Mauricio Mora-Pale

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, United States

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Publications (10)50.36 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Natural products have been associated with significant health benefits in preventing and treating various chronic human diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and pathogenic infections. However, the isolation, characterization and evaluation of natural products remain a challenge, mainly due to their limited bioavailability. Metabolic engineering and fermentation technology have emerged as alternative approaches for generating natural products under controlled conditions that can be optimized to maximize yields. Optimization of these processes includes the evaluation of factors such as host selection, product biosynthesis interaction with the cell's central metabolism, product degradation, and byproduct formation. This review summarizes the most recent biochemical strategies and advances in expanding and diversifying natural compounds as well as maximizing their production in microbial and plants cells.
    Current opinion in biotechnology 02/2014; 25C:86-94. · 7.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Over the years, natural products from plants and their non-natural derivatives have shown to be active against different types of chronic diseases. However, isolation of such natural products can be limited due to their low bioavailability, and environmental restrictions. To address these issues, in vivo and in vitro reconstruction of plant metabolic pathways and the metabolic engineering of microbes and plants have been used to generate libraries of compounds. Significant advances have been made through metabolic engineering of microbes and plant cells to generate a variety of compounds (e.g. isoprenoids, flavonoids, or stilbenes) using a diverse array of methods to optimize these processes (e.g. host selection, operational variables, precursor selection, gene modifications). These approaches have been used also to generate non-natural analogues with different bioactivities. In vitro biosynthesis allows the synthesis of intermediates as well as final products avoiding post-translational limitations. Moreover, this strategy allows the use of substrates and the production of metabolites that could be toxic for cells, or expand the biosynthesis into non-conventional media (e.g. organic solvents, supercritical fluids). A perspective is also provided on the challenges for generating novel chemical structures and the potential of combining metabolic engineering and in vitro biocatalysis to produce metabolites with more potent biological activities.
    Plant Science 09/2013; 210C:10-24. · 4.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The enormous pool of chemical diversity found in nature serves as an excellent inventory for accessing biologically active compounds. This chemical inventory, primarily found in microorganisms and plants, is generated by a broad range of enzymatic pathways under precise genetic and protein-level control. In vitro pathway reconstruction can be used to characterize individual pathway enzymes, identify pathway intermediates, and gain an increased understanding of how pathways can be manipulated to generate natural product analogs. Moreover, through in vitro approaches, it is possible to achieve a diversification that is not restricted by toxicity, limited availability of intracellular precursors, or preconceived (by nature) regulatory controls. Additionally, combinatorial biosynthesis and high-throughput techniques can be used to generate both known natural products and analogs that would not likely be generated naturally. This current opinion review will focus on recent advances made in performing in vitro pathway-driven natural product diversification and opportunities for exploiting this approach for elucidating and entering this new chemical biology space.
    Current opinion in chemical biology 03/2012; 16(1-2):186-95. · 8.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Enzymatically derived oligophenols from apocynin can be effective inhibitors of human vascular NADPH oxidase (Nox). An isolated trimer hydroxylated quinone (IIIHyQ) has been shown to inhibit endothelial NADPH oxidase with an IC(50) ~30 nM. In vitro studies demonstrated that IIIHyQ is capable of disrupting the interaction between p47(phox) and p22(phox), thereby blocking the activation of the Nox2 isoform. Herein, we report the role of key cysteine residues in p47(phox) as targets for the IIIHyQ. Incubation of p47(phox) with IIIHyQ results in a decrease of ~80% of the protein free cysteine residues; similar results were observed using 1,2- and 1,4-naphthoquinones, whereas apocynin was unreactive. Mutants of p47(phox), in which each Cys was individually replaced by Ala (at residues 111, 196, and 378) or Gly (at residue 98), were generated to evaluate their individual importance in IIIHyQ-mediated inhibition of p47(phox) interaction with p22(phox). Specific Michael addition on Cys196, within the N-SH3 domain, by the IIIHyQ is critical for disrupting the p47(phox)-p22(phox) interaction. When a C196A mutation was tested, the IIIHyQ was unable to disrupt the p47(phox)-p22(phox) interaction. However, the IIIHyQ was effective at disrupting this interaction with the other mutants, displaying IC(50) values (4.9, 21.0, and 2.3μM for the C111A, C378A, and C98G mutants, respectively) comparable to that of wild-type p47(phox).
    Free Radical Biology & Medicine 03/2012; 52(5):962-9. · 5.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Virus-like particles (VLPs) are biological nanoparticles identical to the natural virions, but without genetic material. VLPs are suitable for the analysis of viral infection mechanisms, vaccine production, tissue-specific drug delivery, and as biological nanomaterials. Human parvovirus B19 (B19) infects humans; therefore VLPs derived from this virus have enormous potential in medicine and diagnostics. Current production of self-assembled VLPs derived from B19 is typically carried out in eukaryotic expression systems. However many applications of VLPs require access to its internal core. Consequently, the processes of disassembly and further reassembly of VLPs are critical both for purification of viral proteins, and for encapsulation purposes. Herein we report the in vitro self-assembly of B19 VLPs derived from the recombinant VP2 protein expressed in Escherichia coli and the effects of pH and ionic strength on the assembly process. Our results demonstrate that VP2 is able to form VLPs completely in vitro. At neutral pH, homogeneous VLPs assemble, while at acidic and basic pHs, with low ionic strength, the major assemblies are small intermediates. The in vitro self-assembled VLPs are highly stable at 37°C, and a significant fraction of particles remain assembled after 30min at 80°C.
    Biochimie 12/2011; 94(3):870-8. · 3.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ionic liquids (ILs) have emerged as attractive solvents for lignocellulosic biomass pretreatment in the production of biofuels and chemical feedstocks. However, the high cost of ILs is a key deterrent to their practical application. Here, we show that acetate based ILs are effective in dramatically reducing the recalcitrance of corn stover toward enzymatic polysaccharide hydrolysis even at loadings of biomass as high as 50% by weight. Under these conditions, the IL serves more as a pretreatment additive rather than a true solvent. Pretreatment of corn stover with 1-ethyl-3-methylimidizolium acetate ([Emim] [OAc]) at 125 ± 5°C for 1 h resulted in a dramatic reduction of cellulose crystallinity (up to 52%) and extraction of lignin (up to 44%). Enzymatic hydrolysis of the IL-treated biomass was performed with a common commercial cellulase/xylanase from Trichoderma reesei and a commercial β-glucosidase, and resulted in fermentable sugar yields of ∼80% for glucose and ∼50% for xylose at corn stover loadings up to 33% (w/w) and 55% and 34% for glucose and xylose, respectively, at 50% (w/w) biomass loading. Similar results were observed for the IL-facilitated pretreatment of switchgrass, poplar, and the highly recalcitrant hardwood, maple. At 4.8% (w/w) corn stover, [Emim][OAc] can be readily reused up to 10 times without removal of extracted components, such as lignin, with no effect on subsequent fermentable sugar yields. A significant reduction in the amount of IL combined with facile recycling has the potential to enable ILs to be used in large-scale biomass pretreatment.
    Biotechnology and Bioengineering 07/2011; 108(12):2865-75. · 4.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Substantial evidence suggests that soluble prefibrillar oligomers of the Aβ42 peptide associated with Alzheimer's disease are the most cytotoxic aggregated Aβ isoform. Limited previous work has revealed that aromatic compounds capable of remodeling Aβ oligomers into nontoxic conformers typically do so by converting them into off-pathway aggregates instead of dissociating them into monomers. Towards identifying small-molecule antagonists capable of selectively dissociating toxic Aβ oligomers into soluble peptide at substoichiometric concentrations, we have investigated the pathways used by polyphenol aglycones and their glycosides to remodel Aβ soluble oligomers. We find that eleven polyphenol aglycones of variable size and structure utilize the same remodeling pathway whereby Aβ oligomers are rapidly converted into large, off-pathway aggregates. Strikingly, we find that glycosides of these polyphenols all utilize a distinct remodeling pathway in which Aβ oligomers are rapidly dissociated into soluble, disaggregated peptide. This disaggregation activity is a synergistic combination of the aglycone and glycone moieties because combinations of polyphenols and sugars fail to disaggregate Aβ oligomers. We also find that polyphenolic glycosides and aglycones use the same opposing pathways to remodel Aβ fibrils. Importantly, both classes of polyphenols fail to remodel nontoxic Aβ oligomers (which are indistinguishable in size and morphology to Aβ soluble oligomers) or promote aggregation of freshly disaggregated Aβ peptide; thus revealing that they are specific for remodeling toxic Aβ conformers. We expect that these and related small molecules will be powerful chemical probes for investigating the conformational and cellular underpinnings of Aβ-mediated toxicity.
    ChemBioChem 06/2011; 12(11):1749-58. · 3.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) are emerging as attractive and green solvents for lignocellulosic biomass pretreatment. The unique solvating properties of RTILs foster the disruption of the 3D network structure of lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose, which allows high yields of fermentable sugars to be produced in subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis. In the current review, we summarize the physicochemical properties of RTILs that make them effective solvents for lignocellulose pretreatment including mechanisms of interaction between lignocellulosic biomass subcomponents and RTILs. We also highlight several recent strategies that exploit RTILs and generate high yields of fermentable sugars suitable for downstream biofuel production, and address new opportunities for use of lignocellulosic components, including lignin. Finally, we address some of the challenges that remain before large-scale use of RTILs may be achieved.
    Biotechnology and Bioengineering 02/2011; 108(6):1229-45. · 4.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Effective pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass is vital to its bioconversion to a usable liquid fuel. A growing body of work has focused on using room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) to pretreat lignocellulose for subsequent fermentation. However, little is known about the physicochemical parameters of RTILs that promote effective pretreatment. In this work we examine the relationship between the Kamlet–Taft α, β, and π* solvent polarity parameters of different RTILs ([Emim][OAc], [Bmim][OAc], and [Bmim][MeSO4]) and effective pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass. We find the β parameter is an excellent predictor of pretreatment efficacy. Acetate containing RTILs (β > 1.0) remove >32% of lignin from maple wood flour and significantly reduce cellulose crystallinity, resulting in >65% glucose yields after 12 h cellulase hydrolysis. Pretreatment in [Bmim][MeSO4] (β = 0.60) results in the removal of only 19% of the wood flour's lignin with no decrease in crystallinity, and no improvement in sugar yield over untreated wood flour. The addition of water and the dilution of the acetate anion with the methyl sulfate anion decrease the β value and subsequently have a negative impact on ligninextraction, cellulose crystallinity, and sugar yields.
    Green Chemistry 11/2010; 12(11):1967-1975. · 6.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Enzymatic oxidation of apocynin, which may mimic in vivo metabolism, affords a large number of oligomers (apocynin oxidation products, AOP) that inhibit vascular NADPH oxidase. In vitro studies of NADPH oxidase activity were performed to identify active inhibitors, resulting in a trimer hydroxylated quinone (IIIHyQ) that inhibited NADPH oxidase with an IC(50)=31nM. Apocynin itself possessed minimal inhibitory activity. NADPH oxidase is believed to be inhibited through prevention of the interaction between two NADPH oxidase subunits, p47(phox) and p22(phox). To that end, while apocynin was unable to block the interaction of his-tagged p47(phox) with a surface immobilized biotinylated p22(phox) peptide, the IIIHyQ product strongly interfered with this interaction (apparent IC(50)=1.6microM). These results provide evidence that peroxidase-generated AOP, which consist of oligomeric phenols and quinones, inhibit critical interactions that are involved in the assembly and activation of human vascular NADPH oxidase.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 06/2009; 17(14):5146-52. · 2.82 Impact Factor