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1.  Centromeric DNA replication reconstitution reveals DNA loops and ATR checkpoint suppression 
Nature cell biology  2016;18(6):684-691.
Half of human genome is made of repetitive DNA. However, mechanisms underlying replication of chromosome regions containing repetitive DNA are poorly understood. We reconstituted replication of defined human chromosome segments using Bacterial Artificial Chromosomes (BACs) in Xenopus laevis egg extract. Using this approach we characterized chromatin assembly and replication dynamics of centromeric alpha-satellite DNA. Proteomic analysis of centromeric chromatin revealed replication dependent enrichment of a network of DNA repair factors among which the MSH2-6 complex, which was required for efficient centromeric DNA replication. However, contrary to expectations, the ATR dependent checkpoint monitoring DNA replication fork arrest could not be activated on highly repetitive DNA due to inability of single stranded DNA binding protein RPA to accumulate on chromatin. Electron microscopy of centromeric DNA and supercoil mapping revealed the presence of Topoisomerase I dependent DNA loops embedded in a protein matrix enriched for SMC2-4 proteins. This arrangement suppressed ATR signalling by preventing RPA hyper-loading, facilitating replication of centromeric DNA. These findings have important implications on our understanding of repetitive DNA metabolism and centromere organization under normal and stressful conditions.
PMCID: PMC4939857  PMID: 27111843
2.  Metabolic determinants of the immune modulatory function of neural stem cells 
Neural stem cells (NSCs) display tissue trophic and immune modulatory therapeutic activities after transplantation in central nervous system disorders. The intercellular interplay between stem cells and target immune cells is increased in NSCs exposed to inflammatory cues. Here, we hypothesize that inflammatory cytokine signalling leads to metabolic reprogramming of NSCs regulating some of their immune modulatory effects.
NSC lines were prepared from the subventricular zone (SVZ) of 7–12-week-old mice. Whole secretome-based screening and analysis of intracellular small metabolites was performed in NSCs exposed to cocktails of either Th1-like (IFN-γ, 500 U/ml; TNF-α, 200 U/ml; IL-1β, 100 U/ml) or Th2-like (IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13; 10 ng/ml) inflammatory cytokines for 16 h in vitro. Isotopologues distribution of arginine and downstream metabolites was assessed by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry in NSCs incubated with U-13C6 L-arginine in the presence or absence of Th1 or Th2 cocktails (Th1 NSCs or Th2 NSCs). The expression of arginase I and II was investigated in vitro in Th1 NSCs and Th2 NSCs and in vivo in the SVZ of mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, as prototypical model of Th1 cell-driven brain inflammatory disease. The effects of the inflammatory cytokine signalling were studied in NSC-lymph node cells (LNC) co-cultures by flow cytometry-based analysis of cell proliferation following pan-arginase inhibition with Nω-hydroxy-nor-arginine (nor-NOHA).
Cytokine-primed NSCs showed significantly higher anti-proliferative effect in co-cultures vs. control NSCs. Metabolomic analysis of intracellular metabolites revealed alteration of arginine metabolism and increased extracellular arginase I activity in cytokine-primed NSCs. Arginase inhibition by nor-NOHA partly rescued the anti-proliferative effects of cytokine-primed NSCs.
Our work underlines the use of metabolic profiling as hypothesis-generating tools that helps unravelling how stem cell-mediated mechanisms of tissue restoration become affected by local inflammatory responses. Among different therapeutic candidates, we identify arginase signalling as novel metabolic determinant of the NSC-to-immune system communication.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12974-016-0667-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5009670  PMID: 27590826
Metabolomics; Neural stem cells; Immune modulation; Lymph node cells; Arginase I
3.  DDK dependent regulation of TOP2A at centromeres revealed by a chemical genetics approach 
Nucleic Acids Research  2016;44(18):8786-8798.
In eukaryotic cells the CDC7/DBF4 kinase, also known as DBF4-dependent kinase (DDK), is required for the firing of DNA replication origins. CDC7 is also involved in replication stress responses and its depletion sensitises cells to drugs that affect fork progression, including Topoisomerase 2 poisons. Although CDC7 is an important regulator of cell division, relatively few substrates and bona-fide CDC7 phosphorylation sites have been identified to date in human cells. In this study, we have generated an active recombinant CDC7/DBF4 kinase that can utilize bulky ATP analogues. By performing in vitro kinase assays using benzyl-thio-ATP, we have identified TOP2A as a primary CDC7 substrate in nuclear extracts, and serine 1213 and serine 1525 as in vitro phosphorylation sites. We show that CDC7/DBF4 and TOP2A interact in cells, that this interaction mainly occurs early in S-phase, and that it is compromised after treatment with CDC7 inhibitors. We further provide evidence that human DBF4 localises at centromeres, to which TOP2A is progressively recruited during S-phase. Importantly, we found that CDC7/DBF4 down-regulation, as well S1213A/S1525A TOP2A mutations can advance the timing of centromeric TOP2A recruitment in S-phase. Our results indicate that TOP2A is a novel DDK target and have important implications for centromere biology.
PMCID: PMC5062981  PMID: 27407105
4.  A plastic SQSTM1/p62-dependent autophagic reserve maintains proteostasis and determines proteasome inhibitor susceptibility in multiple myeloma cells 
Autophagy  2015;11(7):1161-1178.
Multiple myeloma (MM) is the paradigmatic proteasome inhibitor (PI) responsive cancer, but many patients fail to respond. An attractive target to enhance sensitivity is (macro)autophagy, recently found essential to bone marrow plasma cells, the normal counterpart of MM. Here, integrating proteomics with hypothesis-driven strategies, we identified the autophagic cargo receptor and adapter protein, SQSTM1/p62 as an essential component of an autophagic reserve that not only synergizes with the proteasome to maintain proteostasis, but also mediates a plastic adaptive response to PIs, and faithfully reports on inherent PI sensitivity. Lentiviral engineering revealed that SQSTM1 is essential for MM cell survival and affords specific PI protection. Under basal conditions, SQSTM1-dependent autophagy alleviates the degradative burden on the proteasome by constitutively disposing of substantial amounts of ubiquitinated proteins. Indeed, its inhibition or stimulation greatly sensitized to, or protected from, PI-induced protein aggregation and cell death. Moreover, under proteasome stress, myeloma cells selectively enhanced SQSTM1 de novo expression and reset its vast endogenous interactome, diverting SQSTM1 from signaling partners to maximize its association with ubiquitinated proteins. Saturation of such autophagic reserve, as indicated by intracellular accumulation of undigested SQSTM1-positive aggregates, specifically discriminated patient-derived myelomas inherently susceptible to PIs from primarily resistant ones. These aggregates correlated with accumulation of the endoplasmic reticulum, which comparative proteomics identified as the main cell compartment targeted by autophagy in MM. Altogether, the data integrate autophagy into our previously established proteasome load-versus-capacity model, and reveal SQSTM1 aggregation as a faithful marker of defective proteostasis, defining a novel prognostic and therapeutic framework for MM.
PMCID: PMC4590585  PMID: 26043024
aggregate; autophagy; bortezomib; endoplasmic reticulum; multiple myeloma; p62; plasma cells; proteasome; proteasome inhibitors; proteostasis; SQSTM1; ubiquitin
5.  Identification of Interactions in the NMD Complex Using Proximity-Dependent Biotinylation (BioID) 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(3):e0150239.
Proximity-dependent trans-biotinylation by the Escherichia coli biotin ligase BirA mutant R118G (BirA*) allows stringent streptavidin affinity purification of proximal proteins. This so-called BioID method provides an alternative to the widely used co-immunoprecipitation (co-IP) to identify protein-protein interactions. Here, we used BioID, on its own and combined with co-IP, to identify proteins involved in nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD), a post-transcriptional mRNA turnover pathway that targets mRNAs that fail to terminate translation properly. In particular, we expressed BirA* fused to the well characterized NMD factors UPF1, UPF2 and SMG5 and detected by liquid chromatography-coupled tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) the streptavidin-purified biotinylated proteins. While the identified already known interactors confirmed the usefulness of BioID, we also found new potentially important interactors that have escaped previous detection by co-IP, presumably because they associate only weakly and/or very transiently with the NMD machinery. Our results suggest that SMG5 only transiently contacts the UPF1-UPF2-UPF3 complex and that it provides a physical link to the decapping complex. In addition, BioID revealed among others CRKL and EIF4A2 as putative novel transient interactors with NMD factors, but whether or not they have a function in NMD remains to be elucidated.
PMCID: PMC4774922  PMID: 26934103
6.  The serine protease hepsin mediates urinary secretion and polymerisation of Zona Pellucida domain protein uromodulin 
eLife  null;4:e08887.
Uromodulin is the most abundant protein in the urine. It is exclusively produced by renal epithelial cells and it plays key roles in kidney function and disease. Uromodulin mainly exerts its function as an extracellular matrix whose assembly depends on a conserved, specific proteolytic cleavage leading to conformational activation of a Zona Pellucida (ZP) polymerisation domain. Through a comprehensive approach, including extensive characterisation of uromodulin processing in cellular models and in specific knock-out mice, we demonstrate that the membrane-bound serine protease hepsin is the enzyme responsible for the physiological cleavage of uromodulin. Our findings define a key aspect of uromodulin biology and identify the first in vivo substrate of hepsin. The identification of hepsin as the first protease involved in the release of a ZP domain protein is likely relevant for other members of this protein family, including several extracellular proteins, as egg coat proteins and inner ear tectorins.
eLife digest
Several proteins in humans and other animals contain a region called a 'zona pellucida domain'. This domain enables these proteins to associate with each other and form long filaments. Uromodulin is one such protein that was first identified more than fifty years ago. This protein is known to play a role in human diseases such as hypertension and kidney failure, but uromodulin’s biological purpose still remains elusive.
Uromodulin is only made in the kidney and it is the most abundant protein in the urine of healthy individuals. Uromodulin also contains a so-called 'external hydrophobic patch' that must be removed before the zona pellucida domain can start to form filaments. This hydrophobic patch is removed when uromodulin is cut by an unknown enzyme; this cutting releases the rest of the uromodulin protein from the surface of the cells that line the kidney into the urine.
Brunati et al. have now tested a panel of candidate enzymes and identified that one called hepsin is able to cut uromodulin. Hepsin is embedded in the cell membrane of the cells that line the kidney. When the level of hepsin was artificially reduced in cells grown in the laboratory, uromodulin remained anchored to the cell surface, its processing was altered and it did not form filaments.
Brunati et al. next analysed mice in which the gene encoding hepsin had been deleted. While these animals did not have any major defects in their internal organs, they had much lower levels of uromodulin in their urine. Furthermore, this residual urinary protein was not cut properly and it did not assemble into filaments. Thus, these findings reveal that hepsin is the enzyme that is responsible for releasing uromodulin in the urine. This discovery could be exploited to alter the levels of uromodulin release, and further studies using mice lacking hepsin may also help to understand uromodulin’s biological role. Finally, it will be important to understand if hepsin, or a similar enzyme, is also responsible for the release of other proteins containing the zona pellucida domain.
PMCID: PMC4755741  PMID: 26673890
Zona Pellucida domain; Uromodulin; Hepsin; Serine protease; Mouse
7.  Extracellular Vesicles from Neural Stem Cells Transfer IFN-γ via Ifngr1 to Activate Stat1 Signaling in Target Cells 
Molecular cell  2014;56(2):193-204.
The idea that stem cell therapies work only via cell replacement is challenged by the observation of consistent intercellular molecule exchange between the graft and the host. Here we defined a mechanism of cellular signaling by which neural stem/precursor cells (NPCs) communicate with the microenvironment via extracellular vesicles (EVs), and we elucidated its molecular signature and function. We observed cytokine-regulated pathways that sort proteins and mRNAs into EVs. We described induction of interferon gamma (IFN-γ) pathway in NPCs exposed to proinflammatory cytokines that is mirrored in EVs. We showed that IFN-γ bound to EVs through Ifngr1 activates Stat1 in target cells. Finally, we demonstrated that endogenous Stat1 and Ifngr1 in target cells are indispensable to sustain the activation of Stat1 signaling by EV-associated IFN-γ/Ifngr1 complexes. Our study identifies a mechanism of cellular signaling regulated by EV-associated IFN-γ/Ifngr1 complexes, which grafted stem cells may use to communicate with the host immune system.
PMCID: PMC4578249  PMID: 25242146
8.  Quantitative proteomics reveals novel therapeutic and diagnostic markers in hypertension 
BBA Clinical  2014;2:79-87.
Hypertension is a prevalent disorder in the world representing one of the major risk factors for heart attack and stroke. These risks are increased in salt sensitive individuals. Hypertension and salt sensitivity are complex phenotypes whose pathophysiology remains poorly understood and, remarkably, salt sensitivity is still laborious to diagnose.
Here we present a urinary proteomic study specifically designed to identify urinary proteins relevant for the pathogenesis of hypertension and salt sensitivity. Despite previous studies that underlined the association of UMOD gene variants with hypertension, this work provides novel evidence showing different uromodulin protein level in the urine of hypertensive patients compared to healthy individuals. Notably, we also show that patients with higher level of uromodulin are homozygous for UMOD risk variant and display a decreased level of salt excretion, highlighting the essential role of UMOD in the regulation of salt reabsorption in hypertension. Additionally, we found that urinary nephrin 1, a marker of glomerular slit diaphragm, may predict a salt sensitive phenotype and positively correlate with increased albuminuria associated with this type of hypertension.
•We identified urinary proteins differently excreted in hypertensive patients.•Nephrin 1 might predict salt sensitive phenotype and glomerular complications.•Uromodulin impacts salt homeostasis in hypertension.•We provide new insights into the pathogenesis of hypertension and salt sensitivity.
PMCID: PMC4633972  PMID: 26672470
BP, blood pressure; LC–MS/MS, liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry; BMI, body mass index; SS, salt sensitive; SR, salt resistant; SBP, systolic BP; DBP, diastolic BP; MQ, MaxQuant; GO, Gene Ontology; MBP, mean BP.; Salt sensitive hypertension; Urinary biomarker; Quantitative proteomics; Uromodulin; Salt homeostasis; Nephrinuria; Glomerular injury
9.  The stem cell secretome and its role in brain repair 
Biochimie  2013;95(12):2271-2285.
Compelling evidence exists that non-haematopoietic stem cells, including mesenchymal (MSCs) and neural/progenitor stem cells (NPCs), exert a substantial beneficial and therapeutic effect after transplantation in experimental central nervous system (CNS) disease models through the secretion of immune modulatory or neurotrophic paracrine factors.
This paracrine hypothesis has inspired an alternative outlook on the use of stem cells in regenerative neurology. In this paradigm, significant repair of the injured brain may be achieved by injecting the biologics secreted by stem cells (secretome), rather than implanting stem cells themselves for direct cell replacement. The stem cell secretome (SCS) includes cytokines, chemokines and growth factors, and has gained increasing attention in recent years because of its multiple implications for the repair, restoration or regeneration of injured tissues.
Thanks to recent improvements in SCS profiling and manipulation, investigators are now inspired to harness the SCS as a novel alternative therapeutic option that might ensure more efficient outcomes than current stem cell-based therapies for CNS repair.
This review discusses the most recent identification of MSC- and NPC-secreted factors, including those that are trafficked within extracellular membrane vesicles (EVs), and reflects on their potential effects on brain repair. It also examines some of the most convincing advances in molecular profiling that have enabled mapping of the SCS.
PMCID: PMC4061727  PMID: 23827856
Secretome; Mesenchymal stem cells; Neural stem cells; Brain repair; Stem cell transplantation
10.  CBP and p300 acetylate PCNA to link its degradation with nucleotide excision repair synthesis 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(13):8433-8448.
The proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) protein serves as a molecular platform recruiting and coordinating the activity of factors involved in multiple deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) transactions. To avoid dangerous genome instability, it is necessary to prevent excessive retention of PCNA on chromatin. Although PCNA functions during DNA replication appear to be regulated by different post-translational modifications, the mechanism regulating PCNA removal and degradation after nucleotide excision repair (NER) is unknown. Here we report that CREB-binding protein (CBP), and less efficiently p300, acetylated PCNA at lysine (Lys) residues Lys13,14,77 and 80, to promote removal of chromatin-bound PCNA and its degradation during NER. Mutation of these residues resulted in impaired DNA replication and repair, enhanced the sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation, and prevented proteolytic degradation of PCNA after DNA damage. Depletion of both CBP and p300, or failure to load PCNA on DNA in NER deficient cells, prevented PCNA acetylation and degradation, while proteasome inhibition resulted in accumulation of acetylated PCNA. These results define a CBP and p300-dependent mechanism for PCNA acetylation after DNA damage, linking DNA repair synthesis with removal of chromatin-bound PCNA and its degradation, to ensure genome stability.
PMCID: PMC4117764  PMID: 24939902
11.  Mutually exclusive redox forms of HMGB1 promote cell recruitment or proinflammatory cytokine release 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2012;209(9):1519-1528.
HMGB1 orchestrates leukocyte recruitment and their induction to secrete inflammatory cytokines by switching between mutually exclusive redox states.
Tissue damage causes inflammation, by recruiting leukocytes and activating them to release proinflammatory mediators. We show that high-mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1) orchestrates both processes by switching among mutually exclusive redox states. Reduced cysteines make HMGB1 a chemoattractant, whereas a disulfide bond makes it a proinflammatory cytokine and further cysteine oxidation to sulfonates by reactive oxygen species abrogates both activities. We show that leukocyte recruitment and activation can be separated. A nonoxidizable HMGB1 mutant in which serines replace all cysteines (3S-HMGB1) does not promote cytokine production, but is more effective than wild-type HMGB1 in recruiting leukocytes in vivo. BoxA, a HMGB1 inhibitor, interferes with leukocyte recruitment but not with activation. We detected the different redox forms of HMGB1 ex vivo within injured muscle. HMGB1 is completely reduced at first and disulfide-bonded later. Thus, HMGB1 orchestrates both key events in sterile inflammation, leukocyte recruitment and their induction to secrete inflammatory cytokines, by adopting mutually exclusive redox states.
PMCID: PMC3428943  PMID: 22869893
12.  Proteins from Tuber magnatum Pico fruiting bodies naturally grown in different areas of Italy 
Proteome Science  2013;11:7.
A number of Tuber species are ecologically important. The fruiting bodies of some of these also have value as a cooking ingredient due to the fact that they possess exceptional flavor and aromatic properties. In particular, T. magnatum fruiting bodies (commonly known as truffles), are greatly appreciated by consumers. These grow naturally in some parts of Italy. However, the quality of these fruiting bodies varies significantly depending on the area of origin due to differences in environmental growth conditions. It is therefore useful to be able to characterize them. A suitable method to reach this goal is to identify proteins which occur in the fruiting bodies that are specific to each area of origin. In this work protein profiles are described for samples coming from different areas and collected in two successive years. To our knowledge this is the first time that proteins of T. magnatum have been thoroughly examined.
Using two dimensional electrophoresis, reproducible quantitative differences in the protein patterns (total 600 spots) of samples from different parts of Italy (accession areas) were revealed by bioinformatic analysis. 60 spots were chosen for further analysis, out of which 17 could probably be used to distinguish a sample grown in one area from a sample grown in another area. Mass spectrometry (MS) protein analysis of these seventeen spots allowed the identification of 17 proteins of T. magnatum.
The results indicate that proteomic analysis is a suitable method for characterizing those differences occurring in samples and induced by the different environmental conditions present in the various Italian areas where T. magnatum can grow. The positive protein identification by MS analysis has proved that this method can be applied with success even in a species whose genome, at the moment, has not been sequenced.
PMCID: PMC3608153  PMID: 23375047
Tuber magnatum; Proteins; Fruiting bodies; 2D-electrophoresis; Mass spectrometry; qPCR
13.  Attenuation of miR-126 Activity Expands HSC In Vivo without Exhaustion 
Cell Stem Cell  2012;11(6):799-811.
Lifelong blood cell production is governed through the poorly understood integration of cell-intrinsic and -extrinsic control of hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) quiescence and activation. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) coordinately regulate multiple targets within signaling networks, making them attractive candidate HSC regulators. We report that miR-126, a miRNA expressed in HSC and early progenitors, plays a pivotal role in restraining cell-cycle progression of HSC in vitro and in vivo. miR-126 knockdown by using lentiviral sponges increased HSC proliferation without inducing exhaustion, resulting in expansion of mouse and human long-term repopulating HSC. Conversely, enforced miR-126 expression impaired cell-cycle entry, leading to progressively reduced hematopoietic contribution. In HSC/early progenitors, miR-126 regulates multiple targets within the PI3K/AKT/GSK3β pathway, attenuating signal transduction in response to extrinsic signals. These data establish that miR-126 sets a threshold for HSC activation and thus governs HSC pool size, demonstrating the importance of miRNA in the control of HSC function.
Graphical Abstract
► miR-126 is a novel regulator of the HSC quiescence/proliferation equilibrium ► Reduction in miR-126 induces an expansion of long-term HSC without exhaustion ► Constitutive miR-126 expression promotes HSC quiescence and progenitor proliferation ► miR-126 attenuates PI3K/AKT activation in response to cytokine stimulation
miR-126 regulates multiple targets within the PI3K/AKT/GSK3β pathway to promote HSC quiescence and progenitor proliferation.
PMCID: PMC3517970  PMID: 23142521
14.  Proteomic analysis of grapevine resistance induced by Trichoderma harzianum T39 reveals specific defence pathways activated against downy mildew 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2012;63(17):6237-6251.
Downy mildew is caused by the oomycete Plasmopara viticola and is one of the most serious diseases of grapevine. The beneficial microorganism Trichoderma harzianum T39 (T39) has previously been shown to induce plant-mediated resistance and to reduce the severity of downy mildew in susceptible grapevines. In order to better understand the cellular processes associated with T39-induced resistance, the proteomic and histochemical changes activated by T39 in grapevine were investigated before and 1 day after P. viticola inoculation. A comprehensive proteomic analysis of T39-induced resistance in grapevine was performed using an eight-plex iTRAQ protocol, resulting in the identification and quantification of a total of 800 proteins. Most of the proteins directly affected by T39 were found to be involved in signal transduction, indicating activation of a complete microbial recognition machinery. Moreover, T39-induced resistance was associated with rapid accumulation of reactive oxygen species and callose at infection sites, as well as changes in abundance of proteins involved in response to stress and redox balance, indicating an active defence response to downy mildew. On the other hand, proteins affected by P. viticola in control plants mainly decreased in abundance, possibly reflecting the establishment of a compatible interaction. Finally, the high-throughput iTRAQ protocol allowed de novo peptide sequencing, which will be used to improve annotation of the Vitis vinifera cv. Pinot Noir proteome.
PMCID: PMC3481215  PMID: 23105132
biocontrol agent; induced resistance; Plasmopara viticola; quantitative proteomics; reactive oxygen species; tripartite interaction; Vitis vinifera
15.  AIRE-PHD fingers are structural hubs to maintain the integrity of chromatin-associated interactome 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(22):11756-11768.
Mutations in autoimmune regulator (AIRE) gene cause autoimmune polyendocrinopathy candidiasis ectodermal dystrophy. AIRE is expressed in thymic medullary epithelial cells, where it promotes the expression of peripheral-tissue antigens to mediate deletional tolerance, thereby preventing self-reactivity. AIRE contains two plant homeodomains (PHDs) which are sites of pathological mutations. AIRE-PHD fingers are important for AIRE transcriptional activity and presumably play a crucial role in the formation of multimeric protein complexes at chromatin level which ultimately control immunological tolerance. As a step forward the understanding of AIRE-PHD fingers in normal and pathological conditions, we investigated their structure and used a proteomic SILAC approach to assess the impact of patient mutations targeting AIRE-PHD fingers. Importantly, both AIRE-PHD fingers are structurally independent and mutually non-interacting domains. In contrast to D297A and V301M on AIRE-PHD1, the C446G mutation on AIRE-PHD2 destroys the structural fold, thus causing aberrant AIRE localization and reduction of AIRE target genes activation. Moreover, mutations targeting AIRE-PHD1 affect the formation of a multimeric protein complex at chromatin level. Overall our results reveal the importance of AIRE-PHD domains in the interaction with chromatin-associated nuclear partners and gene regulation confirming the role of PHD fingers as versatile protein interaction hubs for multiple binding events.
PMCID: PMC3526288  PMID: 23074189
16.  HMGB1 promotes recruitment of inflammatory cells to damaged tissues by forming a complex with CXCL12 and signaling via CXCR4 
CXCL12 forms a complex with HMGB1 that binds to the chemokine receptor CXCR4 and increases inflammatory cell migration.
After tissue damage, inflammatory cells infiltrate the tissue and release proinflammatory cytokines. HMGB1 (high mobility group box 1), a nuclear protein released by necrotic and severely stressed cells, promotes cytokine release via its interaction with the TLR4 (Toll-like receptor 4) receptor and cell migration via an unknown mechanism. We show that HMGB1-induced recruitment of inflammatory cells depends on CXCL12. HMGB1 and CXCL12 form a heterocomplex, which we characterized by nuclear magnetic resonance and surface plasmon resonance, that acts exclusively through CXCR4 and not through other HMGB1 receptors. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer data show that the HMGB1–CXCL12 heterocomplex promotes different conformational rearrangements of CXCR4 from that of CXCL12 alone. Mononuclear cell recruitment in vivo into air pouches and injured muscles depends on the heterocomplex and is inhibited by AMD3100 and glycyrrhizin. Thus, inflammatory cell recruitment and activation both depend on HMGB1 via different mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3302219  PMID: 22370717
17.  TACE (ADAM17) inhibits Schwann cell myelination 
Nature Neuroscience  2011;14(7):857-865.
Tumor necrosis factor-α–converting enzyme (TACE; also known as ADAM17) is a proteolytic sheddase that is responsible for the cleavage of several membrane-bound molecules. We report that TACE cleaves neuregulin-1 (NRG1) type III in the epidermal growth factor domain, probably inactivating it (as assessed by deficient activation of the phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase pathway), and thereby negatively regulating peripheral nervous system (PNS) myelination. Lentivirus-mediated knockdown of TACE in vitro in dorsal root ganglia neurons accelerates the onset of myelination and results in hypermyelination. In agreement, motor neurons of conditional knockout mice lacking TACE specifically in these cells are significantly hypermyelinated, and small-caliber fibers are aberrantly myelinated. Further, reduced TACE activity rescues hypomyelination in NRG1 type III haploinsufficient mice in vivo. We also show that the inhibitory effect of TACE is neuron-autonomous, as Schwann cells lacking TACE elaborate myelin of normal thickness. Thus, TACE is a modulator of NRG1 type III activity and is a negative regulator of myelination in the PNS.
PMCID: PMC3291894  PMID: 21666671
18.  Biochemical and Functional Characterization of the Interaction between Liprin-α1 and GIT1: Implications for the Regulation of Cell Motility 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20757.
We have previously identified the scaffold protein liprin-α1 as an important regulator of integrin-mediated cell motility and tumor cell invasion. Liprin-α1 may interact with different proteins, and the functional significance of these interactions in the regulation of cell motility is poorly known. Here we have addressed the involvement of the liprin-α1 partner GIT1 in liprin-α1-mediated effects on cell spreading and migration. GIT1 depletion inhibited spreading by affecting the lamellipodia, and prevented liprin-α1-enhanced spreading. Conversely inhibition of the formation of the liprin-α1-GIT complex by expression of liprin-ΔCC3 could still enhance spreading, although to a lesser extent compared to full length liprin-α1. No cumulative effects were observed after depletion of both liprin-α1 and GIT1, suggesting that the two proteins belong to the same signaling network in the regulation of cell spreading. Our data suggest that liprin-α1 may compete with paxillin for binding to GIT1, while binding of βPIX to GIT1 was unaffected by the presence of liprin-α1. Interestingly, GIT and liprin-α1 reciprocally regulated their subcellular localization, since liprin-α1 overexpression, but not the GIT binding-defective liprin-ΔCC3 mutant, affected the localization of endogenous GIT at peripheral and mature central focal adhesions, while the expression of a truncated, active form of GIT1 enhanced the localization of endogenous liprin-α1 at the edge of spreading cells. Moreover, GIT1 was required for liprin-α1-enhanced haptotatic migration, although the direct interaction between liprin-α1 and GIT1 was not needed. Our findings show that the functional interaction between liprin-α1 and GIT1 cooperate in the regulation of integrin-dependent cell spreading and motility on extracellular matrix. These findings and the possible competition of liprin-α1 with paxillin for binding to GIT1 suggest that alternative binding of GIT1 to either liprin-α1 or paxillin plays distinct roles in different phases of the protrusive activity in the cell.
PMCID: PMC3113849  PMID: 21695141
19.  Secretion of Novel SEL1L Endogenous Variants Is Promoted by ER Stress/UPR via Endosomes and Shed Vesicles in Human Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e17206.
We describe here two novel endogenous variants of the human endoplasmic reticulum (ER) cargo receptor SEL1LA, designated p38 and p28. Biochemical and RNA interference studies in tumorigenic and non-tumorigenic cells indicate that p38 and p28 are N-terminal, ER-anchorless and more stable relative to the canonical transmembrane SEL1LA. P38 is expressed and constitutively secreted, with increase after ER stress, in the KMS11 myeloma line and in the breast cancer lines MCF7 and SKBr3, but not in the non-tumorigenic breast epithelial MCF10A line. P28 is detected only in the poorly differentiated SKBr3 cell line, where it is secreted after ER stress. Consistently with the presence of p38 and p28 in culture media, morphological studies of SKBr3 and KMS11 cells detect N-terminal SEL1L immunolabeling in secretory/degradative compartments and extracellularly-released membrane vesicles. Our findings suggest that the two new SEL1L variants are engaged in endosomal trafficking and secretion via vesicles, which could contribute to relieve ER stress in tumorigenic cells. P38 and p28 could therefore be relevant as diagnostic markers and/or therapeutic targets in cancer.
PMCID: PMC3040770  PMID: 21359144
20.  Engineering of Lactobacillus jensenii To Secrete RANTES and a CCR5 Antagonist Analogue as Live HIV-1 Blockers▿  
The development of effective microbicides for the prevention of HIV-1 sexual transmission represents a primary goal for the control of AIDS epidemics worldwide. A promising strategy is the use of bacteria belonging to the vaginal microbiota as live microbicides for the topical production of HIV-1 inhibitors. We have engineered a human vaginal isolate of Lactobacillus jensenii to secrete the anti-HIV-1 chemokine RANTES, as well as C1C5 RANTES, a mutated analogue that acts as a CCR5 antagonist and therefore is devoid of proinflammatory activity. Full-length wild-type RANTES and C1C5 RANTES secreted by L. jensenii were purified to homogeneity and shown to adopt a correctly folded conformation. Both RANTES variants were shown to inhibit HIV-1 infection in CD4+ T cells and macrophages, displaying strong activity against HIV-1 isolates of different genetic subtypes. This work provides proof of principle for the use of L. jensenii-produced C1C5 RANTES to block HIV-1 infection of CD4+ T cells and macrophages, setting the basis for the development of a live anti-HIV-1 microbicide targeting CCR5 in an antagonistic manner.
PMCID: PMC2897324  PMID: 20479208
21.  Proline Isomerase Pin1 Represses Terminal Differentiation and Myocyte Enhancer Factor 2C Function in Skeletal Muscle Cells* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2010;285(45):34518-34527.
Reversible proline-directed phosphorylation at Ser/Thr-Pro motifs has an essential role in myogenesis, a multistep process strictly regulated by several signaling pathways that impinge on two families of myogenic effectors, the basic helix-loop-helix myogenic transcription factors and the MEF2 (myocyte enhancer factor 2) proteins. The question of how these signals are deciphered by the myogenic effectors remains largely unaddressed. In this study, we show that the peptidyl-prolyl isomerase Pin1, which catalyzes the isomerization of phosphorylated Ser/Thr-Pro peptide bonds to induce conformational changes of its target proteins, acts as an inhibitor of muscle differentiation because its knockdown in myoblasts promotes myotube formation. With the aim of clarifying the mechanism of Pin1 function in skeletal myogenesis, we investigated whether MEF2C, a critical regulator of the myogenic program that is the end point of several signaling pathways, might serve as a/the target for the inhibitory effects of Pin1 on muscle differentiation. We show that Pin1 interacts selectively with phosphorylated MEF2C in skeletal muscle cells, both in vitro and in vivo. The interaction with Pin1 requires two novel critical phospho-Ser/Thr-Pro motifs in MEF2C, Ser98 and Ser110, which are phosphorylated in vivo. Overexpression of Pin1 decreases MEF2C stability and activity and its ability to cooperate with MyoD to activate myogenic conversion. Collectively, these findings reveal a novel role for Pin1 as a regulator of muscle terminal differentiation and suggest that Pin1-mediated repression of MEF2C function could contribute to this function.
PMCID: PMC2966067  PMID: 20801874
Differentiation; Mass Spectrometry (MS); Protein Isomerase; Protein Phosphorylation; Protein Stability; Protein Translocation; Transcription Factors; MEF2; Pin1; Muscle
22.  Proteomics Reveals Novel Oxidative and Glycolytic Mechanisms in Type 1 Diabetic Patients' Skin Which Are Normalized by Kidney-Pancreas Transplantation 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9923.
In type 1 diabetes (T1D) vascular complications such as accelerated atherosclerosis and diffused macro-/microangiopathy are linked to chronic hyperglycemia with a mechanism that is not yet well understood. End-stage renal disease (ESRD) worsens most diabetic complications, particularly, the risk of morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease is increased several fold.
Methods and Findings
We evaluated protein regulation and expression in skin biopsies obtained from T1D patients with and without ESRD, to identify pathways of persistent cellular changes linked to diabetic vascular disease. We therefore examined pathways that may be normalized by restoration of normoglycemia with kidney-pancreas (KP) transplantation. Using proteomic and ultrastructural approaches, multiple alterations in the expression of proteins involved in oxidative stress (catalase, superoxide dismutase 1, Hsp27, Hsp60, ATP synthase δ chain, and flavin reductase), aerobic and anaerobic glycolysis (ACBP, pyruvate kinase muscle isozyme, and phosphoglycerate kinase 1), and intracellular signaling (stratifin-14-3-3, S100-calcyclin, cathepsin, and PPI rotamase) as well as endothelial vascular abnormalities were identified in T1D and T1D+ESRD patients. These abnormalities were reversed after KP transplant. Increased plasma levels of malondialdehyde were observed in T1D and T1D+ESRD patients, confirming increased oxidative stress which was normalized after KP transplant.
Our data suggests persistent cellular changes of anti-oxidative machinery and of aerobic/anaerobic glycolysis are present in T1D and T1D+ESRD patients, and these abnormalities may play a key role in the pathogenesis of hyperglycemia-related vascular complications. Restoration of normoglycemia and removal of uremia with KP transplant can correct these abnormalities. Some of these identified pathways may become potential therapeutic targets for a new generation of drugs.
PMCID: PMC2848014  PMID: 20360867
24.  Prion Protein Paralog Doppel Protein Interacts with Alpha-2-Macroglobulin: A Plausible Mechanism for Doppel-Mediated Neurodegeneration 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(6):e5968.
Doppel protein (Dpl) is a paralog of the cellular form of the prion protein (PrPC), together sharing common structural and biochemical properties. Unlike PrPC, which is abundantly expressed throughout the central nervous system (CNS), Dpl protein expression is not detectable in the CNS. Interestingly, its ectopic expression in the brain elicits neurodegeneration in transgenic mice. Here, by combining native isoelectric focusing plus non-denaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry analysis, we identified two Dpl binding partners: rat alpha-1-inhibitor-3 (α1I3) and, by sequence homology, alpha-2-macroglobulin (α2M), two known plasma metalloproteinase inhibitors. Biochemical investigations excluded the direct interaction of PrPC with either α1I3 or α2M. Nevertheless, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and surface plasmon resonance experiments revealed a high affinity binding occurring between PrPC and Dpl. In light of these findings, we suggest a mechanism for Dpl-induced neurodegeneration in mice expressing Dpl ectopically in the brain, linked to a withdrawal of natural inhibitors of metalloproteinase such as α2M. Interestingly, α2M has been proven to be a susceptibility factor in Alzheimer's disease, and as our findings imply, it may also play a relevant role in other neurodegenerative disorders, including prion diseases.
PMCID: PMC2693666  PMID: 19536284
25.  Protein fingerprints of cultured CA3-CA1 hippocampal neurons: comparative analysis of the distribution of synaptosomal and cytosolic proteins 
BMC Neuroscience  2008;9:36.
All studies aimed at understanding complex molecular changes occurring at synapses face the problem of how a complete view of the synaptic proteome and of its changes can be efficiently met. This is highly desirable when synaptic plasticity processes are analyzed since the structure and the biochemistry of neurons and synapses get completely reshaped. Because most molecular studies of synapses are nowadays mainly or at least in part based on protein extracts from neuronal cultures, this is not a feasible option: these simplified versions of the brain tissue on one hand provide an homogeneous pure population of neurons but on the other yield only tiny amounts of proteins, many orders of magnitude smaller than conventional brain tissue. As a way to overcome this limitation and to find a simple way to screen for protein changes at cultured synapses, we have produced and characterized two dimensional electrophoresis (2DE) maps of the synaptic proteome of CA3-CA1 hippocampal neurons in culture.
To obtain 2D maps, hippocampal cultures were mass produced and after synaptic maturation, proteins were extracted following subfractionation procedures and separated by 2D gel electrophoresis. Similar maps were obtained for the crude cytosol of cultured neurons and for synaptosomes purified from CA3-CA1 hippocampal tissue. To efficiently compare these different maps some clearly identifiable reference points were molecularly identified by mass spectrometry and immunolabeling methods. This information was used to run a differential analysis and establish homologies and dissimilarities in these 2D protein profiles.
Because reproducible fingerprints of cultured synapses were clearly obtained, we believe that our mapping effort could represent a simple tool to screen for protein expression and/or protein localization changes in CA3-CA1 hippocampal neurons following plasticity.
PMCID: PMC2324106  PMID: 18402664

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