Publications by authors named "Sabrina Liberatori"

31 Publications

Quality Control of ER Membrane Proteins by the RNF185/Membralin Ubiquitin Ligase Complex.

Mol Cell 2020 09 31;79(5):768-781.e7. Epub 2020 Jul 31.

Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RE, UK. Electronic address:

Misfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) are degraded by ER-associated degradation (ERAD). Although ERAD components involved in degradation of luminal substrates are well characterized, much less is known about quality control of membrane proteins. Here, we analyzed the degradation pathways of two short-lived ER membrane model proteins in mammalian cells. Using a CRISPR-Cas9 genome-wide library screen, we identified an ERAD branch required for quality control of a subset of membrane proteins. Using biochemical and mass spectrometry approaches, we showed that this ERAD branch is defined by an ER membrane complex consisting of the ubiquitin ligase RNF185, the ubiquitin-like domain containing proteins TMUB1/2 and TMEM259/Membralin, a poorly characterized protein. This complex cooperates with cytosolic ubiquitin ligase UBE3C and p97 ATPase in degrading their membrane substrates. Our data reveal that ERAD branches have remarkable specificity for their membrane substrates, suggesting that multiple, perhaps combinatorial, determinants are involved in substrate selection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2020.07.009DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7482433PMC
September 2020

Threonine Phosphorylation of IκBζ Mediates Inhibition of Selective Proinflammatory Target Genes.

J Invest Dermatol 2020 09 6;140(9):1805-1814.e6. Epub 2020 Feb 6.

Interfaculty Institute for Biochemistry, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany. Electronic address:

Transcription factors of the NF-κB family play a crucial role for immune responses by activating the expression of chemokines, cytokines, and antimicrobial peptides involved in pathogen clearance. IκBζ, an atypical nuclear IκB protein and selective coactivator of particular NF-κB target genes, has recently been identified as an essential regulator for skin immunity. This study discovered that IκBζ is strongly induced in keratinocytes that sense the fungal glucan zymosan A. Additionally, IκBζ is essential for the optimal expression of proinflammatory genes, such as IL6, CXCL5, IL1B, or S100A9. Moreover, this study found that IκBζ was not solely regulated on the transcriptional level but also by phosphorylation events. This study identified several IκBζ phosphorylation sites, including a conserved cluster of threonine residues located in the N-terminus of the protein, which can be phosphorylated by MAPKs. Surprisingly, IκBζ phosphorylation at this threonine cluster promoted the recruitment of histone deacetylase 1 to specific target gene promoters and, thus, negatively controlled transcription. Taken together, this study proposes a model of how an antifungal response translates to the expression of proinflammatory cytokines and highlights an additional layer of complexity in the regulation of the NF-κB responses in keratinocytes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jid.2019.12.036DOI Listing
September 2020

Elongation/Termination Factor Exchange Mediated by PP1 Phosphatase Orchestrates Transcription Termination.

Cell Rep 2018 10;25(1):259-269.e5

Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QU, UK. Electronic address:

Termination of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) transcription is a key step that is important for 3' end formation of functional mRNA, mRNA release, and Pol II recycling. Even so, the underlying termination mechanism is not yet understood. Here, we demonstrate that the conserved and essential termination factor Seb1 is found on Pol II near the end of the RNA exit channel and the Rpb4/7 stalk. Furthermore, the Seb1 interaction surface with Pol II largely overlaps with that of the elongation factor Spt5. Notably, Seb1 co-transcriptional recruitment is dependent on Spt5 dephosphorylation by the conserved PP1 phosphatase Dis2, which also dephosphorylates threonine 4 within the Pol II heptad repeated C-terminal domain. We propose that Dis2 orchestrates the transition from elongation to termination phase during the transcription cycle by mediating elongation to termination factor exchange and dephosphorylation of Pol II C-terminal domain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2018.09.007DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6180485PMC
October 2018

Exploring host-pathogen interactions through genome wide protein microarray analysis.

Sci Rep 2016 06 15;6:27996. Epub 2016 Jun 15.

GSK Vaccines, Via Fiorentina 1, 53100 Siena, Italy.

During bacterial pathogenesis extensive contacts between the human and the bacterial extracellular proteomes take place. The identification of novel host-pathogen interactions by standard methods using a case-by-case approach is laborious and time consuming. To overcome this limitation, we took advantage of large libraries of human and bacterial recombinant proteins. We applied a large-scale protein microarray-based screening on two important human pathogens using two different approaches: (I) 75 human extracellular proteins were tested on 159 spotted Staphylococcus aureus recombinant proteins and (II) Neisseria meningitidis adhesin (NadA), an important vaccine component against serogroup B meningococcus, was screened against ≈2300 spotted human recombinant proteins. The approach presented here allowed the identification of the interaction between the S. aureus immune evasion protein FLIPr (formyl-peptide receptor like-1 inhibitory protein) and the human complement component C1q, key players of the offense-defense fighting; and of the interaction between meningococcal NadA and human LOX-1 (low-density oxidized lipoprotein receptor), an endothelial receptor. The novel interactions between bacterial and human extracellular proteins here presented might provide a better understanding of the molecular events underlying S. aureus and N. meningitidis pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep27996DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4908583PMC
June 2016

Vaccine composition formulated with a novel TLR7-dependent adjuvant induces high and broad protection against Staphylococcus aureus.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2015 Mar 9;112(12):3680-5. Epub 2015 Mar 9.

Novartis Vaccines Research Center, 53100 Siena, Italy;

Both active and passive immunization strategies against Staphylococcus aureus have thus far failed to show efficacy in humans. With the attempt to develop an effective S. aureus vaccine, we selected five conserved antigens known to have different roles in S. aureus pathogenesis. They include the secreted factors α-hemolysin (Hla), ess extracellular A (EsxA), and ess extracellular B (EsxB) and the two surface proteins ferric hydroxamate uptake D2 and conserved staphylococcal antigen 1A. The combined vaccine antigens formulated with aluminum hydroxide induced antibodies with opsonophagocytic and functional activities and provided consistent protection in four mouse models when challenged with a panel of epidemiologically relevant S. aureus strains. The importance of antibodies in protection was demonstrated by passive transfer experiments. Furthermore, when formulated with a toll-like receptor 7-dependent (TLR7) agonist recently designed and developed in our laboratories (SMIP.7-10) adsorbed to alum, the five antigens provided close to 100% protection against four different staphylococcal strains. The new formulation induced not only high antibody titers but also a Th1 skewed immune response as judged by antibody isotype and cytokine profiles. In addition, low frequencies of IL-17-secreting T cells were also observed. Altogether, our data demonstrate that the rational selection of mixtures of conserved antigens combined with Th1/Th17 adjuvants can lead to promising vaccine formulations against S. aureus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1424924112DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4378396PMC
March 2015

Protectome analysis: a new selective bioinformatics tool for bacterial vaccine candidate discovery.

Mol Cell Proteomics 2015 Feb 3;14(2):418-29. Epub 2014 Nov 3.

From the ‡Research Department, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, 53100 Siena, Italy.

New generation vaccines are in demand to include only the key antigens sufficient to confer protective immunity among the plethora of pathogen molecules. In the last decade, large-scale genomics-based technologies have emerged. Among them, the Reverse Vaccinology approach was successfully applied to the development of an innovative vaccine against Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B, now available on the market with the commercial name BEXSERO® (Novartis Vaccines). The limiting step of such approaches is the number of antigens to be tested in in vivo models. Several laboratories have been trying to refine the original approach in order to get to the identification of the relevant antigens straight from the genome. Here we report a new bioinformatics tool that moves a first step in this direction. The tool has been developed by identifying structural/functional features recurring in known bacterial protective antigens, the so called "Protectome space," and using such "protective signatures" for protective antigen discovery. In particular, we applied this new approach to Staphylococcus aureus and Group B Streptococcus and we show that not only already known protective antigens were re-discovered, but also two new protective antigens were identified.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/mcp.M114.039362DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4350036PMC
February 2015

Structure and protective efficacy of the Staphylococcus aureus autocleaving protease EpiP.

FASEB J 2014 Apr 13;28(4):1780-93. Epub 2014 Jan 13.

2G.G., Novartis Vaccines, via Fiorentina 1, 53100, Siena, Italy.

Despite the global medical needs associated with Staphylococcus aureus infections, no licensed vaccines are currently available. We identified and characterized a protein annotated as an epidermin leader peptide processing serine protease (EpiP), as a novel S. aureus vaccine candidate. In addition, we determined the structure of the recombinant protein (rEpiP) by X-ray crystallography. The crystal structure revealed that rEpiP was cleaved somewhere between residues 95 and 100, and we found that the cleavage occurs through an autocatalytic intramolecular mechanism. The protein expressed by S. aureus cells also appeared to undergo a similar processing event. To determine whether the protein acts as a serine protease, we mutated the hypothesized catalytic serine 393 residue to alanine, generating rEpiP-S393A. The crystal structure of this mutant protein showed that the polypeptide chain was not cleaved and was not interacting stably with the active site. Indeed, rEpiP-S393A was shown to be impaired in its protease activity. Mice vaccinated with rEpiP were protected from S. aureus infection (34% survival, P=0.0054). Moreover, the protective efficacy generated by rEpiP and rEpiP-S393A was comparable, implying that the noncleaving mutant could be used for vaccination purposes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.13-241737DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3963019PMC
April 2014

Mining the bacterial unknown proteome: identification and characterization of a novel family of highly conserved protective antigens in Staphylococcus aureus.

Biochem J 2013 Nov;455(3):273-84

*Research Department, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, 53100 Siena, Italy.

In the human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, there exists an enormous diversity of proteins containing DUFs (domains of unknown function). In the present study, we characterized the family of conserved staphylococcal antigens (Csa) classified as DUF576 and taxonomically restricted to Staphylococci. The 18 Csa paralogues in S. aureus Newman are highly similar at the sequence level, yet were found to be expressed in multiple cellular locations. Extracellular Csa1A was shown to be post-translationally processed and released. Molecular interaction studies revealed that Csa1A interacts with other Csa paralogues, suggesting that these proteins are involved in the same cellular process. The structures of Csa1A and Csa1B were determined by X-ray crystallography, unveiling a peculiar structure with limited structural similarity to other known proteins. Our results provide the first detailed biological characterization of this family and confirm the uniqueness of this family also at the structural level. We also provide evidence that Csa family members elicit protective immunity in in vivo animal models of staphylococcal infections, indicating a possible important role for these proteins in S. aureus biology and pathogenesis. These findings identify the Csa family as new potential vaccine candidates, and underline the importance of mining the bacterial unknown proteome to identify new targets for preventive vaccines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1042/BJ20130540DOI Listing
November 2013

Staphylococcus aureus FhuD2 is involved in the early phase of staphylococcal dissemination and generates protective immunity in mice.

J Infect Dis 2012 Oct 24;206(7):1041-9. Epub 2012 Jul 24.

Novartis Vaccines, Research Center, Siena, Italy.

Iron availability plays an essential role in staphylococcal pathogenesis. We selected FhuD2, a lipoprotein involved in iron-hydroxamate uptake, as a novel vaccine candidate against Staphylococcus aureus. Unprecedented for staphylococcal lipoproteins, the protein was demonstrated to have a discrete, punctate localization on the bacterial surface. FhuD2 vaccination generated protective immunity against diverse clinical S. aureus isolates in murine infection models. Protection appeared to be associated with functional antibodies that were shown to mediate opsonophagocytosis, to be effective in passive transfer experiments, and to potentially block FhuD2-mediated siderophore uptake. Furthermore, the protein was found to be up-regulated in infected tissues and was required for staphylococcal dissemination and abscess formation. Herein we show that the staphylococcal iron-hydroxamate uptake system is important in invasive infection and functions as an efficacious vaccine target.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jis463DOI Listing
October 2012

Streptococcus pyogenes SpyCEP: a chemokine-inactivating protease with unique structural and biochemical features.

FASEB J 2010 Aug 25;24(8):2839-48. Epub 2010 Mar 25.

Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics, 53100 Siena, Italy.

SpyCEP is a 170-kDa multidomain serine protease expressed on the surface of the human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes, which plays an important role in infection by catalyzing cleavage and inactivation of the neutrophil chemoattractant interleukin-8. In this study, we investigated the biochemical features and maturation process of SpyCEP, starting from a recombinant form of the protease expressed and purified from Escherichia coli. We show that active recombinant SpyCEP differs from other bacterial proteases in that it is constituted by 2 noncovalently linked fragments derived from autocatalytic processing, an N-terminal fragment of 210 aa bearing one of the 3 catalytic triad residues, and a 1369-residue C-terminal polypeptide containing the remaining 2 catalytic amino acids. The same type of organization is present in the enzyme obtained from S. pyogenes. Furthermore, N-terminal SpyCEP is not involved in the folding of the mature enzyme. The 2 protease fragments were separately expressed in E. coli as soluble polypeptides that, when combined, reconstituted a fully active enzyme complex. Therefore, SpyCEP appears to possess a completely new structural architecture that has not been described so far for other microbial proteases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.09-145631DOI Listing
August 2010

Surfome analysis as a fast track to vaccine discovery: identification of a novel protective antigen for Group B Streptococcus hypervirulent strain COH1.

Mol Cell Proteomics 2009 Jul 28;8(7):1728-37. Epub 2009 Apr 28.

Research Centre, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, 53100 Siena, Italy.

Safe recombinant vaccines, based on a small number of antigenic proteins, are emerging as the most attractive, cost-effective solution against infectious diseases. In the present work, we confirmed previous data from our laboratory showing that whole viable bacterial cell treatment with proteases followed by the identification of released peptides by mass spectrometry is the method of choice for the rapid and reliable identification of vaccine candidates in Gram-positive bacteria. When applied to the Group B Streptococcus COH1 strain, 43 surface-associated proteins were identified, including all the protective antigens described in the literature as well as a new protective antigen, the cell wall-anchored protein SAN_1485 belonging to the serine-rich repeat protein family. This strategy overcomes the difficulties so far encountered in the identification of novel vaccine candidates and speeds up the entire vaccine discovery process by reducing the number of recombinant proteins to be tested in the animal model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/mcp.M800486-MCP200DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2709197PMC
July 2009

Proteomics characterization of outer membrane vesicles from the extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli DeltatolR IHE3034 mutant.

Mol Cell Proteomics 2008 Mar 2;7(3):473-85. Epub 2007 Nov 2.

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Unit, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, 53100 Siena, Italy.

Extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli are the cause of a diverse spectrum of invasive infections in humans and animals, leading to urinary tract infections, meningitis, or septicemia. In this study, we focused our attention on the identification of the outer membrane proteins of the pathogen in consideration of their important biological role and of their use as potential targets for prophylactic and therapeutic interventions. To this aim, we generated a DeltatolR mutant of the pathogenic IHE3034 strain that spontaneously released a large quantity of outer membrane vesicles in the culture supernatant. The vesicles were analyzed by two-dimensional electrophoresis coupled to mass spectrometry. The analysis led to the identification of 100 proteins, most of which are localized to the outer membrane and periplasmic compartments. Interestingly based on the genome sequences available in the current public database, seven of the identified proteins appear to be specific for pathogenic E. coli and enteric bacteria and therefore are potential targets for vaccine and drug development. Finally we demonstrated that the cytolethal distending toxin, a toxin exclusively produced by pathogenic bacteria, is released in association with the vesicles, supporting the recently proposed role of bacterial vesicles in toxin delivery to host cells. Overall, our data demonstrated that outer membrane vesicles represent an ideal tool to study Gram-negative periplasm and outer membrane compartments and to shed light on new mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/mcp.M700295-MCP200DOI Listing
March 2008

Proteomic analysis of the airway surface liquid: modulation by proinflammatory cytokines.

Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 2007 Jan;292(1):L185-98

Laboratorio di Genetica Molecolare, Istituto Giannina Gaslini, Largo G. Gaslini 5, Genoa 16148, Italy.

The airway surface is covered by a fluid, the airway surface liquid, interposed between the mucous layer and the epithelium. The airway surface liquid contains proteins, secreted by different cell types, that may have pro-/anti-inflammatory or bactericidal functions or have a role in the mucociliary clearance. We have used a proteomics approach to identify the proteins secreted by an isolated in vitro model of human airway epithelium, at resting and under proinflammatory conditions, as a strategy to define the factors involved in epithelial barrier function. To this aim, we have analyzed the airway surface liquid from human bronchial epithelial cells grown as polarized monolayers in the presence and absence of inflammatory stimuli such as IL-4, IL-1beta, TNF-alpha, and IFN-gamma. Two-dimensional electrophoresis followed by mass spectrometry analysis has allowed the identification of approximately 175 secreted protein spots, among which are immune-related proteins, structural proteins, an actin severer, some protease inhibitors, and a metalloproteinase. Comparisons between treated and untreated conditions have shown that the expression of several proteins was significantly modified by the different cytokines. Our results indicate that the surface epithelium is an active player in the epithelial barrier function and that inflammatory conditions may modulate protein secretion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajplung.00085.2006DOI Listing
January 2007

Characterization and identification of vaccine candidate proteins through analysis of the group A Streptococcus surface proteome.

Nat Biotechnol 2006 Feb 15;24(2):191-7. Epub 2006 Jan 15.

Chiron Vaccines, Via Fiorentina, 1 53100 Siena, Italy.

We describe a proteomic approach for identifying bacterial surface-exposed proteins quickly and reliably for their use as vaccine candidates. Whole cells are treated with proteases to selectively digest protruding proteins that are subsequently identified by mass spectrometry analysis of the released peptides. When applied to the sequenced M1_SF370 group A Streptococcus strain, 68 PSORT-predicted surface-associated proteins were identified, including most of the protective antigens described in the literature. The number of surface-exposed proteins varied from strain to strain, most likely as a consequence of different capsule content. The surface-exposed proteins of the highly virulent M23_DSM2071 strain included 17 proteins, 15 in common with M1_SF370. When 14 of the 17 proteins were expressed in E. coli and tested in the mouse for their capacity to confer protection against a lethal dose of M23_DSM2071, one new protective antigen (Spy0416) was identified. This strategy overcomes the difficulties so far encountered in surface protein characterization and has great potential in vaccine discovery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nbt1179DOI Listing
February 2006

Gelsolin secretion in interleukin-4-treated bronchial epithelia and in asthmatic airways.

Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2005 Nov 11;172(9):1090-6. Epub 2005 Aug 11.

Laboratory of Uremic Physiopathology, Istituto G. Gaslini, Genoa-16148, Italy.

Rationale: The airway surface liquid, the thin layer of liquid covering the airways, is essential for mucociliary clearance and as a barrier against microbial and other noxious agents. Proteins secreted into the airway surface liquid by epithelial and nonepithelial cells may be important in innate immunity and to improve the fluidity of mucous secretions.

Objectives: We aimed to identify proteins specifically secreted into the airway surface liquid by human bronchial epithelial cells, in resting conditions and after treatment with interleukin 4 (IL-4), a cytokine released in asthma.

Methods And Main Results: By using a proteomics approach, we found that one of the most abundant proteins was gelsolin, which breaks down actin filaments. Gelsolin mRNA and protein secretion were increased threefold in the airway surface liquid of epithelia treated with IL-4. These results were confirmed at the functional level by measuring actin depolymerization using a fluorescence assay. Gelsolin protein was also upregulated in the airways of subjects with asthma.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that gelsolin is released by epithelial cells into the airways and that its secretion is increased by IL-4 in vitro. In addition, we found that the concentration of both IL-4 and gelsolin were raised in the bronchoalveolar lavage of patients with asthma. These results suggest that gelsolin might improve the fluidity of airway surface liquid in asthma by breaking down filamentous actin that may be released in large amounts by dying cells during inflammation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1164/rccm.200409-1185OCDOI Listing
November 2005

Discovering high mobility group A molecular partners in tumour cells.

Proteomics 2005 Apr;5(6):1494-506

Dipartimento di Biochimica, Biofisica e Chimica delle Macromolecole, Università di Trieste, Trieste, Italy.

DNA-based activities rely on an extremely coordinated sequence of events performed by several chromatin-associated proteins which act in concert. High Mobility Group A (HMGA) proteins are non-histone architectural nuclear factors that participate in the regulation of specific genes but they are also believed to have a more general role in chromatin dynamics. The peculiarity of these proteins is their flexibility, both in terms of DNA-binding and in protein-protein interactions. Since these proteins act as core elements in the assembly of multiprotein complexes called enhanceosomes, and have already displayed the ability to interact with several different proteins, we started a proteomic approach for the systematic identification of their molecular partners. By a combination of affinity chromatography, two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry we have identified about twenty putative HMGA interactors which could be roughly assigned to three different classes: mRNA processing proteins, chromatin remodelling related factors and structural proteins. Direct HMGA interaction with some of these proteins was confirmed by glutathione-S-transferase pull-down assays and the HMGA domain involved was mapped. Blot-overlay experiments reveal that members of the HMGA family share most of their molecular partners but, interestingly, it seems that there are some cell-type specific partners. Taken together, these experimental data indicate that HMGA proteins are highly connected nodes in the chromatin protein network. Since these proteins are strongly implicated with cancer development, the identification of molecules able to perturb the HMGA molecular network could be a possible tool to interfere with their oncogenic activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pmic.200401028DOI Listing
April 2005

Cytokine profile and proteome analysis in bronchoalveolar lavage of patients with sarcoidosis, pulmonary fibrosis associated with systemic sclerosis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Proteomics 2005 Apr;5(5):1423-30

Respiratory Diseases Section, Department of Clinical Medicine and Immunological Sciences, University of Siena, Siena, Italy.

The aim of this study was to analyze the type of immune response (Th1, Th2) and protein composition of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) of patients with sarcoidosis, pulmonary fibrosis associated with systemic sclerosis (SSc) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Flow cytometry analysis of intracellular cytokines revealed different patterns: in IPF and SSc Th2 profiles were predominant, whereas in sarcoidosis Th1 prevailed. The proteomic analysis of BAL fluid (BALF) showed that there were quantitative differences between the three diseases. These were more evident between sarcoidosis and IPF, confirming our previous observations, whereas SSc had an intermediate profile between the two, however with some peculiarities. Comparison of BALF protein maps, constructed with the same quantity of total proteins, enabled us to identify the main profiles of the three diseases: an increase in plasma protein prevalent in sarcoidosis and also present in SSc, though for fewer proteins with respect to IPF and a greater abundance of low molecular weight proteins, mainly locally produced, in IPF. These findings are in line with the different pathogenesis of these diseases: IPF is considered a prevalently fibrotic disorder limited to the lung, with intense local production of functionally different proteins, whereas sarcoidosis and SSc are systemic immunoinflammatory diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pmic.200301007DOI Listing
April 2005

Immunoblotting techniques.

Methods Mol Biol 2005 ;295:227-54

Department of Molecular Biology, University of Siena, Siena, Italy.

Immunoblotting techniques use antibodies (or other specific ligands in related techniques) to identify target proteins among a number of unrelated protein species. They involve identification of protein target via antigen-antibody (or protein-ligand) specific reactions. Proteins are typically separated by electrophoresis and transferred onto membranes (usually nitrocellulose). The membrane is overlaid with a primary antibody for a specific target and then with a secondary antibody labeled, for example, with enzymes or with radioisotopes. When the ligand is not an antibody, the reaction can be visualized using a ligand that is directly labeled. Dot blot is a simplified procedure in which protein samples are not separated by electrophoresis but are spotted directly onto membrane. Immunoblotting is now widely used in conjunction with two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, not only for traditional goals, such as the immunoaffinity identification of proteins and analysis of immune responses but also as a genome-proteome interface technique.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1385/1-59259-873-0:227DOI Listing
May 2005

Biochemical characterization of the THIN-B metallo-beta-lactamase of Janthinobacterium lividum.

Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2004 Dec;48(12):4778-83

Dipartimento di Biologia Molecolare, Laboratorio di Fisiologia e Biotecnologia dei Microrganismi, Università di Siena, Siena, Italy.

The THIN-B metallo-beta-lactamase, a subclass B3 enzyme produced by the environmental species Janthinobacterium lividum, was overproduced in Escherichia coli by means of a T7-based expression system. The enzyme was purified (>95%) by two ion-exchange chromatography steps and subjected to biochemical analysis. The native THIN-B enzyme is a monomeric protein of 31 kDa. It exhibits the highest catalytic efficiencies with carbapenem substrates and cephalosporins, except for cephaloridine, which acts as a poor inactivator. Individual rate constants for inactivation by chelators were measured, suggesting that inactivation occurred by a mechanism involving formation of a ternary complex.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AAC.48.12.4778-4783.2004DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC529184PMC
December 2004

Induction of Mycobacterium avium proteins upon infection of human macrophages.

Proteomics 2004 Oct;4(10):3078-83

Dipartimento di Malattie Infettive, Parassitarie e Immunomediate, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Roma, Italy.

Induction of Mycobacterium avium proteins labelled with [35S]methionine and mRNAs upon infection of the human macrophage cell line THP-1 was investigated by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis-mass spectrometry and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), respectively. M. avium overexpressed proteins within the macrophages that are involved in fatty acids metabolism (FadE2, FixA), cell wall synthesis (KasA), and protein synthesis (EF-tu). The correlation of differential protein and mRNA expression varied between good and no correlation. Overall, these four proteins may be involved in the adaptation and survival of M. avium within human macrophages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pmic.200300891DOI Listing
October 2004

Proteomic approach to the identification of voltage-dependent anion channel protein isoforms in guinea pig brain synaptosomes.

Proteomics 2004 May;4(5):1335-40

Department of Molecular Biology, University of Siena, Italy.

Voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) proteins are small, abundant, pore-forming proteins belonging to the eukaryotic mitochondrial porins. At least three different VDAC genes have been identified in vertebrates. VDAC proteins are known to play an essential role in cellular metabolism and in the early stages of apoptosis. A proteomic approach, consisting of two-dimensional gel electrophoresis followed by two-dimensional immunoblotting with anti-VDAC and anti-phosphotyrosine antibodies and by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry, was exploited to define the expression pattern of VDAC isoforms in guinea pig brain synaptosomes, both in normoxic and hypoxic conditions. In this way a total of five different VDAC isoforms were identified, as both VDAC1 and VDAC2 were detected in more than one electrophoretic spot. Moreover, VDAC isoforms selectively undergo hypoxia-induced tyrosine phosphorylation, suggesting that tyrosine phosphorylation may contribute to the modulation of VDAC protein function/conformation or interaction with other proteins in hypoxic conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pmic.200300734DOI Listing
May 2004

Translationally controlled tumor protein (TCTP) in the human prostate and prostate cancer cells: expression, distribution, and calcium binding activity.

Prostate 2004 Jul;60(2):130-40

Department of Human Pathology and Oncology, University of Siena, Siena, Italy.

Background: The translationally controlled tumor protein (TCTP) is an abundantly expressed protein found in a wide range of organisms from both the animal and plant kingdom. Initially described as a growth-related protein, knowledge of the biological actions of TCTP has been recently extended to include calcium binding, regulation of apoptosis, and microtubules stabilization. This report describes expression, distribution, and characterization of TCTP in human prostatic tissues and cell lines.

Methods: Samples were analyzed by Western blot, RT-PCR, immunohistochemistry, and confocal microscopy. Calcium binding activity of the recombinant human prostatic protein was evaluated on a calcium overlay assay. A public SAGE database was analyzed to determine TCTP expression levels in normal and cancer tissues.

Results: TCTP protein and mRNA were detected in all the specimens and cell lines analyzed. The protein was mainly expressed by the secretory luminal epithelial and basal layer cells. A significant amount of protein was present in the prostatic fluids. Subcellular distribution studies in prostate epithelial cells detected the protein in the cytoplasm in interphase and colocalized with tubulin during mitosis. The calcium binding capacity of prostatic TCTP was shown in vitro. Finally, SAGE data indicated TCTP as the calcium binding protein with the highest expression levels among those examined.

Conclusions: The results of the present study demonstrate, for the first time, the expression of TCTP in the human prostate and in prostate cancer cells, and suggest the involvement of the protein in key-processes such as apoptosis, cellular differentiation, and in the control of sperm functions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pros.20054DOI Listing
July 2004

Bcl2-low-expressing MCF7 cells undergo necrosis rather than apoptosis upon staurosporine treatment.

Biochem J 2004 May;379(Pt 3):823-32

Laboratorio di Terapia Genica e Molecolare, Istituto di Fisiologia Clinica, Area della Ricerca del CNR, Via G. Moruzzi, 1, 56124 Pisa, Italy.

We present a ribozyme-based strategy for studying the effects of Bcl2 down-regulation. The anti-bcl2 hammerhead ribozyme Rz-bcl2 was stably transfected into MCF7 cancer cells and the cleavage of Bcl2 mRNA was demonstrated using a new assay for cleavage product detection, while Western blot analysis showed a concomitant depletion of Bcl2 protein. Rz-bcl2-expressing cells were more sensitive to staurosporine than control cells. Moreover, both molecular and cellular read-outs indicated that staurosporine-induced cell death was necrosis rather than apoptosis in these cells. The study of the effects of Bcl2 down-regulation was extended to the global MCF7 protein expression profile, exploiting a proteomic approach. Two reference electro-pherograms of Rz-bcl2-transfected cells, one with the ribozyme in a catalytically active form and the other with the ribozyme in a catalytically inactive form, were obtained. When comparing the two-dimensional maps, 53 differentially expressed spots were found, four of which were identified by MALDI-TOF (matrix-assisted laser-desorption ionization-time-of-flight) MS as calreticulin, nucleophosmin, phosphoglycerate kinase and pyruvate kinase. How the up-regulation of these proteins might help to explain the modification of Bcl2 activity is discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1042/BJ20031538DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1224122PMC
May 2004

Proteome analysis of Escherichia coli W3110 expressing an heterologous sigma factor.

Proteomics 2003 Jun;3(6):1060-5

Section of Biochemistry, Department of Molecular Biology, University of Siena, Italy.

The recombinant plasmid pASK18 carries a Streptomyces DNA fragment which includes an open reading frame, designated psfS (putative sigma factor, Streptomyces), as its putative product showed a high degree of similarity with RNA polymerase sigma factors. Previous results showed that PsfS causes transcription initiation within the bgl operon promoter-silencer region in Escherichia coli K12. In this study a proteomic approach has been applied in order to perform a comparative analysis of E. coli K12 W3110 wild-type, W3110 (pASK18) and a W3110 Bgl(+) spontaneous mutant. Either by qualitative or quantitative analysis, no significant difference was observed between the proteomes of W3110 and its Bgl+ derivative, while W3110 (pASK18) showed an altered profile by both analyses. Fourteen out of the 37 protein spots showing a different expression level in E. coli W3110 harboring pASK18 were identified by peptide mass fingerprinting. Among the proteins identified, thiol peroxidase (Tpx) was the only one up-regulated. The possible involvement of bgl and tpx in the survival of the pathogen E. coli during infection is discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pmic.200300403DOI Listing
June 2003

Proteome analysis of dermal fibroblasts cultured in vitro from human healthy subjects of different ages.

Proteomics 2003 Jun;3(6):917-29

Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.

Aging is a complex multifactorial process still far from being completely understood. The aim of the present study was to compare the proteome of in vitro cultured dermal fibroblasts from healthy subjects of different ages (i.e. 15 +/- 2, 41 +/- 4 and 82 +/- 3 years old). Proteins of the cell layer were separated by two-dimensional electrophoresis and protein identification was performed by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry; moreover, synthetic gels were qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed by Melanie 3 software. Our study did not reveal any protein typical of any one age group. On the other hand, we observed 38 proteins exhibiting more than three-fold reproducible variations with aging, some (45%) being reduced such as F-actin capping protein alpha1, proteasome subunit alpha type 3, heat shock protein 27, ubiquitin carboxyl-terminal hydrolase isozyme L1, mitochondrial thioredoxin-dependent peroxide reductase, cathepsin B, glutathione S-transferase P, cyclophilin A and calgizzarin. In contrast, T-complex protein 1, probable protein disulfide isomerase ER60, phosphoglycerate kinase 1, Ran-specific GTPase-activating protein, proteasome subunit alpha type 5, triosephosphate isomerase and superoxide dismutase (Mn) increased with age. Furthermore, annexin 1, elongation factor 1beta, proteasome activator complex subunit 1, phosphoglycerate mutase, superoxide dismutase (Cu-Zn) and cofilin, exhibited the highest levels in adult cells; whereas, septin 2 homolog, RNA-binding protein regulatory subunit and ATP synthase D chain revealed the lowest values in adults. The present investigation, underlining the complexity of the aging process, highlights the role of synthetic and degradative pathways in modulating the whole cell machinery and emphasizes that metabolic impairment with age could depend partly on different expression of a number of genes and leading to an imbalance among functional proteins.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pmic.200300386DOI Listing
June 2003

Normal human dermal fibroblasts: proteomic analysis of cell layer and culture medium.

Electrophoresis 2003 Apr;24(7-8):1292-310

Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Proteins present within the cell layer and those released in the cell medium from in vitro cultured normal human dermal fibroblasts were separated and characterized in terms of their isoelectric point and molecular weight, by two-dimensional (2-D) gel electrophoresis. All spots in the synthetic gel were firstly analyzed by the Melanie 3 software and compared with those of breast cancer cells, colorectal epithelial cells, HL60, lymphoma cells, and platelets, already available on-line. From the identification of 144 spots from both the cell layer and the medium, we were able to recognize 89 different proteins, since a certain number of spots represented different isoforms of the same molecule. Identifications were performed by matching with on-line 2-D databases, and by matrix assisted laser-desorption/ionization-time of flight-mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS), in order to confirm the identification by matching, or to identify new proteins. The procedure we used allows (i) to design a highly reproducible reference map of the proteome of adult human normal fibroblasts in culture, (ii) to evaluate protein species produced in the cell layer as well as those released in the culture medium, and (iii) to compare data from gel matching with those obtained by MS. This work represents an essential step for a better knowledge of mesenchymal cells, given the widespread use of this cell type in both clinical and experimental investigations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/elps.200390166DOI Listing
April 2003

Extensive temporally regulated reorganization of the lipid raft proteome following T-cell antigen receptor triggering.

Biochem J 2003 Jan;369(Pt 2):301-9

Department of Molecular Biology, University of Siena, Via Fiorentina 1, 53100 Siena, Italy.

Signalling by immunoreceptors is orchestrated at specific plasma membrane microdomains, referred to as lipid rafts. Here we present a proteomics approach to the temporal analysis of protein association with lipid rafts following T-cell antigen receptor (TCR) triggering. We show that TCR engagement promotes the temporally regulated recruitment of proteins participating in the TCR signalling cascade to lipid rafts. Furthermore, TCR triggering results in profound modifications in the composition of lipid rafts involving a number of proteins associated either directly or indirectly with both plasma and intracellular membranes. Raft-associated proteins can be clustered according to their temporal profile of raft association. The data identify lipid rafts as highly dynamic structures and reveal a dramatic impact of surface TCR triggering not only on components of the TCR signalling machinery but also on proteins implicated in a number of diverse cellular processes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1042/BJ20020503DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1223079PMC
January 2003

Identification of caseins in goat milk.

Proteomics 2002 Jun;2(6):723-6

Laboratorio Analisi Proteomica, Istituto di Medicina Legale e Legislazione Veterinaria, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milano, Italy.

The importance of goat milk in infant diet is growing, because it is reported that goat's milk in some cases is less allergenic than cow's milk. This is due probably to the lower presence of caseins associated with a specific type of alpha(s1)-casein. In caprine breeds, four types of alpha(s1)-casein alleles are identified and associated with various amounts of this protein in milk. The contribution of strong alleles to the goat milk is approximately 3.6 g/L of alpha(s1)-casein, while for middle alleles is only 1.6 g/L, weak alleles 0.6 g/L. The contribution of null allele is very low (or non-existent). The quantity of total caseins in caprine milk is positively correlated with the amount of alpha(s1)-casein. Milk from animals possessing strong alleles contain significantly more total caseins than milk from animals without those alleles. This is important because animals with mild alleles can be employed to produce milk for allergic subjects while the other animals can be used to produce milk for the dairy industry. This work shows casein profiles of two types of classified goat milk (B, strong alpha(s1) allele, 0, null alpha(s1) allele) with two-dimensional electrophoresis coupled with matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry, and it confirms the different polymorphisms at locus alpha(s1) casein.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/1615-9861(200206)2:6<723::AID-PROT723>3.0.CO;2-IDOI Listing
June 2002

Presence of macrophage migration inhibitory factor in human milk: evidence in the aqueous phase and milk fat globules.

Pediatr Res 2002 May;51(5):619-24

Department of Molecular Biology, University of Siena, Italy.

Human milk is a source of bioactive substances regulating the development and activity of the newborn immune system. Human milk has been found to contain a number of cytokines, including interleukins, growth factors, and colony stimulating factors. In the present study, we assessed 10 specimens of human milk for the presence of macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF), a cytokine recently described in several human reproductive organs and tissues. Using biochemical as well as immunologic techniques, we showed that MIF is abundantly present in human milk, mostly distributed in the lipid layer and in the aqueous phase. Fractionation of the lipid layer showed that MIF is highly concentrated inside milk fat globules. In view of its proinflammatory features, we speculate that milk MIF may protect the newborn against infection and play a role in preserving the functionality of the lactating mammary gland. Furthermore, the localization of MIF in lipid globules suggests a possible strategy for the protection of milk cytokines from the gastric barrier.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1203/00006450-200205000-00013DOI Listing
May 2002