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


  • Phosphorylation-regulated degradation of the tumor-suppressor form of PED by chaperone-mediated autophagy in lung cancer cells.

    Publication Date: 01/10/2014 on Journal of cellular physiology
    by Quintavalle C, Di Costanzo S, Zanca C, Tasset I, Fraldi A, Incoronato M, Mirabelli P, Monti M, Ballabio A, Pucci P, Cuervo AM, Condorelli G
    DOI: 10.1002/jcp.24569

    PED/PEA-15 is a death effector domain (DED) family member with a variety of effects on cell growth and metabolism. To get further insight into the role of PED in cancer, we aimed to find new PED interactors. Using tandem affinity purification, we identified HSC70 (Heat Shock Cognate Protein of 70 kDa)-which, among other processes, is involved in chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA)-as a PED-interacting protein. We found that PED has two CMA-like motifs (i.e., KFERQ), one of which is located within a phosphorylation site, and demonstrate that PED is a bona fide CMA substrate and the first example in which phosphorylation modifies the ability of HSC70 to access KFERQ-like motifs and target the protein for lysosomal degradation. Phosphorylation of PED switches its function from tumor suppression to tumor promotion, and we show that HSC70 preferentially targets the unphosphorylated form of PED to CMA. Therefore, we propose that the up-regulated CMA activity characteristic of most types of cancer cell enhances oncogenesis by shifting the balance of PED function toward tumor promotion. This mechanism is consistent with the notion of a therapeutic potential for targeting CMA in cancer, as inhibition of this autophagic pathway may help restore a physiological ratio of PED forms.

  • S-Glutathionylation at Cys328 and Cys542 impairs STAT3 phosphorylation.

    Publication Date: 15/08/2014 on ACS chemical biology
    by Butturini E, Darra E, Chiavegato G, Cellini B, Cozzolino F, Monti M, Pucci P, Dell'Orco D, Mariotto S
    DOI: 10.1021/cb500407d

    STAT3 is a latent transcription factor that promotes cell survival and proliferation and is often constitutively active in cancers. Although many reports provide evidence that STAT3 is a direct target of oxidative stress, its redox regulation is poorly understood. Under oxidative conditions STAT3 activity can be modulated by S-glutathionylation, a reversible redox modification of cysteine residues. This suggests the possible cross-talk between phosphorylation and glutathionylation and points out that STAT3 is susceptible to redox regulation. Recently, we reported that decreasing the GSH content in different cell lines induces inhibition of STAT3 activity through the reversible oxidation of thiol groups. In the present work, we demonstrate that GSH/diamide treatment induces S-glutathionylation of STAT3 in the recombinant purified form. This effect was completely reversed by treatment with the reducing agent dithiothreitol, indicating that S-glutathionylation of STAT3 was related to formation of protein-mixed disulfides. Moreover, addition of the bulky negatively charged GSH moiety impairs JAK2-mediated STAT3 phosphorylation, very likely interfering with tyrosine accessibility and thus affecting protein structure and function. Mass mapping analysis identifies two glutathionylated cysteine residues, Cys328 and Cys542, within the DNA-binding domain and the linker domain, respectively. Site direct mutagenesis and in vitro kinase assay confirm the importance of both cysteine residues in the complex redox regulatory mechanism of STAT3. Cells expressing mutant were resistant in this regard. The data presented herein confirmed the occurrence of a redox-dependent regulation of STAT3, identified the more redox-sensitive cysteines within STAT3 structure, and may have important implications for development of new drugs.

  • Wilson disease protein ATP7B utilizes lysosomal exocytosis to maintain copper homeostasis.

    Publication Date: 23/06/2014 on Developmental cell
    by Polishchuk EV, Concilli M, Iacobacci S, Chesi G, Pastore N, Piccolo P, Paladino S, Baldantoni D, van IJzendoorn SC, Chan J, Chang CJ, Amoresano A, Pane F, Pucci P, Tarallo A, Parenti G, Brunetti-Pierri N, Settembre C, Ballabio A, Polishchuk RS
    DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2014.04.033

    Copper is an essential yet toxic metal and its overload causes Wilson disease, a disorder due to mutations in copper transporter ATP7B. To remove excess copper into the bile, ATP7B traffics toward canalicular area of hepatocytes. However, the trafficking mechanisms of ATP7B remain elusive. Here, we show that, in response to elevated copper, ATP7B moves from the Golgi to lysosomes and imports metal into their lumen. ATP7B enables lysosomes to undergo exocytosis through the interaction with p62 subunit of dynactin that allows lysosome translocation toward the canalicular pole of hepatocytes. Activation of lysosomal exocytosis stimulates copper clearance from the hepatocytes and rescues the most frequent Wilson-disease-causing ATP7B mutant to the appropriate functional site. Our findings indicate that lysosomes serve as an important intermediate in ATP7B trafficking, whereas lysosomal exocytosis operates as an integral process in copper excretion and hence can be targeted for therapeutic approaches to combat Wilson disease.

  • HDAC6 mediates the acetylation of TRIM50.

    Publication Date: 01/02/2014 on Cellular signalling
    by Fusco C, Micale L, Augello B, Mandriani B, Pellico MT, De Nittis P, Calcagnì A, Monti M, Cozzolino F, Pucci P, Merla G
    DOI: 10.1016/j.cellsig.2013.11.036

    The E3 Ubiquitin ligase TRIM50 promotes the formation and clearance of aggresome-associated polyubiquitinated proteins through HDAC6 interaction, a tubulin specific deacetylase that regulates microtubule-dependent aggresome formation. In this report we showed that TRIM50 is a target of HDAC6 with Lys-372 as a critical residue for acetylation. We identified p300 and PCAF as two TRIM50 acetyltransferases and we further showed that a balance between ubiquitination and acetylation regulates TRIM50 degradation.

  • Proteolytic cleavage of Ser52Pro variant transthyretin triggers its amyloid fibrillogenesis.

    Publication Date: 28/01/2014 on Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    by Mangione PP, Porcari R, Gillmore JD, Pucci P, Monti M, Porcari M, Giorgetti S, Marchese L, Raimondi S, Serpell LC, Chen W, Relini A, Marcoux J, Clatworthy IR, Taylor GW, Tennent GA, Robinson CV, Hawkins PN, Stoppini M, Wood SP, Pepys MB, Bellotti V
    DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1317488111

    The Ser52Pro variant of transthyretin (TTR) produces aggressive, highly penetrant, autosomal-dominant systemic amyloidosis in persons heterozygous for the causative mutation. Together with a minor quantity of full-length wild-type and variant TTR, the main component of the ex vivo fibrils was the residue 49-127 fragment of the TTR variant, the portion of the TTR sequence that previously has been reported to be the principal constituent of type A, cardiac amyloid fibrils formed from wild-type TTR and other TTR variants [Bergstrom J, et al. (2005) J Pathol 206(2):224-232]. This specific truncation of Ser52Pro TTR was generated readily in vitro by limited proteolysis. In physiological conditions and under agitation the residue 49-127 proteolytic fragment rapidly and completely self-aggregates into typical amyloid fibrils. The remarkable susceptibility to such cleavage is likely caused by localized destabilization of the β-turn linking strands C and D caused by loss of the wild-type hydrogen-bonding network between the side chains of residues Ser52, Glu54, Ser50, and a water molecule, as revealed by the high-resolution crystallographic structure of Ser52Pro TTR. We thus provide a structural basis for the recently hypothesized, crucial pathogenic role of proteolytic cleavage in TTR amyloid fibrillogenesis. Binding of the natural ligands thyroxine or retinol-binding protein (RBP) by Ser52Pro variant TTR stabilizes the native tetrameric assembly, but neither protected the variant from proteolysis. However, binding of RBP, but not thyroxine, inhibited subsequent fibrillogenesis.

  • A new anti-infective strategy to reduce the spreading of antibiotic resistance by the action on adhesion-mediated virulence factors in Staphylococcus aureus.

    Publication Date: 01/10/2013 on Microbial pathogenesis
    by Papa R, Artini M, Cellini A, Tilotta M, Galano E, Pucci P, Amoresano A, Selan L
    DOI: 10.1016/j.micpath.2013.05.003

    Staphylococcus aureus is a flexible microbial pathogen frequently isolated from community-acquired and nosocomial infections. S. aureus expresses a wide array of secreted and cell surface-associated virulence factors, including proteins that promote adhesion to damaged tissue and to the surface of host cells, and that bind proteins in blood to help evade immune responses. Furthermore, surface proteins have a fundamental role in virulence related properties of S. aureus, including biofilm formation. The present study evaluates the anti-infective capabilities of a secreted protein of Serratia marcescens (serratiopeptidase, SPEP), in impairing some staphylococcal virulence-related properties, such as attachment to inert surfaces and adhesion/invasion on eukaryotic cells. SPEP seems to exert its action by modulating specific proteins. It is not assessed if this action is due to the proteolytic activity of SPEP or to a specific mechanism which triggers an out/inside signal. Proteomic studies performed on surface proteins extracted from SPEP treated S. aureus cultures revealed that a number of proteins are affected by the treatment. Among these we found the adhesin/autolysin Atl, SdrD, Sbi, EF-Tu and EF-G. EF-Tu and EF-G are known to perform a variety of function, depending on their cytoplasmic or surface localization. All these factors can facilitate bacterial colonization, persistence and invasion of host tissues. Our results suggest that SPEP could be developed as a potential "anti-infective agent" capable to hinder the entry of S. aureus into human tissues, and also impairs the ability of this pathogen to adhere to prostheses, catheters and medical devices.

  • Vesicular and non-vesicular transport feed distinct glycosylation pathways in the Golgi.

    Publication Date: 05/09/2013 on Nature
    by D'Angelo G, Uemura T, Chuang CC, Polishchuk E, Santoro M, Ohvo-Rekilä H, Sato T, Di Tullio G, Varriale A, D'Auria S, Daniele T, Capuani F, Johannes L, Mattjus P, Monti M, Pucci P, Williams RL, Burke JE, Platt FM, Harada A, De Matteis MA
    DOI: 10.1038/nature12423

    Newly synthesized proteins and lipids are transported across the Golgi complex via different mechanisms whose respective roles are not completely clear. We previously identified a non-vesicular intra-Golgi transport pathway for glucosylceramide (GlcCer)--the common precursor of the different series of glycosphingolipids-that is operated by the cytosolic GlcCer-transfer protein FAPP2 (also known as PLEKHA8) (ref. 1). However, the molecular determinants of the FAPP2-mediated transfer of GlcCer from the cis-Golgi to the trans-Golgi network, as well as the physiological relevance of maintaining two parallel transport pathways of GlcCer--vesicular and non-vesicular--through the Golgi, remain poorly defined. Here, using mouse and cell models, we clarify the molecular mechanisms underlying the intra-Golgi vectorial transfer of GlcCer by FAPP2 and show that GlcCer is channelled by vesicular and non-vesicular transport to two topologically distinct glycosylation tracks in the Golgi cisternae and the trans-Golgi network, respectively. Our results indicate that the transport modality across the Golgi complex is a key determinant for the glycosylation pattern of a cargo and establish a new paradigm for the branching of the glycosphingolipid synthetic pathway.

  • W-F substitutions in apomyoglobin increase the local flexibility of the N-terminal region causing amyloid aggregation: a H/D exchange study.

    Publication Date: 01/08/2013 on Protein and peptide letters
    by Infusini G, Iannuzzi C, Vilasi S, Maritato R, Birolo L, Pagnozzi D, Pucci P, Irace G, Sirangelo I

    Myoglobin is an α-helical globular protein containing two highly conserved tryptophanyl residues at positions 7 and 14 in the N-terminal region. The simultaneous substitution of the two residues impairs the productive folding of the protein making the polypeptide chain highly prone to aggregate forming amyloid fibrils at physiological pH and room temperature. The role played by tryptophanyl residues in driving the productive folding process was investigated by providing structural details at low resolution of compact intermediate of three mutated apomyoglobins, i.e., W7F, W14F and the amyloid forming mutant W7FW14F. In particular, we followed the hydrogen/deuterium exchange rate of protein segments using proteolysis with pepsin followed by mass spectrometry analysis. The results revealed significant differences in the N-terminal region, consisting in an alteration of the physico-chemical properties of the 7-11 segment for W7F and in an increase of local flexibility of the 12-29 segment for W14F. In the double trypthophanyl substituted mutant, these effects are additive and impair the formation of native-like contacts and favour inter-chain interactions leading to protein aggregation and amyloid formation at physiological pH.

  • A simple and reliable methodology to detect egg white in art samples.

    Publication Date: 01/06/2013 on Journal of biosciences
    by Gambino M, Cappitelli F, Cattò C, Carpen A, Principi P, Ghezzi L, Bonaduce I, Galano E, Pucci P, Birolo L, Villa F, Forlani F

    A protocol for a simple and reliable dot-blot immunoassay was developed and optimized to test work of art samples for the presence of specific proteinaceus material (i.e. ovalbumin-based). The analytical protocol has been extensively set up with respect, among the other, to protein extraction conditions, to densitometric analysis and to the colorimetric reaction conditions. Feasibility evaluation demonstrated that a commercial scanner and a free image analysis software can be used for the data acquisition and elaboration, thus facilitating the application of the proposed protocol to commonly equipped laboratories and to laboratories of museums and conservation centres. The introduction of method of standard additions in the analysis of fresh and artificially aged laboratory-prepared samples, containing egg white and various pigments, allowed us to evaluate the matrix effect and the effect of sample aging and to generate threshold density values useful for the detection of ovalbumin in samples from ancient works of art. The efficacy of the developed dot-blot immunoassay was proved testing microsamples from 13th-16th century mural paintings of Saint Francesco Church in Lodi (Italy). Despite the aging, the altered conditions of conservation, the complex matrix, and the micro-size of samples, the presence of ovalbumin was detected in all those mural painting samples where mass-spectrometry-based proteomic analysis unambiguously detected ovalbumin peptides.

  • Role of GALNT2 in the modulation of ENPP1 expression, and insulin signaling and action: GALNT2: a novel modulator of insulin signaling.

    Publication Date: 01/06/2013 on Biochimica et biophysica acta
    by Marucci A, Cozzolino F, Dimatteo C, Monti M, Pucci P, Trischitta V, Di Paola R
    DOI: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2013.02.032

    Ectonucleotide pyrophosphatase phosphodiesterase 1 (ENPP1) inhibits insulin signaling and action. Understanding the mechanisms underlying ENPP1 expression may help unravel molecular mechanisms of insulin resistance. Recent data suggest a role of ENPP1-3'untraslated region (UTR), in controlling ENPP1 expression. We sought to identify trans-acting ENPP1-3'UTR binding proteins, and investigate their role on insulin signaling. By RNA pull-down, 49 proteins bound to ENPP1-3'UTR RNA were identified by mass spectrometry (MS). Among these, in silico analysis of genome wide association studies and expression profile datasets pointed to N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase 2 gene (GALNT2) for subsequent investigations. Gene expression levels were evaluated by RT-PCR. Protein expression levels, IRS-1 and Akt phosphorylation were evaluated by Western blot. Insulin receptor (IR) autophosphorylation was evaluated by ELISA. GALNT2 down-regulation increased while GALNT2 over-expression reduced ENPP1 expression levels. In addition, GALNT2 down-regulation reduced insulin stimulation of IR, IRS-1 and Akt phosphorylation and insulin inhibition of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) expression, a key neoglucogenetic enzyme. Our data point to GALNT2 as a novel factor involved in the modulation of ENPP1 expression as well as insulin signaling and action in human liver HepG2 cells.