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


  • 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.

  • cis-acting sequences and trans-acting factors in the localization of mRNA for mitochondrial ribosomal proteins.

    Publication Date: 01/12/2008 on Biochimica et biophysica acta
    by Russo A, Cirulli C, Amoresano A, Pucci P, Pietropaolo C, Russo G
    DOI: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2008.08.006

    mRNA localization is a conserved post-transcriptional process crucial for a variety of systems. Although several mechanisms have been identified, emerging evidence suggests that most transcripts reach the protein functional site by moving along cytoskeleton elements. We demonstrated previously that mRNA for mitochondrial ribosomal proteins are asymmetrically distributed in the cytoplasm, and that localization in the proximity of mitochondria is mediated by the 3'-UTR. Here we show by biochemical analysis that these mRNA transcripts are associated with the cytoskeleton through the microtubule network. Cytoskeleton association is functional for their intracellular localization near the mitochondrion, and the 3'-UTR is involved in this cytoskeleton-dependent localization. To identify the minimal elements required for localization, we generated DNA constructs containing, downstream from the GFP gene, deletion mutants of mitochondrial ribosomal protein S12 3'-UTR, and expressed them in HeLa cells. RT-PCR analysis showed that the localization signals responsible for mRNA localization are located in the first 154 nucleotides. RNA pull-down assays, mass spectrometry, and RNP immunoprecipitation assay experiments, demonstrated that mitochondrial ribosomal protein S12 3'-UTR interacts specifically with TRAP1 (tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated protein1), hnRNPM4 (heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein M4), Hsp70 and Hsp60 (heat shock proteins 70 and 60), and alpha-tubulin in vitro and in vivo.

  • In HspA from Helicobacter pylori vicinal disulfide bridges are a key determinant of domain B structure.

    Publication Date: 15/10/2008 on FEBS letters
    by Loguercio S, Dian C, Flagiello A, Scannella A, Pucci P, Terradot L, Zagari A
    DOI: 10.1016/j.febslet.2008.09.025

    Helicobacter pylori produces a heat shock protein A (HspA) that is unique to this bacteria. While the first 91 residues (domain A) of the protein are similar to GroES, the last 26 (domain B) are unique to HspA. Domain B contains eight histidines and four cysteines and was suggested to bind nickel. We have produced HspA and two mutants: Cys94Ala and Cys94Ala/Cys111Ala and identified the disulfide bridge pattern of the protein. We found that the cysteines are engaged in three disulfide bonds: Cys51/Cys53, Cys94/Cys111 and Cys95/Cys112 that result in a unique closed loop structure for the domain B.

  • The different forms of PNS myelin P0 protein within and outside lipid rafts.

    Publication Date: 01/10/2008 on Journal of neurochemistry
    by Fasano A, Amoresano A, Rossano R, Carlone G, Carpentieri A, Liuzzi GM, Pucci P, Riccio P
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2008.05598.x

    It is now well established that plasma membranes, such as the myelin sheath, are made of different microdomains with different lipid and protein composition. Lipid rafts are made mainly of sphingolipids and cholesterol, whereas the non-raft regions are made mainly of phosphoglycerides. Most myelin proteins may distribute themselves in raft and non-raft microdomains but the driving force that gives rise to their different distribution is not known yet. In this paper, we have studied the distribution of protein zero (P0), the most representative protein of PNS myelin, in the membrane microdomains. To this end, we have purified P0 from both non-raft (soluble P0, P0-S) and raft (P0-R) regions of PNS. Purified proteins were analyzed by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and identified and characterized by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry. A detailed structural description of the two P0 forms is given in terms of amino acid sequence, post-translational modifications, and composition of associated lipids. Our findings suggest that structural differences between the two proteins, mainly related to the glycogroups, might be responsible for their different localization.