2012 Vol. 3, No. 5

News and views
Protein construct optimization: data sharing strategy
Karen M. Polizzi, Rivka L. Isaacson
2012, 3(5): 321-322. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2022-9
Hsien Wu, the founder of Chinese biochemistry and nutriology
Shu Zheng
2012, 3(5): 323-324. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2802-2
How carnivorous fungi use three-celled constricting rings to trap nematodes
Keke Liu, Jianqing Tian, Meichun Xiang, Xingzhong Liu
2012, 3(5): 325-328. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2031-8
Predacious fungi form specialized hyphae structures to trap nematodes and other microscopic animals. Among the six kinds of trapping devices, the constricting ring is the only one that actively captures nematodes. When a nematode enters the aperture of the ring, which is formed by three cells, the cells rapidly triple their volume, close the aperture and hold the nematode in place. Hyphae then penetrate and consume the nematode. This paper reviews the data and hypotheses on conserving the evolution of constricting rings and their cytological and molecular mechanisms.
Delineating nuclear reprogramming
Jolene Ooi, Pentao Liu
2012, 3(5): 329-345. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2920-x
Nuclear reprogramming is described as a molecular switch, triggered by the conversion of one cell type to another. Several key experiments in the past century have provided insight into the field of nuclear reprogramming. Previously deemed impossible, this research area is now brimming with new findings and developments. In this review, we aim to give a historical perspective on how the notion of nuclear reprogramming was established, describing main experiments that were performed, including (1) somatic cell nuclear transfer, (2) exposure to cell extracts and cell fusion, and (3) transcription factor induced lineage switch. Ultimately, we focus on (4) transcription factor induced pluripotency, as initiated by a landmark discovery in 2006, where the process of converting somatic cells to a pluripotent state was narrowed down to four transcription factors. The conception that somatic cells possess the capacity to revert to an immature status brings about huge clinical implications including personalized therapy, drug screening and disease modeling. Although this technology has potential to revolutionize the medical field, it is still impeded by technical and biological obstacles. This review describes the effervescent changes in this field, addresses bottlenecks hindering its advancement and in conclusion, applies the latest findings to overcome these issues.
Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis in bacterial proteomics
Shirly O. T. Curreem, Rory M. Watt, Susanna K. P. Lau, Patrick C. Y. Woo
2012, 3(5): 346-363. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2034-5
Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) is a gel-based technique widely used for analyzing the protein composition of biological samples. It is capable of resolving complex mixtures containing more than a thousand protein components into individual protein spots through the coupling of two orthogonal biophysical separation techniques:isoelectric focusing (first dimension) and polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (second dimension). 2-DE is ideally suited for analyzing the entire expressed protein complement of a bacterial cell:its proteome. Its relative simplicity and good reproducibility have led to 2-DE being widely used for exploring proteomics within a wide range of environmental and medically-relevant bacteria. Here we give a broad overview of the basic principles and historical development of gel-based proteomics, and how this powerful approach can be applied for studying bacterial biology and physiology. We highlight specific 2-DE applications that can be used to analyze when, where and how much proteins are expressed. The links between proteomics, genomics and mass spectrometry are discussed. We explore how proteomics involving tandem mass spectrometry can be used to analyze (post-translational) protein modifications or to identify proteins of unknown origin by de novo peptide sequencing. The use of proteome fractionation techniques and non-gel-based proteomic approaches are also discussed. We highlight how the analysis of proteins secreted by bacterial cells (secretomes or exoproteomes) can be used to study infection processes or the immune response. This review is aimed at non-specialists who wish to gain a concise, comprehensive and contemporary overview of the nature and applications of bacterial proteomics.
MiR-122 in hepatic function and liver diseases
Jun Hu, Yaxing Xu, Junli Hao, Saifeng Wang, Changfei Li, Songdong Meng
2012, 3(5): 364-371. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2036-3
As the most abundant liver-specific microRNA, microRNA-122 (miR-122) is involved in various physiological processes in hepatic function as well as in liver pathology. There is now compelling evidence that miR-122, as a regulator of gene networks and pathways in hepatocytes, plays a central role in diverse aspects of hepatic function and in the progress of liver diseases. This liver-enriched transcription factors-regulated miRNA promotes differentiation of hepatocytes and regulates lipid metabolism. With regard to liver diseases, miR-122 was shown to stimulate hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication through a unique and unusual interaction with two binding sites in the 5'-UTR of HCV genome to mediate the stability of the viral RNA, whereas inhibit the expression and replication of hepatitis B virus (HBV) by a miR-122-cylin G1/p53-HBV enhancer regulatory pathway. In addition, miR-122 acts as a suppressor of cell proliferation and malignant transformation of hepatocytes with remarkable tumor inhibition activity. Notably, a clinical trial targeting miR-122 with the anti-miR-122 oligonucleotides miravirsen, the first miRNA targeted drug, has been initiated for treatment of HCV infection. With further understanding of the comprehensive roles of miR-122 in hepatic functions and the mechanisms involved in miR-122 down-regulation in chronic hepatitis or hepatocellular carcinoma, miR-122 appears to be a promising candidate for effective therapeutic approaches against tumor and infectious diseases.
The potential link between PML NBs and ICP0 in regulating lytic and latent infection of HSV-1
Shuai Wang, Jing Long, Chun-fu Zheng
2012, 3(5): 372-382. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2021-x
Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is a common human pathogen causing cold sores and even more serious diseases. It can establish a latent stage in sensory ganglia after primary epithelial infections, and reactivate in response to stress or sunlight. Previous studies have demonstrated that viral immediate-early protein ICP0 plays a key role in regulating the balance between lytic and latent infection. Recently, It has been determined that promyelocytic leukemia (PML) nuclear bodies (NBs), small nuclear sub-structures, contribute to the repression of HSV-1 infection in the absence of functional ICP0. In this review, we discuss the fundamentals of the interaction between ICP0 and PML NBs, suggesting a potential link between PML NBs and ICP0 in regulating lytic and latent infection of HSV-1.
Research articles
Crystal structure of the ubiquitin-like domain of human TBK1
Jian Li, Jun Li, Andrea Miyahira, Jian Sun, Yingfang Liu, Genhong Cheng, Huanhuan Liang
2012, 3(5): 383-391. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2929-1
TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) is an important enzyme in the regulation of cellular antiviral effects. TBK1 regulates the activity of the interferon regulatory factors IRF3 and IRF7, thereby playing a key role in type I interferon (IFN) signaling pathways. The structure of TBK1 consists of an N-terminal kinase domain, a middle ubiquitin-like domain (ULD), and a C-terminal elongated helical domain. It has been reported that the ULD of TBK1 regulates kinase activity, playing an important role in signaling and mediating interactions with other molecules in the IFN pathway. In this study, we present the crystal structure of the ULD of human TBK1 and identify several conserved residues by multiple sequence alignment. We found that a hydrophobic patch in TBK1, containing residues Leu316, Ile353, and Val382, corresponding to the "Ile44 hydrophobic patch" observed in ubiquitin, was conserved in TBK1, IκB kinase epsilon (IKKε/IKKi), IκB kinase alpha (IKKα), and IκB kinase beta (IKKβ). In comparison with the structure of the IKKβ ULD domain of Xenopus laevis, we speculate that the Ile44 hydrophobic patch of TBK1 is present in an intramolecular binding surface between ULD and the C-terminal elongated helices. The varying surface charge distributions in the ULD domains of IKK and IKK-related kinases may be relevant to their specificity for specific partners.
Comparison of caspase-3 activation in tumor cells upon treatment of chemotherapeutic drugs using capillary electrophoresis
Shuang Sha, Honglin Jin, Xiao Li, Jie Yang, Ruiting Ai, Jinling Lu
2012, 3(5): 392-399. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2008-7
Caspases play important roles in cell apoptosis. Measurement of the dynamics of caspase activation in tumor cells not only facilitates understanding of the molecular mechanisms of apoptosis but also contributes to the development, screening, and evaluation of anticancer drugs that target apoptotic pathways. The fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) technique provides a valuable approach for defining the dynamics of apoptosis with high spatio-temporal resolution. However, FRET generally functions in the single-cell level and becomes ineffective when applied in the high throughput detection of caspase activation. In the current study, a FRET sensor was combined with capillary electrophoresis (CE) to achieve a high throughput method for cellular caspase detection. The FRET-based CE system is composed of a homemade CE system and a laser source for detecting the dynamics of caspase-3 in various cells expressing sensors of caspase-3 that have been treated with anticancer drugs, such as cell cycle-independent drug cisplatin and specific cell cycle drugs camptothecin and etoposide, as well as their combination with tumor necrosis factor (TNF). A positive correlation between the caspase-3 activation velocity and drug concentration was observed when the cells were treated with cisplatin, but cells induced by camptothecin and etoposide did not show any apparent correlation with their concentrations. Moreover, different types of cells presented distinct sensitivities under the same drug treatment, and the combination treatment of TNF and anticancer drugs significantly accelerated the caspase-3 activation process. Its high throughput capability and detection sensitivity make the FRET-based CE system a useful tool for investigating the mechanisms of anticancer drugs and anticancer drug screening.