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Biomolecules, Volume 7, Issue 4 (December 2017)

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Review

Open AccessReview The Physiological and Pathological Implications of the Formation of Hydrogels, with a Specific Focus on Amyloid Polypeptides
Biomolecules 2017, 7(4), 70; doi:10.3390/biom7040070
Received: 20 July 2017 / Revised: 30 August 2017 / Accepted: 18 September 2017 / Published: 22 September 2017
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Abstract
Hydrogels are water-swollen and viscoelastic three-dimensional cross-linked polymeric network originating from monomer polymerisation. Hydrogel-forming polypeptides are widely found in nature and, at a cellular and organismal level, they provide a wide range of functions for the organism making them. Amyloid structures, arising from
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Hydrogels are water-swollen and viscoelastic three-dimensional cross-linked polymeric network originating from monomer polymerisation. Hydrogel-forming polypeptides are widely found in nature and, at a cellular and organismal level, they provide a wide range of functions for the organism making them. Amyloid structures, arising from polypeptide aggregation, can be damaging or beneficial to different types of organisms. Although the best-known amyloids are those associated with human pathologies, this underlying structure is commonly used by higher eukaryotes to maintain normal cellular activities, and also by microbial communities to promote their survival and growth. Amyloidogenesis occurs by nucleation-dependent polymerisation, which includes several species (monomers, nuclei, oligomers, and fibrils). Oligomers of pathological amyloids are considered the toxic species through cellular membrane perturbation, with the fibrils thought to represent a protective sink for toxic species. However, both functional and disease-associated amyloids use fibril cross-linking to form hydrogels. The properties of amyloid hydrogels can be exploited by organisms to fulfil specific physiological functions. Non-physiological hydrogelation by pathological amyloids may provide additional toxic mechanism(s), outside of membrane toxicity by oligomers, such as physical changes to the intracellular and extracellular environments, with wide-spread consequences for many structural and dynamic processes, and overall effects on cell survival. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Amyloids)
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Open AccessReview Why are Functional Amyloids Non-Toxic in Humans?
Biomolecules 2017, 7(4), 71; doi:10.3390/biom7040071
Received: 21 July 2017 / Revised: 18 September 2017 / Accepted: 20 September 2017 / Published: 22 September 2017
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Abstract
Amyloids were first identified in association with amyloidoses, human diseases in which proteins and peptides misfold into amyloid fibrils. Subsequent studies have identified an array of functional amyloid fibrils that perform physiological roles in humans. Given the potential for the production of toxic
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Amyloids were first identified in association with amyloidoses, human diseases in which proteins and peptides misfold into amyloid fibrils. Subsequent studies have identified an array of functional amyloid fibrils that perform physiological roles in humans. Given the potential for the production of toxic species in amyloid assembly reactions, it is remarkable that cells can produce these functional amyloids without suffering any obvious ill effect. Although the precise mechanisms are unclear, there are a number of ways in which amyloid toxicity may be prevented. These include regulating the level of the amyloidogenic peptides and proteins, minimising the production of prefibrillar oligomers in amyloid assembly reactions, sequestrating amyloids within membrane bound organelles, controlling amyloid assembly by other molecules, and disassembling the fibrils under physiological conditions. Crucially, a better understanding of how toxicity is avoided in the production of functional amyloids may provide insights into the prevention of amyloid toxicity in amyloidoses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Amyloids)
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Open AccessReview Peptidylprolyl Isomerases as In Vivo Carriers for Drugs That Target Various Intracellular Entities
Biomolecules 2017, 7(4), 72; doi:10.3390/biom7040072
Received: 24 August 2017 / Revised: 20 September 2017 / Accepted: 26 September 2017 / Published: 29 September 2017
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Abstract
Analyses of sequences and structures of the cyclosporine A (CsA)-binding proteins (cyclophilins) and the immunosuppressive macrolide FK506-binding proteins (FKBPs) have revealed that they exhibit peculiar spatial distributions of charges, their overall hydrophobicity indexes vary within a considerable level whereas their points isoelectric (pIs)
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Analyses of sequences and structures of the cyclosporine A (CsA)-binding proteins (cyclophilins) and the immunosuppressive macrolide FK506-binding proteins (FKBPs) have revealed that they exhibit peculiar spatial distributions of charges, their overall hydrophobicity indexes vary within a considerable level whereas their points isoelectric (pIs) are contained from 4 to 11. These two families of peptidylprolyl cis/trans isomerases (PPIases) have several distinct functional attributes such as: (1) high affinity binding to some pharmacologically-useful hydrophobic macrocyclic drugs; (2) diversified binding epitopes to proteins that may induce transient manifolds with altered flexibility and functional fitness; and (3) electrostatic interactions between positively charged segments of PPIases and negatively charged intracellular entities that support their spatial integration. These three attributes enhance binding of PPIase/pharmacophore complexes to diverse intracellular entities, some of which perturb signalization pathways causing immunosuppression and other system-altering phenomena in humans. Full article
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Open AccessReview Friends Turned Foes: Angiogenic Growth Factors beyond Angiogenesis
Biomolecules 2017, 7(4), 74; doi:10.3390/biom7040074
Received: 11 August 2017 / Revised: 15 September 2017 / Accepted: 22 September 2017 / Published: 2 October 2017
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Abstract
Angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones is a biological process that ensures an adequate blood flow is maintained to provide the cells with a sufficient supply of nutrients and oxygen within the body. Numerous soluble growth factors and inhibitors,
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Angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones is a biological process that ensures an adequate blood flow is maintained to provide the cells with a sufficient supply of nutrients and oxygen within the body. Numerous soluble growth factors and inhibitors, cytokines, proteases as well as extracellular matrix proteins and adhesion molecules stringently regulate the multi-factorial process of angiogenesis. The properties and interactions of key angiogenic molecules such as vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs), fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) and angiopoietins have been investigated in great detail with respect to their molecular impact on angiogenesis. Since the discovery of angiogenic growth factors, much research has been focused on their biological actions and their potential use as therapeutic targets for angiogenic or anti-angiogenic strategies in a context-dependent manner depending on the pathologies. It is generally accepted that these factors play an indispensable role in angiogenesis. However, it is becoming increasingly evident that this is not their only role and it is likely that the angiogenic factors have important functions in a wider range of biological and pathological processes. The additional roles played by these molecules in numerous pathologies and biological processes beyond angiogenesis are discussed in this review. Full article
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