Bruno Pagano

Researcher of Medicinal Chemistry

Name Bruno
Surname Pagano
Institution University of Naples – Federico II
Address Department of Pharmacy, University of Naples "Federico II", Via D. Montesano 49, 80131, Naples, Italy
Bruno Pagano


  • Impact of phytosterols on liver and distal colon metabolome in experimental murine colitis model: an explorative study.

    Publication Date: 01/12/2019 on Journal of enzyme inhibition and medicinal chemistry
    by Iaccarino N, Amato J, Pagano B, Di Porzio A, Micucci M, Bolelli L, Aldini R, Novellino E, Budriesi R, Randazzo A
    DOI: 10.1080/14756366.2019.1611802

    Phytosterols are known to reduce plasma cholesterol levels and thereby reduce cardiovascular risk. Studies conducted on human and animal models have demonstrated that these compounds have also anti-inflammatory effects. Recently, an experimental colitis model (dextran sulphate sodium-induced) has shown that pre-treatment with phytosterols decreases infiltration of inflammatory cells and accelerates mucosal healing. This study aims to understand the mechanism underlying the colitis by analysing the end-products of the metabolism in distal colon and liver excised from the same mice used in the previous work. In particular, an unsupervised gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and NMR based metabolomics approach was employed to identify the metabolic pathways perturbed by the dextran sodium sulphate (DSS) insult (i.e. Krebs cycle, carbohydrate, amino acids, and nucleotide metabolism). Interestingly, phytosterols were able to restore the homeostatic equilibrium of the hepatic and colonic metabolome.

  • Characterisation of the dynamic interactions between complex N-glycans and human CD22.

    Publication Date: 16/05/2019 on Chembiochem : a European journal of chemical biology
    by Di Carluccio C, Crisman E, Manabe Manabey Chem Sci Osaka-U Ac J YMMCSOAJ, Forgione RE, Lacetera A, Amato J, Pagano B, Randazzo A, Zampella A, Lanzetta R, Koichi F, Molinaro A, Crocker PR, Martin-Santamaria S, Marchetti R, Silipo A
    DOI: 10.1002/cbic.201900295

    CD22 (Siglec-2) is a B-cell surface inhibitory protein able to selectively recognize sialylated glycans, dampening autoimmune responses against self-antigens. We here characterize the dynamic recognition of complex-type N-glycans by human CD22, by means of orthogonal approaches including NMR spectroscopy, computational methods and biophysical assays. We provide novel molecular insights into the binding mode of sialoglycans in complex with h-CD22, highlighting the role of the sialic acid-galactose moieties in the recognition process, elucidating the conformational behaviour of complex-type N-glycans bound to Siglec-2 and dissecting the formation of CD22 homo-oligomers on the B-cell surface. Our results will enable the development of additional therapeutics able to modulate the activity of h-CD22 in autoimmune diseases and B-cell derived malignancies.

  • Native Ion Mobility Mass Spectrometry: When Gas-Phase Ion Structures Depend on the Electrospray Charging Process.

    Publication Date: 28/03/2019 on Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
    by Khristenko N, Amato J, Livet S, Pagano B, Randazzo A, Gabelica V
    DOI: 10.1007/s13361-019-02152-3

    Ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) has become popular to characterize biomolecule folding. Numerous studies have shown that proteins that are folded in solution remain folded in the gas phase, whereas proteins that are unfolded in solution adopt more extended conformations in the gas phase. Here, we discuss how general this tenet is. We studied single-stranded DNAs (human telomeric cytosine-rich sequences with CCCTAA repeats), which fold into an intercalated motif (i-motif) structure in a pH-dependent manner, thanks to the formation of C-H-C base pairs. As i-motif formation is favored at low ionic strength, we could investigate the ESI-IMS-MS behavior of i-motif structures at pH ~ 5.5 over a wide range of ammonium acetate concentrations (15 to 100 mM). The control experiments consisted of either the same sequence at pH ~ 7.5, wherein the sequence is unfolded, or sequence variants that cannot form i-motifs (CTCTAA repeats). The surprising results came from the control experiments. We found that the ionic strength of the solution had a greater effect on the compactness of the gas-phase structures than the solution folding state. This means that electrosprayed ions keep a memory of the charging process, which is influenced by the electrolyte concentration. We discuss these results in light of the analyte partitioning between the droplet interior and the droplet surface, which in turn influences the probability of being ionized via a charged residue-type pathway or a chain extrusion-type pathway.

  • Tailoring a lead-like compound targeting multiple G-quadruplex structures.

    Publication Date: 27/11/2018 on European journal of medicinal chemistry
    by Amato J, Platella C, Iachettini S, Zizza P, Musumeci D, Cosconati S, Pagano A, Novellino E, Biroccio A, Randazzo A, Pagano B, Montesarchio D
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejmech.2018.11.058

    A focused library of analogs of a lead-like G-quadruplex (G4) targeting compound (4), sharing a furobenzoxazine naphthoquinone core and differing for the pendant groups on the N-atom of the oxazine ring, has been here analyzed with the aim of developing more potent and selective ligands. These molecules have been tested vs. topologically different G4s by the G4-CPG assay, an affinity chromatography-based method for screening putative G4 ligands. The obtained results showed that all these compounds were able to bind several G4 structures, both telomeric and extra-telomeric, thus behaving as multi-target ligands, and two of them fully discriminated G4 vs. duplex DNA. Biological assays proved that almost all the compounds produced effective DNA damage, showing marked antiproliferative effects on tumor cells in the low μM range. Combined analysis of the G4-CPG binding assays and biological data led us to focus on compound S4-5, proved to be less cytotoxic than the parent compound 4 on normal cells. An in-depth biophysical characterization of the binding of S4-5 to different G4s showed that the here identified ligand has higher affinity for the G4s and higher ability to discriminate G4 vs. duplex DNA than 4. Molecular docking studies, in agreement with the NMR data, suggest that S4-5 interacts with the accessible grooves of the target G4 structures, giving clues for its increased G4 vs. duplex selectivity.

  • Controlled Pore Glass-based oligonucleotide affinity support: towards High Throughput Screening methods for the identification of conformation-selective G-quadruplex ligands.

    Publication Date: 07/11/2018 on Analytica chimica acta
    by Platella C, Musumeci D, Arciello A, Doria F, Freccero M, Randazzo A, Amato J, Pagano B, Montesarchio D
    DOI: 10.1016/j.aca.2018.04.071

    Target selectivity is one of the main challenges in the search for small molecules able to act as effective and non-toxic anticancer and/or antiviral drugs. To achieve this goal, handy, rapid and reliable High Throughput Screening methodologies are needed. We here describe a novel functionalization for the solid phase synthesis of oligonucleotides on Controlled Pore Glass, including a flexible hexaethylene glycol spacer linking the first nucleoside through the nucleobase via a covalent bond stable to the final deprotection step. This allowed us preparing fully deprotected oligonucleotides still covalently attached to their supports. In detail, on this support we performed both the on-line synthesis of different secondary structure-forming oligonucleotides and the affinity chromatography-based screenings of conformation-selective G-quadruplex ligands. By using a fluorescent core-extended naphthalene diimide with different emitting response upon binding to sequences folding into G-quadruplexes of different topologies, we have been able to discriminate not only G-quadruplex vs. duplex DNA structures, but also different G-quadruplex conformations on the glass beads by confocal microscopy.

  • HMGB1 binds to the KRAS promoter G-quadruplex: a new player in oncogene transcriptional regulation?

    Publication Date: 06/08/2018 on Chemical communications (Cambridge, England)
    by Amato J, Madanayake TW, Iaccarino N, Novellino E, Randazzo A, Hurley LH, Pagano B
    DOI: 10.1039/c8cc03614d

    This communication reports on a possible distinct role of HMGB1 protein. Biophysical studies revealed that HMGB1 binds and stabilizes the G-quadruplex of the KRAS promoter element that is responsible for most of the transcriptional activity. Biological data showed that inhibition of HMGB1 increases KRAS expression. These results suggest that HMGB1 could play a role in the gene transcriptional regulation via the functional recognition of the G-quadruplex.

  • Common G-Quadruplex Binding Agents Found to Interact With i-Motif-Forming DNA: Unexpected Multi-Target-Directed Compounds.

    Publication Date: 24/07/2018 on Frontiers in chemistry
    by Pagano A, Iaccarino N, Abdelhamid MAS, Brancaccio D, Garzarella EU, Di Porzio A, Novellino E, Waller ZAE, Pagano B, Amato J, Randazzo A
    DOI: 10.3389/fchem.2018.00281

    G-quadruplex (G4) and i-motif (iM) are four-stranded non-canonical nucleic acid structural arrangements. Recent evidences suggest that these DNA structures exist in living cells and could be involved in several cancer-related processes, thus representing an attractive target for anticancer drug discovery. Efforts toward the development of G4 targeting compounds have led to a number of effective bioactive ligands. Herein, employing several biophysical methodologies, we studied the ability of some well-known G4 ligands to interact with iM-forming DNA. The data showed that the investigated compounds are actually able to interact with both DNA , thus acting as multi-target-directed agents. Interestingly, while all the compounds stabilize the G4, some of them significantly reduce the stability of the iM. The present study highlights the importance, when studying G4-targeting compounds, of evaluating also their behavior toward the i-motif counterpart.

  • Targeting BCL2 Gene Promoter G-quadruplex with a New Class of Furopyridazinone-Based Molecules.

    Publication Date: 18/01/2018 on ChemMedChem
    by Amato J, Pagano A, Capasso D, Di Gaetano S, Giustiniano M, Novellino E, Randazzo A, Pagano B
    DOI: 10.1002/cmdc.201700749

    Targeting of G-quadruplex-forming DNA in BCL2 gene promoter to inhibit the expression of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein represents an attractive opportunity in cancer treatment. So far, efforts made in the discovery of molecules able to target BCL2 G-quadruplex mainly succeeded in the identification of ligands with poor drug-like properties. Here, a small series of furo[2,3-d]pyridazin-4(5H)-one derivatives were evaluated as a new class of drug-like G-quadruplex-targeting compounds. Biophysical studies showed that two derivatives could effectively bind to BCL2 G-quadruplex with good selectivity. Moreover, one of such ligands appreciably inhibited BCL2 gene transcription, with a substantial reduction of protein expression level, and showed significant cytotoxicity on the human T lymphoblastoid cell line Jurkat.

  • Binding of Harmine Derivatives to DNA: A Spectroscopic Investigation.

    Publication Date: 27/10/2017 on Molecules (Basel, Switzerland)
    by Pagano B, Caterino M, Filosa R, Giancola C
    DOI: 10.3390/molecules22111831

    Harmine belongs to a group of β-carboline alkaloids endowed with antitumor properties. Harmine and its derivatives are thought to bind to DNA and interfere with topoisomerase activities. We investigated the base-dependent binding of harmine, and three of its synthetic anticancer-active derivatives to the genomic DNA from calf thymus and two synthetic 20-mer double helices, the poly(dG-dC)·poly(dG-dC) and the poly(dA-dT)·poly(dA-dT), by means of UV-Vis and circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopies. The data show that the DNA binding and stabilising properties of the investigated derivatives are base pair-dependent. These results could be used as a guide to design and develop further bioactive analogues.

  • Lead Discovery of Dual G-Quadruplex Stabilizers and Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases (PARPs) Inhibitors: A New Avenue in Anticancer Treatment.

    Publication Date: 01/05/2017 on Journal of medicinal chemistry
    by Salvati E, Botta L, Amato J, Di Leva FS, Zizza P, Gioiello A, Pagano B, Graziani G, Tarsounas M, Randazzo A, Novellino E, Biroccio A, Cosconati S
    DOI: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.6b01563

    G-quadruplex stabilizers are an established opportunity in anticancer chemotherapy. To circumvent the antiproliferative effects of G4 ligands, cancer cells recruit PARP enzymes at telomeres. Herein, starting from the structural similarity of a potent G4 ligand previously discovered by our group and a congeneric PARP inhibitor, a library of derivatives was synthesized to discover the first dual G4/PARP ligand. We demonstrate that a properly decorated thieno[3,2-c]quinolin-4(5H)-one stabilizes the G4 fold in vitro and in cells, induces a DNA damage response localized to telomeres, inhibits PARylation in cells, and has an antiproliferative effect in BRCA2 deficient tumor cells.