Biomolecules2016, 6(3), 36; doi:10.3390/biom6030036 - published 19 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Tau protein is mainly intracellular. However, several studies have demonstrated that full-length Tau can be released into the interstitial fluid of the brain. The physiological or pathological function of this extracellular Tau remains unknown. Moreover, as evidence suggests, extracellular Tau aggregates can be internalized by neurons, seeding Tau aggregation. However, much less is known about small species of Tau. In this study, we hypothesized that the status of phosphorylation could alter the internalization of recombinant Tau in Neuro2A and cortical cells. Our preliminary results revealed that the highly phosphorylated form of Tau entered the cells ten times more easily than a low phosphorylated one. This suggests that hyperphosphorylated Tau protein could spread between neurons in pathological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Biomolecules2016, 6(3), 34; doi:10.3390/biom6030034 - published 30 July 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Glycosylation is one of the most abundant post-translational modifications that occur within the cell. Under normal physiological conditions, O-linked glycosylation of extracellular proteins is critical for both structure and function. During the progression of cancer, however, the expression of aberrant and truncated glycans is commonly observed. Mucins are high molecular weight glycoproteins that contain numerous sites of O-glycosylation within their extracellular domains. Transmembrane mucins also play a functional role in monitoring the surrounding microenvironment and transducing these signals into the cell. In cancer, these mucins often take on an oncogenic role and promote a number of pro-tumorigenic effects, including pro-survival, migratory, and invasive behaviors. Within this review, we highlight both the processes involved in the expression of aberrant glycan structures on mucins, as well as the potential downstream impacts on cellular signaling.
Biomolecules2016, 6(3), 33; doi:10.3390/biom6030033 - published 11 July 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Mucin-type O-glycosylation plays a crucial role in several physiological and pathological processes of the gastric tissue. Modifications in enzymes responsible for key glycosylation steps and the consequent abnormal biosynthesis and expression of their glycan products constitute well-established molecular hallmarks of disease state. This review addresses the major role played by mucins and associated O-glycan structures in Helicobacter pylori adhesion to the gastric mucosa and the subsequent establishment of a chronic infection, with concomitant drastic alterations of the gastric epithelium glycophenotype. Furthermore, alterations of mucin expression pattern and glycan signatures occurring in preneoplastic lesions and in gastric carcinoma are also described, as well as their impact throughout the gastric carcinogenesis cascade and in cancer progression. Altogether, mucin-type O-glycosylation alterations may represent promising biomarkers with potential screening and prognostic applications, as well as predictors of cancer patients’ response to therapy.
Abstract: First introduced during the late 1800s, radiation therapy is fundamental to the treatment of cancer. In developed countries, approximately 60% of all patients receive radiation therapy (also known as the sixty percenters), which makes radioresistance in cancer an important and, to date, unsolved, clinical problem. Unfortunately, the therapeutic refractoriness of solid tumors is the rule not the exception, and the ubiquity of resistance also extends to standard chemotherapy, molecularly targeted therapy and immunotherapy. Based on extrapolation from recent clinical inroads with epigenetic agents to prime refractory tumors for maximum sensitivity to concurrent or subsequent therapies, the radioresistant phenotype is potentially reversible, since aberrant epigenetic mechanisms are critical contributors to the evolution of resistant subpopulations of malignant cells. Within the framework of a syllogism, this review explores the emerging link between epigenetics and the development of radioresistance and makes the case that a strategy of pre- or co-treatment with epigenetic agents has the potential to, not only derepress inappropriately silenced genes, but also increase reactive oxygen species production, resulting in the restoration of radiosensitivity.
Biomolecules2016, 6(3), 31; doi:10.3390/biom6030031 - published 29 June 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Cancer vaccines have often failed to live up to their promise, although recent results with checkpoint inhibitors are reviving hopes that they will soon fulfill their promise. Although mutation-specific vaccines are under development, there is still high interest in an off-the-shelf vaccine to a ubiquitous antigen, such as MUC1, which is aberrantly expressed on most solid and many hematological tumors, including more than 90% of breast carcinomas. Clinical trials for MUC1 have shown variable success, likely because of immunological tolerance to a self-antigen and to poor immunogenicity of tandem repeat peptides. We hypothesized that MUC1 peptides could be optimized, relying on heteroclitic optimizations of potential anchor amino acids with and without tumor-specific glycosylation of the peptides. We have identified novel MUC1 class I peptides that bind to HLA-A*0201 molecules with significantly higher affinity and function than the native MUC1 peptides. These peptides elicited CTLs from normal donors, as well as breast cancer patients, which were highly effective in killing MUC1-expressing MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Each peptide elicited lytic responses in greater than 6/8 of normal individuals and 3/3 breast cancer patients. The CTLs generated against the glycosylated-anchor modified peptides cross reacted with the native MUC1 peptide, STAPPVHNV, suggesting these analog peptides may offer substantial improvement in the design of epitope-based vaccines.