[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Trp53 gene is the most frequently mutated gene in all human cancers. Its protein product p53 is a very powerful transcription factor that can activate different biochemical pathways and affect the regulation of metabolism, senescence, DNA damage response, cell cycle and cell death. The understanding of its function at the molecular level could be of pivotal relevance for therapy. Investigation of long-range intra- and interdomain communications in the p53 tetramer–DNA complex was performed by means of an atomistic model that included the tetramerization helices in the C-terminal domain, the DNA-binding domains and a consensus DNA-binding site of 18 base pairs. Nonsymmetric dynamics are illustrated in the four DNA-binding domains, with loop L1 switching from inward to outward conformations with respect to the DNA major groove. Direct intra- and intermonomeric long-range communications between the tetramerization and DNA-binding domains are noted. These long-distance conformational changes link the C terminus with the DNA-binding domain and provide a biophysical rationale for the reported functional regulation of the p53 C-terminal region. A fine characterization of the DNA deformation caused by p53 binding is obtained, with ‘static’ deformations always present and measured by the slide parameter in the central thymine–adenine base pairs; we also detect ‘dynamic’ deformations switched on and off by particular p53 tetrameric conformations and measured by the roll and twist parameters in the same base pairs. These different conformations can indeed modulate the electrostatic potential isosurfaces of the whole p53–DNA complex. These results provide a molecular/biophysical understanding of the evident role of the C terminus in post-translational modification that regulates the transcriptional function of p53. Furthermore, the unstructured C terminus is able to facilitate contacts between the core DNA-binding domains of the tetramer.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gene therapy suggests a promising approach to treat genetic diseases by applying genes as pharmaceuticals. Cancer is a complex disease, which strongly depends on a particular genetic make-up and hence can be treated with gene therapy. From about 2,000 clinical trials carried out so far, more than 60% were cancer targeted. Development of precise and effective gene therapy approaches is intimately connected with achievements in the molecular biology techniques. The field of gene therapy was recently revolutionized by the introduction of “programmable” nucleases, including ZFNs, TALENs, and CRISPR, which target specific genomic loci with high efficacy and precision. Furthermore, when combined with DNA transposons for the delivery purposes into cells, these programmable nucleases represent a promising alternative to the conventional viral-mediated gene delivery. In addition to “programmable” nucleases, a new class of TALE- and CRISPR-based “artificial transcription effectors” has been developed to mediate precise regulation of specific genes. In sum, these new molecular tools may be used in a wide plethora of gene therapy strategies. This review highlights the current status of novel genome editing tools and discusses their suitability and perspectives in respect to cancer gene therapy studies.
Current Gene Therapy 10/2015; 15(5). DOI:10.2174/1566523215666150818110241 · 2.54 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by extensive synovitis resulting in erosions of articular cartilage and marginal bone that lead to joint destruction. The autoimmune process in RA depends on the activation of immune cells, which use intracellular kinases to respond to external stimuli such as cytokines, immune complexes, and antigens. An intricate cytokine network participates in inflammation and in perpetuation of disease by positive feedback loops promoting systemic disorder. The widespread systemic effects mediated by pro-inflammatory cytokines in RA impact on metabolism and in particular in lymphocyte metabolism. Moreover, RA pathobiology seems to share some common pathways with atherosclerosis, including endothelial dysfunction that is related to underlying chronic inflammation. The extent of the metabolic changes and the types of metabolites seen may be good markers of cytokine-mediated inflammatory processes in RA. Altered metabolic fingerprints may be useful in predicting the development of RA in patients with early arthritis as well as in the evaluation of the treatment response. Evidence supports the role of metabolomic analysis as a novel and nontargeted approach for identifying potential biomarkers and for improving the clinical and therapeutical management of patients with chronic inflammatory diseases. Here, we review the metabolic changes occurring in the pathogenesis of RA as well as the implication of the metabolic features in the treatment response.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: As a member of the p53 gene family, p73 regulates cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, neurogenesis, immunity and inflammation. Recently, p73 has been shown to transcriptionally regulate selective metabolic enzymes, such as cytochrome c oxidase subunit IV isoform 1, glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase and glutaminase-2, resulting in significant effects on metabolism, including hepatocellular lipid metabolism, glutathione homeostasis and the pentose phosphate pathway. In order to further investigate the metabolic effect of p73, here, we compared the global metabolic profile of livers from p73 knockout and wild-type mice under both control and starvation conditions. Our results show that the depletion of all p73 isoforms cause altered lysine metabolism and glycolysis, distinct patterns for glutathione synthesis and Krebs cycle, as well as an elevated pentose phosphate pathway and abnormal lipid accumulation. These results indicate that p73 regulates basal and starvation-induced fuel metabolism in the liver, a finding that is likely to be highly relevant for metabolism-associated disorders, such as diabetes and cancer.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The HECT-type E3 ubiquitin ligase Itch is absent in the non-agouti-lethal 18H or Itchy mice, which develop a severe immunological disease. Several of the known Itch substrates are relevant for epidermal development and homeostasis, such as p63, Notch, c-Jun e JunB. By analysing Itchy mice before the onset of immunological alterations, we investigated the contribution of Itch in skin development and wound healing. Itchy new born mice manifested hyperplastic epidermis, which is not present in adulthood. Itch-/- cultured keratinocytes showed over expression of proliferating markers, increased capability to proliferate, migrate and to repair a scratch injury in vitro. These data correlated with improved in vivo wound healing in Itchy mice, at late time points of the repair process when Itch is physiologically up regulated. Despite healing acceleration, epidermal remodelling was delayed in the scars of Itch-/- mice, as indicated by enhanced epidermal thickening, keratinocyte proliferation, and keratin 6 expression, and retarded keratin 14 polarization to the basal layer. Itch-/- keratinocytes prolonged activation was not associated with increased immune cell persistence in the scars. Our in vitro and in vivo results indicate that Itch plays a role in epidermal homeostasis and remodelling and this feature does not seem to depend on immunological alterations.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Short p63 isoform, ΔNp63, is crucial for epidermis formation, and it plays a pivotal role in controlling the turnover of basal keratinocytes by regulating the expression of a subset of genes involved in cell cycle and cell adhesion programs. The glycolytic enzyme hexokinase 2 (HK2) represents the first step of glucose utilization in cells. The family of HKs has four isoforms that differ mainly in their tissue and subcellular distribution. The preferential mitochondrial localization of HK2 at voltage-dependent anion channels provides access to ATP generated by oxidative phosphorylation and generates an ADP/ATP recycling mechanism to maintain high respiration rates and low electron leak. Here, we report that ΔNp63 depletion in human keratinocytes impairs mitochondrial basal respiration and increases mitochondrial membrane polarization and intracellular reactive oxygen species. We show ΔNp63-dependent regulation of HK2 expression, and we use ChIP, validated by p63-Chip sequencing genomewide profiling analysis, and luciferase assays to demonstrate the presence of one p63-specific responsive element within the 15th intronic region of the HK2 gene, providing evidence of a direct interaction. Our data support the notion of ΔNp63 as a master regulator in epithelial cells of a combined subset of molecular mechanisms, including cellular energy metabolism and respiration. The ΔNp63-HK2 axis is also present in epithelial cancer cells, suggesting that ΔNp63 could participate in cancer metabolic reprogramming.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2015; 112(37). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1508871112 · 9.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ZNF281 is a zinc-finger factor involved in the control of cellular stemness and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Here, we report that ZNF281 expression increased after genotoxic stress caused by DNA-damaging drugs. Comet assays demonstrated that DNA repair was delayed in cells silenced for the expression of ZNF281 and treated with etoposide. Furthermore, the expression of 10 DNA damage response genes was downregulated in cells treated with etoposide and silenced for ZNF281. In line with this finding, XRCC2 and XRCC4, two genes that take part in homologous recombination and non-homologous end joining, respectively, were transcriptionally activated by ZNF281 through a DNA-binding-dependent mechanism, as demonstrated by luciferase assays and Chromatin crosslinking ImmunoPrecipitation experiments. c-Myc, which also binds to the promoters of XRCC2 and XRCC4, was unable to promote their transcription or to modify ZNF281 activity. Of interest, bioinformatic analysis of 1971 breast cancer patients disclosed a significant correlation between the expression of ZNF281 and that of XRCC2. In summary, our data highlight, for the first time, the involvement of ZNF281 in the cellular response to genotoxic stress through the control exercised on the expression of genes that act in different repair mechanisms.Oncogene advance online publication, 24 August 2015; doi:10.1038/onc.2015.320.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The p53-family member, p73, plays a key role in the development of the central nervous system (CNS), in senescence, and in tumor formation. The role of p73 in neuronal differentiation is complex and involves several downstream pathways. Indeed, in the last few years, we have learnt that TAp73 directly or indirectly regulates several genes involved in neural biology. In particular, TAp73 is involved in the maintenance of neural stem/progenitor cell self-renewal and differentiation throughout the regulation of SOX-2, Hey-2, TRIM32 and Notch. In addition, TAp73 is also implicated in the regulation of the differentiation and function of postmitotic neurons by regulating the expression of p75NTR and GLS2 (glutamine metabolism). Further still, the regulation of miR-34a by TAp73 indicates that microRNAs can also participate in this multifunctional role of p73 in adult brain physiology. However, contradictory results still exist in the relationship between p73 and brain disorders, and this remains an important area for further investigation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genotoxic stress inflicted by anti-cancer drugs causes DNA breaks and genome instability. DNA double strand breaks induced by irradiation or pharmacological inhibition of Topoisomerase II activate ATM (ataxia-telangiectasia-mutated) kinase signalling pathway that in turn triggers cell cycle arrest and DNA repair. ATM-dependent gamma-phosphorylation of histone H2Ax and other histone modifications, including ubiquitnylation, promote exchange of histones and recruitment of DNA damage response (DDR) and repair proteins. Signal transduction pathways, besides DDR itself, also control expression of genes whose products cause cell cycle arrest and/or apoptosis thus ultimately affecting the sensitivity of cells to genotoxic stress. In this study, using a number of experimental approaches we provide evidence that lysine-specific methyltransferase (KMT) Set7/9 affects DDR and DNA repair, at least in part, by regulating the expression of an E3 ubiquitin ligase, Mdm2. Furthermore, we show that Set7/9 physically interacts with Mdm2. Several cancer cell lines with inverse expression of Set7/9 and Mdm2 displayed diminished survival in response to genotoxic stress. These findings are signified by our bioinformatics studies suggesting that the unleashed expression of Mdm2 in cancer patients with diminished expression of Set7/9 is associated with poor survival outcome.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human pluripotent stem cells provide a versatile platform for regenerative studies, drug testing and disease modeling. That the expression of only four transcription factors, Oct4, Klf4, Sox2 and c-Myc (OKSM), is sufficient for generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from differentiated somatic cells has revolutionized the field and also highlighted the importance of OKSM as targets for genome editing. A number of novel genome-editing systems have been developed recently. In this review, we focus on successful applications of several such systems for generation of iPSCs. In particular, we discuss genome-editing systems based on zinc-finger fusion proteins (ZFs), transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs) and an RNA-guided DNA-specific nuclease, Cas9, derived from the bacterial defense system against viruses that utilizes clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Proteasomes play a critical role in the fate of proteins that are involved in major cellular processes, including signal transduction, gene expression, cell cycle, replication, differentiation, immune response, cellular response to stress, etc. In contrast to non-specific degradation by lysosomes, proteasomes are highly selective and destroy only the proteins that are covalently labelled with small proteins, called ubiquitins. Importantly, many diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases and cancers, are intimately connected to the activity of proteasomes making them an important pharmacological target. Currently, the vast majority of inhibitors are aimed at blunting the proteolytic activities of proteasomes. However, recent achievements in solving structures of proteasomes at very high resolution provided opportunities to design new classes of small molecules that target other physiologically-important enzymatic activities of proteasomes, including the de-ubiquitinating one. This review attempts to catalog the information available to date about novel classes of proteasome inhibitors that may have important pharmacological ramifications.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lung cancer is the most feared of all cancers because of its heterogeneity and resistance to available treatments. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are the cell population responsible for lung cancer chemoresistance and are a very good model for testing new targeted therapies. Clomipramine is an FDA-approved antidepressant drug, able to inhibit in vitro the E3 ubiquitin ligase Itch and potentiate the pro-apoptotic effects of DNA damaging induced agents in several cancer cell lines. Here, we investigated the potential therapeutic effect of desmethylclomipramine (DCMI), the active metabolite of Clomipramine, on the CSCs homeostasis. We show that DCMI inhibits lung CSCs growth, decreases their stemness potential and increases the cytotoxic effect of conventional chemotherapeutic drugs. Being DCMI an inhibitor of the E3 ubiquitin ligase Itch, we also verified the effect of Itch deregulation on CSCs survival. We found that the siRNA-mediated depletion of Itch induces similar anti-proliferative effects on lung CSCs, suggesting that DCMI might exert its effect, at least in part, by inhibiting Itch. Notably, Itch expression is a negative prognostic factor in two primary lung tumors datasets, supporting the potential clinical relevance of Itch inhibition to circumvent drug resistance in the treatment of lung cancer.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A series of isatin Schiff base derivatives were identified during in silico screening of the small molecule library for novel activators of p53. The compounds selected based on molecular docking results were further validated by a high-content screening assay using U2OS human osteosarcoma cells with an integrated EGFP-expressing p53-dependent reporter. The hit compounds activated and stabilized p53, as shown by Western blotting, at higher rates than the well-known positive control Nutlin-3. Thus, the p53-activating compounds identified by this approach represent useful molecular probes for various cancer studies. KEYWORDS: in silico, isatin Mannich and Schiff bases, p53 activators, in vivo assay, protein−protein interactions, MDM2
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Metastasis is a multistep cell-biological process, which is orchestrated by many factors, including metastasis activators and suppressors. Metastasis Suppressor 1 (MTSS1) was originally identified as a metastasis suppressor protein whose expression is lost in metastatic bladder and prostate carcinomas. However, recent findings indicate that MTSS1 acts as oncogene and pro-migratory factor in melanoma tumors. Here, we identify and characterized a molecular mechanism controlling MTSS1 expression, which impinges on a pro-tumorigenic role of MTSS1 in breast tumors. We found that in normal and in cancer cell lines ΔNp63 is able to drive the expression of MTSS1 by binding to a p63-binding responsive element localized in the MTSS1 locus. We reported that ΔNp63 is able to drive the migration of breast tumor cells by inducing the expression of MTSS1. Notably, in three human breast tumors data sets the MTSS1/p63 co-expression is a negative prognostic factor on patient survival, suggesting that the MTSS1/p63 axis might be functionally important to regulate breast tumor progression.Oncogene advance online publication, 29 June 2015; doi:10.1038/onc.2015.230.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During physiological aerobic metabolism, the epidermis undergoes significant oxidative stress as a result of the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). To maintain a balanced oxidative state, cells have developed protective antioxidant systems, and preliminary studies suggest that the transcriptional factor p63 is involved in cellular oxidative defence. Supporting this hypothesis, the ΔNp63α isoform of p63 is expressed at high levels in the proliferative basal layer of the epidermis. Here we identify the CYGB gene as a novel transcriptional target of ΔNp63 that is involved in maintaining epidermal oxidative defence. The CYGB gene encodes cytoglobin, a member of the globin protein family, which facilitates the diffusion of oxygen through tissues and acts as a scavenger for nitric oxide or other ROS. By performing promoter activity assays and chromatin immunoprecipitation, reverse transcriptase quantitative PCR and western blotting analyses, we confirm the direct regulation of CYGB by ΔNp63α. We also demonstrate that CYGB has a protective role in proliferating keratinocytes grown under normal conditions, as well as in cells treated with exogenous hydrogen peroxide. These results indicate that ΔNp63, through its target CYGB has an important role in the cellular antioxidant system and protects keratinocytes from oxidative stress-induced apoptosis. The ΔNp63-CYGB axis is also present in lung and breast cancer cell lines, indicating that CYGB-mediated ROS-scavenging activity may also have a role in epithelial tumours. In human lung cancer data sets, the p63-CYGB interaction significantly predicts reduction of patient survival.Oncogene advance online publication, 22 June 2015; doi:10.1038/onc.2015.222.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: TAp73 is a tumour suppressor transcriptional factor, belonging to p53 family. Alteration of TAp73 in tumours might lead to reduced DNA damage response, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Carcinogen-induced TAp73−/− tumours display also increased angiogenesis, associated to hyperactivition of hypoxia inducible factor signaling. Here, we show that TAp73 suppresses BNIP3 expression, directly binding its gene promoter. BNIP3 is a hypoxia responsive protein, involved in a variety of cellular processes, such as autophagy, mitophagy, apoptosis and necrotic-like cell death. Therefore, through different cellular process altered expression of BNIP3 may differently contribute to cancer development and progression. We found a significant upregulation of BNIP3 in human lung cancer datasets, and we identified a direct association between BNIP3 expression and survival rate of lung cancer patients. Our data therefore provide a novel transcriptional target of TAp73, associated to its antagonistic role on HIF signaling in cancer, which might play a role in tumour suppression.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Targeting the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) and ubiquitin-like signalling systems (UBL) has been considered a promising therapeutic strategy to treat cancer, neurodegenerative and immunological disorders. There have been multiple efforts recently to identify novel compounds that efficiently modulate the activities of different disease-specific components of the UPS-UBL. However, it is evident that polypharmacology (the ability to affect multiple independent protein targets) is a basic property of small molecules and even highly potent molecules would have a number of "off target" effects. Here we have explored publicly available high-throughput screening data covering a wide spectrum of currently accepted drug targets in order to understand polypharmacology of small molecules targeting different components of the UPS-UBL. We have demonstrated that molecules targeting a given UPS-UBL protein also have high odds to target a given off target spectrum. Moreover, the off target spectrum differs significantly between different components of UPS-UBL. This information can be utilized further in drug discovery efforts, to improve drug efficiency and to reduce the risk of potential side effects of the prospective drugs designed to target specific UPS-UBL components