Posts Tagged ‘signaling’

Cracking Tumor Defiance

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

Two research groups from Harvard Medical School based at Dana Faber Cancer Institute have discovered a genetic mechanism in a cancer cells that influence whether they respond or resist to immunotherapy drugs, otherwise called as checkpoint inhibitors. The results are published in Science as part of two articles. One article is focused on clinical trial patients with advanced kidney cancer treated with checkpoint inhibitors comes from Eliezer van Allen’s group at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Toni Choueiri group at Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology at Dana Farber. The second articles is focused on identifying the immunotherapy resistance mechanism in melanoma cells comes from Kai Wucherpfennig at Dana-Farber and Shirley Liu at Dana -Farber. The two groups joined on that the resistance to immune checkpoint blockade is critically controlled by changes in a group of proteins that regulate how DNA is packaged in cells. The assortment of proteins, called a chromatin remodeling complex, is known as SWI/SNF. Its components are encoded by different genes, among them ARID2PBRM1 and BRD7. SWI/SNF’s job is to open up stretches of tightly wound DNA so that its blueprints can be read by the cell to activate certain genes to make proteins.

Scientists led by Van Allen and Choueiri wanted a clarification for why some patients with a form of metastatic kidney cancer, clear cell renal carcinoma (ccRCC) gain clinical benefit from treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors that block the PD-1 checkpoint while others patients don’t. The researchers use whole exome DNA sequencing to analyze tumor samples from 35 patients treated in a clinical trial with Opdivo, a checkpoint blocker nivolumab to search for other characteristics of ccRCC tumors that influence immunotherapy response and/or resistance. The scientist discovered that patients from the trial benefited from the immunotherapy treatment with longer survival and progression free survival were those whose tumors lacked a functioning PRBM1 gene. Loss of PRBM1 gene function caused cancer cells to have increased expression of other genes including those in the gene pathway known as IL6/JAK-STAT3, which is involved in immune system stimulation.

When the PBRM1 gene was knocked out in experiments, the melanoma cells became more sensitive to interferon gamma produced by T cells and, in response, produced signaling molecules that recruited more tumor-fighting T cells into the tumor. The two other genes in the PBAF complex—ARID2 and BRD7—are also found mutated in some cancers, according to the researchers, and those cancers, like the melanoma lacking ARID2 function, may also respond better to checkpoint blockade. According to the researchers, finding ways to alter those target molecules “will be important to extend the benefit of immunotherapy to larger patient populations, including cancers that thus far are refractory to immunotherapy.”



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Rhodopsin role in ciliary trafficking

Jillian N Pearring
Department of Ophthalmology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, United States
No competing interests declared

” data-author-inst=”DukeUniversitySchoolofMedicineUnitedStates”>Jillian N Pearring

William J Spencer
Department of Ophthalmology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, United States
No competing interests declared

” data-author-inst=”DukeUniversitySchoolofMedicineUnitedStates”>William J Spencer

Eric C Lieu
Department of Ophthalmology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, United States
No competing interests declared

” data-author-inst=”DukeUniversitySchoolofMedicineUnitedStates”>Eric C Lieu, 

Vadim Y Arshavsky
Department of Ophthalmology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, United States
For correspondence:
No competing interests declared

” data-author-inst=”DukeUniversitySchoolofMedicineUnitedStates”>Vadim Y Arshavsky
eLife 2015;10.7554/eLife.12058

Sensory cilia are populated by a select group of signaling proteins that detect environmental stimuli. How these molecules are delivered to the sensory cilium and whether they rely on one another for specific transport remains poorly understood. Here, we investigated whether the visual pigment, rhodopsin, is critical for delivering other signaling proteins to the sensory cilium of photoreceptor cells, the outer segment. Rhodopsin is the most abundant outer segment protein and its proper transport is essential for formation of this organelle, suggesting that such a dependency might exist. Indeed, we demonstrated that guanylate cyclase-1, producing the cGMP second messenger in photoreceptors, requires rhodopsin for intracellular stability and outer segment delivery. We elucidated this dependency by showing that guanylate cyclase-1 is a novel rhodopsin-binding protein. These findings expand rhodopsin’s role in vision from being a visual pigment and major outer segment building block to directing trafficking of another key signaling protein.


Photoreceptor cells transform information entering the eye as photons into patterns of neuronal electrical activity. This transformation takes place in the sensory cilium organelle, the outer segment. Outer segments are built from a relatively small set of structural and signaling proteins, including components of the classical GPCR phototransduction cascade. Such a distinct functional and morphological specialization allow outer segments to serve as a nearly unmatched model system for studying general principles of GPCR signaling (Arshavsky et al., 2002) and, in more recent years, a model for ciliary trafficking (Garcia-Gonzalo and Reiter, 2012; Nemet et al., 2015; Pearring et al., 2013; Schou et al., 2015; Wang and Deretic, 2014). Despite our deep understanding of visual signal transduction, little is known how the outer segment is populated by proteins performing this function. Indeed, nearly all mechanistic studies of outer segment protein trafficking were devoted to rhodopsin (Nemet et al., 2015; Wang and Deretic, 2014), which is a GPCR visual pigment comprising the majority of the outer segment membrane protein mass (Palczewski, 2006). The mechanisms responsible for outer segment delivery of other transmembrane proteins remain essentially unknown. Some of them contain short outer segment targeting signals, which can be identified through site-specific mutagenesis (Deretic et al., 1998; Li et al., 1996; Pearring et al., 2014; Salinas et al., 2013; Sung et al., 1994; Tam et al., 2000; Tam et al., 2004). A documented exception is retinal guanylate cyclase 1 (GC-1), whose exhaustive mutagenesis did not yield a distinct outer segment targeting motif (Karan et al., 2011).

GC-1 is a critical component of the phototransduction machinery responsible for synthesizing the second messenger, cGMP (Wen et al., 2014). GC-1 is the only guanylate cyclase isoform expressed in the outer segments of cones and the predominant isoform in rods (Baehr et al., 2007; Yang et al., 1999). GC-1 knockout in mice is characterized by severe degeneration of cones and abnormal light-response recovery kinetics in rods (Yang et al., 1999). Furthermore, a very large number of GC-1 mutations found in human patients cause one of the most severe forms of early onset retinal dystrophy, called Leber’s congenital amaurosis (Boye, 2014; Kitiratschky et al., 2008). Many of these mutations are located outside the catalytic site of GC-1, which raises great interest to understanding the mechanisms of its intracellular processing and trafficking.

In this study, we demonstrate that, rather than relying on its own targeting motif, GC-1 is transported to the outer segment in a complex with rhodopsin. We conducted a comprehensive screen of outer segment protein localization in rod photoreceptors of rhodopsin knockout (Rho-/- ) mice and found that GC-1 was the only protein severely affected by this knockout. We next showed that this unique property of GC-1 is explained by its interaction with rhodopsin, which likely initiates in the biosynthetic membranes and supports both intracellular stability and outer segment delivery of this enzyme. These findings explain how GC-1 reaches its specific intracellular destination and also expand the role of rhodopsin in supporting normal vision by showing that it guides trafficking of another key phototransduction protein.


GC-1 is the outer segment-resident protein severely down-regulated in rhodopsin knockout rods

GC-1 stability and trafficking require the transmembrane core of rhodopsin but not its outer 119 segment targeting domain

GC-1 is a rhodopsin-interacting protein


The findings reported in this study expand our understanding of how the photoreceptor’s sensory cilium is populated by its specific membrane proteins. We have found that rhodopsin serves as an interacting partner and a vehicle for ciliary delivery of a key phototransduction protein, GC-1. This previously unknown function adds to the well-established roles of rhodopsin as a GPCR visual pigment and a major building block of photoreceptor membranes. We further showed that GC-1 is unique in its reliance on rhodopsin, as the other nine proteins tested in this study were expressed in significant amounts and faithfully localized to rod outer segments in the absence of rhodopsin.

Our data consolidate a number of previously published observations, including a major puzzle related to GC-1: the lack of a distinct ciliary targeting motif encoded in its sequence. The shortest recombinant fragment of GC-1 which localized specifically to the outer segment was found to be very large and contain both transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains (Karan et al., 2011). Our study shows that GC-1 delivery requires rhodopsin and, therefore, can rely on specific targeting information encoded in the rhodopsin molecule. Interestingly, we also found that this information can be replaced by an alternative ciliary targeting sequence from a GPCR not endogenous to photoreceptors. This suggests that the functions of binding/stabilization of GC-1 and ciliary targeting are performed by different parts of the rhodopsin molecule. Our findings also shed new light on the report that both rhodopsin and GC-1 utilize intraflagellar transport (IFT) for their ciliary trafficking and co-precipitate with IFT proteins (Bhowmick et al., 2009). The authors hypothesized that GC-1 plays a primary role in assembling cargo for the IFT particle bound for ciliary delivery. Our data suggest that it is rhodopsin that drives this complex, at least in photoreceptor cells where these proteins are specifically expressed. Unlike GC-1’s reliance on rhodopsin for its intracellular stability or outer segment trafficking, rhodopsin does not require GC-1 as its expression level and localization remain normal in rods of GC-1 knockout mice ((Baehr et al., 2007) and this study). The outer segment trafficking of cone opsins is not affected by the lack of GC-1 either (Baehr et al., 2007; Karan et al., 2008), although GC-1 knockout cones undergo rapid degeneration, likely because they do not express GC-2 – an enzyme with redundant function. The primary role of rhodopsin in guiding GC-1 to the outer segment is further consistent with rhodopsin directly interacting with IFT20, a mobile component of the IFT complex responsible for recruiting IFT cargo at the Golgi network (Crouse et al., 2014; Keady et al., 2011).

It was also reported that GC-1 trafficking requires participation of chaperone proteins, most importantly DnaJB6 (Bhowmick et al., 2009). Our data suggest that GC-1 interaction with DnaJB6 is transient, most likely in route to the outer segment, since we were not able to co-precipitate DnaJB6 with GC-1 from whole retina lysates (Figure 5). In contrast, the majority of GC-1 co-precipitates with rhodopsin from these same lysates, suggesting that these proteins remain in a complex after being delivered to the outer segment. Although our data do not exclude that the mature GC-1-rhodopsin complex may contain additional protein component(s), our attempts to identify such components by mass spectrometry have not yielded potential candidates.

Interestingly, GC-1 was previously shown to stably express in cell culture where it localizes to either ciliary or intracellular membranes (Bhowmick et al., 2009; Peshenko et al., 2015). This strikes at the difference between the composition of cellular components supporting membrane protein stabilization and transport in cell culture models versus functional photoreceptors. The goal of future experiments is to determine whether these protein localization patterns would be affected by co-expressing GC-1 with rhodopsin, thereby gaining further insight into the underlying intracellular trafficking mechanisms.

Finally, GC-1 trafficking was reported to depend on the small protein, RD3, thought to stabilize both guanylate cyclase isoforms, GC-1 and GC-2, in biosynthetic membranes (Azadi et al., 2010; Zulliger et al., 2015). In the case of GC-1, this stabilization would be complementary to that by rhodopsin and potentially could take place at different stages of GC-1 maturation and trafficking in photoreceptors. Another proposed function of RD3 is to inhibit the activity of guanylate cyclase isoforms outside the outer segment in order to prevent undesirable cGMP synthesis in other cellular compartments (Peshenko et al., 2011a).

In summary, this study explains how GC-1 reaches its intracellular destination without containing a dedicated targeting motif, expands our understanding of the role of rhodopsin in photoreceptor biology and extends the diversity of signaling proteins found in GPCR complexes to a member of the guanylate cyclase family. Provided that the cilium is a critical site of GPCR signaling in numerous cell types (Schou et al., 2015), it would be interesting to learn whether other ciliary GPCRs share rhodopsin’s ability to stabilize and deliver fellow members of their signaling pathways


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Functional Correlates of Signaling Pathways

Functional Correlates of Signaling Pathways

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


We here move on to a number of specific, key published work on signaling, and look at the possible therapeutic applications to disease states.

Scripps Research Professor Wolfram Ruf and colleagues have identified a key connection between

It may be caused by a bacterial infection that enters the bloodstream, but

The acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) has been defined as

ARDS is associated with a high mortality rate and accounts for 100,000 deaths annually in the United States. ARDS may arise in a number of clinical situations, especially in patients with sepsis. A well-described pathophysiological model of ARDS is one form of

  1. neutrophils,
  2. cytokines, and
  3. oxidant stress.

Neutrophils are major effect cells at the frontier of

The tissue injury appears to be related to

In addition, neutrophils can produce cytokines and chemokines that

enhance the acute inflammatory response.

Neutrophil accumulation in the lung plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of acute lung injury during sepsis. Directed movement of neutrophils is

Local lung production of CXC chemokines is intensified during experimental sepsis induced by cecal ligation and puncture (CLP).

Sepsis, Multi-organ Dysfunction Syndrome, and Septic Shock: A Conundrum of Signaling Pathways Cascading Out of Control

Integrins and extracellular matrix in mechanotransduction

ligand binding of integrins

ligand binding of integrins

Integrins are a family of cell surface receptors which

mediate cell–matrix and cell–cell adhesions.

Among other functions they provide an important

mechanical link between the cells external and intracellular environments while

the adhesions that they form also have critical roles in cellular signal-transduction.

Cell–matrix contacts occur at zones in the cell surface where

adhesion receptors cluster and when activated

the receptors bind to ligands in the extracellular matrix.

The extracellular matrix surrounds the cells of tissues and forms the

structural support of tissue which is particularly important in connective tissues.

Cells attach to the extracellular matrix through

specific cell-surface receptors and molecules

including integrins and transmembrane proteoglycans.

The integrin family of αβ heterodimeric receptors act as

cell adhesion molecules

connecting the ECM to the actin cytoskeleton.

The actin cytoskeleton is involved in the regulation of

1.cell motility,

2.cell polarity,

3.cell growth, and

4.cell survival.

The combination of αβ subunits determines

binding specificity and

signaling properties.

Both α and β integrin subunits contain two separate tails, which

penetrate the plasma membrane and possess small cytoplasmic domains which facilitate

the signaling functions of the receptor.

There is some evidence that the β subunit is the principal site for

binding of cytoskeletal and signaling molecules,

whereas the α subunit has a regulatory role. The integrin tails

link the ECM to the actin cytoskeleton within the cell and with cytoplasmic proteins,

such as talin, tensin, and filamin. The extracellular domains of integrin receptors bind the ECM ligands.

binding of integrins depends on ECM divalent cations ch19

binding of integrins depends on ECM divalent cations ch19

integrin coupled to F-actin via linker

integrin coupled to F-actin via linker

Schematic of the ‘focal adhesion clutch’ on stiff (a) versus soft (b) extracellular matrix (ECM). In all cases, integrins are coupled to F-actin via linker proteins (for example, talin and vinculin). The linker proteins move backwards (as indicated by the small arrows) as F-actin also moves backwards, under pushing forces from actin polymerization and/or pulling forces from myosin II activity. This mechanism transfers force from actin to integrins, which pull on the ECM. A stiff ECM (a) resists this force so that the bound integrins remain immobile. A compliant matrix (b) deforms under this force (as indicated by the compressed ECM labelled as deformed matrix) so that the bound integrins can also move backwards. Their movement reduces the net loading rate on all the force-bearing elements, which results in altered cellular responses

The ECM is a complex mixture of matrix molecules, including –

The integrin receptor formed from the binding of α and β subunits is

Most of the contact between the two subunits occurs in the head region, with

Integrin recognition of ligands is not constitutive but

For integrin binding to ligands to occur

Linking integrin conformation to function

Figure  Integrin binding to extracellular matrix (ECM). Conformational changes to integrin structure and clustering of subunits which allow enhanced function of the receptor.

Integrins work alongside other proteins such as


immunoglobulin superfamily

cell adhesion molecules,

selectins, and


to mediate

cell–cell and

cell–matrix interactions and communication.

Activation of adhesion receptors triggers the formation of matrix contacts in which

bound matrix components,

adhesion receptors,

and associated intracellular cytoskeletal and signaling molecules

form large functional, localized multiprotein complexes.

Cell–matrix contacts are important in a variety of different cell and

tissue properties including

1.embryonic development,

2.inflammatory responses,

3.wound healing,

4.and adult tissue homeostasis.

Integrin extracellular binding activity is regulated from inside the cell and binding to the ECM induces signals that are transmitted into the cell. This bidirectional signaling requires


spatially, and

temporally regulated formation and

disassembly of multiprotein complexes that

form around the short cytoplasmic tails of integrins.

Ligand binding to integrin family members leads to clustering of integrin molecules in the plasma membrane and recruitment of actin filaments and intracellular signaling molecules to the cytoplasmic domain of the integrins. This forms focal adhesion complexes which are able to maintain

not only adhesion to the ECM

but are involved in complex signaling pathways

which include establishing

1.cell polarity,

2.directed cell migration, and

3.maintaining cell growth and survival.

Initial activation through integrin adhesion to matrix recruits up to around 50 diverse signaling molecules

to assemble the focal adhesion complex

which is capable of responding to environmental stimuli efficiently.

Mapping of the integrin

adhesome binding and signaling interactions

a network of 156 components linked together which can be modified by 690 interactions.

Genetic programming occurs with the binding of integrins to the ECM

Signal transduction pathway activation arising from integrin-ECM binding results in

Various different effects can arise depending on the

1.cell type,

2.matrix composition, and

3.integrins activated

It has been suggested that integrin-type I collagen interaction is necessary for

During mechanical loading/stimulation of chondrocytes there is an

  1. influx of ions across the cell membrane resulting from
  2. activation of mechanosensitive ion channels
  3. which can be inhibited by subunit-specific anti-integrin blocking antibodies or RGD peptides.

Using these strategies it was identified that

Osteoarthritic chondrocytes show a depolarization response to 0.33 Hz stimulation

The mechanotransduction pathway in chondrocytes derived from normal and osteoarthritic cartilage

Normal and osteoarthritic chondrocytes show differences

Signaling pathways activated in chondrocytes

Signaling pathways activated in chondrocytes

Chondrocyte integrins are important mediators of cell–matrix interactions in cartilage

  1. control cell proliferation,
  2. survival,
  3. differentiation,
  4. matrix remodeling.

Integrins participate in development and maintenance of the tissue but also

Cellular adaptation to mechanical stress: role of integrins, Rho, cytoskeletal tension and mechanosensitive ion channels

Cells exhibited four types of mechanical responses:

(1) an immediate viscoelastic response;

(2) early adaptive behavior characterized by pulse-to-pulse attenuation in response to oscillatory forces;

(3) later adaptive cell stiffening with sustained (>15 second) static stresses; and

(4) a large-scale repositioning response with prolonged (>1 minute) stress.

Importantly, these adaptation responses differed biochemically.

The immediate and early responses were affected by

chemically dissipating cytoskeletal prestress (isometric tension), whereas

the later adaptive response was not.

The repositioning response was prevented by

inhibiting tension through interference with Rho signaling,

similar to the case of the immediate and early responses, but it was also prevented by

blocking mechanosensitive ion channels or

by inhibiting Src tyrosine kinases.

All adaptive responses were suppressed by cooling cells to 4°C to slow biochemical remodeling. Thus, cells use multiple mechanisms to sense and respond to static and dynamic changes in the level of mechanical stress applied to integrins.

Microtubule-Stimulated ADP Release, ATP Binding, and Force Generation In Transport Kinesins

All three classes of molecular motor proteins are now known to be

Both the kinesin family and the myosin family have been defined and their proteins grouped into subfamilies. Finally, the elusive cytoplasmic version of dynein was identified and a multigene family of flagellar and cytoplasmic dyneins defined. Members of a given motor protein family share

This large number of motor proteins may reflect

Kinesins are a large family of microtubule (MT)-based motors that play important roles in many cellular activities including


motility, and

intracellular transport

Their involvement in a range of pathological processes

They are defined by their motor domains that contain both

Three ATP binding motifs—

  1. the P-loop,
  2. switch I,
  3. switch II–

are highly conserved among

  1. kinesins,
  2. myosin motors, and

They share a conserved mode of MT binding such that

are functionally coupled for efficient MT-based work.

The interior of a cell is a hive of activity, filled with

A network of filaments called microtubules forms tracks

Kinesins are one group of motor proteins, and a typical kinesin protein has

The other end links to the cargo being carried, and a ‘neck’ connects the two. When two of these proteins work together,

Although the two kinesins have been thought to move along the microtubule tracks in different ways, Atherton et al. find that the core mechanism used by their motor domains is the same.

When a motor domain binds to the microtubule, its shape changes,

This release makes room for a new ATP molecule to bind. The structural changes caused by ATP binding

The major and largely invariant point of contact between kinesin motor domains and the MT is helix-α4,

The conformational changes in functionally important regions of each motor domain are described,

The nucleotide-binding site (Figure 2) has three major elements:

(1) the P-loop (brown) is visible in all our reconstructions;

(2) loop9 (yellow, contains switch I) undergoes major conformational changes through the ATPase cycle; and

(3) loop11 (red, contains switch II) that connects strand-β7 to helix-α4, the conformation and flexibility of which is

Movement and extension of helix-α6 controls neck linker docking

the N-terminus of helix-α6 is closely associated with elements of the nucleotide binding site suggesting that


Mechanical amplification and force generation involves conformational changes across the motor domain

A key conformational change in the motor domain following Mg-ATP binding is

ATP binding draws loop11 and loop9 closer together; causing

(1) tilting of most of the motor domain not contacting the MT towards the nucleotide-binding site,

(2) rotation, translation, and extension of helix-α6 which we propose contributes to force generation, and

(3) allows neck linker docking and biases movement of the 2nd head towards the MT plus end.

In both motors, microtubule binding promotes

ordered conformations of conserved loops that

stimulate ADP release,

enhance microtubule affinity and

prime the catalytic site for ATP binding.

ATP binding causes only small shifts of these nucleotide-coordinating loops but induces

large conformational changes elsewhere that

allow force generation and

neck linker docking towards the microtubule plus end.

The study presents evidence provide evidence for a conserved ATP-driven

mechanism for kinesins and

reveals the critical mechanistic contribution of the microtubule interface.

Phosphorylation at endothelial cell–cell junctions: Implications for VE-cadherin function

This review summarizes the role of VE-cadherin phosphorylation in the regulation of endothelial cell–cell junctions and highlights how this affects vascular permeability and leukocyte extravasation.

The vascular endothelium is the inner lining of blood vessels and

forms a physical barrier between the vessel lumen and surrounding tissue;

controlling the extravasation of fluids,

plasma proteins and leukocytes.

Changes in the permeability of the endothelium are tightly regulated. Under basal physiological conditions, there is a continuous transfer of substances across the capillary beds. In addition the endothelium can mediate inducible,

transient hyperpermeability

in response to stimulation with inflammatory mediators,

which takes place primarily in post-capillary venules

However, when severe, inflammation may result in dysfunction of the endothelial barrier

Dysregulated permeability is observed in various pathological conditions, such as

Two fundamentally different pathways regulate endothelial permeability,

  1. the transcellular and
  2. paracellular pathways.

Solutes and cells can pass through the body of endothelial cells via the transcellular pathway, which includes

The paracellular route is controlled by

Endothelial cells are connected by

tight, gap and

adherens junctions,

of which the latter, and particularly the adherens junction component,

vascular endothelial (VE)-cadherin,

are of central importance for the initiation and stabilization of cell–cell contacts.

Although multiple adhesion molecules are localized at endothelial junctions,

Like other cadherins, VE-cadherin mediates adhesion via

This cell–cell adhesion

is strengthened by binding of cytoplasmic proteins, the catenins,

to the C-terminus of VE-cadherin.

VE-cadherin can directly bind

Initially, α-catenin was thought to directly anchor cadherins to the actin cytoskeleton, but recently it became clear that

Numerous lines of evidence indicate that p120-catenin

Different models are proposed that describe how

In addition, p120-catenin might regulate VE-cadherin internalization

Cytoplasmic p120-catenin, which is not bound to VE-cadherin, has been shown to

decrease RhoA activity,

elevate active Rac1 and Cdc42, and thereby is thought

to regulate actin cytoskeleton organization and membrane trafficking.

The intact cadherin-catenin complex is required for proper functioning of the adherens junction.

Several mechanisms may be involved in the

  1. endocytosis of the complex,
  2. VE-cadherin cleavage and
  3. actin cytoskeleton reorganization.

The remainder of this review primarily focuses on the

role of tyrosine phosphorylation in the control of VE-cadherin-mediated cell–cell adhesion.

Regulation of the adhesive function of VE-cadherin by tyrosine phosphorylation

It is a widely accepted concept that tyrosine phosphorylation of

A general idea has emerged that

tyrosine phosphorylation of the VE-cadherin complex

leads to the uncoupling of VE-cadherin from the actin cytoskeleton

through dissociation of catenins from the cadherin.

However, tyrosine phosphorylation of VE-cadherin

This suggests that VE-cadherin-mediated cell–cell contacts

1.are not just pushed open by the migrating leukocytes, but play

2.a more active role in the transmigration process.

A schematic overview of leukocyte adhesion-induced signals leading to VE-cadherin phosphorylation

Regulation of the integrity of endothelial cell–cell contacts by phosphorylation of VE-cadherin.

Regulation of the integrity of endothelial cell–cell contacts by phosphorylation of VE-cadherin

Regulation of the integrity of endothelial cell–cell contacts by phosphorylation of VE-cadherin

N-glycosylation status of E-cadherin controls cytoskeletal dynamics through the organization of distinct β-catenin- and γ-catenin-containing AJs

N-glycosylation of E-cadherin has been shown to inhibit cell–cell adhesion.

Specifically, our recent studies have provided evidence that

Here, we examined the details of how

N-glycosylation of E-cadherin affected the molecular organization of AJs and their cytoskeletal interactions.

Using the hypoglycosylated E-cadherin variant, V13, we show that

V13/β-catenin complexes preferentially interacted with PP2A and with the microtubule motor protein dynein.

This correlated with dephosphorylation of the microtubule-associated protein tau, suggesting that

increased association of PP2A with V13-containing AJs promoted their tethering to microtubules.

These studies provide the first mechanistic insights into how N-glycosylation of E-cadherin drives changes in AJ composition through

Cytoskeletal Basis of Ion Channel Function in Cardiac Muscle

MacKinnon. Fig 1  Ion channels exhibit three basic properties

MacKinnon. Fig 1 Ion channels exhibit three basic properties

In order to contract and accommodate the repetitive morphological changes induced by the cardiac cycle, cardiomyocytes

depend on their highly evolved and specialized cytoskeletal apparatus.

Defects in components of the cytoskeleton, in the long term,

affect the ability of the cell to compensate at both functional and structural levels.

In addition to the structural remodeling,

the myocardium becomes increasingly susceptible to altered electrical activity leading to arrhythmogenesis.

The development of arrhythmias secondary to structural remodeling defects has been noted, although the detailed molecular mechanisms are still elusive.

subjects with severe left ventricular chamber dilation such as in DCM can have left bundle branch block (LBBB), while right bundle branch block (RBBB) is more characteristic of right ventricular failure.  LBBB and RBBB have both been repeatedly associated with AV block in heart failure.

The impact of volume overload on structural and electro-cardiographic alterations has been noted in cardiomyopathy patients treated with left ventricular assist device (LVAD) therapy, which puts the heart at mechanical rest.

In LVAD-treated subjects,

QRS- and both QT- and QTc duration decreased,

suggesting that QRS- and QT-duration are significantly influenced by mechanical load and

that the shortening of the action potential duration contributes to the improved contractile performance after LVAD support.

An early postoperative period study after cardiac unloading therapy in 17 HF patients showed that in the first two weeks after LVAD implantation,

HF was associated with a relatively high incidence of ventricular arrhythmias associated with QTc interval prolongation.

In addition, a recent retrospective study of 100 adult patients with advanced HF, treated with an axial-flow HeartMate LVAD suggested that

The myocardium is exposed to severe and continuous biomechanical stress during each contraction-relaxation cycle. When fiber tension remains uncompensated or simply unbalanced,

it may represent a trigger for arrhythmogenesis caused by cytoskeletal stretching,

which ultimately leads to altered ion channel localization, and subsequent action potential and conduction alterations.

Cytoskeletal proteins not only provide the backbone of the cellular structure, but they also

maintain the shape and flexibility of the different sub-cellular compartments, including the

1.plasma membrane,

2.the double lipid layer, which defines the boundaries of the cell and where

ion channels are mainly localized.

The interaction between the sarcomere, which is the basic for the passive force during diastole and for the restoring force during systole.

Sarcomeric Proteins and Ion Channels

besides fiber stretch associated with mechanical and hemodynamic impairment, cytoskeletal alterations due to primary genetic defects or indirectly to alterations in response to cellular injury can potentially

1.affect ion channel anchoring, and trafficking, as well as

2.functional regulation by second messenger pathways,

3.causing an imbalance in cardiac ionic homeostasis that will trigger arrhythmogenesis.

Intense investigation of

the sarcomeric actin network,

the Z-line structure, and

chaperone molecules docking in the plasma membrane,

has shed new light on the molecular basis of

Actin disruption using cytochalasin D, an agent that interferes with actin polymerization, increased Na+ channel activity in 90% of excised patches tested within 2 min, which indicated that

the integrity of the filamentous actin (F-actin) network was essential for the maintenance of normal Na+ channel function

These data were the first to support a role for the cytoskeleton in cardiac arrhythmias.

Molecular interactions between the cytoskeleton and ion channels

The figure illustrates the interactions between the ion channels on the sarcolemma, and the sarcomere in cardiac myocytes. Note that the Z-line is connected to the cardiac T-tubules. The diagram illustrates the complex protein-protein interactions that occur between structural components of the cytoskeleton and ion channels. The cytoskeleton is involved in regulating the metabolism of ion channels, modifying their expression, localization, and electrical properties.

sarcomere structure

sarcomere structure

It is important to be aware of the enormous variety of clinical presentations that derive from distinct variants in the same pool of genetic factors. Knowledge of these variants could facilitate tailoring the therapy of choice for each patient. In particular,

the recent findings of structural and functional links between

the cytoskeleton and ion channels

could expand the therapeutic interventions in

arrhythmia management in structurally abnormal myocardium, where aberrant binding

between cytoskeletal proteins can directly or indirectly alter ion channel function.

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Summary of Signaling and Signaling Pathways

Summary of Signaling and Signaling Pathways

Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

In the imtroduction to this series of discussions I pointed out JEDS Rosalino’s observation about the construction of a complex molecule of acetyl coenzyme A, and the amount of genetic coding that had to go into it.  Furthermore, he observes –  Millions of years later, or as soon as, the information of interaction leading to activity and regulation could be found in RNA, proteins like reverse transcriptase move this information to a more stable form (DNA). In this way it is easier to understand the use of CoA to make two carbon molecules more reactive.



In the tutorial that follows we find support for the view that mechanisms and examples from the current literature, which give insight into the developments in cell metabolism, are achieving a separation from inconsistent views introduced by the classical model of molecular biology and genomics, toward a more functional cellular dynamics that is not dependent on the classic view.  The classical view fits a rigid framework that is to genomics and metabolomics as Mendelian genetics if to multidimentional, multifactorial genetics.  The inherent difficulty lies in two places:

  1. Interactions between differently weighted determinants
  2. A large part of the genome is concerned with regulatory function, not expression of the code

The goal of the tutorial was to achieve an understanding of how cell signaling occurs in a cell.  Completion of the tutorial would provide

  1. a basic understanding signal transduction and
  2. the role of phosphorylation in signal transduction.
Regulation of the integrity of endothelial cell–cell contacts by phosphorylation of VE-cadherin

Regulation of the integrity of endothelial cell–cell contacts by phosphorylation of VE-cadherin

In addition – detailed knowledge of –

  1. the role of Tyrosine kinases and
  2. G protein-coupled receptors in cell signaling.




protein kinase

protein kinase

We are constantly receiving and interpreting signals from our environment, which can come

The cells of our bodies are also

These signals are important to

Signals are most often chemicals that can be found

These chemicals can come

Notch-mediated juxtacrine signal between adjacent cells. 220px-Notchccr

Signaling molecules may trigger any number of cellular responses, including

controlling the output of ribosomes.

controlling the output of ribosomes.

To which I would now add..

The three stages of cell signaling are:

Cell signaling can be divided into 3 stages:

Reception: A cell detects a signaling molecule from the outside of the cell.

Transduction: When the signaling molecule binds the receptor it changes the receptor protein in some way. This change initiates the process of transduction. Signal transduction is usually a pathway of several steps. Each relay molecule in the signal transduction pathway changes the next molecule in the pathway.

Response: Finally, the signal triggers a specific cellular response.

signal transduction

signal transduction

The initiation is depicted as follows:

Signal Transduction – ligand binds to surface receptor

Membrane receptors function by binding the signal molecule (ligand) and causing the production of a second signal (also known as a second messenger) that then causes a cellular response. These types of receptors transmit information from the extracellular environment to the inside of the cell.

Examples of membrane receptors include

Understanding these receptors and identifying their ligands and the resulting signal transduction pathways represent a major conceptual advance.

Understanding these receptors and identifying their ligands and the resulting signal transduction pathways represent a major conceptual advance.

intracellular signaling

intracellular signaling

Intracellular receptors are found inside the cell, either in the cytopolasm or in the nucleus of the target cell (the cell receiving the signal).

Note that though change in gene expression is stated, the change in gene expression does not here imply a change in the genetic information – such as – mutation.  That does not have to be the case in the normal homeostatic case.

This point is the differentiating case between what JEDS Roselino has referred as

  1. a fast, adaptive reaction, that is the feature of protein molecules, and distinguishes this interaction from
  2. a one-to-one transcription of the genetic code.

The rate of transcription can be controlled, or it can be blocked.  This is in large part in response to the metabolites in the immediate interstitium.

This might only be

 Swinging domains in HECT E3 enzymes

Swinging domains in HECT E3 enzymes

Since signaling systems need to be

Signal transduction pathways are shown (simplified):

Signal Transduction

Signal Transduction

Signal transduction occurs when an

  1. extracellular signaling molecule activates a specific receptor located on the cell surface or inside the cell.
  2. In turn, this receptor triggers a biochemical chain of events inside the cell, creating a response.
  3. Depending on the cell, the response alters the cell’s metabolism, shape, gene expression, or ability to divide.
  4. The signal can be amplified at any step. Thus, one signaling molecule can cause many responses.

In 1970, Martin Rodbell examined the effects of glucagon on a rat’s liver cell membrane receptor. He noted that guanosine triphosphate disassociated glucagon from this receptor and stimulated the G-protein, which strongly influenced the cell’s metabolism. Thus, he deduced that the G-protein is a transducer that accepts glucagon molecules and affects the cell. For this, he shared the 1994 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Alfred G. Gilman.

Guanosine monophosphate structure

Guanosine monophosphate structure

In 2007, a total of 48,377 scientific papers—including 11,211 e-review papers—were published on the subject. The term first appeared in a paper’s title in 1979. Widespread use of the term has been traced to a 1980 review article by Rodbell: Research papers focusing on signal transduction first appeared in large numbers in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Signal transduction involves the binding of extracellular signaling molecules and ligands to cell-surface receptors that trigger events inside the cell. The combination of messenger with receptor causes a change in the conformation of the receptor, known as receptor activation.

This activation is always the initial step (the cause) leading to the cell’s ultimate responses (effect) to the messenger. Despite the myriad of these ultimate responses, they are all directly due to changes in particular cell proteins. Intracellular signaling cascades can be started through cell-substratum interactions; examples are the integrin that binds ligands in the extracellular matrix and steroids.



Most steroid hormones have receptors within the cytoplasm and act by stimulating the binding of their receptors to the promoter region of steroid-responsive genes.

steroid hormone receptor

steroid hormone receptor

Various environmental stimuli exist that initiate signal transmission processes in multicellular organisms; examples include photons hitting cells in the retina of the eye, and odorants binding to odorant receptors in the nasal epithelium. Certain microbial molecules, such as viral nucleotides and protein antigens, can elicit an immune system response against invading pathogens mediated by signal transduction processes. This may occur independent of signal transduction stimulation by other molecules, as is the case for the toll-like receptor. It may occur with help from stimulatory molecules located at the cell surface of other cells, as with T-cell receptor signaling. Receptors can be roughly divided into two major classes: intracellular receptors and extracellular receptors.

Signal transduction cascades amplify the signal output

Signal transduction cascades amplify the signal output

Signal transduction cascades amplify the signal output

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are a family of integral transmembrane proteins that possess seven transmembrane domains and are linked to a heterotrimeric G protein. Many receptors are in this family, including adrenergic receptors and chemokine receptors.

Arrestin binding to active GPCR kinase (GRK)-phosphorylated GPCRs blocks G protein coupling

signal transduction pathways

signal transduction pathways

Arrestin binding to active GPCR kinase (GRK)-phosphorylated GPCRs blocks G protein coupling

Arrestin binding to active GPCR kinase (GRK)-phosphorylated GPCRs blocks G protein coupling

Signal transduction by a GPCR begins with an inactive G protein coupled to the receptor; it exists as a heterotrimer consisting of Gα, Gβ, and Gγ. Once the GPCR recognizes a ligand, the conformation of the receptor changes to activate the G protein, causing Gα to bind a molecule of GTP and dissociate from the other two G-protein subunits.

The dissociation exposes sites on the subunits that can interact with other molecules. The activated G protein subunits detach from the receptor and initiate signaling from many downstream effector proteins such as phospholipases and ion channels, the latter permitting the release of second messenger molecules.

Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) are transmembrane proteins with an intracellular kinase domain and an extracellular domain that binds ligands; examples include growth factor receptors such as the insulin receptor.

 insulin receptor and and insulin receptor signaling pathway (IRS)

insulin receptor and and insulin receptor signaling pathway (IRS)

To perform signal transduction, RTKs need to form dimers in the plasma membrane; the dimer is stabilized by ligands binding to the receptor.



The interaction between the cytoplasmic domains stimulates the autophosphorylation of tyrosines within the domains of the RTKs, causing conformational changes.


Subsequent to this, the receptors’ kinase domains are activated, initiating phosphorylation signaling cascades of downstream cytoplasmic molecules that facilitate various cellular processes such as cell differentiation and metabolism.



As is the case with GPCRs, proteins that bind GTP play a major role in signal transduction from the activated RTK into the cell. In this case, the G proteins are

They act as molecular switches usually

Upon activation, they assign proteins to specific membrane subdomains where they participate in signaling. Activated RTKs in turn activate

Once activated, these exchange factors can activate more small G proteins, thus

The mutation of certain RTK genes, as with that of GPCRs, can result in the expression of receptors that exist in a constitutively activate state; such mutated genes may act as oncogenes.





Integrin-mediated signal transduction

An overview of integrin-mediated signal transduction, adapted from Hehlgens et al. (2007).

Integrins are produced by a wide variety of cells; they play a role in

Ligand binding to the extracellular domain of integrins

Integrins lack kinase activity; hence, integrin-mediated signal transduction is achieved through a variety of intracellular protein kinases and adaptor molecules, the main coordinator being integrin-linked kinase.

As shown in the picture, cooperative integrin-RTK signaling determines the

  1. timing of cellular survival,
  2. apoptosis,
  3. proliferation, and
  4. differentiation.
integrin-mediated signal transduction

integrin-mediated signal transduction

Integrin signaling

Integrin signaling

ion channel

A ligand-gated ion channel, upon binding with a ligand, changes conformation

An example of this mechanism is found in the receiving cell of a neural synapse. The influx of ions that occurs in response to the opening of these channels

  1. induces action potentials, such as those that travel along nerves,
  2. by depolarizing the membrane of post-synaptic cells,
  3. resulting in the opening of voltage-gated ion channels.
RyR and Ca+ release from SR

RyR and Ca+ release from SR

An example of an ion allowed into the cell during a ligand-gated ion channel opening is Ca2+;

This results in amplification of the synapse response between synaptic cells

In eukaryotic cells, most intracellular proteins activated by a ligand/receptor interaction possess an enzymatic activity; examples include tyrosine kinase and phosphatases. Some of them create second messengers such as cyclic AMP and IP3,





Many adaptor proteins and enzymes activated as part of signal transduction possess specialized protein domains that bind to specific secondary messenger molecules. For example,

calcium movement and RyR2 receptor

calcium movement and RyR2 receptor

PIP3 and other phosphoinositides do the same thing to the Pleckstrin homology domains of proteins such as the kinase protein AKT.

Signals can be generated within organelles, such as chloroplasts and mitochondria, modulating the nuclear
gene expression in a process called retrograde signaling.

Recently, integrative genomics approaches, in which correlation analysis has been applied on transcript and metabolite profiling data of Arabidopsis thaliana, revealed the identification of metabolites which are putatively acting as mediators of nuclear gene expression.

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  2. Gene Expression and Thiopurine Metabolite Profiling in Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Novel Clues to Drug Targets and Disease Mechanisms? (
  3. Activation of the Jasmonic Acid Plant Defence Pathway Alters the Composition of Rhizosphere

Nutrients 2014, 6, 3245-3258;

Omega-3 (ω-3) fatty acids are one of the two main families of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). The main omega-3 fatty acids in the mammalian body are

Central nervous tissues of vertebrates are characterized by a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. Moreover, in the human brain,

DHA deficiency may be the cause of many disorders such as depression, inability to concentrate, excessive mood swings, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dry skin and so on.

On the other hand,

There are many scientific studies linking zinc, especially

Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are characterized by altered zinc metabolism. Both animal model studies and human cell culture studies have shown a possible link between

Many other studies have also suggested a possible

Therefore, in this review, we will examine

Moreover, we will evaluate the collective understanding of

Epidemiological studies have linked high intake of fish and shellfish as part of the daily diet to

Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the two main families of a broader group of fatty acids referred to as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). The other main family of PUFAs encompasses the omega-6 fatty acids. In general, PUFAs are essential in many biochemical events, especially in early post-natal development processes such as

Despite the significance of these

two families, mammals cannot synthesize PUFA de novo, so they must be ingested from dietary sources. Though belonging to the same family, both

the reverse process can be seen with increased omega-3 fatty acids in the body.

Many other factors, such as

  1. thromboxane A2 (TXA2),
  2. leukotriene
  3. B4 (LTB4),
  4. IL-1,
  5. IL-6,
  6. tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and
  7. C-reactive protein,

which are implicated in various health conditions, have been shown to be increased with high omega-6 fatty acids but decreased with omega-3 fatty acids in the human body.

Dietary fatty acids have been identified as protective factors in coronary heart disease, and PUFA levels are known to play a critical role in

omega-3 fatty acids are known to be vital in

.Since omega-3 fatty acids are prevalent in the nervous system, it seems logical that a deficiency may result in neuronal problems, and this is indeed what has been identified and reported.

The main

In another study conducted with individuals of 65 years of age or older (n = 6158), it was found that

In 2005, based on a meta-analysis of the available epidemiology and preclinical studies, clinical trials were conducted to assess the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on cognitive protection. Four of the trials completed have shown

a protective effect of omega-3 fatty acids only among those with mild cognitive impairment conditions.

A  trial of subjects with mild memory complaints demonstrated

We review key findings on

DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in neural membranes, imparting appropriate

and is thus considered as the most important fatty acid in neuronal studies. DHA is well conserved throughout the mammalian species despite their dietary differences. It is mainly concentrated

In adult rats’ brain, DHA comprises approximately

DHA is believed to have played a major role in the evolution of the modern human –

Premature babies fed on DHA-rich formula show improvements in vocabulary and motor performance.

Analysis of human cadaver brains have shown that

Furthermore, studies in mice have increased support for the

Mice administrated with a dietary intake of DHA showed

Errors in memory were decreased in these mice and they demonstrated

Another study conducted with a Tg2576 mouse model of AD demonstrated that dietary



Zinc is a trace element, which is indispensable for life, and it is the second most abundant trace element in the body. It is known to be related to

and many other cellular functions. Moreover, the indispensability of zinc to the body can be discussed in many other aspects,  as

Approximately 3% of all proteins contain

The broad biological functionality of zinc is thought to be due to its stable chemical and physical properties. Zinc is considered to have three different functions in enzymes;

  1. catalytic,
  2. coactive and

Indeed, it is the only metal found in all six different subclasses

of enzymes. The essential nature of zinc to the human body can be clearly displayed by studying the wide range of pathological effects of zinc deficiency. Anorexia, embryonic and post-natal growth retardation, alopecia, skin lesions, difficulties in wound healing, increased hemorrhage tendency and severe reproductive abnormalities, emotional instability, irritability and depression are just some of the detrimental effects of zinc deficiency.

Proper development and function of the central nervous system (CNS) is highly dependent on zinc levels. In the mammalian organs, zinc is mainly concentrated in the brain at around 150 μm. However, free zinc in the mammalian brain is calculated to be around 10 to 20 nm and the rest exists in either protein-, enzyme- or nucleotide bound form. The brain and zinc relationship is thought to be mediated

Vesicular localization of zinc in pre-synaptic terminals is a characteristic feature of brain-localized zinc, and

Retardation of the growth and development of CNS tissues have been linked to low zinc levels. Peripheral neuropathy, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, anencephalus, epilepsy and Pick’s disease have been linked to zinc deficiency. However, the body cannot tolerate excessive amounts of zinc.

The relationship between zinc and neurodegeneration, specifically AD, has been interpreted in several ways. One study has proposed that β-amyloid has a greater propensity to

Insoluble amyloid is thought to

which is a main pathological feature of AD. Further studies have shown that

In AD, the most prominent injuries are found in

All of these neurons are known to favor

This is thought to promote neuronal cell damage through oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction. Excessive levels of zinc are also capable of

High levels of zinc are found in Alzheimer’s brains indicating a possible zinc related neurodegeneration. A study conducted with mouse neuronal cells has shown that even a 24-h exposure to high levels of zinc (40 μm) is sufficient to degenerate cells.

If the human diet is deficient in zinc, the body

to delay the dietary deficiency effects of zinc. These include reduction of cellular growth rate and zinc excretion levels, and

A novel method of measuring metallothionein (MT) levels was introduced as a biomarker for the

In humans, erythrocyte metallothionein (E-MT) levels may be considered as an indicator of zinc depletion and repletion, as E-MT levels are sensitive to dietary zinc intake. It should be noted here that MT plays an important role in zinc homeostasis by acting

Zinc Transporters

Deficient or excess amounts of zinc in the body can be catastrophic to the integrity of cellular biochemical and biological systems. The gastrointestinal system controls the absorption, excretion and the distribution of zinc, although the hydrophilic and high-charge molecular characteristics of zinc are not favorable for passive diffusion across the cell membranes. Zinc movement is known to occur

These transporters are mainly categorized under two metal transporter families; Zip (ZRT, IRT like proteins) and CDF/ZnT (Cation Diffusion Facilitator), also known as SLC (Solute Linked Carrier) gene families: Zip (SLC-39) and ZnT (SLC-30). More than 20 zinc transporters have been identified and characterized over the last two decades (14 Zips and 8 ZnTs).

Members of the SLC39 family have been identified as the putative facilitators of zinc influx into the cytosol, either from the extracellular environment or from intracellular compartments (Figure 1).

The identification of this transporter family was a result of gene sequencing of known Zip1 protein transporters in plants, yeast and human cells. In contrast to the SLC39 family, the SLC30 family facilitates the opposite process, namely zinc efflux from the cytosol to the extracellular environment or into luminal compartments such as secretory granules, endosomes and synaptic vesicles; thus decreasing intracellular zinc availability (Figure 1). ZnT3 is the most important in the brain where

Figure 1: Subcellular localization and direction of transport of the zinc transporter families, ZnT and ZIP. Arrows show the direction of zinc mobilization for the ZnT (green) and ZIP (red) proteins. A net gain in cytosolic zinc is achieved by the transportation of zinc from the extracellular region and organelles such as the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and Golgi apparatus by the ZIP transporters. Cytosolic zinc is mobilized into early secretory compartments such as the ER and Golgi apparatus by the ZnT transporters. Figures were produced using Servier Medical Art,

Figure 2: Early zinc signaling (EZS) and late zinc signaling (LZS). EZS involves transcription-independent mechanisms where an extracellular stimulus directly induces an increase in zinc levels within several minutes by releasing zinc from intracellular stores (e.g., endoplasmic reticulum). LSZ is induced several hours after an external stimulus and is dependent on transcriptional changes in zinc transporter expression. Components of this figure were produced using Servier Medical Art, and adapted from Fukada et al. [30].

omega-3 fatty acids in the mammalian body are

  1. α-linolenic acid (ALA),
  2. docosahexenoic acid (DHA) and
  3. eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

In general, seafood is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, more specifically DHA and EPA (Table 1). Thus far, there are nine separate epidemiological studies that suggest a possible link between

DHA and Zinc Homeostasis

Many studies have identified possible associations between DHA levels, zinc homeostasis, neuroprotection and neurodegeneration. Dietary DHA deficiency resulted in

Altered zinc metabolism in neuronal cells has been linked to neurodegenerative conditions such as AD. A study conducted with transgenic mice has shown a significant link between ZnT3 transporter levels and cerebral amyloid plaque pathology. When the ZnT3 transporter was silenced in transgenic mice expressing cerebral amyloid plaque pathology,

In addition to the decrease in plaque load, ZnT3 silenced mice also exhibited a significant

Collectively, the findings from this study are very interesting and indicate a clear connection between

thus indicating a possible link to AD.

DHA supplementation has also been reported to limit the following:

  1. amyloid presence,
  2. synaptic marker loss,
  3. hyper-phosphorylation of Tau,
  4. oxidative damage and
  5. cognitive deficits in transgenic mouse model of AD.

In addition, studies by Stoltenberg, Flinn and colleagues report on the modulation of zinc and the effect in transgenic mouse models of AD. Given that all of these are classic pathological features of AD, and considering the limiting nature of DHA in these processes, it can be argued that DHA is a key candidate in preventing or even curing this debilitating disease.

In order to better understand the possible links and pathways of zinc and DHA with neurodegeneration, we designed a study that incorporates all three of these aspects, to study their effects at the cellular level. In this study, we were able to demonstrate a possible link between omega-3 fatty acid (DHA) concentration, zinc availability and zinc transporter expression levels in cultured human neuronal cells.

When treated with DHA over 48 h, ZnT3 levels were markedly reduced in the human neuroblastoma M17 cell line. Moreover, in the same study, we were able to propose a possible

which we believe is exerted through

DHA supplemented M17 cells also showed a marked depletion of zinc uptake (up to 30%), and

This reduction in free zinc availability was specific to DHA; cells treated with EPA had no significant change in free zinc levels (unpublished data). Moreover, DHA-repleted cells had

These findings are consistent with previous published data and further strengthen the possible

On the other hand, recent studies using ZnT3 knockout (ZnT3KO) mice have shown the importance of

For example, Sindreu and colleagues have used ZnT3KO mice to establish the important role of

Results from these studies indicate a possible zinc-transporter-expression-level-dependent mechanism for DHA neuroprotection.

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Introduction to Signaling

Introduction to Signaling

Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP


We have laid down a basic structure and foundation for the remaining presentations.  It was essential to begin with the genome, which changed the course of teaching of biology and medicine in the 20th century, and introduced a central dogma of translation by transcription.  Nevertheless, there were significant inconsistencies and unanswered questions entering the twenty first century, accompanied by vast improvements in technical advances to clarify these issues. We have covered carbohydrate, protein, and lipid metabolism, which function in concert with the development of cellular structure, organ system development, and physiology.  To be sure, the progress in the study of the microscopic and particulate can’t be divorced from the observation of the whole.  We were left in the not so distant past with the impression of the Sufi story of the elephant and the three blind men, who one at a time held the tail, the trunk, and the ear, each proclaiming that it was the elephant.

I introduce here a story from the Brazilian biochemist, Jose

Eduardo des Salles Rosalino, on a formativr experience he had with the Nobelist, Luis Leloir.

Just at the beginning, when phosphorylation of proteins is presented, I assume you must mention that some proteins are activated by phosphorylation. This is fundamental in order to present self –organization reflex upon fast regulatory mechanisms. Even from an historical point of view. The first observation arrived from a sample due to be studied on the following day of glycogen synthetase. It was unintended left overnight out of the refrigerator. The result was it has changed from active form of the previous day to a non-active form. The story could have being finished here, if the researcher did not decide to spent this day increasing substrate levels (it could be a simple case of denaturation of proteins that changes its conformation despite the same order of amino acids). He kept on trying and found restoration of maximal activity. This assay was repeated with glycogen phosphorylase and the result was the opposite – it increases its activity. This led to the discovery

Instead, it has several proteins assembled and

I did everything I was able to do by the end of 1970 in order to repeat the assays with PK I, PKII and PKIII of M. Rouxii and using the Sutherland route to cAMP failed in this case. I then asked Leloir to suggest to my chief (SP) the idea of AA, AB, BB subunits as was observed in lactic dehydrogenase (tetramer) indicating this as his idea. The reason was my “chief”(SP) more than once, had said to me: “Leave these great ideas for the Houssay, Leloir etc…We must do our career with small things.” However, as she also had a faulty ability for recollection she also used to arrive some time later, with the very same idea but in that case, as her idea.
Leloir, said to me: I will not offer your interpretation to her as mine. I think it is not phosphorylation, however I think it is glycosylation that explains the changes in the isoenzymes with the same molecular weight preserved. This dialogue explains why during the reading and discussing “What is life” with him he asked me if as a biochemist in exile, talking to another biochemist, I expressed myself fully. I had considered that Schrödinger would not have confronted Darlington & Haldane because he was in U.K. in exile. This might explain why Leloir could have answered a bad telephone call from P. Boyer, Editor of The Enzymes, in a way that suggested that the pattern could be of covalent changes over a protein. Our FEBS and Eur J. Biochemistry papers on pyruvate kinase of M. Rouxii is wrongly quoted in this way on his review about pyruvate kinase of that year (1971).


Another aspect I think you must call attention to the following. Show in detail with different colors what carbons belongs to CoA, a huge molecule in comparison with the single two carbons of acetate that will produce the enormous jump in energy yield

The idea is

Very limited aspects of biology could be explained in this way. In case we follow an alternative way of thinking, it becomes clearer that proteins were made more stable by interaction with other molecules (great and small). Afterwards, it’s rather easy to understand how the stability of protein-RNA complexes where transmitted to RNA (vibrational +solvational reactivity stability pair of conformational energy).

Millions of years later, or as soon as, the information of interaction leading to activity and regulation could be found in RNA, proteins like reverse transcriptase move this information to a more stable form (DNA). In this way it is easier to understand the use of CoA to make two carbon molecules more reactive.

The discussions that follow are concerned with protein interactions and signaling.

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Preface to Metabolomics as a Discipline in Medicine

Preface to Metabolomics as a Discipline in Medicine

Author: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP


The family of ‘omics fields has rapidly outpaced its siblings over the decade since
the completion of the Human Genome Project.  It has derived much benefit from
the development of Proteomics, which has recently completed a first draft of the
human proteome.  Since genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics, have matured
considerably, it has become apparent that the search for a driver or drivers of cellular signaling and metabolic pathways could not depend on a full clarity of the genome. There have been unresolved issues, that are not solely comprehended from assumptions about mutations.

The most common diseases affecting mankind are derangements in metabolic
pathways, develop at specific ages periods, and often in adulthood or in the
geriatric period, and are at the intersection of signaling pathways.  Moreover,
the organs involved and systemic features are heavily influenced by physical
activity, and by the air we breathe and the water we drink.

The emergence of the new science is also driven by a large body of work
on protein structure, mechanisms of enzyme action, the modulation of gene
expression, the pH dependent effects on protein binding and conformation.
Beyond what has just been said, a significant portion of DNA has been
designated as “dark matter”. It turns out to have enormous importance in
gene regulation, even though it is not transcriptional, effected in a
modulatory way by “noncoding RNAs.  Metabolomics is the comprehensive
analysis of small molecule metabolites. These might be substrates of
sequenced enzyme reactions, or they might be “inhibiting” RNAs just
mentioned.  In either case, they occur in the substructures of the cell
called organelles, the cytoplasm, and in the cytoskeleton.

The reactions are orchestrated, and they can be modified with respect to
the flow of metabolites based on pH, temperature, membrane structural
modifications, and modulators.  Since most metabolites are generated by
enzymatic proteins that result from gene expression, and metabolites give
organisms their biochemical characteristics, the metabolome links
genotype with phenotype.

Metabolomics is still developing, and the continued development has
relied on two major events. The first is chromatographic separation and
mass  spectroscopy (MS), MS/MS, as well as advances in fluorescence
ultrasensitive optical photonic methods, and the second, as crucial,
is the developments in computational biology. The continuation of
this trend brings expectations of an impact on pharmaceutical and
on neutraceutical developments, which will have an impact on medical
practice. What has lagged behind, and may continue to contribute to the
lag is the failure to develop a suitable electronic medical record to
assist the physician in decisions confronted with so much as yet,
hidden data, the ready availability of which could guide more effective
diagnosis and management of the patient. Put all of this together, and
we can meet series challenges as the research community
interprets and integrates the complex data they are acquiring.


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Metabolomics Summary and Perspective

Metabolomics Summary and Perspective

Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP 


This is the final article in a robust series on metabolism, metabolomics, and  the “-OMICS-“ biological synthesis that is creating a more holistic and interoperable view of natural sciences, including the biological disciplines, climate science, physics, chemistry, toxicology, pharmacology, and pathophysiology with as yet unforeseen consequences.

There have been impressive advances already in the research into developmental biology, plant sciences, microbiology, mycology, and human diseases, most notably, cancer, metabolic , and infectious, as well as neurodegenerative diseases.


I write this article in honor of my first mentor, Harry Maisel, Professor and Emeritus Chairman of Anatomy, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI and to my stimulating mentors, students, fellows, and associates over many years:

Masahiro Chiga, MD, PhD, Averill A Liebow, MD, Nathan O Kaplan, PhD, Johannes Everse, PhD, Norio Shioura, PhD, Abraham Braude, MD, Percy J Russell, PhD, Debby Peters, Walter D Foster, PhD, Herschel Sidransky, MD, Sherman Bloom, MD, Matthew Grisham, PhD, Christos Tsokos, PhD,  IJ Good, PhD, Distinguished Professor, Raool Banagale, MD, Gustavo Reynoso, MD,Gustave Davis, MD, Marguerite M Pinto, MD, Walter Pleban, MD, Marion Feietelson-Winkler, RD, PhD,  John Adan,MD, Joseph Babb, MD, Stuart Zarich, MD,  Inder Mayall, MD, A Qamar, MD, Yves Ingenbleek, MD, PhD, Emeritus Professor, Bette Seamonds, PhD, Larry Kaplan, PhD, Pauline Y Lau, PhD, Gil David, PhD, Ronald Coifman, PhD, Emeritus Professor, Linda Brugler, RD, MBA, James Rucinski, MD, Gitta Pancer, Ester Engelman, Farhana Hoque, Mohammed Alam, Michael Zions, William Fleischman, MD, Salman Haq, MD, Jerard Kneifati-Hayek, Madeleine Schleffer, John F Heitner, MD, Arun Devakonda,MD, Liziamma George,MD, Suhail Raoof, MD, Charles Oribabor,MD, Anthony Tortolani, MD, Prof and Chairman, JRDS Rosalino, PhD, Aviva Lev Ari, PhD, RN, Rosser Rudolph, MD, PhD, Eugene Rypka, PhD, Jay Magidson, PhD, Izaak Mayzlin, PhD, Maurice Bernstein, PhD, Richard Bing, Eli Kaplan, PhD, Maurice Bernstein, PhD.

This article has EIGHT parts, as follows:

Part 1

Metabolomics Continues Auspicious Climb

Part 2

Biologists Find ‘Missing Link’ in the Production of Protein Factories in Cells

Part 3


Part 4

Cancer Research

Part 5

Metabolic Syndrome

Part 6


Part 7

Epigenetics and Drug Metabolism

Part 8


genome cartoon

genome cartoon

 iron metabolism

iron metabolism

personalized reference range within population range

personalized reference range within population range

Part 1.  MetabolomicsSurge

metagraph  _OMICS

metagraph _OMICS

Metabolomics Continues Auspicious Climb

Jeffery Herman, Ph.D.
GEN May 1, 2012 (Vol. 32, No. 9)

Aberrant biochemical and metabolite signaling plays an important role in

This concept has been studied by the science community for decades. However, with relatively

  1. recent advances in analytical technology and bioinformatics as well as
  2. the development of the Human Metabolome Database (HMDB),

metabolomics has become an invaluable field of research.

At the “International Conference and Exhibition on Metabolomics & Systems Biology” held recently in San Francisco, researchers and industry leaders discussed how

  1. a specific disease state,
  2. toxin exposure, or
  3. pharmaceutical compound

Developed by BASF, MetaMap® Tox is

  1. targeted organs,
  2. mechanism of action, and
  3. adverse events.

Based on 28-day systemic rat toxicity studies, MetaMap Tox is composed of

“Using the reference data,

said Hennicke Kamp, Ph.D., group leader, department of experimental toxicology and ecology at BASF.

With MetaMap Tox, a potential drug candidate

“MetaMap Tox, in the context of early pre-clinical safety enablement in pharmaceutical development,” continued Dr. Kamp,

Dr. Kamp added that this technology may prove invaluable

  1. on the safety and efficacy of compounds
  2. during early and preclinical toxicological studies,
  3. by comparing a lead compound to a variety of molecular derivatives, and
Dynamic Construct of the –Omics

Dynamic Construct of the –Omics

Targeted Tandem Mass Spectrometry

Biocrates Life Sciences focuses on targeted metabolomics, an important approach for

Originally used for the clinical screening of inherent metabolic disorders from dried blood-spots of newborn children, Biocrates has developed

  1. the identification,
  2. quantification, and
  3. mapping of more than 800 metabolites to specific cellular pathways.

It is based on flow injection analysis and high-performance liquid chromatography MS/MS.

Clarification of Pathway-Specific Inhibition by Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance.Mass Spectrometry-Based Metabolic Phenotyping Studies F5.large

common drug targets

common drug targets

The MetaDisIDQ® Kit is a

MetaDisIDQ is designed to quantify

This kit has been demonstrated to detect changes in metabolites that are commonly associated with the development of

Dr. Dallman reports that data generated with the MetaDisIDQ kit correlates strongly with

Biocrates has also developed the MS/MS-based AbsoluteIDQ® kits, which are

The kit functions on MS machines from a variety of vendors, and allows for the quantification of 150-180 metabolites.

The SteroIDQ® kit is a high-throughput standardized MS/MS diagnostic assay,

Initially focusing on the analysis of steroid ranges for use in hormone replacement therapy, the SteroIDQ Kit is expected to have a wide clinical application.

Hormone-Resistant Breast Cancer

Scientists at Georgetown University have shown that

To grow, cells need energy, and energy is a product of cellular metabolism. For nearly a century, it was thought that

  1. the uncoupling of glycolysis from the mitochondria,
  2. leading to the inefficient but rapid metabolism of glucose and
  3. the formation of lactic acid (the Warburg effect), was

the major and only metabolism driving force for unchecked proliferation and tumorigenesis of cancer cells.

Other aspects of metabolism were often overlooked.

“.. we understand now that

said Robert Clarke, Ph.D., professor of oncology and physiology and biophysics at Georgetown University. Dr. Clarke, in collaboration with the Waters Center for Innovation at Georgetown University (led by Albert J. Fornace, Jr., M.D.), obtained

They demonstrated that breast cancer cells, through a rather complex and not yet completely understood process,

  1. can functionally coordinate cell-survival and cell-proliferation mechanisms,
  2. while maintaining a certain degree of cellular metabolism.

This is at least partly accomplished through the upregulation of important pro-survival mechanisms; including

Normally, during a stressful situation, a cell may

if the stress is too great,

By integrating cell-survival mechanisms and cellular metabolism

This adaptation allows cells

With further research, we can gain a better understanding of the underlying causes of hormone-resistant breast cancer, with


Over the last two decades, NMR has established itself as a major tool for metabolomics analysis. It is especially adept at testing biological fluids. [Bruker BioSpin]

Historically, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) has been used for structural elucidation of pure molecular compounds. However, in the last two decades, NMR has established itself as a major tool for metabolomics analysis. Since

“the simultaneous quantification of compounds is possible

NMR is adept at testing biological fluids because of

  1.  high reproducibility,
  2. standardized protocols,
  3. low sample manipulation, and
  4. the production of a large subset of data,

Bruker BioSpin is presently involved in a project for the screening of inborn errors of metabolism in newborn children from Turkey, based on their urine NMR profiles. More than 20 clinics are participating to the project that is coordinated by INFAI, a specialist in the transfer of advanced analytical technology into medical diagnostics. The construction of statistical models are being developed

Bruker BioSpin recently installed high-resolution magic angle spinning NMR (HRMAS-NMR) systems that can rapidly analyze tissue biopsies. The main objective for HRMAS-NMR is to establish a rapid and effective clinical method to assess tumor grade and other important aspects of cancer during surgery.

Combined NMR and Mass Spec

There is increasing interest in combining NMR and MS, two of the main analytical assays in metabolomic research, as a means


Using combined NMR and MS to measure the levels of nearly 250 separate metabolites in the patient’s blood, Dr. Weljie and other researchers at the University of Calgary were able to rapidly determine the malignancy of a  pancreatic lesion (in 10–15% of the cases, it is difficult to discern between benign and malignant), while avoiding unnecessary surgery in patients with benign lesions.

When performing NMR and MS on a single biological fluid, ultimately “we are,” noted Dr. Weljie,

  1. “splitting up information content, processing, and introducing a lot of background noise and error and
  2. then trying to reintegrate the data…
    It’s like taking a complex item, with multiple pieces, out of an IKEA box and trying to repackage it perfectly into another box.”

By improving the workflow between the initial splitting of the sample, they improved endpoint data integration, proving that

Metabolomics Research Picks Up Speed

Field Advances in Quest to Improve Disease Diagnosis and Predict Drug Response

John Morrow Jr., Ph.D.
GEN May 1, 2011 (Vol. 31, No. 9)

As an important discipline within systems biology, metabolomics is being explored by a number of laboratories for

Studying metabolites can offer insights into the relationships between genotype and phenotype, as well as between genotype and environment. In addition, there is plenty to work with—there are estimated to be some 2,900 detectable metabolites in the human body, of which

  1. 309 have been identified in cerebrospinal fluid,
  2. 1,122 in serum,
  3. 458 in urine, and
  4. roughly 300 in other compartments.

Guowang Xu, Ph.D., a researcher at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics.  is investigating the causes of death in China,

Dr. Xu,  collaborating with Rainer Lehman, Ph.D., of the University of Tübingen, Germany, compared urinary metabolites in samples from healthy individuals with samples taken from prediabetic, insulin-resistant subjects. Using mass spectrometry coupled with electrospray ionization in the positive mode, they observed striking dissimilarities in levels of various metabolites in the two groups.

“When we performed a comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography, time-of-flight mass spectrometry analysis of our samples, we observed several metabolites, including

In other, unrelated studies, Dr. Xu and the German researchers used a metabolomics approach to investigate the changes in plasma metabolite profiles immediately after exercise and following a 3-hour and 24-hour period of recovery. They found that

Dr. Xu says. “The traditional approach of assessment based on a singular biomarker is being superseded by the introduction of multiple marker profiles.”

Typical of the studies under way by Dr. Kaddurah-Daouk and her colleaguesat Duke University

“These results allow us to pinpoint a possible

These discoveries give us the tools for prognostics and diagnostics so that

“This approach to defining health or disease in terms of metabolic states opens a whole new paradigm.

By screening hundreds of thousands of molecules, we can understand

Dr. Kaddurah-Daouk talks about statins as a current

It is now known that the statins  have widespread effects, altering a range of metabolites. To sort out these changes and develop recommendations for which individuals should be receiving statins will require substantial investments of energy and resources into defining the complex web of biochemical changes that these drugs initiate.
Furthermore, Dr. Kaddurah-Daouk asserts that,

One needs to take into account the

Interactive Metabolomics

Researchers at the University of Nottingham use diffusion-edited nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to assess the effects of a biological matrix on metabolites. Diffusion-edited NMR experiments provide a way to

The measurements are carried out by observing

Clare Daykin, Ph.D., is a lecturer at the University of Nottingham, U.K. Her field of investigation encompasses “interactive metabolomics,”which she defines as

“the study of the interactions between low molecular weight biochemicals and macromolecules in biological samples ..

“Blood plasma is a heterogeneous mixture of molecules that

  1. undergo a variety of interactions including metal complexation,
  2. chemical exchange processes,
  3. micellar compartmentation,
  4. enzyme-mediated biotransformations, and
  5. small molecule–macromolecular binding.”

Many low molecular weight compounds can exist

Therefore, quantitative comparison of plasma composition from

“It is not simply the concentrations of metabolites that must be investigated,

Rather than targeting specific metabolites of interest, Dr. Daykin’s metabolite–protein binding studies aim to study

Such activities can be studied through the use of diffusion-edited nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, in which one can assess

“This can lead to a more relevant and exact interpretation

Diffusion-edited NMR experiments provide a way to separate the different compounds in a mixture based on

The measurements are carried out by observing

Pushing the Limits

It is widely recognized that many drug candidates fail during development due to ancillary toxicity. Uwe Sauer, Ph.D., professor, and Nicola Zamboni, Ph.D., researcher, both at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, Zürich (ETH Zürich), are applying

“Since metabolism is at the core of drug toxicity, we developed a platform for

Using this approach, Dr. Sauer’s team focused on

Screening approximately 41 drugs that were administered at seven concentrations over three orders of magnitude, they observed changes in metabolome patterns at much lower drug concentrations without attendant physiological toxicity.

The group carried out statistical modeling of about

This data allowed the construction of a “profile effect map” in which

Dr. Sauer says.“We have found that this approach is

“Some drugs, including many anticancer agents,

killing cancer cells

killing cancer cells

Furthermore, they used the principle of 13C-based flux analysis, in which

These 13C-determined intracellular responses of metabolic fluxes to drug treatment demonstrate

conformational changes leading to substrate efflux.

conformational changes leading to substrate efflux.

leading Dr. Sauer to the conclusion that

Dr. Sauer is confident that it will be possible to expand the scope of these investigations to hundreds of thousands of samples per study. This will allow answers to the questions of

Is Now the Hour?

There is great enthusiasm and agitation within the biotech community for

that has accumulated in the last decade.

While the concept clearly makes sense and is being widely applied today, there are many reasons why drugs fail in development, and metabolomics will not be a panacea for resolving all of these questions. It is too early at this point to recognize a trend or a track record, and it will take some time to see how this approach can aid in drug discovery and shorten the timeline for the introduction of new pharmaceutical agents.

Degree of binding correlated with function

Degree of binding correlated with function



Part 2.  Biologists Find ‘Missing Link’ in the Production of Protein Factories in Cells

Biologists at UC San Diego have found

—the thousands of protein “factories” contained within each cell that

‘Missing Link’

‘Missing Link’

Their discovery, detailed in the June 23 issue of the journal Genes & Development, will not only force

Ribosomes are responsible for the production of the wide variety of proteins that include

  1. enzymes;
  2. structural molecules, such as hair,
  3. skin and bones;
  4. hormones like insulin; and
  5. components of our immune system such as antibodies.

Regarded as life’s most important molecular machine, ribosomes have been intensively studied by scientists (the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, for example, was awarded for studies of its structure and function). But until now researchers had not uncovered all of the details of how the proteins that are used to construct ribosomes are themselves produced.

In multicellular animals such as humans,

In 1969, scientists discovered that

But until now, scientists were unsure if a complementary system was also responsible for

That’s essentially what the UC San Diego researchers headed by Jim Kadonaga, a professor of biology, set out to examine. What they found was the missing link—the specialized

Kadonaga says that he and coworkers found that ribosomal proteins are synthesized via

“For the production of most proteins,

  1. RNA polymerase II functions with
  2. a factor termed TBP,
  3. but for the synthesis of ribosomal proteins, it uses TRF2.”

“it should lead to a better understanding and potential treatment of diseases such as cancer.”

Coordination of the transcriptome and metabolome

Coordination of the transcriptome and metabolome

the potential advantages conferred by distal-site protein synthesis

the potential advantages conferred by distal-site protein synthesis

Other authors of the paper were UC San Diego biologists Yuan-Liang Wang, Sascha Duttke and George Kassavetis, and Kai Chen, Jeff Johnston, and Julia Zeitlinger of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Missouri. Their research was supported by two grants from the National Institutes of Health (1DP2OD004561-01 and R01 GM041249).

Turning Off a Powerful Cancer Protein

Scientists have discovered how to shut down a master regulatory transcription factor that is

The protein, Bcl6, has long been considered too complex to target with a drug since it is also crucial

The researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College report that it is possible

If Bcl6 is completely inhibited, patients might suffer from systemic inflammation and atherosclerosis. The team conducted this new study to help clarify possible risks, as well as to understand

The findings in this study were inspired from

These experimental drugs are

“This means the drugs we have developed against Bcl6 are more likely to be

says Ari Melnick, M.D., professor of hematology/oncology and a hematologist-oncologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Dr. Melnick says the discovery that

Recent studies from Dr. Melnick and others have revealed that

Bcl6 can control the type of immune cell that develops in the bone marrow—playing many roles

According to Dr. Melnick, “When cells lose control of Bcl6,

Lymphomas are ‘addicted’ to Bcl6, and therefore

The big surprise in the current study is that rather than functioning as a single molecular machine,

This multifunction paradigm could represent a general model for the functioning of other master regulatory transcription factors.

“In this analogy, the Swiss Army knife, or transcription factor, keeps most of its tools folded,

He makes the following analogy:

“this means that you only need to prevent the master regulator from using certain tools to treat cancer. You don’t need to eliminate the whole knife,” . “In fact, we show that taking out the whole knife is harmful since

Prior to these study results, it was not known that a master regulator could separate its functions so precisely. Researchers hope this will be a major benefit to the treatment of DLBCL and perhaps other disorders that are influenced by Bcl6 and other master regulatory transcription factors.

The study is published in the journal Nature Immunology, in a paper titled “Lineage-specific functions of Bcl-6 in immunity and inflammation are mediated by distinct biochemical mechanisms”.

Part 3. Neuroscience

Vesicles influence function of nerve cells 
Oct, 06 2014        source:

Neurons (blue) which have absorbed exosomes (green) have increased levels of the enzyme catalase (red), which helps protect them against peroxides.

Neurons (blue) which have absorbed exosomes (green) have increased levels of the enzyme catalase (red), which helps protect them against peroxides.

Neurons (blue) which have absorbed exosomes (green) have increased levels of the enzyme catalase (red), which helps protect them against peroxides.

Tiny vesicles containing protective substances

As cell biologists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have discovered,

These vesicles, called exosomes, appear to stimulate the neurons on various levels:

Exosomes are thus multifunctional signal emitters



The researchers in Mainz already observed in a previous study that

Oligodendrocytes, a type of glial cell, form an

The exosomes transport protective proteins such as

“As we have now discovered in cell cultures, exosomes seem to have a whole range of functions,” explained Dr. Eva-Maria Krmer-Albers. By means of their transmission activity, the small bubbles that are the vesicles

“The extent of activities of the exosomes is impressive,” added Krmer-Albers. The researchers hope that the understanding of these processes will contribute to the development of new strategies for the treatment of neuronal diseases. Their next aim is to uncover how vesicles actually function in the brains of living organisms.

The above story is based on materials provided by Universitt Mainz.

Universitt Mainz. “Vesicles influence function of nerve cells.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 October 2014.

Neuroscientists use snail research to help explain “chemo brain”

It is estimated that as many as half of patients taking cancer drugs experience a decrease in mental sharpness. While there have been many theories, what causes “chemo brain” has eluded scientists.

In an effort to solve this mystery, neuroscientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) conducted an experiment in an animal memory model and their results point to a possible explanation. Findings appeared in The Journal of Neuroscience.

In the study involving a sea snail that shares many of the same memory mechanisms as humans and a drug used to treat a variety of cancers, the scientists identified

Then, they were able to counteract or

“Our research has implications in the care of people given to cognitive deficits following drug treatment for cancer,” said John H. “Jack” Byrne, Ph.D., senior author, holder of the June and Virgil Waggoner Chair and Chairman of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the UTHealth Medical School. “There is no satisfactory treatment at this time.”

Byrne’s laboratory is known for its use of a large snail called Aplysia californica to further the understanding of the biochemical signaling among nerve cells (neurons).  The snails have large neurons that relay information much like those in humans.

When Byrne’s team compared cell cultures taken from normal snails to

the investigators pinpointed a neuronal pathway

With the aid of an experimental drug,

Unfortunately, this drug would not be appropriate for humans, Byrne said. “We want to identify other drugs that can rescue these memory mechanisms,” he added.

According the American Cancer Society, some of the distressing mental changes cancer patients experience may last a short time or go on for years.

Byrne’s UT Health research team includes co-lead authors Rong-Yu Liu, Ph.D., and Yili Zhang, Ph.D., as well as Brittany Coughlin and Leonard J. Cleary, Ph.D. All are affiliated with the W.M. Keck Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory.

Byrne and Cleary also are on the faculty of The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston. Coughlin is a student at the school, which is jointly operated by UT Health and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The study titled “Doxorubicin Attenuates Serotonin-Induced Long-Term Synaptic Facilitation by Phosphorylation of p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase” received support from National Institutes of Health grant (NS019895) and the Zilkha Family Discovery Fellowship.

Doxorubicin Attenuates Serotonin-Induced Long-Term Synaptic Facilitation by Phosphorylation of p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase

Source: Univ. of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Doxorubicin Attenuates Serotonin-Induced Long-Term Synaptic Facilitation by Phosphorylation of p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase

Rong-Yu Liu*,  Yili Zhang*,  Brittany L. Coughlin,  Leonard J. Cleary, and  John H. Byrne   +Show Affiliations
The Journal of Neuroscience, 1 Oct 2014, 34(40): 13289-13300;

Doxorubicin (DOX) is an anthracycline used widely for cancer chemotherapy. Its primary mode of action appears to be

However, in non-neuronal cells, DOX also inhibits the expression of

  1. inhibits the dephosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and
  2. p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK),
  3. two MAPK isoforms important for long-term memory (LTM) formation.

Activation of these kinases by DOX in neurons, if present,

The present study used cultures of rat cortical neurons and sensory neurons (SNs) of Aplysia

In addition, Aplysia neurons were used to examine the effects of DOX on

DOX treatment led to elevated levels of

In addition, it increased phosphorylation of

DOX treatment blocked serotonin-induced LTF and enhanced LTD induced by the neuropeptide Phe-Met-Arg-Phe-NH2. The block of LTF appeared to be attributable to

These results suggest that acute application of DOX might impair the formation of LTM via the p38 MAPK pathway.
Terms: Aplysia chemotherapy ERK  p38 MAPK serotonin synaptic plasticity

Technology that controls brain cells with radio waves earns early BRAIN grant


bright spots = cells with increased calcium after treatment with radio waves,  allows neurons to fire

bright spots = cells with increased calcium after treatment with radio waves, allows neurons to fire

BRAIN control: The new technology uses radio waves to activate or silence cells remotely. The bright spots above represent cells with increased calcium after treatment with radio waves, a change that would allow neurons to fire.

A proposal to develop a new way to

from Sarah Stanley, a research associate in Rockefeller University’s Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, headed by Jeffrey M. Friedman, is

The project will make use of a technique called

The National Institutes of Health is one of four federal agencies involved in the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) initiative. Following in the ambitious footsteps of the Human Genome Project, the BRAIN initiative seeks

a goal that requires the development of new technologies. The BRAIN initiative working group, which outlined the broad scope of the ambitious project, was co-chaired by Rockefeller’s Cori Bargmann, head of the Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior.

Stanley’s grant, for $1.26 million over three years, is one of 58 projects to get BRAIN grants, the NIH announced. The NIH’s plan for its part of this national project, which has been pitched as “America’s next moonshot,” calls for $4.5 billion in federal funds over 12 years.

The technology Stanley is developing would

Other techniques for controlling selected groups of neurons exist, but her new nanoparticle-based technique has a

Stanley also plans to explore the potential this method has for use treating patients.

“Francis Collins, director of the NIH, has discussed

Our remote-control technology may provide a tool with which researchers can ask new questions about the roles of complex circuits in regulating behavior,” Stanley says.
Rockefeller University’s Laboratory of Molecular Genetics
Source: Rockefeller Univ.

Part 4.  Cancer

Two Proteins Found to Block Cancer Metastasis

Why do some cancers spread while others don’t? Scientists have now demonstrated that

The “seed and the soil” hypothesis proposed by Stephen Paget in 1889 is now widely accepted to explain how

However, this concept had not explained why some tumors do not spread or metastasize.

The researchers, from Weill Cornell Medical College, found that

The study offers hope that a drug based on these

might help keep human cancer at bay and from metastasizing.

Scientists don’t understand why some tumors wouldn’t “want” to spread. It goes against their “job description,” says the study’s senior investigator, Vivek Mittal, Ph.D., an associate professor of cell and developmental biology in cardiothoracic surgery and director of the Neuberger Berman Foundation Lung Cancer Laboratory at Weill Cornell Medical College. He theorizes that metastasis occurs when

But there are some tumors in which some of the barriers may still be intact. “So that suggests

The researchers found that, like typical tumors,

These niches composed of bone marrow cells and various growth factors have been described previously by others including Dr. Mittal as the fertile “soil” that the disseminated cancer cell “seeds” grow in.

Weill Cornell’s Raúl Catena, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Mittal’s laboratory, found an important difference between the tumor types. Metastatic-incompetent tumors

These results were striking, because for the first time Dr. Mittal says

In addition, Weill Cornell and Harvard researchers found that

Thus, Dr. Mittal posits that prosaposin works in combination with Tsp-1

The research team found that

This 5-amino acid peptide with Tsp-1–inducing activity

The scientists have begun to test prosaposin in other tumor types or metastatic sites.

Dr. Mittal says that “The clinical implications of the study are:

The study was reported in the April 30 issue of Cancer Discovery, in a paper titled “Bone Marrow-Derived Gr1+ Cells Can Generate a Metastasis-Resistant Microenvironment Via Induced Secretion of Thrombospondin-1”.

Disabling Enzyme Cripples Tumors, Cancer Cells

First Step of Metastasis

First Step of Metastasis

Published: Sep 05, 2013

Knocking out a single enzyme dramatically cripples the ability of aggressive cancer cells to spread and grow tumors.

The paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, sheds new light on the importance of lipids, a group of molecules that includes fatty acids and cholesterol, in the development of cancer.

Researchers have long known that cancer cells metabolize lipids differently than normal cells. Levels of ether lipids – a class of lipids that are harder to break down – are particularly elevated in highly malignant tumors.

“Cancer cells make and use a lot of fat and lipids, and that makes sense because cancer cells divide and proliferate at an accelerated rate, and to do that,

said study principal investigator Daniel Nomura, assistant professor in UC Berkeley’s Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology. “Lipids have a variety of uses for cellular structure, but what we’re showing with our study is that

In the study, Nomura and his team tested the effects of reducing ether lipids on human skin cancer cells and primary breast tumors. They targeted an enzyme,

The researchers confirmed that

  1. AGPS expression increased when normal cells turned cancerous.
  2. inactivating AGPS substantially reduced the aggressiveness of the cancer cells.

“The cancer cells were less able to move and invade,” said Nomura.

The researchers also compared the impact of

Nomura. observes -“Among the mice that had the AGPS enzyme inactivated,

“The mice that did not have this enzyme

The researchers determined that

“What makes AGPS stand out as a treatment target is that the enzyme seems to simultaneously

Future steps include the

“This study sheds considerable light on the important role that AGPS plays in ether lipid metabolism in cancer cells, and it suggests that

said Benjamin Cravatt, Professor and Chair of Chemical Physiology at The Scripps Research Institute, who is not part of the UC.

Agilent Technologies Thought Leader Award Supports Translational Research Program
Published: Mon, March 04, 2013

The award will support Dr DePinho’s research into

Agilent Technologies Inc. announces that Dr. Ronald A. DePinho, a world-renowned oncologist and researcher, has received an Agilent Thought Leader Award.

DePinho is president of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. DePinho and his team hope to discover and characterize

Researchers on his team will work with scientists from the university’s newly formed Institute of Applied Cancer Sciences.

The Agilent Thought Leader Award provides funds to support personnel as well as a state-of-the-art Agilent 6550 iFunnel Q-TOF LC/MS system.

“I am extremely pleased to receive this award for metabolomics research, as the survival rates for pancreatic cancer have not significantly improved over the past 20 years,” DePinho said. “This technology will allow us to

Discoveries from this research will also lead to

“We are proud to support Dr. DePinho’s exciting translational research program, which will make use of

said Patrick Kaltenbach, Agilent vice president, general manager of the Liquid Phase Division, and the executive sponsor of this award.

The Agilent Thought Leader Program promotes fundamental scientific advances by support of influential thought leaders in the life sciences and chemical analysis fields.

The covalent modifier Nedd8 is critical for the activation of Smurf1 ubiquitin ligase in tumorigenesis

Ping Xie, Minghua Zhang, Shan He, Kefeng Lu, Yuhan Chen, Guichun Xing, et al.
Nature Communications
  2014; 5(3733).

Neddylation, the covalent attachment of ubiquitin-like protein Nedd8, of the Cullin-RING E3 ligase family

However, regulation of HECT ligases by neddylation has not been reported to date. Here we show that

Smurf1 physically interacts with

  1. Nedd8 and Ubc12,
  2. forms a Nedd8-thioester intermediate, and then
  3. catalyses its own neddylation on multiple lysine residues.

Intriguingly, this autoneddylation needs

Neddylation of Smurf1 potently enhances

The regulatory role of neddylation

Furthermore, in human colorectal cancers,

These findings provide evidence that

 Swinging domains in HECT E3

Swinging domains in HECT E3

Subject terms: Biological sciences Cancer Cell biology

Figure 1: Smurf1 expression is elevated in colorectal cancer tissues.

Smurf1 expression is elevated in colorectal cancer tissues.

Smurf1 expression is elevated in colorectal cancer tissues.

(a) Smurf1 expression scores are shown as box plots, with the horizontal lines representing the median; the bottom and top of the boxes representing the 25th and 75th percentiles, respectively; and the vertical bars representing the ra

Figure 2: Positive correlation of Smurf1 expression with Nedd8 and its interacting enzymes in colorectal cancer.

Positive correlation of Smurf1 expression with Nedd8 and its interacting enzymes in colorectal cancer

Positive correlation of Smurf1 expression with Nedd8 and its interacting enzymes in colorectal cancer

(a) Representative images from immunohistochemical staining of Smurf1, Ubc12, NAE1 and Nedd8 in the same colorectal cancer tumour. Scale bars, 100 μm. (bd) The expression scores of Nedd8 (b, n=283 ), NAE1 (c, n=281) and Ubc12 (d, n=19…

Figure 3: Smurf1 interacts with Ubc12.

Smurf1 interacts with Ubc12

Smurf1 interacts with Ubc12

(a) GST pull-down assay of Smurf1 with Ubc12. Both input and pull-down samples were subjected to immunoblotting with anti-His and anti-GST antibodies. Smurf1 interacted with Ubc12 and UbcH5c, but not with Ubc9. (b) Mapping the regions…

Figure 4: Nedd8 is attached to Smurf1through C426-catalysed autoneddylation.

Nedd8 is attached to Smurf1through C426-catalysed autoneddylation

Nedd8 is attached to Smurf1through C426-catalysed autoneddylation

(a) Covalent neddylation of Smurf1 in vitro.Purified His-Smurf1-WT or C699A proteins were incubated with Nedd8 and Nedd8-E1/E2. Reactions were performed as described in the Methods section. Samples were analysed by western blotting wi…

Figure 5: Neddylation of Smurf1 activates its ubiquitin ligase activity.

Neddylation of Smurf1 activates its ubiquitin ligase activity.

Neddylation of Smurf1 activates its ubiquitin ligase activity.

(a) In vivo Smurf1 ubiquitylation assay. Nedd8 was co-expressed with Smurf1 WT or C699A in HCT116 cells (left panels). Twenty-four hours post transfection, cells were treated with MG132 (20 μM, 8 h). HCT116 cells were transfected with…

The deubiquitylase USP33 discriminates between RALB functions in autophagy and innate immune response

M Simicek, S Lievens, M Laga, D Guzenko, VN. Aushev, et al.
Nature Cell Biology 2013; 15, 1220–1230

The RAS-like GTPase RALB mediates cellular responses to nutrient availability or viral infection by respectively

  1. RALB employs SEC5 to trigger innate immunity signalling, whereas
  2. RALB–EXO84 interaction induces autophagocytosis.

How this differential interaction is achieved molecularly by the RAL GTPase remains unknown.

We found that whereas GTP binding

ubiquitylation of RALB at Lys 47

Specifically, ubiquitylation at Lys 47

Double-stranded RNA promotes

In contrast, nutrient starvation

Deubiquitylated RALB

Part 5. Metabolic Syndrome

Single Enzyme is Necessary for Development of Diabetes

Published: Aug 20, 2014

12-LO enzyme promotes the obesity-induced oxidative stress in the pancreatic cells.

An enzyme called 12-LO promotes the obesity-induced oxidative stress in the pancreatic cells that leads

12-LO’s enzymatic action is the last step in

according to a team from Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis.

The findings will enable the development of drugs that can interfere with this enzyme, preventing or even reversing diabetes. The research is published ahead of print in the journal Molecular and Cellular Biology.

In earlier studies, these researchers and their collaborators at Eastern Virginia Medical School showed that

The harmful small molecules resulting from 12-LO’s enzymatic action are known as HETEs, short for hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid.

  1. HETEs harm the mitochondria, which then
  2. fail to produce sufficient energy to enable
  3. the pancreatic cells to manufacture the necessary quantities of insulin.

For the study, the investigators genetically engineered mice that

Mice were either fed a low-fat or high-fat diet.

Both the control mice and the knockout mice on the high fat diet

The investigators also examined the pancreatic beta cells of both knockout and control mice, using both microscopic studies and molecular analysis. Those from the knockout mice were intact and healthy, while

Mirmira notes that fatty diet used in the study was the Western Diet, which comprises mostly saturated-“bad”-fats. Based partly on a recent study of related metabolic pathways, he says that

“Our research is the first to show that 12-LO in the beta cell

“Our work also lends important credence to the notion that

A New Player in Lipid Metabolism Discovered

Published: Aug18, 2014

Specially engineered mice gained no weight, and normal counterparts became obese

Specially engineered mice that lacked a particular gene did not gain weight

Yet, these mice ate the same amount as their normal counterparts that became obese.

The mice were engineered with fat cells that lacked a gene called SEL1L,

When mis-folded proteins are not cleared but accumulate,

  1. mad cow disease,
  2. Type 1 diabetes and
  3. cystic fibrosis.

“The million-dollar question is why don’t these mice gain weight? Is this related to its inability to clear mis-folded proteins in the ER?” said Ling Qi, associate professor of molecular and biochemical nutrition and senior author of the study published online July 24 in Cell Metabolism. Haibo Sha, a research associate in Qi’s lab, is the paper’s lead author.

Interestingly, the experimental mice developed a host of other problems, including

“Although we are yet to find out whether these conditions contribute to the lean phenotype, we found that

During the investigation of possible underlying mechanisms, we discovered

Sha said “We were very excited to find that

and added that “Using several tissue-specific knockout mouse models,

Without LPL, lipids remain in the circulation;

People with LPL mutations develop

Future work will investigate the

Co-authors include researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles; Wageningen University in the Netherlands; Georgia State University; University of California, Los Angeles; and the Medical College of Soochow University in China.

The study was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development National Institutes of Health, the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Chinese National Science Foundation, the American Diabetes Association, Cornell’s Center for Vertebrate Genomics and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Part 6. Biomarkers

Biomarkers Take Center Stage

Josh P. Roberts
GEN May 1, 2013 (Vol. 33, No. 9)

While work with biomarkers continues to grow, scientists are also grappling with research-related bottlenecks, such as

  1. affinity reagent development,
  2. platform reproducibility, and
  3. sensitivity.

Biomarkers by definition indicate some state or process that generally occurs

it would not be an exaggeration to say that biomedicine has become infatuated with them:

  1. where to find them,
  2. when they may appear,
  3. what form they may take, and
  4. how they can be used to diagnose a condition or
  5. predict whether a therapy may be successful.

Biomarkers are on the agenda of many if not most industry gatherings, and in cases such as Oxford Global’s recent “Biomarker Congress” and the GTC “Biomarker Summit”, they hold the naming rights. There, some basic principles were built upon, amended, and sometimes challenged.

In oncology, for example, biomarker discovery is often predicated on the premise that

By quantifying these proteins—singularly or as part of a larger “signature”—the hope is

  1. to garner information about the molecular characteristics of the cancer
  2. that will help with cancer detection and
  3. personalization of the treatment strategy.

Yet this approach has not yet turned into the panacea that was hoped for. Bottlenecks exist in

There is also a dearth of understanding of some of the

said Parag Mallick, Ph.D., whose lab at Stanford University is “working on trying to understand where biomarkers come from.”

There are dogmas saying that

But Dr. Mallick’s studies indicate that fully

“We don’t understand the processes governing

Other questions include “how does the size of a tumor affect how much of a given protein will be in the blood?”—perhaps

He points out “The problem is that these are highly nonlinear processes at work, and

Their research focuses on using

  1. mass spectrometry and
  2. computational analysis

Furthermore, he said – “We’ve observed that the proteins that are likely to

The goal is ultimately to be able to

  1. build rigorous, formal mathematical models that will allow something measured in the blood
  2. to be tied back to the molecular biology taking place in the tumor.

And conversely, to use those models

“Ultimately, the models will allow you to connect the dots between

Bound for Affinity Arrays

Affinity reagents are the main tools for large-scale protein biomarker discovery. And while this has tended to mean antibodies (or their derivatives), other affinity reagents are demanding a place in the toolbox.

Affimers, a type of affinity reagent being developed by Avacta, consist of

  1. a biologically inert, biophysically stable protein scaffold
  2. containing three variable regions into which
  3. distinct peptides are inserted.

The resulting three-dimensional surface formed by these peptides

Unlike antibodies, Affimers are relatively small (13 KDa),

They may be made to bind surfaces through unique residues

“We don’t seem to see in what we’ve done so far

they’re very robust,” said CEO Alastair Smith, Ph.D.

Avacta is taking advantage of this stability and its large libraries of Affimers to develop

To date they have printed arrays with around 20–25,000 features, and Dr. Smith is “sure that we can get toward about 50,000 on a slide,” he said. “There’s no real impediment to us doing that other than us expressing the proteins and getting on with it.”

Customers will be provided with these large, complex “naïve” discovery arrays, readable with standard equipment. The plan is for the company to then “support our customers by providing smaller arrays with

And since the intellectual property rights are unencumbered,

Around 20,000-Affimer discovery arrays were recently tested by collaborator Professor Ann Morgan of the University of Leeds with pools of unfractionated serum from patients with symptoms of inflammatory disease. The arrays

  1. rheumatoid arthritis,
  2. psoriatic arthritis,
  3. SLE, or
  4. giant cell arteritis.

Epigenetic Biomarkers

Methylation of adenine

Sometimes biomarkers are used not to find disease but

These widespread applications, however, are difficult to standardize, being

Epiontis instead uses an epigenetic approach. “What we need is a unique marker that is

Each cell of the right cell type will have

The biggest challenge is finding that unique epigenetic marker. To do so they look through the literature for proteins and genes described as playing a role in the cell type’s biology, and then

They also “use customized Affymetrix chips to look at the

explained CBO and founder Ulrich Hoffmueller, Ph.D.

The company currently has a panel of 12 assays for 12 immune cell types. Among these is an assay for

Also assayed are Th17 cells, difficult to detect by flow cytometry because

Developing New Assays for Cancer Biomarkers

Researchers at Myriad RBM and the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas are collaborating to develop

The release of OncologyMAP 2.0 expanded Myriad RBM’s biomarker menu to over 250 analytes, which can be measured from a small single sample, according to the company. Using this menu, L. Stephen et al., published a poster, “Analysis of Protein Biomarkers in Prostate and Colorectal Tumor Lysates,” which showed the results of

The study looked at CRC and PC tumor lysates and found that 102 of the 115 proteins showed levels above the lower limit of quantification.

For most of the analytes, duplicate sections of the tumor were similar, although some analytes did show differences. In four of the CRC analytes, tumor number four showed differences for CEA and tumor number 2 for uPA.

Thirty analytes were shown to be

significant correlations of CRC tumor concentration to serum levels.

“This suggests.. that the Oncology MAP 2.0 platform “provides a good method for studying changes in tumor levels because many proteins can be assessed with a very small sample.”

Clinical Test Development with MALDI-ToF

While there have been many attempts to translate results from early discovery work on the serum proteome into clinical practice, few of these efforts have progressed past the discovery phase.

Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight (MALDI-ToF) mass spectrometry on unfractionated serum/plasma samples offers many practical advantages over alternative techniques, and does not require

Biodesix claims it has been able to develop the technology into

“.. we improved data-analysis algorithms to

Heinrich Röder, CTO points out that the MALDI-ToF measurements

The clinical utility of the identification of these disease states can be investigated through a retrospective analysis of differing sample sets. For example, Biodesix clinically validated its first commercialized serum proteomic test, VeriStrat®, in 85 different retrospective sample sets.

Röder adds that “It is becoming increasingly clear that

  1. tumor type,
  2. histology, or
  3. molecular tumor characteristics,”

MALDI-ToF mass spectrometry, in its standard implementation,

Further, “while this does not limit the usefulness of tests developed from differential expression of these proteins,

Biodesix reports that its new MALDI approach, Deep MALDI™, can perform

Breast cancer, a disease now considered to be a collection of many complexes of symptoms and signatures—the dominant ones are labeled Luminal A, Luminal B, Her2, and Basal— which suggests different prognose, and

Studies published in the past year have looked at

  1. somatic mutations,
  2. gene copy number aberrations,
  3. gene expression abnormalities,
  4. protein and miRNA expression, and
  5. DNA methylation,

coming up with a list of significantly mutated genes—hot spots—in different categories of breast cancers. Targeting these will inevitably be the focus of much coming research.

“We’ve been taking these large trials and profiling these on a variety of array or sequence platforms. We think we’ll get

  1. prognostic drivers
  2. predictive markers for taxanes and
  3. monoclonal antibodies and
  4. tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors,”
    explained Brian Leyland-Jones, Ph.D., director of Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Research. “We will end up with 20–40 different diseases, maybe more.”

Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Research is undertaking a pilot study in collaboration with The Scripps Research Institute, using a variety of tests on 25 patients to see how the information they provide complements each other, the overall flow, and the time required to get and compile results.

Laser-captured tumor samples will be subjected to low passage whole-genome, exome, and RNA sequencing (with targeted resequencing done in parallel), and reverse-phase protein and phosphorylation arrays, with circulating nucleic acids and circulating tumor cells being queried as well. “After that we hope to do a 100- or 150-patient trial when we have some idea of the best techniques,” he said.

Dr. Leyland-Jones predicted that ultimately most tumors will be found

Reduce to Practice

According to Randox, the evidence Investigator is a sophisticated semi-automated biochip sys­tem designed for research, clinical, forensic, and veterinary applications.

Once biomarkers that may have an impact on therapy are discovered, it is not always routine to get them into clinical practice. Leaving regulatory and financial, intellectual property and cultural issues aside, developing a diagnostic based on a biomarker often requires expertise or patience that its discoverer may not possess.

Andrew Gribben is a clinical assay and development scientist at Randox Laboratories, based in Northern Ireland, U.K. The company utilizes academic and industrial collaborators together with in-house discovery platforms to identify biomarkers that are

Biomarkers can be developed to be run individually or

Specificity can also be gained—or lost—by the affinity of reagents in an assay. The diagnostic potential of Heart-type fatty acid binding protein (H-FABP) abundantly expressed in human myocardial cells was recognized by Jan Glatz of Maastricht University, The Netherlands, back in 1988. Levels rise quickly within 30 minutes after a myocardial infarction, peaking at 6–8 hours and return to normal within 24–30 hours. Yet at the time it was not known that H-FABP was a member of a multiprotein family, with which the polyclonal antibodies being used in development of an assay were cross-reacting, Gribben related.

Randox developed monoclonal antibodies specific to H-FABP, funded trials investigating its use alone, and multiplexed with cardiac biomarker assays, and, more than 30 years after the biomarker was identified, in 2011, released a validated assay for H-FABP as a biomarker for early detection of acute myocardial infarction.

Ultrasensitive Immunoassays for Biomarker Development

Research has shown that detection and monitoring of biomarker concentrations can provide

Cytokines have become attractive biomarkers and candidates

However, due to the low-abundance of circulating cytokines, such as IL-17A, obtaining robust measurements in clinical samples has been difficult.

Singulex reports that its digital single-molecule counting technology provides

The company’s Erenna® immunoassay system, which includes optimized immunoassays, offers LLoQ to femtogram levels per mL resolution—even in healthy populations, at an improvement of 1-3 fold over standard ELISAs or any conventional technology and with a dynamic range of up to 4-logs, according to a Singulex official, who adds that

The official also explains that the Singulex solution includes an array of products and services that are being applied to a number of programs and have enabled the development of clinically relevant biomarkers, allowing translation from discovery to the clinic.

In a poster entitled “Advanced Single Molecule Detection: Accelerating Biomarker Development Utilizing Cytokines through Ultrasensitive Immunoassays,” a case study was presented of work performed by Jeff Greenberg of NYU to show how the use of the Erenna system can provide insights toward

A panel of inflammatory biomarkers was examined in DMARD (disease modifying antirheumatic drugs)-naïve RA (rheumatoid arthritis) vs. knee OA (osteoarthritis) patient cohorts. Markers that exhibited significant differences in plasma concentrations between the two cohorts included

Among the three tested isoforms of IL-17,

“Singulex provides high-resolution monitoring of baseline IL-17A concentrations that are present at low levels,” concluded the researchers. “The technology also enabled quantification of other IL-17 isoforms in RA patients, which have not been well characterized before.”

The Singulex Erenna System has also been applied to cardiovascular disease research, for which its

Recently presented data from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the TIMI-22 study showed that

according to the scientists involved in the research.

The study poster, “Prognostic Performance of Serial High Sensitivity Cardiac Troponin Determination in Stable Ischemic Heart Disease: Analysis From PROVE IT-TIMI 22,” was presented at the 2013 American College of Cardiology (ACC) Annual Scientific Session & Expo by R. O’Malley et al.

Biomarkers Changing Clinical Medicine

Better Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Drug Targeting Are among Potential Benefits

  1. John Morrow Jr., Ph.D.

Researchers at EMD Chemicals are developing biomarker immunoassays

The pace of biomarker development is accelerating as investigators report new studies on cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer disease, and other conditions in which the evaluation and isolation of workable markers is prominently featured.

Wei Zheng, Ph.D., leader of the R&D immunoassay group at EMD Chemicals, is overseeing a program to develop biomarker immunoassays to

“One of the principle reasons for drugs failing during development is because of organ toxicity,” says Dr. Zheng.
“proteins liberated into the serum and urine can serve as biomarkers of adverse response to drugs, as well as disease states.”

Through collaborative programs with Rules-Based Medicine (RBM), the EMD group has released panels for the profiling of human renal impairment and renal toxicity. These urinary biomarker based products fit the FDA and EMEA guidelines for assessment of drug-induced kidney damage in rats.

The group recently performed a screen for potential protein biomarkers in relation to

Additionally, Dr. Zheng is directing efforts to move forward with the multiplexed analysis of

Diseases thought to involve compromised oxidative phosphorylation include

Good biomarkers allow Dr. Zheng to follow the mantra, “fail early, fail fast.” With robust, multiplexible biomarkers, EMD can detect bad drugs early and kill them before they move into costly large animal studies and clinical trials. “Recognizing the severe liability that toxicity presents, we can modify the structure of the candidate molecule and then rapidly reassess its performance.”

Scientists at Oncogene Science a division of Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, are also focused on biomarkers. “We are working on a number of antibody-based tests for various cancers, including a test for the Ca-9 CAIX protein, also referred to as carbonic anhydrase,” Walter Carney, Ph.D., head of the division, states.

CAIX is a transmembrane protein that is

Dr. Carney and his colleagues are evaluating patients after tumor removal for the presence of the Ca-9 CAIX protein. If

Dr. Carney and his team have developed both an immuno-histochemistry and an ELISA test that could be used as companion diagnostics in clinical trials of CAIX-targeted drugs.

The ELISA for the Ca-9 CAIX protein will be used in conjunction with Wilex’ Rencarex®, which is currently in a

Additionally, Oncogene Science has in its portfolio an FDA-approved test for the Her-2 marker. Originally approved for Her-2/Neu-positive breast cancer, its indications have been expanded over time, and was approved

It is normally present on breast cancer epithelia but

“Our products are designed to be used in conjunction with targeted therapies,” says Dr. Carney. “We are working with companies that are developing technology around proteins that are

The long-term goal of these studies is to develop individualized therapies, tailored for the patient. Since the therapies are expensive, accurate diagnostics are critical to avoid wasting resources on patients who clearly will not respond (or could be harmed) by the particular drug.

“At this time the rate of response to antibody-based therapies may be very poor, as

Nanoscale Real-Time Proteomics

Stanford University School of Medicine researchers, working with Cell BioSciences, have developed a

“We have developed a nanoscale device for protein measurement, which I believe could be useful for clinical analysis,” says Dean W. Felsher, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Critical oncogenic transformations involving

“The fact that we measure nanoquantities with accuracy means that

by drawing tiny needle aspirates from tumors over the course of time,” he explains.

“This allows us to observe the evolution of tumor cells and

According to Dr. Felsher, 20 cells is a large enough sample to obtain a detailed description. The technology is easy to automate, which allows

Contrasting this technology platform with proteomic analysis using microarrays, Dr. Felsher notes that the latter is not yet workable for revealing reliable markers.

Dr. Felsher and his group published a description of this technology in Nature Medicine. “We demonstrated that we could take a set of human lymphomas and distinguish them from both normal tissue and other tumor types. We can

Even with very small numbers of cells, we are able to show that the results are consistent, and

Splice Variant Peptides

“Aberrations in alternative splicing may generate

says Gilbert Omenn, Ph.D., director of the center for computational medicine and bioinformatics at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. Dr. Omenn and his colleague, Rajasree Menon, are

It is becoming evident that splice variants play a significant role in the properties of cancer cells, including

Alternative splicing occurs through multiple mechanisms

Their translation into protein can result in numerous protein isoforms, and

Regulatory elements within the DNA are responsible for selecting different alternatives; thus

Analyses of the splice-site mutation

Analyses of the splice-site mutation

Despite the many questions raised by these observations, splice variation in tumor material has not been widely studied. Cancer cells are known for their tremendous variability, which allows them to

Dr. Omenn and his collaborators used

When they compared normal and malignant mammary gland tissue from a mouse model of Her2/Neu human breast cancers, they identified a vast number (608) of splice variant proteins, of which

“These novel and known alternative splice isoforms

Dr. Omenn’s observations and those of his colleague Lewis Cantley, Ph.D., have also

The novel splice variant M2, of muscle pyruvate kinase,

It is associated with this shift, the result of

It is remarkable how many different areas of the life sciences are tied into the phenomenon of splice variation. The changes in the genetic material can be much greater than point mutations, which have been traditionally considered to be the prime source of genetic variability.

“We now have powerful methods available to uncover a whole new category of variation,” Dr. Omenn says. “High-throughput RNA sequencing and proteomics will be complementary in discovery studies of splice variants.”

Splice variation may play an important role in rapid evolutionary changes, of the sort discussed by Susumu Ohno and Stephen J. Gould decades ago. They, and other evolutionary biologists, argued that

At the time, the molecular mechanisms of variation were poorly understood, but today

“Biomarkers derived from studies of splice variants, could, in the future, be exploited

Aminopeptidase Activities

“By correlating the proteolytic patterns with disease groups and controls, we have shown that

according to Paul Tempst, Ph.D., professor and director of the Protein Center at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

So there is a direct link between peptide marker profiles of disease and differential protease activity.” For this reason Dr. Tempst argues that “the patterns we describe may have value as surrogate markers for detection and classification of cancer.”

To investigate this avenue, Dr. Tempst and his colleagues have followed

“We monitored controlled, de novo peptide breakdown in large numbers of biological samples using mass spectrometry, with relative quantitation of the metabolites,” Dr. Tempst explains. This entailed the use of magnetic, reverse-phase beads for analyte capture and a MALDI-TOF MS read-out.

“In biomarker discovery programs, functional proteomics is usually not pursued,” says Dr. Tempst. “For putative biomarkers, one may observe no difference in quantitative levels of proteins, while at the same time, there may be substantial differences in enzymatic activity.”

In a preliminary prostate cancer study, the team found a significant difference

However, there were no differences in amounts of the target protein, and this potential biomarker would have been missed if quantitative levels of protein had been the only criterion of selection.

It is frequently stated that “practical fusion energy is 30 years in the future and always will be.” The same might be said of functional, practical biomarkers that can pass muster with the FDA. But splice variation represents a new handle on this vexing problem. It appears that we are seeing the emergence of a new approach that may finally yield definitive diagnostic tests, detectable in serum and urine samples.

Part 7. Epigenetics and Drug Metabolism

DNA Methylation Rules: Studying Epigenetics with New Tools

The tools to unravel the epigenetic control mechanisms that influence how cells control access of transcriptional proteins to DNA are just beginning to emerge.

Patricia Fitzpatrick Dimond, Ph.D.

New tools may help move the field of epigenetic analysis forward and potentially unveil novel biomarkers for cellular development, differentiation, and disease.

DNA sequencing has had the power of technology behind it as novel platforms to produce more sequencing faster and at lower cost have been introduced. But the tools to unravel the epigenetic control mechanisms that influence how cells control access of transcriptional proteins to DNA are just beginning to emerge.

Among these mechanisms, DNA methylation, or the enzymatically mediated addition of a methyl group to cytosine or adenine dinucleotides,

The unique methylomes are largely maintained in differentiated cell types, making them critical to understanding the differentiation potential of the cell.

In the DNA methylation process, cytosine residues in the genome are enzymatically modified to 5-methylcytosine,

5-methylcytosine can be further enzymatically modified to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine by the TET family of methylcytosine dioxygenases. DNA methylation affects gene transcription by physically

Methylated DNA may be bound by methyl-CpG-binding domain proteins (MBDs) that can

While DNA methylation doesn’t change the genetic code,

Epigenetics and Cancer Biomarkers

multistage chemical carcinogenesis

multistage chemical carcinogenesis

And because of the increasing recognition that DNA methylation changes are involved in human cancers, scientists have suggested that these epigenetic markers may provide biological markers for cancer cells, and eventually point toward new diagnostic and therapeutic targets. Cancer cell genomes display genome-wide abnormalities in DNA methylation patterns,

In particular, de novo methylation of tumor suppressor gene promoters

Cytosine hydroxymethylation (5-hydroxymethylcytosine, or 5hmC), the aforementioned DNA modification resulting from the enzymatic conversion of 5mC into 5-hydroxymethylcytosine by the TET family of oxygenases, has been identified

The base 5-hydroxymethylcytosine was recently identified as an oxidation product of 5-methylcytosine in mammalian DNA. In 2011, using sensitive and quantitative methods to assess levels of 5-hydroxymethyl-2′-deoxycytidine (5hmdC) and 5-methyl-2′-deoxycytidine (5mdC) in genomic DNA, scientists at the Department of Cancer Biology, Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope, Duarte, California investigated

They showed that in squamous cell lung cancers, levels of 5hmdC showed

In brain tumors,5hmdC showed an even more drastic reduction

Immunohistochemical analysis indicated that 5hmC is “remarkably depleted” in many types of human cancer.

Their data suggest that 5hmdC is strongly depleted in human malignant tumors,

In addition, a lack of 5hmC may become a useful biomarker for cancer diagnosis.

Enzymatic Mapping

But according to New England Biolabs’ Sriharsa Pradhan, Ph.D., methods for distinguishing 5mC from 5hmC and analyzing and quantitating the cell’s entire “methylome” and “hydroxymethylome” remain less than optimal.

The protocol for bisulphite conversion to detect methylation remains the “gold standard” for DNA methylation analysis. This method is generally followed by PCR analysis for single nucleotide resolution to determine methylation across the DNA molecule. According to Dr. Pradhan, “.. bisulphite conversion does not distinguish 5mC and 5hmC,”

Recently we found an enzyme, a unique DNA modification-dependent restriction endonuclease, AbaSI, which can

You easily can find out where the hydroxymethyl regions are.”

AbaSI, recognizes 5-glucosylatedmethylcytosine (5gmC) with high specificity when compared to 5mC and 5hmC, and

By mapping the cleaved ends, the exact 5hmC location can, the investigators reported, be determined.

Dr. Pradhan and his colleagues at NEB; the Department of Biochemistry, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta; and the New England Biolabs Shanghai R&D Center described use of this technique in a paper published in Cell Reports this month, in which they described high-resolution enzymatic mapping of genomic hydroxymethylcytosine in mouse ES cells.

In the current report, the authors used the enzyme technology for the genome-wide high-resolution hydroxymethylome, describing simple library construction even with a low amount of input DNA (50 ng) and the ability to readily detect 5hmC sites with low occupancy.

As a result of their studies, they propose that

factors affecting the local 5mC accessibility to TET enzymes play important roles in the 5hmC deposition

“We were able to do complete mapping in mouse embryonic cells and are pleased about what this enzyme can do and how it works,” Dr. Pradhan said.

And the availability of novel tools that make analysis of the methylome and hypomethylome more accessible will move the field of epigenetic analysis forward and potentially novel biomarkers for cellular development, differentiation, and disease.

Patricia Fitzpatrick Dimond, Ph.D. (, is technical editor at Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.

Epigenetic Regulation of ADME-Related Genes: Focus on Drug Metabolism and Transport

Published: Sep 23, 2013

Epigenetic regulation of gene expression refers to heritable factors that are functionally relevant genomic modifications but that do not involve changes in DNA sequence.

Examples of such modifications include

Epigenetic modifications are crucial for

packaging and interpreting the genome, and they have fundamental functions in regulating gene expression and activity under the influence of physiologic and environmental factors.

In this issue of Drug Metabolism and Disposition, a series of articles is presented to demonstrate the role of epigenetic factors in regulating

The articles also demonstrate that, in addition to genetic polymorphisms, epigenetics may also contribute to wide inter-individual variations in drug metabolism and transport. Identification of functionally relevant epigenetic biomarkers in human specimens has the potential to improve prediction of drug responses based on patient’s epigenetic profiles.

This study is published online in Drug Metabolism and Disposition

Part 8.  Pictorial Maps

 Prediction of intracellular metabolic states from extracellular metabolomic data

MK Aurich, G Paglia, Ottar Rolfsson, S Hrafnsdottir, M Magnusdottir, MM Stefaniak, BØ Palsson, RMT Fleming &

Ines Thiele

Metabolomics Aug 14, 2014;

Metabolic models can provide a mechanistic framework

An expression of the altered metabolic pathway utilization is the selection of metabolites consumed and released by cells. However, methods for the

Herein, we describe a workflow for such an integrative analysis

We demonstrate,

how our methods can reveal differences in cell metabolism. Our models explain metabolite uptake and secretion by predicting

Gene expression analysis revealed altered expression of gene products at

literature query emphasized the role of these genes in cancer metabolism.

Moreover, in silico gene knock-outs identified unique

Thus, our workflow is well suited to the characterization of cellular metabolic traits based on

Keywords Constraint-based modeling _ Metabolomics _ Multi-omics _ Metabolic network _ Transcriptomics

1 Introduction

Modern high-throughput techniques have increased the pace of biological data generation. Also referred to as the ‘‘omics avalanche’’, this wealth of data provides great opportunities for metabolic discovery. Omics data sets

under a particular set of experimental conditions. Because of the high complexity of the data sets,

Currently, such data analysis is a bottleneck in the research process and methods are needed to facilitate the use of these data sets, e.g., through meta-analysis of data available in public databases [e.g., the human protein atlas (Uhlen et al. 2010) or the gene expression omnibus (Barrett et al.  2011)], and to increase the accessibility of valuable information for the biomedical research community.

Constraint-based modeling and analysis (COBRA) is

The basis of COBRA is network reconstruction: networks are assembled in a bottom-up fashion based on

Metabolic reconstructions capture information on the

Once assembled, a

The ability of COBRA models

Currently, COBRA models exist for more than 100 organisms, including humans (Duarte et al. 2007; Thiele et al. 2013).

Since the first human metabolic reconstruction was described [Recon 1 (Duarte et al. 2007)],

One way to contextualize networks is to

The consequences of the applied constraints can

Additionally, omics data sets have frequently been used

Models exist for specific cell types, such as

  1. enterocytes (Sahoo and Thiele2013),
  2. macrophages (Bordbar et al. 2010),
  3. adipocytes (Mardinoglu et al. 2013),
  4. even multi-cell assemblies that represent the interactions of brain cells (Lewis et al. 2010).

All of these cell type specific models, except the enterocyte reconstruction

Cell-type-specific models have been used to study

For example, an adipocyte model was generated using

This model was subsequently used to investigate metabolic alternations in adipocytes

The biomedical applications of COBRA have been

  1. cancer metabolism (Jerby and Ruppin, 2012).
  2. predicting drug targets (Folger et al. 2011; Jerby et al. 2012).

A cancer model was generated using

a consequence of the reduced redundancy in the cancer specific model (Folger et al. 2011).

In a follow up study, lethal synergy between FH and enzymes of the heme metabolic pathway

Contextualized models, which contain only the subset of reactions active in a particular tissue (or cell-) type,

However, the existing algorithms mainly consider

These subset of reactions are usually defined

Comprehensive reviews of the methods are available (Blazier and Papin, 2012; Hyduke et al. 2013). Only the compilation of a large set of omics data sets

the representation of one particular experimental condition is achieved

Recently, metabolomic data sets have become more comprehensive and

Additionally, metabolomics has proven to be stable, relatively inexpensive, and highly reproducible (Antonucci et al. 2012). These factors make metabolomic data sets particularly valuable for

Thus, the integration of these data sets is now an active field of research (Li et al. 2013; Mo et al. 2009; Paglia et al. 2012b; Schmidt et al. 2013).

Generally, metabolomic data can be incorporated into metabolic networks as

Mo et al. used metabolites detected in the

Modes of transcriptional regulation during the YMC

Modes of transcriptional regulation during the YMC

Such analyses have also been used to reveal the effects of

  1. enzymopathies on red blood cells (Price et al. 2004),
  2. to study effects of diet on diabetes (Thiele et al. 2005) and
  3. to define macrophage metabolic states (Bordbar et al. 2010).

This type of analysis is available as a function in the COBRA toolbox (Schellenberger et al. 2011).

In this study, we established a workflow

Our modeling yields meaningful predictions regarding

Fig. 1

metabol leukem cell lines11306_2014_721_Fig1_HTML

metabol leukem cell lines11306_2014_721_Fig1_HTML

A Combined experimental and computational pipeline to study human metabolism.

  1. Experimental work and omics data analysis steps precede computational modeling.
  2. Model predictions are validated based on targeted experimental data.
  3. Metabolomic and transcriptomic data are used for model refinement and submodel extraction.
  4. Functional analysis methods are used to characterize the metabolism of the cell-line models and compare it to additional experimental data.
  5. The validated models are subsequently used for the prediction of drug targets.

B Uptake and secretion pattern of model metabolites. All metabolite uptakes and secretions that were mapped during model generation are shown.

  1. A number of metabolite exchanges mapped to the model were unique to one cell line.
  2. Differences between cell lines were used to set quantitative constraints for the sampling analysis.

C Statistics about the cell line-specific network generation.

D Quantitative constraints.

For the sampling analysis, an additional set of constraints was imposed on the cell line specific models,

Higher uptake of a metabolite was allowed

This was done by establishing the same ratio between the models bounds as detected in vitro.

X denotes the factor (slope ratio) that distinguishes the bounds, and

(a) The uptake of a metabolite could be x times higher in CCRF-CEM cells,

(b) the metabolite uptake could be x times higher in Molt-4,

(c) metabolite secretion could be x times higher in CCRF-CEM, or

(d) metabolite secretion could be x times higher in Molt-4 cells.LOD limit of detection.

The consequence of the adjustment was, in case of uptake, that one model was constrained to a lower metabolite uptake (A, B), and the difference depended on the ratio detected in vitro. In case of secretion, one model

2 Results

We set up a pipeline that could be used to infer intracellular metabolic states

Our pipeline combined the following four steps:

  1. data acquisition,
  2. data analysis,
  3. metabolic modeling and
  4. experimental validation of the model predictions (Fig. 1A).

We demonstrated the pipeline and the predictive potential to predict metabolic alternations in diseases such as cancer based on

^two lymphoblastic leukemia cell lines.

The resulting Molt-4 and CCRF-CEM condition-specific cell line models could explain

^  metabolite uptake and secretion
^  by predicting the distinct utilization of central metabolic pathways by the two cell lines.
^  the CCRF-CEM model resembled more a glycolytic, commonly referred to as ‘Warburg’ phenotype,
^  our model predicted a more respiratory phenotype for the Molt-4 model.

We found these predictions to be in agreement with measured gene expression differences

After a brief discussion of the data generation and analysis steps, the results derived from model generation and analysis will be described in detail.

2.1 Pipeline for generation of condition-specific metabolic cell line models

integration of exometabolomic (EM) data

integration of exometabolomic (EM) data

2.1.1 Generation of experimental data

We monitored the growth and viability of lymphoblastic leukemia cell lines in serum-free medium (File S2, Fig. S1). Multiple omics data sets were derived from these cells.Extracellular metabolomics (exo-metabolomic) data,

integration of exometabolomic (EM) data

integration of exometabolomic (EM) data

^  comprising measurements of the metabolites in the spent medium of the cell cultures (Paglia et al. 2012a),
^ were collected along with transcriptomic data, and these data sets were used to construct the models.

2.1.4 Condition-specific models for CCRF-CEM and Molt-4 cells

To determine whether we had obtained two distinct models, we evaluated the reactions, metabolites, and genes of the two models. Both the Molt-4 and CCRF-CEM models contained approximately half of the reactions and metabolites present in the global model (Fig. 1C). They were very similar to each other in terms of their reactions, metabolites, and genes (File S1, Table S5A–C).

(1) The Molt-4 model contained seven reactions that were not present in the CCRF-CEM model (Co-A biosynthesis pathway and exchange reactions).
(2) The CCRF-CEM contained 31 unique reactions (arginine and proline metabolism, vitamin B6 metabolism, fatty acid activation, transport, and exchange reactions).
(3) There were 2 and 15 unique metabolites in the Molt-4 and CCRF-CEM models, respectively (File S1, Table S5B).
(4) Approximately three quarters of the global model genes remained in the condition-specific cell line models (Fig. 1C).
(5) The Molt-4 model contained 15 unique genes, and the CCRF-CEM model had 4 unique genes (File S1, Table S5C).
(6) Both models lacked NADH dehydrogenase (complex I of the electron transport chain—ETC), which was determined by the absence of expression of a mandatory subunit (NDUFB3, Entrez gene ID 4709).

Rather, the ETC was fueled by FADH2 originating from succinate dehydrogenase and from fatty acid oxidation, which through flavoprotein electron transfer



Despite their different in vitro growth rates (which differed by 11 %, see File S2, Fig. S1) and
^^^ differences in exo-metabolomic data (Fig. 1B) and transcriptomic data,
^^^ the internal networks were largely conserved in the two condition-specific cell line models.

2.1.5 Condition-specific cell line models predict distinct metabolic strategies

Despite the overall similarity of the metabolic models, differences in their cellular uptake and secretion patterns suggested distinct metabolic states in the two cell lines (Fig. 1B and see “Materials and methods” section for more detail). To interrogate the metabolic differences, we sampled the solution space of each model using an Artificial Centering Hit-and-Run (ACHR) sampler (Thiele et al. 2005). For this analysis, additional constraints were applied, emphasizing the quantitative differences in commonly uptaken and secreted metabolites. The maximum possible uptake and maximum possible secretion flux rates were reduced
^^^ according to the measured relative differences between the cell lines (Fig. 1D, see “Materials and methods” section).

We plotted the number of sample points containing a particular flux rate for each reaction. The resulting binned histograms can be understood as representing the probability that a particular reaction can have a certain flux value.

A comparison of the sample points obtained for the Molt-4 and CCRF-CEM models revealed

This result was further supported by differences in medians calculated from sampling points (File S1, Table S6).
The shift persisted throughout all reactions of the pathway and was induced by the higher glucose uptake (34 %) from the extracellular medium in CCRF-CEM cells.

The sampling median for glucose uptake was 34 % higher in the CCRF-CEM model than in Molt-4 model (File S2, Fig. S2).

The usage of the TCA cycle was also distinct in the two condition-specific cell-line models (Fig. 2). Interestingly,
the models used succinate dehydrogenase differently (Figs. 2, 3).



The Molt-4 model utilized an associated reaction to generate FADH2, whereas

Additionally, there was a higher efflux of citrate toward amino acid and lipid metabolism in the CCRF-CEM model (Fig. 2). There was higher flux through anaplerotic and cataplerotic reactions in the CCRF-CEM model than in the Molt-4 model (Fig. 2); these reactions include

(1) the efflux of citrate through ATP-citrate lyase,
(2) uptake of glutamine,
(3) generation of glutamate from glutamine,
(4) transamination of pyruvate and glutamate to alanine and to 2-oxoglutarate,
(5) secretion of nitrogen, and
(6) secretion of alanine.



The Molt-4 model showed higher utilization of oxidative phosphorylation (Fig. 3), again supported by
elevated median flux through ATP synthase (36 %) and other enzymes, which contributed to higher oxidative metabolism. The sampling analysis therefore revealed different usage of central metabolic pathways by the condition-specific models.

Fig. 2

Differences in the use of  the TCA cycle by the CCRF-CEM model (red) and the Molt-4 model (blue).

Differences in the use of the TCA cycle by the CCRF-CEM model (red) and the Molt-4 model (blue).

Differences in the use of the TCA cycle by the CCRF-CEM model (red) and the Molt-4 model (blue).

The table provides the median values of the sampling results. Negative values in histograms and in the table describe reversible reactions with flux in the reverse direction. There are multiple reversible reactions for the transformation of isocitrate and α-ketoglutarate, malate and fumarate, and succinyl-CoA and succinate. These reactions are unbounded, and therefore histograms are not shown. The details of participating cofactors have been removed.

Figure 3.

Molt-4 has higher median flux through ETC reactions II–IV 11306_2014_721_Fig3_HTML

Molt-4 has higher median flux through ETC reactions II–IV 11306_2014_721_Fig3_HTML

Atp ATP, cit citrate, adp ADP, pi phosphate, oaa oxaloacetate, accoa acetyl-CoA, coa coenzyme-A, icit isocitrate, αkg α-ketoglutarate, succ-coa succinyl-CoA, succ succinate, fumfumarate, mal malate, oxa oxaloacetate,
pyr pyruvate, lac lactate, ala alanine, gln glutamine, ETC electron transport chain

Ingenuity network analysis showing up (red) and downregulation (green) of miRNAs involved in PC and their target genes

Ingenuity network analysis showing up (red) and downregulation (green) of miRNAs involved in PC and their target genes

metabolic pathways 1476-4598-10-70-1

metabolic pathways 1476-4598-10-70-1

Metabolic Systems Research Team fig2

Metabolic Systems Research Team fig2

Metabolic control analysis of respiration in human cancer tissue. fphys-04-00151-g001

Metabolic control analysis of respiration in human cancer tissue. fphys-04-00151-g001

Metabolome Informatics Research fig1

Metabolome Informatics Research fig1

Modelling of Central Metabolism network3

Modelling of Central Metabolism network3

N. gaditana metabolic pathway map ncomms1688-f4

N. gaditana metabolic pathway map ncomms1688-f4

protein changes in biological mechanisms

protein changes in biological mechanisms

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