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1.  Redox cycling compounds generate H2O2 in HTS buffers containing strong reducing reagents – real hits or promiscuous artifacts? 
Redox cycling compounds (RCCs) generate µM concentrations of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in the presence of strong reducing agents, common buffer components used to maintain the catalytic activity and/or folding of target proteins for high throughput screening (HTS) assays. H2O2 generated by RCCs can indirectly inhibit the catalytic activity of proteins by oxidizing accessible cysteine, tryptophan, methionine, histidine or selenocysteine residues, and indeed several important classes of protein targets are susceptible to H2O2-mediated inactivation; protein tyrosine phosphatases, cysteine proteases, and metalloenzymes. The main sources of H2O2 in cells are the Nox enzyme/SOD systems, peroxisome metabolism, and the autoxidation of reactive chemicals by enzyme mediated redox cycling at both the microsomal and mitochondrial sites of electron transport. Given the role of H2O2 as a second messenger involved in the regulation of many signaling pathways it is hardly surprising that compounds which can generate intracellular H2O2 by enzyme mediated redox cycling would have pleiotropic effects. RCCs can therefore have serious negative consequences for the probe and/or lead generation process: primary HTS assay hit rates may be inflated by RCC false positives; critical resources will be diverted to develop and implement follow up assays to distinguish RCCs from real hits; and screening databases will become annotated with the promiscuous activity of RCCs. In an attempt to mitigate the serious impact of RCCs on probe and lead generation, two groups have independently developed assays to indentify RCCs.
PMCID: PMC3040250  PMID: 21075044
2.  Development of a 384-Well Colorimetric Assay to Quantify Hydrogen Peroxide Generated by the Redox Cycling of Compounds in the Presence of Reducing Agents 
We report here the development and optimization of a simple 384-well colorimetric assay to measure H2O2 generated by the redox cycling of compounds incubated with reducing agents in high-throughput screening (HTS) assay buffers. The phenol red-horseradish peroxidase (HRP) assay readily detected H2O2 either added exogenously or generated by the redox cycling of compounds in dithiothreitol (DTT). The generation of H2O2 was dependent on the concentration of both the compound and DTT and was abolished by catalase. Although both DTT and tris(2-carboxyethyl)-phosphine sustain the redox cycling generation of H2O2 by a model quinolinedione, 6-chloro-7-(2-morpholin-4-yl-ethylamino)-quinoline-5,8-dione (NSC 663284; DA3003-1), other reducing agents such as β-mercaptoethanol, glutathione, and cysteine do not. The assay is compatible with HTS. Once terminated, the assay signal was stable for at least 5 h, allowing for a reasonable throughput. The assay tolerated up to 20% dimethyl sulfoxide, allowing a wide range of compound concentrations to be tested. The assay signal window was robust and reproducible with average Z-factors of ≥0.8, and the redox cycling generation of H2O2 by DA3003-1 in DTT exhibited an average 50% effective concentration of 0.830 ± 0.068 μM. Five of the mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase (MKP) 1 inhibitors identified in an HTS were shown to generate H2O2 in the presence of DTT, and their inhibition of MKP-1 activity was shown to be time dependent and was abolished or significantly reduced by either 100 U of catalase or by higher DTT levels. A cross-target query of the PubChem database with three structurally related pyrimidotriazinediones revealed active flags in 36–39% of the primary screening assays. Activity was confirmed against a number of targets containing active site cysteines, including protein tyrosine phosphatases, cathepsins, and caspases, as well as a number of cellular cytotoxicity assays. Rather than utilize resources to conduct a hit characterization effort involving several secondary assays, the phenol red-HRP assay provides a simple, rapid, sensitive, and inexpensive method to identify compounds that redox cycle in DTT or tris(2-carboxyethyl)phosphine to produce H2O2 that may indirectly modulate target activity and represent promiscuous false-positives from a primary screen.
PMCID: PMC2752819  PMID: 18699726
3.  Development of a 384-Well Colorimetric Assay to Quantify Hydrogen Peroxide Generated by the Redox Cycling of Compounds in the Presence of Reducing Agents 
We report here the development and optimization of a simple 384-well colorimetric assay to measure H2O2 generated by the redox cycling of compounds incubated with reducing agents in high-throughput screening (HTS) assay buffers. The phenol red-horseradish peroxidase (HRP) assay readily detected H2O2 either added exogenously or generated by the redox cycling of compounds in dithiothreitol (DTT). The generation of H2O2 was dependent on the concentration of both the compound and DTT and was abolished by catalase. Although both DTT and tris(2-carboxyethyl)-phosphine sustain the redox cycling generation of H2O2 by a model quinolinedione, 6-chloro-7-(2-morpholin-4-yl-ethylamino)-quinoline-5,8-dione (NSC 663284; DA3003-1), other reducing agents such as β-mercaptoethanol, glutathione, and cysteine do not. The assay is compatible with HTS. Once terminated, the assay signal was stable for at least 5 h, allowing for a reasonable throughput. The assay tolerated up to 20% dimethyl sulfoxide, allowing a wide range of compound concentrations to be tested. The assay signal window was robust and reproducible with average Z-factors of ≥0.8, and the redox cycling generation of H2O2 by DA3003-1 in DTT exhibited an average 50% effective concentration of 0.830 μ 0.068 μM. Five of the mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase (MKP) 1 inhibitors identified in an HTS were shown to generate H2O2 in the presence of DTT, and their inhibition of MKP-1 activity was shown to be time dependent and was abolished or significantly reduced by either 100 U of catalase or by higher DTT levels. A cross-target query of the PubChem database with three structurally related pyrimidotriazinediones revealed active flags in 36–39% of the primary screening assays. Activity was confirmed against a number of targets containing active site cysteines, including protein tyrosine phosphatases, cathepsins, and caspases, as well as a number of cellular cytotoxicity assays. Rather than utilize resources to conduct a hit characterization effort involving several secondary assays, the phenol red-HRP assay provides a simple, rapid, sensitive, and inexpensive method to identify compounds that redox cycle in DTT or tris(2-carboxyethyl)phosphine to produce H2O2 that may indirectly modulate target activity and represent promiscuous false-positives from a primary screen.
PMCID: PMC2752819  PMID: 18699726
4.  Ortho-quinone-enhanced ascorbate oxidation. Combined roles of lipid charge and the magnesium cation 
Quinones are widely distributed compounds in nature. Of these, ortho-quinones are found to be involved in the pathogenic mechanism of Parkinson’s disease, in oxidative deaminations to free-radical redox reactions, and as intermediates in the pathways implicated in the carcinogenicity of 2,3- and 3,4-catechol estrogens. Addition of MgCl2 to solutions of the hydrophobic ortho-quinones, 1,10-phenanthroquinone (PHQ) and beta-lapachone (LQ) enhances ascorbate oxidation in the absence or presence of large unilamellar vesicles (LUVs) of the neutral lipid dimyristoylphos-phatidylcholine (DMPC), although initial rates of ascorbate oxidation are smaller in the presence of lipid as compared to its absence. Addition of this salt to solutions of the para-quinone 1,4-naphthoquinone (NQ) did not affect the ascorbate rate of oxidation in the absence or presence of DMPC. Addition of MgCl2 to semiquinone solutions of PHQ or LQ in the presence or absence of DMPC increases semiquinone stability, as detected from the semiquinone disproportionation equilibrium displacement to semiquinone formation. Furthermore, MgCl2 increases the partition of the ortho-semiquinones into the aqueous phase, although no such effect is observed for the semiquinone of NQ. For all the quinones under study, smaller rates of ascorbate oxidation and of semiquinone equilibrium concentration occur in the presence of negatively charged LUVs composed of an equimolar mixture of DMPC and dimyristoylphosphatidic acid DMPA. Ascorbate oxidation rate enhancements correlate with an increase in semiquinone concentration with addition of MgCl2, in the absence or presence of neutral lipid. This observation favors the proposition that ascorbate oxidation rate increases are caused by semiquinone thermodynamic stabilization. Thus, the ascorbate oxidation rate enhancement by MgCl2 in solutions containing hydrophobic ortho-quinones is still possible in systems with hydrophobic environments analogous to that of DMPC.
PMCID: PMC2790193  PMID: 20011675
Ortho-quinone; semiquinone; magnesium; DMPC; membrane; ascorbate; DMPA; beta-lapachone; phenanthroquinone; naphthoquinone
5.  Pathway analysis of kidney cancer using proteomics and metabolic profiling 
Molecular Cancer  2006;5:64.
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the sixth leading cause of cancer death and is responsible for 11,000 deaths per year in the US. Approximately one-third of patients present with disease which is already metastatic and for which there is currently no adequate treatment, and no biofluid screening tests exist for RCC. In this study, we have undertaken a comprehensive proteomic analysis and subsequently a pathway and network approach to identify biological processes involved in clear cell RCC (ccRCC). We have used these data to investigate urinary markers of RCC which could be applied to high-risk patients, or to those being followed for recurrence, for early diagnosis and treatment, thereby substantially reducing mortality of this disease.
Using 2-dimensional electrophoresis and mass spectrometric analysis, we identified 31 proteins which were differentially expressed with a high degree of significance in ccRCC as compared to adjacent non-malignant tissue, and we confirmed some of these by immunoblotting, immunohistochemistry, and comparison to published transcriptomic data. When evaluated by several pathway and biological process analysis programs, these proteins are demonstrated to be involved with a high degree of confidence (p values < 2.0 E-05) in glycolysis, propanoate metabolism, pyruvate metabolism, urea cycle and arginine/proline metabolism, as well as in the non-metabolic p53 and FAS pathways. In a pilot study using random urine samples from both ccRCC and control patients, we performed metabolic profiling and found that only sorbitol, a component of an alternative glycolysis pathway, is significantly elevated at 5.4-fold in RCC patients as compared to controls.
Extensive pathway and network analysis allowed for the discovery of highly significant pathways from a set of clear cell RCC samples. Knowledge of activation of these processes will lead to novel assays identifying their proteomic and/or metabolomic signatures in biofluids of patient at high risk for this disease; we provide pilot data for such a urinary bioassay. Furthermore, we demonstrate how the knowledge of networks, processes, and pathways altered in kidney cancer may be used to influence the choice of optimal therapy.
PMCID: PMC1665458  PMID: 17123452
6.  Decitabine induces G2/M cell cycle arrest by suppressing p38/NF-κB signaling in human renal clear cell carcinoma 
Objective: The anti-neoplastic effects of decitabine, an inhibitor of DNA promoter methylation, are beneficial for the treatment of renal cell carcinoma (RCC); however, the mechanism of action of decitabine is unclear. We analyzed gene expression profiling and identified specific pathways altered by decitabine in RCC cells. Methods: Four human RCC cell lines (ACHN, Caki-1, Caki-1, and A498) were used in this study; growth suppression of RCC cells by decitabine was analyzed using the WST-1 assay. Apoptosis and cell cycle arrest were examined using flow cytometric analysis. Gene expression of RCC cells induced by decitabine was evaluated with cDNA microarray, and potential biological pathways were selected using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis. The activity of the p38-NF-κB pathway regulated by decitabine was confirmed by Western blotting. Results: Decitabine suppresses the proliferation of RCC cells in vitro. Although decitabine did not significantly induce apoptosis, decitabine caused cell cycle arrest at G2/M in a dose-dependent manner. Gene expression regulated by decitabine in RCC cells was investigated using microarray analysis. Ubiquitin carboxyl terminal hydrolase 1 (UCHL1), interferon inducible protein 27 (IFI27), and cell division cycle-associated 2 (CDCA2) may be involved in growth suppression of RCC cells by decitabine. The phosphorylation of p38-NF-κB pathway was suppressed by decitabine in RCC cells. Conclusions: We investigated gene expression profiling and pathways modulated by decitabine in RCC cells. Decitabine was shown to suppress the growth of RCC cells via G2/M cell cycle arrest and the p38-NF-κB signaling pathway may play a role in the anti-neoplastic effect of decitabine in RCC cells.
PMCID: PMC4637649  PMID: 26617834
Renal cell carcinoma; decitabine; apoptosis; cell cycle arrest; gene expression; p38-NF-κB pathway
7.  Integrated Profiling of MicroRNAs and mRNAs: MicroRNAs Located on Xq27.3 Associate with Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15224.
With the advent of second-generation sequencing, the expression of gene transcripts can be digitally measured with high accuracy. The purpose of this study was to systematically profile the expression of both mRNA and miRNA genes in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) using massively parallel sequencing technology.
The expression of mRNAs and miRNAs were analyzed in tumor tissues and matched normal adjacent tissues obtained from 10 ccRCC patients without distant metastases. In a prevalence screen, some of the most interesting results were validated in a large cohort of ccRCC patients.
Principal Findings
A total of 404 miRNAs and 9,799 mRNAs were detected to be differentially expressed in the 10 ccRCC patients. We also identified 56 novel miRNA candidates in at least two samples. In addition to confirming that canonical cancer genes and miRNAs (including VEGFA, DUSP9 and ERBB4; miR-210, miR-184 and miR-206) play pivotal roles in ccRCC development, promising novel candidates (such as PNCK and miR-122) without previous annotation in ccRCC carcinogenesis were also discovered in this study. Pathways controlling cell fates (e.g., cell cycle and apoptosis pathways) and cell communication (e.g., focal adhesion and ECM-receptor interaction) were found to be significantly more likely to be disrupted in ccRCC. Additionally, the results of the prevalence screen revealed that the expression of a miRNA gene cluster located on Xq27.3 was consistently downregulated in at least 76.7% of ∼50 ccRCC patients.
Our study provided a two-dimensional map of the mRNA and miRNA expression profiles of ccRCC using deep sequencing technology. Our results indicate that the phenotypic status of ccRCC is characterized by a loss of normal renal function, downregulation of metabolic genes, and upregulation of many signal transduction genes in key pathways. Furthermore, it can be concluded that downregulation of miRNA genes clustered on Xq27.3 is associated with ccRCC.
PMCID: PMC3013074  PMID: 21253009
8.  Comparison of estrogen-derived ortho-quinone and para-quinol concerning induction of oxidative stress 
Ortho-quinones formed from catechol estrogens are considered prooxidants due to the production of superoxide radical anions through redox cycling via semiquinones. Para-quinols have been identified as novel metabolites of and as the major products of hydroxyl-radical scavenging by estrogens. Cycling of these compounds has also been discovered, because they are converted back to the parent estrogen via reductive aromatization in vitro and in vivo. We hypothesized that, unlike ortho-quinones, para-quinols do not induce oxidative stress due to this cycling. Like the estrogen itself, the 17β-estradiol-derived para-quinol (10β,17β-dihydroxyestra-1,4-diene-3-one) did not induce oxidative stress, as the rate of hydrogen peroxide production during the incubations of the compounds in various tissue homogenates was not significantly different from that of the control experiments performed without the addition of a test compound. We also confirmed that the estrogen metabolite estra-1,5(10)-dien-3,4,17-trione (estrone 3,4-quinone) was a profound prooxidant due to redox cycling, especially in uterine tissue. Therefore, we concluded that para-quinols do not induce oxidative stress.
PMCID: PMC2752863  PMID: 17582759
9.  Nrf2 and HSF-1 Pathway Activation via Hydroquinone-Based Proelectrophilic Small Molecules Is Regulated by Electrochemical Oxidation Potential 
ASN NEURO  2015;7(4):1759091415593294.
Activation of the Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1/nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 and heat-shock protein 90/heat-shock factor-1 signal-transduction pathways plays a central role in combatting cellular oxidative damage and related endoplasmic reticulum stress. Electrophilic compounds have been shown to be activators of these transcription-mediated responses through S-alkylation of specific regulatory proteins. Previously, we reported that a prototype compound (D1, a small molecule representing a proelectrophilic, para-hydroquinone species) exhibited neuroprotective action by activating both of these pathways. We hypothesized that the para-hydroquinone moiety was critical for this activation because it enhanced transcription of these neuroprotective pathways to a greater degree than that of the corresponding ortho-hydroquinone isomer. This notion was based on the differential oxidation potentials of the isomers for the transformation of the hydroquinone to the active, electrophilic quinone species. Here, to further test this hypothesis, we synthesized a pair of para- and ortho-hydroquinone-based proelectrophilic compounds and measured their redox potentials using analytical cyclic voltammetry. The redox potential was then compared with functional biological activity, and the para-hydroquinones demonstrated a superior neuroprotective profile.
PMCID: PMC4550314  PMID: 26243592
Nrf2; HSF-1; heat-shock proteins; phase 2 antioxidant enzymes
10.  Discovery of Potent Small-Molecule Inhibitors of Multidrug-Resistant Plasmodium falciparum Using a Novel Miniaturized High-Throughput Luciferase-Based Assay ▿ †  
Malaria is a global health problem that causes significant mortality and morbidity, with more than 1 million deaths per year caused by Plasmodium falciparum. Most antimalarial drugs face decreased efficacy due to the emergence of resistant parasites, which necessitates the discovery of new drugs. To identify new antimalarials, we developed an automated 384-well plate screening assay using P. falciparum parasites that stably express cytoplasmic firefly luciferase. After initial optimization, we tested two different types of compound libraries: known bioactive collections (Library of Pharmacologically Active Compounds [LOPAC] and the library from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke [NINDS]) and a library of uncharacterized compounds (ChemBridge). A total of 12,320 compounds were screened at 5.5 μM. Selecting only compounds that reduced parasite growth by 85% resulted in 33 hits from the combined bioactive collection and 130 hits from the ChemBridge library. Fifteen novel drug-like compounds from the bioactive collection were found to be active against P. falciparum. Twelve new chemical scaffolds were found from the ChemBridge hits, the most potent of which was a series based on the 1,4-naphthoquinone scaffold, which is structurally similar to the FDA-approved antimalarial atovaquone. However, in contrast to atovaquone, which acts to inhibit the bc1 complex and block the electron transport chain in parasite mitochondria, we have determined that our new 1,4-napthoquinones act in a novel, non-bc1-dependent mechanism and remain potent against atovaquone- and chloroquine-resistant parasites. Ultimately, this study may provide new probes to understand the molecular details of the malaria life cycle and to identify new antimalarials.
PMCID: PMC2934977  PMID: 20547797
11.  Xp11 Translocation Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC): Extended Immunohistochemical Profile Emphasizing Novel RCC Markers 
Xp11 translocation renal cell carcinoma (RCC) harbor various TFE3 gene fusions, and are known to underexpress epithelial immunohistochemical (IHC) markers such as cytokeratin and EMA relative to usual adult type RCC; however, their profile in reference to other IHC markers that are differentially expressed in other subtypes of RCC has not been systematically assessed. Few therapeutic targets have been identified in these aggressive cancers. We created 2 tissue microarrays (TMA) containing five 1.4-mm cores from each of 21 Xp11 translocation RCC (all confirmed by TFE3 IHC, 6 further confirmed by genetics), 7 clear cell RCC (CCRCC), and 6 papillary RCC (PRCC). These TMA were labeled for a panel of IHC markers. In contrast to earlier published data, Xp11 translocation RCC frequently expressed renal transcription factors PAX8 (16/21 cases) and PAX2 (14/21 cases), whereas only 1 of 21 cases focally expressed MiTF and only 5 of 21 overexpressed p21. Although experimental data suggest otherwise, Xp11 translocation RCC did not express WT-1 (0/21 cases). Although 24% of Xp11 translocation RCC expressed HIF-1α (like CCRCC), unlike CCRCC CA IX expression was characteristically only focal (mean 6% cell labeling) in Xp11 translocation RCC. Other markers preferentially expressed in CCRCC or PRCC, such as HIG-2, claudin 7, and EpCAM, yielded inconsistent results in Xp11 translocation RCC. Xp11 translocation RCC infrequently expressed Ksp-cadherin (3/21 cases) and c-kit (0/21 cases), markers frequently expressed in chromophobe RCC. Using an H-score that is the product of intensity and percentage labeling, Xp11 translocation RCC expressed higher levels of phosphorylated S6, a measure of mTOR pathway activation (mean H score = 88), than did CCRCC (mean H score = 54) or PRCC (mean H score = 44). In conclusion, in contrast to prior reports, Xp11 translocation RCC usually express PAX2 and PAX8 but do not usually express MiTF. Although they may express HIF-1α, they only focally express the downstream target CA IX. They inconsistently express markers associated with other RCC subtypes, further highlighting the lack of specificity of the latter markers. TFE3 and Cathepsin K remain the most sensitive and specific markers of these neoplasms. Elevated expression of phosphorylated S6 in Xp11 translocation RCC suggests the mTOR pathway as an attractive potential therapeutic target for these neoplasms.
PMCID: PMC3449149  PMID: 20679884
TFE3; renal cell carcinoma; biomarker
12.  Small molecule, NSC95397, inhibits the CtBP1-protein partner interaction and CtBP1-mediated transcriptional repression 
Journal of biomolecular screening  2014;20(5):663-672.
Carboxyl-terminal binding protein (CtBP) is a transcriptional co-repressor that suppresses multiple pro-apoptotic and epithelial genes. CtBP is overexpressed in many human cancers and its overexpression increases stem cell-like features, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, and cancer cell survival. Knockdown of CtBP increases apoptosis independent of p53 and dramatically inhibits tumorigenesis in mouse models. Therefore, targeting CtBP with small molecules that disrupt its interaction with transcription factor partners may be an effective cancer therapy. To elicit its co-repressing effect, CtBP binds to a conserved peptide motif in each transcription factor partner. We developed an AlphaScreen high throughput screening assay to monitor the interaction between CtBP and E1A (which mimics the interaction between CtBP and its transcriptional partners). We screened the LOPAC library of 1280 bioactive compounds and identified NSC95397, which inhibits the CtBP-E1A interaction (IC50 = 2.9 μM). The inhibitory activity of NSC95397 was confirmed using two secondary assays and a counterscreen. NSC95397 also behaved as a weak substrate of CtBP dehydrogenase activity and did not inhibit another dehydrogenase, LDH. Finally, NSC95397 was able to disrupt CtBP-mediated transcriptional repression of a target gene. These studies present a new possibility for the development of a therapeutic agent targeting tumors through disrupting the CtBP transcriptional complex.
PMCID: PMC4486263  PMID: 25477201
CtBP1; NSC95397; E1A; AlphaScreen; Protein-Protein Interaction
13.  Nrf2/ARE-Mediated Antioxidant Actions of Pro-Electrophilic Drugs 
Free radical biology & medicine  2013;65:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2013.07.022.
Living cells maintain a balance between oxidation and reduction, and perturbations of this redox balance are thought to contribute to various diseases. Recent attempts to regulate redox state have focused on electrophiles (EPs), which activate potent cellular defense systems against oxidative stress. One example of this approach is exemplified by carnosic acid (CA) and carnosol (CS), compounds that are found in the herb rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). Importantly, CA and CS themselves are not electrophilic, but in response to oxidation, become electrophilic, and then activate the Keap1/Nrf2/ARE (antioxidant response element) transcription pathway to synthesize endogenous anti-oxidant ‘phase 2’ enzymes. As a result of our efforts to develop these compounds as therapeutics for brain health, we have formulated two innovative criteria for drug development: the first concept is the use of Pro-Electrophilic Drugs (PEDs) that are innocuous in and of themselves; and the second concept involves the use of compounds that are Pathologically-Activated Therapeutics (PATs), i.e., these small molecules are chemically converted to their active form by the very oxidative stress that they are designed to then combat. The chemical basis for PED and PAT drugs is embodied in the ortho- and para-hydroquinone electrophilic cores of the molecules, which are oxidized by the Cu2+/Cu+ cycling system (or potentially by other transition metals). Importantly, this cycling pathway is under stringent regulation by the cell redox state. We propose that redox-dependent quinone-formation is the predominant mechanism for formation of PED and PAT drugs from their precursor compounds. In fact, redox-dependent generation of the active form of drug from the “pro-form” distinguishes this therapeutic approach from traditional EPs such as curcumin, and results in a decrease in clinical side effects at therapeutic concentrations, e.g., lack of reaction with other thiols such as glutathione (GSH), which can result in lowering GSH and inducing oxidative stress in normal cells. We consider this pro-drug quality of PED/PAT compounds to be a key factor for generating drugs to be used to combat neurodegenerative diseases that will be clinically tolerated. Given the contribution of oxidative stress to the pathology of multiple neurodegenerative diseases, the Keap1/Nrf2/ARE pathway represents a promising drug target for these PED/PAT agents.
PMCID: PMC3859717  PMID: 23892355
Glutathione; Electrophile; Keap1; Pathologically-Activated Therapeutic; Electrophilic Counterattack
14.  Quinone-Induced Protein Handling Changes: Implications for Major Protein Handling Systems in Quinone-Mediated Toxicity 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2014;280(2):285-295.
Para-quinones such as 1,4-benzoquinone (BQ) and menadione (MD) and ortho-quinones including the oxidation products of catecholamines, are derived from xenobiotics as well as endogenous molecules. The effects of quinones on major protein handling systems in cells; the 20/26S proteasome, the ER stress response, autophagy, chaperone proteins and aggresome formation, have not been investigated in a systematic manner. Both BQ and aminochrome (AC) inhibited proteasomal activity and activated the ER stress response and autophagy in rat dopaminergic N27 cells. AC also induced aggresome formation while MD had little effect on any protein handling systems in N27 cells. The effect of NQO1 on quinone induced protein handling changes and toxicity was examined using N27 cells stably transfected with NQO1 to generate an isogenic NQO1-overexpressing line. NQO1 protected against BQ–induced apoptosis but led to a potentiation of AC- and MD-induced apoptosis. Modulation of quinone-induced apoptosis in N27 and NQO1-overexpressing cells correlated only with changes in the ER stress response and not with changes in other protein handling systems. These data suggested that NQO1 modulated the ER stress response to potentiate toxicity of AC and MD, but protected against BQ toxicity. We further demonstrated that NQO1 mediated reduction to unstable hydroquinones and subsequent redox cycling was important for the activation of the ER stress response and toxicity for both AC and MD. In summary, our data demonstrate that quinone-specific changes in protein handling are evident in N27 cells and the induction of the ER stress response is associated with quinone-mediated toxicity.
PMCID: PMC4312139  PMID: 25151970
Quinones; aminochrome; proteasomal inhibition; ER stress responses; autophagy; oxidative stress
15.  Pathway Signature and Cellular Differentiation in Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(5):e10696.
Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is the most common kidney cancer. The purpose of this study is to define a biological pathway signature and a cellular differentiation program in ccRCC.
We performed gene expression profiling of early-stage ccRCC and patient-matched normal renal tissue using Affymetrix HG-U133a and HG-U133b GeneChips combined with a comprehensive bioinformatic analyses, including pathway analysis. The results were validated by real time PCR and IHC on two independent sample sets. Cellular differentiation experiments were performed on ccRCC cell lines and their matched normal renal epithelial cells, in differentiation media, to determine their mesenchymal differentiation potential.
Principal Findings
We identified a unique pathway signature with three major biological alterations—loss of normal renal function, down-regulated metabolism, and immune activation–which revealed an adipogenic gene expression signature linked to the hallmark lipid-laden clear cell morphology of ccRCC. Culturing normal renal and ccRCC cells in differentiation media showed that only ccRCC cells were induced to undergo adipogenic and, surprisingly, osteogenic differentiation. A gene expression signature consistent with epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) was identified for ccRCC. We revealed significant down-regulation of four developmental transcription factors (GATA3, TFCP2L1, TFAP2B, DMRT2) that are important for normal renal development.
ccRCC is characterized by a lack of epithelial differentiation, mesenchymal/adipogenic transdifferentiation, and pluripotent mesenchymal stem cell-like differentiation capacity in vitro. We suggest that down-regulation of developmental transcription factors may mediate the aberrant differentiation in ccRCC. We propose a model in which normal renal epithelial cells undergo dedifferentiation, EMT, and adipogenic transdifferentiation, resulting in ccRCC. Because ccRCC cells grown in adipogenic media regain the characteristic ccRCC phenotype, we have indentified a new in vitro ccRCC cell model more resembling ccRCC tumor morphology.
PMCID: PMC2872663  PMID: 20502531
16.  A direct interaction between NQO1 and a chemotherapeutic dimeric naphthoquinone 
Multimeric naphthoquinones are redox-active compounds that exhibit antineoplastic, antiprotozoal, and antiviral activities. Due to their multimodal effect on perturbation of cellular oxidative state, these compounds hold great potential as therapeutic agents against highly proliferative neoplastic cells. In our previous work, we developed a series of novel dimeric naphthoquinones and showed that they were selectively cytotoxic to human acute myeloid leukemia (AML), breast and prostate cancer cell lines. We subsequently identified the oxidoreductase NAD(P)H dehydrogenase, quinone 1 (NQO1) as the major target of dimeric naphthoquinones and proposed a mechanism of action that entailed induction of a futile redox cycling.
Here, for the first time, we describe a direct physical interaction between the bromohydroxy dimeric naphthoquinone E6a and NQO1. Moreover, our studies reveal an extensive binding interface between E6a and the isoalloxazine ring of the flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) cofactor of NQO1 in addition to interactions with protein side chains in the active site. We also present biochemical evidence that dimeric naphthoquinones affect the redox state of the FAD cofactor of NQO1. Comparison of the mode of binding of E6a with those of other chemotherapeutics reveals unique characteristics of the interaction that can be leveraged in future drug optimization efforts.
The first structure of a dimeric naphthoquinone-NQO1 complex was reported, which can be used for design and synthesis of more potent next generation dimeric naphthoquinones to target NQO1 with higher affinity and specificity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12900-016-0052-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4730606  PMID: 26822308
NQO1; Dimeric naphthoquinone; Oxidative stress; Anti-cancer agents
17.  Combined Influence of EGF+61G>A and TGFB+869T>C Functional Polymorphisms in Renal Cell Carcinoma Progression and Overall Survival: The Link to Plasma Circulating MiR-7 and MiR-221/222 Expression 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0103258.
The epidermal growth factor (EGF) is responsible for the activation of intracellular signal transducers that act on cell-cycle progression, cell motility, angiogenesis and inhibition of apoptosis. However, cells can block these effects activating opposite signaling pathways, such as the transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGFβ1) pathway. Thus changes in expression levels of EGF and TGFB1 in renal cells might modulate the renal cell carcinoma (RCC) development, in consequence of changes in regulatory elements of signaling networks such as the microRNAs (miRNAs). Our purpose was to investigate the synergic role of EGF+61G>A and TGFB1+869T>C polymorphisms in RCC development. Genetic polymorphisms were studied by allelic discrimination using real-time PCR in 133 RCC patients vs. 443 healthy individuals. The circulating EGF/EGFR-MAPK-related miR-7, miR-221 and miR-222 expression was analyzed by a quantitative real-time PCR in plasma from 22 RCC patients vs. 27 healthy individuals. The intermediate/high genetic proliferation profile patients carriers present a significantly reduced time-to-progression and a higher risk of an early relapse compared with the low genetic proliferation profile carriers (HR = 8.8, P = 0.038) with impact in a lower overall survival (Log rank test, P = 0.047). The RCC patients presented higher circulating expression levels of miR-7 than healthy individuals (6.1-fold increase, P<0.001). Moreover, the intermediate/high genetic proliferation profile carriers present an increase in expression levels of miR-7, miR-221 and miR-222 during the RCC development and this increase is not observed in low genetic proliferation profile (P<0.001, P = 0.004, P<0.001, respectively). The stimulus to angiogenesis, cell-cycle progression and tumoral cells invasion, through activation of EGFR/MAPK signaling pathway in intermediate/high proliferation profile carriers is associated with an early disease progression, resulting in a poor overall survival. We also demonstrated that the intermediate/high proliferation profile is an unfavorable prognostic factor of RCC and miR-7, miR-221 and miR-222 expressions may be useful phenotype biomarkers of EGFR/MAPK activation.
PMCID: PMC4409046  PMID: 25909813
18.  t(6;11) Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) Expanded Immunohistochemical Profile Emphasizing Novel RCC Markers and Report of 10 New Genetically Confirmed Cases 
Renal cell carcinomas (RCCs) harboring the t(6;11)(p21;q12) translocation were first described in 2001 and recently recognized by the 2013 International Society of Uro-logical Pathology Vancouver Classification of Renal Neoplasia. Although these RCCs are known to label for melanocytic markers HMB45 and Melan A and the cysteine protease cath-epsin K by immunohistochemistry (IHC), a comprehensive IHC profile has not been reported. We report 10 new t(6;11) RCCs, all confirmed by break-apart TFEB fluorescence in situ hybridization. A tissue microarray containing 6 of these cases and 7 other previously reported t(6;11) RCCs was constructed and immunolabeled for 21 different antigens. Additional whole sections of t(6;11) RCC were labeled with selected IHC markers. t(6;11) RCC labeled diffusely and consistently for cathepsin K and Melan A (13 of 13 cases) and almost always at least focally for HMB45 (12 of 13 cases). They labeled frequently for PAX8 (14 of 23 cases), CD117 (10 of 14 cases), and vimentin (9 of 13 cases). A majority of cases labeled at least focally for cytokeratin Cam5.2 (8 of 13 cases) and CD10 and RCC marker antigen (10 of 14 cases each). In contrast to a prior study's findings, only a minority of cases labeled for Ksp-cadherin (3 of 19 cases). The median H score (product of intensity score and percentage labeling) for phosphorylated S6, a marker of mTOR pathway activation, was 101, which is high relative to most other RCC subtypes. In summary, IHC labeling for PAX8, Cam5.2, CD10, and RCC marker antigen supports classification of the t(6;11) RCC as carcinomas despite frequent negativity for broad-spectrum cytokeratins and EMA. Labeling for PAX8 distinguishes the t(6;11) RCC from epithelioid angiomyolipoma, which otherwise shares a similar immunoprofile. CD117 labeling is more frequent in the t(6;11) RCC compared with the related Xp11 translocation RCC. Increased pS6 expression suggests a possible molecular target for the uncommon t(6;11) RCCs that metastasize.
PMCID: PMC4370182  PMID: 24618616
renal cell carcinoma; biomarkers; TFEB
19.  DNA cleavage by hydroxy-salicylidene-ethylendiamine-iron complexes. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1999;27(21):4160-4166.
Bis(hydroxy)salen.Fe complexes were designed as self-activated chemical nucleases. The presence of a hy-droxyl group on the two salicylidene moieties serve to form a hydroquinone system cooperating with the iron redox system to facilitate spontaneous formation of free radicals. We compared the DNA binding and cleaving properties of the ortho -, meta- and para -(bishydroxy) salen.Fe complexes with that of the corresponding chelate lacking the hydroxyl groups. DNA melting temperature studies indicated that the para complex exhibits the highest affinity for DNA. In addition, this para compound was considerably more potent at cleaving supercoiled plasmid DNA than the regio-isomeric ortho - and meta -hydroxy-salen.Fe complexes, even in the absence of a reducing agent, such as dithiothreitol used to activate the metal complex. The DNA cleaving activity of the para isomer is both time and concentration dependent and the complexed iron atom is absolutely essential for the sequence uniform cleavage of DNA. From a mechanistic point of view, electron spin resonance measurements suggest that DNA contributes positively to the activation of the semi-quinone system and the production of ligand radical species responsible for subsequent strand scission in the absence of a reducing agent. The para -hydroxy-salen.Fe complex has been used for detecting sequence-specific drug-DNA interactions. Specific binding of Hoechst 33258 to AT sequences and chromomycin to GC sequences were shown. The para -bis(hydroxy)salen.Fe derivative complements the tool box of footprinting reagents which can be utilised to produce efficient cleavage of DNA.
PMCID: PMC148689  PMID: 10518606
20.  2′-Hydroxyflavanone inhibits proliferation, tumor vascularization and promotes normal differentiation in VHL-mutant renal cell carcinoma 
Carcinogenesis  2011;32(4):568-575.
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is one of the top ten cancers prevalent in USA. Loss-of-function mutations in the von Hippel–Lindau (VHL) gene constitute an established risk factor contributing to 75% of total reported cases of RCC. Loss-of-VHL leads to a highly vascularized phenotype of renal tumors. Intake of citrus fruits has been proven to reduce the risk of RCC in multicenter international studies. Hence, we studied the effect of 2′-hydroxyflavanone (2HF), an active anticancer compound from oranges, in RCC. Our in vitro investigations revealed that 2HF suppresses VHL-mutant RCC to a significantly greater extent than VHL-wild-type RCC by inhibiting epidermal growth factor receptor signaling, which is increased due to VHL mutations in RCC. Our results also revealed for the first time, that 2HF inhibits glutathione S-transferase pi activity. 2HF reduced cyclin B1 and CDK4 levels and induced G2/M phase arrest in VHL-mutant RCC. Importantly, 2HF inhibited the angiogenesis in VHL-mutant RCC by decreasing vascular endothelial growth factor expression. Our in vivo studies in mice xenografts confirmed our in vitro results as evident by decreased levels of proliferation marker, Ki67 and angiogenic marker, CD31, in 2HF-treated mice xenografts of VHL-mutant RCC. 2HF also increased the expression of E-cadherin in VHL-mutant RCC, which would be of significance in restoring normal epithelial phenotype. Collectively, our in vitro and in vivo results revealed the potent antiproliferative, anti-angiogenic and prodifferentiation properties of 2HF in VHL-mutant RCC, sparing normal cells, which could have significant implications not only in the specific management of VHL-mutant RCC but also towards other VHL syndromes.
PMCID: PMC3066423  PMID: 21304051
21.  Metabolic profiling reveals key metabolic features of renal cell carcinoma 
Recent evidence suggests that metabolic changes play a pivotal role in the biology of cancer and in particular renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Here, a global metabolite profiling approach was applied to characterize the metabolite pool of RCC and normal renal tissue. Advanced decision tree models were applied to characterize the metabolic signature of RCC and to explore features of metastasized tumours. The findings were validated in a second independent dataset. Vitamin E derivates and metabolites of glucose, fatty acid, and inositol phosphate metabolism determined the metabolic profile of RCC. α-tocopherol, hippuric acid, myoinositol, fructose-1-phosphate and glucose-1-phosphate contributed most to the tumour/normal discrimination and all showed pronounced concentration changes in RCC. The identified metabolic profile was characterized by a low recognition error of only 5% for tumour versus normal samples. Data on metastasized tumours suggested a key role for metabolic pathways involving arachidonic acid, free fatty acids, proline, uracil and the tricarboxylic acid cycle. These results illustrate the potential of mass spectroscopy based metabolomics in conjunction with sophisticated data analysis methods to uncover the metabolic phenotype of cancer. Differentially regulated metabolites, such as vitamin E compounds, hippuric acid and myoinositol, provide leads for the characterization of novel pathways in RCC.
PMCID: PMC3822498  PMID: 19845817
kidney cancer; metabolism; metabolomics; metastasis
22.  Inhibition of angiogenic and non-angiogenic targets by sorafenib in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) in a RCC xenograft model 
British Journal of Cancer  2011;104(6):941-947.
It is widely recognised that sorafenib inhibits a range of molecular targets in renal cell carcinoma (RCC). In this study, we aim to use patient-derived RCC xenografts to delineate the angiogenic and non-angiogenic molecular targets of sorafenib therapy for advanced RCC (aRCC).
We successfully generated three patient RCC-derived xenografts in severe combined immunodeficient mice, consisting of three different RCC histological subtypes: conventional clear cell, poorly differentiated clear cell RCC with sarcomatoid changes, and papillary RCC. This study also used clear cell RCC cells (786-0/EV) harbouring mutant VHL to investigate the clonogenic survival of cells transfected with survivin sense and antisense oligonucleotides.
All three xenografts retain their original histological characteristics. We reported that sorafenib inhibited all three RCC xenograft lines regardless of histological subtypes in a dose-dependant manner. Sorafenib-induced growth suppression was associated with not only inhibition of angiogenic targets p-PDGFR-β, p-VEGFR-2, and their downstream signalling pathways p-Akt and p-ERK, cell cycle, and anti-apoptotic proteins that include cyclin D1, cyclin B1, and survivin but also upregulation of proapoptotic Bim. Survivin knockdown by survivin-specific antisense-oligonucleotides inhibited colony formation and induced cell death in clear cell RCC cells.
This study has shed light on the molecular mechanisms of sorafenib in RCC. Inhibition of non-angiogenic molecules by sorafenib could contribute in part to its anti-tumour activities observed in vivo, in addition to its anti-angiogenic effects.
PMCID: PMC3065286  PMID: 21407223
renal cell carcinoma; sorafenib; molecular targeted therapy; xenograft; survivin
23.  A Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma Inhibiting the Response to Intravitreal Antivascular Endothelial Growth Factor Therapy in Wet Age-Related Macular Disease 
Case Reports in Ophthalmology  2012;3(3):443-451.
Wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an ocular disorder that can be successfully treated with intravitreal antivascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy. We report a case of incomplete response to intravitreal therapy associated with a clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC).
A 72-year-old male with wet AMD responded poorly to intravitreal bevacizumab and ranibizumab injections. The removal of a ccRCC led to the spontaneous stabilization of the choroidal neovascular lesion. The renal carcinoma was examined for Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene alterations. Immunohistochemical profiling of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) pathway addressing the marker HIF-1α and its downstream targets VEGF, glucose transporter 1 and carbonic anhydrase IX was performed.
Genotyping of the ccRCC revealed the presence of a truncating VHL mutation (p.E134fs*25). Immunohistochemistry displayed HIF pathway target activation and VEGF expression in the ccRCC tumour cells. Following tumour removal, the neovascular lesion remained stable for 6 months without any further anti-VEGF therapy.
The somatic VHL mutation correlates with persistent high levels of HIF-1α pathway targets and VEGF expression in the ccRCC. We postulate that this increased VEGF in the tumour and subsequently in the plasma levels could have caused the incomplete response to intravitreal anti-VEGF therapy. Stabilization of the wet AMD following tumour removal indicates that the angiogenic secreting tumour (ccRCC) abrogates the response to VEGF inhibitor therapy. Thus, in cases of poor response to intravitreal anti-VEGF therapy, systemic evaluation including plasma levels of VEGF and/or systemic screening for VEGF-producing tumours should be considered.
PMCID: PMC3551387  PMID: 23341823
Wet age-related macular degeneration; Vascular endothelial growth factor; Von Hippel-Lindau; Renal cell carcinoma; Pseudohypoxia; Bevacizumab; Ranibizumab
24.  Dual Neuroprotective Pathways of a Pro-Electrophilic Compound via HSF-1-activated Heat Shock Proteins and Nrf2-activated Phase 2 Antioxidant Response Enzymes 
Journal of neurochemistry  2011;119(3):569-578.
Activation of the Keap1/Nrf2 pathway and consequent induction of phase 2 antioxidant enzymes is known to afford neuroprotection. Here, we present a series of novel electrophilic compounds that protect neurons via this pathway. Natural products, such as carnosic acid (CA), are present in high amounts in the herbs rosemary and sage as ortho-dihydroquinones, and have attracted particular attention because they are converted by oxidative stress to their active form (ortho-quinone species) that stimulate the Keap1/Nrf2 transcriptional pathway. Once activated, this pathway leads to the production of a series of antioxidant phase 2 enzymes. Thus, such dihydroquinones function as redox-activated “pro-electrophiles.” Here, we explored the concept that related para-dihydroquinones represent even more effective bioactive pro-electrophiles for the induction of phase 2 enzymes without producing toxic side effects. We synthesized several novel para-hydroquinone-type pro-electrophilic compounds (designated D1 and D2) in order to analyze their protective mechanism. DNA microarray, PCR, and Western blot analyses showed that compound D1 induced expression of heat-shock proteins (HSPs), including HSP70, HSP27 and DnaJ, in addition to phase 2 enzymes such as hemeoxygenase-1 (HO-1), NADP(H) quinine-oxidoreductase1, and the Na+-independent cystine/glutamate exchanger. Treatment with D1 resulted in activation of Nrf2 and HSF-1 transcriptional elements, thus inducing phase 2 enzymes and HSPs, respectively. In this manner, D1 protected neuronal cells from both oxidative and endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-related stress. Additionally, D1 suppressed induction of GRP78, an ER chaperone protein, and inhibited hyperoxidation of peroxiredoxin 2 (PRX2), a molecule that in it reduced state can protect from oxidative stress. These results suggest that D1 is a novel pro-electrophilic compound that activates both the Nrf2 and HSF-1 pathways, and may thus offer protection from oxidative and ER stress.
PMCID: PMC4580255  PMID: 21883218
25.  Novel Cell-Based Hepatitis C Virus Infection Assay for Quantitative High-Throughput Screening of Anti-Hepatitis C Virus Compounds 
Therapy for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has advanced with the recent approval of direct-acting antivirals in combination with peginterferon and ribavirin. New antivirals with novel targets are still needed to further improve the treatment of hepatitis C. Previously reported screening methods for HCV inhibitors either are limited to a virus-specific function or apply a screening method at a single dose, which usually leads to high false-positive or -negative rates. We developed a quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS) assay platform with a cell-based HCV infection system. This highly sensitive assay can be miniaturized to a 1,536-well format for screening of large chemical libraries. All candidates are screened over a 7-concentration dose range to give EC50s (compound concentrations at 50% efficacy) and dose-response curves. Using this assay format, we screened a library of pharmacologically active compounds (LOPAC). Based on the profile of dose-dependent curves of HCV inhibition and cytotoxicity, 22 compounds with adequate curves and EC50s of <10 μM were selected for validation. In two additional independent assays, 17 of them demonstrated specific inhibition of HCV infection. Ten potential candidates with efficacies of >70% and CC50s (compound concentrations at 50% cytotoxicity) of <30 μM from these validated hits were characterized for their target stages in the HCV replication cycle. In this screen, we identified both known and novel hits with diverse structural and functional features targeting various stages of the HCV replication cycle. The pilot screen demonstrates that this assay system is highly robust and effective in identifying novel HCV inhibitors and that it can be readily applied to large-scale screening of small-molecule libraries.
PMCID: PMC3910886  PMID: 24277038

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