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1.  The Inhibition of Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta Ameliorates Liver Ischemia Reperfusion Injury via an IL-10-mediated Immune Regulatory Mechanism 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2011;54(2):687-696.
The ubiquitous serine/threnine kinase glycogen synthase kinase 3β (Gsk3β) differentially regulates macrophage TLR-triggered pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine programs. This study was designed to determine in vivo role and therapeutic potential of Gsk3β modulation in tissue inflammation and injury in a murine model of liver partial warm ischemia/reperfusion (IRI). As a constitutively activated liver kinase, Gsk3β became quickly inactivated (phosphorylated) following IR. The active Gsk3β, however, was essential for the development of IRI pathology, as administration of its specific inhibitor SB216763, ameliorated the hepatocellular damage, evidenced by reduced sALT levels and well-preserved liver architecture, compared with controls. The liver protective effect of Gsk3β inhibition was dependent on an immune regulatory mechanism, rather than direct cytoprotection via mitochondria permeability transition pores (MPTP). Indeed: (a) co-administration of SB216763 and atractyloside (MPTP opener) failed to abrogate local cytoprotective Gsk3β inhibition effect; (b) SB216763 selectively inhibited IR-triggered liver pro-inflammatory, but spared IL-10, gene induction program; and (c) IL-10 neutralization restored liver inflammation and IRI in SB216763-treated mice. Gsk3β inactivation by IR was a self-regulatory mechanism in liver homeostasis, critically dependent on phosphoinositide 3 (PI3)-kinase activation, as administration of PI3 kinase inhibitor, wortmannin, reduced Gsk3 phosphorylation and augmented liver damage. In vitro, IL-10 was critical for the suppression of pro-inflammatory gene programs by Gsk3 inhibition in bone marrow-derived macrophages in response to TLR4 stimulation. Our novel findings document the key immune regulatory function of Gsk3β signaling in the pathophysiology of liver IRI, and provide the rationale to target Gsk3β as a refined therapeutic strategy to ameliorate liver IRI.
PMCID: PMC3145016  PMID: 21567437
2.  The roles of tumor necrosis factor-alpha in colon tight junction protein expression and intestinal mucosa structure in a mouse model of acute liver failure 
BMC Gastroenterology  2009;9:70.
Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) is a common clinical disease and one of the most severe complications of acute liver failure (ALF). Although the mechanism responsible for SBP is unclear, cytokines play an important role. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) on the structure of the intestinal mucosa and the expression of tight junction (Zona Occludens 1; ZO-1) protein in a mouse model of ALF.
We induced ALF using D-galactosamine/lipopolysaccharide (GalN/LPS) or GalN/TNF-α and assessed the results using transmission electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, Western blotting, ELISA and real-time quantitative PCR. The effects of administration of anti-TNF-α IgG antibody or anti-TNF-α R1 antibody before administration of GalN/LPS or GalN/TNF-α, respectively, on TNF-α were also assessed.
Morphological abnormalities in the intestinal mucosa of ALF mice were positively correlated with serum TNF-α level. Electron microscopic analysis revealed tight junction (TJ) disruptions, epithelial cell swelling, and atrophy of intestinal villi. Gut bacteria invaded the body at sites where TJ disruptions occurred. Expression of ZO-1 mRNA was significantly decreased in both ALF models, as was the level of ZO-1 protein. Prophylactic treatment with either anti-TNF-α IgG antibody or anti-tumor necrosis factor-a receptor1 (anti-TNF-α R1) antibody prevented changes in intestinal tissue ultrastructure and ZO-1 expression.
TNF-α affects the structure of the intestinal mucosa, decreases expression of ZO-1, and affects the morphology of the colon in a mouse model of ALF. It also may participate in the pathophysiological mechanism of SBP complicated to ALF.
PMCID: PMC2761933  PMID: 19772664
3.  Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3 (GSK-3) Inhibition Attenuates Hepatocyte Lipoapoptosis 
Journal of hepatology  2010;54(4):765-772.
Saturated free fatty acids induce hepatocyte lipoapoptosis, a key pathologic feature of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. The saturated free fatty acid palmitate induces hepatocyte lipoapoptosis via an endoplasmic reticulum stress pathway resulting in c-Jun-N-terminal (JNK) activation. Glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3 is a serine/threonine kinase which may also promote JNK activation. Thus our aim was to determine if GSK-3 inhibition suppresses palmitate induced JNK activation and lipoapoptosis.
We employed mouse primary hepatocytes, Huh-7 and Hep3B cell lines for these studies.
Palmitate-induced GSK-3 activation was identified by phosphorylation of its substrate glycogen synthase. GSK-3 pharmacologic inhibition, by GSK-3 inhibitor IX and enzastaurin, significantly reduced PA-mediated lipoapoptosis. More importantly, Huh-7 cells in which either GSK-3α or GSK-3β isoforms were stably and selectively knocked down by shRNA displayed resistance to palmitate-induced cytotoxicity. GSK-3 pharmacological inhibitors and shRNA-targeted knockdown of GSK-3α or GSK-3β also suppressed JNK activation by palmitate. JNK activation, in part, promotes lipoapotosis by inducing expression of the pro-apoptotic effector p53-upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA). Consistent with this concept, GSK-3 pharmacologic inhibition also reduced PUMA cellular protein levels during exposure to palmitate. On the other hand, the GSK-3 inhibitors did not prevent PA induction of ER stress.
In CONCLUSION, our results suggest GSK-3 activation promotes a JNK-dependent cytotoxic signaling cascade culminating in lipoapoptosis.
PMCID: PMC3060963  PMID: 21147505
endoplasmic reticulum stress; glycogen synthase kinase; JNK; lipoapoptosis; nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; PUMA
4.  TNF-α dependent production of inducible nitric oxide is involved in PGE1 protection against acute liver injury 
Gut  2000;47(4):553-562.
BACKGROUND—Tumour necrosis factor α (TNF-α) and nitric oxide modulate damage in several experimental models of liver injury. We have previously shown that protection against D-galactosamine (D-GalN) induced liver injury by prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) was accompanied by an increase in TNF-α and nitrite/nitrate in serum.
AIMS—The aim of the present study was to evaluate the role of TNF-α and nitric oxide during protection by PGE1 of liver damage induced by D-GalN.
METHODS—Liver injury was induced in male Wistar rats by intraperitoneal injection of 1 g/kg of D-GalN. PGE1 was administered 30 minutes before D-GalN. Inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) was inhibited by methylisothiourea (MT), and TNF-α concentration in serum was lowered by administration of anti-TNF-α antibodies. Liver injury was evaluated by alanine aminotransferase activity in serum, and histological examination and DNA fragmentation in liver. TNF-α and nitrite/nitrate concentrations were determined in serum. Expression of TNF-α and iNOS was also assessed in liver sections.
RESULTS—PGE1 decreased liver injury and increased TNF-α and nitrite/nitrate concentrations in serum of rats treated with D-GalN. PGE1 protection was related to enhanced expression of TNF-α and iNOS in hepatocytes. Administration of anti-TNF-α antibodies or MT blocked the protection by PGE1 of liver injury induced by D-GalN.
CONCLUSIONS—This study suggests that prior administration of PGE1 to D-GalN treated animals enhanced expression of TNF-α and iNOS in hepatocytes, and that this was causally related to protection by PGE1 against D-GalN induced liver injury.

Keywords: tumour necrosis factor α; nitric oxide; prostaglandin E1; methylisothiourea; D-galactosamine; liver injury
PMCID: PMC1728088  PMID: 10986217
5.  Tumor Necrosis Factor-induced Toxic Liver Injury Results from JNK2-dependent Activation of Caspase-8 and the Mitochondrial Death Pathway* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2006;281(22):15258-15267.
In vitro studies of hepatocytes have implicated over-activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling as a mechanism of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF)-induced apoptosis. However, the functional significance of JNK activation and the role of specific JNK isoforms in TNF-induced hepatic apoptosis in vivo remain unclear. JNK1 and JNK2 function was, therefore, investigated in the TNF-dependent, galactosamine/lipopolysaccharide (GalN/LPS) model of liver injury. The toxin GalN converted LPS-induced JNK signaling from a transient to prolonged activation. Liver injury and mortality from GalN/LPS was equivalent in wild-type and jnk1−/− mice but markedly decreased in jnk2−/− mice. This effect was not secondary to down-regulation of TNF receptor 1 expression or TNF production. In the absence of jnk2, the caspase-dependent, TNF death pathway was blocked, as reflected by the failure of caspase-3 and -7 and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage to occur. JNK2 was critical for activation of the mitochondrial death pathway, as in jnk2−/− mice Bid cleavage and mitochondrial translocation and cytochrome c release were markedly decreased. This effect was secondary to the failure of jnk2−/− mice to activate caspase-8. Liver injury and caspase activation were similarly decreased in jnk2 null mice after GalN/TNF treatment. Ablation of jnk2 did not inhibit GalN/LPS-induced c-Jun kinase activity, although activity was completely blocked in jnk1−/− mice. Toxic liver injury is, therefore, associated with JNK over-activation and mediated by JNK2 promotion of caspase-8 activation and the TNF mitochondrial death pathway through a mechanism independent of c-Jun kinase activity.
PMCID: PMC3668334  PMID: 16571730
6.  Inhibition of Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3 in Androgen-Responsive Prostate Cancer Cell Lines: Are GSK Inhibitors Therapeutically Useful?12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2008;10(6):624-633.
The glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3) is a serine/threonine kinase widely expressed in mammalian tissues. Initially identified by its ability to modulate glycogen synthesis, GSK-3 turned out to be a multifunctional enzyme, able to phosphorylate many proteins, including members of the steroid receptor superfamily. Although GSK-3 was shown to phosphorylate the androgen receptor (AR), its effects on AR transcriptional activity remain controversial. Analysis of short hairpin RNA (shRNA)-mediated downmodulation of GSK-3 proteins in prostate cancer cells showed a reduction in AR transcriptional activity and AR protein levels. Pharmacological GSK-3 inhibitors such as the maleimide SB216763 or the aminopyrazole GSK inhibitor XIII inhibited AR-dependent reporter gene activity and AR expression in vitro. Analysis of androgen-induced nuclear translocation of the AR was performed in PC3 cells transfected with pAR-t1EosFP coding for EosAR, a green fluorescent AR fusion protein. When grown in presence of androgens, EosAR was predominantly nuclear. Incubation with SB216763 before and after androgen treatment almost completely reduced nuclear EosAR. In contrast, the thiazole-containing urea compound AR-A014418 increased rather than decreased AR-expression/function. Although not all GSK inhibitors affected AR-stability/function, our observations suggest a potential new therapeutic application for some of these compounds in prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC2386547  PMID: 18516299
7.  Cocaine-induced hyperactivity and sensitization are dependent on GSK3 
Neuropharmacology  2009;56(8):1116-1123.
Glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) is a critical mediator of many intracellular signaling systems. The activity of GSK3 is regulated by several kinases, with inactivation occurring via phosphorylation of the inhibitory serine-21 (α-isoform) and serine-9 (β-isoform) residues. Here, we investigated whether acute cocaine administration regulates GSK3 activity and if inhibition of GSK3 by valproate or the selective GSK3 inhibitor SB 216763 would attenuate cocaine-induced behaviors in mice. Mice injected with cocaine (20 mg/kg, i.p) showed a reduction in the phosphorylation of GSK3β in the caudate putamen, reflecting an increase in the activity of the kinase. To assess the role of GSK3 in cocaine-induced hyperactivity, mice were pretreated with valproate (50–300 mg/kg, i.p.), SB216763 (0.25–7.5 mg/kg, i.p.), or the appropriate vehicle prior to saline or cocaine (20 mg/kg, i.p.). Valproate or SB 216763 produced significant dose-dependent reductions in cocaine-induced ambulatory and stereotypic activity. Repeated administration of cocaine can result in an augmentation of the locomotor-stimulatory effects of the drug, a phenomenon referred to as sensitization. Mice pretreated with SB 216763 (2.5 mg/kg, i.p.) prior to daily cocaine (20 mg/kg, i.p.) for 5 days showed a significant attenuation of the development of cocaine-induced behavioral sensitization following a cocaine challenge on day 13. These results indicate that cocaine activated GSK3β in the caudate putamen and that pharmacological inhibition of GSK3 reduced both the acute behavioral responses to cocaine and the long-term neuroadaptations produced by repeated cocaine, therefore suggesting a role for GSK3 in the behavioral and neurochemical manifestations associated with cocaine exposure.
PMCID: PMC2721824  PMID: 19328817
Cocaine; glycogen synthase kinase-3; locomotion; sensitization; caudate putamen
8.  Role of Nitric Oxide in Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Hepatic Injury in d-Galactosamine-Sensitized Mice as an Experimental Endotoxic Shock Model 
Infection and Immunity  1999;67(3):1018-1024.
The role of nitric oxide (NO) in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced hepatic injury was studied in d-galactosamine (d-GalN)-sensitized mice. The inducible isoform of NO synthase (iNOS) was immunohistochemically detected on hepatocytes around blood vessels in livers of mice injected with d-GalN and LPS not on hepatocytes in mice injected with d-GalN or LPS alone, although mRNA for iNOS was found in those mice. Nitrotyrosine (NT) was also found in livers of mice injected with d-GalN and LPS. The localization of NT was consistent with that of iNOS, and the time courses of NT and iNOS expression were almost the same. Expression of iNOS and NT was detected exclusively in the hepatic lesions of mice injected with d-GalN and LPS. Anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha neutralizing antibody inhibited iNOS and NT expression and hepatic injury. The results suggested that NO from iNOS may play a role in LPS-induced hepatic injury on d-GalN-sensitized mice as an experimental endotoxic shock model.
PMCID: PMC96424  PMID: 10024538
9.  Senescence marker protein 30 in acute liver failure: validation of a mass spectrometry proteomics assay 
BMC Gastroenterology  2008;8:17.
Our previous proteomic study showed that the senescence marker protein (SMP30) is selectively present in the plasma of a murine model of acute liver failure (ALF). The aim of this study was to validate this SMP30 expression in the plasma and liver tissues of mice and humans with ALF.
After the proteomic analysis of plasma from a murine model of D-galactosamine/lipopolysaccharide (GalN/LPS)-induced ALF by two-dimensional electrophoresis (2-DE) and mass spectrometry, the expression levels of SMP30 in the plasma and liver tissues were validated by western blot and RT-PCR analyses. These results were then confirmed in plasma samples from humans.
These data validate the results of 2-DE, and western blot showed that SMP30 protein levels were only elevated in the plasma of ALF mice. Further analysis revealed that GalN/LPS induced the downregulation of SMP30 protein levels in liver tissues (by approximately 25% and 16% in the GalN/LPS-treated mice and in the treated mice that survived, respectively; P < 0.01). Hepatic SMP30 mRNA levels decreased by about 90% only in the mice that survived the GalN/LPS treatment. Importantly, plasma obtained from patients with ALF also contained higher levels of SMP30, about (3.65 ± 0.34) times those observed in healthy volunteers.
This study shows that SMP30 is not only a potential biomarker for the diagnosis and even prognosis of ALF. It also plays a very important role in a self-protective mechanism in survival and participates in the pathophysiological processes of ALF.
PMCID: PMC2435529  PMID: 18507831
10.  Inhibition of UII/UTR System Relieves Acute Inflammation of Liver through Preventing Activation of NF-κB Pathway in ALF Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e64895.
Urotensin II (UII) is implicated in immune inflammatory diseases through its specific high-affinity UT receptor (UTR). Enhanced expression of UII/UTR was recently demonstrated in the liver with acute liver failure (ALF). Here, we analysed the relationship between UII/UTR expression and ALF in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)/D-galactosamine (GalN)-challenged mice. Thereafter, we investigated the effects produced by the inhibition of UII/UTR system using urantide, a special antagonist of UTR, and the potential molecular mechanisms involved in ALF. Urantide was administered to mice treated with LPS/GalN. Expression of UII/UTR, releases of proinflammatory cytokines including tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ), and activation of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) signaling pathway were assessed in the lethal ALF with or without urantide pretreatment. We found that LPS/GalN-challenged mice showed high mortality and marked hepatic inflammatory infiltration and cell apoptosis as well as a significant increase of UII/UTR expression. Urantide pretreatment protected against the injury in liver following downregulation of UII/UTR expression. A close relationship between the acutely flamed hepatic injury and UII/UTR expression was observed. In addition, urantide prevented the increases of proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α, IL-1β and IFN-γ, and activation of NF-κB signaling pathway induced by LPS/GalN in mice. Thus, we conclude that UII/UTR system plays a role in LPS/GalN-induced ALF. Urantide has a protective effect on the acutely inflamed injury of liver in part through preventing releases of proinflammatory cytokines and activation of NF-κB pathway.
PMCID: PMC3670940  PMID: 23755157
11.  An inactive pool of GSK-3 at the leading edge of growth cones is implicated in Semaphorin 3A signaling 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2002;157(2):211-217.
Glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3 is a serine/threonine kinase that has been implicated in several aspects in embryonic development and several growth factor signaling cascades. We now report that an inactive phosphorylated pool of the enzyme colocalizes with F-actin in both neuronal and nonneuronal cells. Semaphorin 3A (Sema 3A), a molecule that inhibits axonal growth, activates GSK-3 at the leading edge of neuronal growth cones and in Sema 3A–responsive human breast cancer cells, suggesting that GSK-3 activity might play a role in coupling Sema 3A signaling to changes in cell motility. We show that three different GSK-3 antagonists (LiCl, SB-216763, and SB-415286) can inhibit the growth cone collapse response induced by Sema 3A. These studies reveal a novel compartmentalization of inactive GSK-3 in cells and demonstrate for the first time a requirement for GSK-3 activity in the Sema 3A signal transduction pathway.
PMCID: PMC2199247  PMID: 11956225
GSK-3; axon guidance; actin; Semaphorin 3A; growth cone
12.  Preservation on calcium homeostasis is involved in mitochondrial protection of Limonium sinense against liver damage in mice 
Pharmacognosy Magazine  2010;6(23):191-197.
Mechanisms underlying the mitochondrial protection of Limonium sinense extracts (LSE) was studied in lipopolysaccharide and D-galactosamine (LPS/D-GalN) intoxicated mice. It was found that increased activities of serum aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase induced by LPS/D-GalN were significantly inhibited by pretreatment with LSE. The obvious disruption of membrane potential, intramitochondrial Ca 2+ overload and suppression in mitochondrial Ca 2+ -ATPase activity induced by LPS/D-GalN were significantly blocked by pretreatment with LSE. It was concluded that mechanisms underlying protection of LSE against liver mitochondria damage might be related to the preservation on mitochondrial Ca 2+ homeostasis through the preservation on mitochondrial Ca 2+ -ATPase activity.
PMCID: PMC2950381  PMID: 20931078
D-galactosamine; Limonium sinense (Girard) Ktze; lipopolysaccharide; mitochondrial Ca 2+ -ATPase activity; mitochondrial Ca 2+ overload
13.  Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3 promotes cell survival, growth and PAX3 levels in human melanoma cells 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2012;10(8):1065-1076.
Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3 (GSK-3) is a serine/threonine kinase involved in a diverse range of cellular processes. GSK-3 exists in two isoforms, GSK-3α and GSK-3β, which possess some functional redundancy but also play distinct roles depending on developmental and cellular context. In this report we found that GSK-3 actively promoted cell growth and survival in melanoma cells, and blocking this activity with small molecule inhibitor SB216763 or gene-specific siRNA decreased proliferation, increased apoptosis and altered cellular morphology. These alterations coincided with loss of PAX3, a transcription factor implicated in proliferation, survival and migration of developing melanoblasts. We further found that PAX3 directly interacted with and was phosphorylated in vitro on a number of residues by GSK-3β. In melanoma cells, direct inhibition of PAX3 lead to cellular changes that paralleled the response to GSK-3 inhibition. Maintenance of PAX3 expression protected melanoma cells from the anti-tumor effects of SB216763. These data support a model wherein GSK-3 regulates proliferation and morphology of melanoma through phosphorylation and increased levels of PAX3.
PMCID: PMC3422428  PMID: 22679108
Glycogen; Synthase; Kinase-3/melanoma/PAX3
14.  The regulatory role of microRNA-1187 in TNF-α-mediated hepatocyte apoptosis in acute liver failure 
In the current study, we aimed at elucidating the regulatory mechanisms through which microR-1187 (miR-1187) participates in hepatocyte apoptosis in acute liver failure (ALF). An ALF model was induced with D-galactosamine (D-GalN) plus lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in BALB/c mice. The hepatic miRNA expression profile was detected by microarray analysis and verified by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). The possible underlying mechanism was investigated in vitro using an embryonic murine hepatocyte cell line (BNLCL2) and miR-1187 mimic. Caspase-8 protein was detected by Western blotting and cell apoptosis was assayed by flow cytometry. Hepatic miR-1187 was down-regulated in ALF mice based on microarray data (P<0.001) and verified by qRT-PCR (P<0.01). Target scan revealed that caspase-8 was the putative target of miR-1187. In an in vitro study, miR-1187 showed the highest up-regulation in BNLCL2 cells transfected with the miR-1187 mimic at a 50 nM concentration for 12 h compared with cells transfected with the non-specific mimic (P<0.001). miR-1187 was down-regulated (P<0.01) but caspase-8 mRNA (P<0.01) as well as protein (P<0.05) were up-regulated in the BNLCL2 cells treated with D-GalN/TNF. Furthermore, overexpressed miR-1187 reduced caspase-8 expression at both the mRNA and protein levels significantly (P<0.01 and P<0.05 respectively), and significantly attenuated the apoptotic rate of BNLCL2 cells (P<0.05). We show that miR-1187 regulates hepatocyte apoptosis by targeting caspase-8. miR-1187 may serve as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of ALF.
PMCID: PMC3573766  PMID: 22266786
acute liver failure; hepatocyte apoptosis; caspase-8; miR-1187; miR-1187 mimic
15.  GSK3β Inhibitor Peptide Protects Mice from LPS-induced Endotoxin Shock 
Immune Network  2010;10(3):99-103.
Glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) is a ubiquitous serine/threonine kinase that is regulated by serine phosphorylation at 9. Recent studies have reported the beneficial effects of a number of the pharmacological GSK3β inhibitors in rodent models of septic shock. Since most of the GSK3β inhibitors are targeted at the ATP-binding site, which is highly conserved among diverse protein kinases, the development of novel non-ATP competitive GSK3β inhibitors is needed.
Based on the unique phosphorylation motif of GSK3β, we designed and generated a novel class of GSK3β inhibitor (GSK3i) peptides. In addition, we investigated the effects of a GSK3i peptide on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated cytokine production and septic shock. Mice were intraperitoneally injected with GSK3i peptide and monitored over a 7-day period for survival.
We first demonstrate its effects on LPS-stimulated pro-inflammatory cytokine production including interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-12p40. LPS-induced IL-6 and IL-12p40 production in macrophages was suppressed when macrophages were treated with the GSKi peptide. Administration of the GSK3i peptide potently suppressed LPS-mediated endotoxin shock.
Collectively, we present a rational strategy for the development of a therapeutic GSK3i peptide. This peptide may serve as a novel template for the design of non-ATP competitive GSK3 inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC2902676  PMID: 20631880
GSK3β; Peptide inhibitor; LPS; Cytokines
Oncogene  2006;25(1):43-50.
Glycogen-synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) are critical downstream signaling proteins for the PI3-kinase/Akt and Ras/Raf/MEK-1 pathway, respectively, and regulate diverse cellular processes including embryonic development, cell differentiation and apoptosis. Here, we show that inhibition of GSK-3 using GSK-3 inhibitors or RNA interference (RNAi) significantly induced the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 in human colon cancer cell lines HT29 and Caco-2. Pretreatment with the PKCδ-selective inhibitor rottlerin or transfection with PKCδ siRNA attenuated the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 induced by the GSK-3 inhibitor SB-216763 and, furthermore, treatment with SB-216763 or transfection with GSK-3α and GSK-3β siRNA increased PKCδ activity, thus identifying a role for PKCδ in the induction of ERK1/2 phosphorylation by GSK-3 inhibition. Treatment with SB-216763 increased expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and IL-8, which are downstream targets of ERK1/2 activation; this induction was abolished by MEK/ERK inhibition, suggesting GSK-3 inhibition induced COX-2 and IL-8 through ERK1/2 activation. The transcriptional induction of COX-2 and IL-8 by GSK-3 inhibition was further demonstrated by the increased COX-2 and IL-8 promoter activity after SB-216763 treatment or transfection with GSK-3α or GSK-3β siRNA. Importantly, our findings identify GSK-3, acting through PKCδ, as a negative regulator of ERK1/2, thus revealing a novel cross-talk mechanism between these critical signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC1413679  PMID: 16278684
GSK-3; MAPK; ERK; PKCδ; siRNA; colon cancer cells; Glycogen-Synthase Kinase-3 GSK-3; Cyclooxygenase-2 COX-2; Extracellular signal-Regulated Kinase ERK; Lithium Chloride LiCl; Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase MAPK; Myelin Basic Protein MBP
17.  Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 Beta Inhibitors Protect Hippocampal Neurons from Radiation-Induced Apoptosis by Regulating MDM2/p53 Pathway 
Cell Death and Differentiation  2011;19(3):387-396.
Exposure of the brain to ionizing radiation can cause neurocognitive deficiencies. The pathophysiology of these neurological changes is complex and includes radiation-induced apoptosis in the subgranular zone of the hippocampus. We have recently found that inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK-3β) resulted in significant protection from radiation-induced apoptosis in hippocampal neurons. The molecular mechanisms of this cytoprotection include abrogation of radiation-induced accumulation of p53. Here we show that pretreatment of irradiated HT-22 hippocampal-derived neurons with small molecule inhibitors of GSK-3β SB216763 or SB415286, or with GSK-3β-specific shRNA resulted in accumulation of the p53-specific E3 ubiquitin ligase MDM2. Knock down of MDM2 using specific shRNA or chemical inhibition of MDM2-p53 interaction prevented the protective changes triggered by GSK-3β inhibition in irradiated HT-22 neurons and restored radiation cytotoxicity. We found that this could be due to regulation of apoptosis by subcellular localization and interaction of GSK-3β, p53 and MDM2. These data suggest that the mechanisms of radioprotection by GSK-3β inhibitors in hippocampal neurons involve regulation of MDM2-dependent p53 accumulation and interactions between GSK-3β, MDM2 and p53.
PMCID: PMC3193912  PMID: 21738215
ionizing radiation; hippocampal neurons; GSK-3β; MDM2; p53
18.  Glycogen synthase kinase 3β inhibitors protect hippocampal neurons from radiation-induced apoptosis by regulating MDM2-p53 pathway 
Cell Death and Differentiation  2011;19(3):387-396.
Exposure of the brain to ionizing radiation can cause neurocognitive deficiencies. The pathophysiology of these neurological changes is complex and includes radiation-induced apoptosis in the subgranular zone of the hippocampus. We have recently found that inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK-3β) resulted in significant protection from radiation-induced apoptosis in hippocampal neurons. The molecular mechanisms of this cytoprotection include abrogation of radiation-induced accumulation of p53. Here we show that pretreatment of irradiated HT-22 hippocampal-derived neurons with small molecule inhibitors of GSK-3β SB216763 or SB415286, or with GSK-3β-specific shRNA resulted in accumulation of the p53-specific E3 ubiquitin ligase MDM2. Knockdown of MDM2 using specific shRNA or chemical inhibition of MDM2-p53 interaction prevented the protective changes triggered by GSK-3β inhibition in irradiated HT-22 neurons and restored radiation cytotoxicity. We found that this could be due to regulation of apoptosis by subcellular localization and interaction of GSK-3β, p53 and MDM2. These data suggest that the mechanisms of radioprotection by GSK-3β inhibitors in hippocampal neurons involve regulation of MDM2-dependent p53 accumulation and interactions between GSK-3β, MDM2 and p53.
PMCID: PMC3193912  PMID: 21738215
ionizing radiation; hippocampal neurons; GSK-3β; MDM2; p53
19.  The Protective Role of the Transmembrane Thioredoxin-Related Protein TMX in Inflammatory Liver Injury 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2013;18(11):1263-1272.
Aims: Accumulating evidence indicates that oxidative stress is associated with inflammation, and the cellular redox status can determine the sensitivity and the final outcome in response to inflammatory stimuli. To control the redox balance, mammalian cells contain a variety of oxidoreductases belonging to the thioredoxin superfamily. The large number of these enzymes suggests a complex mechanism of redox regulation in mammals, but the precise function of each family member awaits further investigations. Results: We generated mice deficient in transmembrane thioredoxin-related protein (TMX), a transmembrane oxidoreductase in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). When exposed to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and d-(+)-galactosamine (GalN) to induce inflammatory liver injury, mutant mice were highly susceptible to the toxicants and developed severe liver damage. LPS-induced production of inflammatory mediators was equivalent in both wild-type and TMX−/− mice, whereas neutralization of the proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-α suppressed the toxic effects of LPS/GalN in the mutant mice. Liver transcriptional profiles revealed enhanced activation of the p53-signaling pathway in the TMX−/− mice after LPS/GalN treatment. Furthermore, TMX deficiency also caused increased sensitivity to thioacetamide, which exerts its hepatotoxicity through the generation of reactive oxygen species. Innovation: The present study is the first to address the role of the oxidoreductase TMX in inflammatory liver injury. The phenotype of mice deficient in TMX suggests a functional link between redox regulation in the ER and susceptibility to oxidative tissue damage. Conclusion: We conclude that TMX plays a major role in host defense under the type of inflammatory conditions associated with oxidative stress. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 18, 1263–1272.
PMCID: PMC3584524  PMID: 22924822
20.  Inhibition of GSK3 attenuates dopamine D1 receptor agonist-induced hyperactivity in mice 
Brain research bulletin  2010;82(3-4):184-187.
Recent evidence suggests a critical role for the intracellular signaling protein glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK3) in hyperactivity associated with dopaminergic transmission. Here, we investigated whether activation of GSK3 is necessary for the expression of behaviors specifically produced by dopamine D1 receptor activation. To assess the role of GSK3 in dopamine D1 receptor-induced hyperactivity, mice were pretreated with the selective GSK3 inhibitor SB 216763 (0.25–7.5 mg/kg, i.p.) or its vehicle prior to administration of the dopamine D1 receptor full agonist SKF-82958 (1.0 mg/kg, i.p.) or saline control. Inhibition of GSK3 via SB 216763 dose-dependently reduced ambulatory and stereotypic activity produced by SKF-82958. These data implicate a role for GSK3 in the behavioral manifestations associated with dopamine D1 receptor activation.
PMCID: PMC2905577  PMID: 20347018
Dopamine; glycogen synthase kinase-3; ambulation; stereotypy; activity
21.  Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 inhibition Induces Glioma Cell Death through c-MYC, NF-κB and Glucose Regulation 
Cancer research  2008;68(16):6643-6651.
Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK3), a serine/threonine kinase, is involved in diverse cellular processes ranging from nutrient and energy homeostasis to proliferation and apoptosis. Its role in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) has yet to be elucidated.
We identified GSK3 as a regulator of GBM cell survival using microarray analysis, small molecule and genetic inhibitors of GSK3 activity. Various molecular and genetic approaches were then employed to dissect out the molecular mechanisms responsible for GSK3 inhibition-induced cytotoxicity.
We demonstrate that multiple small molecular inhibitors of GSK3 activity and genetic down-regulation of GSK3α/β significantly inhibit glioma cell survival and clonogenicity. The potency of the cytotoxic effects is directly correlated with decreased enzyme activity-activating phosphorylation of GSK3α/β Y276/Y216 and with increased enzyme activity-inhibitory phosphorylation of GSK3α S21. Inhibition of GSK3 activity results in c-MYC activation leading to the induction of Bax, Bim, DR4/DR5 and TRAIL expression and subsequent cytotoxicity. Additionally, down-regulation of GSK3 activity results in alteration of intracellular glucose metabolism resulting in dissociation of hexokinase-II (HKII) from the outer mitochondrial membrane with subsequent mitochondrial destabilization. Finally, inhibition of GSK3 activity causes a dramatic decrease in intracellular nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) activity.
Inhibition of GSK3 activity results in c-MYC dependent glioma cell death through multiple mechanisms, all of which converge on the apoptotic pathways. GSK3 may therefore be an important therapeutic target for gliomas. Future studies will further define the optimal combinations of GSK3 inhibitors and cytotoxic agents for use in gliomas and other cancers.
PMCID: PMC2585745  PMID: 18701488
GSK3; NF-κB; c-MYC; glucose
22.  Long-Lasting Antidepressant Action of Ketamine, but Not Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3 Inhibitor SB216763, in the Chronic Mild Stress Model of Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56053.
Clinical studies demonstrate that the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, ketamine, induces rapid antidepressant effects in patients with refractive major depressive disorder and bipolar depression. This rapid onset of action makes ketamine a highly attractive drug for patients, particularly those who do not typically respond to therapy. A recent study suggested that glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3 may underlie the rapid antidepressant action of ketamine, although the precise mechanisms are unclear. In this study, we examined the effects of ketamine and GSK-3 inhibitor SB216763 in the unpredictable, chronic mild stress (CMS) mouse model of mice.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Adult C57/B6 male mice were divided into 2 groups, a non-stressed control group and the unpredictable CMS (35 days) group. Then, either vehicle, ketamine (10 mg/kg), or the established GSK-3 inhibitor, SB216763 (10 mg/kg), were administered into mice in the CMS group, while vehicle was administered to controls. In the open field test, there was no difference between the four groups (control+vehicle, CMS+vehicle, CMS+ketamine, CMS+SB216763). In the sucrose intake test, a 1% sucrose intake drop, seen in CMS mice, was significantly attenuated after a single dose of ketamine, but not SB216763. In the tail suspension test (TST) and forced swimming test (FST), the increased immobility time seen in CMS mice was significantly attenuated by a single dose of ketamine, but not SB216763. Interestingly, the ketamine-induced increase in the sucrose intake test persisted for 8 days after a single dose of ketamine. Furthermore, a single administration of ketamine, but not SB216763, significantly attenuated the immobility time of the TST and FST in the control (non-stressed) mice.
These findings suggest that a single administration of ketamine, but not GSK-3 inhibitor SB216763, produces a long-lasting antidepressant action in CMS model mice.
PMCID: PMC3563541  PMID: 23390559
23.  Resveratrol protects astrocytes against traumatic brain injury through inhibiting apoptotic and autophagic cell death 
Cell Death & Disease  2014;5(3):e1147-.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is often caused by accidents that damage the brain. TBI can induce glutamate excitotoxicity and lead to neuronal and glial cell death. In this study, we investigated the mechanism of cell death during the secondary damage caused by TBI in vivo and in vitro, as well as the protective effect of resveratrol (RV). Here we report that glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) activation and microtubule-associated protein light chain 3 processing were induced in rat brains exposed to TBI. In the in vitro TBI model, apoptotic and autophagic cell death were induced through glutamate-mediated GSK-3β activation in normal CTX TNA2 astrocytes. The GSK-3β inhibitor SB216763 or transfection of GSK-3β small-interfering RNA increases cell survival. By contrast, overexpression of GSK-3β enhanced glutamate excitotoxicity. Administration of RV reduced cell death in CTX TNA2 astrocytes by suppressing reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated GSK-3β activation, the mechanism by which RV also exerted protective effects in vivo. Mitochondrial damages, including the opening of mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP) and mitochondrial depolarization, were induced by glutamate through the ROS/GSK-3β pathway. Moreover, cyclosporine A, an MPTP inhibitor, suppressed mitochondrial damage and the percentages of cells undergoing autophagy and apoptosis and thereby increased cell survival. Taken together, our results demonstrated that cell death occurring after TBI is induced through the ROS/GSK-3β/mitochondria signaling pathway and that administration of RV can increase cell survival by suppressing GSK-3β-mediated autophagy and apoptosis. Therefore, the results indicated that resveratrol may serve as a potential therapeutic agent in the treatment of TBI.
PMCID: PMC3973229  PMID: 24675465
traumatic brain injury; resveratrol; glycogen synthase kinase-3β; mitochondrial permeability transition pore; autophagy; apoptosis
24.  A Plant Kavalactone Desmethoxyyangonin Prevents Inflammation and Fulminant Hepatitis in Mice  
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77626.
Alpinia pricei Hayata is a Formosan plant which has been popularly used as nutraceutical or folk medicine for inflammation and various disorders. An active compound of the plant rhizomes, desmethoxyyangonin (DMY), was identified in this study for its novel effect against endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated inflammation in murine macrophages and LPS/D-galactosamine (LPS/D-GalN)-induced fulminant hepatitis in mice. DMY was observed to significantly inhibit proliferation and activation of T cells ex vivo and the activity of several pro-inflammatory mediators in vitro. DMY also protected LPS/D-GalN−induced acute hepatic damages in mice through inhibiting aminotransferases activities and infiltrations of inflammatory macrophages, neutrophils and pathogenic T cells into the liver tissues. In addition, pretreatment with DMY significantly improved the survival rate of LPS/D-GalN−treated mice to 90% (9/10), compared to LPS/D-GalN−treated group (40%, 4/10). UPLC/MS platform-based comparative metabolomics approach was used to explore the serum metabolic profile in fulminant hepatic failure (FHF) mice with or without the DMY pretreatment. The results showed that LPS/D-GalN−induced hepatic damage is likely through perturbing amino acid metabolism, which leads to decreased pyruvate formation via catalysis of aminotransferases, and DMY treatment can prevent to a certain degree of these alterations in metabolic network in mouse caused by LPS/D-GalN. Mechanistic investigation demonstrated that DMY protects LPS or LPS/D-GalN−induced damages in cell or liver tissues mainly through de-regulating IKK/NFκB and Jak2/STAT3 signaling pathways. This report provides evidence-based knowledge to support the rationale for the use of A. pricei root extract in anti-inflammation and also its new function as hepatoprotetive agent against fulminant hepatitis.
PMCID: PMC3797050  PMID: 24143247
25.  Green tea extract supplement reduces D-galactosamine-induced acute liver injury by inhibition of apoptotic and proinflammatory signaling 
Oxidative stress and inflammation contributed to the propagation of acute liver injury (ALI). The present study was undertaken to determine whether D-galactosamine (D-GalN) induces ALI via the mitochondrial apoptosis- and proinflammatory cytokine-signaling pathways, and possible mechanism(s) by which green tea (GT) extract modulates the apoptotic and proinflammatory signaling in rat. D-GalN induced hepatic hypoxia/hypoperfusion and triggered reactive oxygen species (ROS) production from affected hepatocytes, infiltrated leukocytes, and activated Kupffer cells. D-GalN evoked cytosolic Bax and mitochondrial cytochrome C translocation and activated proinflammatory nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) and activator protein-1 (AP-1) translocation, contributing to the increase of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 expression, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated nick-end labeling (TUNEL)-positive hepatocytes, multiple plasma cytokines and chemokines release, and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity. An altered biliary secretion profile of several acute phase proteins directly indicates oxidative stress affecting intracellular trafficking in the hepatocyte. GT pretreatment attenuated ROS production, mitochondrial apoptosis- and proinflammatory cytokine-signaling pathway, plasma ALT and cytokines levels, biliary acute phase proteins secretion and hepatic pathology by the enhancement of anti-apoptotic mechanisms. In conclusion, D-GalN induced ALI via hypoxia/hypoperfusion-enhanced mitochondrial apoptosis- and proinflammatory cytokine-signaling pathway, contributing to oxidative stress and inflammation in the liver. GT can counteract the D-GalN-induced ALI via the attenuation of apoptotic and proinflammatory signaling by the upregulation of anti-apoptotic mechanism.
PMCID: PMC2667169  PMID: 19317920

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