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1.  Neuroglobin in Breast Cancer Cells: Effect of Hypoxia and Oxidative Stress on Protein Level, Localization, and Anti-Apoptotic Function 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(5):e0154959.
The over-expression of human neuroglobin (NGB), a heme-protein preferentially expressed in the brain, displays anti-apoptotic effects against hypoxic/ischemic and oxidative stresses enhancing neuron survival. As hypoxic and oxidative stress injury frequently occurs in fast proliferating neoplastic tissues, here, the effect of these stressors on the level, localization, and anti-apoptotic function of NGB in wild type and NGB-stable-silenced MCF-7 breast cancer cells has been assessed. The well-known endogenous NGB inducer 17β-estradiol (E2) has been used as positive control. The median pO2 present in tumor microenvironment of breast cancer patients (i.e., 2% O2) does not affect the NGB level in breast cancer cells, whereas hydrogen peroxide and lead(IV) acetate, which increase intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) level, enhance the NGB levels outside the mitochondria and still activate apoptosis. However, E2-induced NGB up-regulation in mitochondria completely reverse lead(IV) acetate-induced PARP cleavage. These results indicate that the NGB level could represent a marker of oxidative-stress in MCF-7 breast cancer cells; however, the NGB ability to respond to injuring stimuli by preventing apoptosis requires its re-allocation into the mitochondria. As a whole, present data might lead to a new direction in understanding NGB function in cancer opening new avenues for the therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC4858147  PMID: 27149623
2.  Biophysical Characterisation of Neuroglobin of the Icefish, a Natural Knockout for Hemoglobin and Myoglobin. Comparison with Human Neuroglobin 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e44508.
The Antarctic icefish Chaenocephalus aceratus lacks the globins common to most vertebrates, hemoglobin and myoglobin, but has retained neuroglobin in the brain. This conserved globin has been cloned, over-expressed and purified. To highlight similarities and differences, the structural features of the neuroglobin of this colourless-blooded fish were compared with those of the well characterised human neuroglobin as well as with the neuroglobin from the retina of the red blooded, hemoglobin and myoglobin-containing, closely related Antarctic notothenioid Dissostichus mawsoni. A detailed structural and functional analysis of the two Antarctic fish neuroglobins was carried out by UV-visible and Resonance Raman spectroscopies, molecular dynamics simulations and laser-flash photolysis. Similar to the human protein, Antarctic fish neuroglobins can reversibly bind oxygen and CO in the Fe2+ form, and show six-coordination by distal His in the absence of exogenous ligands. A very large and structured internal cavity, with discrete docking sites, was identified in the modelled three-dimensional structures of the Antarctic neuroglobins. Estimate of the free-energy barriers from laser-flash photolysis and Implicit Ligand Sampling showed that the cavities are accessible from the solvent in both proteins.
Comparison of structural and functional properties suggests that the two Antarctic fish neuroglobins most likely preserved and possibly improved the function recently proposed for human neuroglobin in ligand multichemistry. Despite subtle differences, the adaptation of Antarctic fish neuroglobins does not seem to parallel the dramatic adaptation of the oxygen carrying globins, hemoglobin and myoglobin, in the same organisms.
PMCID: PMC3513292  PMID: 23226490
3.  Crystallization, preliminary X-ray diffraction studies and Raman microscopy of the major haemoglobin from the sub-Antarctic fish Eleginops maclovinus in the carbomonoxy form 
The major haemoglobin of the sub-Antarctic fish E. maclovinus is the first sub-Antarctic fish haemoglobin to be crystallized and its structural characterization will shed light on the molecular mechanisms of cold adaptation and the role of the Root effect in fish.
The blood of the sub-Antarctic fish Eleginops maclovinus (Em) contains three haemoglobins. The major haemoglobin (Hb1Em) displays the Root effect, a drastic decrease in the oxygen affinity and a loss of cooperativity at acidic pH. The carbomonoxy form of HbEm1 has been crystallized in two different crystal forms, orthorhombic (Ortho) and hexagonal (Hexa), and high-resolution diffraction data have been collected for both forms (1.45 and 1.49 Å resolution, respectively). The high-frequency resonance Raman spectra collected from the two crystal forms using excitation at 514 nm were almost indistinguishable. Hb1Em is the first sub-Antarctic fish Hb to be crystallized and its structural characterization will shed light on the molecular mechanisms of cold adaptation and the role of the Root effect in fish haemoglobins.
PMCID: PMC3001669  PMID: 21045316
cold adaptation; Eleginops maclovinus; haemichrome; haemoglobin; oxygen affinity; Raman microspectroscopy
4.  Low affinity PEGylated hemoglobin from Trematomus bernacchii, a model for hemoglobin-based blood substitutes 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:66.
Conjugation of human and animal hemoglobins with polyethylene glycol has been widely explored as a means to develop blood substitutes, a novel pharmaceutical class to be used in surgery or emergency medicine. However, PEGylation of human hemoglobin led to products with significantly different oxygen binding properties with respect to the unmodified tetramer and high NO dioxygenase reactivity, known causes of toxicity. These recent findings call for the biotechnological development of stable, low-affinity PEGylated hemoglobins with low NO dioxygenase reactivity.
To investigate the effects of PEGylation on protein structure and function, we compared the PEGylation products of human hemoglobin and Trematomus bernacchii hemoglobin, a natural variant endowed with a remarkably low oxygen affinity and high tetramer stability. We show that extension arm facilitated PEGylation chemistry based on the reaction of T. bernacchii hemoglobin with 2-iminothiolane and maleimido-functionalyzed polyethylene glycol (MW 5000 Da) leads to a tetraPEGylated product, more homogeneous than the corresponding derivative of human hemoglobin. PEGylated T. bernacchii hemoglobin largely retains the low affinity of the unmodified tetramer, with a p50 50 times higher than PEGylated human hemoglobin. Moreover, it is still sensitive to protons and the allosteric effector ATP, indicating the retention of allosteric regulation. It is also 10-fold less reactive towards nitrogen monoxide than PEGylated human hemoglobin.
These results indicate that PEGylated hemoglobins, provided that a suitable starting hemoglobin variant is chosen, can cover a wide range of oxygen-binding properties, potentially meeting the functional requirements of blood substitutes in terms of oxygen affinity, tetramer stability and NO dioxygenase reactivity.
PMCID: PMC3268738  PMID: 22185675

Results 1-4 (4)