Biochemistry and Molecular Biology - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 506
mCSM-membrane: predicting the effects of mutations on transmembrane proteins.
(Oxford University Press, 2020-07-02)
Significant efforts have been invested into understanding and predicting the molecular consequences of mutations in protein coding regions, however nearly all approaches have been developed using globular, soluble proteins. These methods have been shown to poorly translate to studying the effects of mutations in membrane proteins. To fill this gap, here we report, mCSM-membrane, a user-friendly web server that can be used to analyse the impacts of mutations on membrane protein stability and the likelihood of them being disease associated. mCSM-membrane derives from our well-established mutation modelling approach that uses graph-based signatures to model protein geometry and physicochemical properties for supervised learning. Our stability predictor achieved correlations of up to 0.72 and 0.67 (on cross validation and blind tests, respectively), while our pathogenicity predictor achieved a Matthew's Correlation Coefficient (MCC) of up to 0.77 and 0.73, outperforming previously described methods in both predicting changes in stability and in identifying pathogenic variants. mCSM-membrane will be an invaluable and dedicated resource for investigating the effects of single-point mutations on membrane proteins through a freely available, user friendly web server at http://biosig.unimelb.edu.au/mcsm_membrane.
Cotargeting BCL-2 and MCL-1 in high-risk B-ALL
(AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY, 2020-06-23)
Improving survival outcomes in adult B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) remains a clinical challenge. Relapsed disease has a poor prognosis despite the use of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) for Philadelphia chromosome positive (Ph+ ALL) cases and immunotherapeutic approaches, including blinatumomab and chimeric antigen receptor T cells. Targeting aberrant cell survival pathways with selective small molecule BH3-mimetic inhibitors of BCL-2 (venetoclax, S55746), BCL-XL (A1331852), or MCL1 (S63845) is an emerging therapeutic option. We report that combined targeting of BCL-2 and MCL1 is synergistic in B-ALL in vitro. The combination demonstrated greater efficacy than standard chemotherapeutics and TKIs in primary samples from adult B-ALL with Ph+ ALL, Ph-like ALL, and other B-ALL. Moreover, combined BCL-2 or MCL1 inhibition with dasatinib showed potent killing in primary Ph+ B-ALL cases, but the BH3-mimetic combination appeared superior in vitro in a variety of Ph-like ALL samples. In PDX models, combined BCL-2 and MCL1 targeting eradicated ALL from Ph- and Ph+ B-ALL cases, although fatal tumor lysis was observed in some instances of high tumor burden. We conclude that a dual BH3-mimetic approach is highly effective in diverse models of high-risk human B-ALL and warrants assessment in clinical trials that incorporate tumor lysis precautions.
Modest Declines in Proteome Quality Impair Hematopoietic Stem Cell Self-Renewal
Low protein synthesis is a feature of somatic stem cells that promotes regeneration in multiple tissues. Modest increases in protein synthesis impair stem cell function, but the mechanisms by which this occurs are largely unknown. We determine that low protein synthesis within hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) is associated with elevated proteome quality in vivo. HSCs contain less misfolded and unfolded proteins than myeloid progenitors. Increases in protein synthesis cause HSCs to accumulate misfolded and unfolded proteins. To test how proteome quality affects HSCs, we examine Aarssti/sti mice that harbor a tRNA editing defect that increases amino acid misincorporation. Aarssti/sti mice exhibit reduced HSC numbers, increased proliferation, and diminished serial reconstituting activity. Misfolded proteins overwhelm the proteasome within Aarssti/sti HSCs, which is associated with increased c-Myc abundance. Deletion of one Myc allele partially rescues serial reconstitution defects in Aarssti/sti HSCs. Thus, HSCs are dependent on low protein synthesis to maintain proteostasis, which promotes their self-renewal.
The association of fecal microbiota and fecal, blood serum and urine metabolites in myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome
(Springer Verlag, 2017-01-01)
Introduction: The human gut microbiota has the ability to modulate host metabolism. Metabolic profiling of the microbiota and the host biofluids may determine associations significant of a host–microbe relationship. Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a long-term disorder of fatigue that is poorly understood, but has been linked to gut problems and altered microbiota. Objectives: Find changes in fecal microbiota and metabolites in ME/CFS and determine their association with blood serum and urine metabolites. Methods: A workflow was developed that correlates microbial counts with fecal, blood serum and urine metabolites quantitated by high-throughput 1H NMR spectroscopy. The study consists of thirty-four females with ME/CFS (34.9 ± 1.8 SE years old) and twenty-five non-ME/CFS female (33.0 ± 1.6 SE years old). Results: The workflow was validated using the non-ME/CFS cohort where fecal short chain fatty acids (SCFA) were associated with serum and urine metabolites indicative of host metabolism changes enacted by SCFA. In the ME/CFS cohort a decrease in fecal lactate and an increase in fecal butyrate, isovalerate and valerate were observed along with an increase in Clostridium spp. and a decrease in Bacteroides spp. These differences were consistent with an increase in microbial fermentation of fiber and amino acids to produce SCFA in the gut of ME/CFS patients. Decreased fecal amino acids positively correlated with substrates of gluconeogenesis and purine synthesis in the serum of ME/CFS patients. Conclusion: Increased production of SCFA by microbial fermentation in the gut of ME/CFS patients may be associated with deleterious effects on the host energy metabolism.
Structural model for the interaction of a designed Ankyrin Repeat Protein with the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2.
(Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2013)
Designed Ankyrin Repeat Proteins are a class of novel binding proteins that can be selected and evolved to bind to targets with high affinity and specificity. We are interested in the DARPin H10-2-G3, which has been evolved to bind with very high affinity to the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). HER2 is found to be over-expressed in 30% of breast cancers, and is the target for the FDA-approved therapeutic monoclonal antibodies trastuzumab and pertuzumab and small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Here, we use computational macromolecular docking, coupled with several interface metrics such as shape complementarity, interaction energy, and electrostatic complementarity, to model the structure of the complex between the DARPin H10-2-G3 and HER2. We analyzed the interface between the two proteins and then validated the structural model by showing that selected HER2 point mutations at the putative interface with H10-2-G3 reduce the affinity of binding up to 100-fold without affecting the binding of trastuzumab. Comparisons made with a subsequently solved X-ray crystal structure of the complex yielded a backbone atom root mean square deviation of 0.84-1.14 Ångstroms. The study presented here demonstrates the capability of the computational techniques of structural bioinformatics in generating useful structural models of protein-protein interactions.
The regulation of mitochondrial DNA copy number in glioblastoma cells
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2013-12-01)
As stem cells undergo differentiation, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number is strictly regulated in order that specialized cells can generate appropriate levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) through oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) to undertake their specific functions. It is not understood whether tumor-initiating cells regulate their mtDNA in a similar manner or whether mtDNA is essential for tumorigenesis. We show that human neural stem cells (hNSCs) increased their mtDNA content during differentiation in a process that was mediated by a synergistic relationship between the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes and results in increased respiratory capacity. Differentiating multipotent glioblastoma cells failed to match the expansion in mtDNA copy number, patterns of gene expression and increased respiratory capacity observed in hNSCs. Partial depletion of glioblastoma cell mtDNA rescued mtDNA replication events and enhanced cell differentiation. However, prolonged depletion resulted in impaired mtDNA replication, reduced proliferation and induced the expression of early developmental and pro-survival markers including POU class 5 homeobox 1 (OCT4) and sonic hedgehog (SHH). The transfer of glioblastoma cells depleted to varying degrees of their mtDNA content into immunocompromised mice resulted in tumors requiring significantly longer to form compared with non-depleted cells. The number of tumors formed and the time to tumor formation was relative to the degree of mtDNA depletion. The tumors derived from mtDNA depleted glioblastoma cells recovered their mtDNA copy number as part of the tumor formation process. These outcomes demonstrate the importance of mtDNA to the initiation and maintenance of tumorigenesis in glioblastoma multiforme.
Unique properties of a subset of human pluripotent stem cells with high capacity for self-renewal
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2020-05-15)
Archetypal human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC) are widely considered to be equivalent in developmental status to mouse epiblast stem cells, which correspond to pluripotent cells at a late post-implantation stage of embryogenesis. Heterogeneity within hPSC cultures complicates this interspecies comparison. Here we show that a subpopulation of archetypal hPSC enriched for high self-renewal capacity (ESR) has distinct properties relative to the bulk of the population, including a cell cycle with a very low G1 fraction and a metabolomic profile that reflects a combination of oxidative phosphorylation and glycolysis. ESR cells are pluripotent and capable of differentiation into primordial germ cell-like cells. Global DNA methylation levels in the ESR subpopulation are lower than those in mouse epiblast stem cells. Chromatin accessibility analysis revealed a unique set of open chromatin sites in ESR cells. RNA-seq at the subpopulation and single cell levels shows that, unlike mouse epiblast stem cells, the ESR subset of hPSC displays no lineage priming, and that it can be clearly distinguished from gastrulating and extraembryonic cell populations in the primate embryo. ESR hPSC correspond to an earlier stage of post-implantation development than mouse epiblast stem cells.
Mitochondrial dysfunction remodels one - carbon metabolism in human cells
(ELIFE SCIENCES PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2016-06-16)
Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with a spectrum of human disorders, ranging from rare, inborn errors of metabolism to common, age-associated diseases such as neurodegeneration. How these lesions give rise to diverse pathology is not well understood, partly because their proximal consequences have not been well-studied in mammalian cells. Here we provide two lines of evidence that mitochondrial respiratory chain dysfunction leads to alterations in one-carbon metabolism pathways. First, using hypothesis-generating metabolic, proteomic, and transcriptional profiling, followed by confirmatory experiments, we report that mitochondrial DNA depletion leads to an ATF4-mediated increase in serine biosynthesis and transsulfuration. Second, we show that lesioning the respiratory chain impairs mitochondrial production of formate from serine, and that in some cells, respiratory chain inhibition leads to growth defects upon serine withdrawal that are rescuable with purine or formate supplementation. Our work underscores the connection between the respiratory chain and one-carbon metabolism with implications for understanding mitochondrial pathogenesis.
Yap reprograms glutamine metabolism to increase nucleotide biosynthesis and enable liver growth
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2016-08-01)
The Hippo pathway is an important regulator of organ size and tumorigenesis. It is unclear, however, how Hippo signalling provides the cellular building blocks required for rapid growth. Here, we demonstrate that transgenic zebrafish expressing an activated form of the Hippo pathway effector Yap1 (also known as YAP) develop enlarged livers and are prone to liver tumour formation. Transcriptomic and metabolomic profiling identify that Yap1 reprograms glutamine metabolism. Yap1 directly enhances glutamine synthetase (glul) expression and activity, elevating steady-state levels of glutamine and enhancing the relative isotopic enrichment of nitrogen during de novo purine and pyrimidine biosynthesis. Genetic or pharmacological inhibition of GLUL diminishes the isotopic enrichment of nitrogen into nucleotides, suppressing hepatomegaly and the growth of liver cancer cells. Consequently, Yap-driven liver growth is susceptible to nucleotide inhibition. Together, our findings demonstrate that Yap1 integrates the anabolic demands of tissue growth during development and tumorigenesis by reprogramming nitrogen metabolism to stimulate nucleotide biosynthesis.
CX-5461 activates the DNA damage response and demonstrates therapeutic efficacy in high-grade serous ovarian cancer
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2020-05-26)
Acquired resistance to PARP inhibitors (PARPi) is a major challenge for the clinical management of high grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC). Here, we demonstrate CX-5461, the first-in-class inhibitor of RNA polymerase I transcription of ribosomal RNA genes (rDNA), induces replication stress and activates the DNA damage response. CX-5461 co-operates with PARPi in exacerbating replication stress and enhances therapeutic efficacy against homologous recombination (HR) DNA repair-deficient HGSOC-patient-derived xenograft (PDX) in vivo. We demonstrate CX-5461 has a different sensitivity spectrum to PARPi involving MRE11-dependent degradation of replication forks. Importantly, CX-5461 exhibits in vivo single agent efficacy in a HGSOC-PDX with reduced sensitivity to PARPi by overcoming replication fork protection. Further, we identify CX-5461-sensitivity gene expression signatures in primary and relapsed HGSOC. We propose CX-5461 is a promising therapy in combination with PARPi in HR-deficient HGSOC and also as a single agent for the treatment of relapsed disease.
Regulation of PRMT5-MDM4 axis is critical in the response to CDK4/6 inhibitors in melanoma
(NATL ACAD SCIENCES, 2019-09-03)
Cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 (CDK4/6) inhibitors are an established treatment in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer and are currently in clinical development in melanoma, a tumor that exhibits high rates of CDK4 activation. We analyzed melanoma cells with acquired resistance to the CDK4/6 inhibitor palbociclib and demonstrate that the activity of PRMT5, a protein arginine methyltransferase and indirect target of CDK4, is essential for CDK4/6 inhibitor sensitivity. By indirectly suppressing PRMT5 activity, palbociclib alters the pre-mRNA splicing of MDM4, a negative regulator of p53, leading to decreased MDM4 protein expression and subsequent p53 activation. In turn, p53 induces p21, leading to inhibition of CDK2, the main kinase substituting for CDK4/6 and a key driver of resistance to palbociclib. Loss of the ability of palbociclib to regulate the PRMT5-MDM4 axis leads to resistance. Importantly, combining palbociclib with the PRMT5 inhibitor GSK3326595 enhances the efficacy of palbociclib in treating naive and resistant models and also delays the emergence of resistance. Our studies have uncovered a mechanism of action of CDK4/6 inhibitors in regulating the MDM4 oncogene and the tumor suppressor, p53. Furthermore, we have established that palbociclib inhibition of the PRMT5-MDM4 axis is essential for robust melanoma cell sensitivity and provide preclinical evidence that coinhibition of CDK4/6 and PRMT5 is an effective and well-tolerated therapeutic strategy. Overall, our data provide a strong rationale for further investigation of novel combinations of CDK4/6 and PRMT5 inhibitors, not only in melanoma but other tumor types, including breast, pancreatic, and esophageal carcinoma.
Role of Plasmodium falciparum Protein GEXPO7 in Maurer's Cleft Morphology, Knob Architecture, and P. falciparum EMP1 Trafficking
(AMER SOC MICROBIOLOGY, 2020-03-01)
The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum traffics the virulence protein P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) to the surface of infected red blood cells (RBCs) via membranous organelles, known as the Maurer's clefts. We developed a method for efficient enrichment of Maurer's clefts and profiled the protein composition of this trafficking organelle. We identified 13 previously uncharacterized or poorly characterized Maurer's cleft proteins. We generated transfectants expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusions of 7 proteins and confirmed their Maurer's cleft location. Using co-immunoprecipitation and mass spectrometry, we generated an interaction map of proteins at the Maurer's clefts. We identified two key clusters that may function in the loading and unloading of PfEMP1 into and out of the Maurer's clefts. We focus on a putative PfEMP1 loading complex that includes the protein GEXP07/CX3CL1-binding protein 2 (CBP2). Disruption of GEXP07 causes Maurer's cleft fragmentation, aberrant knobs, ablation of PfEMP1 surface expression, and loss of the PfEMP1-mediated adhesion. ΔGEXP07 parasites have a growth advantage compared to wild-type parasites, and the infected RBCs are more deformable and more osmotically fragile.IMPORTANCE The trafficking of the virulence antigen PfEMP1 and its presentation at the knob structures at the surface of parasite-infected RBCs are central to severe adhesion-related pathologies such as cerebral and placental malaria. This work adds to our understanding of how PfEMP1 is trafficked to the RBC membrane by defining the protein-protein interaction networks that function at the Maurer's clefts controlling PfEMP1 loading and unloading. We characterize a protein needed for virulence protein trafficking and provide new insights into the mechanisms for host cell remodeling, parasite survival within the host, and virulence.