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Grand Rapids, MI, United States

Haab B.B.,Van Andel Research Institute
Proteomics - Clinical Applications | Year: 2012

Carbohydrates have fundamental roles throughout biology, yet they have not been as well studied as proteins and nucleic acids, in part due to limitations in the experimental tools. Improved methods for studying glycans could spur significant advances in the understanding and application of glycobiology. The use of affinity reagents, such as lectins and glycan-binding antibodies, is a valuable complement to methods involving mass spectrometry and chromatography. This article addresses two limitations that have prevented the broader experimental use of glycan-binding proteins: sensitivity and availability. The sensitivity limitation stems from the poor affinity that many glycan-binding proteins have as isolated analytical reagents. To address this problem, I propose making use of multivalent interactions between lectins and glycans, mimicking those frequently found in the biological setting. Recent experiments show that a practical technique for producing lectin multimers can significantly improve detection sensitivity. The second limitation, availability, is the difficulty of finding and obtaining glycan-binding proteins that recognize less common or arbitrarily defined glycan structures. To address this problem, I propose translating the wealth of existing glycan array data into a quantitative, searchable database of the specificities of glycan-binding proteins. Such a resource would allow us to more easily identify proteins with defined specificities and perform detailed comparisons between reagents. Solutions to these two limitations could lead to the more effective use of, and a broader range of, glycan-binding reagents. © 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

Gherardi E.,Medical Research Council Center | Gherardi E.,University of Pavia | Birchmeier W.,Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine | Birchmeier C.,Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine | Woude G.V.,Van Andel Research Institute
Nature Reviews Cancer | Year: 2012

Uncontrolled cell survival, growth, angiogenesis and metastasis are essential hallmarks of cancer. Genetic and biochemical data have demonstrated that the growth and motility factor hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF) and its receptor, the tyrosine kinase MET, have a causal role in all of these processes, thus providing a strong rationale for targeting these molecules in cancer. Parallel progress in understanding the structure and function of HGF/SF, MET and associated signalling components has led to the successful development of blocking antibodies and a large number of small-molecule MET kinase inhibitors. In this Review, we discuss these advances, as well as results from recent clinical studies that demonstrate that inhibiting MET signalling in several types of solid human tumours has major therapeutic value. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Olanow C.W.,Mount Sinai School of Medicine | Brundin P.,Van Andel Research Institute | Brundin P.,Lund University
Movement Disorders | Year: 2013

Altered protein handling is thought to play a key role in the etiopathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD), as the disorder is characterized neuropathologically by the accumulation of intraneuronal protein aggregates (Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites). Attention has particularly focused on the α-synuclein protein, as it is the principal component of Lewy pathology. Moreover, point mutations in the α-synuclein gene cause rare familial forms of PD. Importantly, duplication/triplication of the wild type α-synuclein gene also cause a form of PD, indicating that increased levels of the normal α-synuclein protein is sufficient to cause the disease. Further, single nucleotide polymorphisms in the α-synuclein gene are associated with an increased risk of developing sporadic PD. Recent evidence now suggests the possibility that α-synuclein is a prion-like protein and that PD is a prion-like disease. Within cells, α-synuclein normally adopts an α-helical conformation. However, under certain circumstances, the protein can undergo a profound conformational transition to a β-sheet-rich structure that polymerizes to form toxic oligomers and amyloid plaques. Recent autopsy studies of patients with advanced PD who received transplantation of fetal nigral mesencephalic cells more than a decade earlier demonstrated that typical Lewy pathology had developed within grafted neurons. This suggests that α-synuclein in an aberrantly folded, β-sheet-rich form had migrated from affected to unaffected neurons. Laboratory studies confirm that α-synuclein can transfer from affected to unaffected nerve cells, where it appears that the misfolded protein can act as a template to promote misfolding of host α-synuclein. This leads to the formation of larger aggregates, neuronal dysfunction, and neurodegeneration. Indeed, recent reports demonstrate that a single intracerebral inoculation of misfolded α-synuclein can induce Lewy-like pathology in cells that can spread from affected to unaffected regions and can induce neurodegeneration with motor disturbances in both transgenic and normal mice. Further, inoculates derived from the brains of elderly α-synuclein-overexpressing transgenic mice have now been shown to accelerate the disease process when injected into the brains of young transgenic animals. Collectively, these findings support the hypothesis that α-synuclein is a prion-like protein that can adopt a self-propagating conformation that causes neurodegeneration. We propose that this mechanism plays an important role in the development of PD and provides novel targets for candidate neuroprotective therapies. © 2013 Movement Disorder Society.

Szabo P.E.,Van Andel Research Institute
Genome Biology | Year: 2015

We thank Dr. Nadeau for his interest in our work. Dr. Nadeau has raised concerns about the experimental approach (mouse strains, route of administration, lack of phenotypic assessment) and about the validity of our conclusions. We will respond to each of these concerns point-by point. © 2015 Szabó.

Pfeifer G.P.,Van Andel Research Institute
Science Signaling | Year: 2016

The Hippo pathway prevents organ overgrowth and maintains tissue architecture by inhibiting the transcriptional coactivator YAP. In this issue of Science Signaling, Bui et al. find a role for YAP during cytokinesis that is independent of its transcriptional activity. This function of YAP may be important for maintaining genomic stability in dividing cells. © 2016 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science; all rights reserved.

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