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1.  Carnosine: can understanding its actions on energy metabolism and protein homeostasis inform its therapeutic potential? 
The dipeptide carnosine (β-alanyl-L-histidine) has contrasting but beneficial effects on cellular activity. It delays cellular senescence and rejuvenates cultured senescent mammalian cells. However, it also inhibits the growth of cultured tumour cells. Based on studies in several organisms, we speculate that carnosine exerts these apparently opposing actions by affecting energy metabolism and/or protein homeostasis (proteostasis). Specific effects on energy metabolism include the dipeptide’s influence on cellular ATP concentrations. Carnosine’s ability to reduce the formation of altered proteins (typically adducts of methylglyoxal) and enhance proteolysis of aberrant polypeptides is indicative of its influence on proteostasis. Furthermore these dual actions might provide a rationale for the use of carnosine in the treatment or prevention of diverse age-related conditions where energy metabolism or proteostasis are compromised. These include cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and the complications of type-2 diabetes (nephropathy, cataracts, stroke and pain), which might all benefit from knowledge of carnosine’s mode of action on human cells.
PMCID: PMC3602167  PMID: 23442334
Carnosine; Energy metabolism; Reactive oxygen species (ROS); Methylglyoxal; Proteolysis; Alzheimer’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; Diabetes; Cancer; Yeast
2.  Inhibition of the growth of transformed and neoplastic cells by the dipeptide carnosine. 
British Journal of Cancer  1996;73(8):966-971.
Human diploid fibroblasts growth normally in medium containing physiological concentrations of the naturally occurring dipeptide carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine). These concentrations are cytotoxic to transformed and neoplastic cells lines in modified Eagle medium (MEM), whereas these cells grow vigorously in Dulbecco's modified Eagle medium (DMEM) containing carnosine. This difference is due to the presence of 1 mM sodium pyruvate in DMEM. Seven human cell lines and two rodent cell lines were tested and all are strongly inhibited by carnosine in the absence of pyruvate. Experiments with HeLa cells show that anserine is similar to carnosine, but D-carnosine and homocarnosine are without effect. Also, the non-essential amino acids alanine and glutamic acid contribute to the effect of pyruvate in preventing carnosine toxicity, and oxaloacetate and alpha-ketoglutarate can substitute for pyruvate. We have used mixtures of normal MRC-5 fibroblasts and HeLa cells to demonstrate that 20 mM carnosine can selectively eliminate the tumour cells. This has obvious implications which might be exploited in in vivo and in vitro studies. Carnosine is known to react strongly with aldehyde and keto groups of sugars by Amadori reaction, and we propose that it depletes certain glycolysis intermediates. It is well known that tumour cells are more dependent on glycolysis than normal cells. A reduction of glycolysis intermediates by carnosine may deplete their energy supply, but this effect is totally reversed by pyruvate.
PMCID: PMC2075811  PMID: 8611433
3.  Central administration of dipeptides, beta-alanyl-BCAAs, induces hyperactivity in chicks 
BMC Neuroscience  2007;8:37.
Carnosine (β-alanyl-L-histidine) is a putative neurotransmitter and has a possible role in neuron-glia cell interactions. Previously, we reported that carnosine induced hyperactivity in chicks when intracerebroventricularly (i.c.v.) administered. In the present study, we focused on other β-alanyl dipeptides to determine if they have novel functions.
In Experiment 1, i.c.v. injection of β-alanyl-L-leucine, but not β-alanyl-glycine, induced hyperactivity behavior as observed with carnosine. Both carnosine and β-alanyl-L-leucine stimulated corticosterone release. Thus, dipeptides of β-alanyl-branched chain amino acids were compared in Experiment 2. The i.c.v. injection of β-alanyl-L-isoleucine caused a similar response as β-alanyl-L-leucine, but β-alanyl-L-valine was somewhat less effective than the other two dipeptides. β-Alanyl-L-leucine strongly stimulated, and the other two dipeptides tended to stimulate, corticosterone release.
These results suggest that central β-alanyl-branched chain amino acid stimulates activity in chicks through the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. We named β-alanyl-L-leucine, β-alanyl-L-isoleucine and β-alanyl-L-valine as Excitin-1, Excitin-2 and Excitin-3, respectively.
PMCID: PMC1892563  PMID: 17537271
4.  Ergogenic Effects of β-Alanine and Carnosine: Proposed Future Research to Quantify Their Efficacy 
Nutrients  2012;4(7):585-601.
β-alanine is an amino acid that, when combined with histidine, forms the dipeptide carnosine within skeletal muscle. Carnosine and β-alanine each have multiple purposes within the human body; this review focuses on their roles as ergogenic aids to exercise performance and suggests how to best quantify the former’s merits as a buffer. Carnosine normally makes a small contribution to a cell’s total buffer capacity; yet β-alanine supplementation raises intracellular carnosine concentrations that in turn improve a muscle’s ability to buffer protons. Numerous studies assessed the impact of oral β-alanine intake on muscle carnosine levels and exercise performance. β-alanine may best act as an ergogenic aid when metabolic acidosis is the primary factor for compromised exercise performance. Blood lactate kinetics, whereby the concentration of the metabolite is measured as it enters and leaves the vasculature over time, affords the best opportunity to assess the merits of β-alanine supplementation’s ergogenic effect. Optimal β-alanine dosages have not been determined for persons of different ages, genders and nutritional/health conditions. Doses as high as 6.4 g day−1, for ten weeks have been administered to healthy subjects. Paraesthesia is to date the only side effect from oral β-alanine ingestion. The severity and duration of paraesthesia episodes are dose-dependent. It may be unwise for persons with a history of paraesthesia to ingest β-alanine. As for any supplement, caution should be exercised with β-alanine supplementation.
PMCID: PMC3407982  PMID: 22852051
carnosine; dietary supplement; amino acid; paraesthesia
5.  Anti-Stress Effects of Carnosine on Restraint-Evoked Immunocompromise in Mice through Spleen Lymphocyte Number Maintenance 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e33190.
Carnosine (β-alanyl-L-histidine), a naturally occurring dipeptide, has been characterized as a putative neurotransmitter and serves as a reservoir for brain histamine, which could act on histaminergic neurons system to relieve stress-induced damages. However, understanding of the role of carnosine in stress-evoked immunocompromise is limited. In this study, results showed that when mice were subjected to restraint stress, spleen index and the number of spleen lymphocytes including Natural Killer (NK) cells were obviously decreased. Results also demonstrated that restraint stress decreased the cytotoxic activity of NK cells per spleen (LU10/spleen) while the activity of a single NK cell (LU10/106 cells) was not changed. However, oral administration of carnosine (150 and 300 mg/kg) increased spleen index and number of spleen lymphocytes (including NK cells), and elevated the cytotoxic activity of NK cells per spleen in restraint-stressed mice. These results indicated that carnosine ameliorated stress-evoked immunocompromise through spleen lymphocyte number maintenance. Carnosine was further found to reduce stress-induced elevation of plasma corticosterone level. On the other hand, results showed that carnosine and RU486 (a glucocorticoids receptor antagonist) treatment prevented the reduction in mitochondrion membrane potential and the release of mitochondrial cytochrome c into cytoplasm, increased Bcl-2/Bax mRNA ratio, as well as decreased terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP-biotin nick end labeling (TUNEL)-positive cells in spleen lymphocytes of stressed mice. The results above suggested that the maintenance of spleen lymphocyte number by carnosine was related with the inhibition of lymphocytes apoptosis caused by glucocorticoids overflow. The stimulation of lymphocyte proliferation by carnosine also contributed to the maintenance of spleen lymphocyte number in stressed mice. In view of the elevated histamine level, the anti-stress effects of carnosine on restraint-evoked immunocompromise might be via carnosine-histamine metabolic pathway. Taken together, carnosine maintained spleen lymphocyte number by inhibiting lymphocyte apoptosis and stimulating lymphocyte proliferation, thus prevented immunocompromise in restraint-stressed mice.
PMCID: PMC3325237  PMID: 22511917
6.  A Mutant of Mycobacterium smegmatis Defective in Dipeptide Transport 
Journal of Bacteriology  1998;180(24):6773-6775.
A mutant of Mycobacterium smegmatis unable to use the dipeptide carnosine (β-alanyl-l-histidine) as a sole carbon or nitrogen source was isolated. Carnosinase activity and the ability to grow on β-Ala and/or l-His were similar in the mutant and the wild type. However, the mutant showed significant impairment in the uptake of carnosine. This study is the first description of a peptide utilization mutant of a mycobacterium.
PMCID: PMC107789  PMID: 9852030
7.  Differential Neuroprotective Effects of Carnosine, Anserine, and N-Acetyl Carnosine against Permanent Focal Ischemia 
Journal of neuroscience research  2008;86(13):2984-2991.
Carnosine (β-alanyl-L-histidine) has been shown to exhibit neuroprotection in rodent models of cerebral ischemia. In the present study, we further characterized the effects of carnosine treatment in a mouse model of permanent focal cerebral ischemia and compared them with its related peptides anserine and N-acetylated carnosine. We also evaluated the efficacy of bestatin, a carnosinase inhibitor, in ameliorating ischemic brain damage. Permanent focal cerebral ischemia was induced by occlusion of the middle cerebral artery (pMCAO). Mice were subsequently randomly assigned to receive an intraperitoneal injection of vehicle (0.9% saline), carnosine, N-acetyl carnosine, anserine, bestatin alone, or bestatin with carnosine. Infarct size was examined using 2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride staining 1, 3, and 7 days following pMCAO, and neurological function was evaluated using an 18-point-based scale. Brain levels of carnosine were measured in treated mice using high-performance liquid chromatography 1 day following pMCAO. We demonstrated that treatment with carnosine, but not its analogues, was able to significantly reduce infarct volume and improve neurological function compared with those in vehicle-treated mice. These beneficial effects were maintained for 7 days post-pMCAO. In contrast, compared with the vehicle-treated group, bestatin-treated mice displayed an increase in the severity of ischemic lesion, which was prevented by the addition of carnosine. These new data further characterize the neuroprotective effects of carnosine and suggest that carnosine may be an attractive candidate for testing as a stroke therapy.
PMCID: PMC2805719  PMID: 18543335
carnosine; anserine; N-acetyl carnosine; bestatin; permanent cerebral focal ischemia
8.  Distribution of carnosine-like peptides in the nervous system of developing and adult zebrafish (Danio rerio) and embryonic effects of chronic carnosine exposure 
Cell and tissue research  2009;337(1):45-61.
Carnosine-like peptides (carnosine-LP) are a family of histidine derivatives that are present in the nervous system of various species and that exhibit antioxidant, anti-matrix-metalloproteinase, anti-excitotoxic, and free-radical scavenging properties. They are also neuroprotective in animal models of cerebral ischemia. Although the function of carnosine-LP is largely unknown, the hypothesis has been advanced that they play a role in the developing nervous system. Since the zebrafish is an excellent vertebrate model for studying development and disease, we have examined the distribution pattern of carnosine-LP in the adult and developing zebrafish. In the adult, immunoreactivity for carnosine-LP is specifically concentrated in sensory neurons and non-sensory cells of the olfactory epithelium, the olfactory nerve, and the olfactory bulb. Robust staining has also been observed in the retinal outer nuclear layer and the corneal epithelium. Developmental studies have revealed immunostaining for carnosine-LP as early as 18 h, 24 h, and 7 days post-fertilization in, respectively, the olfactory, corneal, and retinal primordia. These data suggest that carnosine-LP are involved in olfactory and visual function. We have also investigated the effects of chronic (7 days) exposure to carnosine on embryonic development and show that 0.01 μM to 10 mM concentrations of carnosine do not elicit significant deleterious effects. Conversely, treatment with 100 mM carnosine results in developmental delay and compromised larval survival. These results indicate that, at lower concentrations, exogenously administered carnosine can be used to explore the role of carnosine in development and developmental disorders of the nervous system.
PMCID: PMC3725833  PMID: 19440736
Carnosine-like peptides; Nervous system; Development; Embryo toxicity; Zebrafish; Danio rerio (Teleostei)
9.  Intestinal absorption of carnosine and its constituent amino acids in man 1 
Gut  1970;11(3):250-254.
Serum concentrations of β-alanine and l-histidine are compared in five normal adults after ingestion of the dipeptide carnosine (β-alanyl-l-histidine) and after equivalent amounts of the constituent free amino acids. The results indicate that absorption is significantly more rapid after the ingestion of the amino acids than after the dipeptide. The use of the test in a case of Hartnup disease suggests that carnosine is taken up by intestinal cells as the dipeptide, but subsequent hydrolysis and delivery of the constituent amino acids to the portal blood is a slower process than transport of the free amino acids themselves.
PMCID: PMC1411426  PMID: 5423906
10.  Carnosine retards tumor growth in vivo in an NIH3T3-HER2/neu mouse model 
Molecular Cancer  2010;9:2.
It was previously demonstrated that the dipeptide carnosine inhibits growth of cultured cells isolated from patients with malignant glioma. In the present work we investigated whether carnosine also affects tumor growth in vivo and may therefore be considered for human cancer therapy.
A mouse model was used to investigate whether tumor growth in vivo can be inhibited by carnosine. Therefore, NIH3T3 fibroblasts, conditionally expressing the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2/neu), were implanted into the dorsal skin of nude mice, and tumor growth in treated animals was compared to control mice. In two independent experiments nude mice that received tumor cells received a daily intra peritoneal injection of 500 μl of 1 M carnosine solution. Measurable tumors were detected 12 days after injection. Aggressive tumor growth in control animals, that received a daily intra peritoneal injection of NaCl solution started at day 16 whereas aggressive growth in mice treated with carnosine was delayed, starting around day 19. A significant effect of carnosine on tumor growth was observed up to day 24. Although carnosine was not able to completely prevent tumor growth, a microscopic examination of tumors revealed that those from carnosine treated animals had a significant lower number of mitosis (p < 0.0003) than untreated animals, confirming that carnosine affects proliferation in vivo.
As a naturally occurring substance with a high potential to inhibit growth of malignant cells in vivo, carnosine should be considered as a potential anti-cancer drug. Further experiments should be performed in order to understand how carnosine acts at the molecular level.
PMCID: PMC2818694  PMID: 20053283
11.  Safety and Efficacy Evaluation of Carnosine, An Endogenous Neuroprotective Agent for Ischemic Stroke 
Background and Purpose
An urgent need exists to develop therapies for stroke which have high efficacy, long therapeutic time windows and acceptable toxicity. We undertook preclinical investigations of a novel therapeutic approach involving supplementation with carnosine, an endogenous pleiotropic dipeptide.
Efficacy and safety of carnosine treatment was evaluated in rat models of permanent or transient middle cerebral artery occlusion. Mechanistic studies used primary neuronal/astrocytic cultures and ex vivo brain homogenates.
Intravenous treatment with carnosine exhibited robust cerebroprotection in a dose-dependent manner, with long clinically-relevant therapeutic time windows of 6 h and 9 h in transient and permanent models, respectively. Histological outcomes and functional improvements including motor and sensory deficits were sustained at 14 d post-stroke onset. In safety and tolerability assessments, carnosine did not exhibit any evidence of adverse effects or toxicity. Moreover, histological evaluation of organs, complete blood count, coagulation tests and the serum chemistry did not reveal any abnormalities. In primary neuronal cell cultures and ex vivo brain homogenates, carnosine exhibited robust anti-excitotoxic, antioxidant, and mitochondria protecting activity.
In both permanent and transient ischemic models, carnosine treatment exhibited significant cerebroprotection against histological and functional damage, with wide therapeutic and clinically relevant time windows. Carnosine was well tolerated and exhibited no toxicity. Mechanistic data show that it influences multiple deleterious processes. Taken together, our data suggest that this endogenous pleiotropic dipeptide is a strong candidate for further development as a stroke treatment.
PMCID: PMC3678096  PMID: 23250994
carnosine; neuroprotection; ischemic stroke; efficacy; safety
12.  Determinants of muscle carnosine content 
Amino Acids  2012;43(1):5-12.
The main determinant of muscle carnosine (M-Carn) content is undoubtedly species, with, for example, aerobically trained female vegetarian athletes [with circa 13 mmol/kg dry muscle (dm)] having just 1/10th of that found in trained thoroughbred horses. Muscle fibre type is another key determinant, as type II fibres have a higher M-Carn or muscle histidine containing dipeptide (M-HCD) content than type I fibres. In vegetarians, M-Carn is limited by hepatic synthesis of β-alanine, whereas in omnivores this is augmented by the hydrolysis of dietary supplied HCD’s resulting in muscle levels two or more times higher. β-alanine supplementation will increase M-Carn. The same increase in M-Carn occurs with administration of an equal molar quantity of carnosine as an alternative source of β-alanine. Following the cessation of supplementation, M-Carn returns to pre-supplementation levels, with an estimated t1/2 of 5–9 weeks. Higher than normal M-Carn contents have been noted in some chronically weight-trained subjects, but it is unclear if this is due to the training per se, or secondary to changes in muscle fibre composition, an increase in β-alanine intake or even anabolic steroid use. There is no measureable loss of M-Carn with acute exercise, although exercise-induced muscle damage may result in raised plasma concentrations in equines. Animal studies indicate effects of gender and age, but human studies lack sufficient control of the effects of diet and changes in muscle fibre composition.
PMCID: PMC3374101  PMID: 22327512
Muscle carnosine; β-alanine; Species; Diet; Exercise and training; Age and gender
13.  Simple enzymatic procedure for l‐carnosine synthesis: whole‐cell biocatalysis and efficient biocatalyst recycling 
Microbial biotechnology  2009;3(1):74-83.
β‐Peptides and their derivates are usually stable to proteolysis and have an increased half‐life compared with α‐peptides. Recently, β‐aminopeptidases were described as a new enzyme class that enabled the enzymatic degradation and formation of β‐peptides. As an alternative to the existing chemical synthesis routes, the aim of the present work was to develop a whole‐cell biocatalyst for the synthesis and production of β‐peptides using this enzymatic activity. For the optimization of the reaction system we chose the commercially relevant β,α‐dipeptide l‐carnosine (β‐alanine‐l‐histidine) as model product. We were able to show that different recombinant yeast and bacteria strains, which overexpress a β‐peptidase, could be used directly as whole‐cell biocatalysts for the synthesis of l‐carnosine. By optimizing relevant reaction conditions for the best‐performing recombinant Escherichia coli strain, such as pH and substrate concentrations, we obtained high l‐carnosine yields of up to 71%. Long‐time as well as biocatalyst recycling experiments indicated a high stability of the developed biocatalyst for at least five repeated batches. Application of the recombinant E. coli in a fed‐batch process enabled the accumulation of l‐carnosine to a concentration of 3.7 g l−1.
PMCID: PMC3815949  PMID: 21255308
14.  Molecular Identification of Carnosine N-Methyltransferase as Chicken Histamine N-Methyltransferase-Like Protein (HNMT-Like) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64805.
Anserine (beta-alanyl-N(Pi)-methyl-L-histidine), a naturally occurring derivative of carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine), is an abundant constituent of skeletal muscles and brain of many vertebrates. Although it has long been proposed to serve as a proton buffer, radicals scavenger and transglycating agent, its physiological function remains obscure. The formation of anserine is catalyzed by carnosine N-methyltransferase which exhibits unknown molecular identity. In the present investigation, we have purified carnosine N-methyltransferase from chicken pectoral muscle about 640-fold until three major polypeptides of about 23, 26 and 37 kDa coeluting with the enzyme were identified in the preparation. Mass spectrometry analysis of these polypeptides resulted in an identification of histamine N-methyltransferase-like (HNMT-like) protein as the only meaningful candidate. Analysis of GenBank database records indicated that the hnmt-like gene might be a paralogue of histamine N-methyltransferase gene, while comparison of their protein sequences suggested that HNMT-like protein might have acquired a new activity. Chicken HNMT-like protein was expressed in COS-7 cells, purified to homogeneity, and shown to catalyze the formation of anserine as confirmed by both chromatographic and mass spectrometry analysis. Both specificity and kinetic studies carried out on the native and recombinant enzyme were in agreement with published data. Particularly, several compounds structurally related to carnosine, including histamine and L-histidine, were tested as potential substrates for the enzyme, and carnosine was the only methyl group acceptor. The identification of the gene encoding carnosine N-methyltransferase might be beneficial for estimation of the biological functions of anserine.
PMCID: PMC3660329  PMID: 23705015
15.  Transport Mechanisms of Carnosine in SKPT Cells: Contribution of Apical and Basolateral Membrane Transporters 
Pharmaceutical research  2008;26(1):172-181.
The aim of this study was to investigate the transport properties of carnosine in kidney using SKPT cell cultures as a model of proximal tubular transport, and to isolate the functional activities of renal apical and basolateral transporters in this process.
The membrane transport kinetics of 10 µM [3H]carnosine was studied in SKPT cells as a function of time, pH, potential inhibitors and substrate concentration. A cellular compartment model was constructed in which the influx, efflux and transepithelial clearances of carnosine were determined. Peptide transporter expression was probed by RT-PCR.
Carnosine uptake was 15-fold greater from the apical than basolateral surface of SKPT cells. However, the apical-to-basolateral transepithelial transport of carnosine was severely rate-limited by its cellular efflux across the basolateral membrane. The high-affinity, proton-dependence, concentration-dependence and inhibitor specificity of carnosine supports the contention that PEPT2 is responsible for its apical uptake. In contrast, the basolateral transporter is saturable, inhibited by PEPT2 substrates but non-concentrative, thereby, suggesting a facilitative carrier.
Carnosine is expected to have a substantial cellular accumulation in kidney but minimal tubular reabsorption in blood because of its high influx clearance across apical membranes by PEPT2 and very low efflux clearance across basolateral membranes.
PMCID: PMC2913304  PMID: 18820998
PEPT2; SKPT; carnosine; transport mechanisms; cellular kinetics
16.  Impairment of jejunal absorption rate of carnosine by glycylglycine in man in vivo. 
Gut  1976;17(4):252-257.
Using a double-lumen tube jejunal perfusion system in vivo, the mutual effects of carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine) and glycylglycine on their respective absorption rates have been studied in six Zambian African adults. Data on the effect of the constituent amino-acids of carnosine on glycylglycine absorption rate have similarly been obtained. The solutions infused in each subject contained (A) carnosine (50 mmol l.-1), (B) carnosine (50 mmol l.-1) and glycylglycine (50 mmol l.-1), (C) glycylglycine (50 mmol l.-1), and (D) glycylglycine (50 mmol l.-1), L-histidine (50 mmol l.-1) and beta-alanine (50 mmol l.-1). Glycylglycine produced a significant impairment in the mean rate of histidine absorption from carnosine (P less than 0-01). However, carnosine did not have a significant effect on the mean rate of glycine absorption from glycylglycine. Mean rate of histidine absorption from solution D was significantly higher than that from solution A (P less than 0-01). Mean rate of glycine absorption from glycylglycine was not significantly different during infusion of solutions B, C, and D. The results are consistent with the concept that carnosine on glycylglycine is probably because the affinity of mechanism; the lack of influence of carnosine on glycylglycine is probably because the affinity of carnosine for the dipeptide uptake mechanism is relatively low. A gross difference has been shown between mean absorption rate of histidine from free L-histidine (solution D) (25-8 mmol h-1) and when it is given in the form of carnosine in the presence of another dipeptide (solution B) (8-7 mmol h-1); that emphasizes the complexity of amino acid and peptide interaction during absorption, which must be important in nutrition.
PMCID: PMC1411104  PMID: 773786
17.  Carnosine's Effect on Amyloid Fibril Formation and Induced Cytotoxicity of Lysozyme 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81982.
Carnosine, a common dipeptide in mammals, has previously been shown to dissemble alpha-crystallin amyloid fibrils. To date, the dipeptide's anti-fibrillogensis effect has not been thoroughly characterized in other proteins. For a more complete understanding of carnosine's mechanism of action in amyloid fibril inhibition, we have investigated the effect of the dipeptide on lysozyme fibril formation and induced cytotoxicity in human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells. Our study demonstrates a positive correlation between the concentration and inhibitory effect of carnosine against lysozyme fibril formation. Molecular docking results show carnosine's mechanism of fibrillogenesis inhibition may be initiated by binding with the aggregation-prone region of the protein. The dipeptide attenuates the amyloid fibril-induced cytotoxicity of human neuronal cells by reducing both apoptotic and necrotic cell deaths. Our study provides solid support for carnosine's amyloid fibril inhibitory property and its effect against fibril-induced cytotoxicity in SH-SY5Y cells. The additional insights gained herein may pave way to the discovery of other small molecules that may exert similar effects against amyloid fibril formation and its associated neurodegenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC3859581  PMID: 24349167
18.  Biological functions of histidine-dipeptides and metabolic syndrome 
The rapid increase in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome, which is associated with a state of elevated systemic oxidative stress and inflammation, is expected to cause future increases in the prevalence of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids and sugars produces reactive carbonyl species, which, due to their electrophilic nature, react with the nucleophilic sites of certain amino acids. This leads to formation of protein adducts such as advanced glycoxidation/lipoxidation end products (AGEs/ALEs), resulting in cellular dysfunction. Therefore, an effective reactive carbonyl species and AGEs/ALEs sequestering agent may be able to prevent such cellular dysfunction. There is accumulating evidence that histidine containing dipeptides such as carnosine (β-alanyl-L-histidine) and anserine (β-alanyl-methyl-L-histidine) detoxify cytotoxic reactive carbonyls by forming unreactive adducts and are able to reverse glycated protein. In this review, 1) reaction mechanism of oxidative stress and certain chronic diseases, 2) interrelation between oxidative stress and inflammation, 3) effective reactive carbonyl species and AGEs/ALEs sequestering actions of histidine-dipeptides and their metabolism, 4) effects of carnosinase encoding gene on the effectiveness of histidine-dipeptides, and 5) protective effects of histidine-dipeptides against progression of metabolic syndrome are discussed. Overall, this review highlights the potential beneficial effects of histidine-dipeptides against metabolic syndrome. Randomized controlled human studies may provide essential information regarding whether histidine-dipeptides attenuate metabolic syndrome in humans.
PMCID: PMC3944153  PMID: 24611099
Carnosine; anserine; metabolic syndrome; CNDP-1 genotype; advanced glycoxidation end products (AGEs)
19.  Characterization of the metabolic shift between oxidative and fermentative growth in Saccharomyces cerevisiae by comparative 13C flux analysis 
One of the most fascinating properties of the biotechnologically important organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae is its ability to perform simultaneous respiration and fermentation at high growth rate even under fully aerobic conditions. In the present work, this Crabtree effect called phenomenon was investigated in detail by comparative 13C metabolic flux analysis of S. cerevisiae growing under purely oxidative, respiro-fermentative and predominantly fermentative conditions.
The metabolic shift from oxidative to fermentative growth was accompanied by complex changes of carbon flux throughout the whole central metabolism. This involved a flux redirection from the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) towards glycolysis, an increased flux through pyruvate carboxylase, the fermentative pathways and malic enzyme, a flux decrease through the TCA cycle, and a partial relocation of alanine biosynthesis from the mitochondrion to the cytosol. S. cerevisiae exhibited a by-pass of pyruvate dehydrogenase in all physiological regimes. During oxidative growth this by-pass was mainly provided via pyruvate decarboxylase, acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, acetyl-CoA synthase and transport of acetyl-CoA into the mitochondrion. During fermentative growth this route, however, was saturated due to limited enzyme capacity. Under these conditions the cells exhibited high carbon flux through a chain of reactions involving pyruvate carboxylase, the oxaloacetate transporter and malic enzyme. During purely oxidative growth the PPP alone was sufficient to completely supply NADPH for anabolism. During fermentation, it provided only 60 % of the required NADPH.
We conclude that, in order to overcome the limited capacity of pyruvate dehydrogenase, S. cerevisiae possesses different metabolic by-passes to channel carbon into the mitochondrion. This involves the conversion of cytosolic pyruvate either into acetyl CoA or oxaloacetate followed by intercompartmental transport of these metabolites. During oxidative growth mainly the NAD specific isoforms of acetaldehyde dehydrogenase and isocitrate dehydrogenase catalyze the corresponding reactions in S. cerevisiae, whereas NADPH supply under fermentative conditions involves significant contribution of sources other than the PPP such as e. g. NADPH specific acetaldehyde dehydrogenase or isocitrate dehydrogenase.
PMCID: PMC1291395  PMID: 16269086
20.  Yeast “Make-Accumulate-Consume” Life Strategy Evolved as a Multi-Step Process That Predates the Whole Genome Duplication 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68734.
When fruits ripen, microbial communities start a fierce competition for the freely available fruit sugars. Three yeast lineages, including baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, have independently developed the metabolic activity to convert simple sugars into ethanol even under fully aerobic conditions. This fermentation capacity, named Crabtree effect, reduces the cell-biomass production but provides in nature a tool to out-compete other microorganisms. Here, we analyzed over forty Saccharomycetaceae yeasts, covering over 200 million years of the evolutionary history, for their carbon metabolism. The experiments were done under strictly controlled and uniform conditions, which has not been done before. We show that the origin of Crabtree effect in Saccharomycetaceae predates the whole genome duplication and became a settled metabolic trait after the split of the S. cerevisiae and Kluyveromyces lineages, and coincided with the origin of modern fruit bearing plants. Our results suggest that ethanol fermentation evolved progressively, involving several successive molecular events that have gradually remodeled the yeast carbon metabolism. While some of the final evolutionary events, like gene duplications of glucose transporters and glycolytic enzymes, have been deduced, the earliest molecular events initiating Crabtree effect are still to be determined.
PMCID: PMC3711898  PMID: 23869229
21.  Salmonella typhimurium peptidase active on carnosine. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1978;134(2):361-374.
Wild-type Salmonella typhimurium can use carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine) as a source of histidine, but carnosine utilization is blocked in particular mutants defective in the constitutive enzyme peptidase D, the product of the pepD gene. Biochemical evidence for assigning carnosinase activity to peptidase D (a broad-specificity dipeptidase) includes: (i) coelution of carnosinase and dipeptidase activity from diethylaminoethyl-cellulose and Bio-Gel P-300 columns; (ii) coelectrophoresis of carnosinase and dipeptidase on polyacrylamide gels; and (iii) inactivation of carnosinase and dipeptidase activities at identical rates at both 4 and 42 degrees C. Genetic evidence indicates that mutations leading to loss of carnosinase activity map at pepD. Several independent pepD mutants have been isolated by different selection procedures, and the patterns of peptide utilization of strains carrying various pepD alleles have been studied. Many pepD mutations lead to the production of partially active peptidase D enzymes with substrate specificities that differ strikingly from those of the wild-type enzyme. The growth yields of carnosinase-deficient strains growing in Difco nutrient broth indicate that carnosine is the major utilizable source of histidine in this medium.
PMCID: PMC222261  PMID: 26655
22.  Selective Inhibition of Growth by the Proline Analogue Thiazolidine-4-Carboxylic Acid and Its Probable Mode of Action in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae showed differential growth inhibition when cultured on various carbon sources in the presence of the proline analogue thiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid (TZ). On 0.5% yeast extract, 2% glucose and TZ (10 mg/ml) medium, growth lags from 8 to 10 h were observed, after which cells recovered and growth proceeded normally. Growth was totally inhibited on a medium of 0.5% yeast extract, 3% ethanol, and 5 mg of TZ per ml. This inhibition was not due to the inability of cells to undergo aerobic respiration, since similar media containing glycerol instead of ethanol allowed growth. Proline added to the culture medium reversed the lag on glucose and TZ medium but did not promote recovery on ethanol and TZ medium. TZ was found to have two probable modes of action in yeast. It was a noncompetitive inhibitor of yeast alcohol dehydrogenase, and it was also found to be incorporated into cellular protein. Uptake studies using 14C-labeled TZ showed that the recovery on glucose was correlated with the progressive exclusion of the analogue from cells.
PMCID: PMC429066  PMID: 1094943
23.  Metabolic-Flux Profiling of the Yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Pichia stipitis 
Eukaryotic Cell  2003;2(1):170-180.
The so far largely uncharacterized central carbon metabolism of the yeast Pichia stipitis was explored in batch and glucose-limited chemostat cultures using metabolic-flux ratio analysis by nuclear magnetic resonance. The concomitantly characterized network of active metabolic pathways was compared to those identified in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which led to the following conclusions. (i) There is a remarkably low use of the non-oxidative pentose phosphate (PP) pathway for glucose catabolism in S. cerevisiae when compared to P. stipitis batch cultures. (ii) Metabolism of P. stipitis batch cultures is fully respirative, which contrasts with the predominantly respiro-fermentative metabolic state of S. cerevisiae. (iii) Glucose catabolism in chemostat cultures of both yeasts is primarily oxidative. (iv) In both yeasts there is significant in vivo malic enzyme activity during growth on glucose. (v) The amino acid biosynthesis pathways are identical in both yeasts. The present investigation thus demonstrates the power of metabolic-flux ratio analysis for comparative profiling of central carbon metabolism in lower eukaryotes. Although not used for glucose catabolism in batch culture, we demonstrate that the PP pathway in S. cerevisiae has a generally high catabolic capacity by overexpressing the Escherichia coli transhydrogenase UdhA in phosphoglucose isomerase-deficient S. cerevisiae.
PMCID: PMC141173  PMID: 12582134
24.  Increased iron supplied through Fet3p results in replicative life span extension of Saccharomyces cerevisiae under conditions requiring respiratory metabolism 
Experimental gerontology  2011;46(10):827-832.
We have previously shown that copper supplementation extends the replicative life span of Saccharomyces cerevisiae when grown under conditions forcing cells to respire. We now show that copper’s effect on life span is through Fet3p, a copper containing enzyme responsible for high affinity transport of iron into yeast cells. Life span extensions can also be obtained by supplementing the growth medium with 1mM ferric chloride. Extension by high iron levels is still dependent on the presence of Fet3p. Life span extension by iron or copper requires growth on media containing glycerol as the sole carbon source, which forces yeast to respire. Yeast grown on glucose containing media supplemented with iron show no extension of life span. The iron associated with cells grown in media supplemented with copper or iron is 1.4–1.8 times that of cells grown without copper or iron supplementation. As with copper supplementation, iron supplementation partially rescues the life span of superoxide dismutase mutants. Cells grown with copper supplementation display decreased production of superoxide as measured by dihydroethidium staining.
PMCID: PMC3166999  PMID: 21798334
Aging; mitochondria; FET3; respiration; copper; iron
25.  Maf1 Is Involved in Coupling Carbon Metabolism to RNA Polymerase III Transcription▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(21):7693-7702.
RNA polymerase III (Pol III) produces essential components of the biosynthetic machinery, and therefore its activity is tightly coupled with cell growth and metabolism. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Maf1 is the only known global and direct Pol III transcription repressor which mediates numerous stress signals. Here we demonstrate that transcription regulation by Maf1 is not limited to stress but is important for the switch between fermentation and respiration. Under respiratory conditions, Maf1 is activated by dephosphorylation and imported into the nucleus. The transition from a nonfermentable carbon source to that of glucose induces Maf1 phosphorylation and its relocation to the cytoplasm. The absence of Maf1-mediated control of tRNA synthesis impairs cell viability in nonfermentable carbon sources. The respiratory phenotype of maf1-Δ allowed genetic suppression studies to dissect the mechanism of Maf1 action on the Pol III transcription apparatus. Moreover, in cells grown in a nonfermentable carbon source, Maf1 regulates the levels of different tRNAs to various extents. The differences in regulation may contribute to the physiological role of Maf1.
PMCID: PMC2169064  PMID: 17785443

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