Escherichia coli Are Important but Not Essential for Cytochrome c Maturation In Vivo 
Journal of Bacteriology  1998;180(7):1947-1950.
A new member of the family of periplasmic protein thiol:disulfide oxidoreductases, CcmG (also called DsbE), was characterized with regard to its role in cytochrome c maturation in Escherichia coli. The CcmG protein was shown to be membrane bound, facing the periplasm with its C-terminal, hydrophilic domain. A chromosomal, nonpolar in-frame deletion in ccmG resulted in the complete absence of all c-type cytochromes. Replacement of either one or both of the two cysteine residues of the predicted active site in CcmG (WCPTC) led to low but detectable levels of Bradyrhizobium japonicum holocytochrome c550 expressed in E. coli. This defect, but not that of the ccmG null mutant, could be complemented by adding low-molecular-weight thiol compounds to growing cells, which is in agreement with a reducing function for CcmG.
PMCID: PMC107112  PMID: 9537397
10.  Adeno-Associated Virus-Like Particles as New Carriers for B-Cell Vaccines: Testing Immunogenicity and Safety in BALB/c Mice 
Viral Immunology  2014;27(9):438-448.
Adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) are established vectors for gene therapy of different human diseases. AAVs are assembled of 60 capsomers, which can be genetically modified, allowing high-density display of short peptide sequences at their surface. The aim of our study was to evaluate the immunogenicity and safety of an adeno-associated virus-like particle (AAVLP)-displayed B-cell peptide epitope taking ovalbumin (OVA) as a model antigen or allergen from egg, respectively. An OVA-derived B-cell epitope was expressed as fusion protein with the AAV-2 capsid protein of VP3 (AAVLP-OVA) and for control, with the nonrelated peptide TP18 (AAVLP-TP18). Cellular internalization studies revealed an impaired uptake of AAVLP-OVA by mouse BMDC, macrophages, and human HeLa cells. Nevertheless, BALB/c mice immunized subcutaneously with AAVLP-OVA formed similarly high titers of OVA-specific IgG1 compared to mice immunized with the native OVA. The extent of the immune response was independent whether aluminum hydroxide or water in oil emulsion was used as adjuvant. Furthermore, in mice immunized with native OVA, high OVA-specific IgE levels were observed, which permitted OVA-specific mast-cell degranulation in a β-hexosaminidase release assay, whereas immunizations with AAVLP-OVA rendered background IgE levels only. Accordingly, OVA-immunized mice, but not AAVLP-OVA immunized mice, displayed an anaphylactic reaction with a significant drop of body temperature upon intravenous OVA challenge. From this mouse model, we conclude that AAVLPs that display B-cell epitope peptides on their surface are suitable vaccine candidates, especially in the field of allergy.
PMCID: PMC4217042  PMID: 25247267
11.  pH-Responsive Nanoparticle Vaccines for Dual-Delivery of Antigens and Immunostimulatory Oligonucleotides 
ACS nano  2013;7(5):3912-3925.
Protein subunit vaccines offer important potential advantages over live vaccine vectors, but generally elicit weaker and shorter-lived cellular immune responses. Here we investigate the use of pH-responsive, endosomolytic polymer nanoparticles that were originally developed for RNA delivery as vaccine delivery vehicles for enhancing cellular and humoral immune responses. Micellar nanoparticles were assembled from amphiphilic diblock copolymers composed of an ampholytic core-forming block and a re-designed polycationic corona block doped with thiol-reactive pyridyl disulfide groups to enable dual-delivery of antigens and immunostimulatory CpG oligodeoxynucleotide (CpG ODN) adjuvants. Polymers assembled into 23 nm particles with simultaneous packaging of CpG ODN and a thiolated protein antigen, ovalbumin (ova). Conjugation of ova to nanoparticles significantly enhanced antigen cross-presentation in vitro relative to free ova or an unconjugated, physical mixture of the parent compounds. Subcutaneous vaccination of mice with ova-nanoparticle conjugates elicited a significantly higher CD8+ T cell response (0.5% IFN-ɣ+ of CD8+) compared to mice vaccinated with free ova or a physical mixture of the two components. Significantly, immunization with ova-nanoparticle conjugates electrostatically complexed with CpG ODN (dual-delivery) enhanced CD8+ T cell responses (3.4% IFN-ɣ+ of CD8+) 7-, 18-, and 8-fold relative to immunization with conjugates, ova administered with free CpG, or a formulation containing free ova and CpG complexed to micelles, respectively. Similarly, dual-delivery carriers significantly increased CD4+IFN-ɣ+ (Th1) responses, and elicited a balanced IgG1/IgG2c antibody response. Intradermal administration further augmented cellular immune responses, with dual-delivery carriers inducing ~7% antigen-specific CD8+ T cells. This work demonstrates the ability of pH-responsive, endosomolytic nanoparticles to actively promote antigen cross-presentation and augment cellular and humoral immune responses via dual-delivery of protein antigens and CpG ODN. Hence, pH-responsive polymeric nanoparticles offer promise as a delivery platform for protein subunit vaccines.
PMCID: PMC4042837  PMID: 23590591
vaccine; pH-responsive polymer; micelle; CpG adjuvant; endosomal escape; antigen cross-presentation
12.  RGD peptide-mediated chitosan-based polymeric micelles targeting delivery for integrin-overexpressing tumor cells 
Solid tumors need new blood vessels to feed and nourish them as well as to allow tumor cells to escape into the circulation and lodge in other organs, which is termed “angiogenesis.” Some tumor cells within solid tumors can overexpress integrins αvβ3 and αvβ5, which can specifically recognize the peptide motif Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD). Thus, the targeting of RGD-modified micelles to tumor vasculature is a promising strategy for tumor-targeting treatment.
RGD peptide (GSSSGRGDSPA) was coupled to poly(ethylene glycol)-modified stearic acid-grafted chitosan (PEG-CS-SA) micelles via chemical reaction in the presence of N,N′-Disuccinimidyl carbonate. The critical micelle concentration of the polymeric micelles was determined by measuring the fluorescence intensity of pyrene as a fluorescent probe. The micelle size, size distribution, and zeta potential were measured by light scattering and electrophoretic mobility. Doxorubicin (DOX) was chosen as a model anticancer drug to investigate the drug entrapment efficiency, in vitro drug-release profile, and in vitro antitumor activities of drug-loaded RGD-PEG-CS-SA micelles in cells that overexpress integrins (ανβ3 and ανβ5) and integrin-deficient cells.
Using DOX as a model drug, the drug encapsulation efficiency could reach 90%, and the in vitro drug-release profiles suggested that the micelles could be used as a controlled-release carrier for the hydrophobic drug. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of cellular uptake indicated that RGD-modified micelles could significantly increase the DOX concentration in integrin-overexpressing human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line (BEL-7402), but not in human epithelial carcinoma cell line (Hela). The competitive cellular-uptake test showed that the cellular uptake of RGD-modified micelles in BEL-7402 cells was significantly inhibited in the presence of excess free RGD peptides. In vitro cytotoxicity tests demonstrated DOX-loaded RGD-modified micelles could specifically enhance the cytotoxicity against BEL-7402 compared with DOX-loaded PEG-CS-SA and doxorubicin hydrochlorate.
This study suggests that RGD-modified PEG-CS-SA micelles are promising drug carriers for integrin-overexpressing tumor active targeting therapy.
PMCID: PMC3265222  PMID: 22282676
cellular uptake; chitosan polymeric micelles; cytotoxicity; doxorubicin; integrin; RGD peptide
1. It has been shown in this paper that while non-ionized gelatin may exist in gelatin solutions on both sides of the isoelectric point (which lies for gelatin at a hydrogen ion concentration of CH = 2.10–5 or pH = 4.7), gelatin, when it ionizes, can only exist as an anion on the less acid side of its isoelectric point (pH > 4.7), as a cation only on the more acid side of its isoelectric point (pH < 4.7). At the isoelectric point gelatin can dissociate practically neither as anion nor as cation. 2. When gelatin has been transformed into sodium gelatinate by treating it for some time with M/32 NaOH, and when it is subsequently treated with HCl, the gelatin shows on the more acid side of the isoelectric point effects of the acid treatment only; while the effects of the alkali treatment disappear completely, showing that the negative gelatin ions formed by the previous treatment with alkali can no longer exist in a solution with a pH < 4.7. When gelatin is first treated with acid and afterwards with alkali on the alkaline side of the isoelectric point only the effects of the alkali treatment are noticeable. 3. On the acid side of the isoelectric point amphoteric electrolytes can only combine with the anions of neutral salts, on the less acid side of their isoelectric point only with cations; and at the isoelectric point neither with the anion nor cation of a neutral salt. This harmonizes with the statement made in the first paragraph, and the experimental results on the effect of neutral salts on gelatin published in the writer's previous papers. 4. The reason for this influence of the hydrogen ion concentration on the stability of the two forms of ionization possible for an amphoteric electrolyte is at present unknown. We might think of the possibility of changes in the configuration or constitution of the gelatin molecule whereby ionized gelatin can exist only as an anion on the alkaline side and as a cation on the acid side of its isoelectric point. 5. The literature of colloid chemistry contains numerous statements which if true would mean that the anions of neutral salts act on gelatin on the alkaline side of the isoelectric point, e.g. the alleged effect of the Hofmeister series of anions on the swelling and osmotic pressure of common gelatin in neutral solutions, and the statement that both ions of a neutral salt influence a protein simultaneously. The writer has shown in previous publications that these statements are contrary to fact and based on erroneous methods of work. Our present paper shows that these claims of colloid chemists are also theoretically impossible. 6. In addition to other physical properties the conductivity of gelatin previously treated with acids has been investigated and plotted, and it was found that this conductivity is a minimum in the region of the isoelectric point, thus confirming the conclusion that gelatin can apparently not exist in ionized condition at that point. The conductivity rises on either side of the isoelectric point, but not symmetrically for reasons given in the paper. It is shown that the curves for osmotic pressure, viscosity, swelling, and alcohol number run parallel to the curve of the conductivity of gelatin when the gelatin has been treated with acid, supporting the view that these physical properties are in this case mainly or exclusively a function of the degree of ionization of the gelatin or gelatin salt formed. It is pointed out, however, that certain constitutional factors, e.g. the valency of the ion in combination with the gelatin, may alter the physical properties of the gelatin (osmotic pressure, etc.) without apparently altering its conductivity. This point is still under investigation and will be further discussed in a following publication. 7. It is shown that the isoelectric point of an amphoteric electrolyte is not only a point where the physical properties of an ampholyte experience a sharp drop and become a minimum, but that it is also a turning point for the mode of chemical reactions of the ampholyte. It may turn out that this chemical influence of the isoelectric point upon life phenomena overshadows its physical influence. 8. These experiments suggest that the theory of amphoteric colloids is in its general features identical with the theory of inorganic hydroxides (e.g. aluminum hydroxide), whose behavior is adequately understood on the basis of the laws of general chemistry.
PMCID: PMC2140289  PMID: 19871727
14.  RAD51 and MRE11 dependent reassembly of uncoupled CMG helicase complex at collapsed replication forks 
In higher eukaryotes the dynamics of replisome components during fork collapse and restart are poorly understood. Here, we reconstituted replication fork collapse and restart by inducing single-strand DNA (ssDNA) lesions that create a double-strand break (DSB) in one of the replicated sister chromatids after fork passage. We found that, upon fork collapse, the active CDC45–MCM–GINS (CMG) helicase complex loses its GINS subunit. A functional replisome is restored by the reloading of GINS and Pol epsilon onto DNA in a RAD51- and MRE11- dependent manner, but independently of replication origin assembly and firing. PCNA mutant alleles defective in break-induced replication (BIR) are unable to support restoration of replisome integrity. These results reveal that in higher eukaryotes replisomes are partially dismantled following fork collapse and fully re-established by a recombination-mediated process.
PMCID: PMC4306020  PMID: 22139015
15.  The CMG (CDC45/RecJ, MCM, GINS) complex is a conserved component of the DNA replication system in all archaea and eukaryotes 
Biology Direct  2012;7:7.
In eukaryotes, the CMG (CDC45, MCM, GINS) complex containing the replicative helicase MCM is a key player in DNA replication. Archaeal homologs of the eukaryotic MCM and GINS proteins have been identified but until recently no homolog of the CDC45 protein was known. Two recent developments, namely the discovery of archaeal GINS-associated nuclease (GAN) that belongs to the RecJ family of the DHH hydrolase superfamily and the demonstration of homology between the DHH domains of CDC45 and RecJ, show that at least some Archaea possess a full complement of homologs of the CMG complex subunits. Here we present the results of in-depth phylogenomic analysis of RecJ homologs in archaea.
We confirm and extend the recent hypothesis that CDC45 is the eukaryotic ortholog of the bacterial and archaeal RecJ family nucleases. At least one RecJ homolog was identified in all sequenced archaeal genomes, with the single exception of Caldivirga maquilingensis. These proteins include previously unnoticed remote RecJ homologs with inactivated DHH domain in Thermoproteales. Combined with phylogenetic tree reconstruction of diverse eukaryotic, archaeal and bacterial DHH subfamilies, this analysis yields a complex scenario of RecJ family evolution in Archaea which includes independent inactivation of the nuclease domain in Crenarchaeota and Halobacteria, and loss of this domain in Methanococcales.
The archaeal complex of a CDC45/RecJ homolog, MCM and GINS is homologous and most likely functionally analogous to the eukaryotic CMG complex, and appears to be a key component of the DNA replication machinery in all Archaea. It is inferred that the last common archaeo-eukaryotic ancestor encoded a CMG complex that contained an active nuclease of the RecJ family. The inactivated RecJ homologs in several archaeal lineages most likely are dedicated structural components of replication complexes.
This article was reviewed by Prof. Patrick Forterre, Dr. Stephen John Aves (nominated by Dr. Purificacion Lopez-Garcia) and Prof. Martijn Huynen.
For the full reviews, see the Reviewers' Comments section.
PMCID: PMC3307487  PMID: 22329974
16.  A Ctf4 trimer couples the CMG helicase to DNA polymerase α in the eukaryotic replisome 
Nature  2014;510(7504):293-297.
Efficient duplication of the genome requires the concerted action of helicase and DNA polymerases at replication forks1, to avoid stalling of the replication machinery and consequent genomic instability2-4. In eukaryotes, the physical coupling between helicase and DNA polymerases remains poorly understood. Here we define the molecular mechanism by which the yeast Ctf4 protein links the Cdc45-MCM-GINS (CMG) DNA helicase to DNA polymerase α (Pol α) within the replisome. We use X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy to show that Ctf4 self-associates in a constitutive disk-shaped trimer. Trimerization depends on a β-propeller domain in the carboxy-terminal half of the protein, which is fused to a helical extension that protrudes from one face of the trimeric disk. Critically, Pol α and the CMG helicase share a common mechanism of interaction with Ctf4. We show that the N-terminal tails of the catalytic subunit of Pol α and the Sld5 subunit of GINS contain a conserved Ctf4-binding motif that docks onto the exposed helical extension of a Ctf4 protomer within the trimer. Accordingly, we demonstrate that one Ctf4 trimer can support binding of up to three partner proteins, including the simultaneous association with both Pol α and GINS. Our findings indicate that Ctf4 can couple two molecules of Pol α to one CMG helicase within the replisome, providing a new paradigm for lagging-strand synthesis in eukaryotes that resembles the emerging model for the simpler replisome of E. coli5-8. The ability of Ctf4 to act as a platform for multivalent interactions illustrates a mechanism for the concurrent recruitment of factors that act together at the fork.
PMCID: PMC4059944  PMID: 24805245
17.  Anthrax toxin targeting of myeloid cells through the CMG2 receptor is essential for establishment of Bacillus anthracis infections in mice 
Cell host & microbe  2010;8(5):455-462.
Bacillus anthracis kills through a combination of bacterial infection and toxemia. Anthrax toxin working via the CMG2 receptor mediates lethality late in infection, but its roles early in infection remain unclear. We generated myeloid-lineage specific CMG2-deficient mice to examine the roles of macrophages, neutrophils, and other myeloid cells in anthrax pathogenesis. Macrophages and neutrophils isolated from these mice were resistant to anthrax toxin. However, the myeloid-specific CMG2-deficient mice remained fully sensitive to both anthrax lethal and edema toxins, demonstrating that targeting of myeloid cells is not responsible for anthrax toxin-induced lethality. Surprisingly, the myeloid-specific CMG2-deficient mice were completely resistant to B. anthracis infection. Neutrophil depletion experiments suggest that B. anthracis relies on anthrax toxin secretion to evade the scavenging functions of neutrophils to successfully establish infection. This work demonstrates that anthrax toxin uptake through CMG2 and the resulting impairment of myeloid cells specifically neutrophils, is essential to anthrax infection.
PMCID: PMC3032408  PMID: 21075356
Anthrax toxin; CMG2; edema toxin; lethal toxin; TEM8; neutrophils; macrophages; myeloid cells
18.  Multifunctional Chitosan Magnetic-Graphene (CMG) Nanoparticles: a Theranostic Platform for Tumor-targeted Co-delivery of Drugs, Genes and MRI Contrast Agents 
Combing chemotherapy with gene therapy has been one of the most promising strategies for the treatment of cancer. The noninvasive MRI with superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) as contrast agent is one of the most effecitve techniques for evaluating the antitumor therapy. However, to construct a single system that can deliver efficiently gene, drug and SPIO to the cancer site remains a challenge. Herein, we report a chitosan functionalized magnetic graphene nanoparticle (CMG) platform for simultaneous gene/drug and SPIO delivery to tumor. The phantom and ex vivo MRI images suggest CMG as a strong T2 contrast-enhancing agent. The CMGs are biocompatible as evaluated by the WST assay and predominantly accumulate in tumors as shown by biodistribution studies and MRI. The anticancer drug doxorubicin (DOX) loaded CMGs (DOX-CMGs) release DOX faster at pH 5.1 than at pH 7.4, and more effective (IC50 = 2 μM) in killing A549 lung cancer cells than free DOX (IC50 = 4 μM). CMGs efficiently deliver DNA into A549 lung cancer cells and C42b prostate cancer cells. In addition, i.v. administration of GFP-plasmid encapsulated within DOX-CMGs into tumor-bearing mice has showed both GFP expression and DOX accumulation at the tumor site at 24 and 48 hrs after administration. These results indicate CMGs provide a robust and safe theranostic platform, which integrates targeted delivery of both gene medicine and chemotherapeutic drug(s), and enhanced MR imaging of tumors. The integrated chemo- and gene- therapeutic and diagnostic design of CMG nanoparticles shows promise for simultaneous targeted imaging, drug delivery and real -time monitoring of therapeutic effect for cancer.
PMCID: PMC4036826  PMID: 24883188
19.  Hyaline fibromatosis syndrome with mutation c.1074delT of the CMG2 gene: a case report 
Juvenile hyaline fibromatosis and infantile systemic hyalinosis are variants of the same autosomal recessive syndrome; hyaline fibromatosis syndrome, characterized by papulonodular skin lesions, gingival hypertrophy, flexion contractures of joints, osteolytic bone lesions and stunted growth. Infantile systemic hyalinosis is distinguished from juvenile hyaline fibromatosis by its more severe phenotype, which includes hyaline deposits in multiple organs, recurrent infections and death within the first two years of life.
Hyaline fibromatosis syndrome is due to mutations of the gene-encoding capillary morphogenesis protein 2 (CMG2). Cases have been reported in different countries but to the best of our knowledge, this is the first reported Moroccan patient with hyaline fibromatosis syndrome and carrying the CMG2 mutation.
Case presentation
We report the case of an eight-year-old Moroccan male patient with typical features of hyaline fibromatosis syndrome: multiple recurring subcutaneous tumors, gingival hypertrophy, joint contractures and other anomalies carrying a homozygous mutation in the CMG2 gene. The identification of the mutation in our patient allowed us to do a presymptomatic diagnosis in our patient’s sister, a two-day-old newborn, who is carrying the familial mutation in the heterozygous state. Early recognition of this condition is important for genetic counseling and early treatment.
Hyaline fibromatosis syndrome might be underdiagnosed. Molecular diagnosis will help clinicians and geneticists, firstly to conduct genetic counseling, prenatal diagnosis and early treatment, and secondly to gain better understanding of the disease and genotype-phenotype correlations.
PMCID: PMC4158768  PMID: 25186005
CMG2; Infantile systemic hyalinosis; Hyaline fibromatosis syndrome
20.  The pH-Sensitive Fusogenic 3-Methyl-Glutarylated Hyperbranched Poly(Glycidol)-Conjugated Liposome Induces Antigen-Specific Cellular and Humoral Immunity 
We examined the ability of a novel liposome, surface modified by 3-methyl-glutarylated hyperbranched poly(glycidol) (MGlu-HPG), to enhance antigen-specific immunity in vitro and in vivo and to function as a vaccine carrier. Murine bone marrow-derived dendritic cells took up ovalbumin (OVA) encapsulated in MGlu-HPG-modified liposomes more effectively than free OVA or OVA encapsulated in unmodified liposomes. Immunization of mice with OVA-containing MGlu-HPG-modified liposomes induced antigen-specific splenocyte proliferation and production of gamma interferon (IFN-γ) more strongly than did immunization with free OVA or OVA encapsulated in unmodified liposomes. The immune responses induced by OVA encapsulated in MGlu-HPG-modified liposomes were significantly suppressed by addition of anti-major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and class II monoclonal antibodies, indicating the involvement of antigen presentation via MHC class I and II. Furthermore, delayed-type hypersensitivity responses and OVA-specific antibodies were induced more effectively in mice immunized with OVA encapsulated by MGlu-HPG-modified liposomes than with unencapsulated OVA or OVA encapsulated in unmodified liposomes. These results suggested that MGlu-HPG-modified liposomes effectively induced both cell-mediated and humoral immune responses. Collectively, this study is the first to demonstrate the induction of both cell-mediated and humoral immune responses in vivo by MGlu-HPG-modified liposomes.
PMCID: PMC3428382  PMID: 22815149
1. It is shown by volumetric analysis that on the alkaline side from its isoelectric point gelatin combines with cations only, but not with anions; that on the more acid side from its isoelectric point it combines only with anions but not with cations; and that at the isoelectric point, pH = 4.7, it combines with neither anion nor cation. This confirms our statement made in a previous paper that gelatin can exist only as an anion on the alkaline side from its isoelectric point and only as a cation on the more acid side of its isoelectric point, and practically as neither anion nor cation at the isoelectric point. 2. Since at the isoelectric point gelatin (and probably amphoteric colloids generally) must give off any ion with which it was combined, the simplest method of obtaining amphoteric colloids approximately free from ionogenic impurities would seem to consist in bringing them to the hydrogen ion concentration characteristic of their isoelectric point (i.e., at which they migrate neither to the cathode nor anode of an electric field). 3. It is shown by volumetric analysis that when gelatin is in combination with a monovalent ion (Ag, Br, CNS), the curve representing the amount of ion-gelatin formed is approximately parallel to the curve for swelling, osmotic pressure, and viscosity. This fact proves that the influence of ions upon these properties is determined by the chemical or stoichiometrical and not by the "colloidal" condition of gelatin. 4. The sharp drop of these curves at the isoelectric point finds its explanation in an equal drop of the water solubility of pure gelatin, which is proved by the formation of a precipitate. It is not yet possible to state whether this drop of the solubility is merely due to lack of ionization of the gelatin or also to the formation of an insoluble tautomeric or polymeric compound of gelatin at the isoelectric point. 5. On account of this sudden drop slight changes in the hydrogen ion concentration have a considerably greater chemical and physical effect in the region of the isoelectric point than at some distance from this point. This fact may be of biological significance since a number of amphoteric colloids in the body seem to have their isoelectric point inside the range of the normal variation of the hydrogen ion concentration of blood, lymph, or cell sap. 6. Our experiments show that while a slight change in the hydrogen ion concentration increases the water solubility of gelatin near the isoelectric point, no increase in the solubility can be produced by treating gelatin at the isoelectric point with any other kind of monovalent or polyvalent ion; a fact apparently not in harmony with the adsorption theory of colloids, but in harmony with a chemical conception of proteins.
PMCID: PMC2140300  PMID: 19871741
22.  The Effects of Salt on the Physicochemical Properties and Immunogenicity of Protein Based Vaccine Formulated in Cationic Liposome 
Recently, we have developed a simple and potent therapeutic cancer vaccine consisting of a cationic lipid and a peptide antigen. In this report, we expanded the utility of this formulation to a protein based vaccine. First, we formulated the human papillomavirus (HPV) 16 E7 protein (E7) in different doses of DOTAP liposome. The results showed that these formulations failed to regress an established tumor. However, when sodium chloride (30 mM) was added to the DOTAP (100 nmol) / E7 (20 μg) formulation, anti-tumor activity was generated in the immunized mice. Correlatively, 30 mM NaCl in the DOTAP/E7 protein formulation increased the particle size from ∼350 to 550 nm, decreased the protein loading capacity (from 95 to 90%), and finally increased the zeta potential (from 29 mV to 38 mV). Next, a model protein antigen ovalbumin (OVA) was formulated in different doses of DOTAP liposomes. Similarly, the results showed that 20 μg OVA formulated in 200 nmol DOTAP with 30 mM NaCl had the best OVA- specific antibody response, including both IgG1 and IgG2a, suggesting both Th1 and Th2 immune responses were generated by this formulation. In conclusion, we have expanded the application of cationic DOTAP liposome formulation to protein based vaccines and also identified that small amounts of salt could change the physicochemical properties of the vaccine formulation and enhance the activity of the DOTAP/protein based vaccine. The enhancement of immune responses by salt is possibly due to its interference of the electrostatic interaction between the cationic lipid and the protein antigen to facilitate the antigen release from the carrier and at the same time activate the antigen presenting cells.
PMCID: PMC2841293  PMID: 18992312
Cationic liposome; Protein antigen; Immunogenicity; Salt; Vaccine
23.  The Role of Bloom Index of Gelatin on the Interaction with Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells 
Biocompatible materials are of considerable interest in the development of cell/drug delivery carriers for therapeutic applications. This paper investigates the effects of the Bloom index of gelatin on its interaction with retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. Following two days of culture of ARPE-19 cells with gelatin samples G75-100, G175, and G300, the in vitro biocompatibility was determined by cell proliferation and viability assays, and glutamate uptake measurements, as well as cytokine expression analyses. The mitochondrial dehydrogenase activity in the G300 groups was significantly lower than that of G75-100 and G175 groups. The Live/Dead assays also showed that the gelatin samples G300 induced mild cytotoxicity. In comparison with the treatment of gelatins with low Bloom index, the exposure to high Bloom strength gelatins markedly reduced the glutamate uptake capacity of ARPE-19 cells. One possible explanation for these observations is that the presence of gelatin samples G300 with high viscosity in the medium may affect the nutrient availability to cultured cells. The analyses of pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 expression at both mRNA and protein levels showed that the gelatins with low Bloom index caused less cellular inflammatory reaction and had more acceptable biocompatibility than their high Bloom strength counterparts. These findings suggest that the Bloom index gives influence on cellular responses to gelatin materials.
PMCID: PMC2812822  PMID: 20111679
gelatin; Bloom index; in vitro biocompatibility; retinal pigment epithelial cells
24.  Recombinant collagen for animal product-free dextran microcarriers 
Manufacturers of vaccines and other biologicals are under increasing pressure from regulatory agencies to develop production methods that are completely animal-component-free. In order to comply with this demand, alternative cell culture substrates to those now on the market, primarily collagen or gelatin, must be found. In this paper, we have tested a number of possible substitutes including recombinant collagen, a 100-kDa recombinant gelatin fragment and a peptide derived from a cell-binding region of type I collagen. The small 15-amino acid peptide did not support attachment of human fibroblasts in monolayer culture. The 100-kDa gelatin fragment supported cell attachment in monolayer culture, but was significantly less active than intact porcine gelatin. Recombinant type I collagen was as successful in promoting cell attachment as native collagen, and both were more effective than porcine gelatin. Based on these data, dextran microspheres were treated with the same attachment proteins—porcine gelatin, native collagen, or recombinant collagen. The same trends were observed as in monolayer culture. Concentrations of the recombinant collagen (as well as native collagen) supported cell attachment on dextran microspheres at concentrations as low as 0.01 μg/cm2. Treatment of the dextran with a low level of polyethylenimine, a cationic moiety, further enhanced attachment when used in conjunction with the low concentration of recombinant collagen. Where there was increased cell attachment, increased proliferation followed. We are confident, based on these findings, that a fully recombinant substitute could replace gelatin in current microcarrier preparations without losing the cell growth benefits provided by the native protein.
PMCID: PMC2833965  PMID: 18815845
Microcarrier; Animal component-free; Recombinant collagen; Dextran; PEI
25.  Compensatory Thio-redox Interactions Between DsbA, CcdA and CcmG Unveil the Apocytochrome c Holdase Role of CcmG During Cytochrome c Maturation 
Molecular microbiology  2008;70(3):652-666.
During cytochrome c maturation (Ccm), the DsbA-dependent thio-oxidative protein-folding pathway is thought to introduce a disulfide bond into the heme-binding motif of apocytochromes c. This disulfide bond is believed to be reduced through a thio-reductive pathway involving the Ccm components CcdA (DsbD), CcmG and CcmH. Here, we show in Rhodobacter capsulatus that in the absence of DsbA cytochrome c levels were decreased and CcdA or CcmG or the putative glutathione transporter CydDC were not needed for Ccm. This decrease was not due to overproduction of the periplasmic protease DegP as a secondary effect of DsbA absence. In contrast, CcmH was absolutely necessary regardless of DsbA, indicating that compensatory thio-redox interactions excluded it. Remarkably, the double (DsbA-CcmG) and triple (DsbA-CcmG-CcdA) mutants produced cytochromes c at lower levels than the DsbA-null mutants, unless they contained a CcmG derivative (CcmG*) lacking its thio-reductive activity. Purified CcmG* can bind apocytochrome c in vitro, revealing for the first time a thiol-independent, direct interaction between apocytochrome c and CcmG. Furthermore, elimination of the thio-redox components does not abolish cytochrome c production, restricting the number of Ccm components essential for heme-apocyt c ligation per se during Ccm.
PMCID: PMC2581645  PMID: 18786143
cytochrome c maturation; thio-oxidation; thio-reduction; Rhodobacter capsulatus; photosynthetic and respiratory electron transfer

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