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1.  An evolutionary analysis of cAMP-specific Phosphodiesterase 4 alternative splicing 
Cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases (PDEs) hydrolyze the intracellular second messengers: cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and cyclic guanine monophosphate (cGMP). The cAMP-specific PDE family 4 (PDE4) is widely expressed in vertebrates. Each of the four PDE4 gene isoforms (PDE4 A-D) undergo extensive alternative splicing via alternative transcription initiation sites, producing unique amino termini and yielding multiple splice variant forms from each gene isoform termed long, short, super-short and truncated super-short. Many species across the vertebrate lineage contain multiple splice variants of each gene type, which are characterized by length and amino termini.
A phylogenetic approach was used to visualize splice variant form genesis and identify conserved splice variants (genome conservation with EST support) across the vertebrate taxa. Bayesian and maximum likelihood phylogenetic inference indicated PDE4 gene duplication occurred at the base of the vertebrate lineage and reveals additional gene duplications specific to the teleost lineage. Phylogenetic inference and PDE4 splice variant presence, or absence as determined by EST screens, were further supported by the genomic analysis of select vertebrate taxa. Two conserved PDE4 long form splice variants were found in each of the PDE4A, PDE4B, and PDE4C genes, and eight conserved long forms from the PDE4 D gene. Conserved short and super-short splice variants were found from each of the PDE4A, PDE4B, and PDE4 D genes, while truncated super-short variants were found from the PDE4C and PDE4 D genes. PDE4 long form splice variants were found in all taxa sampled (invertebrate through mammals); short, super-short, and truncated super-short are detected primarily in tetrapods and mammals, indicating an increasing complexity in both alternative splicing and cAMP metabolism through vertebrate evolution.
There was a progressive independent incorporation of multiple PDE4 splice variant forms and amino termini, increasing PDE4 proteome complexity from primitive vertebrates to humans. While PDE4 gene isoform duplicates with limited alternative splicing were found in teleosts, an expansion of both PDE4 splice variant forms, and alternatively spliced amino termini predominantly occurs in mammals. Since amino termini have been linked to intracellular targeting of the PDE4 enzymes, the conservation of amino termini in PDE4 splice variants in evolution highlights the importance of compartmentalization of PDE4-mediated cAMP hydrolysis.
PMCID: PMC2929239  PMID: 20701803
2.  Rank-based genome-wide analysis reveals the association of Ryanodine receptor-2 gene variants with childhood asthma among human populations 
Human Genomics  2013;7(1):16.
The standard approach to determine unique or shared genetic factors across populations is to identify risk alleles in one population and investigate replication in others. However, since populations differ in DNA sequence information, allele frequencies, effect sizes, and linkage disequilibrium patterns, SNP association using a uniform stringent threshold on p values may not be reproducible across populations. Here, we developed rank-based methods to investigate shared or population-specific loci and pathways for childhood asthma across individuals of diverse ancestry. We performed genome-wide association studies on 859,790 SNPs genotyped in 527 affected offspring trios of European, African, and Hispanic ancestry using publically available asthma database in the Genotypes and Phenotypes database.
Rank-based analyses showed that there are shared genetic factors for asthma across populations, more at the gene and pathway levels than at the SNP level. Although the top 1,000 SNPs were not shared, 11 genes (RYR2, PDE4D, CSMD1, CDH13, ROBO2, RBFOX1, PTPRD, NPAS3, PDE1C, SEMA5A, and CTNNA2) mapped by these SNPs were shared across populations. Ryanodine receptor 2 (RYR2, a statin response-related gene) showed the strongest association in European (p value = 2.55 × 10−7) and was replicated in African (2.57 × 10−4) and Hispanic (1.18 × 10−3) Americans. Imputation analyses based on the 1000 Genomes Project uncovered additional RYR2 variants associated with asthma. Network and functional ontology analyses revealed that RYR2 is an integral part of dermatological or allergic disorder biological networks, specifically in the functional classes involving inflammatory, eosinophilic, and respiratory diseases.
Our rank-based genome-wide analysis revealed for the first time an association of RYR2 variants with asthma and replicated previously discovered PDE4D asthma gene across human populations. The replication of top-ranked asthma genes across populations suggests that such loci are less likely to be false positives and could indicate true associations. Variants that are associated with asthma across populations could be used to identify individuals who are at high risk for asthma regardless of genetic ancestry.
PMCID: PMC3708719  PMID: 23829686
Asthma; GWAS; Ancestry; Trans-ancestral analysis; Rank analysis; Imputation; dbGaP; 1000 Genomes project; Networks/pathways, RYR2
3.  Analyses of shared genetic factors between asthma and obesity in children 
Epidemiological studies consistently show associations between asthma and obesity. Shared genetics may account for this association.
To identify genetic variants associated with both asthma and obesity.
Based on a literature search, we identified genes from: 1) Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of Body Mass Index (BMI) (n=17 genes), 2) GWAS of asthma (n=14) and 3) candidate gene studies of BMI and asthma (n=7). We used GWAS data from the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP) to analyze associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in these genes and asthma (n=359 subjects) and BMI (n=537).
One top BMI GWAS SNP from the literature, rs10938397 near GNPDA2, was associated with both BMI (p=4 × 10−4) and asthma (p=0.03). Of the top asthma GWAS SNPs and the candidate gene SNPs, none was found to be associated with both BMI and asthma. Gene-based analyses that included all available SNPs in each gene found associations (p<0.05) with both phenotypes for several genes: NEGR1, ROBO1, DGKG, FAIM2, FTO and CHST8 among the BMI GWAS genes; ILRL1/IL18R1, DPP10, PDE4D, MYB, PDE10A, IL33 and especially PTPRD among the asthma GWAS genes; and PRKCA among the BMI and asthma candidate genes.
SNPs within several genes showed associations to BMI and asthma at a gene level, but none of these associations were significant after correction for multiple testing. Our analysis of known candidate genes reveals some evidence for shared genetics between asthma and obesity, but other shared genetic determinants are likely to be identified in novel loci.
PMCID: PMC2941152  PMID: 20816195
Association; Asthma; BMI; Children; Genetics; GWAS; Obesity; Polymorphism; SNP
4.  Haplotype Analysis of the Promoter Region of Phosphodiesterase Type 8B (PDE8B) in Correlation with Inactivating PDE8B Mutation and the Serum Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone Levels 
Thyroid  2010;20(4):363-367.
Human phosphodiesterase (PDE) type 8B (PDE8B) is located at 5q14.1 and is known as the PDE with the highest affinity to cAMP. We recently described a family with bilateral micronodular adrenocortical disease that was apparently caused by an inactivating PDE8B mutation (H305P). As a result of a genome-wide study, a strong association between six polymorphic variants in the PDE8B promoter and serum levels of the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) has been recently reported. Despite an extended analysis of the regions surrounding 5q14.1, no other potential genetic variants that could be responsible for the associated TSH levels were found.
In this study, we genotyped by polymerase chain reaction the described six polymorphic variants in the PDE8B promoter in the family with micronodular adrenocortical disease and inactivating PDE8B mutation and analyzed their correlation with individual TSH values in the family members.
We observed complete segregation between the reported association and individual TSH values in the family we studied. Haplotype analysis showed that the haplotype associated with the high TSH levels is different from the one that segregated with H305P, suggesting that the mutation most probably has arisen on an allele independent of the high TSH-associated allele.
The proposed mechanism by which PDE8B may influence TSH levels is through control of cAMP signaling. Our analysis revealed separate segregation of an inactivating PDE8B allele from the high-TSH-allele and showed low TSH levels in persons who carry an inactivating PDE8B allele. These data suggest that, indeed, PDE8B may be involved in regulation of TSH levels.
PMCID: PMC2867554  PMID: 20373981
5.  Phosphodiesterase 4B is essential for TH2-cell function and development of airway hyperresponsiveness in allergic asthma 
Cyclic AMP (cAMP) signaling modulates functions of inflammatory cells involved in the pathogenesis of asthma, and type 4 cAMP-specific phosphodiesterases (PDE4s) are essential components of this pathway. Induction of the PDE4 isoform PDE4B is necessary for Toll-like receptor signaling in monocytes and macrophages and is associated with T cell receptor/CD3 in T cells; however, its exact physiological function in the development of allergic asthma remains undefined.
We investigated the role of PDE4B in the development of allergen-induced airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and TH2-driven inflammatory responses.
Wild-type and PDE4B−/− mice were sensitized and challenged with ovalbumin and AHR measured in response to inhaled methacholine. Airway inflammation was characterized by analyzing leukocyte infiltration and cytokine accumulation in the airways. Ovalbumin-stimulated cell proliferation and TH2 cytokine production were determined in cultured bronchial lymph node cells.
Mice deficient in PDE4B do not develop AHR. This protective effect was associated with a significant decrease in eosinophils recruitment to the lungs and decreased TH2 cytokine levels in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Defects in T-cell replication, TH2 cytokine production, and dendritic cell migration were evident in cells from the airway-draining lymph nodes. Conversely, accumulation of the TH1 cytokine IFN-γ was not affected in PDE4B−/− mice. Ablation of the orthologous PDE4 gene PDE4A has no impact on airway inflammation.
By relieving a cAMP-negative constraint, PDE4B plays an essential role in TH2-cell activation and dendritic cell recruitment during airway inflammation. These findings provide proof of concept that PDE4 inhibitors with PDE4B selectivity may have efficacy in asthma treatment.
PMCID: PMC3002752  PMID: 21047676
Asthma; PDE4B; TH2 cytokines; airway hyperresponsiveness; airway inflammation; cAMP signaling
6.  Whole-exome sequencing of a pedigree segregating asthma 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:95.
Despite the success of genome-wide association studies for asthma, few, if any, definitively causal variants have been identified and there is still a substantial portion of the heritability of the disease yet to be discovered. Some of this “missing heritability” may be accounted for by family-specific coding variants found to be segregating with asthma.
To identify family-specific variants segregating with asthma, we recruited one family from a previous study of asthma as reporting multiple asthmatic and non-asthmatic children. We performed whole-exome sequencing on all four children and both parents and identified coding variants segregating with asthma that were not found in other variant databases.
Ten novel variants were identified that were found in the two affected offspring and affected mother, but absent in the unaffected father and two unaffected offspring. Of these ten, variants in three genes (PDE4DIP, CBLB, and KALRN) were deemed of particular interest based on their functional prediction scores and previously reported function or asthma association. We did not identify any common risk variants segregating with asthma, however, we did observe an increase in the number of novel, nonsynonymous variants in asthma candidate genes in the asthmatic children compared to the non-asthmatic children.
This is the first report applying exome sequencing to identify asthma susceptibility variants. Despite having sequenced only one family segregating asthma, we have identified several potentially functional variants in interesting asthma candidate genes. This will provide the basis for future work in which more families will be sequenced to identify variants across families that cluster within genes.
PMCID: PMC3563469  PMID: 23046476
Asthma; Whole-exome sequencing; PDE4DIP; CBLB; KALRN
7.  Association between ORMDL3, IL1RL1 and a deletion on chromosome 17q21 with asthma risk in Australia 
Genome-wide association studies followed by replication provide a powerful approach to map genetic risk factors for asthma. We sought to search for new variants associated with asthma and attempt to replicate the association with four loci reported previously (ORMDL3, PDE4D, DENND1B and IL1RL1). Genome-wide association analyses of individual single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), rare copy number variants (CNVs) and overall CNV burden were carried out in 986 asthma cases and 1846 asthma-free controls from Australia. The most-associated locus in the SNP analysis was ORMDL3 (rs6503525, P=4.8 × 10−7). Five other loci were associated with P<10−5, most notably the chemokine CXC motif ligand 14 (CXCL14) gene (rs31263, P=7.8 × 10−6). We found no evidence for association with the specific risk variants reported recently for PDE4D, DENND1B and ILR1L1. However, a variant in IL1RL1 that is in low linkage disequilibrium with that reported previously was associated with asthma risk after accounting for all variants tested (rs10197862, gene wide P=0.01). This association replicated convincingly in an independent cohort (P=2.4 × 10−4). A 300-kb deletion on chromosome 17q21 was associated with asthma risk, but this did not reach experiment-wide significance. Asthma cases and controls had comparable CNV rates, length and number of genes affected by deletions or duplications. In conclusion, we confirm the association between asthma risk and variants in ORMDL3 and identify a novel risk variant in IL1RL1. Follow-up of the 17q21 deletion in larger cohorts is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3060316  PMID: 21150878
whole-genome; gene; atopy; heterogeneity; structural; IKZF3
8.  Expression analysis of asthma candidate genes during human and murine lung development 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):86.
Little is known about the role of most asthma susceptibility genes during human lung development. Genetic determinants for normal lung development are not only important early in life, but also for later lung function.
To investigate the role of expression patterns of well-defined asthma susceptibility genes during human and murine lung development. We hypothesized that genes influencing normal airways development would be over-represented by genes associated with asthma.
Asthma genes were first identified via comprehensive search of the current literature. Next, we analyzed their expression patterns in the developing human lung during the pseudoglandular (gestational age, 7-16 weeks) and canalicular (17-26 weeks) stages of development, and in the complete developing lung time series of 3 mouse strains: A/J, SW, C57BL6.
In total, 96 genes with association to asthma in at least two human populations were identified in the literature. Overall, there was no significant over-representation of the asthma genes among genes differentially expressed during lung development, although trends were seen in the human (Odds ratio, OR 1.22, confidence interval, CI 0.90-1.62) and C57BL6 mouse (OR 1.41, CI 0.92-2.11) data. However, differential expression of some asthma genes was consistent in both developing human and murine lung, e.g. NOD1, EDN1, CCL5, RORA and HLA-G. Among the asthma genes identified in genome wide association studies, ROBO1, RORA, HLA-DQB1, IL2RB and PDE10A were differentially expressed during human lung development.
Our data provide insight about the role of asthma susceptibility genes during lung development and suggest common mechanisms underlying lung morphogenesis and pathogenesis of respiratory diseases.
PMCID: PMC3141421  PMID: 21699702
Asthma; Development; Expression; Genetics; Lung
9.  Association of Adenotonsillectomy with Asthma Outcomes in Children: A Longitudinal Database Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(11):e1001753.
Rakesh Bhattacharjee and colleagues use data from a US private health insurance database to compare asthma severity measures in children one year before and one year after they underwent adenotonsillectomy with asthma measures in those who did not undergo adenotonsillectomy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Childhood asthma and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), both disorders of airway inflammation, were associated in recent observational studies. Although childhood OSA is effectively treated by adenotonsillectomy (AT), it remains unclear whether AT also improves childhood asthma. We hypothesized that AT, the first line of therapy for childhood OSA, would be associated with improved asthma outcomes and would reduce the usage of asthma therapies in children.
Methods and Findings
Using the 2003–2010 MarketScan database, we identified 13,506 children with asthma in the United States who underwent AT. Asthma outcomes during 1 y preceding AT were compared to those during 1 y following AT. In addition, 27,012 age-, sex-, and geographically matched children with asthma without AT were included to examine asthma outcomes among children without known adenotonsillar tissue morbidity. Primary outcomes included the occurrence of a diagnostic code for acute asthma exacerbation (AAE) or acute status asthmaticus (ASA). Secondary outcomes included temporal changes in asthma medication prescriptions, the frequency of asthma-related emergency room visits (ARERs), and asthma-related hospitalizations (ARHs). Comparing the year following AT to the year prior, AT was associated with significant reductions in AAE (30.2%; 95% CI: 25.6%–34.3%; p<0.0001), ASA (37.9%; 95% CI: 29.2%–45.6%; p<0.0001), ARERs (25.6%; 95% CI: 16.9%–33.3%; p<0.0001), and ARHs (35.8%; 95% CI: 19.6%–48.7%; p = 0.02). Moreover, AT was associated with significant reductions in most asthma prescription refills, including bronchodilators (16.7%; 95% CI: 16.1%–17.3%; p<0.001), inhaled corticosteroids (21.5%; 95% CI: 20.7%–22.3%; p<0.001), leukotriene receptor antagonists (13.4%; 95% CI: 12.9%–14.0%; p<0.001), and systemic corticosteroids (23.7%; 95% CI: 20.9%–26.5%; p<0.001). In contrast, there were no significant reductions in these outcomes in children with asthma who did not undergo AT over an overlapping follow-up period. Limitations of the MarketScan database include lack of information on race and obesity status. Also, the MarketScan database does not include information on children with public health insurance (i.e., Medicaid) or uninsured children.
In a very large sample of privately insured children, AT was associated with significant improvements in several asthma outcomes. Contingent on validation through prospectively designed clinical trials, this study supports the premise that detection and treatment of adenotonsillar tissue morbidity may serve as an important strategy for improving asthma control.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The global burden of asthma has been rising steadily over the past few decades. Nowadays, about 200–300 million adults and children worldwide are affected by asthma, a chronic condition caused by inflammation of the airways (the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs). Although asthma can develop at any age, it is often diagnosed in childhood—asthma is one of the commonest chronic diseases in children. In the US, for example, asthma affects around 7.1 million children under the age of 18 years and is the third leading cause of hospitalization of children under the age of 15 years. In people with asthma, the airways can react very strongly to allergens such as animal fur or to irritants such as cigarette smoke. Exercise, cold air, and infections can trigger asthma attacks, which can be fatal. The symptoms of asthma include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Asthma cannot be cured, but drugs can relieve its symptoms and prevent acute asthma attacks.
Why Was This Study Done?
Recent studies have found an association between severe childhood asthma and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In OSA, airway inflammation promotes hypertrophy (excess growth) of the adenoids and the tonsils, immune system tissues in the upper airway. During sleep, the presence of hypertrophic adenotonsillar tissues predisposes the walls of the throat to collapse, which results in apnea—a brief interruption in breathing. People with OSA often snore loudly and frequently wake from deep sleep as they struggle to breathe. Childhood OSA, which affects 2%–3% of children, can be effectively treated by removal of the adenoids and tonsils (adenotonsillectomy). Given the association between childhood OSA and severe asthma and given the involvement of airway inflammation in both conditions, might adenotonsillectomy also improve childhood asthma? Here, the researchers analyze data from the MarketScan database, a large database of US patients with private health insurance, to investigate whether adenotonsillectomy is associated with improvements in asthma outcomes and with reductions in the use of asthma therapies in children.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the database to identify 13,506 children with asthma who had undergone adenotonsillectomy and to obtain information about asthma outcomes among these children for the year before and the year after the operation. Because asthma severity tends to decrease with age, the researchers also used the database to identify 27,012 age-, sex-, and geographically matched children with asthma who did not have the operation so that they could examine asthma outcomes over an equivalent two-year period in the absence of complications related to adenotonsillar hypertrophy. Comparing the year after adenotonsillectomy with the year before the operation, adenotonsillectomy was associated with a 30% reduction in acute asthma exacerbations, a 37.9% reduction in acute status asthmaticus (an asthma attack that is unresponsive to the drugs usually used to treat attacks), a 25.6% reduction in asthma-related emergency room visits, and a 35.8% reduction in asthma-related hospitalizations. By contrast, among the control children, there was only a 2% reduction in acute asthma exacerbations and only a 7% reduction in acute status asthmaticus over an equivalent two-year period. Adenotonsillectomy was also associated with significant reductions (changes unlikely to have occurred by chance) in prescription refills for most types of drugs used to treat asthma, whereas there were no significant reductions in prescription refills among children with asthma who had not undergone adenotonsillectomy. The study was limited by the lack of measures of race and obesity, which are both associated with severity of asthma.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that in a large sample of privately insured children in the US, adenotonsillectomy was associated with significant improvements in several asthma outcomes. These results do not show, however, that adenotonsillectomy caused a reduction in the severity of childhood asthma. It could be that the children who underwent adenotonsillectomy (but not those who did not have the operation) shared another unknown factor that led to improvements in their asthma over time. To prove a causal link, it will be necessary to undertake a randomized controlled trial in which the outcomes of groups of children with asthma who are chosen at random to undergo or not undergo adenotonsillectomy are compared. However, with the proviso that there are some risks associated with adenotonsillectomy, these findings suggest that the detection and treatment of adenotonsillar hypertrophy may help to improve asthma control in children.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on asthma, including videos, games, and links to other resources for children with asthma
The American Lung Association provides detailed information about asthma and a fact sheet on asthma in children; it also has information about obstructive sleep apnea
The National Sleep Foundation provides information on snoring and obstructive sleep apnea in children
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including some personal stories) about asthma, about asthma in children, and about obstructive sleep apnea
The “Global Asthma Report 2014” will be available in October 2014
MedlinePlus provides links to further information on asthma, on asthma in children, on sleep apnea, and on tonsils and adenoids (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC4219664  PMID: 25369282
10.  Functional Rescue of Degenerating Photoreceptors in Mice Homozygous for a Hypomorphic cGMP Phosphodiesterase 6 b Allele (Pde6bH620Q) 
Approximately 8% of autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa (RP) cases worldwide are due to defects in rod-specific phosphodiesterase PDE6, a tetramer consisting of catalytic (PDE6α and PDE6β) and two regulatory (PDE6γ) subunits. In mice homozygous for a nonsense Pde6brd1 allele, absence of PDE6 activity is associated with retinal disease similar to humans. Although studied for 80 years, the rapid degeneration Pde6brd1 phenotype has limited analyses and therapeutic modeling. Moreover, this model does not represent human RP involving PDE6B missense mutations. In the current study the mouse missense allele, Pde6bH620Q was characterized further.
Photoreceptor degeneration in Pde6bH620Q homozygotes was documented by histochemistry, whereas PDE6β expression and activity were monitored by immunoblotting and cGMP assays. To measure changes in rod physiology, electroretinograms and intracellular Ca2+ recording were performed. To test the effectiveness of gene therapy, Opsin::Pde6b lentivirus was subretinally injected into Pde6bH620Q homozygotes.
Within 3 weeks of birth, the Pde6bH620Q homozygotes displayed relatively normal photoreceptors, but by 7 weeks degeneration was largely complete. Before degeneration, PDE6β expression and PDE6 activity were reduced. Although light-/dark-adapted total cGMP levels appeared normal, Pde6bH620Q homozygotes exhibited depressed rod function and elevated outer segment Ca2+. Transduction with Opsin::Pde6b lentivirus resulted in histologic and functional rescue of photoreceptors.
Pde6bH620Q homozygous mice exhibit a hypomorphic phenotype with partial PDE6 activity that may result in an increased Ca2+ to promote photoreceptor death. As degeneration in Pde6bH620Q mutants is slower than in Pde6brd1 mice and can be suppressed by Pde6b transduction, this Pde6bH620Q model may provide an alternate means to explore new treatments of RP.
PMCID: PMC2715364  PMID: 18658088
11.  Defining the contribution of SNPs identified in asthma GWAS to clinical variables in asthmatic children 
BMC Medical Genetics  2013;14:100.
Asthma genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified several asthma susceptibility genes with confidence; however the relative contribution of these genetic variants or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to clinical endpoints (as opposed to disease diagnosis) remains largely unknown. Thus the aim of this study was to firstly bridge this gap in knowledge and secondly investigate whether these SNPs or those that are in linkage disequilibrium are likely to be functional candidates with respect to regulation of gene expression, using reported data from the ENCODE project.
Eleven of the key SNPs identified in eight loci from recent asthma GWAS were evaluated for association with asthma and clinical outcomes, including percent predicted FEV1, bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) to methacholine, severity defined by British Thoracic Society steps and positive response to skin prick test, using the family based association test additive model in a well characterised UK cohort consisting of 370 families with at least two asthmatic children.
GSDMB SNP rs2305480 (Ser311Pro) was associated with asthma diagnosis (p = 8.9×10-4), BHR (p = 8.2×10-4) and severity (p = 1.5×10-4) with supporting evidence from a second GSDMB SNP rs11078927 (intronic). SNPs evaluated in IL33, IL18R1, IL1RL1, SMAD3, IL2RB, PDE4D, CRB1 and RAD50 did not show association with any phenotype tested when corrected for multiple testing. Analysis using ENCODE data provides further insight into the functional relevance of these SNPs.
Our results provide further support for the role of GSDMB SNPs in determining multiple asthma related phenotypes in childhood asthma including associations with lung function and disease severity.
PMCID: PMC3849932  PMID: 24066901
Asthma; ENCODE; eQTL; GWAS; Clinical endpoints
12.  Concerted Regulation of cGMP and cAMP Phosphodiesterases in Early Cardiac Hypertrophy Induced by Angiotensin II 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e14227.
Left ventricular hypertrophy leads to heart failure and represents a high risk leading to premature death. Cyclic nucleotides (cAMP and cGMP) play a major role in heart contractility and cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases (PDEs) are involved in different stages of advanced cardiac diseases. We have investigated their contributions in the very initial stages of left ventricular hypertrophy development. Wistar male rats were treated over two weeks by chronic infusion of angiotensin II using osmotic mini-pumps. Left cardiac ventricles were used as total homogenates for analysis. PDE1 to PDE5 specific activities and protein and mRNA expressions were explored.
Rats developed arterial hypertension associated with a slight cardiac hypertrophy (+24%). cAMP-PDE4 activity was specifically increased while cGMP-PDE activities were broadly increased (+130% for PDE1; +76% for PDE2; +113% for PDE5) and associated with increased expressions for PDE1A, PDE1C and PDE5A. The cGMP-PDE1 activation by Ca2+/CaM was reduced. BNP expression was increased by 3.5-fold, while NOX2 expression was reduced by 66% and AMP kinase activation was increased by 64%. In early cardiac hypertrophy induced by angiotensin II, all specific PDE activities in left cardiac ventricles were increased, favoring an increase in cGMP hydrolysis by PDE1, PDE2 and PDE5. Increased cAMP hydrolysis was related to PDE4. We observed the establishment of two cardioprotective mechanisms and we suggest that these mechanisms could lead to increase intracellular cGMP: i) increased expression of BNP could increase “particulate” cGMP pool; ii) increased activation of AMPK, subsequent to increase in PDE4 activity and 5′AMP generation, could elevate “soluble” cGMP pool by enhancing NO bioavailability through NOX2 down-regulation. More studies are needed to support these assumptions. Nevertheless, our results suggest a potential link between PDE4 and AMPK/NOX2 and they point out that cGMP-PDEs, especially PDE1 and PDE2, may be interesting therapeutic targets in preventing cardiac hypertrophy.
PMCID: PMC2997062  PMID: 21151982
13.  A cAMP-specific phosphodiesterase (PDE8B) that is mutated in adrenal hyperplasia is expressed widely in human and mouse tissues: a novel PDE8B isoform in human adrenal cortex 
Bilateral adrenocortical hyperplasia (BAH) is the second most common cause of corticotropin-independent Cushing syndrome (CS). Genetic forms of BAH have been associated with complex syndromes such as Carney Complex and McCune Albright syndrome or may present as isolated micronodular adrenocortical disease (iMAD) usually in children and young adults with CS. A genome-wide association study identified inactivating phosphodiesterase (PDE) 11A (PDE11A) sequencing defects as low-penetrance predisposing factors for iMAD and related abnormalities; we also described a mutation (c.914A>C/H305P) in cAMP-specific PDE8B, in a patient with iMAD. In this study we further characterize this mutation; we also found a novel PDE8B isoform, highly expressed in the adrenal gland. This mutation is shown to significantly affect the ability of the protein to degrade cAMP in vitro. Tumor tissues from patients with iMAD and no mutations in the coding PDE8B sequence or any other related genes (PRKAR1A, PDE11A) showed down-regulated PDE8B expression (compared to normal adrenal cortex). Pde8b is detectable in the adrenal gland of newborn mice and is widely expressed in other mouse tissues. We conclude that PDE8B is another PDE gene linked to iMAD; it is a candidate causative gene for other adrenocortical lesions linked to the cAMP-signaling pathway, and possibly for tumors in other tissues.
PMCID: PMC2671148  PMID: 18431404
adrenal gland; Cushing syndrome; protein kinase A; cyclic AMP; phosphodiesterases
14.  Two Phosphodiesterases from Ustilago Maydis Share Structural and Biochemical Properties with Non-Fungal Phosphodiesterases 
The dependence of Protein Kinase A (PKA) activity on cAMP levels is an important facet of the dimorphic switch between budding and filamentous growth as well as for pathogenicity in some fungi. To better understand these processes in the pathogenic fungus Ustilago maydis, we characterized the structure and biochemical functions of two phosphodiesterase (PDE) genes. Phosphodiesterases are enzymes involved in cAMP turnover and thus, contribute to the regulation of the cAMP-PKA signaling pathway. Two predicted homologs of PDEs were identified in the genome of U. maydis and hypothesized to be involved in cAMP turnover, thus regulating activity of the PKA catalytic subunit. Both umpde1 and umpde2 genes contain domains associated with phosphodiesterase activity predicted by InterPro analysis. Biochemical characterization of recombinantly produced UmPde1 (U. maydis Phosphodiesterase I) and UmPde2 demonstrated that both enzymes have phosphodiesterase activity in vitro, yet neither was inhibited by the phosphodiesterase inhibitor IBMX. Moreover, UmPde1 is specific for cAMP, while UmPde2 has broader substrate specificity, utilizing cAMP and cGMP as substrates. In addition, UmPde2 was also found to have nucleotide phosphatase activity that was higher with GMP compared to AMP. These results demonstrate that UmPde1 is a bona fide phosphodiesterase, while UmPde2 has more general activity as a cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase and/or GMP/AMP phosphatase. Thus, UmPde1 and UmPde2 likely have important roles in cell morphology and development and share some characteristics with a variety of non-fungal phosphodiesterases.
PMCID: PMC3109409  PMID: 21687762
cAMP phosphodiesterase; PKA; nucleotide phosphatase; U. maydis
15.  Theophylline 
Pharmaceuticals  2010;3(3):725-747.
Theophylline (3-methyxanthine) has been used to treat airway diseases for over 70 years. It was originally used as a bronchodilator but the relatively high doses required are associated with frequent side effects, so its use declined as inhaled β2-agonists became more widely used. More recently it has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in asthma and COPD at lower concentrations. The molecular mechanism of bronchodilatation is inhibition of phosphodiesterase(PDE)3 and PDE4, but the anti-inflammatory effect may be due to histone deacetylase (HDAC) activation, resulting in switching off of activated inflammatory genes. Through this mechanism theophylline also reverses corticosteroid resistance and this may be of particular value in severe asthma and COPD where HDAC2 activity is markedly reduced. Theophylline is given systemically (orally as slow-release preparations for chronic treatment and intravenously for acute exacerbations of asthma) and blood concentrations are determined mainly by hepatic metabolism, which may be increased or decreased in several diseases and by concomitant drug therapy. Theophylline is now usually used as an add-on therapy in asthma patients not well controlled on inhaled corticosteroids and in COPD patients with severe disease not controlled by bronchodilator therapy. Side effects are related to plasma concentrations and include nausea, vomiting and headaches due to PDE inhibition and at higher concentrations to cardiac arrhythmias and seizures due to adenosine A1-receptor antagonism.
PMCID: PMC4033977
methylxanthine; phosphodiesterase; adenosine receptor; histone deacetylase; bronchodilatation; inflammation; immunomodulation; plasma concentration; drug interaction
16.  Phosphodiesterase 4 regulates the migration of B16-F10 melanoma cells 
Phosphodiesterases (PDEs) are important regulators of signal transduction processes. Eleven PDE gene families (PDE1-11) have been identified and several PDE isoforms are selectively expressed in various cell types. PDE4 family members specifically hydrolyze cyclic AMP (cAMP). Four genes (PDE4A-D) are known to encode PDE4 enzymes, with additional diversity generated by the use of alternative mRNA splicing and the use of different promoters. While PDE4 selective inhibitors show therapeutic potential for treating major diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, little is known concerning the role of PDE4 in malignant melanoma. In this study, we examined the role of PDE4 in mouse B16-F10 melanoma cells. In these cells, PDE4 activity was found to be ∼60% of total PDE activity. RT-PCR detected only PDE4B and PDE4D mRNA. Cell growth was inhibited by the cAMP analog, 8-bromo-cAMP, but not by the specific PDE4 inhibitors, rolipram and denbufylline, which increased intracellular cAMP concentrations. Finally, migration of the B16-F10 cells was inhibited by the PDE4 inhibitors and 8-bromo-cAMP, while migration was increased by a protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitor, PKI14–22, and was not affected by 8-pCPT-2′-O-Me-cAMP, which is an analog of exchange protein activated by cAMP (Epac). The inhibitory effect of rolipram on migration was reversed by PKI14–22. Based on these results, PDE4 appears to play an important role in the migration of B16-F10 cells, and therefore may be a novel target for the treatment of malignant melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3439151  PMID: 22970026
migration; B16-F10 melanoma cells; cyclic AMP; phospho diesterase 4
17.  Modelling of oedemous limbs and venous ulcers using partial differential equations 
Oedema, commonly known as tissue swelling, occurs mainly on the leg and the arm. The condition may be associated with a range of causes such as venous diseases, trauma, infection, joint disease and orthopaedic surgery. Oedema is caused by both lymphatic and chronic venous insufficiency, which leads to pooling of blood and fluid in the extremities. This results in swelling, mild redness and scaling of the skin, all of which can culminate in ulceration.
We present a method to model a wide variety of geometries of limbs affected by oedema and venous ulcers. The shape modelling is based on the PDE method where a set of boundary curves are extracted from 3D scan data and are utilised as boundary conditions to solve a PDE, which provides the geometry of an affected limb. For this work we utilise a mixture of fourth order and sixth order PDEs, the solutions of which enable us to obtain a good representative shape of the limb and associated ulcers in question.
A series of examples are discussed demonstrating the capability of the method to produce good representative shapes of limbs by utilising a series of curves extracted from the scan data. In particular we show how the method could be used to model the shape of an arm and a leg with an associated ulcer.
We show how PDE based shape modelling techniques can be utilised to generate a variety of limb shapes and associated ulcers by means of a series of curves extracted from scan data. We also discuss how the method could be used to manipulate a generic shape of a limb and an associated wound so that the model could be fine-tuned for a particular patient.
PMCID: PMC1198260  PMID: 16078992
18.  PDE3A Regulates Basal Myocardial Contractility through Interacting with SERCA2a-Signaling Complexes in Mouse Heart 
Circulation research  2012;112(2):289-297.
cAMP is an important regulator of myocardial function, and regulation of cAMP hydrolysis by cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases (PDEs) is a critical determinant of the amplitude, duration, and compartmentation of cAMP–mediated signaling. The role of different PDE isozymes, particularly PDE3A versus PDE3B, in the regulation of heart function remains unclear.
To determine the relative contribution of PDE3A versus PDE3B isozymes in the regulation of heart function and to dissect the molecular basis for this regulation.
Methods and Results
Compared to wild-type (WT) littermates, cardiac contractility and relaxation were enhanced in isolated hearts from PDE3A−/−, but not PDE3B−/−, mice. Furthermore, PDE3 inhibition had no effect on PDE3A−/− hearts but increased contractility in WT (as expected) and PDE3B−/− hearts to levels indistinguishable from PDE3A−/−. The enhanced contractility in PDE3A−/− hearts was associated with cAMP-dependent elevations in Ca2+ transient amplitudes and increased SR Ca2+ content, without changes in L-type Ca2+ currents (ICa,L) of cardiomyocytes, as well as with increased SR Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA2a) activity, SR Ca2+ uptake rates, and phospholamban (PLN) phosphorylation in SR fractions. Consistent with these observations, PDE3 activity was reduced ~8-fold in SR fractions from PDE3A−/− hearts. Co-immunoprecipitation experiments further revealed that PDE3A associates with both SERCA2a and PLN in a complex which also contains AKAP-18, PKA-RII and PP2A.
Our data support the conclusion that PDE3A is the primary PDE3 isozyme modulating basal contractility and SR Ca2+ content by regulating cAMP in microdomains containing macromolecular complexes of SERCA2a-PLN-PDE3A.
PMCID: PMC3579621  PMID: 23168336
cAMP; PDE3A Knock-out mice (PDE3A−/−); SERCA2a; calcium regulation; contractility
19.  Genetic Variants Associated with Serum Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) Levels in European Americans and African Americans from the eMERGE Network 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e111301.
Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) hormone levels are normally tightly regulated within an individual; thus, relatively small variations may indicate thyroid disease. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified variants in PDE8B and FOXE1 that are associated with TSH levels. However, prior studies lacked racial/ethnic diversity, limiting the generalization of these findings to individuals of non-European ethnicities. The Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network is a collaboration across institutions with biobanks linked to electronic medical records (EMRs). The eMERGE Network uses EMR-derived phenotypes to perform GWAS in diverse populations for a variety of phenotypes. In this report, we identified serum TSH levels from 4,501 European American and 351 African American euthyroid individuals in the eMERGE Network with existing GWAS data. Tests of association were performed using linear regression and adjusted for age, sex, body mass index (BMI), and principal components, assuming an additive genetic model. Our results replicate the known association of PDE8B with serum TSH levels in European Americans (rs2046045 p = 1.85×10−17, β = 0.09). FOXE1 variants, associated with hypothyroidism, were not genome-wide significant (rs10759944: p = 1.08×10−6, β = −0.05). No SNPs reached genome-wide significance in African Americans. However, multiple known associations with TSH levels in European ancestry were nominally significant in African Americans, including PDE8B (rs2046045 p = 0.03, β = −0.09), VEGFA (rs11755845 p = 0.01, β = −0.13), and NFIA (rs334699 p = 1.50×10−3, β = −0.17). We found little evidence that SNPs previously associated with other thyroid-related disorders were associated with serum TSH levels in this study. These results support the previously reported association between PDE8B and serum TSH levels in European Americans and emphasize the need for additional genetic studies in more diverse populations.
PMCID: PMC4249871  PMID: 25436638
20.  CCR-08-0827 Version 2 Targeted inhibition of cyclic AMP phosphodiesterase-4 promotes brain tumor regression 
Statement of Clinical Relevance
Therapies that can overcome the resistance of malignant brain tumors would be a major clinical advance. Here, we investigate the role of cAMP Phosphodiesterase-4 in stimulating brain tumor growth and the therapeutic utility of cAMP Phosphodiesterase-4 inhibition in the treatment of malignant brain tumors. Cyclic AMP Phosphodiesterase-4 was widely expressed in human brain tumors of glial and neuronal lineage, and forced expression of PDE4A1 accelerated intracranial glioblastoma and medulloblastoma xenograft growth. Moreover, targeted inhibition of PDE4, in combination with standard radiation and chemotherapy, induced a unique regression of established intracranial glioblastoma xenografts. These findings identify PDE4 as a novel molecular target for brain tumor therapy and indicate that PDE4 inhibition should be evaluated in clinical trials for malignant brain tumors.
As favorable outcomes from malignant brain tumors remain limited by poor survival and treatment-related toxicity, novel approaches to cure are essential. Previously, we identified the cyclic AMP phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE4) inhibitor Rolipram as a potent anti-tumor agent. Here, we investigate the role of PDE4 in brain tumors and examine the utility of PDE4 as a therapeutic target.
Experimental Design
Immunohistochemistry was used to evaluate the expression pattern of a subfamily of PDE4, PDE4A, in multiple brain tumor types. To evaluate the effect of PDE4A on growth, a brain-specific isoform, PDE4A1 was overexpressed in xenografts of Daoy medulloblastoma and U87 glioblastoma cells. To determine therapeutic potential of PDE4 inhibition, Rolipram, temozolomide, and radiation were tested alone and in combination on mice bearing intracranial U87 xenografts.
We found that PDE4A is expressed in medulloblastoma, glioblastoma, oligodendroglioma, ependymoma and meningioma. Moreover, when PDE4A1 was overexpressed in Daoy medulloblastoma and U87 glioblastoma cells, in vivo doubling times were significantly shorter for PDE4A1 overexpressing xenografts compared to controls. In long-term survival and bioluminescence studies, Rolipram in combination with first-line therapy for malignant gliomas (temozolomide and conformal radiation therapy) enhanced the survival of mice bearing intracranial xenografts of U87 glioblastoma cells. Bioluminescence imaging indicated that while temozolomide and radiation therapy arrested intracranial tumor growth, the addition of Rolipram to this regimen resulted in tumor regression.
This study shows that PDE4 is widely expressed in brain tumors and promotes their growth, and that inhibition with Rolipram overcomes tumor resistance and mediates tumor regression.
PMCID: PMC2615415  PMID: 19047098
Brain Tumor; Cyclic AMP; Phosphodiesterase; Rolipram; Bioluminescence; PDE4A
21.  β2-Agonist Induced cAMP Is Decreased in Asthmatic Airway Smooth Muscle Due to Increased PDE4D 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20000.
Background and Objective
Asthma is associated with airway narrowing in response to bronchoconstricting stimuli and increased airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass. In addition, some studies have suggested impaired β-agonist induced ASM relaxation in asthmatics, but the mechanism is not known.
To characterize the potential defect in β-agonist induced cAMP in ASM derived from asthmatic in comparison to non-asthmatic subjects and to investigate its mechanism.
We examined β2-adrenergic (β2AR) receptor expression and basal β-agonist and forskolin (direct activator of adenylyl cyclase) stimulated cAMP production in asthmatic cultured ASM (n = 15) and non-asthmatic ASM (n = 22). Based on these results, PDE activity, PDE4D expression and cell proliferation were determined.
In the presence of IBMX, a pan PDE inhibitor, asthmatic ASM had ∼50% lower cAMP production in response to isoproterenol, albuterol, formoterol, and forskolin compared to non-asthmatic ASM. However when PDE4 was specifically inhibited, cAMP production by the agonists and forskolin was normalized in asthmatic ASM. We then measured the amount and activity of PDE4, and found ∼2-fold greater expression and activity in asthmatic ASM compared to non-asthmatic ASM. Furthermore, inhibition of PDE4 reduced asthmatic ASM proliferation but not that of non-asthmatic ASM.
Decreased β-agonist induced cAMP in ASM from asthmatics results from enhanced degradation due to increased PDE4D expression. Clinical manifestations of this dysregulation would be suboptimal β-agonist-mediated bronchodilation and possibly reduced control over increasing ASM mass. These phenotypes appear to be “hard-wired” into ASM from asthmatics, as they do not require an inflammatory environment in culture to be observed.
PMCID: PMC3096656  PMID: 21611147
22.  Cone Phosphodiesterase-6α′ Restores Rod Function and Confers Distinct Physiological Properties in the Rod Phosphodiesterase-6β-Deficient rd10 Mouse 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2013;33(29):11745-11753.
Phosphodiesterase-6 (PDE6) is the key effector enzyme of the vertebrate phototransduction pathway in rods and cones. Rod PDE6 catalytic core is composed of two distinct subunits, PDE6α and PDE6β, whereas two identical PDE6α′ subunits form the cone PDE6 catalytic core. It is not known whether this difference in PDE6 catalytic subunit identity contributes to the functional differences between rods and cones. To address this question, we expressed cone PDE6α′ in the photoreceptor cells of the retinal degeneration 10 (rd10) mouse that carries a mutation in rod PDEβ subunit. We show that adeno-associated virus-mediated subretinal delivery of PDE6α′ rescues rod electroretinogram responses and preserves retinal structure, indicating that cone PDE6α′ can couple effectively to the rod phototransduction pathway. We also show that restoration of light sensitivity in rd10 rods is attributable to assembly of PDE6α′ with rod PDE6γ. Single-cell recordings revealed that, surprisingly, rods expressing cone PDE6α′ are twofold more sensitive to light than wild-type rods, most likely because of the slower shutoff of their light responses. Unlike in wild-type rods, the response kinetics in PDE6α′-treated rd10 rods accelerated with increasing flash intensity, indicating a possible direct feedback modulation of cone PDE6α′ activity. Together, these results demonstrate that cone PDE6α′ can functionally substitute for rod PDEαβ in vivo, conferring treated rods with distinct physiological properties.
PMCID: PMC3713718  PMID: 23864662
23.  DISC1–ATF4 transcriptional repression complex: dual regulation of the cAMP-PDE4 cascade by DISC1 
Molecular Psychiatry  2013;18(8):898-908.
Disrupted-In-Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1), a risk factor for major mental illnesses, has been studied extensively in the context of neurodevelopment. However, the role of DISC1 in neuronal signaling, particularly in conjunction with intracellular cascades that occur in response to dopamine, a neurotransmitter implicated in numerous psychiatric disorders, remains elusive. Previous data suggest that DISC1 interacts with numerous proteins that impact neuronal function, including activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4). In this study, we identify a novel DISC1 and ATF4 binding region in the genomic locus of phosphodiesterase 4D (PDE4D), a gene implicated in psychiatric disorders. We found that the loss of function of either DISC1 or ATF4 increases PDE4D9 transcription, and that the association of DISC1 with the PDE4D9 locus requires ATF4. We also show that PDE4D9 is increased by D1-type dopamine receptor dopaminergic stimulation. We demonstrate that the mechanism for this increase is due to DISC1 dissociation from the PDE4D locus in mouse brain. We further characterize the interaction of DISC1 with ATF4 to show that it is regulated via protein kinase A-mediated phosphorylation of DISC1 serine-58. Our results suggest that the release of DISC1-mediated transcriptional repression of PDE4D9 acts as feedback inhibition to regulate dopaminergic signaling. Furthermore, as DISC1 loss-of-function leads to a specific increase in PDE4D9, PDE4D9 itself may represent an attractive target for therapeutic approaches in psychiatric disorders.
PMCID: PMC3730299  PMID: 23587879
DISC1; ATF4; PDE4D; dopamine; PKA
24.  Significant linkage to chromosome 12q24.32–q24.33 and identification of SFRS8 as a possible asthma susceptibility gene 
Thorax  2006;61(10):874-879.
Asthma is a complex genetic disorder. Many studies have suggested that chromosome 12q harbours a susceptibility gene for asthma and atopy. Linkage on chromosome 12q24.21–q24.33 was investigated in 167 Danish families with asthma.
A two step procedure was used: (1) a genome‐wide scan in one set of families followed by (2) fine scale mapping in an independent set of families in candidate regions with a maximum likelihood score (MLS) of ⩾1.5 in the genome‐wide scan. Polymorphisms in a candidate gene in the region on 12q24.33 were tested for association with asthma in a family based transmission disequilibrium test.
An MLS of 3.27 was obtained at 12q24.33. The significance of this result was tested by simulation, resulting in a significant empirical genome‐wide p value of 0.018. To our Knowledge, this is the first significant evidence for linkage on chromosome 12q, and suggests a candidate region distal to most previously reported regions. Three single nucleotide polymorphisms in splicing factor, arginine/serine‐rich 8 (SFRS8) had an association with asthma (p⩽0.0020–0.050) in a sample of 136 asthmatic sib pairs. SFRS8 regulates the splicing of CD45, a protein which, through alternative splice variants, has an essential role in activating T cells. T cells are involved in the pathogenesis of atopic diseases such as asthma, so SFRS8 is a very interesting candidate gene in the region.
Linkage and simulation studies show that the very distal part of chromosome 12q contains a gene that increases the susceptibility to asthma. SFRS8 could act as a weak predisposing gene for asthma in our sample.
PMCID: PMC2104763  PMID: 16738036
asthma; genetics; linkage; splicing factor arginine/serine‐rich 8 (SFRS8); atopy
25.  Cyclic nucleotide specific phosphodiesterases of Leishmania major 
BMC Microbiology  2006;6:25.
Leishmania represent a complex of important human pathogens that belong to the systematic order of the kinetoplastida. They are transmitted between their human and mammalian hosts by different bloodsucking sandfly vectors. In their hosts, the Leishmania undergo several differentiation steps, and their coordination and optimization crucially depend on numerous interactions between the parasites and the physiological environment presented by the fly and human hosts. Little is still known about the signalling networks involved in these functions. In an attempt to better understand the role of cyclic nucleotide signalling in Leishmania differentiation and host-parasite interaction, we here present an initial study on the cyclic nucleotide-specific phosphodiesterases of Leishmania major.
This paper presents the identification of three class I cyclic-nucleotide-specific phosphodiesterases (PDEs) from L. major, PDEs whose catalytic domains exhibit considerable sequence conservation with, among other, all eleven human PDE families. In contrast to other protozoa such as Dictyostelium, or fungi such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Candida ssp or Neurospora, no genes for class II PDEs were found in the Leishmania genomes. LmjPDEA contains a class I catalytic domain at the C-terminus of the polypeptide, with no other discernible functional domains elsewhere. LmjPDEB1 and LmjPDEB2 are coded for by closely related, tandemly linked genes on chromosome 15. Both PDEs contain two GAF domains in their N-terminal region, and their almost identical catalytic domains are located at the C-terminus of the polypeptide. LmjPDEA, LmjPDEB1 and LmjPDEB2 were further characterized by functional complementation in a PDE-deficient S. cerevisiae strain. All three enzymes conferred complementation, demonstrating that all three can hydrolyze cAMP. Recombinant LmjPDEB1 and LmjPDEB2 were shown to be cAMP-specific, with Km values in the low micromolar range. Several PDE inhibitors were found to be active against these PDEs in vitro, and to inhibit cell proliferation.
The genome of L. major contains only PDE genes that are predicted to code for class I PDEs, and none for class II PDEs. This is more similar to what is found in higher eukaryotes than it is to the situation in Dictyostelium or the fungi that concomitantly express class I and class II PDEs. Functional complementation demonstrated that LmjPDEA, LmjPDEB1 and LmjPDEB2 are capable of hydrolyzing cAMP. In vitro studies with recombinant LmjPDEB1 and LmjPDEB2 confirmed this, and they demonstrated that both are completely cAMP-specific. Both enzymes are inhibited by several commercially available PDE inhibitors. The observation that these inhibitors also interfere with cell growth in culture indicates that inhibition of the PDEs is fatal for the cell, suggesting an important role of cAMP signalling for the maintenance of cellular integrity and proliferation.
PMCID: PMC1431542  PMID: 16522215

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