FIAS Scientific Report 2010
- In the year 2010 the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies has successfully continued to follow its agenda to pursue theoretical research in the natural sciences. As stipulated in its charter, FIAS closely collaborates with extramural research institutions, like the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt and the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research, Darmstadt and with research groups at the science departments of Goethe University. The institute also engages in the training of young researchers and the education of doctoral students. This Annual Report documents how these goals have been pursued in the year 2010. Notable events in the scientific life of the Institute will be presented, e.g., teaching activities in the framework of the Frankfurt International Graduate School for Science (FIGSS), colloquium schedules, conferences organized by FIAS, and a full bibliography of publications by authors affiliated with FIAS. The main part of the Report consists of short one-page summaries describing the scientific progress reached in individual research projects in the year 2010...
FIAS Scientific Report 2011
Identification of erioflorin as a stabilizer of Pdcd4 by a HTS of natural products and discovery of its mechanism of action
- The tumor suppressor programmed cell death 4 (Pdcd4) exerts its function by inhibiting protein translation initiation. Specifically, it displaces the scaffold protein eukaryotic initiation factor 4G (eIF4G) from its binding to the eukaryotic initiation factor 4A (eIF4A). Thereby, Pdcd4 inhibits the helicase activity of eIF4A, which is necessary for the unwinding of highly structured 5’ untranslated regions (UTRs) of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) often found in oncogenes like c-myc to make them accessible for the translation machinery and subsequent protein production. Overexpression of Pdcd4 inhibits tumorigenesis in vitro and in vivo and inversely, Pdcd4 knockout mice show enhanced tumor formation. In line, Pdcd4 is lost in various tumor types and proposed as prognostic factor in colon carcinomas. Unlike most other tumor suppressors that are rendered nonfunctional by mutations (e.g., p53), Pdcd4 loss is not attributable to mutational inactivation. It is regulated via translational repression by microRNAs and increased degradation of the protein under tumor promoting, inflammatory conditions and mitogens. Specifically, proteasomal degradation of Pdcd4 is controlled by p70 S6 Kinase (p70S6K)-mediated phosphorylation in its degron sequence (serines 67, 71 and 76). Stimulation of the PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway by growth factors, hormones and cytokines initiates p70S6K activity. Phosphorylated Pdcd4 is subsequently recognized by the E3 ubiquitin ligase beta-transducin repeats-containing protein (β-TrCP) and marked with a polyubiquitin tail to be detected by the 26S proteasome for degradation. β-TrCP represents the substrate specific recognition subunit of the ubiquitin ligase complex responsible for protein-protein interaction with Pdcd4 as substrate for ubiquitin transfer and subsequent proteasomal disassembly.
The first part of the present work aimed at identifying novel stabilizers of the tumor suppressor Pdcd4 in a high throughput screen (HTS). As assay design, a fragment of Pdcd4 from amino acid 39 to 91, containing the phosphorylation sensitive degron sequence, was fused to a luciferase reporter gene construct. Stable expression of this Pdcd4(39-91)luciferase (Pdcd4(39-91)luc) fusion protein in HEK 293 cells served as read-out for the Pdcd4 protein amount to be detected in a high throughput compatible cell-based assay. Loss of Pdcd4(39-91)luc was induced by treatment with 12-O-
tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), a phorbolester, which activates the PI3K signaling cascade leading to degradation of Pdcd4. The cut-off for hit definition was set at >50% activity in rescuing the Pdcd4(39-91)luc signal from TPA-induced degradation. Activity was calculated relative to the difference of DMSO- and TPA-treated cells (ΔDMSO-TPA = RLUDMSO-RLUTPA). Initial screening of a protein kinase inhibitor library (PKI) revealed hit substances expected to show Pdcd4 stabilizing activity by inhibition of kinases involved in Pdcd4 downregulation, e.g., the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin, the PI3K inhibitors wortmannin and LY294002 and the PKC inhibitors GF 109203X and Ro 31-8220.
The Molecular Targets Laboratory (MTL) of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Frederick, USA, hosts one of the largest collections of crude natural product extracts as well as a big substance libraries from pure synthetic sources. Screening of over 15 000 pure compounds and over 135 000 natural product extracts identified 46 pure and 42 extract hits as Pdcd4 stabilizers. For nine synthetic and six natural product derived compounds (after bioassay-guided fractionation), dose-dependent activities for recovering the TPA-induced Pdcd4(39-91)luc loss defined IC50s in the low micromolar range. Most importantly, these compounds were confirmed to stabilize endogenous Pdcd4 protein levels from forced degradation as well. This result proved the assay design to be highly representative for endogenous cellular mechanisms regulating Pdcd4 protein stability. The next step was to stratify the hit substances according to their likely mechanism of action to be located either up- or downstream of the p70S6K-mediated phosphorylation of Pdcd4. Therefore, phosphorylation of S6, as proto-typical p70S6K target, was analyzed and uncovered two natural derived compounds to influence p70S6K activity. Four substances did not affect p70S6K phosphorylation activity and were therefore considered to stabilize Pdcd4 by acting downstream, i.e. on the β-TrCP-mediated proteasomal degradation.
In the second part of this work, one of these compounds, namely the sesquiterpene lactone erioflorin, isolated by bioassay-guided fraction from the active extract of Eriophyllum lanatum, Asteraceae, was further characterized in detail with respect to its molecular mechanism of action. Erioflorin dose-dependently protected both Pdcd4(39-91)luc and endogenous Pdcd4 protein from TPA-induced degradation with IC50s of 1.28 and 2.64 μM, respectively. Pdcd4 stabilizing activity was maximal at 5 μM erioflorin. Up to this concentration, erioflorin was verified not to inhibit p70S6K activity. In addition, it was observed that erioflorin rescued Pdcd4(39-91)luc from both, wild type and constitutively active p70S6K-mediated downregulation. Only wild type p70S6K was inhibitable by the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin which served as an upstream acting control. To study the next section of Pdcd4 regulation, i.e. recognition by the E3 ubiquitin ligase β-TrCP, Pdcd4(39-91)luc and endogenous Pdcd4 were immunoprecipitated from whole cell extracts with the corresponding antibodies. In this key experiment, treatment with TPA increased overexpressed β-TrCP binding to both and this coimmunoprecipitation could be strongly reduced by erioflorin treatment. This result strongly pointed to an inhibitory mechanism of the β-TrCP specific binding to Pdcd4 by erioflorin. In addition, erioflorin disrupted the binding of in vitro transcribed/translated β-TrCP to Pdcd4 in an in vitro interaction assay to exclude nonspecific intracellular signals. Furthermore, polyubiquitination of Pdcd4 was decreased by erioflorin treatment as well. To clarify questions regarding specificity of erioflorin for the E3 ubiquitin ligase β-TrCP, stability of another important β-TrCP target was explored, i.e. the tumor suppressor inhibitor of kappa B alpha (IκBα). Indeed, the tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα)-mediated loss of IκBα could be prevented by erioflorin cotreatment. On the other hand, the E3 ubiquitin ligase von Hippel Lindau protein (pVHL) was left unaffected as its target hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF-1α) could not be stabilized from oxygen-dependent degradation by erioflorin treatment. These results argued strongly for erioflorin being a specific inhibitor of β-TrCP-mediated protein degradation. Functional consequences of erioflorin treatment were investigated by observing its influence on the transcriptional activities of the transformation marker activator protein 1 (AP-1, an indirect downstream target of Pdcd4) and nuclear factor κB (NF-κB which is directly inhibited by IκBα). Indeed, erioflorin showed significant inhibition of AP-1 and NF-κB reporter constructs at 5 μM, a concentration for which an impact on cell viability was excluded. Finally to characterize the significance of erioflorin in a cell-based tumorigenesis assay, the highly invasive colon carcinoma cell line RKO was tested in a two dimensional migration assay. Erioflorin was discovered to significantly lower cell migration in a wound closure assay.
In conclusion, development of a high throughput compatible cell-based reporter assay successfully identified novel substances from pure synthetic and natural product derived background as potent stabilizers of the tumor suppressor Pdcd4. In addition, this work aimed at elucidating the detailed mechanism of action of the sesquiterpene lactone erioflorin from Eriophyllum lanatum, Asteraceae. Erioflorin was discovered to inhibit the E3 ubiquitin ligase β-TrCP, thereby preventing protein degradation of tumor suppressors like Pdcd4 and IκBα. This may offer the possibility to more specifically target protein degradation and generate less adverse side effects by blocking a particular E3 ubiquitin ligase compared to general proteasome inhibition.
Long-term behaviour of implant borne overdentures in the lower jaw retained by rigid conical crown attachments
- Purpose: The aim of this retrospective study is to evaluate the long term implant survival at 5 years, periimplantary conditions and prosthetic maintenance requirements for implant supported mandibular removable dentures retained on only 2 Ankylos® implants placed interforaminally in the mandible and using only conical double crown attachments. Materials and methods: Using the database at the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Frankfurt a selection process was performed to choose patients receiving only 2 Ankylos® implants placed interforaminally in the mandible and using only conical double crown attachments. Implant survival, periimplant condition (periodontal bleeding, plaque index and probing depth), bone loss (from panoramic radiographs) and mobility (using Periotest®) were monitored annually following implant loading. In addition a detailed prosthetic maintenance list was created for each patient based on their yearly checkups and emergency appointments. 37 patients with edentulous mandibles (34 with complete dentures in the upper jaw and 3 with tissue-tooth borne coverdentures) received 2 interforaminal Ankylos® implants (67 in the canine region, 7 in 2nd incisor region). Results: Mean Periotest® values at 5 years (-1.97 ±2.24) were lower than at loading (-1.47 ±2.33). A drop was seen in the Periotest® readings after the first year of loading. The decrease in mean Periotest® values between PTV5 and PTV 1 were not statistically significant (Tukey-Kramer test: p>0.05)
14 patients (37.8%) displayed no resorption at all with an average of 0.801 mm mesially and 0.807mm distally after 5 years. The most increase in bone loss was seen after the first year of loading. There was a gradual increase in bone resorption after the first year of loading. The differences between both distal and mesial bone resorption level at five years and at one year after loading are not significant (Tukey-Kramer test: p<0.05) Plaque and bleeding index values were low at a mean of 0.97 ±0.86 and 0.59 ±0.77 respectively after 5 years of loading. The increase from the first year of loading till the 5th year of loading was significantly higher for plaque measurements but not for bleeding measurements (Tukey-Kramer Test: p<0.05 and p>0.05 respectively). Mean probing depth values were higher after 5 years (2.61 ±0.92 mm) in comparison to the values at loading (2.15 ±0.75 mm). The difference between average values at year 5 and year 1 was statistically significant (Tukey-Kramer test: p<0.05). The most occurring form of maintenance was minor adjustments such as pressure point (15 patient or 40,5%) and relining 11 patients or 29.7%). Teeth breaking off the denture were less common (4 patients or 10.8%). 5 decementations of primary crowns occurred in 4 patients (10.8%) within the 5 year observation time. Other major complications were 4 loose abutments in 3 patients (8.1%), 3 decementations of secondary copings in 3 patients (8.1%) and 1 case (2.7%) in which the prosthetic metal framework fractured. No fracture of abutments or primary crowns occurred during the investigation. Implant survival was 100% percent after 5 years ,1 implants did not fulfil Albrektsson’s success criteria and showed more than 0.2 mm of bone loss per year after the first year of loading with the first year giving a success rate of 98.8%. Conclusion: In conclusion this study has demonstrated that patients have a wider variety of options when it comes to choosing a reliable prosthesis in the lower jaw. Patients with financial limitations can be provided with a reliable prosthetic option using removable dentures retained by conical double crown attachments on 2 implants. The requirements for such a construction are a mechanically stable implant system and a mechanically stable framework. When these prerequirments are fulfilled, the patient can be satisfied with a prosthesis of superior quality to other attachment types and the dentist can rely on the fact that frequent maintenance which costs time and money can be eliminated or at least reduced. Through further innovation this type of construction can also reach patients who are lower down on the economic scale such as elderly patients and retirees.
On the interaction between thermal tides and gravity waves in the middle atmosphere
A clinically relevant gene signature in triple negative and basal-like breast cancer
- INTRODUCTION: Current prognostic gene expression profiles for breast cancer mainly reflect proliferation status and are most useful in ER-positive cancers. Triple negative breast cancers (TNBC) are clinically heterogeneous and prognostic markers and biology-based therapies are needed to better treat this disease.
METHODS: We assembled Affymetrix gene expression data for 579 TNBC and performed unsupervised analysis to define metagenes that distinguish molecular subsets within TNBC. We used n = 394 cases for discovery and n = 185 cases for validation. Sixteen metagenes emerged that identified basal-like, apocrine and claudin-low molecular subtypes, or reflected various non-neoplastic cell populations, including immune cells, blood, adipocytes, stroma, angiogenesis and inflammation within the cancer. The expressions of these metagenes were correlated with survival and multivariate analysis was performed, including routine clinical and pathological variables.
RESULTS: Seventy-three percent of TNBC displayed basal-like molecular subtype that correlated with high histological grade and younger age. Survival of basal-like TNBC was not different from non basal-like TNBC. High expression of immune cell metagenes was associated with good and high expression of inflammation and angiogenesis-related metagenes were associated with poor prognosis. A ratio of high B-cell and low IL-8 metagenes identified 32% of TNBC with good prognosis (hazard ratio (HR) 0.37, 95% CI 0.22 to 0.61; P < 0.001) and was the only significant predictor in multivariate analysis including routine clinicopathological variables.
CONCLUSIONS: We describe a ratio of high B-cell presence and low IL-8 activity as a powerful new prognostic marker for TNBC. Inhibition of the IL-8 pathway also represents an attractive novel therapeutic target for this disease.
Novel chalcone-based fluorescent human histamine H 3 receptor ligands as pharmacological tools
J. Stephan Schwed
- Novel fluorescent chalcone-based ligands at human histamine H(3) receptors (hH(3)R) have been designed, synthesized, and characterized. Compounds described are non-imidazole analogs of ciproxifan with a tetralone motif. Tetralones as chemical precursors and related fluorescent chalcones exhibit affinities at hH(3)R in the same concentration range like the reference antagonist ciproxifan (hH(3)R pK(i) value of 7.2). Fluorescence characterization of our novel ligands shows emission maxima about 570 nm for yellow fluorescent chalcones and ≥600 nm for the red fluorescent derivatives. Interferences to cellular autofluorescence could be excluded. All synthesized chalcone compounds could be used to visualize hH(3)R proteins in stably transfected HEK-293 cells using confocal laser scanning fluorescence microscopy. These novel fluorescent ligands possess high potential to be used as pharmacological tools for hH(3)R visualization in different tissues.
Identification of translationally deregulated proteins during inflammation-associated tumorigenesis
- The translation of mRNAs into proteins is an elaborate and highly regulated process. Translational regulation primarily takes place at the level of initiation. During initation the eukaryotic initiation factors (eIFs) form a complex that binds to the 5’end of the mRNA to scan for a start codon. Once recognized, the ribosome is recruited to the mRNA and protein synthesis starts. Initiation of translation can basically occur via two distinct mechanisms, i.e. cap-dependent and cap-independent that is mediated via internal ribosome entry sites (IRESs). The former is mediated by a 5’cap structure composed of a 7-methylguanylate which is added to every mRNA during transcription and recruits the initiation complex. IRES-dependent translation involves elements within the 5’untranslated region (UTR) of the mRNA that mostly bind IRES trans-acting factors (ITAFs) which associate either with the initiation complex or with the ribosome itself and consequently allow for internal initiation of translation.
During tumorigenesis the demand for proteins is increased due to rapid cell growth, which consequently requires enhanced translation. Many factors that regulate translation are overexpressed in tumors. Moreover, signaling pathways that trigger translation or further hyperactivated by the surrounding tumor microenvironment. This environment is largely generated by infiltration of immune cells such as macrophages that secrete cytokines and other mediators to promote tumorigenesis. As the effects of inflammatory conditions on the translation of specific targets are only poorly characterized, my study aimed at identifying translationally deregulated targets during inflammation-associated tumorigenesis.
For this purpose, I cocultured MCF7 breast tumor cells with conditioned medium of activated monocyte-derived U937 macrophages (CM). Polysome profiling and microarray analysis identified 42 targets to be regulated at the level of translation. The results were validated by quantitative PCR and one target - early growth response 2 (EGR2) - was chosen for in depth analysis of the mechanism leading to its enhanced translation.
In order to identify upstream signaling molecules causing enhanced EGR2 protein synthesis the cytokine profile of CM was analyzed and the impact of several cytokines on EGR2 translation was examined. Preincubation of CM with neutralizing antibodies revealed that lowering interleukin 6 (IL-6) had only little effect, whereas depletion of IL 1β significantly reduced EGR2 translation. This finding was corroborated by the fact that treatment with recombinant IL-1β enhanced EGR2 translation to virtually the same extend as CM. Further experiments revealed that this effect was mediated via the p38-MAPK signaling cascade.
Interestingly, I observed that the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin, which reduces cap-dependent translation, specifically stimulated EGR2 translation. This result argued for an IRES-dependent mechanism that might account for EGR2 translation. The use of bicistronic reporter assays verified this hypothesis. In line with the above mentioned results, CM, IL-1β and p38-MAPK induced EGR2-IRES activity.
Since IRESs commonly require ITAFs to mediate translation initiation, the binding of proteins to the 5’UTR was analyzed using mass spectrometry. Among others, several previously described ITAFs, such as polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB) and heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1 (hnRNP-A1) were identified to directly bind to the EGR2-5’UTR. Furthermore, overexpression of hnRNP-A1 enhanced EGR2-IRES activity whereas a dominant negative form of hnRNP-A1 significantly decreased it, thus, showing its importance for EGR2 translation.
In summary, my data provide evidence that EGR2 expression can be controlled by IRES-dependent translational regulation, which is responsive to an inflammatory environment. The identified mechanism may not be exclusive for one target but might be representative for gene expression regulation mechanisms during tumorigenesis. This is of special interest for the treatment of cancer patients and development of more specific therapies to reduce tumor outcome.
F. Schneider (ed): Psychiatry under National Socialism – remembrance and responsibility
- Book report: Bibliographical details: Frank Schneider (ed) : Psychiatry under National Socialism – Remembrance and Responsibility. Springer Verlag, Heidelberg. year of publication: 2011, 77 pages (including DVD), German/English € 9,95
Epigenetic regulation of innate immune responses
- We found that the HMTase G9a, that catalyzes H3K9me2 in euchromatin, plays a key modulatory role in type I IFN expression. This finding raises the possibility of targeted intervention with type I IFN expression by using small synthetic inhibitors of G9a. Given the overall minimal negative effect of G9a-deficiency on differentiated cells, the short-term suppression of G9a could be used to potentiate type I IFN expression during chronic viral diseases such as hepatitis C. Accordingly, pharmacological enhancement of methylation, for example by inhibition of the H3K9me2 specific demethylases, could be potentially used to attenuate type I IFN expression and help to control chronic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. The mechanism responsible for canvassing the epigenetic profile of type I IFN expressing cells are not known. It is plausible, that similar to neurons, where G9a is targeted to specific loci with the help of noncoding RNAs, IFN expressing cells possess similar mechanisms to target H3K9me2 demethylating enzymes to type I IFN loci, thus keeping these loci accessible for IFN-inducing transcription factors. Identification of non-coding RNAs that may contribute to the establishment of the epigenetic state of IFN producing cells will provide a further opportunity for targeted manipulation of IFN expression.
In my thesis, I describe the collaborative experiments that show the ability of synthetic compounds that interfere with the histone readers to suppress inflammation. Our results present a novel concept for the regulation of inflammatory gene expression. The diversity of histone readers and the combinatorial nature of regulation of gene transcription may provide an opportunity for highly selective interference with disease associated transcriptional programs by interfering with specific readers. In the future we plan to address the therapeutic potential of BET antagonists in autoimmune and chronic inflammatory conditions.In summary, the experiments described in my thesis provide an example of how the understanding of the basic mechanisms of chromatin control of gene expression can facilitate novel therapeutic approaches that target chromatin.