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1.  Rapamycin treatment of Mandibuloacral Dysplasia cells rescues localization of chromatin-associated proteins and cell cycle dynamics 
Aging (Albany NY)  2014;6(9):755-769.
Lamin A is a key component of the nuclear lamina produced through post-translational processing of its precursor known as prelamin A. LMNA mutations leading to farnesylated prelamin A accumulation are known to cause lipodystrophy, progeroid and developmental diseases, including Mandibuloacral dysplasia, a mild progeroid syndrome with partial lipodystrophy and altered bone turnover. Thus, degradation of prelamin A is expected to improve the disease phenotype. Here, we show different susceptibilities of prelamin A forms to proteolysis and further demonstrate that treatment with rapamycin efficiently and selectively triggers lysosomal degradation of farnesylated prelamin A, the most toxic processing intermediate. Importantly, rapamycin treatment of Mandibuloacral dysplasia cells, which feature very low levels of the NAD-dependent sirtuin SIRT-1 in the nuclear matrix, restores SIRT-1 localization and distribution of chromatin markers, elicits release of the transcription factor Oct-1 and determines shortening of the prolonged S-phase. These findings indicate the drug as a possible treatment for Mandibuloacral dysplasia.
PMCID: PMC4233654  PMID: 25324471
Mandibuloacral Dysplasia (MADA); Prelamin A; SIRT-1; Oct-1; Rapamycin
2.  Aggresome–Autophagy Involvement in a Sarcopenic Patient with Rigid Spine Syndrome and a p.C150R Mutation in FHL1 Gene 
The four-and-half LIM domain protein 1 (FHL1) is highly expressed in skeletal and cardiac muscle. Mutations of the FHL1 gene have been associated with diverse chronic myopathies including reducing body myopathy, rigid spine syndrome (RSS), and Emery–Dreifuss muscular dystrophy. We investigated a family with a mutation (p.C150R) in the second LIM domain of FHL1. In this family, a brother and a sister were affected by RSS, and their mother had mild lower limbs weakness. The 34-year-old female had an early and progressive rigidity of the cervical spine and severe respiratory insufficiency. Muscle mass evaluated by DXA was markedly reduced, while fat mass was increased to 40%. CT scan showed an almost complete substitution of muscle by fibro-adipose tissue. Muscle biopsy showed accumulation of FHL1 throughout the cytoplasm and around myonuclei into multiprotein aggregates with aggresome/autophagy features as indicated by ubiquitin, p62, and LC3 labeling. DNA deposits, not associated with nuclear lamina components and histones, were also detected in the aggregates, suggesting nuclear degradation. Ultrastructural analysis showed the presence of dysmorphic nuclei, accumulation of tubulofilamentous and granular material, and perinuclear accumulation of autophagic vacuoles. These data point to involvement of the aggresome–autophagy pathway in the pathophysiological mechanism underlying the muscle pathology of FHL1 C150R mutation.
doi:10.3389/fnagi.2014.00215
PMCID: PMC4137286  PMID: 25191266
myopathy; sarcopenia; FHL1; autophagy; protein aggregates
3.  Biodistribution and Molecular Studies on Orally Administered Nanoparticle-AON Complexes Encapsulated with Alginate Aiming at Inducing Dystrophin Rescue in mdx Mice 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:527418.
We have previously demonstrated that intraperitoneal injections of 2′-O-methyl-phosphorothioate (2′OMePS) antisense oligoribonucleotides adsorbed onto a cationic core-shell nanoparticles (NPs), termed ZM2, provoke dystrophin restoration in the muscles of mdx mice. The aim of the present work was to evaluate the oral route as an alternative way of administration for ZM2-antisense oligoribonucleotides complexes. The biodistribution and elimination of nanoparticles were evaluated after single and multiple oral doses of IR-dye conjugated nanoparticles. Labeled nanoparticles were tracked in vivo as well as in tissue cryosections, urines and feces by Odyssey infrared imaging system, and revealed a permanence in the intestine and abdominal lymph nodes for 72 hours to 7 days before being eliminated. We subsequently tested alginate-free and alginate-encapsulated ZM2-antisense oligoribonucleotides (AON) complexes orally administered 2 and 3 times per week, respectively, in mdx mice for a total of 12 weeks. Treatment with alginate ZM2-AON induced a slight dystrophin rescue in diaphragm and intestine smooth muscles, while no dystrophin was detected in alginate-free ZM2-AON treated mice. These data encourage further experiments on oral administration testing of NP and AON complexes, possibly translatable in oligoribonucleotides-mediated molecular therapies.
doi:10.1155/2013/527418
PMCID: PMC3874323  PMID: 24392452
4.  Familial partial lipodystrophy, mandibuloacral dysplasia and restrictive dermopathy feature barrier-to-autointegration factor (BAF) nuclear redistribution 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(19):3568-3577.
Prelamin A processing impairment is a common feature of a restricted group of rare genetic alterations/disorders associated with a wide range of clinical phenotypes. Changes in histone posttranslational modifications, alterations in non-histone chromatin proteins and chromatin disorganization have been specifically linked to impairment of specific, distinct prelamin A processing steps, but the molecular mechanism involved in these processes is not yet understood . In this study, we show that the accumulation of wild-type prelamin A detected in restrictive dermopathy (RD), as well as the accumulation of mutated forms of prelamin A identified in familial partial lipodystrophy (FPLD) and mandibuloacral dysplasia (MADA), affect the nuclear localization of barrier-to-autointegration factor (BAF), a protein able to link lamin A precursor to chromatin remodeling functions. Our findings, in accordance with previously described results, support the hypothesis of a prelamin A involvement in BAF nuclear recruitment and suggest BAF-prelamin A complex as a protein platform usually activated in prelamin A-accumulating diseases. Finally, we demonstrate the involvement of the inner nuclear membrane protein emerin in the proper localization of BAF-prelamin A complex.
doi:10.4161/cc.21869
PMCID: PMC3478308  PMID: 22935701
BAF; BANF1; prelamin A; lamin A/C; laminopathies; emerin; EDMD1
5.  Altered chromatin organization and SUN2 localization in mandibuloacral dysplasia are rescued by drug treatment 
Histochemistry and Cell Biology  2012;138(4):643-651.
Mandibuloacral dysplasia type A (MADA) is a rare laminopathy characterized by growth retardation, craniofacial anomalies, bone resorption at specific sites including clavicles, phalanges and mandibula, mottled cutaneous pigmentation, skin rigidity, partial lipodystrophy, and insulin resistance. The disorder is caused by recessive mutations of the LMNA gene encoding for A-type lamins. The molecular feature of MADA consists in the accumulation of the unprocessed lamin A precursor, which is detected at the nuclear rim and in intranuclear aggregates. Here, we report the characterization of prelamin A post-translational modifications in MADA cells that induce alterations in the chromatin arrangement and dislocation of nuclear envelope-associated proteins involved in correct nucleo-cytoskeleton relationships. We show that protein post-translational modifications change depending on the passage number, suggesting the onset of a feedback mechanism. Moreover, we show that treatment of MADA cells with the farnesyltransferase inhibitors is effective in the recovery of the chromatin phenotype, altered in MADA, provided that the cells are at low passage number, while at high passage number, the treatment results ineffective. Moreover, the distribution of the lamin A interaction partner SUN2, a constituent of the nuclear envelope, is altered by MADA mutations, as argued by the formation of a highly disorganized lattice. Treatment with statins partially rescues proper SUN2 organization, indicating that its alteration is caused by farnesylated prelamin A accumulation. Given the major role of SUN1 and SUN2 in the nucleo-cytoskeleton interactions and in regulation of nuclear positioning in differentiating cells, we hypothesise that mechanisms regulating nuclear membrane–centrosome interplay and nuclear movement may be affected in MADA fibroblasts.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00418-012-0977-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00418-012-0977-5
PMCID: PMC3432780  PMID: 22706480
Mandibuloacral dysplasia type A (MADA); Prelamin A forms; SUN2; Heterochromatin defects; Statins; Trichostatin A
6.  The empowerment of translational research: lessons from laminopathies 
The need for a collaborative approach to complex inherited diseases collectively referred to as laminopathies, encouraged Italian researchers, geneticists, physicians and patients to join in the Italian Network for Laminopathies, in 2009. Here, we highlight the advantages and added value of such a multidisciplinary effort to understand pathogenesis, clinical aspects and try to find a cure for Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy, Mandibuloacral dysplasia, Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria and forms of lamin-linked cardiomyopathy, neuropathy and lipodystrophy.
doi:10.1186/1750-1172-7-37
PMCID: PMC3458975  PMID: 22691392
Laminopathies; Emery-Dreifuss Muscular Dystrophy; Dilated Cardiomyopathy with Conduction Defects; Mandibuloacral Dysplasia; Familial Partial Lipodystrophy Type 2; Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome; Rare Diseases; Networking activity; interdisciplinary approach to diseases
7.  Prelamin A mediated recruitment of SUN1 to the nuclear envelope directs nuclear positioning in human muscle 
Cell death and differentiation  2011;18(8):1305-1315.
Lamin A is a nuclear lamina constituent expressed in differentiated cells. Mutations in the LMNA gene cause several diseases, including muscular dystrophy and cardiomyopathy. Among nuclear envelope partners of lamin A are SUN1 and SUN2, which mediate nucleo-cytoskeleton interactions critical to the anchorage of nuclei. In this study, we show that differentiating human myoblasts accumulate farnesylated prelamin A, which elicits upregulation and recruitment of SUN1 to the nuclear envelope and favors SUN2 enrichment at the nuclear poles. Indeed, impairment of prelamin A farnesylation alters SUN1 recruitment and SUN2 localization. Moreover, nuclear positioning in myotubes is severely affected in the absence of farnesylated prelamin A. Importantly, reduced prelamin A and SUN1 levels are observed in Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy myoblasts, concomitant with altered myonuclear positioning. These results demonstrate that the interplay between SUN1 and farnesylated prelamin A contributes to nuclear positioning in human myofibers and may be implicated in pathogenetic mechanisms.
doi:10.1038/cdd.2010.183
PMCID: PMC3097169  PMID: 21311568
8.  Ankrd2/ARPP is a novel Akt2 specific substrate and regulates myogenic differentiation upon cellular exposure to H2O2 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(16):2946-2956.
A proteomic-based search for novel substrates of Akt was undertaken in C2C12 murine muscle cells. Our data demonstrate that Akt isoform 2 phosphorylates Ankrd2 at Serine 99 in response to H2O2 stimuli, regulating muscle differentiation rate.
Activation of Akt-mediated signaling pathways is crucial for survival, differentiation, and regeneration of muscle cells. A proteomic-based search for novel substrates of Akt was therefore undertaken in C2C12 murine muscle cells exploiting protein characterization databases in combination with an anti–phospho-Akt substrate antibody. A Scansite database search predicted Ankrd2 (Ankyrin repeat domain protein 2, also known as ARPP) as a novel substrate of Akt. In vitro and in vivo studies confirmed that Akt phosphorylates Ankrd2 at Ser-99. Moreover, by kinase assay with recombinant Akt1 and Akt2, as well as by single-isoform silencing, we demonstrated that Ankrd2 is a specific substrate of Akt2. Ankrd2 is typically found in skeletal muscle cells, where it mediates the transcriptional response to stress conditions. In an attempt to investigate the physiological implications of Ankrd2 phosphorylation by Akt2, we found that oxidative stress induced by H2O2 triggers this phosphorylation. Moreover, the forced expression of a phosphorylation-defective mutant form of Ankrd2 in C2C12 myoblasts promoted a faster differentiation program, implicating Akt-dependent phosphorylation at Ser-99 in the negative regulation of myogenesis in response to stress conditions.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E10-11-0928
PMCID: PMC3154889  PMID: 21737686
9.  Melanocytes—A Novel Tool to Study Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy 
Journal of Cellular Physiology  2012;228(6):1323-1331.
Dystrophin is a subsarcolemmal protein that, by linking the actin cytoskeleton to the extracellular matrix via dystroglycans, is critical for the integrity of muscle fibers. Here, we report that epidermal melanocytes, obtained from conventional skin biopsy, express dystrophin with a restricted localization to the plasma membrane facing the dermal–epidermal junction. In addition the full-length muscle isoform mDp427 was clearly detectable in melanocyte cultures as assessed by immunohistochemistry, RNA, and Western blot analysis. Melanocytes of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients did not express dystrophin, and the ultrastructural analysis revealed typical mitochondrial alterations similar to those occurring in myoblasts from the same patients. Mitochondria of melanocytes from DMD patients readily accumulated tetramethylrhodamine methyl ester, indicating that they are energized irrespective of the presence of dystrophin but, at variance from mitochondria of control donors, depolarized upon the addition of oligomycin, suggesting that they are affected by a latent dysfunction unmasked by inhibition of the ATP synthase. Pure melanocyte cultures can be readily obtained by conventional skin biopsies and may be a feasible and reliable tool alternative to muscle biopsy for functional studies in dystrophinopathies. The mitochondrial dysfunction occurring in DMD melanocytes could represent a promising cellular biomarker for monitoring dystrophinopathies also in response to pharmacological treatments. J. Cell. Physiol. 228: 1323–1331, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
doi:10.1002/jcp.24290
PMCID: PMC3601437  PMID: 23169061

Results 1-9 (9)