G Birrell

Royal Brisbane Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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Publications (31)170.49 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Biomarkers of the age of mosquitoes are required to determine the risk of transmission of various pathogens as each pathogen undergoes a period of extrinsic incubation in the mosquito host. Using the 2-D Difference Gel Electrophoresis (2-D DIGE) procedure, we investigated the abundance of up to 898 proteins from the Yellow Fever and dengue virus vector, Aedes aegypti, during ageing. By applying a mixed-effects model of protein expression, we identified five common patterns of abundance change during ageing and demonstrated an age-related decrease in variance for four of these. This supported a search for specific proteins with abundance changes that remain tightly associated with ageing for use as ageing biomarkers. Using MALDI-TOF/TOF mass spectrometry we identified ten candidate proteins that satisfied strict biomarker discovery criteria (identified in two out of three multivariate analysis procedures and in two cohorts of mosquitoes). We validated the abundances of the four most suitable candidates (Actin depolymerising factor; ADF, Eukaryotic initiation factor 5A; eIF5A, insect cuticle protein Q17LN8, and Anterior fat body protein; AFP) using semi-quantitative Western analysis of individual mosquitoes of six ages. The redox-response protein Manganese superoxide dismutase (SOD2) and electron shuttling protein Electron transfer oxidoreductase (ETO) were subject to post-translational modifications affecting their charge states with potential effects on function. For the four candidates we show remarkably consistent decreases in abundance during ageing, validating initial selections. In particular, the abundance of AFP is an ideal biomarker candidate for whether a female mosquito has lived long enough to be capable of dengue virus transmission. We have demonstrated proteins to be a suitable class of ageing biomarkers in mosquitoes and have identified candidates for epidemiological studies of dengue and the evaluation of new disease reduction projects targeting mosquito longevity.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(3):e58656. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Textilinin-1 is a Kunitz-type serine protease inhibitor from Australian brown snake venom. Its ability to potently and specifically inhibit human plasmin (K(i) = 0.44 nM) makes it a potential therapeutic drug as a systemic anti-bleeding agent. The crystal structures of the human microplasmin-textilinin-1 and the trypsin-textilinin-1 complexes have been determined to 2.78 Å and 1.64 Å resolution respectively, and show that textilinin-1 binds to trypsin in a canonical mode but to microplasmin in an atypical mode with the catalytic histidine of microplasmin rotated out of the active site. The space vacated by the histidine side-chain in this complex is partially occupied by a water molecule. In the structure of microplasminogen the χ(1) dihedral angle of the side-chain of the catalytic histidine is rotated by 67° from its "active" position in the catalytic triad, as exemplified by its location when microplasmin is bound to streptokinase. However, when textilinin-1 binds to microplasmin the χ(1) dihedral angle of this amino acid residue changes by -157° (i.e. in the opposite rotation direction compared to microplasminogen). The unusual mode of interaction between textilinin-1 and plasmin explains textilinin-1's selectivity for human plasmin over plasma kallikrein. This difference can be exploited in future drug design efforts.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(1):e54104. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Defects in the recognition and/or repair of damage to DNA are responsible for a sub-group of autosomal recessive ataxias. Included in this group is a novel form of ataxia with oculomotor apraxia characterised by sensitivity to DNA damaging agents, a defect in p53 stabilisation, oxidative stress and resistance to apoptosis. We provide evidence here that the defect in this patient's cells is at the level of the mitochondrion. Mitochondrial membrane potential was markedly reduced in cells from the patient and ROS levels were elevated. This was accompanied by lipid peroxidation of mitochondrial proteins involved in electron transport and RNA synthesis. However, no gross changes or alteration in composition or activity of mitochondrial electron transport complexes was evident. Sequencing of mitochondrial DNA revealed a mutation, 1349T, in the mitochondrial cytochrome B gene. These results describe a patient with an apparently novel form of AOA characterised by a defect at the level of the mitochondrion.
    Mitochondrion 11/2012; · 4.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: hSMG-1 is a member of the phosphoinositide 3 kinase-like kinase (PIKK) family with established roles in nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) of mRNA containing premature termination codons and in genotoxic stress responses to DNA damage. We report here a novel role for hSMG-1 in cytoplasmic stress granule (SG) formation. Exposure of cells to stress causing agents led to the localization of hSMG-1 to SG, identified by colocalization with TIA-1, G3BP1, and eIF4G. hSMG-1 small interfering RNA and the PIKK inhibitor wortmannin prevented formation of a subset of SG, while specific inhibitors of ATM, DNA-PK(cs), or mTOR had no effect. Exposure of cells to H(2)O(2) and sodium arsenite induced (S/T)Q phosphorylation of proteins. While Upf2 and Upf1, an essential substrate for hSMG-1 in NMD, were present in SG, NMD-specific Upf1 phosphorylation was not detected in SG, indicating hSMG-1's role in SG is separate from classical NMD. Thus, SG formation appears more complex than originally envisaged and hSMG-1 plays a central role in this process.
    Molecular and cellular biology 09/2011; 31(22):4417-29. · 6.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Mre11/Rad50/NBN complex plays a central role in coordinating the cellular response to DNA double-strand breaks. The importance of Rad50 in that response is evident from the recent description of a patient with Rad50 deficiency characterized by chromosomal instability and defective ATM-dependent signaling. We report here that ATM (defective in ataxia-telangiectasia) phosphorylates Rad50 at a single site (Ser-635) that plays an important adaptor role in signaling for cell cycle control and DNA repair. Although a Rad50 phosphosite-specific mutant (S635G) supported normal activation of ATM in Rad50-deficient cells, it was defective in correcting DNA damage-induced signaling through the ATM-dependent substrate SMC1. This mutant also failed to correct radiosensitivity, DNA double-strand break repair, and an S-phase checkpoint defect in Rad50-deficient cells. This was not due to disruption of the Mre11/Rad50/NBN complex revealing for the first time that phosphorylation of Rad50 plays a key regulatory role as an adaptor for specific ATM-dependent downstream signaling through SMC1 for DNA repair and cell cycle checkpoint control in the maintenance of genome integrity.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2011; 286(36):31542-31556. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Mre11/Rad50/NBN complex plays a central role in coordinating the cellular response to DNA double-strand breaks. The importance of Rad50 in that response is evident from the recent description of a patient with Rad50 deficiency characterized by chromosomal instability and defective ATM-dependent signaling. We report here that ATM (defective in ataxia-telangiectasia) phosphorylates Rad50 at a single site (Ser-635) that plays an important adaptor role in signaling for cell cycle control and DNA repair. Although a Rad50 phosphosite-specific mutant (S635G) supported normal activation of ATM in Rad50-deficient cells, it was defective in correcting DNA damage-induced signaling through the ATM-dependent substrate SMC1. This mutant also failed to correct radiosensitivity, DNA double-strand break repair, and an S-phase checkpoint defect in Rad50-deficient cells. This was not due to disruption of the Mre11/Rad50/NBN complex revealing for the first time that phosphorylation of Rad50 plays a key regulatory role as an adaptor for specific ATM-dependent downstream signaling through SMC1 for DNA repair and cell cycle checkpoint control in the maintenance of genome integrity.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 07/2011; 286(36):31542-56. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Adjuvant radiotherapy for cancer can result in severe adverse side effects for normal tissues. In this respect, individuals with anomalies of the ATM (ataxia telangiectasia) protein/gene are of particular interest as they may be at risk of both breast cancer and clinical radiosensitivity. The association of specific ATM gene mutations with these pathologies has been well documented, however, there is uncertainty regarding pathological thresholds for the ATM protein. Semi-quantitative immuno-blotting provided a reliable and reproducible method to compare levels of the ATM protein for a rare cohort of 20 cancer patients selected on the basis of their severe adverse normal tissue reactions to radiotherapy. We found that 4/12 (33%) of the breast cancer patients with severe adverse normal tissue reactions following radiotherapy had ATM protein levels < 55% compared to the mean for non-reactor controls. ATM mutations are generally considered low risk alleles for breast cancer and clinical radiosensitivity. From results reported here we propose a tentative ATM protein threshold of ~55% for high-risk of clinical radiosensitivity for breast cancer patients.
    Genome integrity. 01/2010; 1(1):9.
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    ABSTRACT: Ataxia oculomotor apraxia type 2 (AOA2) is an autosomal recessive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by cerebellar ataxia and oculomotor apraxia. The gene mutated in AOA2, SETX, encodes senataxin, a putative DNA/RNA helicase which shares high homology to the yeast Sen1p protein and has been shown to play a role in the response to oxidative stress. To investigate further the function of senataxin, we identified novel senataxin-interacting proteins, the majority of which are involved in transcription and RNA processing, including RNA polymerase II. Binding of RNA polymerase II to candidate genes was significantly reduced in senataxin deficient cells and this was accompanied by decreased transcription of these genes, suggesting a role for senataxin in the regulation/modulation of transcription. RNA polymerase II-dependent transcription termination was defective in cells depleted of senataxin in keeping with the observed interaction of senataxin with poly(A) binding proteins 1 and 2. Splicing efficiency of specific mRNAs and alternate splice-site selection of both endogenous genes and artificial minigenes were altered in senataxin depleted cells. These data suggest that senataxin, similar to its yeast homolog Sen1p, plays a role in coordinating transcriptional events, in addition to its role in DNA repair.
    Human Molecular Genetics 07/2009; 18(18):3384-96. · 7.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Included among the more than 300 species of elapid snakes worldwide is the Australian genus Demansia, or whip snakes. Despite evidence to suggest adverse clinical outcomes from envenomation by these snakes, together with confusion on their true phylogenetic relationship to other Australian elapids, not a single toxin sequence has previously been reported from the venom of a Demansia species. We describe here a combined proteomic and transcriptomic approach characterizing the venom from the black whip snake, Demansia vestigiata. A total of 13 distinct toxin families were identified, including homologues of all of the major toxic components previously reported from the venom of other Australian elapids, such as factor X-like prothrombin activators, neurotoxins, phospholipases, cysteine rich secretory proteins, textilinin-like molecules, nerve growth factors, l-amino acid oxidases, vespryns, 5' nucleotidases, metalloproteinases, and C-type lectins as well as a novel dipeptidyl peptidase family. Phylogenetic analysis of these sequences revealed an early evolutionary split of the black whip snake from all other characterized Australian snakes, with a low degree of sequence identity between D. vestigiata and the other snakes, across all toxin families. The results of this study have important implications not only for the further characterization of venom from whip snakes, but also for our understanding of the evolutionary relationship of Australian snake species.
    Journal of Proteome Research 09/2007; 6(8):3093-107. · 5.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Australian elapid snakes are among the most venomous in the world. Their venoms contain multiple components that target blood hemostasis, neuromuscular signaling, and the cardiovascular system. We describe here a comprehensive approach to separation and identification of the venom proteins from 18 of these snake species, representing nine genera. The venom protein components were separated by two-dimensional PAGE and identified using mass spectrometry and de novo peptide sequencing. The venoms are complex mixtures showing up to 200 protein spots varying in size from <7 to over 150 kDa and in pI from 3 to >10. These include many proteins identified previously in Australian snake venoms, homologs identified in other snake species, and some novel proteins. In many cases multiple trains of spots were typically observed in the higher molecular mass range (>20 kDa) (indicative of post-translational modification). Venom proteins and their post-translational modifications were characterized using specific antibodies, phosphoprotein- and glycoprotein-specific stains, enzymatic digestion, lectin binding, and antivenom reactivity. In the lower molecular weight range, several proteins were identified, but the predominant species were phospholipase A2 and alpha-neurotoxins, both represented by different sequence variants. The higher molecular weight range contained proteases, nucleotidases, oxidases, and homologs of mammalian coagulation factors. This information together with the identification of several novel proteins (metalloproteinases, vespryns, phospholipase A2 inhibitors, protein-disulfide isomerase, 5'-nucleotidases, cysteine-rich secreted proteins, C-type lectins, and acetylcholinesterases) aids in understanding the lethal mechanisms of elapid snake venoms and represents a valuable resource for future development of novel human therapeutics.
    Molecular &amp Cellular Proteomics 06/2007; 6(6):973-86. · 7.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Australian elapid snakes are amongst the most venomous snakes in the world, but much less is known about the overall venom composition in comparison to Asian and American snakes. We have used a combined approach of cDNA cloning and 2-DE with MS to identify nerve growth factor (NGF) in venoms of the Australian elapid snakes and demonstrate its neurite outgrowth activity. While a single 730 nucleotide ORF, coding for a 243 amino acid precursor protein was detected in all snakes, use of 2-DE identified NGF proteins with considerable variation in molecular size within and between the different snakes. The variation in size can be explained at least in part by N-linked glycosylation. It is possible that these modifications alter the stability, activity and other characteristics of the snake NGFs. Further characterisation is necessary to delineate the function of the individual NGF isoforms.
    PROTEOMICS 01/2007; 6(24):6554-65. · 4.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The APTX gene, mutated in patients with the neurological disorder ataxia with oculomotor apraxia type 1 (AOA1), encodes a novel protein aprataxin. We describe here, the interaction and interdependence between aprataxin and several nucleolar proteins, including nucleolin, nucleophosmin and upstream binding factor-1 (UBF-1), involved in ribosomal RNA (rRNA) synthesis and cellular stress signalling. Interaction between aprataxin and nucleolin occurred through their respective N-terminal regions. In AOA1 cells lacking aprataxin, the stability of nucleolin was significantly reduced. On the other hand, down-regulation of nucleolin by RNA interference did not affect aprataxin protein levels but abolished its nucleolar localization suggesting that the interaction with nucleolin is involved in its nucleolar targeting. GFP-aprataxin fusion protein co-localized with nucleolin, nucleophosmin and UBF-1 in nucleoli and inhibition of ribosomal DNA transcription altered the distribution of aprataxin in the nucleolus, suggesting that the nature of the nucleolar localization of aprataxin is also dependent on ongoing rRNA synthesis. In vivo rRNA synthesis analysis showed only a minor decrease in AOA1 cells when compared with controls cells. These results demonstrate a cross-dependence between aprataxin and nucleolin in the nucleolus and while aprataxin does not appear to be directly involved in rRNA synthesis its nucleolar localization is dependent on this synthesis.
    Human Molecular Genetics 08/2006; 15(14):2239-49. · 7.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM), the protein defective in ataxia-telangiectasia, plays a central role in DNA damage response and signaling to cell cycle checkpoints. We describe here a cell line from a patient with an ataxia-telangiectasia-like clinical phenotype defective in the p53 response to radiation but with normal ATM activation and efficient downstream phosphorylation of other ATM substrates. No mutations were detected in ATM cDNA. A normal level of interaction between p53 and peptidyl-prolyl-isomerase Pin1 suggests that posttranslational modification was intact in these cells but operating at reduced level. Defective p53 stabilization was accompanied by defective induction of p53 effector genes and failure to induce apoptosis in response to DNA-damaging agents. Continued association between p53 and murine double minute-2 (Mdm2) occurred in irradiated ATL2ABR cells in response to DNA damage, and incubation with Mdm2 antagonists, nutlins, increased the stabilization of p53 and its transcriptional activity but failed to induce apoptosis. These results suggest that ATM-dependent stabilization of p53 and induction of apoptosis by radiation involve an additional factor(s) that is defective in ATL2ABR cells.
    Cancer Research 04/2006; 66(6):2907-12. · 8.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Venom from the Australian elapid Pseudonaja textilis (Common or Eastern Brown snake), is the second most toxic snake venom known and is the most common cause of death from snake bite in Australia. This venom is known to contain a prothrombin activator complex, serine proteinase inhibitors, various phospholipase A2s, and pre- and postsynaptic neurotoxins. In this study, we performed a proteomic identification of the venom using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, mass spectrometry, and de novo peptide sequencing. We identified most of the venom proteins including proteins previously not known to be present in the venom. In addition, we used immunoblotting and post-translational modification-specific enzyme stains and antibodies that reveal the complexity and regional diversity of the venom. Modifications observed include phosphorylation, gamma-carboxylation, and glycosylation. Glycoproteins were further characterized by enzymatic deglycosylation and by lectin binding specificity. The venom contains an abundance of glycoproteins with N-linked sugars that include glucose/mannose, N-acetylgalactosamine, N-acetylglucosamine, and sialic acids. Additionally there are multiple isoforms of mammalian coagulation factors that comprise a significant proportion of the venom. Indeed two of the identified proteins, a procoagulant and a plasmin inhibitor, are currently in development as human therapeutic agents.
    Molecular &amp Cellular Proteomics 03/2006; 5(2):379-89. · 7.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mutations in the ATM gene are responsible for the autosomal recessive disorder, ataxia telangiectasia (A-T). Mutations in different ethnic groups are distributed along the entire length of the large, 66 exon ATM gene. In this study, A-T patients from 16 Russian families were assessed for immunological status and ATM haplotype analysis, and screened for ATM mutations. Haplotype analysis was performed to enhance the efficiency of mutation detection. Mutations predicted to cause disease were identified in 19 of 32 alleles (59%), including a truncating mutation (c.5932G>T) that was identified in 8/32 (25%) alleles both by haplotype analysis and mutation screening. This mutation has been found in low abundance in other European A-T cohorts suggesting that this founder-effect mutation may be of Russian origin. The abundance of this mutation may allow for large-scale screening of cancer patients to help clarify the role of ATM in breast and other cancers. Nine of the remaining mutations were previously unreported, and add to the multitude of unique mutations found throughout the gene.
    Human Mutation 07/2005; 25(6):593. · 5.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: DNA double strand breaks represent the most threatening lesion to the integrity of the genome in cells exposed to ionizing radiation and radiomimetic chemicals. Those breaks are recognized, signaled to cell cycle checkpoints and repaired by protein complexes. The product of the gene (ATM) mutated in the human genetic disorder ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) plays a central role in the recognition and signaling of DNA damage. ATM is one of an ever growing number of proteins which when mutated compromise the stability of the genome and predispose to tumour development. Mechanisms for recognising double strand breaks in DNA, maintaining genome stability and minimizing risk of cancer are discussed.
    Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis 02/2005; 569(1-2):123-32. · 3.90 Impact Factor
  • Advances in experimental medicine and biology 02/2005; 570:457-76. · 1.83 Impact Factor
  • Handbook of Cell Signaling, Edited by Ralph Bradshaw and Edward Dennis, 01/2003: chapter 304: pages 225-236;
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    ABSTRACT: The dose intensity of radiotherapy (RT) used in cancer treatment is limited in rare individuals who display severe normal tissue reactions after standard RT treatments. Novel predictive assays are required to identify these individuals prior to treatment. The mechanisms responsible for such reactions are unknown, but may involve dysfunction of genes involved in the sensing and response of cells to DNA damage. The breast cancer susceptibility genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 are implicated in DNA damage repair and the control of genome stability. The purpose of this study was to determine if clinical radiation hypersensitivity is related to mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Such information is of potential use in the clinical management of BRCA mutation carriers and their families. Twenty-two cancer patients who developed severe normal tissue reactions after RT were screened for mutations of BRCA1 and BRCA2, using various methods including protein truncation testing, direct DNA sequencing, and a PCR-based BRCA1 exon 13 duplication test. No mutations were detected in the 22 patients tested, despite screening for the majority of commonly described types of mutations of BRCA1 and BRCA2. These early results suggest that genes other than BRCA1 and BRCA2 probably account for most cases of clinical radiation hypersensitivity, and that screening for mutations of BRCA1 and BRCA2 is unlikely to be useful in predicting response to radiotherapy. However, it has not been excluded that some BRCA1 or BRCA2 heterozygotes might experience unexpected RT toxicity; further BRCA mutation screening on radiation sensitive individuals is warranted.
    International Journal of Radiation OncologyBiologyPhysics 12/2000; 48(4):959-65. · 4.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The gene mutated in the human genetic disorder ataxia-telangiectasia codes for a protein, ATM, the known functions of which include response to DNA damage, cell cycle control, and meiotic recombination. Consistent with these functions, ATM is predominantly present in the nucleus of proliferating cells; however, a significant proportion of the protein has also been detected outside the nucleus in cytoplasmic vesicles. To understand the possible role of extra-nuclear ATM, we initially investigated the nature of these vesicles. In this report we demonstrate that a portion of ATM co-localizes with catalase, that ATM is present in purified mouse peroxisomes, and that there are reduced levels of ATM in the post-mitochondrial membrane fraction of cells from a patient with a peroxisome biogenesis disorder. Furthermore the use of the yeast two-hybrid system demonstrated that ATM interacts directly with a protein involved in the import of proteins into the peroxisome matrix. Because peroxisomes are major sites of oxidative metabolism, we investigated catalase activity and lipid hydroperoxide levels in normal and A-T fibroblasts. Significantly decreased catalase activity and increased lipid peroxidation was observed in several A-T cell lines. The localization of ATM to peroxisomes may contribute to the pleiotropic nature of A-T.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 12/1999; 274(48):34277-82. · 4.65 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

747 Citations
170.49 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1997–2013
    • Royal Brisbane Hospital
      Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • 2012
    • Australian Army Malaria Institute
      Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • 1995–2012
    • Queensland Institute of Medical Research
      • Radiation Biology and Oncology Group
      Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • 2011
    • National University of Ireland, Galway
      • Centre for Chromosome Biology
      Gaillimh, Connaught, Ireland