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


  • α-Thalassemia associated with hb instability: a tale of two features. the case of Hb Rogliano or α1 Cod 108(G15)Thr→Asn and Hb Policoro or α2 Cod 124(H7)Ser→Pro.

    Publication Date: 02/03/2015 on PloS one
    by Bisconte MG, Caldora M, Musollino G, Cardiero G, Flagiello A, La Porta G, Lagona L, Prezioso R, Qualtieri G, Gaudiano C, Medulla E, Merlino A, Pucci P, Lacerra G
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0115738

    We identified two new variants in the third exon of the α-globin gene in families from southern Italy: the Hb Rogliano, α1 cod108 ACC>AAC or α1[α108(G15)Thr→Asn] and the Hb Policoro, α2 cod124 TCC>CCC or α2[α124(H7)Ser→Pro]. The carriers showed mild α-thalassemia phenotype and abnormal hemoglobin stability features. These mutations occurred in the G and H helices of the α-globin both involved in the specific recognition of AHSP and β1 chain. Molecular characterization of mRNA, globin chain analyses and molecular modelling studies were carried out to highlight the mechanisms causing the α-thalassemia phenotype. The results demonstrated that the α-thalassemia defect associated with the two Hb variants originated by different defects. Hb Rogliano showed an intrinsic instability of the tetramer due to anomalous intra- and inter-chain interactions suggesting that the variant chain is normally synthesized and complexed with AHSP but rapidly degraded because it is unable to form the α1β1 dimers. On the contrary in the case of Hb Policoro two different molecular mechanisms were shown: the reduction of the variant mRNA level by an unclear mechanism and the protein instability due to impairment of AHSP interaction. These data highlighted that multiple approaches, including mRNA quantification, are needed to properly identify the mechanisms leading to the α-thalassemia defect. Elucidation of the specific mechanism leads to the definition of a given phenotype providing important guidance for the diagnosis of unstable variants.

  • Xanthomonas campestris lipooligosaccharides trigger innate immunity and oxidative burst in Arabidopsis.

    Publication Date: 01/12/2014 on Plant physiology and biochemistry : PPB
    by Proietti S, Giangrande C, Amoresano A, Pucci P, Molinaro A, Bertini L, Caporale C, Caruso C
    DOI: 10.1016/j.plaphy.2014.10.011

    Plants lack the adaptive immunity mechanisms of jawed vertebrates, so they rely on innate immune responses to defense themselves from pathogens. The plant immune system perceives the presence of pathogens by recognition of molecules known as pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). PAMPs have several common characteristics, including highly conserved structures, essential for the microorganism but absent in host organisms. Plants can specifically recognize PAMPs using a large set of receptors and can respond with appropriate defenses by activating a multicomponent and multilayered response. Lipopolysaccharides (LPSs) and lipooligosaccharides (LOSs) are major components of the cell surface of Gram-negative bacteria with diverse roles in bacterial pathogenesis of animals and plants that include elicitation of host defenses. Little is known on the mechanisms of perception of these molecules by plants and the associated signal transduction pathways that trigger plant immunity.Here we addressed the question whether the defense signaling pathway in Arabidopsis thaliana was triggered by LOS from Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris (Xcc), using proteomic and transcriptomic approaches. By using affinity capture strategies with immobilized LOS and LC-MS/MS analyses, we identified 8 putative LOS protein ligands. Further investigation of these interactors led to the definition that LOS challenge is able to activate a signal transduction pathway that uses nodal regulators in common with salicylic acid-mediated pathway. Moreover, we proved evidence that Xcc LOS are responsible for oxidative burst in Arabidopsis either in infiltrated or systemic leaves. In addition, gene expression studies highlighted the presence of gene network involved in reactive oxygen species transduction pathway.

  • The role of copper(II) in the aggregation of human amylin.

    Publication Date: 01/10/2014 on Metallomics : integrated biometal science
    by Sinopoli A, Magrì A, Milardi D, Pappalardo M, Pucci P, Flagiello A, Titman JJ, Nicoletti VG, Caruso G, Pappalardo G, Grasso G
    DOI: 10.1039/c4mt00130c

    Amylin is a 37-residue peptide hormone produced by the islet β-cells of pancreas and the formation of amylin aggregates is strongly associated with β-cell degeneration in type 2 diabetes, as demonstrated by more than 95% of patients exhibiting amylin amyloid upon autopsy. It is widely recognized that metal ions such as copper(II) have been implicated in the aggregation process of amyloidogenic peptides such as Aβ and α-synuclein and there is evidence that amylin self-assembly is also largely affected by copper(II). For this reason, in this work, the role of copper(II) in the aggregation of amylin has been investigated by several different experimental approaches. Mass spectrometric investigations show that copper(II) induces significant changes in the amylin structure, which decrease the protein fibrillogenesis as observed by ThT measurements. Accordingly, solid-state NMR experiments together with computational analysis carried out on a model amylin fragment confirmed the non-fibrillogenic nature of the copper(II) induced aggregated structure. Finally, the presence of copper(II) is also shown to have a major influence on amylin proneness to be degraded by proteases and cytotoxicity studies on different cell cultures are reported.

  • 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.