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1.  A possible role of transglutaminase 2 in the nucleus of INS-1E and of cells of human pancreatic islets 
Journal of Proteomics  2014;96(100):314-327.
Transglutaminase 2 (TG2) is a multifunctional protein with Ca2 +-dependent transamidating and G protein activity. Previously we reported that the role of TG2 in insulin secretion may involve cytoplasmic actin remodeling and a regulative action on other proteins during granule movement. The aim of this study was to gain a better insight into the role of TG2 transamidating activity in mitochondria and in the nucleus of INS-1E rat insulinoma cell line (INS-1E) during insulin secretion. To this end we labeled INS-1E with an artificial donor (biotinylated peptide), in basal condition and after stimulus with glucose for 2, 5, and 8 min. Biotinylated proteins of the nuclear/mitochondrial-enriched fraction were analyzed using two-dimensional electrophoresis and mass spectrometry. Many mitochondrial proteins involved in Ca2 + homeostasis (e.g. voltage-dependent anion-selective channel protein, prohibitin and different ATP synthase subunits) and many nuclear proteins involved in gene regulation (e.g. histone H3, barrier to autointegration factor and various heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein) were identified among a number of transamidating substrates of TG2 in INS-1E. The combined results provide evidence that a temporal link exists between glucose-stimulation, first phase insulin secretion and the action of TG on histone H3 both in INS-1E and human pancreatic islets.
Biological significance
Research into the role of transglutaminase 2 during insulin secretion in INS-1E rat insulinoma cellular model is depicting a complex role for this enzyme. Transglutaminase 2 acts in the different INS-1E compartments in the same way: catalyzing a post-translational modification event of its substrates. In this work we identify some mitochondrial and nuclear substrates of INS-1E during first phase insulin secretion. The finding that TG2 interacts with nuclear proteins that include BAF and histone H3 immediately after (2–5 min) glucose stimulus of INS-1E suggests that TG2 may be involved not only in insulin secretion, as suggested by our previous studies in cytoplasmic INS-1E fraction, but also in the regulation of glucose-induced gene transcription.
Graphical abstract
Highlights
•Transglutaminase 2 localizes in the nucleus and in the mitochondrion of INS-1E.•TG2 acts as a modifying enzyme in both compartments during FPIS.•TG2 may contribute to Ca2 + sensing in mitochondrion through its substrates.•TG2 may contribute to chromatin condensation in nucleus through its substrates.
doi:10.1016/j.jprot.2013.11.011
PMCID: PMC3919173  PMID: 24291354
FPIS, first phase insulin secretion; TG2, transglutaminase 2.; Transglutaminase 2; Insulin secretion; Calcium concentration; β-Cell; INS-1E; Human islet
2.  A MUTANT PRION PROTEIN SENSITIZES NEURONS TO GLUTAMATE-INDUCED EXCITOTOXICITY 
Growing evidence suggests that a physiological activity of the cellular prion protein (PrPC) plays a crucial role in several neurodegenerative disorders, including prion and Alzheimer’s diseases. However, how the functional activity of PrPC is subverted to deliver neurotoxic signals remains uncertain. Transgenic mice expressing PrP with a deletion of residues 105–125 in the central region (referred to as ΔCR PrP) provide important insights into this problem. Tg(ΔCR) mice exhibit neonatal lethality and massive degeneration of cerebellar granule neurons, a phenotype that is dose-dependently suppressed by the presence of wild-type PrP. When expressed in cultured cells, ΔCR PrP induces large, ionic currents that can be detected by patch-clamping techniques. Here, we have tested the hypothesis that abnormal ion channel activity underlies the neuronal death seen in Tg(ΔCR) mice. We find that ΔCR PrP induces abnormal ionic currents in neurons in culture and in cerebellar slices, and that this activity sensitizes the neurons to glutamate-induced, calcium-mediated death. In combination with ultrastructural and biochemical analyses, these results demonstrate a role for glutamate-induced excitotoxicity in PrP-mediated neurodegeneration. A similar mechanism may operate in other neurodegenerative disorders due to toxic, β-rich oligomers that bind to PrPC.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3406-12.2013
PMCID: PMC3711660  PMID: 23392670
3.  A Mouse Model of Familial ALS Has Increased CNS Levels of Endogenous Ubiquinol9/10 and Does Not Benefit from Exogenous Administration of Ubiquinol10 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69540.
Oxidative stress and mitochondrial impairment are the main pathogenic mechanisms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a severe neurodegenerative disease still lacking of effective therapy. Recently, the coenzyme-Q (CoQ) complex, a key component of mitochondrial function and redox-state modulator, has raised interest for ALS treatment. However, while the oxidized form ubiquinone10 was ineffective in ALS patients and modestly effective in mouse models of ALS, no evidence was reported on the effect of the reduced form ubiquinol10, which has better bioavailability and antioxidant properties. In this study we compared the effects of ubiquinone10 and a new stabilized formulation of ubiquinol10 on the disease course of SOD1G93A transgenic mice, an experimental model of fALS. Chronic treatments (800 mg/kg/day orally) started from the onset of disease until death, to mimic the clinical trials that only include patients with definite ALS symptoms. Although the plasma levels of CoQ10 were significantly increased by both treatments (from <0.20 to 3.0–3.4 µg/mL), no effect was found on the disease progression and survival of SOD1G93A mice. The levels of CoQ10 in the brain and spinal cord of ubiquinone10- or ubiquinol10-treated mice were only slightly higher (≤10%) than the endogenous levels in vehicle-treated mice, indicating poor CNS availability after oral dosing and possibly explaining the lack of pharmacological effects. To further examine this issue, we measured the oxidized and reduced forms of CoQ9/10 in the plasma, brain and spinal cord of symptomatic SOD1G93A mice, in comparison with age-matched SOD1WT. Levels of ubiquinol9/10, but not ubiquinone9/10, were significantly higher in the CNS, but not in plasma, of SOD1G93A mice, suggesting that CoQ redox system might participate in the mechanisms trying to counteract the pathology progression. Therefore, the very low increases of CoQ10 induced by oral treatments in CNS might be not sufficient to provide significant neuroprotection in SOD1G93A mice.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069540
PMCID: PMC3720666  PMID: 23936040
4.  Mutant Copper-Zinc Superoxide Dismutase (SOD1) Induces Protein Secretion Pathway Alterations and Exosome Release in Astrocytes 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;288(22):15699-15711.
Background: The mechanism by which astrocytes contribute to disease progression in mutant SOD1 mouse models of ALS is not known.
Results: Mutant SOD1 astrocytes release mutant SOD1-containing exosomes that are toxic for motor neurons.
Conclusion: Astrocyte-derived exosomes may have a role in disease spreading and motor neuron pathology.
Significance: New therapeutic approaches should target exosomes to contain disease progression.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is the most common motor neuron disease and is still incurable. The mechanisms leading to the selective motor neuron vulnerability are still not known. The interplay between motor neurons and astrocytes is crucial in the outcome of the disease. We show that mutant copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1) overexpression in primary astrocyte cultures is associated with decreased levels of proteins involved in secretory pathways. This is linked to a general reduction of total secreted proteins, except for specific enrichment in a number of proteins in the media, such as mutant SOD1 and valosin-containing protein (VCP)/p97. Because there was also an increase in exosome release, we can deduce that astrocytes expressing mutant SOD1 activate unconventional secretory pathways, possibly as a protective mechanism. This may help limit the formation of intracellular aggregates and overcome mutant SOD1 toxicity. We also found that astrocyte-derived exosomes efficiently transfer mutant SOD1 to spinal neurons and induce selective motor neuron death. We conclude that the expression of mutant SOD1 has a substantial impact on astrocyte protein secretion pathways, contributing to motor neuron pathology and disease spread.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M112.425066
PMCID: PMC3668729  PMID: 23592792
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease); Astrocytes; Exosomes; Proteomics; Superoxide Dismutase (SOD); Disease Spreading
5.  The Toxicity of a Mutant Prion Protein Is Cell-Autonomous, and Can Be Suppressed by Wild-Type Prion Protein on Adjacent Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33472.
Insight into the normal function of PrPC, and how it can be subverted to produce neurotoxic effects, is provided by PrP molecules carrying deletions encompassing the conserved central region. The most neurotoxic of these mutants, Δ105–125 (called ΔCR), produces a spontaneous neurodegenerative illness when expressed in transgenic mice, and this phenotype can be dose-dependently suppressed by co-expression of wild-type PrP. Whether the toxic activity of ΔCR PrP and the protective activity or wild-type PrP are cell-autonomous, or can be exerted on neighboring cells, is unknown. To investigate this question, we have utilized co-cultures of differentiated neural stem cells derived from mice expressing ΔCR or wild-type PrP. Cells from the two kinds of mice, which are marked by the presence or absence of GFP, are differentiated together to yield neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. As a surrogate read-out of ΔCR PrP toxicity, we assayed sensitivity of the cells to the cationic antibiotic, Zeocin. In a previous study, we reported that cells expressing ΔCR PrP are hypersensitive to the toxic effects of several cationic antibiotics, an effect that is suppressed by co-expression of wild type PrP, similar to the rescue of the neurodegenerative phenotype observed in transgenic mice. Using this system, we find that while ΔCR-dependent toxicity is cell-autonomous, the rescuing activity of wild-type PrP can be exerted in trans from nearby cells. These results provide important insights into how ΔCR PrP subverts a normal physiological function of PrPC, and the cellular mechanisms underlying the rescuing process.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033472
PMCID: PMC3299791  PMID: 22428057
6.  Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Multiprotein Biomarkers in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25545.
Background
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal progressive motor neuron disease, for which there are still no diagnostic/prognostic test and therapy. Specific molecular biomarkers are urgently needed to facilitate clinical studies and speed up the development of effective treatments.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We used a two-dimensional difference in gel electrophoresis approach to identify in easily accessible clinical samples, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), a panel of protein biomarkers that are closely associated with ALS. Validations and a longitudinal study were performed by immunoassays on a selected number of proteins. The same proteins were also measured in PBMC and spinal cord of a G93A SOD1 transgenic rat model. We identified combinations of protein biomarkers that can distinguish, with high discriminatory power, ALS patients from healthy controls (98%), and from patients with neurological disorders that may resemble ALS (91%), between two levels of disease severity (90%), and a number of translational biomarkers, that link responses between human and animal model. We demonstrated that TDP-43, cyclophilin A and ERp57 associate with disease progression in a longitudinal study. Moreover, the protein profile changes detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of ALS patients are suggestive of possible intracellular pathogenic mechanisms such as endoplasmic reticulum stress, nitrative stress, disturbances in redox regulation and RNA processing.
Conclusions/Significance
Our results indicate that PBMC multiprotein biomarkers could contribute to determine amyotrophic lateral sclerosis diagnosis, differential diagnosis, disease severity and progression, and may help to elucidate pathogenic mechanisms.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025545
PMCID: PMC3187793  PMID: 21998667
7.  The Molecular Assembly of Amyloid Aβ Controls Its Neurotoxicity and Binding to Cellular Proteins 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24909.
Accumulation of β-sheet-rich peptide (Aβ) is strongly associated with Alzheimer's disease, characterized by reduction in synapse density, structural alterations of dendritic spines, modification of synaptic protein expression, loss of long-term potentiation and neuronal cell death. Aβ species are potent neurotoxins, however the molecular mechanism responsible for Aβ toxicity is still unknown. Numerous mechanisms of toxicity were proposed, although there is no agreement about their relative importance in disease pathogenesis. Here, the toxicity of Aβ 1–40 and Aβ 1–42 monomers, oligomers or fibrils, was evaluated using the N2a cell line. A structure-function relationship between peptide aggregation state and toxic properties was established. Moreover, we demonstrated that Aβ toxic species cross the plasma membrane, accumulate in cells and bind to a variety of internal proteins, especially on the cytoskeleton and in the endoplasmatic reticulum (ER). Based on these data we suggest that numerous proteins act as Aβ receptors in N2a cells, triggering a multi factorial toxicity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024909
PMCID: PMC3179491  PMID: 21966382
8.  Characterization of Detergent-Insoluble Proteins in ALS Indicates a Causal Link between Nitrative Stress and Aggregation in Pathogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8130.
Background
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive and fatal motor neuron disease, and protein aggregation has been proposed as a possible pathogenetic mechanism. However, the aggregate protein constituents are poorly characterized so knowledge on the role of aggregation in pathogenesis is limited.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We carried out a proteomic analysis of the protein composition of the insoluble fraction, as a model of protein aggregates, from familial ALS (fALS) mouse model at different disease stages. We identified several proteins enriched in the detergent-insoluble fraction already at a preclinical stage, including intermediate filaments, chaperones and mitochondrial proteins. Aconitase, HSC70 and cyclophilin A were also significantly enriched in the insoluble fraction of spinal cords of ALS patients. Moreover, we found that the majority of proteins in mice and HSP90 in patients were tyrosine-nitrated. We therefore investigated the role of nitrative stress in aggregate formation in fALS-like murine motor neuron-neuroblastoma (NSC-34) cell lines. By inhibiting nitric oxide synthesis the amount of insoluble proteins, particularly aconitase, HSC70, cyclophilin A and SOD1 can be substantially reduced.
Conclusion/Significance
Analysis of the insoluble fractions from cellular/mouse models and human tissues revealed novel aggregation-prone proteins and suggests that nitrative stress contribute to protein aggregate formation in ALS.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008130
PMCID: PMC2780298  PMID: 19956584

Results 1-8 (8)