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1.  The Lipid-Modifying Enzyme SMPDL3B Negatively Regulates Innate Immunity 
Cell Reports  2015;11(12):1919-1928.
Lipid metabolism and receptor-mediated signaling are highly intertwined processes that cooperate to fulfill cellular functions and safeguard cellular homeostasis. Activation of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) leads to a complex cellular response, orchestrating a diverse range of inflammatory events that need to be tightly controlled. Here, we identified the GPI-anchored Sphingomyelin Phosphodiesterase, Acid-Like 3B (SMPDL3B) in a mass spectrometry screening campaign for membrane proteins co-purifying with TLRs. Deficiency of Smpdl3b in macrophages enhanced responsiveness to TLR stimulation and profoundly changed the cellular lipid composition and membrane fluidity. Increased cellular responses could be reverted by re-introducing affected ceramides, functionally linking membrane lipid composition and innate immune signaling. Finally, Smpdl3b-deficient mice displayed an intensified inflammatory response in TLR-dependent peritonitis models, establishing its negative regulatory role in vivo. Taken together, our results identify the membrane-modulating enzyme SMPDL3B as a negative regulator of TLR signaling that functions at the interface of membrane biology and innate immunity.
Graphical Abstract
•Identification of SMPDL3B as lipid-modulating phosphodiesterase on macrophages•Negative regulatory role for SMPDL3B in Toll-like receptor function•Strong influence of SMPDL3B on membrane lipid composition and fluidity•Smpdl3b-deficient mice show enhanced responsiveness in TLR-dependent peritonitis
Heinz et al. identify the lipid-modulating phosphodiesterase SMPDL3B as negative regulator of Toll-like receptor function. Smpdl3b-deficiency strongly affected macrophage lipid composition and fluidity and led to higher responsiveness to TLR stimulation. Peritonitis models in Smpdl3b-deficient mice confirmed the negative regulatory role in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4508342  PMID: 26095358
2.  Internalization of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Strain PAO1 into Epithelial Cells Is Promoted by Interaction of a T6SS Effector with the Microtubule Network 
mBio  2015;6(3):e00712-15.
Invasion of nonphagocytic cells through rearrangement of the actin cytoskeleton is a common immune evasion mechanism used by most intracellular bacteria. However, some pathogens modulate host microtubules as well by a still poorly understood mechanism. In this study, we aim at deciphering the mechanisms by which the opportunistic bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa invades nonphagocytic cells, although it is considered mainly an extracellular bacterium. Using confocal microscopy and immunofluorescence, we show that the evolved VgrG2b effector of P. aeruginosa strain PAO1 is delivered into epithelial cells by a type VI secretion system, called H2-T6SS, involving the VgrG2a component. An in vivo interactome of VgrG2b in host cells allows the identification of microtubule components, including the γ-tubulin ring complex (γTuRC), a multiprotein complex catalyzing microtubule nucleation, as the major host target of VgrG2b. This interaction promotes a microtubule-dependent internalization of the bacterium since colchicine and nocodazole, two microtubule-destabilizing drugs, prevent VgrG2b-mediated P. aeruginosa entry even if the invasion still requires actin. We further validate our findings by demonstrating that the type VI injection step can be bypassed by ectopic production of VgrG2b inside target cells prior to infection. Moreover, such uncoupling between VgrG2b injection and bacterial internalization also reveals that they constitute two independent steps. With VgrG2b, we provide the first example of a bacterial protein interacting with the γTuRC. Our study offers key insight into the mechanism of self-promoting invasion of P. aeruginosa into human cells via a directed and specific effector-host protein interaction.
Innate immunity and specifically professional phagocytic cells are key determinants in the ability of the host to control P. aeruginosa infection. However, among various virulence strategies, including attack, this opportunistic bacterial pathogen is able to avoid host clearance by triggering its own internalization in nonphagocytic cells. We previously showed that a protein secretion/injection machinery, called the H2 type VI secretion system (H2-T6SS), promotes P. aeruginosa uptake by epithelial cells. Here we investigate which H2-T6SS effector enables P. aeruginosa to enter nonphagocytic cells. We show that VgrG2b is delivered by the H2-T6SS machinery into epithelial cells, where it interacts with microtubules and, more particularly, with the γ-tubulin ring complex (γTuRC) known as the microtubule-nucleating center. This interaction precedes a microtubule- and actin-dependent internalization of P. aeruginosa. We thus discovered an unprecedented target for a bacterial virulence factor since VgrG2b constitutes, to our knowledge, the first example of a bacterial protein interacting with the γTuRC.
PMCID: PMC4453011  PMID: 26037124
3.  Targeting a cell state common to triple-negative breast cancers 
Molecular Systems Biology  2015;11(2):789.
Some mutations in cancer cells can be exploited for therapeutic intervention. However, for many cancer subtypes, including triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), no frequently recurring aberrations could be identified to make such an approach clinically feasible. Characterized by a highly heterogeneous mutational landscape with few common features, many TNBCs cluster together based on their ‘basal-like’ transcriptional profiles. We therefore hypothesized that targeting TNBC cells on a systems level by exploiting the transcriptional cell state might be a viable strategy to find novel therapies for this highly aggressive disease. We performed a large-scale chemical genetic screen and identified a group of compounds related to the drug PKC412 (midostaurin). PKC412 induced apoptosis in a subset of TNBC cells enriched for the basal-like subtype and inhibited tumor growth in vivo. We employed a multi-omics approach and computational modeling to address the mechanism of action and identified spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK) as a novel and unexpected target in TNBC. Quantitative phosphoproteomics revealed that SYK inhibition abrogates signaling to STAT3, explaining the selectivity for basal-like breast cancer cells. This non-oncogene addiction suggests that chemical SYK inhibition may be beneficial for a specific subset of TNBC patients and demonstrates that targeting cell states could be a viable strategy to discover novel treatment strategies.
PMCID: PMC4358660  PMID: 25699542
breast cancer; cell state; small-molecule screen
4.  Biallelic loss-of-function mutation in NIK causes a primary immunodeficiency with multifaceted aberrant lymphoid immunity 
Nature Communications  2014;5:5360.
Primary immunodeficiency disorders enable identification of genes with crucial roles in the human immune system. Here we study patients suffering from recurrent bacterial, viral and Cryptosporidium infections, and identify a biallelic mutation in the MAP3K14 gene encoding NIK (NF-κB-inducing kinase). Loss of kinase activity of mutant NIK, predicted by in silico analysis and confirmed by functional assays, leads to defective activation of both canonical and non-canonical NF-κB signalling. Patients with mutated NIK exhibit B-cell lymphopenia, decreased frequencies of class-switched memory B cells and hypogammaglobulinemia due to impaired B-cell survival, and impaired ICOSL expression. Although overall T-cell numbers are normal, both follicular helper and memory T cells are perturbed. Natural killer (NK) cells are decreased and exhibit defective activation, leading to impaired formation of NK-cell immunological synapses. Collectively, our data illustrate the non-redundant role for NIK in human immune responses, demonstrating that loss-of-function mutations in NIK can cause multiple aberrations of lymphoid immunity.
Primary immunodeficiency disorders can be used to identify key immune functions. Here, the authors identify a biallelic mutation in the gene encoding NF-κB-inducing kinase in a family suffering a range of infections, and show that it causes defects in NK and T-cell function and has broad effects on B-cell function.
PMCID: PMC4263125  PMID: 25406581
5.  Stereospecific targeting of MTH1 by (S)-crizotinib as anticancer strategy 
Nature  2014;508(7495):222-227.
Activated Ras GTPase signalling is a critical driver of oncogenic transformation and malignant disease. Cellular models of RAS-dependent cancers have been used to identify experimental small-molecules, such as SCH51344, but their molecular mechanism of action remains generally enigmatic. Here, using a chemical proteomic approach we identify the target of SCH51344 as the human mutT homologue MTH1, a nucleotide pool sanitising enzyme. Loss-of-function of MTH1 impaired growth of KRAS tumour cells whereas MTH1 overexpression mitigated sensitivity toward SCH51344. Searching for more drug-like inhibitors, we identified the kinase inhibitor crizotinib as a nanomolar suppressor of MTH1 activity. Surprisingly, the clinically used (R)-enantiomer of the drug was inactive, whereas the (S)-enantiomer selectively inhibited MTH1 catalytic activity. Enzymatic assays, chemical proteomic profiling, kinome-wide activity surveys, and MTH1 co-crystal structures of both enantiomers provided a rationale for this remarkable stereospecificity. Disruption of nucleotide pool homeostasis via MTH1 inhibition by (S)-crizotinib induced an increase in DNA single strand breaks, activated DNA repair in human colon carcinoma cells, and effectively suppressed tumour growth in animal models. Our results propose (S)-crizotinib as an attractive chemical entity for further pre-clinical evaluation and small molecule inhibitors of MTH1 in general as a promising novel class of anti-cancer agents.
PMCID: PMC4150021  PMID: 24695225
DNA repair; stereoselectivity; drug; MTH1; crizotinib; cancer
6.  The SH2 Domain Regulates c-Abl Kinase Activation by a Cyclin-Like Mechanism and Remodulation of the Hinge Motion 
PLoS Computational Biology  2014;10(10):e1003863.
Regulation of the c-Abl (ABL1) tyrosine kinase is important because of its role in cellular signaling, and its relevance in the leukemiogenic counterpart (BCR-ABL). Both auto-inhibition and full activation of c-Abl are regulated by the interaction of the catalytic domain with the Src Homology 2 (SH2) domain. The mechanism by which this interaction enhances catalysis is not known. We combined computational simulations with mutagenesis and functional analysis to find that the SH2 domain conveys both local and global effects on the dynamics of the catalytic domain. Locally, it regulates the flexibility of the αC helix in a fashion reminiscent of cyclins in cyclin-dependent kinases, reorienting catalytically important motifs. At a more global level, SH2 binding redirects the hinge motion of the N and C lobes and changes the conformational equilibrium of the activation loop. The complex network of subtle structural shifts that link the SH2 domain with the activation loop and the active site may be partially conserved with other SH2-domain containing kinases and therefore offer additional parameters for the design of conformation-specific inhibitors.
Author Summary
The Abl kinase is a key player in many crucial cellular processes. It is also an important anti-cancer drug target, because a mutation leading to the fusion protein Bcr-Abl is the main cause for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Abl inhibitors are currently the only pharmaceutical treatment for CML. There are two main difficulties associated with the development of kinase inhibitors: the high similarity between active sites of different kinases, which makes selectivity a challenge, and mutations leading to resistance, which make it mandatory to search for alternative drugs. One important factor controlling Abl is the interplay between the catalytic domain and an SH2 domain. We used computer simulations to understand how the interactions between the domains modify the dynamic of the kinase and detected both local and global effects. Based on our computer model, we suggested mutations that should alter the domain-domain interplay. Consequently, we tested the mutants experimentally and found that they support our hypothesis. We propose that our findings can be of help for the development of new classes of Abl inhibitors, which would modify the domain-domain interplay instead of interfering directly with the active site.
PMCID: PMC4191882  PMID: 25299346
7.  Virulence Factor NSs of Rift Valley Fever Virus Recruits the F-Box Protein FBXO3 To Degrade Subunit p62 of General Transcription Factor TFIIH 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(6):3464-3473.
The nonstructural protein NSs is the main virulence factor of Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV; family Bunyaviridae, genus Phlebovirus), a serious pathogen of livestock and humans in Africa. RVFV NSs blocks transcriptional upregulation of antiviral type I interferons (IFN) and destroys the general transcription factor TFIIH subunit p62 via the ubiquitin/proteasome pathway. Here, we identified a subunit of E3 ubiquitin ligases, F-box protein FBXO3, as a host cell interactor of NSs. Small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated depletion of FBXO3 rescued p62 protein levels in RVFV-infected cells and elevated IFN transcription by 1 order of magnitude. NSs interacts with the full-length FBXO3 protein as well as with a truncated isoform that lacks the C-terminal acidic and poly(R)-rich domains. These isoforms are present in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm. NSs exclusively removes the nuclear pool of full-length FBXO3, likely due to consumption during the degradation process. F-box proteins form the variable substrate recognition subunit of the so-called SCF ubiquitin ligases, which also contain the constant components Skp1, cullin 1 (or cullin 7), and Rbx1. siRNA knockdown of Skp1 also protected p62 from degradation, suggesting involvement in NSs action. However, knockdown of cullin 1, cullin 7, or Rbx1 could not rescue p62 degradation by NSs. Our data show that the enzymatic removal of p62 via the host cell factor FBXO3 is a major mechanism of IFN suppression by RVFV.
IMPORTANCE Rift Valley fever virus is a serious emerging pathogen of animals and humans. Its main virulence factor, NSs, enables unhindered virus replication by suppressing the antiviral innate immune system. We identified the E3 ubiquitin ligase FBXO3 as a novel host cell interactor of NSs. NSs recruits FBXO3 to destroy the general host cell transcription factor TFIIH-p62, resulting in suppression of the transcriptional upregulation of innate immunity.
PMCID: PMC3957945  PMID: 24403578
8.  A Miniaturized Chemical Proteomic Approach for Target Profiling of Clinical Kinase Inhibitors in Tumor Biopsies 
Journal of proteome research  2013;12(9):4005-4017.
While targeted therapy based on the idea of attenuating the activity of a preselected, therapeutically relevant protein has become one of the major trends in modern cancer therapy, no truly specific targeted drug has been developed and most clinical agents have displayed a degree of polypharmacology. Therefore, the specificity of anticancer therapeutics has emerged as a highly important but severely underestimated issue. Chemical proteomics is a powerful technique combining postgenomic drug-affinity chromatography with high-end mass spectrometry analysis and bioinformatic data processing to assemble a target profile of a desired therapeutic molecule. Due to high demands on the starting material, however, chemical proteomic studies have been mostly limited to cancer cell lines. Herein, we report a down-scaling of the technique to enable the analysis of very low abundance samples, as those obtained from needle biopsies. By a systematic investigation of several important parameters in pull-downs with the multikinase inhibitor bosutinib, the standard experimental protocol was optimized to 100 µg protein input. At this level, more than 30 well-known targets were detected per single pull-down replicate with high reproducibility. Moreover, as presented by the comprehensive target profile obtained from miniaturized pull-downs with another clinical drug, dasatinib, the optimized protocol seems to be extendable to other drugs of interest. Sixty distinct human and murine targets were finally identified for bosutinib and dasatinib in chemical proteomic experiments utilizing core needle biopsy samples from xenotransplants derived from patient tumor tissue. Altogether, the developed methodology proves robust and generic and holds many promises for the field of personalized health care.
PMCID: PMC4127982  PMID: 23901793
kinase; inhibitor; drug specificity; proteomic profiling; chemical proteomics; tandem mass spectrometry; Bosutinib; Dasatinib; tumor biopsies
9.  The lysine methyltransferase SMYD3 interacts with hepatitis C virus NS5A and is a negative regulator of viral particle production 
Virology  2014;462-463(100):34-41.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a considerable global health and economic burden. The HCV nonstructural protein (NS) 5A is essential for the viral life cycle. The ability of NS5A to interact with different host and viral proteins allow it to manipulate cellular pathways and regulate viral processes, including RNA replication and virus particle assembly. As part of a proteomic screen, we identified several NS5A-binding proteins, including the lysine methyltransferase SET and MYND domain containing protein 3 (SMYD3). We confirmed the interaction in the context of viral replication by co-immunoprecipitation and co-localization studies. Mutational analyses revealed that the MYND-domain of SMYD3 and domain III of NS5A are required for the interaction. Overexpression of SMYD3 resulted in decreased intracellular and extracellular virus titers, whilst viral RNA replication remained unchanged, suggesting that SMYD3 negatively affects HCV particle production in a NS5A-dependent manner.
•Identification of SMYD3 as interactor of the HCV protein NS5A using a proteomic approach.•Confirmation of SMYD3 as interactor of NS5A in the context of active viral replication.•Identification of SMYD3 as negative regulator of HCV infectious particle assembly.
PMCID: PMC4139193  PMID: 25092459
SMYD3; NS5A; HCV; TAP-MS; Virus particle assembly
10.  Building and exploring an integrated human kinase network: Global organization and medical entry points☆ 
Journal of Proteomics  2014;107(100):113-127.
Biological matter is organized in functional networks of different natures among which kinase–substrate and protein–protein interactions play an important role. Large public data collections allowed us to compile an important corpus of interaction data around human protein kinases. One of the most interesting observations analyzing this network is that coherence in kinase functional activity relies on kinase substrate interactions primarily and not on which protein complexes are formed around them. Further dissecting the two types of interactions at the level of kinase groups (CMGCs, Tyrosine kinases, etc.) we show a prevalence of intra-group interconnectivity, which we can naturally relate to current scenarios of evolution of biological networks. Tracking publication dates we observe high correlation of kinase interaction research focus with general kinase research. We find a similar bias in the targets of kinase inhibitors that feature high redundancy. Finally, intersecting kinase inhibitor specificity with sets of kinases located at specific positions in the kinase network, we propose alternative options for future therapeutic strategies using these compounds.
Biological significance
Despite its importance for cellular regulation and the fact that protein kinases feature prominent targets of modern therapeutic approaches, the structure and logic of the global, integrated protein phosphorylation network have not been investigated intensively. To focus on the regulatory skeleton of the phosphorylation network, we contemplated a network consisting of kinases, their substrates, and publicly available physical protein interactions. Analysis of this network at multiple levels allowed establishing a series of interesting properties such as prevalence of kinase substrate interactions as opposed to general protein–protein interactions for establishing a holistic control over kinases activities. Kinases controlling many or a few only other kinases, in addition to non-kinases, were distributed in cellular compartments differently. They were also targeted by kinase inhibitors with distinct success rates. Non-kinases tightly regulated by a large number of kinases were involved in biological processes both specific and shared with their regulators while being preferably localized in the nucleus. Collectively, these observations may provide for a new perspective in the elaboration of pharmacological intervention strategies. We complemented our study of kinase interactions with a perspective of how this type of data is generated in comparison with general research about those enzymes. Namely, what was the temporal evolution of the research community attention for interaction versus non-interaction-based kinase experiments.
This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: 20 years of Proteomics in memory of Vitaliano Pallini. Guest Editors: Luca Bini, Juan J. Calvete, Natacha Turck, Denis Hochstrasser and Jean-Charles Sanchez.
Graphical abstract
•Comparison of human kinase–protein and kinase–substrate networks•Prevalence of kinase–substrate interactions•Relationship with kinase inhibitors•Potential new therapeutic approaches•How does kinase interaction research focuses its research.
PMCID: PMC4115268  PMID: 24704859
Bioinformatics; Kinases; Network; System biology; Drugs
11.  Host-cell sensors for Plasmodium activate innate immunity against liver-stage infection 
Nature medicine  2013;20(1):47-53.
Before they infect red blood cells and cause malaria, Plasmodium parasites undergo an obligate and clinically silent expansion phase in the liver that is supposedly undetected by the host. Here, we demonstrate the engagement of a type I interferon (IFN) response during Plasmodium replication in the liver. We identified Plasmodium RNA as a novel pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) capable of activating a type I IFN response via the cytosolic pattern recognition receptor Mda5. This response, initiated by liver-resident cells through the adaptor molecule for cytosolic RNA sensors, Mavs, and the transcription factors Irf3 and Irf7, is propagated by hepatocytes in an interferon-α/β receptor–dependent manner. This signaling pathway is critical for immune cell–mediated host resistance to liver-stage Plasmodium infection, which can be primed with other PAMPs, including hepatitis C virus RNA. Together, our results show that the liver has sensor mechanisms for Plasmodium that mediate a functional antiparasite response driven by type I IFN.
PMCID: PMC4096771  PMID: 24362933
12.  Systems-pharmacology dissection of a drug synergy in imatinib-resistant CML 
Nature chemical biology  2012;8(11):905-912.
Occurrence of the BCR-ABLT315I gatekeeper mutation is among the most pressing challenges in the therapy of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Several BCR-ABL inhibitors have multiple targets and pleiotropic effects that could be exploited for their synergistic potential. Testing combinations of such kinase inhibitors identified a strong synergy between danusertib and bosutinib that exclusively affected CML cells harboring BCR-ABLT315I. To elucidate the underlying mechanisms, we applied a systems-level approach comprising phosphoproteomics, transcriptomics and chemical proteomics. Data integration revealed that both compounds targeted Mapk pathways downstream of BCR-ABL, resulting in impaired activity of c-Myc. Using pharmacological validation, we assessed that the relative contributions of danusertib and bosutinib could be mimicked individually by Mapk inhibitors and collectively by downregulation of c-Myc through Brd4 inhibition. Thus, integration of genome- and proteome-wide technologies enabled the elucidation of the mechanism by which a new drug synergy targets the dependency of BCR-ABLT315I CML cells on c-Myc through nonobvious off targets.
PMCID: PMC4038039  PMID: 23023260
13.  The CRAPome: a Contaminant Repository for Affinity Purification Mass Spectrometry Data 
Nature methods  2013;10(8):730-736.
Affinity purification coupled with mass spectrometry (AP-MS) is now a widely used approach for the identification of protein-protein interactions. However, for any given protein of interest, determining which of the identified polypeptides represent bona fide interactors versus those that are background contaminants (e.g. proteins that interact with the solid-phase support, affinity reagent or epitope tag) is a challenging task. While the standard approach is to identify nonspecific interactions using one or more negative controls, most small-scale AP-MS studies do not capture a complete, accurate background protein set. Fortunately, negative controls are largely bait-independent. Hence, aggregating negative controls from multiple AP-MS studies can increase coverage and improve the characterization of background associated with a given experimental protocol. Here we present the Contaminant Repository for Affinity Purification (the CRAPome) and describe the use of this resource to score protein-protein interactions. The repository (currently available for Homo sapiens and Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and computational tools are freely available online at
PMCID: PMC3773500  PMID: 23921808
14.  IFITs: Emerging Roles as Key Anti-Viral Proteins 
Interferon-induced proteins with tetratricopeptide repeats (IFITs) are a family of proteins, which are strongly induced downstream of type I interferon signaling. The molecular mechanism of IFIT anti-viral activity has been studied in some detail, including the recently discovered direct binding of viral nucleic acid, the binding to viral and host proteins, and the possible involvement in anti-viral immune signal propagation. The unique structures of some members of the IFIT family have been solved to reveal an internal pocket for non-sequence-specific, but conformation- and modification-specific, nucleic acid binding. This review will focus on recent discoveries, which link IFITs to the anti-viral response, intrinsic to the innate immune system.
PMCID: PMC3948006  PMID: 24653722
IFIT; innate immune system; anti-viral immune response; TPR; PAMPs
15.  Perturbation of the mutated EGFR interactome identifies vulnerabilities and resistance mechanisms 
A ‘lung cancer'-specific mutant EGFR interactome was generated by a global analysis of protein–protein interactions and phosphorylation. After functional screening, nine proteins were identified as essential for the viability of EGFR-mutant lung cancer cells.
The interactome of lung cancer-associated mutant forms of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), consisting of 263 proteins, was built by integrating protein–protein interactions and tyrosine phosphorylation.Systematic perturbations of the network nodes revealed a core network of 14 proteins, 9 of which were shown to be specifically associated with survival of EGFR-mutant lung cancer cells.Cells with acquired resistance to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors showed differential dependence on the core network proteins.A drug network associated with the core network proteins led to the identification of two compounds, midostaurin and lestaurtinib, that could overcome drug resistance through direct EGFR inhibition when combined with erlotinib.
We hypothesized that elucidating the interactome of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) forms that are mutated in lung cancer, via global analysis of protein–protein interactions, phosphorylation, and systematically perturbing the ensuing network nodes, should offer a new, more systems-level perspective of the molecular etiology. Here, we describe an EGFR interactome of 263 proteins and offer a 14-protein core network critical to the viability of multiple EGFR-mutated lung cancer cells. Cells with acquired resistance to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) had differential dependence of the core network proteins based on the underlying molecular mechanisms of resistance. Of the 14 proteins, 9 are shown to be specifically associated with survival of EGFR-mutated lung cancer cell lines. This included EGFR, GRB2, MK12, SHC1, ARAF, CD11B, ARHG5, GLU2B, and CD11A. With the use of a drug network associated with the core network proteins, we identified two compounds, midostaurin and lestaurtinib, that could overcome drug resistance through direct EGFR inhibition when combined with erlotinib. Our results, enabled by interactome mapping, suggest new targets and combination therapies that could circumvent EGFR TKI resistance.
PMCID: PMC4039310  PMID: 24189400
epidermal growth factor receptor; interactome; lung cancer; proteomics; tyrosine kinase inhibitor
16.  A Target-Disease Network Model of Second-Generation BCR-ABL Inhibitor Action in Ph+ ALL 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77155.
Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph+ ALL) is in part driven by the tyrosine kinase bcr-abl, but imatinib does not produce long-term remission. Therefore, second-generation ABL inhibitors are currently in clinical investigation. Considering different target specificities and the pronounced genetic heterogeneity of Ph+ ALL, which contributes to the aggressiveness of the disease, drug candidates should be evaluated with regard to their effects on the entire Ph+ ALL-specific signaling network. Here, we applied an integrated experimental and computational approach that allowed us to estimate the differential impact of the bcr-abl inhibitors nilotinib, dasatinib, Bosutinib and Bafetinib. First, we determined drug-protein interactions in Ph+ ALL cell lines by chemical proteomics. We then mapped those interactions along with known genetic lesions onto public protein-protein interactions. Computation of global scores through correlation of target affinity, network topology, and distance to disease-relevant nodes assigned the highest impact to dasatinib, which was subsequently confirmed by proliferation assays. In future, combination of patient-specific genomic information with detailed drug target knowledge and network-based computational analysis should allow for an accurate and individualized prediction of therapy.
PMCID: PMC3795025  PMID: 24130846
17.  Optimisation of Downscaled Tandem Affinity Purifications to Identify Core Protein Complexes 
Journal of integrated OMICS  2012;2(1):55-68.
In this study we show that via stable, retroviral-expression of tagged EGFR del (L747-S752 deletion mutant) in the PC9 lung cancer cell line and stable doxycycline-inducible expression of tagged Grb2 using a Flp-mediated recombination HEK293 cell system, the SH-TAP can be downscaled to 5 to 12.5 mg total protein input (equivalent to 0.5 - 1 × 15 cm culture plate or 4 - 8 × 106 cells). The major constituents of the EGFR del complex (USB3B, GRB2, ERRFI, HSP7C, GRP78, HSP71) and the Grb2 complex (ARHG5, SOS1, ARG35, CBL, CBLB, PTPRA, SOS2, DYN2, WIPF2, IRS4) were identified. Adjustment of the quantity of digested protein injected into the mass spectrometer reveals that optimisation is required as high quantities of material led to a decrease in protein sequence coverage and the loss of some interacting proteins. This investigation should aid other researchers in performing tandem affinity purifications in general, and in particular, from low quantities of input material.
PMCID: PMC3785125  PMID: 24077984
EGFR; Grb2; Orbitrap; TAP; downscale
18.  Affinity Purification Strategies for Proteomic Analysis of Transcription Factor Complexes 
Journal of Proteome Research  2013;12(9):4018-4027.
Affinity purification (AP) coupled to mass spectrometry (MS) has been successful in elucidating protein molecular networks of mammalian cells. These approaches have dramatically increased the knowledge of the interconnectivity present among proteins and highlighted biological functions within different protein complexes. Despite significant technical improvements reached in the past years, it is still challenging to identify the interaction networks and the subsequent associated functions of nuclear proteins such as transcription factors (TFs). A straightforward and robust methodology is therefore required to obtain unbiased and reproducible interaction data. Here we present a new approach for TF AP-MS, exemplified with the CCAAT/enhancer binding protein alpha (C/EBPalpha). Utilizing the advantages of a double tag and three different MS strategies, we conducted a total of six independent AP-MS strategies to analyze the protein–protein interactions of C/EBPalpha. The resultant data were combined to produce a cohesive C/EBPalpha interactome. Our study describes a new methodology that robustly identifies specific molecular complexes associated with transcription factors. Moreover, it emphasizes the existence of TFs as protein complexes essential for cellular biological functions and not as single, static entities.
PMCID: PMC3768224  PMID: 23937658
affinity purifications; transcription factors; mass spectrometry
19.  Experimental characterization of the human non-sequence-specific nucleic acid interactome 
Genome Biology  2013;14(7):R81.
The interactions between proteins and nucleic acids have a fundamental function in many biological processes, including gene transcription, RNA homeostasis, protein translation and pathogen sensing for innate immunity. While our knowledge of the ensemble of proteins that bind individual mRNAs in mammalian cells has been greatly augmented by recent surveys, no systematic study on the non-sequence-specific engagement of native human proteins with various types of nucleic acids has been reported.
We designed an experimental approach to achieve broad coverage of the non-sequence-specific RNA and DNA binding space, including methylated cytosine, and tested for interaction potential with the human proteome. We used 25 rationally designed nucleic acid probes in an affinity purification mass spectrometry and bioinformatics workflow to identify proteins from whole cell extracts of three different human cell lines. The proteins were profiled for their binding preferences to the different general types of nucleic acids. The study identified 746 high-confidence direct binders, 139 of which were novel and 237 devoid of previous experimental evidence. We could assign specific affinities for sub-types of nucleic acid probes to 219 distinct proteins and individual domains. The evolutionarily conserved protein YB-1, previously associated with cancer and drug resistance, was shown to bind methylated cytosine preferentially, potentially conferring upon YB-1 an epigenetics-related function.
The dataset described here represents a rich resource of experimentally determined nucleic acid-binding proteins, and our methodology has great potential for further exploration of the interface between the protein and nucleic acid realms.
PMCID: PMC4053969  PMID: 23902751
21.  Cell biology: A key driver of therapeutic innovation 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2012;199(4):571-575.
All processes associated with cellular function are likely to contribute to disease. Particularly in the cancer field, most major therapeutic innovations have originated from the elucidation of basic molecular mechanisms by academic researchers. Recent breakthroughs in molecularly targeted drug discovery have made it clear that it is the depth with which a biological process is understood that empowers its translation. We propose that early, more strategic, support of cutting-edge academic research by industry may be more effective for translational purposes than the current model of a late selection of community-evolved projects.
PMCID: PMC3494851  PMID: 23148230
22.  A Web Resource for Improved Analysis of AP-MS Protein Interaction Data 
Affinity purification coupled with mass spectrometry (AP-MS) is now a widely used approach for the identification of protein-protein interactions. However, for any given protein of interest, determining which of the identified polypeptides represent bona fide interactors versus those that are background contaminants (e.g. proteins that interact with the solid-phase support, affinity reagent or epitope tag) is a challenging task. While the standard approach is to identify nonspecific interactions using one or more negative controls, most small-scale AP-MS studies do not capture a complete, accurate background protein set. Fortunately, since negative controls are largely bait-independent, we reasoned that the negative controls generated by the proteomics research community could be developed as a resource for scoring AP-MS data.
Here we present the Contaminant Repository for Affinity Purification (The CRAPome), currently containing AP-MS data from 343 control purifications conducted by 11 different research groups ( Users employ an intuitive graphical user interface to explore the database, by either querying one protein at a time, downloading background contaminant lists for selected experimental conditions, or uploading their own data (alongside their own negative controls when available) and performing data analysis. The CRAPome database scores contaminants vs. true interactors based on semi-quantitative mass spectrometry data (normalized spectral counts) embedded in most mass spectrometry experiments. The Significance Analysis of INTeractome (SAINT) scoring scheme, in addition to a simpler Fold Change calculation (FC score) are used to score user-supplied data and return a ranked list of putative interactors. We also describe database structure and composition, provide examples of the use of this resource to filter contaminants with properly chosen controls, and demonstrate the utility of the scoring scheme for identifying bona fide interaction partners. The CRAPome accommodates a variety of purification schemes and, while currently focused on human data, will be expanded to other species.
PMCID: PMC3635329
23.  The Growing Arsenal of ATP-Competitive and Allosteric Inhibitors of BCR–ABL 
Cancer research  2012;72(19):4890-4895.
The BCR–ABL fusion kinase is the driving mutation of chronic myelogenous leukemias and is also expressed in a subset of acute lymphoblastic leukemias. Recent advances in elucidating the structure, regulation, and signaling of BCR–ABL have led to the identification of allosteric sites that are distant from the ATP-binding pocket and are critical for BCR–ABL–dependent oncogenic transformation. Here, we review the available data regarding the molecular mechanism of action and the specificity of ATP-competitive tyrosine kinase inhibitors targeting BCR–ABL. In addition, we discuss how targeting of allosteric sites could provide new opportunities to inhibit resistant BCR–ABL mutants, either alone or in combination with conventional ATP-competitive inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3517953  PMID: 23002203
24.  Mig6 Is a Sensor of EGF Receptor Inactivation that Directly Activates c-Abl to Induce Apoptosis during Epithelial Homeostasis 
Developmental Cell  2012;23(3):547-559.
A fundamental aspect of epithelial homeostasis is the dependence on specific growth factors for cell survival, yet the underlying mechanisms remain obscure. We found an “inverse” mode of receptor tyrosine kinase signaling that directly links ErbB receptor inactivation to the induction of apoptosis. Upon ligand deprivation Mig6 dissociates from the ErbB receptor and binds to and activates the tyrosine kinase c-Abl to trigger p73-dependent apoptosis in mammary epithelial cells. Deletion of Errfi1 (encoding Mig6) and inhibition or RNAi silencing of c-Abl causes impaired apoptosis and luminal filling of mammary ducts. Mig6 activates c-Abl by binding to the kinase domain, which is prevented in the presence of epidermal growth factor (EGF) by Src family kinase-mediated phosphorylation on c-Abl-Tyr488. These results reveal a receptor-proximal switch mechanism by which Mig6 actively senses EGF deprivation to directly activate proapoptotic c-Abl. Our findings challenge the common belief that deprivation of growth factors induces apoptosis passively by lack of mitogenic signaling.
Graphical Abstract
► EGFR inactivation triggers “inverse signaling” by Mig6-mediated activation of Abl ► Mig6 is a bimodal switch that attenuates EGFR (+EGF) or activates c-Abl (-EGF) ► Mig6 activation of Abl regulates cell death during mammary epithelial homeostasis
Hopkins et al. show that tyrosine kinase signaling directly links EGF receptor (ErbB) inactivation to the induction of apoptosis. Inactivation dissociates ErbBs from the Mig6 tumor suppressor, which then binds and activates c-Abl to trigger p73-dependent apoptosis. This mechanism controls mammary epithelial homeostasis and may also contribute to oncogene addiction.
PMCID: PMC3657149  PMID: 22975324

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