[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lymphocyte functions triggered by antigen recognition and co-stimulation signals are associated with a rapid and intense cell division, and hence with metabolism adaptation. The nucleotide cytidine 5' triphosphate (CTP) is a precursor required for the metabolism of DNA, RNA and phospholipids. CTP originates from two sources: a salvage pathway and a de novo synthesis pathway that depends on two enzymes, the CTP synthases (or synthetases) 1 and 2 (CTPS1 with CTPS2); the respective roles of these two enzymes are not known. CTP synthase activity is a potentially important step for DNA synthesis in lymphocytes. Here we report the identification of a loss-of-function homozygous mutation (rs145092287) in CTPS1 in humans that causes a novel and life-threatening immunodeficiency, characterized by an impaired capacity of activated T and B cells to proliferate in response to antigen receptor-mediated activation. In contrast, proximal and distal T-cell receptor (TCR) signalling events and responses were only weakly affected by the absence of CTPS1. Activated CTPS1-deficient cells had decreased levels of CTP. Normal T-cell proliferation was restored in CTPS1-deficient cells by expressing wild-type CTPS1 or by addition of exogenous CTP or its nucleoside precursor, cytidine. CTPS1 expression was found to be low in resting T cells, but rapidly upregulated following TCR activation. These results highlight a key and specific role of CTPS1 in the immune system by its capacity to sustain the proliferation of activated lymphocytes during the immune response. CTPS1 may therefore represent a therapeutic target of immunosuppressive drugs that could specifically dampen lymphocyte activation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Peripheral nerve injuries (PNI) are continuing to be an ever-growing socio-economic burden affecting mainly the young working population and the current clinical treatments to PNI provide a poor clinical outcome involving significant loss of sensation. Thus, our understanding of the underlying factors responsible for the extensive loss of the sensory cutaneous subpopulation in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) that occurs following injury needs to be improved. The current investigations focus in identifying visual cues of mitochondria-related apoptotic events in the various subpopulations of sensory cutaneous neurons. Sensory neuronal subpopulations were identified using FastBlue retrograde labelling following axotomy. Specialised fluorogenic probes, MitoTracker Red and MitoTracker Orange, were employed to visualise the dynamic changes of the mitochondrial population of neurons. The results reveal a fragmented mitochondrial network in sural neurons following apoptosis, whereas a fused elongated mitochondrial population is present in sensory proprioceptive muscle neurons following tibial axotomy. We also demonstrate the neuroprotective properties of NAC and ALCAR therapy in vitro. The dynamic mitochondrial network breaks down following oxidative exposure to hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)), but reinitiates fusion after NAC and ALCAR therapy. In conclusion, this study provides both qualitative and quantitative evidence of the susceptibility of sensory cutaneous sub-population in apoptosis and of the neuroprotective effects of NAC and ALCAR treatment on H(2)O(2)-challenged neurons.
Experimental Brain Research 09/2012; 221(4):357-67. · 2.22 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Acyl coenzyme A (acyl-CoA) thioesterases hydrolyze thioester bonds in acyl-CoA metabolites. The majority of mammalian thioesterases are α/β-hydrolases and have been studied extensively. A second class of Hotdog-fold enzymes has been less well described. Here, we present a structural and functional analysis of a new mammalian mitochondrial thioesterase, Them5. Them5 and its paralog, Them4, adopt the classical Hotdog-fold structure and form homodimers in crystals. In vitro, Them5 shows strong thioesterase activity with long-chain acyl-CoAs. Loss of Them5 specifically alters the remodeling process of the mitochondrial phospholipid cardiolipin. Them5(-/-) mice show deregulation of lipid metabolism and the development of fatty liver, exacerbated by a high-fat diet. Consequently, mitochondrial morphology is affected, and functions such as respiration and β-oxidation are impaired. The novel mitochondrial acyl-CoA thioesterase Them5 has a critical and specific role in the cardiolipin remodeling process, connecting it to the development of fatty liver and related conditions.
Molecular and cellular biology 05/2012; 32(14):2685-97. · 6.06 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell-to-cell communication is a fundamental process for development and maintenance of multicellular organisms. Diverse mechanisms for the exchange of molecular information between cells have been documented, such as the exchange of membrane fragments (trogocytosis), formation of tunneling nanotubes (TNTs) and release of microvesicles (MVs). In this study we assign to Fas signalling a pivotal role for intercellular communication in CD4+ T cells. Binding of membrane-bound FasL to Fas expressing target cells triggers a well-characterized pro-apoptotic signalling cascade. However, our results, pairing up flow cytometric studies with confocal microscopy data, highlight a new social dimension for Fas/FasL interactions between CD4+ T cells. Indeed, FasL enhances the formation of cell conjugates (8 fold of increase) in an early time-frame of stimulation (30 min), and this phenomenon appears to be a crucial step to prime intercellular communication. Our findings show that this communication mainly proceeds along a cytosolic material exchange (ratio of exchange >10, calculated as ratio of stimulated cells signal divided by that recorded in control cells) via TNTs and MVs release. In particular, inhibition of TNTs genesis by pharmacological agents (Latruculin A and Nocodazole) markedly reduced this exchange (inhibition percentage: >40% and >50% respectively), suggesting a key role for TNTs in CD4+ T cells communication. Although MVs are present in supernatants from PHA-activated T cells, Fas treatment also leads to a significant increase in the amount of released MVs. In fact, the co-culture performed between MVs and untreated cells highlights a higher presence of MVs in the medium (1.4 fold of increase) and a significant MVs uptake (6 fold of increase) by untreated T lymphocytes. We conclude that Fas signalling induces intercellular communication in CD4+ T cells by different mechanisms that seem to start concomitantly with the main pathway (programmed cell death) promoted by FasL.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(4):e35766. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this paper an extension of the Lintner model  is considered: the problem of portfolio optimization is studied when short-selling is allowed through the mechanism of margin requirements. This induces a non-linear constraint on the wealth. When interest on deposited margin is present, Lintner ingeniously solved the problem by recovering the unique optimal solution of the linear model (no margin requirements). In this paper an alternative and more realistic approach is explored: the nonlinear constraint is maintained but no interest is perceived on the money deposited against short-selling. This leads to a fully non-linear problem which admits multiple and unstable solutions very different among themselves but corresponding to similar risk levels. Our analysis is built on a seminal idea by Galluccio, Bouchaud and Potters , who have re-stated the problem of finding solutions of the portfolio optimization problem in futures markets in terms of a spin glass problem. In order to get the best portfolio (i.e. the one lying on the efficiency frontier), we have to implement a two-step procedure. A worked example with real data is presented.
International Journal of Theoretical and Applied Finance 11/2011; 06(07).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In a previous article (Degli Esposti and Geraci. Bulletin of Italian Politics, 2011), we presented an historical survey of
the university reform laws that took place in Italy in the last 30 years. On that occasion, we stressed how important is merit
evaluation for academics and their institutions, especially in view of the much debated but not yet implemented ‘Gelmini’
reform with its long awaited new regulation for accessing academic positions (concorsi) and for determining individual weight in financial resource allocation among universities. Here, we present and compare
several rankings used to evaluate the prestige and merit of Italian universities. We also consider alternative approaches
to academic rankings that highlight peculiar aspects of the universities in Italy which cannot be reasonably accounted for
by other international rankings. Finally, we propose a new approach that combines both national and international standing
of Italian universities. It is hoped that this study will provide practical guidance to policy makers for establishing the
criteria upon which merit should be assessed.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mitochondrial dysfunction often leads to cell death and disease. We can now draw correlations between the dysfunction of one of the most important mitochondrial enzymes, NADH:ubiquinone reductase or complex I, and its structural organization thanks to the recent advances in the X-ray structure of its bacterial homologs. The new structural information on bacterial complex I provide essential clues to finally understand how complex I may work. However, the same information remains difficult to interpret for many scientists working on mitochondrial complex I from different angles, especially in the field of cell death. Here, we present a novel way of interpreting the bacterial structural information in accessible terms. On the basis of the analogy to semi-automatic shotguns, we propose a novel functional model that incorporates recent structural information with previous evidence derived from studies on mitochondrial diseases, as well as functional bioenergetics.
Cell Death & Disease 01/2011; 2:e222. · 6.04 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The localization and control of Bcl-2 proteins on mitochondria is essential for the intrinsic pathway of apoptosis. Anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins reside on the outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM) and prevent apoptosis by inhibiting the activation of the pro-apoptotic family members Bax and Bak. The Bcl-2 subfamily of BH3-only proteins can either inhibit the anti-apoptotic proteins or directly activate Bax or Bak. How these proteins interact with each other, the mitochondrial surface and within the OMM are complex processes we are only beginning to understand. However, these interactions are fundamental for the transduction of apoptotic signals to mitochondria and the subsequent release of caspase activating factors into the cytosol. In this review we will discuss our knowledge of how Bcl-2 proteins are directed to mitochondria in the first place, a crucial but poorly understood aspect of their regulation. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Mitochondria: the deadly organelle.
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 11/2010; 1813(4):532-9. · 4.66 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The vacuolating cytotoxin (VacA) is an important virulence factor of Helicobacter pylori with pleiotropic effects on mammalian cells, including the ability to trigger mitochondria-dependent apoptosis. However, the mechanism by which VacA exerts its apoptotic function is unclear. Using a genetic approach, in this study we show that killing by VacA requires the proapoptotic Bcl-2 family members BAX and BAK at the mitochondrial level, but not adequate endoplasmic reticulum Ca²(+) levels, similarly controlled by BAX and BAK. A combination of subcellular fractionation and imaging shows that wild-type VacA, but not mutants in its channel-forming region, induces the accumulation of BAX on endosomes and endosome-mitochondria juxtaposition that precedes the retrieval of active BAX on mitochondria. It is noteworthy that in Bax- and Bak-deficient cells, VacA is unable to cause endosome-mitochondria juxtaposition and is not retrieved in mitochondria. Thus, VacA causes BAX/BAK-dependent juxtaposition of endosomes and mitochondria early in the process of cell death, revealing a new function for these proapoptotic proteins in the regulation of relative position of organelles.
Cell death and differentiation 11/2010; 17(11):1707-16. · 8.24 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Apoptosis is an active and tightly regulated form of cell death, which can also be considered a stress-induced process of cellular communication. Recent studies reveal that the lipid network within cells is involved in the regulation and propagation of death signalling. Despite the vast growth of our current knowledge on apoptosis, little is known of the specific role played by lipid molecules in the central event of apoptosis-the piercing of mitochondrial membranes. Here we review the information regarding changes in mitochondrial lipids that are associated with apoptosis and discuss whether they may be involved in the permeabilization of mitochondria to release their apoptogenic factors, or just lie downstream of this permeabilization leading to the amplification of caspase activation. We focus on the earliest changes that physiological apoptosis induces in mitochondrial membranes, which may derive from an upstream alteration of phospholipid metabolism that reverberates on the mitochondrial re-modelling of their characteristic lipid, cardiolipin. Hopefully, this review will lead to an increased understanding of the role of mitochondrial lipids in apoptosis and also help revealing new stress sensing mechanisms in cells. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Mitochondria: the deadly organelle.
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 09/2010; 1813(4):551-7. · 4.66 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The entropy of an ergodic source is the limit of properly rescaled 1-block entropies of sources obtained applying successive non-sequential recursive pairs substitutions ,. In this paper we prove that the cross entropy and the Kullback-Leibler divergence can be obtained in a similar way.
Journal of Statistical Mechanics Theory and Experiment 01/2010; · 1.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ChemInform is a weekly Abstracting Service, delivering concise information at a glance that was extracted from about 100 leading journals. To access a ChemInform Abstract of an article which was published elsewhere, please select a “Full Text” option. The original article is trackable via the “References” option.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Fas/CD95 surface receptor mediates rapid death of various cell types, including autoreactive T cells with the potential for triggering autoimmunity. Here, we present novel aspects of Fas signalling that define a 'social' dimension to receptor-induced apoptosis. Fas stimulation rapidly induces extensive membrane nanotube formation between neighbouring T cells. This is critically dependent on Rho GTPases but not on caspase activation. Bidirectional transfer of membrane and cytosolic elements including active caspases can be observed to occur via these nanotubes. Nanotube formation and intercellular exchanges of death signals are defective in T lymphocytes from patients with autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome harbouring mutations in the Fas receptor. We conclude that nanotube-mediated exchanges constitute a novel form of intercellular communication that augments the propagation of death signalling between neighbouring T cells.
Cell Research 09/2009; 20(1):72-88. · 10.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bid is a ubiquitous pro-apoptotic member of the Bcl-2 family that has been involved in a variety of pathways of cell death. Unique among pro-apoptotic proteins, Bid is activated after cleavage by the apical caspases of the extrinsic pathway; subsequently it moves to mitochondria, where it promotes the release of apoptogenic proteins in concert with other Bcl-2 family proteins like Bak. Diverse factors appear to modulate the pro-apoptotic action of Bid, from its avid binding to mitochondrial lipids (in particular, cardiolipin) to multiple phosphorylations at sites that can modulate its caspase cleavage. This work addresses the question of how the lipid interactions of Bid that are evident in vitro actually impact on its pro-apoptotic action within cells. Using site-directed mutagenesis, we identified mutations that reduced mouse Bid lipid binding in vitro. Mutation of the conserved residue Lys157 specifically decreased the binding to negatively charged lipids related to cardiolipin and additionally affected the rate of caspase cleavage. However, this lipid-binding mutant had no discernable effect on Bid pro-apoptotic function in vivo. The results are interpreted in relation to an underlying interaction of Bid with lysophosphatidylcholine, which is not disrupted in any mutant retaining pro-apoptotic function both in vitro and in vivo.
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 06/2009; 1791(10):997-1010. · 4.66 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We compare and discuss the use of different symbolic codings of electrocardiogram (ECG) signals in order to distinguish healthy patients from hospitalized ones. To this aim, we recall a parsing-based similarity distance and compare the performances of several methods of classification of data.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cellular stress responses can be activated following functional defects in organelles such as mitochondria and the endoplasmic reticulum. Mitochondrial dysfunction caused by loss of the serine protease HtrA2 leads to a progressive movement disorder in mice and has been linked to parkinsonian neurodegeneration in humans. Here, we demonstrate that loss of HtrA2 results in transcriptional upregulation of nuclear genes characteristic of the integrated stress response, including the transcription factor CHOP, selectively in the brain. We also show that loss of HtrA2 results in the accumulation of unfolded proteins in the mitochondria, defective mitochondrial respiration and enhanced production of reactive oxygen species that contribute to the induction of CHOP expression and to neuronal cell death. CHOP expression is also significantly increased in Parkinson's disease patients' brain tissue. We therefore propose that this brain-specific transcriptional response to stress may be important in the advance of neurodegenerative diseases.
Cell death and differentiation 12/2008; 16(3):449-64. · 8.24 Impact Factor