• Impact of phytosterols on liver and distal colon metabolome in experimental murine colitis model: an explorative study.

    Publication Date: 01/12/2019, on Journal of enzyme inhibition and medicinal chemistry
    by Iaccarino N, Amato J, Pagano B, Di Porzio A, Micucci M, Bolelli L, Aldini R, Novellino E, Budriesi R, Randazzo A
    DOI: 10.1080/14756366.2019.1611802

    Phytosterols are known to reduce plasma cholesterol levels and thereby reduce cardiovascular risk. Studies conducted on human and animal models have demonstrated that these compounds have also anti-inflammatory effects. Recently, an experimental colitis model (dextran sulphate sodium-induced) has shown that pre-treatment with phytosterols decreases infiltration of inflammatory cells and accelerates mucosal healing. This study aims to understand the mechanism underlying the colitis by analysing the end-products of the metabolism in distal colon and liver excised from the same mice used in the previous work. In particular, an unsupervised gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and NMR based metabolomics approach was employed to identify the metabolic pathways perturbed by the dextran sodium sulphate (DSS) insult (i.e. Krebs cycle, carbohydrate, amino acids, and nucleotide metabolism). Interestingly, phytosterols were able to restore the homeostatic equilibrium of the hepatic and colonic metabolome.

  • A comparative assessment of metals and phthalates in commercial tea infusions: A starting point to evaluate their tolerance limits.

    Publication Date: 01/08/2019, on Food chemistry
    by Troisi J, Richards S, Symes S, Ferretti V, Di Maio A, Amoresano A, Daniele B, Aliberti F, Guida M, Trifuoggi M, De Castro O
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2019.02.115

    Tea is one of the most consumed beverages in the word. Here we report the concentrations of metals and phthalates in 32 commercial tea packages. The data were used to estimate the average daily intake of metals and phthalates, and associated Hazard Quotients (HQ) were calculated in order to determine risk of non-cancerous health effects for adults consuming tea on a daily basis. Tea samples were chosen based on the sales network, the price, the marketing quality and the presence of filters in the packages. Relatively high median concentrations of Al (5240 µg/L), Ni (44 µg/L), and Mn (2919 µg/L) were detected. No metals or phthalates quantified in the tea infusions and soluble tea showed an HQ greater than 1, indicating no risk of non-cancerous health effects. The data presented herein may serve as a starting point to evaluate tolerance limits of metals and phthalate in the tea infusion.

  • Mass spectrometry based proteomics for the molecular fingerprinting of Fiano, Greco and Falanghina cultivars.

    Publication Date: 01/06/2019, on Food research international (Ottawa, Ont.)
    by Carpentieri A, Sebastianelli A, Melchiorre C, Pinto G, Staropoli A, Trifuoggi M, Amoresano A
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodres.2019.02.020

    The official methodologies used for the identification and comparison of vine cultivars are ampelography and ampelometry. These methodologies are essentially based on qualitative assessments or biometric dependent morphological features of the plant. The heterogeneity of cultivars and consequently the increasing demand for a more detailed product typization, led to the introduction of new methodologies for the varietal characterization. In this scenario, proteomics has already proved to be a very useful discipline for the typization of many kinds of edible products. In this paper, we present a proteomic study carried out on three cultivars of Vitis vinifera peculiar of south Italy (Campania) used for white wine production (Fiano, Greco and Falanghina) by advanced biomolecular mass spectrometry approach. Our data highlight variations in the proteomic profiles during ripening for each cultivar and between analyzed cultivars, thus suggesting a new way to outline the biomolecular signature of vines.

  • Characterisation of the dynamic interactions between complex N-glycans and human CD22.

    Publication Date: 16/05/2019, on Chembiochem : a European journal of chemical biology
    by Di Carluccio C, Crisman E, Manabe Manabey Chem Sci Osaka-U Ac J YMMCSOAJ, Forgione RE, Lacetera A, Amato J, Pagano B, Randazzo A, Zampella A, Lanzetta R, Koichi F, Molinaro A, Crocker PR, Martin-Santamaria S, Marchetti R, Silipo A
    DOI: 10.1002/cbic.201900295

    CD22 (Siglec-2) is a B-cell surface inhibitory protein able to selectively recognize sialylated glycans, dampening autoimmune responses against self-antigens. We here characterize the dynamic recognition of complex-type N-glycans by human CD22, by means of orthogonal approaches including NMR spectroscopy, computational methods and biophysical assays. We provide novel molecular insights into the binding mode of sialoglycans in complex with h-CD22, highlighting the role of the sialic acid-galactose moieties in the recognition process, elucidating the conformational behaviour of complex-type N-glycans bound to Siglec-2 and dissecting the formation of CD22 homo-oligomers on the B-cell surface. Our results will enable the development of additional therapeutics able to modulate the activity of h-CD22 in autoimmune diseases and B-cell derived malignancies.

  • Intein-mediated protein trans-splicing expands adeno-associated virus transfer capacity in the retina.

    Publication Date: 15/05/2019, on Science translational medicine
    by Tornabene P, Trapani I, Minopoli R, Centrulo M, Lupo M, de Simone S, Tiberi P, Dell'Aquila F, Marrocco E, Iodice C, Iuliano A, Gesualdo C, Rossi S, Giaquinto L, Albert S, Hoyng CB, Polishchuk E, Cremers FPM, Surace EM, Simonelli F, De Matteis MA, Polishchuk R, Auricchio A
    DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aav4523

    Retinal gene therapy with adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors holds promises for treating inherited and noninherited diseases of the eye. Although clinical data suggest that retinal gene therapy is safe and effective, delivery of large genes is hindered by the limited AAV cargo capacity. Protein trans-splicing mediated by split inteins is used by single-cell organisms to reconstitute proteins. Here, we show that delivery of multiple AAV vectors each encoding one of the fragments of target proteins flanked by short split inteins results in protein trans-splicing and full-length protein reconstitution in the retina of mice and pigs and in human retinal organoids. The reconstitution of large therapeutic proteins using this approach improved the phenotype of two mouse models of inherited retinal diseases. Our data support the use of split intein-mediated protein trans-splicing in combination with AAV subretinal delivery for gene therapy of inherited blindness due to mutations in large genes.

  • Exploring cellular uptake, accumulation and mechanism of action of a cationic Ru-based nanosystem in human preclinical models of breast cancer.

    Publication Date: 07/05/2019, on Scientific reports
    by Piccolo M, Misso G, Ferraro MG, Riccardi C, Capuozzo A, Zarone MR, Maione F, Trifuoggi M, Stiuso P, D'Errico G, Caraglia M, Paduano L, Montesarchio D, Irace C, Santamaria R
    DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-43411-3

    According to WHO, breast cancer incidence is increasing so that the search for novel chemotherapeutic options is nowadays an essential requirement to fight neoplasm subtypes. By exploring new effective metal-based chemotherapeutic strategies, many ruthenium complexes have been recently proposed as antitumour drugs, showing ability to impact on diverse cellular targets. In the framework of different molecular pathways leading to cell death in human models of breast cancer, here we demonstrate autophagy involvement behind the antiproliferative action of a ruthenium(III)-complex incorporated into a cationic nanosystem (HoThyRu/DOTAP), proved to be hitherto one of the most effective within the suite of nucleolipidic formulations we have developed for the in vivo transport of anticancer ruthenium(III)-based drugs. Indeed, evidences are implicating autophagy in both cancer development and therapy, and anticancer interventions endowed with the ability to trigger this biological response are currently considered attractive oncotherapeutic approaches. Moreover, crosstalk between apoptosis and autophagy, regulated by finely tuned metallo-chemotherapeutics, may provide novel opportunities for future improvement of cancer treatment. Following this line, our in vitro and in vivo preclinical investigations suggest that an original strategy based on suitable formulations of ruthenium(III)-complexes, inducing sustained cell death, could open new opportunities for breast cancer treatment, including the highly aggressive triple-negative subtype.

  • Epigenetic targeting of autophagy for cancer prevention and treatment by natural compounds.

    Publication Date: 02/05/2019, on Seminars in cancer biology
    by Vidoni C, Ferraresi A, Secomandi E, Vallino L, Dhanasekaran DN, Isidoro C
    DOI: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2019.04.006

    Despite the undeniable progress made in the last decades, cancer continues to challenge the scientists engaged in searching for an effective treatment for its prevention and cure. One of the malignant hallmarks that characterize cancer cell biology is the altered metabolism of sugars and amino acids. Autophagy is a pathway allowing the macromolecular turnover via recycling of the substrates resulting from the lysosomal degradation of damaged or redundant cell molecules and organelles. As such, autophagy guarantees the proteome quality control and cell homeostasis. Data from in vitro, in animals and in patients researches show that dysregulation of autophagy favors carcinogenesis and cancer progression, making this process an ineluctable target of cancer therapy. The autophagy process is regulated at genetic, epigenetic and post-translational levels. Targeting autophagy with epigenetic modifiers could represent a valuable strategy to prevent or treat cancer. A wealth of natural products from terrestrial and marine living organisms possess anti-cancer activity. Here, we review the experimental proofs demonstrating the ability of natural compounds to regulate autophagy in cancer via epigenetics. The hope is that in the near future this knowledge could translate into effective intervention to prevent and cure cancer.

  • Amino acid response by Halofuginone in Cancer cells triggers autophagy through proteasome degradation of mTOR.

    Publication Date: 02/05/2019, on Cell communication and signaling : CCS
    by Follo C, Vidoni C, Morani F, Ferraresi A, Seca C, Isidoro C
    DOI: 10.1186/s12964-019-0354-2

    In the event of amino acid starvation, the cell activates two main protective pathways: Amino Acid starvation Response (AAR), to inhibit global translation, and autophagy, to recover the essential substrates from degradation of redundant self-components. Whether and how AAR and autophagy (ATG) are cross-regulated and at which point the two regulatory pathways intersect remain unknown. Here, we provide experimental evidence that the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 1 (mTORC1) specifically located at the lysosome level links the AAR with the autophagy pathway.

  • A rapid, safe, and quantitative in vitro assay for measurement of uracil-DNA glycosylase activity.

    Publication Date: 01/05/2019, on Journal of molecular medicine (Berlin, Germany)
    by Squillaro T, Finicelli M, Alessio N, Del Gaudio S, Di Bernardo G, Melone MAB, Peluso G, Galderisi U
    DOI: 10.1007/s00109-019-01788-8

    Base excision repair (BER) is a frontline repair mechanism that operates through the G phase of the cell cycle, which ensures the genome integrity by repairing thousands of DNA lesions due to endogenous and exogenous agents. Its correct functioning is fundamental for cell viability and the health of the organism. Uracil is one of the most prevalent lesions that appears in DNA arising by spontaneous or enzymatic deamination of cytosine or misincorporation of the deoxyuridine 5'-triphosphate nucleotide (dUTP) in place of deoxythymidine 5'-triphosphate (dTTP) during DNA replication. In the first pathway, the uracil will preferentially pair with adenine, leading to C:G → T:A transition. When uracil in DNA arises from misincorporation of dUTP instead of dTTP, this process will result in A:U pairs. Organisms counteract the mutagenic effects of uracil in DNA using the BER repair system, which is mediated by a member of the uracil-DNA glycosylase (UDG) superfamily. Several assays evaluating the in vitro BER enzyme activity have been described so far. Some of these measure the BER activity by an oligonucleotide incision assay using radiolabeled duplex oligo. Others use circular double-stranded DNA substrates containing a defined lesion. The novelty of our method resides in its rapidity and safety (radioactive free detection) as well as in the possibility of having a reliable quantitative determination of UDG activity in both cell and tissue extracts. We also demonstrated the effectiveness of our method in assessing UDG activity in cell lines with a reduced DNA repair capacity and in different kinds of tissues. KEY MESSAGES: • Base excision repair is a fundamental repair mechanism ensuring the genome integrity. • Uracil is one of the most prevalent lesions that appears in DNA. • The mutagenic effects of uracil in DNA are mitigated by the uracil-DNA glycosylase. • Several assays evaluating the in vitro BER activity have been described so far. • A safe and quantitative assay evaluating the in vitro UDG activity is required.

  • Efficacy of the "first wave" Direct Acting antivirals against HCV infection: results from the Italian LINA (Liver Network Activity) cohort.

    Publication Date: 29/04/2019, on The new microbiologica
    by Gentile I, Buonomo AR, Coppola C, Staiano L, Amoruso DC, Saturnino MR, Maraolo AE, Portunato F, De Pascalis S, Martini S, Crispo M, Macera M, Pinchera B, Zappulo E, Scotto R, Coppola N

    Approximately 71 million people are chronically infected with HCV worldwide. Recently, interferon-free therapies effective against HCV became available and nowadays, therapeutic strategies include a combination of two or three drugs with different mechanisms of action. In the present study, we reported real-life SVR rates in a large cohort of four prescribing centers in a high-endemic area of Southern Italy. We conducted a prospective multicenter study among all the patients with chronic HCV infection, who received therapy with the first available interferon-free therapies between March 2015 and December 2017 and who referred to one of the 4 DAA-prescribing centers in Campania, Southern Italy. Patients with Child C cirrhosis, a diagnosis of active HCC at the baseline or who refused the consent form, were excluded. Nine-hundred fifty-three patients were enrolled. Most of the enrolled patients had HCV genotype 1b infection (66.4%), were older than 65 years (64.1%) and had advanced liver fibrosis (Metavir > F4) (73.5%). The overall SVR12 rate was 98.5%. Patients with clinical cirrhosis had a similar SVR12 rate compared to those without cirrhosis (97.8% vs 99.2%, p=0.09), while patients with decompensated cirrhosis had a significantly lower rate of SVR12 compared to those without decompensated disease (95.3% vs 99.0%, p<0.05). Patients aged more than 65 years had a similar rate of SVR12 compared with patients aged ≤ 65 years (98.6% vs 98.0%, p=0.57). Among patients >65 years, those with clinical cirrhosis, as well as those with advanced liver fibrosis, had a similar SVR12 rate compared with the patients with a Metavir score < F4 (98.3% vs 99.0%, p=0.70 and 98.6% vs 98.6%, p=1.00, respectively). In the present, real-life study, DAA regimens are effective and safe in patients with chronic HCV infection, regardless of age and stage of liver disease, providing very high rates of SVR12 (98.5%).

  • Structure, stability and aggregation propensity of a Ribonuclease A-Onconase chimera.

    Publication Date: 24/04/2019, on International journal of biological macromolecules
    by Esposito L, Donnarumma F, Ruggiero A, Leone S, Vitagliano L, Picone D
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2019.04.164

    Structural roles of loop regions are frequently overlooked in proteins. Nevertheless, they may be key players in the definition of protein topology and in the self-assembly processes occurring through domain swapping. We here investigate the effects on structure and stability of replacing the loop connecting the last two β-strands of RNase A with the corresponding region of the more thermostable Onconase. The crystal structure of this chimeric variant (RNaseA-ONC) shows that its terminal loop size better adheres to the topological rules for the design of stabilized proteins, proposed by Baker and coworkers [43]. Indeed, RNaseA-ONC displays a thermal stability close to that of RNase A, despite the lack of Pro at position 114, which, due to its propensity to favor a cis peptide bond, has been identified as an important stabilizing factor of the native protein. Accordingly, RNaseA-ONC is significantly more stable than RNase A variants lacking Pro114; RNaseA-ONC also displays a higher propensity to form oligomers in native conditions when compared to either RNase A or Onconase. This finding demonstrates that modifications of terminal loops should to be carefully controlled in terms of size and sequence to avoid unwanted and/or potentially harmful aggregation processes.

  • The role of G-quadruplex structures of LIGS-generated aptamers R1.2 and R1.3 in IgM specific recognition.

    Publication Date: 22/04/2019, on International journal of biological macromolecules
    by Moccia F, Platella C, Musumeci D, Batool S, Zumrut H, Bradshaw J, Mallikaratchy P, Montesarchio D
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2019.04.141

    Exploiting a variant of SELEX called "Ligand-Guided Selection" (LI-GS), we recently identified two novel truncated G-rich aptamers, called R1.2 and R1.3, specific for membrane-bound IgM (mIgM), the hallmark of B cells. Herein, the conformational behaviour of these aptamers has been analysed by multiple biophysical methods. In order to investigate their functional secondary structures, these studies have been carried out in pseudo-physiological buffers mimicking different cellular environments. Both aptamers proved to be highly polymorphic, folding into stable, unimolecular G-quadruplex structures in K-rich buffers. In turn, in buffered solutions containing Na/Mg ions, R1.2 and R1.3 formed mainly duplex structures. Remarkably, these aptamers were able to effectively bind mIgM on B-cell lymphoma exclusively in the presence of potassium ions. These findings demonstrate the key role of G-quadruplex folding in the molecular recognition and efficient binding of R1.2 and R1.3 to mIgM expressed in lymphoma and leukemia cells, providing a precious rational basis for the design of effective aptamer-based biosensors potentially useful for the detection of cancer-relevant biomarkers.

  • Mathematical optimization of the green extraction of polyphenols from grape peels through a cyclic pressurization process.

    Publication Date: 17/04/2019, on Heliyon
    by Gallo M, Formato A, Giacco R, Riccardi G, Lungo D, Formato G, Amoresano A, Naviglio D
    DOI: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2019.e01526

    In the current era of high consumption and increasing waste, many products that are believed to be unusable can find a new purpose in the market. For example, the grape peel waste resulting from the production of wine contains numerous bioactive compounds. In reality, grape peels are by-products of winemaking that can be conveniently reused in many different ways, including agronomic use and cosmetic industry applications. Moreover, the by-products can also be used in the energy field as biomass for the production of biogas or in food plants for the production of energy. In this article, to extract polyphenols, grape peels were processed via a cyclically pressurized extraction method known as rapid solid-liquid dynamic extraction (RSLDE), which does not require the use of any organic solvent or include heating or cooling processes that can cause the loss of substances of interest. To better understand the cyclically pressurized extraction process, a numerical simulation was performed to evaluate the exchange between the grape piece solid matrix and water during the extraction process. Furthermore, a finite element model was used to numerically determine the time-dependent concentration distribution at specific times.

  • Interferon-free regimens improve kidney function in patients with chronic hepatitis C infection.

    Publication Date: 11/04/2019, on Journal of nephrology
    by Coppola N, Portunato F, Buonomo AR, Staiano L, Scotto R, Pinchera B, De Pascalis S, Amoruso DC, Martini S, Pisaturo M, Coppola C, Gentile I
    DOI: 10.1007/s40620-019-00608-z

    The impact of directly acting antiviral agent (DAA) regimens on renal function is not well defined and quite controversial. We evaluated the effect of DAAs on kidney function and the factors associated with an improvement or worsening.

  • CHM/REP1 Transcript Expression and Loss of Visual Function in Patients Affected by Choroideremia.

    Publication Date: 01/04/2019, on Investigative ophthalmology & visual science
    by Di Iorio V, Esposito G, De Falco F, Boccia R, Fioretti T, Colucci R, De Rosa G, Melillo P, Salvatore F, Simonelli F, Testa F
    DOI: 10.1167/iovs.18-25501

    To evaluate the disease progression in patients with clinical and genetic diagnoses of choroideremia during a long-term follow-up and to investigate the relationship between pathogenic variants in the CHM/REP1 gene and disease phenotypes.