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
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Maria Monti


  • Functional proteomics: protein-protein interactions in vivo.

    Publication Date: 01/12/2007 on The Italian journal of biochemistry
    by Monti M, Cozzolino M, Cozzolino F, Tedesco R, Pucci P

    Functional proteomics constitutes an emerging research area in the proteomic field focused to two major targets, the elucidation of biological function of unknown proteins and the definition of cellular mechanisms at the molecular level. Understanding protein functions as well as unravelling molecular mechanisms within the cell is then depending on the identification of the interacting protein partners. The association of an unknown protein with partners belonging to a specific protein complex involved in a particular mechanism would in fact be strongly suggestive of its biological function. Furthermore, a detailed description of the cellular signalling pathways might greatly benefit from the elucidation of protein-protein interactions in the cell. Isolation of functional protein complexes essentially rely on affinity-based procedures. The protein of interest and its specific partners can be fished out from the cellular extract by using a suitable ligand as a bait taking advantage of the specific binding properties of the ligand molecule immobilised on agarose-sepharose supports. Alternative strategies essentially relying on immunoprecipitation techniques have been introduced to allow purification of protein complexes formed in vivo within the cell. The gene coding for the bait tagged with an epitope against which good antibodies exist (FLAG, HA, c-myc, etc.), is transfected into the appropriate cell line and expressed in the cognate host. The cell extracts are immunoprecipitated with anti-tag monoclonal antibodies using suitable experimental conditions to avoid dissociation of the complexes. In both cases, protein components specifically recognised by the bait and retained on the agarose beads can then be eluted and fractionated by SDS-PAGE. The protein bands detected on the gel are in situ enzymatically digested and the resulting peptide mixtures analysed by capillary LC-MS/MS techniques leading to the identification of the protein interactors.

  • Sulfatase modifying factor 1 trafficking through the cells: from endoplasmic reticulum to the endoplasmic reticulum.

    Publication Date: 16/05/2007 on The EMBO journal
    by Zito E, Buono M, Pepe S, Settembre C, Annunziata I, Surace EM, Dierks T, Monti M, Cozzolino M, Pucci P, Ballabio A, Cosma MP
    DOI: 10.1038/sj.emboj.7601695

    Sulfatase modifying factor 1 (SUMF1) is the gene mutated in multiple sulfatase deficiency (MSD) that encodes the formylglycine-generating enzyme, an essential activator of all the sulfatases. SUMF1 is a glycosylated enzyme that is resident in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), although it is also secreted. Here, we demonstrate that upon secretion, SUMF1 can be taken up from the medium by several cell lines. Furthermore, the in vivo engineering of mice liver to produce SUMF1 shows its secretion into the blood serum and its uptake into different tissues. Additionally, we show that non-glycosylated forms of SUMF1 can still be secreted, while only the glycosylated SUMF1 enters cells, via a receptor-mediated mechanism. Surprisingly, following its uptake, SUMF1 shuttles from the plasma membrane to the ER, a route that has to date only been well characterized for some of the toxins. Remarkably, once taken up and relocalized into the ER, SUMF1 is still active, enhancing the sulfatase activities in both cultured cells and mice tissues.

  • Lysine 58-cleaved beta2-microglobulin is not detectable by 2D electrophoresis in ex vivo amyloid fibrils of two patients affected by dialysis-related amyloidosis.

    Publication Date: 01/02/2007 on Protein science : a publication of the Protein Society
    by Giorgetti S, Stoppini M, Tennent GA, Relini A, Marchese L, Raimondi S, Monti M, Marini S, Østergaard O, Heegaard NH, Pucci P, Esposito G, Merlini G, Bellotti V
    DOI: 10.1110/ps.062563507

    The lysine 58 cleaved and truncated variant of beta(2)-microglobulin (DeltaK58-beta2m) is conformationally unstable and present in the circulation of a large percentage of patients on chronic hemodialysis, suggesting that it could play a role in the beta2-microglobulin (beta2m) amyloid fibrillogenesis associated with dialysis-related amyloidosis (DRA). However, it has yet to be detected in the amyloid deposits of such patients. Here, we extracted amyloid fibrils, without denaturation or additional purification, from different amyloidotic tissues of two unrelated individuals suffering from DRA, and characterized them by high-sensitivity bidimensional gel electrophoresis (2D-PAGE), immunoblotting, MALDI time-of-flight mass spectrometry, and protein sequencing. To confirm whether or not this species could be identified by our proteomic approaches, we mapped its location in 2D-PAGE, in mixtures of pure DeltaK58-beta2m, and extracts of amyloid fibrils from patients, to a discrete region of the gel distinct from other isoforms of beta2m. Using this approach, the two known principal isoforms found in beta2m amyloid were identified, namely, the full-length protein and the truncated species lacking six N-terminal amino acid residues (DeltaN6-beta2m). In contrast, we found no evidence for the presence of DeltaK58-beta2m.

  • Recombinant amyloidogenic domain of ApoA-I: analysis of its fibrillogenic potential.

    Publication Date: 08/12/2006 on Biochemical and biophysical research communications
    by Di Gaetano S, Guglielmi F, Arciello A, Mangione P, Monti M, Pagnozzi D, Raimondi S, Giorgetti S, Orrù S, Canale C, Pucci P, Dobson CM, Bellotti V, Piccoli R
    DOI: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2006.10.026

    A variety of amyloid diseases are associated with fibrillar aggregates from N-terminal fragments of ApoA-I generated through a largely unexplored multi-step process. The understanding of the molecular mechanism is impaired by the lack of suitable amounts of the fibrillogenic polypeptides that could not be produced by recombinant methods so far. We report the production and the conformational analysis of recombinant ApoA-I 1-93 fragment. Similarly to the polypeptide isolated ex vivo, a pH switch from 7 to 4 induces a fast and reversible conformational transition to a helical state and leads to the identification of a key intermediate in the fibrillogenesis process. Limited proteolysis experiments suggested that the C-terminal region is involved in helix formation. The recombinant polypeptide generates fibrils at pH 4 on a time scale comparable with that of the native fragment. These findings open the way to studies on structural, thermodynamic, and kinetic aspects of ApoA-I fibrillogenesis.

  • Exploring the mechanism of formation of native-like and precursor amyloid oligomers for the native acylphosphatase from Sulfolobus solfataricus.

    Publication Date: 01/06/2006 on Structure (London, England : 1993)
    by Plakoutsi G, Bemporad F, Monti M, Pagnozzi D, Pucci P, Chiti F
    DOI: 10.1016/j.str.2006.03.014

    Over 40 human diseases are associated with the formation of well-defined proteinaceous fibrillar aggregates. Since the oligomers precursors to the fibrils are increasingly recognized to be the causative agents of such diseases, it is important to elucidate the mechanism of formation of these early species. The acylphosphatase from Sulfolobus solfataricus is an ideal system as it was found to form, under conditions in which it is initially native, two types of prefibrillar aggregates: (1) initial enzymatically active aggregates and (2) oligomers with characteristics reminiscent of amyloid protofibrils, with the latter originating from the structural reorganization of the initial assemblies. By studying a number of protein variants with a variety of biophysical techniques, we have identified the regions of the sequence and the driving forces that promote the first aggregation phase and show that the second phase consists in a cooperative conversion involving the entire globular fold.

  • The gene of an archaeal alpha-L-fucosidase is expressed by translational frameshifting.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2006 on Nucleic acids research
    by Cobucci-Ponzano B, Conte F, Benelli D, Londei P, Flagiello A, Monti M, Pucci P, Rossi M, Moracci M
    DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkl574

    The standard rules of genetic translational decoding are altered in specific genes by different events that are globally termed recoding. In Archaea recoding has been unequivocally determined so far only for termination codon readthrough events. We study here the mechanism of expression of a gene encoding for a alpha-l-fucosidase from the archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus (fucA1), which is split in two open reading frames separated by a -1 frameshifting. The expression in Escherichia coli of the wild-type split gene led to the production by frameshifting of full-length polypeptides with an efficiency of 5%. Mutations in the regulatory site where the shift takes place demonstrate that the expression in vivo occurs in a programmed way. Further, we identify a full-length product of fucA1 in S.solfataricus extracts, which translate this gene in vitro by following programmed -1 frameshifting. This is the first experimental demonstration that this kind of recoding is present in Archaea.

  • Limited proteolysis in the investigation of beta2-microglobulin amyloidogenic and fibrillar states.

    Publication Date: 10/11/2005 on Biochimica et biophysica acta
    by Monti M, Amoresano A, Giorgetti S, Bellotti V, Pucci P
    DOI: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2005.09.004

    Amyloid fibrils of patients treated with regular haemodialysis essentially consists of beta2-microglobulin (beta2-m) and its truncated species DeltaN6beta2-m lacking six residues at the amino terminus. The truncated fragment shows a higher propensity to self-aggregate and constitutes an excellent candidate for the analysis of a protein in the amyloidogenic conformation. The surface topology and the conformational analysis of native beta2-m and the truncated DeltaN6beta2-m species both in the soluble and in the fibrillar forms were investigated by the limited proteolysis/mass spectrometry strategy. The conformation in solution of a further truncated mutant DeltaN3beta2-m lacking three residues at the N-terminus was also examined. This approach appeared particularly suited to investigate the regions that are solvent-exposed, or flexible enough to be accessible to protein-protein interactions and to describe the conformation of transient intermediates. Moreover, proteolysis experiments can also be tailored to investigate amyloid fibrils by discriminating the protein regions constituting the unaccessible core of the fibrils and those still flexible and exposed to the solvent. Although native beta2-m and DeltaN3beta2-m shared essentially the same conformation, significative structural differences exist between the native and the DeltaN6beta2-m proteins in solution with major differences located at the end moiety of strand V and subsequent loop with strand VI and at both the N- and C-termini of the proteins. On the contrary, an identical distribution of preferential proteolytic sites was observed in both proteins in the fibrillar state, which was nearly superimposible to that observed for the soluble form of DeltaN6beta2-m. These data revealed that synthetic fibrils essentially consists of an unaccessible core comprising residues 20-87 of the beta2-m protein with exposed and flexible N- and C-terminal ends. Moreover, proteolytic cleavages observed in vitro at Lys 6 and Lys 19 reproduce specific cleavages that have to take place in vivo to generate the truncated forms of beta2-m occurring in natural fibrils. On the basis of these results, a molecular mechanism for fibril formation has been proposed.

  • Proteomics of beta2-microglobulin amyloid fibrils.

    Publication Date: 10/11/2005 on Biochimica et biophysica acta
    by Stoppini M, Mangione P, Monti M, Giorgetti S, Marchese L, Arcidiaco P, Verga L, Segagni S, Pucci P, Merlini G, Bellotti V
    DOI: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2005.07.019

    Knowledge on the chemical structure of beta2-microglobulin in natural amyloid fibrils is quite limited because of the difficulty in obtaining tissue samples suitable for biochemical studies. We have reviewed the available information on the chemical modifications and we present new data of beta2-microglobulin extracted from non-osteotendinous tissues. beta2-microglobulin can accumulate in these compartments after long-term haemodialysis but rarely forms amyloid deposits. We confirm that truncation at the N-terminus is an event specific to beta2-microglobulin derived from fibrils but is not observed in the beta2-microglobulin from plasma or from the insoluble non-fibrillar material deposited in the heart and spleen. We also confirm the partial deamidation of Asn 17 and Asn 42, as well as the oxidation of Met 99 in fibrillar beta2-microglobulin. Other previously reported chemical modifications cannot be excluded, but should involve less than 1-2% of the intact molecule.

  • Functional proteomics.

    Publication Date: 24/07/2005 on Clinica chimica acta; international journal of clinical chemistry
    by Monti M, Orrù S, Pagnozzi D, Pucci P
    DOI: 10.1016/j.cccn.2005.03.019

    With the increase in the number of genome sequencing projects, there is a concomitant exponential growth in the number of protein sequences whose function is still unknown. Functional proteomics constitutes an emerging research area in the proteomic field whose approaches are addressed towards two major targets: the elucidation of the biological function of unknown proteins and the definition of cellular mechanisms at the molecular level.

  • Interaction proteomics.

    Publication Date: 01/02/2005 on Bioscience reports
    by Monti M, Orrù S, Pagnozzi D, Pucci P
    DOI: 10.1007/s10540-005-2847-z

    The term proteome is traditionally associated with the identification of a large number of proteins within complex mixtures originating from a given organelle, cell or even organism. Current proteome investigations are basically focused on two major areas, expression proteomics and functional proteomics. Both approaches rely on the fractionation of protein mixtures essentially by two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (2D-gel) and the identification of individual protein bands by mass spectrometric techniques (2D-MS). Functional proteomics approaches are basically addressing two main targets, the elucidation of the biological function of unknown proteins and the definition of cellular mechanisms at the molecular level. In the cell many processes are governed not only by the relative abundance of proteins but also by rapid and transient regulation of activity, association and localization of proteins and protein complexes. The association of an unknown protein with partners belonging to a specific protein complex involved in a particular process would then be strongly suggestive of its biological function. The identification of interacting proteins in stable complexes in a cellular system is essentially achieved by affinity-based procedures. Different strategies relying on this simple concept have been developed and a brief overview of the main approaches presently used in functional proteomics studies is described.