- Bioassays to monitor taspase1 function for the identification of pharmacogenetic inhibitors (2011)
- Background: Threonine Aspartase 1 (Taspase1) mediates cleavage of the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) protein and leukemia provoking MLL-fusions. In contrast to other proteases, the understanding of Taspase1's (patho)biological relevance and function is limited, since neither small molecule inhibitors nor cell based functional assays for Taspase1 are currently available. Methodology/Findings: Efficient cell-based assays to probe Taspase1 function in vivo are presented here. These are composed of glutathione S-transferase, autofluorescent protein variants, Taspase1 cleavage sites and rational combinations of nuclear import and export signals. The biosensors localize predominantly to the cytoplasm, whereas expression of biologically active Taspase1 but not of inactive Taspase1 mutants or of the protease Caspase3 triggers their proteolytic cleavage and nuclear accumulation. Compared to in vitro assays using recombinant components the in vivo assay was highly efficient. Employing an optimized nuclear translocation algorithm, the triple-color assay could be adapted to a high-throughput microscopy platform (Z'factor = 0.63). Automated high-content data analysis was used to screen a focused compound library, selected by an in silico pharmacophor screening approach, as well as a collection of fungal extracts. Screening identified two compounds, N-[2-[(4-amino-6-oxo-3H-pyrimidin-2-yl)sulfanyl]ethyl]benzenesulfonamideand 2-benzyltriazole-4,5-dicarboxylic acid, which partially inhibited Taspase1 cleavage in living cells. Additionally, the assay was exploited to probe endogenous Taspase1 in solid tumor cell models and to identify an improved consensus sequence for efficient Taspase1 cleavage. This allowed the in silico identification of novel putative Taspase1 targets. Those include the FERM Domain-Containing Protein 4B, the Tyrosine-Protein Phosphatase Zeta, and DNA Polymerase Zeta. Cleavage site recognition and proteolytic processing of these substrates were verified in the context of the biosensor. Conclusions: The assay not only allows to genetically probe Taspase1 structure function in vivo, but is also applicable for high-content screening to identify Taspase1 inhibitors. Such tools will provide novel insights into Taspase1's function and its potential therapeutic relevance.
- DOGS: reaction-driven de novo design of bioactive compounds (2012)
- We present a computational method for the reaction-based de novo design of drug-like molecules. The software DOGS (Design of Genuine Structures) features a ligand-based strategy for automated ‘in silico’ assembly of potentially novel bioactive compounds. The quality of the designed compounds is assessed by a graph kernel method measuring their similarity to known bioactive reference ligands in terms of structural and pharmacophoric features. We implemented a deterministic compound construction procedure that explicitly considers compound synthesizability, based on a compilation of 25'144 readily available synthetic building blocks and 58 established reaction principles. This enables the software to suggest a synthesis route for each designed compound. Two prospective case studies are presented together with details on the algorithm and its implementation. De novo designed ligand candidates for the human histamine H4 receptor and γ-secretase were synthesized as suggested by the software. The computational approach proved to be suitable for scaffold-hopping from known ligands to novel chemotypes, and for generating bioactive molecules with drug-like properties.
- Sequential anti-cytomegalovirus response monitoring may allow prediction of cytomegalovirus reactivation after allogeneic stem cell transplantation (2012)
- Background: Reconstitution of cytomegalovirus-specific CD3+CD8+ T cells (CMV-CTLs) after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is necessary to bring cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivation under control. However, the parameters determining protective CMV-CTL reconstitution remain unclear to date. Design and Methods: In a prospective tri-center study, CMV-CTL reconstitution was analyzed in the peripheral blood from 278 patients during the year following HSCT using 7 commercially available tetrameric HLA-CMV epitope complexes. All patients included could be monitored with at least CMV-specific tetramer. Results: CMV-CTL reconstitution was detected in 198 patients (71%) after allogeneic HSCT. Most importantly, reconstitution with 1 CMV-CTL per µl blood between day +50 and day +75 post-HSCT discriminated between patients with and without CMV reactivation in the R+/D+ patient group, independent of the CMV-epitope recognized. In addition, CMV-CTLs expanded more daramtaically in patients experiencing only one CMV-reactivation than those without or those with multiple CMV reactivations. Monitoring using at least 2 tetramers was possible in 63% (n = 176) of the patients. The combinations of particular HLA molecules influenced the numbers of CMV-CTLs detected. The highest CMV-CTL count obtained for an individual tetramer also changed over time in 11% of these patients (n = 19) resulting in higher levels of HLA-B*0801 (IE-1) recognizing CMV-CTLs in 14 patients. Conclusions: Our results indicate that 1 CMV-CTL per µl blood between day +50 to +75 marks the beginning of an immune response against CMV in the R+/D+ group. Detection of CMV-CTL expansion thereafter indicates successful resolution of the CMV reactivation. Thus, sequential monitoring of CMV-CTL reconstitution can be used to predict patients at risk for recurrent CMV reactivation.
- MHC I stabilizing potential of computer-designed octapeptides (2010)
- Experimental results are presented for 180 in silico designed octapeptide sequences and their stabilizing effects on the major histocompatibility class I molecule H-2Kb. Peptide sequence design was accomplished by a combination of an ant colony optimization algorithm with artificial neural network classifiers. Experimental tests yielded nine H-2Kb stabilizing and 171 nonstabilizing peptides. 28 among the nonstabilizing octapeptides contain canonical motif residues known to be favorable for MHC I stabilization. For characterization of the area covered by stabilizing and non-stabilizing octapeptides in sequence space, we visualized the distribution of 100,603 octapeptides using a self-organizing map. The experimental results present evidence that the canonical sequence motives of the SYFPEITHI database on their own are insufficient for predicting MHC I protein stabilization.
- Domain organization of long autotransporter signal sequences (2009)
- Bacterial autotransporters represent a diverse family of proteins that autonomously translocate across the inner membrane of Gram-negative bacteria via the Sec complex and across the outer bacterial membrane. They often possess exceptionally long N-terminal signal sequences. We analyzed 90 long signal sequences of bacterial autotransporters and members of the two-partner secretion pathway in silico and describe common domain organization found in 79 of these sequences. The domains are in agreement with previously published experimental data. Our algorithmic approach allows for the systematic identification of functionally different domains in long signal sequences. Keywords: bacterial autotransporter, sequence analysis, pattern, protein targeting, signal peptide, protein trafficking
- Prediction of type III secretion signals in genomes of gram-negative bacteria (2009)
- Background: Pathogenic bacteria infecting both animals as well as plants use various mechanisms to transport virulence factors across their cell membranes and channel these proteins into the infected host cell. The type III secretion system represents such a mechanism. Proteins transported via this pathway (‘‘effector proteins’’) have to be distinguished from all other proteins that are not exported from the bacterial cell. Although a special targeting signal at the N-terminal end of effector proteins has been proposed in literature its exact characteristics remain unknown. Methodology/Principal Findings: In this study, we demonstrate that the signals encoded in the sequences of type III secretion system effectors can be consistently recognized and predicted by machine learning techniques. Known protein effectors were compiled from the literature and sequence databases, and served as training data for artificial neural networks and support vector machine classifiers. Common sequence features were most pronounced in the first 30 amino acids of the effector sequences. Classification accuracy yielded a cross-validated Matthews correlation of 0.63 and allowed for genome-wide prediction of potential type III secretion system effectors in 705 proteobacterial genomes (12% predicted candidates protein), their chromosomes (11%) and plasmids (13%), as well as 213 Firmicute genomes (7%). Conclusions/Significance: We present a signal prediction method together with comprehensive survey of potential type III secretion system effectors extracted from 918 published bacterial genomes. Our study demonstrates that the analyzed signal features are common across a wide range of species, and provides a substantial basis for the identification of exported pathogenic proteins as targets for future therapeutic intervention. The prediction software is publicly accessible from our web server ( www.modlab.org ).
- The plasmodium export element revisited (2008)
- We performed a bioinformatical analysis of protein export elements (PEXEL) in the putative proteome of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. A protein family-specific conservation of physicochemical residue profiles was found for PEXEL-flanking sequence regions. We demonstrate that the family members can be clustered based on the flanking regions only and display characteristic hydrophobicity patterns. This raises the possibility that the flanking regions may contain additional information for a family-specific role of PEXEL. We further show that signal peptide cleavage results in a positional alignment of PEXEL from both proteins with, and without, a signal peptide.
- Predicting olfactory receptor neuron responses from odorant structure (2007)
- Background Olfactory receptors work at the interface between the chemical world of volatile molecules and the perception of scent in the brain. Their main purpose is to translate chemical space into information that can be processed by neural circuits. Assuming that these receptors have evolved to cope with this task, the analysis of their coding strategy promises to yield valuable insight in how to encode chemical information in an efficient way. Results We mimicked olfactory coding by modeling responses of primary olfactory neurons to small molecules using a large set of physicochemical molecular descriptors and artificial neural networks. We then tested these models by recording in vivo receptor neuron responses to a new set of odorants and successfully predicted the responses of five out of seven receptor neurons. Correlation coefficients ranged from 0.66 to 0.85, demonstrating the applicability of our approach for the analysis of olfactory receptor activation data. The molecular descriptors that are best-suited for response prediction vary for different receptor neurons, implying that each receptor neuron detects a different aspect of chemical space. Finally, we demonstrate that receptor responses themselves can be used as descriptors in a predictive model of neuron activation. Conclusions The chemical meaning of molecular descriptors helps understand structure-response relationships for olfactory receptors and their 'receptive fields'. Moreover, it is possible to predict receptor neuron activation from chemical structure using machine-learning techniques, although this is still complicated by a lack of training data.
- PocketPicker: analysis of ligand binding-sites with shape descriptors (2007)
- Background Identification and evaluation of surface binding-pockets and occluded cavities are initial steps in protein structure-based drug design. Characterizing the active site's shape as well as the distribution of surrounding residues plays an important role for a variety of applications such as automated ligand docking or in situ modeling. Comparing the shape similarity of binding site geometries of related proteins provides further insights into the mechanisms of ligand binding. Results We present PocketPicker, an automated grid-based technique for the prediction of protein binding pockets that specifies the shape of a potential binding-site with regard to its buriedness. The method was applied to a representative set of protein-ligand complexes and their corresponding apo-protein structures to evaluate the quality of binding-site predictions. The performance of the pocket detection routine was compared to results achieved with the existing methods CAST, LIGSITE, LIGSITEcs, PASS and SURFNET. Success rates PocketPicker were comparable to those of LIGSITEcs and outperformed the other tools. We introduce a descriptor that translates the arrangement of grid points delineating a detected binding-site into a correlation vector. We show that this shape descriptor is suited for comparative analyses of similar binding-site geometry by examining induced-fit phenomena in aldose reductase. This new method uses information derived from calculations of the buriedness of potential binding-sites. Conclusions The pocket prediction routine of PocketPicker is a useful tool for identification of potential protein binding-pockets. It produces a convenient representation of binding-site shapes including an intuitive description of their accessibility. The shape-descriptor for automated classification of binding-site geometries can be used as an additional tool complementing elaborate manual inspections.