Center for Biology of Disease

Leuven, Belgium

Center for Biology of Disease

Leuven, Belgium

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Zhernakova A.,University of Groningen | Zhernakova A.,Top Institute Food and Nutrition | Kurilshikov A.,Novosibirsk State University | Bonder M.J.,University of Groningen | And 47 more authors.
Science | Year: 2016

Deep sequencing of the gut microbiomes of 1135 participants from a Dutch population-based cohort shows relations between the microbiome and 126 exogenous and intrinsic host factors, including 31 intrinsic factors, 12 diseases, 19 drug groups, 4 smoking categories, and 60 dietary factors. These factors collectively explain 18.7% of the variation seen in the interindividual distance of microbial composition.We could associate 110 factors to 125 species and observed that fecal chromogranin A (CgA), a protein secreted by enteroendocrine cells, was exclusively associated with 61 microbial species whose abundance collectively accounted for 53% of microbial composition. Low CgA concentrations were seen in individuals with a more diverse microbiome. These results are an important step toward a better understanding of environment-diet-microbe-host interactions. © 2016 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science; all rights reserved.


Falony G.,Catholic University of Leuven | Falony G.,Center for Biology of Disease | Joossens M.,Catholic University of Leuven | Joossens M.,Center for Biology of Disease | And 56 more authors.
Science | Year: 2016

Fecal microbiome variation in the average, healthy population has remained underinvestigated. Here, we analyzed two independent, extensively phenotyped cohorts: the Belgian Flemish Gut Flora Project (FGFP; discovery cohort; N = 1106) and the Dutch LifeLines-DEEP study (LLDeep; replication; N = 1135). Integration with global data sets (N combined = 3948) revealed a 14-genera core microbiota, but the 664 identified genera still underexplore total gut diversity. Sixty-nine clinical and questionnaire-based covariates were found associated to microbiota compositional variation with a 92% replication rate. Stool consistency showed the largest effect size, whereas medication explained largest total variance and interacted with other covariate-microbiota associations. Early-life events such as birth mode were not reflected in adult microbiota composition. Finally, we found that proposed disease marker genera associated to host covariates, urging inclusion of the latter in study design.


Pellegrino M.,National Research Council Italy | Mancini F.,National Research Council Italy | Mancini F.,Catholic University of Rome | Luca R.,National Research Council Italy | And 20 more authors.
Cancer Research | Year: 2015

Restoration of wild-type P53 tumor suppressor function has emerged as an attractive anticancer strategy. Therapeutics targeting the two p53-negative regulators, MDM2 and MDM4, have been developed, but most agents selectively target the ability of only one of these molecules to interact with p53, leaving the other free to operate. Therefore, we developed a method that targets the activity of MDM2 and MDM4 simultaneously based on recent studies indicating that formation of MDM2/MDM4 heterodimer complexes are required for efficient inactivation of p53 function. Using computational and mutagenesis analyses of the heterodimer binding interface, we identified a peptide thatmimics theMDM4 C-terminus, competes with endogenous MDM4 for MDM2 binding, and activates p53 function. This peptide induces p53-dependent apoptosis in vitro and reduces tumor growth in vivo. Interestingly, interfering with the MDM2/ MDM4 heterodimer specifically activates a p53-dependent oxidative stress response. Consistently, distinct subcellular pools of MDM2/MDM4 complexes were differentially sensitive to the peptide; nuclear MDM2/MDM4 complexes were particularly highly susceptible to the peptide-displacement activity. Taken together, these data identify the MDM2/MDM4 interaction interface as a valuable molecular target for therapeutic reactivation of p53 oncosuppressive function. © 2015 AACR.


Guix F.X.,Center for Biology of Disease | Guix F.X.,Catholic University of Leuven | Wahle T.,Center for Biology of Disease | Wahle T.,Catholic University of Leuven | And 17 more authors.
EMBO Molecular Medicine | Year: 2012

Inherited familial Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by small increases in the ratio of Aβ42 versus Aβ40 peptide which is thought to drive the amyloid plaque formation in the brain of these patients. Little is known however whether ageing, the major risk factor for sporadic AD, affects amyloid beta-peptide (Aβ) generation as well. Here we demonstrate that the secretion of Aβ is enhanced in an in vitro model of neuronal ageing, correlating with an increase in γ-secretase complex formation. Moreover we found that peroxynitrite (ONOO -), produced by the reaction of superoxide anion with nitric oxide, promoted the nitrotyrosination of presenilin 1 (PS1), the catalytic subunit of γ-secretase. This was associated with an increased association of the two PS1 fragments, PS1-CTF and PS1-NTF, which constitute the active catalytic centre. Furthermore, we found that peroxynitrite shifted the production of Aβ towards Aβ 42 and increased the Aβ 42/Aβ 40 ratio. Our work identifies nitrosative stress as a potential mechanistic link between ageing and AD. © 2012 EMBO Molecular Medicine.


Nielsen H.B.,Technical University of Denmark | Almeida M.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | Almeida M.,University of Maryland College Park | Juncker A.S.,Technical University of Denmark | And 72 more authors.
Nature Biotechnology | Year: 2014

Most current approaches for analyzing metagenomic data rely on comparisons to reference genomes, but the microbial diversity of many environments extends far beyond what is covered by reference databases. De novo segregation of complex metagenomic data into specific biological entities, such as particular bacterial strains or viruses, remains a largely unsolved problem. Here we present a method, based on binning co-abundant genes across a series of metagenomic samples, that enables comprehensive discovery of new microbial organisms, viruses and co-inherited genetic entities and aids assembly of microbial genomes without the need for reference sequences. We demonstrate the method on data from 396 human gut microbiome samples and identify 7,381 co-abundance gene groups (CAGs), including 741 metagenomic species (MGS). We use these to assemble 238 high-quality microbial genomes and identify affiliations between MGS and hundreds of viruses or genetic entities. Our method provides the means for comprehensive profiling of the diversity within complex metagenomic samples. © 2014 Nature America, Inc.


Ill-Raga G.,University Pompeu Fabra | Tajes M.,University Pompeu Fabra | Busquets-Garcia A.,University Pompeu Fabra | Ramos-Fernandez E.,University Pompeu Fabra | And 14 more authors.
Antioxidants and Redox Signaling | Year: 2015

Aims: Hippocampus is the brain center for memory formation, a process that requires synaptogenesis. However, hippocampus is dramatically compromised in Alzheimer's disease due to the accumulation of amyloid β-peptide, whose production is initiated by β-site APP Cleaving Enzyme 1 (BACE1). It is known that pathological stressors activate BACE1 translation through the phosphorylation of the eukaryotic initiation factor-2α (eIF2α) by GCN2, PERK, or PKR kinases, leading to amyloidogenesis. However, BACE1 physiological regulation is still unclear. Since nitric oxide (NO) participates directly in hippocampal glutamatergic signaling, we investigated the neuronal role of the heme-regulated eukaryotic initiation factor eIF2α kinase (HRI), which can bind NO by a heme group, in BACE1 translation and its physiological consequences. Results: We found that BACE1 is expressed on glutamate activation with NO being the downstream effector by triggering eIF2α phosphorylation, as it was obtained by Western blot and luciferase assay. It is due to the activation of HRI by NO as assayed by Western blot and immunofluorescence with an HRI inhibitor and HRI siRNA. BACE1 expression was early detected at synaptic spines, contributing to spine growth and consolidating the hippocampal memory as assayed with mice treated with HRI or neuronal NO synthase inhibitors. Innovation: We provide the first description that HRI and eIF2α are working in physiological conditions in the brain under the control of nitric oxide and glutamate signaling, and also that BACE1 has a physiological role in hippocampal function. Conclusion: We conclude that BACE1 translation is controlled by NO through HRI in glutamatergic hippocampal synapses, where it plays physiological functions, allowing the spine growth and memory consolidation. © 2015, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

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