Maria Monti

Professor of Biochemistry

Name Maria
Surname Monti
Institution University of Naples – Federico II
Address UniNa: Department of Chemical Sciences, Via Cinthia, Complesso Monte Sant’Angelo 21, 80126 Naples, Italy. Ceinge: CEINGE Biotecnologie Avanzate, Via G. Salvatore 486, 80126 Naples, Italy
Resume Download
Maria Monti


  • Functional amyloids in insect immune response.

    Publication Date: 01/03/2012 on Insect biochemistry and molecular biology
    by Falabella P, Riviello L, Pascale M, Lelio ID, Tettamanti G, Grimaldi A, Iannone C, Monti M, Pucci P, Tamburro AM, Deeguileor M, Gigliotti S, Pennacchio F
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2011.11.011

    The innate immune system of insects consists of humoural and cellular responses that provide protection against invading pathogens and parasites. Defence reactions against these latter include encapsulation by immune cells and targeted melanin deposition, which is usually restricted to the surface of the foreign invader, to prevent systemic damage. Here we show that a protein produced by haemocytes of Heliothis virescens (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae) larvae, belonging to XendoU family, generates amyloid fibrils, which accumulate in large cisternae of the rough endoplasmic reticulum and are released upon immune challenge, to form a layer coating non-self objects entering the haemocoel. This amyloid layer acts as a molecular scaffold that promotes localised melanin synthesis and the adhesion of immune cells around the non-self intruder during encapsulation response. Our results demonstrate a new functional role for these protein aggregates that are commonly associated with severe human diseases. We predict that insects will offer new powerful experimental systems for studying inducible amyloidogenesis, which will likely provide fresh perspectives for its prevention.

  • The E3-ubiquitin ligase TRIM50 interacts with HDAC6 and p62, and promotes the sequestration and clearance of ubiquitinated proteins into the aggresome.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2012 on PloS one
    by Fusco C, Micale L, Egorov M, Monti M, D'Addetta EV, Augello B, Cozzolino F, Calcagnì A, Fontana A, Polishchuk RS, Didelot G, Reymond A, Pucci P, Merla G
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040440

    In this study we report that, in response to proteasome inhibition, the E3-Ubiquitin ligase TRIM50 localizes to and promotes the recruitment and aggregation of polyubiquitinated proteins to the aggresome. Using Hdac6-deficient mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEF) we show that this localization is mediated by the histone deacetylase 6, HDAC6. Whereas Trim50-deficient MEFs allow pinpointing that the TRIM50 ubiquitin-ligase regulates the clearance of polyubiquitinated proteins localized to the aggresome. Finally we demonstrate that TRIM50 colocalizes, interacts with and increases the level of p62, a multifunctional adaptor protein implicated in various cellular processes including the autophagy clearance of polyubiquitinated protein aggregates. We speculate that when the proteasome activity is impaired, TRIM50 fails to drive its substrates to the proteasome-mediated degradation, and promotes their storage in the aggresome for successive clearance.

  • A novel ErbB2 epitope targeted by human antitumor immunoagents.

    Publication Date: 01/04/2011 on The FEBS journal
    by Troise F, Monti M, Merlino A, Cozzolino F, Fedele C, Russo Krauss I, Sica F, Pucci P, D'Alessio G, De Lorenzo C
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2011.08041.x

    Two novel human antitumor immunoconjugates, engineered by fusion of a single-chain antibody fragment against human ErbB2 receptor, termed Erbicin, with either a human RNase or the Fc region of a human IgG(1) , are selectively cytotoxic for ErbB2-positive cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. These Erbicin-derived immunoagents (EDIAs) do not show the most negative properties of Herceptin, the only humanized mAb against ErbB2 used in the therapy of breast carcinoma: cardiotoxicity and the inability to act on resistant tumors. These differences are probably attributable to the different ErbB2 epitopes recognized by EDIAs and Herceptin, respectively, as we have previously reported that they induce different signaling mechanisms that control tumor and cardiac cell viability. Thus, to accurately identify the novel epitope recognized by EDIAs, three independent and complementary methodologies were used. They gave coherent results, which are reported here: EDIAs bind to a different ErbB2 epitope than Herceptin and the other human/humanized antibodies against ErbB2 reported so far. The epitope has been successfully located in region 122-195 of extracellular domain I. These findings could lead to the identification of novel epitopes on ErbB2 that could be used as potential therapeutic targets to mitigate anti-ErbB2-associated cardiotoxicity and eventually overcome resistance.

  • PED interacts with Rac1 and regulates cell migration/invasion processes in human non-small cell lung cancer cells.

    Publication Date: 01/10/2010 on Journal of cellular physiology
    by Zanca C, Cozzolino F, Quintavalle C, Di Costanzo S, Ricci-Vitiani L, Santoriello M, Monti M, Pucci P, Condorelli G
    DOI: 10.1002/jcp.22197

    PED (phosphoprotein enriched in diabetes) is a 15 kDa protein involved in many cellular pathways and human diseases including type II diabetes and cancer. We recently reported that PED is overexpressed in human cancers and mediates resistance to induced apoptosis. To better understand its role in cancer, we investigated on PED interactome in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). By the Tandem Affinity Purification (TAP), we identified and characterized among others, Rac1, a member of mammalian Rho GTPase protein family, as PED-interacting protein. In this study we show that PED coadiuvates Rac1 activation by regulating AKT mediated Rac1-Ser(71) phosphorylation. Furthermore, we show that the expression of a constitutively active Rac, affected PED-Ser(104) phosphorylation, which is important for PED-regulated ERK 1/2 nuclear localization. Through specific Rac1-siRNA or its pharmacological inhibition, we demonstrate that PED augments migration and invasion in a Rac1-dependent manner in NSCLC. In conclusion, we show for the first time that PED and Rac1 interact and that this interaction modulates cell migration/invasion processes in cancer cells through ERK1/2 pathway.

  • Mitochondrial chaperone Trap1 and the calcium binding protein Sorcin interact and protect cells against apoptosis induced by antiblastic agents.

    Publication Date: 15/08/2010 on Cancer research
    by Landriscina M, Laudiero G, Maddalena F, Amoroso MR, Piscazzi A, Cozzolino F, Monti M, Garbi C, Fersini A, Pucci P, Esposito F
    DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-1256

    TRAP1, a mitochondrial chaperone (Hsp75) with antioxidant and antiapoptotic functions, is involved in multidrug resistance in human colorectal carcinoma cells. Through a proteomic analysis of TRAP1 coimmunoprecipitation complexes, the Ca(2+)-binding protein Sorcin was identified as a new TRAP1 interactor. This result prompted us to investigate the presence and role of Sorcin in mitochondria from human colon carcinoma cells. Using fluorescence microscopy and Western blot analysis of purified mitochondria and submitochondrial fractions, we showed the mitochondrial localization of an isoform of Sorcin with an electrophoretic motility lower than 20 kDa that specifically interacts with TRAP1. Furthermore, the effects of overexpressing or downregulating Sorcin and/or TRAP1 allowed us to demonstrate a reciprocal regulation between these two proteins and to show that their interaction is required for Sorcin mitochondrial localization and TRAP1 stability. Indeed, the depletion of TRAP1 by short hairpin RNA in colorectal carcinoma cells lowered Sorcin levels in mitochondria, whereas the depletion of Sorcin by small interfering RNA increased TRAP1 degradation. We also report several lines of evidence suggesting that intramitochondrial Sorcin plays a role in TRAP1 cytoprotection. Finally, preliminary evidence that TRAP1 and Sorcin are both implicated in multidrug resistance and are coupregulated in human colorectal carcinomas is provided. These novel findings highlight a new role for Sorcin, suggesting that some of its previously reported cytoprotective functions may be explained by involvement in mitochondrial metabolism through the TRAP1 pathway.

  • Effects of a lipid environment on the fibrillogenic pathway of the N-terminal polypeptide of human apolipoprotein A-I, responsible for in vivo amyloid fibril formation.

    Publication Date: 01/08/2010 on European biophysics journal : EBJ
    by Monti DM, Guglielmi F, Monti M, Cozzolino F, Torrassa S, Relini A, Pucci P, Arciello A, Piccoli R
    DOI: 10.1007/s00249-010-0582-2

    In amyloidosis associated with apolipoprotein A-I (ApoA-I), heart amyloid deposits are mainly constituted by the 93-residue ApoA-I N-terminal region. A recombinant form of the amyloidogenic polypeptide, named [1-93]ApoA-I, shares conformational properties and aggregation propensity with its natural counterpart. The polypeptide, predominantly in a random coil state at pH 8.0, following acidification to pH 4.0 adopts a helical/molten globule transient state, which leads to formation of aggregates. Here we provide evidence that fibrillogenesis occurs also in physiologic-like conditions. At pH 6.4, [1-93]ApoA-I was found to assume predominantly an alpha-helical state, which undergoes aggregation at 37 degrees C over time at a lower rate than at pH 4.0. After 7 days at pH 6.4, protofibrils were observed by atomic force microscopy (AFM). Using a multidisciplinary approach, including circular dichroism (CD), fluorescence, electrophoretic, and AFM analyses, we investigated the effects of a lipid environment on the conformational state and aggregation propensity of [1-93]ApoA-I. Following addition of the lipid-mimicking detergent Triton X-100, the polypeptide was found to be in a helical state at both pH 8.0 and 6.4, with no conformational transition occurring upon acidification. These helical conformers are stable and do not generate aggregated species, as observed by AFM after 21 days. Similarly, analyses of the effects of cholesterol demonstrated that this natural ApoA-I ligand induces formation of alpha-helix at physiological concentrations at both pH 8.0 and 6.4. Zwitterionic, positively charged, and negatively charged liposomes were found to affect [1-93]ApoA-I conformation, inducing helical species. Our data support the idea that lipids play a key role in [1-93]ApoA-I aggregation in vivo.

  • Chromobox protein homologue 7 protein, with decreased expression in human carcinomas, positively regulates E-cadherin expression by interacting with the histone deacetylase 2 protein.

    Publication Date: 01/09/2009 on Cancer research
    by Federico A, Pallante P, Bianco M, Ferraro A, Esposito F, Monti M, Cozzolino M, Keller S, Fedele M, Leone V, Troncone G, Chiariotti L, Pucci P, Fusco A
    DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-1542

    Chromobox protein homologue 7 (CBX7) is a chromobox family protein encoding a novel polycomb protein, the expression of which shows a progressive reduction, well related with the malignant grade of the thyroid neoplasias. Indeed, CBX7 protein levels decreased in an increasing percentage of cases going from benign adenomas to papillary, follicular, and anaplastic thyroid carcinomas. To elucidate the function of CBX7 in carcinogenesis, we searched for CBX7 interacting proteins by a proteomic analysis. By this approach, we identified several proteins. Among these proteins, we selected histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2), which is well known to play a key role in neoplastic cell transformation and down-regulation of E-cadherin expression, the loss of which is a critical event in the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. We confirmed by coimmunoprecipitation that CBX7 physically interacts with the HDAC2 protein and is able to inhibit its activity. Then, we showed that both these proteins bind the E-cadherin promoter and that CBX7 up-regulates E-cadherin expression. Consistent with these data, we found a positive statistical correlation between CBX7 and E-cadherin expression in human thyroid carcinomas. Finally, we showed that the expression of CBX7 increases the acetylation status of the histones H3 and H4 on the E-cadherin promoter. Therefore, the ability of CBX7 to positively regulate E-cadherin expression by interacting with HDAC2 and inhibiting its activity on the E-cadherin promoter would account for the correlation between the loss of CBX7 expression and a highly malignant phenotype.

  • Puzzle of protein complexes in vivo: a present and future challenge for functional proteomics.

    Publication Date: 01/04/2009 on Expert review of proteomics
    by Monti M, Cozzolino M, Cozzolino F, Vitiello G, Tedesco R, Flagiello A, Pucci P
    DOI: 10.1586/epr.09.7

    Complete description of the complex network of cellular mechanisms and use of the network to predict the full range of cellular behaviors are major goals of systems biology. A key role in contemporary biology can be played by functional proteomics, which focuses on the elucidation of protein functions and the definition of cellular mechanisms at the molecular level. The attainment of these targets is strictly dependent on the identification of individual proteins within functional complexes in vivo. Isolation of interacting proteins relies on either affinity-based or immunoprecipitation procedures in which the protein bait and its specific partners can be fished out by their specific binding to ligand molecules immobilized on insoluble supports. These approaches led to the final identification of several proteins belonging to distinct complexes endowed with different biological functions. Assignment of each protein to a specific complex constitutes a tremendous problem that can only be partially solved using protein-protein interaction databases and literature information. The development of prefractionation methodologies to separate individual protein complexes while preserving their native interactions might then represent an essential tool for the future of functional proteomics. Prepurification of single complexes can only be pursued under native conditions on the basis of their physicochemical features, such as size, dimension (gel filtration chromatography) and density (gradient ultracentrifugation). Following prefractionation, the complex associated to a specific biological function can be isolated using affinity purification techniques. Functional proteomics approaches able to describe individual proteins belonging to complexes involved in specific cellular functions will have a terrific impact on future systems biology studies.

  • The molecular chaperone Hsp90 is a component of the cap-binding complex and interacts with the translational repressor Cup during Drosophila oogenesis.

    Publication Date: 01/03/2009 on Gene
    by Pisa V, Cozzolino M, Gargiulo S, Ottone C, Piccioni F, Monti M, Gigliotti S, Talamo F, Graziani F, Pucci P, Verrotti AC
    DOI: 10.1016/j.gene.2008.11.025

    In metazoa, the spatio-temporal translation of diverse mRNAs is essential to guarantee proper oocyte maturation and early embryogenesis. The eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E), which binds the 5' cap structure of eukaryotic mRNAs, associates with either stimulatory or inhibitory factors to modulate protein synthesis. In order to identify novel factors that might act at the translational level during Drosophila oogenesis, we have undertaken a functional proteomic approach and isolated the product of the Hsp83 gene, the evolutionarily conserved chaperone Hsp90, as a specific component of the cap-binding complex. Here we report that Hsp90 interacts in vitro with the translational repressor Cup. In addition, we show that Hsp83 and cup interact genetically, since lowering Hsp90 activity enhances the oogenesis alterations linked to diverse cup mutant alleles. Hsp90 and Cup co-localize in the cytoplasm of the developing germ-line cells within the germarium, thus suggesting a common function from the earliest stages of oogenesis. Taken together, our data start elucidating the role of Hsp90 during Drosophila female germ-line development and strengthen the idea that Cup has multiple essential functions during egg chamber development.

  • Multistep, sequential control of the trafficking and function of the multiple sulfatase deficiency gene product, SUMF1 by PDI, ERGIC-53 and ERp44.

    Publication Date: 01/09/2008 on Human molecular genetics
    by Fraldi A, Zito E, Annunziata F, Lombardi A, Cozzolino M, Monti M, Spampanato C, Ballabio A, Pucci P, Sitia R, Cosma MP
    DOI: 10.1093/hmg/ddn161

    Sulfatase modifying factor 1 (SUMF1) encodes for the formylglicine generating enzyme, which activates sulfatases by modifying a key cysteine residue within their catalytic domains. SUMF1 is mutated in patients affected by multiple sulfatase deficiency, a rare recessive disorder in which all sulfatase activities are impaired. Despite the absence of canonical retention/retrieval signals, SUMF1 is largely retained in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), where it exerts its enzymatic activity on nascent sulfatases. Part of SUMF1 is secreted and paracrinally taken up by distant cells. Here we show that SUMF1 interacts with protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) and ERp44, two thioredoxin family members residing in the early secretory pathway, and with ERGIC-53, a lectin that shuttles between the ER and the Golgi. Functional assays reveal that these interactions are crucial for controlling SUMF1 traffic and function. PDI couples SUMF1 retention and activation in the ER. ERGIC-53 and ERp44 act downstream, favoring SUMF1 export from and retrieval to the ER, respectively. Silencing ERGIC-53 causes proteasomal degradation of SUMF1, while down-regulating ERp44 promotes its secretion. When over-expressed, each of three interactors favors intracellular accumulation. Our results reveal a multistep control of SUMF1 trafficking, with sequential interactions dynamically determining ER localization, activity and secretion.