[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: OTX proteins, homologs of the Drosophila orthodenticle (Otd), are important for the morphogenesis of the neuroectoderm, and for the central nervous system formation. OTX1 and OTX2 are important for the cochlea and macula development, indeed when OTX1 is knocked down, these organs undergo developmental failure. Moreover OTX2 transfection revert this effect in OTX1-/- mice. The TA isoform of TP63, involved in Notch regulation pathway, has a critical function in the cochlear neuroepithelium differentiation. TAp63 positively regulates Hes5 and Atoh1 transcription. This pathway has been also demonstrated in p63-/- mice, and in patients p63 mutated, affected by Ectodermal Dysplasia (ED, OMIM 129810). These patients are affected by mild sensorineural deafness, most likely related to the mutation in p63 gene impairing the Notch pathway. We demonstrated the role of OTX2 on TAp63 regulation necessary for the correct formation of macular neuroepithelium and we confirmed the impairment of vestibular function caused by p63 mutations. Although the abnormalities found in our patient were still at a subclinical extent, aging could exacerbate this impairment and cause a decrease in quality of life.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ΔNp63 has been recently involved in self-renewal potential of breast cancer stem cells. Although the p63 transcriptional profile has been extensively characterized, our knowledge of the p63-binding partners potentially involved in the regulation of breast tumour progression is limited. Here, we performed the yeast two hybrid approach to identify p63α interactors involved in breast tumorigenesis and we found that SETDB1, a histone lysine methyl transferases, interacts with ΔNp63α and that this interaction contributes to p63 protein stability. SETDB1 is often amplified in primary breast tumours, and its depletion confers to breast cancer cells growth disadvantage. We identified a list of thirty genes repressed by ΔNp63 in a SETDB1-dependent manner, whose expression is positively correlated to survival of breast cancer patients. These results suggest that p63 and SETDB1 expression, together with the repressed genes, may have diagnostic and prognostic potential.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It has been shown that p53 has a critical role in the differentiation and functionality of various multipotent progenitor cells. P53 mutations can lead to genome instability and subsequent functional alterations and aberrant transformation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). The significance of p53 in safeguarding our body from developing osteosarcoma (OS) is well recognized. During bone remodeling, p53 has a key role in negatively regulating key factors orchestrating the early stages of osteogenic differentiation of MSCs. Interestingly, changes in the p53 status can compromise bone homeostasis and affect the tumor microenvironment. This review aims to provide a unique opportunity to study the p53 function in MSCs and OS. In the context of loss of function of p53, we provide a model for two sources of OS: MSCs as progenitor cells of osteoblasts and bone tumor microenvironment components. Standing at the bone remodeling point of view, in this review we will first explain the determinant function of p53 in OS development. We will then summarize the role of p53 in monitoring MSC fidelity and in regulating MSC differentiation programs during osteogenesis. Finally, we will discuss the importance of loss of p53 function in tissue microenvironment. We expect that the information provided herein could lead to better understanding and treatment of OS.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Cell Death & Disease
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In 2008 we published the first set of guidelines for standardizing research in autophagy. Since then, research on this topic has continued to accelerate, and many new scientists have entered the field. Our knowledge base and relevant new technologies have also been expanding. Accordingly, it is important to update these guidelines for monitoring autophagy in different organisms. Various reviews have described the range of assays that have been used for this purpose. Nevertheless, there continues to be confusion regarding acceptable methods to measure autophagy, especially in multicellular eukaryotes.
For example, a key point that needs to be emphasized is that there is a difference between measurements that monitor the numbers or volume of autophagic elements (e.g., autophagosomes or autolysosomes) at any stage of the autophagic process versus those that measure flux through the autophagy pathway (i.e., the complete process including the amount and rate of cargo sequestered and degraded). In particular, a block in macroautophagy that results in autophagosome accumulation must be differentiated from stimuli that increase autophagic activity, defined as increased autophagy induction coupled with increased delivery to, and degradation within, lysosomes (in most higher eukaryotes and some protists such as Dictyostelium) or the vacuole (in plants and fungi). In other words, it is especially important that investigators new to the field understand that the appearance of more autophagosomes does not necessarily equate with more autophagy. In fact, in many cases, autophagosomes accumulate because of a block in trafficking to lysosomes without a concomitant change in autophagosome biogenesis, whereas an increase in autolysosomes may reflect a reduction in degradative activity. It is worth emphasizing here that lysosomal digestion is a stage of autophagy and evaluating its competence is a crucial part of the evaluation of autophagic flux, or complete autophagy.
Here, we present a set of guidelines for the selection and interpretation of methods for use by investigators who aim to examine macroautophagy and related processes, as well as for reviewers who need to provide realistic and reasonable critiques of papers that are focused on these processes. These guidelines are not meant to be a formulaic set of rules, because the appropriate assays depend in part on the question being asked and the system being used. In addition, we emphasize that no individual assay is guaranteed to be the most appropriate one in every situation, and we strongly recommend the use of multiple assays to monitor autophagy. Along these lines, because of the potential for pleiotropic effects due to blocking autophagy through genetic manipulation, it is imperative to target by gene knockout or RNA interference more than one autophagy-related protein. In addition, some individual Atg proteins, or groups of proteins, are involved in other cellular pathways implying that not all Atg proteins can be used as a specific marker for an autophagic process. In these guidelines, we consider these various methods of assessing autophagy and what information can, or cannot, be obtained from them. Finally, by discussing the merits and limits of particular assays, we hope to encourage technical innovation in the field.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Renal denervation represents an emerging treatment for resistant hypertension in patients with end-stage renal disease, but data about the anatomic substrate of this treatment are lacking. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the morphological basis of sympathetic hyperactivity in the setting of hemodialysis patients to identify an anatomical substrate that could warrant the use of this new therapeutic approach.
Methods and results:
The distribution of sympathetic nerves was evaluated in the adventitia of 38 renal arteries that were collected at autopsy or during surgery from 25 patients: 9 with end-stage renal disease on dialysis (DIAL group) and 16 age-matched control nondialysis patients (CTRL group). Patients in the DIAL group showed a significant increase in nerve density in the internal area of the peri-adventitial tissue (within the first 0.5 mm of the beginning of the adventitia) compared with the CTRL group (4.01±0.30 versus 2.87±0.28×mm(2), P=0.01). Regardless of dialysis, hypertensive patients with signs of severe arteriolar damage had a greater number of nerve endings in the most internal adventitia, and this number was significantly higher than in patients without hypertensive arteriolar damage (3.90±0.36 versus 2.87±0.41×mm(2), P=0.04), showing a correlation with hypertensive arteriolar damage rather than with hypertensive clinical history.
The findings from this study provide a morphological basis underlying sympathetic hyperactivity in patients with end-stage renal disease and might offer useful information to improve the use of renal denervation in this group of patients.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Journal of the American Heart Association
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cells are constantly exposed to endogenous and exogenous factors that threaten the integrity of their DNA. The maintenance of genome stability is of paramount importance in the prevention of both cancer and aging processes. To deal with DNA damage, cells put into operation a sophisticated and coordinated mechanism, collectively known as DNA damage response (DDR). The DDR orchestrates different cellular processes, such as DNA repair, senescence and apoptosis. Among the key factors of the DDR, the related proteins p53, p63 and p73, all belonging to the same family of transcription factors, play multiple relevant roles. Indeed, the members of this family are directly involved in the induction of cell cycle arrest that is necessary to allow the cells to repair. Alternatively, they can promote cell death in case of prolonged or irreparable DNA damage. They also take part in a more direct task by modulating the expression of core factors involved in the process of DNA repair or by directly interacting with them. In this review we will analyze the fundamental roles of the p53 family in the aging process through their multifaceted function in DDR.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neuroblastoma (NB) is the most common extracranial childhood tumor classified in five stages (1, 2, 3, 4 and 4S), two of which (3 and 4) identify chemotherapy-resistant, highly aggressive disease. High-risk NB frequently displays MYCN amplification, mutations in ALK and ATRX, and genomic rearrangements in TERT genes. These NB subtypes are also characterized by reduced susceptibility to programmed cell death induced by chemotherapeutic drugs. The latter feature is a major cause of failure in the treatment of advanced NB patients. Thus, proper reactivation of apoptosis or of other types of programmed cell death pathways in response to treatment is relevant for the clinical management of aggressive forms of NB. In this short review, we will discuss the most relevant genomic rearrangements that define high-risk NB and the role that destabilization of p53 and p73 can have in NB aggressiveness. In addition, we will propose a strategy to stabilize p53 and p73 by using specific inhibitors of their ubiquitin-dependent degradation. Finally, we will introduce necroptosis as an alternative strategy to kill NB cells and increase tumor immunogenicity.
Preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Cell Death & Disease
[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.
No preview · Article · Oct 2015 · Current Gene Therapy
[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.
No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[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.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · Molecular Neurobiology
[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).