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    ABSTRACT: Patients with chronic myeloid leukemia in whom tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) fail often present mutations in the BCR-ABL catalytic domain. We noticed a lack of substitutions involving 4 amino acids (E286, M318, I360, and D381) that form hydrogen bonds with ponatinib. We therefore introduced mutations in each of these residues, either preserving or altering their physicochemical properties. We found that E286, M318, I360, and D381 are dispensable for ABL and BCR-ABL protein stability but are critical for preserving catalytic activity. Indeed, only a "conservative" I360T substitution retained kinase proficiency and transforming potential. Molecular dynamics simulations of BCR-ABL(I360T) revealed differences in both helix αC dynamics and protein-correlated motions, consistent with a modified ATP-binding pocket. Nevertheless, this mutant remained sensitive to ponatinib, imatinib, and dasatinib. These results suggest that changes in the 4 BCR-ABL residues described here would be selected against by a lack of kinase activity or by maintained responsiveness to TKIs. Notably, amino acids equivalent to those identified in BCR-ABL are conserved in 51% of human tyrosine kinases. Hence, these residues may represent an appealing target for the design of pharmacological compounds that would inhibit additional oncogenic tyrosine kinases while avoiding the emergence of resistance due to point mutations.-Buffa, P., Romano, C., Pandini. A., Massimino, M., Tirrò, E., Di Raimondo, F., Manzella, L., Fraternali. F., Vigneri, P. G. BCR-ABL residues interacting with ponatinib are critical to preserve the tumorigenic potential of the oncoprotein.
    The FASEB Journal 12/2013; 28(3). DOI:10.1096/fj.13-236992
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    ABSTRACT: Protein-protein interaction networks (PPINs) are a powerful tool to study biological processes in living cells. In this review, we present the progress of PPIN studies from abstract to more detailed representations. We will focus on 3D interactome networks, which offer detailed information at the atomic level. This information can be exploited in understanding not only the underlying cellular mechanisms, but also how human variants and disease-causing mutations affect protein functions and complexes' stability. Recent studies have used structural information on PPINs to also understand the molecular mechanisms of binding partner selection. We will address the challenges in generating 3D PPINs due to the restricted number of solved protein structures. Finally, some of the current use of 3D PPINs will be discussed, highlighting their contribution to the studies in genotype-phenotype relationships and in the optimization of targeted studies to design novel chemical compounds for medical treatments.
    Expert Review of Proteomics 12/2013; 10(6):511-20. DOI:10.1586/14789450.2013.856764
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    ABSTRACT: Several different protein families were shown to be involved in the regulation of actin filament formation and have been studied extensively in processes such as cell migration. Among them are members of the formin family, which tend to promote the formation of linear actin filaments. Studies in recent years, often using loss of function animal models, have indicated that formin family members play roles beyond cell motility in vitro and are involved in processes ranging from tissue morphogenesis and cell differentiation to diseases such as cancer and cardiomyopathy. Therefore the aim of this review is to discuss these findings and to start putting them into a subcellular context.
    European journal of cell biology 11/2013; 93(5-6). DOI:10.1016/j.ejcb.2013.11.004
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    ABSTRACT: During metastasis, cancer cells disseminate to other parts of the body by entering the bloodstream in a process that is called intravasation. They then extravasate at metastatic sites by attaching to endothelial cells that line blood vessels and crossing the vessel walls of tissues or organs. This Review describes how cancer cells cross the endothelial barrier during extravasation and how different receptors, signalling pathways and circulating cells such as leukocytes and platelets contribute to this process. Identification of the mechanisms that underlie cancer cell extravasation could lead to the development of new therapies to reduce metastasis.
    Nature Reviews Cancer 11/2013; 13(12):858-870. DOI:10.1038/nrc3628
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    ABSTRACT: Satellite cells are resident stem cells of skeletal muscle, supplying myoblasts for postnatal muscle growth, hypertrophy and repair. Of the complex regulatory networks that control satellite cells, the EGF-family of ligands contributes. Here we investigated the role of ErbB3 binding protein-1 (Ebp1) in regulation of myogenic stem cell proliferation and differentiation. Ebp1 is a well-conserved DNA/RNA binding protein that is implicated in cell growth, apoptosis and differentiation in many cell types. Of the two main Ebp1 isoforms, only p48 was expressed in satellite cells and C2C12 myoblasts. While not present in quiescent satellite cells, p48 was strongly induced during activation, remaining at high levels during proliferation and differentiation. While retroviral-mediated over-expression of Ebp1 had minor effects, siRNA-mediated Ebp1 knockdown inhibited both proliferation and differentiation of satellite cells and C2C12 myoblasts, with a clear failure of myotube formation. Ebp1-knockdown significantly reduced ErbB3 receptor levels, yet over-expression of ErbB3 in Ebp1 knockdown cells did not rescue differentiation. Ebp1 was also expressed by muscle cells during developmental myogenesis in mouse. Since Ebp1 is well-conserved between mouse and chick, we switched to chick to examine its role in muscle formation in greater detail. In chick embryo, Ebp1 was expressed in the dermomyotome, and myogenic differentiation of muscle progenitors was inhibited by specific Ebp1 down-regulation using shRNA electroporation. These observations demonstrate a conserved function of Ebp1 in the regulation of embryonic muscle progenitors and adult muscle stem cells, which likely operates independently of ErbB3 signalling.
    Developmental Biology 11/2013; DOI:10.1016/j.ydbio.2013.11.017
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    ABSTRACT: Cell migration is essential for development, but its deregulation causes metastasis. The Scar/WAVE complex is absolutely required for lamellipodia and is a key effector in cell migration, but its regulation in vivo is enigmatic. Lamellipodin (Lpd) controls lamellipodium formation through an unknown mechanism. Here, we report that Lpd directly binds active Rac, which regulates a direct interaction between Lpd and the Scar/WAVE complex via Abi. Consequently, Lpd controls lamellipodium size, cell migration speed, and persistence via Scar/WAVE in vitro. Moreover, Lpd knockout mice display defective pigmentation because fewer migrating neural crest-derived melanoblasts reach their target during development. Consistently, Lpd regulates mesenchymal neural crest cell migration cell autonomously in Xenopus laevis via the Scar/WAVE complex. Further, Lpd's Drosophila melanogaster orthologue Pico binds Scar, and both regulate collective epithelial border cell migration. Pico also controls directed cell protrusions of border cell clusters in a Scar-dependent manner. Taken together, Lpd is an essential, evolutionary conserved regulator of the Scar/WAVE complex during cell migration in vivo.
    The Journal of Cell Biology 11/2013; DOI:10.1083/jcb.201304051
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    ABSTRACT: Phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) catalyzes the conversion of L-Phe to L-Tyr. Defects in PAH activity, caused by mutations in the human gene, result in the autosomal recessively inherited disease hyperphenylalaninemia. PAH activity is regulated by multiple factors, including phosphorylation and ligand binding. In particular, PAH displays positive cooperativity for L-Phe, which is proposed to bind the enzyme on an allosteric site in the N-terminal regulatory domain (RD), also classified as an ACT domain. This domain is found in several proteins and is able to bind amino acids. We used molecular dynamics simulations to obtain dynamical and structural insights into the isolated RD of PAH. Here we show that the principal motions involve conformational changes leading from an initial open to a final closed domain structure. The global intrinsic motions of the RD are correlated with exposure to solvent of a hydrophobic surface, which corresponds to the ligand binding-site of the ACT domain. Our results strongly suggest a relationship between the Phe-binding function and the overall dynamic behaviour of the enzyme. This relationship may be affected by structure-disturbing mutations. To elucidate the functional implications of the mutations, we investigated the structural effects on the dynamics of the human RD PAH induced by six missense hyperphenylalaninemia-causing mutations, namely p.G46S, p.F39C, p.F39L, p.I65S, p.I65T and p.I65V. These studies showed that the alterations in RD hydrophobic interactions induced by missense mutations could affect the functionality of the whole enzyme.
    PLoS ONE 11/2013; 8(11):e79482. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0079482
  • Nature Chemical Biology 11/2013; 9(12):757-759. DOI:10.1038/nchembio.1390
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    ABSTRACT: The ability to interact with different partners is one of the most important features in proteins. Proteins that bind a large number of partners (hubs) have been often associated with intrinsic disorder. However, many examples exist of hubs with an ordered structure, and evidence of a general mechanism promoting promiscuity in ordered proteins is still elusive. An intriguing hypothesis is that promiscuous binding sites have specific dynamical properties, distinct from the rest of the interface and pre-existing in the protein isolated state. Here, we present the first comprehensive study of the intrinsic dynamics of promiscuous residues in a large protein data set. Different computational methods, from coarse-grained elastic models to geometry-based sampling methods and to full-atom Molecular Dynamics simulations, were used to generate conformational ensembles for the isolated proteins. The flexibility and dynamic correlations of interface residues with a different degree of binding promiscuity were calculated and compared considering side chain and backbone motions, the latter both on a local and on a global scale. The study revealed that (a) promiscuous residues tend to be more flexible than nonpromiscuous ones, (b) this additional flexibility has a higher degree of organization, and (c) evolutionary conservation and binding promiscuity have opposite effects on intrinsic dynamics. Findings on simulated ensembles were also validated on ensembles of experimental structures extracted from the Protein Data Bank (PDB). Additionally, the low occurrence of single nucleotide polymorphisms observed for promiscuous residues indicated a tendency to preserve binding diversity at these positions. A case study on two ubiquitin-like proteins exemplifies how binding promiscuity in evolutionary related proteins can be modulated by the fine-tuning of the interface dynamics. The interplay between promiscuity and flexibility highlighted here can inspire new directions in protein-protein interaction prediction and design methods.
    Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation 11/2013; 9(11):5127-5147. DOI:10.1021/ct400486p
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    ABSTRACT: Leucocytes migrate into and out of blood vessels at multiple points during their development and maturation, and during immune surveillance. In response to tissue damage and infection, they are rapidly recruited through the endothelium lining blood vessels into the tissues. Leukaemia cells also move in and out of the bloodstream during leukaemia progression. Rho GTPases are intracellular signalling proteins that regulate cytoskeletal dynamics and are key coordinators of cell migration. Here, we describe how different members of the Rho GTPase family act in leucocytes and leukaemia cells to regulate steps of transendothelial migration. We discuss how inhibitors of Rho signalling could be used to reduce leucocyte or leukaemia cell entry into tissues.
    Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences 11/2013; 368(1629):20130013. DOI:10.1098/rstb.2013.0013
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