Reductive modification of genetically encoded 3-nitrotyrosine sites in alpha synuclein expressed in E.coli
2019-06, Gerding, Hanne R., Karreman, Christiaan, Daiber, Andreas, Delp, Johannes, Hammler, Daniel, Mex, Martin, Schildknecht, Stefan, Leist, Marcel
Tyrosine nitration is a post-translational protein modification relevant to various pathophysiological processes. Chemical nitration procedures have been used to generate and study nitrated proteins, but these methods regularly lead to modifications at other amino acid residues. A novel strategy employs a genetic code modification that allows incorporation of 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT) during ribosomal protein synthesis to generate a recombinant protein with defined 3-NT-sites, in the absence of other post-translational modifications. This approach was applied to study the generation and stability of the 3-NT moiety in recombinant proteins produced in E.coli. Nitrated alpha-synuclein (ASYN) was selected as exemplary protein, relevant in Parkinson's disease (PD). A procedure was established to obtain pure tyrosine-modified ASYN in mg amounts. However, a rapid (t1/2 = 0.4 h) reduction of 3-NT to 3-aminotyrosine (3-AT) was observed. When screening for potential mechanisms, we found that 3-NT can be reduced enzymatically to 3-AT, whilst biologically relevant low molecular weight reductants, such as NADPH or GSH, did not affect 3-NT. A genetic screen for E.coli proteins, involved in the observed 3-NT reduction, revealed the contribution of several, possibly redundant pathways. Green fluorescent protein was studied as an alternative model protein. These data confirm 3-NT reduction as a broadly-relevant pathway in E.coli. In conclusion, incorporation of 3-NT as a genetically-encoded non-natural amino acid allows for generation of recombinant proteins with specific nitration sites. The potential reduction of the 3-NT moiety by E.coli, however, requires attention to the design of the purification strategy for obtaining pure nitrated protein.
Prevention of neuronal apoptosis by astrocytes through thiol-mediated stress response modulation and accelerated recovery from proteotoxic stress
2018-12, Gutbier, Simon, Spreng, Anna-Sophie, Delp, Johannes, Schildknecht, Stefan, Karreman, Christiaan, Suciu, Ilinca, Brunner, Thomas, Gröttrup, Marcus, Leist, Marcel
The development of drugs directly interfering with neurodegeneration has proven to be astonishingly difficult. Alternative therapeutic approaches could result from a better understanding of the supportive function of glial cells for stressed neurons. Therefore, here, we investigated the mechanisms involved in the endogenous neuro-defensive activity of astrocytes. A well-established model of postmitotic human dopaminergic neurons (LUHMES cells) was used in the absence ('LUHMES' mono-culture) or presence ('co-culture') of astrocytes. Inhibition of the LUHMES proteasome led to proteotoxic (protein aggregates; ATF-4 induction) and oxidative (GSH-depletion; NRF-2 induction) stress, followed by neuronal apoptosis. The presence of astrocytes attenuated the neuronal stress response, and drastically reduced neurodegeneration. A similar difference between LUHMES mono- and co-cultures was observed, when proteotoxic and oxidative stress was triggered indirectly by inhibitors of mitochondrial function (rotenone, MPP+). Human and murine astrocytes continuously released glutathione (GSH) into the medium, and transfer of glia-conditioned medium was sufficient to rescue LUHMES, unless it was depleted for GSH. Also, direct addition of GSH to LUHMES rescued the neurons from inhibition of the proteasome. Both astrocytes and GSH blunted the neuronal ATF-4 response and similarly upregulated NRF-1/NFE2L1, a transcription factor counter-regulating neuronal proteotoxic stress. Astrocyte co-culture also helped to recover the neurons' ability to degrade aggregated poly-ubiquitinated proteins. Overexpression of NRF-1 attenuated the toxicity of proteasome inhibition, while knockdown increased toxicity. Thus, astrocytic thiol supply increased neuronal resilience to various proteotoxic stressors by simultaneously attenuating cell death-related stress responses, and enhancing the recovery from proteotoxic stress through upregulation of NRF-1.
Simultaneous IR-spectroscopic observation of α-synuclein, lipids, and solvent reveals an alternative membrane-induced oligomerization pathway
2017-12-05, Fallah, Mohammad A., Gerding, Hanne R., Scheibe, Christian, Drescher, Malte, Karreman, Christiaan, Schildknecht, Stefan, Leist, Marcel, Hauser, Karin
The intrinsically disordered protein α-synuclein (αS), a known pathogenic factor for Parkinson's disease, can adopt defined secondary structures when interacting with membranes or during fibrillation. The αS-lipid interaction and the implications of this process for aggregation and damage to membranes are still poorly understood. Therefore, we established a label-free infrared (IR) spectroscopic approach to simultaneously monitor αS conformation and membrane integrity. IR showed its unique sensitivity for identifying distinct α-structured aggregates. A comparative study of wildtype αS and the naturally occurring splicing variant αS Δexon3 yielded new insights into the membrane's capability of altering aggregation pathways.
Tipping Points and Endogenous Determinants of Nigrostriatal Degeneration by MPTP
2017-06, Schildknecht, Stefan, Di Monte, Donato A., Pape, Regina, Tieu, Kim, Leist, Marcel
The neurotoxicant 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) causes a Parkinson's disease (PD)-like syndrome by inducing degeneration of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons. Studies of the MPTP model have revealed the pathomechanisms underlying dopaminergic neurodegeneration and facilitated the development of drug treatments for PD. In this review, we provide an update on MPTP bioactivation and biodistribution, reconcile the distinct views on energetic failure versus reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation as main drivers of MPTP-induced neurodegeneration, and describe recently identified intrinsic features of the nigrostriatal system that make it particularly vulnerable to MPTP. We discuss these new perspectives on the endogenous tipping points of tissue homeostasis and the drivers responsible for vicious cycles in relation to their relevance for the development of novel intervention strategies for PD.
Increasing the Resistance of Living Cells against Oxidative Stress by Nonnatural Surfactants as Membrane Guards
2018-07-18, Kunkel, Marius, Schildknecht, Stefan, Boldt, Klaus, Zeyffert, Lukas, Schleheck, David, Leist, Marcel, Polarz, Sebastian
The importation of construction principles or even constituents from biology into materials science is a prevailing concept. Vice versa, the cellular level modification of living systems with nonnatural components is much more difficult to achieve. It has been done for analytical purposes, for example, imaging, to learn something about intracellular processes. Cases describing the improvement of a biological function by the integration of a nonnatural (nano)constituent are extremely rare. Because biological membranes contain some kind of a surfactant, for example, phospholipids, our idea is to modify cells with a newly synthesized surfactant. However, this surfactant is intended to possess an additional functionality, which is the reduction of oxidative stress. We report the synthesis of a surfactant with Janus-type head group architecture, a fullerene C60 modified by five alkyl chains on one side and an average of 20 oxygen species on the other hemisphere. It is demonstrated that the amphiphilic properties of the fullerenol surfactant are similar to that of lipids. Not only quenching of reactive oxygen species (superoxide, hydroxyl radicals, peroxynitrite, and hydrogen peroxide) was successful, but also the fullerenol surfactant exceeds benchmark antioxidant agents such as quercetin. The surfactant was then brought into contact with different cell types, and the viability even of delicate cells such as human liver cells (HepG2) and human dopaminergic neurons (LUHMES) has proven to be extraordinarily high. We could show further that the cells take up the fullerenol surfactant, and as a consequence, they are protected much better against oxidative stress.
Adverse outcome pathways : opportunities, limitations and open questions
2017-11, Leist, Marcel, Ghallab, Ahmed, Graepel, Rabea, Marchan, Rosemarie, Hassan, Reham, Bennekou, Susanne Hougaard, Schildknecht, Stefan, Waldmann, Tanja, Hartung, Thomas, Hengstler, Jan G.
Adverse outcome pathways (AOPs) are a recent toxicological construct that connects, in a formalized, transparent and quality-controlled way, mechanistic information to apical endpoints for regulatory purposes. AOP links a molecular initiating event (MIE) to the adverse outcome (AO) via key events (KE), in a way specified by key event relationships (KER). Although this approach to formalize mechanistic toxicological information only started in 2010, over 200 AOPs have already been established. At this stage, new requirements arise, such as the need for harmonization and re-assessment, for continuous updating, as well as for alerting about pitfalls, misuses and limits of applicability. In this review, the history of the AOP concept and its most prominent strengths are discussed, including the advantages of a formalized approach, the systematic collection of weight of evidence, the linkage of mechanisms to apical end points, the examination of the plausibility of epidemiological data, the identification of critical knowledge gaps and the design of mechanistic test methods. To prepare the ground for a broadened and appropriate use of AOPs, some widespread misconceptions are explained. Moreover, potential weaknesses and shortcomings of the current AOP rule set are addressed (1) to facilitate the discussion on its further evolution and (2) to better define appropriate vs. less suitable application areas. Exemplary toxicological studies are presented to discuss the linearity assumptions of AOP, the management of event modifiers and compensatory mechanisms, and whether a separation of toxicodynamics from toxicokinetics including metabolism is possible in the framework of pathway plasticity. Suggestions on how to compromise between different needs of AOP stakeholders have been added. A clear definition of open questions and limitations is provided to encourage further progress in the field.
In vitro research reproducibility : Keeping up high standards
2019, Hirsch, Cordula, Schildknecht, Stefan
Concern regarding the reproducibility of observations in life science research has emerged in recent years, particularly in view of unfavorable experiences with preclinical in vivo research. The use of cell-based systems has increasingly replaced in vivo research and the application of in vitro models enjoys an ever-growing popularity. To avoid repeating past mistakes, high standards of reproducibility and reliability must be established and maintained in the field of in vitro biomedical research. Detailed guidance documenting the appropriate handling of cells has been authored but was received with quite disparate perception by different branches in biomedical research. In that regard, we intend to raise awareness of the reproducibility issue among scientists in all branches of contemporary life science research and their individual responsibility in this matter. We have herein compiled a selection of the most susceptible steps of everyday in vitro cell culture routines that have the potential to influence cell quality and recommend practices to minimize the likelihood of poor cell quality impairing reproducibility with modest investment of time and resources.
An adverse outcome pathway for parkinsonian motor deficits associated with mitochondrial complex I inhibition
2018-01, Terron, Andrea, Bal-Price, Anna, Paini, Alicia, Monnet-Tschudi, Florianne, Bennekou, Susanne Hougaard, Leist, Marcel, Schildknecht, Stefan
Epidemiological studies have observed an association between pesticide exposure and the development of Parkinson's disease, but have not established causality. The concept of an adverse outcome pathway (AOP) has been developed as a framework for the organization of available information linking the modulation of a molecular target [molecular initiating event (MIE)], via a sequence of essential biological key events (KEs), with an adverse outcome (AO). Here, we present an AOP covering the toxicological pathways that link the binding of an inhibitor to mitochondrial complex I (i.e., the MIE) with the onset of parkinsonian motor deficits (i.e., the AO). This AOP was developed according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development guidelines and uploaded to the AOP database. The KEs linking complex I inhibition to parkinsonian motor deficits are mitochondrial dysfunction, impaired proteostasis, neuroinflammation, and the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra. These KEs, by convention, were linearly organized. However, there was also evidence of additional feed-forward connections and shortcuts between the KEs, possibly depending on the intensity of the insult and the model system applied. The present AOP demonstrates mechanistic plausibility for epidemiological observations on a relationship between pesticide exposure and an elevated risk for Parkinson's disease development.
Contrasting effects of selective MAGL and FAAH inhibition on dopamine depletion and GDNF expression in a chronic MPTP mouse model of Parkinson's disease
2017-11, Pasquarelli, Noemi, Porazik, Christoph, Bayer, Hanna, Buck, Eva, Schildknecht, Stefan, Weydt, Patrick, Witting, Anke, Ferger, Boris
The modulation of the brain endocannabinoid system has been identified as an option to treat neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson's disease (PD). Especially the elevation of endocannabinoid levels by inhibition of hydrolytic degradation represents a valuable approach. To evaluate whether monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) or fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) inhibition could be beneficial for PD, we examined in parallel the therapeutic potential of the highly selective MAGL inhibitor KML29 elevating 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG) levels and the highly selective FAAH inhibitor PF-3845 elevating anandamide (AEA) levels in a chronic methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine/probenecid (MPTP/probenecid) mouse model of PD. Chronic administration of KML29 (10 mg/kg) but not PF-3845 (10 mg/kg) attenuated striatal MPTP/probenecid-induced dopamine depletion. Furthermore, KML29 induced an increase in Gdnf but not Bdnf expression, whereas PF-3845 decreased the MPTP/probenecid-induced Cnr2 expression without any effects on neurotrophin expression. Investigation of treatment-naïve striatal mRNA levels revealed a high presence of Gdnf and Mgll in contrast to Bdnf and Faah. Treatment of primary mouse microglia with 2-AG increased Gdnf but not Bdnf expression, suggesting that microglia might mediate the observed KML29-induced increase in Gdnf. In summary, pharmacological MAGL but not FAAH inhibition in the chronic MPTP/probenecid model attenuated the MPTP/probenecid-induced effects on striatal dopamine levels which were accompanied by an increase in 2-AG levels.