A missense amino acid mutation of valine to aspartic acid in 567 position of alpha-dystroglycan (DG), identified in dag1-mutated zebrafish, results in a reduced transcription and a complete absence of the protein. Lacking experimental structural data for zebrafish DG domains, the detailed mechanism for the observed mutation-induced destabilization of the DG complex and membrane damage, remained unclear. With the aim to contribute to a better clarification of the structure-function relationships featuring the DG complex, three-dimensional structural models of wild-type and mutant (V567D) C-terminal domain of alpha-DG from zebrafish were constructed by a template-based modelling approach. We then ran extensive molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to reveal the structural and dynamic properties of the C-terminal domain and to evaluate the effect of the single mutation on alpha-DG stability. A comparative study has been also carried out on our previously generated model of murine alpha-DG C-terminal domain including the I591D mutation, which is topologically equivalent to the V567D mutation found in zebrafish. Trajectories from MD simulations were analyzed in detail, revealing extensive structural disorder involving multiple beta-strands in the mutated variant of the zebrafish protein whereas local effects have been detected in the murine protein. A biochemical analysis of the murine alpha-DG mutant I591D confirmed a pronounced instability of the protein. Taken together, the computational and biochemical analysis suggest that the V567D/I591D mutation, belonging to the G beta-strand, plays a key role in inducing a destabilization of the alpha-DG C-terminal Ig-like domain that could possibly affect and propagate to the entire DG complex. The structural features herein identified may be of crucial help to understand the molecular basis of primary dystroglycanopathies.
In order to deliver low-cost viral capsomeres from a large amount of soluble viral VP6 protein from human rotavirus, we developed and optimized a biotechnological platform in Escherichia coli. Specifically, three different expression protocols were compared, differing in their genetic constructs, ie, a simple native histidine-tagged VP6 sequence, VP6 fused to thioredoxin, and VP6 obtained with the newly described small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) fusion system. Our results demonstrate that the histidine-tagged protein does not escape the accumulation in the inclusion bodies, and that SUMO is largely superior to the thioredoxin-fusion tag in enhancing the expression and solubility of VP6 protein. Moreover, the VP6 protein produced according to the SUMO fusion tag displays well-known assembly properties, as observed in both transmission electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy images, giving rise to either VP6 trimers, 60 nm spherical virus-like particles, or nanotubes a few microns long. This different quaternary organization of VP6 shows a higher level of immunogenicity for the elongated structures with respect to the spheres or the protein trimers. Therefore, the expression and purification strategy presented here – providing a large amount of the viral capsid protein in the native form with relatively simple, rapid, and economical procedures – opens a new route toward large-scale production of a more efficient antigenic compound to be used as a vaccination tool or as an adjuvant, and also represents a top-quality biomaterial to be further modified for biotechnological purposes.
Virus-like particles; protein-based nanotubes; SUMO fusion tag; human rotavirus vaccine
α/β-hydrolase domain-containing protein 5 (ABHD5) plays an important role in the triacylglycerols (TAG) hydrolysis. Indeed, ABHD5 is the co-activator of adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL), that catalyses the initial step of TAG hydrolysis. Mutations in ABHD5 gene are associated with the onset of Chanarin-Dorfman syndrome (CDS), a rare autosomal recessive lipid storage disorder, characterized by non-bullous congenital ichthyosiform erythroderma (NCIE), hepatomegaly and liver steatosis.
We describe here a 5-years-old Brazilian child who presented with NCIE at birth and diffuse micro and macro-vesicular steatosis on liver biopsy since she was 2 years old. Molecular analysis of coding sequence and putative 5′ regulatory region of ABHD5 gene was performed. A homozygous novel deletion, affecting the promoter region and the exon 1, was identified, confirming the suspected diagnosis of CDS for this patient. RT-PCR analysis showed that the genomic rearrangement completely abolished the ABHD5 gene expression in the patient, while only a partial loss of expression was detected in her parents. This is the first report describing the identification of a large deletion encompassing the promoter region of ABHD5 gene. The total loss of ABHD5 expression may explain the early onset of CDS and the severe liver involvement. After molecular diagnosis, the patient started a special diet, poor in fatty acids with medium chain triglycerides (MCT), and showed hepatic and dermatologic improvement in spite of severe molecular defect.
This case report extends the spectrum of disease-causing ABHD5 mutations in CDS providing evidence for a novel pathogenic mechanism for this rare disorder. Moreover, our preliminary data show that early diagnosis and prompt treatment of neutral lipid accumulation might be useful for CD patients.
Chanarin-Dorfman syndrome; ABHD5; Lipid disorder; Liver involvement; Ichthyosis
Palytoxin (PTX), a marine toxin, represents an increasing hazard for human health. Despite its high toxicity for biological systems, the mechanisms triggered by PTX, are not well understood. The high affinity of PTX for erythrocyte Na+/K+-ATPase pump is largely known, and it indicates PTX as a sensitive tool to characterize the signal transducer role for Na+/K+-ATPase pump. Previously, it has been reported that in red blood cells (RBC), probably via a signal transduction generated by the formation of a PTX-Na+/K+-ATPase complex, PTX alters band 3 functions and glucose metabolism. The present study addresses the question of which other signaling pathways are regulated by Na+/K+-ATPase in RBC. Here it has been evidenced that PTX following its interaction with Na+/K+-ATPase pump, alters RBC morphology and this event is correlated to decreases by 30% in nitrites and nitrates levels, known as markers of plasma membrane eNOS activity. Orthovanadate (OV), an antagonist of PTX binding to Na+/K+-ATPase pump, was able to reverse the effects elicited by PTX. Finally, current investigation firstly suggests that Na+/K+-ATPase pump, following its interaction with PTX, triggers a signal transduction involved in NO metabolism regulation.
Metabolism; Na+/K+-ATPase pump; Nitric oxide; Palytoxin; Red blood cells.
α-Dystroglycan (α-DG) is heavily glycosylated within its central mucin-like domain. The glycosylation shell of α-dystroglycan is known to largely influence its functional properties toward extracellular ligands. The structural features of this α-dystroglycan domain have been poorly studied so far. For the first time, we have attempted a recombinant expression approach in E. coli cells, in order to analyze by biochemical and biophysical techniques this important domain of the α-dystroglycan core protein.
We expressed the recombinant mucin-like domain of human α-dystroglycan in E. coli cells, and purified it as a soluble peptide of 174 aa. A cleavage event, that progressively emerges under repeated cycles of freeze/thaw, occurs at the carboxy side of Arg461, liberating a 151 aa fragment as revealed by mass spectrometry analysis. The mucin-like peptide lacks any particular fold, as confirmed by its hydrodynamic properties and its fluorescence behavior under guanidine hydrochloride denaturation. Dynamic light scattering has been used to demonstrate that this mucin-like peptide is arranged in a conformation that is prone to aggregation at room temperature, with a melting temperature of ~40°C, which indicates a pronounced instability. Such a conclusion has been corroborated by trypsin limited proteolysis, upon which the protein has been fully degraded in less than 60 min.
Our analysis indirectly confirms the idea that the mucin-like domain of α-dystroglycan needs to be extensively glycosylated in order to reach a stable conformation. The absence/reduction of glycosylation by itself may greatly reduce the stability of the dystroglycan complex. Although an altered pattern of α-dystroglycan O-mannosylation, that is not significantly changing its overall glycosylation fraction, represents the primary molecular clue behind currently known dystroglycanopathies, it cannot be ruled out that still unidentified forms of αDG-related dystrophy might originate by a more substantial reduction of α-dystroglycan glycosylation and by its consequent destabilization.
Dystroglycan; Dynamic light scattering; Capillary electrophoresis; Mass spectrometry
Background/Objectives: To compare the efficacy of a diet rich in natural folate and of two different folic acid supplementation protocols in subjects with “moderate” hyperhomocysteinemia, also taking into account C677T polymorphism of 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene. Subjects/Methods: We performed a 13 week open, randomized, double blind clinical trial on 149 free living persons with mild hyperhomocyteinemia, with daily 200 μg from a natural folate-rich diet, 200 μg [6S]5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF), 200 μg folic acid or placebo. Participants were stratified according to their MTHFR genotype. Results: Homocysteine (Hcy) levels were reduced after folate enriched diet, 5-MTHF or folic acid supplementation respectively by 20.1% (p < 0.002), 19.4% (p < 0.001) and 21.9% (p < 0.001), as compared to baseline levels and significantly as compared to placebo (p < 0.001, p < 0.002 and p < 0.001, respectively for enriched diet, 5-MTHF and folic acid). After this enriched diet and the folic acid supplementation, Hcy in both genotype groups decreased approximately to the same level, with higher percentage decreases observed for the TT group because of their higher pre-treatment value. Similar results were not seen by genotype for 5-MTHF. A significant increase in RBC folate concentration was observed after folic acid and natural folate-rich food supplementations, as compared to placebo. Conclusions: Supplementation with natural folate-rich foods, folic acid and 5-MTHF reached a similar reduction in Hcy concentrations.
folic acid; 5-MTHF; homocysteine; folate-rich diet; MTHFR genotype; clinical trial
Dystroglycan (DG) is an extracellular receptor composed of two subunits, α-DG and β-DG, connected through the α-DG C-terminal domain and the β-DG N-terminal domain. We report an alanine scanning of all DG cysteine residues performed on DG-GFP constructs overexpressed in 293-Ebna cells, demonstrating that Cys-669 and Cys-713, both located within the β-DG N-terminal domain, are key residues for the DG precursor cleavage and trafficking, but not for the interaction between the two DG subunits. In addition, we have used immunprecipitation and confocal microscopy showing that ERp57, a member of the disulfide isomerase family involved in glycoprotein folding, is associated and colocalizes immunohistochemically with β-DG in the ER and at the plasma membrane of 293-Ebna cells. The β-DG–ERp57 complex also included α-DG. DG mutants, unable to undergo the precursor cleavage, were still associated to ERp57. β-DG and ERp57 were also co-immunoprecipitated in rat heart and kidney tissues. In vitro, a mutant ERp57, mimicking the reduced form of the wild-type protein, interacts directly with the recombinant N-terminal domain of both α-DG and β-DG with apparent dissociation constant values in the micromolar range. ERp57 is likely to be involved in the DG processing/maturation pathway, but its association to the mature DG complex might also suggest some further functional role that needs to be investigated.
► Cys-669 and Cys-713 are key residues for dystroglycan precursor cleavage. ► ERp57 is co-immunopurified with dystroglycan. ► ERp57 co-localizes with dystroglycan in the ER and at the plasma membrane. ► Recombinant ERp57 binds directly to dystroglycan recombinant domains.
DG, dystroglycan; pre-DG, dystroglycan precursor; NEM, N-ethylmaleimide; DTT, dithiothreitol; sWGL, succinylated wheat germ lectin; Dystroglycan; ERp57; Immunoprecipitation; Fluorescence microscopy; Solid-phase binding assay
Secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2) plays a pivotal role in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This enzyme seems an interesting target to reduce surfactant catabolism and lung tissue inflammation. Varespladib is a specifically designed indolic sPLA2 inhibitor, which has shown promising results in animals and adults. No specific data in pediatric ARDS patients are yet available.
We studied varespladib in broncho-alveolar lavage (BAL) fluids obtained ex vivo from pediatric ARDS patients. Clinical data and worst gas exchange values during the ARDS course were recorded. Samples were treated with saline or 10–40–100 µM varespladib and incubated at 37°C. Total sPLA2 activity was measured by non-radioactive method. BAL samples were subjected to western blotting to identify the main sPLA isotypes with different sensitivity to varespladib. Results was corrected for lavage dilution using the serum-to-BAL urea ratio and for varespladib absorbance.
Varespladib reduces sPLA2 activity (p<0.0001) at 10,40 and 100 µM; both sPLA2 activity reduction and its ratio to total proteins significantly raise with increasing varespladib concentrations (p<0.001). IC50 was 80 µM. Western blotting revealed the presence of sPLA2-IIA and –IB isotypes in BAL samples. Significant correlations exist between the sPLA2 activity reduction/proteins ratio and PaO2 (rho = 0.63;p<0.001), PaO2/FiO2 (rho = 0.7; p<0.001), oxygenation (rho = −0.6; p<0.001) and ventilation (rho = −0.4;p = 0.038) indexes.
Varespladib significantly inhibits sPLA2 in BAL of infants affected by post-neonatal ARDS. Inhibition seems to be inversely related to the severity of gas exchange impairment.
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.
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.
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.
Clinical biochemistry; metabolomics; mass spectrometry
Root canal disinfection needs to be improved because actual techniques are not able to eliminate all microorganisms present in the root canal system. The aim of the present study was to investigate the in vitro cytotoxicity of FotoSan (CMS Dental APS, Copenhagen Denmark), 17% EDTA and 2% chlorhexidine.
Fibroblasts of periodontal ligament from healthy patients were cultured. FotoSan (with and without light activation for 30 sec.), 17% EDTA and 2% chlorexidine were used for the cell viability tests. Untreated cells were used as control. The cellular vitality was evaluated by MTT test. The production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was measured using an oxidation-sensitive fluorescent probe. Results were statistically analyzed by ANOVA, followed by a multiple comparison of means by Student-Newman-Keuls, and the statistical significance was set at p<0.05.
MTT tests showed that cytotoxic effects of FotoSan (both photocured and uncured) were statistically lower (p<0.05) than that observed using 2% Chlorhexidine, while no significant differences were found in comparison with 17% EDTA. No alterations in ROS production were detectable in any of the tested materials.
Since the toxicity of the FotoSan photosensitizer, both light-activated and not light-activated, is similar to common endodontic irrigants, it can be clinically used with precautions of use similar to those usually recommended for the above-mentioned irrigating solutions.
cytotoxicity; light-activated disinfection; root canal
The majority of inactivating mutations of p53 reside in the central core DNA binding domain of the protein. In this computational study, we investigated the structural effects of a novel p53 mutation (G389E), identified in a patient with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which is located within the extreme C-terminal domain (CTD) of p53, an unstructured, flexible region (residues 367–393) of major importance for the regulation of the protein. Based on the three-dimensional structure of a carboxyl-terminal peptide of p53 in complex with the S100B protein, which is involved in regulation of the tumor suppressor activity, a model of wild type (WT) and mutant extreme CTD was developed by molecular modeling and molecular dynamics simulation. It was found that the G389E amino acid replacement has negligible effects on free p53 in solution whereas it significantly affects the interactions of p53 with the S100B protein. The results suggest that the observed mutation may interfere with p53 transcription activation and provide useful information for site-directed mutagenesis experiments.
p53; molecular dynamics; S100B; protein interactions
Aim of the present study was to evaluate the cytotoxicity of Real Seal 1 compared to other commercially available endodontic filling materials: Real Seal (SybronEndo, Orange, CA, USA) and Thermafil (Tulsa Dental, Tulsa, OK, USA).
Material and Methods:
Periodontal ligament cells from healthy patients were cultured. The eluate of Real Seal 1TM (RS1), Real Seal (RS) and Thermafil (TF) samples was used for the cells viability tests, both diluted (50%) or undiluted (100%). Incubation of the specimens was performed in culture medium for 24 h, 48 h and 72 h at 37 °C under sterile conditions. The cellular mortality was evaluated by MTT test. Results were statistically analysed and the statistical significance was set at p< 0.05.
None of the studied materials showed toxic effects during the period of observation (0 -72 h) when compared to the control group. Only RS induced a very modest increase in cell mortality (about 3% at both concentrations used, during the first 24 hours), when increasing the incubation time, however, only the lower concentration continued to show modest toxicity.
Results of the present study showed that all tested materials did not exhibit cytotoxic effects when compared to the control group.
Cytotoxicity; root canal; filling materials.
The dystroglycan (DG) expression pattern can be altered in severe muscular dystrophies. In fact, some congenital muscular dystrophies (CMDs) and limb-girdle muscular dystrophies (LGMDs) are caused by point mutations identified in six glycosyltransferase genes which are likely to target different steps along the posttranslational “O-glycosylation route” leading to a fully decorated and functional α-DG subunit. Indeed, hypoglycosylation of α-DG is thought to represent a major pathological event, in that it could reduce the DG’s ability to bind the basement membrane components, thus leading to sarcolemmal instability and necrosis. In order to set up an efficient standard immunological protocol, taking advantage of a wide panel of antibodies, we have analyzed the two DG subunits in a small cohort of adult dystrophic patients, whom an extensive medical examination had already clinically classified as affected by LGMD (5), Miyoshi (1) or distal (1) myopathy. Immunofluorescence analysis of skeletal muscle tissue sections revealed a proper sarcolemmal localization of the DG subunits in all the patients analyzed. However, Western blot analysis of lectin enriched skeletal muscle samples revealed an abnormal glycosylation of α-DG in two patients. Our work reinforces the notion that a careful immunological and biochemical analysis of the two DG subunits should be always considered as a prerequisite for the identification of new putative cases of dystroglycanopathy.
Dystroglycan; limb-girdle muscular dystrophy; distal myopathy; Miyoshi myopathy; secondary dystroglycanopathies; dystrophin-glycoprotein complex.
It is known that genetic predisposition to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with the MHC class II allele HLA-DR4 and that residues 261–273 of type II collagen (huCollp261) represent an immunodominant T cell epitope restricted by the DR4 molecule. Despite recent advances in characterization of MHC and T cell receptor (TCR) contacts to this epitope, the atomic details of TCR/huCollp261/HLA-DR4 ternary complex are not known.
Here we have used computational modeling to get insight into this interaction. A three-dimensional model of the TCR Vβ domain from a DR4+ patient affected by RA has been derived by homology modeling techniques. Subsequently, the structure of the TCR Vβ domain in complex with huCollp261/HLA-DR4 was obtained from a docking approach in conjunction with a filtering procedure based on biochemical information. The best complex from the docking experiments was then refined by 20 ns of molecular dynamics simulation in explicit water. The predicted model is consistent with available experimental data. Our results indicate that residues 97–101 of CDR3β are critical for recognition of huCollp261/HLA-DR4 by TCR. We also show that TCR contacts on p/MHC surface affect the conformation of the shared epitope expressed by DR alleles associated with RA susceptibility.
This work presents a three-dimensional model for the ternary complex TCR-Vβ/collagenII(261–273)/HLA-DR4 associated with rheumatoid arthritis that can provide insights into the molecular mechanisms of self reactivity.
haemoglobin; band 3; glycolytic enzymes; erythrocyte
Before the discovery of peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPARs), it was well known that certain drugs considered as classical PPAR-alpha agonists induced hepatocarcinoma or peroxisome proliferation in rodents. These drugs were derivatives of fibric acid, and they included clofibrate, bezafibrate, and fenofibrate. However, such toxicity has never been observed in human patients treated with these hypolipidemic drugs. Thiazolidinediones are a new class of PPAR activators showing greater specificity for the γ isoform of PPARs. These drugs are used as insulin sensitizers in the treatment of type II diabetes. In addition, they have been shown to induce cell differentiation or apoptosis in various experimental models of cancer. PPAR-α ligands have also been shown to induce cancer cell differentiation and, paradoxically, PPAR-γ drug activators have been reported to act as carcinogens. The confusing picture that emerges from these data is further complicated by the series of intriguing side effects observed following administration of pharmacological PPAR ligands (rhabdomyolysis, liver and heart toxicity, anemia, leucopenia). These side effects cannot be easily explained by simple interactions between the drug and nuclear receptors. Rather, these side effects seem to indicate that the ligands have biological activity independent of the nuclear receptors. Considering the emerging role of mitochondria in cancer and the potential metabolic connections between this organelle and PPAR physiology, characterization of the reciprocal influences is fundamental not only for a better understanding of cancer biology, but also for more defined pharmacotoxicological profiles of drugs that modulate PPARs.
The dystroglycan (DG) complex is a major non-integrin cell adhesion system whose multiple biological roles involve, among others, skeletal muscle stability, embryonic development and synapse maturation. DG is composed of two subunits: α-DG, extracellular and highly glycosylated, and the transmembrane β-DG, linking the cytoskeleton to the surrounding basement membrane in a wide variety of tissues. A single copy of the DG gene (DAG1) has been identified so far in humans and other mammals, encoding for a precursor protein which is post-translationally cleaved to liberate the two DG subunits. Similarly, D. rerio (zebrafish) seems to have a single copy of DAG1, whose removal was shown to cause a severe dystrophic phenotype in adult animals, although it is known that during evolution, due to a whole genome duplication (WGD) event, many teleost fish acquired multiple copies of several genes (paralogues).
Data mining of pufferfish (T. nigroviridis and T. rubripes) and other teleost fish (O. latipes and G. aculeatus) available nucleotide sequences revealed the presence of two functional paralogous DG sequences. RT-PCR analysis proved that both the DG sequences are transcribed in T. nigroviridis. One of the two DG sequences harbours an additional mini-intronic sequence, 137 bp long, interrupting the uncomplicated exon-intron-exon pattern displayed by DAG1 in mammals and D. rerio. A similar scenario emerged also in D. labrax (sea bass), from whose genome we have cloned and sequenced a new DG sequence that also harbours a shorter additional intronic sequence of 116 bp. Western blot analysis confirmed the presence of DG protein products in all the species analysed including two teleost Antarctic species (T. bernacchii and C. hamatus).
Our evolutionary analysis has shown that the whole-genome duplication event in the Class Actinopterygii (ray-finned fish) involved also DAG1. We unravelled new important molecular genetic details about fish orthologous DGs, which might help to increase the current knowledge on DG expression, maturation and targeting and on its physiopathological role in higher organisms.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major human pathogen causing chronic liver disease. We have recently found that the large extracellular loop (LEL) of human CD81 binds HCV. This finding prompted us to assess the structure-function features of HCV-CD81 interaction by using recombinant E2 protein and a recombinant soluble form of CD81 LEL. We have found that HCV-E2 binds CD81 LEL with a Kd of 1.8 nM; CD81 can mediate attachment of E2 on hepatocytes; engagement of CD81 mediates internalization of only 30% of CD81 molecules even after 12 h; and the four cysteines of CD81 LEL form two disulfide bridges, the integrity of which is necessary for CD81-HCV interaction. Altogether our data suggest that neutralizing antibodies aimed at interfering with HCV binding to human cells should have an affinity higher than 10−9 M, that HCV binding to hepatocytes may not entirely depend on CD81, that CD81 is an attachment receptor with poor capacity to mediate virus entry, and that reducing environments do not favor CD81-HCV interaction. These studies provide a better understanding of the CD81-HCV interaction and should thus help to elucidate the viral life cycle and to develop new strategies aimed at interfering with HCV binding to human cells.