Posts Tagged ‘functional proteomics’

Live Notes, Real Time Conference Coverage AACR 2020: Tuesday June 23, 2020 3:00 PM-5:30 PM Educational Sessions

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

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uesday, June 23

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM EDT

Virtual Educational Session
Tumor Biology, Bioinformatics and Systems Biology

The Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium: Resources and Data Dissemination

This session will provide information regarding methodologic and computational aspects of proteogenomic analysis of tumor samples, particularly in the context of clinical trials. Availability of comprehensive proteomic and matching genomic data for tumor samples characterized by the National Cancer Institute’s Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium (CPTAC) and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) program will be described, including data access procedures and informatic tools under development. Recent advances on mass spectrometry-based targeted assays for inclusion in clinical trials will also be discussed.

Amanda G Paulovich, Shankha Satpathy, Meenakshi Anurag, Bing Zhang, Steven A Carr

Methods and tools for comprehensive proteogenomic characterization of bulk tumor to needle core biopsies

Shankha Satpathy
  • TCGA has 11,000 cancers with >20,000 somatic alterations but only 128 proteins as proteomics was still young field
  • CPTAC is NCI proteomic effort
  • Chemical labeling approach now method of choice for quantitative proteomics
  • Looked at ovarian and breast cancers: to measure PTM like phosphorylated the sample preparation is critical


Data access and informatics tools for proteogenomics analysis

Bing Zhang
  • Raw and processed data (raw MS data) with linked clinical data can be extracted in CPTAC
  • Python scripts are available for bioinformatic programming


Pathways to clinical translation of mass spectrometry-based assays

Meenakshi Anurag

·         Using kinase inhibitor pulldown (KIP) assay to identify unique kinome profiles

·         Found single strand break repair defects in endometrial luminal cases, especially with immune checkpoint prognostic tumors

·         Paper: JNCI 2019 analyzed 20,000 genes correlated with ET resistant in luminal B cases (selected for a list of 30 genes)

·         Validated in METABRIC dataset

·         KIP assay uses magnetic beads to pull out kinases to determine druggable kinases

·         Looked in xenografts and was able to pull out differential kinomes

·         Matched with PDX data so good clinical correlation

·         Were able to detect ESR1 fusion correlated with ER+ tumors

Tuesday, June 23

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM EDT

Virtual Educational Session

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning from Research to the Cancer Clinic

The adoption of omic technologies in the cancer clinic is giving rise to an increasing number of large-scale high-dimensional datasets recording multiple aspects of the disease. This creates the need for frameworks for translatable discovery and learning from such data. Like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for the cancer lab, methods for the clinic need to (i) compare and integrate different data types; (ii) scale with data sizes; (iii) prove interpretable in terms of the known biology and batch effects underlying the data; and (iv) predict previously unknown experimentally verifiable mechanisms. Methods for the clinic, beyond the lab, also need to (v) produce accurate actionable recommendations; (vi) prove relevant to patient populations based upon small cohorts; and (vii) be validated in clinical trials. In this educational session we will present recent studies that demonstrate AI and ML translated to the cancer clinic, from prognosis and diagnosis to therapy.
NOTE: Dr. Fish’s talk is not eligible for CME credit to permit the free flow of information of the commercial interest employee participating.

Ron C. Anafi, Rick L. Stevens, Orly Alter, Guy Fish

Overview of AI approaches in cancer research and patient care

Rick L. Stevens
  • Deep learning is less likely to saturate as data increases
  • Deep learning attempts to learn multiple layers of information
  • The ultimate goal is prediction but this will be the greatest challenge for ML
  • ML models can integrate data validation and cross database validation
  • What limits the performance of cross validation is the internal noise of data (reproducibility)
  • Learning curves: not the more data but more reproducible data is important
  • Neural networks can outperform classical methods
  • Important to measure validation accuracy in training set. Class weighting can assist in development of data set for training set especially for unbalanced data sets

Discovering genome-scale predictors of survival and response to treatment with multi-tensor decompositions

Orly Alter
  • Finding patterns using SVD component analysis. Gene and SVD patterns match 1:1
  • Comparative spectral decompositions can be used for global datasets
  • Validation of CNV data using this strategy
  • Found Ras, Shh and Notch pathways with altered CNV in glioblastoma which correlated with prognosis
  • These predictors was significantly better than independent prognostic indicator like age of diagnosis


Identifying targets for cancer chronotherapy with unsupervised machine learning

Ron C. Anafi
  • Many clinicians have noticed that some patients do better when chemo is given at certain times of the day and felt there may be a circadian rhythm or chronotherapeutic effect with respect to side effects or with outcomes
  • ML used to determine if there is indeed this chronotherapy effect or can we use unstructured data to determine molecular rhythms?
  • Found a circadian transcription in human lung
  • Most dataset in cancer from one clinical trial so there might need to be more trials conducted to take into consideration circadian rhythms

Stratifying patients by live-cell biomarkers with random-forest decision trees

Stratifying patients by live-cell biomarkers with random-forest decision trees

Guy Fish CEO Cellanyx Diagnostics


Tuesday, June 23

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM EDT

Virtual Educational Session
Tumor Biology, Molecular and Cellular Biology/Genetics, Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, Prevention Research

The Wound Healing that Never Heals: The Tumor Microenvironment (TME) in Cancer Progression

This educational session focuses on the chronic wound healing, fibrosis, and cancer “triad.” It emphasizes the similarities and differences seen in these conditions and attempts to clarify why sustained fibrosis commonly supports tumorigenesis. Importance will be placed on cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), vascularity, extracellular matrix (ECM), and chronic conditions like aging. Dr. Dvorak will provide an historical insight into the triad field focusing on the importance of vascular permeability. Dr. Stewart will explain how chronic inflammatory conditions, such as the aging tumor microenvironment (TME), drive cancer progression. The session will close with a review by Dr. Cukierman of the roles that CAFs and self-produced ECMs play in enabling the signaling reciprocity observed between fibrosis and cancer in solid epithelial cancers, such as pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Harold F Dvorak, Sheila A Stewart, Edna Cukierman


The importance of vascular permeability in tumor stroma generation and wound healing

Harold F Dvorak

Aging in the driver’s seat: Tumor progression and beyond

Sheila A Stewart

Why won’t CAFs stay normal?

Edna Cukierman


Tuesday, June 23

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM EDT








Other Articles on this Open Access  Online Journal on Cancer Conferences and Conference Coverage in Real Time Include

Press Coverage
Live Notes, Real Time Conference Coverage 2020 AACR Virtual Meeting April 28, 2020 Symposium: New Drugs on the Horizon Part 3 12:30-1:25 PM
Live Notes, Real Time Conference Coverage 2020 AACR Virtual Meeting April 28, 2020 Session on NCI Activities: COVID-19 and Cancer Research 5:20 PM
Live Notes, Real Time Conference Coverage 2020 AACR Virtual Meeting April 28, 2020 Session on Evaluating Cancer Genomics from Normal Tissues Through Metastatic Disease 3:50 PM
Live Notes, Real Time Conference Coverage 2020 AACR Virtual Meeting April 28, 2020 Session on Novel Targets and Therapies 2:35 PM

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Protein regulator of HIV replication

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator



Updated 11/26/2015


Closing the loop on an HIV escape mechanism

University of Delaware



Tatyana Polenova, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UD (background, left), with her UD research team involved in the HIV study. Next to her is Huilan Zhang. In the foreground, from left, are Guangjin Hou and Manman Lu.


Tatyana Polenova, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UD (background, left), with her UD research team involved in the HIV study. Next to her is Huilan Zhang. In the foreground, from left, are Guangjin Hou and Manman Lu.


Nearly 37 million people worldwide are living with HIV. When the virus destroys so many immune cells that the body can’t fight off infection, AIDS will develop. The disease took the lives of more than a million people last year.

For the past three and a half years, a team of researchers from six universities, led by the University of Delaware and funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, has been working to uncover new information about a protein that regulates HIV’s capability to hijack a cell and start replicating. Their findings, reported recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencespoint to a new avenue for developing potential strategies to thwart the virus.

The team included scientists from UD, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Carnegie Mellon University, the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. They used a combination of high-tech tools and techniques, including magic-angle-spinning nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and computer simulations of molecules, to examine the interactions between HIV and the host-cell protein cyclophilin A (CypA), right down to the movement of individual atoms.

“In a nutshell, we found that the infectivity of HIV is regulated by the motions of these proteins,” says Tatyana Polenova, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Delaware, who led the study. “It’s a subtle regulation strategy that does not involve major structural changes in the virus.”

Sixty times smaller than a red blood cell, HIV contains a cone-shaped shell, or capsid, made of protein, which surrounds two strands of RNA and the enzymes the virus needs for replication. Like any virus, HIV can only produce copies of itself once it has invaded a host organism. Then it will begin directing certain host cells to begin producing the virus.

But how does HIV invade a cell? In humans, the protein CypA can either promote or inhibit viral infection through interactions with the HIV capsid, although the exact mechanism is not yet known. A portion of the HIV capsid protein, called the CypA loop, is responsible for binding to the CypA in the human host cell. Once this occurs, the virus typically becomes infectious.

However, a change of just one amino acid in the CypA loop can cause the virus to operate opposite from how it does normally, allowing the virus to become non-infectious when CypA is present, and to become infectious when there is no CypA present. Such changes are called “escape mutations,” Polenova says, because they allow the virus to “escape” from its dependence on CypA.

To home in on this escape mechanism, the research team examined assemblies of different variants of HIV capsid protein complexed with CypA. Using magic-angle-spinning NMR, they recorded the motions in these assemblies, atom by atom, on time scales ranging from nanoseconds to milliseconds, from a billionth of a second to a thousandth of a second.

The team found that a reduction in the naturally occurring motions in the binding region due to the mutations allowed the virus to escape from CypA dependence. Magic-angle-spinning NMR experiments provided a direct probe of these motions, recording the changes in the magnetic interactions between nuclei. Computer simulations allowed the team to visualize the motions.

Some portions of the capsid protein do not move at all or move only a little while other portions undergo large-amplitude motions distributed over a wide range of time scales, with the most dynamic region being the CypA loop. Polenova says it is rather surprising that such extensive motions are present in the assembled capsid, and that these dynamics could be detected by both NMR and computer simulations.

“It is the first time that quantitative agreement between experiment and computation was achieved in a dynamics study, and it’s particularly exciting that this was attained for such a complex system,” Polenova says. “We hope this work may guide the development of new therapeutic interventions, such as small molecules that would serve as interactors with the HIV capsid and inhibit these dynamics.”

Polenova says the diverse team of researchers, with expertise in HIV virology, structural biology, biophysics and biochemistry, was critical to the study’s success, along with access to national high-field NMR facilities through the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. The team was assembled through the NIH-funded Pittsburgh Center for HIV Protein Interactions. Led by Prof. Angela Gronenborn, the center brings together high-caliber scientists and facilities to elucidate the interactions of HIV proteins with host cell factors.


Atomic-resolution structure of the CAP-Gly domain of dynactin on polymeric microtubules determined by magic angle spinning NMR spectroscopy



Microtubules and their associated proteins are central to most cellular functions. They have been extensively studied at multiple levels of resolution; however, significant knowledge gaps remain. Structures of microtubule-associated proteins bound to microtubules are not known at atomic resolution. We used magic angle spinning NMR to solve a structure of dynactin’s cytoskeleton-associated protein glycine-rich (CAP-Gly) domain bound to microtubules and to determine the intermolecular interface, the first example, to our knowledge, of the atomic-resolution structure of a microtubule-associated protein on polymeric microtubules. The results reveal remarkable structural plasticity of CAP-Gly, which enables CAP-Gly’s binding to microtubules and other binding partners. This approach offers atomic-resolution information of microtubule-binding proteins on microtubules and opens up the possibility to study critical parameters such as protonation states, strain, and dynamics on multiple time scales.


Microtubules and their associated proteins perform a broad array of essential physiological functions, including mitosis, polarization and differentiation, cell migration, and vesicle and organelle transport. As such, they have been extensively studied at multiple levels of resolution (e.g., from structural biology to cell biology). Despite these efforts, there remain significant gaps in our knowledge concerning how microtubule-binding proteins bind to microtubules, how dynamics connect different conformational states, and how these interactions and dynamics affect cellular processes. Structures of microtubule-associated proteins assembled on polymeric microtubules are not known at atomic resolution. Here, we report a structure of the cytoskeleton-associated protein glycine-rich (CAP-Gly) domain of dynactin motor on polymeric microtubules, solved by magic angle spinning NMR spectroscopy. We present the intermolecular interface of CAP-Gly with microtubules, derived by recording direct dipolar contacts between CAP-Gly and tubulin using double rotational echo double resonance (dREDOR)-filtered experiments. Our results indicate that the structure adopted by CAP-Gly varies, particularly around its loop regions, permitting its interaction with multiple binding partners and with the microtubules. To our knowledge, this study reports the first atomic-resolution structure of a microtubule-associated protein on polymeric microtubules. Our approach lays the foundation for atomic-resolution structural analysis of other microtubule-associated motors.


How Viruses Commandeer Human Proteins



Researchers have produced the first image of an important human protein as it binds with ribonucleic acid (RNA), a discovery that could offer clues to how some viruses, including HIV, control expression of their genetic material.


RNA is one of three macromolecules — along with DNA and proteins — essential to all forms of life. By understanding how hnRNP A1 binds to RNA, the scientists may find ways to jam up components of the replication machinery when the protein is coopted by disease.

The team of scientists reveals the mechanism used by the protein, hnRNP A1 to link to the section of RNA, called the ‘hairpin loop.’

They found that hnRNP A1, a protein essential to cell function and virus replication, has a significantly different structure than its only previously known form: binding to DNA.

“We solved the three-dimensional structure of the protein bound to an RNA hairpin derived from the HIV virus,” said Blanton Tolbert, a chemistry professor at Case Western Reserve. “But because the hairpin loop is found in other viruses and throughout healthy cells, our findings may help explain how the protein connects to the other hairpin targets.”

Tolbert began this research six years ago, frustrated that the only information available was the structure of the protein bound to a synthetic DNA, which isn’t its natural target.

Proteins that bind hairpins sense both the structure and the sequence information presented in the loop. The structure of the DNA complex did not demonstrate the molecular recognition that must take place to bind RNA hairpins.

The process

To discover the structure bound to RNA, the researchers combined three techniques: X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and small angle x-ray scattering. Each technique yielded a piece of the puzzle.

To bind to RNA, hnRNP A1 has two domains, RRM1 and RRM2, which are akin to hands. Scientists already knew both hands are needed to connect to RNA.

But the researchers found that, instead of each domain grabbing a section of the loop, only RRM1 makes contact with the RNA. RRM2 acts as support, helping organize RRM1 into the structure needed to conform to a certain section of the loop.

To confirm that the structures are key to binding, the researchers inserted mutations by changing amino acids on the surface of the domains.

Surprisingly, mutations on the far side of RRM1 — the surface not in contact with the RNA but with the RRM2 — caused decoupling at that site and substantially weakened the affinity for RNA.

Without the normal connection between the two domains, RRM1 fails to adopt the geometric shape that conforms to the RNA hairpin loop.

The researchers are further investigating how the protein transmits the effects of RRM2 to RRM1 and bind. They are also exploring the development of antagonistic agents that would disrupt the interaction of the protein with viruses.


Natural defense protein against HIV discovered

HIV-1, ERManI, antiretroviral, defense protein

Earlier research had shown that it was possible to interfere with HIV spread but the exact molecular mechanisms had not been identified. For the first time, scientists have identified ERManI (Endoplasmic Reticulum Class I α-Mannosidase) as the essential host protein that slows the spread of HIV-1. Scientists investigated how the four ER-associated glycoside hydrolase family 47 (GH47) α-mannosidases, ERManI, and ER-degradation enhancing α-mannosidase-like (EDEM) proteins 1, 2, and 3, are involved in the HIV-1 envelope (Env) degradation process. Ectopic expression of these four α-mannosidases uncovered that only ERManI inhibited HIV-1 Env expression in a dose-dependent manner. Basically, ERManI is a host enzyme that adds sugars to proteins. The Env glycoprotein is targeted to the endoplasmic reticulum-associated protein degradation pathway for degradation after infecting cells. And ERManI was found to interact with the Env and initiate this degradation pathway.

With this discovery, ERManI has the potential as a new antiretroviral treatment option. Currently there is no cure for HIV-1 and once patients are infected, they have it for life. Current antiretroviral therapies can prolong life but cannot fully cure a patient. ERManI is different from current treatments in the sense that it can help the body protect itself.


ERManI (Endoplasmic Reticulum Class I α-Mannosidase) Is Required for HIV-1 Envelope Glycoprotein Degradation via Endoplasmic Reticulum-associated Protein Degradation Pathway (Sep 2015)

ERManI (Endoplasmic Reticulum Class I α-Mannosidase) Is Required for HIV-1 Envelope Glycoprotein Degradation via Endoplasmic Reticulum-associated Protein Degradation Pathway.

Previously, we reported that the mitochondrial translocator protein (TSPO) induces HIV-1 envelope (Env) degradation via the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated protein degradation (ERAD) pathway, but the mechanism was not clear. Here we investigated how the four ER-associated glycoside hydrolase family 47 (GH47) α-mannosidases, ERManI, and ER-degradation enhancing α-mannosidase-like (EDEM) proteins 1, 2, and 3, are involved in the Env degradation process. Ectopic expression of these four α-mannosidases uncovers that only ERManI inhibits HIV-1 Env expression in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, genetic knock-out of the ERManI gene MAN1B1 using CRISPR/Cas9 technology disrupts the TSPO-mediated Env degradation. Biochemical studies show that HIV-1 Env interacts with ERManI, and between the ERManI cytoplasmic, transmembrane, lumenal stem, and lumenal catalytic domains, the catalytic domain plays a critical role in the Env-ERManI interaction. In addition, functional studies show that inactivation of the catalytic sites by site-directed mutagenesis disrupts the ERManI activity. These studies identify ERManI as a critical GH47 α-mannosidase in the ER-associated protein degradation pathway that initiates the Env degradation and suggests that its catalytic domain and enzymatic activity play an important role in this process.


T cell editing using CRISPR/Cas9 could revolutionize HIV therapeutics
September 15, 2015   

T cell therapy, HIV

Reinforcing the immune system by engineering lymphocytes to target and destroy viruses has the potential to be an effective therapy for many diseases. One potential approach to this strategy is to alter the genome of lymphocytes so that proteins that are typically hijacked by viruses are no longer present. While conceptually feasible, editing T cells has been challenging in practice; however, with the advent of mammalian cell editing using CRISPR/Cas9, T-cell editing is closer to becoming a reality.

How can CRISPR/Cas9 bring us closer to finding a cure for HIV?

In a study recently published in PNAS, scientists have optimized a protocol to introduce nucleotide replacements that would inhibit CXCR4 expression. The authors streamlined the CRISPR/Cas9 editing process by electroporating Cas9 ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) into CD4+ T cells. The RNPs, consisting of both a recombinant Cas9 enzyme and guide RNA, vastly improved editing efficiency, ultimately promoting knock-out of the CXCR4 cell-surface receptor. Taken together, these result suggest the potential of a new cell therapy approach for the fight against HIV.

Generation of knock-in primary human T cells using Cas9 ribonucleoproteins
Kathrin Schumann a , b , 1 Steven Lin c , 1 Eric Boyer a , b Dimitre R. Simeonov a , b , d Meena Subramaniam e , f Rachel E. Gate e , f , et al.  PNAS. 2015; 112(33): 10437-10442. http://dx.doi.org:/10.1073/pnas.1512503112


T-cell genome engineering holds great promise for cancer immunotherapies and cell-based therapies for HIV, primary immune deficiencies, and autoimmune diseases, but genetic manipulation of human T cells has been inefficient. We achieved efficient genome editing by delivering Cas9 protein pre-assembled with guide RNAs. These active Cas9 ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) enabled successful Cas9-mediated homology-directed repair in primary human T cells. Cas9 RNPs provide a programmable tool to replace specific nucleotide sequences in the genome of mature immune cells—a longstanding goal in the field. These studies establish Cas9 RNP technology for diverse experimental and therapeutic genome engineering applications in primary human T cells.


T-cell genome engineering holds great promise for cell-based therapies for cancer, HIV, primary immune deficiencies, and autoimmune diseases, but genetic manipulation of human T cells has been challenging. Improved tools are needed to efficiently “knock out” genes and “knock in” targeted genome modifications to modulate T-cell function and correct disease-associated mutations. CRISPR/Cas9 technology is facilitating genome engineering in many cell types, but in human T cells its efficiency has been limited and it has not yet proven useful for targeted nucleotide replacements. Here we report efficient genome engineering in human CD4+ T cells using Cas9:single-guide RNA ribonucleoproteins (Cas9 RNPs). Cas9 RNPs allowed ablation of CXCR4, a coreceptor for HIV entry. Cas9 RNP electroporation caused up to ∼40% of cells to lose high-level cell-surface expression of CXCR4, and edited cells could be enriched by sorting based on low CXCR4 expression. Importantly, Cas9 RNPs paired with homology-directed repair template oligonucleotides generated a high frequency of targeted genome modifications in primary T cells. Targeted nucleotide replacement was achieved in CXCR4 and PD-1 (PDCD1), a regulator of T-cell exhaustion that is a validated target for tumor immunotherapy. Deep sequencing of a target site confirmed that Cas9 RNPs generated knock-in genome modifications with up to ∼20% efficiency, which accounted for up to approximately one-third of total editing events. These results establish Cas9 RNP technology for diverse experimental and therapeutic genome engineering applications in primary human T cells.

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Biomarker Guided Therapy

Writer and Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

Novel serum protein biomarker panel revealed by mass spectrometry and its prognostic value in breast cancer

Liping Chung, K Moore, L Phillips, FM Boyle, DJ Marsh and RC Baxter
Breast Cancer Research 2014, 16:R63

Introduction: Serum profiling using proteomic techniques has great potential to detect biomarkers that might improve diagnosis and predict outcome for breast cancer patients (BC). This study used surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (SELDI-TOF) mass spectrometry (MS) to identify differentially expressed  proteins in sera from BC and healthy volunteers (HV), with the
goal  of developing a new prognostic biomarker panel.
Methods: Training set serum samples from 99 BC and 51 HV subjects were applied to four adsorptive chip surfaces (anion-exchange, cation-exchange, hydrophobic, and metal affinity) and analyzed by time-of-flight MS. For validation, 100 independent BC serum samples and 70 HV samples were analyzed similarly. Cluster analysis of protein spectra was performed to identify protein patterns related to BC and HV groups. Univariate and multivariate statistical analyses were used to develop a protein panel to distinguish breast cancer sera from healthy sera, and its prognostic potential was evaluated.
Results: From 51 protein peaks that were significantly up- or downregulated in BC patients by univariate analysis, binary logistic regression yielded five protein peaks that together classified BC and HV with a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) area-under-the-curve value of 0.961. Validation on an independent patient cohort confirmed the five-protein parameter (ROC value 0.939). The five-protein parameter showed positive association with large tumor size (P = 0.018) and lymph node involvement (P = 0.016). By matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) MS, immunoprecipitation and western blotting the proteins were identified as a fragment of apolipoprotein H (ApoH), ApoCI, complement C3a, transthyretin, and ApoAI. Kaplan-Meier analysis on 181 subjects after median follow-up of >5 years demonstrated that the panel significantly predicted disease-free survival (P = 0.005), its efficacy apparently greater in women with estrogen receptor (ER)-negative tumors (n = 50, P = 0.003) compared to ER-positive (n = 131, P = 0.161), although the influence of ER status needs to be confirmed after longer follow-up.
Conclusions: Protein mass profiling by MS has revealed five serum proteins which, in combination, can distinguish between serum from women with breast cancer and healthy control subjects with high sensitivity and specificity. The five-protein panel significantly predicts recurrence-free survival in women with ER-negative tumors and may have value in the management of these patients.

Variants of uncertain significance in BRCA: a harbinger of ethical and policy issues to come?

Jae Yeon Cheon, Jessica Mozersky and Robert Cook-Deegan
Genome Medicine 2014, 6:121

After two decades of genetic testing and research, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are two of the most well-characterized genes in the human genome. As a result, variants of uncertain significance (VUS; also called variants of unknown significance) are reported less frequently than for genes that have been less thoroughly studied. However, VUS continue to be uncovered, even for BRCA1/2. The increasing use of multi-gene panels and whole-genome and whole-exome sequencing will lead to higher rates of VUS detection because more genes are being tested, and most genomic loci have been far less intensively characterized than BRCA1/2. In this article, we draw attention to ethical and policy-related issues that will emerge. Experience garnered from BRCA1/2 testing is a useful introduction to the challenges of detecting VUS in other genetic testing contexts, while features unique to BRCA1/2 suggest key differences between the BRCA experience and the current challenges of multi-gene panels in clinical care. We propose lines of research and policy development, emphasizing the importance of pooling data into a centralized open-access database for the storage of gene variants to improve VUS interpretation. In addition, establishing ethical norms and regulated practices for sharing and curating data, analytical algorithms, interpretive frameworks and patient re-contact are important policy areas.

The Significance of Normal Pretreatment Levels of CA125 (<35 U/mL) in Epithelial Ovarian Carcinoma

Joseph Menczer,  Erez Ben-Shem,  Abraham Golan, and Tally Levy
Rambam Maimonides Med J 2015;6 (1):e0005. http://dx.doi.org:/10.5041/RMMJ.10180

Objective: To assess the association between normal CA125 levels at diagnosis of epithelial ovarian carcinoma (EOC) with prognostic factors and with outcome.
Methods: The study group consisted of histologically confirmed EOC patients with normal pretreatment CA125 levels, and the controls consisted of EOC patients with elevated (≥35 U/mL) pretreatment CA125 levels, diagnosed and treated between 1995 and 2112. Study and control group patients fulfilled the following criteria: 1) their pretreatment CA125 levels were assessed; 2) they had full standard primary treatment, i.e. cytoreductive surgery and cisplatin-based chemotherapy; and 3) they were followed every 2–4 months during the first two years and every 4–6 months thereafter.
Results: Of 114 EOC patients who fulfilled the inclusion criteria, 22 (19.3%) had normal pretreatment CA125 levels. The control group consisted of the remaining 92 patients with ≥35 U/mL serum CA125 levels pretreatment. The proportion of patients with early-stage and low-grade disease, with optimal cytoreduction, and with platin-sensitive tumors was significantly higher in the study group than in the control group. The progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were significantly higher in the study group than in the control group on univariate analysis but not on multivariate analysis.

Higher gene expression variability in the more aggressive subtype of chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Simone Ecker, Vera Pancaldi, Daniel Rico and Alfonso Valencia
Genome Medicine (2015) 7:8 http://dx.doi.org:/10.1186/s13073-014-0125-z

Background: Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) presents two subtypes which have drastically different clinical outcomes, IgVH mutated (M-CLL) and IgVH unmutated (U-CLL). So far, these two subtypes are not associated to clear differences in gene expression profiles. Interestingly, recent results have highlighted important roles for heterogeneity, both at the genetic and at the epigenetic level in CLL progression.
Methods: We analyzed gene expression data of two large cohorts of CLL patients and quantified expression variability across individuals to investigate differences between the two subtypes using different measures and statistical tests. Functional significance was explored by pathway enrichment and network analyses. Furthermore, we implemented a random forest approach based on expression variability to classify patients into disease subtypes.
Results: We found that U-CLL, the more aggressive type of the disease, shows significantly increased variability of gene expression across patients and that, overall, genes that show higher variability in the aggressive subtype are related to cell cycle, development and inter-cellular communication. These functions indicate a potential relation between gene expression variability and the faster progression of this CLL subtype. Finally, a classifier based on gene expression variability was able to correctly predict the disease subtype of CLL patients.
Conclusions: There are strong relations between gene expression variability and disease subtype linking significantly increased expression variability to phenotypes such as aggressiveness and resistance to therapy in CLL.

The Emerging Roles of Thyroglobulin

Yuqian Luo, Yuko Ishido, Naoki Hiroi, Norihisa Ishii, and Koichi Suzuki
Advances in Endocrinology 2014, Article ID 189194, 7 pages http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/189194

Thyroglobulin (Tg), the most important and abundant protein in thyroid follicles, is well known for its essential role in thyroid hormone synthesis. In addition to its conventional role as the precursor of thyroid hormones, we have uncovered a novel function of Tg as an endogenous regulator of follicular function over the past decade. The newly discovered negative feedback effect of Tg on follicular function observed in the rat and human thyroid provides an alternative explanation for the observation of follicle heterogeneity. Given the essential role of the regulatory effects of Tg, we consider that dysregulation of normal Tg function is associated with multiple human thyroid diseases including autoimmune thyroid disease and thyroid cancer. Additionally, extrathyroid Tg may serve a regulatory function in other organs. Further exploration of Tg action, especially at the molecular level, is needed to obtain a better understanding of both the physiological and pathological roles of Tg.

The GUIDE-IT trial will help doctors find a new standard of care for heart failure.

Heart failure affects more than 25 million people worldwide, including 5.8 million in the United States and 6.9 million in Europe. About one to two percent of adults in developed countries have been diagnosed with heart failure; this increases to more than 10 percent in people over age 70. Moreover, heart failure accounts for more than 17 percent of Medicare spending and about 5 percent of total US healthcare spending. The cost to society in the US is about 30 billion dollars a year—and rising.

For people hospitalized due to heart failure, the outlook isn’t encouraging. Following discharge, one in four patients is likely to be back in the hospital in less than a month. With every acute heart failure event that requires readmission, the chances of dying from the disease increase.

Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to fill with or pump sufficient blood to meet the needs of the body. Some heart failure symptoms—shortness of breath, fatigue and fluid buildup—which are present in other health problems. Heart failure may develop from coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, heart valve disease, arrhythmias, viral or bacterial infections, and congenital heart defects. As a consequence, these patients often have additional diseases (comorbidities) and managing heart failure can be extremely challenging.

There have been no new drugs for heart failure in more than a decade. The last breakthrough was cardiac resynchronization therapy, a device and not a drug. The goals of therapy are to treat heart failure’s underlying causes, reduce symptoms, improve the patient’s quality of life and keep the disease from getting worse.

More than a pump

The heart isn’t just a muscle pumping blood through the body. It is also an endocrine gland that secretes peptides and hormones. When the heart is failing, its stressed cells release larger amounts of substances known as natriuretic peptides, including N-terminal prohormone brain natriuretic peptide, or NT-proBNP.

Roche’s NT-proBNP test measures the levels of this peptide and helps doctors to determine whether patients are suffering from heart failure and to assess their prognosis. Most recently, NT-proBNP has also been shown to help physicians guide and adjust the patient’s drug therapy. The objective of the pivotal GUIDE-IT trial is to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of NT-proBNP guided heart failure therapy.

Sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the GUIDE-IT trial will help doctors answer important questions about NT-proBNP’s impact on medical care. About 1100 patients are enrolled in this robustly powered, randomized controlled trial comparing NT-proBNP guided therapy on top of standard care versus standard care alone in high-risk heart failure patients. Its primary endpoint is time to cardiovascular death or first heart failure hospitalization.

With the NT-proBNP biomarker, doctors can create personalized treatment plans for patients to substantially reduce mortality and morbidity. It can be viewed as a companion diagnostic that works with all the drugs recommended by the major guidelines.

Finding new answers

GUIDE-IT will last five years and involve approximately 45 trial sites in the United States. The first group of patients will be enrolled by the end of 2012.

“We need to take a more strategic approach if we are going to meet the AHA/ASA’s 2020 goal of reducing heart failure hospitalizations by 20 percent,” Dr. O’Connor, Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at Duke Heart Center in Durham, North Carolina, said at a media briefing held in October at Roche Diagnostics International in Rotkreuz, Switzerland.
The relative and combined ability of: high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T, and N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic Peptide – to predict cardiovascular events and death in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Hillis GS; Welsh P; Chalmers J; Perkovic V; Chow CK; Li Q; Jun M; Neal B; et al.

OBJECTIVE Current methods of risk stratification in patients with type 2 diabetes are suboptimal. The current study assesses the ability of N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) and high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T (hs-cTnT) to improve the prediction of cardiovascular events and death in patients with type 2 diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS A nested case-cohort study was performed in 3,862 patients who participated in the Action in Diabetes and Vascular Disease: Preterax and Diamicron Modified Release Controlled Evaluation (ADVANCE) trial. RESULTS Seven hundred nine (18%) patients experienced a major cardiovascular event (composite of cardiovascular death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, or nonfatal stroke) and 706 (18%) died during a median of 5 years of follow-up. In Cox regression models, adjusting for all established risk predictors, the hazard ratio for cardiovascular events for NT-proBNP was 1.95 per 1 SD increase (95% CI 1.72, 2.20) and the hazard ratio for hs-cTnT was 1.50 per 1 SD increase (95% CI 1.36, 1.65). The hazard ratios for death were 1.97 (95% CI 1.73, 2.24) and 1.52 (95% CI 1.37, 1.67), respectively. The addition of either marker improved 5-year risk classification for cardiovascular events (net reclassification index in continuous model, 39% for NT-proBNP and 46% for hs-cTnT). Likewise, both markers greatly improved the accuracy with which the 5-year risk of death was predicted. The combination of both markers provided optimal risk discrimination.
CONCLUSIONS NT-proBNP and hs-cTnT appear to greatly improve the accuracy with which the risk of cardiovascular events or death can be estimated in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Genetics and Heart Failure: A Concise Guide for the Clinician

Cécile Skrzynia, Jonathan S. Berg, Monte S. Willis and Brian C. Jensen
Current Cardiology Reviews, 2013; 9.

Abstract: The pathogenesis of heart failure involves a complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors. Genetic factors may influence the susceptibility to the underlying etiology of heart failure, the rapidity of disease progression, or the response to pharmacologic therapy. The genetic contribution to heart failure is relatively minor in most multifactorial cases, but more direct and profound in the case of familial dilated cardiomyopathy. Early studies of genetic risk for heart failure focused on polymorphisms in genes integral to the adrenergic and renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. Some of these variants were found to increase the risk of developing heart failure, and others appeared to affect the therapeutic response to neurohormonal antagonists. Regardless, each variant individually confers a relatively modest increase in risk and likely requires complex interaction with other variants and the environment for heart failure to develop. Dilated cardiomyopathy frequently leads to heart failure, and a genetic etiology increasingly has been recognized in cases previously considered to be “idiopathic”. Up to 50% of dilated cardiomyopathy cases without other cause likely are due to a heritable genetic mutation. Such mutations typically are found in genes encoding sarcomeric proteins and are inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion. In recent years, rapid advances in sequencing technology have improved our ability to diagnose familial dilated cardiomyopathy and those diagnostic tests are available widely. Optimal care for the expanding population of patients with heritable heart failure involves counselors and physicians with specialized training in genetics, but numerous online genetics resources are available to practicing clinicians.

Cardiac Troponin Testing Is Overused after the Rule-In or Rule-Out of Myocardial Infarction

Olaia Rodriguez Fraga, Y Sandoval, SA Love, ZJ McKinney, MAM Murakami, SW Smith, FS Apple
Clinical Chemistry 2015; 61:2 http://dx.doi.org:/10.1373/clinchem.2014.232694

No good studies have systematically evaluated appropriate clinical utilization of cardiac troponin testing in the clinical setting of the rule-in and rule-out of myocardial infarction (MI). Our collective 100-plus years of clinical and laboratory experience suggested that provider test ordering and use of cardiac troponin has been excessive after a diagnosis of MI or no MI has been determined. There is no evidence that supports continuation of cardiac troponin testing after a diagnosis is made.

Number of cTnI results demonstrating excessive orders by diagnosis

Number of cTnI results demonstrating excessive orders by diagnosis

Time and Frequency Domain Analysis of Heart Rate Variability and their orrelations in Diabetes Mellitus
T. Ahamed Seyd, V. I. Thajudin Ahamed, Jeevamma Jacob, Paul Joseph K
Intl J Biolog and Life Sciences 2008; 4(1)

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is frequently characterized by autonomic nervous dysfunction. Analysis of heart rate variability (HRV) has become a popular noninvasive tool for assessing the activities of autonomic nervous system (ANS). In this paper, changes in ANS
activity are quantified by means of frequency and time domain analysis of R-R interval variability. Electrocardiograms (ECG) of 16 patients suffering from DM and of 16 healthy volunteers were recorded. Frequency domain analysis of extracted normal to normal interval (NN interval) data indicates significant difference in very low frequency (VLF) power, low frequency (LF) power and high frequency (HF) power, between the DM patients and control group. Time domain measures, standard deviation of NN interval (SDNN), root mean square of successive NN interval differences (RMSSD), successive NN intervals differing more than 50 ms (NN50 Count), percentage value of NN50 count (pNN50), HRV triangular index and triangular interpolation of NN intervals (TINN) also show significant difference between the DM patients and control group.

Power Spectral Density of the RR interval of a 55 year old healthy volunteer

Power Spectral Density of the RR interval of a 55 year old healthy volunteer

Power Spectral Density of the RR interval of a 55 year old healthy volunteer

Power Spectral Density of the RR interval of a 62 year old woman suffering

Power Spectral Density of the RR interval of a 62 year old woman suffering

Power Spectral Density of the RR interval of a 62 year old woman suffering
from diabetes for the last 15 years

HRV analysis has gained much importance in recent years, as a technique employed to explore the activity of ANS, and as an important early marker for identifying different pathological conditions. DM is a disease in which the cardiac autonomic activity is progressively compromised. Our investigation indicates that different time domain and frequency domain measures of HRV would be able to provide valuable information regarding the autonomic dysfunction to DM.

Time domain and frequency domain analysis of the RR interval variability of diabetic and normal subjects shows that there is significant difference in these measures for DM patients with respect to normal subjects. Variation of the HRV parameters indicates changes in ANS activity of DM patients. This can provide valid information regarding autonomic neuropathy in people with diabetes. It may be noted that these methods can detect changes before clinical signs appear. So we can expect that these measures enable early detection and treatment/subsequent management of patients and thus can avoid acute and chronic complications.

Multiparametric diagnostics of cardiomyopathies by microRNA signatures

Christine S. Siegismund & Maria Rohde & Uwe Kühl & Dirk Lassner
Microchim Acta 2014   http://dx.doi.org:/10.1007/s00604-014-1249-y

The diagnosis of cardiomyopathies by endomyocardial biopsy analysis is the gold standard for confirmation of causative reasons but is failing if a sample does not contain the area of interest due to focal pathology. Biopsies are revealing an extract of the current situation of the heart muscle only, and the need for global organ-specific or systemic markers is obvious in order to minimize sampling errors. Global markers like specific gene expression signatures in myocardial tissue may therefore reflect the focal situation or condition of the whole myocardium. Besides gene expression profiles, microRNAs (miRNAs) represent a new group of stable biomarkers that are detectable both in tissue and body fluids. Such miRNAs may serve as cardiological biomarkers to characterize inflammatory processes, to confirm viral infections, and to differentiate various forms of infection.
The predictive power of single miRNAs for diagnosis of complex diseases may be further increased if several distinctly deregulated candidates are combined to form a specific miRNA signature. Diagnostic systems that generate disease related miRNA profiles are based on microarrays, bead-based oligo sorbent assays, or on assays based on real-time polymerase chain reactions and placed on microfluidic cards or nanowell plates. Multiparametric diagnostic systems that can measure differentially expressed miRNAs may become the diagnostic tool of the future due to their predictive value with respect to clinical course, therapeutic decisions, and therapy monitoring. We discuss here specific merits, limitations and the potential of currently available analytical platforms for diagnostics of heart muscle diseases based on miRNA profiling.

Predictive value of plasma galectin-3 levels in heart failure with reduced and preserved ejection fraction

Rudolf A. de Boer, DJA Lok, T Jaarsma, P van der Meer, AA Voors, et al.
Annals Med, 2011; 43: 60–68 http://dx.doi.org:/10.3109/07853890.2010.538080

We studied the prognostic value of base-line galectin-3 in a large HF cohort, with preserved and reduced left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), and compared this to other biomarkers.
Methods. We studied 592 HF patients who had been hospitalized for HF and were followed for 18 months. The primary end-point was a composite of all-cause mortality and HF hospitalization.
Results. A doubling of galectin-3 levels was associated with a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.97 (1.62–2.42) for the primary outcome (P= 0.001). After correction for age, gender, BNP, eGFR, and diabetes the HR was 1.38 (1.07–1.78; P= 0.015). Galectin-3 levels were correlated with higher IL -6 and CRP levels (P= 0.002). Changes of galectin-3 levels after 6 months did not add prognostic information to the base-line value (n= 291); however, combining plasma galectin-3 and BNP levels increased prognostic value over either biomarker alone (ROC analysis, P = 0.05). The predictive value of galectin-3 was stronger in patients with preserved LVEF (n= 114) compared to patients with reduced LVEF (P= 0.001).
Conclusions. Galectin-3 is an independent marker for outcome in HF and appears to be particularly useful in HF patients with preserved LVEF.

Criteria for the use of omics-based predictors in clinical trials

Lisa M. McShane, MM Cavenagh, TG Lively, DA Eberhard, et al.
Nature  17 Oct 2013; 502: 317-320. http://dx.doi.org:/10.1038/nature12564

The US National Cancer Institute (NCI), in collaboration with scientists representing multiple areas of expertise relevant to ‘omics’-based test development, has developed a checklist of criteria that can be used to determine the readiness of omics-based tests for guiding patient care in clinical trials. The checklist criteria cover issues relating to specimens, assays, mathematical modelling, clinical trial design, and ethical, legal and regulatory aspects. Funding bodies and journals are encouraged to consider the checklist, which they may find useful for assessing study quality and evidence strength. The checklist will be used to evaluate proposals for NCI-sponsored clinical
trials in which omics tests will be used to guide therapy.

M-Atrial Natriuretic Peptide and Nitroglycerin in a Canine Model of Experimental Acute Hypertensive Heart Failure: Differential Actions of 2 cGMP Activating Therapeutics.

Paul M McKie, Alessandro Cataliotti, Tomoko Ichiki, S Jeson Sangaralingham, Horng H Chen, John C Burnett
J Am Heart Assoc 01/2014; 3(1):e000206. http://dx.doi.org:/10.1161/JAHA.113.000206

Systemic hypertension is a common characteristic in acute heart failure (HF). This increasingly recognized phenotype is commonly associated with renal dysfunction and there is an unmet need for renal enhancing therapies. In a canine model of HF and acute vasoconstrictive hypertension we characterized and compared the cardiorenal actions of M-atrial natriuretic peptide (M-ANP), a novel particulate guanylyl cyclase (pGC) activator, and nitroglycerin, a soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) activator.
HF was induced by rapid RV pacing (180 beats per minute) for 10 days. On day 11, hypertension was induced by continuous angiotensin II infusion. We characterized the cardiorenal and humoral actions prior to, during, and following intravenous M-ANP (n=7), nitroglycerin (n=7), and vehicle (n=7) infusion. Mean arterial pressure (MAP) was reduced by M-ANP (139±4 to 118±3 mm Hg, P<0.05) and nitroglycerin (137±3 to 116±4 mm Hg, P<0.05); similar findings were recorded for pulmonary wedge pressure (PCWP) with M-ANP (12±2 to 6±2 mm Hg, P<0.05) and nitroglycerin (12±1 to 6±1 mm Hg, P<0.05). M-ANP enhanced renal function with significant increases (P<0.05) in glomerular filtration rate (38±4 to 53±5 mL/min), renal blood flow (132±18 to 236±23 mL/min), and natriuresis (11±4 to 689±37 mEq/min) and also inhibited aldosterone activation (32±3 to 23±2 ng/dL, P<0.05), whereas nitroglycerin had no significant (P>0.05) effects on these renal parameters or aldosterone activation.
Our results advance the differential cardiorenal actions of pGC (M-ANP) and sGC (nitroglycerin) mediated cGMP activation. These distinct renal and aldosterone modulating actions make M-ANP an attractive therapeutic for HF with concomitant hypertension, where renal protection is a key therapeutic goal.

Genome-Wide Association Study of a Heart Failure Related Metabolomic Profile Among African Americans in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study

Bing Yu, Y Zheng, D Alexander, TA Manolio, A Alonso, JA Nettleton, & E Boerwinkle
Genet Epidemiol 2013; 00:1–6, http://dx.doi.org:/10.1002/gepi.21752

Both the prevalence and incidence of heart failure (HF) are increasing, especially among African Americans, but no large-scale, genome-wide association study (GWAS) of HF-related metabolites has been reported. We sought to identify novel genetic variants that are associated with metabolites previously reported to relate to HF incidence. GWASs of three metabolites identified previously as risk factors for incident HF (pyroglutamine, dihydroxy docosatrienoic acid, and X-11787, being either hydroxy-leucine or hydroxy-isoleucine) were performed in 1,260 African Americans free of HF at the baseline examination of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. A significant association on chromosome 5q33 (rs10463316, MAF = 0.358, P-value = 1.92 × 10−10) was identified for pyroglutamine. One region on chromosome 2p13 contained a nonsynonymous substitution in N-acetyltransferase 8 (NAT8) was associated with X-11787 (rs13538, MAF = 0.481, P-value = 1.71 × 10−23). The smallest P-value for dihydroxy docosatrienoic acid was rs4006531 on chromosome 8q24 (MAF = 0.400, P-value = 6.98 × 10−7). None of the above SNPs were individually associated with incident HF, but a genetic risk score (GRS) created by summing the most significant risk alleles from each metabolite detected 11% greater risk of HF per allele. In summary, we identified three loci associated with previously reported HF-related metabolites. Further use of metabolomics technology will facilitate replication of these findings in independent samples.

Global Left Atrial Strain Correlates with CHADS2 Risk Score in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation

SK Saha, PL Anderson, G Caracciolo, A Kiotsekoglou, S Wilansky, S Govind, et al.
J Am Soc Echocardiogr 2011; 24(5): 506-512.

Background: The aim of this cross-sectional study was to explore the association between echocardiographic parameters and CHADS2 score in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation (AF).
Methods: Seventy-seven subjects (36 patients with AF, 41 control subjects) underwent standard twodimensional, Doppler, and speckle-tracking echocardiography to compute regional and global left atrial (LA) strain.
Results: Global longitudinal LA strain was reduced in patients with AF compared with controls (P < .001) and was a predictor of high risk for thromboembolism (CHADS2 score $ 2; odds ratio, 0.86; P = .02). LA strain indexes showed good interobserver and intraobserver variability. In sequential Cox models, the prediction of hospitalization and/or death was improved by addition of global LA strain and indexed LA volume to CHADS2 score (P = .003).
Conclusions: LA strain is a reproducible marker of dynamic LA function and a predictor of stroke risk and cardiovascular outcomes in patients with AF.

Gene Expression and Genetic Variation in Human Atria

Honghuang Lin, EV Dolmatova, MP Morley, KL Lunetta, et al.
Heart Rhythm, HRTHM5533. PII: S1547-5271(13)01226-5

Background— The human left and right atria have different susceptibilities to develop atrial fibrillation (AF). However, the molecular events related to structural and functional changes that enhance AF susceptibility are still poorly understood.
Objective— To characterize gene expression and genetic variation in human atria.
Methods— We studied the gene expression profiles and genetic variations in 53 left atrial and 52 right atrial tissue samples collected from the Myocardial Applied Genomics Network (MAGNet) repository. The tissues were collected from heart failure patients undergoing transplantation and from unused organ donor hearts with normal ventricular function. Gene expression was profiled using the Affymetrix GeneChip Human Genome U133A Array. Genetic variation was profiled using the Affymetrix Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 6.0.
Results— We found that 109 genes were differentially expressed between left and right atrial tissues. A total of 187 and 259 significant cis-associations between transcript levels and genetic variants were identified in left and right atrial tissues, respectively. We also found that a SNP at a known AF locus, rs3740293, was associated with the expression of MYOZ1 in both left and right atrial tissues. Conclusion— We found a distinct transcriptional profile between the right and left atrium, and extensive cis-associations between atrial transcripts and common genetic variants. Our results implicate MYOZ1 as the causative gene at the chromosome 10q22 locus for AF.

Atrial Natriuretic Peptide Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in Patients with Nonfamilial Structural Atrial Fibrillation

Pietro Francia, A Ricotta, A Frattari, R Stanzione, A Modestino, et al.
Clinical Medicine Insights: Cardiology 2013:7 153–159

Background: Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) has antihypertrophic and antifibrotic properties that are relevant to AF substrates. The −G664C and rs5065 ANP single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) have been described in association with clinical phenotypes, including hypertension and left ventricular hypertrophy. A recent study assessed the association of early AF and rs5065 SNPs in low-risk subjects. In a Caucasian population with moderate-to-high cardiovascular risk profile and structural AF, we conducted a case-control study to assess whether the ANP −G664C and rs5065 SNP associate with nonfamilial structural AF.
Methods: 168 patients with nonfamilial structural AF and 168 age- and sex-matched controls were recruited. The rs5065 and −G664C ANP SNPs were genotyped.
Results: The study population had a moderate-to-high cardiovascular risk profile with 86% having hypertension, 23% diabetes, 26% previous myocardial infarction, and 23% left ventricular systolic dysfunction. Patients with AF had greater left atrial diameter (44 ± 7
vs. 39 ± 5 mm; P , 0.001) and higher plasma NTproANP levels (6240 ± 5317 vs. 3649 ± 2946 pmol/mL; P , 0.01). Odds ratios (ORs)
for rs5065 and −G664C gene variants were 1.1 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.7–1.8; P = 0.71) and 1.2 (95% CI, 0.3–3.2; P = 0.79), respectively, indicating no association with AF. There were no differences in baseline clinical characteristics among carriers and noncarriers of the −664C and rs5065 minor allele variants.
Conclusions: We report lack of association between the rs5065 and −G664C ANP gene SNPs and AF in a Caucasian population of patients with structural AF. Further studies will clarify whether these or other ANP gene variants affect the risk of different subphenotypes of AF driven by distinct pathophysiological mechanisms.

N-terminal proBNP and mortality in hospitalized patients with heart failure and preserved vs. reduced systolic function: data from the prospective Copenhagen Hospital Heart Failure Study (CHHF)

Kirk, M. Bay, J. Parnerc, K. Krogsgaard, T.M. Herzog, S. Boesgaard, et al.
Eur Journal Heart Failure 6 (2004) 335–341

Preserved systolic function among heart failure patients is a common finding, a fact that has only recently been fully appreciated. The aim of the present study was to examine the value of NT-proBNP to predict mortality in relation to established risk factors among consecutively hospitalised heart failure patients and secondly to characterise patients in relation to preserved and reduced systolic function. Material: At the time of admission 2230 consecutively hospitalised patients had their cardiac status evaluated through determinations of NT-proBNP, echocardiography, clinical examination and medical history. Follow-up was performed 1 year later in all patients. Results: 161 patients fulfilled strict diagnostic criteria for heart failure (HF). In this subgroup of patients 1-year mortality was approximately 30% and significantly higher as compared to the remaining non-heart failure population (approx. 16%). Using univariate analysis left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), New York Heart Association classification (NYHA) and plasma levels of NT-proBNP all predicted mortality independently. However, regardless of systolic function, age and NYHA class, risk-stratification was provided by measurements of NT-proBNP. Having measured plasma levels of NT-proBNP, LVEF did not provide any additional prognostic information on mortality among heart failure patients (multivariate analysis).
Conclusion: The results show that independent of LVEF, measurements of NT-proBNP add additional prognostic information. It is concluded that NT-proBNP is a strong predictor of 1-year mortality in consecutively hospitalised patients with heart failure with preserved as well as reduced systolic function.

N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide and the prediction of primary cardiovascular events: results from 15-year follow-up of WOSCOPS

Paul Welsh, Orla Doolin, Peter Willeit, Chris Packard, Peter Macfarlane, et al.
Eur Heart Journal 2014. http://eurheartj.oxfordjournals.org/

Aims: To test whether N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) was independently associated with, and improved the prediction of, cardiovascular disease (CVD) in a primary prevention cohort.
Methods and results:  In the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study (WOSCOPS), a cohort of middle-aged men with hypercholesterolemia at a moderate risk of CVD, we related the baseline NT-proBNP (geometric mean 28 pg/mL) in 4801 men to the risk of CVD over 15 years during which 1690 experienced CVD events. Taking into account the competing risk of non-CVD death, NT-proBNP was associated with an increased risk of all CVD [HR: 1.17 (95% CI: 1.11–1.23) per standard deviation increase in log NT-proBNP] after adjustment for classical and clinical cardiovascular risk factors plus C-reactive protein. N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide was more strongly related to the risk of fatal [HR: 1.34 (95% CI: 1.19–1.52)] than non-fatal CVD [HR: 1.17 (95% CI: 1.10–1.24)] (P ¼ 0.022). The addition of NT-proBNP to traditional risk factors improved the C-index (+0.013; P , 0.001). The continuous net reclassification index improved with the addition of NT-proBNP by 19.8% (95% CI: 13.6–25.9%) compared with 9.8% (95% CI: 4.2–15.6%) with the addition of C-reactive protein. N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide correctly reclassified 14.7% of events, whereas C-reactive protein correctly reclassified 3.4% of events. Results were similar in the 4128 men without evidence of angina, nitrate prescription, minor ECG abnormalities, or prior cerebrovascular disease.
Conclusion: N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide predicts CVD events in men without clinical evidence of CHD, angina, or history of stroke, and appears related more strongly to the risk for fatal events. N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide also provides moderate risk discrimination, in excess of that provided by the measurement of C-reactive protein.

Effect of B-type natriuretic peptide-guided treatment of chronic heart failure on total mortality and hospitalization: an individual patient meta-analysis

Richard W. Troughton, Christopher M. Frampton, Hans-Peter Brunner-La Rocca,
Matthias Pfisterer, Luc W.M. Eurlings, Hans Erntell, Hans Persson, et al.
Eur Heart J 2014; 35: 1559–1567 http://dx.doi.org:/10.1093/eurheartj/ehu090

Aims Natriuretic peptide-guided (NP-guided) treatment of heart failure has been tested against standard clinically guided care in multiple studies, but findings have been limited by study size. We sought to perform an individual patient data metaanalysis to evaluate the effect of NP-guided treatment of heart failure on all-cause mortality.
Methods and results
Eligible randomized clinical trials were identified from searches of Medline andEMBASEdatabases and the Cochrane Clinical
Trials Register. The primary pre-specified outcome, all-cause mortality was tested using a Cox proportional hazards regression model that included study of origin, age (< 75 or ≥75 years), and left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF, ≤45 or .45%) as covariates. Secondary endpoints included heart failure or cardiovascular hospitalization. Of 11 eligible studies, 9 provided individual patient data and 2 aggregate data. For the primary endpoint individual data from 2000 patients were included, 994 randomized to clinically guided care and 1006 to NP-guided care. All-cause mortality was significantly reduced by NP-guided treatment [hazard ratio = 0.62 (0.45–0.86);
P = 0.004] with no heterogeneity between studies or interaction with LVEF. The survival benefit from NP-guided therapy was seen in younger ( <75 years) patients [0.62 (0.45–0.85); P = 0.004] but not older (≥75 years) patients [0.98 (0.75–1.27); P = 0.96]. Hospitalization due to heart failure [0.80 (0.67–0.94); P = 0.009] or cardiovascular disease [0.82 (0.67–0.99); P = 0.048]was significantly lower in NP-guided patients with no heterogeneity between studies and no interaction with age or LVEF.
Conclusion: Natriuretic peptide-guided treatment of heart failure reduces all-cause mortality in patients aged < 75 years and overall reduces heart failure and cardiovascular hospitalization.

Diagnostic and prognostic evaluation of left ventricular systolic heart failure by plasma N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide concentrations in a large sample of the general population

B A Groenning, I Raymond, P R Hildebrandt, J C Nilsson, M Baumann, F Pedersen
Heart 2004;90:297–303. http://dx.doi.org:/10.1136/hrt.2003.026021

Objective: To evaluate N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) as a diagnostic and prognostic marker for systolic heart failure in the general population.
Design: Study participants, randomly selected to be representative of the background population, filled in a heart failure questionnaire and underwent pulse and blood pressure measurements, electrocardiography, echocardiography, and blood sampling and were followed up for a median (range) period of 805 (6021171) days.
Setting: Participants were recruited from four randomly selected general practitioners and were examined in a Copenhagen university hospital.
Patients: 382 women and 290 men in four age groups (50259 (n = 174); 60269 (n = 204); 70279 (n = 174); > 80 years (n = 120)).
Main outcome measures: Value of NT-proBNP in evaluating patients with symptoms of heart failure and impaired left ventricular (LV) systolic function; prognostic value of NT-proBNP for mortality and hospital admissions.
Results: In 38 (5.6%) participants LV ejection fraction (LVEF) was (40%. NT-proBNP identified patients with symptoms of heart failure and LVEF (40% with a sensitivity of 0.92, a specificity of 0.86, positive and negative predictive values of 0.11 and 1.00, and area under the curve of 0.94. NT-proBNP was the strongest independent predictor of mortality (hazard ratio (HR) = 5.70, p = 0.0001), hospital admissions for heart failure (HR = 13.83, p = 0.0001), and other cardiac admissions (HR = 3.69, p = 0.0001). Mortality (26 v 6, p = 0.0003), heart failure admissions (18 v 2, p = 0.0002), and admissions for other cardiac causes (44 v 13, p = 0.0001) were significantly higher in patients with NTproBNP above the study median (32.5 pmol/l). Conclusions: Measurement of NT-proBNP may be useful as a screening tool for systolic heart failure in the general population.

Copeptin—Marker of Acute Myocardial Infarction

Martin Möckel & Julia Searle
Curr Atheroscler Rep 2014; 16:421 http://dx.doi.org:/10.1007/s11883-014-0421-5

The concentration of copeptin, the C-terminal part of pro-arginine vasopressin, has been shown to increase early after acute and severe events. Owing to complementary pathophysiology and kinetics, the unspecific marker copeptin, in combination with highly cardio-specific troponin, has been evaluated as an early-rule-out strategy for acute myocardial infarction in patients presenting with signs and symptoms of acute coronary syndrome. Overall, most studies have reported a negative predictive value between 97 and 100 % for the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction in low- to intermediate-risk patients with suspected acute coronary syndrome. Additionally, a recent multicenter, randomized process study, where patients who tested negative for copeptin and troponin were discharged from the emergency department, showed that the safety of the new process was comparable to that of the current standard process. Further interventional trials and data from registries are needed to ensure the effectiveness and patient benefit of the new strategy.

The role of copeptin as a diagnostic and prognostic biomarker for risk stratification in the emergency department

Christian H Nickel1, Roland Bingisser and Nils G Morgenthaler
BMC Medicine 2012, 10:7 http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/7

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is activated in response to stress. One of the activated hypothalamic hormones is arginine vasopressin, a hormone involved in hemodynamics and osmoregulation. Copeptin, the C-terminal part of the arginine vasopressin precursor peptide, is a sensitive and stable surrogate marker for arginine vasopressin release. Measurement of copeptin levels has been shown to be useful in a variety of clinical scenarios, particularly as a prognostic marker in patients with acute diseases such as lower respiratory tract infection, heart disease and stroke. The measurement of copeptin levels may provide crucial information for risk stratification in a variety of clinical situations. As such, the emergency department appears to be the ideal setting for its potential use. This review summarizes the recent progress towards determining the prognostic and diagnostic value of copeptin in the emergency department.

Variability of the Transferrin Receptor 2 Gene in AMD

Daniel Wysokinski, Janusz Blasiak, Mariola Dorecka, Marta Kowalska, et al.
Disease Markers 2014, Article ID 507356, 8 pages http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/507356

Oxidative stress is a major factor in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Iron may catalyze the Fenton reaction resulting in overproduction of reactive oxygen species. Transferrin receptor 2 plays a critical role in iron homeostasis and variability in its gene may influence oxidative stress and AMD occurrence. To verify this hypothesis we assessed the association between  polymorphisms of the TFR2 gene and AMD. A total of 493AMDpatients and 171matched controls were genotyped for the two polymorphisms of the TFR2 gene: c.1892C>T (rs2075674) and c.−258+123T>C (rs4434553). We also assessed the modulation of some AMD risk factors by these polymorphisms.The CC and TT genotypes of the c.1892C>T were associated with AMD occurrence but the latter only in obese patients. The other polymorphism was not associated with AMD occurrence, but the CC genotype was correlated with an increasing AMD frequency in subjects with BMI < 26. The TT genotype and the T allele of this polymorphism decreased AMD occurrence in subjects above 72 years, whereas the TC genotype and the C allele increased occurrence of AMD in this group.The c.1892C>T and c.−258+123T>C polymorphisms of the TRF2 gene may be associated with AMD occurrence, either directly or by modulation of risk factors.

Urinary N-Acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase as an Early Marker for Acute Kidney Injury in Full-Term Newborns with Neonatal Hyperbilirubinemia

Bangning Cheng, Y Jin, G Liu, Z Chen, H Dai, and M Liu
Disease Markers 2014, Article ID 315843, 6 pages http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/315843

Purpose. To investigate renal function estimated by markers in full-term newborns with hyperbilirubinemia.
Methods. A total of 332 full-term newborns with hyperbilirubinemia and 60 healthy full-term newborns were enrolled. Total serum bilirubin, serum creatinine (Cr), serum blood urea nitrogen (BUN), serum cystatin C (Cys-C), urinary beta-2-microglobulin (𝛽2MG) index, and urinary N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase (NAG) index were measured before and after treatment. All newborns were divided into three groups according to total serum bilirubin levels: group 1 (221-256), group 2 (256-342), and group 3 (>342). Results. The control group and group 1 did not differ significantly in regard to serum Cr, serum BUN, serum Cys-C, urinary 𝛽2MG index, and urinary NAG index. Urinary NAG index in group 2 was significantly higher than that in control group (𝑃 < 0.001). Between control group and group 3, serum Cys-C, urinary 𝛽2MG index, and urinary NAG index differed significantly. The significant positive correlation between total serum bilirubin and urinary NAG index was found in newborns when total serum bilirubin level was more than 272 𝜇mol/L.
Conclusions. High unconjugated bilirubin could result in acute kidney injury in full-term newborns. Urinary NAG might be the suitable marker for predicting acute kidney injury in full-term newborns with hyperbilirubinemia.

Urinary C-peptide creatinine ratio detects absolute insulin deficiency in Type 2 diabetes.

S V Hope, A G Jones, E Goodchild, M Shepherd, R E J Besser, B Shields, T McDonald, B A Knight, A Hattersley

Department of Geriatrics, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust; NIHR Exeter Clinical Research Facility, University of Exeter.

Diabetic Medicine (impact factor: 2.9). 05/2013; http://dx.doi.org:/10.1111/dme.12222

Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT AIMS: To determine the prevalence and clinical characteristics of absolute insulin deficiency in long-standing Type 2 diabetes, using a strategy based on home urinary C-peptide creatinine ratio measurement.
METHODS: We assessed the urinary C-peptide creatinine ratios, from urine samples taken at home 2 h after the largest meal of the day, in 191 insulin-treated subjects with Type 2 diabetes (diagnosis age ≥45 years, no insulin in the first year). If the initial urinary C-peptide creatinine ratio was ≤0.2 nmol/mmol (representing absolute insulin deficiency), the assessment was repeated. A standardized mixed-meal tolerance test with 90-min stimulated serum C-peptide measurement was performed in nine subjects with a urinary C-peptide creatinine ratio ≤ 0.2 nmol/mmol (and in nine controls with a urinary C-peptide creatinine ratio >0.2 nmol/mmol) to confirm absolute insulin deficiency.
RESULTS: A total of 2.7% of participants had absolute insulin deficiency confirmed by a mixed-meal tolerance test. They were identified initially using urinary C-peptide creatinine ratio: 11/191 subjects (5.8%) had two consistent urinary C-peptide creatinine ratios ≤ 0.2 nmol/mmol; 9/11 subjects completed a mixed-meal tolerance test and had a median stimulated serum C-peptide of 0.18nmol/l. Five out of nine subjects had stimulated serum C-peptide <0.2 nmol/l and 9/9 subjects with urinary C-peptide creatinine ratio >0.2 had endogenous insulin secretion confirmed by the mixed-meal tolerance test. Compared with subjects with a urinary C-peptide creatinine ratio >0.2 nmol/mmol, those with confirmed absolute insulin deficiency had a shorter time to insulin treatment (median 2.5 vs. 6 years, P=0.005) and lower BMI (25.1 vs. 29.1kg/m(2) , P=0.04). Two out of five patients were glutamic acid decarboxylase autoantibody-positive.
CONCLUSIONS: Absolute insulin deficiency may occur in long-standing Type 2 diabetes, and cannot be reliably predicted by clinical features or autoantibodies. Its recognition should help guide treatment, education and management. The urinary C-peptide creatinine ratio is a practical non-invasive method to aid detection of absolute insulin deficiency, with a urinary C-peptide creatinine ratio > 0.2 nmol/mmol being a reliable indicator of retained endogenous insulin secretion.

Unlocking Biomarkers’ Full Potential

David Daniels, Ph.D.     genengnews  Feb 1, 2013 (Vol. 33, No. 3)


Biomarker research and development has evolved over the past years from looking for a single marker (e.g., PSA) linked to a disease state to looking for a panel of markers that can capture the heterogeneity inherent in both the disease and the impacted patient population.

That is one of the key messages to be delivered at GTC’s “Biomarkers Summit” next month. Across the board, resources are being focused on the delivery of more precise, quantifiable biomarkers with predictive value in therapeutic decisions and for the prognosis of illness.

“Our focus on biomarker development is the recognition that the new products need to provide cost savings for the already strapped healthcare systems rather than just be cost effective,” shares Paul Billings, M.D., Ph.D., CMO at Life Technologies.

“We have built a new medical sciences group to address the needs of the multiple delivery systems in the world—from the sophisticated medical clinics in the developed world to the nurse-run shanty clinic in the third world. Providing tools for equitable access to quality diagnosis, on assay platforms that can provide care for all patients, is our goal.”

Life Tech’s medical sciences division has been built by acquisition of Pinpoint Genomics, Navigenics, and Compendia, and collaborations with partners such as Ingenuity Systems and CollabRx. The division is focused on taking the tools that have been used in the life science laboratories and providing molecular diagnostic data to the clinic. The intent is to deliver data in a valuable format that can be used by the molecular pathologist or the treating physician.

The division is developing the Pervenio™ Lung RS assay, a 14-gene expression profile that serves as a risk stratifier that uses a weighted algorithm for the expressed biomarkers within the tumor biopsy, a first-of-its-kind prognostic test for lung cancer, the firm reports.

Initially, tests will be offered as a service through Life Tech’s CLIA laboratory. Then, from the performance lessons learned, Life Tech’s will develop a simpler assay platform, with FDA approval, that can be dispersed globally without reduction of the essential content in the biomarker panel. The focus is on the workflow—screening for known mutations using established easy-to-use assay platforms, like RT-PCR. Should the screen not produce useful results, clinicians can search for new mutations via discovery platforms like next-gen sequencing (NGS).


Sequenom’s LungCarta panel of 214 somatic mutations in 26 tumor suppressors and oncogenes covers highly mutated pathways in lung adenocarcinomas.

At Sequenom, the company provides both the tools (DNA mass spectrometry and reagents) for confirmatory biomarker development as well as serving on the front lines as a diagnostic service provider (CLIA lab). The beauty of DNA mass spec is that it can process multiplexed PCR samples (10–60 loci) in a method that is quantitative when used for profiling tumor biopsies that are either archival or fresh tissue.

Given a tumor sample with multiple somatic mutations, the instrument enables the determination of the homogeneity of the cells, in which case the mutations will have the same allele frequency. Accuracy, as measured by coefficient of variance, is less than 2%. Despite this level of sensitivity, the mass spec can only be used as a confirmatory tool looking for known mutations. Discovery is best done using DNA sequencing. DNA mass spec can also be used to study methylation in tumor samples.

“In the not-too-distant future, we will be looking for mutations in plasma samples rather than biopsies,” predicts Charles Cantor, Ph.D., CSO at Sequenom.

“The key is to look noninvasively for mutations within plasma samples such that we can potentially catch the disease state earlier, rather than after tumor formation. Regardless of the tumor type, this approach will enable us to monitor therapeutic response and metastatic potential noninvasively. DNA mass spec is an ultrasensitive detection product that can detect somatic mutations at levels of 1 per 1,000. This level of sensitivity is critical for the future of plasma screening. NGS technology is not that sensitive.”

Sequenom’s CLIA lab is using automated DNA mass spec to provide three different test protocols: (1) carrier screening for cystic fibrosis looking at more than 100 different mutations, (2) adult macular degeneration progression using an SNP test with 13 loci, and (3) a noninvasive test for Rh compatibility between a mother and her unborn fetus.


Scientists are using Illumina’s HiSeq system to discover molecular biomarkers that may provide opportunities for early detection of a range of diseases.

Sequenom has also set up an NGS facility within a CLIA lab in San Diego using Illumina’s HiSEQ platform. The NGS platform has been set up for noninvasive aneuploidy detection of maternal plasma (10 cc sample) looking at chromosomes 13, 18, and 21. The lab says it has analyzed more than 40,000 samples this year and is planning to increase that volume up to 100,000 samples per year. Most of these samples come from the U.S., but given the development of a new blood collection tube that allows for 72-hour ambient shipping, the lab is looking to increase the number of samples from outside the U.S.

Drug Development

During drug development, biomarkers function as pharmacodynamic markers to help assess the mechanism of action of a drug candidate, to define the downstream biological pathway, and to determine whether the drug is engaging the target with the anticipated biological effect. Later, biomarkers help determine whether a drug is effective using the tested regime (route of delivery, dosage level, and length of exposure time).

Following early development, the second stage is to use biomarkers to help segment patients for clinical trials. Part of the consideration here is how heterogeneous the disease is; are there homogeneous subsets of patients that will respond differentially to the drug based on different mechanisms of the disease?

“Biomarker research is focused on on- target effects,” says Nick Dracopoli, Ph.D., vp, head of oncology biomarkers at Janssen Research and Development, a J&J company.

“We look at indications and at patients with those indications that are most likely to respond to the drug candidates we’re developing. For oncology biomarkers, germ-line effects are weaker indicators than somatic changes in the tumor. As a consequence, SNP-based, genome-wide association studies are not very useful. It is better to focus on molecular changes within the tumor and define gene expression profiles and epigenetic modifications that correlate with the tumor phenotype. We are increasingly tracking patient immune response, particularly as more immuno-oncology products are moving into the drug development pipeline.”

The number of biomarkers being developed varies from project to project. But it is very clear that to be successful in the clinic, the biomarkers and the assays need to be of low complexity. Of the 10 to 12 companion diagnostics that have been approved by the FDA to date, all measure the status of the drug target (on-target markers). For example, EGFR measures the level of receptor expression; Braf and Kras markers measure the presence of the mutation and translocation in the ALK gene measures gene knockout.

It is important to realize that molecular profiles for first-in-class drugs are not optimal because they are based on only a few patients. Consequently they have weak predictive value overall.

“Aside from that rule of thumb, if you have a greater than 50% response rate for your drug, it is unlikely that you need a biomarker to predict response. Biomarker utility is best for drugs that would have a difficult road to approval, where it is critical to enrich for the subpopulation of responders. For example, Pfizer’s crizontinib was approved for non-small-cell lung patients but is only effective for 5% of all patients. If Pfizer was unable to demonstrate the relationship between activation of the ALK gene and disease, this inhibitor would not have been approved,” says Dr. Dracopoli.

“Drugs that are more broadly active can come to market without a companion diagnostic test. There is always a balance between the predictive values of the biomarker test and the response rates to treatment. That is, we should not treat if the chance of response is only 3–5%, rather than if it were 50% where the patient would want to take the chance if the drug were safe.”

An important take-home message is that mutations are not unique to an indication. So if you find a driver mutation in indications for which the drug has not been approved, you could discover new indications for the drug.

“At the end of the day, this is what cancer is—heterogeneous,” says Dr. Dracopoli. “We’d all love to treat one cancer with one drug and at one dose, but the story is more complex. The future of oncology is around understanding the molecular heterogeneity or underlying molecular pathology of the disease and the diversity of it, and then treat each patient accordingly.”

Clinical Considerations

“Given the complexity of biology,” says Achim Plum, Ph.D., principal consultant, Siemens, “whether is it cancer, metabolic disease, or any other disease state, we have been forced to move away from the idea that a single biomarker can capture the entire ‘story’ or mechanistic view of any disease. Hence newly developed biomarkers will be made up of a panel of markers that serve as a profile. In addition, with the sheer volume of DNA and protein analytics data, the clinic will need to employ software tools and algorithms to help the decision making.”

The task of getting broad profiling technologies that are analytical into a clinical setting and making them routine is difficult but not insurmontable. This will take a collaborative effort, something that Siemens among others are looking to develop. The key is to avoid technology hype and to establish good reliable software to process the data for decision making. “Data is not knowledge, and knowledge is not automatically decision making.”

As an academic, Daniel Chan, Ph.D., has a view of the whole value chain for biomarkers from discovery to development to use in the clinic. Dr. Chan holds the titles of professor in pathology, oncology, radiology, and urology, and is the director of the clinical chemistry division lab at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Given his perspective from discovery to clinical use, Dr. Chan indicated that from the clinical point of view, “we need more markers.” He oversees the discovery of new biomarkers in his research lab, their validation in his translational research lab, and finally their utility in practice in his clinical chemistry lab. He is a strong advocate for collaboration of biomarker development from discovery to verification and validation to incorporation within the clinical practice.

Beyond the use of biomarkers for patient stratification and correlation between marker and therapeutic choice, as is the focus of the biopharma industry, for the clinic the use of biomarkers is for prevention and early detection. The earlier the detection, the better the outcome. That is, provide the “cure” before you need to initiate treatment.

To be successful in the future of biomarkers, we need to look beyond the biopharma focus and expand the horizon for early detection and monitor therapy later, says Dr. Chan. He describes a roadmap of developing bridges (to bridge the knowledge gaps), gates (decision gates for go/no go decisions as to whether a development path is viable), and partnerships (to collaborate with different points of view) for efficient new biomarker development.

According to Dr. Chan, we must define the intended use of the biomarker, which identifies the specific application and sets up the clinical study and study population to meet the clinical needs. We need to define specific assays to monitor biomarkers that will work within a clinical setting, not a research lab setting that uses disease models (tissue culture cells or small animals) and not real patient samples.

“The days when single markers are sufficient (PSA for prostate cancer or troponin for cardiovascular disease) are behind us. We need to develop a panel of markers or a profile pattern to address patient population heterogeneity and disease complexity that will guide our decision-making process,” remarks Dr. Chan. “Molecular biomarkers are giving way to protein biomarkers,” he adds.

Prevention and early detection will require the use of whole-body scans, so the sampling technology and analytical tools to be developed are critical to realize this goal. Assay ease of use, automation, and analytical performance that is suitable for the clinical lab are fundamental.

“An important future goal for biomarkers,” says Dr. Billings, “is to sample circulating tumor cells or circulating DNA in blood or plasma samples as a noninvasive measure of patient status. A decline in tumor biomarkers during chemotherapy, for example, could reflect the efficacy of the therapy. In contrast, an increase in tumor biomarkers, in a patient who had previously undergone surgery and therapy, might indicate disease recurrence, and is likely to do so before a tumor mass is detectable by imaging methods.”

STAT4 Gene Polymorphisms Are Associated with Susceptibility and ANA Status in Primary Biliary Cirrhosis

Satoru Joshita, T Umemura, M Nakamura, Y Katsuyama, S Shibata, et al.
Disease Markers  2014, Article ID 727393, 8 pages http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/727393

Recent genome-wide association studies suggest that genetic factors contribute to primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) susceptibility. Although several reports have demonstrated that the interleukin (IL) 12 signaling pathway is involved in PBC pathogenesis, its precise genetic factors have not been fully clarified. Here, we performed an association analysis between IL12A, IL12RB, and signal transducer and activator of transcription 4 (STAT4) genetic variations and susceptibility to PBC. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped in 395 PBC patients and 458 healthy subjects of Japanese ethnicity and evaluated for associations with PBC susceptibility, anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) status, and anti-mitochondrial antibody (AMA) status. We detected significant associations with PBC susceptibility for several STAT4 SNPs (rs10168266; p = 9.4 × 10−3, rs11889341; p = 1.2 × 10−3, rs7574865; p = 4.0 × 10−4, rs8179673; p = 2.0 × 10−4, and rs10181656; p = 4.2 × 10−5). Three risk alleles (rs7574865; p = 0.040, rs8179673; p = 0.032, and rs10181656; p = 0.031) were associated with ANA status, but not with AMA positivity. Our findings confirm that STAT4 is involved in PBC susceptibility and may play a role in ANA status in the Japanese population.

Serum Omentin-1 as a Disease Activity Marker for Crohn’s Disease

Yan Lu, Li Zhou, L Liu, Yan Feng, Li Lu, X Ren, X Dong, & W Sang
Disease Markers  2014, Article ID 162517, 5 pages   http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/162517

Background and Aim. It remains challenging to determine the inflammatory activity in Crohn’s disease (CD) for lack of specific laboratory markers. Recent studies suggest that serum omentin-1 is associated with inflammatory response. We aimed to assess the potential of serum omentin-1 as a marker of disease activity in CD patients.
Methods. Serum omentin-1 concentrations were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in patients with CD (n = 240), functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGDs, n = 120), and healthy controls (HC, n = 60) and evaluated for correlation with disease activity. Expression of omentin-1 in colonic tissues from patients with CD was also analyzed by real-time PCR and Western blotting. Serum omentin-1 levels as an activity index were evaluated using a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve.
Results. Serum omentin-1 concentrations were significantly decreased in active CD patients compared with patients in remission, FGDs, and HC (all p < 0.001). Expression of omentin-1 was decreased at mRNA and protein levels in inflamed colonic tissues in active CD than that in noninflamed colonic tissues. Serum omentin-1 levels were negatively correlated with disease activity in CD, better than C-reactive protein (CRP).
Conclusion. Our results indicate that serum and colonic omentin-1 expressions are decreased in active CD patients. The correlation of serum omentin-1 with disease activity in CD is superior to that of CRP. Serum omentin-1 is a potential marker for CD disease activity.
Serum Levels of Resistin, Adiponectin, and Apelin in Gastroesophageal Cancer Patients

Dorota Diakowska, K Markocka-Mdczka, P Szelachowski, and K Grabowski
Disease Markers 2014, Article ID 619649, 8 pages   http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/619649

The aim of the study was the investigation of relationship between cachexia syndrome and serum resistin, adiponectin, and apelin in patients with gastroesophageal cancer (GEC).
Material and Methods. Adipocytokines concentrations were measured in sera of 85 GEC patients and 60 healthy controls. They were also evaluated in tumor tissue and appropriate normal mucosa of 38 operated cancer patients.
Results. Resistin and apelin concentrations were significantly higher in GEC patients than in the controls. The highest resistin levels were found in cachectic patients and in patients with distant metastasis. Serum adiponectin significantly decreased in GEC patients with regional and distant metastasis. Serum apelin was significantly higher in cachectic patients than in the controls. Apelin was positively correlated with hsCRP level. Resistin and apelin levels increased significantly in tumor tissues. Weak positive correlations between adipocytokines levels in serum and in tumor tissue were observed.
Conclusions. Resistin is associated with cachexia and metastasis processes of GEC. Reduction of serum adiponectin reflects adipose tissue wasting in relation to GEC progression. Correlation of apelin with hsCRP can reflect a presumable role of apelin in systemic inflammatory response in esophageal and gastric cancer.

Serum Level of HER-2 Extracellular Domain in Iranian Patients with Breast Cancer: A Follow-up Study

Mehrnoosh Doroudchi, Abdolrasoul Talei, Helmout Modjtahedi, et al.
IJI 2005; 2(4): 191-200

Background: A soluble form of HER-2/neu extracellular domain (sHER-2) is reported to be released in the sera of metastatic breast cancer patients.
Objective: To measure the level of sHER-2 in sera of 115 breast cancer patients. Methods: Serial samples of 27 patients with metastasis, 18 non-metastatic patients, 15 patients in stage 0/I and 14 patients with accompanying benign breast disease were also included in this study.
Results: No significant difference was observed between sHER-2 level in the pre-operative sera of breast cancer patients and that of healthy individuals. Only 8 out of 27 patients whom later developed metastasis showed elevated levels of sHER-2 in their first serum sample. However, a trend of increase in the level of sHER-2 was observed in 14 (51.8%) of 27 metastatic sera before clinical diagnosis of the metastasis. A significant association between sHER-2 positive status and vascular invasion of the tumor was observed (P = 0.02). In addition, significant correlation of sHER-2 level with CEA (highest r = 0.74) and CA 15.3 (highest r = 0.74) tumor marker levels in the serial sera were observed. The mean time from sHER-2 positivity to tumor metastasis was calculated to be 98 days (range = 29-174).  Conclusion: Our results indicate that a relatively high percentage of Iranian patients with breast cancer show an elevated level of sHER-2 in their sera before clinical diagnosis of the tumor metastasis. Therefore, measuring the level of this oncoprotein, not only helps physicians in monitoring the patients during HERCEPTIN therapy, but also can be helpful in choosing more aggressive treatments at the early satges of tumor metastasis.
B-type natriuretic peptide is a biomarker for pulmonary hypertension in preterm infants with bronchopulmonary dysplasia

Alain Cuna, Jegen Kandasamy, Naomi Fineberg, Brian Sims
Research and Reports in Neonatology 2013:3 33–36

Background: B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) is a cardiac biomarker useful in screening for pulmonary hypertension (PH) in adults. It is possible that BNP may also be useful in detecting PH among preterm infants with bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD).
Objective: To determine the utility of BNP for identification of PH among preterm infants with BPD.
Methods: We retrospectively identified preterm infants with BPD who underwent screening echocardiography for suspected PH and had serum BNP levels measured within 10 days before or after echocardiography. Eligible infants were classified based on echocardiographic diagnosis of either PH or no PH. Median and interquartile ranges (IQR) of BNP values were compared, and area under the curve (AUC) of receiver operator characteristic (ROC) analysis was used to determine the optimum threshold value for detection of PH.
Results: Twenty-five preterm infants with BPD (mean gestational age 26.5 ± 1.7 weeks, mean birth weight 747 ± 248 g) were identified. The median difference in days between echocardiography and BNP measurement was 1 day (IQR 0–3, range 0–10 days). Based on echocardiography, 16 were diagnosed with PH and nine without PH. No significant difference in terms of gestational age, birth weight, sex, race, or respiratory support was found between the two groups. Median (IQR) BNP values of those with PH were higher than those without PH (413 [212–1178] pg/mL versus 55 [21–84] pg/mL, P , 0.001). AUC of ROC analysis showed that a BNP value of 117 pg/mL had 93.8% sensitivity and 100% specificity for detecting PH.
Conclusion: BNP estimation may be useful for screening of PH in infants with BPD.

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Summary of Proteomics

Author and Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP 


We have completed a series of discussions on proteomics, a scientific endeavor that is essentially 15 years old.   It is quite remarkable what has been accomplished in that time.  The interest is abetted by the understanding of the limitations of the genomic venture that has preceded it.  The thorough, yet incomplete knowledge of the genome, has led to the clarification of its limits.  It is the coding for all that lives, but all that lives has evolved to meet a demanding and changing environment with respect to

  1. availability of nutrients
  2. salinity
  3. temperature
  4. radiation exposure
  5. toxicities in the air, water, and food
  6. stresses – both internal and external

We have seen how both transcription and translation of the code results in a protein, lipoprotein, or other complex than the initial transcript that was modeled from tRNA. What you see in the DNA is not what you get in the functioning cell, organ, or organism.  There are comparabilities as well as significant differences between plants, prokaryotes, and eukaryotes.  There is extensive variation.  The variation goes beyond genomic expression, and includes the functioning cell, organ type, and species.

Here, I return to the introductory discussion.  Proteomics is a goal directed, sophisticated science that uses a combination of methods to find the answers to biological questions. Graves PR and Haystead TAJ.  Molecular Biologist’s Guide to Proteomics.
Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. Mar 2002; 66(1): 39–63.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC120780/

Peptide mass tag searching

Peptide mass tag searching

Peptide mass tag searching. Shown is a schematic of how information from an unknown peptide (top) is matched to a peptide sequence in a database (bottom) for protein identification. The partial amino acid sequence or “tag” obtained by MS/MS is combined with the peptide mass (parent mass), the mass of the peptide at the start of the sequence (mass tag 1), and the mass of the peptide at the end of the sequence (mass tag 2). The specificity of the protease used (trypsin is shown) can also be included in the search.

ICAT method for measuring differential protein expression

ICAT method for measuring differential protein expression

The ICAT method for measuring differential protein expression. (A) Structure of the ICAT reagent. ICAT consists of a biotin affinity group, a linker region that can incorporate heavy (deuterium) or light (hydrogen) atoms, and a thiol-reactive end group for linkage to cysteines. (B) ICAT strategy. Proteins are harvested from two different cell states and labeled on cysteine residues with either the light or heavy form of the ICAT reagent. Following labeling, the two protein samples are mixed and digested with a protease such as trypsin. Peptides labeled with the ICAT reagent can be purified by virtue of the biotin tag by using avidin chromatography. Following purification, ICAT-labeled peptides can be analyzed by MS to quantitate the peak ratios and proteins can be identified by sequencing the peptides with MS/MS.

Strategies for determination of phosphorylation sites in proteins

Strategies for determination of phosphorylation sites in proteins

Strategies for determination of phosphorylation sites in proteins. Proteins phosphorylated in vitro or in vivo can be isolated by protein electrophoresis and analyzed by MS. (A) Identification of phosphopeptides by peptide mass fingerprinting. In this method, phosphopeptides are identified by comparing the mass spectrum of an untreated sample to that of a sample treated with phosphatase. In the phosphatase-treated sample, potential phosphopeptides are identified by a decrease in mass due to loss of a phosphate group (80 Da). (B) Phosphorylation sites can be identified by peptide sequencing using MS/MS. (C) Edman degradation can be used to monitor the release of inorganic 32P to provide information about phosphorylation sites in peptides.

protein mining strategy

protein mining strategy

Proteome-mining strategy. Proteins are isolated on affinity column arrays from a cell line, organ, or animal source and purified to remove nonspecific adherents. Then, compound libraries are passed over the array and the proteins eluted are analyzed by protein electrophoresis. Protein information obtained by MS or Edman degradation is then used to search DNA and protein databases. If a relevant target is identified, a sublibrary of compounds can be evaluated to refine the lead. From this method a protein target and a drug lead can be simultaneously identified.

Although the technology for the analysis of proteins is rapidly progressing, it is still not feasible to study proteins on a scale equivalent to that of the nucleic acids. Most of proteomics relies on methods, such as protein purification or PAGE, that are not high-throughput methods. Even performing MS can require considerable time in either data acquisition or analysis. Although hundreds of proteins can be analyzed quickly and in an automated fashion by a MALDI-TOF mass spectrometer, the quality of data is sacrificed and many proteins cannot be identified. Much higher quality data can be obtained for protein identification by MS/MS, but this method requires considerable time in data interpretation. In our opinion, new computer algorithms are needed to allow more accurate interpretation of mass spectra without operator intervention. In addition, to access unannotated DNA databases across species, these algorithms should be error tolerant to allow for sequencing errors, polymorphisms, and conservative substitutions. New technologies will have to emerge before protein analysis on a large-scale (such as mapping the human proteome) becomes a reality.

Another major challenge for proteomics is the study of low-abundance proteins. In some eukaryotic cells, the amounts of the most abundant proteins can be 106-fold greater than those of the low-abundance proteins. Many important classes of proteins (that may be important drug targets) such as transcription factors, protein kinases, and regulatory proteins are low-copy proteins. These low-copy proteins will not be observed in the analysis of crude cell lysates without some purification. Therefore, new methods must be devised for subproteome isolation.

Tissue Proteomics for the Next Decade?  Towards a Molecular Dimension in Histology

R Longuespe´e, M Fle´ron, C Pottier, F Quesada-Calvo, Marie-Alice Meuwis, et al.
OMICS A Journal of Integrative Biology 2014; 18: 9.    http://dx.doi.org:/10.1089/omi.2014.0033

The concept of tissues appeared more than 200 years ago, since textures and attendant differences were described within the whole organism components. Instrumental developments in optics and biochemistry subsequently paved the way to transition from classical to molecular histology in order to decipher the molecular contexts associated with physiological or pathological development or function of a tissue. In 1941, Coons and colleagues performed the first systematic integrated examination of classical histology and biochemistry when his team localized pneumonia antigens in infected tissue sections. Most recently, in the early 21st century, mass spectrometry (MS) has progressively become one of the most valuable tools to analyze biomolecular compounds. Currently, sampling methods, biochemical procedures, and MS instrumentations
allow scientists to perform ‘‘in depth’’ analysis of the protein content of any type of tissue of interest. This article reviews the salient issues in proteomics analysis of tissues. We first outline technical and analytical considerations for sampling and biochemical processing of tissues and subsequently the instrumental possibilities for proteomics analysis such as shotgun proteomics in an anatomical context. Specific attention concerns formalin fixed and paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissues that are potential ‘‘gold mines’’ for histopathological investigations. In all, the matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) MS imaging, which allows for differential mapping of hundreds of compounds on a tissue section, is currently the most striking evidence of linkage and transition between ‘‘classical’’ and ‘‘molecular’’ histology. Tissue proteomics represents a veritable field of research and investment activity for modern biomarker discovery and development for the next decade.

Progressively, tissue analyses evolved towards the description of the whole molecular content of a given sample. Currently, mass spectrometry (MS) is the most versatile
analytical tool for protein identification and has proven its great potential for biological and clinical applications. ‘‘Omics’’ fields, and especially proteomics, are of particular
interest since they allow the analysis of a biomolecular picture associated with a given physiological or pathological state. Biochemical techniques were then adapted for an optimal extraction of several biocompounds classes from tissues of different natures.

Laser capture microdissection (LCM) is used to select and isolate tissue areas of interest for further analysis. The developments of MS instrumentations have then definitively transformed the scientific scene, pushing back more and more detection and identification limits. Since a few decades, new approaches of analyses appeared, involving the use of tissue sections dropped on glass slides as starting material. Two types of analyses can then be applied on tissue sections: shotgun proteomics and the very promising MS imaging (MSI) using Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization (MALDI) sources. Also known as ‘‘molecular histology,’’ MSI is the most striking hyphen between histology and molecular analysis. In practice, this method allows visualization of the spatial distribution of proteins, peptides, drugs, or others analytes directly on tissue sections. This technique paved new ways of research, especially in the field of histopathology, since this approach appeared to be complementary to conventional histology.

Tissue processing workflows for molecular analyses

Tissue processing workflows for molecular analyses

Tissue processing workflows for molecular analyses. Tissues can either be processed in solution or directly on tissue sections. In solution, processing involves protein
extraction from tissue pieces in order to perform 2D gel separation and identification of proteins, shotgun proteomics, or MALDI analyses. Extracts can also be obtained from
tissues area selection and protein extraction after laser micro dissection or on-tissue processing. Imaging techniques are dedicated to the morphological characterization or molecular mapping of tissue sections. Histology can either be conducted by hematoxylin/eosin staining or by molecular mapping using antibodies with IHC. Finally, mass spectrometry imaging allows the cartography of numerous compounds in a single analysis. This approach is a modern form of ‘‘molecular histology’’ as it grafts, with the use of mathematical calculations, a molecular dimension to classical histology. (AR, antigen retrieval; FFPE, formalin fixed and paraffin embedded; fr/fr, fresh frozen; IHC, immunohistochemistry; LCM, laser capture microdissection; MALDI, matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization; MSI, mass spectrometry imaging; PTM, post translational modification.)

Analysis of tissue proteomes has greatly evolved with separation methods and mass spectrometry instrumentation. The choice of the workflow strongly depends on whether a bottom-up or a top-down analysis has to be performed downstream. In-gel or off-gel proteomics principally differentiates proteomic workflows. The almost simultaneous discoveries of the MS ionization sources (Nobel Prize awarded) MALDI (Hillenkamp and Karas, 1990; Tanaka et al., 1988) and electrospray ionization (ESI) (Fenn et al., 1989) have paved the way for analysis of intact proteins and peptides. Separation methods such as two-dimension electrophoresis (2DE) (Fey and Larsen, 2001) and nanoscale reverse phase liquid chromatography (nanoRP-LC) (Deterding et al., 1991) lead to efficient preparation of proteins for respectively topdown and bottom-up strategies. A huge panel of developments was then achieved mostly for LC-MS based proteomics in order to improve ion fragmentation approaches and peptide
identification throughput relying on database interrogation. Moreover, approaches were developed to analyze post translational modifications (PTM) such as phosphorylations (Ficarro et al., 2002; Oda et al., 2001; Zhou et al., 2001) or glycosylations (Zhang et al., 2003), proposing as well different quantification procedures. Regarding instrumentation, the most cutting edge improvements are the gain of mass accuracy for an optimal detection of the eluted peptides during LC-MS runs (Mann and Kelleher, 2008; Michalski et al., 2011) and the increase in scanning speed, for example with the use of Orbitrap analyzers (Hardman and Makarov, 2003; Makarov et al., 2006; Makarov et al., 2009; Olsen et al., 2009). Ion transfer efficiency was also drastically improved with the conception of ion funnels that homogenize the ion transmission
capacities through m/z ranges (Kelly et al., 2010; Kim et al., 2000; Page et al., 2006; Shaffer et al., 1998) or by performing electrospray ionization within low vacuum (Marginean et al., 2010; Page et al., 2008; Tang et al., 2011). Beside collision induced dissociation (CID) that is proposed for many applications (Li et al., 2009; Wells and McLuckey, 2005), new fragmentation methods were investigated, such as higher-energy collisional dissociation (HCD) especially for phosphoproteomic
applications (Nagaraj et al., 2010), and electron transfer dissociation (ETD) and electron capture dissociation (ECD) that are suited for phospho- and glycoproteomics (An
et al., 2009; Boersema et al., 2009; Wiesner et al., 2008). Methods for data-independent MS2 analysis based on peptide fragmentation in given m/z windows without precursor selection neither information knowledge, also improves identification throughput (Panchaud et al., 2009; Venable et al., 2004), especially with the use of MS instruments with high resolution and high mass accuracy specifications (Panchaud et al., 2011). Gas fractionation methods such as ion mobility (IM) can also be used as a supplementary separation dimension which enable more efficient peptide identifications (Masselon et al., 2000; Shvartsburg et al., 2013; Shvartsburg et al., 2011).

Microdissection relies on a laser ablation principle. The tissue section is dropped on a plastic membrane covering a glass slide. The preparation is then placed into a microscope
equipped with a laser. A highly focused beam will then be guided by the user at the external limit of the area of interest. This area composed by the plastic membrane, and the tissue section will then be ejected from the glass slide and collected into a tube cap for further processing. This mode of microdissection is the most widely used due to its ease of handling and the large panels of devices proposed by constructors. Indeed, Leica microsystem proposed the Leica LMD system (Kolble, 2000), Molecular Machine and Industries, the MMI laser microdissection system Microcut, which was used in combination with IHC (Buckanovich et al., 2006), Applied Biosystems developed the Arcturus
microdissection System, and Carl Zeiss patented P.A.L.M. MicroBeam technology (Braakman et al., 2011; Espina et al., 2006a; Espina et al., 2006b; Liu et al., 2012; Micke
et al., 2005). LCM represents a very adequate link between classical histology and sampling methods for molecular analyses as it is a simple customized microscope. Indeed,
optical lenses of different magnification can be used and the method is compatible with classical IHC (Buckanovich et al., 2006). Only the laser and the tube holder need to be
added to the instrumentation.

After microdissection, the tissue pieces can be processed for analyses using different available MS devices and strategies. The simplest one consists in the direct analysis of the
protein profiles by MALDI-TOF-MS (MALDI-time of flight-MS). The microdissected tissues are dropped on a MALDI target and directly covered by the MALDI matrix (Palmer-Toy et al., 2000; Xu et al., 2002). This approach was already used in order to classify breast cancer tumor types (Sanders et al., 2008), identify intestinal neoplasia protein biomarkers (Xu et al., 2009), and to determine differential profiles in glomerulosclerosis (Xu et al., 2005).

Currently the most common proteomic approach for LCM tissue analysis is LC-MS/MS. Label free LC-MS approaches have been used to study several cancers like head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (Baker et al., 2005), esophageal cancer (Hatakeyama et al., 2006), dysplasic cervical cells (Gu et al., 2007), breast carcinoma tumors (Hill et al., 2011; Johann et al., 2009), tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer cells (Umar et al., 2009), ER + / – breast cancer cells (Rezaul et al., 2010), Barretts esophagus (Stingl et al., 2011), and ovarian endometrioid cancer (Alkhas et al., 2011). Different isotope labeling methods have been used in order to compare proteins expression. ICAT was first used to investigate proteomes of hepatocellular carcinoma (Li et al., 2004; 2008). The O16/O18 isotopic labeling was then used for proteomic analysis of ductal carcinoma of the breast (Zang et al., 2004).

Currently, the lowest amount of collected cells for a relevant single analysis using fr/fr breast cancer tissues was 3000–4000 (Braakman et al., 2012; Liu et al., 2012; Umar et al., 2007). With a Q-Exactive (Thermo, Waltham) mass spectrometer coupled to LC, Braakman was able to identify up to 1800 proteins from 4000 cells. Processing
of FFPE microdissected tissues of limited sizes still remains an issue which is being addressed by our team.

Among direct tissue analyses modes, two categories of investigations can be done. MALDI profiling consists in the study of molecular localization of compounds and can be
combined with parallel shotgun proteomic methods. Imaging methods give less detailed molecular information, but is more focused on the accurate mapping of the detected compounds through tissue area. In 2007, a concept of direct tissue proteomics (DTP) was proposed for high-throughput examination of tissue microarray samples. However, contrary to the classical workflow, tissue section chemical treatment involved a first step of scrapping each FFPE tissue spot with a razor blade from the glass slide. The tissues were then transferred into a tube and processed with RIPA buffer and finally submitted to boiling as an AR step (Hwang et al., 2007). Afterward, several teams proved that it was possible to perform the AR directly on tissue sections. These applications were mainly dedicated to MALDI imaging analyses (Bonnel et al., 2011; Casadonte and Caprioli, 2011; Gustafsson et al., 2010). However, more recently, Longuespe´e used citric acid antigen retrieval (CAAR) before shotgun proteomics associated to global profiling proteomics (Longuespee et al., 2013).

MALDI imaging workflow

MALDI imaging workflow

MALDI imaging workflow. For MALDI imaging experiments, tissue sections are dropped on conductive glass slides. Sample preparations are then adapted depending on the nature of the tissue sample (FFPE or fr/fr). Then, matrix is uniformly deposited on the tissue section using dedicated devices. A laser beam subsequently irradiates the preparation following a given step length and a MALDI spectrum is acquired for each position. Using adapted software, the different detected ions are then mapped through the tissue section, in function of their differential intensities. The ‘‘molecular maps’’ are called images. (FFPE, formalin fixed and paraffin embedded; fr/fr, fresh frozen; MALDI, matrix assisted laser desorption ionization.)

Proteomics instrumentations, specific biochemical preparations, and sampling methods such as LCM altogether allow for the deep exploration and comparison of different proteomes between regions of interest in tissues with up to 104 detected proteins. MALDI MS imaging that allows for differential mapping of hundreds of compounds on a tissue section is currently the most striking illustration of association between ‘‘classical’’ and ‘‘molecular’’ histology.

Novel serum protein biomarker panel revealed by mass spectrometry and its prognostic value in breast cancer

L Chung, K Moore, L Phillips, FM Boyle, DJ Marsh and RC Baxter*  Breast Cancer Research 2014, 16:R63

Introduction: Serum profiling using proteomic techniques has great potential to detect biomarkers that might improve diagnosis and predict outcome for breast cancer patients (BC). This study used surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (SELDI-TOF) mass spectrometry (MS) to identify differentially expressed proteins in sera from BC and healthy volunteers (HV), with the goal of developing a new prognostic biomarker panel.
Methods: Training set serum samples from 99 BC and 51 HV subjects were applied to four adsorptive chip surfaces (anion-exchange, cation-exchange, hydrophobic, and metal affinity) and analyzed by time-of-flight MS. For validation, 100 independent BC serum samples and 70 HV samples were analyzed similarly. Cluster analysis of protein spectra was performed to identify protein patterns related to BC and HV groups. Univariate and multivariate statistical analyses were used to develop a protein panel to distinguish breast cancer sera from healthy sera, and its prognostic potential was evaluated.
Results: From 51 protein peaks that were significantly up- or downregulated in BC patients by univariate analysis, binary logistic regression yielded five protein peaks that together classified BC and HV with a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) area-under-the-curve value of 0.961. Validation on an independent patient cohort confirmed
the five-protein parameter (ROC value 0.939). The five-protein parameter showed positive association with large tumor size (P = 0.018) and lymph node involvement (P = 0.016). By matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) MS, immunoprecipitation and western blotting the proteins were identified as a fragment
of apolipoprotein H (ApoH), ApoCI, complement C3a, transthyretin, and ApoAI. Kaplan-Meier analysis on 181 subjects after median follow-up of >5 years demonstrated that the panel significantly predicted disease-free survival (P = 0.005), its efficacy apparently greater in women with estrogen receptor (ER)-negative tumors (n = 50, P = 0.003) compared to ER-positive (n = 131, P = 0.161), although the influence of ER status needs to be confirmed after longer follow-up.
Conclusions: Protein mass profiling by MS has revealed five serum proteins which, in combination, can distinguish between serum from women with breast cancer and healthy control subjects with high sensitivity and specificity. The five-protein panel significantly predicts recurrence-free survival in women with ER-negative tumors and may have value in the management of these patients.

Cellular prion protein is required for neuritogenesis: fine-tuning of multiple signaling pathways involved in focal adhesions and actin cytoskeleton dynamics

Aurélie Alleaume-Butaux, et al.   Cell Health and Cytoskeleton 2013:5 1–12

Neuritogenesis is a dynamic phenomenon associated with neuronal differentiation that allows a rather spherical neuronal stem cell to develop dendrites and axon, a prerequisite for the integration and transmission of signals. The acquisition of neuronal polarity occurs in three steps:

(1) neurite sprouting, which consists of the formation of buds emerging from the postmitotic neuronal soma;

(2) neurite outgrowth, which represents the conversion of buds into neurites, their elongation and evolution into axon or dendrites; and

(3) the stability and plasticity of neuronal polarity.

In neuronal stem cells, remodeling and activation of focal adhesions (FAs)

  • associated with deep modifications of the actin cytoskeleton is
  • a prerequisite for neurite sprouting and subsequent neurite outgrowth.

A multiple set of growth factors and interactors located in

  • the extracellular matrix and the plasma membrane orchestrate neuritogenesis
  • by acting on intracellular signaling effectors, notably small G proteins such as RhoA, Rac, and Cdc42,
  • which are involved in actin turnover and the dynamics of FAs.

The cellular prion protein (PrPC), a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored membrane protein

  • mainly known for its role in a group of fatal neurodegenerative diseases,
  • has emerged as a central player in neuritogenesis.

Here, we review the contribution of PrPC to neuronal polarization and

  • detail the current knowledge on the signaling pathways fine-tuned
  • by PrPC to promote neurite sprouting, outgrowth, and maintenance.

We emphasize that PrPC-dependent neurite sprouting is a process in which

  • PrPC governs the dynamics of FAs and the actin cytoskeleton via β1 integrin signaling.

The presence of PrPC is necessary to render neuronal stem cells

  • competent to respond to neuronal inducers and to develop neurites.

In differentiating neurons, PrPC exerts a facilitator role towards neurite elongation.

This function relies on the interaction of PrPC with a set of diverse partners such as

  1. elements of the extracellular matrix,
  2. plasma membrane receptors,
  3. adhesion molecules, and
  4. soluble factors that control actin cytoskeleton turnover
  • through Rho-GTPase signaling.

Once neurons have reached their terminal stage of differentiation and

  • acquired their polarized morphology,
  • PrPC also takes part in the maintenance of neurites.

By acting on tissue nonspecific alkaline phosphatase, or matrix metalloproteinase type 9,

  • PrPC stabilizes interactions between neurites and the extracellular matrix.

Fusion-pore expansion during syncytium formation is restricted by an actin network

Andrew Chen et al., Journal of Cell Science 121, 3619-3628. http://dx.doi.org:/10.1242/jcs.032169

Cell-cell fusion in animal development and in pathophysiology

  • involves expansion of nascent fusion pores formed by protein fusogens
  • to yield an open lumen of cell-size diameter.

Here we explored the enlargement of micron-scale pores in syncytium formation,

  • which was initiated by a well-characterized fusogen baculovirus gp64.

Radial expansion of a single or, more often, of multiple fusion pores

  • proceeds without loss of membrane material in the tight contact zone.

Pore growth requires cell metabolism and is

  • accompanied by a local disassembly of the actin cortex under the pores.

Effects of actin-modifying agents indicate that

  • the actin cortex slows down pore expansion.

We propose that the growth of the strongly bent fusion-pore rim

  1. is restricted by a dynamic resistance of the actin network and
  2. driven by membrane-bending proteins that are involved in
  3. the generation of highly curved intracellular membrane compartments.

Pak1 Is Required to Maintain Ventricular Ca2+ Homeostasis and Electrophysiological Stability Through SERCA2a Regulation in Mice

Yanwen Wang, et al.  Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol. 2014;7:00-00.

Impaired sarcoplasmic reticular Ca2+ uptake resulting from

  • decreased sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase type 2a (SERCA2a) expression or activity
  • is a characteristic of heart failure with its associated ventricular arrhythmias.

Recent attempts at gene therapy of these conditions explored strategies

  • enhancing SERCA2a expression and the activity as novel approaches to heart failure management.

We here explore the role of Pak1 in maintaining ventricular Ca2+ homeostasis and electrophysiological stability

  • under both normal physiological and acute and chronic β-adrenergic stress conditions.

Methods and Results—Mice with a cardiomyocyte-specific Pak1 deletion (Pak1cko), but not controls (Pak1f/f), showed

  • high incidences of ventricular arrhythmias and electrophysiological instability
  • during either acute β-adrenergic or chronic β-adrenergic stress leading to hypertrophy,
  • induced by isoproterenol.

Isolated Pak1cko ventricular myocytes correspondingly showed

  • aberrant cellular Ca2+ homeostasis.

Pak1cko hearts showed an associated impairment of SERCA2a function and

  • downregulation of SERCA2a mRNA and protein expression.

Further explorations of the mechanisms underlying the altered transcriptional regulation

  • demonstrated that exposure to control Ad-shC2 virus infection
  • increased SERCA2a protein and mRNA levels after
  • phenylephrine stress in cultured neonatal rat cardiomyocytes.

This was abolished by the

  • Pak1-knockdown in Ad-shPak1–infected neonatal rat cardiomyocytes and
  • increased by constitutive overexpression of active Pak1 (Ad-CAPak1).

We then implicated activation of serum response factor, a transcriptional factor well known for

  • its vital role in the regulation of cardiogenesis genes in the Pak1-dependent regulation of SERCA2a.

Conclusions—These findings indicate that

Pak1 is required to maintain ventricular Ca2+ homeostasis and electrophysiological stability

  • and implicate Pak1 as a novel regulator of cardiac SERCA2a through
  • a transcriptional mechanism

fusion in animal development and in pathophysiology involves expansion of nascent fusion pores

  • formed by protein fusogens to yield an open lumen of cell-size diameter.

Here we explored the enlargement of micron-scale pores in syncytium formation,

  • which was initiated by a well-characterized fusogen baculovirus gp64.

Radial expansion of a single or, more often, of multiple fusion pores proceeds

  • without loss of membrane material in the tight contact zone.

Pore growth requires cell metabolism and is accompanied by

  • a local disassembly of the actin cortex under the pores.

Effects of actin-modifying agents indicate that the actin cortex slows down pore expansion.

We propose that the growth of the strongly bent fusion-pore rim is restricted

  • by a dynamic resistance of the actin network and driven by
  • membrane-bending proteins that are involved in the generation of
  • highly curved intracellular membrane compartments.

Role of forkhead box protein A3 in age-associated metabolic decline

Xinran Maa,1, Lingyan Xua,1, Oksana Gavrilovab, and Elisabetta Muellera,2
PNAS Sep 30, 2014 | 111 | 39 | 14289–14294  http://pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1407640111

This paper reports that the transcription factor forkhead box protein A3 (Foxa3) is

  • directly involved in the development of age-associated obesity and insulin resistance.

Mice that lack the Foxa3 gene

  1. remodel their fat tissues,
  2. store less fat, and
  3. burn more energy as they age.

These mice also live significantly longer.

We show that Foxa3 suppresses a key metabolic cofactor, PGC1α,

  • which is involved in the gene programs that turn on energy expenditure in adipose tissues.

Overall, these findings suggest that Foxa3 contributes to the increased adiposity observed during aging,

  • and that it can be a possible target for the treatment of metabolic disorders.

Aging is associated with increased adiposity and diminished thermogenesis, but

  • the critical transcription factors influencing these metabolic changes late in life are poorly understood.

We recently demonstrated that the winged helix factor forkhead box protein A3 (Foxa3)

  • regulates the expansion of visceral adipose tissue in high-fat diet regimens; however,
  • whether Foxa3 also contributes to the increase in adiposity and the decrease in brown fat activity
  • observed during the normal aging process is currently unknown.

Here we report that during aging, levels of Foxa3 are significantly and selectively

  • up-regulated in brown and inguinal white fat depots, and that
  • midage Foxa3-null mice have increased white fat browning and thermogenic capacity,
  1. decreased adipose tissue expansion,
  2. improved insulin sensitivity, and
  3. increased longevity.

Foxa3 gain-of-function and loss-of-function studies in inguinal adipose depots demonstrated

  • a cell-autonomous function for Foxa3 in white fat tissue browning.

The mechanisms of Foxa3 modulation of brown fat gene programs involve

  • the suppression of peroxisome proliferator activated receptor γ coactivtor 1 α (PGC1α) levels
  • through interference with cAMP responsive element binding protein 1-mediated
  • transcriptional regulation of the PGC1α promoter.

Our data demonstrate a role for Foxa3 in energy expenditure and in age-associated metabolic disorders.

Control of Mitochondrial pH by Uncoupling Protein 4 in Astrocytes Promotes Neuronal Survival

HP Lambert, M Zenger, G Azarias, Jean-Yves Chatton, PJ. Magistretti,§, S Lengacher
JBC (in press) M114.570879  http://www.jbc.org/cgi/doi/10.1074/jbc.M114.570879

Background: Role of uncoupling proteins (UCP) in the brain is unclear.
Results: UCP, present in astrocytes, mediate the intra-mitochondrial acidification leading to a decrease in mitochondrial ATP production.
Conclusion: Astrocyte pH regulation promotes ATP synthesis by glycolysis whose final product, lactate, increases neuronal survival.
Significance: We describe a new role for a brain uncoupling protein.

Brain activity is energetically costly and requires a steady and

  • highly regulated flow of energy equivalents between neural cells.

It is believed that a substantial share of cerebral glucose, the major source of energy of the brain,

  • will preferentially be metabolized in astrocytes via aerobic glycolysis.

The aim of this study was to evaluate whether uncoupling proteins (UCPs),

  • located in the inner membrane of mitochondria,
  • play a role in setting up the metabolic response pattern of astrocytes.

UCPs are believed to mediate the transmembrane transfer of protons

  • resulting in the uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation from ATP production.

UCPs are therefore potentially important regulators of energy fluxes. The main UCP isoforms

  • expressed in the brain are UCP2, UCP4, and UCP5.

We examined in particular the role of UCP4 in neuron-astrocyte metabolic coupling

  • and measured a range of functional metabolic parameters
  • including mitochondrial electrical potential and pH,
  1. reactive oxygen species production,
  2. NAD/NADH ratio,
  3. ATP/ADP ratio,
  4. CO2 and lactate production, and
  5. oxygen consumption rate (OCR).

In brief, we found that UCP4 regulates the intra-mitochondrial pH of astrocytes

  • which acidifies as a consequence of glutamate uptake,
  • with the main consequence of reducing efficiency of mitochondrial ATP production.
  • the diminished ATP production is effectively compensated by enhancement of glycolysis.
  • this non-oxidative production of energy is not associated with deleterious H2O2 production.

We show that astrocytes expressing more UCP4 produced more lactate,

  • used as energy source by neurons, and had the ability to enhance neuronal survival.

Jose Eduardo des Salles Roselino

The problem with genomics was it was set as explanation for everything. In fact, when something is genetic in nature the genomic reasoning works fine. However, this means whenever an inborn error is found and only in this case the genomic knowledge afterwards may indicate what is wrong and not the completely way to put biology upside down by reading everything in the DNA genetic as well as non-genetic problems.

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Summary of Translational Medicine – e-Series A: Cardiovascular Diseases, Volume Four – Part 1

Summary of Translational Medicine – e-Series A: Cardiovascular Diseases, Volume Four – Part 1

Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP


Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


Part 1 of Volume 4 in the e-series A: Cardiovascular Diseases and Translational Medicine, provides a foundation for grasping a rapidly developing surging scientific endeavor that is transcending laboratory hypothesis testing and providing guidelines to:

  • Target genomes and multiple nucleotide sequences involved in either coding or in regulation that might have an impact on complex diseases, not necessarily genetic in nature.
  • Target signaling pathways that are demonstrably maladjusted, activated or suppressed in many common and complex diseases, or in their progression.
  • Enable a reduction in failure due to toxicities in the later stages of clinical drug trials as a result of this science-based understanding.
  • Enable a reduction in complications from the improvement of machanical devices that have already had an impact on the practice of interventional procedures in cardiology, cardiac surgery, and radiological imaging, as well as improving laboratory diagnostics at the molecular level.
  • Enable the discovery of new drugs in the continuing emergence of drug resistance.
  • Enable the construction of critical pathways and better guidelines for patient management based on population outcomes data, that will be critically dependent on computational methods and large data-bases.

What has been presented can be essentially viewed in the following Table:


Summary Table for TM - Part 1

Summary Table for TM – Part 1




There are some developments that deserve additional development:

1. The importance of mitochondrial function in the activity state of the mitochondria in cellular work (combustion) is understood, and impairments of function are identified in diseases of muscle, cardiac contraction, nerve conduction, ion transport, water balance, and the cytoskeleton – beyond the disordered metabolism in cancer.  A more detailed explanation of the energetics that was elucidated based on the electron transport chain might also be in order.

2. The processes that are enabling a more full application of technology to a host of problems in the environment we live in and in disease modification is growing rapidly, and will change the face of medicine and its allied health sciences.


Electron Transport and Bioenergetics

Deferred for metabolomics topic

Synthetic Biology

Introduction to Synthetic Biology and Metabolic Engineering

Kristala L. J. Prather: Part-1    <iBiology > iBioSeminars > Biophysics & Chemical Biology >

http://www.ibiology.org Lecturers generously donate their time to prepare these lectures. The project is funded by NSF and NIGMS, and is supported by the ASCB and HHMI.
Dr. Prather explains that synthetic biology involves applying engineering principles to biological systems to build “biological machines”.

Dr. Prather has received numerous awards both for her innovative research and for excellence in teaching.  Learn more about how Kris became a scientist at
Prather 1: Synthetic Biology and Metabolic Engineering  2/6/14IntroductionLecture Overview In the first part of her lecture, Dr. Prather explains that synthetic biology involves applying engineering principles to biological systems to build “biological machines”. The key material in building these machines is synthetic DNA. Synthetic DNA can be added in different combinations to biological hosts, such as bacteria, turning them into chemical factories that can produce small molecules of choice. In Part 2, Prather describes how her lab used design principles to engineer E. coli that produce glucaric acid from glucose. Glucaric acid is not naturally produced in bacteria, so Prather and her colleagues “bioprospected” enzymes from other organisms and expressed them in E. coli to build the needed enzymatic pathway. Prather walks us through the many steps of optimizing the timing, localization and levels of enzyme expression to produce the greatest yield. Speaker Bio: Kristala Jones Prather received her S.B. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her PhD at the University of California, Berkeley both in chemical engineering. Upon graduation, Prather joined the Merck Research Labs for 4 years before returning to academia. Prather is now an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT and an investigator with the multi-university Synthetic Biology Engineering Reseach Center (SynBERC). Her lab designs and constructs novel synthetic pathways in microorganisms converting them into tiny factories for the production of small molecules. Dr. Prather has received numerous awards both for her innovative research and for excellence in teaching.









II. Regulatory Effects of Mammalian microRNAs

Calcium Cycling in Synthetic and Contractile Phasic or Tonic Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells

Current Basic and Pathological Approaches to
the Function of Muscle Cells and Tissues – From Molecules to HumansLarissa Lipskaia, Isabelle Limon, Regis Bobe and Roger Hajjar
Additional information is available at the end of the chapter
1. Introduction
Calcium ions (Ca ) are present in low concentrations in the cytosol (~100 nM) and in high concentrations (in mM range) in both the extracellular medium and intracellular stores (mainly sarco/endo/plasmic reticulum, SR). This differential allows the calcium ion messenger that carries information
as diverse as contraction, metabolism, apoptosis, proliferation and/or hypertrophic growth. The mechanisms responsible for generating a Ca signal greatly differ from one cell type to another.
In the different types of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC), enormous variations do exist with regard to the mechanisms responsible for generating Ca signal. In each VSMC phenotype (synthetic/proliferating and contractile [1], tonic or phasic), the Ca signaling system is adapted to its particular function and is due to the specific patterns of expression and regulation of Ca.
For instance, in contractile VSMCs, the initiation of contractile events is driven by mem- brane depolarization; and the principal entry-point for extracellular Ca is the voltage-operated L-type calcium channel (LTCC). In contrast, in synthetic/proliferating VSMCs, the principal way-in for extracellular Ca is the store-operated calcium (SOC) channel.
Whatever the cell type, the calcium signal consists of  limited elevations of cytosolic free calcium ions in time and space. The calcium pump, sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca ATPase (SERCA), has a critical role in determining the frequency of SR Ca release by upload into the sarcoplasmic
sensitivity of  SR calcium channels, Ryanodin Receptor, RyR and Inositol tri-Phosphate Receptor, IP3R.
Synthetic VSMCs have a fibroblast appearance, proliferate readily, and synthesize increased levels of various extracellular matrix components, particularly fibronectin, collagen types I and III, and tropoelastin [1].
Contractile VSMCs have a muscle-like or spindle-shaped appearance and well-developed contractile apparatus resulting from the expression and intracellular accumulation of thick and thin muscle filaments [1].
Schematic representation of Calcium Cycling in Contractile and Proliferating VSMCs

Schematic representation of Calcium Cycling in Contractile and Proliferating VSMCs


Figure 1. Schematic representation of Calcium Cycling in Contractile and Proliferating VSMCs.

Left panel: schematic representation of calcium cycling in quiescent /contractile VSMCs. Contractile re-sponse is initiated by extracellular Ca influx due to activation of Receptor Operated Ca (through phosphoinositol-coupled receptor) or to activation of L-Type Calcium channels (through an increase in luminal pressure). Small increase of cytosolic due IP3 binding to IP3R (puff) or RyR activation by LTCC or ROC-dependent Ca influx leads to large SR Ca IP3R or RyR clusters (“Ca -induced Ca SR calcium pumps (both SERCA2a and SERCA2b are expressed in quiescent VSMCs), maintaining high concentration of cytosolic Ca and setting the sensitivity of RyR or IP3R for the next spike.
Contraction of VSMCs occurs during oscillatory Ca transient.
Middle panel: schematic representa tion of atherosclerotic vessel wall. Contractile VSMC are located in the media layer, synthetic VSMC are located in sub-endothelial intima.
Right panel: schematic representation of calcium cycling in quiescent /contractile VSMCs. Agonist binding to phosphoinositol-coupled receptor leads to the activation of IP3R resulting in large increase in cytosolic Ca calcium pumps (only SERCA2b, having low turnover and low affinity to Ca depletion leads to translocation of SR Ca sensor STIM1 towards PM, resulting in extracellular Ca influx though opening of Store Operated Channel (CRAC). Resulted steady state Ca transient is critical for activation of proliferation-related transcription factors ‘NFAT).
Abbreviations: PLC – phospholipase C; PM – plasma membrane; PP2B – Ca /calmodulin-activated protein phosphatase 2B (calcineurin); ROC- receptor activated channel; IP3 – inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate, IP3R – inositol-1,4,5- trisphosphate receptor; RyR – ryanodine receptor; NFAT – nuclear factor of activated T-lymphocytes; VSMC – vascular smooth muscle cells; SERCA – sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca sarcoplasmic reticulum.


Time for New DNA Synthesis and Sequencing Cost Curves

By Rob Carlson

I’ll start with the productivity plot, as this one isn’t new. For a discussion of the substantial performance increase in sequencing compared to Moore’s Law, as well as the difficulty of finding this data, please see this post. If nothing else, keep two features of the plot in mind: 1) the consistency of the pace of Moore’s Law and 2) the inconsistency and pace of sequencing productivity. Illumina appears to be the primary driver, and beneficiary, of improvements in productivity at the moment, especially if you are looking at share prices. It looks like the recently announced NextSeq and Hiseq instruments will provide substantially higher productivities (hand waving, I would say the next datum will come in another order of magnitude higher), but I think I need a bit more data before officially putting another point on the plot.




Illumina’s instruments are now responsible for such a high percentage of sequencing output that the company is effectively setting prices for the entire industry. Illumina is being pushed by competition to increase performance, but this does not necessarily translate into lower prices. It doesn’t behoove Illumina to drop prices at this point, and we won’t see any substantial decrease until a serious competitor shows up and starts threatening Illumina’s market share. The absence of real competition is the primary reason sequencing prices have flattened out over the last couple of data points.

Note that the oligo prices above are for column-based synthesis, and that oligos synthesized on arrays are much less expensive. However, array synthesis comes with the usual caveat that the quality is generally lower, unless you are getting your DNA from Agilent, which probably means you are getting your dsDNA from Gen9.

Note also that the distinction between the price of oligos and the price of double-stranded sDNA is becoming less useful. Whether you are ordering from Life/Thermo or from your local academic facility, the cost of producing oligos is now, in most cases, independent of their length. That’s because the cost of capital (including rent, insurance, labor, etc) is now more significant than the cost of goods. Consequently, the price reflects the cost of capital rather than the cost of goods. Moreover, the cost of the columns, reagents, and shipping tubes is certainly more than the cost of the atoms in the sDNA you are ostensibly paying for. Once you get into longer oligos (substantially larger than 50-mers) this relationship breaks down and the sDNA is more expensive. But, at this point in time, most people aren’t going to use longer oligos to assemble genes unless they have a tricky job that doesn’t work using short oligos.

Looking forward, I suspect oligos aren’t going to get much cheaper unless someone sorts out how to either 1) replace the requisite human labor and thereby reduce the cost of capital, or 2) finally replace the phosphoramidite chemistry that the industry relies upon.

IDT’s gBlocks come at prices that are constant across quite substantial ranges in length. Moreover, part of the decrease in price for these products is embedded in the fact that you are buying smaller chunks of DNA that you then must assemble and integrate into your organism of choice.

Someone who has purchased and assembled an absolutely enormous amount of sDNA over the last decade, suggested that if prices fell by another order of magnitude, he could switch completely to outsourced assembly. This is a potentially interesting “tipping point”. However, what this person really needs is sDNA integrated in a particular way into a particular genome operating in a particular host. The integration and testing of the new genome in the host organism is where most of the cost is. Given the wide variety of emerging applications, and the growing array of hosts/chassis, it isn’t clear that any given technology or firm will be able to provide arbitrary synthetic sequences incorporated into arbitrary hosts.

 TrackBack URL: http://www.synthesis.cc/cgi-bin/mt/mt-t.cgi/397


Startup to Strengthen Synthetic Biology and Regenerative Medicine Industries with Cutting Edge Cell Products

28 Nov 2013 | PR Web

Dr. Jon Rowley and Dr. Uplaksh Kumar, Co-Founders of RoosterBio, Inc., a newly formed biotech startup located in Frederick, are paving the way for even more innovation in the rapidly growing fields of Synthetic Biology and Regenerative Medicine. Synthetic Biology combines engineering principles with basic science to build biological products, including regenerative medicines and cellular therapies. Regenerative medicine is a broad definition for innovative medical therapies that will enable the body to repair, replace, restore and regenerate damaged or diseased cells, tissues and organs. Regenerative therapies that are in clinical trials today may enable repair of damaged heart muscle following heart attack, replacement of skin for burn victims, restoration of movement after spinal cord injury, regeneration of pancreatic tissue for insulin production in diabetics and provide new treatments for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, to name just a few applications.

While the potential of the field is promising, the pace of development has been slow. One main reason for this is that the living cells required for these therapies are cost-prohibitive and not supplied at volumes that support many research and product development efforts. RoosterBio will manufacture large quantities of standardized primary cells at high quality and low cost, which will quicken the pace of scientific discovery and translation to the clinic. “Our goal is to accelerate the development of products that incorporate living cells by providing abundant, affordable and high quality materials to researchers that are developing and commercializing these regenerative technologies” says Dr. Rowley


Life at the Speed of Light


NHMU Lecture featuring – J. Craig Venter, Ph.D.
Founder, Chairman, and CEO – J. Craig Venter Institute; Co-Founder and CEO, Synthetic Genomics Inc.

J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., is Founder, Chairman, and CEO of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JVCI), a not-for-profit, research organization dedicated to human, microbial, plant, synthetic and environmental research. He is also Co-Founder and CEO of Synthetic Genomics Inc. (SGI), a privately-held company dedicated to commercializing genomic-driven solutions to address global needs.

In 1998, Dr. Venter founded Celera Genomics to sequence the human genome using new tools and techniques he and his team developed.  This research culminated with the February 2001 publication of the human genome in the journal, Science. Dr. Venter and his team at JVCI continue to blaze new trails in genomics.  They have sequenced and a created a bacterial cell constructed with synthetic DNA,  putting humankind at the threshold of a new phase of biological research.  Whereas, we could  previously read the genetic code (sequencing genomes), we can now write the genetic code for designing new species.

The science of synthetic genomics will have a profound impact on society, including new methods for chemical and energy production, human health and medical advances, clean water, and new food and nutritional products. One of the most prolific scientists of the 21st century for his numerous pioneering advances in genomics,  he  guides us through this emerging field, detailing its origins, current challenges, and the potential positive advances.

His work on synthetic biology truly embodies the theme of “pushing the boundaries of life.”  Essentially, Venter is seeking to “write the software of life” to create microbes designed by humans rather than only through evolution. The potential benefits and risks of this new technology are enormous. It also requires us to examine, both scientifically and philosophically, the question of “What is life?”

J Craig Venter wants to digitize DNA and transmit the signal to teleport organisms


2013 Genomics: The Era Beyond the Sequencing of the Human Genome: Francis Collins, Craig Venter, Eric Lander, et al.


Human Longevity Inc (HLI) – $70M in Financing of Venter’s New Integrative Omics and Clinical Bioinformatics




Where Will the Century of Biology Lead Us?

By Randall Mayes

A technology trend analyst offers an overview of synthetic biology, its potential applications, obstacles to its development, and prospects for public approval.

  • In addition to boosting the economy, synthetic biology projects currently in development could have profound implications for the future of manufacturing, sustainability, and medicine.
  • Before society can fully reap the benefits of synthetic biology, however, the field requires development and faces a series of hurdles in the process. Do researchers have the scientific know-how and technical capabilities to develop the field?

Biology + Engineering = Synthetic Biology

Bioengineers aim to build synthetic biological systems using compatible standardized parts that behave predictably. Bioengineers synthesize DNA parts—oligonucleotides composed of 50–100 base pairs—which make specialized components that ultimately make a biological system. As biology becomes a true engineering discipline, bioengineers will create genomes using mass-produced modular units similar to the microelectronics and computer industries.

Currently, bioengineering projects cost millions of dollars and take years to develop products. For synthetic biology to become a Schumpeterian revolution, smaller companies will need to be able to afford to use bioengineering concepts for industrial applications. This will require standardized and automated processes.

A major challenge to developing synthetic biology is the complexity of biological systems. When bioengineers assemble synthetic parts, they must prevent cross talk between signals in other biological pathways. Until researchers better understand these undesired interactions that nature has already worked out, applications such as gene therapy will have unwanted side effects. Scientists do not fully understand the effects of environmental and developmental interaction on gene expression. Currently, bioengineers must repeatedly use trial and error to create predictable systems.

Similar to physics, synthetic biology requires the ability to model systems and quantify relationships between variables in biological systems at the molecular level.

The second major challenge to ensuring the success of synthetic biology is the development of enabling technologies. With genomes having billions of nucleotides, this requires fast, powerful, and cost-efficient computers. Moore’s law, named for Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, posits that computing power progresses at a predictable rate and that the number of components in integrated circuits doubles each year until its limits are reached. Since Moore’s prediction, computer power has increased at an exponential rate while pricing has declined.

DNA sequencers and synthesizers are necessary to identify genes and make synthetic DNA sequences. Bioengineer Robert Carlson calculated that the capabilities of DNA sequencers and synthesizers have followed a pattern similar to computing. This pattern, referred to as the Carlson Curve, projects that scientists are approaching the ability to sequence a human genome for $1,000, perhaps in 2020. Carlson calculated that the costs of reading and writing new genes and genomes are falling by a factor of two every 18–24 months. (see recent Carlson comment on requirement to read and write for a variety of limiting  conditions).

Startup to Strengthen Synthetic Biology and Regenerative Medicine Industries with Cutting Edge Cell Products


Synthetic Biology: On Advanced Genome Interpretation for Gene Variants and Pathways: What is the Genetic Base of Atherosclerosis and Loss of Arterial Elasticity with Aging


Synthesizing Synthetic Biology: PLOS Collections


Capturing ten-color ultrasharp images of synthetic DNA structures resembling numerals 0 to 9


Silencing Cancers with Synthetic siRNAs


Genomics Now—and Beyond the Bubble

Futurists have touted the twenty-first century as the century of biology based primarily on the promise of genomics. Medical researchers aim to use variations within genes as biomarkers for diseases, personalized treatments, and drug responses. Currently, we are experiencing a genomics bubble, but with advances in understanding biological complexity and the development of enabling technologies, synthetic biology is reviving optimism in many fields, particularly medicine.

BY MICHAEL BROOKS    17 APR, 2014     http://www.newstatesman.com/

Michael Brooks holds a PhD in quantum physics. He writes a weekly science column for the New Statesman, and his most recent book is The Secret Anarchy of Science.

The basic idea is that we take an organism – a bacterium, say – and re-engineer its genome so that it does something different. You might, for instance, make it ingest carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, process it and excrete crude oil.

That project is still under construction, but others, such as using synthesised DNA for data storage, have already been achieved. As evolution has proved, DNA is an extraordinarily stable medium that can preserve information for millions of years. In 2012, the Harvard geneticist George Church proved its potential by taking a book he had written, encoding it in a synthesised strand of DNA, and then making DNA sequencing machines read it back to him.

When we first started achieving such things it was costly and time-consuming and demanded extraordinary resources, such as those available to the millionaire biologist Craig Venter. Venter’s team spent most of the past two decades and tens of millions of dollars creating the first artificial organism, nicknamed “Synthia”. Using computer programs and robots that process the necessary chemicals, the team rebuilt the genome of the bacterium Mycoplasma mycoides from scratch. They also inserted a few watermarks and puzzles into the DNA sequence, partly as an identifying measure for safety’s sake, but mostly as a publicity stunt.

What they didn’t do was redesign the genome to do anything interesting. When the synthetic genome was inserted into an eviscerated bacterial cell, the new organism behaved exactly the same as its natural counterpart. Nevertheless, that Synthia, as Venter put it at the press conference to announce the research in 2010, was “the first self-replicating species we’ve had on the planet whose parent is a computer” made it a standout achievement.

Today, however, we have entered another era in synthetic biology and Venter faces stiff competition. The Steve Jobs to Venter’s Bill Gates is Jef Boeke, who researches yeast genetics at New York University.

Boeke wanted to redesign the yeast genome so that he could strip out various parts to see what they did. Because it took a private company a year to complete just a small part of the task, at a cost of $50,000, he realised he should go open-source. By teaching an undergraduate course on how to build a genome and teaming up with institutions all over the world, he has assembled a skilled workforce that, tinkering together, has made a synthetic chromosome for baker’s yeast.


Stepping into DIYbio and Synthetic Biology at ScienceHack

Posted April 22, 2014 by Heather McGaw and Kyrie Vala-Webb

We got a crash course on genetics and protein pathways, and then set out to design and build our own pathways using both the “Genomikon: Violacein Factory” kit and Synbiota platform. With Synbiota’s software, we dragged and dropped the enzymes to create the sequence that we were then going to build out. After a process of sketching ideas, mocking up pathways, and writing hypotheses, we were ready to start building!

The night stretched long, and at midnight we were forced to vacate the school. Not quite finished, we loaded our delicate bacteria, incubator, and boxes of gloves onto the bus and headed back to complete our bacterial transformation in one of our hotel rooms. Jammed in between the beds and the mini-fridge, we heat-shocked our bacteria in the hotel ice bucket. It was a surreal moment.

While waiting for our bacteria, we held an “unconference” where we explored bioethics, security and risk related to synthetic biology, 3D printing on Mars, patterns in juggling (with live demonstration!), and even did a Google Hangout with Rob Carlson. Every few hours, we would excitedly check in on our bacteria, looking for bacterial colonies and the purple hue characteristic of violacein.

Most impressive was the wildly successful and seamless integration of a diverse set of people: in a matter of hours, we were transformed from individual experts and practitioners in assorted fields into cohesive and passionate teams of DIY biologists and science hackers. The ability of everyone to connect and learn was a powerful experience, and over the course of just one weekend we were able to challenge each other and grow.

Returning to work on Monday, we were hungry for more. We wanted to find a way to bring the excitement and energy from the weekend into the studio and into the projects we’re working on. It struck us that there are strong parallels between design and DIYbio, and we knew there was an opportunity to bring some of the scientific approaches and curiosity into our studio.



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