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


  • A novel ErbB2 epitope targeted by human antitumor immunoagents.

    Publication Date: 01/04/2011 on The FEBS journal
    by Troise F, Monti M, Merlino A, Cozzolino F, Fedele C, Russo Krauss I, Sica F, Pucci P, D'Alessio G, De Lorenzo C
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2011.08041.x

    Two novel human antitumor immunoconjugates, engineered by fusion of a single-chain antibody fragment against human ErbB2 receptor, termed Erbicin, with either a human RNase or the Fc region of a human IgG(1) , are selectively cytotoxic for ErbB2-positive cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. These Erbicin-derived immunoagents (EDIAs) do not show the most negative properties of Herceptin, the only humanized mAb against ErbB2 used in the therapy of breast carcinoma: cardiotoxicity and the inability to act on resistant tumors. These differences are probably attributable to the different ErbB2 epitopes recognized by EDIAs and Herceptin, respectively, as we have previously reported that they induce different signaling mechanisms that control tumor and cardiac cell viability. Thus, to accurately identify the novel epitope recognized by EDIAs, three independent and complementary methodologies were used. They gave coherent results, which are reported here: EDIAs bind to a different ErbB2 epitope than Herceptin and the other human/humanized antibodies against ErbB2 reported so far. The epitope has been successfully located in region 122-195 of extracellular domain I. These findings could lead to the identification of novel epitopes on ErbB2 that could be used as potential therapeutic targets to mitigate anti-ErbB2-associated cardiotoxicity and eventually overcome resistance.

  • Deamidation at asparagine and glutamine as a major modification upon deterioration/aging of proteinaceous binders in mural paintings.

    Publication Date: 15/03/2011 on Analytical chemistry
    by Leo G, Bonaduce I, Andreotti A, Marino G, Pucci P, Colombini MP, Birolo L
    DOI: 10.1021/ac1027275

    Proteomic strategies are herein proved to be a complementary approach to the well established amino acid composition analysis for the characterization of the aging and deterioration phenomena occurring to proteinaceous materials in works-of-art. Amino acid analyses on several samples demonstrated that proteins in the frescoes from the Camposanto Monumentale in Pisa are deteriorated as revealed by the decrease in Met, Lys, and Tyr content and by the presence in all the samples of amino malonic acid as a result of Ser, Phe, and Cys oxidation. Proteomic analysis identified deamidation at Asn and Gln as a further major event occurred. This work paves the way to the exploitation of proteomic strategies for the investigation of the molecular effects of aging and deterioration in historical objects. Results show that proteomic searches for deamidation by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) could constitute a routine analysis for paintings or any artistic and historic objects where proteins are present. Peptides that can be used as molecular markers when casein is present were identified.

  • Plasma nitroproteome of kidney disease patients.

    Publication Date: 01/02/2011 on Amino acids
    by Piroddi M, Palmese A, Pilolli F, Amoresano A, Pucci P, Ronco C, Galli F
    DOI: 10.1007/s00726-010-0693-1

    3'-Nitrotyrosine (3NT) is a post-translational modification (PTM) of body fluids and tissues that is sustained by chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, two main clinical traits of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Despite this background, protein targets and their differential susceptibility to in vivo nitration remain almost completely unexplored in CKD. This study reports a first investigation of plasma nitroproteome in these patients, carried out by both immunorecognition and LC-MS/MS techniques. Plasma proteins of chronic and end-stage KD patients showed a higher burden of nitration than in healthy controls, but main nitration targets appeared to be the same in these populations. Immunoblotting data showed that uremic albumin is largely represented in the uremic nitroproteome together with fibrinogen chains (A, B and C), transferrin, ╬▒1-antitrypsin, complement factor D, haptoglobin, and IgG light and heavy chains. However, immunopurification and affinity chromatography experiments demonstrated that the relative content of 3NT on the albumin molecule was very low when compared with that of the remaining plasma proteins. The uremic nitroproteome was investigated using also plasma proteins obtained by in vivo ultrafiltration from patients treated with protein leaking or standard high-flux hemodialyzers. The study of these samples revealed the possibility to selectively remove protein nitration products during hemodialysis. Identification of intramolecular sites of nitration was preliminarily obtained in IgG chains isolated by 2D PAGE and assessed by bidimensional tandem mass spectrometry after chemoselective tagging. Further studies are needed to confirm at the molecular level the presence of nitrated Tyr residues in other proteins tentatively identified as nitration targets in this study and to explore the biological meaning of such a selective modification of plasma proteins by reactive nitrogen species in uremia and dialysis patients.

  • PED interacts with Rac1 and regulates cell migration/invasion processes in human non-small cell lung cancer cells.

    Publication Date: 01/10/2010 on Journal of cellular physiology
    by Zanca C, Cozzolino F, Quintavalle C, Di Costanzo S, Ricci-Vitiani L, Santoriello M, Monti M, Pucci P, Condorelli G
    DOI: 10.1002/jcp.22197

    PED (phosphoprotein enriched in diabetes) is a 15 kDa protein involved in many cellular pathways and human diseases including type II diabetes and cancer. We recently reported that PED is overexpressed in human cancers and mediates resistance to induced apoptosis. To better understand its role in cancer, we investigated on PED interactome in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). By the Tandem Affinity Purification (TAP), we identified and characterized among others, Rac1, a member of mammalian Rho GTPase protein family, as PED-interacting protein. In this study we show that PED coadiuvates Rac1 activation by regulating AKT mediated Rac1-Ser(71) phosphorylation. Furthermore, we show that the expression of a constitutively active Rac, affected PED-Ser(104) phosphorylation, which is important for PED-regulated ERK 1/2 nuclear localization. Through specific Rac1-siRNA or its pharmacological inhibition, we demonstrate that PED augments migration and invasion in a Rac1-dependent manner in NSCLC. In conclusion, we show for the first time that PED and Rac1 interact and that this interaction modulates cell migration/invasion processes in cancer cells through ERK1/2 pathway.

  • Stoichiometry and topology of the complex of the endogenous ATP synthase inhibitor protein IF(1) with calmodulin.

    Publication Date: 07/09/2010 on Biochemistry
    by Pagnozzi D, Birolo L, Leo G, Contessi S, Lippe G, Pucci P, Mavelli I
    DOI: 10.1021/bi100447t

    IF(1), the natural inhibitor protein of F(O)F(1)ATP synthase able to regulate the ATP hydrolytic activity of both mitochondrial and cell surface enzyme, exists in two oligomeric states depending on pH: an inactive, highly helical, tetrameric form above pH 6.7 and an active, inhibitory, dimeric form below pH 6.7 [ Cabezon , E. , Butler , P. J. , Runswick , M. J. , and Walker , J. E. ( 2000 ) J. Biol. Chem. 275 , 25460 -25464 ]. IF(1) is known to interact in vitro with the archetypal EF-hand calcium sensor calmodulin (CaM), as well to colocalize with CaM on the plasma membrane of cultured cells. Low resolution structural data were herein obtained in order to get insights into the molecular interaction between IF(1) and CaM. A combined structural proteomic strategy was used which integrates limited proteolysis and chemical cross-linking with mass spectrometric analysis. Specifically, chemical cross-linking data clearly indicate that the C-terminal lobe of CaM molecule contacts IF(1) within the inhibitory, flexible N-terminal region that is not involved in the dimeric interface in IF(1). Nevertheless, native mass spectrometry analysis demonstrated that in the micromolar range the stoichiometry of the IF(1)-CaM complex is 1:1, thereby indicating that binding to CaM promotes IF(1) dimer dissociation without directly interfering with the intersubunit contacts of the IF(1) dimer. The relevance of the finding that only the C-terminal lobe of CaM is involved in the interaction is two fold: (i) the IF(1)-CaM complex can be included in the category of noncanonical structures of CaM complexes; (ii) it can be inferred that the N-terminal region of CaM might have the opportunity to bind to a second target.

  • Mitochondrial chaperone Trap1 and the calcium binding protein Sorcin interact and protect cells against apoptosis induced by antiblastic agents.

    Publication Date: 15/08/2010 on Cancer research
    by Landriscina M, Laudiero G, Maddalena F, Amoroso MR, Piscazzi A, Cozzolino F, Monti M, Garbi C, Fersini A, Pucci P, Esposito F
    DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-1256

    TRAP1, a mitochondrial chaperone (Hsp75) with antioxidant and antiapoptotic functions, is involved in multidrug resistance in human colorectal carcinoma cells. Through a proteomic analysis of TRAP1 coimmunoprecipitation complexes, the Ca(2+)-binding protein Sorcin was identified as a new TRAP1 interactor. This result prompted us to investigate the presence and role of Sorcin in mitochondria from human colon carcinoma cells. Using fluorescence microscopy and Western blot analysis of purified mitochondria and submitochondrial fractions, we showed the mitochondrial localization of an isoform of Sorcin with an electrophoretic motility lower than 20 kDa that specifically interacts with TRAP1. Furthermore, the effects of overexpressing or downregulating Sorcin and/or TRAP1 allowed us to demonstrate a reciprocal regulation between these two proteins and to show that their interaction is required for Sorcin mitochondrial localization and TRAP1 stability. Indeed, the depletion of TRAP1 by short hairpin RNA in colorectal carcinoma cells lowered Sorcin levels in mitochondria, whereas the depletion of Sorcin by small interfering RNA increased TRAP1 degradation. We also report several lines of evidence suggesting that intramitochondrial Sorcin plays a role in TRAP1 cytoprotection. Finally, preliminary evidence that TRAP1 and Sorcin are both implicated in multidrug resistance and are coupregulated in human colorectal carcinomas is provided. These novel findings highlight a new role for Sorcin, suggesting that some of its previously reported cytoprotective functions may be explained by involvement in mitochondrial metabolism through the TRAP1 pathway.

  • Effects of a lipid environment on the fibrillogenic pathway of the N-terminal polypeptide of human apolipoprotein A-I, responsible for in vivo amyloid fibril formation.

    Publication Date: 01/08/2010 on European biophysics journal : EBJ
    by Monti DM, Guglielmi F, Monti M, Cozzolino F, Torrassa S, Relini A, Pucci P, Arciello A, Piccoli R
    DOI: 10.1007/s00249-010-0582-2

    In amyloidosis associated with apolipoprotein A-I (ApoA-I), heart amyloid deposits are mainly constituted by the 93-residue ApoA-I N-terminal region. A recombinant form of the amyloidogenic polypeptide, named [1-93]ApoA-I, shares conformational properties and aggregation propensity with its natural counterpart. The polypeptide, predominantly in a random coil state at pH 8.0, following acidification to pH 4.0 adopts a helical/molten globule transient state, which leads to formation of aggregates. Here we provide evidence that fibrillogenesis occurs also in physiologic-like conditions. At pH 6.4, [1-93]ApoA-I was found to assume predominantly an alpha-helical state, which undergoes aggregation at 37 degrees C over time at a lower rate than at pH 4.0. After 7 days at pH 6.4, protofibrils were observed by atomic force microscopy (AFM). Using a multidisciplinary approach, including circular dichroism (CD), fluorescence, electrophoretic, and AFM analyses, we investigated the effects of a lipid environment on the conformational state and aggregation propensity of [1-93]ApoA-I. Following addition of the lipid-mimicking detergent Triton X-100, the polypeptide was found to be in a helical state at both pH 8.0 and 6.4, with no conformational transition occurring upon acidification. These helical conformers are stable and do not generate aggregated species, as observed by AFM after 21 days. Similarly, analyses of the effects of cholesterol demonstrated that this natural ApoA-I ligand induces formation of alpha-helix at physiological concentrations at both pH 8.0 and 6.4. Zwitterionic, positively charged, and negatively charged liposomes were found to affect [1-93]ApoA-I conformation, inducing helical species. Our data support the idea that lipids play a key role in [1-93]ApoA-I aggregation in vivo.

  • hnRNP H1 and intronic G runs in the splicing control of the human rpL3 gene.

    Publication Date: 01/05/2010 on Biochimica et biophysica acta
    by Russo A, Siciliano G, Catillo M, Giangrande C, Amoresano A, Pucci P, Pietropaolo C, Russo G
    DOI: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2010.01.008

    By generating mRNA containing a premature termination codon (PTC), alternative splicing (AS) can quantitatively regulate the expression of genes that are degraded by nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD). We previously demonstrated that AS-induced retention of part of intron 3 of rpL3 pre-mRNA produces an mRNA isoform that contains a PTC and is targeted for decay by NMD. We also demonstrated that overexpression of rpL3 downregulates canonical splicing and upregulates the alternative splicing of its pre-mRNA. We are currently investigating the molecular mechanism underlying rpL3 autoregulation. Here we report that the heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) H1 is a transacting factor able to interact in vitro and in vivo with rpL3 and with intron 3 of the rpL3 gene. We investigated the role played by hnRNP H1 in the regulation of splicing of rpL3 pre-mRNA by manipulating its expression level. Depletion of hnRNP H1 reduced the level of the PTC-containing mRNA isoform, whereas its overexpression favored the selection of the cryptic 3' splice site of intron 3. We also identified and characterized the cis-acting regulatory elements involved in hnRNP H1-mediated regulation of splicing. RNA electromobility shift assay demonstrated that hnRNP H1 specifically recognizes and binds directly to the intron 3 region that contains seven copies of G-rich elements. Site-directed mutagenesis analysis and in vivo studies showed that the G3 and G6 elements are required for hnRNP H1-mediated regulation of rpL3 pre-mRNA splicing. We propose a working model in which rpL3 recruits hnRNP H1 and, through cooperation with other splicing factors, promotes selection of the alternative splice site.

  • The co-chaperone BAG3 interacts with the cytosolic chaperonin CCT: new hints for actin folding.

    Publication Date: 01/05/2010 on The international journal of biochemistry & cell biology
    by Fontanella B, Birolo L, Infusini G, Cirulli C, Marzullo L, Pucci P, Turco MC, Tosco A
    DOI: 10.1016/j.biocel.2009.12.008

    It has been recently hypothesized that BAG3 protein, a co-chaperone of Hsp70/Hsc70, is involved in the regulation of several cell processes, such as apoptosis, autophagy and cell motility. Following the identification of Hsc70/Hsp70, further BAG3 molecular partners such as PLC-gamma and HspB8 were likewise identified, thus contributing to the characterization of the mechanisms and the biological roles carried out by this versatile protein. By using a His-tagged BAG3 protein as bait, we fished out and identified the cytosolic chaperonin CCT, a new unreported BAG3 partner. The interaction between BAG3 and CCT was confirmed and characterized by co-immunoprecipitation experiments and surface plasmon resonance techniques. Furthermore, our analyses showed a slower CCT association and a faster dissociation with a truncated form of BAG3 containing the BAG domain, thus indicating that other protein regions are essential for a high-affinity interaction. ATP or ADP does not seem to significantly influence the chaperonin binding to BAG3 protein. On the other hand, our experiments showed that BAG3 silencing by small interfering RNA slowed down cell migration and influence the availability of correctly folded monomeric actin, analyzed by DNAse I binding assays and latrunculin A depolymerization studies. To our knowledge, this is the first report showing a biologically relevant interaction between the chaperonin CCT and BAG3 protein, thus suggesting interesting involvement in the folding processes regulated by CCT.

  • Glycoproteome study in myocardial lesions serum by integrated mass spectrometry approach: preliminary insights.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2010 on European journal of mass spectrometry (Chichester, England)
    by Carpentieri A, Giangrande C, Pucci P, Amoresano A
    DOI: 10.1255/ejms.1035

    Bottom up proteomics requires efficient and selective pre-fractionation procedures to simplify the analysis of the enormous number of peptides resulting from the hydrolysis of a cellular extract enabling the detection, identification and the structural characterization of the post-translational modifications. Glycosylation, a well-known post-translational modification, plays a key role in the enormous complexity, and heterogeneity of the human blood serum proteome. Thereby, characterization of glycosylation from serum is a challenging task, even for the existing sophisticated analytical methodologies. Here we report a glycoproteomics study on the identification of even low abundant glycoproteins, including the localization of N-glycosylation sites and the glycan profiling in human sera from healthy and myocarditis affected donors. The strategy is simply based on proteolytic digestion of total serum proteins followed by a single enrichment step of glycopeptides on ConA lectin affinity chromatography. Glycopeptides were then deglycosylated by PNGaseF treatment and nano-liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry analyses of the free peptides provided the basis for both identification of the individual proteins and elucidation of their modification sites. Moreover, glycan profilings could be obtained by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry analysis of the released oligosaccharides. Our data led to the identification of 68 different glycosylation sites within 49 different proteins. Moreover, the analyses carried out on glycans represent the first picture of a glycosylation pattern in myocardial lesions. As a whole, several differences in the glycosylation patterns from different sera were observed, thus indicating glycan profiling as a possible tool to discriminate among different diseases.