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1.  Characterization of Immunological Cross-Reactivity between Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli Heat-Stable Toxin and Human Guanylin and Uroguanylin 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(7):2913-2922.
Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) expressing the heat-stable toxin (ST) (human-type [STh] and porcine-type [STp] variants) is among the five most important enteric pathogens in young children living in low- and middle-income countries. ST mediates diarrheal disease through activation of the guanylate cyclase C (GC-C) receptor and is an attractive vaccine target with the potential to confer protection against a wide range of ETEC strains. However, immunological cross-reactivity to the endogenous GC-C ligands guanylin and uroguanylin is a major concern because of the similarities to ST in amino acid sequence, structure, and function. We have investigated the presence of similar epitopes on STh, STp, guanylin, and uroguanylin by analyzing these peptides in eight distinct competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). A fraction (27%) of a polyclonal anti-STh antibody and an anti-STh monoclonal antibody (MAb) cross-reacted with uroguanylin, the latter with a 73-fold-lower affinity. In contrast, none of the antibodies raised against STp, one polyclonal antibody and three MAbs, cross-reacted with the endogenous peptides. Antibodies raised against guanylin and uroguanylin showed partial cross-reactivity with the ST peptides. Our results demonstrate, for the first time, that immunological cross-reactions between ST and the endogenous peptides can occur. However, the partial nature and low affinity of the observed cross-reactions suggest that the risk of adverse effects from a future ST vaccine may be low. Furthermore, our results suggest that this risk may be reduced or eliminated by basing an ST immunogen on STp or a selectively mutated variant of STh.
PMCID: PMC4097616  PMID: 24778111
2.  Heat-Stable Enterotoxin of Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli as a Vaccine Target ▿  
Infection and Immunity  2010;78(5):1824-1831.
Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is responsible for 280 million to 400 million episodes of diarrhea and about 380,000 deaths annually. Epidemiological data suggest that ETEC strains which secrete heat-stable toxin (ST), alone or in combination with heat-labile toxin (LT), induce the most severe disease among children in developing countries. This makes ST an attractive target for inclusion in an ETEC vaccine. ST is released upon colonization of the small intestine and activates the guanylate cyclase C receptor, causing profuse diarrhea. To generate a successful toxoid, ST must be made immunogenic and nontoxic. Due to its small size, ST is nonimmunogenic in its natural form but becomes immunogenic when coupled to an appropriate large-molecular-weight carrier. This has been successfully achieved with several carriers, using either chemical conjugation or recombinant fusion techniques. Coupling of ST to a carrier may reduce toxicity, but further reduction by mutagenesis is desired to obtain a safe vaccine. More than 30 ST mutants with effects on toxicity have been reported. Some of these mutants, however, have lost the ability to elicit neutralizing immune responses to the native toxin. Due to the small size of ST, separating toxicity from antigenicity is a particular challenge that must be met. Another obstacle to vaccine development is possible cross-reactivity between anti-ST antibodies and the endogenous ligands guanylin and uroguanylin, caused by structural similarity to ST. Here we review the molecular and biological properties of ST and discuss strategies for developing an ETEC vaccine that incorporates immunogenic and nontoxic derivatives of the ST toxin.
PMCID: PMC2863518  PMID: 20231404
3.  Identification and characterization of retinoblastoma gene mutations disturbing apoptosis in human breast cancers 
Molecular Cancer  2010;9:173.
The tumor suppressor pRb plays a key role regulating cell cycle arrest, and disturbances in the RB1 gene have been reported in different cancer forms. However, the literature reports contradictory findings with respect to a pro - versus anti - apoptotic role of pRb, and the consequence of alterations in RB1 to chemotherapy sensitivity remains unclear. This study is part of a project investigating alterations in pivotal genes as predictive factors to chemotherapy sensitivity in breast cancer.
Analyzing 73 locally advanced (stage III) breast cancers, we identified two somatic and one germline single nucleotide changes, each leading to amino acid substitution in the pRb protein (Leu607Ile, Arg698Trp, and Arg621Cys, respectively). This is the first study reporting point mutations affecting RB1 in breast cancer tissue. In addition, MLPA analysis revealed two large multiexon deletions (exons 13 to 27 and exons 21 to 23) with the exons 21-23 deletion occurring in the tumor also harboring the Leu607Ile mutation. Interestingly, Leu607Ile and Arg621Cys point mutations both localize to the spacer region of the pRb protein, a region previously shown to harbor somatic and germline mutations. Multiple sequence alignment across species indicates the spacer to be evolutionary conserved. All three RB1 point mutations encoded nuclear proteins with impaired ability to induce apoptosis compared to wild-type pRb in vitro. Notably, three out of four tumors harboring RB1 mutations displayed primary resistance to treatment with either 5-FU/mitomycin or doxorubicin while only 14 out of 64 tumors without mutations were resistant (p = 0.046).
Although rare, our findings suggest RB1 mutations to be of pathological importance potentially affecting sensitivity to mitomycin/anthracycline treatment in breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC2908580  PMID: 20594292
4.  ELM: the status of the 2010 eukaryotic linear motif resource 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;38(Database issue):D167-D180.
Linear motifs are short segments of multidomain proteins that provide regulatory functions independently of protein tertiary structure. Much of intracellular signalling passes through protein modifications at linear motifs. Many thousands of linear motif instances, most notably phosphorylation sites, have now been reported. Although clearly very abundant, linear motifs are difficult to predict de novo in protein sequences due to the difficulty of obtaining robust statistical assessments. The ELM resource at provides an expanding knowledge base, currently covering 146 known motifs, with annotation that includes >1300 experimentally reported instances. ELM is also an exploratory tool for suggesting new candidates of known linear motifs in proteins of interest. Information about protein domains, protein structure and native disorder, cellular and taxonomic contexts is used to reduce or deprecate false positive matches. Results are graphically displayed in a ‘Bar Code’ format, which also displays known instances from homologous proteins through a novel ‘Instance Mapper’ protocol based on PHI-BLAST. ELM server output provides links to the ELM annotation as well as to a number of remote resources. Using the links, researchers can explore the motifs, proteins, complex structures and associated literature to evaluate whether candidate motifs might be worth experimental investigation.
PMCID: PMC2808914  PMID: 19920119
5.  ELM server: a new resource for investigating short functional sites in modular eukaryotic proteins 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(13):3625-3630.
Multidomain proteins predominate in eukaryotic proteomes. Individual functions assigned to different sequence segments combine to create a complex function for the whole protein. While on-line resources are available for revealing globular domains in sequences, there has hitherto been no comprehensive collection of small functional sites/motifs comparable to the globular domain resources, yet these are as important for the function of multidomain proteins. Short linear peptide motifs are used for cell compartment targeting, protein–protein interaction, regulation by phosphorylation, acetylation, glycosylation and a host of other post-translational modifications. ELM, the Eukaryotic Linear Motif server at, is a new bioinformatics resource for investigating candidate short non-globular functional motifs in eukaryotic proteins, aiming to fill the void in bioinformatics tools. Sequence comparisons with short motifs are difficult to evaluate because the usual significance assessments are inappropriate. Therefore the server is implemented with several logical filters to eliminate false positives. Current filters are for cell compartment, globular domain clash and taxonomic range. In favourable cases, the filters can reduce the number of retained matches by an order of magnitude or more.
PMCID: PMC168952  PMID: 12824381

Results 1-5 (5)