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1.  Genetic Engineering of Dystroglycan in Animal Models of Muscular Dystrophy 
BioMed Research International  2015;2015:635792.
In skeletal muscle, dystroglycan (DG) is the central component of the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex (DGC), a multimeric protein complex that ensures a strong mechanical link between the extracellular matrix and the cytoskeleton. Several muscular dystrophies arise from mutations hitting most of the components of the DGC. Mutations within the DG gene (DAG1) have been recently associated with two forms of muscular dystrophy, one displaying a milder and one a more severe phenotype. This review focuses specifically on the animal (murine and others) model systems that have been developed with the aim of directly engineering DAG1 in order to study the DG function in skeletal muscle as well as in other tissues. In the last years, conditional animal models overcoming the embryonic lethality of the DG knock-out in mouse have been generated and helped clarifying the crucial role of DG in skeletal muscle, while an increasing number of studies on knock-in mice are aimed at understanding the contribution of single amino acids to the stability of DG and to the possible development of muscular dystrophy.
doi:10.1155/2015/635792
PMCID: PMC4561298  PMID: 26380289
2.  The Structure of the T190M Mutant of Murine α-Dystroglycan at High Resolution: Insight into the Molecular Basis of a Primary Dystroglycanopathy 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0124277.
The severe dystroglycanopathy known as a form of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD2P) is an autosomal recessive disease caused by the point mutation T192M in α-dystroglycan. Functional expression analysis in vitro and in vivo indicated that the mutation was responsible for a decrease in posttranslational glycosylation of dystroglycan, eventually interfering with its extracellular-matrix receptor function and laminin binding in skeletal muscle and brain. The X-ray crystal structure of the missense variant T190M of the murine N-terminal domain of α-dystroglycan (50-313) has been determined, and showed an overall topology (Ig-like domain followed by a basket-shaped domain reminiscent of the small subunit ribosomal protein S6) very similar to that of the wild-type structure. The crystallographic analysis revealed a change of the conformation assumed by the highly flexible loop encompassing residues 159–180. Moreover, a solvent shell reorganization around Met190 affects the interaction between the B1–B5 anti-parallel strands forming part of the floor of the basket-shaped domain, with likely repercussions on the folding stability of the protein domain(s) and on the overall molecular flexibility. Chemical denaturation and limited proteolysis experiments point to a decreased stability of the T190M variant with respect to its wild-type counterpart. This mutation may render the entire L-shaped protein architecture less flexible. The overall reduced flexibility and stability may affect the functional properties of α-dystroglycan via negatively influencing its binding behavior to factors needed for dystroglycan maturation, and may lay the molecular basis of the T190M-driven primary dystroglycanopathy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124277
PMCID: PMC4416926  PMID: 25932631
3.  Insertion of a myc-tag within α-dystroglycan domains improves its biochemical and microscopic detection 
BMC Biochemistry  2012;13:14.
Background
Epitope tags and fluorescent fusion proteins have become indispensable molecular tools for studies in the fields of biochemistry and cell biology. The knowledge collected on the subdomain organization of the two subunits of the adhesion complex dystroglycan (DG) enabled us to insert the 10 amino acids myc-tag at different locations along the α-subunit, in order to better visualize and investigate the DG complex in eukaryotic cells.
Results
We have generated two forms of DG polypeptides via the insertion of the myc-tag 1) within a flexible loop (between a.a. 170 and 171) that separates two autonomous subdomains, and 2) within the C-terminal domain in position 500. Their analysis showed that double-tagging (the β-subunit is linked to GFP) does not significantly interfere with the correct processing of the DG precursor (pre-DG) and confirmed that the α-DG N-terminal domain is processed in the cell before α-DG reaches its plasma membrane localization. In addition, myc insertion in position 500, right before the second Ig-like domain of α-DG, proved to be an efficient tool for the detection and pulling-down of glycosylated α-DG molecules targeted at the membrane.
Conclusions
Further characterization of these and other myc-permissive site(s) will represent a valid support for the study of the maturation process of pre-DG and could result in the creation of a new class of intrinsic doubly-fluorescent DG molecules that would allow the monitoring of the two DG subunits, or of pre-DG, in cells without the need of antibodies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2091-13-14
PMCID: PMC3432625  PMID: 22835149
4.  Differential Screening of Phage-Ab Libraries by Oligonucleotide Microarray Technology 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(1):e1508.
A novel and efficient tagArray technology was developed that allows rapid identification of antibodies which bind to receptors with a specific expression profile, in the absence of biological information. This method is based on the cloning of a specific, short nucleotide sequence (tag) in the phagemid coding for each phage-displayed antibody fragment (phage-Ab) present in a library. In order to set up and validate the method we identified about 10,000 different phage-Abs binding to receptors expressed in their native form on the cell surface (10 k Membranome collection) and tagged each individual phage-Ab. The frequency of each phage-Ab in a given population can at this point be inferred by measuring the frequency of its associated tag sequence through standard DNA hybridization methods. Using tiny amounts of biological samples we identified phage-Abs binding to receptors preferentially expressed on primary tumor cells rather than on cells obtained from matched normal tissues. These antibodies inhibited cell proliferation in vitro and tumor development in vivo, thus representing therapeutic lead candidates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001508
PMCID: PMC2204054  PMID: 18231595

Results 1-4 (4)