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


  • Modern mass spectrometric methodologies in monitoring milk quality.

    Publication Date: 15/01/2000 on Analytical chemistry
    by Siciliano R, Rega B, Amoresano A, Pucci P

    Structural modifications induced by industrial treatments on milk proteins have been investigated using a new analytical protocol based on mass spectrometric procedures (electrospray and matrix assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry) providing a direct correlation between the severity of the treatment and the damages observed. The application of this procedure to the analysis of whey proteins from milk samples submitted to different thermal processes confirmed that under these conditions protein modification is essentially due to the nonenzymatic glycation of amino groups by lactose (Maillard reaction). A detailed structural investigation of the modification sites, carried out by the mass mapping strategy, revealed the occurrence of preferentially lactosylated sites in both alpha-lactalbumin and beta-lactoglobulin.

  • Structural analysis of modified forms of recombinant IFN-beta produced under stress-simulating conditions.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2000 on Biological chemistry
    by Orrù S, Amoresano A, Siciliano R, Napoleoni R, Finocchiaro O, Datola A, De Luca E, Sirna A, Pucci P
    DOI: 10.1515/BC.2000.002

    The present study focused on the investigation of the chemical stability of recombinant human interferon-beta (rhIFN-beta) tested in vitro by chemical treatments that simulate stress-induced conditions that may occur during handling, storage or ageing of protein samples. Mild oxidation and/or alkylation of the recombinant protein showed that the four methionines occurring in the interferon displayed different chemical susceptibility in that Met36 and Met117 were fully modified, whereas Met1 showed only little modification and Met62 was completely resistant. Moreover, incubation of rhIFN-beta under alkaline conditions resulted in the formation of a covalent dimeric species stabilised by an intermolecular disulphide bridge involving the free SH group of Cys17 from each polypeptide chain. Analysis of biological activity of the different IFN-beta derivatives showed that rhIFN-beta fully retains its specific activity following mild oxidation treatments whereas reaction with a high concentration of alkylating agents or incubation under alkaline conditions strongly reduce its specific antiviral activity.

  • Structural and membrane-binding properties of saposin D.

    Publication Date: 01/07/1999 on European journal of biochemistry
    by Tatti M, Salvioli R, Ciaffoni F, Pucci P, Andolfo A, Amoresano A, Vaccaro AM

    Saposin D is generated together with three similar proteins, saposins A, B and C, from a common precursor, called prosaposin, in acidic organelles such as late endosomes and lysosomes. Although saposin D has been reported to stimulate the enzymatic hydrolysis of sphingomyelin and ceramide, its physiological role has not yet been clearly established. In the present study we examined structural and membrane-binding properties of saposin D. At acidic pH, saposin D showed a great affinity for phospholipid membranes containing an anionic phospholipid such as phosphatidylserine or phosphatidic acid. The binding of saposin D caused destabilization of the lipid surface and, conversely, the association with the membrane markedly affected the fluorescence properties of saposin D. The presence of phosphatidylserine-containing vesicles greatly enhanced the intrinsic tyrosine fluorescence of saposin D, which contains tyrosines but not tryptophan residues. The structural properties of saposin D were investigated in detail using advanced MS analysis. It was found that the main form of saposin D consists of 80 amino acid residues and that the six cysteine residues are linked in the following order: Cys5-Cys78, Cys8-Cys72 and Cys36-Cys47. The disulfide pattern of saposin D is identical with that previously established for two other saposins, B and C, which also exhibit a strong affinity for lipids. The common disulfide structure probably has an important role in the interaction of these proteins with membranes. The analysis of the sugar moiety of saposin D revealed that the single N-glycosylation site present in the molecule is mainly modified by high-mannose-type structures varying from two to six hexose residues. Deglycosylation had no effect on the interaction of saposin D with phospholipid membranes, indicating that the glycosylation site is not related to the lipid-binding site. The association of saposin D with membranes was highly dependent on the composition of the bilayer. Neither ceramide nor sphingomyelin, sphingolipids whose hydrolysis is favoured by saposin D, promoted its binding, while the presence of an acidic phospholipid such as phosphatidylserine or phosphatidic acid greatly favoured the interaction of saposin D with vesicles at low pH. These results suggest that, in the acidic organelles where saposins are localized, anionic phospholipids may be determinants of the saposin D topology and, conversely, saposin D may affect the lipid organization of anionic phospholipid-containing membranes.

  • Characterization of low-molecular-mass trypsin isoinhibitors from oil-rape (Brassica napus var. oleifera) seed.

    Publication Date: 01/04/1999 on European journal of biochemistry
    by Ascenzi P, Ruoppolo M, Amoresano A, Pucci P, Consonni R, Zetta L, Pascarella S, Bortolotti F, Menegatti E

    A new low-molecular-mass (6767.8 Da) serine proteinase isoinhibitor has been isolated from oil-rape (Brassica napus var. oleifera) seed, designated 5-oxoPro1-Gly62-RTI-III. The 5-oxoPro1-Gly62-RTI-III isoinhibitor is longer than the Asp2-Pro61-RTI-III and the Ser3-Pro61-RTI-III forms, all the other amino acid residues being identical. In RTI-III isoinhibitors, the P1-P1' reactive site bond (where residues forming the reactive site have been identified as PnellipsisP1 and P1'ellipsisPn', where P1-P1' is the inhibitor scissile bond) has been identified at position Arg21-Ile22. The inhibitor disulphide bridges pattern has been determined as Cys5-Cys27, Cys18-Cys31, Cys42-Cys52 and Cys54-Cys57. The disulphide bridge arrangement observed in the RTI-III isoinhibitors is reminiscent of that found in a number of toxins (e.g. erabutoxin b). Moreover, the organization of the three disulphide bridges subset Cys5-Cys27, Cys18-Cys31 and Cys42-Cys52 is reminiscent of that found in epidermal growth factor domains. Preliminary 1H-NMR data indicates the presence of alphaalphaNOEs and 3JalphaNH coupling constants, typical of the beta-structure(s). These data suggest that the three-dimensional structure of the RTI-III isoinhibitors may be reminiscent of that of toxins and epidermal growth factor domains, consisting of three-finger shaped loops extending from the crossover region. Values of the apparent association equilibrium constant for RTI-III isoinhibitors binding to bovine beta-trypsin and bovine alpha-chymotrypsin are 3.3 x 109 m-1 and 2.4 x 106 m-1, respectively, at pH 8.0 and 21.0 degrees C. The serine proteinase : inhibitor complex formation is a pH-dependent entropy-driven process. RTI-III isoinhibitors do not show any similarity to other serine proteinase inhibitors except the low molecular mass white mustard trypsin isoinhibitor, isolated from Sinapis alba L. seed (MTI-2). Therefore, RTI-III and MTI-2 isoinhibitors could be members of a new class of plant serine proteinase inhibitors.

  • Topology of the thyroid transcription factor 1 homeodomain-DNA complex.

    Publication Date: 05/01/1999 on Biochemistry
    by Scaloni A, Monti M, Acquaviva R, Tell G, Damante G, Formisano S, Pucci P
    DOI: 10.1021/bi981300k

    The topology of the thyroid transcription factor 1 homeodomain (TTF-1HD)-DNA complex was investigated by a strategy which combines limited proteolysis and selective chemical modification experiments with mass spectrometry methodologies. When limited proteolysis digestions were carried out with the protein in the absence or presence of its target oligonucleotide, differential peptide maps were obtained from which the amino acid residues involved in the interaction could be inferred. Similarly, selective acetylation of lysine residues in both the isolated and the complexed homeodomain allowed us to identify the amino acids protected by the interaction with DNA. Surface topology analysis of isolated TTF-1HD performed at neutral pH was in good agreement with the three-dimensional structure of the molecule as determined by NMR studies under acidic conditions. Minor differences were detected in the C-terminal region of the protein which, contrary to NMR data, showed no accessibility to proteases. Analysis of the complex provided an experimental validation of the model proposed on the basis of the homology with the homeodomain structures described so far. An increased accessibility of the C-terminal region was observed following the interaction, suggesting its displacement from the protein core by the oligonucleotide molecule. Comparative experiments with DNA fragments differing in sequence and binding capabilities highlighted structural differences among the complexes, mainly located in the N-terminal region of the homeodomain, thus accounting for their different dissociation constants.

  • The tbf-1 gene from the white truffle Tuber borchii codes for a structural cell wall protein specifically expressed in fruitbody.

    Publication Date: 01/11/1998 on Fungal genetics and biology : FG & B
    by De Bellis R, Agostini D, Piccoli G, Vallorani L, Potenza L, Polidori E, Sisti D, Amoresano A, Pucci P, Arpaia G, Macino G, Balestrini R, Bonfante P, Stocchi V

    This paper reports the purification and localization of a Tuber borchii Vittad, fruitbody protein (TBF-1) and the cloning of the encoding gene. TBF-1 is detectable by SDS-PAGE analyses only in this white truffle species and presents a molecular mass of 11,994 Da. TBF-1 was purified by one-step Reversed-Phase HPLC and its complete amino acid sequence was determined after digestion with trypsin and N-Asp endoproteinase. Polyclonal antibodies were produced and tested in immunofluorescence and immunogold experiments, providing information about the protein localization. It was detected mostly on the hyphal walls, where it was colocalized with beta-1,3-glucans and chitin. The sporal wall was not labeled. The encoding gene (tbf-1) was cloned using several techniques involving PCR. The coding region consists of a 360-bp open reading frame interrupted by an intron, with another intron following the stop codon. A putative signal peptide of 12 amino acids was found at the N-terminal. Northern blot analysis revealed that tbf-1 is highly expressed in unripe and ripe fruitbodies and was not detectable in culture mycelium or ectomycorrhizal roots.

  • Structural characterization and independent folding of a chimeric glycoprotein comprising granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor and erythropoietin sequences.

    Publication Date: 01/08/1998 on Glycobiology
    by Amoresano A, Andolfo A, Siciliano RA, Mele A, Coscarella A, De Santis R, Mauro S, Pucci P, Marino G

    MEN 11300 is a hybrid glycoprotein of 297 amino acids obtained by fusion of the cDNA encoding GM-CSF with the cDNA encoding EPO followed by transfection of the hybrid gene into CHO cells. The oligonucleotide construct incorporated a spacing sequence between the two individual cDNAs which encodes eight amino acids constituting a linker peptide intended to separate the GM-CSF and EPO moieties. The recombinant MEN 11300 protein was submitted to a detailed structural characterization including the verification of the entire amino acid sequence, the assignment of the disulfide bridges pattern, the identification of the glycosylation sites and the definition of the glycosidic moiety, including site-specificity. Partial processing of the C-terminal Arg residue and the occurrence of N-glycosylation sites at Asn27, Asn155, Asn169, Asn214 were established. Moreover, O-glycosylation at Ser257 and at the N-terminal region was also detected. A large heterogeneity was observed in the N-glycans due to the presence of differently sialylated and fucosylated branched complex type oligosaccharides whereas O-linked glycans were constituted by GalGalNAc chains with a different number of sialic acids. The disulfide bridges pattern was established by direct FABMS analysis of the proteolytic digests or by ESMS analysis of HPLC purified fractions. Pairing of the eight cysteine residues resulted in Cys54-Cys96, Cys88-Cys121, Cys138-Cys292, and Cys160-Cys164. This S-S bridges pattern is identical to that occurring in the individual natural GM-CSF and EPO, thus showing that the two protein moieties in MEN 11300 can independently acquire their native three-dimensional structure.

  • Analysis of human serum albumin variants by mass spectrometric procedures.

    Publication Date: 23/04/1998 on Biochimica et biophysica acta
    by Amoresano A, Andolfo A, Siciliano RA, Cozzolino R, Minchiotti L, Galliano M, Pucci P

    A new strategy for the structural characterisation of human albumin variants has been developed which makes extensive use of mass spectrometric methodologies. The rationale behind the method is to provide a rapid and effective screening of the entire albumin structure. The first step in this strategy consists in the attempt to determine the accurate molecular mass of the intact variant by electrospray mass spectrometry often providing a first indication on the presence of the variant. An HPLC procedure has been developed io isolate all the seven fragments generated by CNBr hydrolysis of HSA in a single chromatographic step. A rapid screening of the entire albumin structure is achieved by the ESMS analysis of the peptide fragments and the protein region(s) carrying the structural abnormality is identified by its anomalous mass value(s). Mass mapping of the corresponding CNBr peptide, either by Fast Atom Bombardment Mass Spectrometry (FABMS) or by Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionisation Mass Spectrometry (MALDIMS), leads to the definition of the site and the nature of the variation. This combined strategy was applied to the structural characterisation of three HSA genetic variants and provided to be an effective procedure for the rapid assessment of their structural modifications showing considerable advantages over the classical approach.

  • Structural characterization of four genetic variants of human serum albumin associated with alloalbuminemia in Italy.

    Publication Date: 15/07/1997 on European journal of biochemistry
    by Minchiotti L, Watkins S, Madison J, Putnam FW, Kragh-Hansen U, Amoresano A, Pucci P, Cesati R, Galliano M

    A long-term electrophoretic survey on plasma proteins, which was carried out in several clinical laboratories in Italy, identified 28 different genetic variants of human serum albumin and four cases of analbuminemia. We have previously characterized 16 point mutations, 3 C-terminal mutants, and the genetic defects in two analbuminemic subjects. Here, we report the molecular defects of four alloalbumins that have been characterized by protein structural analysis. Of these, three represent new single-point mutations: albumins Tregasio, Val122-->Glu, Bergamo, Asp314-->Gly, and Maddaloni, Val533-->Met. The fourth, albumin Besana Brianza, has the same Asp494-->Asn mutation that introduces a glycosylation site which has been previously reported in a variant from New Zealand, albumin Casebrook. However, in contrast to albumin Casebrook, albumin Besana Brianza is only partially glycosylated and the oligosaccharide is heterogeneous, consisting of a biantennary complex type N-glycan with either two or one sialic acid residue(s) on the antennae. Both albumin Maddaloni and Besana Brianza represent mutations at hypermutable CpG dinucleotide sites; albumin Maddaloni is a mutant that does not involve a charged amino acid.

  • Structural characterisation of human recombinant glycohormones follitropin, lutropin and choriogonadotropin expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells.

    Publication Date: 15/12/1996 on European journal of biochemistry
    by Amoresano A, Siciliano R, Orrù S, Napoleoni R, Altarocca V, De Luca E, Sirna A, Pucci P

    The alpha and beta chains from human recombinant gonadotropins follitropin, lutropin and choriogonadotropin expressed in CHO cells have been structurally characterised both at the protein and at the carbohydrate level by using advanced mass spectrometric procedures. The three alpha chains share the same amino acid sequence while they display different glycosylation patterns. The oligosaccharide structures detected belong to the complex-type glycans with different degree of sialylation. Partial proteolytic processing occurred at the N-terminus of the follitropin beta chain and at the C-terminus of the lutropin beta chain. The N-linked glycans from the three beta chains were found to contain fucosylated and sialylated diantennary and triantennary complex-type structures. The follitropin beta chain showed the presence of N-acetyllactosamine repeats on the antennae. The overall structure of the recombinant glycohormones corresponds to their natural counterparts with the exception that sulphated terminal glycosylation is missing.