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

Member PUBLICATIONS

  • The multifunctional polydnavirus TnBVANK1 protein: impact on host apoptotic pathway.

    Publication Date: 18/09/2017 on Scientific reports
    by Salvia R, Grossi G, Amoresano A, Scieuzo C, Nardiello M, Giangrande C, Laurenzana I, Ruggieri V, Bufo SA, Vinson SB, Carmosino M, Neunemann D, Vogel H, Pucci P, Falabella P
    DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-11939-x

    Toxoneuron nigriceps (Hymenoptera, Braconidae) is an endophagous parasitoid of the larval stages of the tobacco budworm, Heliothis virescens (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae). The bracovirus associated with this wasp (TnBV) is currently being studied. Several genes expressed in parasitised host larvae have been isolated and their possible roles partly elucidated. TnBVank1 encodes an ankyrin motif protein similar to insect and mammalian IκB, an inhibitor of the transcription nuclear factor κB (NF-κB). Here we show that, when TnBVank1 was stably expressed in polyclonal Drosophila S2 cells, apoptosis is induced. Furthermore, we observed the same effects in haemocytes of H. virescens larvae, after TnBVank1 in vivo transient transfection, and in haemocytes of parasitised larvae. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments showed that TnBVANK1 binds to ALG-2 interacting protein X (Alix/AIP1), an interactor of apoptosis-linked gene protein 2 (ALG-2). Using double-immunofluorescence labeling, we observed the potential colocalization of TnBVANK1 and Alix proteins in the cytoplasm of polyclonal S2 cells. When Alix was silenced by RNA interference, TnBVANK1 was no longer able to cause apoptosis in both S2 cells and H. virescens haemocytes. Collectively, these results indicate that TnBVANK1 induces apoptosis by interacting with Alix, suggesting a role of TnBVANK1 in the suppression of host immune response observed after parasitisation by T. nigriceps.

  • Quantitative determination of free D-Asp, L-Asp and N-methyl-D-aspartate in mouse brain tissues by chiral separation and Multiple Reaction Monitoring tandem mass spectrometry.

    Publication Date: 29/06/2017 on PloS one
    by Fontanarosa C, Pane F, Sepe N, Pinto G, Trifuoggi M, Squillace M, Errico F, Usiello A, Pucci P, Amoresano A
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179748

    Several studies have suggested that free d-Asp has a crucial role in N-methyl d-Asp receptor-mediated neurotransmission playing very important functions in physiological and pathological processes. This paper describes the development of an analytical procedure for the direct and simultaneous determination of free d-Asp, l-Asp and N-methyl d-Asp in specimens of different mouse brain tissues using chiral LC-MS/MS in Multiple Reaction Monitoring scan mode. After comparing three procedures and different buffers and extraction solvents, a simple preparation procedure was selected the analytes of extraction. The method was validated by analyzing l-Asp, d-Asp and N-methyl d-Asp recovery at different spiked concentrations (50, 100 and 200 pg/μl) yielding satisfactory recoveries (75-110%), and good repeatability. Limits of detection (LOD) resulted to be 0.52 pg/μl for d-Asp, 0.46 pg/μl for l-Asp and 0.54 pg/μl for NMDA, respectively. Limits of quantification (LOQ) were 1.57 pg/μl for d-Asp, 1.41 pg/μl for l-Asp and 1.64 pg/μl for NMDA, respectively. Different concentration levels were used for constructing the calibration curves which showed good linearity. The validated method was then successfully applied to the simultaneous detection of d-Asp, l-Asp and NMDA in mouse brain tissues. The concurrent, sensitive, fast, and reproducible measurement of these metabolites in brain tissues will be useful to correlate the amount of free d-Asp with relevant neurological processes, making the LC-MS/MS MRM method well suited, not only for research work but also for clinical analyses.

  • The centrosomal OFD1 protein interacts with the translation machinery and regulates the synthesis of specific targets.

    Publication Date: 27/04/2017 on Scientific reports
    by Iaconis D, Monti M, Renda M, van Koppen A, Tammaro R, Chiaravalli M, Cozzolino F, Pignata P, Crina C, Pucci P, Boletta A, Belcastro V, Giles RH, Maria Surace E, Gallo S, Pende M, Franco B
    DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-01156-x

    Protein synthesis is traditionally associated with specific cytoplasmic compartments. We now show that OFD1, a centrosomal/basal body protein, interacts with components of the Preinitiation complex of translation (PIC) and of the eukaryotic Initiation Factor (eIF)4F complex and modulates the translation of specific mRNA targets in the kidney. We demonstrate that OFD1 cooperates with the mRNA binding protein Bicc1 to functionally control the protein synthesis machinery at the centrosome where also the PIC and eIF4F components were shown to localize in mammalian cells. Interestingly, Ofd1 and Bicc1 are both involved in renal cystogenesis and selected targets were shown to accumulate in two models of inherited renal cystic disease. Our results suggest a possible role for the centrosome as a specialized station to modulate translation for specific functions of the nearby ciliary structures and may provide functional clues for the understanding of renal cystic disease.

  • PRUNE is crucial for normal brain development and mutated in microcephaly with neurodevelopmental impairment.

    Publication Date: 01/04/2017 on Brain : a journal of neurology
    by Zollo M, Ahmed M, Ferrucci V, Salpietro V, Asadzadeh F, Carotenuto M, Maroofian R, Al-Amri A, Singh R, Scognamiglio I, Mojarrad M, Musella L, Duilio A, Di Somma A, Karaca E, Rajab A, Al-Khayat A, Mohan Mohapatra T, Eslahi A, Ashrafzadeh F, Rawlins LE, Prasad R, Gupta R, Kumari P, Srivastava M, Cozzolino F, Kumar Rai S, Monti M, Harlalka GV, Simpson MA, Rich P, Al-Salmi F, Patton MA, Chioza BA, Efthymiou S, Granata F, Di Rosa G, Wiethoff S, Borgione E, Scuderi C, Mankad K, Hanna MG, Pucci P, Houlden H, Lupski JR, Crosby AH, Baple EL
    DOI: 10.1093/brain/awx014

    PRUNE is a member of the DHH (Asp-His-His) phosphoesterase protein superfamily of molecules important for cell motility, and implicated in cancer progression. Here we investigated multiple families from Oman, India, Iran and Italy with individuals affected by a new autosomal recessive neurodevelopmental and degenerative disorder in which the cardinal features include primary microcephaly and profound global developmental delay. Our genetic studies identified biallelic mutations of PRUNE1 as responsible. Our functional assays of disease-associated variant alleles revealed impaired microtubule polymerization, as well as cell migration and proliferation properties, of mutant PRUNE. Additionally, our studies also highlight a potential new role for PRUNE during microtubule polymerization, which is essential for the cytoskeletal rearrangements that occur during cellular division and proliferation. Together these studies define PRUNE as a molecule fundamental for normal human cortical development and define cellular and clinical consequences associated with PRUNE mutation.

  • Formyl peptide receptor 1 suppresses gastric cancer angiogenesis and growth by exploiting inflammation resolution pathways.

    Publication Date: 21/02/2017 on Oncoimmunology
    by Prevete N, Liotti F, Illiano A, Amoresano A, Pucci P, de Paulis A, Melillo RM
    DOI: 10.1080/2162402X.2017.1293213

    Chronic inflammation can result from inadequate engagement of resolution mechanisms, mainly accomplished by specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs) arising from the metabolic activity of lipoxygenases (ALOX5/15) on ω-6 or ω-3 essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). We previously demonstrated that formyl peptide receptor 1 (FPR1) suppresses gastric cancer (GC) by inhibiting its inflammatory/angiogenic potential. In this study, we asked whether FPR1 exploits inflammation resolution pathways to suppress GC angiogenesis and growth. Here, we demonstrate that genetic or pharmacologic modulation of FPR1 in GC cells regulated ALOX5/15 expression and production of the SPMs Resolvin D1 (RvD1) and Lipoxin B4 (LXB4). SPM treatment of GC cells abated their angiogenic potential. Genetic deletion of ALOX15 or of the RvD1 receptor GPR32 increased the angiogenic and tumorigenic activity of GC cells thereby mimicking FPR1 loss. Deletion/inhibition of ALOX5/15 or GPR32 blocked FPR1-mediated anti-angiogenic activities, indicating that ALOX5/15 and GPR32 are required for FPR1's pro-resolving action. An ω-3- or ω-6-enriched diet enforced SPM endogenous production in mice and inhibited growth of shFPR1 GC xenografts by suppressing their angiogenic activity. These data implicate that FPR1 and/or pro-resolving pathway components might be used as risk/prognostic markers for GC; ω-6/3-enriched diets, and targeting FPR1 or SPM machinery may be exploited for GC management.

  • A Novel Pathogenic BRCA1 Splicing Variant Produces Partial Intron Retention in the Mature Messenger RNA.

    Publication Date: 21/12/2016 on International journal of molecular sciences
    by Esposito MV, Nunziato M, Starnone F, Telese A, Calabrese A, D'Aiuto G, Pucci P, D'Aiuto M, Baralle F, D'Argenio V, Salvatore F
    DOI: 10.3390/ijms17122145

    About 10% of all breast cancers arise from hereditary mutations that increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers; and about 25% of these are associated with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. The identification of BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations can enable physicians to better tailor the clinical management of patients; and to initiate preventive measures in healthy carriers. The pathophysiological significance of newly identified variants poses challenges for genetic counseling. We characterized a new BRCA1 variant discovered in a breast cancer patient during BRCA1/2 screening by next-generation sequencing. Bioinformatic predictions; indicating that the variant is probably pathogenetic; were verified using retro-transcription of the patient's RNA followed by PCR amplifications performed on the resulting cDNA. The variant causes the loss of a canonic donor splice site at position +2 in BRCA1 intron 21; and consequently the partial retention of 156 bp of intron 21 in the patient's transcript; which demonstrates that this novel BRCA1 mutation plays a pathogenetic role in breast cancer. These findings enabled us to initiate appropriate counseling and to tailor the clinical management of this family. Lastly; these data reinforce the importance of studying the effects of sequence variants at the RNA level to verify their potential role in disease onset.

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

    Publication Date: 01/12/2016 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: 10.15252/embj.201670020
  • Intermolecular disulfide bond influences unphosphorylated STAT3 dimerization and function.

    Publication Date: 01/10/2016 on The Biochemical journal
    by Butturini E, Gotte G, Dell'Orco D, Chiavegato G, Marino V, Canetti D, Cozzolino F, Monti M, Pucci P, Mariotto S
    DOI: 10.1042/BCJ20160294

    Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is a transcription factor activated by the phosphorylation of tyrosine 705 in response to many cytokines and growth factors. Recently, the roles for unphosphorylated STAT3 (U-STAT3) have been described in response to cytokine stimulation, in cancers, and in the maintenance of heterochromatin stability. It has been reported that U-STAT3 dimerizes, shuttles between the cytoplasm and nucleus, and binds to DNA, thereby driving genes transcription. Although many reports describe the active role of U-STAT3 in oncogenesis in addition to phosphorylated STAT3, the U-STAT3 functional pathway remains elusive.In this report, we describe the molecular mechanism of U-STAT3 dimerization, and we identify the presence of two intermolecular disulfide bridges between Cys367 and Cys542 and Cys418 and Cys426, respectively. Recently, we reported that the same cysteines contribute to the redox regulation of STAT3 signaling pathway both in vitro and in vivo The presence of these disulfides is here demonstrated to largely contribute to the structure and the stability of U-STAT3 dimer as the dimeric form rapidly dissociates upon reduction in the S-S bonds. In particular, the Cys367-Cys542 disulfide bridge is shown to be critical for U-STAT3 DNA-binding activity. Mutation of the two Cys residues completely abolishes the DNA-binding capability of U-STAT3. Spectroscopic investigations confirm that the noncovalent interactions are sufficient for proper folding and dimer formation, but that the interchain disulfide bonds are crucial to preserve the functional dimer. Finally, we propose a reaction scheme of U-STAT3 dimerization with a first common step followed by stabilization through the formation of interchain disulfide bonds.

  • Regulating levels of the neuromodulator d-serine in human brain: structural insight into pLG72 and d-amino acid oxidase interaction.

    Publication Date: 01/09/2016 on The FEBS journal
    by Birolo L, Sacchi S, Smaldone G, Molla G, Leo G, Caldinelli L, Pirone L, Eliometri P, Di Gaetano S, Orefice I, Pedone E, Pucci P, Pollegioni L
    DOI: 10.1111/febs.13809

    The human flavoenzyme d-amino acid oxidase (hDAAO) degrades the NMDA-receptor modulator d-serine in the brain. Although hDAAO has been extensively characterized, little is known about its main modulator pLG72, a small protein encoded by the primate-specific gene G72 that has been associated with schizophrenia susceptibility. pLG72 interacts with neosynthesized hDAAO, promoting its inactivation and degradation. In this work, we used low-resolution techniques to characterize the surface topology of the hDAAO-pLG72 complex. By using limited proteolysis coupled to mass spectrometry, we could map the exposed regions in the two proteins after complex formation and highlighted an increased sensitivity to proteolysis of hDAAO in complex with pLG72. Cross-linking experiments by using bis(sulfosuccinimidyl)suberate identified the single covalent bond between T182 in hDAAO and K62 in pLG72. In order to validate the designed mode of interaction, three pLG72 variants incrementally truncated at the C terminus, in addition to a form lacking the 71 N-terminal residues, were produced. All variants were dimeric, folded, and interacted with hDAAO. The strongest decrease in affinity for hDAAO (as well as for the hydrophobic drug chlorpromazine) was apparent for the N-terminally deleted pLG72(72-153) form, which lacked K62. On the other hand, eliminating the disordered C-terminal tail yielded a more stable pLG72 protein, improved the binding to hDAAO, although giving lower enzyme inhibition. Elucidation of the mode of hDAAO-pLG72 interaction now makes it possible to design novel molecules that, by targeting the protein complex, can be therapeutically advantageous for diseases related to impairment in d-serine metabolism.

  • Identification of major Toxoneuron nigriceps venom proteins using an integrated transcriptomic/proteomic approach.

    Publication Date: 01/09/2016 on Insect biochemistry and molecular biology
    by Laurino S, Grossi G, Pucci P, Flagiello A, Bufo SA, Bianco G, Salvia R, Vinson SB, Vogel H, Falabella P
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2016.07.001

    Endoparasitoids in the order Hymenoptera are natural enemies of several herbivorous insect pest species. During oviposition they inject a mixture of factors, which include venom, into the host, ensuring the successful parasitism and the development of their progeny. Although these parasitoid factors are known to be responsible for host manipulation, such as immune system suppression, little is known about both identity and function of the majority of their venom components. To identify the major proteins of Toxoneuron nigriceps (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) venom, we used an integrated transcriptomic and proteomic approach. The tandem-mass spectrometric (LC-MS/MS) data combined with T. nigriceps venom gland transcriptome used as a reference database resulted in the identification of a total of thirty one different proteins. While some of the identified proteins have been described in venom from several parasitoids, others were identified for the first time. Among the identified proteins, hydrolases constituted the most abundant family followed by transferases, oxidoreductases, ligases, lyases and isomerases. The hydrolases identified in the T. nigriceps venom glands included proteases, peptidases and glycosidases, reported as common components of venom from several parasitoid species. Taken together, the identified proteins included factors that could potentially inhibit the host immune system, manipulate host physiological processes and host development, as well as provide nutrients to the parasitoid progeny, degrading host tissues by specific hydrolytic enzymes. The venom decoding provides us with information about the identity of candidate venom factors which could contribute to the success of parasitism, together with other maternal and embryonic factors.