Now showing 1 - 10 of 21
  • Publication
    Ubiquitin chain specific auto-ubiquitination triggers sustained oscillation, bistable switches and excitable firing
    (Institution of Engineering and Technology, 2014-12) ; ; ;
    Ubiquitin modification of cellular proteins commonly targets them for proteosomal degradation, but can also convey non-proteolytic functions. Over the past years, advances in experimental approaches have helped uncover the extensive involvement of ubiquitination in protein regulation. However, our understanding of the dynamics of the ubiquitination-related networks have lagged behind. A common regulatory theme for many E3 ligases is the ability to self-catalyse their own ubiquitination without involving external E3 ligating enzymes. Here, the authors have explored computational models of both proteolytic and non-proteolytic auto-ubiquitination of E3 ligases and characterised the dynamic properties of these regulatory motifs. Remarkably, in both cases auto-ubiquitination coupled with multi-step de-ubiquitination process can bring about sustained oscillatory behaviour. In addition, the same basic wiring structures can trigger bistable switches of activity and excitable firing of the dynamic responses of the ubiquitinated E3 ligase. Bifurcation analysis allows one to derive parametric conditions that govern these dynamics. They also show that these complex non-linear behaviours persist for a more detailed mechanistic description that involves the E1 and E2 enzymes. Their work therefore provides new insights into the dynamic features of auto-ubiquitination in different cellular contexts.
      217Scopus© Citations 7
  • Publication
    Feedback regulation in cell signalling: Lessons for cancer therapeutics
    The notion of feedback is fundamental for understanding signal transduction networks. Feedback loops attenuate or amplify signals, change the network dynamics and modify the input-output relationships between the signal and the target. Negative feedback provides robustness to noise and adaptation to perturbations, but as a double-edged sword can prevent effective pathway inhibition by a drug. Positive feedback brings about switch-like network responses and can convert analog input signals into digital outputs, triggering cell fate decisions and phenotypic changes. We show how a multitude of protein-protein interactions creates hidden feedback loops in signal transduction cascades. Drug treatments that interfere with feedback regulation can cause unexpected adverse effects. Combinatorial molecular interactions generated by pathway crosstalk and feedback loops often bypass the block caused by targeted therapies against oncogenic mutated kinases. We discuss mechanisms of drug resistance caused by network adaptations and suggest that development of effective drug combinations requires understanding of how feedback loops modulate drug responses.
      519Scopus© Citations 37
  • Publication
    HER2-HER3 dimer quantification by FLIM-FRET predicts breast cancer metastatic relapse independently of HER2 IHC status
    Overexpression of HER2 is an important prognostic marker, and the only predictive biomarker of response to HER2-targeted therapies in invasive breast cancer. HER2-HER3 dimer has been shown to drive proliferation and tumor progression, and targeting of this dimer with pertuzumab alongside chemotherapy and trastuzumab, has shown significant clinical utility. The purpose of this study was to accurately quantify HER2-HER3 dimerisation in formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) breast cancer tissue as a novel prognostic biomarker. FFPE tissues were obtained from patients included in the METABRIC (Molecular Taxonomy of Breast Cancer International Consortium) study. HER2-HER3 dimerisation was quantified using an improved fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) histology-based analysis. Analysis of 131 tissue microarray cores demonstrated that the extent of HER2-HER3 dimer formation as measured by Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) determined through FLIM predicts the likelihood of metastatic relapse up to 10 years after surgery (hazard ratio 3.91 (1.61–9.5), p = 0.003) independently of HER2 expression, in a multivariate model. Interestingly there was no correlation between the level of HER2 protein expressed and HER2-HER3 heterodimer formation. We used a mathematical model that takes into account the complex interactions in a network of all four HER proteins to explain this counterintuitive finding. Future utility of this technique may highlight a group of patients who do not overexpress HER2 protein but are nevertheless dependent on the HER2-HER3 heterodimer as driver of proliferation. This assay could, if validated in a group of patients treated with, for instance pertuzumab, be used as a predictive biomarker to predict for response to such targeted therapies.
      253Scopus© Citations 21
  • Publication
    Phosphorylation of RAF Kinase Dimers Drives Conformational Changes that Facilitate Transactivation
    RAF kinases are key players in the MAPK signaling pathway and are important targets for personalized cancer therapy. RAF dimerization is part of the physiological activation mechanism, together with phosphorylation, and is known to convey resistance to RAF inhibitors. Herein, molecular dynamics simulations are used to show that phosphorylation of a key N-terminal acidic (NtA) motif facilitates RAF dimerization by introducing several interprotomer salt bridges between the αC-helix and charged residues upstream of the NtA motif. Additionally, we show that the R-spine of RAF interacts with a conserved Trp residue in the vicinity of the NtA motif, connecting the active sites of two protomers and thereby modulating the cooperative interactions in the RAF dimer. Our findings provide a first structure-based mechanism for the auto-transactivation of RAF and could be generally applicable to other kinases, opening new pathways for overcoming dimerization-related drug resistance.
      221Scopus© Citations 31
  • Publication
    Competing to coordinate cell fate decisions: the MST2-Raf-1 signaling device
    How do biochemical signaling pathways generate biological specificity? This question is fundamental to modern biology, and its enigma has been accentuated by the discovery that most proteins in signaling networks serve multifunctional roles. An answer to this question may lie in analyzing network properties rather than individual traits of proteins in order to elucidate design principles of biochemical networks that enable biological decision-making. We discuss how this is achieved in the MST2/Hippo-Raf-1 signaling network with the help of mathematical modeling and model-based analysis, which showed that competing protein interactions with affinities controlled by dynamic protein modifications can function as Boolean computing devices that determine cell fate decisions. In addition, we discuss areas of interest for future research and highlight how systems approaches would be of benefit
      247Scopus© Citations 21
  • Publication
    A dynamic model of the hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1α) network
    (The Company of Biologists, 2013-02-06) ; ; ;
    Activation of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) pathway is a critical step in the transcriptional response to hypoxia. Although many of the key proteins involved have been characterised, the dynamics of their interactions in generating this response remain unclear. In the present study, we have generated a comprehensive mathematical model of the HIF-1α pathway based on core validated components and dynamic experimental data, and confirm the previously described connections within the predicted network topology. Our model confirms previous work demonstrating that the steps leading to optimal HIF-1α transcriptional activity require sequential inhibition of both prolyl- and asparaginyl-hydroxylases. We predict from our model (and confirm experimentally) that there is residual activity of the asparaginyl-hydroxylase FIH (factor inhibiting HIF) at low oxygen tension. Furthermore, silencing FIH under conditions where prolyl-hydroxylases are inhibited results in increased HIF-1α transcriptional activity, but paradoxically decreases HIF-1α stability. Using a core module of the HIF network and mathematical proof supported by experimental data, we propose that asparaginyl hydroxylation confers a degree of resistance upon HIF-1α to proteosomal degradation. Thus, through in vitro experimental data and in silico predictions, we provide a comprehensive model of the dynamic regulation of HIF-1α transcriptional activity by hydroxylases and use its predictive and adaptive properties to explain counter-intuitive biological observations.
      317Scopus© Citations 84
  • Publication
    SARAH Domain-mediated MST2-RASSF Dimeric Interactions
    We model the conformational changes and protein-protein interactions of enzymes involved in signaling along the Hippo pathwaya key molecular mechanism that controls the process of programmed cell death in eukaryotic cells, including cells affected by cancer. Combining modern computational modeling techniques with experimental information from X-ray crystallography and systems biology studies, can unveil detailed molecular interactions and lead to novel drugs. Here, we study the atomistic mechanisms and interactions between MST2 and RASSF-type kinases, through their respective SARAH domains highly conserved, long, terminal α-helices, which play essential roles in the activation of MST kinases and, therefore, in modulating apoptosis. In spite of their key roles in mediating cell signaling pathways, there is little structural information available for the RASSF SARAH domains and their dimerization with the MST2 SARAH domains. In particular, the RASSF1A crystal structure is not available yet. Here, we model, refine and validate atomistic structural models of dimers of the RASSF1A and MST2 SARAH domains, studying the interaction and the dynamic behavior of these molecular complexes using homology modeling, docking and full atomistic molecular dynamics simulations. Experimentally, we validate our approach by designing a novel peptide that can disrupt effectively MST2 homo and hetero SARAH dimers.
      281Scopus© Citations 12
  • Publication
    Protein-protein interactions generate hidden feedback and feed-forward loops to trigger bistable switches, oscillations and biphasic dose-responses
    Protein-protein interactions (PPIs) defined as reversible association of two proteins to form a complex, are undoubtedly among the most common interaction motifs featured in cells. Recent large-scale proteomic studies have revealed an enormously complex interactome of the cell, consisting of tens of thousands of PPIs with numerous signalling hubs. PPIs have functional roles in regulating a wide range of cellular processes including signal transduction and post-translational modifications, and de-regulation of PPIs is implicated in many diseases including cancers and neuro-degenerative disorders. Despite the ubiquitous appearance and physiological significance of PPIs, our understanding of the dynamic and functional consequences of these simple motifs remains incomplete, particularly when PPIs occur within large biochemical networks. We employ quantitative, dynamic modelling to computationally analyse salient dynamic features of the PPI motifs and PPI-containing signalling networks varying in topological architecture. Our analyses surprisingly reveal that simple reversible PPI motifs, when being embedded into signalling cascades, could give rise to extremely rich and complex regulatory dynamics in the absence of explicit positive and negative feedback loops. Our work represents a systematic investigation of the dynamic properties of PPIs in signalling networks, and the results shed light on how this simple event may potentiate diverse and intricate behaviours in vivo.
      309Scopus© Citations 18
  • Publication
    Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) network: insights from mathematical models
    (Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.), 2013) ; ;
    Oxygen is a crucial molecule for cellular function. When oxygen demand exceeds supply, the oxygen sensing pathway centred on the hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) is switched on and promotes adaptation to hypoxia by up-regulating genes involved in angiogenesis, erythropoiesis and glycolysis. The regulation of HIF is tightly modulated through intricate regulatory mechanisms. Notably, its protein stability is controlled by the oxygen sensing prolyl hydroxylase domain (PHD) enzymes and its transcriptional activity is controlled by the asparaginyl hydroxylase FIH (factor inhibiting HIF-1). To probe the complexity of hypoxia-induced HIF signalling, efforts in mathematical modelling of the pathway have been underway for around a decade. In this paper, we review the existing mathematical models developed to describe and explain specific behaviours of the HIF pathway and how they have contributed new insights into our understanding of the network. Topics for modelling included the switch-like response to decreased oxygen gradient, the role of micro environmental factors, the regulation by FIH and the temporal dynamics of the HIF response. We will also discuss the technical aspects, extent and limitations of these models. Recently, HIF pathway has been implicated in other disease contexts such as hypoxic inflammation and cancer through crosstalking with pathways like NFκB and mTOR. We will examine how future mathematical modelling and simulation of interlinked networks can aid in understanding HIF behaviour in complex pathophysiological situations. Ultimately this would allow the identification of new pharmacological targets in different disease settings.
      274Scopus© Citations 44
  • Publication
    Signalling by protein phosphatases and drug development: a systems-centred view
    (Wiley Blackwell (Blackwell Publishing), 2012-03-14) ; ; ;
    Protein modification cycles catalysed by opposing enzymes, such as kinases and phosphatases, form the backbone of signalling networks. Although, historically, kinases have been at the research forefront, a systems-centred approach reveals predominant roles for phosphatases in controlling the network response times and spatio-temporal profiles of signalling activities. Emerging evidence suggests that phosphatase kinetics are critical for network function and cell-fate decisions. Protein phosphatases operate as both immediate and delayed regulators of signal transduction, capable of attenuating or amplifying signalling. This versatility of phosphatase action emphasizes the need for systems biology approaches to understand cellular signalling networks and predict the cellular outcomes of combinatorial drug interventions.
      654Scopus© Citations 45