Tuberculosis can be responsible for extensive spinal lesions. Despite the efficacy of medical treatment, surgery is indicated to avoid or correct significant deformity, treat spinal instability, prevent neurological compromise, and to eradicate an extensive tuberculous abscess. In this paper we present our experience in the surgical management of spinal tuberculosis complicated with large abscess.
We report on the viability of breaking selected bonds in biological systems using tailored electromagnetic radiation. We first demonstrate, by performing large-scale simulations, that pulsed electric fields cannot produce selective bond breaking. Then, we present a theoretical framework for describing selective energy concentration on particular bonds of biomolecules upon application of tailored electromagnetic radiation. The theory is based on the mapping of biomolecules to a set of coupled harmonic oscillators and on optimal control schemes to describe optimization of temporal shape, the phase and polarization of the external radiation. We have applied this theory to demonstrate the possibility of selective bond breaking in the active site of bacterial DNA topoisomerase. For this purpose, we have focused on a model that was built based on a case study. Results are given as a proof of concept.
Rapid technological advances have led to an explosion of biomedical data in recent years. The pace of change has inspired new collaborative approaches for sharing materials and resources to help train life scientists both in the use of cutting-edge bioinformatics tools and databases and in how to analyse and interpret large datasets. A prototype platform for sharing such training resources was recently created by the Bioinformatics Training Network (BTN). Building on this work, we have created a centralized portal for sharing training materials and courses, including a catalogue of trainers and course organizers, and an announcement service for training events. For course organizers, the portal provides opportunities to promote their training events; for trainers, the portal offers an environment for sharing materials, for gaining visibility for their work and promoting their skills; for trainees, it offers a convenient one-stop shop for finding suitable training resources and identifying relevant training events and activities locally and worldwide. Availability and implementation: http://mygoblet.org/training-portal CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some of the characteristics of recent ultralow-emittance storage-ring designs and possibly future diffraction-limited storage rings are a compact lattice combined with small magnet apertures. Such requirements present a challenge for the design and performance of the vacuum system. The vacuum system should provide the required vacuum pressure for machine operation and be able to handle the heat load from synchrotron radiation. Small magnet apertures result in the conductance of the chamber being low, and lumped pumps are ineffective. One way to provide the required vacuum level is by distributed pumping, which can be realised by the use of a non-evaporable getter (NEG) coating of the chamber walls. It may not be possible to use crotch absorbers to absorb the heat from the synchrotron radiation because an antechamber is difficult to realise with such a compact lattice. To solve this, the chamber walls can work as distributed absorbers if they are made of a material with good thermal conductivity, and distributed cooling is used at the location where the synchrotron radiation hits the wall. The vacuum system of the 3?GeV storage ring of MAX?IV is used as an example of possible solutions for vacuum technologies for diffraction-limited storage rings.
In this work, a combination of homology modeling and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations was used to investigate the factors that modulate substrate specificity and activity of the mouse AOX isoforms: mAOX1, mAOX2 (previously mAOX3l1), mAOX3 and mAOX4. The results indicate that the AOX isoform structures are highly preserved and even more conserved than the corresponding amino acid sequences. The only differences are at the protein surface and substrate-binding site region. The substrate-binding site of all isoforms consists of two regions: the active site, which is highly conserved among all isoforms, and a isoform-specific region located above. We predict that mAOX1 accepts a broader range of substrates of different shape, size and nature relative to the other isoforms. In contrast, mAOX4 appears to accept a more restricted range of substrates. Its narrow and hydrophobic binding site indicates that it only accepts small hydrophobic substrates. Although mAOX2 and mAOX3 are very similar to each other, we propose the following pairs of overlapping substrate specificities: mAOX2/mAOX4 and mAOX3/mAXO1. Based on these considerations, we propose that the catalytic activity between all isoforms should be similar but the differences observed in the binding site might influence the substrate specificity of each enzyme. These results also suggest that the presence of several AOX isoforms in mouse allows them to oxidize more efficiently a wider range of substrates. This contrasts with the same or other organisms that only express one isoform and are less efficient or incapable of oxidizing the same type of substrates.
In the recent decades, the interest on glycosidases has dramatically increased, mainly because these enzymes play a key role in many biological processes. The importance of these enzymes is also reflected by a number of diseases, which result from the lack or dysfunction of a given glycosidase, as well as by the use of glycosidase inhibitors in the treatment of metabolic disorders or viral infections. Based on the biological potential associated to these enzymes, several glycosidase inhibitors have been developed. In this review, the most important inhibitors targeting these enzymes, including the disaccharides, iminosugars, carbasugars, thiosugars and other non-glycosidic compounds will be discussed and special attention will be given to the ones that are currently used clinically.
Renin (REN) is a key drug target to stop the hypertension cascade, but thus far only one direct inhibitor has been made commercially available. In this study, we assess an innovative REN inhibition strategy, by targeting the interface of the renin:angiotensinogen (REN:ANG) complex. We characterized the energetic role of interfacial residues of REN:ANG and identified the ones responsible for protein:protein binding, which can serve as drug targets for disruption of the REN:ANG association. For this purpose, we applied a computational alanine scanning mutagenesis protocol, which measures the contribution of each side chain for the protein:protein binding free energy with an accuracy of ? 1 kcal/mol. As a result, in REN and ANG, six and eight residues were found to be critical for binding, respectively. The leading force behind REN:ANG complexation was found to be the hydrophobic effect. The binding free energy per residue was found to be proportional to the buried area. Residues responsible for binding were occluded from water at the complex, which promotes an efficient pairing between the two proteins. Two druggable pockets involving critical residues for binding were found on the surface of REN, where small druglike molecules can bind and disrupt the ANG:REN association that may provide an efficient way to achieve REN inhibition and control hypertension.
Glutathione transferases (GSTs) are important enzymes in the metabolism of electrophilic xenobiotic and endobiotic toxic compounds. In addition, human GST A3-3 also catalyzes the double bond isomerization of ?5-androstene-3,17-dione (?(5)-AD) and ?(5)-pregnene-3,20-dione (?(5)-PD), which are the immediate precursors of testosterone and progesterone. In fact, GST A3-3 is the most efficient human enzyme known to exist in the catalysis of these reactions. In this work, we have used density functional theory (DFT) calculations to propose a refined mechanism for the isomerization of ?(5)-AD catalyzed by GST A3-3. In this mechanism the glutathione (GSH) thiol and Tyr9 catalyze the proton transfer from the ?(5)-AD C4 atom to the ?(5)-AD C6 atom, with a rate limiting activation energy of 15.8 kcal · mol(-1). GSH has a dual function, because it is also responsible for stabilizing the negative charge that is formed in the O3 atom of the enolate intermediate. The catalytic role of Tyr9 depends on significant conformational rearrangements of its side chain. Neither of these contributions to catalysis has been observed before. Residues Phe10, Leu111, Ala 208, and Ala 216 complete the list of the important catalytic residues. The mechanism detailed here is based on the GST A3-3:GSH:?(4)-AD crystal structure and is consistent with all available experimental data.
The mechanisms involving iron toxicity in diabetes mellitus are not completely understood. However, the spontaneous reaction of reducing sugars with protein amino groups, known as glycation, has been shown to compromise the action of Tf (transferrin), the systemic iron transporter. In order to understand the structural alterations that impair its function, Tf was glycated in vitro and the modification sites were determined by MS. Iron binding to glycated Tf was assessed and a computational approach was conducted to study how glycation influences the iron-binding capacity of this protein. Glycated Tf samples were found to bind iron less avidly than non-modified Tf and MS results revealed 12 glycation sites, allowing the establishment of Lys534 and Lys206 as the most vulnerable residues to this modification. Their increased susceptibility to glycation was found to relate to their low side-chain pKa values. Lys534 and Lys206 participate in hydrogen bonding crucial for iron stabilization in the C- and N-lobes of the protein respectively, and their modification is bound to influence iron binding. Furthermore, the orientation of the glucose residues at these sites blocks the entrance to the iron-binding pocket. Molecular dynamics simulations also suggested that additional loss of iron binding capacity may result from the stereochemical effects induced by the glycation of lysine residues that prevent the conformational changes (from open to closed Tf forms) required for metal binding. Altogether, the results indicate that Tf is particularly vulnerable to glycation and that this modification targets spots that are particularly relevant to its function.
Cobalt and potassium are biologically important metal elements that are present in a large array of proteins. Cobalt is mostly found in vivo associated with a corrin ring, which represents the core of the vitamin B12 molecule. Potassium is the most abundant metal in the cytosol, and it plays a crucial role in maintaining membrane potential as well as correct protein function. Here, we report a thorough analysis of the geometric properties of cobalt and potassium coordination spheres that was performed with high resolution on a representative set of structures from the Protein Data Bank and complemented by quantum mechanical calculations realized at the DFT level of theory (B3LYP/ SDD) on mononuclear model systems. The results allowed us to draw interesting conclusions on the structural characteristics of both Co and K centers, and to evaluate the importance of effects such as their association energies and intrinsic thermodynamic stabilities. Overall, the results obtained provide useful data for enhancing the atomic models normally applied in theoretical and computational studies of Co or K proteins performed at the quantum mechanical level, and for developing molecular mechanical parameters for treating Co or K coordination spheres in molecular mechanics or molecular dynamics studies.
In this article, we propose a method for locating functionally relevant chemical motifs in protein structures. The chemical motifs can be a small group of residues or structure protein fragments with highly conserved properties that have important biological functions. However, the detection of chemical motifs is rather difficult because they often consist of a set of amino acid residues separated by long, variable regions, and they only come together to form a functional group when the protein is folded into its three-dimensional structure. Furthermore, the assemblage of these residues is often dependent on non-covalent interactions among the constituent amino acids that are difficult to detect or visualize. To simplify the analysis of these chemical motifs and give access to a generalized use for all users, we developed chem-path-tracker. This software is a VMD plug-in that allows the user to highlight and reveal potential chemical motifs requiring only a few selections. The analysis is based on atoms/residues pair distances applying a modified version of Dijkstra's algorithm, and it makes possible to monitor the distances of a large pathway, even during a molecular dynamics simulation. This tool turned out to be very useful, fast, and user-friendly in the performed tests. The chem-path-tracker package is distributed as an independent platform and can be found at http://www.fc.up.pt/PortoBioComp/database/doku.php?id=chem-path-tracker.
YmfB from Escherichia coli is the Nudix hydrolase involved in the metabolism of thiamine pyrophosphate, an important compound in primary metabolism and a cofactor of many enzymes. In addition, it hydrolyzes (d)NTPs to (d)NMPs and inorganic orthophosphates in a stepwise manner. The structures of YmfB alone and in complex with three sulfates and two manganese ions determined by X-ray crystallography, when compared with the structures of other Nudix hydrolases such as MutT, Ap4Aase and DR1025, provide insight into the unique hydrolysis mechanism of YmfB. Mass-spectrometric analysis confirmed that water attacks the terminal phosphates of GTP and GDP sequentially. Kinetic analysis of binding-site mutants showed that no individual residue is absolutely required for catalytic activity, suggesting that protein residues do not participate in the deprotonation of the attacking water. Thermodynamic integration calculations show that a hydroxyl ion bound to two divalent metal ions attacks the phosphate directly without the help of a nearby catalytic base.
Numerous enzymes, such as the pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP)-dependent enzymes, require cofactors for their activities. Using X-ray crystallography, structural snapshots of the L-serine dehydratase catalytic reaction of a bacterial PLP-dependent enzyme were determined. In the structures, the dihedral angle between the pyridine ring and the Schiff-base linkage of PLP varied from 18° to 52°. It is proposed that the organic cofactor PLP directly catalyzes reactions by active conformational changes, and the novel catalytic mechanism involving the PLP cofactor was confirmed by high-level quantum-mechanical calculations. The conformational change was essential for nucleophilic attack of the substrate on PLP, for concerted proton transfer from the substrate to the protein and for directing carbanion formation of the substrate. Over the whole catalytic cycle, the organic cofactor catalyzes a series of reactions, like the enzyme. The conformational change of the PLP cofactor in catalysis serves as a starting point for identifying the previously unknown catalytic roles of organic cofactors.
Fused aryl phenazine derivatives (benzo[a]phenazine, pyrido[a]phenazine, benzo[a]phenazine diones, tetrahydropyrido[a]phenazine (dermacozines), etc) are important heterocyclic compounds, which exhibit various pharmacological activities, prominently in cancer cell lines. These compounds significantly intercalate between DNA base pairs and inhibit the activities of topoisomerase I and II enzymes (Topo I and II). XR11576, XR5944, NC-190 and NC-182 belong to phenazine/fused aryl phenazine category and are under clinical studies. Several fused aryl phenazine dione compounds such as pyridazino[4,5-b]phenazine-5,12-diones, 6,11-dihydro-pyrido[2,3-b]phenazine-6,11-diones, 6,11-dihydrobenzo[2,3-b]phenazine-6,11-diones, tetrahydropyrido[a]phenazine, etc possessed anticancer activities on various cancer cell lines. Benzo[a]phenazine diimine and various other fused aryl phenazine compounds form coordination complex with the metal ions (Ru, Rh, Zn and Pt) that intercalate with the DNA and are used for the treatment of cancer. These molecules have influence on MDR cancer cells and serve as anticancer agents in MDR cancer cells. The structure activity relationship of the fused aryl phenazine derivatives revealed that the occurrence of four or more nitrogen atoms in the compounds has better anticancer activity than those molecules with less number of nitrogen atoms. Phenazine antibiotics derived from marine microbes are used for the treatment of microbial and worm diseases. Recent patents on these scaffolds showed that the benzo[a]phenazine derivatives have inhibitory activity on topoisomerase enzymes (Topo I and II) and that act as anticancer agents.
The immobilization of naringinase in PVA lens-shaped particles, a cheap and biocompatible hydrogel was shown to provide an effective biocatalyst for naringin hydrolysis, an appealing reaction in the food and pharmaceutical industries. The present work addresses the operational stability and scale-up of the bioconversion system, in various types of reactors, namely shaken microtiter plates (volume ? 2 mL), batch stirred tank reactors (volume <400 mL) and a packed-bed reactor (PBR, 6.8 mL). Consecutive batch runs were performed with the shaken/stirred vessels, with reproducible and encouraging results, related to operational stability. The PBR was used to establish the feasibility for continuous operation, running continuously for 54 days at 45°C. The biocatalyst activity remained constant for 40 days of continuous operation. The averaged specific productivity was 9.07 mmol h(-1) g enzyme(-1) and the half-life of 48 days.
The Rhodococcus genus contains species with remarkable ability to tolerate toxic compounds and to degrade a myriad of substrates. These substrates have to cross a distinctive cell envelope dominated by mycolic acids anchored in a scaffold of arabinogalactan covalently attached to the cell wall peptidoglycan, and a cellular membrane with phospholipids, whose composition in fatty acids can be rapidly altered in response to environmental conditions. The hydrophobic nature of the cell envelope facilitates the entrance of hydrophobic molecules but some substrates require active transport systems. Additionally, toxic compounds may also be extruded by energy spending efflux systems. In this review, physiological evidences of the use of transport systems by Rhodococcus strains and genomic studies that corroborate their existence are presented and discussed. The recently released complete genomes of several Rhodococcus strains will be the basis for an in silico correlation analysis between the efflux pumps present in the genome and their role on active transport of substrates. These transport systems will be placed on an integrative perspective of the impact of this important genus on biotechnology and health, ranging from bioremediation to antibiotic and biocide resistance.
Canfosfamide (TLK286, TELCYTA) is a prodrug that upon activation by glutathione transferase P1-1 (GST P1-1) yields an anticancer alkylating agent and a glutathione derivative. The rationale underlying the use of TLK286 in chemotherapy is that tumor cells overexpressing GST P1-1 will be locally exposed to the released alkylating agent with limited collateral toxicity to the surrounding normal tissues. TLK286 has demonstrated clinical effects in phase II and III clinical trials for the treatment of malignancies, such as ovarian cancer, nonsmall cell lung cancer, and breast cancer, as a single agent and in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents. In spite of these promising results, the detailed mechanism of GST P1-1 activation of the prodrug has not been elucidated. Here, we propose a mechanism for the TLK286 activation by GST P1-1 on the basis of density functional theory (DFT) and on potential of mean force (PMF) calculations. A catalytic water molecule is instrumental to the activation by forming a network of intermolecular interactions between the active-site Tyr7 hydroxyl and the sulfone and COO(-) groups of TLK286. The results obtained are consistent with the available experimental kinetic data and provide an atomistic understanding of the TLK286 activation mechanism.
A structural rearrangement known as sulfur shift occurs in some Mo-containing enzymes of the DMSO reductase family. This mechanism is characterized by the displacement of a coordinating cysteine thiol (or SeCys in Fdh) from the first to the second shell of the Mo-coordination sphere metal. The hexa-coordinated Mo ion found in the as-isolated state cannot bind directly any exogenous ligand (substrate or inhibitors), while the penta-coordinated ion, attained upon sulfur shift, has a free binding site for direct coordination of the substrate. This rearrangement provides an efficient mechanism to keep a constant coordination number throughout an entire catalytic pathway. This mechanism is very similar to the carboxylate shift observed in Zn-dependent enzymes, and it has been recently detected by experimental means. In the present paper, we calculated the geometries and energies involved in the sulfur-shift mechanism using QM-methods (M06/(6-311++G(3df,2pd),SDD)//B3LYP/(6-31G(d),SDD)). The results indicated that the sulfur-shift mechanism provides an efficient way to enable the metal ion for substrate coordination.
Although melatonin is mainly produced by the pineal gland, an increasing number of extra-pineal sites of melatonin synthesis have been described. We previously demonstrated the existence of bidirectional communication between the pineal gland and the immune system that drives a switch in melatonin production from the pineal gland to peripheral organs during the mounting of an innate immune response. In the present study, we show that acute neuroinflammation induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) injected directly into the lateral ventricles of adult rats reduces the nocturnal peak of melatonin in the plasma and induces its synthesis in the cerebellum, though not in the cortex or hippocampus. This increase in cerebellar melatonin content requires the activation of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-?B), which positively regulates the expression of the key enzyme for melatonin synthesis, arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AA-NAT). Interestingly, LPS treatment led to neuronal death in the hippocampus and cortex, but not in the cerebellum. This privileged protection of cerebellar cells was abrogated when G-protein-coupled melatonin receptors were blocked by the melatonin antagonist luzindole, suggesting that the local production of melatonin protects cerebellar neurons from LPS toxicity. This is the first demonstration of a switch between pineal and extra-pineal melatonin production in the central nervous system following a neuroinflammatory response. These results have direct implications concerning the differential susceptibility of specific brain areas to neuronal death.
In this review, we discuss the current patents concerning aryl/heteroaryl thiosemicarbazone derivatives as regards to their activities and properties, including coordination (chelation) properties. The mode of action of the aryl/heteroaryl thiosemicarbazone derivatives involves metal coordination with proteins or biological fluids that have metal ions in their structure. Additionally, these molecules can also form multiple hydrogen bonds through their (thio) amide and N3 nitrogen that ensure a strong interaction with the receptor. In some cases, strong ?-? interactions can be observed too. Special attention is given to pyridyl, bis-pyridyl, benzoylpyridyl and isatin thiosemicarbazone derivatives that exhibit significant anticancer, antiviral and other activities in free and in metal complexed forms. This key biological role is often related with their capability to inhibit the enzyme ribonucleotide reductase, similar to what is observed with potent anticancer drugs such as Triapine and methisazone. Recent studies have revealed that thiosemicarbazone can also inhibit topoisomerase II ? enzyme. Thiosemicarbazone derivatives form coordination complex with various metals such as Zn, Cu, Fe, Co, Ni, Pt, Pd, etc., and these complexes provide better activities than the free thiosemicarbazones. Recent patents show that the controlled or sustained release dosage form of the thiosemicarbazone derivatives along with ionizing radiations is used for the treatment of proliferative diseases (US20110152281, US20110245304, US20120172217).
The human ether-a-go-go-related gene (hERG) is a K+ channel protein mainly expressed in the heart and the nervous systems and its blockade by non-cardiovascular acting drugs resulted in tachycardia and sudden death. In this present review, we have focused the physicochemical properties responsible for the hERG blocking activity of structurally different compounds. The reported research works showed that the hydrophobicity on the van der Waals (vdW) surface of the molecules (aroused from the aromatic ring) necessary for the hERG blocking activity along with topological and electronic properties. The quinolizidine alkaloids (natural products) such as oxymatrine, sophoridine, sophocarpine and matrine carry the common molecular structure of O=C=N-C-C-C-N that possessed positive ionotropic effect and hERG blocking activity. Acehytisine hydrochloride (previously named Guangfu base A) was isolated from the root of Aconitum coreanum (Levl.), is an anti-arrhythmic drug in phase IV clinical trial. The isoquinoline alkaloid, neferine (Nef) induces a concentration-dependent decrease in current amplitude (IC50 of 7.419 MM). Most of these natural product compounds contain non-flexible aromatic structures but have significant activity due to the presence of optimum hydrophobicity. Recent research works revealed that Eag and hERG channels are expressed by a variety of cancer cell lines and tissues. The Eag channel showed an oncogenic potential while hERG channels are associated with more aggressive tumors and have a role in mediating invasion. This review concluded that the consideration of physicochemical properties necessary for the hERG blocking activity will guide to develop novel drugs with less cardiotoxicity.
In the present study, a computational based pharmacophore and structural analysis were performed on a series of piperidinyl urea derivatives, a limited number of compounds which have variation in structures and activities that exhibit hERG blocking and H3 antagonistic activities. The conducted QSAR studies demonstrated that the developed models are statistically significant, which have been confirmed through validation. The Q2 values for the models developed with hERG blocking activity are > 0.8 and with the H3 antagonistic activity are > 0.6. The descriptors contributed in the models show that the distributed polar properties on the vdW surface of the molecules are important for the hERG blocking activity. The vsurf_ descriptors (surface area, volume and shape) such as vsurf_DD13 and vsurf_Wp4 correlate with the H3 antagonistic activity of these compounds. The distances between the pharmacophore sites were measured in order to confirm their significance to the activities. The results reveal that the acceptor (acc), donor (don), hydrophobic (hyd) and aromatic/hydrophobic (aro/hyd) pharmacophore properties are favorable contours sites for both the activities. Also, our study reveals that the distance between the polar contours (acc, don, etc) has to be small for better hERG blocking activity. The distances between the aro/hyd to the polar groups should be higher for better hERG blocking activity. However, the H3 antagonistic activity for these series depends upon hydrophobic property of the molecules, particularly the hyd and the hyd/aro contours of the molecules. Hence, these results reveal the requirements on the structural properties and the distances between the pharmacophore contour sites of the molecules responsible for their hERG and H3 antagonistic activities.
Ribonucleotide reductase (RNR, E.C. 188.8.131.52), which is composed of two dissimilar proteins (subunits), often referred as R1 (containing polythiols) and R2 (containing non-heme iron and a free tyrosyl radical), which contribute to the role played by the enzyme. RNRs are one of the important targets in anticancer and antiviral drug development and many RNR inhibitors have been discovered at the end of the 20(th) century; many of them are already in clinical use. Triapine (3-AP) is one of the important RNR inhibitors belonging to the class of thiosemicarbazone derivatives, used in the treatment of various cancers. The structure activity relationship (SAR) studies on the investigated RNR inhibitors showed that the nitrogen atom in the pyridine (or other heterocycles) forms coordination complexes with the metal ions along with the imine, oxo and thio atoms of the thiosemicarbazone or semicarbazone pharmacophores. The computational analyses results in the adenine and purine derivatives suggest that the nitrogen atoms in the adenine rings make several hydrogen bonds with the water molecules present in the active site, as well as Gly249 and Glu288 residues. The OH group in third position of the sugar moiety interacts with the Ser217 (C=O) and the water molecules through hydrogen bonds. The aromatic rings in the molecules interact with the tyrosine residues. The thiosemicarbazone or semicarbazone derivatives explain that the flexibility and polar properties in the thiosemicarbazone or semicarbazone pharmacophoric regions allow the molecules to coordinate with the metal ion (especially iron) present in the RNR enzymes. This review concluded that RNR inhibitors composed of different fragments such as aryl, heteroaryl, sugar moiety, polar groups, flexible bonds, etc which are required for the binding of the molecules to the RNR enzymes. Further, the fragmental analysis of the RNR inhibitors on different toxicological and metabolic targets can provide significant novel molecules with acceptable pharmacokinetic properties.
Considering our interest in the design of innovative radiometal-based complexes for in vivo imaging of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), we have recently introduced a set of M(CO)3-complexes (M=(99m)Tc, Re) containing a pendant N(?)-NO2-L-arginine moiety, a known inhibitor of the enzyme. Enzymatic assays with purified inducible NOS have shown that the non-radioactive surrogates with 3-(Re1; Ki=84 ?M) or 6-carbon linkers (Re2; Ki=6 ?M) are stronger inhibitors than the respective metal-free conjugates L1 (Ki=178 ?M) and L2 (Ki=36 ?M), with Re2 displaying the highest inhibitory potency. Aiming to rationalize the experimental results we have performed a molecular docking study combined with molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and free energy perturbation (FEP) calculations. The higher inhibitory potency of Re2 arises from the stronger electrostatic interactions observed between the "Re(CO)3" core and the residues Arg260 and Arg382. This interaction is only possible due to the higher flexibility of its C6-carbon spacer, which links the N(?)-NO2-L-arginine moiety and the "Re(CO)3" organometallic core. Furthermore, FEP calculations were carried out and the resultant relative binding energies (??Gbind(calc)=0.690±0.028 kcal/mol,Re1/L1 and 1.825±0.318 kcal/mol, Re2/L2) are in accordance with the experimental results (??Gbind(exp)=0.461±0.009 kcal/mol,Re1/L1 and 1.129±0.210 kcal/mol, Re2/L2); there is an energetic penalty for the transformation of the Re complexes into the ligands and this penalization is higher for the pair Re2/L2.
The mountains of data thrusting from the new landscape of modern high-throughput biology are irrevocably changing biomedical research and creating a near-insatiable demand for training in data management and manipulation and data mining and analysis. Among life scientists, from clinicians to environmental researchers, a common theme is the need not just to use, and gain familiarity with, bioinformatics tools and resources but also to understand their underlying fundamental theoretical and practical concepts. Providing bioinformatics training to empower life scientists to handle and analyse their data efficiently, and progress their research, is a challenge across the globe. Delivering good training goes beyond traditional lectures and resource-centric demos, using interactivity, problem-solving exercises and cooperative learning to substantially enhance training quality and learning outcomes. In this context, this article discusses various pragmatic criteria for identifying training needs and learning objectives, for selecting suitable trainees and trainers, for developing and maintaining training skills and evaluating training quality. Adherence to these criteria may help not only to guide course organizers and trainers on the path towards bioinformatics training excellence but, importantly, also to improve the training experience for life scientists.
Tuberculosis is responsible for more than 40% of spine infections. While tuberculostatic chemotherapy remains the gold-standard treatment, surgical intervention is necessary only in specific cases. This paper reports the results of 33 patients with spine tuberculosis operated in our department in the last 15 years.
We present iAnn, an open source community-driven platform for dissemination of life science events, such as courses, conferences and workshops. iAnn allows automatic visualisation and integration of customised event reports. A central repository lies at the core of the platform: curators add submitted events, and these are subsequently accessed via web services. Thus, once an iAnn widget is incorporated into a website, it permanently shows timely relevant information as if it were native to the remote site. At the same time, announcements submitted to the repository are automatically disseminated to all portals that query the system. To facilitate the visualization of announcements, iAnn provides powerful filtering options and views, integrated in Google Maps and Google Calendar. All iAnn widgets are freely available.
The AMBER family of force fields is one of the most commonly used alternatives to describe proteins and drug-like molecules in molecular dynamics simulations. However, the absence of a specific set of parameters for lipids has been limiting the widespread application of this force field in biomembrane simulations, including membrane protein simulations and drug-membrane simulations. Here, we report the systematic parameterization of 12 common lipid types consistent with the General Amber Force Field (GAFF), with charge-parameters determined with RESP at the HF/6-31G(d) level of theory, to be consistent with AMBER. The accuracy of the scheme was evaluated by comparing predicted and experimental values for structural lipid properties in MD simulations in an NPT ensemble with explicit solvent in 100:100 bilayer systems. Globally, a consistent agreement with experimental reference data on membrane structures was achieved for some lipid types when using the typical MD conditions normally employed when handling membrane proteins and drug-membrane simulations (a tensionless NPT ensemble, 310?K), without the application of any of the constraints often used in other biomembrane simulations (such as the surface tension and the total simulation box area). The present set of parameters and the universal approach used in the parameterization of all the lipid types described here, as well as the consistency with the AMBER force field family, together with the tensionless NPT ensemble used, opens the door to systematic studies combining lipid components with small drug-like molecules or membrane proteins and show the potential of GAFF in dealing with biomembranes.
The emergence of microcarrier technology has brought a renewed interest in anchorage-dependent cell culture for high-yield processes. Well-known in vaccine production, microcarrier culture also has potential for application in other fields. In this work, two types of microcarriers were evaluated for small-scale monoclonal antibody (mAb) production by CHOK1 cells. Cultures (5 ml) of microporous Cytodex 3 and macroporous CultiSpher-S carriers were performed in vented conical tubes and subsequently scaled-up (20 ml) to shake-flasks, testing combinations of different culture conditions (cell concentration, microcarrier concentration, rocking methodology, rocking speed, and initial culture volume). Culture performance was evaluated by considering the mAb production and cell growth at the phases of initial adhesion and proliferation. The best culture performances were obtained with Cytodex 3, regarding cell proliferation (average 1.85 ± 0.11 × 10(6) cells/ml against 0.60 ± 0.08 × 10(6) cells/ ml for CultiSpher-S), mAb production (2.04 ± 0.41 ?g/ml against 0.99 ± 0.35 ?g/ml for CultiSpher-S), and culture longevity (30 days against 10-15 days for CultiSpher-S), probably due to the collagen-coated dextran matrix that potentiates adhesion and prevents detachment. The culture conditions of greater influence were rocking mechanism (Cytodex 3, pulse followed by continuous) and initial cell concentration (CultiSpher-S, 4 × 10(5) cells/ml). Microcarriers proved to be a viable and favorable alternative to standard adherent and suspended cultures for mAb production by CHO-K1 cells, with simple operation, easy scale-up, and significantly higher levels of mAb production. However, variations of microcarrier culture performance in different vessels reiterate the need for optimization at each step of the scale-up process.
In this study, a set of 50 transition-metal complexes of Cu(I) and Cu(II), were used in the evaluation of 18 density functionals in geometry determination. In addition, 14 different basis sets were considered, including four commonly used Poples all-electron basis sets; four basis sets including popular types of effective-core potentials: Los Alamos, Steven-Basch-Krauss, and Stuttgart-Dresden; and six triple-? basis sets. The results illustrate the performance of different methodological alternatives for the treatment of geometrical properties in relevant copper complexes, pointing out Double-Hybrid (DH) and Long-range Correction (LC) Generalized Gradient Approximation (GGA) methods as better descriptors of the geometry of the evaluated systems. These however, are associated with a computational cost several times higher than some of the other methods employed, such as the M06 functional, which has also demonstrated a comparable performance. Regarding the basis sets, 6-31+G(d) and 6-31+G(d,p) were the best performing approaches. In addition, the results show that the use of effective-core potentials has a limited impact, in terms of the accuracy in the determination of metal-ligand bond-lengths and angles in our dataset of copper complexes. Hence, these could become a good alternative for the geometrical description of these systems, particularly CEP-121G and SDD basis sets, if one is considering larger copper complexes where the computational cost could be an issue.
We have developed a computer program named VolArea that allows for a rapid and fully automated analysis of molecular structures. The software calculates the surface area and the volume of molecular structures, as well as the volume of molecular cavities. The surface area facility can be used to calculate the solvent-exposed surface area of a molecule or the contact area between two molecules. The volume algorithm can be used to predict not only the space occupied by any molecular structure, but also the volume of cavities, such as tunnels or clefts. The software finds wide application in the characterization of systems, such as protein/ligand complexes, enzyme active sites, protein/protein interfaces, enzyme channels, membrane pores, solvent tunnels, among others. Some examples are given to illustrate its potential. VolArea is as a plug-in of the widely distributed software Visual Molecular Dynamics (VMD) and is freely available at http://www.fc.up.pt/PortoBioComp/Software/Volarea/Home.html.
In this paper, we have studied the catalytic mechanism of L-asparaginase II computationally. The reaction mechanism was investigated using the ONIOM methodology. For the geometry optimization we used the B3LYP/6-31G(d):AM1 level of theory, and for the single points we used the M06-2X/6-311++G(2d,2p):M06-2X/6-31G(d) level of theory. It was demonstrated that the full mechanism involves three sequential steps and requires the nucleophilic attack of a water molecule on the substrate prior to the release of ammonia. There are three rate-limiting states, which are the reactants, the first transition state, and the last transition state. The energetic span is 20.2 kcal/mol, which is consistent with the experimental value of 16 kcal/mol. The full reaction is almost thermoneutral. The proposed catalytic mechanism involves two catalytic triads that play different roles in the reaction. The first triad, Thr12-Lys162-Asp90, acts by deprotonating a water molecule that subsequently binds to the substrate. The second triad, Thr12-Ty25-Glu283, acts by stabilizing the tetrahedral intermediate that is formed after the nucleophilic attack of the water molecule to the substrate. We have shown that a well-known Thr12-substrate covalent intermediate is not formed in the wild-type mechanism, even though our results suggest that its formation is expected in the Thr89Val mutant. These results have provided a new understanding of the catalytic mechanism of L-asparaginases that is in agreement with the available experimental data, even though it is different from all earlier proposals. This is of particular importance since this enzyme is currently used as a chemotherapeutic drug against several types of cancer and in the food industry to control the levels of acrylamide in food.
In order to elucidate the catalytic mechanism of the Mn-Mn containing serine/threonine protein phosphatase 5 (PP5), we present a density functional theory study with a cluster model approach. According to our results, the reaction occurs through an in-line concerted transition state with an energy of 15.8 kcal mol(-1) , and no intermediates are formed. The important role played by His304 and Asp274 as stabilizers of the leaving group has been shown, whereas the role played by the metal ions seems to be mostly electrostatic. The indispensable requirement of having a neutral active center has been demonstrated by testing different protonation states of the cluster model. We have shown also the importance of describing properly the electronic configuration of the Mn-Mn binuclear centers.
Abstract In the present computational analysis, pharmacophore-based active conformer selection method was used to derive active conformers for the physicochemical descriptors calculation. The significant regression models were validated using different validation methods, which provided significant Q(2) values. The distance-based approaches were also used to analyze the discriminant property of the molecules contributed in the models. The Mahalanobis distance (MD) values obtained from these studies revealed that the compounds with very high and very low acting human ether-a-go-go-related gene blockers possessed high MD values, while the predicted activity of those compounds exhibited less residual errors. The results obtained in the studies suggest that the distance-based approaches can be used to validate the quantitative structure-activity relationship models significantly. The descriptors contributed in the models explain that the flexibility of the bonds connected to the aromatic rings or non-polar region of the molecules make ?-? interaction with the aromatic residues of the protein.
The aspartic protease renin (REN) catalyses the rate-limiting step in the Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System (RAAS), which regulates cardiovascular and renal homoeostasis in living organisms. Renin blockage is therefore an attractive therapeutic strategy for the treatment of hypertension. Herein, computational approaches were used to provide a structural characterization of the binding site, flap opening and dynamic rearrangements of REN in the key conserved residues and water molecules, with the binding of a dodecapeptide substrate or different inhibitors. All these structural insights during catalysis may assist future studies in developing novel strategies for REN inactivation. Our molecular dynamics simulations of several unbound-REN and bound-REN systems indicate similar flexible-segments plasticity with larger fluctuations in those belonging to the C-domain (exposed to the solvent). These segments are thought to assist the flap opening and closure to allow the binding of the substrate and catalytic water molecules. The unbound-REN simulation suggests that the flap can acquire three different conformations: closed, semi-open and open. Our results indicate that the semi-open conformation is already sufficient and appropriate for the binding of the angiotensinogen (Ang) tail, thus contributing to the high specificity of REN, and that both semi-open and open flap conformations are present in free and complexed enzymes. We additionally observed that the Tyr75-Trp39 H-bond has an important role in assisting flap movement, and we highlight several conserved water molecules and amino acids that are essential for the proper catalytic activity of REN.
To place the application of miniaturized vessels as microbioreactors on a firm footing, focus has been given to engineering characterization. Studies on this matter have mostly involved carrier-free biological systems, while support-based systems have been overlooked. The present work aims to contribute to fill in such gap. Thus, it intended to establish a robust scaled down approach to identify and optimize relevant operational conditions of naringin hydrolysis by naringinase in PVA lens-shaped particles. The influence of geometric and dynamic (viz. Reynolds number) parameters was evaluated. Naringin hydrolysis in round, flat bottom MTP proved more effective than in square, pyramidal bottom. The bioconversion at MTP and stirred tank reactors scales showed that, given the 12.5-fold scale difference was in agreement between the bioconversion rates. The external mass transfer resistances were negligible as deduced from Damkohler modulus ?1. The bioconversion was effectively scaled-up 200-fold from shaken microtiter plates to stirred tank reactors.
Protein-protein interactions are the basis of many biological processes and are governed by focused regions with high binding affinities, the warm- and hot-spots. It was proposed that these regions are surrounded by areas with higher packing density leading to solvent exclusion around them - "the O-ring theory." This important inference still lacks sufficient demonstration. We have used Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations to investigate the validity of the O-ring theory in the context of the conformational flexibility of the proteins, which is critical for function, in general, and for interaction with water, in particular. The MD results were analyzed for a variety of solvent-accessible surface area (SASA) features, radial distribution functions (RDFs), protein-water distances, and water residence times. The measurement of the average solvent-accessible surface area features for the warm- and hot-spots and the null-spots, as well as data for corresponding RDFs, identify distinct properties for these two sets of residues. Warm- and hot-spots are found to be occluded from the solvent. However, it has to be borne in mind that water-mediated interactions have significant power to construct an extensive and strongly bonded interface. We observed that warm- and hot-spots tend to form hydrogen bond (H-bond) networks with water molecules that have an occupancy around 90%. This study provides strong evidence in support of the O-ring theory and the results show that hot-spots are indeed protected from the bulk solvent. Nevertheless, the warm- and hot-spots still make water-mediated contacts, which are also important for protein-protein binding.
Carbohydrases find a wide application in industrial processes and products, mainly in the food industry. With these enzymes, it is possible to obtain different types of sugar syrups (viz. glucose, fructose and inverted sugar syrups), prebiotics (viz. galactooligossacharides and fructooligossacharides) and isomaltulose, which is an interesting sweetener substitute for sucrose to improve the sensory properties of juices and wines and to reduce lactose in milk. The most important carbohydrases to accomplish these goals are of microbial origin and include amylases (?-amylases and glucoamylases), invertases, inulinases, galactosidases, glucosidases, fructosyltransferases, pectinases and glucosyltransferases. Yet, for all these processes to be cost-effective for industrial application, a very efficient, simple and cheap immobilization technique is required. Immobilization techniques can involve adsorption, entrapment or covalent bonding of the enzyme into an insoluble support, or carrier-free methods, usually based on the formation of cross-linked enzyme aggregates (CLEAs). They include a broad variety of supports, such as magnetic materials, gums, gels, synthetic polymers and ionic resins. All these techniques present advantages and disadvantages and several parameters must be considered. In this work, the most recent and important studies on the immobilization of carbohydrases with potential application in the food industry are reviewed.
?-Glucosidases represent an important group of enzymes due to their pivotal role in various biotechnological processes. One of the most prominent is biomass degradation for the production of fuel ethanol from cellulosic agricultural residues and wastes, where the use of immobilized biocatalysts may prove advantageous. Within such scope, the present work aimed to evaluate the feasibility of entrapping ?-glucosidase in either sol-gel or in Lentikats supports for application in cellobiose hydrolysis, and to perform the characterization of the resulting bioconversion systems. The activity and stability of the immobilized biocatalyst over given ranges of temperature and pH values were assessed, as well as kinetic data, and compared to the free form, and the operational stability was evaluated. Immobilization increased the thermal stability of the enzyme, with a 10 °C shift to an optimal temperature in the case of sol-gel support. Mass transfer hindrances as a result of immobilization were not significant, for sol-gel support. Lentikats-entrapped glucosidase was used in 19 consecutive batch runs for cellobiose hydrolysis, without noticeable decrease in product yield. Moreover, encouraging results were obtained for continuous operation. In the overall, the feasibility of using immobilized biocatalysts for cellobiose hydrolysis was established.
Activation of the immune-pineal axis induces a transient reduction in nocturnal melatonin in the plasma during the proinflammatory phase of an innate immune response to allow the proper migration of leukocytes to the lesion site. This transient reduction should be regulated by inflammatory mediators, which are responsible for the fine-tuning of the process. In the present study, we measured the pre- and postoperative serum concentrations of melatonin, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and cortisol in women who underwent an elective hysterectomy and correlated the variation in melatonin with postoperative pain.
In this study, we present a detailed characterization of the full ?/? interface in the farnesyltransferase (FTase) enzyme, an important target in drug design efforts. This characterization is presented in terms of hot spots, warm spots, and null spots and is based on the application of an improved variation of the computational alanine scanning mutagenesis methodology, complemented with extensive solvent-accessible surface area and interfacial hydrogen-bonding analysis. A total of 130 interface amino acid residues were considered in this analysis, a number that represents 16.0% of the total of 814 amino acid residues in the full enzyme. Globally, the results provide important clues on the most important structural and energetic determinants for dimer formation, suggesting several key targets at the subunit interface for the development of new molecules that aim to inhibit FTase activity through blocking the formation of the fully active FTase dimer, yielding useful indications for future drug design efforts.
Funding bodies are increasingly recognizing the need to provide graduates and researchers with access to short intensive courses in a variety of disciplines, in order both to improve the general skills base and to provide solid foundations on which researchers may build their careers. In response to the development of high-throughput biology, the need for training in the field of bioinformatics, in particular, is seeing a resurgence: it has been defined as a key priority by many Institutions and research programmes and is now an important component of many grant proposals. Nevertheless, when it comes to planning and preparing to meet such training needs, tension arises between the reward structures that predominate in the scientific community which compel individuals to publish or perish, and the time that must be devoted to the design, delivery and maintenance of high-quality training materials. Conversely, there is much relevant teaching material and training expertise available worldwide that, were it properly organized, could be exploited by anyone who needs to provide training or needs to set up a new course. To do this, however, the materials would have to be centralized in a database and clearly tagged in relation to target audiences, learning objectives, etc. Ideally, they would also be peer reviewed, and easily and efficiently accessible for downloading. Here, we present the Bioinformatics Training Network (BTN), a new enterprise that has been initiated to address these needs and review it, respectively, to similar initiatives and collections.
This work is based on the glycosidase ?-hexosaminidase, in particular, on ?-HexA (HexA), involved in the emergence of the Sandoff disease. Its function is to cleave the N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc) or N-acetylglucosamine moieties from its substrates. Here we reveal and consolidate many important aspects of the catalytic mechanism of GalNAc removal from the GM2 ganglioside. The reaction mechanism for this reaction is proposed to be substrate-assisted. It is expected to evolve through a mechanism similar to others glycosidase mechanisms, even though this fact has never been confirmed and the proposal still lacks atomic level detail in its description. To overcome these two limitations we have used the ONIOM formalism (B3LYP:Amber and M06-2X:Amber) with electrostatic embedding to calculate a bidimensional potential energy surface for the rate-limiting step. The potential energy surface reveals the mechanism with atomic detail. The formation of the covalent bond within the substrate has been confirmed, and its energy of stabilization has been calculated as 5.1 kcal/mol. The electronic energy barrier for this step is 22.5 kcal/mol at the hybrid ONIOM(M06-2X:Amber) level, well in line with the typical experimental values for similar reactions in glycosylases. The conformational transitions of the substrate GalNAc ring have been mapped in the PES for the first time. They support the hypothesis of a (4)S(2) skew boat-(4)E envelope-(4)C(1) chair pathway and provide much finer detail to the earlier proposals. In general the results are in line with earlier predictions.
The synthesis of di-myo-inositol phosphate (DIP), a common compatible solute in hyperthermophiles, involves the consecutive actions of inositol-1-phosphate cytidylyltransferase (IPCT) and di-myo-inositol phosphate phosphate synthase (DIPPS). In most cases, both activities are present in a single gene product, but separate genes are also found in a few organisms. Genes for IPCT and DIPPS were found in the genomes of 33 organisms, all with thermophilic/hyperthermophilic lifestyles. Phylogeny of IPCT/DIPPS revealed an incongruent topology with 16S RNA phylogeny, thus suggesting horizontal gene transfer. The phylogenetic tree of the DIPPS domain was rooted by using phosphatidylinositol phosphate synthase sequences as out-group. The root locates at the separation of genomes with fused and split genes. We propose that the gene encoding DIPPS was recruited from the biosynthesis of phosphatidylinositol. The last DIP-synthesizing ancestor harboured separated genes for IPCT and DIPPS and this architecture was maintained in a crenarchaeal lineage, and transferred by horizontal gene transfer to hyperthermophilic marine Thermotoga species. It is plausible that the driving force for the assembly of those two genes in the early ancestor is related to the acquired advantage of DIP producers to cope with high temperature. This work corroborates the view that Archaea were the first hyperthermophilic organisms.
The use of microchannel reactor based technologies within the scope of bioprocesses as process intensification and production platforms is gaining momentum. Such trend can be ascribed a particular set of characteristics of microchannel reactors, namely the enhanced mass and heat transfer, combined with easier handling and smaller volumes required, as compared to traditional reactors. In the present work, a continuous production process of 4-cholesten-3-one by the enzymatic oxidation of cholesterol without the formation of any by-product was assessed. The production was carried out within Y-shaped microchannel reactors in an aqueous-organic two-phase system. Substrate was delivered from the organic phase to aqueous phase containing cholesterol oxidase and the product formed partitions back to the organic phase. The aqueous phase was then forced through a plug-flow reactor, containing immobilized catalase. This step aimed at the reduction of hydrogen peroxide formed as a by-product during cholesterol oxidation, to avoid cholesterol oxidase deactivation due to said by-product. This setup was compared with traditional reactors and modes of operation. The results showed that microchannel reactor geometry outperformed traditional stirred tank and plug-flow reactors reaching similar conversion yields at reduced residence time. Coupling the plug-flow reactor containing catalase enabled aqueous phase reuse with maintenance of 30% catalytic activity of cholesterol oxidase while eliminating hydrogen peroxide. A final production of 36 m of cholestenone was reached after 300 hours of operation.
In this paper we studied the mechanism of formation of the internal aldimine, a common intermediate to most pyridoxal 5-phosphate (PLP)-dependent enzymes. A large model based on the crystal structure from the human ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) enzyme was constructed and in total accounts for 504 atoms. The reaction mechanism was investigated using the ONIOM methodology (B3LYP/6-31G(d)//AM1), and the final energies were calculated with the M06/6-311++G(2d,2p)//B3LYP/6-31G(d) level of theory. It was demonstrated that the reaction is accomplished in three sequential steps: (i) the nucleophilic attack of Lysine69 to PLP, (ii) the carbinolamine formation, and (iii) a final dehydration step. For the carbinolamine formation, several mechanistic hypotheses were explored, and the preferred pathway assigns a key role for the conserved active site Cys360. The overall reaction is exergonic in -9.1 kcal/mol, and the rate-limiting step is the dehydration step (E(a) = 13.5 kcal/mol). For the first time, we provide an atomistic portrait of this mechanism in an enzymatic environment. Moreover, we were able to assign a novel role to Cys360 in the ODC reaction mechanism that was never proposed.
In the present investigation, a QSAR analysis on structurally diverse ?-glucosidase inhibitors (andrographolide, chromenone, triazole derivatives) was performed and the developed models were validated by various validation methods (LMO, LOO, LSO, bootstrapping, Y-randomization and test set). The statistical parameters calculated for the models show that the developed models are statistically significant and have predicted the activities with small residual errors. The crossvalidated correlation coefficient (Q(2)) values obtained from different validation methods show >0.7 for both the models. Other correlations coefficient statistical parameters (R(2)(pred) and R(2)(m)) show that the developed models are reliable and robust. The leave-series-out (LSO) results reveal that the developed models can predict the activity of new compounds and its crossvalidated correlation coefficients values are comparable with the Q(2) values obtained from other validation methods. The descriptors contributed in the selected models are suggested that the lower/reduced polarizability on the vdW surface area of the molecules and the presence of flexible bonds allow the substituents/side chains in the molecules with free movement and with lesser stretching energy which are favourable for the ?-glucosidase inhibitory activity. These results reveal that the developed models are statistically significant and can be used with other molecular modelling works for designing novel ?-glucosidase inhibitors with multiple activities (HIV, diabetics, cancer, etc).
The dawn of the new millennium saw a trend towards the dedicated use of microfluidic devices for process intensification in biotechnology. As the last decade went by, it became evident that this pattern was not a short-lived fad, since the deliverables related to this field of research have been consistently piling-up. The application of process intensification in biotechnology is therefore seemingly catching up with the trend already observed in the chemical engineering area, where the use of microfluidic devices has already been upgraded to production scale. The goal of the present work is therefore to provide an updated overview of the developments centered on the use of microfluidic devices for process intensification in biotechnology. Within such scope, particular focus will be given to different designs, configurations and modes of operation of microreactors, but reference to similar features regarding microfluidic devices in downstream processing will not be overlooked. Engineering considerations and fluid dynamics issues, namely related to the characterization of flow in microchannels, promotion of micromixing and predictive tools, will also be addressed, as well as reflection on the analytics required to take full advantage of the possibilities provided by microfluidic devices in process intensification. Strategies developed to ease the implementation of experimental set-ups anchored in the use of microfluidic devices will be briefly tackled. Finally, realistic considerations on the current advantages and limitation on the use of microfluidic devices for process intensification, as well as prospective near future developments in the field, will be presented.
In the present investigation, the authors have performed an in silico-based analysis on a series of arylthiophene derivatives for the determination of their structural features responsible for farnesyltransferase (FTase) inhibitory activity, hERG blocking activity, and toxicity by quantitative structure-activity relationship and pharmacophore analysis techniques. The statistically significant models derived through multiple linear regression analysis were validated by different validation methods. The applicability of the descriptors contributed in the selected models show that the polar and polarizable properties on the van der Waals (vdW) surface area of the molecules are important for the FTase inhibitory and hERG blocking activities, while being detrimental for the toxicity of the molecules. It is interesting to note that the topological properties, molecular flexibility, and connectivity of the molecules are positively correlated to all the activities (FTase inhibition, hERG blocking, and toxicity). This implies that the flexibility of the molecules is the common feature for interaction in all targets, whereas the presence of polar groups on the molecular surface (vdW) is a determinant for the favorable (FTase inhibition) or unwanted effect (hERG blocking and toxicity) of the molecules. The pharmacophore analysis of the molecules demonstrated that the aromatic/hydrophobicity and polarizability features are important pharmacophore contours favorable for these activities.
Studies suggest that around 20% of adults in Europe experience chronic pain, which not only has a considerable impact on their quality of life but also imposes a substantial economic burden on society. More than one-third of these people feel that their pain is inadequately managed. A range of analgesic drugs is currently available, but recent guidelines recommend that NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors should be prescribed cautiously. Although the short-term efficacy of opioids is good, adverse events are common and doses are frequently limited by tolerability problems. There is a perceived need for improved pharmacological treatment options. Currently, many treatment decisions are based solely on pain intensity. However, chronic pain is multifactorial and this apaproach ignores the fact that different causative mechanisms may be involved. The presence of more than one causative mechanism means that chronic pain can seldom be controlled by a single agent. Therefore, combining drugs with different analgesic actions increases the probability of interrupting the pain signal, but is often associated with an increased risk of drug/drug interactions, low compliance and increased side effects. Tapentadol combines ?-opioid receptor agonism and noradrenaline reuptake inhibition in a single molecule, with both mechanisms contributing to its analgesic effects. Preclinical testing has shown that ?-opioid agonism is primarily responsible for analgesia in acute pain, whereas noradrenaline reuptake inhibition is more important in chronic pain. In clinical trials in patients with chronic pain, the efficacy of tapentadol was similar to that of oxycodone, but it produced significantly fewer gastrointestinal side-effects and treatment discontinuations. Pain relief remained stable throughout a 1-year safety study. Thus, tapentadol could possibly overcome some of the limitations of currently available analgesics for the treatment of chronic pain.
The use of miniaturized devices for fastening bioprocess development, even up to production scale, has expanded rapidly, a feature clearly noticeable in recent years. This matter was reviewed in a recent past, but several developments have occurred since. These will be addressed in the present work, which will provide some insight on the use of microfluidic /microstructured reactors and of micro-scale downstream processing as well, therefore broadening the scope of the review.
Chromium(VI) is recognized as the most toxic valency of Cr, but its genotoxicity and cytostaticity in plants is still poorly studied. In order to analyze Cr(VI) cyto- and gentotoxicity, Pisum sativum L. plants were grown in soil and watered with solutions with different concentrations of Cr up to 2000 mg/L. After 28 days of exposure, leaves showed no significant variations in either cell cycle dynamics or ploidy level. As for DNA damage, flow cytometric (FCM) histograms showed significant differences in full peak coefficient of variation (FPCV) values, suggesting clastogenicity. This is paralleled by the Comet assay results, showing an increase in DNA damage for 1000 and 2000 mg/L. In roots, exposure to 2000 mg/L resulted in cell cycle arrest at the G(2)/M checkpoint. It was also verified that under the same conditions 40% of the individuals analyzed suffered polyploidization having both 2C and 4C levels. DNA damage analysis by the Comet assay and FCM revealed dose-dependent increases in DNA damage and FPCV. Through this, we have unequivocally demonstrated for the first time in plants that Cr exposure can result in DNA damage, cell cycle arrest, and polyploidization. Moreover, we critically compare the validity of the Comet assay and FCM in evaluating cytogenetic toxicity tests in plants and demonstrate that the data provided by both techniques complement each other and present high correlation levels. In conclusion, the data presented provides new insight on Cr effects in plants in general and supports the use of the parameters tested in this study as reliable endpoints for this metal toxicity in plants.
Iron is the most abundant chemical element on Earth but its most common oxidation state is Fe(III) which presents a very low solubility under physiological conditions. During evolution, micro-organisms have developed sound strategies to acquire iron from both the environment and superior organisms, including direct uptake of iron ions from exogenous iron/heme sources and the synthesis of specialized Fe(III) chelators called siderophores. The present review paper aims at presenting and discussing the latest achievements in siderophore isolation and production, as well as novel applications of these molecules in therapies against iron-related diseases and in vaccines, and their application as antimicrobial agents and biosensors.
HIV-1 protease is a very attractive target for the development of new anti-HIV drugs and has been extensively studied over the past decades. In this study, we present a detailed atomic level characterization of the dimer interface in the enzyme HIV-1 protease through computational alanine scanning mutagenesis and molecular dynamics simulations. In addition to a full mapping of the amino acid residues present at the subunit interface, in terms of the corresponding energetic contribution for dimer formation and of their classification as hot spots, warm spots, and null spots, we trace a dynamic analysis of the subunit interacting and solvent accessible surface areas and of the most important hydrogen bonds between subunits. The results presented illustrate the high energetic importance for dimer formation of a small set of five amino acid residue pairs at the subunit interface-Leu5, Ile50, Arg87, Leu97, and Phe99-and provide important clues on the most important structural and energetic determinants for dimer formation. In addition, the results presented suggest several key targets at the subunit interface for the development of new molecules that aim to inhibit HIV-1 protease (PR) activity through blocking the formation of the fully active PR homodimeric form, providing important clues for drug design.
The pineal gland, the gland that translates darkness into an endocrine signal by releasing melatonin at night, is now considered a key player in the mounting of an innate immune response. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF), the first pro-inflammatory cytokine to be released by an inflammatory response, suppresses the translation of the key enzyme of melatonin synthesis (arylalkylamine-N-acetyltransferase, Aanat). Here, we show that TNF receptors of the subtype 1 (TNF-R1) are expressed by astrocytes, microglia, and pinealocytes. We also show that the TNF signaling reduces the level of inhibitory nuclear factor kappa B protein subtype A (NFKBIA), leading to the nuclear translocation of two NFKB dimers, p50/p50, and p50/RelA. The lack of a transactivating domain in the p50/p50 dimer suggests that this dimer is responsible for the repression of Aanat transcription. Meanwhile, p50/RelA promotes the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and the production of nitric oxide, which inhibits adrenergically induced melatonin production. Together, these data provide a mechanistic basis for considering pinealocytes a target of TNF and reinforce the idea that the suppression of pineal melatonin is one of the mechanisms involved in mounting an innate immune response.
A set of supports were screened for the immobilization of a partially purified extract of ?-glucosidase from Aspergillus sp. These supports, namely, Eupergit, Amberlite, alginate, gelatin, polyvinyl alcohol- (PVA-) based matrices (Lentikats), and sol-gel, have proved effective for the implementation of some other enzyme-based processes. The initial criterion for selection of promising supports prior to further characterization relied on the retention of the catalytic activity following immobilization. Based on such criterion, where immobilization in sol-gel and in Lentikats outmatched the remaining approaches, those two systems were further characterized. Immobilization did not alter the pH/activity profile, whereas the temperature/activity profile was improved when sol-gel support was assayed. Both thermal and pH stability were improved as a result of immobilization. An increase in the apparent K(M) (Michaelis constant) was observed following immobilization, suggesting diffusion limitations.
Ras proteins are small GTPases (G-proteins) that play a key role in cell growth and cell proliferation in the mitogen-activated protein kinase signal transduction pathway. Farnesylation is a critical step for membrane binding and the biological function of G-proteins. In the present investigation, we have studied the structural features of some molecules that are acting on the farnesyltransferase (FTase) enzyme for the inhibition of the farnesylation step in G-proteins. The benzofuran derivatives have activity against FTase inhibition and antiproliferative activity on QG56 cell lines. The result obtained from the quantitative structure-activity relationship study of these compounds shows that the models have significant predictive power and stability, as shown by statistical parameters such as R(2), Q(2), R(2)(pred), R(2)(m), F-value, Durbin-Watson, variable inflation factor values, Mahalanobis, and Cooks distances. The contribution of each descriptor for the activities (?-coefficients) reveals that the P-VSA descriptors (van der Waals surface area descriptors) such as vsa_pol, vsa_acc and SMR_VSA3 are the major contributors for the activity, along with other descriptors such as the partition coefficient, the partial charge, the atom and bond count and the adjacency, and distance descriptors. Earlier study on the FTase enzyme in our laboratory reveals that the existence of positively-charged groups on the FTase active site is important for drug design. It is also showing that the presence of hydrogen bonding donor and acceptor groups, together with negatively charged substituents is critical for improved activity by this series of molecules. These results offer important clues for the development of novel FTase inhibitors.
?-Glucosidase is one of the important enzymes in glucose digestion and its inhibitors are known to possess a large number of therapeutic effects. In this present investigation, we have performed structural feature analysis of some of these inhibitors namely, chromenone derivatives using the Molecular Operating Environment (MOE) software. The results of the QSAR study show that the derived models are statistically significant and were validated by external (test set) and internal (leave one out) methods. The crossvalidated correlation coefficients (Q2) of the models show that the training and test sets have the values > 0.6687. The physicochemical descriptors contributed for the models building in training set and complete data set show that the log of aqueous solubility (LogS) and the molar refractivity on the van der Waals surface area of the molecules (SMR_VSA4) positively contributed for the inhibitory activity. Further, the study also reveals that the polarizability and hydrogen bond acceptor/donor groups are important for the ?-glucosidase inhibitory activity and these results are in agreement with the earlier studies obtained in our laboratory on ?-glucosidase inhibitors which have shows that the polar surface area of the molecule is important for the interaction. The pharmacophore contours of the molecule also showed the importance of the polar surface property on the molecules. This computational analysis will help in the development of novel ?-glucosidase inhibitors for various diseases.
Structural feature analysis of chlorogenic acid derivatives made up of varying lengths of alkyl groups as ?-glucosidases inhibitors were performed by QSAR techniques. The statistically significant models derived from the study were validated by leave one out, Y-randomization and test set methods. The predictive capacity of the models was assessed by its validation parameters such as crossvalidated correlation coefficients (Q(2)), predictive residual analysis and other correlation parameters. The results obtained from the study show that the models were constructed with vsurf like properties (vsurf_ID4, vsurf_ID7 and vsurf_CW8), partial charge (Q_VSA_FNEG) and conformation dependent charged (dipoleX) descriptors. The integy moments of hydrophobicity descriptors (ID4 and ID7) are contributed for the inhibitory activity of the ?-glucosidases enzymes of both the species. The vsurf_ID7 descriptor has contributed significantly (negatively) for the inhibitory activity prediction of ?-glucosidases enzymes of S. cerevisiae. The partial negative charge on the surface of the molecules is detrimental for the activity, which reveals that the active site of the enzymes may have negatively charged groups. The pharmacophore analysis results also confirm the presence of hydrophilic properties on the vdW surface of the molecules. These results explain that the active sites of ?-glucosidase enzymes of both the species have the same environment for the interaction. The alkyl side chain on the molecules is important for the pharmacokinetic behavior of the molecules and reduces the interaction energy of the molecules with the water. Hence, these results will be useful for designing novel molecules with multiple activities.
Quantitative structure activity relationship analysis was performed on a series of xanthone derivatives to establish the structural features required for ?-glucosidase inhibitory activity. The computational and statistical analysis was performed with V life MDS (Molecular Design Suite) and Statistica software. The selected models show significant predictive power, stability, and reliability in terms of cross-validated correlation coefficient (Q(2)(cv) > 0.74 and Q(2)(test) > 0.5) and other validation parameters. The results show that the SaaaC count, MMFF_6 and dipole moment are mainly contributed for the activity along with the hydrophobicity descriptors. It describes that heteroatoms (oxygen atom connected with carbon atom) in the molecules are favourable for ?-glucosidase inhibitory activity. The E-state count descriptor suggests that when carbon atoms connected with three aromatic bonds and hydrogen or other atoms are favourable for the activity. The SAHA and SAMH descriptors show that the hydrophilic area in the molecule is important for the activity while high hydrophilicity is unfavourable for the activity. This study concluded that hydrophilic, polar and/or electron negative groups, which are responsible for hydrogen bonding and interaction with the enzyme for favourable activity.
The present work aims to provide the basic characterization of sol-gel immobilized inulinase, a biocatalyst configuration yet unexploited, using as model system the hydrolysis of inulin to fructose. Porous xerogel particles with dimensions in slight excess of 10 ?m were obtained, yielding an immobilization efficiency of roughly 80%. The temperature- and pH-activity profiles displayed a broader bell-shaped pattern as a result of immobilization. In the latter case, a shift of the optimal pH of 0.5 pH units was observed towards a less acidic environment. The kinetic parameters estimated from the typical Michaelis-Menten kinetics suggest that immobilization in sol-gel did not tamper with the native enzyme conformation, but on the other hand, entrapment brought along mass transfer limitations. The sol-gel biocatalyst displayed a promising operational stability, since it was used in more than 20 consecutive 24-hour batch runs without noticeable decay in product yield. The performance of sol-gel biocatalyst particles doped with magnetite roughly matched the performance of simple sol-gel particles in a single batch run. However, the operational stability of the former proved poorer, since activity decay was evident after four consecutive 24-hour batch runs.
In the present work, the proton-transfer reactions of the methylpyranomalvidin-3-O-glucoside pigment in water with different pH values was studied by NMR and UV-visible spectroscopies. The results showed four equilibrium forms: the methylpyranomalvidin-3-O-glucoside cation, the neutral quinoidal base, the respective anionic quinoidal base, and a dianionic base unprotonated at the methyl group. According to the NMR data, it seems that for methylpyranomalvidin-3-O-glucoside besides the acid-base equilibrium between the pyranoflavylium cation and the neutral quinoidal base, a new species is formed at pD 4.88-6.10. This is corroborated by the appearance of a new set of signals in the NMR spectrum that may be assigned to the formation of hemiketal/cis-chalcone species to a small extent. The two ionization constants (pK(a1) and pK(a2)) obtained by both methods (NMR and UV-visible) for methylpyranomalvidin-3-O-glucoside are in agreement (pK(a1) = 5.17 ± 0.03; pK(a2) = 8.85 ± 0.08; and pK(a1) = 4.57 ± 0.07; pK(a2) = 8.23 ± 0.04 obtained by NMR and UV-visible spectroscopies, respectively). Moreover, the fully dianionic unprotonated form (at the methyl group) of the methylpyranomalvidin-3-O-glucoside is converted slowly into a new structure that displays a yellow color at basic pH. On the basis of the results obtained through LC-MS and NMR, the proposed structure was found to correspond to the flavonol syringetin-3-glucoside.
In order to predict the structural features responsible for ?-glucosidase inhibitory activity, a quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) analysis was performed on a series of andrographolide derivatives. To determine the quantitative relationship for the statistically significant models in terms of r (>0.8), F (99%) and Q(2) (>0.71) values were selected. The promising results we obtained could be used to predict the structural requirements for the inhibition of ?-glucosidase activity. The models developed included: subdivided surface area, adjacency, surface volume and shape, molecular orbital package (MOPAC) and partial charge descriptors and showed a high correlation with the inhibitory activity. The descriptors used revealed that a van der Waals (vdW) surface with significant polar volume is favourable to the activity. The positive effect of the shape descriptors; PM3-LUMO and vsurf_wp7 and the negative effect of GCUT_PEOE_2 indicated that the active site may contain some nucleophilic positions that could interact with the ligand and the hydrogen acceptor and/or donor groups for hydrogen bonding with inhibitors.
The Gulbenkian Training Programme in Bioinformatics has been offering hands-on training courses in Oeiras, PT for more than a decade. This article is a review of its functional organization and evolution. We aim to share our experience with people considering setting-up similar training facilities elsewhere. More than 1600 course attendees, so far, have attended our courses. Their experiences have helped us to know how to satisfy their training requirements and what is feasible with very limited resources.
Since the early 1960s, glutathione transferases (GSTs) have been described as detoxification enzymes. In fact, GSTs are the most important enzymes involved in the metabolism of electrophilic xenobiotic/endobiotic compounds. These enzymes are able to catalyze the nucleophilic addition of glutathione (GSH) sulfur thiolate to a wide range of electrophilic substrates, building up a less toxic and more soluble compound. Cytosolic classes alpha, pi, and mu are the most extensively studied GSTs. However, many of the catalytic events are still poorly understood. In the present work, we have resorted to density functional theory (DFT) and to potential of mean force (PMF) calculations to determine the GSH activation mechanism of GSTP1-1 and GSTM1-1 isoenzymes. For the GSTP1-1 enzyme, we have demonstrated that a water molecule, after an initial conformational rearrangement of GSH, can assist a proton transfer between the GSH cysteine thiol (GSH-SH) and the GSH glutamate alpha carboxylate (GSH-COO(-)) groups. The energy barrier associated with the proton transfer is 11.36 kcal·mol(-1). The GSTM1-1 enzyme shows a completely different behavior from the previous isoenzyme. In this case, two water molecules, positioned between the GSH-SH and the ? N atom of His107, working like a bridge, are able to promote the proton transfer between these two active groups with an energy barrier of 7.98 kcal·mol(-1). All our results are consistent with all the enzymes kinetics and mutagenesis experimental studies.
Polyphenols are plant secondary metabolites commonly present in the human diet that possess the ability to bind and inhibit digestive proteins. In the present study, kinetic measurements of porcine pancreatic elastase (PPE) activity were determined using Suc-(Ala)(3)-p-nitroanilide as substrate and polyphenolic compounds as inhibitors. A positive relationship between the degree of polyphenol polymerization and the capacity of the polyphenols to inhibit PPE was observed. Procyanidins with a molecular weight of at least 1154 Da were necessary to observe a significant inhibitory ability. Kinetic parameters were also calculated and confirmed that the inhibition is reversible and competitive. Molecular docking and dynamics simulations demonstrated that the tetramer structure has a higher affinity to the enzyme due the establishment of more contact points with the amino acids present in its active site. Hydrogen bond interactions and hydrophobic effects established between the polyphenol groups and the side chain of residues stabilize and favor the binding mode of this procyanidin. This work is relevant to the study of the antinutritional effects caused by dietary tannins on the digestive enzymes activity, reducing food digestibility and the absorption of nutrients. In general, the elastase model studied herein allows a better understanding of the inhibitory ability of polyphenol compounds.
There is a marked trend in pharmaceutical industry towards the replacement of classical organic methods by "green" alternatives that minimize or eliminate the generation of waste and avoid, where possible, the use of toxic and/or hazardous reagents and solvents. In this work the kinetically controlled synthesis of cephalexin by soluble and penicillin G acylase immobilized in sol-gel micro-particles with magnetic properties was performed in aqueous media with PGME and 7-ADCA as substrates, at different concentrations of substrate, temperature, pH, enzyme to substrate ratio and acyl donor to nucleophile ratio. Excess acyl donor had a strong effect on cephalexin productivity. A PGME/7-ADCA ratio of 3 was considered optimum. A maximum specific productivity of 5.9 mmol h(-1), gbiocatalyst(-1) at 160 mM 7-ADCA, 480 mM PGME and low enzyme to substrate ratio at 32.5 U mmol(-1) 7-ADCA was obtained with immobilized PGA in full aqueous medium, suggesting that diffusional limitations were minimized when compared with other commercial biocatalysts. A half-life of 133 h for the immobilized biocatalyst was estimated during cephalexin synthesis in the presence of 100 mM 7-ADCA and 300 mM PGME, in 50 mM Tris/HCl at pH 7.2 and 14°C. These results compare quite favorably with those previously reported for the kinetically controlled synthesis of cephalexin.
Food and feed is possibly the area where processing anchored in biological agents has the deepest roots. Despite this, process improvement or design and implementation of novel approaches has been consistently performed, and more so in recent years, where significant advances in enzyme engineering and biocatalyst design have fastened the pace of such developments. This paper aims to provide an updated and succinct overview on the applications of enzymes in the food sector, and of progresses made, namely, within the scope of tapping for more efficient biocatalysts, through screening, structural modification, and immobilization of enzymes. Targeted improvements aim at enzymes with enhanced thermal and operational stability, improved specific activity, modification of pH-activity profiles, and increased product specificity, among others. This has been mostly achieved through protein engineering and enzyme immobilization, along with improvements in screening. The latter has been considerably improved due to the implementation of high-throughput techniques, and due to developments in protein expression and microbial cell culture. Expanding screening to relatively unexplored environments (marine, temperature extreme environments) has also contributed to the identification and development of more efficient biocatalysts. Technological aspects are considered, but economic aspects are also briefly addressed.
Nuclear factor-kappa B (NFKB), a pivotal player in inflammatory responses, is constitutively expressed in the pineal gland. Corticosterone inhibits pineal NFKB leading to an enhancement of melatonin production, while tumor necrosis factor (TNF) leads to inhibition of Aa-nat transcription and the production of N-acetylserotonin in cultured glands. The reduction in nocturnal melatonin surge favors the mounting of the inflammatory response. Despite these data, there is no clear evidence of the ability of the pineal gland to recognize molecules that signal infection. This study investigated whether the rat pineal gland expresses receptors for lipopolysaccharide (LPS), the endotoxin from the membranes of Gram-negative bacteria, and to establish the mechanism of action of LPS. Here, we show that pineal glands possess both CD14 and toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), membrane proteins that bind LPS and trigger the NFKB pathway. LPS induced the nuclear translocation of p50/p50 and p50/RELA dimers and the synthesis of TNF. The maximal expression of TNF in cultured glands coincides with an increase in the expression of TNF receptor 1 (TNFR1) in isolated pinealocytes. In addition, LPS inhibited the synthesis of N-acetylserotonin and melatonin. Therefore, the pineal gland transduces Gram-negative endotoxin stimulation by producing TNF and inhibiting melatonin synthesis. Here, we provide evidence to reinforce the idea of an immune-pineal axis, showing that the pineal gland is a constitutive player in the innate immune response.
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