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1.  Glycosylated VCAM-1 isoforms revealed in 2D western blots of HUVECs treated with tumoral soluble factors of breast cancer cells 
Background
Several common aspects of endothelial phenotype, such as the expression of cell adhesion molecules, are shared between metastasis and inflammation. Here, we analyzed VCAM-1 variants as biological markers of these two types of endothelial cell activation. With the combination of 2-DE and western blot techniques and the aid of tunicamycin, we analyzed N-glycosylation variants of VCAM-1 in primary human endothelial cells stimulated with either TNF or tumoral soluble factors (TSF's) derived from the human breast cancer cell line ZR75.30.
Results
Treatments induced a pro-adhesive endothelial phenotype. 2D western blots analysis of cells subjected to both treatments revealed the expression of the two known VCAM-1 isoforms and of previously unknown isoforms. In particular TSFZR75.30 induced an isoform with a relative molecular mass (Mr) and isoelectric point (pI) of 75-77 kDa and 5.0, respectively.
Conclusion
The unknown isoforms of VCAM-1 that were found to be overexpressed after treatment with TSF's compared with TNF, could serve as biomarkers to discriminate between inflammation and metastasis. 2D western blots revealed three new VCAM-1 isoforms expressed in primary human endothelial cells in response to TSF stimulation. Each of these isoforms varies in Mr and pI and could be the result of differential glycosylation states.
doi:10.1186/1472-6769-9-7
PMCID: PMC2787495  PMID: 19930605
2.  DG-AMMOS: A New tool to generate 3D conformation of small molecules using Distance Geometry and Automated Molecular Mechanics Optimization for in silico Screening 
Background
Discovery of new bioactive molecules that could enter drug discovery programs or that could serve as chemical probes is a very complex and costly endeavor. Structure-based and ligand-based in silico screening approaches are nowadays extensively used to complement experimental screening approaches in order to increase the effectiveness of the process and facilitating the screening of thousands or millions of small molecules against a biomolecular target. Both in silico screening methods require as input a suitable chemical compound collection and most often the 3D structure of the small molecules has to be generated since compounds are usually delivered in 1D SMILES, CANSMILES or in 2D SDF formats.
Results
Here, we describe the new open source program DG-AMMOS which allows the generation of the 3D conformation of small molecules using Distance Geometry and their energy minimization via Automated Molecular Mechanics Optimization. The program is validated on the Astex dataset, the ChemBridge Diversity database and on a number of small molecules with known crystal structures extracted from the Cambridge Structural Database. A comparison with the free program Balloon and the well-known commercial program Omega generating the 3D of small molecules is carried out. The results show that the new free program DG-AMMOS is a very efficient 3D structure generator engine.
Conclusion
DG-AMMOS provides fast, automated and reliable access to the generation of 3D conformation of small molecules and facilitates the preparation of a compound collection prior to high-throughput virtual screening computations. The validation of DG-AMMOS on several different datasets proves that generated structures are generally of equal quality or sometimes better than structures obtained by other tested methods.
doi:10.1186/1472-6769-9-6
PMCID: PMC2781789  PMID: 19912625
3.  Bioinformatic analysis of xenobiotic reactive metabolite target proteins and their interacting partners 
Background
Protein covalent binding by reactive metabolites of drugs, chemicals and natural products can lead to acute cytotoxicity. Recent rapid progress in reactive metabolite target protein identification has shown that adduction is surprisingly selective and inspired the hope that analysis of target proteins might reveal protein factors that differentiate target- vs. non-target proteins and illuminate mechanisms connecting covalent binding to cytotoxicity.
Results
Sorting 171 known reactive metabolite target proteins revealed a number of GO categories and KEGG pathways to be significantly enriched in targets, but in most cases the classes were too large, and the "percent coverage" too small, to allow meaningful conclusions about mechanisms of toxicity. However, a similar analysis of the directlyinteracting partners of 28 common targets of multiple reactive metabolites revealed highly significant enrichments in terms likely to be highly relevant to cytotoxicity (e.g., MAP kinase pathways, apoptosis, response to unfolded protein). Machine learning was used to rank the contribution of 211 computed protein features to determining protein susceptibility to adduction. Protein lysine (but not cysteine) content and protein instability index (i.e., rate of turnover in vivo) were among the features most important to determining susceptibility.
Conclusion
As yet there is no good explanation for why some low-abundance proteins become heavily adducted while some abundant proteins become only lightly adducted in vivo. Analyzing the directly interacting partners of target proteins appears to yield greater insight into mechanisms of toxicity than analyzing target proteins per se. The insights provided can readily be formulated as hypotheses to test in future experimental studies.
doi:10.1186/1472-6769-9-5
PMCID: PMC2711050  PMID: 19523227
4.  Local and global modes of drug action in biochemical networks 
Background
It is becoming increasingly accepted that a shift is needed from the traditional target-based approach of drug development towards an integrated perspective of drug action in biochemical systems. To make this change possible, the interaction networks connecting drug targets to all components of biological systems must be identified and characterized.
Results
We here present an integrative analysis of the interactions between drugs and metabolism by introducing the concept of metabolic drug scope. The metabolic drug scope represents the full set of metabolic compounds and reactions that are potentially affected by a drug. We constructed and analyzed the scopes of all US approved drugs having metabolic targets. Our analysis shows that the distribution of metabolic drug scopes is highly uneven, and that drugs can be classified into several categories based on their scopes. Some of them have small scopes corresponding to localized action, while others have large scopes corresponding to potential large-scale systemic action. These groups are well conserved throughout different topologies of the underlying metabolic network. They can furthermore be associated to specific drug therapeutic properties.
Conclusion
These findings demonstrate the relevance of metabolic drug scopes to the characterization of drug-metabolism interactions and to understanding the mechanisms of drug action in a system-wide context.
doi:10.1186/1472-6769-9-4
PMCID: PMC2670818  PMID: 19351397
5.  Chemical tools selectively target components of the PKA system 
Background
In the eukaryotic cell the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) is a key enzyme in signal transduction and represents the main target of the second messenger cAMP. Here we describe the design, synthesis and characterisation of specifically tailored cAMP analogs which can be utilised as a tool for affinity enrichment and purification as well as for proteomics based analyses of cAMP binding proteins.
Results
Two sets of chemical binders were developed based on the phosphorothioate derivatives of cAMP, Sp-cAMPS and Rp-cAMPS acting as cAMP-agonists and -antagonists, respectively. These compounds were tested via direct surface plasmon resonance (SPR) analyses for their binding properties to PKA R-subunits and holoenzyme. Furthermore, these analogs were used in an affinity purification approach to analyse their binding and elution properties for the enrichment and improvement of cAMP binding proteins exemplified by the PKA R-subunits. As determined by SPR, all tested Sp-analogs provide valuable tools for affinity chromatography. However, Sp-8-AEA-cAMPS displayed (i) superior enrichment properties while maintaining low unspecific binding to other proteins in crude cell lysates, (ii) allowing mild elution conditions and (iii) providing the capability to efficiently purify all four isoforms of active PKA R-subunit in milligram quantities within 8 h. In a chemical proteomics approach both sets of binders, Rp- and Sp-cAMPS derivatives, can be employed. Whereas Sp-8-AEA-cAMPS preferentially binds free R-subunit, Rp-AHDAA-cAMPS, displaying antagonist properties, not only binds to the free PKA R-subunits but also to the intact PKA holoenzyme both from recombinant and endogenous sources.
Conclusion
In summary, all tested cAMP analogs were useful for their respective application as an affinity reagent which can enhance purification of cAMP binding proteins. Sp-8-AEA-cAMPS was considered the most efficient analog since Sp-8-AHA-cAMPS and Sp-2-AHA-cAMPS, demonstrated incomplete elution from the matrix, as well as retaining notable amounts of bound protein contaminants. Furthermore it could be demonstrated that an affinity resin based on Rp-8-AHDAA-cAMPS provides a valuable tool for chemical proteomics approaches.
doi:10.1186/1472-6769-9-3
PMCID: PMC2660902  PMID: 19216744
6.  Transcriptional profiling of the effects of 25-hydroxycholesterol on human hepatocyte metabolism and the antiviral state it conveys against the hepatitis C virus 
Background
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a global health problem. A number of studies have implicated a direct role of cellular lipid metabolism in the HCV life cycle and inhibitors of the mevalonate pathway have been demonstrated to result in an antiviral state within the host cell. Transcriptome profiling was conducted on Huh-7 human hepatoma cells bearing subgenomic HCV replicons with and without treatment with 25-hydroxycholesterol (25-HC), an inhibitor of the mevalonate pathway that alters lipid metabolism, to assess metabolic determinants of pro- and antiviral states within the host cell. These data were compared with gene expression profiles from HCV-infected chimpanzees.
Results
Transcriptome profiling of Huh-7 cells treated with 25-HC gave 47 downregulated genes, 16 of which are clearly related to the mevalonate pathway. Fewer genes were observed to be upregulated (22) in the presence of 25-HC and 5 genes were uniquely upregulated in the HCV replicon bearing cells. Comparison of these gene expression profiles with data collected during the initial rise in viremia in 4 previously characterized HCV-infected chimpanzees yielded 54 overlapping genes, 4 of which showed interesting differential regulation at the mRNA level in both systems. These genes are PROX1, INSIG-1, NK4, and UBD. The expression of these genes was perturbed with siRNAs and with overexpression vectors in HCV replicon cells, and the effect on HCV replication and translation was assessed. Both PROX1 and NK4 regulated HCV replication in conjunction with an antiviral state induced by 25-hydroxycholesterol.
Conclusion
Treatment of Huh-7 cells bearing HCV replicons with 25-HC leads to the downregulation of many key genes involved in the mevalonate pathway leading to an antiviral state within the host cell. Furthermore, dysregulation of a larger subset of genes not directly related to the mevalonate pathway occurs both in 25-HC-treated HCV replicon harbouring cells as well as during the initial rise in viremia in infected chimpanzees. Functional studies of 3 of these genes demonstrates that they do not directly act as antiviral gene products but that they indirectly contribute to the antiviral state in the host cell. These genes may also represent novel biomarkers for HCV infection, since they demonstrate an outcome-specific expression profile.
doi:10.1186/1472-6769-9-2
PMCID: PMC2651120  PMID: 19149867
7.  Catalytic inhibition of topoisomerase II by a novel rationally designed ATP-competitive purine analogue 
Background
Topoisomerase II poisons are in clinical use as anti-cancer therapy for decades and work by stabilizing the enzyme-induced DNA breaks. In contrast, catalytic inhibitors block the enzyme before DNA scission. Although several catalytic inhibitors of topoisomerase II have been described, preclinical concepts for exploiting their anti-proliferative activity based on molecular characteristics of the tumor cell have only recently started to emerge. Topoisomerase II is an ATPase and uses the energy derived from ATP hydrolysis to orchestrate the movement of the DNA double strands along the enzyme. Thus, interfering with ATPase function with low molecular weight inhibitors that target the nucleotide binding pocket should profoundly affect cells that are committed to undergo mitosis.
Results
Here we describe the discovery and characterization of a novel purine diamine analogue as a potent ATP-competitive catalytic inhibitor of topoisomerase II. Quinoline aminopurine compound 1 (QAP 1) inhibited topoisomerase II ATPase activity and decatenation reaction at sub-micromolar concentrations, targeted both topoisomerase II alpha and beta in cell free assays and, using a quantitative cell-based assay and a chromosome segregation assay, displayed catalytic enzyme inhibition in cells. In agreement with recent hypothesis, we show that BRCA1 mutant breast cancer cells have increased sensitivity to QAP 1.
Conclusion
The results obtained with QAP 1 demonstrate that potent and selective catalytic inhibition of human topoisomerase II function with an ATP-competitive inhibitor is feasible. Our data suggest that further drug discovery efforts on ATP-competitive catalytic inhibitors are warranted and that such drugs could potentially be developed as anti-cancer therapy for tumors that bear the appropriate combination of molecular alterations.
doi:10.1186/1472-6769-9-1
PMCID: PMC2628638  PMID: 19128485

Results 1-7 (7)