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1.  Circular Dichroism studies on the interactions of antimicrobial peptides with bacterial cells 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4293.
Studying how antimicrobial peptides interact with bacterial cells is pivotal to understand their mechanism of action. In this paper we explored the use of Circular Dichroism to detect the secondary structure of two antimicrobial peptides, magainin 2 and cecropin A, with E. coli bacterial cells. The results of our studies allow us to gain two important information in the context of antimicrobial peptides- bacterial cells interactions: peptides fold mainly due to interaction with LPS, which is the main component of the Gram negative bacteria outer membrane and the time required for the folding on the bacterial cells depends on the peptide analyzed.
PMCID: PMC3950807  PMID: 24618744
2.  TRAF6-mediated ubiquitination of NEMO requires p62/sequestosome-1☆☆☆ 
Molecular Immunology  2014;58(1):27-31.
The atypical protein kinase C-interacting protein p62/sequestosome-1 (p62) has emerged as a crucial molecule in a variety of cellular functions due to its involvement in various signaling mechanisms. p62 has been implicated in the activation of NF-κB in TNFα-stimulated cells and has been shown to be activated in response to interleukin-1β (IL-1β). Here we demonstrate that p62 interacts with NEMO, the regulatory subunit of the complex responsible for activation of NF-κB transcription factor. Depletion of p62 obtained through a short interfering RNA targeting p62 mRNA abrogated TRAF6 capacity to promote NEMO ubiquitination and severely impairs NF-κB activation following IL-1β stimulation.
Together, these results indicate that p62 is an important intermediary in the NF-κB activation pathways implemented through non-degradative ubiquitination events.
PMCID: PMC3909464  PMID: 24270048
TRAF6; p62/sequestosome; Ubiquitin; NF-κB; IL-1β; TNFα
3.  Copper Promotes TFF1-Mediated Helicobacter pylori Colonization 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79455.
The trefoil peptides (TFF1, TFF2 and TFF3) are a family of small highly conserved proteins that play an essential role in epithelial regeneration within the gastrointestinal tract, where they are mainly expressed. TFF1 expression is strongly induced after mucosal injury and it has been proposed that tff1 functions as a gastric tumor suppressor gene. Several studies confirm that tff1 expression is frequently lost in gastric cancer because of deletions, mutations or methylation of the tff1 promoter. Infection by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) results in chronic gastritis and it can lead to the development of gastric or duodenal ulcers. Moreover, it is known that there is a strong link to the development of gastric cancer. It has been shown that H. pylori interacts with the dimeric form of TFF1 and that the rough form of lipopolysaccharide mediates this interaction. We have previously reported that the carboxy-terminus of TFF1 is able to specifically bind copper ions (Cu) and that Cu binding favours the homodimerization of the peptide, thus enhancing its motogenic activity. Here, we report that the Cu-TFF1 cuprocomplex promotes adherence of H. pylori to epithelial cells. Adherence of H. pylori to gastric adenocarcinoma cells, AGS AC1 cells, induced to hyper-express TFF1 was enhanced compared to noninduced cells. Copper further promoted this interaction. A H. pylori mutant unable to bind TFF1 did not show enhanced infection of induced cells. Cu treatment induced a thickening of the mucus layer produced by the colorectal adenocarcinoma mucus secreting, goblet cells, HT29-E12 and promoted H. pylori colonisation. Finally, SPR analysis shows that the C-terminus of TFF1, involved in the binding of copper, is also able to selectively bind H. pylori RF-LPS.
PMCID: PMC3827375  PMID: 24236136
4.  Site-specific protein double labeling by expressed protein ligation: applications to repeat proteins† 
Organic & biomolecular chemistry  2011;10(2):273-280.
In the last few years, the use of labeled proteins has significantly expanded in the life sciences. Now, labeled proteins are indispensable tools for a wide spectrum of biophysical and chemical biology applications. In particular, the quest for more sophisticated experimental setups requires the development of new synthetic methodology, especially for multiple site-specific labeling. In this paper, we describe a synthetic strategy based on expressed protein ligation to prepare proteins in high purity and homogeneity, in which two different molecular probes are incorporated specifically at any desired position. Proteins are sequentially labeled in solution, with the advantage that a large excess of probes is not required and the labeled fragments are not restricted to peptide synthesis length limitations. This strategy was applied to selectively label a repeat protein with a fluorophores pair in different positions along the protein sequence. The doubly labeled proteins were prepared at high purity and homogeneity, as required for single molecule FRET studies. Remarkably, this approach can be adapted to the introduction of more than two molecular probes.
PMCID: PMC3357005  PMID: 22072074
5.  Targeting pre-miRNA by Peptide Nucleic Acids 
Artificial DNA, PNA & XNA  2012;3(2):88-96.
PNAs conjugated to carrier peptides have been employed for the targeting of miRNA precursor, with the aim to develop molecules able to interfere in the pre-miRNA processing. The capability of the molecules to bind pre-miRNA has been tested in vitro by fluorescence assayes on Thiazole Orange labeled molecules and in vivo, in K562 cells, evaluating the amount of miRNA produced after treatment of cells with two amounts of PNAs.
PMCID: PMC3429535  PMID: 22699795
FACS; fluorescence; miR-210; PNA; pre-miR; thiazole orange
6.  In vivo properties of the proangiogenic peptide QK 
The main regulator of neovascularization is Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF). We recently demonstrated that QK, a de novo engineered VEGF mimicking peptide, shares in vitro the same biological properties of VEGF, inducing capillary formation and organization. On these grounds, the aim of this study is to evaluate in vivo the effects of this small peptide. Therefore, on Wistar Kyoto rats, we evaluated vasomotor responses to VEGF and QK in common carotid rings. Also, we assessed the effects of QK in three different models of angiogenesis: ischemic hindlimb, wound healing and Matrigel plugs. QK and VEGF present similar endothelium-dependent vasodilatation. Moreover, the ability of QK to induce neovascularization was confirmed us by digital angiographies, dyed beads dilution and histological analysis in the ischemic hindlimb as well as by histology in wounds and Matrigel plugs. Our findings show the proangiogenic properties of QK, suggesting that also in vivo this peptide resembles the full VEGF protein. These data open to new fields of investigation on the mechanisms of activation of VEGF receptors, offering clinical implications for treatment of pathophysiological conditions such as chronic ischemia.
PMCID: PMC2702279  PMID: 19505323

Results 1-6 (6)