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


  • 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.

  • Proteomic strategies for the identification of proteinaceous binders in paintings.

    Publication Date: 01/12/2009 on Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry
    by Leo G, Cartechini L, Pucci P, Sgamellotti A, Marino G, Birolo L
    DOI: 10.1007/s00216-009-3185-y

    The identification of proteinaceous components in paintings remains a challenging task for several reasons. In addition to the minute amount of sample available, complex and variable chemical composition of the paints themselves, possible simultaneous presence of several binders and contaminants, and degradation of the original materials due to aging and pollution are complicating factors. We proposed proteomic strategies for the identification of proteins in binders of paintings that can be adapted to overcome the requirements and difficulties presented by specific samples. In particular, we worked on (1) the development of a minimally invasive method based on the direct tryptic cleavage of the sample without protein extraction; (2) the use of microwave to enhance the enzymatic digestion yield, followed by the analysis of the peptide mixtures by nanoLC-MS/MS with electrospray ionization (ESI). Moreover, as an additional tool to tackle the problem of contaminating proteins, we exploited the possibility of generating an exclusion list of the mass signals that in a first run had been fragmented and that the mass spectrometer had to ignore for fragmentation in a subsequent run. The methods, tested on model samples, allowed the identification of milk proteins in a sample from paintings attributed to Cimabue and Giotto, thirteenth-century Italian masters, decorating the vaults of the upper church in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy.

  • Chromobox protein homologue 7 protein, with decreased expression in human carcinomas, positively regulates E-cadherin expression by interacting with the histone deacetylase 2 protein.

    Publication Date: 01/09/2009 on Cancer research
    by Federico A, Pallante P, Bianco M, Ferraro A, Esposito F, Monti M, Cozzolino M, Keller S, Fedele M, Leone V, Troncone G, Chiariotti L, Pucci P, Fusco A
    DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-1542

    Chromobox protein homologue 7 (CBX7) is a chromobox family protein encoding a novel polycomb protein, the expression of which shows a progressive reduction, well related with the malignant grade of the thyroid neoplasias. Indeed, CBX7 protein levels decreased in an increasing percentage of cases going from benign adenomas to papillary, follicular, and anaplastic thyroid carcinomas. To elucidate the function of CBX7 in carcinogenesis, we searched for CBX7 interacting proteins by a proteomic analysis. By this approach, we identified several proteins. Among these proteins, we selected histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2), which is well known to play a key role in neoplastic cell transformation and down-regulation of E-cadherin expression, the loss of which is a critical event in the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. We confirmed by coimmunoprecipitation that CBX7 physically interacts with the HDAC2 protein and is able to inhibit its activity. Then, we showed that both these proteins bind the E-cadherin promoter and that CBX7 up-regulates E-cadherin expression. Consistent with these data, we found a positive statistical correlation between CBX7 and E-cadherin expression in human thyroid carcinomas. Finally, we showed that the expression of CBX7 increases the acetylation status of the histones H3 and H4 on the E-cadherin promoter. Therefore, the ability of CBX7 to positively regulate E-cadherin expression by interacting with HDAC2 and inhibiting its activity on the E-cadherin promoter would account for the correlation between the loss of CBX7 expression and a highly malignant phenotype.

  • Puzzle of protein complexes in vivo: a present and future challenge for functional proteomics.

    Publication Date: 01/04/2009 on Expert review of proteomics
    by Monti M, Cozzolino M, Cozzolino F, Vitiello G, Tedesco R, Flagiello A, Pucci P
    DOI: 10.1586/epr.09.7

    Complete description of the complex network of cellular mechanisms and use of the network to predict the full range of cellular behaviors are major goals of systems biology. A key role in contemporary biology can be played by functional proteomics, which focuses on the elucidation of protein functions and the definition of cellular mechanisms at the molecular level. The attainment of these targets is strictly dependent on the identification of individual proteins within functional complexes in vivo. Isolation of interacting proteins relies on either affinity-based or immunoprecipitation procedures in which the protein bait and its specific partners can be fished out by their specific binding to ligand molecules immobilized on insoluble supports. These approaches led to the final identification of several proteins belonging to distinct complexes endowed with different biological functions. Assignment of each protein to a specific complex constitutes a tremendous problem that can only be partially solved using protein-protein interaction databases and literature information. The development of prefractionation methodologies to separate individual protein complexes while preserving their native interactions might then represent an essential tool for the future of functional proteomics. Prepurification of single complexes can only be pursued under native conditions on the basis of their physicochemical features, such as size, dimension (gel filtration chromatography) and density (gradient ultracentrifugation). Following prefractionation, the complex associated to a specific biological function can be isolated using affinity purification techniques. Functional proteomics approaches able to describe individual proteins belonging to complexes involved in specific cellular functions will have a terrific impact on future systems biology studies.

  • Different carbon sources affect lifespan and protein redox state during Saccharomyces cerevisiae chronological ageing.

    Publication Date: 01/03/2009 on Cellular and molecular life sciences : CMLS
    by Magherini F, Carpentieri A, Amoresano A, Gamberi T, De Filippo C, Rizzetto L, Biagini M, Pucci P, Modesti A
    DOI: 10.1007/s00018-009-8574-z

    In this study, a proteomic approach that combines selective labelling of proteins containing reduced cysteine residues with two-dimensional electrophoresis/mass spectrometry was used to evaluate the redox state of protein cysteines during chronological ageing in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The procedure was developed on the grounds that biotin-conjugated iodoacetamide (BIAM) specifically reacts with reduced cysteine residues. BIAM-labelled proteins can then be selectively isolated by streptavidin affinity capture. We compared cells grown on 2% glucose in the exponential phase and during chronological ageing and we found that many proteins undergo cysteine oxidation. The target proteins include enzymes involved in glucose metabolism. Both caloric restriction and growth on glycerol resulted in a decrease in the oxidative modification. Furthermore, in these conditions a reduced production of ROS and a more negative glutathione half cell redox potential were observed.

  • The molecular chaperone Hsp90 is a component of the cap-binding complex and interacts with the translational repressor Cup during Drosophila oogenesis.

    Publication Date: 01/03/2009 on Gene
    by Pisa V, Cozzolino M, Gargiulo S, Ottone C, Piccioni F, Monti M, Gigliotti S, Talamo F, Graziani F, Pucci P, Verrotti AC
    DOI: 10.1016/j.gene.2008.11.025

    In metazoa, the spatio-temporal translation of diverse mRNAs is essential to guarantee proper oocyte maturation and early embryogenesis. The eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E), which binds the 5' cap structure of eukaryotic mRNAs, associates with either stimulatory or inhibitory factors to modulate protein synthesis. In order to identify novel factors that might act at the translational level during Drosophila oogenesis, we have undertaken a functional proteomic approach and isolated the product of the Hsp83 gene, the evolutionarily conserved chaperone Hsp90, as a specific component of the cap-binding complex. Here we report that Hsp90 interacts in vitro with the translational repressor Cup. In addition, we show that Hsp83 and cup interact genetically, since lowering Hsp90 activity enhances the oogenesis alterations linked to diverse cup mutant alleles. Hsp90 and Cup co-localize in the cytoplasm of the developing germ-line cells within the germarium, thus suggesting a common function from the earliest stages of oogenesis. Taken together, our data start elucidating the role of Hsp90 during Drosophila female germ-line development and strengthen the idea that Cup has multiple essential functions during egg chamber development.

  • Enzymatically active fibrils generated by the self-assembly of the ApoA-I fibrillogenic domain functionalized with a catalytic moiety.

    Publication Date: 01/02/2009 on Biomaterials
    by Guglielmi F, Monti DM, Arciello A, Torrassa S, Cozzolino F, Pucci P, Relini A, Piccoli R
    DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2008.10.036

    Enzymatically active fibrils were produced by self-assembly of a bifunctional chimeric protein, made up of a fibrillogenic and a catalytic moiety. For this purpose, the fibrillogenic domain of Apolipoprotein A-I (ApoA-I), a 93-residue polypeptide named [1-93]ApoA-I, was functionalized with the enzyme glutathione S-transferase (GST). The fusion protein GST-[1-93]ApoA-I was expressed, isolated to homogeneity and characterized. In the soluble form, GST-[1-93]ApoA-I was found to be fully active as a GST enzyme, and to have high propensity to self-aggregate. Upon incubation for 3 weeks at pH 6.4, insoluble aggregates were generated. Analyzed by AFM, they were found to contain fibrillar structures often organized into large fiber networks. Fibrils were loaded on the membrane of a microfiltration unit and tested for enzymatic activity by filtering the substrate through the fibrillar network. Fibrils were shown to be catalytically active, stable over time and reusable, as no loss of activity was detected when fibrils were repeatedly tested. Our findings suggest that catalytically active fibrils may be of interest for biocatalytic applications in nanobiotechnology.

  • Technical advances in proteomics mass spectrometry: identification of post-translational modifications.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2009 on Clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine
    by Amoresano A, Carpentieri A, Giangrande C, Palmese A, Chiappetta G, Marino G, Pucci P
    DOI: 10.1515/CCLM.2009.154

    The importance of post-translational modifications (PTMs) of proteins has become evident in the proteomic era as it plays a critical role in modulating cellular function, and can vary in response to different stimuli thereby tuning cellular mechanisms. Assessment of PTMs on a proteomic scale is a challenging task since they are substoichiometric, transient and reversible. Moreover, the amount of post-translationally modified proteins is generally very small when compared to their unmodified counterparts. Existing methodologies for identification of PTMs essentially relies on enrichment procedure to selectively increase the amount of modified peptides. These procedures need to be integrated with sophisticated mass spectrometric methods to enable the identifications of PTMs. Although the strategies developed so far are not optimal, a number of examples will be given where the combination of innovative separation methods along with advanced mass spectrometric analyses provide positive results. These experiences are leading the way for the next generation of proteomic approaches for identification of a wide range of PTMs.