Membrane type-1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) is a promising drug target in malignancy. The structure of MT1-MMP includes the hemopexin domain (PEX) that is distinct from and additional to the catalytic domain. Current MMP inhibitors target the conserved active site in the catalytic domain and, as a result, repress the proteolytic activity of multiple MMPs instead of MT1-MMP alone. In our search for non-catalytic inhibitors of MT1-MMP, we compared the pro-tumorigenic activity of wild-type MT1-MMP with a MT1-MMP mutant lacking PEX (ΔPEX). In contrast to MT1-MMP, ΔPEX did not support tumor growth in vivo, and its expression resulted in small fibrotic tumors that contained increased levels of collagen. Because these findings suggested an important role for PEX in tumor growth, we performed an inhibitor screen to identify small molecules targeting the PEX domain of MT1-MMP. Using the Developmental Therapeutics Program (NCI/NIH) virtual ligand screening compound library as a source and the X-ray crystal structure of PEX as a target, we identified and validated a novel PEX inhibitor. Low dosage, intratumoral injections of PEX inhibitor repressed tumor growth and caused a fibrotic, ΔPEX-like tumor phenotype in vivo. Together, our findings provide a preclinical proof-of-principle rationale for the development of novel and selective MT1-MMP inhibitors that specifically target the PEX domain.
MT1-MMP; hemopexin domain; small molecule; tumor growth; migration; type I collagen
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the causative agent of human tuberculosis (TB). Mycobacterial secretory protein ESAT-6 induces MMP-9 in epithelial cells neighboring infected macrophages. MMP-9 then enhances recruitment of uninfected macrophages, which contribute to nascent granuloma maturation and bacterial growth. Disruption of MMP-9 function attenuates granuloma formation and bacterial growth. The abundant mycobacterial HSP65 chaperone is the major target for immune response and a critical component in M. tuberculosis adhesion to macrophages. We hypothesized that HSP65 is susceptible to MMP-9 proteolysis and that the resulting HSP65 immunogenic peptides affect host adaptive immunity. To identify MMPs which cleave HSP65, we used the MMP-2 and MMP-9 gelatinases, the simple hemopexin domain MMP-8, the membrane associated MMP-14, MMP-15, MMP-16 and MMP-24, and the glycosylphosphatidylinositol-linked MMP-17 and MMP-25 in our studies. We determined both the relative cleavage efficiency of MMPs against the HSP65 substrate and the peptide sequence of the cleavage sites. Cleavage of the unstructured PAGHG474L C-terminal region initiates the degradation of HSP65 by MMPs. This initial cleavage destroys the substrate-binding capacity of the HSP65 chaperone. Multiple additional cleavages of the unfolded HSP65 then follows. MMP-2, MMP-8, MMP-14, MMP-15 and MMP-16, in addition to MMP-9, generate the known highly immunogenic N-terminal peptide of HSP65. Based on our biochemical data, we now suspect that MMP proteolysis of HSP65 in vivo, including MMP-9 proteolysis, also results in the abundant generation of the N-terminal immunogenic peptide and that this peptide, in addition to intact HSP65, contributes to the complex immunomodulatory interplay in the course of TB infection.
Both invasion-promoting MT1-MMP and its physiological inhibitorTIMP-2 play a significant role in tumorigenesis and are identified in the most aggressive cancers. Despite its antiproteolytic effects in vitro, clinical data suggest that TIMP-2 expression is positively associated with tumor recurrence, thus emphasizing the wide-ranging role of TIMP-2 in malignancies. To shed light on this role of TIMP-2, we report that low concentrations of TIMP-2, by interacting with MT1-MMP (a specific membrane receptor of TIMP-2), induce the MEK/ERK signaling cascade in fibrosarcoma HT1080 cells which express MT1-MMP naturally. TIMP-2 binding with cell surface-associated MT1-MMP stimulates phosphorylation of MEK1/2, which is upstream of ERK1/2, and the ERK1/2 substrate p90RSK. Consistent with volumes of literature, we confirmed that the activation of ERK stimulated cell migration. Both the transcriptional silencing of MT1-MMP and the inhibition of MEK1/2 reversed the signaling effects of TIMP-2/MT1-MMP while the active site-targeting MMP inhibitor GM6001 did not. Our data suggest that both the interactions of TIMP-2 with MT1-MMP, which activate the pro-migratory ERK signaling cascade,and the conventional inhibition of MT1-MMP’s catalytic activity by TIMP-2, play a role in the invasion-promoting function of MT1-MMP. The TIMP-2-induced stimulation of ERK signaling in cancer cells explains the direct, as opposed to the inverse, association of TIMP-2 expression with poor prognosis in cancer.
MT1-MMP; TIMP-2; cell migration; ERK; MEK
Using constructs that encode the individual West Nile virus (WNV) NS3helicase (NS3hel) and NS3hel linked to the hydrophilic, N-terminal 1–50 sequence of NS4A, we demonstrated that the presence of NS4A allows NS3hel to conserve energy in the course of oligonucleotide substrate unwinding. Using NS4A mutants, we also determined that the C-terminal acidic EELPD/E motif of NS4A, which appears to be functionally similar to the acidic EFDEMEE motif of hepatitis C virus (HCV) NS4A, is essential for regulating the ATPase activity of NS3hel. We concluded that, similar to HCV NS4A, NS4A of WNV acts as a cofactor for NS3hel and allows helicase to sustain the unwinding rate of the viral RNA under conditions of ATP deficiency.
Successful cancer therapies aim to induce selective apoptosis in neoplastic cells. The current suboptimal efficiency and selectivity drugs have therapeutic limitations and induce concomitant side effects. Recently, novel cancer therapies based on the use of tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) have emerged. TRAIL, a key component of the natural antitumor immune response, selectively kills many tumor cell types. Earlier studies with recombinant TRAIL, however, revealed its many shortcomings including a short half-life, off-target toxicity, and existence of TRAIL-resistant tumor cells. We improved the efficacy of recombinant TRAIL redesigning its structure and the expression and purification procedures. The result is a highly stable leucine zipper (LZ)-TRAIL chimera that is simple to produce and purify This chimera functions as a trimer in a manner that similar to natural TRAIL. The formulation of the recombinant LZ-TRAIL we have developed has displayed high specific activity in both cell-based assays in vitro and animal tests in vivo. Our results have shown that the half-of LZ-TRAIL is improved and now exceeds 1 h in mice compared with a half-life of only minutes reported earlier for recombinant TRAIL. We have concluded that our LZ TRAIL construct will serve as a foundation for a new generation of fully human LZ-TRAIL proteins suitable use in preclinical and clinical studies and for effective combination therapies to overcome tumor resistance TRAIL.
Invasion-promoting MT1-MMP is directly linked to tumorigenesis and metastasis. Our studies led us to identify those genes, the expression of which is universally linked to MT1-MMP in multiple tumor types. Genome-wide expression profiling of MT1-MMP–overexpressing versus MT1-MMP–silenced cancer cells and a further data mining analysis of the preexisting expression database of 190 human tumors of 14 cancer types led us to identify 11 genes, the expression of which correlated firmly and universally with that of MT1-MMP (P < 0.00001). These genes included regulators of energy metabolism (NNT), trafficking and membrane fusion (SLCO2A1 and ANXA7), signaling and transcription (NR3C1, JAG1, PI3Kδ, and CK2α), chromatin rearrangement (SMARCA1), cell division (STK38/NDR1), apoptosis (DAPK1), and mRNA splicing (SNRPB2). Our subsequent extensive analysis of cultured cells, tumor xenografts, and cancer patient biopsies supported our data mining. Our results suggest that transcriptional reprogramming of the specific downstream genes, which themselves are associated with tumorigenesis, represents a distinctive “molecular signature” of the proteolytically active MT1-MMP. We suggest that the transactivation activity of MT1-MMP contributes to the promigratory cell phenotype, which is induced by this tumorigenic proteinase. The activated downstream gene network then begins functioning in unison with MT1-MMP to rework the signaling, transport, cell division, energy metabolism, and other critical cell functions and to commit the cell to migration, invasion, and, consequently, tumorigenesis.
Regulated proteolysis of the polyprotein precursor of West Nile virus (WNV) by the essential NS2B-NS3(pro)tease, a promising drug target for WNV inhibitors, is required for the propagation of infectious virions. Structural and drug design studies, however, require pilot-scale quantities of a pure and catalytically active WNV protease that is resistant to self-proteolysis. Autolytic cleavage at the NS2B-NS3 boundary leads to individual, non-covalently associated, NS2B and NS3 domains, together with residual amounts of the intact NS2B-NS3, in the NS2B-NS3pro samples. We modified the cleavage site sequence of the NS2B-NS3 junction region and then developed expression and purification procedures to prepare a covalently linked, single-chain, NS2B-NS3pro K48A mutant construct. This construct exhibits high stability and functional activity and is thus well suited for the follow-up purification and structural and drug design studies.
The M16 family of zinc peptidases comprises a pair of homologous domains that form two halves of a ‘‘clam-shell’’ surrounding the active site. The M16A and M16C subfamilies form one class (‘‘peptidasomes’’): they degrade 30–70 residue peptides, and adopt both open and closed conformations. The eukaryotic M16B subfamily forms a second class (‘‘processing proteases’’): they adopt a single partly-open conformation that enables them to cleave signal sequences from larger proteins. Here, we report the solution and crystal structures of a prokaryotic M16B peptidase, and demonstrate that it has features of both classes: thus, it forms stable ‘‘open’’ homodimers in solution that resemble the processing proteases; but the clam-shell closes upon binding substrate, a feature of the M16A/C peptidasomes. Moreover, clam-shell closure is required for proteolytic activity. We predict that other prokaryotic M16B family members will form dimeric peptidasomes, and propose a model for the evolution of the M16 family.
There is a growing appreciation of the role of proteolytic processes in human health and disease, but tools for analysis of such processes on a proteome-wide scale are limited. Furin is a ubiquitous proprotein convertase that cleaves after basic residues and transforms secretory proproteins into biologically active proteins. Despite this important role, many furin substrates remain unknown in the human proteome.
We devised an approach for proteinase target identification that combines an in silico discovery pipeline with highly multiplexed proteinase activity assays. We performed in silico analysis of the human proteome and identified over 1,050 secretory proteins as potential furin substrates. We then used a multiplexed protease assay to validate these tentative targets. The assay was carried out on over 3,260 overlapping peptides designed to represent P7-P1’ and P4-P4’ positions of furin cleavage sites in the candidate proteins. The obtained results greatly increased our knowledge of the unique cleavage preferences of furin, revealed the importance of both short-range (P4-P1) and long-range (P7-P6) interactions in defining furin cleavage specificity, demonstrated that the R-X-R/K/X-R↓ motif alone is insufficient for predicting furin proteolysis of the substrate, and identified ∼490 potential protein substrates of furin in the human proteome.
The assignment of these substrates to cellular pathways suggests an important role of furin in development, including axonal guidance, cardiogenesis, and maintenance of stem cell pluripotency. The novel approach proposed in this study can be readily applied to other proteinases.
This study tested the hypothesis that membrane-tethered type-1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP)-induced proteolysis of T cell CD44 is important for defining the migration and function of autoreactive T cells, including diabetogenic, insulin-specific and Kd-restricted IS-CD8+ cells. To confirm the importance of MT1-MMP proteolysis of CD44 in type 1 diabetes (T1D), the anti-diabetic effects of three MMP inhibitors (3(S)-2,2-dimethyl-4[4-pyridin-4-yloxy-benzenesulfonyl]-thiomorpholine-3-carboxylic acid hydroxamate [AG3340], 2-(4-phenoxyphenylsulfonylmethyl) thiirane [SB-3CT] and epigallocatechin-3-gallate [EGCG]) were compared using an adoptive diabetes transfer model in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice. Only AG3340 was capable of inhibiting both the activity of MT1-MMP and the shedding of CD44 in T cells; and the transendothelial migration and homing of IS-CD8+ T cells into the pancreatic islets. SB-3CT and EGCG were incapable of inhibiting T cell MT1-MMP efficiently. As a result, AG3340 alone, but not SB-3CT or EGCG, delayed the onset of transferred diabetes in NOD mice. In summary, the results of the present study emphasize that the MT1-MMP-CD44 axis has a unique involvement in T1D development. Accordingly, we suggest that a potent small-molecule MT1-MMP antagonist is required for the design of novel therapies for T1D.
CD44; proteolysis; type 1 diabetes; metalloproteinases; migration; T cell homing
Hepatitis C is a treatment-resistant disease affecting millions of people worldwide. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) genome is a single-stranded RNA molecule. After infection of the host cell, viral RNA is translated into a polyprotein that is cleaved by host and viral proteinases into functional, structural and non-structural, viral proteins. Cleavage of the polyprotein involves the viral NS3/4A proteinase, a proven drug target. HCV mutates as it replicates and, as a result, multiple emerging quasispecies become rapidly resistant to anti-virals, including NS3/4A inhibitors.
To circumvent drug resistance and complement the existing anti-virals, NS3/4A inhibitors, which are additional and distinct from the FDA-approved telaprevir and boceprevir α-ketoamide inhibitors, are required. To test potential new avenues for inhibitor development, we have probed several distinct exosites of NS3/4A which are either outside of or partially overlapping with the active site groove of the proteinase. For this purpose, we employed virtual ligand screening using the 275,000 compound library of the Developmental Therapeutics Program (NCI/NIH) and the X-ray crystal structure of NS3/4A as a ligand source and a target, respectively. As a result, we identified several novel, previously uncharacterized, nanomolar range inhibitory scaffolds, which suppressed of the NS3/4A activity in vitro and replication of a sub-genomic HCV RNA replicon with a luciferase reporter in human hepatocarcinoma cells. The binding sites of these novel inhibitors do not significantly overlap with those of α-ketoamides. As a result, the most common resistant mutations, including V36M, R155K, A156T, D168A and V170A, did not considerably diminish the inhibitory potency of certain novel inhibitor scaffolds we identified.
Overall, the further optimization of both the in silico strategy and software platform we developed and lead compounds we identified may lead to advances in novel anti-virals.
Our review covers the recent epigenetic data that are focused on matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), their inhibitors (tissue inhibitors of MMPs; TIMPs) and collagen substrates. Twenty-four MMPs, four TIMPs and at least 28 collagen types are known in humans. The MMP activity regulates the functionality of multiple extracellular matrix proteins, cytokines, growth factors and cell signaling and adhesion receptors. Aberrantly enhanced MMP proteolysis affects multiple cell functions, including proliferation, migration and invasion. This aberrant MMP proteolysis is frequently recorded in cancer. Recent evidence, however, indicates that several MMPs function as tumor suppressors in cancer. Their inhibition could have pro-tumorigenic effects (making them anti-targets), counterbalancing the benefits of target inhibition and leading to adverse effects in cancer patients. The current epigenetic data suggest that there are distinct multi-layered epigenetic mechanisms that regulate MMPs, TIMPs and collagens. We show that in certain cancer types, epigenetic signatures of selected MMPs exhibit stem cell-like characteristics. Epigenetic mechanisms appear to play an especially important role in glioblastoma multiforme. Glioblastomas/gliomas synthesize de novo and then deposit collagens into the brain parenchyma. The collagen deposition, combined with an enhanced MMP activity in glioblastomas/gliomas, facilitates rapid invasion of tumor cells through the brain. It is tempting to hypothesize that the epigenetic mechanisms which control MMPs, TIMPs and collagens and, consequently, tumor cell invasion, represent promising drug targets and that in the near future these targets will be challenged pharmacologically.
cancer; cell migration; collagen; DNA methylation; epigenetics; extracellular matrix; glioblastoma; glioma; histone modification; MMP
Viruses of the genus Flavivirus are responsible for significant human disease and mortality. The N-terminal domain of the flaviviral nonstructural (NS)3 protein codes for the serine, chymotrypsin-fold proteinase (NS3pro). The presence of the nonstructural (NS)2B cofactor, which is encoded by the upstream gene in the flaviviral genome, is necessary for NS3pro to exhibit its proteolytic activity. The two-component NS2B-NS3pro functional activity is essential for the viral polyprotein processing and replication. Both the structure and the function of NS2B-NS3pro are conserved in the Flavivirus family. Because of its essential function in the posttranslational processing of the viral polyprotein precursor, NS2B-NS3pro is a promising target for anti-flavivirus drugs. To identify selective inhibitors with the reduced cross-reactivity and off-target effects, we focused our strategy on the allosteric inhibitors capable of targeting the NS2B-NS3pro interface rather than the NS3pro active site. Using virtual ligand screening of the diverse, ∼275,000-compound library and the catalytic domain of the two-component West Nile virus (WNV) NS2B-NS3pro as a receptor, we identified a limited subset of the novel inhibitory scaffolds. Several of the discovered compounds performed as allosteric inhibitors and exhibited a nanomolar range potency in the in vitro cleavage assays. The inhibitors were also potent in cell-based assays employing the sub-genomic, luciferase-tagged WNV and Dengue viral replicons. The selectivity of the inhibitors was confirmed using the in vitro cleavage assays with furin, a human serine proteinase, the substrate preferences of which are similar to those of WNV NS2B-NS3pro. Conceptually, the similar in silico drug discovery strategy may be readily employed for the identification of inhibitors of other flaviviruses.
Flaviviruses have a single-strand, positive-polarity RNA genome that encodes a single polyprotein. The polyprotein is comprised of seven nonstructural (NS) and three structural proteins. The N- and C-terminal parts of NS3 represent the serine protease and the RNA helicase, respectively. The cleavage of the polyprotein by the protease is required to produce the individual viral proteins, which assemble a new viral progeny. Conversely, inactivation of the protease blocks viral infection. Both the protease and the helicase are conserved among flaviviruses. As a result, NS3 is a promising drug target in flaviviral infections. This article examines the West Nile virus NS3 with an emphasis on the structural and functional parameters of the protease, the helicase and their cofactors.
dengue virus; flavivirus; helicase; NS2B; NS3; NS4A; protease; West Nile virus
We have recently identified a series of compounds which efficiently inhibit Anthrax lethal factor (LF) metallo-protease. Here we present further structure activity relationship and CoMFA (Comparative Molecular Field Analysis) studies on newly derived inhibitors. The obtained 3D QSAR model was subsequently compared with the X-ray structure of the complex between LF and a representative compound. Our studies form the basis for the rational design of additional compounds with improved activity and selectivity.
Furin and related proprotein convertases cleave the multibasic motifs R-X-R/K/X-R in the precursor proteins and, as a result, transform the latent proproteins into biologically active proteins and peptides. Furin is present both in the intracellular secretory pathway and at the cell surface. Intracellular furin processes its multiple normal cellular targets in the Golgi and secretory vesicle compartments while cell-surface furin appears to be essential only for the processing of certain pathogenic proteins and, importantly, anthrax. To design potent, safe and selective inhibitors of furin, we evaluated the potency and selectivity of the derivatized peptidic inhibitors modeled from the extended furin cleavage sequence of avian influenza A H5N1. We determined that the N- and C-terminal modifications of the original RARRRKKRT inhibitory scaffold produced selective and potent, nanomolar range, inhibitors of furin. These inhibitors did not interfere with the normal cellular function of furin because of the likely functional redundancy existing between furin and other proprotein convertases. These furin inhibitors, however, were highly potent in blocking the furin-dependent cell-surface processing of anthrax protective antigen-83 both in vitro and cell-based assays and in vivo. We conclude that the inhibitors we have designed have a promising potential as selective anthrax inhibitors, without affecting major cell functions.
Proprotein convertases; Furin; Peptides; Synthetic small molecule inhibitors; Anthrax; PA83
There is a need to develop inhibitors of mosquito-borne flaviviruses, including WNV (West Nile virus). In the present paper, we describe a novel and efficient recombinant-antibody technology that led us to the isolation of inhibitory high-affinity human antibodies to the active-site region of a viral proteinase. As a proof-of-principal, we have successfully used this technology and the synthetic naive human combinatorial antibody library HuCAL GOLD® to isolate selective and potent function-blocking active-site-targeting antibodies to the two-component WNV NS (non-structural protein) 2B–NS3 serine proteinase, the only proteinase encoded by the flaviviral genome. First, we used the wild-type enzyme in antibody screens. Next, the positive antibody clones were counter-screened using an NS2B–NS3 mutant with a single mutation of the catalytically essential active-site histidine residue. The specificity of the antibodies to the active site was confirmed by substrate-cleavage reactions and also by using proteinase mutants with additional single amino-acid substitutions in the active-site region. The selected WNV antibodies did not recognize the structurally similar viral proteinases from Dengue virus type 2 and hepatitis C virus, and human serine proteinases. Because of their high selectivity and affinity, the identified human antibodies are attractive reagents for both further mutagenesis and structure-based optimization and, in addition, for studies of NS2B–NS3 activity. Conceptually, it is likely that the generic technology reported in the present paper will be useful for the generation of active-site-specific antibody probes for multiple enzymes.
antibody; Fab; flavivirus; IgG; serine proteinase; West Nile virus (WNV)
This manuscript provides an overview of the dynamic interactions which play an important role in regulating cancer cell functions. We describe and discuss, primarily, those interactions which involve membrane type-1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP), its physiological inhibitor TIMP-2, furin-like proprotein convertases and the low density lipoprotein-related protein 1 (LRP1) signaling scavenger receptor. The interaction among these cellular proteins controls the efficiency of the activation of MT1-MMP and the unorthodox intracellular signaling which is generated by the catalytically inert complex of MT1-MMP with TIMP-2 and which plays a potentially important role in the migration of cancer cells. Our in-depth understanding of these cellular mechanisms may provide the key to solving the puzzling TIMP-2 paradox. This unsolved paradox arises from the fact that TIMP-2 is a powerful inhibitor of MMPs including MT1-MMP, but at the same time high levels of TIMP-2 positively correlate with an unfavorable prognosis in cancer patients. Solving the TIMP-2 paradox may lead to solving a similar PAI-1 paradox and produce more clear understanding of the biochemical mechanisms which control the functionality of the urokinase-type plasminogen activator•urokinase•receptor•plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1 (uPAR • uPA • PAI-1) system in cancer.
matrix metalloproteinases; furin; LRP1; TIMP-2; cell migration; metastasis
West Nile Virus (WNV) is a potentially deadly mosquito-borne flavivirus which has spread rapidly throughout the world. Currently there is no effective vaccine against flaviviral infections. We previously reported the identification of pyrazole ester derivatives as allosteric inhibitors of WNV NS2B-NS3 proteinase. These compounds degrade rapidly in pH 8 buffer with a half life of 1-2h. We now report the design, synthesis and in vitro evaluation of pyrazole derivatives that are inhibitors of WNV NS2B-NS3 proteinase with greatly improved stability in the assay medium.
Both Src kinase and membrane type 1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) play critical roles in cancer invasion and metastasis. It is not clear, however, how the spatiotemporal activation of these two critical enzymes is coordinated in response to an oncogenic epithelial growth factor (EGF) stimulation. Here, we have visualized the activities of Src and MT1-MMP concurrently in a single live cell by combining two FRET pairs with distinct spectra: (I) cyan fluorescent protein (CFP) and yellow FP (YFP), and (II) orange FP (mOrange2) and red FP (mCherry). The new FRET pair, mOrange2 and mCherry, was first characterized in vitro and in cultured mammalian cells. When integrated with the CFP/YFP pair, this new pair allowed the revelation of an immediate, rapid, and relatively dispersed Src activity. In contrast, the MT1-MMP activity displayed a slow increase at the cell periphery, although Src was shown to play a role upstream to MT1-MMP globally. This difference in the activation patterns of MT1-MMP and Src in response to EGF is further confirmed using an optimized MT1-MMP biosensor capable of being rapidly cleaved by MT1-MMP. The results indicate that although Src and MT1-MMP act globally in the same signaling pathway, their activations differ in space and time upon EGF stimulation, possibly mediated by different sets of intermediates at different subcellular locations. Our results also demonstrated the potential of mOrange2/mCherry as a new FRET pair, together with the popular variants of CFP and YFP, for the simultaneous visualization of multiple molecular activities in a single live cell.
FRET; Fluorescent Protein; Src; MT1-MMP; Live Cell Imaging
Furin, a specialized endoproteinase, transforms proproteins into biologically active proteins. Furin function is important for normal cells and also in multiple pathologies including malignancy and anthrax. Furin is believed to cycle between the Golgi compartment and the cell surface. Processing of anthrax protective antigen-83 (PA83) by the cells is considered thus far as evidence for the presence of substantial levels of cell-surface furin. To monitor furin, we designed a cleavage-activated FRET biosensor in which the Enhanced Cyan and Yellow Fluorescent Proteins were linked by the peptide sequence SNSRKKR↓STSAGP derived from anthrax PA83. Both because of the sensitivity and selectivity of the anthrax sequence to furin proteolysis and the FRET-based detection, the biosensor recorded the femtomolar levels of furin in the in vitro reactions and cell-based assays. Using the biosensor that was cell-impermeable because of its size and also by other relevant methods, we determined that exceedingly low levels, if any, of cell-surface furin are present in the intact cells and in the cells with the enforced furin overexpression. This observation was in a sharp contrast with the existing concepts about the furin presentation on cell surfaces and anthrax disease mechanism. We next demonstrated using cell-based tests that PA83, in fact, was processed by furin in the extracellular milieu and that only then the resulting PA63 bound the anthrax toxin cell-surface receptors. We also determined that the biosensor, but not the conventional peptide substrates, allowed continuous monitoring of furin activity in cancer cell extracts. Our results suggest that there are no physiologically-relevant levels of cell-surface furin and, accordingly, that the mechanisms of anthrax should be re-investigated. In addition, the availability of the biosensor is a foundation for non-invasive monitoring of furin activity in cancer cells. Conceptually, the biosensor we developed may serve as a prototype for other proteinase-activated biosensors.
Invasion-promoting MT1-MMP (membrane type-1 matrix metalloproteinase) is a key element in cell migration processes. To identify the proteins that interact and therefore co-precipitate with this proteinase from cancer cells, we used the proteolytically active WT (wild-type), the catalytically inertE240A and the C-end truncated (tailless; ΔCT) MT1-MMP–FLAG constructs as baits. The identity of the pulled-down proteins was determined by LC-MS/MS (liquid chromatography tandem MS) and then confirmed by Western blotting using specific antibodies. We determined that, in breast carcinoma MCF cells (MCF-7 cells), ANT (adenine nucleotide translocator) efficiently interacted with the WT, E240A and ΔCT constructs. The WT and E240A constructs also interacted with α-tubulin, an essential component of clathrin-mediated endocytosis. In turn, tubulin did not co-precipitate with the ΔCT construct because of the inefficient endocytosis of the latter, thus suggesting a high level of selectivity of our test system. To corroborate these results, we then successfully used the ANT2–FLAG construct as a bait to pull-down MT1-MMP, which was naturally produced by fibrosarcoma HT1080 cells. We determined that the presence of the functionally inert catalytic domain alone was sufficient to cause the proteinase to interact with ANT2, thus indicating that there is a non-proteolytic mode of these interactions. Overall, it is tempting to hypothesize that by interacting with pro-invasive MT1-MMP, ANT plays a yet to be identified role in a coupling mechanism between energy metabolism and pericellular proteolysis in migrating cancer cells.
adenine nucleotide translocator (ANT); energy metabolism; mitochondrion; membrane type-1 matrix metallo-proteinase (MT1-MMP); pericellular proteolysis; protein–protein interaction
The pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes begins with the activation of autoimmune T killer cells and is followed by their homing into the pancreatic islets. After penetrating the pancreatic islets, T cells directly contact and destroy insulin-producing β cells. This review provides an overview of the dynamic interactions which link T cell membrane type-1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) and the signaling adhesion CD44 receptor with T cell transendothelial migration and the subsequent homing of the transmigrated cells to the pancreatic islets. MT1-MMP regulates the functionality of CD44 in diabetogenic T cells. By regulating the functionality of T cell CD44, MT1-MMP mediates the transition of T cell adhesion to endothelial cells to the transendothelial migration of T cells, thus, controlling the rate at which T cells home into the pancreatic islets. As a result, the T cell MT1-MMP-CD44 axis controls the severity of the disease. Inhibition of MT1-MMP proteolysis of CD44 using highly specific and potent synthetic inhi-bitors, which have been clinically tested in cancer patients, reduces the rate of transendothelial migration and the homing of T cells. Result is a decrease in the net diabetogenic efficiency of T cells and a restoration of β cell mass and insulin production in NOD mice. The latter is a reliable and widely used model of type I diabetes in humans. Overall, existing experimental evidence suggests that there is a sound mechanistic rationale for clinical trials of the inhibitors of T cell MT1-MMP in human type 1 diabetes patients.
Islet transplantation is limited by the need for chronic immunosuppression and the paucity of donor tissue. As new sources of human β-cells are developed (e.g., stem cell-derived tissue), transplanting them in a durable device could obviate the need for immunosuppression, while also protecting the patient from any risk of tumorigenicity. Here, we studied (1) the survival and function of encapsulated human β-cells and their progenitors and (2) the engraftment of encapsulated murine β-cells in allo- and autoimmune settings.
Human islets and human fetal pancreatic islet-like cell clusters were encapsulated in polytetrafluorethylene devices (TheraCyte) and transplanted into immunodeficient mice. Graft survival and function was measured by immunohistochemistry, circulating human C-peptide levels, and blood glucose levels. Bioluminescent imaging was used to monitor encapsulated neonatal murine islets.
Encapsulated human islet-like cell clusters survived, replicated, and acquired a level of glucose responsive insulin secretion sufficient to ameliorate hyperglycemia in diabetic mice. Bioluminescent imaging of encapsulated murine neonatal islets revealed a dynamic process of cell death followed by regrowth, resulting in robust long-term allograft survival. Further, in the non-obese diabetic (NOD) mouse model of type I diabetes, encapsulated primary β-cells ameliorated diabetes without stimulating a detectable T-cell response.
We demonstrate for the first time that human β-cells function is compatible with encapsulation in a durable, immunoprotective device. Moreover, our study suggests that encapsulation of β-cells before terminal differentiation will be a successful approach for new cell-based therapies for diabetes, such as those derived from stem cells.
Encapsulation; Diabetes; Islet transplantation; Immunoisolation
Before furin can act on protein substrates, it must go through an ordered process of activation. Similar to many other proteinases, furin is synthesized as a zymogen (profurin) which becomes active only after the autocatalytic removal of its auto-inhibitory prodomain. We hypothesized that to activate profurin its prodomain had to be removed and, in addition, the emerging enzyme's N-terminus had to be ejected from the catalytic cleft.
We constructed and analyzed the profurin mutants in which the egress of the emerging enzyme's N-terminus from the catalytic cleft was restricted. Mutants were autocatalytically processed at only the primary cleavage site Arg-Thr-Lys-Arg107↓Asp108, but not at both the primary and the secondary (Arg-Gly-Val-Thr-Lys-Arg75↓Ser76) cleavage sites, yielding, as a result, the full-length prodomain and mature furins commencing from the N-terminal Asp108. These correctly processed furin mutants, however, remained self-inhibited by the constrained N-terminal sequence which continuously occupied the S′ sub-sites of the catalytic cleft and interfered with the functional activity. Further, using the in vitro cleavage of the purified prodomain and the analyses of colon carcinoma LoVo cells with the reconstituted expression of the wild-type and mutant furins, we demonstrated that a three-step autocatalytic processing including the cleavage of the prodomain at the previously unidentified Arg-Leu-Gln-Arg89↓Glu90 site, is required for the efficient activation of furin.
Collectively, our results show the restrictive role of the enzyme's N-terminal region in the autocatalytic activation mechanisms. In a conceptual form, our data apply not only to profurin alone but also to a range of self-activated proteinases.