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Siena, Italy

Parri M.,Externautics | Chiarugi P.,University of Florence
Cell Communication and Signaling | Year: 2010

Rho GTPases represent a family of small GTP-binding proteins involved in cell cytoskeleton organization, migration, transcription, and proliferation. A common theme of these processes is a dynamic reorganization of actin cytoskeleton which has now emerged as a major switch control mainly carried out by Rho and Rac GTPase subfamilies, playing an acknowledged role in adaptation of cell motility to the microenvironment. Cells exhibit three distinct modes of migration when invading the 3 D environment. Collective motility leads to movement of cohorts of cells which maintain the adherens junctions and move by photolytic degradation of matrix barriers. Single cell mesenchymal-type movement is characterized by an elongated cellular shape and again requires extracellular proteolysis and integrin engagement. In addition it depends on Rac1-mediated cell polarization and lamellipodia formation. Conversely, in amoeboid movement cells have a rounded morphology, the movement is independent from proteases but requires high Rho GTPase to drive elevated levels of actomyosin contractility. These two modes of cell movement are interconvertible and several moving cells, including tumor cells, show an high degree of plasticity in motility styles shifting ad hoc between mesenchymal or amoeboid movements. This review will focus on the role of Rac and Rho small GTPases in cell motility and in the complex relationship driving the reciprocal control between Rac and Rho granting for the opportunistic motile behaviour of aggressive cancer cells. In addition we analyse the role of these GTPases in cancer progression and metastatic dissemination. © 2010 Parri and Chiarugi; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Pierleoni A.,Biocomputing Group | Pierleoni A.,Externautics | Martelli P.L.,Biocomputing Group | Casadio R.,Biocomputing Group
Bioinformatics | Year: 2011

Motivation: Subcellular localization is a key feature in the process of functional annotation of both globular and membrane proteins. In the absence of experimental data, protein localization is inferred on the basis of annotation transfer upon sequence similarity search. However, predictive tools are necessary when the localization of homologs is not known. This is so particularly for membrane proteins. Furthermore, most of the available predictors of subcellular localization are specifically trained on globular proteins and poorly perform on membrane proteins. Results: Here we develop MemLoci, a new support vector machinebased tool that discriminates three membrane protein localizations: plasma, internal and organelle membrane. When tested on an independent set, MemLoci outperforms existing methods, reaching an overall accuracy of 70% on predicting the location in the three membrane types, with a generalized correlation coefficient as high as 0.50. © The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-AG | Phase: ERC-AG-LS7 | Award Amount: 2.61M | Year: 2014

This proposal intends to apply Synthetic Biology to create a new bacterial species, Vaccinobacter, devoted to the production of multivalent, highly effective vaccines. The project originates from the evidence that Outer membrane Vesicles (OMVs) naturally produced by all Gram-negative bacteria can induce remarkable protective immunity, a property already exploited to develop anti-Neisseria vaccines now available for human use. OMV protection is mediated by the abundance of Pathogen-Associated-Molecular Patterns (PAMPs), known to play a key role in stimulating innate immunity. Moreover, OMVs can be engineered by delivering recombinant proteins to bacterial periplasm and outer membrane. Intrinsic adjuvanticity and propensity to be manipulated potentially make OMVs an ideal vaccine platform, particularly indicated when antigen combinations (for pathogens with genetic variability) and strong potentiation of immunity (for the elderly and cancer) are needed. However, full exploitation of OMVs as vaccines is prevented by: i) presence of potentially reactogenic compounds such as LPS, virulence factors, and toxins, ii) presence of several irrelevant proteins, which dilute immune responses, iii) lack of broadly applicable molecular tools to load OMVs with foreign antigens. Scope of the project is to provide novel solutions to solve these limitations and demonstrate the unique performance OMVs as vaccines by testing them on complex pathogens and cancer. Main project activities are: 1) remodelling of E. coli genome to create Vaccinobacter, a living factory of OMVs deprived of all unnecessary components but carrying the relevant immune potentiators, 2) characterization and optimization of the immune stimulatory properties of OMVs, 3) development of novel methods to incorporate foreign antigens into Vaccinobacter-derived OMVs, 4) loading of OMVs with selected pathogen- and cancer-derived antigens and demonstration of their protective efficacy in appropriate animal models.


Patent
Externautics | Date: 2011-04-29

Newly identified proteins as markers for the detection of breast, colon, lung and ovary tumors, or as therapeutic targets for their treatment, affinity ligands capable of selectively interacting with the newly identified markers and methods for tumor diagnosis and therapy using such ligands.


Patent
Externautics | Date: 2010-10-26

Newly identified proteins as markers for the detection of colon and rectal tumors, or as therapeutic targets for treatment thereof; affinity ligands capable of selectively interacting with the newly identified markers, as well as methods for tumor diagnosis and therapy using such ligands.

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