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Structural and Functional Insight into Canarypox Virus CNP058 Mediated Regulation of Apoptosis.

Programmed cell death or apoptosis is an important component of host defense systems against viral infection. The B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) proteins family is the main arbiter of mitochondrially mediated apoptosis, and viruses have evolved sequence and structural mimics of Bcl-2 to subvert premature host cell apoptosis in response to viral infection. The sequencing of the canarypox virus genome identified a putative pro-survival Bcl-2 protein, CNP058. However, a role in apoptosis inhibition for CNP058 has not been identified to date. Here, we report that CNP058 is able to bind several host cell pro-death Bcl-2 proteins, including Bak and Bax, as well as several BH3 only-proteins including Bim, Bid, Bmf, Noxa, Puma, and Hrk with high to moderate affinities. We then defined the structural basis for CNP058 binding to pro-death Bcl-2 proteins by determining the crystal structure of CNP058 bound to Bim BH3. CNP058 adopts the conserved Bcl-2 like fold observed in cellular pro-survival Bcl-2 proteins, and utilizes the canonical ligand binding groove to bind Bim BH3. We then demonstrate that CNP058 is a potent inhibitor of ultraviolet (UV) induced apoptosis in a cell culture model. Our findings suggest that CNP058 is a potent inhibitor of apoptosis that is able to bind to BH3 domain peptides from a broad range of pro-death Bcl-2 proteins, and may play a key role in countering premature host apoptosis.

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Bone marrow failure unresponsive to bone marrow transplant is caused by mutations in .

We report 5 individuals in 3 unrelated families with severe thrombocytopenia progressing to trilineage bone marrow failure (BMF). Four of the children received hematopoietic stem cell transplants and all showed poor graft function with persistent severe cytopenias even after repeated transplants with different donors. Exome and targeted sequencing identified mutations in the gene encoding thrombopoietin (): THPO R99W, homozygous in affected children in 2 families, and THPO R157X, homozygous in the affected child in the third family. Both mutations result in a lack of THPO in the patients' serum. For the 2 surviving patients, improvement in trilineage hematopoiesis was achieved following treatment with a THPO receptor agonist. These studies demonstrate that biallelic loss-of-function mutations in cause BMF, which is unresponsive to transplant due to a hematopoietic cell-extrinsic mechanism. These studies provide further support for the critical role of the MPL-THPO pathway in hematopoiesis and highlight the importance of accurate genetic diagnosis to inform treatment decisions for BMF.

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Persistent bone marrow depression following short-term treatment with temozolomide.

Temozolomide (TMZ) is, in combination with radiotherapy (RT), the treatment of choice for glioblastoma multiforme. Although generally well tolerated, haematological side effects are observed in approximately 1-10% of patients receiving TMZ. We report a case of a patient who developed severe bone marrow failure (BMF) after only 3 weeks of concomitant TMZ. The BMF was grave with no signs of improvement for 12 months, resulting in more than 100 transfusions of blood cells.

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Bid chimeras indicate that most BH3-only proteins can directly activate Bak and Bax, and show no preference for Bak versus Bax.

The mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis is initiated by Bcl-2 homology region 3 (BH3)-only members of the Bcl-2 protein family. On upregulation or activation, certain BH3-only proteins can directly bind and activate Bak and Bax to induce conformation change, oligomerization and pore formation in mitochondria. BH3-only proteins, with the exception of Bid, are intrinsically disordered and therefore, functional studies often utilize peptides based on just their BH3 domains. However, these reagents do not possess the hydrophobic membrane targeting domains found on the native BH3-only molecule. To generate each BH3-only protein as a recombinant protein that could efficiently target mitochondria, we developed recombinant Bid chimeras in which the BH3 domain was replaced with that of other BH3-only proteins (Bim, Puma, Noxa, Bad, Bmf, Bik and Hrk). The chimeras were stable following purification, and each immunoprecipitated with full-length Bcl-xL according to the specificity reported for the related BH3 peptide. When tested for activation of Bak and Bax in mitochondrial permeabilization assays, Bid chimeras were ~1000-fold more effective than the related BH3 peptides. BH3 sequences from Bid and Bim were the strongest activators, followed by Puma, Hrk, Bmf and Bik, while Bad and Noxa were not activators. Notably, chimeras and peptides showed no apparent preference for activating Bak or Bax. In addition, within the BH3 domain, the h0 position recently found to be important for Bax activation, was important also for Bak activation. Together, our data with full-length proteins indicate that most BH3-only proteins can directly activate both Bak and Bax.

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Problems encountered in bicistronic IRES-GFP expression vectors employed in functional analyses of GC-induced genes.

Our laboratory has developed a series of Gateway(®) compatible lentiviral expression systems for constitutive and conditional gene knock-down and over-expression. For tetracycline-regulated transgenic expression, we constructed a lentiviral "DEST" plasmid (pHR-TetCMV-Dest-IRES-GFP5) containing a tetracycline-responsive minimal CMV promoter, followed by an attP site-flanked DEST cassette (for efficient cloning of cDNAs by "Gateway(®)" recombination cloning) and green fluorescent protein (GFP) driven by an internal ribosomal entry site (IRES).This lentiviral bicistronic plasmid allows immediate FACS identification and characterization of successfully transfected cell lines. Although this system worked well with several cDNAs, we experienced serious problems with SLA, Bam and BMF. Particularly, we cloned the cDNA for human SLA (Src-like adapter), a candidate gene in GC-induced apoptosis, into this plasmid. The resulting construct (pHR-TetCMV-SLA-IRES-GFP5) was transfected into HEK 293-T packaging cells to produce viral particles for transduction of CEM-C7H2-2C8 cells. Although the construct produced many green fluorescent colonies at the HEK 293-T and the CEM-C7H2-2C8 level, we could not detect any SLA protein with α-SLA antibody from corresponding cell lysates. In contrast, the antibody readily detected SLA in whole cell lysate of HEK 293-T cells transfected with a GST-flagged SLA construct lacking IRES-GFP. To directly address the potential role of the IRES-GFP sequence, we cloned the SLA coding region into pHR-TetCMV-Dest, a vector that differs from pHR-TetCMV-Dest-IRES-GFP5 just by the absence of the IRES-GFP cassette. The resulting pHR-TetCMV-SLA construct was used for transfection of HEK 293-T cells. Corresponding lysates were assayed with α-SLA antibody and found positive. These data, in concert with previous findings, suggest that the IRES-GFP cassette may interfere with translation of certain smaller size cDNAs (like SLA) or generate fusion proteins and entail defective virus production in an unpredictable manner.

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Fluorescent labeling of membrane proteins on the surface of living cells by a self-catalytic glutathione S-transferase omega 1 tag.

Imaging a specific protein of interest in live cell has versatile applications in biological research. Recently, diverse chemical tags have been developed to overcome the limits of autofluorescence protein (FP) tags. However, current chemical methods still need to be progressed to compete with FPs in the scope of specificity and convenience in staining procedure. We report a novel protein tagging method that provides a convenient and specific fluorescent labeling of membrane proteins. Ω tag is developed by employing a mammalian enzyme glutathione sulfur-transferase omega 1 (GSTO1) and its partner dye, 5-bromomethyl fluorescein (BMF). Ω-tagged membrane proteins were labeled by BMF efficiently for live cell imaging and in-gel analysis. Endocytosis of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) was successfully visualized by using this Ω tagging system. Ω tag will provide a convenient tool for the physiological study of membrane proteins in live cells.

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The transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) mediates acquisition of a mesenchymal stem cell-like phenotype in human liver cells.

Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) mediates several and sometime opposite effects in epithelial cells, inducing growth inhibition, and apoptosis but also promoting an epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) process, which enhances cell migration and invasion. TGF-β plays relevant roles in different liver pathologies; however, very few is known about its specific signaling and cellular effects in human primary hepatocytes. Here we show that TGF-β inhibits proliferation and induces pro-apoptotic genes (such as BMF or BIM) in primary cultures of human fetal hepatocytes (HFH), but also up-regulates anti-apoptotic genes, such as BCL-XL and XIAP. Inhibition of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), using gefitinib, abrogates the increase in the expression of the anti-apoptotic genes and significantly enhances cell death. Simultaneously, TGF-β is able to induce an EMT process in HFH, coincident with Snail up-regulation and a decrease in E-cadherin levels, cells showing mesenchymal proteins and reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton in stress fibers. Interestingly, these cells show loss of expression of specific hepatic genes and increased expression of stem cell markers. Chronic treatment with TGF-β allows selection of a population of mesenchymal cells with a de-differentiated phenotype, reminiscent of progenitor-like cells. Process is reversible and the mesenchymal stem-like cells re-differentiate to hepatocytes under controlled experimental conditions. In summary, we show for the first time that human hepatocytes may respond to TGF-β inducing different signals, some of them might contribute to tumor suppression (growth inhibition and apoptosis), but others should mediate liver tumor progression and invasion (EMT and acquisition of a stem-like phenotype).

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Structural plasticity underpins promiscuous binding of the prosurvival protein A1.

Apoptotic pathways are regulated by protein-protein interactions. Interaction of the BH3 domains of proapoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins with the hydrophobic groove of prosurvival proteins is critical. Whereas some BH3 domains bind in a promiscuous manner, others exhibit considerable selectivity and the sequence characteristics that distinguish these activities are unclear. In this study, crystal structures of complexes between the prosurvival protein A1 and the BH3 domains from Puma, Bmf, Bak, and Bid have been solved. The structure of A1 is similar to that of other prosurvival proteins, although features, such as an acidic patch in the binding groove, may allow specific therapeutic modulation of apoptosis. Significant conformational plasticity was observed in the intermolecular interactions and these differences explain some of the variation in affinity. This study, in combination with published data, suggests that interactions between conserved residues demarcate optimal binding.

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Bim, Bad and Bmf: intrinsically unstructured BH3-only proteins that undergo a localized conformational change upon binding to prosurvival Bcl-2 targets.

All BH3-only proteins, key initiators of programmed cell death, interact tightly with multiple binding partners and have sequences of low complexity, properties that are the hallmark of intrinsically unstructured proteins (IUPs). We show, using spectroscopic methods, that the BH3-only proteins Bim, Bad and Bmf are unstructured in the absence of binding partners. Detailed sequence analyses are consistent with this observation and suggest that most BH3-only proteins are unstructured. When Bim binds and inactivates prosurvival proteins, most residues remain disordered, only the BH3 element becomes structured, and the short alpha-helical molecular recognition element can be considered to behave as a 'bead on a string'. Coupled folding and binding is typical of many IUPs that have important signaling roles, such as BH3-only proteins, as the inherent structural plasticity favors interaction with multiple targets. This understanding offers promise for the development of BH3 mimetics, as multiple modes of binding are tolerated.

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Low-dose interleukin-11 in patients with bone marrow failure: update of the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center experience.

Recombinant interleukin (IL)-11 is a thrombopoietic growth factor. The purpose of this study was to assess the toxicity, safety and efficacy of low-dose recombinant IL-11 in patients with bone marrow failure (BMF).

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