Anthony Whetton

Professor Anthony Whetton

Professor of Translational Biosystems

Academic and research departments

School of Veterinary Medicine.


Kevin Y. C. A. Su, John Reynolds, Rachel Reed, Rachael Da Silva, Janet Kelsall, Ivona Baricevic-Jones, David D. Lee, Anthony D. Whetton, Nophar Geifman, Neil N. McHugh, Ian Bruce, MASTERPLANS BILAG BR consortia, (2023)Proteomic analysis identifies subgroups of patients with active systemic lupus erythematosus, In: Clinical proteomics20(1)29 Springer Nature

ObjectiveSystemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a clinically and biologically heterogenous autoimmune disease. We aimed to investigate the plasma proteome of patients with active SLE to identify novel subgroups, or endotypes, of patients.MethodPlasma was collected from patients with active SLE who were enrolled in the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group Biologics Registry (BILAG-BR). The plasma proteome was analysed using a data-independent acquisition method, Sequential Window Acquisition of All theoretical mass spectra mass spectrometry (SWATH-MS). Unsupervised, data-driven clustering algorithms were used to delineate groups of patients with a shared proteomic profile.ResultsIn 223 patients, six clusters were identified based on quantification of 581 proteins. Between the clusters, there were significant differences in age (p = 0.012) and ethnicity (p = 0.003). There was increased musculoskeletal disease activity in cluster 1 (C1), 19/27 (70.4%) (p = 0.002) and renal activity in cluster 6 (C6) 15/24 (62.5%) (p = 0.051). Anti-SSa/Ro was the only autoantibody that significantly differed between clusters (p = 0.017). C1 was associated with p21-activated kinases (PAK) and Phospholipase C (PLC) signalling. Within C1 there were two sub-clusters (C1A and C1B) defined by 49 proteins related to cytoskeletal protein binding. C2 and C6 demonstrated opposite Rho family GTPase and Rho GDI signalling. Three proteins (MZB1, SND1 and AGL) identified in C6 increased the classification of active renal disease although this did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.0617).ConclusionsUnsupervised proteomic analysis identifies clusters of patients with active SLE, that are associated with clinical and serological features, which may facilitate biomarker discovery. The observed proteomic heterogeneity further supports the need for a personalised approach to treatment in SLE.

Nophar Geifman, Jo Armes, Anthony David Whetton (2023)Identifying developments over a decade in the digital health and telemedicine landscape in the UK using quantitative text mining, In: Frontiers in Digital Health51092008 Frontiers Media

The use of technologies that provide objective, digital data to clinicians, carers, and service users to improve care and outcomes comes under the unifying term Digital Health. This field, which includes the use of high-tech health devices, telemedicine and health analytics has, in recent years, seen significant growth in the United Kingdom and worldwide. It is clearly acknowledged by multiple stakeholders that digital health innovations are necessary for the future of improved and more economic healthcare service delivery. Here we consider digital health-related research and applications by using an informatics tool to objectively survey the field. We have used a quantitative text-mining technique, applied to published works in the field of digital health, to capture and analyse key approaches taken and the diseases areas where these have been applied. Key areas of research and application are shown to be cardiovascular, stroke, and hypertension; although the range seen is wide. We consider advances in digital health and telemedicine in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carlos R Ramírez Medina, Ibrahim Ali, Ivona Baricevic-Jones, Aghogho Odudu, Moin A Saleem, Anthony David Whetton, Philip A Kalra, Nophar Geifman (2023)Proteomic signature associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD) progression identified by data-independent acquisition mass spectrometry, In: Clinical Proteomics2019 (2023) BMC

Background Halting progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD) to established end stage kidney disease is a major goal of global health research. The mechanism of CKD progression involves pro-inflammatory, pro-fibrotic, and vascular pathways, but pathophysiological differentiation is currently lacking. Methods Plasma samples of 414 non-dialysis CKD patients, 170 fast progressors (with ∂ eGFR-3 ml/min/1.73 m2/year or worse) and 244 stable patients (∂ eGFR of − 0.5 to + 1 ml/min/1.73 m2/year) with a broad range of kidney disease aetiologies, were obtained and interrogated for proteomic signals with SWATH-MS. We applied a machine learning approach to feature selection of proteins quantifiable in at least 20% of the samples, using the Boruta algorithm. Biological pathways enriched by these proteins were identified using ClueGo pathway analyses. Results The resulting digitised proteomic maps inclusive of 626 proteins were investigated in tandem with available clinical data to identify biomarkers of progression. The machine learning model using Boruta Feature Selection identified 25 biomarkers as being important to progression type classification (Area Under the Curve = 0.81, Accuracy = 0.72). Our functional enrichment analysis revealed associations with the complement cascade pathway, which is relevant to CKD as the kidney is particularly vulnerable to complement overactivation. This provides further evidence to target complement inhibition as a potential approach to modulating the progression of diabetic nephropathy. Proteins involved in the ubiquitin–proteasome pathway, a crucial protein degradation system, were also found to be significantly enriched. Conclusions The in-depth proteomic characterisation of this large-scale CKD cohort is a step toward generating mechanism-based hypotheses that might lend themselves to future drug targeting. Candidate biomarkers will be validated in samples from selected patients in other large non-dialysis CKD cohorts using a targeted mass spectrometric analysis.

Holly-May Lewis, Yufan Liu, Cecile F. Frampas, Katie Longman, Matt Spick, Alexander Stewart, Emma Sinclair, Nora Kasar, Danni Greener, Anthony D. Whetton, Perdita E. Barran, Tao Chen, Deborah Dunn-Walters, Debra J. Skene, Melanie J. Bailey (2022)Metabolomics Markers of COVID-19 Are Dependent on Collection Wave, In: Metabolites12(8)713 MDPI AG

The effect of COVID-19 infection on the human metabolome has been widely reported, but to date all such studies have focused on a single wave of infection. COVID-19 has generated numerous waves of disease with different clinical presentations, and therefore it is pertinent to explore whether metabolic disturbance changes accordingly, to gain a better understanding of its impact on host metabolism and enable better treatments. This work used a targeted metabolomics platform (Biocrates Life Sciences) to analyze the serum of 164 hospitalized patients, 123 with confirmed positive COVID-19 RT-PCR tests and 41 providing negative tests, across two waves of infection. Seven COVID-19-positive patients also provided longitudinal samples 2–7 months after infection. Changes to metabolites and lipids between positive and negative patients were found to be dependent on collection wave. A machine learning model identified six metabolites that were robust in diagnosing positive patients across both waves of infection: TG (22:1_32:5), TG (18:0_36:3), glutamic acid (Glu), glycolithocholic acid (GLCA), aspartic acid (Asp) and methionine sulfoxide (Met-SO), with an accuracy of 91%. Although some metabolites (TG (18:0_36:3) and Asp) returned to normal after infection, glutamic acid was still dysregulated in the longitudinal samples. This work demonstrates, for the first time, that metabolic dysregulation has partially changed over the course of the pandemic, reflecting changes in variants, clinical presentation and treatment regimes. It also shows that some metabolic changes are robust across waves, and these can differentiate COVID-19-positive individuals from controls in a hospital setting. This research also supports the hypothesis that some metabolic pathways are disrupted several months after COVID-19 infection.

Matt Spick, Olivier Cexus, Hardev Singh Pandha, Agnieszka Michael, Anthony David Whetton, Nophar Geifman, Paul Andrew Townsend (2023)A Novel Blood Proteomic Signature for Prostate Cancer, In: Cancers15(4)1051 MDPI

Prostate cancer is the most common malignant tumour in men. Improved testing for di- agnosis, risk prediction, and response to treatment would improve care. Here, we identified a pro- teomic signature of prostate cancer in peripheral blood using data-independent acquisition mass spectrometry combined with machine learning. A highly predictive signature was derived, which was associated with relevant pathways, including the coagulation, complement, and clotting cas- cades, as well as plasma lipoprotein particle remodeling. We further validated the identified bi- omarkers against a second cohort, identifying a panel of five key markers (GP5, SERPINA5, ECM1, IGHG1, and THBS1) which retained most of the diagnostic power of the overall dataset, achieving an AUC of 0.91. Taken together, this study provides a proteomic signature complementary to PSA for the diagnosis of patients with localised prostate cancer, with the further potential for assessing risk of future development of prostate cancer. Data are available via ProteomeXchange with identi- fier PXD025484.

MATTHEW PAUL SPICK, Amy Campbell, Ivona Baricevic-Jones, JOHANNA VON GERICHTEN, HOLLY-MAY LEWIS, CECILE FRANCE FRAMPAS, Katie Longman, ALEXANDER STEWART, DEBORAH DUNN-WALTERS, DEBRA JEAN SKENE, NOPHAR GEIFMAN, Anthony D. Whetton, Melanie J. Bailey (2022)Multi-Omics Reveals Mechanisms of Partial Modulation of COVID-19 Dysregulation by Glucocorticoid Treatment, In: International journal of molecular sciences23(20)12079 MDPI

Treatments for COVID-19 infections have improved dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic, and glucocorticoids have been a key tool in improving mortality rates. The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance is for treatment to be targeted only at those requiring oxygen supplementation, however, and the interactions between glucocorticoids and COVID-19 are not completely understood. In this work, a multi-omic analysis of 98 inpatient-recruited participants was performed by quantitative metabolomics (using targeted liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry) and data-independent acquisition proteomics. Both ‘omics datasets were analysed for statistically significant features and pathways differentiating participants whose treatment regimens did or did not include glucocorticoids. Metabolomic differences in glucocorticoid-treated patients included the modulation of cortisol and bile acid concentrations in serum, but no alleviation of serum dyslipidemia or increased amino acid concentrations (including tyrosine and arginine) in the glucocorticoid-treated cohort relative to the untreated cohort. Proteomic pathway analysis indicated neutrophil and platelet degranulation as influenced by glucocorticoid treatment. These results are in keeping with the key role of platelet-associated pathways and neutrophils in COVID-19 pathogenesis and provide opportunity for further understanding of glucocorticoid action. The findings also, however, highlight that glucocorticoids are not fully effective across the wide range of ‘omics dysregulation caused by COVID-19 infections.

M. Taariq Salie, Jing Yang, Carlos R. Ramírez Medina, Liesl J. Zühlke, Chishala Chishala, Mpiko Ntsekhe, Bernard Gitura, Stephen Ogendo, Emmy Okello, Peter Lwabi, John Musuku, Agnes Mtaja, Christopher Hugo-Hamman, Ahmed El-Sayed, Albertino Damasceno, Ana Mocumbi, Fidelia Bode-Thomas, Christopher Yilgwan, Ganiyu A. Amusa, Esin Nkereuwem, Gasnat Shaboodien, Rachael Da Silva, Dave Chi Hoo Lee, Simon Frain, Anthony D. Whetton, NOPHAR GEIFMAN, Bernard Keavney, Mark E. Engel (2022)Data-independent acquisition mass spectrometry in severe rheumatic heart disease (RHD) identifies a proteomic signature showing ongoing inflammation and effectively classifying RHD cases, In: Clinical proteomics197 BMC

Background Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) remains a major source of morbidity and mortality in developing countries. A deeper insight into the pathogenetic mechanisms underlying RHD could provide opportunities for drug repurposing, guide recommendations for secondary penicillin prophylaxis, and/or inform development of near-patient diagnostics. Methods We performed quantitative proteomics using Sequential Windowed Acquisition of All Theoretical Fragment Ion Mass Spectrometry (SWATH-MS) to screen protein expression in 215 African patients with severe RHD, and 230 controls. We applied a machine learning (ML) approach to feature selection among the 366 proteins quantifiable in at least 40% of samples, using the Boruta wrapper algorithm. The case–control differences and contribution to Area Under the Receiver Operating Curve (AUC) for each of the 56 proteins identified by the Boruta algorithm were calculated by Logistic Regression adjusted for age, sex and BMI. Biological pathways and functions enriched for proteins were identified using ClueGo pathway analyses. Results Adiponectin, complement component C7 and fibulin-1, a component of heart valve matrix, were significantly higher in cases when compared with controls. Ficolin-3, a protein with calcium-independent lectin activity that activates the complement pathway, was lower in cases than controls. The top six biomarkers from the Boruta analyses conferred an AUC of 0.90 indicating excellent discriminatory capacity between RHD cases and controls. Conclusions These results support the presence of an ongoing inflammatory response in RHD, at a time when severe valve disease has developed, and distant from previous episodes of acute rheumatic fever. This biomarker signature could have potential utility in recognizing different degrees of ongoing inflammation in RHD patients, which may, in turn, be related to prognostic severity.

Alba Maiques-Diaz, Luciano Nicosia, Naseer J. Basma, Isabel Romero-Camarero, Francesco Camera, Gary J. Spencer, Fabio M. R. Amaral, Fabrizio Simeoni, Bettina Wingelhofer, Andrew J. K. Williamson, Andrew Pierce, Anthony D. Whetton, Tim C. P. Somervaille (2022)HMG20B stabilizes association of LSD1 with GFI1 on chromatin to confer transcription repression and leukemia cell differentiation block, In: Oncogene41(44)pp. 4841-4854 Springer Nature

Pharmacologic inhibition of LSD1 induces molecular and morphologic differentiation of blast cells in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients harboring MLL gene translocations. In addition to its demethylase activity, LSD1 has a critical scaffolding function at genomic sites occupied by the SNAG domain transcription repressor GFI1. Importantly, inhibitors block both enzymatic and scaffolding activities, in the latter case by disrupting the protein:protein interaction of GFI1 with LSD1. To explore the wider consequences of LSD1 inhibition on the LSD1 protein complex we applied mass spectrometry technologies. We discovered that the interaction of the HMG-box protein HMG20B with LSD1 was also disrupted by LSD1 inhibition. Downstream investigations revealed that HMG20B is co-located on chromatin with GFI1 and LSD1 genome-wide; the strongest HMG20B binding co-locates with the strongest GFI1 and LSD1 binding. Functional assays demonstrated that HMG20B depletion induces leukemia cell differentiation and further revealed that HMG20B is required for the transcription repressor activity of GFI1 through stabilizing LSD1 on chromatin at GFI1 binding sites. Interaction of HMG20B with LSD1 is through its coiled-coil domain. Thus, HMG20B is a critical component of the GFI1:LSD1 transcription repressor complex which contributes to leukemia cell differentiation block.

Nyasha Munjoma, Giorgis Isaac, Ammara Muazzam, Olivier Cexus, Fowz Azhar, Hardev Pandha, Paul A Townsend, Ian D Wilson, Lee A Gethings, Anthony D. Whetton, Robert S Plumb (2022)High Throughput LC-MS Platform for Large Scale Screening of Bioactive Polar Lipids in Human Plasma and Serum, In: Journal of proteome research21(11)pp. 2596-2608 ACS

Lipids play a key role in many biological processes, and their accurate measurement is critical to unraveling the biology of diseases and human health. A high throughput HILIC-based (LC-MS) method for the semiquantitative screening of over 2000 lipids, based on over 4000 MRM transitions, was devised to produce an accessible and robust lipidomic screen for phospholipids in human plasma/serum. This methodology integrates many of the advantages of global lipid analysis with those of targeted approaches. Having used the method as an initial "wide class" screen, it can then be easily adapted for a more targeted analysis and quantification of key, dysregulated lipids. Robustness was assessed using 1550 continuous injections of plasma extracts onto a single column and via the evaluation of columns from 5 different batches of stationary phase. Initial screens in positive (239 lipids, 431 MRM transitions) and negative electrospray ionization (ESI) mode (232 lipids, 446 MRM transitions) were assessed for reproducibility, sensitivity, and dynamic range using analysis times of 8 min. The total number of lipids monitored using these screening methods was 433 with an overlap of 38 lipids in both modes. A polarity switching method for accurate quantification, using the same LC conditions, was assessed for intra- and interday reproducibility, accuracy, dynamic range, stability, carryover, dilution integrity, and matrix interferences and found to be acceptable. This polarity switching method was then applied to lipids important in the stratification of human prostate cancer samples.

Nagaraj Malipatil, Helene A. Fachim, Kirk Siddals, Bethany Geary, Gwen Wark, Nick Porter, Simon Anderson, Rachelle Donn, Michelle Harvie, Anthony D. Whetton, Martin J. Gibson, Adrian Heald (2019)Data Independent Acquisition Mass Spectrometry Can Identify Circulating Proteins That Predict Future Weight Loss with a Diet and Exercise Programme, In: Journal of clinical medicine8(2)141 Mdpi

We investigated biological determinants that would associate with the response to a diet and weight loss programme in impaired glucose regulation (IGR) people using sequential window acquisition of all theoretical fragment ion spectra (SWATH) mass spectrometry (MS), a data acquisition method which complement traditional mass spectrometry-based proteomics techniques. Ten women and 10 men with IGR underwent anthropometric measurements and fasting blood tests. SWATH MS was carried out with subsequent immunoassay of specific peptide levels. After a six-month intervention, 40% of participants lost 3% or more in weight, 45% of patients remained within 3% of their starting weight and 15% increased their weight by 3% or more. Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1C) level was reduced with weight loss with improvements in insulin sensitivity. SWATH MS on pre-intervention samples and subsequent principal component analysis identified a cluster of proteins associated with future weight loss, including insulin-like growth factor-II (IGF-II) and Vitamin D binding protein. Individuals who lost 3% in weight had significantly higher baseline IGF-II levels than those who did not lose weight. SWATH MS successfully discriminated between individuals who were more likely to lose weight and potentially improve their sensitivity to insulin. A higher IGF-II baseline was predictive of success with weight reduction, suggesting that biological determinants are important in response to weight loss and exercise regimes. This may permit better targeting of interventions to prevent diabetes in the future.

Ammara Muazzam, Davide Chiasserini, Janet Kelsall, Nophar Geifman, Anthony D. Whetton, Anthony David Whetton, Paul A. Townsend (2021)A Prostate Cancer Proteomics Database for SWATH-MS Based Protein Quantification, In: Cancers13(21)5580 Mdpi

Simple Summary: Prostate cancer is the third most frequent cancer in men worldwide, with a notable increase in prevalence over the past two decades. The PSA is the only well-established protein biomarker for prostate cancer diagnosis, staging, and surveillance. It frequently leads to inaccurate diagnosis and overtreatment since it is an organ-specific biomarker rather than a tumour-specific biomarker. As a result, one of the primary goals of prostate cancer proteome research is to identify novel biomarkers that can be used with or instead of PSA, particularly in non-invasive blood samples. Thousands of peptides or assays were detected in blood samples from patients with low- to high-grade prostate cancer and healthy individuals, allowing data processing of sequential window acquisition of all theoretical mass spectra (SWATH-MS). By assisting in the detection of prostate cancer biomarkers in blood samples, this useful resource will improve our understanding of the role of proteomics in prostate cancer diagnosis and risk assessment. Prostate cancer is the most frequent form of cancer in men, accounting for more than one-third of all cases. Current screening techniques, such as PSA testing used in conjunction with routine procedures, lead to unnecessary biopsies and the discovery of low-risk tumours, resulting in overdiagnosis. SWATH-MS is a well-established data-independent (DI) method requiring prior knowledge of targeted peptides to obtain valuable information from SWATH maps. In response to the growing need to identify and characterise protein biomarkers for prostate cancer, this study explored a spectrum source for targeted proteome analysis of blood samples. We created a comprehensive prostate cancer serum spectral library by combining data-dependent acquisition (DDA) MS raw files from 504 patients with low, intermediate, or high-grade prostate cancer and healthy controls, as well as 304 prostate cancer-related protein in silico assays. The spectral library contains 114,684 transitions, which equates to 18,479 peptides translated into 1227 proteins. The robustness and accuracy of the spectral library were assessed to boost confidence in the identification and quantification of prostate cancer-related proteins across an independent cohort, resulting in the identification of 404 proteins. This unique database can facilitate researchers to investigate prostate cancer protein biomarkers in blood samples. In the real-world use of the spectrum library for biomarker detection, using a signature of 17 proteins, a clear distinction between the validation cohort's pre- and post-treatment groups was observed. Data are available via ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD028651.