Publications by authors named "Elizabeth C Martin"

57 Publications

Cryo-EM structure of the Rhodobacter sphaeroides RC-LH1 core monomer complex at 2.5 Å.

Biochem J 2021 Sep 30. Epub 2021 Sep 30.

The University of Sheffield, SHEFFIELD, United Kingdom.

Reaction centre light-harvesting 1 (RC-LH1) complexes are the essential components of bacterial photosynthesis. The membrane-intrinsic LH1 complex absorbs light and the energy migrates to an enclosed RC where a succession of electron and proton transfers conserves the energy as a quinol, which is exported to the cytochrome bc1 complex. In some RC-LH1 variants quinols can diffuse through small pores in a fully circular, 16-subunit LH1 ring, while in others missing LH1 subunits create a gap for quinol export. We used cryogenic electron microscopy to obtain a 2.5 Å resolution structure of one such RC-LH1, a monomeric complex from Rhodobacter sphaeroides. The structure shows that the RC is partly enclosed by a 14-subunit LH1 ring in which each αβ heterodimer binds two bacteriochlorophylls and, unusually for currently reported complexes, two carotenoids rather than one. Although the extra carotenoids confer an advantage in terms of photoprotection and light harvesting, they could block small pores in the LH1 ring and impede passage of quinones, necessitating a mechanism to create a dedicated quinone channel. The structure shows that two transmembrane proteins play a part in stabilizing an open ring structure; one of these components, the PufX polypeptide, is augmented by a hitherto undescribed protein subunit we designate as protein-Y, which lies against the transmembrane regions of the thirteenth and fourteenth LH1α polypeptides. Protein-Y prevents LH1 subunits 11-14 adjacent to the RC QB site from bending inwards towards the RC and, with PufX preventing complete encirclement of the RC, this pair of polypeptides ensures unhindered.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1042/BCJ20210631DOI Listing
September 2021

Modeling Breast Cancer in Human Breast Tissue using a Microphysiological System.

J Vis Exp 2021 04 23(170). Epub 2021 Apr 23.

Department of Surgery, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center;

Breast cancer (BC) remains a leading cause of death for women. Despite more than $700 million invested in BC research annually, 97% of candidate BC drugs fail clinical trials. Therefore, new models are needed to improve our understanding of the disease. The NIH Microphysiological Systems (MPS) program was developed to improve the clinical translation of basic science discoveries and promising new therapeutic strategies. Here we present a method for generating MPS for breast cancers (BC-MPS). This model adapts a previously described approach of culturing primary human white adipose tissue (WAT) by sandwiching WAT between adipose-derived stem cell sheets (ASC)s. Novel aspects of our BC-MPS include seeding BC cells into non-diseased human breast tissue (HBT) containing native extracellular matrix, mature adipocytes, resident fibroblasts, and immune cells; and sandwiching the BC-HBT admixture between HBT-derived ASC sheets. The resulting BC-MPS is stable in culture ex vivo for at least 14 days. This model system contains multiple elements of the microenvironment that influence BC including adipocytes, stromal cells, immune cells, and the extracellular matrix. Thus BC-MPS can be used to study the interactions between BC and its microenvironment. We demonstrate the advantages of our BC-MPS by studying two BC behaviors known to influence cancer progression and metastasis: 1) BC motility and 2) BC-HBT metabolic crosstalk. While BC motility has previously been demonstrated using intravital imaging, BC-MPS allows for high-resolution time-lapse imaging using fluorescence microscopy over several days. Furthermore, while metabolic crosstalk was previously demonstrated using BC cells and murine pre-adipocytes differentiated into immature adipocytes, our BC-MPS model is the first system to demonstrate this crosstalk between primary human mammary adipocytes and BC cells in vitro.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3791/62009DOI Listing
April 2021

Evaluation of Extracellular Matrix Composition to Improve Breast Cancer Modeling.

Tissue Eng Part A 2021 04;27(7-8):500-511

Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA.

The development of resistance to therapy is a significant obstacle to effective therapeutic regimens. Evaluating the effects of oncology drugs in the laboratory setting is limited by the lack of translational models that accurately recapitulate cell-microenvironment interactions present in tumors. Acquisition of resistance to therapy is facilitated, in part, by the composition of the tumor extracellular matrix (ECM), with the primary current model using collagen I (COL I). Here we seek to identify the prevalence of COL I-enhanced expression in the triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) subtype. Furthermore, we identify if methods of response to therapy are altered depending on matrix composition. We demonstrated that collagen content varies in patient tumor samples across subtypes, with COL I expression dramatically increased in typically less aggressive estrogen receptor (ER)-positive(ER)/progesterone receptor (PGR)-positive (PGR) cancers irrespective of patient age or race. These findings are of significance considering how frequently COL I is implicated in tumor progression. analyses of ER and ER-negative (ER) cell lines were used to determine the effects of ECM content (collagen I, collagen IV, fibronectin, and laminin) on proliferation, cellular phenotype, and survival. Neither ER nor ER cells demonstrated significant increases in proliferation when cultured on these ECM substrates. ER cells cultured on these substrates were sensitized to both chemotherapy and targeted therapy. In addition, MDA-MB-231 cells expressed different morphologies, binding affinities, and stiffness across these substrates. We also demonstrated that ECM composition significantly alters transcription of senescence-associated pathways across ER and ER cell lines. Together, these results suggest that complex matrix composites should be incorporated into tumor models, especially for the drug-resistant TNBC subtype. Impact statement The importance of tumor extracellular matrix (ECM) in disease progression is often inadequately represented in models of breast cancer that rely heavily on collagen I and Matrigel. Through immunohistochemistry analysis of patient breast tumors, we show a wide variation in collagen content based on subtype, specifically a repression of fibril collagens in the receptor negative subtype, irrespective of age and race. We also demonstrated that tumor ECM composition alters cellular elasticity and oncogenic pathway activation demonstrating that physiologically relevant three-dimensional models of breast cancer should include an ECM that is subtype specific.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/ten.TEA.2020.0364DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8349725PMC
April 2021

Quantifying Breast Cancer-Driven Fiber Alignment and Collagen Deposition in Primary Human Breast Tissue.

Front Bioeng Biotechnol 2021 15;9:618448. Epub 2021 Mar 15.

Department of Surgery, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans, New Orleans, LA, United States.

Solid tumor progression is significantly influenced by interactions between cancer cells and the surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM). Specifically, the cancer cell-driven changes to ECM fiber alignment and collagen deposition impact tumor growth and metastasis. Current methods of quantifying these processes are incomplete, require simple or artificial matrixes, rely on uncommon imaging techniques, preclude the use of biological and technical replicates, require destruction of the tissue, or are prone to segmentation errors. We present a set of methodological solutions to these shortcomings that were developed to quantify these processes in cultured, human breast tissue under the influence of breast cancer cells and allow for the study of ECM in primary breast tumors. Herein, we describe a method of quantifying fiber alignment that can analyze complex native ECM from scanning electron micrographs that does not preclude the use of replicates and a high-throughput mechanism of quantifying collagen content that is non-destructive. The use of these methods accurately recapitulated cancer cell-driven changes in fiber alignment and collagen deposition observed by visual inspection. Additionally, these methods successfully identified increased fiber alignment in primary human breast tumors when compared to human breast tissue and increased collagen deposition in lobular breast cancer when compared to ductal breast cancer. The successful quantification of fiber alignment and collagen deposition using these methods encourages their use for future studies of ECM dysregulation in human solid tumors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fbioe.2021.618448DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8006399PMC
March 2021

Patient-Derived Xenografts as an Innovative Surrogate Tumor Model for the Investigation of Health Disparities in Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

Womens Health Rep (New Rochelle) 2020 24;1(1):383-392. Epub 2020 Sep 24.

Section of Hematology and Oncology, Department of Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

Despite a decline in overall incidence rates for cancer in the past decade, due in part to impressive advancements in both diagnosis and treatment, breast cancer (BC) remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women. BC alone accounts for ∼30% of all new cancer diagnoses in women worldwide. Triple-negative BC (TNBC), defined as having no expression of the estrogen or progesterone receptors and no amplification of the HER2 receptor, is a subtype of BC that does not benefit from the use of estrogen receptor-targeting or HER2-targeting therapies. Differences in socioeconomic factors and cell intrinsic and extrinsic characteristics have been demonstrated in Black and White TNBC patient tumors. The emergence of patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models as a surrogate, translational, and functional representation of the patient with TNBC has led to the advances in drug discovery and testing of novel targeted approaches and combination therapies. However, current established TNBC PDX models fail to represent the diverse patient population and, most importantly, the specific ethnic patient populations that have higher rates of incidence and mortality. The primary aim of this review is to emphasize the importance of using clinically relevant translatable tumor models that reflect TNBC human tumor biology and heterogeneity in high-risk patient populations. The focus is to highlight the complexity of BC as it specifically relates to the management of TNBC in Black women. We discuss the importance of utilizing PDX models to study the extracellular matrix (ECM), and the distinct differences in ECM composition and biophysical properties in Black and White women. Finally, we demonstrate the crucial importance of PDX models toward novel drug discovery in this patient population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/whr.2020.0037DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7784803PMC
September 2020

Application of a small molecule inhibitor screen approach to identify CXCR4 downstream signaling pathways that promote a mesenchymal and fulvestrant-resistant phenotype in breast cancer cells.

Oncol Lett 2021 May 16;21(5):380. Epub 2021 Mar 16.

Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology and Oncology, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA.

Chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) and its ligand stromal-derived factor 1 (SDF-1) have well-characterized functions in cancer metastasis; however, the specific mechanisms through which CXCR4 promotes a metastatic and drug-resistant phenotype remain widely unknown. The aim of the present study was to demonstrate the application of a phenotypic screening approach using a small molecule inhibitor library to identify potential CXCR4-mediated signaling pathways. The present study demonstrated a new application of the Published Kinase Inhibitor Set (PKIS), a library of small molecule inhibitors from diverse chemotype series with varying levels of selectivity, in a phenotypic medium-throughput screen to identify potential mechanisms to pursue. Crystal violet staining and brightfield microscopy were employed to evaluate relative cell survival and changes to cell morphology in the screens. 'Hits' or lead active compounds in the first screen were PKIS inhibitors that reversed mesenchymal morphologies in CXCR4-activated breast cancer cells without the COOH-terminal domain (MCF-7-CXCR4-ΔCTD) and in the phenotypically mesenchymal triple-negative breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-231, BT-549 and MDA-MB-157), used as positive controls. In a following screen, the phenotypic and cell viability screen was used with a positive control that was both morphologically mesenchymal and had acquired fulvestrant resistance. Compounds within the same chemotype series were identified that exhibited biological activity in the screens, the 'active' inhibitors, were compared with inactive compounds. Relative kinase activity was obtained using published datasets to discover candidate kinase targets responsible for CXCR4 activity. MAP4K4 and MINK reversed both the mesenchymal and drug-resistant phenotypes, NEK9 and DYRK2 only reversed the mesenchymal morphology, and kinases, including ROS, LCK, HCK and LTK, altered the fulvestrant-resistant phenotype. Oligoarray experiments revealed pathways affected in CXCR4-activated cells, and these pathways were compared with the present screening approach to validate our screening tool. The oligoarray approach identified the integrin-mediated, ephrin B-related, RhoA, RAC1 and ErbB signaling pathways to be upregulated in MCF-7-CXCR4-ΔCTD cells, with ephrin B signaling also identified in the PKIS phenotypic screen. The present screening tool may be used to discover potential mechanisms of targeted signaling pathways in solid cancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3892/ol.2021.12641DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7988660PMC
May 2021

Breast Cancer Reconstruction: Design Criteria for a Humanized Microphysiological System.

Tissue Eng Part A 2021 04 10;27(7-8):479-488. Epub 2021 Mar 10.

Obatala Sciences, Inc., New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

International regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration have mandated that the scientific community develop humanized microphysiological systems (MPS) as an alternative to animal models in the near future. While the breast cancer research community has long appreciated the importance of three-dimensional growth dynamics in their experimental models, there are remaining obstacles preventing a full conversion to humanized MPS for drug discovery and pathophysiological studies. This perspective evaluates the current status of human tissue-derived cells and scaffolds as building blocks for an "idealized" breast cancer MPS based on bioengineering design principles. It considers the utility of adipose tissue as a potential source of endothelial, lymphohematopoietic, and stromal cells for the support of breast cancer epithelial cells. The relative merits of potential MPS scaffolds derived from adipose tissue, blood components, and synthetic biomaterials is evaluated relative to the current "gold standard" material, Matrigel, a murine chondrosarcoma-derived basement membrane-enriched hydrogel. The advantages and limitations of a humanized breast cancer MPS are discussed in the context of in-process and destructive read-out assays. Impact statement Regulatory authorities have highlighted microphysiological systems as an emerging tool in breast cancer research. This has been led by calls for more predictive human models and reduced animal experimentation. This perspective describes how human-derived cells, extracellular matrices, and hydrogels will provide the building blocks to create breast cancer models that accurately reflect diversity at multiple levels, that is, patient ethnicity, pathophysiology, and metabolic status.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/ten.TEA.2020.0372DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8196546PMC
April 2021

Structures of RC-LH1 complexes with open or closed quinone channels.

Sci Adv 2021 Jan 13;7(3). Epub 2021 Jan 13.

Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK.

The reaction-center light-harvesting complex 1 (RC-LH1) is the core photosynthetic component in purple phototrophic bacteria. We present two cryo-electron microscopy structures of RC-LH1 complexes from A 2.65-Å resolution structure of the RC-LH1-W complex consists of an open 14-subunit LH1 ring surrounding the RC interrupted by protein-W, whereas the complex without protein-W at 2.80-Å resolution comprises an RC completely encircled by a closed, 16-subunit LH1 ring. Comparison of these structures provides insights into quinone dynamics within RC-LH1 complexes, including a previously unidentified conformational change upon quinone binding at the RC Q site, and the locations of accessory quinone binding sites that aid their delivery to the RC. The structurally unique protein-W prevents LH1 ring closure, creating a channel for accelerated quinone/quinol exchange.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abe2631DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7806223PMC
January 2021

Xanthophyll carotenoids stabilise the association of cyanobacterial chlorophyll synthase with the LHC-like protein HliD.

Biochem J 2020 10;477(20):4021-4036

Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, U.K.

Chlorophyll synthase (ChlG) catalyses a terminal reaction in the chlorophyll biosynthesis pathway, attachment of phytol or geranylgeraniol to the C17 propionate of chlorophyllide. Cyanobacterial ChlG forms a stable complex with high light-inducible protein D (HliD), a small single-helix protein homologous to the third transmembrane helix of plant light-harvesting complexes (LHCs). The ChlG-HliD assembly binds chlorophyll, β-carotene, zeaxanthin and myxoxanthophyll and associates with the YidC insertase, most likely to facilitate incorporation of chlorophyll into translated photosystem apoproteins. HliD independently coordinates chlorophyll and β-carotene but the role of the xanthophylls, which appear to be exclusive to the core ChlG-HliD assembly, is unclear. Here we generated mutants of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 lacking specific combinations of carotenoids or HliD in a background with FLAG- or His-tagged ChlG. Immunoprecipitation experiments and analysis of isolated membranes demonstrate that the absence of zeaxanthin and myxoxanthophyll significantly weakens the interaction between HliD and ChlG. ChlG alone does not bind carotenoids and accumulation of the chlorophyllide substrate in the absence of xanthophylls indicates that activity/stability of the 'naked' enzyme is perturbed. In contrast, the interaction of HliD with a second partner, the photosystem II assembly factor Ycf39, is preserved in the absence of xanthophylls. We propose that xanthophylls are required for the stable association of ChlG and HliD, acting as a 'molecular glue' at the lateral transmembrane interface between these proteins; roles for zeaxanthin and myxoxanthophyll in ChlG-HliD complexation are discussed, as well as the possible presence of similar complexes between LHC-like proteins and chlorophyll biosynthesis enzymes in plants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1042/BCJ20200561DOI Listing
October 2020

ERK5 Is Required for Tumor Growth and Maintenance Through Regulation of the Extracellular Matrix in Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

Front Oncol 2020 3;10:1164. Epub 2020 Aug 3.

Section of Hematology & Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA, United States.

Conventional mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family members regulate diverse cellular processes involved in tumor initiation and progression, yet the role of ERK5 in cancer biology is not fully understood. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) presents a clinical challenge due to the aggressive nature of the disease and a lack of targeted therapies. ERK5 signaling contributes to drug resistance and metastatic progression through distinct mechanisms, including activation of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). More recently a role for ERK5 in regulation of the extracellular matrix (ECM) has been proposed, and here we investigated the necessity of ERK5 in TNBC tumor formation. Depletion of ERK5 expression using the CRISPR/Cas9 system in MDA-MB-231 and Hs-578T cells resulted in loss of mesenchymal features, as observed through gene expression profile and cell morphology, and suppressed TNBC cell migration. xenograft experiments revealed ERK5 knockout disrupted tumor growth kinetics, which was restored using high concentration Matrigel™ and ERK5-ko reduced expression of the angiogenesis marker CD31. These findings implicated a role for ERK5 in the extracellular matrix (ECM) and matrix integrity. RNA-sequencing analyses demonstrated downregulation of matrix-associated genes, integrins, and pro-angiogenic factors in ERK5-ko cells. Tissue decellularization combined with cryo-SEM and interrogation of biomechanical properties revealed that ERK5-ko resulted in loss of key ECM fiber alignment and mechanosensing capabilities in breast cancer xenografts compared to parental wild-type cells. In this study, we identified a novel role for ERK5 in tumor growth kinetics through modulation of the ECM and angiogenesis axis in breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2020.01164DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7416559PMC
August 2020

Proteomic characterization of a trauma-based rat model of heterotopic ossification identifies interactive signaling networks as potential therapeutic targets.

J Proteomics 2020 08 21;226:103907. Epub 2020 Jul 21.

Department of Cancer Biology and Genetics, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, College of Medicine and Arthur G. James Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbus, OH, United States of America. Electronic address:

Heterotopic ossification (HO) is the formation of ectopic bone in soft tissues observed in patients following blast injuries, orthopedic or head trauma, burns, or in the context of inborn mutations of genes involved in osteogenesis. There is no universally accepted therapy for HO. This study has used global unbiased mass spectrometry proteomic approaches, validated by western immunoblots, to interrogate skeletal muscle tissues obtained from a highly reproducible rat model of trauma induced HO. During early the phase of HO development, statistically significant modulation of proteins within the following pathways was identified: coagulation, cyclic AMP, extracellular matrix, immunity/inflammation, NADH metabolism, TGFβ. These metabolic proteins and pathways have the potential to serve as diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic targets for this devastating orthopedic condition that has considerable impact on the patient's quality of life. Furthermore, the findings confirm and extend previous in vitro stromal/stem cell and clinical studies from the field. SIGNIFICANCE: This study confirms and extends the field's understanding of the protein pathways that are modulated in a rat model of trauma induced heterotopic ossification. The identification of specific proteins such as the AP1 transcription factor as well as protein families such as the complement/coagulation pathway and serine protease inhibitors as biomarkers have potential clinical translational value. These outcomes have relevance to the physiological and pathological mineralization processes contributing to the recovery of orthopedic trauma patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jprot.2020.103907DOI Listing
August 2020

Evaluation of intercellular communication between breast cancer cells and adipose-derived stem cells via passive diffusion in a two-layer microfluidic device.

Lab Chip 2020 06 7;20(11):2009-2019. Epub 2020 May 7.

Cain Department of Chemical Engineering, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, 70803 USA.

Breast cancer tumorigenesis and response to therapy is regulated by cancer cell interactions with the tumor microenvironment (TME). Breast cancer signaling to the surrounding TME results in a heterogeneous and diverse tumor microenvironment, which includes the production of cancer-associated fibroblasts, macrophages, adipocytes, and stem cells. The secretory profile of these cancer-associated cell types results in elevated chemokines and growth factors that promote cell survival and proliferation within the tumor. Current co-culture approaches mostly rely on transwell chambers to study intercellular signaling between adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) and cancer cells; however, these methods are limited to endpoint measurements and lack dynamic control. In this study, a 4-channel, "flow-free" microfluidic device was developed to co-culture triple-negative MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells and ASCs to study intercellular communication between two distinct cell types found in the TME. The device consists of two layers: a top PDMS layer with four imprinted channels coupled with a bottom agarose slab enclosed in a Plexiglas chamber. For dynamic co-culture, the device geometry contained two centered, flow-free channels, which were supplied with media from two outer flow channels via orthogonal diffusion through the agarose. Continuous fresh media was provided to the cell culture channel via passive diffusion without creating any shearing effect on the cells. The device geometry also allowed for the passive diffusion of cytokines and growth factors between the two cell types cultured in parallel channels to initiate cell-to-cell crosstalk. The device was used to show that MDA-MB-231 cells co-cultured with ASCs exhibited enhanced growth, a more aggressive morphology, and polarization toward the ASCs. The MDA-MB-231 cells were found to exhibit a greater degree of resistance to the drug paclitaxel when co-cultured with ASCs when compared to single culture studies. This microfluidic device is an ideal platform to study intercellular communication for many types of cells during co-culture experiments and allows for new investigations into stromal cell-mediated drug resistance in the tumor microenvironment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/d0lc00142bDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7331673PMC
June 2020

Lignin-graft-PLGA drug-delivery system improves efficacy of MEK1/2 inhibitors in triple-negative breast cancer cell line.

Nanomedicine (Lond) 2020 04 2;15(10):981-1000. Epub 2020 Apr 2.

Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering, Louisiana State University, LA 70803, USA.

Few targeted therapies are available for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients. Here, we propose a novel alkaline-lignin-conjugated-poly(lactic--glycolic acid) (L-PLGA) nanoparticle drug delivery system to improve the efficacy of targeted therapies.  L-PLGA nanoparticles (NPs) loaded with the MEK1/2 inhibitor GDC-0623 were characterized, tested on MDA-MB-231 TNBC cell line and compared with loaded PLGA NPs. Loaded L-PLGA NPs were less than half the size of PLGA NPs, had slower drug release and improved the efficacy of GDC-0623 when tested . We demonstrated that GDC-0623 reversed epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in TNBC. Our findings indicate that L-PLGA NPs are superior to PLGA NPs in delivering GDC-0623 to cancer cells for improved efficacy .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2217/nnm-2020-0010DOI Listing
April 2020

Acellular Biologic Nipple-Areolar Complex Graft: Murine and Nonhuman Primate Host Response Evaluation.

Tissue Eng Part A 2020 08 28;26(15-16):872-885. Epub 2020 Feb 28.

Center for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

There are more than 3 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States of which a significant number have undergone mastectomy followed by breast and nipple-areolar complex (NAC) reconstruction. Current strategies for NAC reconstruction are dependent on nonliving or nonpermanent techniques, including tattooing, nipple prosthetics, or surgical nipple-like structures. Described herein is a tissue engineering approach demonstrating the feasibility of an allogeneic acellular graft for nipple reconstruction. Nonhuman primate (NHP)-derived NAC tissues were decellularized and their extracellular matrix components analyzed by both proteomic and histological analyses. Decellularized NHP nipple tissue showed the removal of intact cells and greatly diminished profiles for intracellular proteins, as compared with intact NHP nipple tissue. We further evaluated the biocompatibility of decellularized grafts and their potential to support host-mediated neovascularization against commercially available acellular dermal grafts by performing studies in a murine model. A follow-up NHP pilot study evaluated the host-mediated neovascularization and re-epithelialization of onlay engrafted decellularized NAC grafts. The murine model revealed greater neovascularization in the decellularized NAC than in the commercially available control grafts, with no observed biocompatibility issues. The NHP model confirmed that the decellularized NAC grafts encourage neovascularization as well as re-epithelialization. These results support the concept that a biologically derived acellular nipple graft is a feasible approach for nipple reconstruction, supporting neovascularization in the absence of adverse systemic responses. Impact statement Currently, women in the United States most often undergo a mastectomy, followed by reconstruction, after being diagnosed with breast cancer. These breast cancer survivors are often left with nipple-areolar complex (NAC) reconstructions that are subsatisfactory, nonliving, and/or nonpermanent. Utilizing an acellular biologically derived whole NAC graft would allow these patients a living and permanent tissue engineering solution to nipple reconstruction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/ten.TEA.2019.0222DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7462026PMC
August 2020

Transcriptomic Profiling of Adipose Derived Stem Cells Undergoing Osteogenesis by RNA-Seq.

Sci Rep 2019 08 13;9(1):11800. Epub 2019 Aug 13.

Bioengineering Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA.

Adipose-derived stromal/stem cells (ASCs) are multipotent in nature that can be differentiated into various cells lineages such as adipogenic, osteogenic, and chondrogenic. The commitment of a cell to differentiate into a particular lineage is regulated by the interplay between various intracellular pathways and their resultant secretome. Similarly, the interactions of cells with the extracellular matrix (ECM) and the ECM bound growth factors instigate several signal transducing events that ultimately determine ASC differentiation. In this study, RNA-sequencing (RNA-Seq) was performed to identify the transcriptome profile of osteogenic induced ASCs to understand the associated genotype changes. Gene ontology (GO) functional annotations analysis using Database for Annotation Visualization and Integrated Discovery (DAVID) bioinformatics resources on the differentially expressed genes demonstrated the enrichment of pathways mainly associated with ECM organization and angiogenesis. We, therefore, studied the expression of genes coding for matrisome proteins (glycoproteins, collagens, proteoglycans, ECM-affiliated, regulators, and secreted factors) and ECM remodeling enzymes (MMPs, integrins, ADAMTSs) and the expression of angiogenic markers during the osteogenesis of ASCs. The upregulation of several pro-angiogenic ELR+ chemokines and other angiogenic inducers during osteogenesis indicates the potential role of the secretome from differentiating ASCs in the vascular development and its integration with the bone tissue. Furthermore, the increased expression of regulatory genes such as CTNNB1, TGBR2, JUN, FOS, GLI3, and MAPK3 involved in the WNT, TGF-β, JNK, HedgeHog and ERK1/2 pathways suggests the regulation of osteogenesis through interplay between these pathways. The RNA-Seq data was also validated by performing QPCR on selected up- and down-regulated genes (COL10A1, COL11A1, FBLN, FERMT1, FN1, FOXF1, LAMA3, LAMA4, LAMB1, IGF1, WNT10B, MMP1, MMP3, MMP16, ADAMTS6, and ADAMTS14).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-48089-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6692320PMC
August 2019

Drug resistance profiling of a new triple negative breast cancer patient-derived xenograft model.

BMC Cancer 2019 Mar 7;19(1):205. Epub 2019 Mar 7.

Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology & Medical Oncology, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA, USA.

Background: Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) represents an aggressive subtype with limited therapeutic options. Experimental preclinical models that recapitulate their tumors of origin can accelerate target identification, thereby potentially improving therapeutic efficacy. Patient-derived xenografts (PDXs), due to their genomic and transcriptomic fidelity to the tumors from which they are derived, are poised to improve the preclinical testing of drug-target combinations in translational models. Despite the previous development of breast and TNBC PDX models, those derived from patients with demonstrated health-disparities are lacking.

Methods: We use an aggressive TNBC PDX model propagated in SCID/Beige mice that was established from an African-American woman, TU-BcX-2 K1, and assess its metastatic potential and drug sensitivities under distinct in vitro conditions. Cellular derivatives of the primary tumor or the PDX were grown in 2D culture conditions or grown in mammospheres 3D culture. Flow cytometry and fluorescence staining was used to quantify cancer stem cell-like populations. qRT-PCR was used to describe the mesenchymal gene signature of the tumor. The sensitivity of TU-BcX-2 K1-derived cells to anti-neoplastic oncology drugs was compared in adherent cells and mammospheres. Drug response was evaluated using a live/dead staining kit and crystal violet staining.

Results: TU-BcX-2 K1 has a low propensity for metastasis, reflects a mesenchymal state, and contains a large burden of cancer stem cells. We show that TU-BcX-2 K1 cells have differential responses to cytotoxic and targeted therapies in 2D compared to 3D culture conditions insofar as several drug classes conferred sensitivity in 2D but not in 3D culture, or cells grown as mammospheres.

Conclusions: Here we introduce a new TNBC PDX model and demonstrate the differences in evaluating drug sensitivity in adherent cells compared to mammosphere, or suspension, culture.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12885-019-5401-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6407287PMC
March 2019

Picosecond Dynamical Response to a Pressure-Induced Break of the Tertiary Structure Hydrogen Bonds in a Membrane Chromoprotein.

J Phys Chem B 2019 03 20;123(9):2087-2093. Epub 2019 Feb 20.

Institute of Physics , University of Tartu , W. Ostwald Str. 1 , 50411 Tartu , Estonia.

We used elastic incoherent neutron scattering (EINS) to find out if structural changes accompanying local hydrogen bond rupture are also reflected in global dynamical response of the protein complex. Chromatophore membranes from LH2-only strains of the photosynthetic bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides, with spheroidenone or neurosporene as the major carotenoids, were subjected to high hydrostatic pressure at ambient temperature. Optical spectroscopy conducted at high pressure confirmed rupture of tertiary structure hydrogen bonds. In parallel, we used EINS to follow average motions of the hydrogen atoms in LH2, which reflect the flexibility of this complex. A decrease of the average atomic mean square displacements of hydrogen atoms was observed up to a pressure of 5 kbar in both carotenoid samples due to general stiffening of protein structures, while at higher pressures a slight increase of the displacements was detected in the neurosporene mutant LH2 sample only. These data show a correlation between the local pressure-induced breakage of H-bonds, observed in optical spectra, with the altered protein dynamics monitored by EINS. The slightly higher compressibility of the neurosporene mutant sample shows that even subtle alterations of carotenoids are manifested on a larger scale and emphasize a close connection between the local structure and global dynamics of this membrane protein complex.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpcb.8b11196DOI Listing
March 2019

Orientational Dynamics of Transition Dipoles and Exciton Relaxation in LH2 from Ultrafast Two-Dimensional Anisotropy.

J Phys Chem Lett 2019 Jan 7;10(2):270-277. Epub 2019 Jan 7.

Department of Chemistry, Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, and the James Franck Institute , The University of Chicago , Chicago , Illinois 60637 , United States.

Light-harvesting complexes in photosynthetic organisms display fast and efficient energy transfer dynamics, which depend critically on the electronic structure of the coupled chromophores within the complexes and their interactions with their environment. We present ultrafast anisotropy dynamics, resolved in both time and frequency, of the transmembrane light-harvesting complex LH2 from Rhodobacter sphaeroides in its native membrane environment using polarization-controlled two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy. Time-dependent anisotropy obtained from both experiment and modified Redfield simulation reveals an orientational preference for excited state absorption and an ultrafast equilibration within the B850 band in LH2. This ultrafast equilibration is favorable for subsequent energy transfer toward the reaction center. Our results also show a dynamic difference in excited state absorption anisotropy between the directly excited B850 population and the population that is initially excited at 800 nm, suggesting absorption from B850 states to higher-lying excited states following energy transfer from B850*. These results give insight into the ultrafast dynamics of bacterial light harvesting and the excited state energy landscape of LH2 in the native membrane environment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpclett.8b03223DOI Listing
January 2019

Engineering of B800 bacteriochlorophyll binding site specificity in the Rhodobacter sphaeroides LH2 antenna.

Biochim Biophys Acta Bioenerg 2019 03 9;1860(3):209-223. Epub 2018 Nov 9.

Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK. Electronic address:

The light-harvesting 2 complex (LH2) of the purple phototrophic bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides is a highly efficient, light-harvesting antenna that allows growth under a wide-range of light intensities. In order to expand the spectral range of this antenna complex, we first used a series of competition assays to measure the capacity of the non-native pigments 3-acetyl chlorophyll (Chl) a, Chl d, Chl f or bacteriochlorophyll (BChl) b to replace native BChl a in the B800 binding site of LH2. We then adjusted the B800 site and systematically assessed the binding of non-native pigments. We find that Arg of the LH2 β polypeptide plays a crucial role in binding specificity, by providing a hydrogen-bond to the 3-acetyl group of native and non-native pigments. Reconstituted LH2 complexes harbouring the series of (B)Chls were examined by transient absorption and steady-state fluorescence spectroscopies. Although slowed 10-fold to ~6 ps, energy transfer from Chl a to B850 BChl a remained highly efficient. We measured faster energy-transfer time constants for Chl d (3.5 ps) and Chl f (2.7 ps), which have red-shifted absorption maxima compared to Chl a. BChl b, red-shifted from the native BChl a, gave extremely rapid (≤0.1 ps) transfer. These results show that modified LH2 complexes, combined with engineered (B)Chl biosynthesis pathways in vivo, have potential for retaining high efficiency whilst acquiring increased spectral range.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbabio.2018.11.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6358721PMC
March 2019

Engineering Breast Cancer Microenvironments and 3D Bioprinting.

Front Bioeng Biotechnol 2018 24;6:66. Epub 2018 May 24.

Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, United States.

The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a critical cue to direct tumorigenesis and metastasis. Although two-dimensional (2D) culture models have been widely employed to understand breast cancer microenvironments over the past several decades, the 2D models still exhibit limited success. Overwhelming evidence supports that three dimensional (3D), physiologically relevant culture models are required to better understand cancer progression and develop more effective treatment. Such platforms should include cancer-specific architectures, relevant physicochemical signals, stromal-cancer cell interactions, immune components, vascular components, and cell-ECM interactions found in patient tumors. This review briefly summarizes how cancer microenvironments (stromal component, cell-ECM interactions, and molecular modulators) are defined and what emerging technologies (perfusable scaffold, tumor stiffness, supporting cells within tumors and complex patterning) can be utilized to better mimic native-like breast cancer microenvironments. Furthermore, this review emphasizes biophysical properties that differ between primary tumor ECM and tissue sites of metastatic lesions with a focus on matrix modulation of cancer stem cells, providing a rationale for investigation of underexplored ECM proteins that could alter patient prognosis. To engineer breast cancer microenvironments, we categorized technologies into two groups: (1) biochemical factors modulating breast cancer cell-ECM interactions and (2) 3D bioprinting methods and its applications to model breast cancer microenvironments. Biochemical factors include matrix-associated proteins, soluble factors, ECMs, and synthetic biomaterials. For the application of 3D bioprinting, we discuss the transition of 2D patterning to 3D scaffolding with various bioprinting technologies to implement biophysical cues to model breast cancer microenvironments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fbioe.2018.00066DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5978274PMC
May 2018

Panobinostat suppresses the mesenchymal phenotype in a novel claudin-low triple negative patient-derived breast cancer model.

Oncoscience 2018 Mar 29;5(3-4):99-108. Epub 2018 Apr 29.

Tulane University School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology & Medical Oncology, New Orleans LA, USA.

Claudin-low triple negative breast cancer (CL-TNBC) is a clinically aggressive molecular TNBC subtype characterized by a propensity to metastasize, recur and acquire chemoresistance. CL-TNBC has a diverse intra- and extracellular composition and microenvironment, and currently there are no clinically approved targeted therapies. Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) have been investigated as therapeutic agents targeting invasive TNBC phenotypes. However, further studies are required to evaluate HDAC inhibition in CL-TNBC. Here, we utilize a novel CL- TNBC patient-derived xenograft model to study the various and diverse therapeutic potential targets within CL-TNBC tumors. To evaluate effects of the pan-HDACi panobinostat on metastasis and the mesenchymal phenotype of CL-TNBC, we utilize immunohistochemistry staining and qRT-PCR in , and studies. Further, we evaluate pan-HDAC inhibition on stem-like subpopulations using 3D mammosphere culture techniques and quantification. Finally, we show that pan- HDACi suppresses collagen expression in CL-TNBC. In this study, we provide evidence that pan-HDAC inhibition has effects on various components of the CL-TNBC subtype, and we demonstrate the potential of our novel CL-TNBC PDX model in therapeutic discovery research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncoscience.412DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5978446PMC
March 2018

Comparative proteomic analyses of human adipose extracellular matrices decellularized using alternative procedures.

J Biomed Mater Res A 2018 09;106(9):2481-2493

Center for Stem Cell Research & Regenerative Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Decellularized human adipose tissue has potential clinical utility as a processed biological scaffold for soft tissue cosmesis, grafting, and reconstruction. Adipose tissue decellularization has been accomplished using enzymatic-, detergent-, and/or solvent-based methods. To examine the hypothesis that distinct decellularization processes may yield scaffolds with differing compositions, the current study employed mass spectrometry to compare the proteomes of human adipose-derived matrices generated through three independent methods combining enzymatic-, detergent-, and/or solvent-based steps. In addition to protein content, bioscaffolds were evaluated for deoxyribose nucleic acid depletion, extracellular matrix composition, and physical structure using optical density, histochemical staining, and scanning electron microscopy. Mass spectrometry based proteomic analyses identified 25 proteins (having at least two peptide sequences detected) in the scaffolds generated with an enzymatic approach, 143 with the detergent approach, and 102 with the solvent approach, as compared to 155 detected in unprocessed native human fat. Immunohistochemical detection confirmed the presence of the structural proteins actin, collagen type VI, fibrillin, laminin, and vimentin. Subsequent in vivo analysis of the predominantly enzymatic- and detergent-based decellularized scaffolds following subcutaneous implantation in GFP transgenic mice demonstrated that the matrices generated with both approaches supported the ingrowth of host-derived adipocyte progenitors and vasculature in a time dependent manner. Together, these results determine that decellularization methods influence the protein composition of adipose tissue-derived bioscaffolds. © 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A: 106A:2481-2493, 2018.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jbm.a.36444DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6158104PMC
September 2018

A novel patient-derived xenograft model for claudin-low triple-negative breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2018 Jun 1;169(2):381-390. Epub 2018 Feb 1.

Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology & Medical Oncology, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA, USA.

Background: Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) subtypes are clinically aggressive and cannot be treated with targeted therapeutics commonly used in other breast cancer subtypes. The claudin-low (CL) molecular subtype of TNBC has high rates of metastases, chemoresistance and recurrence. There exists an urgent need to identify novel therapeutic targets in TNBC; however, existing models utilized in target discovery research are limited. Patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models have emerged as superior models for target discovery experiments because they recapitulate features of patient tumors that are limited by cell-line derived xenograft methods.

Methods: We utilize immunohistochemistry, qRT-PCR and Western Blot to visualize tumor architecture, cellular composition, genomic and protein expressions of a new CL-TNBC PDX model (TU-BcX-2O0). We utilize tissue decellularization techniques to examine extracellular matrix composition of TU-BcX-2O0.

Results: Our laboratory successfully established a TNBC PDX tumor, TU-BCX-2O0, which represents a CL-TNBC subtype and maintains this phenotype throughout subsequent passaging. We dissected TU-BCx-2O0 to examine aspects of this complex tumor that can be targeted by developing therapeutics, including the whole and intact breast tumor, specific cell populations within the tumor, and the extracellular matrix.

Conclusions: Here, we characterize a claudin-low TNBC patient-derived xenograft model that can be utilized for therapeutic research studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10549-018-4685-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5948145PMC
June 2018

Trauma induced heterotopic ossification patient serum alters mitogen activated protein kinase signaling in adipose stem cells.

J Cell Physiol 2018 09 10;233(9):7035-7044. Epub 2018 Apr 10.

Tulane University School of Medicine, Center for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Post-traumatic heterotopic ossification (HO) is the formation of ectopic bone in non-osseous structures following injury. The precise mechanism for bone development following trauma is unknown; however, early onset of HO may involve the production of pro-osteogenic serum factors. Here we evaluated serum from a cohort of civilian and military patients post trauma to determine early induction gene signatures in orthopaedic trauma induced HO. To test this, human adipose derived stromal/stem cells (hASCs) were stimulated with human serum from patients who developed HO following trauma and evaluated for a gene panel with qPCR. Pathway gene analysis ontology revealed that hASCs stimulated with serum from patients who developed HO had altered gene expression in the activator protein 1 (AP1) and AP1 transcriptional targets pathways. Notably, there was a significant repression in FOS gene expression in hASCs treated with serum from individuals with HO. Furthermore, the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway was activated in hASCs following serum exposure from individuals with HO. Serum from both military and civilian patients with trauma induced HO had elevated downstream genes associated with the MAPK pathways. Stimulation of hASCs with known regulators of osteogenesis (BMP2, IL6, Forskolin, and WNT3A) failed to recapitulate the gene signature observed in hASCs following serum stimulation, suggesting non-canonical mechanisms for gene regulation in trauma induced HO. These findings provide new insight for the development of HO and support ongoing work linking the systemic response to injury with wound specific outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jcp.26504DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8083017PMC
September 2018

Probing the local lipid environment of the Rhodobacter sphaeroides cytochrome bc and Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 cytochrome bf complexes with styrene maleic acid.

Biochim Biophys Acta Bioenerg 2018 Mar 29;1859(3):215-225. Epub 2017 Dec 29.

Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, Firth Court, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, United Kingdom. Electronic address:

Intracytoplasmic vesicles (chromatophores) in the photosynthetic bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides represent a minimal structural and functional unit for absorbing photons and utilising their energy for the generation of ATP. The cytochrome bc complex (cytbc) is one of the four major components of the chromatophore alongside the reaction centre-light harvesting 1-PufX core complex (RC-LH1-PufX), the light-harvesting 2 complex (LH2), and ATP synthase. Although the membrane organisation of these complexes is known, their local lipid environments have not been investigated. Here we utilise poly(styrene-alt-maleic acid) (SMA) co-polymers as a tool to simultaneously determine the local lipid environments of the RC-LH1-PufX, LH2 and cytbc complexes. SMA has previously been reported to effectively solubilise complexes in lipid-rich membrane regions whilst leaving lipid-poor ordered protein arrays intact. Here we show that SMA solubilises cytbc complexes with an efficiency of nearly 70%, whereas solubilisation of RC-LH1-PufX and LH2 was only 10% and 22% respectively. This high susceptibility of cytbc to SMA solubilisation is consistent with this complex residing in a locally lipid-rich region. SMA solubilised cytbc complexes retain their native dimeric structure and co-purify with 56±6 phospholipids from the chromatophore membrane. We extended this approach to the model cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, and show that the cytochrome bf complex (cytbf) and Photosystem II (PSII) complexes are susceptible to SMA solubilisation, suggesting they also reside in lipid-rich environments. Thus, lipid-rich membrane regions could be a general requirement for cytbc/cytbf complexes, providing a favourable local solvent to promote rapid quinol/quinone binding and release at the Q and Q sites.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbabio.2017.12.005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5805856PMC
March 2018

Identification of protein W, the elusive sixth subunit of the Rhodopseudomonas palustris reaction center-light harvesting 1 core complex.

Biochim Biophys Acta Bioenerg 2018 Feb 7;1859(2):119-128. Epub 2017 Nov 7.

Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK. Electronic address:

The X-ray crystal structure of the Rhodopseudomonas (Rps.) palustris reaction center-light harvesting 1 (RC-LH1) core complex revealed the presence of a sixth protein component, variably referred to in the literature as helix W, subunit W or protein W. The position of this protein prevents closure of the LH1 ring, possibly to allow diffusion of ubiquinone/ubiquinol between the RC and the cytochrome bc complex in analogous fashion to the well-studied PufX protein from Rhodobacter sphaeroides. The identity and function of helix W have remained unknown for over 13years; here we use a combination of biochemistry, mass spectrometry, molecular genetics and electron microscopy to identify this protein as RPA4402 in Rps. palustris CGA009. Protein W shares key conserved sequence features with PufX homologs, and although a deletion mutant was able to grow under photosynthetic conditions with no discernible phenotype, we show that a tagged version of protein W pulls down the RC-LH1 complex. Protein W is not encoded in the photosynthesis gene cluster and our data indicate that only approximately 10% of wild-type Rps. palustris core complexes contain this non-essential subunit; functional and evolutionary consequences of this observation are discussed. The ability to purify uniform RC-LH1 and RC-LH1-protein W preparations will also be beneficial for future structural studies of these bacterial core complexes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbabio.2017.11.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5764122PMC
February 2018

Mapping the ultrafast flow of harvested solar energy in living photosynthetic cells.

Nat Commun 2017 10 17;8(1):988. Epub 2017 Oct 17.

Department of Chemistry, Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, and the James Franck Institute, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 60637, USA.

Photosynthesis transfers energy efficiently through a series of antenna complexes to the reaction center where charge separation occurs. Energy transfer in vivo is primarily monitored by measuring fluorescence signals from the small fraction of excitations that fail to result in charge separation. Here, we use two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy to follow the entire energy transfer process in a thriving culture of the purple bacteria, Rhodobacter sphaeroides. By removing contributions from scattered light, we extract the dynamics of energy transfer through the dense network of antenna complexes and into the reaction center. Simulations demonstrate that these dynamics constrain the membrane organization into small pools of core antenna complexes that rapidly trap energy absorbed by surrounding peripheral antenna complexes. The rapid trapping and limited back transfer of these excitations lead to transfer efficiencies of 83% and a small functional light-harvesting unit.During photosynthesis, energy is transferred from photosynthetic antenna to reaction centers via ultrafast energy transfer. Here the authors track energy transfer in photosynthetic bacteria using two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy and show that these transfer dynamics constrain antenna complex organization.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-01124-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5715167PMC
October 2017

Communication: Broad manifold of excitonic states in light-harvesting complex 1 promotes efficient unidirectional energy transfer in vivo.

J Chem Phys 2017 Oct;147(13):131101

Department of Chemistry, Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, and The James Franck Institute, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.

In photosynthetic organisms, the pigment-protein complexes that comprise the light-harvesting antenna exhibit complex electronic structures and ultrafast dynamics due to the coupling among the chromophores. Here, we present absorptive two-dimensional (2D) electronic spectra from living cultures of the purple bacterium, Rhodobacter sphaeroides, acquired using gradient assisted photon echo spectroscopy. Diagonal slices through the 2D lineshape of the LH1 stimulated emission/ground state bleach feature reveal a resolvable higher energy population within the B875 manifold. The waiting time evolution of diagonal, horizontal, and vertical slices through the 2D lineshape shows a sub-100 fs intra-complex relaxation as this higher energy population red shifts. The absorption (855 nm) of this higher lying sub-population of B875 before it has red shifted optimizes spectral overlap between the LH1 B875 band and the B850 band of LH2. Access to an energetically broad distribution of excitonic states within B875 offers a mechanism for efficient energy transfer from LH2 to LH1 during photosynthesis while limiting back transfer. Two-dimensional lineshapes reveal a rapid decay in the ground-state bleach/stimulated emission of B875. This signal, identified as a decrease in the dipole strength of a strong transition in LH1 on the red side of the B875 band, is assigned to the rapid localization of an initially delocalized exciton state, a dephasing process that frustrates back transfer from LH1 to LH2.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4999057DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5848712PMC
October 2017

Engineering of a calcium-ion binding site into the RC-LH1-PufX complex of Rhodobacter sphaeroides to enable ion-dependent spectral red-shifting.

Biochim Biophys Acta Bioenerg 2017 Nov 18;1858(11):927-938. Epub 2017 Aug 18.

Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, Firth Court, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, United Kingdom.

The reaction centre-light harvesting 1 (RC-LH1) complex of Thermochromatium (Tch.) tepidum has a unique calcium-ion binding site that enhances thermal stability and red-shifts the absorption of LH1 from 880nm to 915nm in the presence of calcium-ions. The LH1 antenna of mesophilic species of phototrophic bacteria such as Rhodobacter (Rba.) sphaeroides does not possess such properties. We have engineered calcium-ion binding into the LH1 antenna of Rba. sphaeroides by progressively modifying the native LH1 polypeptides with sequences from Tch. tepidum. We show that acquisition of the C-terminal domains from LH1 α and β of Tch. tepidum is sufficient to activate calcium-ion binding and the extent of red-shifting increases with the proportion of Tch. tepidum sequence incorporated. However, full exchange of the LH1 polypeptides with those of Tch. tepidum results in misassembled core complexes. Isolated α and β polypeptides from our most successful mutant were reconstituted in vitro with BChl a to form an LH1-type complex, which was stabilised 3-fold by calcium-ions. Additionally, carotenoid specificity was changed from spheroidene found in Rba. sphaeroides to spirilloxanthin found in Tch. tepidum, with the latter enhancing in vitro formation of LH1. These data show that the C-terminal LH1 α/β domains of Tch. tepidum behave autonomously, and are able to transmit calcium-ion induced conformational changes to BChls bound to the rest of a foreign antenna complex. Thus, elements of foreign antenna complexes, such as calcium-ion binding and blue/red switching of absorption, can be ported into Rhodobacter sphaeroides using careful design processes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbabio.2017.08.009DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5604489PMC
November 2017

Origin of the S* Excited State Feature of Carotenoids in Light-Harvesting Complex 1 from Purple Photosynthetic Bacteria.

J Phys Chem B 2017 08 4;121(32):7571-7585. Epub 2017 Aug 4.

Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield , Sheffield S10 2TN, United Kingdom.

This spectroscopic study investigates the origin of the transient feature of the S* excited state of carotenoids bound in LH1 complexes from purple bacteria. The studies were performed on two RC-LH1 complexes from Rba. sphaeroides strains that bound carotenoids with different carbon-carbon double bond conjugation N, neurosporene (N = 9) and spirilloxanthin (N = 13). The S* transient spectral feature, originally associated with an elusive and optically silent excited state of spirilloxanthin in the LH1 complex, may be successfully explained and mimicked without involving any unknown electronic state. The spectral and temporal characteristics of the S* feature suggest that it is associated with triplet-triplet annihilation of carotenoid triplets formed after direct excitation of the molecule via a singlet fission mechanism. Depending on pigment homogeneity and carotenoid assembly in the LH1 complex, the spectro-temporal component associated with triplet-triplet annihilation may simply resolve a pure T-S spectrum of a carotenoid. In some cases (like spirilloxanthin), the T-S feature will also be accompanied by a carotenoid Stark spectrum and/or residual transient absorption of minor carotenoid species bound into LH1 antenna complex.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpcb.7b04251DOI Listing
August 2017
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