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1.  Caspase-, cathepsin-, and PERK-dependent regulation of MDA-7/IL-24-induced cell killing in primary human glioma cells 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2008;7(2):297-313.
Melanoma differentiation-associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24) is a novel cytokine displaying selective apoptosis-inducing activity in transformed cells without harming normal cells. The present studies focused on defining the mechanism(s) by which a GST-MDA-7 fusion protein inhibits cell survival of primary human glioma cells in vitro. GST-MDA-7 killed glioma cells with diverse genetic characteristics that correlated with inactivation of ERK1/2 and activation of JNK1-3. Activation of JNK1-3 was dependent on protein kinase R–like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK), and GST-MDA-7 lethality was suppressed in PERK−/− cells. JNK1-3 signaling activated BAX, whereas inhibition of JNK1-3, deletion of BAX, or expression of dominant-negative caspase-9 suppressed lethality. GST-MDA-7 also promoted a PERK-, JNK-, and cathepsin B–dependent cleavage of BID; loss of BID function promoted survival. GST-MDA-7 suppressed BAD and BIM phosphorylation and heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) expression. GST-MDA-7 caused PERK-dependent vacuolization of LC3-expressing endosomes whose formation was suppressed by incubation with 3-methylade-nine, expression of HSP70 or BiP/GRP78, or knockdown of ATG5 or Beclin-1 expression but not by inhibition of the JNK1-3 pathway. Knockdown of ATG5 or Beclin-1 expression or overexpression of HSP70 reduced GST-MDA-7 lethality. Our data show that GST-MDA-7 induces an endoplasmic reticulum stress response that is causal in the activation of multiple proapoptotic pathways, which converge on the mitochondrion and highlight the complexity of signaling pathways altered by mda-7/IL-24 in glioma cells that ultimately culminate in decreased tumor cell survival.
PMCID: PMC3204355  PMID: 18281515
2.  PERK-dependent regulation of MDA-7/IL-24-induced autophagy in primary human glioma cells 
Autophagy  2008;4(4):513-515.
Melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin 24 (mda-7/IL-24) is a novel cytokine displaying selective apoptosis-inducing activity in transformed cells without harming normal cells. The studies by further defines the mechanism(s) by which a GST-MDA-7 fusion protein inhibits cell survival of primary human glioma cells in vitro. GST-MDA-7 killed glioma cells with diverse genetic characteristics that were dependent on activation of JNK1-3 with subsequent activation of BAX and the induction of mitochondrial dysfunction. Activation of JNK1-3 was dependent upon protein kinase R-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) and GST-MDA-7 lethality was suppressed in PERK-/- cells. GST-MDA-7 caused PERK-dependent vacuolization of LC3-expressing endosomes whose formation was suppressed by incubation with 3-methyladenine, expression of HSP70 or of BiP/GRP78, or by knockdown of ATG5 or Beclin 1 expression, but not by inhibition of the JNK1-3 pathway. Knockdown of ATG5 or Beclin 1 expression or overexpression of HSP70 reduced GST-MDA-7 lethality. Our data demonstrate that GST-MDA-7 induces an ER stress response that, via the induction of autophagy, is causal in the activation of pro-apoptotic pathways that converge on the mitochondrion and ultimately culminate in decreased glioma cell survival.
PMCID: PMC2674579  PMID: 18299661
autophagy; caspase; ER stress; cell death
3.  OSU-03012 enhances Ad.mda-7-induced GBM cell killing via ER stress and autophagy and by decreasing expression of mitochondrial protective proteins 
Cancer biology & therapy  2010;9(7):526-536.
The present studies focused on determining whether the autophagy-inducing drug OSU-03012 (AR-12) could enhance the toxicity of recombinant adenoviral delivery of melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24) in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cells. The toxicity of a recombinant adenovirus to express MDA-7/IL-24 (Ad.mda-7) was enhanced by OSU-03012 in a diverse panel of primary human GBM cells. The enhanced toxicity correlated with reduced ERK1/2 phosphorylation and expression of MCL-1 and BCL-XL, and was blocked by molecular activation of ERK1/2 and by inhibition of the intrinsic, but not the extrinsic, apoptosis pathway. Both OSU-03012 and expression of MDA-7/IL-24 increased phosphorylation of PKR-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) that correlated with increased levels of autophagy and expression of dominant negative PERK blocked autophagy induction and tumor cell death. Knockdown of ATG5 or Beclin1 suppressed OSU-03012 enhanced MDA-7/IL-24-induced autophagy and blocked the lethal interaction between the two agents. Ad.mda-7-infected GBM cells secreted MDA-7/IL-24 into the growth media and this conditioned media induced expression of MDA-7/IL-24 in uninfected GBM cells. OSU-03012 interacted with conditioned media to kill GBM cells and knockdown of MDA-7/IL-24 in these cells suppressed tumor cell killing. Collectively, our data demonstrate that the induction of autophagy and mitochondrial dysfunction by a combinatorial treatment approach represents a potentially viable strategy to kill primary human GBM cells.
PMCID: PMC2888700  PMID: 20107314
ROS; caspase; ER stress; CD95; cell death
4.  Enhancing mda-7/IL-24 therapy in renal carcinoma cells by inhibiting multiple protective signaling pathways using sorafenib and by Ad.5/3 gene delivery 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2010;10(12):1290-1305.
We have determined whether an adenovirus that comprises the tail and shaft domains of a serotype 5 virus and the knob domain of a serotype 3 virus expressing MDA-7/IL-24, Ad.5/3-mda-7, more effectively infects and kills renal carcinoma cells (RCCs) compared to a serotype 5 virus, Ad.5-mda-7. RCCs are a tumor cell type that generally does not express the receptor for the type 5 adenovirus; the coxsakie and adenovirus receptor (CAR). Ad.5/3-mda-7 infected RCCs to a much greater degree than Ad.5-mda-7. MDA-7/IL-24 protein secreted from Ad.5/3-mda-7-infected RCCs induced MDA-7/IL-24 expression and promoted apoptosis in uninfected “bystander” RCCs. MDA-7/IL-24 killed both infected and bystander RCCs via CD95 activation. Knockdown of intracellular MDA-7/IL-24 in uninfected RCCs blocked the lethal effects of conditioned media. Infection of RCC tumors in one flank, with Ad.5/3-mda-7, suppressed growth of infected tumors and reduced the growth rate of uninfected tumors implanted on the opposite flank. The toxicity of the serotype 5/3 recombinant adenovirus to express MDA-7/IL-24 was enhanced by combined molecular or small molecule inhibition of MEK1/2 and PI3K; inhibition of mTOR, PI3K and MEK1/2; or use of the multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib. In RCCs, combined inhibition of cytoprotective cell signaling pathways enhanced the MDA-7/IL-24-induction of CD95 activation, with greater mitochondrial dysfunction due to loss of MCL-1 and BCL-XL expression and tumor cell death. Treatment of RCC tumors in vivo with sorafenib also enhanced Ad.5/3-mda-7 toxicity and prolonged animal survival. Future combinations of these approaches hold promise for developing a more effective therapy for kidney cancer.
PMCID: PMC3047088  PMID: 20948318
ERK; JNK; PI3K; AKT; MDA-7/IL-24; sorafenib; PERK; MAPK; interleukin; RCC; kidney
5.  Adenoviral ER-targeted mda-7/IL-24 vector enhances human cancer cell killing 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2008;7(8):2528-2535.
We developed several adenoviral vectors designed to target MDA-7 expression to different subcellular compartments (ie, ER, mitochondria, nucleus, and cytosol) and evaluated their ability to enhance apoptosis. Adenoviral ER-targeted mda-7/IL-24 vector (Ad-ER-mda7) selectively and effectively inhibited the growth and proliferation of lung (A549 and H1299) and esophageal (Seg1 and Bic1) cancer cells by enhancing cell killing. Both Ad-mda7 and Ad-ER-mda7 activated a novel pathway of ER stress-induced apoptosis characterized by unregulated expression of phosphorylated JNK (p-JNK), phosphorylated cJun (p-cJun), and phosphorylated RNA-dependent protein kinase (p-PKR). Caspase-4 activation mediated Ad-mda7- and Ad-ER-mda7-induced cell death. In addition, Ad-mda7- and Ad-ER-mda7-mediated growth inhibition correlated with activation of ER molecular markers PKR and JNK both in vitro (in Ad-mda7- or Ad-ER-mda7-treated lung cancer cells) and in vivo. These findings suggest that vectors targeting the endoplasmic reticulum (Ad-ER-mda7) may be more effective in cancer gene therapy possibly through more effective induction or ER stress pathways.
PMCID: PMC2597048  PMID: 18723497
Apoptosis; MDA-7; adenovirus; gene therapy
6.  Evaluation of Wuchereria bancrofti GST as a Vaccine Candidate for Lymphatic Filariasis 
Lymphatic filarial parasites survive within the lymphatic vessels for years despite the complex immune environment surrounding them. Parasites possibly accomplish this by adopting various immunomodulatory strategies, which include release of glutathione-S-transferases (GSTs) that counteract the oxidative free radicals produced by the host. Since GSTs produced by parasites appear to be critical for the survival of parasites in the host, several studies evaluated the potential of parasite GSTs as vaccine candidates especially against schistosomiasis, fascioliasis and Seteria cervi. However, vaccine potential of GSTs of lymphatic filarial parasites has not been evaluated before.
Methods/Principal Findings
In the present study, the GST gene was cloned from the third stage larval (L3) cDNA libraries of Wuchereria bancrofti, and recombinant GST (WbGST) was expressed and purified. Serum samples from individuals living in an endemic area were analyzed for their reactivity with rWbGST. These findings showed that sera from endemic normal individuals (EN) carry significant levels of anti-WbGST IgG antibodies compared to subjects who are microfilaraemic (Mf) or show symptoms of clinical pathology (CP). Isotype analysis of the anti-WbGST IgG antibodies showed a predominance of IgG1 and IgG3 antibodies in EN individuals. Subsequent functional analysis of the rWbGST showed that the rWbGST protein retained the enzymatic activity of GST and the antibodies in EN sera could inhibit this enzymatic activity. Similar results were obtained when anti-rWbGST antibodies raised in mice were used in the neutralization assay. Brugia malayi GST and WbGST show significant sequence similarity. Therefore, to evaluate the vaccine potential of rWbGST, we used B. malayi L3 as challenge parasites. Vaccine potential of rWbGST was initially evaluated by confirming the role of human and mice WbGST antibodies in an antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) assay. Subsequent vaccination studies in a jird model showed that approximately 61% protection could be achieved against a B. malayi L3 challenge infection in jirds immunized with rWbGST.
Results of this study show that rWbGST is a potential vaccine candidate against lymphatic filariasis. Nearly 61% protection can be achieved against a B. malayi challenge infection in a jird model. The study also showed that the WbGST protein retained the enzymatic activity of GST and this enzymatic activity appears to be critical for the survival of the parasite in the host.
Author Summary
Lymphatic parasites survive for years in a complex immune environment by adopting various strategies of immune modulation, which includes counteracting the oxidative free radical damage caused by the host. We now know that the filarial parasites secrete antioxidant enzymes. Among these, the glutathione-S-transferases (GSTs) have the potent ability to effectively neutralize cytotoxic products arising from reactive oxygen species (ROS) that attack cell membranes. Thus, GSTs have the potential to protect the parasite against host oxidative stress. GSTs of several helminthes, including schistosomes, fasciola and the filarial parasite Seteria cervi, are also involved in inducing protective immunity in the host. The schistosome 28 kDa GST has been successfully developed into a vaccine and is currently in Phase II clinical trials. Thus, GST appears to be a potential target for vaccine development. Therefore, in the present study, we cloned W. bancrofti GST, and expressed and purified the recombinant protein. Immunization and challenge experiments showed that 61% of protection could be achieved against B. malayi infections in a jird model. In vitro studies confirm that the anti-WbGST antibodies participate in the killing of B. malayi L3 through an ADCC mechanism and enzymatic activity of WbGST appears to be critical for this larvicidal function.
PMCID: PMC2685978  PMID: 19513102
7.  Effect of a glutathione S-transferase inhibitor on oxidative stress and ischemia-reperfusion-induced apoptotic signalling of cultured cardiomyocytes 
Apoptosis is a process present in a variety of cardiovascular diseases, and oxidative stress is a major apoptotic stimulus in these diseases. Glutathione S-transferase (GST) plays a crucial role against oxidative injury; it also regulates glutathione homeostasis. Recently, new roles for GST have been discussed such as in gene expression, protein glutathionylation and nitric oxide metabolism. However, its role with regard to cardiomyocyte apoptosis and alteration of signalling cascades of cardiomyocytes has not been determined. This article evaluates the effect of GST inhibition on cardiomyocyte apoptosis and on the alteration of proteins and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways in rat models.
Oxidative stress and ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury are crucial in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases. The antioxidant glutathione S-transferase (GST) is responsible for the high-capacity metabolic inactivation of electrophilic compounds and toxic substrates. The main objective of the present study was to examine the effect of GST inhibition (with the administration of ethacrynic acid [EA]) on the viability and apoptosis of cardiomyocytes when these cells are exposed to various stress components of I/R and mitogen-activated protein kinase (c-Jun N-terminal kinase, p38 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase [ERK]) inhibitors. The primary culture of neonatal rat cardiomyocytes was divided into six experimental groups: control group of cells (group 1), cells exposed to H2O2 (group 2), I/R (group 3), I/R and EA (group 4), H2O2 coupled with EA (group 5), and EA alone (group 6). The viability of cardiomyocytes was determined using a colorimetric MTT assay. The apoptosis ratio was evaluated via fluorescein isothiocyanate-labelled annexin V and propidium iodide staining. c-Jun N-terminal kinase, p38, Akt/protein kinase B and ERK/p42-p44 transcription factors were monitored with flow cytometry. c-Jun N-terminal kinase activation increased due to GST inhibition during I/R. EA administration led to a significant increase in p38 activation following both H2O2 treatment and I/R. ERK phosphorylation increased when GST was exposed to I/R. A pronounced decrease in Akt phosphorylation was observed when cells were cotreated with EA and H2O2. GST plays an important role as a regulator of mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways in I/R injury.
PMCID: PMC3209546  PMID: 22065940
Glutathione S-transferase; MAP kinases; Oxidative stress; Signalling
8.  The GST-BHMT assay reveals a distinct mechanism underlying proteasome inhibition-induced macroautophagy in mammalian cells 
Autophagy  2015;11(5):812-832.
By monitoring the fragmentation of a GST-BHMT (a protein fusion of glutathionine S-transferase N-terminal to betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase) reporter in lysosomes, the GST-BHMT assay has previously been established as an endpoint, cargo-based assay for starvation-induced autophagy that is largely nonselective. Here, we demonstrate that under nutrient-rich conditions, proteasome inhibition by either pharmaceutical or genetic manipulations induces similar autophagy-dependent GST-BHMT processing. However, mechanistically this proteasome inhibition-induced autophagy is different from that induced by starvation as it does not rely on regulation by MTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin [serine/threonine kinase]) and PRKAA/AMPK (protein kinase, AMP-activated, α catalytic subunit), the upstream central sensors of cellular nutrition and energy status, but requires the presence of the cargo receptors SQSTM1/p62 (sequestosome 1) and NBR1 (neighbor of BRCA1 gene 1) that are normally involved in the selective autophagy pathway. Further, it depends on ER (endoplasmic reticulum) stress signaling, in particular ERN1/IRE1 (endoplasmic reticulum to nucleus signaling 1) and its main downstream effector MAPK8/JNK1 (mitogen-activated protein kinase 8), but not XBP1 (X-box binding protein 1), by regulating the phosphorylation-dependent disassociation of BCL2 (B-cell CLL/lymphoma 2) from BECN1 (Beclin 1, autophagy related). Moreover, the multimerization domain of GST-BHMT is required for its processing in response to proteasome inhibition, in contrast to its dispensable role in starvation-induced processing. Together, these findings support a model in which under nutrient-rich conditions, proteasome inactivation induces autophagy-dependent processing of the GST-BHMT reporter through a distinct mechanism that bears notable similarity with the yeast Cvt (cytoplasm-to-vacuole targeting) pathway, and suggest the GST-BHMT reporter might be employed as a convenient assay to study selective macroautophagy in mammalian cells.
PMCID: PMC4509454  PMID: 25984893
BHMT; cargo receptors SQSTM1/p62 and NBR1; MTOR; PRKAA/AMPK; proteasome inhibition; selective macroautophagy; ACACA/B, acetyl-CoA carboxylase α/β; ACTB, actin, β; ATF4, activating transcription factor 4; ATF6, activating transcription factor 6; ATG7, autophagy-related 7; Baf A1, bafilomycin A1; BCL2, B-cell CLL/lymphoma 2; BECN1, Beclin 1, autophagy-related; BHMT, betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase; CTNNB1, catenin (cadherin-associated protein), β 1, 88kDa; Cvt, cytoplasm-to-vacuole-targeting; DDIT3, DNA-damage-inducible transcript 3; EBSS, Earle's Balanced Salt Solution; EIF2AK3, eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2-α, kinase 3; EIF4EBP1, eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E binding protein 1; ER, endoplasmic reticulum; ERN1, endoplasmic reticulum to nucleus signaling 1; GST, glutathionine S-transferase; GST-BHMT, a fusion protein of glutathionine S-transferase N-terminal to betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase; GST-BHMT(FRAG), an autophagy-mediated cleavage product of the GST-BHMT reporter; HA, hemagglutinin; HSPA5, heat shock 70kDa protein 5 (glucose-regulated protein, 78kDa); LSCS, linker-specific cleavage site; MAP1LC3, microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3; MAP2K7, mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 7; MAPK8, mitogen-activated protein kinase 8; MTOR, mechanistic target of rapamycin (serine/threonine kinase); MTORC1, MTOR complex 1; NBR1, neighbor of BRCA1 gene 1; P4HB, prolyl 4-hydroxylase, β polypeptide; PRKAA, protein kinase, AMP-activated, α catalytic subunit; RHEB, Ras homolog enriched in brain; RM, rich medium; RPS6KB1, ribosomal protein S6 kinase, 70kDa, polypeptide 1; SQSTM1, sequestosome 1; TSC1/2, tuberous sclerosis 1/2; ULK1, unc-51 like autophagy activating kinase 1; UPR, unfolded protein response; UPS, ubiquitin proteasome system; XBP1, X-box binding protein 1
9.  Immunomodulatory effects of therapeutic gold compounds. Gold sodium thiomalate inhibits the activity of T cell protein kinase C. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1992;89(6):1839-1848.
Previous studies have shown that the gold compounds, gold sodium thiomalate (GST) and auranofin (AUR), which are effective in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, inhibit functional activities of a variety of cells, but the biochemical basis of their effect is unknown. In the current studies, human T cell proliferation and interleukin 2 production by Jurkat cells were inhibited by GST or AUR at pharmacologically relevant concentrations. Because it has been documented that protein kinase C (PKC) is involved in T cell activation, the capacity of gold compounds to inhibit PKC partially purified from Jurkat cells was assayed in vitro. GST was found to inhibit PKC in a dose-dependent manner, but AUR caused no significant inhibition of PKC at pharmacologically relevant concentrations. The inhibitory effect of GST on PKC was abolished by 2-mercaptoethanol. To investigate the effect of GST on the regulation of PKC in vivo, the levels of PKC activity in Jurkat cells were examined. Cytosolic PKC activity decreased slowly in a concentration- and time-dependent manner as a result of incubation of Jurkat cells with GST. To ascertain whether GST inhibited PKC translocation and down-regulation, PKC activities associated with the membrane and cystosolic fractions were evaluated after phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) stimulation of GST incubated Jurkat cells. Translocation of PKC was markedly inhibited by pretreatment of Jurkat cells with GST for 3 d, but the capacity of PMA to down-regulate PKC activity in Jurkat cells was not altered by GST preincubation. The functional impact of GST-mediated downregulation of PKC in Jurkat cells was examined by analyzing PMA-stimulated phosphorylation of CD3. Although GST preincubated Jurkat cells exhibited an increased density of CD3, PMA-stimulated phosphorylation of the gamma chain of CD3 was markedly inhibited. Specificity for the inhibitory effect of GST on PKC was suggested by the finding that GST did not alter the mitogen-induced increases in inositol trisphosphate levels in Jurkat cells. Finally, the mechanism of the GST-induced inhibition of PKC was examined in detail, using purified PKC subspecies from rat brain. GST inhibited type II PKC more effectively than type III PKC, and also inhibited the enzymatic activity of the isolated catalytic fragment of PKC. The inhibitory effect of GST on PKC activity could not be explained by competition with phospholipid or nonspecific interference with the substrate. These data suggest that the immunomodulatory effects of GST may result from its capacity to inhibit PKC activity.
PMCID: PMC295882  PMID: 1351061
10.  Novel mechanism of MDA-7/IL-24 cancer-specific apoptosis through SARI induction 
Cancer research  2013;74(2):563-574.
Subtraction-hybridization combined with induction of cancer cell terminal differentiation in human melanoma cells identified melanoma differentiation associated gene-7 (mda-7/IL-24) and SARI (Suppressor of AP-1, induced by IFN) that display potent antitumor activity. These genes are not constitutively expressed in cancer cells and forced expression of mda-7/IL-24 (Ad.mda-7) or SARI(Ad.SARI) promotes cancer-specific cell death. Ectopic expression of mda-7/IL-24 induces SARI mRNA and protein in a panel of different cancer cells leading to cell death, without harming corresponding normal cells. Simultaneous inhibition of K-ras downstream extracellular regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) signaling in pancreatic cancer cells reverses the translational block of MDA-7/IL-24 and induces SARI expression and cell death. Using SARI-antisense-based approaches we demonstrate that SARI expression is necessary for mda-7/IL-24 antitumor effects. Secreted MDA-7/IL-24 protein induces antitumor ‘bystander’ effects by promoting its own expression. Recombinant MDA-7/IL-24 (His-MDA-7) induces SARI expression, supporting the involvement of SARI in the MDA-7/IL-24-driven autocrine loop culminating in antitumor effects. Moreover, His-MDA-7 after binding to its cognate receptors (IL-20R1/IL-20R2 or IL-22R/IL-20R2) induces intracellular signaling by phosphorylation of p38 MAPK leading to transcription of a family of growth arrest and DNA damage inducible (GADD) genes, culminating in apoptosis. Inhibition of p38 MAPK fails to induce SARI following Ad.mda-7 infection. These findings reveal the significance of the mda-7/IL-24-SARI axis in cancer-specific killing, and provide a potential strategy for treating both local and metastatic disease.
PMCID: PMC3915776  PMID: 24282278
SARI; MDA-7/IL-24; apoptosis; IL-20/IL-22 receptors
11.  Dual Localization of Glutathione S-Transferase in the Cytosol and Mitochondria: Implications in Oxidative Stress, Toxicity and Disease 
The FEBS journal  2011;278(22):4243-4251.
Glutathione (GSH) conjugating enzymes, glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) are present in different subcellular compartments including cytosol, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, nucleus and plasma membrane. The regulation and function of GSTs have implications in cell growth, oxidative stress, as well as in disease progression and prevention. Of the several mitochondria localized forms, GSTK (GST kappa) is mitochondria-specific since it contains N-terminal canonical and cleavable mitochondria targeting signal. Other forms, like GST alpha, mu and pi purified from mitochondria are similar to the cytosolic molecular forms or “echoproteins”. Altered GST expression has been implicated in hepatic, cardiac and neurological diseases. Mitochondria-specific GSTK has also been implicated in obesity, diabetes and related metabolic disorders. Studies have shown that silencing the GSTA4 (GST alpha) gene resulted in mitochondrial dysfunction, as was also seen in GSTA4 null mice which could contribute to insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes. This review highlights the significance of mitochondrial GST pool, particularly the mechanism and significance of dual targeting of GSTA4-4 under in vitro and in vivo conditions. GSTA4-4 is targeted in the mitochondria by activation of the internal cryptic signal present at the C-terminus of the protein by protein kinase-dependent phosphorylation and cytosolic heat shock protein (Hsp70) chaperon. Mitochondrial GSTpi, on the other hand, has been shown to have two uncleaved cryptic signals rich in positively charged amino acids at the N-terminal region. Both physiological and pathophysiological implications of GST translocation to mitochondria have been discussed in this review.
PMCID: PMC3204177  PMID: 21929724
12.  PERK–Dependent Regulation of Ceramide Synthase 6 and Thioredoxin Play a Key Role in mda-7/IL-24–Induced Killing of Primary Human Glioblastoma Multiforme Cells 
Cancer research  2010;70(3):1120-1129.
Melanoma differentiation associated gene-7(mda-7) encodes IL-24, a cytokine that can selectively trigger apoptosis in transformed cells. Recombinant mda-7 adenovirus (Ad.mda-7) effectively kills glioma cells, offering a novel gene therapy strategy to address deadly brain tumors. In this study, we defined the proximal mechanisms by which Ad-mda-7 kills glioma cells. Key factors implicated included activation of the endoplasmic reticulum stress kinase protein kinase R–like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK), Ca++ elevation, ceramide generation and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. PERK inhibition blocked ceramide or dihydroceramide generation, which were critical for Ca++ induction and subsequent ROS formation. Activation of autophagy and cell death relied upon ROS formation, the inhibition of which ablated Ad.mda-7–killing activity. In contrast, inhibiting TRX induced by Ad.MDA-7 enhanced tumor cytotoxicity and improved animal survival in an orthotopic tumor model. Our findings indicate that mda-7/IL-24 induces an endoplasmic reticulum stress response that triggers production of ceramide, Ca2+, and ROS, which in turn promote glioma cell autophagy and cell death.
PMCID: PMC2890071  PMID: 20103619
13.  Distinct effects of ultraviolet B light on antioxidant expression in undifferentiated and differentiated mouse keratinocytes 
Carcinogenesis  2007;29(1):219-225.
Ultraviolet (UV) B causes oxidative stress, which has been implicated in carcinogenesis. We determined if the sensitivity of keratinocytes to UVB-induced oxidative stress is dependent on their differentiation state. In primary cultures of undifferentiated and differentiated mouse keratinocytes, UVB (25 mJ/cm2) stimulated production of reactive oxygen intermediates. This was associated with increased messenger RNA (mRNA) expression of the antioxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase, heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) and the glutathione S-transferase (GST), GSTA1-2. The effects of UVB on GSTA1-2 were greater in undifferentiated when compared with differentiated cells. UVB also induced GSTM1, but only in undifferentiated cells. In contrast, UVB reduced expression of manganese superoxide dismutase, metallothionein-2, GSTA3 and microsomal glutathione S-transferase (mGST)3 in both cell types, whereas it had no major effects on catalase, copper–zinc superoxide dismutase, GSTP1, mGST1 or mGST2. Of note, levels of GSTA4 mRNA were 4- to 5-fold greater in differentiated relative to undifferentiated cells. Moreover, whereas GSTA4 was induced by UVB in undifferentiated cells, it was inhibited in differentiated cells. UVB activated p38 and c-jun N-terminal kinase mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases in both undifferentiated and differentiated keratinocytes. Whereas inhi bition of these kinases blocked UVB-induced HO-1 in both cell types, GSTA1–2 and GST-4 were only suppressed in undifferentiated cells. In differentiated keratinocytes, p38 inhibition also suppressed GSTA1–2. In contrast, MAP kinase inhibition had no major effects on UVB-induced suppression of GSTA4 in differentiated cells. These data indicate that UVB-induced alterations in antioxidant expression are differentiation dependent. Moreover, MAP kinases are critical regulators of this response. Alterations in antioxidants are likely to be important mechanisms for protecting the skin from UVB-induced oxidative stress.
PMCID: PMC3520443  PMID: 17984112
14.  The pan-inhibitor of Aurora kinases danusertib induces apoptosis and autophagy and suppresses epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in human breast cancer cells 
Danusertib (Danu) is a pan-inhibitor of Aurora kinases and a third-generation breakpoint cluster region-Abelson murine leukemia viral oncogene homolog 1 (Bcr-Abl) tyrosine kinase inhibitor, but its antitumor effect and underlying mechanisms in the treatment of human breast cancer remain elusive. This study aimed to investigate the effects of Danu on the growth, apoptosis, autophagy, and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and the molecular mechanisms in human breast cancer MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells. The results demonstrated that Danu remarkably inhibited cell proliferation, induced apoptosis and autophagy, and suppressed EMT in both breast cancer cell lines. Danu arrested MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells in G2/M phase, accompanied by the downregulation of cyclin-dependent kinase 1 and cyclin B1 and upregulation of p21 Waf1/Cip1, p27 Kip1, and p53. Danu significantly decreased the expression of B-cell lymphoma-extra-large (Bcl-xl) and B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2), but increased the expression of Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax) and p53-upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA), and promoted the cleavage of caspases 3 and 9. Furthermore, Danu significantly increased the expression levels of the membrane-bound microtubule-associated protein 1A/1B-light chain 3 (LC3-II) and beclin 1 in breast cancer cells, two markers for autophagy. Danu induced the activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (Erk1/2) and inhibited the activation of protein kinase B (Akt)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathways in breast cancer cells. Treatment with wortmannin (a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor) markedly inhibited Danu-induced activation of p38 MAPK and conversion of cytosolic LC3-I to membrane-bound LC3-II. Pharmacological inhibition and small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of p38 MAPK suppressed Akt activation, resulting in LC3-II accumulation and enhanced autophagy. Pharmacological inhibition and small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of Erk1/2 also remarkably increased the level of LC3-II in MCF7 cells. Moreover, Danu inhibited EMT in both MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells with upregulated E-cadherin and zona occludens protein 1 (ZO-1) but downregulated N-cadherin, zinc finger E-box-binding homeobox 1 (TCF8/ZEB1), snail, slug, vimentin, and β-catenin. Notably, Danu showed lower cytotoxicity toward normal breast epithelial MCF10A cells. These findings indicate that Danu promotes cellular apoptosis and autophagy but inhibits EMT in human breast cancer cells via modulation of p38 MAPK/Erk1/2/Akt/mTOR signaling pathways. Danu may represent a promising anticancer agent for breast cancer treatment. More studies are warranted to fully delineate the underlying mechanisms, efficacy, and safety of Danu in breast cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC4338784  PMID: 25733818
Danusertib; breast cancer; cell cycle; apoptosis; autophagy; EMT
15.  Transfected Babesia bovis Expressing a Tick GST as a Live Vector Vaccine 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2016;10(12):e0005152.
The Rhipicephalus microplus tick is a notorious blood-feeding ectoparasite of livestock, especially cattle, responsible for massive losses in animal production. It is the main vector for transmission of pathogenic bacteria and parasites, including Babesia bovis, an intraerythrocytic apicomplexan protozoan parasite responsible for bovine Babesiosis. This study describes the development and testing of a live B. bovis vaccine expressing the protective tick antigen glutathione-S-transferase from Haemaphysalis longicornis (HlGST). The B. bovis S74-T3B parasites were electroporated with a plasmid containing the bidirectional Ef-1α (elongation factor 1 alpha) promoter of B. bovis controlling expression of two independent genes, the selectable marker GFP-BSD (green fluorescent protein–blasticidin deaminase), and HlGST fused to the MSA-1 (merozoite surface antigen 1) signal peptide from B. bovis. Electroporation followed by blasticidin selection resulted in the emergence of a mixed B. bovis transfected line (termed HlGST) in in vitro cultures, containing parasites with distinct patterns of insertion of both exogenous genes, either in or outside the Ef-1α locus. A B. bovis clonal line termed HlGST-Cln expressing intracellular GFP and HlGST in the surface of merozoites was then derived from the mixed parasite line HlGST using a fluorescent activated cell sorter. Two independent calf immunization trials were performed via intravenous inoculation of the HlGST-Cln and a previously described control consisting of an irrelevant transfected clonal line of B. bovis designated GFP-Cln. The control GFP-Cln line contains a copy of the GFP-BSD gene inserted into the Ef-1α locus of B. bovis in an identical fashion as the HIGST-Cln parasites. All animals inoculated with the HlGST-Cln and GFP-Cln transfected parasites developed mild babesiosis. Tick egg fertility and fully engorged female tick weight was reduced significantly in R. microplus feeding on HlGST-Cln-immunized calves. Collectively, these data show the efficacy of a transfected HlGST-Cln B. bovis parasite to induce detectable anti-glutathione-S-transferase antibodies and a reduction in tick size and fecundity of R. microplus feeding in experimentally inoculated animals.
Author Summary
The cattle tick Rhipicephalus microplus is a hematophagous ectoparasite, responsible for the transmission of lethal parasites such as Babesia sp, limiting cattle production in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. There is an urgent emerging need for improved methods of control for these currently neglected tick and tick borne diseases. It is hypothesized that a dual attenuated-live vector vaccine containing a stably transfected tick antigen elicits protective immune responses against the parasite and the tick vector in vaccinated cattle. Live Babesia vaccines based on attenuated parasites are the only effective method available for preventing acute babesiosis. On the other hand, glutathione-S-transferase from Haemaphysalis longicornis (HlGST) is a known effective antigen against Rhipicephalus microplus, the most common vector for B. bovis. This study describes the development and testing of a transfected, B. bovis vaccine expressing HlGST against the tick R. microplus. A B. bovis clonal line designated HlGST-Cln expressing HlGST and GFP/BSD, and separately a control transfected B. bovis clonal line expressing only GFP/BSD was used to vaccinate calves in two independent experiments. All immunized calves developed mild babesiosis, and only calves immunized with the HlGST-Cln parasite line generated anti-HlGST antibodies. Tick egg fertility and fully engorged female tick weight were reduced significantly in R. microplus feeding on HlGST-Cln-vaccinated calves. Taken together, these data demonstrates the ability of transfected B. bovis to elicit antibodies against a heterologous tick antigen in cattle and to induce partial protection in the vaccinated animals against the cattle tick for the first time, representing a step toward the goal to produce a live vector anti-tick vaccine.
PMCID: PMC5135042  PMID: 27911903
16.  Cytosolic domain of the type I interleukin-1 receptor spontaneously recruits signaling molecules to activate a proinflammatory gene. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1997;100(2):419-428.
Immediate postreceptor events activated by IL-1-IL-1R interaction remain undefined. We have initiated studies to identify candidate signal transducers that associate with the cytosolic domain (cd) of the IL-1R. Immunocomplex kinase assays demonstrated an IL-1-activated myelin basic protein kinase activity that coprecipitated with the IL-1R from rat mesangial, mouse EL-4, and HeLa cells. Using glutathione-S-transferase (GST) fusion proteins, HeLa cell lysates next were assayed for kinases that associated with IL-1R cytoplasmic sequences. A GST-IL-1R fusion protein containing the entire cd (amino acids 369-569; GST-IL-1Rcd) recruited a kinase activity in the absence and presence of IL-1 stimulation. In contrast, a GST-IL-1R membrane-proximal region mutant (amino acids 369-501; GST-IL-1RcdDelta), which lacks COOH-terminal amino acid residues required for nuclear factor-kappaB activation, poorly phosphorylated MBP. In gel, kinase assays demonstrated 63-, 83-, and 100-kD kinases that specifically coprecipitated with the HeLa IL-1R and the GST-IL-1Rcd, but not GST-IL-1RcdDelta. 35S-labeled proteins, with Mrs identical to the kinase activities, stably associated with GST-IL-1Rcd. Transient transfection assays of 293 cells were used to evaluate the functional significance of these findings. Simply increasing IL-1cd expression in 293 cells stimulated 5'-IL-6 flanking region-regulated CAT activity threefold above control, an effect blocked by the kinase inhibitors staurosporine and calphostin C. In summary, we have identified two previously unrecognized 63- and 83-kD kinases as well as a protein with an Mr similar to the recently cloned IL-1R-associated kinase, all of which associate spontaneously with the IL-1Rcd. Ectopic IL-1Rcd expression was sufficient to trigger cellular activation, suggesting that the extracellular domain of the intact receptor represses signal transduction until IL-1 is bound. Given that the IL-1Rcd signaling domain has been conserved in a functionally diverse group of transmembrane receptors, further characterization of this signaling process may define novel molecular mechanisms controlling cellular function and differentiation.
PMCID: PMC508206  PMID: 9218520
17.  Mechanism of autophagy to apoptosis switch triggered in prostate cancer cells by antitumor cytokine mda-7/IL-24 
Cancer research  2010;70(9):3667-3676.
mda-7/IL-24 is a unique member of the IL-10 gene family, which displays a broad range of antitumor properties including induction of cancer-specific apoptosis. Adenoviral mediated delivery by Ad.mda-7 invokes an endoplasmic reticulum stress response that is associated with ceramide production and autophagy in some cancer cells. Here we report that Ad.mda-7-induced ER stress and ceramide production triggers autophagy in human prostate cancer cells, but not normal prostate epithelial cells, through a canonical signaling pathway that involves Beclin-1, atg5 and hVps34. Autophagy occurs in cancer cells at early times after Ad.mda-7 infection but a switch to apoptosis occurs by 48 hr post-infection. Inhibiting autophagy with 3-methyladenosine increases Ad.mda-7-induced apoptosis, suggesting that autophagy may be initiated first as a cytoprotective mechanism. Inhibiting apoptosis by overexpression of anti-apoptotic proteins Bcl-2 or Bcl-xL increased autophagy after Ad.mda-7 infection. During the apoptotic phase, the MDA-7/IL-24 protein physically interacted with Beclin-1 in a manner that could inhibit Beclin-1 function culminating in apoptosis. Conversely, Ad.mda-7 infection elicited calpain-mediated cleavage of the autophagic protein ATG5 in a manner that could facilitate switch to apoptosis. Our findings reveal novel aspects of the interplay between autophagy and apoptosis in prostate cancer cells that underlie the cytotoxic action of mda-7/IL-24, possibly providing new insights in the development of combinatorial therapies for prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC2874885  PMID: 20406981
mda-7/IL-24; protective autophagy; apoptosis; Beclin-1; atg5
18.  Combining histone deacetylase inhibitors with MDA-7/IL-24 enhances killing of renal carcinoma cells 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(11):1039-1049.
In the present study we show that histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACIs) enhance the anti-tumor effects of melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin 24 (mda-7/IL-24) in human renal carcinoma cells. Similar data were obtained in other GU tumor cells. Combination of these two agents resulted in increased autophagy that was dependent on expression of ceramide synthase 6, with HDACIs enhancing MDA-7/IL-24 toxicity by increasing generation of ROS and Ca2+. Knock down of CD95 protected cells from HDACI and MDA-7/IL-24 lethality. Sorafenib treatment further enhanced (HDACI + MDA-7/IL-24) lethality. Anoikis resistant renal carcinoma cells were more sensitive to MDA-7/IL-24 that correlated with elevated SRC activity and tyrosine phosphorylation of CD95. We employed a recently constructed serotype 5/3 adenovirus, which is more effective than a serotype 5 virus in delivering mda-7/IL-24 to renal carcinoma cells and which conditionally replicates (CR) in tumor cells expressing MDA-7/IL-24 by virtue of placing the adenoviral E1A gene under the control of the cancer-specific promoter progression elevated gene-3 (Ad.5/3-PEG-E1A-mda-7; CRAd.5/3-mda-7, Ad.5/3-CTV), to define efficacy in renal carcinoma cells. Ad.5/3-CTV decreased the growth of renal carcinoma tumors to a significantly greater extent than did a non-replicative virus Ad.5/3-mda-7. In contralateral uninfected renal carcinoma tumors Ad.5/3-CTV also decreased the growth of tumors to a greater extent than did Ad.5/3-mda-7. In summation, our data demonstrates that HDACIs enhance MDA-7/IL-24-mediated toxicity and tumor specific adenoviral delivery and viral replication of mda-7/IL-24 is an effective pre-clinical renal carcinoma therapeutic.
PMCID: PMC3925659  PMID: 24025359
MDA-7/IL-24; HDACI; ceramide; apoptosis; bystander; cytokine; ROS; caspase; animal study
19.  Calycosin Suppresses Breast Cancer Cell Growth via ERβ-Dependent Regulation of IGF-1R, p38 MAPK and PI3K/Akt Pathways 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91245.
We previously reported that calycosin, a natural phytoestrogen structurally similar to estrogen, successfully triggered apoptosis of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer cell line, MCF-7. To better understand the antitumor activities of calycosin against breast cancer, besides MCF-7 cells, another ER-positive cell line T-47D was analyzed here, with ER-negative cell lines (MDA-231, MDA-435) as control. Notably, calycosin led to inhibited cell proliferation and apoptosis only in ER-positive cells, particularly in MCF-7 cells, whereas no such effect was observed in ER-negative cells. Then we investigated whether regulation of ERβ, a subtype of ER, contributed to calycosin-induced apoptosis in breast cancer cells. The results showed that incubation of calycosin resulted in enhanced expression ERβ in MCF-7 and T-47D cells, rather than MDA-231 and MDA-435 cells. Moreover, with the upregulation of ERβ, successive changes in downstream signaling pathways were found, including inactivation of insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF-1R), then stimulation of p38 MAPK and suppression of the serine/threonine kinase (Akt), and finally poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP-1) cleavage. However, the other two members of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family, extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), were not consequently regulated by downregulated IGF-1R, indicating ERK 1/2 and JNK pathways were not necessary to allow proliferation inhibition by calycosin. Taken together, our results indicate that calycosin tends to inhibit growth and induce apoptosis in ER-positive breast cancer cells, which is mediated by ERβ-induced inhibition of IGF-1R, along with the selective regulation of MAPK and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathways.
PMCID: PMC3949755  PMID: 24618835
20.  Functional Role of mTORC2 versus Integrin-Linked Kinase in Mediating Ser473-Akt Phosphorylation in PTEN-Negative Prostate and Breast Cancer Cell Lines 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67149.
Although the rictor-mTOR complex (mTORC2) has been shown to act as phosphoinositide-dependent kinase (PDK)2 in many cell types, other kinases have also been implicated in mediating Ser473-Akt phosphorylation. Here, we demonstrated the cell line specificity of integrin-linked kinase (ILK) versus mTORC2 as PDK2 in LNCaP and PC-3 prostate and MDA-MB-468 breast cancer cells, of which the PTEN-negative status allowed the study of Ser473-Akt phosphorylation independent of external stimulation. PC-3 and MDA-MB-468 cells showed upregulated ILK expression relative to LNCaP cells, which expressed a high abundance of mTOR. Exposure to Ku-0063794, a second-generation mTOR inhibitor, decreased Ser473-Akt phosphorylation in LNCaP cells, but not in PC-3 or MDA-MB-468 cells. In contrast, treatment with T315, a novel ILK inhibitor, reduced the phosphorylation of Ser473-Akt in PC-3 and MDA-MB-468 cells without affecting that in LNCaP cells. This cell line specificity was verified by comparing Ser473-Akt phosphorylation status after genetic knockdown of rictor, ILK, and other putative Ser-473-Akt kinases. Genetic knockdown of rictor, but not ILK or the other kinases examined, inhibited Ser473-Akt phosphorylation in LNCaP cells. Conversely, PC-3 and MDA-MB-468 cells were susceptible to the effect of ILK silencing on Ser473-Akt phosphorylation, while knockdown of rictor or any of the other target kinases had no appreciable effect. Co-immunoprecipitation analysis demonstrated the physical interaction between ILK and Akt in PC-3 cells, and T315 blocked ILK-mediated Ser473 phosphorylation of bacterially expressed Akt. ILK also formed complexes with rictor in PC-3 and MDA-MB-468 cells that were disrupted by T315, but such complexes were not observed in LNCaP cells. In the PTEN-functional MDA-MB-231 cell line, both T315 and Ku-0063794 suppressed EGF-induced Ser473-Akt phosphorylation. Inhibition of ILK by T315 or siRNA-mediated knockdown suppressed epithelial-mesenchymal transition in MDA-MB-468 and PC-3 cells. Thus, we hypothesize that ILK might bestow growth advantage and metastatic potential in the course of tumor progression.
PMCID: PMC3686768  PMID: 23840605
21.  Characterization of the canine mda-7 gene, transcripts and expression patterns 
Gene  2014;547(1):23-33.
Human melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24) displays potent growth suppressing and cell killing activity against a wide variety of human and rodent cancer cells. In this study, we identified a canine ortholog of the human mda-7/IL-24 gene located within a cluster of IL-10 family members on chromosome 7. The full-length mRNA sequence of canine mda-7 was determined, which encodes a 186-amino acid protein that has 66% similarity to human MDA-7/IL-24. Canine MDA-7 is constitutively expressed in cultured normal canine epidermal keratinocytes (NCEKs), and its expression levels are increased after lipopolysaccharide stimulation. In cultured NCEKs, the canine mda-7 pre-mRNA is differentially spliced, via exon skipping and alternate 5′-splice donor sites, to yield five splice variants (canine mda-7sv1, canine mda-7sv2, canine mda-7sv3, canine mda-7sv4 and canine mda-7sv5) that encode four protein isoforms of the canine MDA-7 protein. These protein isoforms have a conserved N-terminus (signal peptide sequence) and are dissimilar in amino acid sequences at their C-terminus. Canine MDA-7 is not expressed in primary canine tumor samples, and most tumor derived cancer cell lines tested, like its human counterpart. Unlike human MDA-7/IL-24, canine mda-7 mRNA is not expressed in unstimulated or lipopolysaccharide (LPS), concanavalin A (ConA) or phytohemagglutinin (PHA) stimulated canine peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Furthermore, in-silico analysis revealed that canonical canine MDA-7 has a potential 28 amino acid signal peptide sequence that can target it for active secretion. This data suggests that canine mda-7 is indeed an ortholog of human mda-7/IL-24, its protein product has high amino acid similarity to human MDA-7/IL-24 protein and it may possess similar biological properties to human MDA-7/IL-24, but its expression pattern is more restricted than its human ortholog.
PMCID: PMC4131717  PMID: 24865935
22.  The investigational Aurora kinase A inhibitor alisertib (MLN8237) induces cell cycle G2/M arrest, apoptosis, and autophagy via p38 MAPK and Akt/mTOR signaling pathways in human breast cancer cells 
Alisertib (ALS) is an investigational potent Aurora A kinase inhibitor currently undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of hematological and non-hematological malignancies. However, its antitumor activity has not been tested in human breast cancer. This study aimed to investigate the effect of ALS on the growth, apoptosis, and autophagy, and the underlying mechanisms in human breast cancer MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells. In the current study, we identified that ALS had potent growth-inhibitory, pro-apoptotic, and pro-autophagic effects in MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells. ALS arrested the cells in G2/M phase in MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells which was accompanied by the downregulation of cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK)1/cell division cycle (CDC) 2, CDK2, and cyclin B1 and upregulation of p21 Waf1/Cip1, p27 Kip1, and p53, suggesting that ALS induces G2/M arrest through modulation of p53/p21/CDC2/cyclin B1 pathways. ALS induced mitochondria-mediated apoptosis in MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells; ALS significantly decreased the expression of B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2), but increased the expression of B-cell lymphoma 2-associated X protein (Bax) and p53-upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA), and increased the expression of cleaved caspases 3 and 9. ALS significantly increased the expression level of membrane-bound microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3)-II and beclin 1 and induced inhibition of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (Akt)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways in MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells as indicated by their altered phosphorylation, contributing to the pro-autophagic activities of ALS. Furthermore, treatment with wortmannin markedly downregulated ALS-induced p38 MAPK activation and LC3 conversion. In addition, knockdown of the p38 MAPK gene by ribonucleic acid interference upregulated Akt activation and resulted in LC3-II accumulation. These findings indicate that ALS promotes cellular apoptosis and autophagy in breast cancer cells via modulation of p38 MAPK/Akt/mTOR pathways. Further studies are warranted to further explore the molecular targets of ALS in the treatment of breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC4365748  PMID: 25834401
ALS; breast cancer; cell cycle; apoptosis; autophagy; p38 MAPK
23.  Glutathione-S-Transferase: A Minor Allergen in Birch Pollen due to Limited Release from Hydrated Pollen 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109075.
Recently, a protein homologous to glutathione-S-transferases (GST) was detected in prominent amounts in birch pollen by proteomic profiling. As members of the GST family are relevant allergens in mites, cockroach and fungi we investigated the allergenic relevance of GST from birch (bGST).
bGST was expressed in Escherichia coli, purified and characterized by mass spectrometry. Sera from 217 birch pollen-allergic patients were tested for IgE-reactivity to bGST by ELISA. The mediator-releasing activity of bGST was analysed with IgE-loaded rat basophil leukaemia cells (RBL) expressing human FcεRI. BALB/c mice were immunized with bGST or Bet v 1. Antibody and T cell responses to either protein were assessed. IgE-cross-reactivity between bGST with GST from house dust mite, Der p 8, was studied with murine and human sera in ELISA. The release kinetics of bGST and Bet v 1 from birch pollen were assessed in water, simulated lung fluid, 0.9% NaCl and PBS. Eluted proteins were quantified by ELISA and analysed by immunoblotting.
Principle findings
Only 13% of 217 birch pollen-allergic patients showed IgE-reactivity to bGST. In RBL assays bGST induced mediator release. Immunization of mice with bGST induced specific IgE and a Th2-dominated cellular immune response comparably to immunization with Bet v 1. bGST did not cross-react with Der p 8. In contrast to Bet v 1, only low amounts of bGST were released from pollen grains upon incubation in water and the different physiological solutions.
Although bGST is abundant in birch pollen, immunogenic in mice and able to induce mediator release from effector cells passively loaded with specific IgE, it is a minor allergen for birch pollen-allergic patients. We refer this discrepancy to its limited release from hydrated pollen. Hence, bGST is an example demonstrating that allergenicity depends mainly on rapid elution from airborne particles.
PMCID: PMC4183528  PMID: 25275548
24.  Breast tumor kinase and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 5 mediate Met receptor signaling to cell migration in breast cancer cells 
Breast tumor kinase (Brk/protein tyrosine kinase 6 (PTK6)) is a nonreceptor, soluble tyrosine kinase overexpressed in the majority of breast tumors. Previous work has placed Brk downstream of epidermal growth factor receptor (ErbB) activation and upstream of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 5 (ERK5) and p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases. Herein we investigate the regulation of Brk kinase activity and cell migration in response to treatment of keratinocytes (HaCaT cells) and breast cancer cell lines (MDA-MB-231 and T47D cells) with hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and macrophage stimulating protein (MSP), peptide ligands for Met and Ron receptors, respectively.
In vitro kinase assays were performed to directly measure Brk kinase activity in response to MET and RON ligands. Transfection of Brk-targeted RNAi was used to knock down endogenous Brk or ERK5 in multiple cell lines. Kinase activities (downstream of MET signaling) were assayed by Western blotting using total and phospho-specific antibodies. Boyden chamber assays were used to measure cell migration in response to manipulation of Brk and downstream MET effectors. Rescue experiments were performed by knock down of endogenous Brk using RNAi (targeting the untranslated region (3′-UTR)) and transient transfection (re-expression) of either wild-type or kinase-inactive Brk.
Brk gene silencing revealed that HGF, but not MSP, induced robust Brk-dependent cell migration. Brk and ERK5 copurified in HGF-induced protein complexes, and Brk/ERK5 complexes formed independently of Brk kinase activity. ERK5 was required for breast cancer cell but not keratinocyte cell migration, which became ERK1/2-dependent upon ERK5 knockdown. Notably, rescue experiments indicated that the kinase activity of Brk was not required for HGF-induced cell migration. Further, expression of either wild-type or kinase-inactive Brk in Brk-null MDA-MB-435 cells activated ERK5 and conferred increased HGF-induced cell migration.
These results have identified Brk and ERK5 as important downstream effectors of Met signaling to cell migration. Targeting ERK5 kinase activity or inhibiting the formation of Brk/ERK5 complexes may provide an additional means of blocking cell migration associated with breast cancer progression to metastasis.
PMCID: PMC2949652  PMID: 20687930
25.  Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Inotilone from Phellinus linteus through the Inhibition of MMP-9, NF-κB, and MAPK Activation In Vitro and In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e35922.
Inotilone was isolated from Phellinus linteus. The anti-inflammatory effects of inotilone were studied by using lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated mouse macrophage RAW264.7 cells and λ-carrageenan (Carr)-induced hind mouse paw edema model. Inotilone was tested for its ability to reduce nitric oxide (NO) production, and the inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression. Inotilone was tested in the inhibitor of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) [extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK), c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK), p38], and nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), matrix-metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 protein expressions in LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 cells. When RAW264.7 macrophages were treated with inotilone together with LPS, a significant concentration-dependent inhibition of NO production was detected. Western blotting revealed that inotilone blocked the protein expression of iNOS, NF-κB, and MMP-9 in LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 macrophages, significantly. Inotilone also inhibited LPS-induced ERK, JNK, and p38 phosphorylation. In in vivo tests, inotilone decreased the paw edema at the 4th and the 5th h after Carr administration, and it increased the activities of catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and glutathione peroxidase (GPx). We also demonstrated that inotilone significantly attenuated the malondialdehyde (MDA) level in the edema paw at the 5th h after Carr injection. Inotilone decreased the NO and tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α) levels on serum at the 5th h after Carr injection. Western blotting revealed that inotilone decreased Carr-induced iNOS, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), NF-κB, and MMP-9 expressions at the 5th h in the edema paw. An intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection treatment with inotilone diminished neutrophil infiltration into sites of inflammation, as did indomethacin (Indo). The anti-inflammatory activities of inotilone might be related to decrease the levels of MDA, iNOS, COX-2, NF-κB, and MMP-9 and increase the activities of CAT, SOD, and GPx in the paw edema through the suppression of TNF-α and NO. This study presents the potential utilization of inotilone, as a lead for the development of anti-inflammatory drugs.
PMCID: PMC3348146  PMID: 22590514

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