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Ricercatore Universitario
Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita sede ex Chimica V.Campi 103

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Meglioli, Mirco; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Ranieri, Antonio; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Sola, Marco; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Borsari, Marco

The thermodynamics and kinetics of heterogeneous electron transfer (ET) for Co-substituted horse myoglobin (Co-Mb) and its derivatives with ammonia and imidazole as heme axial ligands were studied with cyclic voltammetry on a pyrolytic graphite electrode along with their ability to mediate the electrocatalytic production of H2 . All the proteins experience a non-diffusive electrochemical regime as electrode-bound species. The adsorbed Co-Mb construct was found to carry out the electrocatalytic reduction of water protons to H2 with a good efficiency under anaerobic conditions thus yielding a simple and tunable system for H2 production. Replacement of H2O as Co axial ligand by ammonia and imidazole significantly lowers the catalytic currents for H3O+/H2O reduction to H2. The E°’ values of the Co(III)/Co(II) redox couple for all species are mainly determined by the enthalpic contribution. Differences were found in the kinetics of ET for the different protein adducts due to changes in the activation enthalpies. However, all species share the same distance of about 14 Å from the electrode surface to the Co(III)/Co(II) center determined using the Marcus model, consistent with a non-denaturing adsorption of the protein.

2023 - A PETase enzyme synthesised in the chloroplast of the microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is active against post-consumer plastics [Articolo su rivista]
Di Rocco, G.; Taunt, H. N.; Berto, M.; Jackson, H. O.; Piccinini, D.; Carletti, A.; Scurani, G.; Braidi, N.; Purton, S.

Polyethylene terephthalate hydrolases (PETases) are a newly discovered and industrially important class of enzymes that catalyze the enzymatic degradation of polyethylene terephatalate (PET), one of the most abundant plastics in the world. The greater enzymatic efficiencies of PETases compared to close relatives from the cutinase and lipase families have resulted in increasing research interest. Despite this, further characterization of PETases is essential, particularly regarding their possible activity against other kinds of plastic. In this study, we exploited for the first time the use of the microalgal chloroplast for more sustainable synthesis of a PETase enzyme. A photosynthetic-restoration strategy was used to generate a marker-free transformant line of the green microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii in which the PETase from Ideonella sakaiensis was constitutively expressed in the chloroplast. Subsequently, the activity of the PETase against both PET and post-consumer plastics was investigated via atomic force microscopy, revealing evidence of degradation of the plastics.

2023 - BS148 Reduces the Aggressiveness of Metastatic Melanoma via Sigma-2 Receptor Targeting [Articolo su rivista]
Sorbi, C.; Belluti, S.; Atene, C. G.; Marocchi, F.; Linciano, P.; Roy, N.; Paradiso, E.; Casarini, L.; Ronsisvalle, S.; Zanocco-Marani, T.; Brasili, L.; Lanfrancone, L.; Imbriano, C.; Di Rocco, G.; Franchini, S.

: The management of advanced-stage melanoma is clinically challenging, mainly because of its resistance to the currently available therapies. Therefore, it is important to develop alternative therapeutic strategies. The sigma-2 receptor (S2R) is overexpressed in proliferating tumor cells and represents a promising vulnerability to target. Indeed, we have recently identified a potent S2R modulator (BS148) that is effective in melanoma. To elucidate its mechanism of action, we designed and synthesized a BS148 fluorescent probe that enters SK-MEL-2 melanoma cells as assessed using confocal microscopy analysis. We show that S2R knockdown significantly reduces the anti-proliferative effect induced by BS148 administration, indicating the engagement of S2R in BS148-mediated cytotoxicity. Interestingly, BS148 treatment showed similar molecular effects to S2R RNA interference-mediated knockdown. We demonstrate that BS148 administration activates the endoplasmic reticulum stress response through the upregulation of protein kinase R-like ER kinase (PERK), activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) genes, and C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP). Furthermore, we show that BS148 treatment downregulates genes related to the cholesterol pathway and activates the MAPK signaling pathway. Finally, we translate our results into patient-derived xenograft (PDX) cells, proving that BS148 treatment reduces melanoma cell viability and migration. These results demonstrate that BS148 is able to inhibit metastatic melanoma cell proliferation and migration through its interaction with the S2R and confirm its role as a promising target to treat cancer.

2023 - Effects of removal of the axial methionine heme ligand on the binding of S. cerevisiae iso-1 cytochrome c to cardiolipin. [Articolo su rivista]
Paradisi, Alessandro; Bellei, Marzia; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Ranieri, Antonio; Borsari, Marco; Sola, Marco; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio

The cleavage of the axial S(Met)-Fe bond in cytochrome c (cytc) upon binding to cardiolipin (CL), a glycerophospholipid of the inner mitochondrial membrane, is one of the key molecular changes that impart cytc with (lipo)peroxidase activity essential to its pro-apoptotic function. In this work, UV-VIS, CD, MCD and fluorescence spectroscopies were used to address the role of the Fe−M80 bond in controlling the cytc-CL interaction, by studying the binding of the Met80Ala (M80A) variant of S. cerevisiae iso-1 cytc (ycc) to CL liposomes in comparison with the wt protein [Paradisi et al. J. Biol. Inorg. Chem. 25 (2020) 467–487]. The results show that the integrity of the six-coordinate heme center along with the distal heme site containing the Met80 ligand is a not requisite for cytc binding to CL. Indeed, deletion of the Fe-S(Met80) bond has a little impact on the mechanism of ycc-CL interaction, although it results in an increased heme accessibility to solvent and a reduced structural stability of the protein. In particular, M80A features a slightly tighter binding to CL at low CL/cytc ratios compared to wt ycc, possibly due to the lift of some constraints to the insertion of the CL acyl chains into the protein hydrophobic core. M80A binding to CL maintains the dependence on the CL-to-cytc mixing scheme displayed by the wt species

2023 - Giving new life to seafood waste: in silico engineering of a chitinolytic LPMO enzyme [Relazione in Atti di Convegno]
Ricci, A.; Di Rocco, G.; Bortolotti, C. A.; Gautieri, A.

2023 - Hydrogen Peroxide Induces Heme Degradation and Protein Aggregation in Human Neuroglobin: Roles of the Disulfide Bridge and the H-bonding in the Distal Heme Cavity [Articolo su rivista]
Di Rocco, G.; Bernini, F.; Battistuzzi, G.; Ranieri, A.; Bortolotti, C. A.; Borsari, M.; Sola, M.

In this study, human neuroglobin (hNgb) was found to undergo H2O2-induced breakdown of the heme center at a much slower rate than other globins, namely in the timescale of hours against minutes. We studied how the rate of the process is affected by the Cys46/Cys55 disulfide bond and the network of noncovalent interactions in the distal heme side involving Tyr44, Lys67, the His64 heme iron axial ligand and the heme propionate-7. The rate is increased by the Tyr44 to Ala and Phe mutations, however the rate is lowered by Lys67 to Ala swapping. The absence of the disulfide bridge slows down the reaction further. Therefore, the disulfide bond-controlled accessibility of the heme site and the residues at position 44 and 67 affect the activation barrier of the reaction. Wild-type and mutated species form -amyloid aggregates in the presence of H2O2 producing globular structures. Furthermore, the C46A/C55A, Y44A, Y44F and Y44F/C46A/C55A variants yield potentially harmful fibrils. Finally, the nucleation and growth kinetics for the aggregation of the amyloid structures can be successfully described by the Finke-Watzky model.

2022 - Anti-Spoilage Activity and Exopolysaccharides Production by Selected Lactic Acid Bacteria [Articolo su rivista]
Iosca, Giovanna; De Vero, Luciana; Di Rocco, Giulia; Perrone, Giancarlo; Gullo, Maria; Pulvirenti, Andrea

In this study, eight lactic acid bacteria (LAB) strains, previously isolated from traditional and gluten-free sourdoughs, and selected for their potential in improving the sensory and rheological quality of bakery products, were screened against some common spoilage agents. The anti-mould activity was tested using strains of the species Fusarium graminearum, Aspergillus flavus, Penicillium paneum and Aspergillus niger. Regarding the antibacterial activity, it was assessed against four strains of the species Escherichia coli, Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella typhimurium and Listeria monocytogenes. Furthermore, LAB strains were evaluated for their ability to produce exopolysaccharides, which are gaining considerable attention for their functional properties and applicability in different food industrial applications. A strain-specific behaviour against the moulds was observed. In particular, F. graminearum ITEM 5356 was completely inhibited by all the LAB strains. Regarding the antibacterial activity, the strains Leuconostoc citreum UMCC 3011, Lactiplantibacillus plantarum UMCC 2996, and Pediococcus pentosaceus UMCC 3010 showed wide activity against the tested pathogens. Moreover, all the LAB strains were able to produce exopolysaccharides, which were preliminarily characterized. The assessed features of the LAB strains allow us to consider them as promising candidates for single or multiple starter cultures for food fermentation processes.

2022 - Assessing the functional and structural stability of the Met80Ala mutant of cytochrome c in dimethylsulfoxide [Articolo su rivista]
DI ROCCO, Giulia; Ranieri, Antonio; Borsari, Marco; Sola, Marco; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio

The Met80Ala variant of yeast cytochrome c is known to possess electrocatalytic properties that are absent in the wild type form and that make it a promising candidate for biocatalysis and bi-osensing. The versatility of an enzyme is enhanced by the stability in mixed aqueous/organic solvents that would allow poorly water-soluble substrates to be targeted. In this work, we have evaluated the effect of dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) on the functionality of the Met80Ala cyto-chrome c mutant, by investigating the thermodynamics and kinetics of electron transfer in mixed water/DMSO solutions up to 50% DMSO v/v. In parallel, we have monitored spectroscop-ically the retention of the main structural features in the same medium, focusing on both the overall protein structure and the heme center. We found that the organic solvent exerts only minor effects on the redox and structural properties of the mutant mostly as a result of the mod-ification of the dielectric constant of the solvent. This would warrant proper functionality of this variant also under these potentially hostile experimental conditions, that differ from the physi-ological milieu of cytochrome c.

2022 - Phosphodiesterase (PDE) 5 inhibitors sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil impact cAMP-specific PDE8 isoforms-linked second messengers and steroid production in a mouse Leydig tumor cell line [Articolo su rivista]
Limoncella, S.; Lazzaretti, C.; Paradiso, E.; D'Alessandro, S.; Barbagallo, F.; Pacifico, S.; Guerrini, R.; Tagliavini, S.; Trenti, T.; Santi, D.; Simoni, M.; Sola, M.; Di Rocco, G.; Casarini, L.

Type 5 phosphodiesterase (PDE5) blockade by inhibitors (PDE5i) results in intracellular cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) increase and smooth muscle relaxation and are used for the treatment of men erectile dysfunction. Although they have high specificity for PDE5, these inhibitors are suspected to cross-interact also with cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-specific PDEs, inducing the intracellular accumulation of this cyclic nucleotide and related testosterone increase, positively impacting male reproductive parameters. However, the link between the use of PDE5i and the activation of cAMP-mediated steroidogenesis is still unclear. We have investigated whether three PDE5i, sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil, cross-interacts with the high affinity cAMP-specific enzymes type 8A and 8B PDEs (PDE8A and PDE8B), in live, transfected mouse Leydig tumor (mLTC1) and human embryonic kidney (HEK293) cell lines in vitro. The PDE5i-induced production of cAMP-dependent testosterone and its precursor progesterone was evaluated as well. We have developed PDE8A/B biosensors and modified cyclic nucleotides confirming enzyme binding to cAMP, but not to cGMP, in our cell models. cAMP binding to PDE8A/B was displaced upon cell treatment with PDE5i, revealing that sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil have similar effectiveness in live cells, in vitro. The cross-interaction between PDE5i and PDE8A/B supports the gonadotropin-enhanced intracellular cAMP increase, occurring together with cGMP increase, as well as steroid synthesis. Indeed, we found that Leydig cell treatment by PDE5i increases progesterone and testosterone production triggered by gonadotropins. We demonstrated that PDE5i may interact with the cAMP-specific PDE8A and PDE8B, possibly inducing intracellular cAMP and sex steroid hormone increase. These findings support clinical data suggesting that PDE5i might increase testosterone levels in men.

2022 - Thermodynamics and Kinetics of Electron Transfer of 2 Electrode-Immobilized Small Laccase from Streptomyces coelicolor [Articolo su rivista]
DI ROCCO, Giulia; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Ranieri, Antonio; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Borsari, Marco; Sola, Marco

The thermodynamic and kinetic properties for the heterogeneous electron transfer (ET) were measured for the electrode-immobilized small laccase (SLAC) from Streptomyces coelicolor subjected to different electrostatic and covalent protein-electrode linkages, using cyclic voltammetry. Once immobilized electrostatically onto a gold electrode using mixed carboxyl- and hydroxy-terminated alkane-thiolate SAMs or covalently exploiting the same SAM subjected to N-hydroxysuccin-imide+1-Ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)carbodiimide (NHS-EDC) chemistry, the SLAC-electrode electron flow occurs through the T1 center. The E°’ values (from +0.2 to +0.1 V vs. SHE at pH 7.0) are lower by more than 0.2 V compared to the protein either in solution or immobilized with different anchoring strategies using uncharged SAMs. For the present electrostatic and covalent binding, this effect can respectively be ascribed to the negative charge of the SAM surfaces and to deletion of the positive charge of Lys/Arg residues due to amide bond formation which both selectively stabilize the more positively charged oxidized SLAC. Observation of enthalpy/entropy compensation within the series indicates that the immobilized proteins experience different reduction-induced solvent reorganization effects. The E°’ values for the covalently attached SLAC are sensitive to three acid base equilibria, with apparent pKa values of pKa1ox =5.1, pKa1red=7.5, pKa2ox=8.4, pKa2red=10.9, pKa2ox=8.9, pKa2red=11.3 possibly involving one residue close to the T1 center and two residues (Lys and/or Arg) along with moderate protein unfolding, respectively. Therefore, the E°’ value of immobilized SLAC turns out to be particularly sensitive to the anchoring mode and me-30 dium conditions.

2021 - Activity and substrate specificity of lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases: An ATR FTIR-based sensitive assay tested on a novel species from Pseudomonas putida [Articolo su rivista]
Serra, Ilenia; Piccinini, Daniele; Paradisi, Alessandro; Ciano, Luisa; Bellei, Marzia; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Sola, Marco; Walton, Paul H.; DI ROCCO, Giulia

Pseudomonas putida W619 is a soil Gram-negative bacterium commonly used in environmental studies thanks to its ability in degrading many aromatic compounds. Its genome contains several putative carbohydrate-active enzymes such as glycoside hydrolases and lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (PMOs). In this study, we have heterologously produced in Escherichia coli and characterized a new enzyme belonging to the AA10 family, named PpAA10 (Uniprot: B1J2U9), which contains a chitin-binding type-4 module and showed activity toward β-chitin. The active form of the enzyme was produced in E. coli exploiting the addition of a cleavable N-terminal His tag which ensured the presence of the copper-coordinating His as the first residue. Electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy showed signal signatures similar to those observed for the copper-binding site of chitin-cleaving PMOs. The protein was used to develop a versatile, highly sensitive, cost-effective and easy-to-apply method to detect PMO's activity exploiting attenuated total reflection-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and able to easily discriminate between different substrates.

2021 - Electron Transfer and Electrocatalytic Properties of the Immobilized Met80Ala Cytochrome c Variant in DMSO [Articolo su rivista]
DI ROCCO, Giulia; Bighi, Beatrice; Borsari, Marco; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Ranieri, Antonio; Sola, Marco; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio

The electrode-immobilized Met80Ala variant of yeast iso-1 cytochrome c in mixed water/dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) solutions up to 60 % v/v DMSO shows thermodynamic and kinetic parameters of electron exchange and electrocatalytic properties towards O2 reduction fully comparable to those in water. This is the result of moderate protein conformational changes thanks to immobilization that, to a certain extent, preserves protein structure, possibly due to the constraints on protein mobility/flexibility induced by the electrostatic interactions with the electrode-coating SAM. Upon increasing the DMSO content of the mixed solution beyond 60 %, a much larger perturbation occurs that leads to the progressive loss of the electrocatalytic ability. Therefore, under these conditions, the organic solvent remarkably affects the structure and properties of the protein probably involving major conformational changes or even the replacement of the 6th axial hydroxide ligand of the heme iron with a strong protein ligand, possibly a lysine residue.

2021 - How to Turn an Electron Transfer Protein into a Redox Enzyme for Biosensing [Articolo su rivista]
Ranieri, Antonio; Borsari, Marco; Casalini, Stefano; Di Rocco, Giulia; Sola, Marco; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio

Cytochrome c is a small globular protein whose main physiological role is to shuttle electrons within the mitochondrial electron transport chain. This protein has been widely investigated, especially as a paradigmatic system for understanding the fundamental aspects of biological electron transfer and protein folding. Nevertheless, cytochrome c can also be endowed with a non-native catalytic activity and be immobilized on an electrode surface for the development of third generation biosensors. Here, an overview is offered of the most significant examples of such a functional transformation, carried out by either point mutation(s) or controlled unfolding. The latter can be induced chemically or upon protein immobilization on hydrophobic self-assembled monolayers. We critically discuss the potential held by these systems as core constituents of amperometric biosensors, along with the issues that need to be addressed to optimize their applicability and response.

2021 - Pseudoperoxidase activity, conformational stability and aggregation propensity of the His98Tyr myoglobin variant. Implications for the onset of myoglobinopathy. [Articolo su rivista]
Hofbauer, Stefan; Pignataro, Marcello; Borsari, Marco; Bortolotti, Carlo; Di Rocco, Giulia; Ravenscroft, Gianina; Furtmüller, Paul; Obinger, Christian; Sola, Marco; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio

The autosomal dominant striated muscle disease myoglobinopathy is due to the single point mutation His98Tyr in human myoglobin (MB) [Olivè et al. Nat. Comm, 2019, 10, 1396], the heme-protein responsible for binding, storage and controlled release of O2 in striated muscle. In order to understand the molecular bases of this disease, a comprehensive biochemical and biophysical study on wt MB and the variant H98Y has been performed. Although only small differences exist between the active site architectures of the two proteins, the mutant exhibits an (i) increased reactivity towards hydrogen peroxide, (ii) a higher tendency to form high-molecular weight aggregates and (iii) is more prone to heme bleaching, possibly as a consequence of the observed H2O2-induced formation of the Tyr98 radical close to the metal center. These effects add to the impaired oxygen binding capacity and faster heme dissociation of the H98Y variant compared to wt MB. As the above effects result from bond formation/cleavage events occurring at the distal and proximal heme sites, it appears that the molecular determinants of the disease are localized there. These findings set the bases for clarifying the onset of the cascade of chemical events that are responsible for the pathological symptoms of myoglobinopathy.

2021 - Sphingosine-1 phosphate induces cAMP/PKA-independent phosphorylation of the cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) in granulosa cells [Articolo su rivista]
Paradiso, E.; Lazzaretti, C.; Sperduti, S.; Antoniani, F.; Fornari, G.; Brigante, G.; Di Rocco, G.; Tagliavini, S.; Trenti, T.; Morini, D.; Falbo, A. I.; Villani, M. T.; Nofer, J. -R.; Simoni, M.; Poti, F.; Casarini, L.

Background and aims: Sphingosine-1 phosphate (S1P) is a lysosphingolipid present in the ovarian follicular fluid. The role of the lysosphingolipid in gonads of the female is widely unclear. At nanomolar concentrations, S1P binds and activates five specific G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), known as S1P1-5, modulating different signaling pathways. S1P1 and S1P3 are highly expressed in human primary granulosa lutein cells (hGLC), as well as in the immortalized human primary granulosa cell line hGL5. In this study, we evaluated the signaling cascade activated by S1P and its synthetic analogues in hGLC and hGL5 cells, exploring the biological relevance of S1PR-stimulation in this context. METHODS AND RESULTS. hGLC and hGL5 cells were treated with a fixed dose (0.1 μM) of S1P, or by S1P1- and S1P3-specific agonists SEW2871 and CYM5541. In granulosa cells, S1P and, at a lesser extent, SEW2871 and CYM5541, potently induced CREB phosphorylation. No cAMP production was detected and pCREB activation occurred even in the presence of the PKA inhibitor H-89. Moreover, S1P-dependent CREB phosphorylation was dampened by the mitogen-activate protein kinase (MEK) inhibitor U0126 and by the L-type Ca2+ channel blocker verapamil. The complete inhibition of CREB phosphorylation occurred by blocking either S1P2 or S1P3 with the specific receptor antagonists JTE-013 and TY52156, or under PLC/PI3K depletion. S1P-dependent CREB phosphorylation induced FOXO1 and the EGF-like epiregulin-encoding gene (EREG), confirming the exclusive role of gonadotropins and interleukins in this process, but did not affect steroidogenesis. However, S1P or agonists did not modulate granulosa cell viability and proliferation in our conditions. Conclusions: This study demonstrates for the first time that S1P may induce a cAMP-independent activation of pCREB in granulosa cells, although this is not sufficient to induce intracellular steroidogenic signals and progesterone synthesis. S1P-induced FOXO1 and EREG gene expression suggests that the activation of S1P–S1PR axis may cooperate with gonadotropins in modulating follicle development.

2021 - The Enthalpic and Entropic Terms of the Reduction Potential of Metalloproteins: Determinants and Interplay [Articolo su rivista]
Di Rocco, G.; Battistuzzi, G.; Borsari, M.; Bortolotti, C. A.; Ranieri, A.; Sola, M.

Splitting the reduction potential of electron transport (ET) proteins and redox metalloenzymes into the enthalpic and entropic contributions is an insightful practice to gaining insight into the molecular determinants of the thermodynamic propensity of the metal center to accept or release electrons. The strict control of such propensity is essential for the functioning of the electron transport chains in bioenergetics and the organized network of the countless reactions of the redox metabolism in all organisms. Here, the first comprehensive overview is offered on the thermodynamic data obtained in the last three decades for the main classes of ET species, namely c-type cytochromes and proteins containing T1 copper and iron-sulfur centers, along with some heme metalloenzymes. These families show many common features in the balance of the enthalpic and entropic terms, which will be brought to light. The enthalpic terms related to ligation features in the first coordination sphere of the metal and weak binding and electrostatics in the surrounding matrix do count a lot in this balance. Reduction entropy is much less important that it would appear from the raw thermodynamic data, particularly for electron transport (ET) metalloproteins. This is due to reduction-induced solvent-related molecular events which dominate the measured entropy changes but affect much less the reduction free energy due to the compensatory effects of the associated enthalpic terms (a phenomenology known as enthalpy-entropy compensation, EEC). Thus the entropy changes seldom exert a real influence on the E°’ of metalloredox proteins; this is restricted to metal sites subjected to reduction-induced protein-based changes in the accessible configurational microstates. It follows that in most cases, especially for ET species, the E° changes due to point mutations, ligand binding and charge changes have and ultimate enthalpic origin. Hence, they should be accounted for with coordination chemistry and electrostatics notions. Only if they don’t, protein-based entropic effects could play a role. In this review, we go through the data gathered for the main classes of ET species and heme enzymes that brought us to this conclusion.

2020 - Adsorbing surface strongly influences the pseudoperoxidase and nitrite reductase activity of electrode-bound yeast cytochrome c. The effect of hydrophobic immobilization. [Articolo su rivista]
Lancellotti, Lidia; Borsari, Marco; Bonifacio, Alois; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Di Rocco, Giulia; Casalini, Stefano; Ranieri, Antonio; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Sola, Marco

The Met80Ala and Met80Ala/Tyr67Ala variants of S. cerevisiae iso-1 cytochrome c (ycc) and their adducts with cardiolipin immobilized onto a gold electrode coated with a hydrophobic self-assembled monolayer (SAM) of decane-1-thiol were studied through cyclic voltammetry and surface-enhanced resonance Raman spectroscopy (SERRS). The electroactive species - containing a six-coordinate His/His axially ligated heme and a five-coordinate His/- heme stable in the oxidized and reduced state, respectively - and the pseudoperoxidase activity match those found previously for the wt species and are only slightly affected by CL binding. Most importantly, the reduced His/- ligated form of these variants is able to catalytically reduce the nitrite ion, while electrode-immobilized wt ycc and other His/Met heme ligated variants under a variety of conditions are not. Besides the pseudoperoxidase and nitrite reductase functions, which are the most physiologically relevant abilities of these constructs, also axial heme ligation and the equilibria between conformers are strongly affected by the nature - hydrophobic vs. electrostatic - of the non-covalent interactions determining protein immobilization. Also affected are the catalytic activity changes induced by a given mutation as well as those due to partial unfolding due to CL binding. It follows that under the same solution conditions the structural and functional properties of immobilized ycc are surface-specific and therefore cannot be transferred from an immobilized system to another involving different interfacial protein-SAM interactions.

2020 - Binding of S. cerevisiae iso‑1 cytochrome c and its surface lysine‑to‑alanine variants to cardiolipin: charge effects and the role of the lipid to protein ratio [Articolo su rivista]
Paradisi, Alessandro; Bellei, Marzia; Paltrinieri, Licia; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Di Rocco, Giulia; Ranieri, Antonio; Borsari, Marco; Sola, Marco; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio

The interaction of cytochrome c with cardiolipin (CL) is a critical step in the initial stages of apoptosis and is mediated by a positively charged region on the protein surface comprising several lysine residues (site A). Here, the interaction of wt S. cerevisiae cytochrome c (ycc) and its K72A/K73A, K72A/K79A, K73A/K79A and K72A/K73A/K79A variants with CL was studied through UV–Vis and MCD spectroscopies at pH 7 and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, to clarify the role of the mutated lysines. Moreover, the influence of the lipid to protein ratio on the interaction mechanism was investigated using low (0.5–10) and high (5–60) CL/ycc molar ratios, obtained with small and gradual or large and abrupt CL additions, respectively. Although all proteins bind to CL, switching from the native low-spin His/Met-ligated form to a low-spin bis-His conformer and to a high-spin species at larger CL concentrations, the two schemes of CL addition show relevant differences in the CL/ycc molar ratios at which the various conformers appear, due to differences in the interaction mechanism. Extended lipid anchorage and peripheral binding appear to prevail at low and high CL/ycc molar ratios, respectively. Simultaneous deletion of two or three surface positive charges from Site A does not abolish CL binding, but instead increases protein affinity for CL. MD calculations suggest this unexpected behavior results from the mutation-induced severe weakening of the H-bond connecting the Nε of His26 with the backbone oxygen of Glu44, which lowers the conformational stability compared to the wt species, overcoming the decreased surface electrostatic interaction.

2020 - Electrochemical data on redox properties of human Cofilin-2 and its Mutant S3D [Articolo su rivista]
Pignataro, M.; Di Rocco, G.; Lancellotti, L.; Bernini, F.; Subramanian, K.; Castellini, E.; Bortolotti, C. A.; Malferrari, D.; Moro, D.; Valdrè, G.; Borsari, M.; del Monte, F.

The reported data are related to a research paper entitled "Phosphorylated cofilin-2 is more prone to oxidative modifications on Cys39 and favors amyloid fibril formation" [1]. Info about the formation and redox properties of the disulfide bridge of a protein is quite difficult to obtain and only in a few cases was it possible to observe a cyclic voltammetry (CV) signal [2,3]. Human cofilin-2 contains two cysteines (Cys39 and Cys80) which can be oxidized in suitable conditions and form a disulfide bridge [1]. For this purpose, CV measurements were carried out on human cofilin-2 WT and its mutant S3D immobilized on a gold electrode coated by an anionic self-assembled monolayer (SAM), after a pre-oxidation time which was fundamental for observing a CV signal relating to the oxidation/reduction process of the disulfide bridge of the proteins. The data include CV curves obtained with and without electrochemical pre-oxidation and after oxidation with H2O2. In addition, the plot of the cathodic peak current vs. electrochemical pre-oxidation time and the pH dependence of the formal potential (E°’) are reported. The data obtained by CV measurements were used to determine the time required to form the disulfide bridge for the immobilized proteins and, consequently, to observe the CV signal, to calculate the E°’ values and analyse the pH dependence of E°’. The electrochemical data were provided which will be useful for further electrochemical investigations regarding proteins bearing disulfide bridge(s) or cysteines prone to oxidation.

2020 - Met80 and Tyr67 affect the chemical unfolding of yeast cytochrome c: comparing solution vs. immobilized state [Articolo su rivista]
Paradisi, Alessandro; Lancellotti, Lidia; Borsari, Marco; Bellei, Marzia; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Ranieri, Antonio; Sola, Marco; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio

Urea-induced denaturation of the Met80Ala and Met80Ala/Tyr67Ala variants of S. cerevisiae iso-1 cytochrome c (ycc) was studied through variable temperature diffusive cyclic voltammetry and electronic absorption, CD and MCD spectroscopies. The susceptibility to unfolding of both variants - represented by the free energy of unfolding at denaturant infinite dilution, ∆〖G°〗_u^(H_2 O)is greater compared to the species showing an intact Met/His coordination, as observed previously for the same species immobilized onto a functionalized electrode. This is consistent with the role of the axial Fe-(S)Met bond and the H-bond network involving Tyr67 in stabilizing the polypeptide matrix in the heme crevice. Notably, we find that the unfolding propensity and axial heme iron coordination of the present Fe-(S)Met bond-deprived variants is affected by the motional regime of the protein. In particular, electrostatic adsorption onto a negatively charged SAM surface - that would mimic the phospholipidic inner mitochondrial membrane - facilitates unfolding compared to the solution state, especially at room temperature. This finding has a physiological relevance related to the cytochrome c interaction with cardiolipin at the IMM in the early stages of apoptosis. Moreover, while both immobilized variants maintain the His/OH- axial heme iron coordination up to 7 M urea, the same species in solution are subjected to urea-induced replacement of the axial hydroxide ligand by a His ligand. The contribution of the enthalpic and entropic terms to ∆〖G°〗_u^(H_2 O) were found to be opposite (H-S compensation) indicating that unfolding thermodynamics are strongly affected by changes in the hydrogen bonding network in the hydration sphere of the protein.

2020 - Phosphorylated cofilin-2 is more prone to oxidative modifications on Cys39 and favors amyloid fibril formation [Articolo su rivista]
Pignataro, M.; Di Rocco, G.; Lancellotti, L.; Bernini, F.; Subramanian, K.; Castellini, E.; Bortolotti, C. A.; Malferrari, D.; Moro, D.; Valdre, G.; Borsari, M.; Monte, F. D.

Cofilins are small protein of the actin depolymerizing family. Actin polymerization/depolymerization is central to a number of critical cellular physiological tasks making cofilin a key protein for several physiological functions of the cell. Cofilin activity is mainly regulated by phosphorylation on serine residue 3 making this post-translational modification key to the regulation of myofilament integrity. In fact, in this form, the protein segregates in myocardial aggregates in human idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. Since myofilament network is an early target of oxidative stress we investigated the molecular changes induced by oxidation on cofilin isoforms and their interplay with the protein phosphorylation state to get insight on whether/how those changes may predispose to early protein aggregation. Using different and complementary approaches we characterized the aggregation properties of cofilin-2 and its phosphomimetic variant (S3D) in response to oxidative stress in silico, in vitro and on isolated cardiomyocytes. We found that the phosphorylated (inactive) form of cofilin-2 is mechanistically linked to the formation of an extended network of fibrillar structures induced by oxidative stress via the formation of a disulfide bond between Cys39 and Cys80. Such phosphorylation-dependent effect is likely controlled by changes in the hydrogen bonding network involving Cys39. We found that the sulfide ion inhibits the formation of such structures. This might represent the mechanism for the protective effect of the therapeutic agent Na2S on ischemic injury.

2020 - Urea-induced denaturation of immobilized yeast iso-1 cytochrome c: role of Met80 and Tyr67 in the thermodynamics of unfolding and promotion of pseudoperoxidase and nitrite reductase activities [Articolo su rivista]
Lancellotti, Lidia; Borsari, Marco; Bellei, Marzia; Bonifacio, Alois; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Ranieri, Antonio; Sola, Marco; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio

The Met80Ala and Met80Ala/Tyr67Ala variants of S. cerevisiae iso-1 cytochrome c (ycc ) immobilized on a decane-1-thiol coated gold electrode subjected to the denaturing action of urea were studied through variable temperature cyclic voltammetry and Surface-Enhanced Resonance Raman spectroscopy (SERRS). We found that the His/OH - axial heme iron coordination in both variants is unaffected by urea up to 7 M, although some conformational changes occur that increase exposure of the heme center to solvent. The thermodynamics of the unfolding process were determined with an unprecedented approach, which can be of general use for electroactive proteins. The free energy of unfolding for both variants includes relevant entropic contributions and is lower than that for the species carrying an intact Met/His coordination, consistent with the role of the axial Fe-(S)Met bond and the H-bond network involving Tyr67 in stabilizing the polypeptide matrix in the heme crevice. Their lower conformational stability results in a different interaction with the MUA/MU SAM compared to the His/Met ycc forms. Denaturation invariably slows down the heterogeneous electron transfer process, but its effect on the activation enthalpy and pre-exponential factor differs for the species with and without His/Met axial heme ligation. In particular, urea unfolding of the M80A and M80A/Y67A mutants lowers the structural restraint to the heterogeneous ET. Here we show that removal of the Met ligand and an increased accessibility of the heme center to solvent through partial protein unfolding– which mimic the molecular stress experienced by mammalian cytochromes c upon binding to cardiolipin in the early events of apoptosis - add up to transform cytochrome c into an efficient electrocatalyst toward the reduction of hydrogen peroxide and nitrite.

2019 - Development of a Desmocollin-3 Active Mouse Model Recapitulating Human Atypical Pemphigus [Articolo su rivista]
Lotti, Roberta; Atene, Claudio Giacinto; Marconi, Alessandra; Di Rocco, Giulia; Reggiani Bonetti, L; Zanocco Marani, Tommaso; Pincelli, Carlo

Pemphigus vulgaris (PV) is a life-threatening mucocutaneous autoimmune blistering disease. It is often associated with autoantibodies to the desmosomal adhesion proteins Desmoglein 3 (DSG3) and Desmoglein 1 (DSG1). Recently, auto-antigens, such as desmocollins and others have been described in PV and in atypical pemphigus forms such as Pemphigus Herpetiformis (PH), Pemphigus Vegetans (PVeg), and Paraneoplastic Pemphigus (PP). Desmocollins belong to a cadherin subfamily that provides structure to the desmosomes and play an important role in cell-to-cell adhesion. In order to verify the pathogenic activity of anti-Desmocollin 3 (DSC3) antibodies, we developed an active disease model of pemphigus expressing anti-DSC3 autoantibodies or antiDSC3 and anti-DSG3 antibodies. This approach included the adoptive transfer of DSC3 and/or DSG3 lymphocytes to Rag2(-/-) immunodeficient mice that express DSC3 and DSG3. Our results show that the presence of anti-DSC3 auto-antibodies is sufficient to determine the appearance of a pathological phenotype relatable to pemphigus, but with features not completely super-imposable to those observed in the DSG3 active model, suggesting that the DSC3 active model might mimic the atypical pemphigus. Moreover, the presence of both anti-DSC3 and anti-DSG3 antibodies determines a more severe phenotype and a slower response to prednisolone. In conclusion, we have developed an adult DSC3 pemphigus mouse model that differs from the DSG3 model and supports the concept that antigens other than desmogleins may be responsible for different phenotypes in human pemphigus.

2019 - Electrocatalytic Properties of Immobilized Heme Proteins: Basic Principles and Applications [Articolo su rivista]
Ranieri, Antonio; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Sola, Marco; Borsari, Marco

Heme proteins encompass redox enzymes, electron transferases, and species for dioxygen transport and storage. Upon immobilization on a conductive surface, heme proteins can accomplish bioelectrocatalysis. In this process, they carry out oxidation or reduction of substrates at a solid electrode acting as electron acceptor or donor, respectively, thanks to electron transfer processes occurring at the interphase. The efficiency of bioelectrocatalysis depends on the electrical communication of the protein with the electrode surface, retention of protein structure upon adsorption and accessibility of the substrate to the active site. This Minireview outlines the main factors affecting bioelectrocatalysis by adsorbed heme proteins, highlights open issues, and summarizes recent advances in the field.

2019 - Enamel peptides reveal the sex of the Late Antique ‘Lovers of Modena’ [Articolo su rivista]
Lugli, F.; Di Rocco, G.; Vazzana, A.; Genovese, F.; Pinetti, D.; Cilli, E.; Carile, M. C.; Silvestrini, S.; Gabanini, G.; Arrighi, S.; Buti, L.; Bortolini, E.; Cipriani, A.; Figus, C.; Marciani, G.; Oxilia, G.; Romandini, M.; Sorrentino, R.; Sola, M.; Benazzi, S.

Recent work has disclosed the critical role played by enamel peptides in sex classification of old skeletal remains. In particular, protein AMELY (amelogenin isoform Y) is present in the enamel dental tissue of male individuals only, while AMELX (isoform X) can be found in both sexes. AMELY can be easily detected by LC-MS/MS in the ion extracted chromatograms of the SM(ox)IRPPY peptide (monoisotopic [M + 2 H]+2 mass = 440.2233 m/z). In this paper, we exploited the dimorphic features of the amelogenin protein to determine the sex of the so-called ‘Lovers of Modena’, two Late Antique individuals whose skeletons were intentionally buried hand-in-hand. Upon discovery, mass media had immediately assumed they were a male-female couple, even if bad preservation of the bones did not allow an effective sex classification. We were able to extract proteins from the dental enamel of both individuals (~1600 years old) and to confidently classify them as males. Results were compared to 14 modern and archaeological control samples, confirming the reliability of the ion chromatogram method for sex determination. Although we currently have no information on the actual relationship between the ‘Lovers of Modena’ (affective? Kin-based?), the discovery of two adult males intentionally buried hand-in-hand may have profound implications for our understanding of funerary practices in Late Antique Italy.

2019 - Myoglobinopathy is an adult-onset autosomal dominant myopathy with characteristic sarcoplasmic inclusions [Articolo su rivista]
Olivé, Montse; Engvall, Martin; Ravenscroft, Gianina; Cabrera-Serrano, Macarena; Jiao, Hong; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Pignataro, Marcello; Lambrughi, Matteo; Jiang, Haibo; Forrest, Alistair R. R.; Benseny-Cases, Núria; Hofbauer, Stefan; Obinger, Christian; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Bellei, Marzia; Borsari, Marco; Di Rocco, Giulia; Viola, Helena M.; Hool, Livia C.; Cladera, Josep; Lagerstedt-Robinson, Kristina; Xiang, Fengqing; Wredenberg, Anna; Miralles, Francesc; José Baiges, Juan; Malfatti, Edoardo; Romero, Norma B.; Streichenberger, Nathalie; Vial, Christophe; Claeys, Kristl G.; Straathof, Chiara S. M.; Goris, An; Freyer, Christoph; Lammens, Martin; Bassez, Guillaume; Kere, Juha; Clemente, Paula; Sejersen, Thomas; Udd, Bjarne; Vidal, Noemí; Ferrer, Isidre; Edström, Lars; Wedell, Anna; Laing, Nigel G.

Myoglobin, encoded by MB, is a small cytoplasmic globular hemoprotein highly expressed in cardiac myocytes and oxidative skeletal myofibers. Myoglobin binds O2, facilitates its intracellular transport and serves as a controller of nitric oxide and reactive oxygen species. Here, we identify a recurrent c.292C>T (p.His98Tyr) substitution in MB in fourteen members of six European families suffering from an autosomal dominant progressive myopathy with highly characteristic sarcoplasmic inclusions in skeletal and cardiac muscle. Myoglobinopathy manifests in adulthood with proximal and axial weakness that progresses to involve distal muscles and causes respiratory and cardiac failure. Biochemical characterization reveals that the mutant myoglobin has altered O2 binding, exhibits a faster heme dissociation rate and has a lower reduction potential compared to wild-type myoglobin. Preliminary studies show that mutant myoglobin may result in elevated superoxide levels at the cellular level. These data define a recognizable muscle disease associated with MB mutation.

2019 - Probing the Effect of Sildenafil on Progesterone and Testosterone Production by an Intracellular FRET/BRET Combined Approach [Articolo su rivista]
Casarini, L.; Riccetti, L.; Limoncella, Silvia; Lazzaretti, C.; Barbagallo, F.; Pacifico, S.; Guerrini, R.; Tagliavini, S.; Trenti, T.; Simoni, M.; Sola, M.; Di Rocco, G.

Forster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based biosensors have been recently applied to the study of biological pathways. In this study, a new biosensor was validated for the first time in live HEK293 and steroidogenic MLTC-1 cell lines for studying the effect of the PDE5 inhibitor on the hCG/LH-induced steroidogenic pathway. The sensor improves FRET between a donor (D), the fluorescein-like diarsenical probe that can covalently bind a tetracysteine motif fused to the PDE5 catalytic domain, and an acceptor (A), the rhodamine probe conjugated to the pseudosubstrate cGMPS. Affinity constant (Kd) values of 5.6 ± 3.2 and 13.7 ± 0.8 μM were obtained with HEK293 and MLTC-1 cells, respectively. The detection was based on the competitive displacement of the cGMPS-rhodamine conjugate by sildenafil; the Ki values were 3.6 ± 0.3 nM (IC50 = 2.3 nM) in HEK293 cells and 10 ± 1.0 nM (IC50 = 3.9 nM) in MLTC-1 cells. The monitoring of both cAMP and cGMP by bioluminescence resonance energy transfer allowed the exploitation of the effects of PDE5i on steroidogenesis, indicating that sildenafil enhanced the gonadotropin-induced progesterone-to-testosterone conversion in a cAMP-independent manner.

2019 - Scouting Sigma Receptor Ligands As New Tools For The Treatment Of Neurodegenerative Diseases And Cancer [Relazione in Atti di Convegno]
Sorbi, C.; Linciano, P.; Tait, A.; Atene, C. G.; Guglielmo, L.; Di Rocco, G.; Ronsisvalle, S.; Denora, N.; Imbriano, C.; Rigillo, G.; Fossa, P.; Cichero, E.; Benassi, L.; Vaschieri, C.; Marocchi, F.; Lanfrancone, M. L.; Brasili, L.; Franchini, S.

Sigma receptors (Rs) are nowadays recognized as an unique class of membrane receptors divided into two subtypes, R and R. Rs regulate a number of physiological functions and their role has been evaluated in many disorders. Deficits in R are associated with neurodegeneration while their activation may represent a valuable strategy for the treatment of a number of neurodegenerative disorders. Moreover, R is overexpressed in a variety of cancer cells and selective R antagonists are reported to modulate cancer cell viability.1 R are also highly expressed proliferating tumors. R agonists are giving promising results in preclinical studies for the treatment of resistant or hardly treatable tumors and R ligands have been proposed as biomarkers for tumors proliferation.2 However, the identification of potent and selective ligands and the comprehension of the chemical features behind agonism/antagonism still remain a primary challenge in this field. With this aim, following a ligand-based approach, a library of over 120 ligands have been designed and synthesized over the years, by combining different substituted five-membered heterocyclic rings with appropriate R pharmacophoric amines. Compounds were tested for R and R affinity showing Ki values in the micromolar / sub-nanomolar range, with a selectivity mainly shifted toward the R. A detailed SAR, supported by molecular modelling, was drawn up. The intrinsic activity was determined in vivo for the most promising molecules. According to their profile, R agonists were tested for neuroprotection, whereas R antagonists / R agonists for anticancer activity. Preliminary results in SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells showed the ability of some compounds to protect neuronal cells from death induced by four toxicity models. Cell viability assays were performed on different cancer cell lines to assess the anti-proliferative potential of selected molecules. In particular, dose and time dependent treatments were done on prostate cancer cells, which express higher levels of both R and R compared to normal samples. Similarly, we assessed the effect of the compounds on melanoma cells: BS148, a potent and selective R agonist, showed anti-proliferative activity on immortalized and PDX (metastatic melanoma patient-derived xenografts) cell lines.3 Confocal microscopy studies with BS148 fluorescent probe revealed the internalization of BS148 within melanoma cells, with a cytoplasmatic localization, mostly in the perinuclear region, according to R distribution. Finally, to verify whether TMEM97 / R mediates BS148-antiproliferative activity, we stably overexpressed the TMEM97 gene in HeLa cells: TMEM97-Hela were more sensitive to BS148 anti-proliferative activity compared to control cells, which express endogenous R levels. Taken together, these results support the idea that R is an innovative target in cancer, paving the way for improved tools for cancer diagnosis, monitoring and therapy.

2018 - Alcohol Pattern Consumption Differently Affects the Efficiency of Macrophage Reverse Cholesterol Transport in Vivo [Articolo su rivista]
Greco, Daniela; Battista, Simone; Mele, Laura; Piemontese, Antonio; Papotti, Bianca; Cavazzini, Stefania; Potì, Francesco; Di Rocco, Giulia; Poli, Andrea; Bernini, Franco; Zanotti, Ilaria

It has been well established that moderate alcohol consumption inversely correlates with cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, whereas binge alcohol drinking increases cardiovascular disease risk. The aim of this study was to assess in vivo the impact of different drinking patterns on reverse cholesterol transport (RCT); the atheroprotective process leading to the removal of excess cholesterol from the body. RCT was measured with a standardized, radioisotope-based technique in three groups of atherosclerosis-prone apolipoprotein E knock out mice: Placebo group, receiving water, which would mimic the abstainers; moderate group, receiving 0.8 g/kg alcohol/day for 28 days, which would mimic a moderate intake; binge group, receiving 0.8 g/kg alcohol/day for 5 days/week, followed by the administration of 2.8 g/kg alcohol/day for 2 days/week, which would mimic a heavy intake in a short period. Mice in the binge drinking group displayed an increase in total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c) and non-HDL-c (all p < 0.0001 vs. placebo), and a significantly reduced elimination of fecal cholesterol. The moderate consumption did not lead to any changes in circulating lipids, but slightly improved cholesterol mobilization along the RCT pathway. Overall, our data confirm the importance of considering not only the total amount, but also the different consumption patterns to define the impact of alcohol on cardiovascular risk.

2018 - Core-rod myopathy due to a novel mutation in BTB/POZ domain of KBTBD13 manifesting as late onset LGMD [Articolo su rivista]
Garibaldi, Matteo; Fattori, Fabiana; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Brochier, Guy; Labasse, Clemence; Verardo, Margherita; Servian-Morilla, Emilia; Gibellini, Lara; Pinti, Marcello; Di Rocco, Giulia; Raffa, Salvatore; Pennisi Elena, Maria; Bertini Enrico, Silvio; Paradas, Carmen; Romero Norma, Beatriz; Antonini, Giovanni.

Few genes (RYR1, NEB, ACTA1, CFL2, KBTBD13) have been associated with core-rod congenital myopathies [7]. KBTBD13 belongs to the Kelch-repeat super-family of proteins and is implicated in the ubiquitination pathway. Dominant mutations in KBTBD13 have been associated with a peculiar form of core-rod myopathy (NEM6) so far [10]. Childhood onset, slowly progressive proximal muscle weakness with characteristic slowness of movements and combination of nemaline rods, irregular shaped cores and unusual type2 fibres hypotrophy at muscle biopsy, were the main characteristics shared in all the affected members of the four KBTBD13 families reported in the literature [12]. We report on a 65 years old patient, of Sardinian origin, with atypical clinical and morphological presentation of NEM6 due to a novel mutation in KBTBD13 gene.

2018 - Fluorometric detection of protein-ligand engagement: The case of phosphodiesterase5 [Articolo su rivista]
Di Rocco, Giulia; Martinelli, Ilaria; Pacifico, Salvatore; Guerrini, Remo; Cichero, Elena; Fossa, Paola; Franchini, Silvia; Cardarelli, Silvia; Giorgi, Mauro; Sola, Marco; Ponterini, Glauco

Phosphodiesterases (PDEs) regulate the intracellular levels of cAMP and cGMP. The great clinical success of the PDE5 inhibitors, Sildenafil (Viagra), Vardenafil (Levitra) and Tadalafil (Cialis) has led to an increasing interest for this class of enzymes. Recent studies have shown a correlation between tumor growth and PDE5 overexpression, making PDE5-selective inhibitors promising candidates for cancer treatment. The search for such inhibitors rests today on radioactive assays. In this work, we exploit the conserved catalytic domain of the enzyme and propose a faster and safer method for detecting the binding of ligands and evaluate their affinities. The new approach takes advantage of Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) between, as the donor, a fluorescein-like diarsenical probe able to covalently bind a tetracysteine motif fused to the recombinant PDE5 catalytic domain and, as the acceptor, a rhodamine probe covalently bound to the pseudosubstrate cGMPS. The FRET efficiency decreases when a competitive ligand binds the PDE5 catalytic site and displaces the cGMPS-rhodamine conjugate. We have structurally investigated the PDE5/cGMPS-rhodamine complex by molecular modelling and have used the FRET signal to quantitatively characterize its binding equilibrium. Competitive displacement experiments were carried out with tadalafil and cGMPS. An adaptation of the competitive-displacement equilibrium model yielded the affinities for PDE5 of the incoming ligands, nano- and micromolar, respectively.

2018 - The influence of the Cys46/Cys55 disulfide bond on the redox and spectroscopic properties of human neuroglobin. [Articolo su rivista]
Bellei, Marzia; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Di Rocco, Giulia; Borsari, Marco; Lancellotti, Lidia; Ranieri, Antonio; Sola, Marco; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio

Neuroglobin is a monomeric globin containing a six-coordinate heme b, expressed in the nervous system, which exerts an important neuroprotective role. In the human protein (hNgb), Cys46 and Cys55 form an intramolecular disulfide bond under oxidizing conditions, whose cleavage induces a helix-to-strand rearrangement of the CD loop that strengthens the bond between the heme iron and the distal histidine. Hence, it is conceivable that the intramolecular disulfide bridge modulates the functionality of human neuroglobin by controlling exogenous ligand binding. In this work, we investigated the influence of the Cys46/Cys55 disulfide bond on the redox properties and on the pH-dependent conformational equilibria of hNgb, using Uv-vis spectroelectrochemistry, cyclic voltammetry, electronic absorption spectroscopy and magnetic circular dichroism (MCD). We found that the S-S bridge significantly affects the heme Fe(III) to Fe(II) reduction enthalpy (deltaH°’rc) and entropy (deltaS°’rc), mostly as a consequence of changes in the reduction-induced solvent reorganization effects, without affecting the axial ligand-binding interactions and the polarity and electrostatics of the heme environment. Between pH 3 and 12, the electronic properties of the heme of ferric hNgb are sensitive to five acid-base equilibria, which are scarcely affected by the Cys46/Cys55 disulfide bridge. The equilibria occurring at extreme pH values induce heme release, while those occurring between pH 5 and 10 alter the electronic properties of the heme without modifying its axial coordination and low spin state. They involve the sidechains of non-coordinating aminoacids close to the heme and at least one heme propionate.

2017 - Computational evidence support the hypothesis of neuroglobin also acting as an electron transfer species [Articolo su rivista]
Paltrinieri, Licia; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Borsari, Marco; Sola, Marco; Ranieri, Antonio; Zanetti Polzi, Laura; Daidone, Isabella; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto

Neuroglobin (Ngb) is a recently identified hexa-coordinated globin, expressed in the nervous system of humans. Its physiological role is still debated: one hypothesis is that Ngb serves as an electron transfer (ET) species, possibly by reducing cytochrome c and preventing it to initiate the apoptotic cascade. Here, we use the perturbed matrix method (PMM), a mixed quantum mechanics/molecular dynamics approach, to investigate the redox thermodynamics of two neuroglobins, namely the human Ngb and GLB-6 from invertebrate Caenorhabditis elegans. In particular, we calculate the reduction potential of the two globins, resulting in an excellent agreement with the experimental values, and we predict the reorganization energies, λ, which have not been determined experimentally yet. The calculated λ values match well those reported for known ET proteins and thereby support a potential involvement in vivo of the two globins in ET processes.

2017 - Corrigendum: Pre-amyloid oligomers budding:a metastatic mechanism of proteotoxicity [Articolo su rivista]
Bernini, F.; Malferrari, D.; Pignataro, M.; Bortolotti, C. A.; Di Rocco, G.; Lancellotti, L.; Kayed, R.; Borsari, M.; Del Monte, F.; Castellini, E.; Brigatti, M. F.

2016 - Excitation-Energy Transfer Paths from Tryptophans to Coordinated Copper Ions in Engineered Azurins: a Source of Observables for Monitoring Protein Structural Changes [Articolo su rivista]
DI ROCCO, Giulia; Bernini, Fabrizio; Borsari, Marco; Martinelli, Ilaria; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Ranieri, Antonio; Caselli, Monica; Sola, Marco; Ponterini, Glauco

The intrinsic fluorescence of recombinant proteins offers a powerful tool to detect and characterize structural changes induced by chemical or biological stimuli. We show that metal-ion binding to a hexahistidine tail can significantly broaden the range of such structurally sensitive fluorescence observables. Bipositive metal-ions as Cu2+, Ni2+ and Zn2+ bind 6xHis-tag azurin and its 6xHis-tagged R129W and W48A-R129W mutants with good efficiency and, thereby, quench their intrinsic fluorescence. Due to a much more favourable spectral overlap, the 6xHis-tag/Cu2+ complex(es) are the most efficient quenchers of both W48 and W129 emissions. Based on simple Förster-type dependence of energy-transfer efficiency on donor/acceptor distance, we can trace several excitation-energy transfer paths across the protein structure. Unexpected lifetime components in the azurin 6xHis-tag/Cu2+ complex emission decays reveal underneath complexity in the conformational landscape of these systems. The new tryptophan emission quenching paths provide additional signals for detecting and identifying protein structural changes.

2016 - Pre-amyloid oligomers budding:a metastatic mechanism of proteotoxicity [Articolo su rivista]
Bernini, Fabrizio; Malferrari, Daniele; Pignataro, Marcello; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Lancellotti, Lidia; Brigatti, Maria Franca; Kayed, Rakez; Borsari, Marco; Del Monte, Federica; Castellini, Elena

The pathological hallmark of misfolded protein diseases and aging is the accumulation of proteotoxic aggregates. However, the mechanisms of proteotoxicity and the dynamic changes in fiber formation and dissemination remain unclear, preventing a cure. Here we adopted a reductionist approach and used atomic force microscopy to define the temporal and spatial changes of amyloid aggregates, their modes of dissemination and the biochemical changes that may influence their growth. We show that pre-amyloid oligomers (PAO) mature to form linear and circular protofibrils, and amyloid fibers, and those can break reforming PAO that can migrate invading neighbor structures. Simulating the effect of immunotherapy modifies the dynamics of PAO formation. Anti-fibers as well as anti-PAO antibodies fragment the amyloid fibers, however the fragmentation using anti-fibers antibodies favored the migration of PAO. In conclusion, we provide evidence for the mechanisms of misfolded protein maturation and propagation and the effects of interventions on the resolution and dissemination of amyloid pathology.

2015 - High-resolution crystal structure of the recombinant diheme cytochrome c fromShewanella baltica(OS155) [Articolo su rivista]
DI ROCCO, Giulia

Multiheme cytochromes c (cyts c) are c-type cyts characterized by non-standard structural and spectroscopic properties. The relative disposition of the heme cofactors in the core of these proteins is conserved and they can be classified from their geometry in two main groups. In one group the porphyrin planes are arranged in a perpendicular fashion, while in the other they are parallel. Orientation of the heme groups is a key factor that regulates the intramolecular electron transfer pathway. A 16.5 kDa diheme cyt c, isolated from the bacterium Shewanella baltica OS155 (Sb-DHC), was cloned and expressed in E. coli and its structure was investigated by X-ray crystallography. Using high-resolution data (1.14 Å) collected at ELETTRA (Trieste), the crystal structure, with an orthorhombic cell (a = 40.81, b = 42.97, c = 82.07 Å), was solved using the homologous diheme from Rhodobacter sphaeroides (Rs-DHC) as the initial model. The electron density map of the refined structure (Rfact of 13.8% and Rfree of 15.4%) shows a two domain structure connected by a central unstructured region (N72-G87). The Sb-DHC, like its homologue (Rs-DHC), folds into a new cyt c class: the N-terminal globular domain, with its three α-helices, belongs to class I of c-type cyts, while the C-terminal domain includes a rare π-helix. The metal centre of the c-type heme groups is axially coordinated by two His residues and it is covalently bound to the protein through two Cys bonds.

2015 - Human Cofilin2: Towards the Comprehension of the Molecular Mechanism [Abstract in Atti di Convegno]
DI ROCCO, Giulia; Pignataro, Marcello; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Castellini, Elena; Lancellotti, Lidia; Borsari, Marco; Sola, Marco; Del Monte, F.

Cofilin is an evolutionarily highly conserved protein which belongs to the ADF/cofilin family involved in the regulation of actin-filament dynamics depolymerizing and/or severing actin filaments. Phosphorylation on serine 3 inactivates cofilin [1,2] by generation of a charge repulsion between cofilin and actin, which is thought to occur without altering the protein structure [3]. In terms of physiological functions, cofilin- 2 is the least understood member of this protein family, which is present predominantly in skeletal and cardiac muscle [4-6]. In reducing media, even phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate-bound cofilin is active, leading to actin dynamics in the vicinity of the plasma membrane. This mechanism has been proposed to explain why dendritic cells that are able to increase the thiol pool in antigen-specific T cells enable T cell activation even under oxidative stress conditions. On the contrary, cofilin is inactivated by oxidation, provoking T-cell hyporesponsiveness or necrotic-like programmed cell death [7]. In this study we present the production, the physico-chemical characterization and the modelled structure of the wt and the phosphorylated-mimicking S3D variant of the human cofilin2. The study allowed the evaluation of the structural differences between the active and the inactive protein while an electrochemical and fluorometric approach provided new data to increase in the understanding of the cofilin-action mechanism. 1. Agnew BJ, Minamide LS, Bamburg JR. J Biol Chem 1995; 270:17582–17587. 2. Moriyama K, Iida K, Yahara I. Genes Cells 1996; 1:73–86. 3. Blanchoin L, Robinson RC, Choe S, Pollard TD. J Mol Biol 2000;295:203–211. 4. Bernstein BW, Bamburg JR. Trends Cell Biol 2010;20(4):187–95. 5. Agrawal PB, Joshi M, Savic Tetal.. Hum Mol Genet. 2012 May 15; 21(10): 2341–2356 6. C. Thirion et al. (Eur. J. Biochem. 268)-2001 7. Y. Samstag, I. John, G. H. Wabnitz Immunological Reviews 256 (2013) 30-47.

2015 - Immobilized cytochrome c bound to cardiolipin exhibits peculiar oxidation state-dependent axial heme ligation and catalytically reduces dioxygen [Articolo su rivista]
Ranieri, Antonio; Millo, D.; Di Rocco, Giulia; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Borsari, Marco; Sola, Marco

Mitochondrial cytochrome c (cytc) plays an important role in programmed cell death upon binding to cardiolipin (CL), a negatively charged phospholipid of the inner mitochondrial membrane (IMM). Although this binding has been thoroughly investigated in solution, little is known on the nature and reactivity of the adduct (cytc–CL) immobilized at IMM. In this work, we have studied electrochemically cytc–CL immobilized on a hydrophobic self-assembled monolayer (SAM) of decane-1-thiol. This construct would reproduce the motional restriction and the nonpolar environment experienced by cytc–CL at IMM. Surface-enhanced resonance Raman (SERR) studies allowed the axial heme iron ligands to be identified, which were found to be oxidation state dependent and differ from those of cytc–CL in solution. In particular, immobilized cytc–CL experiences an equilibrium between a low-spin (LS) 6c His/His and a high-spin (HS) 5c His/− coordination states. The former prevails in the oxidized and the latter in the reduced form. Axial coordination of the ferric heme thus differs from the (LS) 6c His/Lys and (LS) 6c His/OH– states observed in solution. Moreover, a relevant finding is that the immobilized ferrous cytc–CL is able to catalytically reduce dioxygen, likely to superoxide ion. These findings indicate that restriction of motional freedom due to interaction with the membrane is an additional factor playing in the mechanism of cytc unfolding and cytc-mediated peroxidation functional to the apoptosis cascade.

2015 - Surface Immobilized His-tagged Azurin as a Model Interface for the Investigation of Vectorial Electron Transfer in Biological Systems [Articolo su rivista]
Casalini, Stefano; Berto, Marcello; Kovtun, Alessandro; Operamolla, Alessandra; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Facci, Paolo; Liscio, Andrea; Farinola, Gianluca M.; Borsari, Marco; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto

A model system for the electrochemical investigation of vectorial electron transfer in biological systems was designed, assembled and characterized. Gold electrodes, functionalized with a -OCH3 terminated, aromatic self-assembled monolayer, were used as a substrate for the adsorption of variants of copper- containing, redox metalloprotein azurin. The engineered azurin bears a polyhistidine tag at its C-terminus. Thanks to the presence of the solvent exposed tag, which chelates Cu2+ ions in solution, we introduced an exogenous redox centre. The different reduction potentials of the two redox centres and their positioning with respect to the surface are such that electron transfer from the exogenous copper centre and the electrode is mediated by the native azurin active site, closely paralleling electron transfer processes in naturally occurring multicentre metalloproteins

2015 - Thermodynamics and kinetics of reduction and species conversion at a hydrophobic surface for mitochondrial cytochromes c and their cardiolipin adducts [Articolo su rivista]
Ranieri, Antonio; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Millo, Diego; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Lancellotti, Lidia; Borsari, Marco; Sola, Marco

Cytochrome c(cytc) and its adduct with cardiolipin (CL) were immobilized on a hydrophobic SAM-coated electrode surface yielding a construct which mimics the environment experienced by the complex at the inner mitochondrial membrane where it plays a role in cell apoptosis. Under these conditions, both species undergo an equilibrium between a six-coordinated His/His-ligated and a five-coordinated His/- ligated forms stable in the oxidized and in the reduced state, respectively. The thermodynamics of the oxidation-state dependent species conversion were determined by temperature-dependent diffusionless voltammetry experiments. CL binding stabilizes the immobilized reduced His/- ligated form of cytc which was found previously to catalytically reduce dioxygen. Here, this adduct is also found to show pseudoperoxidase activity, catalysing reduction of hydrogen peroxide. These effects would impart CL with an additional role in the cytc-mediated peroxidation leading to programmed cell death. Moreover, Immobilized cytc exchanges electrons more slowly upon CL binding possibly due to changes in solvent reorganization effects at the protein-SAM interface.

2014 - Effect of motional restriction on the unfolding properties of a cytochrome c featuring a His/Met-His/His ligation switch [Articolo su rivista]
Ranieri, Antonio; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Borsari, Marco; Paltrinieri, Licia; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Sola, Marco

The K72A/K73H/K79A variant of cytochrome c undergoes a reversible change from a His/Met to a His/His axial heme ligation upon urea-induced unfolding slightly below neutral pH. The unfolded form displays a dramatically lower reduction potential than the folded species along with a pseudo-peroxidase activity. We have studied electrochemically the effects of urea-induced unfolding on the protein electrostatically immobilized on an electrode surface functionalized by means of a negatively charged molecular spacer. The latter mimics the electrostatic interaction with the inner mitochondrial membrane. This behavior has been compared with the unfolding of the same species in solution. This system constitutes a model to decipher the role of the above electrostatic interaction in the unfolding of cytochrome c at physiological pH upon interaction with the membrane component phospholipid cardiolipin in the early stages of the apoptosis cascade. We found that immobilization obstacles protein unfolding due to structural constraints at the interface imposed by protein-SAM interaction.

2013 - Axial iron coordination and spin state change in a heme c upon electrostatic protein–SAM interaction [Articolo su rivista]
DI ROCCO, Giulia; Ranieri, Antonio; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Alois, Bonifacio; Valter, Sergo; Borsari, Marco; Sola, Marco

A bacterial di-heme cytochrome c binds electrostatically to a gold electrode surface coated with a negatively charged COOH-terminated SAM adopting a sort of 'perpendicular' orientation. Cyclic voltammetry, Resonance Raman and SERRS spectroscopies indicate that the high-potential C-terminal heme center proximal to the SAM's surface undergoes an adsorption-induced swapping of one axial His ligand with a water molecule, which is probably lost in the reduced form, and a low- to high-spin transition. This coordination change for a bis-His ligated heme center upon an electrostatically-driven molecular recognition is as yet unprecedented, as well as the resulting increase in reduction potential. We discuss it in comparison with the known methionine ligand lability in monoheme cytochromes c occurring upon interaction with charged molecular patches. One possible implication of this finding in biological ET is that mobile redox partners do not behave as rigid and invariant bodies, but in the ET complex are subjected to molecular changes and structural fluctuations that affect in a complex way the thermodynamics and the kinetics of the process.

2013 - Enhancing Biocatalysis: The Case of Cytochrome c Unfolded Immobilized on Kaolinite [Articolo su rivista]
Castellini, Elena; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Bernini, Fabrizio; Ranieri, Antonio

Urea-unfolded wild-type cytochrome c and its variants immobilized on kaolinite show peroxidase activity that is significantly higher than that of the folded wild-type protein. The accessibility of the substrate to the metal center and the influence of strategic amino acidic residues on the surface of the protein are discussed. This approach sheds light on the factors affecting the catalytic activity of a new versatile biocatalytic interface.

2013 - Voltammetry of the cytochrome c-cardiolipin complex in the immobilized state. Implications in apoptosis initiation [Abstract in Rivista]
DI ROCCO, Giulia; Ranieri, Antonio; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Borsari, Marco; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Sola, Marco

A voltammetric behavior of the complex cytochrome c -Cardiolipin adsorbed on modified gold electrodes has been described

2012 - A Bis-Histidine-Ligated Unfolded Cytochrome c Immobilized on Anionic SAM Shows Pseudo-Peroxidase Activity [Articolo su rivista]
Ranieri, Antonio; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Borsari, Marco; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Monari, Stefano; Sola, Marco

Urea-unfolded yeast iso-1-cytochrome c electrostatically adsorbed on a gold electrode coated with an anionic self-assembled monolayer yields a heme-mediated electrocatalytic reduction of H2O2 (pseudo-peroxidase activity). Under the same conditions, native cytochrome c is inactive. In the unfolded protein, the Met80 heme iron ligand is replaced by a histidine residue yielding a bis-His-ligated form. H2O2 electrocatalysis occurs with an efficient mechanism likely involving direct H2O2 interaction with the iron(II) center and formation of a transient ferryl group. Comparison of the catalytic activity of a few urea-unfolded single and double Lys-to-Ala variants shows that the kinetic affinity of H2O2 for the heme iron and kcat of the bis-His-ligated form are strongly affected by the geometry of protein adsorption, controlled by specific surface lysine residues.

2012 - Role of Met80 and Tyr67 in the Low-pH Conformational Equilibria ofCytochrome c [Articolo su rivista]
Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Bellei, Marzia; DI ROCCO, Giulia; J., Salewski; P., Hildebrandt; Sola, Marco

The low-pH conformational equilibria of ferricyeast iso-1 cytochrome c (ycc) and its M80A, M80A/Y67H, andM80A/Y67A variants were studied from pH 7 to 2 at low ionicstrength through electronic absorption, magnetic circulardichroism, and resonance Raman spectroscopies. For wild-typeycc, the protein structure, axial heme ligands, and spin state ofthe iron atom convert from the native folded His/Met low-spin(LS) form to a molten globule His/H2O high-spin (HS) formand a totally unfolded bis-aquo HS state, in a single cooperativetransition with an apparent pKa of ∼3.0. An analogouscooperative transition occurs for the M80A and M80A/Y67H variants. This is preceded by protonation of heme propionate-7, with a pKa of ∼4.2, and by an equilibrium between a His/OH−-ligated LS and a His/H2O-ligated HS conformer, with a pKa of∼5.9. In the M80A/Y67A variant, the cooperative low-pH transition is split into two distinct processes because of an increasedstability of the molten globule state that is formed at higher pH values than the other species. These data show that removal ofthe axial methionine ligand does not significantly alter the mechanism of acidic unfolding and the ranges of stability of low-pHconformers. Instead, removal of a hydrogen bonding partner at position 67 increases the stability of the molten globule andrenders cytochrome c more susceptible to acid unfolding. This underlines the key role played by Tyr67 in stabilizing the threedimensionalstructure of cytochrome c by means of the hydrogen bonding network connecting the Ω loops formed by residues71−85 and 40−57.

2012 - pH and Solvent H/D Isotope Effects on the Thermodynamics and Kinetics of Electron Transfer for Electrode-Immobilized Native and Urea-Unfolded Stellacyanin [Articolo su rivista]
Ranieri, Antonio; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Borsari, Marco; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Sola, Marco

The thermodynamics of Cu(II) to Cu(I) reduction and the kinetics of the electron transfer (ET) process for Rhus vernicifera stellacyanin (STC) immobilized on a decane-1-thiol coated gold electrode have been measured through cyclic voltammetry at varying pH and temperature, in the presence of urea and in D2O. Immobilized STC undergoes a limited conformational change that mainly results in an enhanced exposure of one or both copper binding histidines to solvent which slightly stabilizes the cupric state and increases histidine basicity. The large immobilization-induced increase in the pKa for the acid transition (from 4.5 to 6.3) makes this electrode-SAM-protein construct an attractive candidate as a biomolecular ET switch operating near neutral pH in molecular electronics. Such a potential interest is increased by the robustness of this interface against chemical unfolding as it undergoes only moderate changes in the reduction thermodynamics and in the ET rate in the presence of up to 8 M urea. The sensitivity of these parameters to solvent H/D isotope effects testifies the role of protein solvation as effector of the thermodynamics and kinetics of ET.

2011 - Cloning, Expression and Physico-Chemical Characterization of a New Di-Heme Cytochrome c from Shewanella baltica OS155. [Articolo su rivista]
DI ROCCO, Giulia; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; Borsari, Marco; Ferrari, Erika; Monari, Stefano; Sola, Marco

The 16 kDa di-heme cytochrome c from the bacterium Shewanella baltica OS155 (Sb-DHC) was cloned and expressed in E. coli and investigated through UV-Vis, MCD and 1H NMR spectroscopies and protein voltammetry. The model structure was obtained by means of comparative modeling using the X-ray structure of Rhodobacter sphaeroides di-heme cytochrome c (DHC) (with a 37% pairwise sequence identity) as a template. Sb-DHC folds into two distinct domains, each containing one heme center with a bis-His axial ligation. Both secondary and tertiary structures of the N-terminal domain resemble those of class I cytochrome c, displaying three -helices and a compact overall folding. The C-terminal domain is less helical, as the corresponding domain of R. sphaeroides DHC. The two heme groups are bridged by Tyr26 in correspondence of the shortest edge-to-edge distance, a feature which would facilitate fast internal electron transfer. The electronic properties of the two prosthetic centers are equivalent and sensitive to two acid-base equilibria with pKa values of approximately 2.4 and 5, likely corresponding to protonation and detachment of the axial His ligands from the heme iron and ionization of the heme propionate-7, respectively. Reduction potentials of -0.144 and -0.257 V (vs SHE), were determined for the C- and N-terminal heme group, respectively. An approach based on the extended Debye-Hückel equation was applied for the first time to a two-centered metalloprotein and found to reproduce successfully the ionic strength dependence of E°’.

2010 - Electron Transfer Properties and Hydrogen Peroxide, Electrocatalysis of Cytochrome c Variants at Positions 67 and 80 [Articolo su rivista]
Casalini, Stefano; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Borsari, Marco; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Ranieri, Antonio; Sola, Marco

Replacement of the axial Met80 heme ligand in electrode-immobilized cytochrome c with a noncoordinatingAla residue and alteration of the hydrogen bonding network in the region nearby following substitution ofTyr67 were investigated as effectors of the thermodynamics and kinetics of the protein-electrode electrontransfer (ET) and the heme-mediated electrocatalytic reduction of H2O2. To this end, the voltammetry of theMet80Ala, Met80Ala/Tyr67His, and Met80Ala/Tyr67Ala variants of yeast iso-1-cytochrome c chemisorbedon carboxyalkanethiol self-assembled monolayers was measured at varying temperature and hydrogen peroxideconcentration. The thermodynamic study shows that insertion of His and Ala residues in place of Tyr67results mainly in differences in protein-solvent interactions at the heme crevice with no relevant effects onthe Eo′ values at pH 7, which for single and double variants range from approximately -0.200 to -0.220 V(vs SHE). On the contrary, both double variants show much lower ET rates compared to Met80Ala, mostlikely as a consequence of a change in the ET pathways. In the present nondenaturing immobilizing conditions,and with hydrogen peroxide concentrations in the micromolar range, the variants catalyze H2O2 reduction atthe electrode, whereas wild-type cytochrome c does not. H2O2 electrocatalysis occurs with an efficientmechanism likely involving a fast catalase-like process followed by electrocatalytic reduction of the resultingdioxygen at the electrode. Comparison of Met80Ala/Tyr67His with Met80Ala/Tyr67Ala shows that the presenceof a general acid-base residue for H2O2 recognition and binding through H-bonding in the distal heme siteis a key requisite for the reductive turnover of this substrate.

2010 - The impact of urea-induced unfolding on the redox process of immobilised cytochrome c [Articolo su rivista]
Monari, Stefano; Diego, Millo; Ranieri, Antonio; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Gert van der, Zwan; Cees, Gooijer; Peressini, Silvia; Claudio, Tavagnacco; Peter, Hildebrandt; Borsari, Marco

We have studied the effect of urea-induced unfolding on the electron transfer process of yeast iso-1-cytochrome c and its mutant K72AK73AK79A adsorbed on electrodes coated by mixed 11-mercapto-1-undecanoic acid/11-mercapto-1-undecanol self-assembled monolayers. Electrochemical measurements, complemented by surface enhanced resonance Raman studies, indicate two distinct states of the adsorbed proteins that mainly differ with respect to the ligation pattern of the haem. The native state, in which the haem is axially coordinated by Met80 and His18, displays a reduction potential that slightly shifts to negative values with increasing urea concentration. At urea concentrations higher than 6 M, a second state prevails in which the Met80 ligand is replaced by an additional histidine residue. This structural change in the haem pocket is associated with an approximately 0.4 V shift of the reduction potential to negative values. These two states were found for both the wild-type protein and the mutant in which lysine residues 72, 73 and 79 had been substituted by alanines. The analysis of the reduction potentials, the reaction enthalpies and entropies as well as the rate constants indicates that these three lysine residues have an important effect on stabilising the protein structure in the adsorbed state and facilitating the electron transfer dynamics.

2009 - Heterogeneous Electron Transfer of a Two-Centered Heme Protein: Redox and Electrocatalytic Properties of Surface-Immobilized Cytochrome c4 [Articolo su rivista]
Monari, Stefano; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Borsari, Marco; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Martini, Laura; Ranieri, Antonio; Sola, Marco

The recombinant di-heme cytochrome c4 from the psycrophilic bacterium Pseudoalteromonas haloplanktis TAC 125 and its Met64Ala and Met164Ala variants, which feature an hydroxide ion axially bound to the heme iron at the N- and C-terminal domain, respectively, were found to exchange electrons efficiently with a gold electrode coated with a SAM of 11-mercapto-1-undecanoic acid. The mutation-induced removal of the redox equivalence of the two heme groups facilitates analysis of the heterogeneous and intra-heme electron transfer for these two-centered systems in which the high- and low-potential heme are swept over in the bilobal protein framework. The voltammetric behavior of these species, which experience a constrained (M64A) and unconstrained (M164A) orientation toward the electrode, unequivocally shows that intra-heme electron transfer is activated only in the immobilized proteins, as proposed previously for the homologous species from Pseudomonas stutzeri. T-dependent kinetic measurements show that for both proteins the C-lobe faces the HOOC-terminated SAM-coated electrode at a distance of slightly more than 7 Å. The reduction thermodynamics for the native and mutated heme (measured for the first time for a di-heme cytochrome c) in the diffusing regime reproduce closely those for the corresponding centers in single-heme class-I cytochromes c, despite the low sequence identity. Larger differences are observed in the thermodynamics of the immobilized species and in the heterogeneous electron transfer rate constants. Protein-electrode orientation and efficient intra-heme ET enable the His,OH--ligated heme A of the immobilized Met64Ala variant to carry out the reductive electrocatalysis of molecular oxygen. This system therefore constitutes an unprecedented two-centered heme-base biocatalytic interface to be exploited for “third-generation” amperometric biosensing.

2009 - Redox Thermodynamics of cytochrome c subjected to urea induced unfolding [Articolo su rivista]
Monari, Stefano; Ranieri, Antonio; DI ROCCO, Giulia; G., van der Zwan; S., Peressini; C., Tavagnacco; D., Millo; Borsari, Marco

The thermodynamics of the electron transfer (ET) process for beef heart and yeast cytochromes c and the Lys72Ala/Lys73Ala/Lys79Ala mutant of the latter species subjected to progressive urea-induced unfolding was determined electrochemically. The results indicate the presence of at least three protein forms which were assigned to a low-temperature and a high-temperature His-Met intermediate species and a bis-histidinate form (although the presence of a His-Lys form cannot be excluded). The much lower E°’ value of the bis-histidinate conformer as compared to His-Met ligated species is largely determined by the enthalpic contribution induced by axial ligand substitution. The biphasic E°’ vs. T profile for the His-Met species is due to a difference in reduction entropy between the conformers at low and high temperatures. Enthalpy-entropy compensation phenomena for the reduction reaction at varying urea concentration for all the forms of the investigated cytochromes c were addressed and discussed

2009 - Thermodynamic Aspects of the Adsorption of Cytochrome c and Its Mutants on Kaolinite [Articolo su rivista]
Castellini, Elena; Ranieri, Antonio; Domenico A., Simari; Di Rocco, Giulia

The adsorption of native, wild-type and engineered cytochrome c on sodium-exchanged kaolinite was investigated by spectroscopic means. The variants of yeast cytochrome c were obtained replacing surface lysines in position 72, 73 and 79 with alanine residues. All proteins are strongly adsorbed onto kaolinite. In particular, the presence of the lysine residue in position 73 remarkably favors adsorption. A detailed characterization of the thermodynamic aspects of the adsorption process has been performed. Most notably, adsorbed cytochrome c maintains its moderate peroxidase activity against guaiacol. This investigation is prodromal to the exploitation of the catalytic activity of engineered cytochrome c immobilized on a polydisperse system.

2008 - A new type of metal-binding site in cobalt- and zinc- containing adenylate kinases isolated from sulfate-reducers Desulfovibrio gigas and Desulfovibrio desulfuricans ATCC 27774 [Articolo su rivista]
O., Yu Gavel; S. A., Bursakov; DI ROCCO, Giulia; J., Trincao; I. J., Pickering; G. N., George; J. J., Calvete; V. L., Shnyrov; C. D., Brondino; A. S., Pereira; J., Lampreia; P., Tavares; J. J. G., Moura; I., Moura

Adenylate kinase (AK) mediates the reversible transfer of phosphate groups between the adenylate nucleotides and contributes to the maintenance of their constant cellular level, necessary for energy metabolism and nucleic acid synthesis. The AK were purified from crude extracts of two sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB), Desulfovibrio (D.) gigas NCIB 9332 and Desulfovibrio desulfuricans ATCC 27774, and biochemically and spectroscopically characterised in the native and fully cobalt- or zinc-substituted forms. These are the first reported adenylate kinases that bind either zinc or cobalt and are related to the subgroup of metal-containing AK found, in most cases, in Gram-positive bacteria. The electronic absorption spectrum is consistent with tetrahedral coordinated cobalt, predominantly via sulfur ligands, and is supported by EPR. The involvement of three cysteines in cobalt or zinc coordination was confirmed by chemical methods. Extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) indicate that cobalt or zinc are bound by three cysteine residues and one histidine in the metal-binding site of the “LID” domain. The sequence 129Cys-X5-His-X15-Cys-X2-Cys of the AK from D. gigas is involved in metal coordination and represents a new type of binding motif that differs from other known zinc-binding sites of AK. Cobalt and zinc play a structural role in stabilizing the LID domain.

2008 - Cloning, expression and physico-chemical characterization of a di-heme cytochrome c4 from the psychrophilic bacterium Pseudoalteromonas haloplanktis TAC 125 [Articolo su rivista]
DI ROCCO, Giulia; Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Borsari, Marco; DE RIENZO, Francesca; Ranieri, Antonio; M. L., Tutino; Sola, Marco

The 20-kDa di-heme cytochrome c4 from thepsycrophilic bacterium Pseudoalteromonas haloplanktisTAC 125 was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli andinvestigated through UV–vis and 1H NMR spectroscopiesand protein voltammetry. The model structure was computedusing the X-ray structure of Pseudomonas stutzericytochrome c4 as a template. The protein shows unprecedentedproperties within the cytochrome c4 family,including (1) an almost nonpolar surface charge distribution,(2) the absence of high-spin heme Fe(III) states,indicative of a thermodynamically stable and kineticallyinert axial heme His,Met coordination, and (3) identical E0values for the two heme centers (+0.322 V vs the standardhydrogen elecrode). At pH extremes, both heme groupsundergo the ‘‘acid’’ and ‘‘alkaline’’ conformational transitionstypical of class I cytochromes c, involving ligandexchangeequilibria, whereas at intermediate pH valuestheir electronic properties are sensitive to several residueionizations.

2007 - Effects of mutational (Lys to Ala) surface charge changes on the redox properties of electrode-immobilized cytochrome c [Articolo su rivista]
Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Borsari, Marco; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Ranieri, Antonio; Sola, Marco

Untrimethylated yeast iso-1-cytochrome c (cytc) and its single and multiple Lys to Ala variants at the surfacelysines 72, 73, and 79 were adsorbed on carboxyalkanethiol self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) on gold, andthe thermodynamics and kinetics of the heterogeneous protein-electrode electron-transfer (ET) reaction weredetermined by voltammetry. The reaction thermodynamics were also measured for the same species freelydiffusing in solution. The selected lysine residues surround the heme group and contribute to the positivelycharged domain of cytc involved in the binding to redox partners and to carboxyl-terminated SAM-coatedsurfaces. The E°¢ (standard reduction potential) values for the proteins immobilized on SAMs made of 11-mercapto-1-undecanoic acid and 11-mercapto-1-undecanol on gold were found to be lower than those for thecorresponding diffusing species owing to the stabilization of the ferric state by the negatively charged SAM.For the immobilized proteins, Lys to Ala substitution(s) do not affect the surface coverage, but induce significantchanges in the E°¢ values, which do not simply follow the Coulomb law. The results suggest that the speciesdependentorientation of the protein (and thereby of the heme group) toward the negatively charged SAMinfluences the electrostatic interaction and the resulting E°¢ change. Moreover, these charge suppressionsmoderately affect the kinetics of the heterogeneous ET acting on the reorganization energy and the donoracceptordistance. The kinetic data suggest that none of the studied lysines belong to the interfacial ET pathway.

2007 - Free energy of transition for the individual alkaline conformers of yeast iso-1-cytochrome c [Articolo su rivista]
Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Borsari, Marco; DE RIENZO, Francesca; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Ranieri, Antonio; Sola, Marco

Direct protein electrochemistry was used to obtain the thermodynamic parameters of transition from the native (state III) to the alkaline (state IV) conformer for untrimethylated Saccharomyces cerevisiae iso-1-cytochrome c expressed in E. coli and its single and multiple lysine-depleted variants. In these variants, one or more of the lysine residues involved in axial Met substitution (Lys72, Lys73, and Lys79) was mutated to alanine. The aim of this work is to determine the thermodynamic affinity of each of the substituting lysines for the heme iron and evaluate the interplay of enthalpic and entropic factors. The equilibrium constants for the deprotonation reaction of Lys72, 73, and 79 were computed for the minimized MD average structures of the wild-type and mutated proteins, applying a modified Tanford-Kirkwood calculation. Solvent accessibility calculations for the substituting lysines in all variants were also performed. The transition enthalpy and entropy values within the protein series show a compensatory behavior, typical of a process involving extensive solvent reorganization effects. The experimental and theoretical data indicate that Lys72 most readily deprotonates and replaces M80 as the axial heme iron ligand, whereas Lys73 and Lys79 show comparably higher pK(a) values and larger transition free energies. A good correlation is found within the series between the lowest calculated Lys pK(a) value and the corresponding experimental pK(a) value, which can be interpreted as indicative of the deprotonating lysine itself acting as the triggering group for the conformational transition. The triple Lys to Ala mutant, in which no lysine residues are available for heme iron binding, features transition thermodynamics consistent with a hydroxide ion replacing the axial methionine ligand.

2007 - Thermodynamics of the alkaline transition in phytocyanins [Articolo su rivista]
Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Bellei, Marzia; C., Dennison; DI ROCCO, Giulia; K., Sato; Sola, Marco; S., Yanagisawa

The thermodynamics of the alkaline transitionwhich influences the spectral and redox properties of thetype 1 copper center in phytocyanins has been determinedspectroscopically. The proteins investigated include Rhusvernicifera stellacyanin, cucumber basic protein and itsMet89Gln variant, and umecyanin, the stellacyanin fromhorseradish roots, along with its Gln95Met variant. Thechanges in reaction enthalpy and entropy within the proteinseries show partial compensatory behavior. Thus, thereaction free energy change (hence the pKa value) is rathervariable. This indicates that species-dependent differencesin reaction thermodynamics, although containing animportant contribution from changes in the hydrogenbondingnetwork of water molecules in the hydrationsphere of the protein (which feature enthalpy–entropycompensation), are to a large extent protein-based. Thedata for axial ligand variants are consistent with thehypothesis of a copper-binding His as the deprotonatingresidue responsible for this transition.

2006 - Spectroscopic characterization of a high-potential Lipo-cupredoxin found in Streptomyces coelicolor [Articolo su rivista]
J. A. R., Worrall; M. C., Machczynski; B. J. F., Keijser; DI ROCCO, Giulia; S., Ceola; M., Ubbink; E., Vijenboom; G. W., Canters

For many streptomycetes, a distinct dependence on the “bioavailability” of copper ions for their morphological development has been reported. Analysis of the Streptomyces coelicolor genome reveals a number of gene products encoding for putative copper-binding proteins. One of these appears as an unusual copper-binding protein with a lipoprotein signal sequence and a cupredoxin-like domain harboring a putative Type-1 copper-binding motif. Cloning of this gene from S. coelicolor and subsequent heterologous expression in Escherichia coli has allowed for a thorough spectroscopic interrogation of this putative copper-binding protein. Optical and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopies have confirmed the presence of a “classic” Type-1 copper site with the axial ligand to the copper a methionine. Paramagnetic NMR spectroscopy on both the native Cu(II) form and Co(II)-substituted protein has yielded active-site structural information, which on comparison with that of other cupredoxin active sites reveals metal-ligand interactions most similar to the “classic” Type-1 copper site found in the amicyanin family of cupredoxins. Despite this high structural similarity, the Cu(II)/(I) midpoint potential of the S. coelicolor protein is an unprecedented +605 mV vs normal hydrogen electrode at neutral pH (amicyanin +250 mV), with no active-site protonation of the N-terminal His ligand observed. Suggestions for the physiological role/function of this high-potential cupredoxin are discussed.

2005 - Axial ligation and polypeptide matrix effects on the reduction potential of heme proteins probed on their cyanide adducts [Articolo su rivista]
Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Bellei, Marzia; Borsari, Marco; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Ranieri, Antonio; Sola, Marco

The enthalpic and entropic changes accompanying the reduction reaction of the six-coordinate cyanide adducts of cytochrome c, microperoxidase-11 and a few plant peroxidases were measured electrochemically. Once the compensating changes in reduction enthalpy and entropy due to solvent reorganization effects are factorized out, it is found that cyanide binding stabilizes enthalpically the ferriheme following the order: cyochrome c > peroxidase > microperoxidase-11. The effect is inversely correlated to the solvent accessibility of the heme. Comparison of the reduction thermodynamics for the cyanide adducts of cytochrome c and plant peroxidases with those for microperoxidase-11 and myoglobin, respectively, yielded an estimate of the consequences of protein encapsulation and of the anionic character of the proximal histidine on the reduction potential of the heme-cyanide group. Insertion of the heme-CN group into the folded peptide chain of cyt c induces an enthalpy-based decrease in E-o' of approximately 100 mV, consistent with the lower net charge of the oxidized as compared to the reduced iron center, whereas a full imidazolate character of the proximal histidine stabilizes enthalpically the ferriheme by approximately 400 mV. The latter value should be best considered as an upper limit since it also includes some solvation effects arising from the nature of the protein systems being compared.

2005 - Electrostatic effects on the thermodynamics of protonation of reduced plastocyanin [Articolo su rivista]
Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Borsari, Marco; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Ranieri, Antonio; Leonardi, Alan; Sola, Marco

The L12E, L12K, Q88E, and Q88K variants of spinach plastocyanin have been electrochemically investigated. The effects of insertion of net charges near the metal site on the thermodynamics of protonation and detachment from the copper(I) ion of the His87 ligand have been evaluated. The mutation-induced changes in transition enthalpy cannot be explained by electrostatic considerations. The existence of enthalpy/entropy (H/S) compensation within the protein series indicates that solvent-reorganization effects control the differences in transition thermodynamics. Once these compensating contributions are factorized out, the resulting modest differences in transition enthalpies turn out to be those that can be expected on purely electrostatic grounds. Therefore, this work shows that the acid transition in cupredoxins involves a reorganization of the H-bonding network within the hydration sphere of the molecule in the proximity of the metal center that dominates the observed transition thermodynamics and masks the differences that are due to protein-based effects.

2005 - Ligand loop effects on the free energy change of redox and pH-dependent equilibria in cupredoxins probed on amicyanin variants [Articolo su rivista]
Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Borsari, Marco; Gw, Canters; DI ROCCO, Giulia; E., DE WAAL; Y., Arendsen; Leonardi, Alan; Ranieri, Antonio; Sola, Marco

In this work, we have determined the thermodynamic parameters of the reduction of four different variants of Thiobacillus versutus amicyanin by electrochemical techniques. In addition, the thermodynamic parameters were determined of the low-pH conformational change involving protonation of the C-terminal histidine ligand and the concomitant dissociation of this histidine from the Cu(I) ion. In these variants, the native C-terminal loop containing the Cys, His, and Met copper ligands has been replaced with the corresponding polypeptide segments of Pseudomonas aeruginosa azurin, Populus nigra plastocyanin, Alcaligenes faecalis S-6 pseudoazurin, and Thiobacillus ferrooxidans rusticyanin. For the reduction reaction, each loop invariably holds an entropic memory of the mother protein. The thermodynamics of the low-pH transition vary in a fashion that is species-dependent. When present, the memory effect again shows a large entropic component. In particular, loop elongation tends to favor the formation of the Cu(I)-His bond (hence disfavors His protonation, yielding lower pK(a) values) probably due to an increased flexibility of the loop in the reduced state. Overall, it appears that both reduction and low-pH transition are loop-responsive processes. The spacing between the ligands mostly affects the change in the conformational freedom that accompanies the reaction.

2004 - Antagonists Mo and Cu in a heterometallic cluster present on a novel protein (orange protein) isolated from Desulfovibrio gigas [Articolo su rivista]
S. A., Bursakov; Gavel, O. Y. u.; DI ROCCO, Giulia; J., Lampreia; J., Calvete; A. S., Pereira; J. J. G., Moura; I., Moura

An orange- coloured (ORP) protein from D.gigas, a sulphate reducer bacterium, has been previously shown by extended X-ray absorption fine structure to contain a novel mixed-metal sulphide cluster of the type of [S2MoS2CuS2MoS2]. We report here the purification and the biochemical/spectroscopic characterisation of this novel protein. The cluster is not covalently bound to the polypeptide chain. The gene sequence coding for ORP as well as the amino acid sequence was determined. The putative biologic function of ORP was discussed.

2004 - Characterization of the solution reactivity of a basic heme peroxidase from Cucumis sativus [Articolo su rivista]
Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Bellei, Marzia; Bortolotti, Carlo Augusto; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Leonardi, Alan; Sola, Marco

A basic heme peroxidase has been isolated from cucumber (Cucumis sativus) peelings and characterized through electronic and H NMR spectra from pH 3 to 11. The protein, as isolated, contains a high-spin ferriheme which in the low pH region is sensitive to two acid-base equilibria with apparent pK(a) values of approximately 5 and 3.6, assigned to the distal histidine and to a heme propionate, respectively. At high pH, a new low-spin species develops with an apparent pK(a) of 11, likely due to the binding of an hydroxide ion to the sixth (axial) coordination position of the Fe(III). A number of acid-base equilibria involving heme propionates and residues in the distal cavity also affect the binding of inorganic anions such as cyanide, azide, and fluoride to the ferriheme, as well as the catalytic activity. The reduction potentials of the native protein and of its cyanide derivative, determined through UV-Vis spectroelectrochemistry, result to be -0.320 +/- 0.015 and -0.412 +/- 0.010V, respectively. Overall, the reactivity of this protein parallels those of other plant peroxidases, especially horseradish peroxidase. However, some differences exist in the acid-base equilibria affecting its reactivity and in the reduction potential, likely as a result of small structural differences in the heme distal and proximal cavities.

2004 - Enthalpy/entropy compensation phenomena in the reduction thermodynamics of electron transport metalloproteins [Articolo su rivista]
Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Borsari, Marco; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Ranieri, Antonio; Sola, Marco

Compensation phenomena between the enthalpy and entropy changes of the reduction reaction for all classes of electron transport metalloproteins, namely cytochromes, iron-sulfur, and blue copper proteins, are brought to light. This is the first comprehensive report on such effects for biological redox reactions. Following Grunwald's approach for the interpretation of H/S compensation for solution reactions, it is concluded that reduction-induced solvent reorganization effects involving the hydration shell of the molecule dominate the reduction thermodynamics in these species, although they have no net effect on the Edegrees values, owing to exact compensation. Thus the reduction potentials of these species are primarily determined by the selective enthalpic stabilization of one of the two oxidation states due to ligand binding interactions and electrostatics at the metal site and by the entropic effects of reduction-induced changes in protein flexibility.

2004 - Protein stability and mutations in the axial methionine loop of a minimal cytochrome c [Articolo su rivista]
I., Bartalesi; I., Bertini; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Ranieri, Antonio; A., Rosato; M., Vanarotti; P. R., Vasos; M. S., Viezzoli

The minimal mono-heme ferricytochrome c from Bacillus pasteurii, containing 71 amino acids, has been further investigated through mutagenesis of different positions in the loop containing the iron ligand Met71. These mutations have been designed to sample different aspects of the loop structure, in order to obtain insights into the determinants of the stability of the iron(III) environment. In particular, positions 68, 72 and 75 have been essayed. Gln68 has been mutated to Lys to provide a suitable alternate ligand that can displace Met71 under denaturing conditions. Pro72 has been mutated to Gly and Ala to modify the range of allowed backbone conformations. Ile75, which is in van der Waals contact with Met71 and partly shields a long-lived water molecule in a protein cavity, has been substituted by Val and Ala to affect the network of inter-residue interactions around the metal site. The different contributions of the above amino acids to protein parameters such as structure, redox potential and the overall stability against unfolding with guanidinium hydrochloride are analyzed. While the structure remains essentially the same, the stability decreases with mutations. The comparison with mitochondrial c-type cytochromes is instructive.

2003 - 1H NMR of native and azide-inhibited laccase from Rhus vernicifera [Articolo su rivista]
Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Leonardi, Alan; Sola, Marco

The H NMR spectra of the fully oxidized Rhus vernicifera laccase and of its 1:1 and 2:1 azide adducts are reported for the first time.These spectra, which are the first so far reported for a multi copper oxidase, contain a number of broad hyperfine-shifted resonances in thehigh frequency region of the spectrum, which are attributed to the metal binding residues of the mononuclear T1 center. The differencesbetween the patterns of the hyperfine resonances of the free enzyme and its azide derivatives suggest that the alterations in the structuralproperties of the T3 site induced by the binding of the first azide molecule induce a limited alteration of the spin density distribution over1 the T1 copper ligands. Overall, these data demonstrate that H NMR can be fruitfully applied to characterize the electronic properties ofthe metal sites of blue oxidases at room temperature.

2003 - Enthalpy-entropy compensation phenomena in the reduction thermodynamic of electron transport metalloproteins [Poster]
Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Borsari, Marco; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Ranieri, Antonio; Sola, Marco

Partition of the enthalpic and entropic contributions to the reduction potential of electron transport metalloproteins, achieved through electrochemical means, is helpful for the understanding of the molecular determinants of this key parameter for protein function. Reduction enthalpy, which typically dominates this species, is mainly controlled by first coordination sphere effects and the electrostatics at the interface between the metal and the protein environment and the solvent. The contributors to the smaller, yet important, entropy changes include solvent reorganization effects and changes in polypeptide chain flexibility. To extent to which solvation effects concur to determine the reduction potential of this species is difficult to measure. However, insight can be gained from analysis of enthalpy-entropy compensation phenomena in the reduction thermodynamics. Following the Grunwald’s approach for the interpretation of H/S compensation for the solution reactions, it is concluded that reduction-induced solvent reorganization effects involving the hydration shell of the molecule dominate the reduction thermodynamics in these species, although they have no net effect on the E°’ values, owing to exact compensation. Thus the reduction potentials of this species are primarily determined by the selective enthalpic stabilization of one of the two oxidation states due to ligand binding interactions and electrostatics at the metal site and by the entropic effects of the reduction-induced changes in protein flexibility

2002 - Conservation of the free energy change of pH-dependent isomerizations in cytochromes c and blue copper proteins [Poster]
Battistuzzi, Gianantonio; Borsari, Marco; Canters, Gerard W.; DI ROCCO, Giulia; Leonardi, Alan; Ranieri, Antonio; Sola, Marco

The thermodynamic parameters of the conformational transitions occurring at low pH in blue copper proteins (acid transition), and at high pH in cytochromes c (alkaline transition) have been determined through direct electrochemistry experiments carried out at variable pH and temperature. The former transition involves protonation and detachment from the Cu(I) ion of one histidine ligand (1), whereas the latter leads to a conformer in which the axial methione ligand of the ferriheme is substituted by a surface lysine, the transition being triggered by an as yet unidentified deprotonating residue (2). The blue copper proteins investigated were plastocyanins, R. vernicifera stellacyanin, CBP and T. versutus amicyanin. For all species but CBP the overall conformational change turns out to be exothermic. The entropy change is remarkably species-dependent. It is apparent that the thermodynamic “driving force” for this transition is enthalpic for the plastocyanins and entropic for the phytocyanins. Amicyanin is an intermediate case in which both enthalpic and entropic terms favor the transition. Under the assumption that the transition entropy originates from solvent reorganization effects, which are known to involve compensative enthalpy and entropy changes, the G of the transition would also correspond to the enthalpy change due to bond breaking/formation in the first coordination sphere of the metal and in its immediate environment. Indeed, this term turns out to be very similar for the proteins investigated, in line with the conservation of the Cu(I)-His bond strengths in these species, but amicyanin, for which the greater exotermicity of the transition can be ascribed to peculiar features of the active site. For cytochromes c, we have found that both transition enthalpy and entropy are remarkably species-dependent, following the order: R.pal cytc2 >> beef (horse) heart cytc > yeast iso-1 cytc. Notably, changes in transition enthalpy and entropy among these cytochromes c are compensative and result in small variations in the free energy change of the process (which amounts approximately to +50 kJ mol-1), and consequently in the apparent pKa value. Therefore, enthalpy/entropy compensation phenomena compensation are common to both transitions, and indicate that solvent reorganization effects play an important role in the thermodynamics of the pH-induced conformational changes.