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1.  Evaluation of SMN Protein, Transcript, and Copy Number in the Biomarkers for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (BforSMA) Clinical Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e33572.
The universal presence of a gene (SMN2) nearly identical to the mutated SMN1 gene responsible for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) has proved an enticing incentive to therapeutics development. Early disappointments from putative SMN-enhancing agent clinical trials have increased interest in improving the assessment of SMN expression in blood as an early “biomarker” of treatment effect.
A cross-sectional, single visit, multi-center design assessed SMN transcript and protein in 108 SMA and 22 age and gender-matched healthy control subjects, while motor function was assessed by the Modified Hammersmith Functional Motor Scale (MHFMS). Enrollment selectively targeted a broad range of SMA subjects that would permit maximum power to distinguish the relative influence of SMN2 copy number, SMA type, present motor function, and age.
SMN2 copy number and levels of full-length SMN2 transcripts correlated with SMA type, and like SMN protein levels, were lower in SMA subjects compared to controls. No measure of SMN expression correlated strongly with MHFMS. A key finding is that SMN2 copy number, levels of transcript and protein showed no correlation with each other.
This is a prospective study that uses the most advanced techniques of SMN transcript and protein measurement in a large selectively-recruited cohort of individuals with SMA. There is a relationship between measures of SMN expression in blood and SMA type, but not a strong correlation to motor function as measured by the MHFMS. Low SMN transcript and protein levels in the SMA subjects relative to controls suggest that these measures of SMN in accessible tissues may be amenable to an “early look” for target engagement in clinical trials of putative SMN-enhancing agents. Full length SMN transcript abundance may provide insight into the molecular mechanism of phenotypic variation as a function of SMN2 copy number.
Trial Registry NCT00756821
PMCID: PMC3338744  PMID: 22558076
2.  Itt1p, a novel protein inhibiting translation termination in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Termination of translation in eukaryotes is controlled by two interacting polypeptide chain release factors, eRFl and eRF3. eRFl recognizes nonsense codons UAA, UAG and UGA, while eRF3 stimulates polypeptide release from the ribosome in a GTP- and eRFl – dependent manner. Recent studies has shown that proteins interacting with these release factors can modulate the efficiency of nonsense codon readthrough.
We have isolated a nonessential yeast gene, which causes suppression of nonsense mutations, being in a multicopy state. This gene encodes a protein designated Itt1p, possessing a zinc finger domain characteristic of the TRIAD proteins of higher eukaryotes. Overexpression of Itt1p decreases the efficiency of translation termination, resulting in the readthrough of all three types of nonsense codons. Itt1p interacts in vitro with both eRFl and eRF3. Overexpression of eRFl, but not of eRF3, abolishes the nonsense suppressor effect of overexpressed Itt1p.
The data obtained demonstrate that Itt1p can modulate the efficiency of translation termination in yeast. This protein possesses a zinc finger domain characteristic of the TRIAD proteins of higher eukaryotes, and this is a first observation of such protein being involved in translation.
PMCID: PMC56590  PMID: 11570975

Results 1-2 (2)