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1.  AggLb Is the Largest Cell-Aggregation Factor from Lactobacillus paracasei Subsp. paracasei BGNJ1-64, Functions in Collagen Adhesion, and Pathogen Exclusion In Vitro 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0126387.
Eleven Lactobacillus strains with strong aggregation abilities were selected from a laboratory collection. In two of the strains, genes associated with aggregation capability were plasmid located and found to strongly correlate with collagen binding. The gene encoding the auto-aggregation-promoting protein (AggLb) of Lactobacillus paracasei subsp. paracasei BGNJ1-64 was cloned using a novel, wide-range-host shuttle cloning vector, pAZILSJ. The clone pALb35, containing a 11377-bp DNA fragment, was selected from the SacI plasmid library for its ability to provide carriers with the aggregation phenotype. The complete fragment was sequenced and four potential ORFs were detected, including the aggLb gene and three surrounding transposase genes. AggLb is the largest known cell-surface protein in lactobacilli, consisting of 2998 aa (318,611 Da). AggLb belongs to the collagen-binding superfamily and its C-terminal region contains 20 successive repeats that are identical even at the nucleotide level. Deletion of aggLb causes a loss of the capacity to form cell aggregates, whereas overexpression increases cellular aggregation, hydrophobicity and collagen-binding potential. PCR screening performed with three sets of primers based on the aggLb gene of BGNJ1-64 enabled detection of the same type of aggLb gene in five of eleven selected aggregation-positive Lactobacillus strains. Heterologous expression of aggLb confirmed the crucial role of the AggLb protein in cell aggregation and specific collagen binding, indicating that AggLb has a useful probiotic function in effective colonization of host tissue and prevention of pathogen colonization.
PMCID: PMC4425601  PMID: 25955159
2.  ZASP Interacts with the Mechanosensing Protein Ankrd2 and p53 in the Signalling Network of Striated Muscle 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92259.
ZASP is a cytoskeletal PDZ-LIM protein predominantly expressed in striated muscle. It forms multiprotein complexes and plays a pivotal role in the structural integrity of sarcomeres. Mutations in the ZASP protein are associated with myofibrillar myopathy, left ventricular non-compaction and dilated cardiomyopathy. The ablation of its murine homologue Cypher results in neonatal lethality. ZASP has several alternatively spliced isoforms, in this paper we clarify the nomenclature of its human isoforms as well as their dynamics and expression pattern in striated muscle. Interaction is demonstrated between ZASP and two new binding partners both of which have roles in signalling, regulation of gene expression and muscle differentiation; the mechanosensing protein Ankrd2 and the tumour suppressor protein p53. These proteins and ZASP form a triple complex that appears to facilitate poly-SUMOylation of p53. We also show the importance of two of its functional domains, the ZM-motif and the PDZ domain. The PDZ domain can bind directly to both Ankrd2 and p53 indicating that there is no competition between it and p53 for the same binding site on Ankrd2. However there is competition for this binding site between p53 and a region of the ZASP protein lacking the PDZ domain, but containing the ZM-motif. ZASP is negative regulator of p53 in transactivation experiments with the p53-responsive promoters, MDM2 and BAX. Mutations in the ZASP ZM-motif induce modification in protein turnover. In fact, two mutants, A165V and A171T, were not able to bind Ankrd2 and bound only poorly to alpha-actinin2. This is important since the A165V mutation is responsible for zaspopathy, a well characterized autosomal dominant distal myopathy. Although the mechanism by which this mutant causes disease is still unknown, this is the first indication of how a ZASP disease associated mutant protein differs from that of the wild type ZASP protein.
PMCID: PMC3960238  PMID: 24647531
3.  Multi-Tasking Role of the Mechanosensing Protein Ankrd2 in the Signaling Network of Striated Muscle 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25519.
Ankrd2 (also known as Arpp) together with Ankrd1/CARP and DARP are members of the MARP mechanosensing proteins that form a complex with titin (N2A)/calpain 3 protease/myopalladin. In muscle, Ankrd2 is located in the I-band of the sarcomere and moves to the nucleus of adjacent myofibers on muscle injury. In myoblasts it is predominantly in the nucleus and on differentiation shifts from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. In agreement with its role as a sensor it interacts both with sarcomeric proteins and transcription factors.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Expression profiling of endogenous Ankrd2 silenced in human myotubes was undertaken to elucidate its role as an intermediary in cell signaling pathways. Silencing Ankrd2 expression altered the expression of genes involved in both intercellular communication (cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction, endocytosis, focal adhesion, tight junction, gap junction and regulation of the actin cytoskeleton) and intracellular communication (calcium, insulin, MAPK, p53, TGF-╬▓ and Wnt signaling). The significance of Ankrd2 in cell signaling was strengthened by the fact that we were able to show for the first time that Nkx2.5 and p53 are upstream effectors of the Ankrd2 gene and that Ankrd1/CARP, another MARP member, can modulate the transcriptional ability of MyoD on the Ankrd2 promoter. Another novel finding was the interaction between Ankrd2 and proteins with PDZ and SH3 domains, further supporting its role in signaling. It is noteworthy that we demonstrated that transcription factors PAX6, LHX2, NFIL3 and MECP2, were able to bind both the Ankrd2 protein and its promoter indicating the presence of a regulatory feedback loop mechanism.
In conclusion we demonstrate that Ankrd2 is a potent regulator in muscle cells affecting a multitude of pathways and processes.
PMCID: PMC3189947  PMID: 22016770

Results 1-3 (3)