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1.  CXCL12 Induces Connective Tissue Growth Factor Expression in Human Lung Fibroblasts through the Rac1/ERK, JNK, and AP-1 Pathways 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104746.
CXCL12 (stromal cell-derived factor-1, SDF-1) is a potent chemokine for homing of CXCR4+ fibrocytes to injury sites of lung tissue, which contributes to pulmonary fibrosis. Overexpression of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) plays a critical role in pulmonary fibrosis. In this study, we investigated the roles of Rac1, extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and activator protein-1 (AP-1) in CXCL12-induced CTGF expression in human lung fibroblasts. CXCL12 caused concentration- and time-dependent increases in CTGF expression and CTGF-luciferase activity. CXCL12-induced CTGF expression was inhibited by a CXCR4 antagonist (AMD3100), small interfering RNA of CXCR4 (CXCR4 siRNA), a dominant negative mutant of Rac1 (RacN17), a mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase (MEK) inhibitor (PD98059), a JNK inhibitor (SP600125), a p21-activated kinase inhibitor (PAK18), c-Jun siRNA, and an AP-1 inhibitor (curcumin). Treatment of cells with CXCL12 caused activations of Rac1, Rho, ERK, and c-Jun. The CXCL12-induced increase in ERK phosphorylation was inhibited by RacN17. Treatment of cells with PD98059 and SP600125 both inhibited CXCL12-induced c-Jun phosphorylation. CXCL12 caused the recruitment of c-Jun and c-Fos binding to the CTGF promoter. Furthermore, CXCL12 induced an increase in α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expression, a myofibroblastic phenotype, and actin stress fiber formation. CXCL12-induced actin stress fiber formation and α-SMA expression were respectively inhibited by AMD3100 and CTGF siRNA. Taken together, our results suggest that CXCL12, acting through CXCR4, activates the Rac/ERK and JNK signaling pathways, which in turn initiates c-Jun phosphorylation, and recruits c-Jun and c-Fos to the CTGF promoter and ultimately induces CTGF expression in human lung fibroblasts. Moreover, overexpression of CTGF mediates CXCL12-induced α-SMA expression.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104746
PMCID: PMC4133236  PMID: 25121739
2.  Spred-2 Deficiency Exacerbates Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Acute Lung Inflammation in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e108914.
Background
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a severe and life-threatening acute lung injury (ALI) that is caused by noxious stimuli and pathogens. ALI is characterized by marked acute inflammation with elevated alveolar cytokine levels. Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways are involved in cytokine production, but the mechanisms that regulate these pathways remain poorly characterized. Here, we focused on the role of Sprouty-related EVH1-domain-containing protein (Spred)-2, a negative regulator of the Ras-Raf-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-MAPK pathway, in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced acute lung inflammation.
Methods
Wild-type (WT) mice and Spred-2−/− mice were exposed to intratracheal LPS (50 µg in 50 µL PBS) to induce pulmonary inflammation. After LPS-injection, the lungs were harvested to assess leukocyte infiltration, cytokine and chemokine production, ERK-MAPK activation and immunopathology. For ex vivo experiments, alveolar macrophages were harvested from untreated WT and Spred-2−/− mice and stimulated with LPS. In in vitro experiments, specific knock down of Spred-2 by siRNA or overexpression of Spred-2 by transfection with a plasmid encoding the Spred-2 sense sequence was introduced into murine RAW264.7 macrophage cells or MLE-12 lung epithelial cells.
Results
LPS-induced acute lung inflammation was significantly exacerbated in Spred-2−/− mice compared with WT mice, as indicated by the numbers of infiltrating leukocytes, levels of alveolar TNF-α, CXCL2 and CCL2 in a later phase, and lung pathology. U0126, a selective MEK/ERK inhibitor, reduced the augmented LPS-induced inflammation in Spred-2−/− mice. Specific knock down of Spred-2 augmented LPS-induced cytokine and chemokine responses in RAW264.7 cells and MLE-12 cells, whereas Spred-2 overexpression decreased this response in RAW264.7 cells.
Conclusions
The ERK-MAPK pathway is involved in LPS-induced acute lung inflammation. Spred-2 controls the development of LPS-induced lung inflammation by negatively regulating the ERK-MAPK pathway. Thus, Spred-2 may represent a therapeutic target for the treatment of ALI.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0108914
PMCID: PMC4183529  PMID: 25275324
3.  Effect of Connective Tissue Growth Factor on Protein Kinase Expression and Activity in Human Corneal Fibroblasts 
Purpose.
To investigate signal transduction pathways for connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) in human corneal fibroblasts (HCF).
Methods.
Expression of 75 kinases in cultures of serum-starved (HCF) were investigated using protein kinase screens, and changes in levels of phosphorylation of 31 different phosphoproteins were determined at 0, 5, and 15 minutes after treatment with CTGF. Levels of phosphorylation of three signal transducing phosphoproteins (extracellular regulated kinase 1 [ERK1], extracellular regulated kinase 2 [ERK2] [MAPKs], and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 [STAT3]) were measured at nine time points after exposure to CTGF using Western immunoblots. Inhibition of Ras, MEK1/2 (MAPKK), and ERK1/2, on CTGF-stimulated fibroblast proliferation and collagen gel contraction was assessed using selective inhibitors farnesylthiosalicylic acid, PD-98059, and SB203580, respectively.
Results.
Thirty two of the 75 kinases (43%) evaluated by the kinase screen were detected in extracts of quiescent HCF, suggesting these kinases are available to respond acutely to CTGF exposure. Addition of CTGF increased levels of phosphorylation of five phosphoproteins (ERK1 and 2, MEK1/2 [MAPKK], STAT3, and SAPK/JNK), and decreased levels of phosphorylation of 14 phosphoproteins (including protein kinases B and C) after 5 and 15 minutes. Further analysis of ERK1 and 2 and STAT3 phosphorylation showed rapid increases within 1 minute of CTGF exposure that peaked between 5 and 10 minutes then returned to pretreatment levels by 30 minutes. Treatment of HCF with selective inhibitors of Ras, MEK 1/2, and ERK1/2 individually blocked both CTGF induced cell proliferation, and collagen gel contraction.
Conclusions.
Results from protein kinase screens and selective kinase inhibitors demonstrate Ras/MEK/ERK/STAT3 pathway is required for CTGF signaling in HCF.
Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is a major inducer of corneal scarring thru induction of collagen and smooth muscle actin in myofibroblasts. CTGF signaling requires Ras/MEK/ERK/STAT3 pathway in human corneal fibroblasts, suggesting small molecule kinase inhibitors of these pathways may reduce corneal scarring.
doi:10.1167/iovs.12-10790
PMCID: PMC3522434  PMID: 23139271
4.  Effects of the mTOR inhibitor Rapamycin on Monocyte-Secreted Chemokines 
BMC Immunology  2014;15(1):37.
Background
Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors, such as sirolimus and its derivative, everolimus, are potent immunosuppressive and antiproliferative drugs. Inflammatory diseases are characterized by immunological dysfunction, and monocyte recruitment underlies the mechanism of cell damage. Chemokines attract inflammatory cells to sites of inflammation. Interleukin-8 (IL-8/CXCL8); the monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1/CCL2); the regulated on activation, normal T cell expressed, presumably secreted protein (RANTES/CCL5); the macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1α (CCL3); and MIP-1β (CCL4) are involved in the pathogenesis of inflammation. However, whether mTOR inhibitors moderate the production of chemokines in monocytes remains unclear.
Methods
A human monocyte cell line, THP-1, and primary monocytes obtained from human volunteers, were stimulated using lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and then treated with sirolimus. The expression of the MCP-1, RANTES, IL-8, MIP-1α, MIP-1β, and TNF-α proteins was measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, and intracellular signalling was examined using western blotting.
Results
Sirolimus significantly suppressed the LPS-induced expression of MCP-1, IL-8, RANTES, MIP-1α, and MIP-1β in the THP-1 cells and human primary monocytes. The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitors that were examined suppressed the LPS-induced expression of MCP-1, IL-8, RANTES, MIP-1α, and MIP-1β. In addition, sirolimus suppressed the LPS-induced phosphorylation of p38 and p65 in the THP-1 and human primary monocytes.
Conclusion
Sirolimus downregulates the expression of chemokines in monocytes, including MCP-1, RANTES, IL-8, MIP-1α, and MIP-1β, by inhibiting the NF-κB-p65 and MAPK-p38 signalling pathways.
doi:10.1186/s12865-014-0037-0
PMCID: PMC4189728  PMID: 25257976
mTOR; Chemokine; Glomerulonephritis
5.  Effect of ethanol on innate antiviral pathways and HCV replication in human liver cells 
Virology Journal  2005;2:89.
Alcohol abuse reduces response rates to IFN therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis C. To model the molecular mechanisms behind this phenotype, we characterized the effects of ethanol on Jak-Stat and MAPK pathways in Huh7 human hepatoma cells, in HCV replicon cell lines, and in primary human hepatocytes. High physiological concentrations of acute ethanol activated the Jak-Stat and p38 MAPK pathways and inhibited HCV replication in several independent replicon cell lines. Moreover, acute ethanol induced Stat1 serine phosphorylation, which was partially mediated by the p38 MAPK pathway. In contrast, when combined with exogenously applied IFN-α, ethanol inhibited the antiviral actions of IFN against HCV replication, involving inhibition of IFN-induced Stat1 tyrosine phosphorylation. These effects of alcohol occurred independently of i) alcohol metabolism via ADH and CYP2E1, and ii) cytotoxic or cytostatic effects of ethanol. In this model system, ethanol directly perturbs the Jak-Stat pathway, and HCV replication.
Infection with Hepatitis C virus is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality throughout the world. With a propensity to progress to chronic infection, approximately 70% of patients with chronic viremia develop histological evidence of chronic liver diseases including chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The situation is even more dire for patients who abuse ethanol, where the risk of developing end stage liver disease is significantly higher as compared to HCV patients who do not drink [1,2].
Recombinant interferon alpha (IFN-α) therapy produces sustained responses (ie clearance of viremia) in 8–12% of patients with chronic hepatitis C [3]. Significant improvements in response rates can be achieved with IFN plus ribavirin combination [4-6] and pegylated IFN plus ribavirin [7,8] therapies. However, over 50% of chronically infected patients still do not clear viremia. Moreover, HCV-infected patients who abuse alcohol have extremely low response rates to IFN therapy [9], but the mechanisms involved have not been clarified.
MAPKs play essential roles in regulation of differentiation, cell growth, and responses to cytokines, chemokines and stress. The core element in MAPK signaling consists of a module of 3 kinases, named MKKK, MKK, and MAPK, which sequentially phosphorylate each other [10]. Currently, four MAPK modules have been characterized in mammalian cells: Extracellular Regulated Kinases (ERK1 and 2), Stress activated/c-Jun N terminal kinase (SAPK/JNK), p38 MAP kinases, and ERK5 [11]. Interestingly, ethanol modulates MAPKs [12]. However, information on how ethanol affects MAPKs in the context of innate antiviral pathways such as the Jak-Stat pathway in human cells is extremely limited.
When IFN-α binds its receptor, two receptor associated tyrosine kinases, Tyk2 and Jak1 become activated by phosphorylation, and phosphorylate Stat1 and Stat2 on conserved tyrosine residues [13]. Stat1 and Stat2 combine with the IRF-9 protein to form the transcription factor interferon stimulated gene factor 3 (ISGF-3), which binds to the interferon stimulated response element (ISRE), and induces transcription of IFN-α-induced genes (ISG). The ISGs mediate the antiviral effects of IFN. The transcriptional activities of Stats 1, 3, 4, 5a, and 5b are also regulated by serine phosphorylation [14]. Phosphorylation of Stat1 on a conserved serine amino acid at position 727 (S727), results in maximal transcriptional activity of the ISGF-3 transcription factor complex [15]. Although cross-talk between p38 MAPK and the Jak-Stat pathway is essential for IFN-induced ISRE transcription, p38 does not participate in IFN induction of Stat1 serine phosphorylation [14,16-19]. However, cellular stress responses induced by stimuli such as ultraviolet light do induce p38 MAPK mediated Stat1 S727 phosphorylation [18].
In the current report, we postulated that alcohol and HCV proteins modulate MAPK and Jak-Stat pathways in human liver cells. To begin to address these issues, we characterized the interaction of acute ethanol on Jak-Stat and MAPK pathways in Huh7 cells, HCV replicon cells lines, and primary human hepatocytes.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-2-89
PMCID: PMC1318489  PMID: 16324217
HCV; IFN; virus-host interactions; signal transduction; alcohol
6.  IL-22 in the endometriotic milieu promotes the proliferation of endometrial stromal cells via stimulating the secretion of CCL2 and IL-8 
Interleukin-22 (IL-22) is a member of the IL-10 cytokine family and plays critical roles in inflammation, immune surveillance, and tissue homeostasis. However, whether IL-22 regulates the growth of endometrial stromal cells (ESCs), and participates in the pathogenesis of endometriosis remain unclear. In this study, we found that the expression of IL-22 and it receptors (IL-22R1 and IL-10R2) in eutopic endometrium and ectopic lesion of women with endometriosis was higher than that from healthy control. Recombinant human IL-22 (rhIL-22) stimulated the proliferation of ESCs in a dosage-dependent manner. On the contrary, anti-human IL-22 neutralizing antibody inhibited the proliferation of ESCs in vitro. The stimulatory effect of IL-22 on the proliferation of ESCs could be reversed by inhibitor of STAT5, ERK1/2 or AKT signal pathway. However, blocking STAT3, JNK or P38 signal pathway had no these effects. By Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and flow cytometry assay, we demonstrated the rhIL-22 not only stimulate the secretion of CCL2 and IL-8, but also significantly up-regulate the expression of IL-8 receptor CXCR1 on ESCs. Meanwhile, STAT5, ERK1/2 and or AKT signal inhibitors could abrogate the increase of CCL2, IL-8 and CXCR1 levels induced by rhIL-22. However, rhIL-22 had not similar influence on CCL2 receptor CCR2. Our current results suggested that the higher level of IL-22 and it receptors in eutopic endometrium may stimulate the expression of CCL2, IL-8/CXCR1, and further promote the growth of ESCs possibly through activating STAT5, MAPK/ERK1/2 and or AKT signal pathways, which may be involved in the occurrence and development of endometriosis.
PMCID: PMC3796222  PMID: 24133578
IL-22; endometrial stromal cells; proliferation; CCL2; IL-8; endometriosis
7.  The Novel Cytokine Interleukin-33 Activates Acinar Cell Proinflammatory Pathways and Induces Acute Pancreatic Inflammation in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56866.
Background
Acute pancreatitis is potentially fatal but treatment options are limited as disease pathogenesis is poorly understood. IL-33, a novel IL-1 cytokine family member, plays a role in various inflammatory conditions but its role in acute pancreatitis is not well understood. Specifically, whether pancreatic acinar cells produce IL-33 when stressed or respond to IL-33 stimulation, and whether IL-33 exacerbates acute pancreatic inflammation is unknown.
Methods/Results
In duct ligation-induced acute pancreatitis in mice and rats, we found that (a) IL-33 concentration was increased in the pancreas; (b) mast cells, which secrete and also respond to IL-33, showed degranulation in the pancreas and lung; (c) plasma histamine and pancreatic substance P concentrations were increased; and (d) pancreatic and pulmonary proinflammatory cytokine concentrations were increased. In isolated mouse pancreatic acinar cells, TNF-α stimulation increased IL-33 release while IL-33 stimulation increased proinflammatory cytokine release, both involving the ERK MAP kinase pathway; the flavonoid luteolin inhibited IL-33-stimulated IL-6 and CCL2/MCP-1 release. In mice without duct ligation, exogenous IL-33 administration induced pancreatic inflammation without mast cell degranulation or jejunal inflammation; pancreatic changes included multifocal edema and perivascular infiltration by neutrophils and some macrophages. ERK MAP kinase (but not p38 or JNK) and NF-kB subunit p65 were activated in the pancreas of mice receiving exogenous IL-33, and acinar cells isolated from the pancreas of these mice showed increased spontaneous cytokine release (IL-6, CXCL2/MIP-2α). Also, IL-33 activated ERK in human pancreatic tissue.
Significance
As exogenous IL-33 does not induce jejunal inflammation in the same mice in which it induces pancreatic inflammation, we have discovered a potential role for an IL-33/acinar cell axis in the recruitment of neutrophils and macrophages and the exacerbation of acute pancreatic inflammation.
Conclusion
IL-33 is induced in acute pancreatitis, activates acinar cell proinflammatory pathways and exacerbates acute pancreatic inflammation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056866
PMCID: PMC3572073  PMID: 23418608
8.  p42/p44-MAPK and PI3K are sufficient for IL-6 family cytokines/gp130 to signal to hypertrophy and survival in cardiomyocytes in the absence of JAK/STAT activation 
Cellular Signalling  2013;25(4):898-909.
The effect of differential signalling by IL-6 and leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF) which signal by gp130 homodimerisation or LIFRβ/gp130 heterodimerisation on survival and hypertrophy was studied in neonatal rat cardiomyocytes. Both LIF and IL-6 [in the absence of soluble IL-6 receptor (sIL-6Rα)] activated Erk1/2, JNK1/2, p38-MAPK and PI3K signalling peaking at 20 min and induced cytoprotection against simulated ischemia-reperfusion injury which was blocked by the MEK1/2 inhibitor PD98059 but not the p38-MAPK inhibitor SB203580. In the absence of sIL-6R, IL-6 did not induce STAT1/3 phosphorylation, whereas IL-6/sIL-6R and LIF induced STAT1 and STAT3 phosphorylation. Furthermore, IL-6/sIL-6R induced phosphorylation of STAT1 Tyr701 and STAT3 Tyr705 were enhanced by SB203580. IL-6 and pheneylephrine (PE), but not LIF, induced cardiomyocyte iNOS expression and nitric oxide (NO) production. IL-6, LIF and PE induced cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, but with phenotypic differences in ANF and SERCA2 expression and myofilament organisation with IL-6 more resembling PE than LIF. Transfection of cardiomyocytes with full length or truncated chimaeric gp130 cytoplasmic domain/Erythropoietin receptor (EpoR) extracellular domain fusion constructs showed that the membrane proximal Box 1 and Box 2 containing region of gp130 was necessary and sufficient for MAPK and PI3K activation; hypertrophy; SERCA2 expression and iNOS/NO induction in the absence of JAK/STAT activation. In conclusion, IL-6 can signal in cardiomyocytes independent of sIL-6R and STAT1/3 and furthermore, that Erk1/2 and PI3K activation by IL-6 are both necessary and sufficient for induced cardioprotection. In addition, p38-MAPK may act as a negative feedback regulator of JAK/STAT activation in cardiomyocytes.
Highlights
► IL-6 signals independently of soluble IL-6 receptor in cardiomyocytes. ► IL-6 activates MAPK and PI-3-kinase in the absence of JAK/STAT activation. ► IL-6 induces hypertrophy and cytoprotection in the absence of JAK/STAT activation. ► IL-6 induced Erk-1 and 2 MAPK activation is necessary and sufficient for cytoprotection.
doi:10.1016/j.cellsig.2012.12.008
PMCID: PMC3627957  PMID: 23268184
Interleukin-6; Glycoprotein130; Cardiomyocyte
9.  TGF-β1 increases proliferation of airway smooth muscle cells by phosphorylation of map kinases 
Respiratory Research  2006;7(1):2.
Background
Airway remodeling in asthma is the result of increased expression of connective tissue proteins, airway smooth muscle cell (ASMC) hyperplasia and hypertrophy. TGF-β1 has been found to increase ASMC proliferation. The activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), p38, ERK, and JNK, is critical to the signal transduction associated with cell proliferation. In the present study, we determined the role of phosphorylated MAPKs in TGF-β1 induced ASMC proliferation.
Methods
Confluent and growth-arrested bovine ASMCs were treated with TGF-β1. Proliferation was measured by [3H]-thymidine incorporation and cell counting. Expressions of phosphorylated p38, ERK1/2, and JNK were determined by Western analysis.
Results
In a concentration-dependent manner, TGF-β1 increased [3H]-thymidine incorporation and cell number of ASMCs. TGF-β1 also enhanced serum-induced ASMC proliferation. Although ASMCs cultured with TGF-β1 had a significant increase in phosphorylated p38, ERK1/2, and JNK, the maximal phosphorylation of each MAPK had a varied onset after incubation with TGF-β1. TGF-β1 induced DNA synthesis was inhibited by SB 203580 or PD 98059, selective inhibitors of p38 and MAP kinase kinase (MEK), respectively. Antibodies against EGF, FGF-2, IGF-I, and PDGF did not inhibit the TGF-β1 induced DNA synthesis.
Conclusion
Our data indicate that ASMCs proliferate in response to TGF-β1, which is mediated by phosphorylation of p38 and ERK1/2. These findings suggest that TGF-β1 which is expressed in airways of asthmatics may contribute to irreversible airway remodeling by enhancing ASMC proliferation.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-7-2
PMCID: PMC1360679  PMID: 16390551
10.  Differential NF-κB and MAPK activation underlies fluoride- and TPA-mediated CXCL8 (IL-8) induction in lung epithelial cells 
Different toxic agents have a varying potential to induce the production of the proinflammatory chemokine, CXCL8 (interleukin [IL]-8), in lung cells. A critical question is which mechanisms determine the magnitude and persistence of the CXCL8 responses to different stimuli. To approach this, we compared the potential of the phorbol ester, 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), and sodium fluoride (NaF) to induce CXCL8 responses in A549 cells, with emphasis on the importance of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB)- and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling. Notably, TPA induced a greater release of CXCL8 than did NaF. Furthermore, TPA induced a strong, rapid, but transient upregulation of CXCL8 messenger (m)RNA, whereas NaF induced a weaker, more delayed, but persistent upregulation. With respect to signaling, TPA led to an early, strong, and relatively transient extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 phosphorylation, and a less marked and even more transient phosphorylation of c-jun-N-terminal kinases (JNK1/2) and p38. In contrast, NaF elicited a lower, but relatively sustained increase in phosphorylation of ERK1/2, and a marked phosphorylation of p38 and JNK1/2, with the JNK1/2 response as most transient. Only ERK1/2 inhibition affected the TPA response, whereas inhibition of all the three MAPK cascades reduced NaF-induced CXCL8 release. TPA also induced an early, marked phosphorylation/translocation of p65 (NF-κB), whereas NaF induced slower, less pronounced effects on p65. The CXCL8 responses by TPA and NaF were reduced by p65-siRNA. In conclusion, all MAPK cascades were involved in NaF-induced CXCL8 release, whereas only ERK1/2 activation was involved in response to TPA. Furthermore, NF-κB activation appeared to be indispensable for CXCL8 induction. The early response, magnitude, and persistency of MAPK and NF-κB signaling seemed to be critical determinants for the potential to induce CXCL8. These findings underscore that a strong, rapid, and relatively transient activation of ERK1/2 in combination with NF-kB may be sufficient for a strong induction of CXCL8, which may exceed the effects of a more moderate ERK1/2 activation in combination with activation of p38, JNK1/2, and NF-κB.
doi:10.2147/JIR.S69646
PMCID: PMC4270361  PMID: 25540590
TPA; sodium fluoride; CXCL8; MAPK; NF-κB; A549 cells
11.  ERK1/2 and MEK1/2 Induced by Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus (Human Herpesvirus 8) Early during Infection of Target Cells Are Essential for Expression of Viral Genes and for Establishment of Infection 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(16):10308-10329.
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) in vitro target cell infection is characterized by the expression of the latency-associated genes ORF 73 (LANA-1), ORF 72, and K13 and by the transient expression of a very limited number of lytic genes such as lytic cycle switch gene ORF 50 (RTA) and the immediate early (IE) lytic K5, K8, and v-IRF2 genes. During the early stages of infection, several overlapping multistep complex events precede the initiation of viral gene expression. KSHV envelope glycoprotein gB induces the FAK-Src-PI3K-RhoGTPase (where FAK is focal adhesion kinase) signaling pathway. As early as 5 min postinfection (p.i.), KSHV induced the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) via the PI3K-PKCζ-MEK pathway. In addition, KSHV modulated the transcription of several host genes of primary human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HMVEC-d) and fibroblast (HFF) cells by 2 h and 4 h p.i. Neutralization of virus entry and infection by PI-3K and other cellular tyrosine kinase inhibitors suggested a critical role for signaling molecules in KSHV infection of target cells. Here we investigated the induction of ERK1/2 by KSHV and KSHV envelope glycoproteins gB and gpK8.1A and the role of induced ERK in viral and host gene expression. Early during infection, significant ERK1/2 induction was observed even with low multiplicity of infection of live and UV-inactivated KSHV in serum-starved cells as well as in the presence of serum. Entry of UV-inactivated virus and the absence of viral gene expression suggested that ERK1/2 induction is mediated by the initial signal cascade induced by KSHV binding and entry. Purified soluble gpK8.1A induced the MEK1/2 dependent ERK1/2 but not ERK5 and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) in HMVEC-d and HFF. Moderate ERK induction with soluble gB was seen only in HMVEC-d. Preincubation of gpK8.1A with heparin or anti-gpK8.1A antibodies inhibited the ERK induction. U0126, a selective inhibitor for MEK/ERK blocked the gpK8.1A- and KSHV-induced ERK activation. ERK1/2 inhibition did not block viral DNA internalization and had no significant effect on nuclear delivery of KSHV DNA during de novo infection. Analyses of viral gene expression by quantitative real-time reverse transciptase PCR revealed that pretreatment of cells with U0126 for 1 h and during the 2-h infection with KSHV significantly inhibited the expression of ORF 73, ORF 50 (RTA), and the IE-K8 and v-IRF2 genes. However, the expression of lytic IE-K5 gene was not affected significantly. Expression of ORF 73 in BCBL-1 cells was also significantly inhibited by preincubation with U0126. Inhibition of ERK1/2 also inhibited the transcription of some of the vital host genes such as DUSP5 (dual specificity phosphatase 5), ICAM-1 (intercellular adhesion molecule 1), heparin binding epidermal growth factor, and vascular endothelial growth factor that were up-regulated early during KSHV infection. Several MAPK-regulated host transcription factors such as c-Jun, STAT1α, MEF2, c-Myc, ATF-2 and c-Fos were induced early during infection, and ERK inhibition significantly blocked the c-Fos, c-Jun, c-Myc, and STAT1α activation in the infected cells. AP1 transcription factors binding to the RTA promoter in electrophoretic mobility shift assays were readily detected in the infected cell nuclear extracts which were significantly reduced by ERK inhibition. Together, these results suggest that very early during de novo infection, KSHV induces the ERK1/2 to modulate the initiation of viral gene expression and host cell genes, which further supports our hypothesis that beside the conduit for viral DNA delivery into the cytoplasm, KSHV interactions with host cell receptor(s) create an appropriate intracellular environment facilitating infection.
doi:10.1128/JVI.79.16.10308-10329.2005
PMCID: PMC1182676  PMID: 16051824
12.  Hyperoxia increases ventilator-induced lung injury via mitogen-activated protein kinases: a prospective, controlled animal experiment 
Critical Care  2007;11(1):R25.
Introduction
Large-tidal volume (VT) mechanical ventilation and hyperoxia used in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome can damage pulmonary epithelial cells through lung inflammation and apoptotic cell death. Hyperoxia has been shown to increase ventilator-induced lung injury, but the mechanisms regulating interaction between large VT and hyperoxia are unclear. We hypothesized that the addition of hyperoxia to large-VT ventilation would increase neutrophil infiltration by upregulation of the cytokine macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (MIP-2) and would increase apoptosis via the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways.
Methods
C57BL/6 mice were exposed to high-VT (30 ml/kg) mechanical ventilation with room air or hyperoxia for one to five hours.
Results
The addition of hyperoxia to high-VT ventilation augmented lung injury, as demonstrated by increased apoptotic cell death, neutrophil migration into the lung, MIP-2 production, MIP-2 mRNA expression, increased DNA binding activity of activator protein-1, increased microvascular permeability, and c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 activation. Hyperoxia-induced augmentation of high-VT-induced lung injury was attenuated in JNK-deficient mice and in mice with pharmacologic inhibition of ERK activity by PD98059. However, only JNK-deficient mice, and not mice with ERK activity inhibition by PD98059, were protected from high-VT-induced lung injury without hyperoxia.
Conclusion
We conclude that hyperoxia increased high-VT-induced cytokine production, neutrophil influx, and apoptotic cell death through activation of the JNK and ERK1/2 pathways.
doi:10.1186/cc5704
PMCID: PMC2151853  PMID: 17316425
13.  JNK and ERK MAP kinases mediate induction of IL-1β, TNF-α and IL-8 following hyperosmolar stress in human limbal epithelial cells⋆ 
Experimental eye research  2005;82(4):588-596.
Hyperosmolarity has been recognized to be a pro-inflammatory stress to the corneal epithelium. The cell signalling pathways linking hyperosmolar stress and inflammation have not been well elucidated. This study investigated whether exposure of human limbal epithelial cells to hyperosmotic stress activates the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways and induces production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, interleukin (IL) -1β, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) α, and the C-X-C chemokine IL-8. Primary human limbal epithelial cultures in normal osmolar media (312 mOsM) were exposed to media with higher osmolarity (400–500 mOsM) by adding 50–90 mM NaCl, with or without SB202190, an inhibitor of c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNK) pathway, PD 98059, an inhibitor of extracellular-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway, dexamethasone or doxycycline for different lengths of time. The conditioned media were collected after 24 hr of treatment for ELISA. Total RNA was extracted from cultures treated for 6 hr for semi-quantitative RT-PCR. Cells treated for 15–60 min were lysed in RIPA buffer and subjected to Western blot with phospho (p)-specific antibodies against p-JNK and p-ERK. The concentrations of IL-1β, TNF-α and IL-8 proteins in 24 hr conditioned media of limbal epithelial cells progressively increased as the media osmolarity increased from 312 to 500 mOsM. Active p-JNK-1/p-JNK-2 and p-ERK-1/p-ERK-2 were detected by Western blot and peaked at 60 min in cells exposed to hyperosmolar media. The levels of p-JNK-1/p-JNK-2 and p-ERK1/p-ERK2 were positively correlated with the medium osmolarity. SB202190, PD98059 and doxycycline markedly suppressed the levels of p-JNK-1/p-JNK-2 and/or p-ERK1/p-ERK2, as well as IL-1β, TNF-α and IL-8 mRNAs and proteins stimulated by hyperosmolar media. These findings provide direct evidence that hyperosmolarity induces inflammation in human limbal epithelial cells by increasing expression and production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, a process that appears to be mediated through activation of the JNK and ERK MAPK signalling pathways. The efficacy of doxycycline in treating ocular surface diseases may be due to its ability to suppress JNK and ERK signalling activation and inflammatory mediator production in the limbal epithelium.
doi:10.1016/j.exer.2005.08.019
PMCID: PMC2198933  PMID: 16202406
cornea; epithelium; hyperosmolarity; inflammatory cytokine; chemokine; JNK; ERK; MAPK
14.  Expression and Functional Significance of SOCS-1 and SOCS-3 in Astrocytes 
Astrocytes play a number of important physiological roles in Central Nervous System (CNS) homeostasis. Inflammation stimulates astrocytes to secrete cytokines and chemokines that guide macrophages/microglia and T-cells to sites of injury/inflammation, and herein we describe how these processes are controlled by the Suppressor Of Cytokine Signaling (SOCS) proteins, a family of proteins that negatively regulate adaptive and innate immune responses. In this study, we describe that the immunomodulatory cytokine IFN-β induces SOCS-1 and SOCS-3 expression in primary astrocytes at the transcriptional level. SOCS-1 and SOCS-3 transcriptional activity is induced by IFN-β through GAS elements within their promoters. Studies in STAT-1α deficient astrocytes indicate that STAT-1α is required for IFN-β-induced SOCS-1 expression, while STAT-3 siRNA studies demonstrate that IFN-β-induced SOCS-3 expression relies on STAT-3 activation. Specific siRNA inhibition of IFN-β-inducible SOCS-1 and SOCS-3 in astrocytes enhances their pro-inflammatory responses to IFN-β stimulation, such as heightened expression of the chemokines CCL2 (MCP-1), CCL3 (MIP-1α), CCL4 (MIP-1β), CCL5 (RANTES) and CXCL10 (IP-10), and promoting chemotaxis of macrophages and CD4+ T-cells. These results indicate that IFN-β induces SOCS-1 and SOCS-3 in primary astrocytes in order to attenuate its own chemokine-related inflammation in the CNS.
PMCID: PMC2836124  PMID: 18713987
15.  Vitamin E forms inhibit IL-13/STAT6-induced eotaxin-3 secretion by upregulation of PAR4, an endogenous inhibitor of atypical PKC in human lung epithelial cells 
Eotaxin-3 (CCL-26), a potent chemokine for eosinophil recruitment and contributing significantly to the pathogenesis of asthma, is secreted by lung epithelial cells in response to T helper 2 cytokines including interleukin 13 (IL-13). Here we showed that vitamin E forms, but not their metabolites, differentially inhibited IL-13-stimulated generation of eotaxin-3 in human lung epithelial A549 cells. The relative inhibitory potency was γ-tocotrienol (γ-TE) (IC50 ~15 μM) > γ-tocopherol, δ-tocopherol (IC50 ~25-50 μM) > α-tocopherol. Consistent with suppression of eotaxin, γ-TE treatment impaired IL-13-induced phosphorylation of STAT6, the key transcription factor for activation of eotaxin expression, and consequently blocked IL-13 stimulated DNA-binding activity of STAT6. In search of the upstream target of γTE by using inhibitor and siRNA approaches, we discovered that the atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) signaling, instead of classical PKC, p38 MAPK, JNK or ERK, played a critical role in IL-13-stimulated eotaxin generation and STAT6 activation. While showing no obvious effect on aPKC expression or phosphorylation, γ-TE treatment resulted in increased expression of PAR4, an endogenous negative regulator of aPKCs. Importantly, γ-TE treatment led to enhanced formation of aPKC/PAR4 complex that is known to reduce aPKC activity via protein-protein crosstalk. Our study demonstrated that γ-TE inhibited IL-13/STAT6-activated eotaxin secretion via up-regulation of PAR4 expression and enhancement of aPKC-PAR-4 complex formation. These results support the notion that specific vitamin E forms may be useful anti-asthmatic agents.
doi:10.1016/j.jnutbio.2011.03.003
PMCID: PMC3201713  PMID: 21764283
tocopherol; tocotrienol; asthma; inflammation
16.  Genetic targeting of ERK1 suggests a predominant role for ERK2 in murine pain models 
The extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) isoforms, ERK1 and ERK2, are believed to be key signaling molecules in nociception and nociceptive sensitization. Studies utilizing inhibitors targeting the shared ERK1/2 upstream activator, mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK), and transgenic mice expressing a dominant negative form of MEK have established the importance of ERK1/2 signaling. However, these techniques do not discriminate between ERK1 and ERK2. To dissect the function of each isoform in pain, we utilized mice with a targeted genetic deletion of ERK1 (ERK1 KO) to test the hypothesis that ERK1 is required for behavioral sensitization in rodent pain models. Despite activation (phosphorylation) of ERK1 following acute noxious stimulation and in models of chronic pain, we found that ERK1 was not required for formalin-induced spontaneous behaviors, complete Freund’s adjuvant-induced heat and mechanical hypersensitivity, and spared nerve injury-induced mechanical hypersensitivity. However, ERK1 deletion did delay formalin-induced long-term heat hypersensitivity, without affecting formalin-induced mechanical hypersensitivity, suggesting that ERK1 partially shapes long-term responses to formalin. Interestingly, ERK1 deletion resulted in elevated basal ERK2 phosphorylation. However, this did not appear to influence nociceptive processing, since inflammation-induced ERK2 phosphorylation and pERK1/2 immunoreactivity in spinal cord were not elevated in ERK1 KO mice. Additionally, systemic MEK inhibition with SL327 attenuated formalin-induced spontaneous behaviors similarly in WT and ERK1 KO mice, indicating that unrelated signaling pathways do not functionally compensate for the loss of ERK1. Taken together, these results suggest that ERK1 plays a limited role in nociceptive sensitization and supports a predominant role for ERK2 in these processes.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6103-09.2010
PMCID: PMC2932641  PMID: 20739576
ERK1; ERK2; isoform; pain; nociception; spinal cord
17.  Neutrophils Promote Mycobacterial Trehalose Dimycolate-Induced Lung Inflammation via the Mincle Pathway 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(4):e1002614.
Trehalose 6,6′-dimycolate (TDM), a cord factor of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), is an important regulator of immune responses during Mtb infections. Macrophages recognize TDM through the Mincle receptor and initiate TDM-induced inflammatory responses, leading to lung granuloma formation. Although various immune cells are recruited to lung granulomas, the roles of other immune cells, especially during the initial process of TDM-induced inflammation, are not clear. In this study, Mincle signaling on neutrophils played an important role in TDM-induced lung inflammation by promoting adhesion and innate immune responses. Neutrophils were recruited during the early stage of lung inflammation following TDM-induced granuloma formation. Mincle expression on neutrophils was required for infiltration of TDM-challenged sites in a granuloma model induced by TDM-coated-beads. TDM-induced Mincle signaling on neutrophils increased cell adherence by enhancing F-actin polymerization and CD11b/CD18 surface expression. The TDM-induced effects were dependent on Src, Syk, and MAPK/ERK kinases (MEK). Moreover, coactivation of the Mincle and TLR2 pathways by TDM and Pam3CSK4 treatment synergistically induced CD11b/CD18 surface expression, reactive oxygen species, and TNFα production by neutrophils. These synergistically-enhanced immune responses correlated with the degree of Mincle expression on neutrophil surfaces. The physiological relevance of the Mincle-mediated anti-TDM immune response was confirmed by defective immune responses in Mincle−/− mice upon aerosol infections with Mtb. Mincle-mutant mice had higher inflammation levels and mycobacterial loads than WT mice. Neutrophil depletion with anti-Ly6G antibody caused a reduction in IL-6 and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 expression upon TDM treatment, and reduced levels of immune cell recruitment during the initial stage of infection. These findings suggest a new role of Mincle signaling on neutrophils during anti-mycobacterial responses.
Author Summary
Tuberculosis is one of the world's most pernicious diseases. Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the causative agent of tuberculosis, has a lipid-rich cell wall that contains immunostimulatory properties. One of the lipid cell wall components, trehalose 6,6′-dimycolate (TDM), is a Mincle ligand and an immunogenic factor of Mtb that induces inflammatory responses leading to granuloma formation. Defining the major target and cellular functions of TDM may be requisite for delaying or preventing mycobacterial TDM-induced inflammation. Here, we demonstrated that neutrophils are important for the early phase of TDM-induced lung inflammation. Neutrophils are recruited during the initial stage of TDM-induced lung inflammation and Mincle is required for neutrophil access to TDM-challenged sites by enhancing neutrophil integrin expression, cytoskeleton remodeling, and cell adhesion. Furthermore, neutrophils aggravate TDM-induced lung inflammation by producing proinflammatory cytokines/chemokines. These findings open new perspectives for the role of Mincle signaling on neutrophils during TDM-induced inflammatory responses.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002614
PMCID: PMC3320589  PMID: 22496642
18.  Selective regulation of MAP kinases and Chemokine expression after ligation of ICAM-1 on human airway epithelial cells 
Respiratory Research  2006;7(1):12.
Background
Intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) is an immunoglobulin-like cell adhesion molecule expressed on the surface of multiple cell types, including airway epithelial cells. It has been documented that cross-linking ICAM-1 on the surface of leukocytes results in changes in cellular function through outside-inside signaling; however, the effect of cross-linking ICAM-1 on the surface of airway epithelial cells is currently unknown. The objective of this study was to investigate whether or not cross-linking ICAM-1 on the surface of airway epithelial cells phosphorylated MAP kinases or stimulated chemokine expression and secretion.
Methods
The human lung adenocarcinoma (A549) cells and primary cultures of normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cells were used in these studies. To increase ICAM-1 surface expression, cultures were stimulated with TNFα to enhance ICAM-1 surface expression. Following ICAM-1 upregulation, ICAM-1 was ligated with a murine anti-human ICAM-1 antibody and subsequently cross-linked with a secondary antibody (anti-mouse IgG(ab')2) in the presence or absence of the MAP kinase inhibitors. Following treatments, cultures were assessed for MAPK activation and chemokine gene expression and secretion. Control cultures were treated with murine IgG1 antibody or murine IgG1 antibody and anti-mouse IgG(ab')2 to illustrate specificity. Data were analyzed for significance using a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with Bonferroni post-test correction for multiple comparisons, and relative gene expression was analyzed using the 2-ΔΔCT method.
Results
ICAM-1 cross-linking selectively phosphorylated both ERK and JNK MAP kinases as detected by western blot analysis. In addition, cross-linking resulted in differential regulation of chemokine expression. Specifically, IL-8 mRNA and protein secretion was not altered by ICAM-1 cross-linking, in contrast, RANTES mRNA and protein secretion was induced in both epithelial cultures. These events were specifically inhibited by the ERK inhibitor PD98059. Data indicates that ICAM-1 cross-linking stimulates a synergistic increase in TNFα-mediated RANTES production involving activation of ERK in airway epithelial cells.
Conclusion
Results demonstrate that cytokine induced ICAM-1 on the surface of airway epithelial cells induce outside-inside signaling through cross-linking ICAM-1, selectively altering intracellular pathways and cytokine production. These results suggest that ICAM-1 cross-linking can contribute to inflammation in the lung via production of the chemokine RANTES.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-7-12
PMCID: PMC1386665  PMID: 16430772
19.  Gefitinib-Induced Killing of NSCLC Cell Lines Expressing Mutant EGFR Requires BIM and Can Be Enhanced by BH3 Mimetics 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(10):e316.
Background
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) plays a critical role in the control of cellular proliferation, differentiation, and survival. Abnormalities in EGF-EGFR signaling, such as mutations that render the EGFR hyperactive or cause overexpression of the wild-type receptor, have been found in a broad range of cancers, including carcinomas of the lung, breast, and colon. EGFR inhibitors such as gefitinib have proven successful in the treatment of certain cancers, particularly non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) harboring activating mutations within the EGFR gene, but the molecular mechanisms leading to tumor regression remain unknown. Therefore, we wished to delineate these mechanisms.
Methods and Findings
We performed biochemical and genetic studies to investigate the mechanisms by which inhibitors of EGFR tyrosine kinase activity, such as gefitinib, inhibit the growth of human NSCLCs. We found that gefitinib triggered intrinsic (also called “mitochondrial”) apoptosis signaling, involving the activation of BAX and mitochondrial release of cytochrome c, ultimately unleashing the caspase cascade. Gefitinib caused a rapid increase in the level of the proapoptotic BH3-only protein BIM (also called BCL2-like 11) through both transcriptional and post-translational mechanisms. Experiments with pharmacological inhibitors indicated that blockade of MEK–ERK1/2 (mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase–extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase 1/2) signaling, but not blockade of PI3K (phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase), JNK (c-Jun N-terminal kinase or mitogen-activated protein kinase 8), or AKT (protein kinase B), was critical for BIM activation. Using RNA interference, we demonstrated that BIM is essential for gefitinib-induced killing of NSCLC cells. Moreover, we found that gefitinib-induced apoptosis is enhanced by addition of the BH3 mimetic ABT-737.
Conclusions
Inhibitors of the EGFR tyrosine kinase have proven useful in the therapy of certain cancers, in particular NSCLCs possessing activating mutations in the EGFR kinase domain, but the mechanisms of tumor cell killing are still unclear. In this paper, we demonstrate that activation of the proapoptotic BH3-only protein BIM is essential for tumor cell killing and that shutdown of the EGFR–MEK–ERK signaling cascade is critical for BIM activation. Moreover, we demonstrate that addition of a BH3 mimetic significantly enhances killing of NSCLC cells by the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor gefitinib. It appears likely that this approach represents a paradigm shared by many, and perhaps all, oncogenic tyrosine kinases and suggests a powerful new strategy for cancer therapy.
Andreas Strasser and colleagues demonstrate that activation of the proapoptotic BH3-only protein BIM is essential for tumor cell killing and that shutdown of the EGFR−MEK−ERK signaling cascade is critical for BIM activation.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Normally, cell division (which produces new cells) and cell death are finely balanced to keep the human body in good working order. But sometimes cells acquire changes (mutations) in their genetic material that allow them to divide uncontrollably to form cancers—life-threatening, disorganized masses of cells. One protein with a critical role in cell division that is often mutated in tumors is the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). In normal cells, protein messengers bind to EGFR and activate its tyrosine kinase. This enzyme then adds phosphate groups to tyrosine (an amino acid) in proteins that form part of signaling cascades (for example, the MEK–ERK signaling cascade) that tell the cell to divide. In cancers that have mutations in EGFR, signaling is overactive so the cancer cells divide much more than they should. Some non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC, the commonest type of lung cancer), for example, have activating mutations within the EGFR tyrosine kinase. Treatment with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) such as gefitinib and erlotinib induces the cells in these tumors to stop growing and die. This cell death causes tumor shrinkage (regression) and increases the life expectancy of patients with this type of NSCLC.
Why Was This Study Done?
Unfortunately, treatment with TKIs rarely cures NSCLC, so it would be useful to find a way to augment the effect that TKIs have on cancer cells. To do this, the molecular mechanisms that cause cancer-cell death and tumor regression in response to these drugs need to be fully understood. In this study, the researchers have used a combination of biochemical and genetic approaches to investigate how gefitinib kills NSCLC cells with mutated EGFR.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers first measured the sensitivity of NSCLC cell lines (tumor cells that grow indefinitely in dishes) to gefitinib-induced apoptosis. Gefitinib caused extensive apoptosis in two cell lines expressing mutant EGFR but not in one expressing normal EGFR. Next, they investigated the mechanism of gefitinib-induced apoptosis in the most sensitive cell line (H3255). Apoptosis is activated via two major pathways. Hallmarks of the “intrinsic” pathway include activation of a protein called BAX and cytochrome c release from subcellular compartments known as mitochondria. Gefitinib treatment induced both these events in H3255 cells. BAX (a proapoptotic member of the BCL-2 family of proteins) is activated when proapoptotic BH3-only BCL-2 proteins (for example, BIM; “BH3-only” describes the structure of these proteins) bind to antiapoptotic BCL2 proteins. Gefitinib treatment rapidly increased BIM activity in H3255 and HCC827 cells (but not in gefitinib-resistant cells) by increasing the production of BIM protein and the removal of phosphate groups from it, which increases BIM activity. Pharmacological blockade of the MEK–ERK signaling cascade, but not of other EGFR signaling cascades, also caused the accumulation of BIM. By contrast, blocking BIM expression using a technique called RNA interference reduced gefitinib-induced apoptosis. Finally, a combination of gefitinib and a BH3-mimicking compound called ABT-737 (which, like BIM, binds to antiapoptotic BCL-2 proteins) caused more apoptosis than gefitinib alone.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings (and those reported by Gong et al. and Costa et al.) indicate that activation of the proapoptotic BH3-only protein BIM is essential for gefitinib-induced killing of NSCLC cells that carry EGFR tyrosine kinase mutations. They also show that inhibition of the EGFR–MEK–ERK signaling cascade by gefitinib is essential for BIM activation. Because these findings come from studies on NSCLC cell lines, they need confirming in freshly isolated tumor cells and in tumors growing in people. However, the demonstration that a compound that mimics BH3 action enhances gefitinib-induced killing of NSCLC cells suggests that combinations of TKIs and drugs that affect the intrinsic pathway of apoptosis activation might provide a powerful strategy for treating cancers in which tyrosine kinase mutations drive tumor growth.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040316.
A perspective by Ingo Mellinghoff discusses this article and two related research articles
Wikipedia pages on epidermal growth factor receptor, apoptosis, and BCL2 proteins (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
CancerQuest provides information on all aspects of cancer from Emory University (in several languages)
US National Cancer Institute information for patients and professionals on lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
Information for patients from Cancer Research UK on lung cancer including information on treatment with TKIs
Information for patients from Cancerbackup on erlotinib and gefitinib
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040316
PMCID: PMC2043013  PMID: 17973573
20.  Role of CCR5 in IFN-γ–induced and cigarette smoke–induced emphysema 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2005;115(12):3460-3472.
Th1 inflammation and remodeling characterized by tissue destruction frequently coexist in human diseases. To further understand the mechanisms of these responses, we defined the role(s) of CCR5 in the pathogenesis of IFN-γ–induced inflammation and remodeling in a murine emphysema model. IFN-γ was a potent stimulator of the CCR5 ligands macrophage inflammatory protein–1α/CCL-3 (MIP-1α/CCL-3), MIP-1β/CCL-4, and RANTES/CCL-5, among others. Antibody neutralization or null mutation of CCR5 decreased IFN-γ–induced inflammation, DNA injury, apoptosis, and alveolar remodeling. These interventions decreased the expression of select chemokines, including CCR5 ligands and MMP-9, and increased levels of secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor. They also decreased the expression and/or activation of Fas, FasL, TNF, caspase-3, -8, and -9, Bid, and Bax. In accordance with these findings, cigarette smoke induced pulmonary inflammation, DNA injury, apoptosis, and emphysema via an IFN-γ–dependent pathway(s), and a null mutation of CCR5 decreased these responses. These studies demonstrate that IFN-γ is a potent stimulator of CC and CXC chemokines and highlight the importance of CCR5 in the pathogenesis of IFN-γ–induced and cigarette smoke–induced inflammation, tissue remodeling, and emphysema. They also demonstrate that CCR5 is required for optimal IFN-γ stimulation of its own ligands, other chemokines, MMPs, caspases, and cell death regulators and the inhibition of antiproteases.
doi:10.1172/JCI24858
PMCID: PMC1280966  PMID: 16284650
21.  Increased expression of mitogen-activated protein kinase and its upstream regulating signal in human gastric cancer 
AIM: To investigate the expression of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) and its upstream protein kinase in human gastric cancer and to evaluate the relationship between protein levels and clinicopathological parameters.
METHODS: Western blot was used to measure the expression of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-1, ERK-2, ERK-3, p38 and mitogen or ERK activated protein kinaseMEK-1 proteins in surgically resected gastric carcinoma, adjacent normal mucosa and metastatic lymph nodes from 42 patients. Immunohistochemistry was employed for their localization.
RESULTS: Compared with normal tissues, the protein levels of ERK-1 (integral optical density value 159526±65760 vs 122807±65515, P = 0.001), ERK-2 (168471±95051 vs 120469±72874, P<0.001), ERK-3 (118651±71513 vs 70934±68058, P<0.001), P38 (104776±51650 vs 82930±40392, P = 0.048) and MEK-1 (116486±45725 vs 101434±49387, P = 0.027) were increased in gastric cancer tissues. Overexpression of ERK-3 was correlated to TNM staging [average ratio of integral optic density (IOD)tumor: IODnormal in TNM I, II, III, IV tumors was 1.43±0.34, 5.08±3.74, 4.99±1.08, 1.44±1.02, n = 42, P = 0.023] and serosa invasion (4.31±4.34 vs 2.00±2.03, P = 0.037). In poorly differentiated cancers (n = 33), the protein levels of ERK-1 and ERK-2 in stage III and IV tumors were higher than those in stage I and II tumors (2.64±3.01 vs 1.01±0.33, P = 0.022; 2.05±1.54 vs 1.24±0.40, P = 0.030). Gastric cancer tissues with either lymph node involvement (2.49±2.91 vs 1.03±0.36, P = 0.023; 1.98±1.49 vs 1.24±0.44, P = 0.036) or serosa invasion (2.39±2.82 vs 1.01±0.35, P = 0.022; 1.95±1.44 vs 1.14±0.36, P = 0.015) expressed higher protein levels of ERK-1 and ERK-2. In Borrmann II tumors, expression of ERK-2 and ERK-3 was increased compared with Borrmann III tumors (2.57±1.86 vs 1.23±0.60, P = 0.022; 5.50±5.05 vs 1.83±1.21, P = 0.014). Borrmann IV tumors expressed higher p38 protein levels. No statistically significant difference in expression of MAPKs was found when stratified to tumor size or histological grade (P>0.05). Protein levels of ERK-2, ERK-3 and MEK-1 in metastatic lymph nodes were 2-7 folds higher than those in adjacent normal mucosa. The immunohistochemistry demonstrated that ERK-1, ERK-2, ERK-3, p38 and MEK-1 proteins were mainly localized in cytoplasm. The expression of MEK-1 in gastric cancer cells metastasized to lymph nodes was higher than that of the primary site.
CONCLUSION: MAPKs, particularly ERK subclass are overexpressed in the majority of gastric cancers. Overexpression of ERKs is correlated to TNM staging, serosa invasion, and lymph node involvement. The overexpression of p38 most likely plays a prominent role in certain morphological subtypes of gastric cancers. MEK-1 is also overexpressed in gastric cancer, particularly in metastatic lymph nodes. Upregulation of MAPK signal transduction pathways may play an important role in tumorigenesis and metastatic potential of gastric cancer.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v11.i5.623
PMCID: PMC4250727  PMID: 15655810
Gastric cancer; Mitogen-activated protein kinase; Extracellular signal-regulated kinase; Signal transduction
22.  VEGF and RANKL regulation of NFATc1 in heart valve development 
Circulation research  2009;105(6):565-574.
Rationale
Nuclear Factor of Activated T-cells cytoplasmic 1 (NFATc1) activity in endocardial cushion (ECC) endothelial cells is required for normal ECC growth and extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling during heart valve development.
Objective
The mechanisms of NFATc1 activation and downstream effects on cell proliferation and ECM remodeling enzyme gene expression were examined in NFATc1 mutant mice and chick ECC explants.
Methods and Results
NFATc1−/− mice display reduced proliferation of ECC endothelial and mesenchymal cells at embryonic day 10.5, while myocardial cells are unaffected. Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A (VEGF) activates NFATc1 and promotes ECC cell proliferation via the regulatory phosphatase, Calcineurin (Cn), and MAPK-ERK Kinase 1 - Extracellular signal-Related Kinase 1/2 (MEK1-ERK1/2)-dependent signaling. As ECCs mature, Receptor Activator of NFκB Ligand (RANKL) and the ECM remodeling enzyme, Cathepsin K (CtsK), are expressed by ECC endothelial cells. RANKL inhibits VEGF-induced cell proliferation while causing increased expression of CtsK via Cn/NFATc1 and c-Jun N-terminal Kinase 1/2 (JNK1/2)-dependent signaling.
Conclusion
These data support a novel mechanism for the transition from ECC growth to remodeling in which NFATc1 promotes a sequential pattern of gene expression via cooperation with ligand-specific cofactors such as MEK1-ERK1/2 or JNK1/2.
doi:10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.109.196469
PMCID: PMC2749238  PMID: 19661463
Valve development; NFATc1; VEGF; RANKL; JNK; ERK
23.  MAPK Regulation of IL-4/-13 Receptors Contributes to the Synergistic Increase in CCL11/Eotaxin-1 in Response to TGF-β1 and IL-13 in Human Airway Fibroblasts 
CCL11/eotaxin-1 is a potent eosinophilic CC chemokine expressed by primary human fibroblasts. The combination of TGF-β1 and IL-13 synergistically increases CCL11 expression, but the mechanisms behind the synergy are unclear. To address this, human airway fibroblast cultures from normal and asthmatic subjects were exposed to IL-13 alone or TGF-β1 plus IL-13. Transcriptional (nuclear run-on) and post-transcriptional (mRNA stability) assays confirmed that transcriptional regulation is critical for synergistic expression of CCL11. TGF-β1 plus IL-13 synergistically increased STAT-6 phosphorylation, nuclear translocation and binding to the CCL11 promoter as compared to IL-13 alone. STAT-6 siRNA significantly knocked down both STAT-6 mRNA expression and phosphorylation, and inhibited CCL11 mRNA and protein expression.
Regulation of the IL-4 receptor α (IL-4Rα) complex by TGF-β1 augmented IL-13 signaling by dampening IL-13 receptor α2 (IL-13Rα2) expression, overcoming IL-13's autoregulation of its pathway and enhancing the expression of CCL11. Our data suggest that TGF-β1 induced activation of the MEK-ERK pathway reduces IL-13Rα2 expression induced by IL-13. Thus, TGF-β1, a pleiotropic cytokine upregulated in asthmatic airways, can augment eosinophilic inflammation by interfering with IL-13's negative feedback autoregulatory loop under MEK/ERK dependent conditions.
doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1102760
PMCID: PMC3370069  PMID: 22573806
human airway fibroblasts; CCL11/Eotaxin-1; IL-13; TGF-β1; actinomycin D; STAT-6; MEK-ERK; CHIP; siRNA; qRT-PCR; IL-13Rα
24.  Nickel Nanoparticles Enhance Platelet-Derived Growth Factor–Induced Chemokine Expression by Mesothelial Cells via Prolonged Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Activation 
Pleural diseases (fibrosis and mesothelioma) are a major concern for individuals exposed by inhalation to certain types of particles, metals, and fibers. Increasing attention has focused on the possibility that certain types of engineered nanoparticles (NPs), especially those containing nickel, might also pose a risk for pleural diseases. Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) is an important mediator of fibrosis and cancer that has been implicated in the pathogenesis of pleural diseases. In this study, we discovered that PDGF synergistically enhanced nickel NP (NiNP)–induced increases in mRNA and protein levels of the profibrogenic chemokine monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1 or CCL2), and the antifibrogenic IFN-inducible CXC chemokine (CXCL10) in normal rat pleural mesothelial 2 (NRM2) cells in vitro. Carbon black NPs (CBNPs), used as a negative control NP, did not cause a significant increase in CCL2 or CXCL10 in the absence or presence of PDGF. NiNPs prolonged PDGF-induced phosphorylation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase family termed extracellular signal–regulated kinases (ERK)-1 and -2 for up to 24 hours, and NiNPs also synergistically increased PDGF-induced hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α protein levels in NRM2 cells. Inhibition of ERK-1,2 phosphorylation with the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) inhibitor, PD98059, blocked the synergistic increase in CCL2, CXCL10, and HIF-1α levels induced by PDGF and NiNPs. Moreover, the antioxidant, N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), significantly reduced HIF-1α, ERK-1,2 phosphorylation, and CCL2 protein levels that were synergistically increased by the combination of PDGF and NiNPs. These data indicate that NiNPs enhance the activity of PDGF in regulating chemokine production in NRM2 cells through a mechanism involving reactive oxygen species generation and prolonged activation of ERK-1,2.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0023OC
PMCID: PMC3488624  PMID: 22700867
nanoparticles; metals; lung; pleura; chemokines
25.  HIV-1-Infected and/or immune-activated macrophages regulate astrocyte CXCL8 production through IL-1β and TNF-α: Involvement of mitogen-activated protein kinases and protein kinase R 
Journal of neuroimmunology  2008;200(1-2):100-110.
Monocyte infiltration is an important pathogenic event in human immunodeficiency virus type one (HIV-1) associated dementia (HAD). CXCL8 (Interleukin 8, IL-8), a CXC chemokine that elicits chemotaxis of neutrophils, has recently been found to recruit monocytes or synergistically enhance CCL2-mediated monocyte migration. In this report, we demonstrate CXCL8 levels in the cerebrospinal fluid of HAD patients are higher than HIV-1 seropositive patients without neurological impairment. The underlying mechanisms regulating CXCL8 production during disease are not completely understood. We investigated the role of HIV-1-infected and immune competent macrophages, the principal target cell and mediator of neuronal injury in HAD, in regulating astrocyte CXCL8 production. Immune-activated and HIV-1-infected human monocyte-derived-macrophages (MDM) conditioned media (MCM) induced production of CXCL8 by human astrocytes. This CXCL8 production was dependent on MDM IL-1β and TNF-α production following viral and immune activation. CXCL8 production was reduced by inhibitors for mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), including p38, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2). Moreover, prolonged IL-1β or TNF-α treatment activated double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase (PKR). Inhibition of PKR prevented elevated CXCL8 production in astrocytes. We conclude that IL-1β and TNF-α, produced from HIV-1-infected and immune-competent macrophages, are critical in astrocyte CXCL8 production. Multiple protein kinases, including p38, JNK, ERK1/2, and PKR, participate in the inflammatory response of astrocytes. These observations will help to identify effective therapeutic strategies to reduce high-levels of CXCL8-mediated CNS inflammation during HAD.
doi:10.1016/j.jneuroim.2008.06.015
PMCID: PMC2596956  PMID: 18653246
CXCL8; Astrocyte; Macrophage; Inflammation; HIV-1 Associated Dementia

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