bims-supasi Biomed News
on Sulfation pathways and signalling
Issue of 2023‒04‒16
nineteen papers selected by
Jonathan Wolf Mueller
University of Birmingham

  1. Glycobiology. 2023 Apr 13. pii: cwad026. [Epub ahead of print]
      Sulf-2 is an extracellular heparan 6-O-endosulfatase involved in the post-synthetic editing of heparan sulfate which regulates many important biological processes. Activity of the Sulf-2 and its substrate specificity remain insufficiently characterized in spite of more than two decades of studies of this enzyme. This is due, in part, to the difficulties in the production and isolation of this highly modified protein and due to the lack of well characterized synthetic substrates for probing of its catalytic activity. We introduce synthetic heparan sulfate oligosaccharides to fill this gap and we use our recombinant Sulf-2 protein to show that a p-nitrophenol labeled synthetic oligosaccharide allows reliable quantification of its enzymatic activity. The substrate and products of the desulfation reaction are separated by ion exchange HPLC chromatography and quantified by UV-absorbance. This simple assay allows detection of the Sulf-2 activity at high sensitivity (nanograms of the enzyme) and specificity. The method also allowed us to measure the heparan 6-O-endosulfatase activity in biological samples as complex as the secretome of cancer cell lines. Our in vitro measurements show that N-glycosylation of the Sulf-2 enzyme affects activity of the enzyme and that phosphate ions substantially decrease the Sulf-2 enzymatic activity. This assay offers an efficient, sensitive, and specific measurement of the heparan 6-O-endosulfatase activity that could open avenues to in vivo activity measurements and improve our understanding of the enzymatic editing of the sulfation of heparan.
    Keywords:  Heparan 6-O-endosulfatase SULF2/heparan sulfation/SULF-2 enzymatic activity/synthetic heparan sulfate oligosaccharides
  2. PLoS One. 2023 ;18(4): e0284343
      Chondroitin sulfate (CS) is a glycosaminoglycan, and CS derived from various animal species is used in drugs and food supplements to alleviate arthralgia. The CS is a high molecular weight compound, and hydrolysis of CS by intestinal microbiota is thought to be required for absorption in mammalians. Chondroitin sulfate oligosaccharides (Oligo-CS) are produced by hydrolysis with subcritical water from CS isolated from a species of skate, Raja pulchra for the improvement of bioavailability. The present study conducted in vitro experiments using murine cell lines, to compare the biological activities of Oligo-CS and high molecular weight CS composed with the similar disaccharide isomer units of D-glucuronic acid and N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (CS-C). The results show that Oligo-CS inhibits osteoclast differentiation of RAW264 cells significantly at lower concentrations than in CS. The cell viability of a myoblast cell line, C2C12 cells, was increased when the cells were grown in a differentiated medium for myotubes with Oligo-CS, where there were no effects on the cell viability in CS. These results suggest that in vitro Oligo-CS exhibits stronger bioactivity than high-molecular weight CS.
  3. J Biol Chem. 2023 Apr 07. pii: S0021-9258(23)00334-4. [Epub ahead of print] 104692
      Chondroitinase ABC-type I (CSase ABC I), which can digest both chondroitin sulfate (CS) and dermatan sulfate (DS) in an endolytic manner, is an essential tool in structural and functional studies of CS/DS. Although a few CSase ABC I have been identified from bacteria, the substrate-degrading pattern and regulatory mechanisms of them have rarely been investigated. Herein, two CSase ABC I, IM3796 and IM1634, were identified from the intestinal metagenome of CS-fed mice. They show high sequence homology (query coverage: 88.00%, percent identity: 90.10%) except for an extra peptide (Met1-His109) at the N-terminus in IM1634, but their enzymatic properties are very different. IM3796 prefers to degrade 6-O-sulfated GalNAc residue-enriched CS into tetra- and disaccharides. In contrast, IM1634 exhibits nearly a thousand times more activity than IM3796, and can completely digest CS/DS with various sulfation patterns to produce disaccharides, unlike most CSase ABC I. Structure modeling showed that IM3796 did not contain an N-terminal domain composed of two β-sheets, which is found in IM1634 and other CSase ABC I. Furthermore, deletion of the N-terminal domain (Met1-His109) from IM1634 caused the enzymatic properties of the variant IM1634-T109 to be similar to those of IM3796, and conversely, grafting this domain to IM3796 increased the similarity of the variant IM3796-A109 to IM1634. In conclusion, the comparative study of the new CSase ABC I provides two unique tools for CS/DS-related studies and applications and, more importantly, reveals the critical role of the N-terminal domain in regulating the substrate binding and degradation of these enzymes.
  4. Cell Rep. 2023 Apr 13. pii: S2211-1247(23)00400-X. [Epub ahead of print]42(4): 112389
      Enterovirus A71 (EV-A71) causes hand, foot, and mouth disease outbreaks with neurological complications and deaths. We previously isolated an EV-A71 variant in the stool, cerebrospinal fluid, and blood of an immunocompromised patient who had a leucine-to-arginine substitution on the VP1 capsid protein, resulting in increased heparin sulfate binding. We show here that this mutation increases the virus's pathogenicity in orally infected mice with depleted B cells, which mimics the patient's immune status, and increases susceptibility to neutralizing antibodies. However, a double mutant with even greater heparin sulfate affinity is not pathogenic, suggesting that increased heparin sulfate affinity may trap virions in peripheral tissues and reduce neurovirulence. This research sheds light on the increased pathogenicity of variant with heparin sulfate (HS)-binding ability in individuals with decreased B cell immunity.
    Keywords:  B cell; CP: Immunology; CP: Microbiology; EV-A71; EV71; VP1; enterovirus; heparan sulfate; mouse; neutralizing antibody; oral infection; pathogenicity
  5. Molecules. 2023 Mar 30. pii: 3082. [Epub ahead of print]28(7):
      Oreochromis niloticus (tilapia) is one of the most cultivated fish species worldwide. Tilapia farming generates organic waste from fish removal processes in nurseries. Visceral waste can damage natural ecosystems. Therefore, the use of this material as a source of biomolecules helps reduce environmental impacts and improve pharmacological studies. Tilapia viscera were subjected to proteolysis and complexation with an ion-exchange resin. The obtained glycosaminoglycans were purified using ion exchange chromatography (DEAE-Sephacel). The electrophoretic profile and analysis of 1H/13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra allowed for the characterization of the compound as chondroitin sulfate and its sulfation position. This chondroitin was named CST. We tested the ability of CST to reduce leukocyte influx in acute peritonitis models induced by sodium thioglycolate and found a significant reduction in leukocyte migration to the peritoneal cavity, similar to the polymorphonuclear population of the three tested doses of CST. This study shows, for the first time, the potential of CST obtained from O. niloticus waste as an anti-inflammatory drug, thereby contributing to the expansion of the study of molecules with pharmacological functions.
    Keywords:  biological waste; glycosaminoglycan; inflammation; sulfate polysaccharide; tilapia
  6. Res Sq. 2023 Mar 28. pii: [Epub ahead of print]
      The mechanism of syncytium formation, caused by spike-induced cell-cell fusion in severe COVID-19, is largely unclear. Here we combine chemical genetics with 4D confocal imaging to establish the cell surface heparan sulfate (HS) as a critical host factor exploited by SARS-CoV-2 to enhance spike’s fusogenic activity. HS binds spike to facilitate ACE2 clustering, generating synapse-like cell-cell contacts to promote fusion pore formation. ACE2 clustering, and thus, syncytium formation is significantly mitigated by chemical or genetic elimination of cell surface HS, while in a cell-free system consisting of purified HS, spike, and lipid-anchored ACE2, HS directly induces ACE2 clustering. Importantly, the interaction of HS with spike allosterically enables a conserved ACE2 linker in receptor clustering, which concentrates spike at the fusion site to overcome fusion-associated activity loss. This fusion-boosting mechanism can be effectively targeted by an investigational HS-binding drug, which reduces syncytium formation in vitro and viral infection in mice.
  7. ACS Nano. 2023 Apr 12.
      Heparan sulfate (HS) is a heterogeneous, cell-surface polysaccharide critical for transducing signals essential for mammalian development. Imaging of signaling proteins has revealed how their localization influences their information transfer. In contrast, the contribution of the spatial distribution and nanostructure of information-rich, signaling polysaccharides like HS is not known. Using expansion microscopy (ExM), we found striking changes in HS nanostructure occur as human pluripotent stem (hPS) cells differentiate, and these changes correlate with growth factor signaling. Our imaging studies show that undifferentiated hPS cells are densely coated with HS displayed as hair-like protrusions. This ultrastructure can recruit fibroblast growth factor for signaling. When the hPS cells differentiate into the ectoderm lineage, HS is localized into dispersed puncta. This striking change in HS distribution coincides with a decrease in fibroblast growth factor binding to neural cells. While developmental variations in HS sequence were thought to be the primary driver of alterations in HS-mediated growth factor signaling, our high-resolution images indicate a role for the HS nanostructure. Our study highlights the utility of high-resolution glycan imaging using ExM. In the case of HS, we found that changes in how the polysaccharide is displayed link to profound differences in growth factor binding.
    Keywords:  expansion microscopy; glycan nanostructure; heparan sulfate; human pluripotent stem cells; neuronal differentiation
  8. Nat Commun. 2023 Apr 10. 14(1): 1998
      Engrailed2 (En2) is a transcription factor that transfers from cell to cell through unconventional pathways. The poorly understood internalization mechanism of this cationic protein is proposed to require an initial interaction with cell-surface glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). To decipher the role of GAGs in En2 internalization, we have quantified the entry of its homeodomain region in model cells that differ in their content in cell-surface GAGs. The binding specificity to GAGs and the influence of this interaction on the structure and dynamics of En2 was also investigated at the amino acid level. Our results show that a high-affinity GAG-binding sequence (RKPKKKNPNKEDKRPR), upstream of the homeodomain, controls En2 internalization through selective interactions with highly-sulfated heparan sulfate GAGs. Our data underline the functional importance of the intrinsically disordered basic region upstream of En2 internalization domain, and demonstrate the critical role of GAGs as an entry gate, finely tuning homeoprotein capacity to internalize into cells.
  9. J Integr Plant Biol. 2023 Apr 13.
      Phytohormone ABA plays vital roles in stress tolerance, while long-term overactivation of ABA signaling suppresses plant growth and development. However, the braking mechanism of ABA responses is not clear. Protein tyrosine sulfation catalyzed by tyrosylprotein sulfotransferase (TPST) is a critical post-translational modification. Through genetic screening, we identified a tpst mutant in Arabidopsis that was hypersensitive to ABA. In-depth analysis revealed that TPST could interact with and sulfate SnRK2.2/2.3/2.6, which accelerated their degradation and weakened the ABA signaling. Taken together, these findings uncovered a novel mechanism of desensitizing ABA responses via protein sulfation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Keywords:  ABA signaling; Arabidopsis; SnRK2.2/2.3/2.6; Sulfation; Tyrosylprotein sulfotransferase
  10. PLoS One. 2023 ;18(4): e0284292
      SLC35A3 is considered an uridine diphosphate N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc) transporter in mammals and regulates the branching of N-glycans. A missense mutation in SLC35A3 causes complex vertebral malformation (CVM) in cattle. However, the biological functions of SLC35A3 have not been fully clarified. To address these issues, we have established Slc35a3-/-mice using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing system. The generated mutant mice were perinatal lethal and exhibited chondrodysplasia recapitulating CVM-like vertebral anomalies. During embryogenesis, Slc35a3 mRNA was expressed in the presomitic mesoderm of wild-type mice, suggesting that SLC35A3 transports UDP-GlcNAc used for the sugar modification that is essential for somite formation. In the growth plate cartilage of Slc35a3-/-embryos, extracellular space was drastically reduced, and many flat proliferative chondrocytes were reshaped. Proliferation, apoptosis and differentiation were not affected in the chondrocytes of Slc35a3-/-mice, suggesting that the chondrodysplasia phenotypes were mainly caused by the abnormal extracellular matrix quality. Because these histological abnormalities were similar to those observed in several mutant mice accompanying the impaired glycosaminoglycan (GAG) biosynthesis, GAG levels were measured in the spine and limbs of Slc35a3-/-mice using disaccharide composition analysis. Compared with control mice, the amounts of heparan sulfate, keratan sulfate, and chondroitin sulfate/dermatan sulfate, were significantly decreased in Slc35a3-/-mice. These findings suggest that SLC35A3 regulates GAG biosynthesis and the chondrodysplasia phenotypes were partially caused by the decreased GAG synthesis. Hence, Slc35a3-/- mice would be a useful model for investigating the in vivo roles of SLC35A3 and the pathological mechanisms of SLC35A3-associated diseases.
  11. Drug Test Anal. 2023 Apr 13.
      The frequent detection of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) indicates their popularity among rule-breaking athletes. The so called long-term metabolites play a crucial role in their detection and non-hydrolysed sulfated metabolites have gained renewed interest as research has demonstrated their extended detection time compared to the more conventional markers (e.g. for metenolone and mesterolone). Their potential has been investigated using liquid and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC- and GC-MS). However, due to their complementary nature, chances are that the most promising metabolite on one technique does not necessarily exhibit the same behaviour on the other and vice versa. Therefore, a comparison was carried out where as a trial model, metenolone, mesterolone and 17α-methyltestosterone were selected and the most likely long-term sulfated metabolites identified on four mass spectrometric instruments. Additionally, using a modified sample preparation procedure, comparison between conventional and non-hydrolysed sulfated metabolites between different GC-MS instruments was also included. When focusing on each individual marker no cases were observed where a single metabolite provided a superior detection time on all instruments. Furthermore, for each AAS there were incidences where a metabolite provided the best detection time on one instrument but could only be detected for a shorter period or not at all on other instruments. This demonstrates that metabolite detection windows and hence their added-value as target substance are unique and dependent on the analytical technique and not only on their pharmacokinetic behaviour. Consequently, in each case a metabolite vs. instrument evaluation is needed to maximise the probabilities of detecting doping offences.
    Keywords:  Doping; GC-MS; LC-MS; Sulfates; anabolic steroids
  12. J Funct Foods. 2023 May;104 105532
      Human civilization is experiencing a global crisis involving an unprecedented viral pandemic, with a high mortality rate, uncontrolled spread, and few effective drugs for treatment. Here, we critically evaluate how sulfated polysaccharides can be applied via foods to reduce the infectious process and increase the chances of an adequate immune response. The approach is directed to the infectious process by SARS-CoV-2 and protein S as a therapeutic focus. We discuss the antiviral activities of certain natural and specific sulfated polysaccharides that bind tightly to protein S. Finally, we identified that sulfated polysaccharides act as baits to interfere with the binding of the spike protein (SARS-CoV-2) to the ACE2 receptor and can be administered through food.
    Keywords:  ACE2 receptor; COVID-19; Functional foods; Heparin; Sulfated polysaccharides
  13. Carbohydr Polym. 2023 Jul 15. pii: S0144-8617(23)00282-5. [Epub ahead of print]312 120817
      In the past few decades, sulfated fucan from sea cucumber had attracted considerable interest owing to its abundant physiological activities. Nevertheless, its potential for species discrimination had not been investigated. Herein, particular attention was given to sea cucumber Apostichopus japonicus, Acaudina molpadioides, Holothuria hilla, Holothuria tubulosa, Isostichopus badionotus and Thelenota ananas to examine the feasibility of sulfated fucan as a species marker of sea cucumber. The enzymatic fingerprint suggested that sulfated fucan exhibited significant interspecific discrepancy and intraspecific stability, which revealed that sulfated fucan could serve as the species marker of sea cucumber, by utilizing the overexpressed endo-1,3-fucanase Fun168A and the ultra-performance liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrum. Moreover, oligosaccharide profile of sulfated fucan was determined. The oligosaccharide profile combined with hierarchical clustering analysis and principal components analysis further confirmed that sulfated fucan could serve as a marker with a satisfying performance. Besides, load factor analysis showed that the minor structure of sulfated fucan also contributed to the sea cucumber discrimination, besides the major structure. The overexpressed fucanase played an indispensable role in the discrimination, due to its specificity and high activity. The study would lead to a new strategy for species discrimination of sea cucumber based on sulfated fucan.
    Keywords:  Chemometrics; Endo-1,3-fucanase; Sea cucumber; Species marker; Sulfated fucan; UPLC-HRMS
  14. PeerJ. 2023 ;11 e15167
      Background: Idiopathic membranous nephropathy (IMN) is an organ-specific autoimmune disease with multiple and complex pathogenic mechanisms. Currently, renal biopsy is considered the gold standard for diagnosing membranous nephropathy. However, there were limitations to the renal puncture biopsy, such as the relatively high cost, longer time consuming, and the risk of invasive procedures. We investigated the profile of serum metabolites in IMN patients based on the UHPLC-QE-MS metabolomics technique for exploring the potential disease biomarkers and clinical implementation.Methods: In our research, we collected serum samples from healthy control (n = 15) and IMN patients (n = 25) to perform metabolomics analysis based on the UHPLC-QE-MS technique.
    Result: We identified 215 differentially expressed metabolites (DEMs) between the IMN and healthy control (HC) groups. Furthermore, these DEMs were significantly identified in histidine metabolism, arginine and proline metabolism, pyrimidine metabolism, purine metabolism, and steroid hormone biosynthesis. Several key DEMs were significantly correlated with the level of clinical parameters, such as serum albumin, IgG, UTP, and cholesterol. Among them, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) was considered the reliable diagnostic biomarker in the IMN group. There was an increased abundance of actinobacteria, phylum proteobacteria, and class gammaproteobacterial in IMN patients for host-microbiome origin analysis.
    Conclusion: Our study revealed the profiles of DEMs from the IMN and HC groups. The result demonstrated that there were disorders of amino acids, nucleotides, and steroids hormones metabolism in IMN patients. The down-regulation of DHEAS may be associated with the imbalance of the immune environment in IMN patients. In host-microbiome origin analysis, the gut microbiota and metabolite disturbances were present in IMN patients.
    Keywords:  Biomarker analysis; Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; Gut microbes; Idiopathic membranous nephropathy; Metabolomics
  15. ACS Synth Biol. 2023 Apr 12.
      3'-Phosphoadenosine-5'-phosphosulfate (PAPS) is the bioactive form of sulfate and is involved in all biological sulfation reactions. The enzymatic transformation method for PAPS is promising, but the low efficiency and high cost of enzyme purification and storage restrict its practical applications. Here, we reported PAPS biosynthesis with a protein crystalline inclusion (PCI)-based enzyme immobilization system. First, the in vivo crystalline inclusion protein CipA was identified as an efficient auto-assembly tag for immobilizing the bifunctional PAPS synthase (ASAK). After characterizing the pyrophosphokinase activity of a polyphosphate exonuclease PaPPX from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and optimizing the linker fragment, auto-assembled enzymes ASAK-PT-CipA and PaPPX-PT-CipA were constructed. Then, the auto-assembled enzymes ASAK-PT-CipA and PaPPX-PT-CipA with high stability were co-expressed and immobilized for constructing a transformation system. The highest transformation rate of PAPS from ATP and sulfate reached 90%, and the immobilized enzyme can be reused 10 times. The present work provided a convenient, efficient, and easy to be enlarged auto-immobilization system for PAPS biosynthesis from ATP and sulfate. The immobilization system also represented a new approach to reduce the production cost of PAPS by facilitating the purification, storage, and reuse of related enzymes, and it would boost the studies on biotechnological production of glycosaminoglycans and sulfur-containing natural compounds.
    Keywords:  ATP; PAPS; biocatalysis; enzyme immobilization; protein crystalline inclusions; sulfation modification
  16. PLoS One. 2023 ;18(4): e0283358
      Lipoprotein lipase (LPL), a crucial enzyme in the intravascular hydrolysis of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, is a potential drug target for the treatment of hypertriglyceridemia. The activity and stability of LPL are influenced by a complex ligand network. Previous studies performed in dilute solutions suggest that LPL can appear in various oligomeric states. However, it was not known how the physiological environment, that is blood plasma, affects the action of LPL. In the current study, we demonstrate that albumin, the major protein component in blood plasma, has a significant impact on LPL stability, oligomerization, and ligand interactions. The effects induced by albumin could not solely be reproduced by the macromolecular crowding effect. Stabilization, isothermal titration calorimetry, and surface plasmon resonance studies revealed that albumin binds to LPL with affinity sufficient to form a complex in both the interstitial space and the capillaries. Negative stain transmission electron microscopy and raster image correlation spectroscopy showed that albumin, like heparin, induced reversible oligomerization of LPL. However, the albumin induced oligomers were structurally different from heparin-induced filament-like LPL oligomers. An intriguing observation was that no oligomers of either type were formed in the simultaneous presence of albumin and heparin. Our data also suggested that the oligomer formation protected LPL from the inactivation by its physiological regulator angiopoietin-like protein 4. The concentration of LPL and its environment could influence whether LPL follows irreversible inactivation and aggregation or reversible LPL oligomer formation, which might affect interactions with various ligands and drugs. In conclusion, the interplay between albumin and heparin could provide a mechanism for ensuring the dissociation of heparan sulfate-bound LPL oligomers into active LPL upon secretion into the interstitial space.
  17. Biomater Res. 2023 Apr 10. 27(1): 28
      BACKGROUND: Cellular infiltration and angiogenesis into implanted biomaterial scaffolds are crucial for successful host tissue integration and tissue regeneration. Cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) is a nano-sized cellulose derivative, which can form an injectable physical gel with salts. Sulfate groups of sulfated CNC (CNC-S) can act as a binding domain to various growth factors and cytokines with a heparin-binding domain for sustained release of them. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) can promote the proliferation of endothelial cells and angiogenesis. In this study, VEGF-loaded CNC-S hydrogel was evaluated as an injectable scaffold that can induce cellular infiltration and angiogenesis.METHODS: CNC-S was hydrolyzed to get desulfated CNC (CNC-DS), which was used as a negative control group against CNC-S. Both CNC-S and CNC-DS hydrogels were prepared and compared in terms of biocompatibility and VEGF release. The hydrogels with or without VEGF loading were subcutaneously injected into mice to evaluate the biocompatibility, cellular infiltration, and angiogenesis induction of the hydrogels.
    RESULTS: Both hydrogels possessed similar stability and shear-thinning behavior to be applicable as injectable hydrogels. However, CNC-S hydrogel showed sustained release (until 8 weeks) of VEGF whereas CNC-DS showed a very fast release of VEGF with a large burst. Subcutaneously injected CNC-S hydrogel showed much enhanced cellular infiltration as well as better biocompatibility with milder foreign body response than CNC-DS hydrogel. Furthermore, VEGF-loaded CNC-S hydrogel induced significant angiogenesis inside the hydrogel whereas VEGF-loaded CNC-DS did not.
    CONCLUSION: CNC-S possesses good properties as a biomaterial including injectability, biocompatibility, and allowing cellular infiltration and sustained release of growth factors. VEGF-loaded CNC-S hydrogel exhibited efficient angiogenesis inside the hydrogel. The sulfate group of CNC-S was a key for good biocompatibility and the biological activities of VEGF-loaded CNC hydrogel.
    Keywords:  Angiogenesis; Cellular infiltration; Cellulose nanocrystal (CNC); Injectable hydrogel; Vascular endothelial growth factor
  18. J Psychiatr Res. 2023 Apr 10. pii: S0022-3956(23)00167-X. [Epub ahead of print]161 449-454
      BACKGROUND: Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis abnormalities in major depression (MDD) have been consistently reported in psychiatry and extend to several neurosteroids. However, recurrence and chronicity may heavily influence HPA axis dynamics in MDD along its course and also explain conflicting results in literature. Thus, the mechanistic understanding of HPA axis (re)activity changes over time could be of major importance for unravelling the dynamic pathophysiology of MDD.METHODS: This study simultaneously assessed several baseline and dynamic HPA-axis-related endocrine biomarkers in both saliva (dehydroepiandrosterone, DHEA; sulfated DHEA, DHEA-s; cortisol, CORT) and plasma (CORT; adrenocorticotropic hormone, ACTH; copeptin, CoP) over three consecutive days using overnight HPA axis stimulation (metyrapone) and suppression (dexamethasone) challenges in order to investigate differences between antidepressant-free MDD patients (n = 14) with and without history of prior depressive episodes (i.e., first vs. recurrent episode).
    RESULTS: Our results suggest group differences only with respect to saliva DHEA levels, with recurrent-episode MDD patients showing overall lower saliva DHEA levels across the three days, and statistically significant differences mainly at day 1 (baseline) across all three timepoints (awakening, +30 min, +60 min), even after adjustment for confounders.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our study supports that salivary DHEA levels could represent a significant biomarker of MDD progression and individual stress resilience. DHEA deserves additional attention in the research of pathophysiology, staging and individualized treatment of MDD. Prospective longitudinal studies are needed to evaluate HPA axis reactivity along MDD course and progression to better understand temporal effects on stress-system-related alterations, related phenotypes and appropriate treatment.
    Keywords:  Cortisol; Dehydroepiandrosterone; Dexamethasone; Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis; Major depressive disorder; Metyrapone; Saliva
  19. Microbiol Spectr. 2023 Apr 10. e0068523
      Blocking of nutrient uptake and amino acid biosynthesis are considered potential targets for next-generation antifungal drugs against pathogenic fungi, including Cryptococcus neoformans. In this regard, the sulfate assimilation pathway is particularly attractive, as it is only present in eukaryotes such as plants and fungi, yet not in mammals. Here, we demonstrated that the adenylyl sulfate kinase (Met14) in the sulfate assimilation pathway is not essential yet is required for the viability of C. neoformans due to its involvement in biosynthesis of two sulfur-containing amino acids, cysteine and methionine. Met14-dependent cysteine and methionine biosynthesis was found to significantly contribute to a diverse range of pathobiological processes in C. neoformans. Met14-dependent cysteine rather than methionine biosynthesis was also found to play pivotal roles in cell growth and tolerance to environmental stresses and antifungal drugs. In contrast, the Met14-dependent methionine biosynthesis was found to be more important than cysteine biosynthesis for the production of major cryptococcal virulence factors of melanin pigments and polysaccharide capsules. Finally, we also found that despite its attenuated virulence in an insect model, Galleria mellonella, the met14Δ mutant yielded no difference in virulence in a murine model of systemic cryptococcosis. Hence, clinical inhibition of Met14-dependent amino acid biosynthetic pathways may not be advantageous for the treatment of systemic cryptococcosis. IMPORTANCE Current antifungal drugs have several limitations, such as drug resistance, severe side effects, and a narrow spectrum. Therefore, novel antifungal targets are urgently needed. To this end, fungal sulfur amino acid biosynthetic pathways are considered potential targets for development of new antifungal agents. Here, we demonstrated that Met14 in the sulfate assimilation pathway promotes growth, stress response, and virulence factor production in C. neoformans via synthesis of sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine. Met14-dependent cysteine rather than methionine synthesis was found to be critical for growth and stress responses, whereas Met14-dependent methionine synthesis was more important for the production of antiphagocytic capsules and antioxidant melanin in C. neoformans. Surprisingly, deletion of the MET14 gene was found to attenuate cryptococcal virulence in an insect model, yet not in a murine model. Collectively, our results showed that Met14-dependent cysteine and methionine biosynthesis play roles that are distinct from each other in C. neoformans. Moreover, Met14 is unlikely to be a suitable anticryptococcal drug target.
    Keywords:  Met14; Met3; fungal pathogens; sulfate assimilation pathway; sulfur amino acids; virulence