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- Novel three-dimensional in vitro models of ovarian endometriosis (2014)
- Background: Endometriosis is characterized by the presence of functional endometrial tissue outside of the uterine cavity. It affects 1 in 10 women of reproductive age. This chronic condition commonly leads to consequences such as pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea, infertility and an elevated risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. Despite the prevalence of endometriosis and its impact on women's lives, there are relatively few in vitro and in vivo models available for studying the complex disease biology, pathophysiology, and for use in the preclinical development of novel therapies. The goal of this study was to develop a novel three-dimensional (3D) cell culture model of ovarian endometriosis and to test whether it is more reflective of endometriosis biology than traditional two dimensional (2D) monolayer cultures. Methods: A novel ovarian endometriosis epithelial cell line (EEC16) was isolated from a 34-year old female with severe endometriosis. After characterization of cells using in vitro assays, western blotting and RNA-sequencing, this cell line and a second, already well characterized endometriosis cell line, EEC12Z, were established as in vitro 3D spheroid models. We compared biological features of 3D spheroids to 2D cultures and human endometriosis lesions using immunohistochemistry and real-time semi-quantitative PCR. Results: In comparison to normal ovarian epithelial cells, EEC16 displayed features of neoplastic transformation in in vitro assays. When cultured in 3D, EEC16 and EEC12Z showed differential expression of endometriosis-associated genes compared to 2D monolayer cultures, and more closely mimicked the molecular and histological features of human endometriosis lesions. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this represents the first report of an in vitro spheroid model of endometriosis. 3D endometriosis models represent valuable experimental tools for studying EEC biology and the development of novel therapeutic approaches.
- Prediction of extracellular proteases of the human pathogen Helicobacter pylori reveals proteolytic activity of the Hp1018/19 protein HtrA (2008)
- Exported proteases of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) are potentially involved in pathogen-associated disorders leading to gastric inflammation and neoplasia. By comprehensive sequence screening of the H. pylori proteome for predicted secreted proteases, we retrieved several candidate genes. We detected caseinolytic activities of several such proteases, which are released independently from the H. pylori type IV secretion system encoded by the cag pathogenicity island (cagPAI). Among these, we found the predicted serine protease HtrA (Hp1019), which was previously identified in the bacterial secretome of H. pylori. Importantly, we further found that the H. pylori genes hp1018 and hp1019 represent a single gene likely coding for an exported protein. Here, we directly verified proteolytic activity of HtrA in vitro and identified the HtrA protease in zymograms by mass spectrometry. Overexpressed and purified HtrA exhibited pronounced proteolytic activity, which is inactivated after mutation of Ser205 to alanine in the predicted active center of HtrA. These data demonstrate that H. pylori secretes HtrA as an active protease, which might represent a novel candidate target for therapeutic intervention strategies.
- Domain organization of long signal peptides of single-pass integral membrane proteins reveals multiple functional capacity (2008)
- Targeting signals direct proteins to their extra- or intracellular destination such as the plasma membrane or cellular organelles. Here we investigated the structure and function of exceptionally long signal peptides encompassing at least 40 amino acid residues. We discovered a two-domain organization ("NtraC model") in many long signals from vertebrate precursor proteins. Accordingly, long signal peptides may contain an N-terminal domain (N-domain) and a C-terminal domain (C-domain) with different signal or targeting capabilities, separable by a presumably turn-rich transition area (tra). Individual domain functions were probed by cellular targeting experiments with fusion proteins containing parts of the long signal peptide of human membrane protein shrew-1 and secreted alkaline phosphatase as a reporter protein. As predicted, the N-domain of the fusion protein alone was shown to act as a mitochondrial targeting signal, whereas the C-domain alone functions as an export signal. Selective disruption of the transition area in the signal peptide impairs the export efficiency of the reporter protein. Altogether, the results of cellular targeting studies provide a proof-of-principle for our NtraC model and highlight the particular functional importance of the predicted transition area, which critically affects the rate of protein export. In conclusion, the NtraC approach enables the systematic detection and prediction of cryptic targeting signals present in one coherent sequence, and provides a structurally motivated basis for decoding the functional complexity of long protein targeting signals.