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1.  Phosphorylation of residues inside the SNARE complex suppresses secretory vesicle fusion 
The EMBO Journal  2016;35(16):1810-1821.
Membrane fusion is essential for eukaryotic life, requiring SNARE proteins to zipper up in an α‐helical bundle to pull two membranes together. Here, we show that vesicle fusion can be suppressed by phosphorylation of core conserved residues inside the SNARE domain. We took a proteomics approach using a PKCB knockout mast cell model and found that the key mast cell secretory protein VAMP8 becomes phosphorylated by PKC at multiple residues in the SNARE domain. Our data suggest that VAMP8 phosphorylation reduces vesicle fusion in vitro and suppresses secretion in living cells, allowing vesicles to dock but preventing fusion with the plasma membrane. Markedly, we show that the phosphorylation motif is absent in all eukaryotic neuronal VAMPs, but present in all other VAMPs. Thus, phosphorylation of SNARE domains is a general mechanism to restrict how much cells secrete, opening the door for new therapeutic strategies for suppression of secretion.
PMCID: PMC5010044  PMID: 27402227
mast cell degranulation; protein kinase C; secretion; SNARE complex; VAMP8; Membrane & Intracellular Transport
2.  AirLab: a cloud-based platform to manage and share antibody-based single-cell research 
Genome Biology  2016;17:142.
Single-cell analysis technologies are essential tools in research and clinical diagnostics. These methods include flow cytometry, mass cytometry, and other microfluidics-based technologies. Most laboratories that employ these methods maintain large repositories of antibodies. These ever-growing collections of antibodies, their multiple conjugates, and the large amounts of data generated in assays using specific antibodies and conditions makes a dedicated software solution necessary. We have developed AirLab, a cloud-based tool with web and mobile interfaces, for the organization of these data. AirLab streamlines the processes of antibody purchase, organization, and storage, antibody panel creation, results logging, and antibody validation data sharing and distribution. Furthermore, AirLab enables inventory of other laboratory stocks, such as primers or clinical samples, through user-controlled customization. Thus, AirLab is a mobile-powered and flexible tool that harnesses the capabilities of mobile tools and cloud-based technology to facilitate inventory and sharing of antibody and sample collections and associated validation data.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13059-016-1006-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4928244  PMID: 27356760
3.  Kinome-wide Decoding of Network-Attacking Mutations Rewiring Cancer Signaling 
Cell  2015;163(1):202-217.
Cancer cells acquire pathological phenotypes through accumulation of mutations that perturb signaling networks. However, global analysis of these events is currently limited. Here, we identify six types of network-attacking mutations (NAMs), including changes in kinase and SH2 modulation, network rewiring, and the genesis and extinction of phosphorylation sites. We developed a computational platform (ReKINect) to identify NAMs and systematically interpreted the exomes and quantitative (phospho-)proteomes of five ovarian cancer cell lines and the global cancer genome repository. We identified and experimentally validated several NAMs, including PKCγ M501I and PKD1 D665N, which encode specificity switches analogous to the appearance of kinases de novo within the kinome. We discover mutant molecular logic gates, a drift toward phospho-threonine signaling, weakening of phosphorylation motifs, and kinase-inactivating hotspots in cancer. Our method pinpoints functional NAMs, scales with the complexity of cancer genomes and cell signaling, and may enhance our capability to therapeutically target tumor-specific networks.
Graphical Abstract
•Mutations perturbing signaling networks are systematically classified and interpreted•Several such functional mutations are identified in cancer and experimentally validated•The results suggest that a single point mutant can have profound signaling effects•Systematic interpretation of genomic data may assist future precision-medicine efforts
A systematic classification of genomic variants in cancer reveals the many ways in which signaling networks can be perturbed, including rewiring and the creation or destruction of phosphorylation sites.
PMCID: PMC4644236  PMID: 26388441
4.  The Calcineurin Signaling Network Evolves Via Conserved Kinase–Phosphatase Modules That Transcend Substrate Identity 
Molecular cell  2014;55(3):422-435.
To define the first functional network for calcineurin, the conserved Ca2+/calmodulin-regulated phosphatase, we systematically identified its substrates in S. cerevisiae using phosphoproteomics and bioinformatics, followed by co-purification and dephosphorylation assays. This study establishes new calcineurin functions and reveals mechanisms that shape calcineurin network evolution. Analyses of closely related yeasts show that many proteins were recently recruited to the network by acquiring a calcineurin-recognition motif. Calcineurin substrates in yeast and mammals are distinct due to network rewiring but surprisingly are phosphorylated by similar kinases. We postulate that co-recognition of conserved substrate features, including phosphorylation and docking motifs, preserves calcineurin-kinase opposition during evolution. One example we document is a composite docking site that confers substrate recognition by both calcineurin and MAPK. We propose that conserved kinase-phosphatase pairs define the architecture of signaling networks and allow other connections between kinases and phosphatases to develop and establish common regulatory motifs in signaling networks.
PMCID: PMC4127121  PMID: 24930733
5.  Palladium-based Mass-Tag Cell Barcoding with a Doublet-Filtering Scheme and Single Cell Deconvolution Algorithm 
Nature protocols  2015;10(2):316-333.
Mass-tag cell barcoding (MCB) labels individual cell samples with unique combinatorial barcodes, after which they are pooled for processing and measurement as a single multiplexed sample. The MCB method eliminates variability between samples in antibody staining and instrument sensitivity, reduces antibody consumption, and shortens instrument measurement time. Here, we present an optimized MCB protocol with several improvements over previously described methods. The use of palladium-based labeling reagents expands the number of measurement channels available for mass cytometry and reduces interference with lanthanide-based antibody measurement. An error-detecting combinatorial barcoding scheme allows cell doublets to be identified and removed from the analysis. A debarcoding algorithm that is single cell-based rather than population-based improves the accuracy and efficiency of sample deconvolution. This debarcoding algorithm has been packaged into software that allows rapid and unbiased sample deconvolution. The MCB procedure takes 3–4 h, not including sample acquisition time of ~1 h per million cells.
PMCID: PMC4347881  PMID: 25612231
6.  A platinum-based covalent viability reagent for single cell mass cytometry 
In fluorescence-based flow cytometry, cellular viability is determined with membrane-impermeable fluorescent reagents that specifically enter and label plasma membrane-compromised non-viable cells. A recent technological advance in flow cytometry uses antibodies conjugated to elemental metal isotopes, rather than to fluorophores, to allow signal detection by atomic mass spectrometry. Unhampered by the limitations of overlapping emission fluorescence, mass cytometry increases the number of parameters that can be measured in single cells. However, mass cytometry is unable to take advantage of current fluorescent viability dyes. An alternative methodology was therefore developed here in which the platinum-containing chemotherapy drug cisplatin was used to label cells for mass cytometry determinations of live/dead ratios. In a one-minute incubation step, cisplatin preferentially labeled non-viable cells, from both adherent and suspension cultures, resulting in a platinum signal quantifiable by mass cytometry. This protocol was compatible with established sample processing steps for cytometry. Furthermore, the live/dead ratios were comparable between mass and fluorescence based cytometry. Importantly, although cisplatin is a known DNA-damaging agent, a one-minute “pulse” of cisplatin did not induce observable DNA damage or apoptotic responses even within 6 hours post-exposure. Cisplatin can therefore be used as a viability reagent for a wide range of mass cytometry protocols.
PMCID: PMC3808967  PMID: 22577098
Mass cytometry; cisplatin; viability reagent
7.  Multiplexed mass cytometry profiling of cellular states perturbed by small-molecule regulators 
Nature biotechnology  2012;30(9):858-867.
The ability to comprehensively explore the impact of bio-active molecules on human samples at the single-cell level can provide great insight for biomedical research. Mass cytometry enables quantitative single-cell analysis with deep dimensionality, but currently lacks high-throughput capability. Here we report a method termed mass-tag cellular barcoding (MCB) that increases mass cytometry throughput by sample multiplexing. 96-well format MCB was used to characterize human peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) signaling dynamics, cell-to-cell communication, the signaling variability between 8 donors, and to define the impact of 27 inhibitors on this system. For each compound, 14 phosphorylation sites were measured in 14 PBMC types, resulting in 18,816 quantified phosphorylation levels from each multiplexed sample. This high-dimensional systems-level inquiry allowed analysis across cell-type and signaling space, reclassified inhibitors, and revealed off-target effects. MCB enables high-content, high-throughput screening, with potential applications for drug discovery, pre-clinical testing, and mechanistic investigation of human disease.
PMCID: PMC3627543  PMID: 22902532
8.  Phosphoproteomic Analysis Reveals Interconnected System-Wide Responses to Perturbations of Kinases and Phosphatases in Yeast 
Science signaling  2010;3(153):rs4.
The phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of proteins by kinases and phosphatases constitute an essential regulatory network in eukaryotic cells. This network supports the flow of information from sensors through signaling systems to effector molecules, and ultimately drives the phenotype and function of cells, tissues, and organisms. Dysregulation of this process has severe consequences and is one of the main factors in the emergence and progression of diseases, including cancer. Thus, major efforts have been invested in developing specific inhibitors that modulate the activity of individual kinases or phosphatases; however, it has been difficult to assess how such pharmacological interventions would affect the cellular signaling network as a whole. Here, we used label-free, quantitative phosphoproteomics in a systematically perturbed model organism (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) to determine the relationships between 97 kinases, 27 phosphatases, and more than 1000 phosphoproteins. We identified 8814 regulated phosphorylation events, describing the first system-wide protein phosphorylation network in vivo. Our results show that, at steady state, inactivation of most kinases and phosphatases affected large parts of the phosphorylation-modulated signal transduction machinery, and not only the immediate downstream targets. The observed cellular growth phenotype was often well maintained despite the perturbations, arguing for considerable robustness in the system. Our results serve to constrain future models of cellular signaling and reinforce the idea that simple linear representations of signaling pathways might be insufficient for drug development and for describing organismal homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3072779  PMID: 21177495
9.  Rewiring of Genetic Networks in Response to DNA Damage 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2010;330(6009):1385-1389.
Although cellular behaviors are dynamic, the networks that govern these behaviors have been mapped primarily as static snapshots. Using an approach called differential epistasis mapping, we have discovered widespread changes in genetic interaction among yeast kinases, phosphatases, and transcription factors as the cell responds to DNA damage. Differential interactions uncover many gene functions that go undetected in static conditions. They are very effective at identifying DNA repair pathways, highlighting new damage-dependent roles for the Slt2 kinase, Pph3 phosphatase, and histone variant Htz1. The data also reveal that protein complexes are generally stable in response to perturbation, but the functional relations between these complexes are substantially reorganized. Differential networks chart a new type of genetic landscape that is invaluable for mapping cellular responses to stimuli.
PMCID: PMC3006187  PMID: 21127252
10.  Orm family proteins mediate sphingolipid homeostasis 
Nature  2010;463(7284):1048-1053.
Despite the essential roles of sphingolipids as both structural components of membranes and critical signalling molecules, we have a limited understanding of how cells sense and regulate their levels. Here we reveal the function in sphingolipid metabolism of the ORM/ORMDL genes, a conserved gene family that includes ORMDL3, which has recently been identified as a potential risk factor for childhood asthma. Starting from an unbiased functional genomic approach, we identify Orm proteins as negative regulators of sphingolipid synthesis that form a conserved complex with serine palmitoyltransferase, the first and rate-limiting enzyme in sphingolipid production. We also define a regulatory pathway in which phosphorylation of Orm proteins relieves their inhibitory activity when sphingolipid production is disrupted. Changes in ORM gene expression or mutations to their phosphorylation sites cause dysregulation of sphingolipid metabolism. Our work identifies the Orm proteins as critical mediators of sphingolipid homeostasis and raises the possibility that sphingolipid misregulation contributes to the development of childhood asthma.
PMCID: PMC2877384  PMID: 20182505
11.  Full dynamic range proteome analysis of S. cerevisiae by targeted proteomics 
Cell  2009;138(4):795-806.
The rise of systems biology implied a growing demand for highly sensitive techniques for the fast and consistent detection and quantification of target sets of proteins across multiple samples. This is only partly achieved by classical mass spectrometry or affinity-based methods. We applied a targeted proteomics approach based on selected reaction monitoring (SRM) to detect and quantify proteins expressed to a concentration below 50 copies/cell in total S. cerevisiae digests. The detection range can be extended to single-digit copies/cell and to proteins which were undetected by classical methods. We illustrate the power of the technique by the consistent and fast measurement of a network of proteins spanning the entire abundance range over a growth time-course of S. cerevisiae transiting through a series of metabolic phases. We therefore demonstrate the potential of SRM-based proteomics to provide assays for the measurement of any set of proteins of interest in yeast at high-throughput and quantitative accuracy.
PMCID: PMC2825542  PMID: 19664813
targeted proteomics; S. cerevisiae; selected / multiple reaction monitoring; MRM/SRM; dynamic range
12.  Comparison of MS2-only, MSA, and MS2/MS3 Methodologies for Phosphopeptide Identification 
Journal of proteome research  2009;8(2):887-899.
Current mass spectrometers provide a number of alternative methodologies for producing tandem mass spectra specifically for phosphopeptide analysis. In particular, generation of MS3 spectra in a data-dependent manner upon detection of the neutral loss of a phosphoric acid in MS2 spectra is a popular technique for circumventing the problem of poor phosphopeptide backbone fragmentation. The newer Multistage Activation method provides another option. Both these strategies require additional cycle time on the instrument and therefore reduce the number of spectra that can be measured in the same amount of time. Additional informatics is often required to make most efficient use of the additional information provided by these spectra as well. This work presents a comparison of several commonly used mass spectrometry methods for the study of phosphopeptide-enriched samples: an MS2-only method, a Multistage Activation method, and an MS2/MS3 data-dependent neutral loss method. Several strategies for dealing effectively with the resulting MS3 data in the latter approach are also presented and compared. The overall goal is to infer whether any one methodology performs significantly better than another for identifying phosphopeptides. On data presented here, the Multistage Activation methodology is demonstrated to perform optimally and does not result in significant loss of unique peptide identifications.
PMCID: PMC2734953  PMID: 19072539
Protein phosphorylation; mass spectrometry; MS3; Multistage Activation; phosphoproteomics; bioinformatics; peptide identification; database search
14.  Regulation of PKD by the MAPK p38δ in Insulin Secretion and Glucose Homeostasis 
Cell  2009;136(2):235-248.
Dysfunction and loss of insulin-producing pancreatic β cells represent hallmarks of diabetes mellitus. Here, we show that mice lacking the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) p38δ display improved glucose tolerance due to enhanced insulin secretion from pancreatic β cells. Deletion of p38δ results in pronounced activation of protein kinase D (PKD), the latter of which we have identified as a pivotal regulator of stimulated insulin exocytosis. p38δ catalyzes an inhibitory phosphorylation of PKD1, thereby attenuating stimulated insulin secretion. In addition, p38δ null mice are protected against high-fat-feeding-induced insulin resistance and oxidative stress-mediated β cell failure. Inhibition of PKD1 reverses enhanced insulin secretion from p38δ-deficient islets and glucose tolerance in p38δ null mice as well as their susceptibility to oxidative stress. In conclusion, the p38δ-PKD pathway integrates regulation of the insulin secretory capacity and survival of pancreatic β cells, pointing to a pivotal role for this pathway in the development of overt diabetes mellitus.
PMCID: PMC2638021  PMID: 19135240
15.  Corra: Computational framework and tools for LC-MS discovery and targeted mass spectrometry-based proteomics 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:542.
Quantitative proteomics holds great promise for identifying proteins that are differentially abundant between populations representing different physiological or disease states. A range of computational tools is now available for both isotopically labeled and label-free liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) based quantitative proteomics. However, they are generally not comparable to each other in terms of functionality, user interfaces, information input/output, and do not readily facilitate appropriate statistical data analysis. These limitations, along with the array of choices, present a daunting prospect for biologists, and other researchers not trained in bioinformatics, who wish to use LC-MS-based quantitative proteomics.
We have developed Corra, a computational framework and tools for discovery-based LC-MS proteomics. Corra extends and adapts existing algorithms used for LC-MS-based proteomics, and statistical algorithms, originally developed for microarray data analyses, appropriate for LC-MS data analysis. Corra also adapts software engineering technologies (e.g. Google Web Toolkit, distributed processing) so that computationally intense data processing and statistical analyses can run on a remote server, while the user controls and manages the process from their own computer via a simple web interface. Corra also allows the user to output significantly differentially abundant LC-MS-detected peptide features in a form compatible with subsequent sequence identification via tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). We present two case studies to illustrate the application of Corra to commonly performed LC-MS-based biological workflows: a pilot biomarker discovery study of glycoproteins isolated from human plasma samples relevant to type 2 diabetes, and a study in yeast to identify in vivo targets of the protein kinase Ark1 via phosphopeptide profiling.
The Corra computational framework leverages computational innovation to enable biologists or other researchers to process, analyze and visualize LC-MS data with what would otherwise be a complex and not user-friendly suite of tools. Corra enables appropriate statistical analyses, with controlled false-discovery rates, ultimately to inform subsequent targeted identification of differentially abundant peptides by MS/MS. For the user not trained in bioinformatics, Corra represents a complete, customizable, free and open source computational platform enabling LC-MS-based proteomic workflows, and as such, addresses an unmet need in the LC-MS proteomics field.
PMCID: PMC2651178  PMID: 19087345
16.  Proteomics studies confirm the presence of alternative protein isoforms on a large scale 
Genome Biology  2008;9(11):R162.
Stably expressed alternatively-spliced protein isoforms are produced on a genome-wide scale in Drosophila.
Alternative splicing of messenger RNA permits the formation of a wide range of mature RNA transcripts and has the potential to generate a diverse spectrum of functional proteins. Although there is extensive evidence for large scale alternative splicing at the transcript level, there have been no comparable studies demonstrating the existence of alternatively spliced protein isoforms.
Recent advances in proteomics technology have allowed us to carry out a comprehensive identification of protein isoforms in Drosophila. The analysis of this proteomic data confirmed the presence of multiple alternative gene products for over a hundred Drosophila genes.
We demonstrate that proteomics techniques can detect the expression of stable alternative splice isoforms on a genome-wide scale. Many of these alternative isoforms are likely to have regions that are disordered in solution, and specific proteomics methodologies may be required to identify these peptides.
PMCID: PMC2614494  PMID: 19017398
17.  PhosphoPep—a phosphoproteome resource for systems biology research in Drosophila Kc167 cells 
The ability to analyze and understand the mechanisms by which cells process information is a key question of systems biology research. Such mechanisms critically depend on reversible phosphorylation of cellular proteins, a process that is catalyzed by protein kinases and phosphatases. Here, we present PhosphoPep, a database containing more than 10 000 unique high-confidence phosphorylation sites mapping to nearly 3500 gene models and 4600 distinct phosphoproteins of the Drosophila melanogaster Kc167 cell line. This constitutes the most comprehensive phosphorylation map of any single source to date. To enhance the utility of PhosphoPep, we also provide an array of software tools that allow users to browse through phosphorylation sites on single proteins or pathways, to easily integrate the data with other, external data types such as protein–protein interactions and to search the database via spectral matching. Finally, all data can be readily exported, for example, for targeted proteomics approaches and the data thus generated can be again validated using PhosphoPep, supporting iterative cycles of experimentation and analysis that are typical for systems biology research.
PMCID: PMC2063582  PMID: 17940529
data integration; Drosophila; interactive database; phosphoproteomics; systems biology

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