Publications

2017
Fernández, José R, et al.N-Acetylglutaminoyl-S-farnesyl-L-cysteine (SIG-1191): an anti-inflammatory molecule that increases the expression of the aquaglyceroporin, aquaporin-3, in human keratinocytes.”. Arch Dermatol Res 309.2 (2017): , 309, 2, 103-110. Web.Abstract
Isoprenylcysteine (IPC) small molecules were discovered as signal transduction modulating compounds ~25 years ago. More recently, IPC molecules have demonstrated antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in a variety of dermal cells as well as antimicrobial activity, representing a novel class of compounds to ameliorate skin conditions and disease. Here, we demonstrate a new IPC compound, N-acetylglutaminoyl-S-farnesyl-L-cysteine (SIG-1191), which inhibits UVB-induced inflammation blocking pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) production. To investigate further the previously reported hydrating potential of IPC compounds, SIG-1191 was tested for its ability to modulate aquaporin expression. Specifically, aquaporin 3 (AQP3) the most abundant aquaporin found in skin has been reported to play a key role in skin hydration, elasticity and barrier repair. Results show here for the first time that SIG-1191 increases AQP3 expression in both cultured normal human epidermal keratinocytes as well as when applied topically in a three-dimensional (3D) reconstructed human skin equivalent. Additionally, SIG-1191 dose dependently increased AQP3 protein levels, as determined by specific antibody staining, in the epidermis of the 3D skin equivalents. To begin to elucidate which signaling pathways SIG-1191 may be modulating to increase AQP3 levels, we used several pharmacological pathway inhibitors and determined that AQP3 expression is mediated by the Mitogen-activated protein kinase/Extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase (MEK) pathway. Altogether, these data suggest SIG-1191 represents a new IPC derivative with anti-inflammatory activity that may also promote increased skin hydration based on its ability to increase AQP3 levels.
2016
Park, Hye-Jin, et al.Dysregulation of protein phosphatase 2A in parkinson disease and dementia with lewy bodies.”. Ann Clin Transl Neurol 310 (2016): , 3, 10, 769-780. Web.Abstract
OBJECTIVE: Protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) is a heterotrimeric holoenzyme composed of a catalytic C subunit, a structural A subunit, and one of several regulatory B subunits that confer substrate specificity. The assembly and activity of PP2A are regulated by reversible methylation of the C subunit. α-Synuclein, which aggregates in Parkinson disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), is phosphorylated at Ser129, and PP2A containing a B55α subunit is a major phospho-Ser129 phosphatase. The objective of this study was to investigate PP2A in α-synucleinopathies. METHODS: We compared the state of PP2A methylation, as well as the expression of its methylating enzyme, leucine carboxyl methyltransferase (LCMT-1), and demethylating enzyme, protein phosphatase methylesterase (PME-1), in postmortem brains from PD and DLB cases as well as age-matched Controls. Immunohistochemical studies and quantitative image analysis were employed. RESULTS: LCMT-1 was significantly reduced in the substantia nigra (SN) and frontal cortex in both PD and DLB. PME-1, on the other hand, was elevated in the PD SN. In concert with these changes, the ratio of methylated PP2A to demethylated PP2A was markedly decreased in PD and DLB brains in both SN and frontal cortex. No changes in total PP2A or total B55α subunit were detected. INTERPRETATION: These findings support the hypothesis that PP2A dysregulation in α-synucleinopathies may contribute to the accumulation of hyperphosphorylated α-synuclein and to the disease process, raising the possibility that pharmacological means to enhance PP2A phosphatase activity may be a useful disease-modifying therapeutic approach.
Fernández, José R, et al.In vitro and clinical evaluation of SIG1273: a cosmetic functional ingredient with a broad spectrum of anti-aging and antioxidant activities.”. J Cosmet Dermatol 15.2 (2016): , 15, 2, 150-7. Web.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Isoprenylcysteine (IPC) small molecules were identified as a new class of anti-inflammatory compounds over 20 years ago. Since then, they have been developed as novel cosmetic functional ingredients (CFI) and topical drug candidates. SIG1273 is a second generation CFI that has previously been shown to provide a broad spectrum of benefits for the skin through its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. OBJECTIVE: To determine whether SIG1273 possesses anti-aging properties in vitro and evaluate the tolerability and activity of SIG1273 when applied topically to human subjects. METHODS: To model photoaging in vitro, human dermal fibroblasts (HDFs) were exposed in culture to UVA to induce collagenase (MMP-1) production. An in vitro wound-healing model was based on the activation of HDF migration into cell-free tissue culture surface. Hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress was performed using HDFs to measure intracellular ROS activity. Radical scavenging capacity was determined using a colorimetric antioxidant assay kit (ABTS method). Lastly, a 4-week, 29-subject study was performed in which SIG1273 was applied topically as a cream to assess its tolerance and activity in reducing the appearance of aging. RESULTS: In vitro studies demonstrate SIG1273 inhibits UVA-induced MMP-1 production, hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress and promotes wound healing. Moreover, SIG1273 was shown to be a radical scavenging antioxidant. Clinical assessment of SIG1273 cream (0.25%) showed it was well tolerated with significant improvement in the appearance of fine lines, coarse wrinkles, radiance/luminosity, pore size, texture/smoothness, hydration and increased firmness. CONCLUSIONS: SIG1273 represents a novel CFI with antioxidant, anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory properties that when applied topically is well tolerated and provides benefits to individuals with aging skin.
2014
Basurto-Islas, Gustavo, et al.Therapeutic benefits of a component of coffee in a rat model of Alzheimer's disease.”. Neurobiol Aging 35.12 (2014): , 35, 12, 2701-12. Web.Abstract
A minor component of coffee unrelated to caffeine, eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide (EHT), provides protection in a rat model for Alzheimer's disease (AD). In this model, viral expression of the phosphoprotein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) endogenous inhibitor, the I2(PP2A), or SET protein in the brains of rats leads to several characteristic features of AD including cognitive impairment, tau hyperphosphorylation, and elevated levels of cytoplasmic amyloid-β protein. Dietary supplementation with EHT for 6-12 months resulted in substantial amelioration of all these defects. The beneficial effects of EHT could be associated with its ability to increase PP2A activity by inhibiting the demethylation of its catalytic subunit PP2Ac. These findings raise the possibility that EHT may make a substantial contribution to the apparent neuroprotective benefits associated with coffee consumption as evidenced by numerous epidemiologic studies indicating that coffee drinkers have substantially lowered risk of developing AD.
2013
Stock, Jeffry B, and Sherry Zhang. “The biochemistry of memory.”. Curr Biol 23.17 (2013): , 23, 17, R741-5. Web.Abstract
Almost fifty years ago, Julius Adler initiated a program of research to gain insights into the basic biochemistry of intelligent behavior by studying the molecular mechanisms that underlie the chemotactic responses of Escherichia coli. All living organisms share elements of a common biochemistry for metabolism, growth and heredity - why not intelligence? Neurobiologists have demonstrated that this is the case for nervous systems in animals ranging from worms to man. Motile unicellular organisms such as E. coli exhibit rudimentary behaviors that can be loosely described in terms of cognitive phenomena such as memory and learning. Adler's initiative at least raised the prospect that, because of the numerous experimental advantages provided by E. coli, it would be the first organism whose behavior could be understood at molecular resolution.
2008
Xing, Yongna, et al.Structural mechanism of demethylation and inactivation of protein phosphatase 2A.”. Cell 133.1 (2008): , 133, 1, 154-63. Web.Abstract
Protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) is an important serine/threonine phosphatase that plays a role in many biological processes. Reversible carboxyl methylation of the PP2A catalytic subunit is an essential regulatory mechanism for its function. Demethylation and negative regulation of PP2A is mediated by a PP2A-specific methylesterase PME-1, which is conserved from yeast to humans. However, the underlying mechanism of PME-1 function remains enigmatic. Here we report the crystal structures of PME-1 by itself and in complex with a PP2A heterodimeric core enzyme. The structures reveal that PME-1 directly binds to the active site of PP2A and that this interaction results in the activation of PME-1 by rearranging the catalytic triad into an active conformation. Strikingly, these interactions also lead to inactivation of PP2A by evicting the manganese ions that are required for the phosphatase activity of PP2A. These observations identify a dual role of PME-1 that regulates PP2A activation, methylation, and holoenzyme assembly in cells.
2007
Chen, Ying, et al.Isoprenylcysteine carboxy methylation is essential for development in Dictyostelium discoideum.”. Mol Biol Cell 18.10 (2007): , 18, 10, 4106-18. Web.Abstract
Members of the Ras superfamily of small GTPases and the heterotrimeric G protein gamma subunit are methylated on their carboxy-terminal cysteine residues by isoprenylcysteine methyltransferase. In Dictyostelium discoideum, small GTPase methylation occurs seconds after stimulation of starving cells by cAMP and returns quickly to basal levels, suggesting an important role in cAMP-dependent signaling. Deleting the isoprenylcysteine methyltransferase-encoding gene causes dramatic defects. Starving mutant cells do not propagate cAMP waves in a sustained manner, and they do not aggregate. Motility is rescued when cells are pulsed with exogenous cAMP, or coplated with wild-type cells, but the rescued cells exhibit altered polarity. cAMP-pulsed methyltransferase-deficient cells that have aggregated fail to differentiate, but mutant cells plated in a wild-type background are able to do so. Localization of and signaling by RasG is altered in the mutant. Localization of the heterotrimeric Ggamma protein subunit was normal, but signaling was altered in mutant cells. These data indicate that isoprenylcysteine methylation is required for intercellular signaling and development in Dictyostelium.
Baker, Melinda D, and Jeffry B Stock. “Signal transduction: networks and integrated circuits in bacterial cognition.”. Curr Biol 17.23 (2007): , 17, 23, R1021-4. Web.Abstract
Signal transduction systems that mediate adaptive changes in gene expression to specific sensory inputs have been well characterized. Recent studies have focused on mechanisms that allow crosstalk between different information-processing modalities.
Chen, Yu, et al.Structural and biochemical insights into the regulation of protein phosphatase 2A by small t antigen of SV40.”. Nat Struct Mol Biol 14.6 (2007): , 14, 6, 527-34. Web.Abstract
The small t antigen (ST) of DNA tumor virus SV40 facilitates cellular transformation by disrupting the functions of protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) through a poorly defined mechanism. The crystal structure of the core domain of SV40 ST bound to the scaffolding subunit of human PP2A reveals that the ST core domain has a novel zinc-binding fold and interacts with the conserved ridge of HEAT repeats 3-6, which overlaps with the binding site for the B' (also called PR61 or B56) regulatory subunit. ST has a lower binding affinity than B' for the PP2A core enzyme. Consequently, ST does not efficiently displace B' from PP2A holoenzymes in vitro. Notably, ST inhibits PP2A phosphatase activity through its N-terminal J domain. These findings suggest that ST may function mainly by inhibiting the phosphatase activity of the PP2A core enzyme, and to a lesser extent by modulating assembly of the PP2A holoenzymes.
2006
Thomason, Peter A, et al.The histidine kinase homologue DhkK/Sombrero controls morphogenesis in Dictyostelium.”. Dev Biol 292.2 (2006): , 292, 2, 358-70. Web.Abstract
A key event in Dictyostelium development is the formation of the Mexican hat. This corresponds to a commitment step in morphogenesis that irreversibly signals progression from the slug stage to the fruiting body. We describe the characterization of the dhkK gene that controls this morphogenetic step. Null mutants of dhkK repeatedly attempt, and fail, to undergo morphogenesis from the slug to the Mexican hat, causing them to exhibit a "slugger" phenotype, which cannot be corrected by co-development with wild-type cells. The dhkK gene encodes a putative receptor histidine kinase whose expression is enriched in prestalk cells in the slug. Uniquely for a histidine kinase, DhkK is located in the nuclear envelope. Entry into culmination requires the DhkK response regulator domain, which appears to directly regulate cyclic AMP signaling.
Wolanin, Peter M, et al.Self-assembly of receptor/signaling complexes in bacterial chemotaxis.”. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 103.39 (2006): , 103, 39, 14313-8. Web.Abstract
Escherichia coli chemotaxis is mediated by membrane receptor/histidine kinase signaling complexes. Fusing the cytoplasmic domain of the aspartate receptor, Tar, to a leucine zipper dimerization domain produces a hybrid, lzTar(C), that forms soluble complexes with CheA and CheW. The three-dimensional reconstruction of these complexes was different from that anticipated based solely on structures of the isolated components. We found that analogous complexes self-assembled with a monomeric cytoplasmic domain fragment of the serine receptor without the leucine zipper dimerization domain. These complexes have essentially the same size, composition, and architecture as those formed from lzTar(C). Thus, the organization of these receptor/signaling complexes is determined by conserved interactions between the constituent chemotaxis proteins and may represent the active form in vivo. To understand this structure in its cellular context, we propose a model involving parallel membrane segments in receptor-mediated CheA activation in vivo.
Baker, Melinda D, Peter M Wolanin, and Jeffry B Stock. “Signal transduction in bacterial chemotaxis.”. Bioessays 28.1 (2006): , 28, 1, 9-22. Web.Abstract
Motile bacteria respond to environmental cues to move to more favorable locations. The components of the chemotaxis signal transduction systems that mediate these responses are highly conserved among prokaryotes including both eubacterial and archael species. The best-studied system is that found in Escherichia coli. Attractant and repellant chemicals are sensed through their interactions with transmembrane chemoreceptor proteins that are localized in multimeric assemblies at one or both cell poles together with a histidine protein kinase, CheA, an SH3-like adaptor protein, CheW, and a phosphoprotein phosphatase, CheZ. These multimeric protein assemblies act to control the level of phosphorylation of a response regulator, CheY, which dictates flagellar motion. Bacterial chemotaxis is one of the most-understood signal transduction systems, and many biochemical and structural details of this system have been elucidated. This is an exciting field of study because the depth of knowledge now allows the detailed molecular mechanisms of transmembrane signaling and signal processing to be investigated.
Chao, Yang, et al.Structure and mechanism of the phosphotyrosyl phosphatase activator.”. Mol Cell 23.4 (2006): , 23, 4, 535-46. Web.Abstract
Phosphotyrosyl phosphatase activator (PTPA), also known as PP2A phosphatase activator, is a conserved protein from yeast to human. Here we report the 1.9 A crystal structure of human PTPA, which reveals a previously unreported fold consisting of three subdomains: core, lid, and linker. Structural analysis uncovers a highly conserved surface patch, which borders the three subdomains, and an associated deep pocket located between the core and the linker subdomains. The conserved surface patch and the deep pocket are responsible for binding to PP2A and ATP, respectively. PTPA and PP2A A-C dimer together constitute a composite ATPase. PTPA binding to PP2A results in a dramatic alteration of substrate specificity, with enhanced phosphotyrosine phosphatase activity and decreased phosphoserine phosphatase activity. This function of PTPA strictly depends on the composite ATPase activity. These observations reveal significant insights into the function and mechanism of PTPA and have important ramifications for understanding PP2A function.
Baker, Melinda D, Peter M Wolanin, and Jeffry B Stock. “Systems biology of bacterial chemotaxis.”. Curr Opin Microbiol 92 (2006): , 9, 2, 187-92. Web.Abstract
Motile bacteria regulate chemotaxis through a highly conserved chemosensory signal-transduction system. System-wide analyses and mathematical modeling are facilitated by extensive experimental observations regarding bacterial chemotaxis proteins, including biochemical parameters, protein structures and protein-protein interaction maps. Thousands of signaling and regulatory chemotaxis proteins within a bacteria cell form a highly interconnected network through distinct protein-protein interactions. A bacterial cell is able to respond to multiple stimuli through a collection of chemoreceptors with different sensory modalities, which interact to affect the cooperativity and sensitivity of the chemotaxis response. The robustness or insensitivity of the chemotaxis system to perturbations in biochemical parameters is a product of the system's hierarchical network architecture.
Xing, Yongna, et al.Structure of protein phosphatase 2A core enzyme bound to tumor-inducing toxins.”. Cell 127.2 (2006): , 127, 2, 341-53. Web.Abstract
The serine/threonine phosphatase protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) plays an essential role in many aspects of cellular functions and has been shown to be an important tumor suppressor. The core enzyme of PP2A comprises a 65 kDa scaffolding subunit and a 36 kDa catalytic subunit. Here we report the crystal structures of the PP2A core enzyme bound to two of its inhibitors, the tumor-inducing agents okadaic acid and microcystin-LR, at 2.6 and 2.8 A resolution, respectively. The catalytic subunit recognizes one end of the elongated scaffolding subunit by interacting with the conserved ridges of HEAT repeats 11-15. Formation of the core enzyme forces the scaffolding subunit to undergo pronounced structural rearrangement. The scaffolding subunit exhibits considerable conformational flexibility, which is proposed to play an essential role in PP2A function. These structures, together with biochemical analyses, reveal significant insights into PP2A function and serve as a framework for deciphering the diverse roles of PP2A in cellular physiology.
2004
Wolanin, Peter M, and Jeffry B Stock. “Bacterial chemosensing: cooperative molecular logic.”. Curr Biol 14.12 (2004): , 14, 12, R486-7. Web.Abstract
Bacterial chemotaxis is mediated by transmembrane receptors that bind attractant and repellent chemicals and control an intracellular protein kinase. Each cell contains thousands of receptor subunits that form a tightly packed array at one pole. Recent studies of bacterial behavior have begun to reveal the molecular logic of this sensory architecture.
Webre, Daniel J, Peter M Wolanin, and Jeffry B Stock. “Modulated receptor interactions in bacterial transmembrane signaling.”. Trends Cell Biol 14.9 (2004): , 14, 9, 478-82. Web.Abstract
Bacteria can detect and respond to a remarkably diverse set of environmental conditions. This ability enables motile species to integrate stimuli, to compare current surroundings with those of the recent past, and to adjust swimming behavior to move up gradients of attractants and avoid repellents. Many of the molecular details involved in the bacterial chemotaxis system have been elucidated. Several models have been proposed recently to explain how cells process external information through a patch of highly interactive transmembrane receptors and transduce this information to other components in the cytoplasm that, in turn, function to regulate motility.
2003
Webre, Daniel J, Peter M Wolanin, and Jeffry B Stock. “Bacterial chemotaxis.”. Curr Biol 13.2 (2003): , 13, 2, R47-9. Print.
Park, Sungsu, et al.Influence of topology on bacterial social interaction.”. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 100.24 (2003): , 100, 24, 13910-5. Web.Abstract
The environmental topology of complex structures is used by Escherichia coli to create traveling waves of high cell density, a prelude to quorum sensing. When cells are grown to a moderate density within a confining microenvironment, these traveling waves of cell density allow the cells to find and collapse into confining topologies, which are unstable to population fluctuations above a critical threshold. This was first observed in mazes designed to mimic complex environments, then more clearly in a simpler geometry consisting of a large open area surrounding a square (250 x 250 microm) with a narrow opening of 10-30 microm. Our results thus show that under nutrient-deprived conditions bacteria search out each other in a collective manner and that the bacteria can dynamically confine themselves to highly enclosed spaces.
Wolanin, Peter M, Daniel J Webre, and Jeffry B Stock. “Mechanism of phosphatase activity in the chemotaxis response regulator CheY.”. Biochemistry 42.47 (2003): , 42, 47, 14075-82. Web.Abstract
Response regulator proteins are phosphorylated on a conserved aspartate to activate responses to environmental signals. An intrinsic autophosphatase activity limits the duration of the phosphorylated state. We have previously hypothesized that dephosphorylation might proceed through an intramolecular attack, leading to succinimide formation, and such an intramolecular dephosphorylation event is seen for CheY and OmpR during mass spectrometric analysis [Napper, S., Wolanin, P. M., Webre, D. J., Kindrachuk, J., Waygood, B., and Stock, J. B. (2003) FEBS Lett 538, 77-80]. Succinimide formation is usually associated with the spontaneous deamidation of Asn residues. We show here that an Asp57 to Asn mutant of the CheY chemotaxis response regulator undergoes an unusually rapid deamidation back to the wild-type Asp57, supporting the hypothesis that the active site of CheY is poised for succinimide formation. In contrast, we also show that the major route of phosphoaspartate hydrolysis in CheY occurs through water attack on the phosphorus both during autophosphatase activity and during CheZ-mediated dephosphorylation. Thus, CheY dephosphorylation does not usually proceed via a succinimide or any other intramolecular attack.

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