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.
Biomolecules2016, 6(3), 29; doi:10.3390/biom6030029 - published 24 June 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Chronic alcohol consumption induces multi-organ damage, including alcoholic liver disease (ALD), pancreatitis and hypertension. Ethanol and ethanol metabolic products play a significant role in the manifestation of its toxicity. Ethanol metabolizes to acetaldehyde and produces reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) by cytosolic alcohol dehydrogenase. Ethanol metabolism mediated by cytochrome-P450 2E1 causes oxidative stress due to increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Acetaldehyde, increased redox cellular state and ROS activate transcription factors, which in turn activate genes for lipid biosynthesis and offer protection of hepatocytes from alcohol toxicity. Sterol regulatory element binding proteins (SREBPs) and peroxisome proliferator activated-receptors (PPARs) are two key lipogenic transcription factors implicated in the development of fatty liver in alcoholic and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. SREBP-1 is activated in the livers of chronic ethanol abusers. An increase in ROS activates nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor-2 (Nrf2) and hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) to provide protection to hepatocytes from ethanol toxicity. Under ethanol exposure, due to increased gut permeability, there is release of gram-negative bacteria-derived lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from intestine causing activation of immune response. In addition, the metabolic product, acetaldehyde, modifies the proteins in hepatocyte, which become antigens inviting auto-immune response. LPS activates macrophages, especially the liver resident macrophages, Kupffer cells. These Kupffer cells and circulating macrophages secrete various cytokines. The level of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα), interleukin-1beta (IL-1β), IL-6, IL-8 and IL-12 have been found elevated among chronic alcoholics. In addition to elevation of these cytokines, the peripheral iron (Fe2+) is also mobilized. An increased level of hepatic iron has been observed among alcoholics. Increased ROS, IL-1β, acetaldehyde, and increased hepatic iron, all activate nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) transcription factor. Resolution of increased reactive oxygen species requires increased expression of genes responsible for dismutation of increased ROS which is partially achieved by IL-6 mediated activation of signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3). In addition to these transcription factors, activator protein-1 may also be activated in hepatocytes due to its association with resolution of increased ROS. These transcription factors are central to alcohol-mediated hepatotoxicity.
Biomolecules2016, 6(3), 30; doi:10.3390/biom6030030 - published 24 June 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: RNase P, the essential activity that performs the 5′ maturation of tRNA precursors, can be achieved either by ribonucleoproteins containing a ribozyme present in the three domains of life or by protein-only enzymes called protein-only RNase P (PRORP) that occur in eukaryote nuclei and organelles. A fast growing list of studies has investigated three-dimensional structures and mode of action of PRORP proteins. Results suggest that similar to ribozymes, PRORP proteins have two main domains. A clear functional analogy can be drawn between the specificity domain of the RNase P ribozyme and PRORP pentatricopeptide repeat domain, and between the ribozyme catalytic domain and PRORP N4BP1, YacP-like Nuclease domain. Moreover, both types of enzymes appear to dock with the acceptor arm of tRNA precursors and make specific contacts with the corner of pre-tRNAs. While some clear differences can still be delineated between PRORP and ribonucleoprotein (RNP) RNase P, the two types of enzymes seem to use, fundamentally, the same catalytic mechanism involving two metal ions. The occurrence of PRORP and RNP RNase P represents a remarkable example of convergent evolution. It might be the unique witness of an ongoing replacement of catalytic RNAs by proteins for enzymatic activities.
Abstract: In this review, we focus on what we have learned from Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) studies on the neuronal microtubule-associated protein Tau. We consider both the mechanistic details of Tau: the tubulin relationship and its aggregation process. Phosphorylation of Tau is intimately linked to both aspects. NMR spectroscopy has depicted accurate phosphorylation patterns by different kinases, and its non-destructive character has allowed functional assays with the same samples. Finally, we will discuss other post-translational modifications of Tau and its interaction with other cellular factors in relationship to its (dys)function.