Horst Joachim Schirra

University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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Publications (31)125.15 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The ovine Callipyge mutation causes postnatal muscle hypertrophy localized to the pelvic limbs and torso, as well as body leanness. The mechanism underpinning enhanced muscle mass is unclear, as is the systemic impact of the mutation. Using muscle fibre typing immunohistochemistry, we confirmed muscle specific effects and demonstrated that affected muscles had greater prevalence and hypertrophy of type 2X fast twitch glycolytic fibres and decreased representation of types 1, 2C, 2A and/or 2AX fibres. To investigate potential systemic effects of the mutation, proton NMR spectra of plasma taken from lambs at 8 and 12 weeks of age were measured. Multivariate statistical analysis of plasma metabolite profiles demonstrated effects of development and genotype but not gender. Plasma from Callipyge lambs at 12 weeks of age, but not 8 weeks, was characterized by a metabolic profile consistent with contributions from the affected hypertrophic fast twitch glycolytic muscle fibres. Microarray analysis of the perirenal adipose tissue depot did not reveal a transcriptional effect of the mutation in this tissue. We conclude that there is an indirect systemic effect of the Callipyge mutation in skeletal muscle in the form of changes of blood metabolites, which may contribute to secondary phenotypes such as body leanness.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(6):e99726. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The amyloid fibril-forming ability of two closely related antifungal and antimicrobial peptides derived from plant defensin proteins has been investigated. As assessed by sequence analysis, thioflavin T binding, transmission electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy and X-ray fibre diffraction, a 19 amino acid fragment from the C-terminal region of Raphanus sativus antifungal protein, known as RsAFP-19, is highly amyloidogenic. Further, its fibrillar morphology can be altered by externally controlled conditions. Freezing and thawing led to amyloid fibril formation which was accompanied by loss of RsAFP-19 antifungal activity. A second, closely related antifungal peptide displayed no fibril-forming capacity. It is concluded that while fibril formation is not associated with the antifungal properties of these peptides, the peptide RsAFP-19 is of potential use as a controllable, highly amyloidogenic small peptide for investigating the structure of amyloid fibrils and their mechanism of formation.
    Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 05/2013; · 4.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The opportunistic fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans is a leading cause of mortality amongst the HIV/AIDS population, and is known for frequently causing life-threatening relapse. To investigate the potential contribution of in-host microevolution to persistence and relapse we have analyzed two serial isolates obtained from an AIDS patient who suffered an initial and relapse episode of cryptococcal meningoencephalitis. Despite being identical by multilocus sequence typing, the isolates differ phenotypically, exhibiting changes in key virulence factors, nutrient acquisition, metabolic profiles and ability to disseminate in an animal model. Whole genome sequencing uncovered a clonal relationship, with only a few unique differences. Of these, two key changes are expected to explain the phenotypic differences observed in the relapse isolate: loss of a predicted AT-rich interaction domain protein, and changes in copy number of the left and right arms of chromosome 12. Gene deletion of the predicted transcriptional regulator produced changes in melanin, capsule, carbon source utilization and dissemination in the host, consistent with the phenotype of the relapse isolate. In addition, the deletion mutant displayed altered virulence in the murine model. The observed differences suggest the relapse isolate evolved subsequent to penetration of the central nervous system and may have gained dominance following the administration of antifungal therapy. These data reveal the first molecular insights into how the Cryptococcus neoformans genome changes during infection of humans and the manner in which microevolution progresses in this deadly fungal pathogen.
    G3-Genes Genomes Genetics 03/2013; · 1.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: Growth hormone (GH) is a protein hormone with important roles in growth and metabolism. The objective of this study was to investigate the metabolism of a human subject with severe GH deficiency (GHD) due to a PIT-1 gene mutation and the metabolic effects of GH therapy using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)-based metabonomics. NMR-based metabonomics is a platform that allows the metabolic profile of biological fluids such as urine to be recorded, and any alterations in the profile modulated by GH can potentially be detected. DESIGN: Urine samples were collected from a female subject with severe GHD before, during and after GH therapy, and from healthy age- and sex-matched controls and analysed with NMR-based metabonomics. SETTING: The samples were collected at a hospital and the study was performed at a research facility. PARTICIPANTS: We studied a 17year old female adolescent with severe GHD secondary to PIT-1 gene mutation who had reached final adult height and who had ceased GH therapy for over 3years. The subject was subsequently followed for 5years with and without GH therapy. Twelve healthy age-matched female subjects acted as control subjects. INTERVENTION: The GH-deficient subject re-commenced GH therapy at a dose of 1mg/day to normalise serum IGF-1 levels. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Urine metabolic profiles were recorded using NMR spectroscopy and analysed with multivariate statistics to distinguish the profiles at different time points and identify significant metabolites affected by GH therapy. RESULTS: NMR-based metabonomics revealed that the metabolic profile of the GH-deficient subject altered with GH therapy and that her profile was different from healthy controls before, and during withdrawal of GH therapy. CONCLUSION: This study illustrates the potential use of NMR-based metabonomics for monitoring the effects of GH therapy on metabolism by profiling the urine of GH-deficient subjects. Further controlled studies in larger numbers of GH-deficient subjects are required to determine the clinical benefits of NMR-based metabonomics in subjects receiving GH therapy.
    Growth hormone & IGF research: official journal of the Growth Hormone Research Society and the International IGF Research Society 02/2013; · 2.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Phosphine is a small redox-active gas that is used to protect global grain reserves, which are threatened by the emergence of phosphine resistance in pest insects. We find that polymorphisms responsible for genetic resistance cluster around the redox-active catalytic disulfide or the dimerization interface of dihydrolipoamide dehydrogenase (DLD) in insects (Rhyzopertha dominica and Tribolium castaneum) and nematodes (Caenorhabditis elegans). DLD is a core metabolic enzyme representing a new class of resistance factor for a redox-active metabolic toxin. It participates in four key steps of core metabolism, and metabolite profiles indicate that phosphine exposure in mutant and wild-type animals affects these steps differently. Mutation of DLD in C. elegans increases arsenite sensitivity. This specific vulnerability may be exploited to control phosphine-resistant insects and safeguard food security.
    Science 11/2012; 338(6108):807-10. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Non-targeted metabolite fingerprinting is increasingly applied to biomedical classification. The choice of classification algorithm may have a considerable impact on outcome. In this study, employing nested cross-validation for assessing predictive performance, six binary classification algorithms in combination with different strategies for data-driven feature selection were systematically compared on five datasets of urine, serum, plasma and milk one-dimensional fingerprints obtained by proton nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Support Vector Machines and Random Forests combined with t-score based feature filtering performed well on most datasets, while the performance of the other tested methods varied between datasets.
    Journal of Proteome Research 11/2012; · 5.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Thousands of metabolites are excreted in urine, and potentially can be detected in NMR spectra. Currently, NMR spectral information for about one thousand metabolites has been deposited in publicly available sources, limiting the identification of chemical compounds that are potential biomarkers for clinical and subclinical applications. This study reports the identification of crotonyl glycine, one of the key metabolites detected by ¹H NMR as excreted in the urine of sheep after 48 h road transport and during the subsequent 72 h recovery period. This metabolite was important in separating the metabolic responses as expressed in the urine from animals undergoing shorter road transport treatments. At the time of the metabonomic analysis, the NMR signals from this metabolite were designated as unassigned as no match was found in public databases or the literature. Selected sheep urine samples containing the metabolite were resolved by reversed phase HPLC reducing the sample complexity. Subsequent ¹H NMR spectra of the collected fractions revealed that the unknown metabolite was present in a single HPLC fraction. High-resolution 1D and 2D ¹H NMR spectra of this fraction followed by mass determination of the parent ion and its fragments by nanoESI-TOF-MS/MS revealed the identity of the compound as crotonyl glycine (N-but-(E)-2-enoyl glycine). The HPLC fraction was subsequently spiked with synthetic crotonyl glycine which confirmed identification.
    Journal of pharmaceutical and biomedical analysis 04/2012; 67-68:129-36. · 2.45 Impact Factor
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    Baogang Xie, Michael J Waters, Horst Joachim Schirra
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    ABSTRACT: Obesity is a serious health problem with an increased risk of several common diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Metabolomics is an emerging analytical technique for systemic determination of metabolite profiles, which is useful for understanding the biochemical changes in obesity or related diseases both in individual organs and at the organism level. Increasingly, this technology has been applied to the study of obesity, complementing transcriptomics and/or proteomics analyses. Indeed, the alterations of metabolites in biofluids/tissues are direct indicators of variations in physiology or pathology. In this paper, we will examine the obesity-related alterations in significant metabolites that have been identified by metabolomics as well as their metabolic pathway associations. Issues concerning the screening of biologically significant metabolites related to obesity will also be discussed.
    BioMed Research International 01/2012; 2012:805683. · 2.71 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The accumulation of genomic structural variation between closely related populations over time can lead to reproductive isolation and speciation. The fungal pathogen Cryptococcus is thought to have recently diversified, forming a species complex containing members with distinct morphologies, distributions, and pathologies of infection. We have investigated structural changes in genomic architecture such as inversions and translocations that distinguish the most pathogenic variety, Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii, from the less clinically prevalent Cryptococcus neoformans var. neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii. Synteny analysis between the genomes of the three Cryptococcus species/varieties (strains H99, JEC21, and R265) reveals that C. neoformans var. grubii possesses surprisingly few unique genomic rearrangements. All but one are relatively small and are shared by all molecular subtypes of C. neoformans var. grubii. In contrast, the large translocation peculiar to the C. neoformans var. grubii type strain is found in all tested subcultures from multiple laboratories, suggesting that it has possessed this rearrangement since its isolation from a human clinical sample. Furthermore, we find that the translocation directly disrupts two genes. The first of these encodes a novel protein involved in metabolism of glucose at human body temperature and affects intracellular levels of trehalose. The second encodes a homeodomain-containing transcription factor that modulates melanin production. Both mutations would be predicted to increase pathogenicity; however, when recreated in an alternate genetic background, these mutations do not affect virulence in animal models. The type strain of C. neoformans var. grubii in which the majority of molecular studies have been performed is therefore atypical for carbon metabolism and key virulence attributes. IMPORTANCE: The fungal pathogen Cryptococcus is a major cause of mortality among the immunocompromised population, primarily in AIDS patients of sub-Saharan Africa. Most research into the particular variety of Cryptococcus responsible for the vast majority of infections, Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii, is performed using the type strain isolated in 1978 from a Hodgkin's disease patient from North Carolina. We have determined that this particular isolate contains a chromosomal translocation that directly interrupts two genes, which all descendants of this strain from various research laboratories appear to possess. Disruption of these two genes affects multiple virulence factors of Cryptococcus, particularly the ability to grow at human body temperature, which could have wide-ranging implications for molecular genetic studies and virulence assays using this important strain.
    mBio 01/2012; 3(2). · 6.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most commonly diagnosed visceral cancer in men and is responsible for the second highest cancer-related male mortality rate in Western countries, with increasing rates being reported in Korea, Japan, and China. Considering the low sensitivity of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing, it is widely agreed that reliable, age-independent markers of the presence, nature, and progression of PCa are required to facilitate diagnosis and timely treatment. Metabolomics or metabonomics has recently emerged as a novel method of PCa detection owing to its ability to monitor changes in the metabolic signature, within biofluids or tissue, that reflect changes in phenotype and function. This review outlines the physiology of prostate tissue and prostatic fluid in health and in malignancy in relation to metabolomics as well as the principles underlying the methods of metabolomic quantification. Promising metabolites, metabolic profiles, and their correlation with the presence and stage of PCa are summarized. Application of metabolomics to biofluids and in vivo quantification as well as the direction of current research in supplementing and improving current methods of detection are discussed. The current debate in the urology literature on sarcosine as a potential biomarker for PCa is reviewed and discussed. Metabolomics promises to be a valuable tool in the early detection of PCa that may enable earlier treatment and improved clinical outcomes.
    Korean journal of urology 02/2011; 52(2):79-89.
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    ABSTRACT: The physical, endocrine, and metabolic responses of livestock to road transport have been evaluated by conventional hematological and biochemistry parameters for more than 20 years. However, these measures are relatively insensitive to subtle metabolic adaptations. We applied NMR-based metabonomics to assess system-wide metabolic responses as expressed in urine and serum of a large cohort of animals (n = 80) subjected to 12 and 48 h road transport. The profiling of (1)H NMR spectra revealed that the transported animals experienced altered gut and energy metabolism, muscle catabolism, and possibly a renal response. The animals transported for 48 h exhibited a deeper metabolic response to the transport event and a complex and expanded metabolic trajectory over the 72 h recovery period. Intriguingly, excretion of acyl glycines and a dicarboxylic acid was observed after transport and during recovery, implicating peroxisomal fatty acid oxidation as a metabolic response to transport-induced stress.
    Journal of Proteome Research 01/2011; 10(3):1073-87. · 5.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Early detection of prostate cancer is problematic, not just because of uncertainly whether a diagnosis will benefit an individual patient, but also as a result of the imprecise and invasive nature of establishing a diagnosis by biopsy. Despite its low sensitivity and specificity for identifying patients harbouring prostate cancer, serum prostate specific antigen (PSA) has become established as the most reliable and widely-used diagnostic marker for this condition. In its wake, many other markers have been described and evaluated. This review focuses on the supporting evidence for the most prominent of these for detection and also for predicting outcome in prostate cancer.
    Cancers. 01/2010; 2(2):1125-1154.
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    ABSTRACT: The 53-amino-acid trypsin inhibitor 1 from Nicotiana alata (T1) belongs to the potato type II family also known as the PinII family of proteinase inhibitors, one of the major families of canonical proteinase inhibitors. T1 contains four disulfide bonds, two of which (C4-C41 and C8-C37) stabilize the reactive-site loop. To investigate the influence of these two disulfide bonds on the structure and function of potato II inhibitors, we constructed two variants of T1, C4A/C41A-T1 and C8A/C37A-T1, in which these two disulfide bonds were individually removed and replaced by alanine residues. Trypsin inhibition assays show that wild-type T1 has a K(i) of <5 nM, C4A/C41A-T1 has a weaker K(i) of approximately 350 nM, and the potency of the C8A/C37A variant is further decreased to a K(i) of approximately 1.8 microM. To assess the influence of the disulfide bonds on the structure of T1, we determined the structure and dynamics of both disulfide variants by NMR spectroscopy. The structure of C4A/C41A-T1 and the amplitude of intrinsic flexibility in the reactive-site loop resemble that of the wild-type protein closely, despite the lack of the C4-C41 disulfide bond, whereas the timescale of motions is markedly decreased. The rescue of the structure despite loss of a disulfide bond is due to a previously unrecognized network of interactions, which stabilizes the structure of the reactive-site loop in the region of the missing disulfide bond, while allowing intrinsic motions on a fast (picosecond-nanosecond) timescale. In contrast, no comparable interactions are present around the C8-C37 disulfide bond. Consequently, the reactive-site loop becomes disordered and highly flexible in the structure of C8A/C37A-T1, making it unable to bind to trypsin. Thus, the reactive-site loop of T1 is stabilized differently by the C8-C37 and C4-C41 disulfide bonds. The C8-C37 disulfide bond is essential for the inhibitory activity of T1, whereas the C4-C41 disulfide bond is not as critical for maintaining the three-dimensional structure and function of the molecule but is responsible for maintaining flexibility of the reactive-site loop on a microsecond-nanosecond timescale.
    Journal of Molecular Biology 11/2009; 395(3):609-26. · 3.91 Impact Factor
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    Conan K Wang, Horst Joachim Schirra, David J Craik
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    ABSTRACT: Self-association is an important biological phenomenon that is associated with many cellular processes. NMR relaxation measurements provide data about protein molecular dynamics at the atomic level and are sensitive to changes induced by self-association. Thus, measurements and analysis of NMR relaxation data can provide structurally resolved information on self-association that would not be accessible otherwise. Here, we present a computer program, NMRdyn, which analyses relaxation data to provide parameters defining protein self-association. Unlike existing relaxation analysis software, NMRdyn can explicitly model the monomer-oligomer equilibrium while fitting measured relaxation data. Additionally, the program is packaged with a user-friendly interface, which is important because relaxation data can often be large and complex. NMRdyn is available from http://research1t.imb.uq.edu.au/nmr/NMRdyn.
    PLoS ONE 02/2008; 3(11):e3820. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Horst Joachim Schirra, Marilyn A Anderson, David J Craik
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    ABSTRACT: Ornamental tobacco (Nicotiana alata) produces a series of 6 kDa proteinase inhibitors belonging to the potato type II inhibitor family. These proteins inhibit trypsin and chymotrypsin, the main digestive enzymes of predatory insects, thus leading to starvation, impaired larval development or death. In this context, the three-dimensional structures of these inhibitors are important for developing novel strategies for pest control. The solution structures of C1 and T1, the two main prototypes of the N. alata inhibitors, were originally determined more than a decade ago (J. Mol. Biol. 242, 231-243 (1994) and Biochemistry 34, 14304-14311 (1995)). Since then methods for NMR structure calculations have evolved considerably. Here we report the refinement of the structures of C1 and T1 with state-of-the-art protocols for NMR structure calculations. This refinement leads to an improved quality of the structures, making them a more reliable basis for the development of novel pesticides and modeling applications.
    Protein and Peptide Letters 02/2008; 15(9):903-9. · 1.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Growth hormone is an important regulator of post-natal growth and metabolism. We have investigated the metabolic consequences of altered growth hormone signalling in mutant mice that have truncations at position 569 and 391 of the intracellular domain of the growth hormone receptor, and thus exhibit either low (around 30% maximum) or no growth hormone-dependent STAT5 signalling respectively. These mutations result in altered liver metabolism, obesity and insulin resistance. The analysis of metabolic changes was performed using microarray analysis of liver tissue and NMR metabonomics of urine and liver tissue. Data were analyzed using multivariate statistics and Gene Ontology tools. The metabolic profiles characteristic for each of the two mutant groups and wild-type mice were identified with NMR metabonomics. We found decreased urinary levels of taurine, citrate and 2-oxoglutarate, and increased levels of trimethylamine, creatine and creatinine when compared to wild-type mice. These results indicate significant changes in lipid and choline metabolism, and were coupled with increased fat deposition, leading to obesity. The microarray analysis identified changes in expression of metabolic enzymes correlating with alterations in metabolite concentration both in urine and liver. Similarity of mutant 569 to the wild-type was seen in young mice, but the pattern of metabolites shifted to that of the 391 mutant as the 569 mice became obese after six months age. The metabonomic observations were consistent with the parallel analysis of gene expression and pathway mapping using microarray data, identifying metabolites and gene transcripts involved in hepatic metabolism, especially for taurine, choline and creatinine metabolism. The systems biology approach applied in this study provides a coherent picture of metabolic changes resulting from impaired STAT5 signalling by the growth hormone receptor, and supports a potentially important role for taurine in enhancing beta-oxidation.
    PLoS ONE 01/2008; 3(7):e2764. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The gene-for-gene mechanism of plant disease resistance involves direct or indirect recognition of pathogen avirulence (Avr) proteins by plant resistance (R) proteins. Flax rust (Melampsora lini) AvrL567 avirulence proteins and the corresponding flax (Linum usitatissimum) L5, L6, and L7 resistance proteins interact directly. We determined the three-dimensional structures of two members of the AvrL567 family, AvrL567-A and AvrL567-D, at 1.4- and 2.3-A resolution, respectively. The structures of both proteins are very similar and reveal a beta-sandwich fold with no close known structural homologs. The polymorphic residues in the AvrL567 family map to the surface of the protein, and polymorphisms in residues associated with recognition differences for the R proteins lead to significant changes in surface chemical properties. Analysis of single amino acid substitutions in AvrL567 proteins confirm the role of individual residues in conferring differences in recognition and suggest that the specificity results from the cumulative effects of multiple amino acid contacts. The structures also provide insights into possible pathogen-associated functions of AvrL567 proteins, with nucleic acid binding activity demonstrated in vitro. Our studies provide some of the first structural information on avirulence proteins that bind directly to the corresponding resistance proteins, allowing an examination of the molecular basis of the interaction with the resistance proteins as a step toward designing new resistance specificities.
    The Plant Cell 10/2007; 19(9):2898-912. · 9.25 Impact Factor
  • Horst Joachim Schirra, David J. Craik
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    ABSTRACT: NMR spectroscopy has a wide range of applications in the pharmaceutical sciences. This chapter gives an overview of these applications and attempts to draw together information from the specialist articles on individual topics covered in this handbook of modern magnetic resonance.
    12/2005: pages 1195-1202;
  • Horst Joachim Schirra, David J Craik
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    ABSTRACT: Potato type II serine proteinase inhibitors are proteins that consist of multiple sequence repeats, and exhibit a multidomain structure. The structural domains are circular permutations of the repeat sequence, as a result of intramolecular domain swapping. Structural studies give indications for the origins of this folding behaviour, and the evolution of the inhibitor family.
    Protein and Peptide Letters 08/2005; 12(5):421-31. · 1.99 Impact Factor
  • Michael L J Korsinczky, Horst Joachim Schirra, David J Craik
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    ABSTRACT: SFTI-1 is a bicyclic 14 amino acid peptide that was originally isolated from the seeds of the sunflower Helianthus annuus. It is a potent inhibitor of trypsin, with a sub-nanomolar K(i) value and is homologous to the active site region of the well-known family of serine protease inhibitors known as the Bowman-Birk trypsin inhibitors. It has a cyclic backbone that is cross-braced by a single disulfide bridge and a network of hydrogen bonds that result in a well-defined structure. SFTI-1 is amenable to chemical synthesis, allowing for the creation of synthetic variants. Alterations to the structure such as linearising the backbone or removing the disulfide bridge do not reduce the potency of SFTI-1 significantly, and minimising the peptide to as few as nine residues results in only a small decrease in reactivity. The creation of linear variants of SFTI-1 also provides a tool for investigating putative linear precursor peptides. The mechanism of biosynthesis of SFTI-1 is not yet known but it seems likely that it is a gene-coded product that has arisen from a precursor protein that may be evolutionarily related to classic Bowman-Birk inhibitors.
    Current Protein and Peptide Science 11/2004; 5(5):351-64. · 2.33 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

553 Citations
125.15 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2003–2014
    • University of Queensland
      • • Centre for Advanced Imaging
      • • Institute for Molecular Bioscience
      Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
    • La Trobe University
      • Department of Biochemistry
      Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • 2001
    • Wistar Institute
      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States