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1.  A Congenital Neutrophil Defect Syndrome Associated with Mutations in VPS45 
Background
Neutrophils are the predominant phagocytes that provide protection against bacterial and fungal infections. Genetically determined neutrophil disorders confer a predisposition to severe infections and reveal novel mechanisms that control vesicular trafficking, hematopoiesis, and innate immunity.
Methods
We clinically evaluated seven children from five families who had neutropenia, neutrophil dysfunction, bone marrow fibrosis, and nephromegaly. To identify the causative gene, we performed homozygosity mapping using single-nucleotide polymorphism arrays, whole-exome sequencing, immunoblotting, immunofluorescence, electron microscopy, a real-time quantitative polymerase–chain-reaction assay, immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry, fibroblast motility assays, measurements of apoptosis, and zebrafish models. Correction experiments were performed by transfecting mutant fibroblasts with the nonmutated gene.
Results
All seven affected children had homozygous mutations (Thr224Asn or Glu238Lys, depending on the child's ethnic origin) in VPS45, which encodes a protein that regulates membrane trafficking through the endosomal system. The level of VPS45 protein was reduced, as were the VPS45 binding partners rabenosyn-5 and syntaxin-16. The level of β1 integrin was reduced on the surface of VPS45-deficient neutrophils and fibroblasts. VPS45-deficient fibroblasts were characterized by impaired motility and increased apoptosis. A zebrafish model of vps45 deficiency showed a marked paucity of myeloperoxidase-positive cells (i.e., neutrophils). Transfection of patient cells with nonmutated VPS45 corrected the migration defect and decreased apoptosis.
Conclusions
Defective endosomal intracellular protein trafficking due to biallelic mutations in VPS45 underlies a new immunodeficiency syndrome involving impaired neutrophil function. (Funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute and others.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1301296
PMCID: PMC3787600  PMID: 23738510
2.  MicroRNA-mediated loss of ADAR1 in metastatic melanoma promotes tumor growth 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(6):2703-2718.
Some solid tumors have reduced posttranscriptional RNA editing by adenosine deaminase acting on RNA (ADAR) enzymes, but the functional significance of this alteration has been unclear. Here, we found the primary RNA-editing enzyme ADAR1 is frequently reduced in metastatic melanomas. In situ analysis of melanoma samples using progression tissue microarrays indicated a substantial downregulation of ADAR1 during the metastatic transition. Further, ADAR1 knockdown altered cell morphology, promoted in vitro proliferation, and markedly enhanced the tumorigenicity in vivo. A comparative whole genome expression microarray analysis revealed that ADAR1 controls the expression of more than 100 microRNAs (miRNAs) that regulate many genes associated with the observed phenotypes. Importantly, we discovered that ADAR1 fundamentally regulates miRNA processing in an RNA binding–dependent, yet RNA editing–independent manner by regulating Dicer expression at the translational level via let-7. In addition, ADAR1 formed a complex with DGCR8 that was mutually exclusive with the DGCR8-Drosha complex that processes pri-miRNAs in the nucleus. We found that cancer cells silence ADAR1 by overexpressing miR-17 and miR-432, which both directly target the ADAR1 transcript. We further demonstrated that the genes encoding miR-17 and miR-432 are frequently amplified in melanoma and that aberrant hypomethylation of the imprinted DLK1-DIO3 region in chromosome 14 can also drive miR-432 overexpression.
doi:10.1172/JCI62980
PMCID: PMC3668823  PMID: 23728176
3.  Mutagen-Specific Mutation Signature Determines Global microRNA Binding 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27400.
Micro-RNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene products at the post-transcriptional level. It is thought that loss of cell regulation by miRNAs supports cancer development. Based on whole genome sequencing of a melanoma tumor, we predict, using three different computational algorithms, that the melanoma somatic mutations globally reduce binding of miRNAs to the mutated 3′UTRs. This phenomenon reflects the nature of the characteristic UV-induced mutation, C-to-T. Furthermore, we show that seed regions are enriched with Guanine, thus rendering miRNAs prone to reduced binding to UV-mutated 3′UTRs. Accordingly, mutation patterns in non UV-induced malignancies e.g. lung cancer and leukemia do not yield similar predictions. It is suggested that UV-induced disruption of miRNA-mediated gene regulation plays a carcinogenic role. Remarkably, dark-skinned populations have significantly higher GC content in 3′UTR SNPs than light-skinned populations, which implies on evolutionary pressure to preserve regulation by trans-acting oligonucleotides under conditions with excess UV radiation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027400
PMCID: PMC3212558  PMID: 22096567
4.  The Effect of Gentamicin-Induced Readthrough on a Novel Premature Termination Codon of CD18 Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency Patients 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e13659.
Background
Leukocyte adhesion deficiency 1 (LAD1) is an inherited disorder of neutrophil function. Nonsense mutations in the affected CD18 (ITB2) gene have rarely been described. In other genes containing such mutations, treatments with aminoglycoside types of antibiotics (e.g., gentamicin) were reported to partially correct the premature protein termination, by induction of readthrough mechanism.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Genetic analysis was performed on 2 LAD1 patients. Expression, functional and immunofluorescence assays of CD18 in the patients were used to determine the in-vivo and in-vitro effects of gentamicin-induced readthrough. A theoretical modeling of the corrected CD18 protein was developed to predict the protein function.
Results
We found a novel premature termination codon, C562T (R188X), in exon 6 of the CD18 gene that caused a severe LAD1 phenotype in two unrelated Palestinian children. In-vivo studies on these patients' cells after gentamicin treatment showed abnormal adhesion and chemotactic functions, while in-vitro studies showed mislocalization of the corrected protein to the cytoplasm and not to the cell surface. A theoretical modeling of the corrected CD18 protein suggested that the replacement of the wild type arginine by gentamicin induced tryptophan at the position of the nonsense mutation, although enabled the expression of the entire CD18 protein, this was not sufficient to stabilize the CD18/11 heterodimer at the cell surface.
Conclusion
A novel nonsense mutation in the CD18 gene causing a complete absence of CD18 protein and severe LAD1 clinical phenotype is reported. Both in vivo and in vitro treatments with gentamicin resulted in the expression of a corrected full-length dysfunctional or mislocalized CD18 protein. However, while the use of gentamicin increased the expression of CD18, it did not improve leukocyte adhesion and chemotaxis. Moreover, the integrity of the CD18/CD11 complex at the cell surface was impaired, due to abnormal CD18 protein and possibly lack of CD11a expression.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013659
PMCID: PMC2982813  PMID: 21103413
5.  Global Dynamics of Proteins: Bridging Between Structure and Function 
Biomolecular systems possess unique, structure-encoded dynamic properties that underlie their biological functions. Recent studies indicate that these dynamic properties are determined to a large extent by the topology of native contacts. In recent years, elastic network models used in conjunction with normal mode analyses have proven to be useful for elucidating the collective dynamics intrinsically accessible under native state conditions, including in particular the global modes of motions that are robustly defined by the overall architecture. With increasing availability of structural data for well-studied proteins in different forms (liganded, complexed, or free), there is increasing evidence in support of the correspondence between functional changes in structures observed in experiments and the global motions predicted by these coarse-grained analyses. These observed correlations suggest that computational methods may be advantageously employed for assessing functional changes in structure and allosteric mechanisms intrinsically favored by the native fold.
doi:10.1146/annurev.biophys.093008.131258
PMCID: PMC2938190  PMID: 20192781
elastic network models; normal modes; principal component analysis; collective motions; allosteric changes in conformation; closed/open conformations
7.  Principal component analysis of native ensembles of biomolecular structures (PCA_NEST): insights into functional dynamics 
Bioinformatics  2009;25(5):606-614.
Motivation: To efficiently analyze the ‘native ensemble of conformations’ accessible to proteins near their folded state and to extract essential information from observed distributions of conformations, reliable mathematical methods and computational tools are needed.
Result: Examination of 24 pairs of structures determined by both NMR and X-ray reveals that the differences in the dynamics of the same protein resolved by the two techniques can be tracked to the most robust low frequency modes elucidated by principal component analysis (PCA) of NMR models. The active sites of enzymes are found to be highly constrained in these PCA modes. Furthermore, the residues predicted to be highly immobile are shown to be evolutionarily conserved, lending support to a PCA-based identification of potential functional sites. An online tool, PCA_NEST, is designed to derive the principal modes of conformational changes from structural ensembles resolved by experiments or generated by computations.
Availability: http://ignm.ccbb.pitt.edu/oPCA_Online.htm
Contact: lwy1@iam.u-tokyo.ac.jp
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btp023
PMCID: PMC2647834  PMID: 19147661
8.  Insights into Equilibrium Dynamics of Proteins from Comparison of NMR and X-Ray Data with Computational Predictions 
SUMMARY
For a representative set of 64 nonhomologous proteins, each containing a structure solved by NMR and X-ray crystallography, we analyzed the variations in atomic coordinates between NMR models, the temperature (B) factors measured by X-ray crystallography, and the fluctuation dynamics predicted by the Gaussian network model (GNM). The NMR and X-ray data exhibited a correlation of 0.49. The GNM results, on the other hand, yielded a correlation of 0.59 with X-ray data and a distinctively better correlation (0.75) with NMR data. The higher correlation between GNM and NMR data, compared to that between GNM and X-ray B factors, is shown to arise from the differences in the spectrum of modes accessible in solution and in the crystal environment. Mainly, large-amplitude motions sampled in solution are restricted, if not inaccessible, in the crystalline environment of X-rays. Combined GNM and NMR analysis emerges as a useful tool for assessing protein dynamics.
doi:10.1016/j.str.2007.04.014
PMCID: PMC2760440  PMID: 17562320
9.  Analysis of correlated mutations in HIV-1 protease using spectral clustering 
Bioinformatics  2008;24(10):1243-1250.
Motivation: The ability of human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) protease to develop mutations that confer multi-drug resistance (MDR) has been a major obstacle in designing rational therapies against HIV. Resistance is usually imparted by a cooperative mechanism that can be elucidated by a covariance analysis of sequence data. Identification of such correlated substitutions of amino acids may be obscured by evolutionary noise.
Results: HIV-1 protease sequences from patients subjected to different specific treatments (set 1), and from untreated patients (set 2) were subjected to sequence covariance analysis by evaluating the mutual information (MI) between all residue pairs. Spectral clustering of the resulting covariance matrices disclosed two distinctive clusters of correlated residues: the first, observed in set 1 but absent in set 2, contained residues involved in MDR acquisition; and the second, included those residues differentiated in the various HIV-1 protease subtypes, shortly referred to as the phylogenetic cluster. The MDR cluster occupies sites close to the central symmetry axis of the enzyme, which overlap with the global hinge region identified from coarse-grained normal-mode analysis of the enzyme structure. The phylogenetic cluster, on the other hand, occupies solvent-exposed and highly mobile regions. This study demonstrates (i) the possibility of distinguishing between the correlated substitutions resulting from neutral mutations and those induced by MDR upon appropriate clustering analysis of sequence covariance data and (ii) a connection between global dynamics and functional substitution of amino acids.
Contact: bahar@ccbb.pitt.edu
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btn110
PMCID: PMC2373918  PMID: 18375964
10.  Refining intra-protein contact prediction by graph analysis 
BMC Bioinformatics  2007;8(Suppl 5):S6.
Background
Accurate prediction of intra-protein residue contacts from sequence information will allow the prediction of protein structures. Basic predictions of such specific contacts can be further refined by jointly analyzing predicted contacts, and by adding information on the relative positions of contacts in the protein primary sequence.
Results
We introduce a method for graph analysis refinement of intra-protein contacts, termed GARP. Our previously presented intra-contact prediction method by means of pair-to-pair substitution matrix (P2PConPred) was used to test the GARP method. In our approach, the top contact predictions obtained by a basic prediction method were used as edges to create a weighted graph. The edges were scored by a mutual clustering coefficient that identifies highly connected graph regions, and by the density of edges between the sequence regions of the edge nodes. A test set of 57 proteins with known structures was used to determine contacts. GARP improves the accuracy of the P2PConPred basic prediction method in whole proteins from 12% to 18%.
Conclusion
Using a simple approach we increased the contact prediction accuracy of a basic method by 1.5 times. Our graph approach is simple to implement, can be used with various basic prediction methods, and can provide input for further downstream analyses.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-8-S5-S6
PMCID: PMC1892094  PMID: 17570865
11.  SPACE: a suite of tools for protein structure prediction and analysis based on complementarity and environment 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(Web Server issue):W39-W43.
We describe a suite of SPACE tools for analysis and prediction of structures of biomolecules and their complexes. LPC/CSU software provides a common definition of inter-atomic contacts and complementarity of contacting surfaces to analyze protein structure and complexes. In the current version of LPC/CSU, analyses of water molecules and nucleic acids have been added, together with improved and expanded visualization options using Chime or Java based Jmol. The SPACE suite includes servers and programs for: structural analysis of point mutations (MutaProt); side chain modeling based on surface complementarity (SCCOMP); building a crystal environment and analysis of crystal contacts (CryCo); construction and analysis of protein contact maps (CMA) and molecular docking software (LIGIN). The SPACE suite is accessed at .
doi:10.1093/nar/gki398
PMCID: PMC1160159  PMID: 15980496

Results 1-11 (11)