Accueil > Publications > Recherche par années > Années 2010 > 2016


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A Helping Hand to Overcome Solubility Challenges in Chemical Protein Synthesis

Although native chemical ligation (NCL) and related chemoselective ligation approaches provide an elegant method to stitch together unprotected peptides, the handling and purification of insoluble and aggregation-prone peptides and assembly intermediates create a bottleneck to routinely preparing large proteins by completely synthetic means. In this work, we introduce a new general tool, Fmoc-Ddae-OH, N-Fmoc-1-(4,4-dimethyl-2,6-dioxocyclo-hexylidene)-3-[2-(2-aminoethoxy)ethoxy]-propan-1-ol, a heterobifunctional traceless linker for temporarily attaching highly solubilizing peptide sequences (“helping hands”) onto insoluble peptides. This tool is implemented in three simple and nearly quantitative steps : (i) on-resin incorporation of the linker at a Lys residue ε-amine, (ii) Fmoc-SPPS elongation of a desired solubilizing sequence, and (iii) in-solution removal of the solubilizing sequence using mild aqueous hydrazine to cleave the Ddae linker after NCL-based assembly. Successful introduction and removal of a Lys6 helping hand is first demonstrated in two model systems (Ebola virus C20 peptide and the 70-residue ribosomal protein L31). It is then applied to the challenging chemical synthesis of the 97-residue co-chaperonin GroES, which contains a highly insoluble C-terminal segment that is rescued by a helping hand. Importantly, the Ddae linker can be cleaved in one pot following NCL or desulfurization. The purity, structure, and chaperone activity of synthetic l-GroES were validated with respect to a recombinant control. Additionally, the helping hand enabled synthesis of d-GroES, which was inactive in a heterochiral mixture with recombinant GroEL, providing additional insight into chaperone specificity. Ultimately, this simple, robust, and easy-to-use tool is expected to be broadly applicable for the synthesis of challenging peptides and proteins.

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A multiplatform metabolomics approach to characterize plasma levels of phenylalanine and tyrosine in phenylketonuria


Different pathophysiological mechanisms have been described in phenylketonuria (PKU) but the indirect metabolic consequences of metabolic disorders caused by elevated Phe or low Tyr concentrations remain partially unknown. We used a multiplatform metabolomics approach to evaluate the metabolic signature associated with Phe and Tyr.

We prospectively included 10 PKU adult patients and matched controls. We analysed the metabolome profile using GC-MS (urine), amino-acid analyzer (urine and plasma) and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (urine). We performed a multivariate analysis from the metabolome (after exclusion of Phe, Tyr and directly derived metabolites) to explain plasma Phe and Tyr concentrations, and the clinical status. Finally, we performed a univariate analysis of the most discriminant metabolites and we identified the associated metabolic pathways.

We obtained a metabolic pattern from 118 metabolites and we built excellent multivariate models to explain Phe, Tyr concentrations and PKU diagnosis. Common metabolites of these models were identified : Gln, Arg, succinate and alpha aminobutyric acid. Univariate analysis showed an inverse correlation between Arg, alpha aminobutyric acid and Phe and a positive correlation between Arg, succinate, Gln and Tyr (p < 0.0003). Thus, we highlighted the following pathways : Arg and Pro, Ala, Asp and Glu metabolism.

We obtain a specific metabolic signature related to Tyr and Phe concentrations. We confirmed the involvement of different pathophysiological mechanisms previously described in PKU such as protein synthesis, energetic metabolism and oxidative stress. The metabolomics approach is relevant to explore PKU pathogenesis.

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A role of copper(II) ions in the enhancement of visible and near-infrared lanthanide(III) luminescence

Most of the existing optical methods for CuII detection rely on a “turn-off” approach using visible lanthanide(III) luminescence. In this work we present an innovative molecular systems where the podands bis(2-hydrazinocarbonylphenyl) ethers of ethylene glycol (L1) and diethylene glycol (L2) have been designed, synthesised and tested with an ultimate goal to create a "turn-on" lanthanide(III)-based molecular probe for the specific detection of CuII ions based on both visible (TbIII, EuIII) and near-infrared (NdIII, YbIII) emission. Quantum yields of the characteristic LnIII emission signals increases by at least two-orders of magnitude upon addition of CuII into water/acetonitrile (9/1) solutions of LnL (L=L1, L2) complexes. A detailed investigation of ligand-centred photophysical properties of water/acetonitrile (9/1) solutions of CuL, GdL and GdCuL complexes revealed that the presence of CuII ions does not significantly affect the energy positions of the singlet (32,260 cm−1) and triplet (25,640–25,970 cm−1) states, but partially or fully eliminates the singlet state quenching through an electron transfer mechanism. This effect increases the probability of intersystem crossing leading to enhanced triplet-to-singlet emission ratio and to longer triplet state lifetimes. The redox activity of hydrazine moieties and their ability to reduce CuII to CuI has been indicated by a qualitative assay with neocuproine. Finally, the probe demonstrates a good selectivity towards CuII over other transition metal ions : the addition of divalent ZnII, CdII, PdII, NiII, CoII or trivalent FeIII, GaIII, InIII ion salts into solutions of TbL either does not affect emission intensity or increases it to a maximum of 2–3 times, while, under similar experimental conditions, the presence of CuII results in a 20- to 30-times lanthanide luminescence enhancement. This new strategy results in a versatile and selective optical platform for the design of efficient “turn-on” sensors for CuII ions based on visible and near-infrared LnIII luminescence.

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A straightforward method for automated Fmoc-based synthesis of bio-inspired peptide crypto-thioesters

Despite recent advances, the direct Fmoc-based solid phase synthesis of peptide [small alpha]-thioesters for the convergent synthesis of proteins via native chemical ligation (NCL) remains a challenge in the field. We herein report a simple and general methodology, enabling access to peptide thioester surrogates. A novel C-terminal N-(2-hydroxybenzyl)cysteine thioesterification device based on an amide-to-thioester rearrangement was developed, and the resulting peptide crypto-thioesters can be directly used in NCL reactions with fast N [rightward arrow] S shift kinetics at neutral pH. These fast kinetics arise from our bio-inspired design, via intein-like intramolecular catalysis. Due to a well-positioned phenol moiety, an impressive >50 fold increase in the kinetic rate is observed compared to an O-methylated derivative. Importantly, the synthesis of this new device can be fully automated using inexpensive commercially available materials and does not require any post-synthetic steps prior to NCL. We successfully applied this new method to the synthesis of two long naturally-occurring cysteine-rich peptide sequences.

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A synthetic kisspeptin analog that triggers ovulation and advances puberty

The neuropeptide kisspeptin and its receptor, KiSS1R, govern the reproductive timeline of mammals by triggering puberty onset and promoting ovulation by stimulating gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion. To overcome the drawback of kisspeptin short half-life we designed kisspeptin analogs combining original modifications, triazole peptidomimetic and albumin binding motif, to reduce proteolytic degradation and to slow down renal clearance, respectively. These analogs showed improved in vitro potency and dramatically enhanced pharmacodynamics. When injected intramuscularly into ewes (15 nmol/ewe) primed with a progestogen, the best analog (compound 6, C6) induced synchronized ovulations in both breeding and non-breeding seasons. Ovulations were fertile as demonstrated by the delivery of lambs at term. C6 was also fully active in both female and male mice but was completely inactive in KiSS1R KO mice. Electrophysiological recordings of GnRH neurons from brain slices of GnRH-GFP mice indicated that C6 exerted a direct excitatory action on GnRH neurons. Finally, in prepubertal female mice daily injections (0.3 nmol/mouse) for five days significantly advanced puberty. C6 ability to trigger ovulation and advance puberty demonstrates that kisspeptin analogs may find application in the management of livestock reproduction and opens new possibilities for the treatment of reproductive disorders in humans.

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A Theranostic Agent Combining a Two-Photon-Absorbing Photosensitizer for Photodynamic Therapy and a Gadolinium(III) Complex for MRI Detection

The convergent synthesis and characterization of a potential theranostic agent, [DPP-ZnP-GdDOTA](-) , which combines a diketopyrrolopyrrole-porphyrin component DPP-ZnP as a two-photon photosensitizer for photodynamic therapy (PDT) with a gadolinium(III) DOTA complex as a magnetic resonance imaging probe, is presented. [DPP-ZnP-GdDOTA](-) has a remarkably high longitudinal water proton relaxivity (19.94 mm(-1) s(-1) at 20 MHz and 25 degrees C) for a monohydrated molecular system of this size. The Nuclear Magnetic Relaxation Dispersion (NMRD) profile is characteristic of slow rotation, related to the extended and rigid aromatic units integrated in the molecule and to self-aggregation occurring in aqueous solution. The two-photon properties were examined and large two-photon absorption cross-sections around 1000 GM were determined between 910 and 940 nm in DCM with 1 % pyridine and in DMSO. Furthermore, the new conjugate was able to generate singlet oxygen, with quantum yield of 0.42 and 0.68 in DCM with 1 % pyridine and DMSO, respectively. Cellular studies were also performed. The [DPP-ZnP-GdDOTA](-) conjugate demonstrated low dark toxicity and was able to induce high one-photon and moderate two-photon phototoxicity on cancer cells.

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Activation of TRPV2 and BKCa channels by the LL-37 enantiomers stimulates calcium entry and migration of cancer cells

Expression of the antimicrobial peptide hCAP18/LL-37 is associated to malignancy in various cancer forms, stimulating cell migration and metastasis. We report that LL-37 induces migration of three cancer cell lines by activating the TRPV2 calcium-permeable channel and recruiting it to pseudopodia through activation of the PI3K/AKT pathway. Ca2+ entry through TRPV2 cooperated with a K+ efflux through the BKCa channel. In a panel of human breast tumors, the expression of TRPV2 and LL-37 was found to be positively correlated. The D-enantiomer of LL-37 showed identical effects as the L-peptide, suggesting that no binding to a specific receptor was involved. LL-37 attached to caveolae and pseudopodia membranes and decreased membrane fluidity, suggesting that a modification of the physical properties of the lipid membrane bilayer was the underlying mechanism of its effects.

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Alteration of cathepsin D trafficking induced by hypoxia and extracellular acidification in MCF-7 breast cancer cells

The microenvironment that surrounds tumor cells is characterized by hypoxic conditions and extracellular acidity. These hostile conditions induce crucial changes in cell behavior and can promote the secretion of many soluble factors such as growth factors, cytokines and enzymes. The lysosomal aspartyl-endopeptidase cathepsin D (CD) is a marker of poor prognosis in breast cancer and is associated with a metastatic risk. In this study, the transport of CD was investigated in a model of breast cancer cells line (MCF-7) cultivated under hypoxia and acidification of media. CD secretion was assessed using Western blot analysis and protease activity was measured in conditioned culture media. We demonstrate that cultured MCF-7 cells secrete an active 52 kDa pCD precursor and report that under hypoxia there was an increased amount of pCD secreted. More surprisingly, extracellular acidification (pH 6 and 5.6) induced the secretion of the fully-mature and active (34 kDa + 14 kDa) double chain CD. Our findings reflect the fact that chemical anomalies influence the secretion path of CD in a breast cancer cell model, resulting in altered trafficking of the mature form. This important result may provide new arguments in favor of the role of extracellular CD in the degradation of the matrix proteins that constitute the breast tumor microenvironment.

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Approaching the Kinetic Inertness of Macrocyclic Gadolinium(III)-Based MRI Contrast Agents with Highly Rigid Open-Chain Derivatives

A highly rigid open-chain octadentate ligand (H4 cddadpa) containing a diaminocylohexane unit to replace the ethylenediamine bridge of 6,6’-[(ethane-1,2 diylbis(carboxymethyl)azanediyl)bis(methylene)]dipicolinic acid (H4 octapa) was synthesized. This structural modification improves the thermodynamic stability of the Gd(3+) complex slightly (log KGdL =20.68 vs. 20.23 for [Gd(octapa)](-) ) while other MRI-relevant parameters remain unaffected (one coordinated water molecule ; relaxivity r1 =5.73 mm(-1) s(-1) at 20 MHz and 295 K). Kinetic inertness is improved by the rigidifying effect of the diaminocylohexane unit in the ligand skeleton (half-life of dissociation for physiological conditions is 6 orders of magnitude higher for [Gd(cddadpa)](-) (t1/2 =1.49x10(5) h) than for [Gd(octapa)](-) . The kinetic inertness of this novel chelate is superior by 2-3 orders of magnitude compared to non-macrocyclic MRI contrast agents approved for clinical use.

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Associating a negatively charged GdDOTA-derivative to the Pittsburgh compound B for targeting Abeta amyloid aggregates

We have conjugated the tetraazacyclododecane-tetraacetate (DOTA) chelator to Pittsburgh compound B (PiB) forming negatively charged lanthanide complexes, Ln(L4), with targeting capabilities towards aggregated amyloid peptides. The amphiphilic Gd(L4) chelate undergoes micellar aggregation in aqueous solution, with a critical micellar concentration of 0.68 mM, lower than those for the neutral complexes of similar structure. A variable temperature 17O NMR and NMRD study allowed the assessment of the water exchange rate, k ex 298 = 9.7 x 106 s-1, about the double of GdDOTA, and for the description of the rotational dynamics for both the monomeric and the micellar forms of Gd(L4). With respect to the analogous neutral complexes, the negative charge induces a significant rigidity of the micelles formed, which is reflected by slower and more restricted local motion of the Gd3+ centers as evidenced by higher relaxivities at 20-60 MHz. Surface Plasmon Resonance results indicate that the charge does not affect significantly the binding strength to Abeta1-40 [K d = 194 +/- 11 muM for La(L4)], but it does enhance the affinity constant to human serum albumin [K a = 6530 +/- 68 M-1 for Gd(L4)], as compared to neutral counterparts. Protein-based NMR points to interaction of Gd(L4) with Abeta1-40 in the monomer state as well, in contrast to neutral complexes interacting only with the aggregated form. Circular dichroism spectroscopy monitored time- and temperature-dependent changes of the Abeta1-40 secondary structure, indicating that Gd(L4) stabilizes the random coil relative to the alpha-helix and beta-sheet. TEM images confirm that the Gd(L4) complex reduces the formation of aggregated fibrils.

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