Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Biomembranes Stefano Piotto, Alfonso Trapani, Erminia Bianchino, Maitane Ibarguren, David J López, Simona Concilio

The synthetic fatty acid 2-hydroxyoleic acid (2OHOA) is an antitumor drug that regulates membrane lipid composition and structure. An important effect of this drug is the restoration of sphingomyelin (SM) levels in cancer cell membranes, where the SM concentration is lower than in non-tumor cells. It is well known that free fatty acid concentration in cell membranes is lower than 5%, and that fatty acid excess is rapidly incorporated into phospholipids. In a recent work, we have considered the effect of free 2OHOA in model membranes in liquid ordered (Lo) and liquid disordered (Ld) phases, by using all-atom molecular dynamics. This study concerns membranes that are modified upon incorporation of 2OHOA into different phospholipids. 2OHOA-containing phospholipids have a permanent effect on lipid membranes, making a Ld membrane surface more compact and less hydrated, whereas the opposite effect is observed in Lo domains. Moreover, the hydroxyl group of fatty acid chains increases the propensity of Ld model membranes to form hexagonal or other non-lamellar structures.

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Thin Solid Films, S Concilio, V Bugatti, HC Neitzert, G Landi, A De Sio, J Parisi, S Piotto, ...

A mononuclear Zn(II) complex containing two carbazole/oxadiazole moieties, Zn(OC)2, was synthesized and characterized by means of elemental and thermal analyses and infrared spectroscopy. Current–voltage measurements of Ag/Zn(OC)2/p-Si and Ag/Zn(OC)2/n-Si heterostructures have been performed and compared to that of reference structures with the same metal contacts but without the insertion of the Zn(OC)2 layer. Good rectification behavior has been observed for both hetero-diodes, independent of the silicon substrate doping type, confirming that the metal–organic layer can act both as electron or hole-conductor. Zn(OC)2 complex displayed blue photo-luminescence in solution and in film.

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PLoS ONE 8(8): e72052. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072052

Background: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a family of COX1 and COX2 inhibitors used to reduce the synthesis of pro-inflammatory mediators. In addition, inflammation often leads to a harmful generation of nitric oxide. Efforts are being done in discovering safer NSAIDs molecules capable of inhibiting the synthesis of pro-inflammatory lipid mediators and nitric oxide to reduce the side effects associated with long term therapies. Methodology/Principal Findings The analogue of arachidonic acid (AA), 2-hydroxy-arachidonic acid (2OAA), was designed to inhibit the activities of COX1 and COX2 and it was predicted to have similar binding energies as AA for the catalytic sites of COX1 and COX2. The interaction of AA and 2OAA with COX1 and COX2 was investigated calculating the free energy of binding and the Fukui function. Toxicity was determined in mouse microglial BV-2 cells. COX1 and COX2 (PGH2 production) activities were measured in vitro. COX1 and COX2 expression in human macrophage-like U937 cells were carried out by Western blot, immunocytochemistry and RT-PCR analysis. NO production (Griess method) and iNOS (Western blot) were determined in mouse microglial BV-2 cells. The comparative efficacy of 2OAA, ibuprofen and cortisone in lowering TNF-α serum levels was determined in C57BL6/J mice challenged with LPS. We show that the presence of the –OH group reduces the likelihood of 2OAA being subjected to H* abstraction in COX, without altering significantly the free energy of binding. The 2OAA inhibited COX1 and COX2 activities and the expression of COX2 in human U937 derived macrophages challenged with LPS. In addition, 2OAA inhibited iNOS expression and the production of NO in BV-2 microglial cells. Finally, oral administration of 2OAA decreased the plasma TNF-α levels in vivo.

., 34:1471–1476, 2013.

A new blue emitter oxadiazole/carbazole copolymer has been synthesized and combined with CdSe/ZnS quantum dots (QDs). Surface passivation of the QDs by ionic liquids was crucial to improve their compatibility with the polymer allowing the deposition of homogeneous nanocomposites films. The nanocomposites have been characterized by thermogravimetric analysis, infrared, UV–visible absorption, and photoluminescence spectroscopy. The emission spectra of nanocomposites show a wide spectrum from blue to orange wavelengths due to the combination of colors emitted by the polymer and QDs, respectively.

Polymer composites, 34, 9, 1489–1492, 2013

cropped-home.jpgWe report on the synthesis and the characterization of an azobenzene-based compound. The molecule shows high antimicrobial activity against Staphilococcus aureus and Candida albicans, as demonstrated by in vitro microbiological test in solution. Two antimicrobial polymeric systems were realized introducing this antimicrobial molecule in two polyolefin matrices. The polymeric materials containing different percentages of azo-compound were mold-casted and the obtained films were tested in vitro against the same Gram-positive bacterium and fungus. The films show biocide activity at low percentage of azo dye (up to 0.01%), holding promise for the fabrication of bacteria-resistant polymer films by means of simple melt processing.

Current pharmaceutical design, 19, 3, 309-346

DPD membraneAccording to the “membrane sensor” hypothesis, the membrane’s physical properties and microdomain organization play an initiating role in the heat shock response. Clinical conditions such as cancer, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases are all coupled with specific changes in the physical state and lipid composition of cellular membranes and characterized by altered heat shock protein levels in cells suggesting that these “membrane defects” can cause suboptimal hsp-gene expression. Such observations provide a new rationale for the introduction of novel, heat shock protein modulating drug candidates. Intercalating compounds can be used to alter membrane properties and by doing so normalize dysregulated expression of heat shock proteins, resulting in a beneficial therapeutic effect for reversing the pathological impact of disease. The membrane (and lipid) interacting hydroximic acid (HA) derivatives discussed in this review physiologically restore the heat shock protein stress response, creating a new class of “membrane-lipid therapy” pharmaceuticals. The diseases that HA derivatives potentially target are diverse and include, among others, insulin resistance and diabetes, neuropathy, atrial fibrillation, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. At a molecular level HA derivatives are broad spectrum, multi-target compounds as they fluidize yet stabilize membranes and remodel their lipid rafts while otherwise acting as PARP inhibitors. The HA derivatives have the potential to ameliorate disparate conditions, whether of acute or chronic nature. Many of these diseases presently are either untreatable or inadequately treated with currently available pharmaceuticals. Ultimately, the HA derivatives promise to play a major role in future pharmacotherapy.

International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents 39, 4, April 2012, Pages 346–351

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This work presents an antimicrobial peptide database (YADAMP) based on an extensive literature search. This database is focused primarily on bacteria, with detailed information for 2133 peptides active against bacteria. YADAMP was created to facilitate access to critical information on antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). The main difference between YADAMP and other web databases of AMPs is the explicit presence of antimicrobial activity against the most common bacterial strains. YADAMP allows complex queries, easily accessible through a web interface. Peptide information can be retrieved based on peptide name, number of amino acids, net charge, hydrophobic percentage, sequence motif, structure and activity against bacteria. YADAMP is suitable for reviewing information on AMPs and for structure–function analyses of peptides. The database can be accessed via a web-based browser at

PLoS ONE 6(12): e28818. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028818

Aging and pathophysiological conditions are linked to membrane changes which modulate membrane-controlled molecular switches, causing dysregulated heat shock protein (HSP) expression. HSP co-inducer hydroxylamines such as BGP-15 provide advanced therapeutic candidates for many diseases since they preferentially affect stressed cells and are unlikely have major side effects. In the present study in vitro molecular dynamic simulation, experiments with lipid monolayers and in vivo ultrasensitive fluorescence microscopy showed that BGP-15 alters the organization of cholesterol-rich membrane domains. Imaging of nanoscopic long-lived platforms using the raft marker glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored monomeric green fluorescent protein diffusing in the live Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell plasma membrane demonstrated that BGP-15 prevents the transient structural disintegration of rafts induced by fever-type heat stress. Moreover, BGP-15 was able to remodel cholesterol-enriched lipid platforms reminiscent of those observed earlier following non-lethal heat priming or membrane stress, and were shown to be obligate for the generation and transmission of stress signals. BGP-15 activation of HSP expression in B16-F10 mouse melanoma cells involves the Rac1 signaling cascade in accordance with the previous observation that cholesterol affects the targeting of Rac1 to membranes. Finally, in a human embryonic kidney cell line we demonstrate that BGP-15 is able to inhibit the rapid heat shock factor 1 (HSF1) acetylation monitored during the early phase of heat stress, thereby promoting a prolonged duration of HSF1 binding to heat shock elements. Taken together, our results indicate that BGP-15 has the potential to become a new class of pharmaceuticals for use in ‘membrane-lipid therapy’ to combat many various protein-misfolding diseases associated with aging.


Soft Matter, 2011,7, 3392-3403

The phase diagram of an amidic surfactant, sodium N-dodecanoylprolinate, was investigated by experimental means such as optical microscopy, multinuclear NMR, and SAXS experiments, and by dissipative particle dynamics and all-atoms molecular dynamics simulations. The organization in domains based on the stereochemical information of the surfactant (E and Z), as well as being observed previously under micellar aggregating conditions, was also observed in the liquid crystal phases. The combination of the different experimental techniques and of the theoretical investigation allowed us to clarify the nature of the domains and some of the involved interactions in their segregation and organization.