Bio21 - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 130
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.
Dafachronic acid promotes larval development in Haemonchus contortus by modulating dauer signalling and lipid metabolism
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2019-07-01)
Here, we discovered an endogenous dafachronic acid (DA) in the socioeconomically important parasitic nematode Haemonchus contortus. We demonstrate that DA promotes larval exsheathment and development in this nematode via a relatively conserved nuclear hormone receptor (DAF-12). This stimulatory effect is dose- and time-dependent, and relates to a modulation of dauer-like signalling, and glycerolipid and glycerophospholipid metabolism, likely via a negative feedback loop. Specific chemical inhibition of DAF-9 (cytochrome P450) was shown to significantly reduce the amount of endogenous DA in H. contortus; compromise both larval exsheathment and development in vitro; and modulate lipid metabolism. Taken together, this evidence shows that DA plays a key functional role in the developmental transition from the free-living to the parasitic stage of H. contortus by modulating the dauer-like signalling pathway and lipid metabolism. Understanding the intricacies of the DA-DAF-12 system and associated networks in H. contortus and related parasitic nematodes could pave the way to new, nematode-specific treatments.
A proteomic characterization shows differences in the milk fat globule membrane of buffalo and bovine milk
The proteins of the milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) have a number of functions, such as the regulation of milk fat secretion and metabolism, the uptake and transportation of fatty acids in the intestine, and potential protection from bacterial or viral infection. While the proteome of the MFGM in bovine milk has been extensively characterized, knowledge of these proteins in buffalo milk is limited. In this study, a proteomic approach was used to characterize the proteome of the buffalo MFGM. Multiple extraction techniques were used to increase the number of proteins identified, while label free relative quantitative liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry was used for comparison between the buffalo and bovine MFGM proteomes. A total of 220 buffalo MFGM proteins and 234 bovine MFGM proteins were identified after being filtered from the initial dataset of 757 and 680 proteins, respectively. A sixfold higher concentration of xanthine oxidoreductase was identified per mass of buffalo MFGM protein extracted, together with significantly greater concentrations of platelet glycoprotein 4, heat shock cognate and calcineurin B homologous protein. The expression of xanthine oxidoreductase in the MFGM of buffalo milk, which can affect milk shelf-life and flavor, was confirmed by Western blot analysis and a heterogeneous distribution of this protein observed in situ on the surface of the MFGM. The high concentration of fat in buffalo milk, together with the differences in the MFGM proteome provide insights into the differences in nutritional profile, biological function and properties of these two milk products.
Tailoring the structure of casein micelles through a multifactorial approach to manipulate rennet coagulation properties
(Elsevier Inc., 2020-04-01)
The properties of casein micelles are known to be affected by modifications to the environment, such as variations in pH or the addition of salts, yet the scientific literature typically considers the effects of one factor at a time, while in industrial processes, several modifications are performed simultaneously. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of multifactorial environmental modifications on the colloidal, structural and rennet coagulation properties of casein micelles in a simplified model system. A key finding was that dense regions (~20 nm in size) could be released from the casein micelle. The addition of NaCl and CaCl2 had opposing effects, i.e. enhancing or limiting this micellar disruption, respectively. A decrease in pH had the strongest impact on the mineral balance, causing the colloidal CaP to solubilize and the micelle to swell. The rennet clotting time was impacted by variations in pH and NaCl content. Interestingly, a consideration of all three levels of casein micelle structure and their interactions was needed to explain variations in the firmness of rennet gels. This study illustrates the complex interplay of factors affecting micellar structure and improves our understanding of how micelles can be manipulated to control their properties.
Measurement of tissue azithromycin levels in self-collected vaginal swabs post treatment using liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS)
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2017-05-12)
BACKGROUND: Azithromycin is recommended for the treatment of uncomplicated urogenital chlamydia infection although the standard 1gram dose sometimes fails to eradicate the infection (treatment failure). One hypothesis proposed for treatment failure has been insufficient levels of the antibiotic at the site of infection. We developed an assay using liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to measure azithromycin concentration in high-vaginal swabs and monitor how concentration changes over time following routine azithromycin treatment. METHODS: Azithromycin concentrations were measured in two groups of women either within the first 24h of taking a 1g dose (N = 11) or over 9 days (N = 10). Azithromycin concentrations were normalised to an internal standard (leucine enkephalin), and the bulk lipid species phosphatidylcholine [PC(34:1)], using an Agilent 6490 triple quadrupole instrument in positive ionisation mode. The abundances of azithromycin, PC(34:1), and leu-enkephalin were determined by multiple reaction monitoring and absolute levels of azithromycin estimated using standard curves prepared on vaginal specimens. RESULTS: Vaginal azithromycin concentrations of women were rapidly obtained after 5h post-treatment (mean concentration = 1031mcg/mg of lipid, range = 173-2693mcg/mg). In women followed for 9 days, peak concentrations were highest after day 2 (mean concentration = 2206mcg/mg, range = 721-5791mcg/mg), and remained high for at least 9 days with a mean concentration of 384mcg/mg (range = 139-1024mcg/mg) on day 9. CONCLUSION: Our study confirmed that a single 1g dose of azithromycin is rapidly absorbed and remains in the vagina at relatively high levels for at least a week, suggesting that poor antibiotic absorption is unlikely to be an explanation for treatment failure.
Pharmacokinetics of a single 1 g dose of azithromycin in rectal tissue in men
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2017-03-28)
Chlamydia is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection among men who have sex with men. Repeat infection following treatment with 1g azithromycin is common and treatment failure of up to 22% has been reported. This study measured the pharmacokinetics of azithromycin in rectal tissue in men following a single 1g dose to assess whether azithromycin reaches the rectal site in adequate concentrations to kill chlamydia. Ten healthy men took a single oral dose of 1g azithromycin and provided nine self-collected swabs and one blood sample over 14 days. Participant demographics, medications, sexual behaviour, treatment side effects, lubricant use and douching practices were recorded with each swab. Drug concentration over time was determined using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and total exposure (AUC0-∞) was estimated from the concentration-time profiles. Following 1g of azithromycin, rectal concentrations peaked after a median of 24 hours (median 133mcg/g) and remained above the minimum inhibitory concentration for chlamydia (0.125mcg/mL) for at least 14 days in all men. AUC0-∞ was the highest ever reported in human tissue (13103((mcg/g).hr)). Tissue concentrations were not associated with weight (mg/kg), but data suggest that increased gastric pH could increase azithromycin levels and diarrhoea or use of water-based lubricants could decrease concentrations. High and sustained concentrations of azithromycin were found in rectal tissue following a single 1g dose suggesting that inadequate concentrations are unlikely to cause treatment failure. Factors effecting absorption (pH and diarrhoea) or drug depletion (douching and water-based lubricants) may be more important determinants of concentrations in situ.
The thermodynamics of Pr55(Gag)-RNA interaction regulate the assembly of HIV
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2017-02-01)
The interactions that occur during HIV Pr55Gag oligomerization and genomic RNA packaging are essential elements that facilitate HIV assembly. However, mechanistic details of these interactions are not clearly defined. Here, we overcome previous limitations in producing large quantities of full-length recombinant Pr55Gag that is required for isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) studies, and we have revealed the thermodynamic properties of HIV assembly for the first time. Thermodynamic analysis showed that the binding between RNA and HIV Pr55Gag is an energetically favourable reaction (ΔG<0) that is further enhanced by the oligomerization of Pr55Gag. The change in enthalpy (ΔH) widens sequentially from: (1) Pr55Gag-Psi RNA binding during HIV genome selection; to (2) Pr55Gag-Guanosine Uridine (GU)-containing RNA binding in cytoplasm/plasma membrane; and then to (3) Pr55Gag-Adenosine(A)-containing RNA binding in immature HIV. These data imply the stepwise increments of heat being released during HIV biogenesis may help to facilitate the process of viral assembly. By mimicking the interactions between A-containing RNA and oligomeric Pr55Gag in immature HIV, it was noted that a p6 domain truncated Pr50Gag Δp6 is less efficient than full-length Pr55Gag in this thermodynamic process. These data suggest a potential unknown role of p6 in Pr55Gag-Pr55Gag oligomerization and/or Pr55Gag-RNA interaction during HIV assembly. Our data provide direct evidence on how nucleic acid sequences and the oligomeric state of Pr55Gag regulate HIV assembly.
Coxiella burnetii utilizes both glutamate and glucose during infection with glucose uptake mediated by multiple transporters
(PORTLAND PRESS LTD, 2019-10-15)
Coxiella burnetii is a Gram-negative bacterium which causes Q fever, a complex and life-threatening infection with both acute and chronic presentations. C. burnetii invades a variety of host cell types and replicates within a unique vacuole derived from the host cell lysosome. In order to understand how C. burnetii survives within this intracellular niche, we have investigated the carbon metabolism of both intracellular and axenically cultivated bacteria. Both bacterial populations were shown to assimilate exogenous [13C]glucose or [13C]glutamate, with concomitant labeling of intermediates in glycolysis and gluconeogenesis, and in the TCA cycle. Significantly, the two populations displayed metabolic pathway profiles reflective of the nutrient availabilities within their propagated environments. Disruption of the C. burnetii glucose transporter, CBU0265, by transposon mutagenesis led to a significant decrease in [13C]glucose utilization but did not abolish glucose usage, suggesting that C. burnetii express additional hexose transporters which may be able to compensate for the loss of CBU0265. This was supported by intracellular infection of human cells and in vivo studies in the insect model showing loss of CBU0265 had no impact on intracellular replication or virulence. Using this mutagenesis and [13C]glucose labeling approach, we identified a second glucose transporter, CBU0347, the disruption of which also showed significant decreases in 13C-label incorporation but did not impact intracellular replication or virulence. Together, these analyses indicate that C. burnetii may use multiple carbon sources in vivo and exhibits greater metabolic flexibility than expected.
Delayed death in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum is caused by disruption of prenylation-dependent intracellular trafficking
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2019-07-18)
Apicomplexan parasites possess a plastid organelle called the apicoplast. Inhibitors that selectively target apicoplast housekeeping functions, including DNA replication and protein translation, are lethal for the parasite, and several (doxycycline, clindamycin, and azithromycin) are in clinical use as antimalarials. A major limitation of such drugs is that treated parasites only arrest one intraerythrocytic development cycle (approximately 48 hours) after treatment commences, a phenotype known as the ‘delayed death’ effect. The molecular basis of delayed death is a long-standing mystery in parasitology, and establishing the mechanism would aid rational clinical implementation of apicoplast-targeted drugs. Parasites undergoing delayed death transmit defective apicoplasts to their daughter cells and cannot produce the sole, blood-stage essential metabolic product of the apicoplast: the isoprenoid precursor isopentenyl-pyrophosphate. How the isoprenoid precursor depletion kills the parasite remains unknown. We investigated the requirements for the range of isoprenoids in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and characterised the molecular and morphological phenotype of parasites experiencing delayed death. Metabolomic profiling reveals disruption of digestive vacuole function in the absence of apicoplast derived isoprenoids. Three-dimensional electron microscopy reveals digestive vacuole fragmentation and the accumulation of cytostomal invaginations, characteristics common in digestive vacuole disruption. We show that digestive vacuole disruption results from a defect in the trafficking of vesicles to the digestive vacuole. The loss of prenylation of vesicular trafficking proteins abrogates their membrane attachment and function and prevents the parasite from feeding. Our data show that the proximate cause of delayed death is an interruption of protein prenylation and consequent cellular trafficking defects.
Quantitative proteomic analyses of dynamic signalling events in cortical neurons undergoing excitotoxic cell death
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2019-03-01)
Excitotoxicity, caused by overstimulation or dysregulation of ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGluRs), is a pathological process directing neuronal death in many neurological disorders. The aberrantly stimulated iGluRs direct massive influx of calcium ions into the affected neurons, leading to changes in expression and phosphorylation of specific proteins to modulate their functions and direct their participation in the signalling pathways that induce excitotoxic neuronal death. To define these pathways, we used quantitative proteomic approaches to identify these neuronal proteins (referred to as the changed proteins) and determine how their expression and/or phosphorylation dynamically changed in association with excitotoxic cell death. Our data, available in ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD008353, identified over 100 changed proteins exhibiting significant alterations in abundance and/or phosphorylation levels at different time points (5-240 min) in neurons after glutamate overstimulation. Bioinformatic analyses predicted that many of them are components of signalling networks directing defective neuronal morphology and functions. Among them, the well-known neuronal survival regulators including mitogen-activated protein kinases Erk1/2, glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) and microtubule-associated protein (Tau), were selected for validation by biochemical approaches, which confirmed the findings of the proteomic analysis. Bioinformatic analysis predicted Protein Kinase B (Akt), c-Jun kinase (JNK), cyclin-dependent protein kinase 5 (Cdk5), MAP kinase kinase (MEK), Casein kinase 2 (CK2), Rho-activated protein kinase (Rock) and Serum/glucocorticoid-regulated kinase 1 (SGK1) as the potential upstream kinases phosphorylating some of the changed proteins. Further biochemical investigation confirmed the predictions of sustained changes of the activation states of neuronal Akt and CK2 in excitotoxicity. Thus, future investigation to define the signalling pathways directing the dynamic alterations in abundance and phosphorylation of the identified changed neuronal proteins will help elucidate the molecular mechanism of neuronal death in excitotoxicity.
Bapineuzumab captures the N-terminus of the Alzheimer's disease amyloid-beta peptide in a helical conformation
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2013-02-18)
Bapineuzumab is a humanized antibody developed by Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson targeting the amyloid (Aβ) plaques that underlie Alzheimer's disease neuropathology. Here we report the crystal structure of a Fab-Aβ peptide complex that reveals Bapineuzumab surprisingly captures Aβ in a monomeric helical conformation at the N-terminus. Microscale thermophoresis suggests that the Fab binds soluble Aβ(1-40) with a K(D) of 89 (±9) nM. The structure explains the antibody's exquisite selectivity for particular Aβ species and why it cannot recognize N-terminally modified or truncated Aβ peptides.
Production of metabolites of the anti-cancer drug noscapine using a P450BM3 mutant library.
Cytochrome P450 enzymes are a promising tool for the late-stage diversification of lead drug candidates and can provide an alternative route to structural modifications that are difficult to achieve with synthetic chemistry. In this study, a library of P450BM3 mutants was produced using site-directed mutagenesis and the enzymes screened for metabolism of the opium poppy alkaloid noscapine, a drug with anticancer activity. Of the 18 enzyme mutants screened, 12 showed an ability to metabolise noscapine that was not present in the wild-type enzyme. Five noscapine metabolites were detected by LC-MS/MS, with the major metabolite for all mutants being N-demethylated noscapine. The highest observed regioselectivity for N-demethylation was 88%. Two hydroxylated metabolites, a catechol and two C-C cleavage products were also detected. P450-mediated production of hydroxylated and N-demethylated noscapine structures may be useful for the development of noscapine analogues with improved biological activity. The variation in substrate turnover, coupling efficiency and product distribution between the active mutants was considered alongside in silico docking experiments to gain insight into structural and functional effects of the introduced mutations. Selected mutants were identified as targets for further mutagenesis to improve activity and when coupled with an optimised process may provide a route for the preparative-scale production of noscapine metabolites.