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1.  Allergic Contact Dermatitis in Psoriasis Patients: Typical, Delayed, and Non-Interacting 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101814.
Psoriasis is characterized by an apoptosis-resistant and metabolic active epidermis, while a hallmark for allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) is T cell-induced keratinocyte apoptosis. Here, we induced ACD reactions in psoriasis patients sensitized to nickel (n = 14) to investigate underlying mechanisms of psoriasis and ACD simultaneously. All patients developed a clinically and histologically typical dermatitis upon nickel challenge even in close proximity to pre-existing psoriasis plaques. However, the ACD reaction was delayed as compared to non-psoriatic patients, with a maximum intensity after 7 days. Whole genome expression analysis revealed alterations in numerous pathways related to metabolism and proliferation in non-involved skin of psoriasis patients as compared to non-psoriatic individuals, indicating that even in clinically non-involved skin of psoriasis patients molecular events opposing contact dermatitis may occur. Immunohistochemical comparison of ACD reactions as well as in vitro secretion analysis of lesional T cells showed a higher Th17 and neutrophilic migration as well as epidermal proliferation in psoriasis, while ACD reactions were dominated by cytotoxic CD8+ T cells and a Th2 signature. Based on these findings, we hypothesized an ACD reaction directly on top of a pre-existing psoriasis plaque might influence the clinical course of psoriasis. We observed a strong clinical inflammation with a mixed psoriasis and eczema phenotype in histology. Surprisingly, the initial psoriasis plaque was unaltered after self-limitation of the ACD reaction. We conclude that sensitized psoriasis patients develop a typical, but delayed ACD reaction which might be relevant for patch test evaluation in clinical practice. Psoriasis and ACD are driven by distinct and independent immune mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC4109932  PMID: 25058585
2.  Reconstruction of Cellular Signal Transduction Networks Using Perturbation Assays and Linear Programming 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69220.
Perturbation experiments for example using RNA interference (RNAi) offer an attractive way to elucidate gene function in a high throughput fashion. The placement of hit genes in their functional context and the inference of underlying networks from such data, however, are challenging tasks. One of the problems in network inference is the exponential number of possible network topologies for a given number of genes. Here, we introduce a novel mathematical approach to address this question. We formulate network inference as a linear optimization problem, which can be solved efficiently even for large-scale systems. We use simulated data to evaluate our approach, and show improved performance in particular on larger networks over state-of-the art methods. We achieve increased sensitivity and specificity, as well as a significant reduction in computing time. Furthermore, we show superior performance on noisy data. We then apply our approach to study the intracellular signaling of human primary nave CD4+ T-cells, as well as ErbB signaling in trastuzumab resistant breast cancer cells. In both cases, our approach recovers known interactions and points to additional relevant processes. In ErbB signaling, our results predict an important role of negative and positive feedback in controlling the cell cycle progression.
PMCID: PMC3728289  PMID: 23935958
3.  miR-17-5p Regulates Endocytic Trafficking through Targeting TBC1D2/Armus 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52555.
miRNA cluster miR-17-92 is known as oncomir-1 due to its potent oncogenic function. miR-17-92 is a polycistronic cluster that encodes 6 miRNAs, and can both facilitate and inhibit cell proliferation. Known targets of miRNAs encoded by this cluster are largely regulators of cell cycle progression and apoptosis. Here, we show that miRNAs encoded by this cluster and sharing the seed sequence of miR-17 exert their influence on one of the most essential cellular processes – endocytic trafficking. By mRNA expression analysis we identified that regulation of endocytic trafficking by miR-17 can potentially be achieved by targeting of a number of trafficking regulators. We have thoroughly validated TBC1D2/Armus, a GAP of Rab7 GTPase, as a novel target of miR-17. Our study reveals regulation of endocytic trafficking as a novel function of miR-17, which might act cooperatively with other functions of miR-17 and related miRNAs in health and disease.
PMCID: PMC3527550  PMID: 23285084
4.  Anaerobic Metabolism of Indoleacetate 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(11):2894-2903.
The anaerobic metabolism of indoleacetate (indole-3-acetic acid [IAA]) in the denitrifying betaproteobacterium Azoarcus evansii was studied. The strain oxidized IAA completely and grew with a generation time of 10 h. Enzyme activities that transformed IAA were present in the soluble cell fraction of IAA-grown cells but were 10-fold downregulated in cells grown on 2-aminobenzoate or benzoate. The transformation of IAA did not require molecular oxygen but required electron acceptors like NAD+ or artificial dyes. The first products identified were the enol and keto forms of 2-oxo-IAA. Later, polar products were observed, which could not yet be identified. The first steps likely consist of the anaerobic hydroxylation of the N-heterocyclic pyrrole ring to the enol form of 2-oxo-IAA, which is catalyzed by a molybdenum cofactor-containing dehydrogenase. This step is probably followed by the hydrolytic ring opening of the keto form, which is catalyzed by a hydantoinase-like enzyme. A comparison of the proteome of IAA- and benzoate-grown cells identified IAA-induced proteins. Owing to the high similarity of A. evansii with strain EbN1, whose genome is known, we identified a cluster of 14 genes that code for IAA-induced proteins involved in the early steps of IAA metabolism. These genes include a molybdenum cofactor-dependent dehydrogenase of the xanthine oxidase/aldehyde dehydrogenase family, a hydantoinase, a coenzyme A (CoA) ligase, a CoA transferase, a coenzyme B12-dependent mutase, an acyl-CoA dehydrogenase, a fusion protein of an enoyl-CoA hydratase and a 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase, a beta-ketothiolase, and a periplasmic substrate binding protein for ABC transport as well as a transcriptional regulator of the GntR family. Five predicted enzymes form or act on CoA thioesters, indicating that soon after the initial oxidation of IAA and possibly ring opening, CoA thioesters are formed, and the carbon skeleton is rearranged, followed by a CoA-dependent thiolytic release of another CoA thioester. We propose a scheme of an anaerobic IAA metabolic pathway that ultimately leads to 2-aminobenzoyl-CoA or benzoyl-CoA.
PMCID: PMC3370604  PMID: 22447903
5.  Normalizing for individual cell population context in the analysis of high-content cellular screens 
BMC Bioinformatics  2011;12:485.
High-content, high-throughput RNA interference (RNAi) offers unprecedented possibilities to elucidate gene function and involvement in biological processes. Microscopy based screening allows phenotypic observations at the level of individual cells. It was recently shown that a cell's population context significantly influences results. However, standard analysis methods for cellular screens do not currently take individual cell data into account unless this is important for the phenotype of interest, i.e. when studying cell morphology.
We present a method that normalizes and statistically scores microscopy based RNAi screens, exploiting individual cell information of hundreds of cells per knockdown. Each cell's individual population context is employed in normalization. We present results on two infection screens for hepatitis C and dengue virus, both showing considerable effects on observed phenotypes due to population context. In addition, we show on a non-virus screen that these effects can be found also in RNAi data in the absence of any virus. Using our approach to normalize against these effects we achieve improved performance in comparison to an analysis without this normalization and hit scoring strategy. Furthermore, our approach results in the identification of considerably more significantly enriched pathways in hepatitis C virus replication than using a standard analysis approach.
Using a cell-based analysis and normalization for population context, we achieve improved sensitivity and specificity not only on a individual protein level, but especially also on a pathway level. This leads to the identification of new host dependency factors of the hepatitis C and dengue viruses and higher reproducibility of results.
PMCID: PMC3259109  PMID: 22185194
6.  Phosphorylation of Phenol by Phenylphosphate Synthase: Role of Histidine Phosphate in Catalysis▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(22):7815-7822.
The anaerobic metabolism of phenol proceeds via carboxylation to 4-hydroxybenzoate by a two-step process involving seven proteins and two enzymes (“biological Kolbe-Schmitt carboxylation”). MgATP-dependent phosphorylation of phenol catalyzed by phenylphosphate synthase is followed by phenylphosphate carboxylation. Phenylphosphate synthase shows similarities to phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) synthase and was studied for the bacterium Thauera aromatica. It consists of three proteins and transfers the β-phosphoryl from ATP to phenol; the products are phenylphosphate, AMP, and phosphate. We showed that protein 1 becomes phosphorylated in the course of the reaction cycle by [β-32P]ATP. This reaction requires protein 2 and is severalfold stimulated by protein 3. Stimulation of the reaction by 1 M sucrose is probably due to stabilization of the protein(s). Phosphorylated protein 1 transfers the phosphoryl group to phenolic substrates. The primary structure of protein 1 was analyzed by nanoelectrospray mass spectrometry after CNBr cleavage, trypsin digestion, and online high-pressure liquid chromatography at alkaline pH. His-569 was identified as the phosphorylated amino acid. We propose a catalytic ping-pong mechanism similar to that of PEP synthase. First, a diphosphoryl group is transferred to His-569 in protein 1, from which phosphate is cleaved to render the reaction unidirectional. Histidine phosphate subsequently serves as the actual phosphorylation agent.
PMCID: PMC1636309  PMID: 16980461
7.  J-Domain Protein CDJ2 and HSP70B Are a Plastidic Chaperone Pair That Interacts with Vesicle-Inducing Protein in Plastids 1 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2005;16(3):1165-1177.
J-domain cochaperones confer functional specificity to their heat shock protein (HSP)70 partner by recruiting it to specific substrate proteins. To gain insight into the functions of plastidic HSP70s, we searched in Chlamydomonas databases for expressed sequence tags that potentially encode chloroplast-targeted J-domain cochaperones. Two such cDNAs were found: the encoded J-domain proteins were named chloroplast DnaJ homolog 1 and 2 (CDJ1 and CDJ2). CDJ2 was shown to interact with a ∼28-kDa protein that by mass spectrometry was identified as the vesicle-inducing protein in plastids 1 (VIPP1). In fractionation experiments, CDJ2 was detected almost exclusively in the stroma, whereas VIPP1 was found in low-density membranes, thylakoids, and in the stroma. Coimmunoprecipitation and mass spectrometry analyses identified stromal HSP70B as the major protein interacting with soluble VIPP1, and, as confirmed by cross-linking data, as chaperone partner of CDJ2. In blue native-PAGE of soluble cell extracts, CDJ2 and VIPP1 comigrated in complexes of >>669, ∼150, and perhaps ∼300 kDa. Our data suggest that CDJ2, presumably via coiled-coil interactions, binds to VIPP1 and presents it to HSP70B in the ATP state. Our findings and the previously reported requirement of VIPP1 for the biogenesis of thylakoid membranes point to a role for the HSP70B/CDJ2 chaperone pair in this process.
PMCID: PMC551482  PMID: 15635096

Results 1-7 (7)