Pietro Pucci

Professor of Biochemistry

Name Pietro
Surname Pucci
Institution Università degli Studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli
Telephone +39 081 674 318 (UniNa)
Telephone 2 +39 081 373 7896 (Ceinge)
E-Mail pucci@unina.it
Address Department of Chemical Sciences, Federico II University, Via Cintia 6, 80126, Naples, Italy
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Pietro Pucci


  • Tubulin nitration in human gliomas.

    Publication Date: 06/02/2006 on Neuroscience letters
    by Fiore G, Di Cristo C, Monti G, Amoresano A, Columbano L, Pucci P, Cioffi FA, Di Cosmo A, Palumbo A, d'Ischia M
    DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2005.10.011

    Immunohistochemical and biochemical investigations showed that significant protein nitration occurs in human gliomas, especially in grade IV glioblastomas at the level of astrocytes and oligodendrocytes and neurones. Enhanced alpha-tubulin immunoreactivity was co-present in the same elements in the glioblastomas. Proteomic methodologies were employed to identify a nitrated protein band at 55 kDa as alpha-tubulin. Peptide mass fingerprinting procedures demonstrated that tubulin is nitrated at Tyr224 in grade IV tumour samples but is unmodified in grade I samples and in non-cancerous brain tissue. These results provide the first characterisation of endogenously nitrated tubulin from human tumour samples.

  • 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.

  • Pancreatic cancer-associated diabetes mellitus: an open field for proteomic applications.

    Publication Date: 24/07/2005 on Clinica chimica acta; international journal of clinical chemistry
    by Basso D, Greco E, Fogar P, Pucci P, Flagiello A, Baldo G, Giunco S, Valerio A, Navaglia F, Zambon CF, Pedrazzoli S, Plebani M
    DOI: 10.1016/j.cccn.2005.03.025

    Diabetes mellitus is associated with pancreatic cancer in more than 80% of the cases. Clinical, epidemiological, and experimental data indicate that pancreatic cancer causes diabetes mellitus by releasing soluble mediators which interfere with both beta-cell function and liver and muscle glucose metabolism.

  • 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.

  • Direct interactions among Ret, GDNF and GFRalpha1 molecules reveal new insights into the assembly of a functional three-protein complex.

    Publication Date: 01/06/2005 on Cellular signalling
    by Amoresano A, Incoronato M, Monti G, Pucci P, de Franciscis V, Cerchia L
    DOI: 10.1016/j.cellsig.2004.10.012

    The glial-cell-line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) ligand activates the Ret receptor through the assembly of a multiprotein complex, including the GDNF family receptor alpha1 (GFRalpha1) molecule. Given the neuroprotective role of GDNF, there is an obvious need to precisely identify the structural regions engaged in direct interactions between the three molecules. Here, we combined a functional approach for Ret activity (in PC12 cells) to cross-linking experiments followed by MS-MALDI to study the interactions among the purified extracellular region of the human Ret, GDNF and GFRalpha1 molecules. This procedure allowed us to identify distinct regions of Ret that are physically engaged in the interaction with GDNF and GFRalpha1. The lack of these regions in a recombinant Ret form results in the failure of both structural and functional binding of Ret to GFRalpha1/GDNF complex. Furthermore, a model for the assembly of a transducing-competent Ret complex is suggested.

  • 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.

  • Identification of proteins interacting with the RNAPII FCP1 phosphatase: FCP1 forms a complex with arginine methyltransferase PRMT5 and it is a substrate for PRMT5-mediated methylation.

    Publication Date: 31/01/2005 on FEBS letters
    by Amente S, Napolitano G, Licciardo P, Monti M, Pucci P, Lania L, Majello B
    DOI: 10.1016/j.febslet.2004.12.045

    FCP1, a phosphatase specific of the carboxyl-terminal-domain of the large subunit of the RNA polymerase II (RNAPII), stimulates transcription elongation and it is required for general transcription and cell viability. To identify novel interacting proteins of FCP1, we used a human cell line expressing an epitope flagged FCP1 and proteins, which formed complexes with FCP1, were identified by mass spectrometry. We identified four proteins: RPB2 subunit of the RNAPII, the nuclear kinase, NDR1, the methyltransferase PRMT5 and the enhancer of rudimentary homologue (ERH) proteins. Intriguingly, both the PRMT5 and ERH proteins are interacting partners of the SPT5 elongation factor. Interactions of RPB2, ERH, NDR1 and PRMT5 with FCP1 were confirmed by co-immunoprecipitation or in vitro pull-down assays. Interaction between PRMT5 and FCP1 was further confirmed by co-immunoprecipitation of endogenous proteins. We found that FCP1 is a genuine substrate of PRMT5-methylation both in vivo and in vitro, and FCP1-associated PRMT5 can methylate histones H4 in vitro.

  • Ribosomal protein L7a binds RNA through two distinct RNA-binding domains.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2005 on The Biochemical journal
    by Russo G, Cuccurese M, Monti G, Russo A, Amoresano A, Pucci P, Pietropaolo C
    DOI: 10.1042/BJ20040371

    The human ribosomal protein L7a is a component of the major ribosomal subunit. We previously identified three nuclear-localization-competent domains within L7a, and demonstrated that the domain defined by aa (amino acids) 52-100 is necessary, although not sufficient, to target the L7a protein to the nucleoli. We now demonstrate that L7a interacts in vitro with a presumably G-rich RNA structure, which has yet to be defined. We also demonstrate that the L7a protein contains two RNA-binding domains: one encompassing aa 52-100 (RNAB1) and the other encompassing aa 101-161 (RNAB2). RNAB1 does not contain any known nucleic-acid-binding motif, and may thus represent a new class of such motifs. On the other hand, a specific region of RNAB2 is highly conserved in several other protein components of the ribonucleoprotein complex. We have investigated the topology of the L7a-RNA complex using a recombinant form of the protein domain that encompasses residues 101-161 and a 30mer poly(G) oligonucleotide. Limited proteolysis and cross-linking experiments, and mass spectral analyses of the recombinant protein domain and its complex with poly(G) revealed the RNA-binding region.