Open AccessArticle
The Extracellular Domain of Human High Affinity Copper Transporter (hNdCTR1), Synthesized by E. coli Cells, Chelates Silver and Copper Ions In Vivo
Biomolecules 2017, 7(4), 78; doi:10.3390/biom7040078 -
Abstract
There is much interest in effective copper chelators to correct copper dyshomeostasis in neurodegenerative and oncological diseases. In this study, a recombinant fusion protein for expression in Escherichia coli cells was constructed from glutathione-S-transferase (GST) and the N-terminal domain (ectodomain) of human high
[...] Read more.
There is much interest in effective copper chelators to correct copper dyshomeostasis in neurodegenerative and oncological diseases. In this study, a recombinant fusion protein for expression in Escherichia coli cells was constructed from glutathione-S-transferase (GST) and the N-terminal domain (ectodomain) of human high affinity copper transporter CTR1 (hNdCTR1), which has three metal-bound motifs. Several biological properties of the GST-hNdCTR1 fusion protein were assessed. It was demonstrated that in cells, the protein was prone to oligomerization, formed inclusion bodies and displayed no toxicity. Treatment of E. coli cells with copper and silver ions reduced cell viability in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Cells expressing GST-hNdCTR1 protein demonstrated resistance to the metal treatments. These cells accumulated silver ions and formed nanoparticles that contained AgCl and metallic silver. In this bacterial population, filamentous bacteria with a length of about 10 µm were often observed. The possibility for the fusion protein carrying extracellular metal binding motifs to integrate into the cell’s copper metabolism and its chelating properties are discussed. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview
Revealing Accessibility of Cryptic Protein Binding Sites within the Functional Collagen Fibril
Biomolecules 2017, 7(4), 76; doi:10.3390/biom7040076 -
Abstract
Fibrillar collagens are the most abundant proteins in the extracellular matrix. Not only do they provide structural integrity to all of the connective tissues in the human body, but also their interactions with multiple cell receptors and other matrix molecules are essential to
[...] Read more.
Fibrillar collagens are the most abundant proteins in the extracellular matrix. Not only do they provide structural integrity to all of the connective tissues in the human body, but also their interactions with multiple cell receptors and other matrix molecules are essential to cell functions, such as growth, repair, and cell adhesion. Although specific binding sequences of several receptors have been determined along the collagen monomer, processes by which collagen binding partners recognize their binding sites in the collagen fibril, and the critical driving interactions, are poorly understood. The complex molecular assembly of bundled triple helices within the collagen fibril makes essential ligand binding sites cryptic or hidden from the molecular surface. Yet, critical biological processes that require collagen ligands to have access to interaction sites still occur. In this contribution, we will discuss the molecular packing of the collagen I fibril from the perspective of how collagen ligands access their known binding regions within the fibril, and we will present our analysis of binding site accessibility from the fibril surface. Understanding the basis of these interactions at the atomic level sets the stage for developing drug targets against debilitating collagen diseases and using collagen as drug delivery systems and new biomaterials. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Evolutionary Conservation of the Components in the TOR Signaling Pathways
Biomolecules 2017, 7(4), 77; doi:10.3390/biom7040077 -
Abstract
Target of rapamycin (TOR) is an evolutionarily conserved protein kinase that controls multiple cellular processes upon various intracellular and extracellular stimuli. Since its first discovery, extensive studies have been conducted both in yeast and animal species including humans. Those studies have revealed that
[...] Read more.
Target of rapamycin (TOR) is an evolutionarily conserved protein kinase that controls multiple cellular processes upon various intracellular and extracellular stimuli. Since its first discovery, extensive studies have been conducted both in yeast and animal species including humans. Those studies have revealed that TOR forms two structurally and physiologically distinct protein complexes; TOR complex 1 (TORC1) is ubiquitous among eukaryotes including animals, yeast, protozoa, and plants, while TOR complex 2 (TORC2) is conserved in diverse eukaryotic species other than plants. The studies have also identified two crucial regulators of mammalian TORC1 (mTORC1), Ras homolog enriched in brain (RHEB) and RAG GTPases. Of these, RAG regulates TORC1 in yeast as well and is conserved among eukaryotes with the green algae and land plants as apparent exceptions. RHEB is present in various eukaryotes but sporadically missing in multiple taxa. RHEB, in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, appears to be extremely divergent with concomitant loss of its function as a TORC1 regulator. In this review, we summarize the evolutionarily conserved functions of the key regulatory subunits of TORC1 and TORC2, namely RAPTOR, RICTOR, and SIN1. We also delve into the evolutionary conservation of RHEB and RAG and discuss the conserved roles of these GTPases in regulating TORC1. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
The Production of Curli Amyloid Fibers Is Deeply Integrated into the Biology of Escherichia coli
Biomolecules 2017, 7(4), 75; doi:10.3390/biom7040075 -
Abstract
Curli amyloid fibers are the major protein component of the extracellular matrix produced by Enterobacteriaceae during biofilm formation. Curli are required for proper biofilm development and environmental persistence by Escherichia coli. Here, we present a complete and vetted genetic analysis of functional
[...] Read more.
Curli amyloid fibers are the major protein component of the extracellular matrix produced by Enterobacteriaceae during biofilm formation. Curli are required for proper biofilm development and environmental persistence by Escherichia coli. Here, we present a complete and vetted genetic analysis of functional amyloid fiber biogenesis. The Keio collection of single gene deletions was screened on Congo red indicator plates to identify E. coli mutants that had defective amyloid production. We discovered that more than three hundred gene products modulated curli production. These genes were involved in fundamental cellular processes such as regulation, environmental sensing, respiration, metabolism, cell envelope biogenesis, transport, and protein turnover. The alternative sigma factors, σS and σE, had opposing roles in curli production. Mutations that induced the σE or Cpx stress response systems had reduced curli production, while mutant strains with increased σS levels had increased curli production. Mutations in metabolic pathways, including gluconeogenesis and the biosynthesis of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), produced less curli. Regulation of the master biofilm regulator, CsgD, was diverse, and the screen revealed several proteins and small RNAs (sRNA) that regulate csgD messenger RNA (mRNA) levels. Using previously published studies, we found minimal overlap between the genes affecting curli biogenesis and genes known to impact swimming or swarming motility, underlying the distinction between motile and sessile lifestyles. Collectively, the diversity and number of elements required suggest curli production is part of a highly regulated and complex developmental pathway in E. coli. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview
Friends Turned Foes: Angiogenic Growth Factors beyond Angiogenesis
Biomolecules 2017, 7(4), 74; doi:10.3390/biom7040074 -
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,
[...] Read more.
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
Figures

Open AccessReview
Peptidylprolyl Isomerases as In Vivo Carriers for Drugs That Target Various Intracellular Entities
Biomolecules 2017, 7(4), 72; doi:10.3390/biom7040072 -
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)
[...] Read more.
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
Figures

Open AccessReview
Why are Functional Amyloids Non-Toxic in Humans?
Biomolecules 2017, 7(4), 71; doi:10.3390/biom7040071 -
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
[...] Read more.
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
Figures

Figure 1

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 -
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
[...] Read more.
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
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Self-Assembly of Human Serum Albumin: A Simplex Phenomenon
Biomolecules 2017, 7(3), 69; doi:10.3390/biom7030069 -
Abstract
Spontaneous self-assemblies of biomolecules can generate geometrical patterns. Our findings provide an insight into the mechanism of self-assembled ring pattern generation by human serum albumin (HSA). The self-assembly is a process guided by kinetic and thermodynamic parameters. The generated protein ring patterns display
[...] Read more.
Spontaneous self-assemblies of biomolecules can generate geometrical patterns. Our findings provide an insight into the mechanism of self-assembled ring pattern generation by human serum albumin (HSA). The self-assembly is a process guided by kinetic and thermodynamic parameters. The generated protein ring patterns display a behavior which is geometrically related to a n-simplex model and is explained through thermodynamics and chemical kinetics. Full article
Figures

Open AccessArticle
Structure-Dependent Interfacial Properties of Chaplin F from Streptomyces coelicolor
Biomolecules 2017, 7(3), 68; doi:10.3390/biom7030068 -
Abstract
Chaplin F (Chp F) is a secreted surface-active peptide involved in the aerial growth of Streptomyces. While Chp E demonstrates a pH-responsive surface activity, the relationship between Chp F structure, function and the effect of solution pH is unknown. Chp F peptides
[...] Read more.
Chaplin F (Chp F) is a secreted surface-active peptide involved in the aerial growth of Streptomyces. While Chp E demonstrates a pH-responsive surface activity, the relationship between Chp F structure, function and the effect of solution pH is unknown. Chp F peptides were found to self-assemble into amyloid fibrils at acidic pH (3.0 or the isoelectric point (pI) of 4.2), with ~99% of peptides converted into insoluble fibrils. In contrast, Chp F formed short assemblies containing a mixture of random coil and β-sheet structure at a basic pH of 10.0, where only 40% of the peptides converted to fibrils. The cysteine residues in Chp F did not appear to play a role in fibril assembly. The interfacial properties of Chp F at the air/water interface were altered by the structures adopted at different pH, with Chp F molecules forming a higher surface-active film at pH 10.0 with a lower area per molecule compared to Chp F fibrils at pH 3.0. These data show that the pH responsiveness of Chp F surface activity is the reverse of that observed for Chp E, which could prove useful in potential applications where surface activity is desired over a wide range of solution pH. Full article
Figures

Open AccessArticle
Functional Amyloid Protection in the Eye Lens: Retention of α-Crystallin Molecular Chaperone Activity after Modification into Amyloid Fibrils
Biomolecules 2017, 7(3), 67; doi:10.3390/biom7030067 -
Abstract
Amyloid fibril formation occurs from a wide range of peptides and proteins and is typically associated with a loss of protein function and/or a gain of toxic function, as the native structure of the protein undergoes major alteration to form a cross β-sheet
[...] Read more.
Amyloid fibril formation occurs from a wide range of peptides and proteins and is typically associated with a loss of protein function and/or a gain of toxic function, as the native structure of the protein undergoes major alteration to form a cross β-sheet array. It is now well recognised that some amyloid fibrils have a biological function, which has led to increased interest in the potential that these so-called functional amyloids may either retain the function of the native protein, or gain function upon adopting a fibrillar structure. Herein, we investigate the molecular chaperone ability of α-crystallin, the predominant eye lens protein which is composed of two related subunits αA- and αB-crystallin, and its capacity to retain and even enhance its chaperone activity after forming aggregate structures under conditions of thermal and chemical stress. We demonstrate that both eye lens α-crystallin and αB-crystallin (which is also found extensively outside the lens) retain, to a significant degree, their molecular chaperone activity under conditions of structural change, including after formation into amyloid fibrils and amorphous aggregates. The results can be related directly to the effects of aging on the structure and chaperone function of α-crystallin in the eye lens, particularly its ability to prevent crystallin protein aggregation and hence lens opacification associated with cataract formation. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview
The TORC2‐Dependent Signaling Network in the Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Biomolecules 2017, 7(3), 66; doi:10.3390/biom7030066 -
Abstract
To grow, eukaryotic cells must expand by inserting glycerolipids, sphingolipids, sterols, and proteins into their plasma membrane, and maintain the proper levels and bilayer distribution. A fungal cell must coordinate growth with enlargement of its cell wall. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a plasma
[...] Read more.
To grow, eukaryotic cells must expand by inserting glycerolipids, sphingolipids, sterols, and proteins into their plasma membrane, and maintain the proper levels and bilayer distribution. A fungal cell must coordinate growth with enlargement of its cell wall. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a plasma membrane‐localized protein kinase complex, Target of Rapamicin (TOR) complex‐2 (TORC2) (mammalian ortholog is mTORC2), serves as a sensor and masterregulator of these plasma membrane‐ and cell wall‐associated events by directly phosphorylating and thereby stimulating the activity of two types of effector protein kinases: Ypk1 (mammalian ortholog is SGK1), along with a paralog (Ypk2); and, Pkc1 (mammalian ortholog is PKN2/PRK2). Ypk1 is a central regulator of pathways and processes required for plasma membrane lipid and protein homeostasis, and requires phosphorylation on its T‐loop by eisosome‐associated protein kinase Pkh1 (mammalian ortholog is PDK1) and a paralog (Pkh2). For cell survival under various stresses, Ypk1 function requires TORC2‐mediated phosphorylation at multiple sites near its C terminus. Pkc1 controls diverse processes, especially cell wall synthesis and integrity. Pkc1 is also regulated by Pkh1‐ and TORC2‐dependent phosphorylation, but, in addition, by interaction with Rho1‐GTP and lipids phosphatidylserine (PtdSer) and diacylglycerol (DAG). We also describe here what is currently known about the downstream substrates modulated by Ypk1‐mediated and Pkc1‐mediated phosphorylation. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
tRNA Modification Detection Using Graphene Nanopores: A Simulation Study
Biomolecules 2017, 7(3), 65; doi:10.3390/biom7030065 -
Abstract
There are over 100 enzyme-catalyzed modifications on transfer RNA (tRNA) molecules. The levels and identity of wobble uridine (U) modifications are affected by environmental conditions and diseased states, making wobble U detection a potential biomarker for exposures and pathological conditions. The current detection
[...] Read more.
There are over 100 enzyme-catalyzed modifications on transfer RNA (tRNA) molecules. The levels and identity of wobble uridine (U) modifications are affected by environmental conditions and diseased states, making wobble U detection a potential biomarker for exposures and pathological conditions. The current detection of RNA modifications requires working with nucleosides in bulk samples. Nanopore detection technology uses a single-molecule approach that has the potential to detect tRNA modifications. To evaluate the feasibility of this approach, we have performed all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulation studies of a five-layered graphene nanopore by localizing canonical and modified uridine nucleosides. We found that in a 1 M KCl solution with applied positive and negative biases not exceeding 2 V, nanopores can distinguish U from 5-carbonylmethyluridine (cm5U), 5-methoxycarbonylmethyluridine (mcm5U), 5-methoxycarbonylmethyl-2-thiouridine (mcm5s2U), and 5-methoxycarbonylmethyl-2′-O-methyluridine (mcm5Um) based on changes in the resistance of the nanopore. Specifically, we observed that in nanopores with dimensions less than 3 nm diameter, a localized mcm5Um and mcm5U modifications could be clearly distinguished from the canonical uridine, while the other modifications showed a modest yet detectable decrease in their respective nanopore conductance. We have compared the results between nanopores of various sizes to aid in the design, optimization, and fabrication of graphene nanopores devices for tRNA modification detection. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Comparative Degradation of a Thiazole Pollutant by an Advanced Oxidation Process and an Enzymatic Approach
Biomolecules 2017, 7(3), 64; doi:10.3390/biom7030064 -
Abstract
Organic pollutants, especially those found in water bodies, pose a direct threat to various aquatic organisms as well as humans. A variety of different remediation approaches, including chemical and biological methods, have been developed for the degradation of various organic pollutants. However, comparative
[...] Read more.
Organic pollutants, especially those found in water bodies, pose a direct threat to various aquatic organisms as well as humans. A variety of different remediation approaches, including chemical and biological methods, have been developed for the degradation of various organic pollutants. However, comparative mechanistic studies of pollutant degradation by these different systems are almost non-existent. In this study, the degradation of a model thiazole pollutant, thioflavin T (ThT), was carried out in the presence of either an advanced oxidation process (ultraviolet (UV) + H2O2) or a chloroperoxidase enzyme system (CPO + H2O2). The degradation was followed both spectrophotometrically and using liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy (LC-MS), and the products formed were identified using tandem liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry-mass spectrometry (LC-MS-MS). The results show that the two remediation approaches produced different sets of intermediates, with only one common species (a demethylated form of ThT). This suggests that different degradation schemes were operating in the two systems. Interestingly, one of the major intermediates produced by the CPO + H2O2 system was a chlorinated form of thioflavin. Phytotoxicity studies showed that the CPO + H2O2-treated ThT solution was significantly (p <0.05) less toxic than the UV + H2O2-treated ThT solution. This is the first time that a comparative mechanistic study showing in detail the intermediates generated in chemical and biological remediation methods has been presented. Furthermore, the results show that different remediation systems have very different degradation schemes and result in products having different toxicities. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview
In Quest for Improved Drugs against Diabetes: The Added Value of X-ray Powder Diffraction Methods
Biomolecules 2017, 7(3), 63; doi:10.3390/biom7030063 -
Abstract
Human insulin (HI) is a well-characterized natural hormone which regulates glycose levels into the blood-stream and is widely used for diabetes treatment. Numerous studies have manifested that despite significant efforts devoted to structural characterization of this molecule and its complexes with organic compounds
[...] Read more.
Human insulin (HI) is a well-characterized natural hormone which regulates glycose levels into the blood-stream and is widely used for diabetes treatment. Numerous studies have manifested that despite significant efforts devoted to structural characterization of this molecule and its complexes with organic compounds (ligands), there is still a rich diagram of phase transitions and novel crystalline forms to be discovered. Towards the improvement of drug delivery, identification of new insulin polymorphs from polycrystalline samples, simulating the commercially available drugs, is feasible today via macromolecular X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD). This approach has been developed, and is considered as a respectable method, which can be employed in biosciences for various purposes, such as observing phase transitions and characterizing bulk pharmaceuticals. An overview of the structural studies on human insulin complexes performed over the past decade employing both synchrotron and laboratory sources for XRPD measurements, is reported herein. This review aims to assemble all of the recent advances in the diabetes treatment field in terms of drug formulation, verifying in parallel the efficiency and applicability of protein XRPD for quick and accurate preliminary structural characterization in the large scale. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview
Organ–Organ Crosstalk and Alcoholic Liver Disease
Biomolecules 2017, 7(3), 62; doi:10.3390/biom7030062 -
Abstract
Alcohol consumption is a common custom worldwide, and the toxic effects of alcohol on several target organs are well-understood. Given the poor prognosis of treating clinically-relevant alcoholic liver disease (ALD) (i.e., alcoholic hepatitis (AH) and cirrhosis), additional research is required to develop more
[...] Read more.
Alcohol consumption is a common custom worldwide, and the toxic effects of alcohol on several target organs are well-understood. Given the poor prognosis of treating clinically-relevant alcoholic liver disease (ALD) (i.e., alcoholic hepatitis (AH) and cirrhosis), additional research is required to develop more effective therapies. While the stages of ALD have been well-characterized, targeted therapies to prevent or reverse this process in humans are still needed. Better understanding of risk factors and mechanisms underlying disease progression can lead to the development of rational therapies to prevent or reverse ALD in the clinic. A potential area of targeted therapy for ALD may be organ–organ communication in the early stages of the disease. In contrast to AH and end-stage liver diseases, the involvement of multiple organs in the development of ALD is less understood. The impact of these changes on pathology to the liver and other organs may not only influence disease progression during the development of the disease, but also outcomes of end stages diseases. The purpose of this review is to summarize the established and proposed communication between the liver and other organ systems that may contribute to the development and progression of liver disease, as well as to other organs. Potential mechanisms of this organ–organ communication are also discussed. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview
Alcohol and Cancer: Mechanisms and Therapies
Biomolecules 2017, 7(3), 61; doi:10.3390/biom7030061 -
Abstract
Several scientific and clinical studies have shown an association between chronic alcohol consumption and the occurrence of cancer in humans. The mechanism for alcohol-induced carcinogenesis has not been fully understood, although plausible events include genotoxic effects of acetaldehyde, cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1)-mediated generation
[...] Read more.
Several scientific and clinical studies have shown an association between chronic alcohol consumption and the occurrence of cancer in humans. The mechanism for alcohol-induced carcinogenesis has not been fully understood, although plausible events include genotoxic effects of acetaldehyde, cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1)-mediated generation of reactive oxygen species, aberrant metabolism of folate and retinoids, increased estrogen, and genetic polymorphisms. Here, we summarize the impact of alcohol drinking on the risk of cancer development and potential underlying molecular mechanisms. The interactions between alcohol abuse, anti-tumor immune response, tumor growth, and metastasis are complex. However, multiple studies have linked the immunosuppressive effects of alcohol with tumor progression and metastasis. The influence of alcohol on the host immune system and the development of possible effective immunotherapy for cancer in alcoholics are also discussed here. The conclusive biological effects of alcohol on tumor progression and malignancy have not been investigated extensively using an animal model that mimics the human disease. This review provides insights into cancer pathogenesis in alcoholics, alcohol and immune interactions in different cancers, and scope and future of targeted immunotherapeutic modalities in patients with alcohol abuse. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview
The Role of Functional Amyloids in Multicellular Growth and Development of Gram-Positive Bacteria
Biomolecules 2017, 7(3), 60; doi:10.3390/biom7030060 -
Abstract
Amyloid fibrils play pivotal roles in all domains of life. In bacteria, these fibrillar structures are often part of an extracellular matrix that surrounds the producing organism and thereby provides protection to harsh environmental conditions. Here, we discuss the role of amyloid fibrils
[...] Read more.
Amyloid fibrils play pivotal roles in all domains of life. In bacteria, these fibrillar structures are often part of an extracellular matrix that surrounds the producing organism and thereby provides protection to harsh environmental conditions. Here, we discuss the role of amyloid fibrils in the two distant Gram-positive bacteria, Streptomyces coelicolor and Bacillus subtilis. We describe how amyloid fibrils contribute to a multitude of developmental processes in each of these systems, including multicellular growth and community development. Despite this variety of tasks, we know surprisingly little about how their assembly is organized to fulfill all these roles. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Direct Identification of Functional Amyloid Proteins by Label-Free Quantitative Mass Spectrometry
Biomolecules 2017, 7(3), 58; doi:10.3390/biom7030058 -
Abstract
Functional amyloids are important structural and functional components of many biofilms, yet our knowledge of these fascinating polymers is limited to a few examples for which the native amyloids have been isolated in pure form. Isolation of the functional amyloids from other cell
[...] Read more.
Functional amyloids are important structural and functional components of many biofilms, yet our knowledge of these fascinating polymers is limited to a few examples for which the native amyloids have been isolated in pure form. Isolation of the functional amyloids from other cell components represents a major bottleneck in the search for new functional amyloid systems. Here we present a label-free quantitative mass spectrometry method that allows identification of amyloid proteins directly in cell lysates. The method takes advantage of the extreme structural stability and polymeric nature of functional amyloids and the ability of concentrated formic acid to depolymerize the amyloids. An automated data processing pipeline that provides a short list of amyloid protein candidates was developed based on an amyloid-specific sigmoidal abundance signature in samples treated with increasing concentrations of formic acid. The method was evaluated using the Escherichia coli curli and the Pseudomonas Fap system. It confidently identified the major amyloid subunit for both systems, as well as the minor subunit for the curli system. A few non-amyloid proteins also displayed the sigmoidal abundance signature. However, only one of these contained a sec-dependent signal peptide, which characterizes most of all secreted proteins, including all currently known functional bacterial amyloids. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview
Coupling TOR to the Cell Cycle by the Greatwall–Endosulfine–PP2A-B55 Pathway
Biomolecules 2017, 7(3), 59; doi:10.3390/biom7030059 -
Abstract
Cell growth and division are two processes tightly coupled in proliferating cells. While Target of Rapamycin (TOR) is the master regulator of growth, the cell cycle is dictated by the activity of the cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs). A long-standing question in cell biology is
[...] Read more.
Cell growth and division are two processes tightly coupled in proliferating cells. While Target of Rapamycin (TOR) is the master regulator of growth, the cell cycle is dictated by the activity of the cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs). A long-standing question in cell biology is how these processes may be connected. Recent work has highlighted that regulating the phosphatases that revert CDK phosphorylations is as important as regulating the CDKs for cell cycle progression. At mitosis, maintaining a low level of protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A)-B55 activity is essential for CDK substrates to achieve the correct level of phosphorylation. The conserved Greatwall–Endosulfine pathway has been shown to be required for PP2A-B55 inhibition at mitosis in yeasts and multicellular organisms. Interestingly, in yeasts, the Greatwall–Endosulfine pathway is negatively regulated by TOR Complex 1 (TORC1). Moreover, Greatwall–Endosulfine activation upon TORC1 inhibition has been shown to regulate the progression of the cell cycle at different points: the G1 phase in budding yeast, the G2/M transition and the differentiation response in fission yeast, and the entry into quiescence in both budding and fission yeasts. In this review, we discuss the recent findings on how the Greatwall–Endosulfine pathway may provide a connection between cell growth and the cell cycle machinery. Full article
Figures

Figure 1