register interest

Professor Benedikt M Kessler

Research Area: Immunology
Technology Exchange: Drug discovery, Mass spectrometry and Protein interaction
Scientific Themes: Immunology & Infectious Disease and Cancer Biology
Keywords: Proteomics, Ubiquitin, HIV, Immunology, protein and cancer
Web Links:
Role of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) in proteolysis and antigen presentation.

Role of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) in proteolysis and antigen presentation.

Recognition of ubiquitylated proteins by deubiquitylating enzymes (DUBs).

Recognition of ubiquitylated proteins by deubiquitylating enzymes (DUBs).


Regulation of the lifespan of proteins is key for most biological processes and when altered, can often associate with progression of diseases. When proteins reach the end of their lifetime, most of them get modified by the attachment of ubiquitin, a small protein of 76 amino acids. This modification has been implicated not just in the elimination of damaged proteins, but also in physiological proteolytic control of processes such as transcription, signal transduction, and cell cycle transitions. So far, analysis has principally focused on ubiquitin (ub) attachment, with several hundred ub conjugating enzymes characterized to date. Much less is known about enzymes that remove ub from substrate proteins, yet around a hundred genes have been identified, sharing consensus motifs for deubiquitylating enzymes (DUBs). Such diversity is inconsistent with a simple recycling function and strongly suggests a range of specific (but currently largely undiscovered) biological functions. Members of the DUB family are already known to contribute to neoplastic transformation and are implicated in neurodegenerative diseases, making them attractive targets for drug design.

Ubiquitin and the immune system:

We intend to analyze a particular subset of the deubiquitylating enzyme family, containing an ovarian tumor domain (OTU. This conserved motif encodes for a potential cysteine protease, and is conserved throughout evolution. However, the function of this class of proteins is largely unknown. An approach based on a tandem affinity purification strategy will be established to determine protein interaction partners. A proteomics screen for protease substrate discovery will be established to identify substrates and provide entry points for genetic and biochemical analyses of their function. Our studies indicate a central role for OTUs, in particular OTUB1, in regulating cell invasion and morphology by modulating the stability of small GTPases. The impact of these molecular interactions are studied within the context of host-pathogen interactions and tumourigenesis.

Name Department Institution Country
Professor Sir Peter J Ratcliffe FRS Target Discovery Institute University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Nicholas La Thangue Clinical Pharnacology, Oxford University United Kingdom
Professor Alison Simmons Experimental Medicine Division University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Tomas Hanke Jenner Institute University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Herman S Overkleeft Department of Chemistry Leiden University Netherlands
Dr Mads Gyrd-Hansen Oxford Ludwig Institute University of Oxford United Kingdom
Dr John Christianson Oxford Ludwig Institute University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Sylvie Urbe University of Liverpool United Kingdom
Professor Stefan Knapp Structural Genomics Consortium University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Xin Lu Oxford Ludwig Institute University of Oxford United Kingdom
Dr Susanne Muller-Knapp Structural Genomics Consortium University of Oxford United Kingdom

Raducu M, Fung E, Serres S, Infante P, Barberis A, Fischer R, Bristow C, Thézénas ML et al. 2016. SCF (Fbxl17) ubiquitylation of Sufu regulates Hedgehog signaling and medulloblastoma development. EMBO J, pp. e201593374-e201593374. Read abstract | Read more

Skp1-Cul1-F-box protein (SCF) ubiquitin ligases direct cell survival decisions by controlling protein ubiquitylation and degradation. Sufu (Suppressor of fused) is a central regulator of Hh (Hedgehog) signaling and acts as a tumor suppressor by maintaining the Gli (Glioma-associated oncogene homolog) transcription factors inactive. Although Sufu has a pivotal role in Hh signaling, the players involved in controlling Sufu levels and their role in tumor growth are unknown. Here, we show that Fbxl17 (F-box and leucine-rich repeat protein 17) targets Sufu for proteolysis in the nucleus. The ubiquitylation of Sufu, mediated by Fbxl17, allows the release of Gli1 from Sufu for proper Hh signal transduction. Depletion of Fbxl17 leads to defective Hh signaling associated with an impaired cancer cell proliferation and medulloblastoma tumor growth. Furthermore, we identify a mutation in Sufu, occurring in medulloblastoma of patients with Gorlin syndrome, which increases Sufu turnover through Fbxl17-mediated polyubiquitylation and leads to a sustained Hh signaling activation. In summary, our findings reveal Fbxl17 as a novel regulator of Hh pathway and highlight the perturbation of the Fbxl17-Sufu axis in the pathogenesis of medulloblastoma. Hide abstract

Rahighi S, Braunstein I, Ternette N, Kessler B, Kawasaki M, Kato R, Matsui T, Weiss TM, Stanhill A, Wakatsuki S. 2016. Selective Binding of AIRAPL Tandem UIMs to Lys48-Linked Tri-Ubiquitin Chains. Structure, 24 (3), pp. 412-422. Read abstract | Read more

Lys48-linked ubiquitin chains act as the main targeting signals for protein degradation by the proteasome. Here we report selective binding of AIRAPL, a protein that associates with the proteasome upon exposure to arsenite, to Lys48-linked tri-ubiquitin chains. AIRAPL comprises two ubiquitin-interacting motifs in tandem (tUIMs) that are linked through a flexible inter-UIM region. In the complex crystal structure UIM1 binds the proximal ubiquitin, whereas UIM2 (the double-sided UIM) binds non-symmetrically to the middle and distal ubiquitin moieties on either side of the helix. Specificity of AIRAPL for Lys48-linked ubiquitin chains is determined by UIM2, and the flexible inter-UIM linker increases avidity by placing the two UIMs in an orientation that facilitates binding of the third ubiquitin to UIM1. Unlike middle and proximal ubiquitins, distal ubiquitin binds UIM2 through a novel surface, which leaves the Ile44 hydrophobic patch accessible for binding to the proteasomal ubiquitin receptors. Hide abstract

Wijnhoven P, Konietzny R, Blackford AN, Travers J, Kessler BM, Nishi R, Jackson SP. 2015. USP4 Auto-Deubiquitylation Promotes Homologous Recombination. Mol Cell, 60 (3), pp. 362-373. Read abstract | Read more

Repair of DNA double-strand breaks is crucial for maintaining genome integrity and is governed by post-translational modifications such as protein ubiquitylation. Here, we establish that the deubiquitylating enzyme USP4 promotes DNA-end resection and DNA repair by homologous recombination. We also report that USP4 interacts with CtIP and the MRE11-RAD50-NBS1 (MRN) complex and is required for CtIP recruitment to DNA damage sites. Furthermore, we show that USP4 is ubiquitylated on multiple sites including those on cysteine residues and that deubiquitylation of these sites requires USP4 catalytic activity and is required for USP4 to interact with CtIP/MRN and to promote CtIP recruitment and DNA repair. Lastly, we establish that regulation of interactor binding by ubiquitylation occurs more generally among USP-family enzymes. Our findings thus identify USP4 as a novel DNA repair regulator and invoke a model in which ubiquitin adducts regulate USP enzyme interactions and functions. Hide abstract

Zauri M, Berridge G, Thézénas ML, Pugh KM, Goldin R, Kessler BM, Kriaucionis S. 2015. CDA directs metabolism of epigenetic nucleosides revealing a therapeutic window in cancer. Nature, 524 (7563), pp. 114-118. Read abstract | Read more

Cells require nucleotides to support DNA replication and repair damaged DNA. In addition to de novo synthesis, cells recycle nucleotides from the DNA of dying cells or from cellular material ingested through the diet. Salvaged nucleosides come with the complication that they can contain epigenetic modifications. Because epigenetic inheritance of DNA methylation mainly relies on copying of the modification pattern from parental strands, random incorporation of pre-modified bases during replication could have profound implications for epigenome fidelity and yield adverse cellular phenotypes. Although the salvage mechanism of 5-methyl-2'deoxycytidine (5mdC) has been investigated before, it remains unknown how cells deal with the recently identified oxidized forms of 5mdC: 5-hydroxymethyl-2'deoxycytidine (5hmdC), 5-formy-2'deoxycytidine (5fdC) and 5-carboxyl-2'deoxycytidine (5cadC). Here we show that enzymes of the nucleotide salvage pathway display substrate selectivity, effectively protecting newly synthesized DNA from the incorporation of epigenetically modified forms of cytosine. Thus, cell lines and animals can tolerate high doses of these modified cytidines without any deleterious effects on physiology. Notably, by screening cancer cell lines for growth defects after exposure to 5hmdC, we unexpectedly identify a subset of cell lines in which 5hmdC or 5fdC administration leads to cell lethality. Using genomic approaches, we show that the susceptible cell lines overexpress cytidine deaminase (CDA). CDA converts 5hmdC and 5fdC into variants of uridine that are incorporated into DNA, resulting in accumulation of DNA damage, and ultimately, cell death. Our observations extend current knowledge of the nucleotide salvage pathway by revealing the metabolism of oxidized epigenetic bases, and suggest a new therapeutic option for cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, that have CDA overexpression and are resistant to treatment with other cytidine analogues. Hide abstract

Welker F, Collins MJ, Thomas JA, Wadsley M, Brace S, Cappellini E, Turvey ST, Reguero M et al. 2015. Ancient proteins resolve the evolutionary history of Darwin's South American ungulates. Nature, 522 (7554), pp. 81-84. Read abstract | Read more

No large group of recently extinct placental mammals remains as evolutionarily cryptic as the approximately 280 genera grouped as 'South American native ungulates'. To Charles Darwin, who first collected their remains, they included perhaps the 'strangest animal[s] ever discovered'. Today, much like 180 years ago, it is no clearer whether they had one origin or several, arose before or after the Cretaceous/Palaeogene transition 66.2 million years ago, or are more likely to belong with the elephants and sirenians of superorder Afrotheria than with the euungulates (cattle, horses, and allies) of superorder Laurasiatheria. Morphology-based analyses have proved unconvincing because convergences are pervasive among unrelated ungulate-like placentals. Approaches using ancient DNA have also been unsuccessful, probably because of rapid DNA degradation in semitropical and temperate deposits. Here we apply proteomic analysis to screen bone samples of the Late Quaternary South American native ungulate taxa Toxodon (Notoungulata) and Macrauchenia (Litopterna) for phylogenetically informative protein sequences. For each ungulate, we obtain approximately 90% direct sequence coverage of type I collagen α1- and α2-chains, representing approximately 900 of 1,140 amino-acid residues for each subunit. A phylogeny is estimated from an alignment of these fossil sequences with collagen (I) gene transcripts from available mammalian genomes or mass spectrometrically derived sequence data obtained for this study. The resulting consensus tree agrees well with recent higher-level mammalian phylogenies. Toxodon and Macrauchenia form a monophyletic group whose sister taxon is not Afrotheria or any of its constituent clades as recently claimed, but instead crown Perissodactyla (horses, tapirs, and rhinoceroses). These results are consistent with the origin of at least some South American native ungulates from 'condylarths', a paraphyletic assembly of archaic placentals. With ongoing improvements in instrumentation and analytical procedures, proteomics may produce a revolution in systematics such as that achieved by genomics, but with the possibility of reaching much further back in time. Hide abstract

Altun M, Walter TS, Kramer HB, Herr P, Iphöfer A, Boström J, David Y, Komsany A et al. 2015. The human otubain2-ubiquitin structure provides insights into the cleavage specificity of poly-ubiquitin-linkages. PLoS One, 10 (1), pp. e0115344. Read abstract | Read more

Ovarian tumor domain containing proteases cleave ubiquitin (Ub) and ubiquitin-like polypeptides from proteins. Here we report the crystal structure of human otubain 2 (OTUB2) in complex with a ubiquitin-based covalent inhibitor, Ub-Br2. The ubiquitin binding mode is oriented differently to how viral otubains (vOTUs) bind ubiquitin/ISG15, and more similar to yeast and mammalian OTUs. In contrast to OTUB1 which has exclusive specificity towards Lys48 poly-ubiquitin chains, OTUB2 cleaves different poly-Ub linked chains. N-terminal tail swapping experiments between OTUB1 and OTUB2 revealed how the N-terminal structural motifs in OTUB1 contribute to modulating enzyme activity and Ub-chain selectivity, a trait not observed in OTUB2, supporting the notion that OTUB2 may affect a different spectrum of substrates in Ub-dependent pathways. Hide abstract

Blackledge NP, Farcas AM, Kondo T, King HW, McGouran JF, Hanssen LL, Ito S, Cooper S et al. 2014. Variant PRC1 complex-dependent H2A ubiquitylation drives PRC2 recruitment and polycomb domain formation. Cell, 157 (6), pp. 1445-1459. Read abstract | Read more

Chromatin modifying activities inherent to polycomb repressive complexes PRC1 and PRC2 play an essential role in gene regulation, cellular differentiation, and development. However, the mechanisms by which these complexes recognize their target sites and function together to form repressive chromatin domains remain poorly understood. Recruitment of PRC1 to target sites has been proposed to occur through a hierarchical process, dependent on prior nucleation of PRC2 and placement of H3K27me3. Here, using a de novo targeting assay in mouse embryonic stem cells we unexpectedly discover that PRC1-dependent H2AK119ub1 leads to recruitment of PRC2 and H3K27me3 to effectively initiate a polycomb domain. This activity is restricted to variant PRC1 complexes, and genetic ablation experiments reveal that targeting of the variant PCGF1/PRC1 complex by KDM2B to CpG islands is required for normal polycomb domain formation and mouse development. These observations provide a surprising PRC1-dependent logic for PRC2 occupancy at target sites in vivo. Hide abstract

McGouran JF, Gaertner SR, Altun M, Kramer HB, Kessler BM. 2013. Deubiquitinating enzyme specificity for ubiquitin chain topology profiled by di-ubiquitin activity probes. Chem Biol, 20 (12), pp. 1447-1455. Read abstract | Read more

Posttranslational modification with ubiquitin (Ub) controls many cellular processes, and aberrant ubiquitination can contribute to cancer, immunopathology, and neurodegeneration. The versatility arises from the ability of Ub to form polymer chains with eight distinct linkages via lysine side chains and the N terminus. In this study, we engineered Di-Ub probes mimicking all eight different poly-Ub linkages and profiled the deubiquitinating enzyme (DUB) selectivity for recognizing Di-Ub moieties in cellular extracts. Mass spectrometric profiling revealed that most DUBs examined have broad selectivity, whereas a subset displays a clear preference for recognizing noncanonical over K48/K63 Ub linkages. Our results expand knowledge of Ub processing enzyme functions in cellular contexts that currently depends largely on using recombinant enzymes and substrates. Hide abstract

Kessler BM. 2013. Ubiquitin - omics reveals novel networks and associations with human disease. Curr Opin Chem Biol, 17 (1), pp. 59-65. Read abstract | Read more

Human neurodegenerative and infectious diseases and tumorigenesis are associated with alterations in ubiquitin pathways. Over 10% of the genome encode for genes that either bind or manipulate ubiquitin to affect a large proportion of biological processes. This has been the basis for the development of approaches allowing the enrichment of ubiquitinated proteins for comparisons using proteomics and mass spectrometry. Tools such as tagged tandem ubiquitin binding domains, chemically derivatized ubiquitin or anti-gly-gly-lys antibodies combined with mass spectrometry have contributed to surveys of poly-ubiquitinated proteins, poly-ubiquitin linkage diversity and protein ubiquitination sites and their relation to other posttranslational modifications at a proteome wide level, providing insights in to how dynamic alterations in ubiquitination and deubiquitination steps are associated with normal physiology and pathogenesis. Hide abstract

Chauhan D, Tian Z, Nicholson B, Kumar KG, Zhou B, Carrasco R, McDermott JL, Leach CA et al. 2012. A small molecule inhibitor of ubiquitin-specific protease-7 induces apoptosis in multiple myeloma cells and overcomes bortezomib resistance. Cancer Cell, 22 (3), pp. 345-358. Read abstract | Read more

Bortezomib therapy has proven successful for the treatment of relapsed/refractory, relapsed, and newly diagnosed multiple myeloma (MM); however, dose-limiting toxicities and the development of resistance limit its long-term utility. Here, we show that P5091 is an inhibitor of deubiquitylating enzyme USP7, which induces apoptosis in MM cells resistant to conventional and bortezomib therapies. Biochemical and genetic studies show that blockade of HDM2 and p21 abrogates P5091-induced cytotoxicity. In animal tumor model studies, P5091 is well tolerated, inhibits tumor growth, and prolongs survival. Combining P5091 with lenalidomide, HDAC inhibitor SAHA, or dexamethasone triggers synergistic anti-MM activity. Our preclinical study therefore supports clinical evaluation of USP7 inhibitor, alone or in combination, as a potential MM therapy. Hide abstract

McGouran JF, Kramer HB, Mackeen MM, di Gleria K, Altun M, Kessler BM. 2012. Fluorescence-based active site probes for profiling deubiquitinating enzymes. Org Biomol Chem, 10 (17), pp. 3379-3383. Read abstract | Read more

Novel ubiquitin-based active site probes including a fluorescent tag have been developed and evaluated. A new, functionalizable electrophilic trap is utilized allowing for late stage diversification of the probe. Attachment of fluorescent dyes allowed direct detection of endogenous deubiquitinating enzyme (DUB) activities in cell extracts by in-gel fluorescence imaging. Hide abstract

Khoronenkova SV, Dianova II, Ternette N, Kessler BM, Parsons JL, Dianov GL. 2012. ATM-dependent downregulation of USP7/HAUSP by PPM1G activates p53 response to DNA damage. Mol Cell, 45 (6), pp. 801-813. Read abstract | Read more

The deubiquitylation enzyme USP7/HAUSP plays a major role in regulating genome stability and cancer prevention by controlling the key proteins involved in the DNA damage response. Despite this important role in controlling other proteins, USP7 itself has not been recognized as a target for regulation. Here, we report that USP7 regulation plays a central role in DNA damage signal transmission. We find that stabilization of Mdm2, and correspondingly p53 downregulation in unstressed cells, is accomplished by a specific isoform of USP7 (USP7S), which is phosphorylated at serine 18 by the protein kinase CK2. Phosphorylation stabilizes USP7S and thus contributes to Mdm2 stabilization and downregulation of p53. After ionizing radiation, dephosphorylation of USP7S by the ATM-dependent protein phosphatase PPM1G leads to USP7S downregulation, followed by Mdm2 downregulation and accumulation of p53. Our findings provide a quantitative transmission mechanism of the DNA damage signal to coordinate a p53-dependent DNA damage response. Hide abstract

Altun M, Kramer HB, Willems LI, McDermott JL, Leach CA, Goldenberg SJ, Kumar KG, Konietzny R et al. 2011. Activity-based chemical proteomics accelerates inhibitor development for deubiquitylating enzymes. Chem Biol, 18 (11), pp. 1401-1412. Read abstract | Read more

Converting lead compounds into drug candidates is a crucial step in drug development, requiring early assessment of potency, selectivity, and off-target effects. We have utilized activity-based chemical proteomics to determine the potency and selectivity of deubiquitylating enzyme (DUB) inhibitors in cell culture models. Importantly, we characterized the small molecule PR-619 as a broad-range DUB inhibitor, and P22077 as a USP7 inhibitor with potential for further development as a chemotherapeutic agent in cancer therapy. A striking accumulation of polyubiquitylated proteins was observed after both selective and general inhibition of cellular DUB activity without direct impairment of proteasomal proteolysis. The repertoire of ubiquitylated substrates was analyzed by tandem mass spectrometry, identifying distinct subsets for general or specific inhibition of DUBs. This enabled identification of previously unknown functional links between USP7 and enzymes involved in DNA repair. Hide abstract

Parsons JL, Dianova II, Khoronenkova SV, Edelmann MJ, Kessler BM, Dianov GL. 2011. USP47 is a deubiquitylating enzyme that regulates base excision repair by controlling steady-state levels of DNA polymerase β. Mol Cell, 41 (5), pp. 609-615. Read abstract | Read more

DNA base excision repair (BER) is an essential cellular process required for genome stability, and misregulation of BER is linked to premature aging, increased rate of mutagenesis, and cancer. We have now identified the cytoplasmic ubiquitin-specific protease USP47 as the major enzyme involved in deubiquitylation of the key BER DNA polymerase (Pol β) and demonstrate that USP47 is required for stability of newly synthesized cytoplasmic Pol β that is used as a source for nuclear Pol β involved in DNA repair. We further show that knockdown of USP47 causes an increased level of ubiquitylated Pol β, decreased levels of Pol β, and a subsequent deficiency in BER, leading to accumulation of DNA strand breaks and decreased cell viability in response to DNA damage. Taken together, these data demonstrate an important role for USP47 in regulating DNA repair and maintaining genome integrity. Hide abstract

Edelmann MJ, Kramer HB, Altun M, Kessler BM. 2010. Post-translational modification of the deubiquitinating enzyme otubain 1 modulates active RhoA levels and susceptibility to Yersinia invasion. FEBS J, 277 (11), pp. 2515-2530. Read abstract | Read more

Microbial pathogens exploit the ubiquitin system to facilitate infection and manipulate the immune responses of the host. In this study, susceptibility to Yersinia enterocolitica and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis invasion was found to be increased upon overexpression of the deubiquitinating enzyme otubain 1 (OTUB1), a member of the ovarian tumour domain-containing protein family. Conversely, OTUB1 knockdown interfered with Yersinia invasion in HEK293T cells as well as in primary monocytes. This effect was attributed to a modulation of bacterial uptake. We demonstrate that the Yersinia-encoded virulence factor YpkA (YopO) kinase interacts with a post-translationally modified form of OTUB1 that contains multiple phosphorylation sites. OTUB1, YpkA and the small GTPase ras homologue gene family member A (RhoA) were found to be part of the same protein complex, suggesting that RhoA levels are modulated by OTUB1. Our results show that OTUB1 is able to stabilize active RhoA prior to invasion, which is concomitant with an increase in bacterial uptake. This effect is modulated by post-translational modifications of OTUB1, suggesting a new entry point for manipulating Yersinia interactions with the host. Hide abstract

Tauriello DV, Haegebarth A, Kuper I, Edelmann MJ, Henraat M, Canninga-van Dijk MR, Kessler BM, Clevers H, Maurice MM. 2010. Loss of the tumor suppressor CYLD enhances Wnt/beta-catenin signaling through K63-linked ubiquitination of Dvl. Mol Cell, 37 (5), pp. 607-619. Read abstract | Read more

The mechanism by which Wnt receptors transduce signals to activate downstream beta-catenin-mediated target gene transcription remains incompletely understood but involves Frizzled (Fz) receptor-mediated plasma membrane recruitment and activation of the cytoplasmic effector Dishevelled (Dvl). Here, we identify the deubiquitinating enzyme CYLD, the familial cylindromatosis tumor suppressor gene, as a negative regulator of proximal events in Wnt/beta-catenin signaling. Depletion of CYLD from cultured cells markedly enhances Wnt-induced accumulation of beta-catenin and target gene activation. Moreover, we demonstrate hyperactive Wnt signaling in human cylindroma skin tumors that arise from mutations in CYLD. At the molecular level, CYLD interacts with and regulates K63-linked ubiquitination of Dvl. Enhanced ubiquitination of the polymerization-prone DIX domain in CYLD-deficient cells positively links to the signaling activity of Dvl. Together, our results argue that loss of CYLD instigates tumor growth in human cylindromatosis through a mechanism in which hyperubiquitination of polymerized Dvl drives enhancement of Wnt responses. Hide abstract

Kramer HB, Lavender KJ, Qin L, Stacey AR, Liu MK, di Gleria K, Simmons A, Gasper-Smith N et al. 2010. Elevation of intact and proteolytic fragments of acute phase proteins constitutes the earliest systemic antiviral response in HIV-1 infection. PLoS Pathog, 6 (5), pp. e1000893. Read abstract | Read more

The earliest immune responses activated in acute human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection (AHI) exert a critical influence on subsequent virus spread or containment. During this time frame, components of the innate immune system such as macrophages and DCs, NK cells, beta-defensins, complement and other anti-microbial factors, which have all been implicated in modulating HIV infection, may play particularly important roles. A proteomics-based screen was performed on a cohort from whom samples were available at time points prior to the earliest positive HIV detection. The ability of selected factors found to be elevated in the plasma during AHI to inhibit HIV-1 replication was analyzed using in vitro PBMC and DC infection models. Analysis of unique plasma donor panels spanning the eclipse and viral expansion phases revealed very early alterations in plasma proteins in AHI. Induction of acute phase protein serum amyloid A (A-SAA) occurred as early as 5-7 days prior to the first detection of plasma viral RNA, considerably prior to any elevation in systemic cytokine levels. Furthermore, a proteolytic fragment of alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT), termed virus inhibitory peptide (VIRIP), was observed in plasma coincident with viremia. Both A-SAA and VIRIP have anti-viral activity in vitro and quantitation of their plasma levels indicated that circulating concentrations are likely to be within the range of their inhibitory activity. Our results provide evidence for a first wave of host anti-viral defense occurring in the eclipse phase of AHI prior to systemic activation of other immune responses. Insights gained into the mechanism of action of acute-phase reactants and other innate molecules against HIV and how they are induced could be exploited for the future development of more efficient prophylactic vaccine strategies. Hide abstract

Edelmann MJ, Iphöfer A, Akutsu M, Altun M, di Gleria K, Kramer HB, Fiebiger E, Dhe-Paganon S, Kessler BM. 2009. Structural basis and specificity of human otubain 1-mediated deubiquitination. Biochem J, 418 (2), pp. 379-390. Read abstract | Read more

OTUB (otubain) 1 is a human deubiquitinating enzyme that is implicated in mediating lymphocyte antigen responsiveness, but whose molecular function is generally not well defined. A structural analysis of OTUB1 shows differences in accessibility to the active site and in surface properties of the substrate-binding regions when compared with its close homologue, OTUB2, suggesting variations in regulatory mechanisms and substrate specificity. Biochemical analysis reveals that OTUB1 has a preference for cleaving Lys(48)-linked polyubiquitin chains over Lys(63)-linked polyubiquitin chains, and it is capable of cleaving NEDD8 (neural-precursor-cell-expressed developmentally down-regulated 8), but not SUMO (small ubiquitin-related modifier) 1/2/3 and ISG15 (interferon-stimulated gene 15) conjugates. A functional comparison of OTUB1 and OTUB2 indicated a differential reactivity towards ubiquitin-based active-site probes carrying a vinyl methyl ester, a 2-chloroethyl or a 2-bromoethyl group at the C-terminus. Mutational analysis suggested that a narrow P1' site, as observed in OTUB1, correlates with its ability to preferentially cleave Lys(48)-linked ubiquitin chains. Analysis of cellular interaction partners of OTUB1 by co-immunoprecipitation and MS/MS (tandem mass spectrometry) experiments demonstrated that FUS [fusion involved in t(12;6) in malignant liposarcoma; also known as TLS (translocation in liposarcoma) or CHOP (CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein homologous protein)] and RACK1 [receptor for activated kinase 1; also known as GNB2L1 (guanine-nucleotide-binding protein beta polypeptide 2-like 1)] are part of OTUB1-containing complexes, pointing towards a molecular function of this deubiquitinating enzyme in RNA processing and cell adhesion/morphology. Hide abstract

Xu D, Suenaga N, Edelmann MJ, Fridman R, Muschel RJ, Kessler BM. 2008. Novel MMP-9 substrates in cancer cells revealed by a label-free quantitative proteomics approach. Mol Cell Proteomics, 7 (11), pp. 2215-2228. Read abstract | Read more

Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) is implicated in tumor metastasis as well as a variety of inflammatory and pathological processes. Although many substrates for MMP-9, including components of the extracellular matrix, soluble mediators such as chemokines, and cell surface molecules have been identified, we undertook a more comprehensive proteomics-based approach to identify new substrates to further understand how MMP-9 might contribute to tumor metastasis. Previous proteomics approaches to identify protease substrates have depended upon differential labeling of each sample. Instead we used a label-free quantitative proteomics approach based on ultraperformance LC-ESI-high/low collision energy MS. Conditioned medium from a human metastatic prostate cancer cell line, PC-3ML, in which MMP-9 had been down-regulated by RNA interference was compared with that from the parental cells. From more than 200 proteins identified, 69 showed significant alteration in levels after depletion of the protease (>+/-2-fold), suggesting that they might be candidate substrates. Levels of six of these (amyloid-beta precursor protein, collagen VI, leukemia inhibitory factor, neuropilin-1, prostate cancer cell-derived growth factor (PCDGF), and protease nexin-1 (PN-1)) were tested in the conditioned media by immunoblotting. There was a strong correlation between results by ultraperformance LC-ESI-high/low collision energy MS and by immunoblotting giving credence to the label-free approach. Further information about MMP-9 cleavage was obtained by comparison of the peptide coverage of collagen VI in the presence and absence of MMP-9 showing increased sensitivity of the C- and N-terminal globular regions over the helical regions. Susceptibility of PN-1 and leukemia inhibitory factor to MMP-9 degradation was confirmed by in vitro incubation of the recombinant proteins with recombinant MMP-9. The MMP-9 cleavage sites in PN-1 were sequenced. This study provides a new label-free method for degradomics cell-based screening leading to the identification of a series of proteins whose levels are affected by MMP-9, some of which are clearly direct substrates for MMP-9 and become candidates for involvement in metastasis. Hide abstract

Kessler BM, Fortunati E, Melis M, Pals CE, Clevers H, Maurice MM. 2007. Proteome changes induced by knock-down of the deubiquitylating enzyme HAUSP/USP7. J Proteome Res, 6 (11), pp. 4163-4172. Read abstract | Read more

Modification of proteins by ubiquitin plays a major role in a broad array of biological processes. Reversal of this process through deubiquitylation likely represents an important regulatory step in the maintenance of cellular homeostasis. However, the biological functions of deubiquitylating enzymes still remain poorly characterized. To investigate the biological role of the herpes virus-associated ubiquitin-specific protease HAUSP/USP7, we have generated stably transfected cells carrying inducible shRNA expression plasmids. USP7 mRNA and protein were strongly down-regulated 48-72 h after shRNA induction. We used a selected clone to compare whole-cell proteomes by 2D-SDS-PAGE before and after knockdown of USP7. Alterations in 36 proteins were detected and their identities were revealed by mass spectrometry analysis. Components of the replication machinery, DNA/RNA binding proteins, enzymes involved in apoptosis and metabolism were found to be down-regulated upon USP7 removal, representing proteins that are either more rapidly turned over or synthesized less efficiently in the absence of USP7-mediated deubiquitylation. Alix/HP95, a protein implicated in endosomal organization and virus budding, was confirmed by immunoblotting to become down-regulated when USP7 levels were reduced. Our results extend the current list of USP7-dependent biological processes and suggest a role for this enzyme not only in transcriptional regulation but also in DNA replication, apoptosis, and possibly endosomal organization. Hide abstract

Hodges A, Sharrocks K, Edelmann M, Baban D, Moris A, Schwartz O, Drakesmith H, Davies K, Kessler B, McMichael A, Simmons A. 2007. Activation of the lectin DC-SIGN induces an immature dendritic cell phenotype triggering Rho-GTPase activity required for HIV-1 replication. Nat Immunol, 8 (6), pp. 569-577. Read abstract | Read more

DC-SIGN, a C-type lectin expressed on dendritic cells (DCs), can sequester human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) virions in multivesicular bodies. Here, using large-scale gene expression profiling and tyrosine-phosphorylated proteome analyses, we characterized signaling mediated by DC-SIGN after activation by either HIV or a DC-SIGN-specific antibody. Activation of DC-SIGN resulted in downregulation of genes encoding major histocompatibility complex class II, Jagged 1 and interferon-response molecules and upregulation of the gene encoding transcription factor ATF3. Phosphorylated proteome analysis showed that HIV- or antibody-stimulated DC-SIGN signaling was mediated by the Rho guanine nucleotide-exchange factor LARG and led to increased Rho-GTPase activity. Activation of LARG in DCs exposed to HIV was required for the formation of virus-T cell synapses. Thus, HIV sequestration by and stimulation of DC-SIGN helps HIV evade immune responses and spread to cells. Hide abstract

Borodovsky A, Ovaa H, Kolli N, Gan-Erdene T, Wilkinson KD, Ploegh HL, Kessler BM. 2002. Chemistry-based functional proteomics reveals novel members of the deubiquitinating enzyme family. Chem Biol, 9 (10), pp. 1149-1159. Read abstract | Read more

The ubiquitin (Ub)-proteasome system includes a large family of deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs). Many members are assigned to this enzyme class by sequence similarity but without evidence for biological activity. A panel of novel DUB-specific probes was generated by a chemical ligation method. These probes allowed identification of DUBs and associated components by tandem mass spectrometry, as well as rapid demonstration of enzymatic activity for gene products whose functions were inferred from primary structure. We identified 23 active DUBs in EL4 cells, including the tumor suppressor CYLD1. At least two DUBs tightly interact with the proteasome 19S regulatory complex. An OTU domain-containing protein, with no sequence homology to any known DUBs, was isolated. We show that this polypeptide reacts with the C terminus of Ub, thus demonstrating DUB-like enzymatic activity for this novel superfamily of proteases. Hide abstract

Ubiquitin-dependent metabolic landscape of the cancer cell cycle

Background:Human neurodegenerative, infectious diseases and tumorigenesis are associated with alterations in ubiquitin pathways. Ubiquitin is a small 76 amino acid polypeptide that gets attached to proteins and controls their fate, turnover of biological activity. Over 10% of the genome encode for genes that either bind or manipulate ubiquitin to affect a large proportion of biological processes. In our group, we have developed activity-based chemical proteomics approaches to study the biologica ...

View project

Identification of novel MHC-bound peptides on HIV-infected cells to inform T cell vaccine design

During human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection, CD8 T cells play a key role in both initial reduction of viremia and subsequent virus control. However, the CD8 T cell response induced in most HIV-1 infected individuals fails to contain virus replication entirely, as it is evaded by mechanisms that include viral mutational escape and downregulation of HLA alleles on the surface of infected cells, and becomes exhausted in the face of ongoing viral replication. Hence although CD8 T ce ...

View project

Profiling tumour heterogeneity by combining laser capture microdissection (LCM) with top-end mass spectrometry

Tumour hypoxia and dysregulated metabolism are hallmarks of cancer and of major interest for targeted therapies. The hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) – von Hippel Lindau (VHL) pathway represents a key switch in hypoxia signalling. However, the complete protein cascade mediating downstream effects of hypoxia remains to be defined. In this joined project between the Department of Neuropathology (NDCN) and Target Discovery Institute (NDM) we apply novel unbiased proteomic technology to cell populatio ...

View project

Target Profiling of Drugs by Chemical Proteomics

Many successful approved drugs work via unknown mechanisms which means their molecular target(s) have remained enigmatic. It is also appreciated that many effective drugs exert their phenotype by modulating the activity of several proteins at the same time – a phenomenon known as “polypharmacology”. Some of those targets may be required for the compound to be effective and knowledge about their identity can provide so-called biomarkers that can help to ensure that only patients that will benefit ...

View project


Thank you for registering your interest

We were unable to record your request to register for interest in future opportunities. Please try again and if problems persist contact us at