In mammals, bitter taste is mediated by TAS2R genes, which belong to the large family of seven transmembrane G protein-coupled receptors. Because TAS2Rs are directly involved in the interaction between mammals and their dietary sources, it is likely that these genes evolved to reflect species-specific diets during mammalian evolution. Here, we investigated the sensitivities of TAS2R16s of various primates by using a cultured cell expression system, and found that the sensitivity of each primate species varied according to the ligand. Especially, the sensitivity of TAS2R16 of Japanese macaques to salicin was much lower than that of human TAS2R16, which was supported by behavioural tests. These results suggest the possibility that bitter-taste sensitivities evolved independently by replacing specific amino acid residues of TAS2Rs in different primate species to adapt to food items they use.
old world monkey; bitter taste receptor; chimpanzee
Estrogens were recently demonstrated to be synthesized in non-small cell lung carcinomas (NSCLCs) via aromatase activity and aromatase inhibitor (AI) did suppressed estrogen receptor (ER) positive NSCLC growth. However, other enzymes involved in intratumoral production and metabolism of estrogens, i.e. 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases (i.e. 17βHSD1 and 17βHSD2) and others have not been studied. Therefore, in this study, we examined the clinical/ biological significance of 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases in NSCLCs.
Archival materials obtained from 103 NSCLC patients were immunohistochemically evaluated using anti-17βHSD1 and anti-17βHSD2 antibodies. The findings of immunohistochemistry were then correlated with intratumoral estrone (E1) and estradiol (E2) concentration, clinicopathological factors and overall survival of the patients. We further employed NSCLC cell lines, A549 and LK87 to study the functional significance of 17βHSD1, in vitro.
A higher 17βHSD1 immunoreactivity tended to be positively associated with aromatase (p=0.057) and tumor stage (p=0.055) whereas a higher 17βHSD2 immunoreactivity was positively associated with a squamous cell and adenosquamous cell carcinomas subtypes (p=0.031), tumor stage (p=0.004), T factor of TNM classification (p=0.010), maximum tumor diameter (p=0.002) and tended to be associated with N factor of TMN classification (p=0.065). A higher 17βHSD1 immunoreactivity was also significantly associated with lower intratumoral E1 concentration (p=0.040) and a higher intratumoral E2/E1 concentration ratio (p=0.028). On the other hand a higher 17βHSD2 immunoreactivity was significantly associated with higher intratumoral E1 concentration (p=0.035). Results of multivariate regression analysis demonstrated an increased 17βHSD1 immunoreactivity in tumor cells as an independent negative prognostic factor (HR= 2.83, p=0.007). E1 treatment in 17βHSD1 positive NSCLC cells, A549 and LK87, resulted in E2 production (p<0.0001) and enhanced cell proliferation, which was abrogated effectively by 17βHSD1 siRNA knockdown (p<0.0001). In addition, aromatase inhibitor treatment resulted in 17βHSD1 up regulation in both A549 and LK87 cells.
Results of our present study suggest that 17βHSD1 may be considered an important prognostic factor in NSCLC patients and targeting 17βHSD1 activity may further improve the clinical response in estrogen responsive NSCLC patients.
Lung cancer; Intratumoral estrogens; 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase; Targeted therapy
Signal peptide peptidase (SPP) is a multi-transmembrane aspartic protease involved in intramembrane-regulated proteolysis (RIP). RIP proteases mediate various key life events by releasing bioactive peptides from the plane of the membrane region. We have previously isolated Arabidopsis SPP (AtSPP) and found that this protein is expressed in the ER. An AtSPP-knockout plant was found to be lethal because of abnormal pollen formation; however, there is negligible information describing the physiological function of AtSPP. In this study, we have investigated the proteolytic activity of AtSPP to define the function of SPPs in plants.
We found that an n-dodecyl-ß-maltoside (DDM)-solubilized membrane fraction from Arabidopsis cells digested the myc-Prolactin-PP-Flag peptide, a human SPP substrate, and this activity was inhibited by (Z-LL)2-ketone, an SPP-specific inhibitor. The proteolytic activities from the membrane fractions solubilized by other detergents were not inhibited by (Z-LL)2-ketone. To confirm the proteolytic activity of AtSPP, the protein was expressed as either a GFP fusion protein or solely AtSPP in yeast. SDS-PAGE analysis showed that migration of the fragments that were cleaved by AtSPP were identical in size to the fragments produced by human SPP using the same substrate. These membrane-expressed proteins digested the substrate in a manner similar to that in Arabidopsis cells.
The data from the in vitro cell-free assay indicated that the membrane fraction of both Arabidopsis cells and AtSPP recombinantly expressed in yeast actually possessed proteolytic activity for a human SPP substrate. We concluded that plant SPP possesses proteolytic activity and may be involved in RIP.
Signal peptide peptidase (SPP); Endoplasmic reticulum (ER); Aspartic protease; Regulated intramembrane proteolysis (RIP); Arabidopsis thaliana
There has been considerable interest in Emotional Intelligence (EI) in undergraduate medical education, with respect to student selection and admissions, health and well-being and academic performance. EI is a significant component of the physician-patient relationship. The emotional well-being of the physician is, therefore, a significant component in patient care. The aim is to examine the measurement of TEIQue-SF in Asian medical students and to explore how the practice of listening to the feelings of others and expressing one’s own feelings influences an individual’s EI, set in the context of the emotional well-being of a medical practitioner.
A group of 183 international undergraduate medical students attended a half-day workshop (WS) about mental-health and well-being. They completed a self-reported measure of EI on three occasions, pre- and post-workshop, and a 1-year follow-up.
The reliability of TEIQue-SF was high and the reliabilities of its four factors were acceptable. There were strong correlations between the TEIQue-SF and personality traits. A paired t-test indicated significant positive changes after the WS for all students (n=181, p= .014), male students (n=78, p= .015) and non-Japanese students (n=112, p= .007), but a repeated measures analysis showed that one year post-workshop there were significant positive changes for all students (n=55, p= .034), female students (n=31, p= .007), especially Japanese female students (n=13, p= .023). Moreover, 80% of the students reported that they were more attentive listeners, and 60% agreed that they were more confident in dealing with emotional issues, both within themselves and in others, as a result of the workshop.
This study found the measurement of TEIQue-SF is appropriate and reliable to use for Asian medical students. The mental health workshop was helpful to develop medical students’ EI but showed different results for gender and nationality. The immediate impact on the emotional awareness of individuals was particularly significant for male students and the non-Japanese group. The impact over the long term was notable for the significant increase in EI for females and Japanese. Japanese female students were more conscious about emotionality. Emotion-driven communication exercises might strongly influence the development of students’ EI over a year.
Emotional Intelligence (EI); Personality trait; Asian medical students; Nationality; Gender
Iron is an essential mineral for the body, and iron deficiency generally leads to anemia. However, because non-anemic iron deficiency can exist, we performed a comprehensive transcriptome analysis of the liver to define the effects of this condition on the body. Four-week-old male rats were fed a low-iron diet (approximately 3 ppm iron) for 3 days and compared with those fed a normal diet (48 ppm iron) by pair feeding as a control. The rats in the iron-deficient diet group developed a non-anemic iron-deficient state. DNA microarray analysis revealed that during this short time, this state conferred a variety of effects on nutrient metabolism in the liver. In comparison with long-term (17 days) iron-deficiency data from a previous study, some of the changed genes were found to be common to both short- and long-term iron deficiency models, some were specific to the short-term iron deficiency model, and the others were oppositely regulated between the two feeding terms. Taken together, these data suggest that although the blood hemoglobin level itself remains unchanged during non-anemic iron deficiency, a variety of metabolic processes involved in the maintenance of the energy balance are altered.
In 2006, we reported the effectiveness of chemoradiotherapy for postoperative recurrent esophageal cancer with a median observation period of 18 months. The purpose of the present study was to update the results of radiotherapy combined with nedaplatin and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) for postoperative loco-regional recurrent esophageal cancer.
Between 2000 and 2004, we performed a phase II study on treatment of postoperative loco-regional recurrent esophageal cancer with radiotherapy (60 Gy/30 fractions/6 weeks) combined with chemotherapy consisting of two cycles of nedaplatin (70 mg/m2/2 h) and 5-FU (500 mg/m2/24 h for 5 days).
The primary endpoint was overall survival rate, and the secondary endpoints were progression-free survival rate, irradiated-field control rate and chronic toxicity.
A total of 30 patients were enrolled in this study. The regimen was completed in 76.7% of the patients. The median observation period for survivors was 72.0 months. The 5-year overall survival rate was 27.0% with a median survival period of 21.0 months. The 5-year progression-free survival rate and irradiated-field control rate were 25.1% and 71.5%, respectively. Grade 3 or higher late toxicity was observed in only one patient. Two long-term survivors had gastric tube cancer more than 5 years after chemoradiotherapy.
Pretreatment performance status, pattern of recurrence (worse for patients with anastomotic recurrence) and number of recurrent lesions (worse for patients with multiple recurrent lesions) were statistically significant prognostic factors for overall survival.
Radiotherapy combined with nedaplatin and 5-FU is a safe and effective salvage treatment for postoperative loco-regional recurrent esophageal cancer. However, the prognosis of patients with multiple regional recurrence or anastomotic recurrence is very poor.
Postoperative recurrent esophageal cancer; Chemoradiotherapy; Long-term results; Phase II study
Polycystic kidney disease 1-like 3 (Pkd1l3) is expressed specifically in sour-sensing type III taste cells that have synaptic contacts with afferent nerve fibers in circumvallate and foliate papillae located in the posterior region of the tongue, though not in fungiform papillae or the palate. To visualize the gustatory neural pathways that originate from type III taste cells in circumvallate and foliate papillae, we established transgenic mouse lines that express the transneuronal tracer wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) under the control of the mouse Pkd1l3 gene promoter/enhancer. The WGA transgene was accurately expressed in Pkd1l3-expressing type III taste cells in circumvallate and foliate papillae. Punctate WGA protein signals appeared to be detected specifically in type III taste cells but not in other types of taste cells. WGA protein was transferred primarily to a subset of neurons located in close proximity to the glossopharyngeal nerve bundles in the nodose/petrosal ganglion. WGA signals were also observed in a small population of neurons in the geniculate ganglion. This result demonstrates the anatomical connection between taste receptor cells in the foliate papillae and the chorda tympani nerves. WGA protein was further conveyed to neurons in a rostro-central subdivision of the nucleus of the solitary tract. These findings demonstrate that the approximately 10 kb 5’-flanking region of the mouse Pkd1l3 gene functions as a type III taste cell-specific promoter/enhancer. In addition, experiments using the pkd1l3-WGA transgenic mice reveal a sour gustatory pathway that originates from taste receptor cells in the posterior region of the tongue.
PKD1L3; wheat germ agglutinin; type III taste cells; sour; gustatory neural pathway
The molecular mechanisms of the mammalian gustatory system have been examined in many studies using rodents as model organisms. In this study, we examined the mRNA expression of molecules involved in taste signal transduction in the fungiform papillae (FuP) and circumvallate papillae (CvP) of the rhesus macaque, Macaca mulatta, using in situ hybridization. TAS1R1, TAS1R2, TAS2Rs, and PKD1L3 were exclusively expressed in different subsets of taste receptor cells (TRCs) in the FuP and CvP. This finding suggests that TRCs sensing different basic taste modalities are mutually segregated in macaque taste buds. Individual TAS2Rs exhibited a variety of expression patterns in terms of the apparent level of expression and the number of TRCs expressing these genes, as in the case of human TAS2Rs. GNAT3, but not GNA14, was expressed in TRCs of FuP, whereas GNA14 was expressed in a small population of TRCs of CvP, which were distinct from GNAT3- or TAS1R2-positive TRCs. These results demonstrate similarities and differences between primates and rodents in the expression profiles of genes involved in taste signal transduction.
In this study, the glucansucrase from the dental caries pathogen S. mutans was purified and crystallized by the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method using ammonium sulfate as a precipitant.
Glucansucrases encoded by Streptococcus mutans play essential roles in the synthesis of sticky dental plaques. Based on amino-acid sequence similarity, glucansucrases are classified as members of glycoside hydrolase family 70 (GH 70). Data on the crystal structure of GH 70 glucansucrases have yet to be reported. Here, the GH 70 glucansucrase GTF-SI from S. mutans was overexpressed in Escherichia coli strain BL21 (DE3), purified to homogeneity and crystallized using the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method. Orthorhombic GTF-SI crystals belonging to space group P21212 were obtained. A diffraction data set was collected to 2.1 Å resolution.
glucansucrase; dental caries; Streptococcus mutans
A comprehensive re-evaluation of the G protein alpha subunit genes specifically expressed in taste buds in the tongue epithelium of rodents revealed that Gq and G14 of the Gq class and Gi2 and Ggust (Gt3, also known as gustducin) of the Gi class are expressed in mammalian taste buds. Meanwhile, a database search of fish genomes revealed the absence of a gene encoding an ortholog of the mammalian Ggust gene, which mediates sweet, umami, and bitter taste signals in mammalian taste receptor cells (TRCs). Histochemical screening identified two G protein alpha subunit genes, zfGia and zfG14, expressed in subsets of TRCs in zebrafish. The expression patterns of zfGia and zfG14 in taste buds were mutually exclusive, and the expression of known T1R and T2R genes in zebrafish was restricted to a subset of zfGia-expressing TRCs. These findings highlight the existence of a novel subset of TRCs in zebrafish that is absent in mammals and suggest that unidentified G protein-coupled receptors are expressed in zfG14-expressing TRCs and in zfGia-expressing TRCs where known T1R and T2R genes were not expressed in zebrafish. The existence of not only generalized but also specialized subsets of TRCs may imply a strong connection between the evolution of the peripheral gustatory system and the evolution of particular species.
taste bud; taste receptor cell; G protein; signal transduction; zebrafish; mouse
Functional diversification of taste cells is crucial for proper discrimination of taste qualities. We found homeodomain protein Skn-1a/Pou2f3 is expressed in sweet, umami, and bitter taste cells. The Skn-1a–deficient mice lacked electrophysiological and behavioral responses to sweet, umami, and bitter tastes, due to complete absence of sweet, umami, and bitter cells with concomitant expansion of sour cells. Skn-1a is critical for generating and balancing the diverse composition of taste cells.
Several studies have confirmed the advantages of delivering high doses of external beam radiotherapy to achieve optimal tumor-control outcomes in patients with localized prostate cancer. We evaluated the medium-term treatment outcome after high-dose, image-guided intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) using intra-prostate fiducial markers for clinically localized prostate cancer.
In total, 141 patients with localized prostate cancer treated with image-guided IMRT (76 Gy in 13 patients and 80 Gy in 128 patients) between 2003 and 2008 were enrolled in this study. The patients were classified according to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network-defined risk groups. Thirty-six intermediate-risk patients and 105 high-risk patients were included. Androgen-deprivation therapy was performed in 124 patients (88%) for a median of 11 months (range: 2–88 months). Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) relapse was defined according to the Phoenix-definition (i.e., an absolute nadir plus 2 ng/ml dated at the call). The 5-year actuarial PSA relapse-free survival, the 5-year distant metastasis-free survival, the 5-year cause-specific survival (CSS), the 5-year overall survival (OS) outcomes and the acute and late toxicities were analyzed. The toxicity data were scored according to the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events, version 4.0. The median follow-up was 60 months.
The 5-year PSA relapse-free survival rates were 100% for the intermediate-risk patients and 82.2% for the high-risk patients; the 5-year actuarial distant metastasis-free survival rates were 100% and 95% for the intermediate- and high-risk patients, respectively; the 5-year CSS rates were 100% for both patient subsets; and the 5-year OS rates were 100% and 91.7% for the intermediate- and high-risk patients, respectively. The Gleason score (<8 vs. ≥8) was significant for the 5-year PSA relapse-free survival on multivariate analysis (p = 0.044). There was no grade 3 or 4 acute toxicity. The incidence of grade 2 acute gastrointestinal (GI) and genitourinary (GU) toxicities were 1.4% and 8.5%, respectively. The 5-year actuarial likelihood of late grade 2–3 GI and GU toxicities were 6% and 6.3%, respectively. No grade 4 GI or GU late toxicity was observed.
These medium-term results demonstrate a good tolerance of high-dose image-guided IMRT. However, further follow-up is needed to confirm the long-term treatment outcomes.
Image-guided radiotherapy; Prostate cancer; Biochemical control; Toxicity
Clear cell carcinoma is rarely found in the salivary gland. It is classified as a low-grade carcinoma. This case demonstrates a low-grade clear cell carcinoma with myoepithelial features in the submandibular gland which differs from hyalinizing clear cell carcinoma and epithelial-myoepithelial carcinoma. A 32-year-old man presented with a 7 month history of left submandibular swelling. Left submandibular gland excision and left-sided supra-omohyoid neck dissection were performed. Microscopically, the tumor was circumscribed and composed predominantly of cords and nests of clear ovoid cells, set in a densely hyalinizing stroma. These cells are diffusely immunoreactive for cytokeratin AE1/AE3 and focally reactive for vimentin and smooth muscle actin (SMA). Based on these findings, the tumor was diagnosed as “a low-grade clear cell carcinoma with myoepithelial features”. The post-operative course was uneventful and the patient is free from disease 21 month after surgery.
Clear cell carcinoma; Myoepithelial carcinoma; Salivary gland; Hyalinizing clear cell carcinoma; Epithelial–myoepithelial carcinoma
One of the most distinctive features of human sweet taste perception is its broad tuning to chemically diverse compounds ranging from low-molecular-weight sweeteners to sweet-tasting proteins. Many reports suggest that the human sweet taste receptor (hT1R2–hT1R3), a heteromeric complex composed of T1R2 and T1R3 subunits belonging to the class C G protein–coupled receptor family, has multiple binding sites for these sweeteners. However, it remains unclear how the same receptor recognizes such diverse structures. Here we aim to characterize the modes of binding between hT1R2–hT1R3 and low-molecular-weight sweet compounds by functional analysis of a series of site-directed mutants and by molecular modeling–based docking simulation at the binding pocket formed on the large extracellular amino-terminal domain (ATD) of hT1R2. We successfully determined the amino acid residues responsible for binding to sweeteners in the cleft of hT1R2 ATD. Our results suggest that individual ligands have sets of specific residues for binding in correspondence with the chemical structures and other residues responsible for interacting with multiple ligands.
The mechanism by which phosphorus levels are maintained in the body was investigated by analyzing changes in gene expression in the rat kidney following administration of a high phosphorus (HP) diet. Male Wistar rats were divided into two groups and fed a diet containing 0.3% (control) or 1.2% (HP) phosphorous for 24 days. Phosphorous retention was not significantly increased in HP rats, but fractional excretion of phosphorus was significantly increased in the HP group compared to controls, with an excessive amount of the ingested phosphorus being passed through the body. DNA microarray analysis of kidney tissue from both groups revealed changes in gene expression profile induced by a HP diet. Among the genes that were upregulated, Gene Ontology (GO) terms related to ossification, collagen fibril organization, and inflammation and immune response were significantly enriched. In particular, there was significant upregulation of type IIb sodium-dependent phosphate transporter (NaPi-IIb) in the HP rat kidney compared to control rats. This upregulation was confirmed by in situ hybridization. Distinct signals for NaPi-IIb in both the cortex and medulla of the kidney were apparent in the HP group, while the corresponding signals were much weaker in the control group. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that NaPi-IIb localized to the basolateral side of kidney epithelial cells surrounding the urinary duct in HP rats but not in control animals. These data suggest that NaPi-IIb is upregulated in the kidney in response to the active excretion of phosphate in HP diet-fed rats.
Neoculin occurring in the tropical fruit of Curculigo latifolia is currently the only protein that possesses both a sweet taste and a taste-modifying activity of converting sourness into sweetness. Structurally, this protein is a heterodimer consisting of a neoculin acidic subunit (NAS) and a neoculin basic subunit (NBS). Recently, we found that a neoculin variant in which all five histidine residues are replaced with alanine elicits intense sweetness at both neutral and acidic pH but has no taste-modifying activity. To identify the critical histidine residue(s) responsible for this activity, we produced a series of His-to-Ala neoculin variants and evaluated their sweetness levels using cell-based calcium imaging and a human sensory test. Our results suggest that NBS His11 functions as a primary pH sensor for neoculin to elicit taste modification. Neoculin variants with substitutions other than His-to-Ala were further analyzed to clarify the role of the NBS position 11 in the taste-modifying activity. We found that the aromatic character of the amino acid side chain is necessary to elicit the pH-dependent sweetness. Interestingly, since the His-to-Tyr variant is a novel taste-modifying protein with alternative pH sensitivity, the position 11 in NBS can be critical to modulate the pH-dependent activity of neoculin. These findings are important for understanding the pH-sensitive functional changes in proteinaceous ligands in general and the interaction of taste receptor–taste substance in particular.
The constitutive androstane receptor (CAR) is known as a xeno-sensor that regulates genes involved in xenobiotic excretion and energy metabolism. This study tested a variety of polyphenols for their ability to modulate CAR activity. HepG2 cells were transfected with a CAR expression plasmid and a reporter plasmid containing the human CYP2B6 regulatory region and then treated with flavonoids, catechins and other bioactive polyphenols. Luciferase assays revealed that baicalein (5, 6, 7-OH flavone) was a potent activator of both human and mouse CAR. Catechin gallates also activated human and mouse CAR. Wild-type and CAR knockout mice were treated with baicalein and chrysin (5, 7-OH flavone), and their liver mRNA was analyzed by real-time PCR. A significant increase in cyp2b10 mRNA content was observed only in wild-type mice fed chrysin. These results suggest that dietary flavonoids regulate CAR activity and thereby accelerate both detoxification and energy metabolism.
flavonoid; catechin; chrysin; constitutive androstane receptor; pregnane X receptor; cyp2b10; detoxification; energy metabolism
Calpains constitute a superfamily of Ca2+-dependent cysteine proteases, indispensable for various cellular processes. Among the 15 mammalian calpains, calpain 8/nCL-2 and calpain 9/nCL-4 are predominantly expressed in the gastrointestinal tract and are restricted to the gastric surface mucus (pit) cells in the stomach. Possible functions reported for calpain 8 are in vesicle trafficking between ER and Golgi, and calpain 9 are implicated in suppressing tumorigenesis. These highlight that calpains 8 and 9 are regulated differently from each other and from conventional calpains and, thus, have potentially important, specific functions in the gastrointestinal tract. However, there is no direct evidence implicating calpain 8 or 9 in human disease, and their properties and physiological functions are currently unknown. To address their physiological roles, we analyzed mice with mutations in the genes for these calpains, Capn8 and Capn9. Capn8−/− and Capn9−/− mice were fertile, and their gastric mucosae appeared normal. However, both mice were susceptible to gastric mucosal injury induced by ethanol administration. Moreover, the Capn8−/− stomach showed significant decreases in both calpains 9 and 8, and the same was true for Capn9−/−. Consistent with this finding, in the wild-type stomach, calpains 8 and 9 formed a complex we termed “G-calpain,” in which both were essential for activity. This is the first example of a “hybrid” calpain complex. To address the physiological relevance of the calpain 8 proteolytic activity, we generated calpain 8:C105S “knock-in” (Capn8CS/CS) mice, which expressed a proteolytically inactive, but structurally intact, calpain 8. Although, unlike the Capn8−/− stomach, that of the Capn8CS/CS mice expressed a stable and active calpain 9, the mice were susceptible to ethanol-induced gastric injury. These results provide the first evidence that both of the gastrointestinal-tract-specific calpains are essential for gastric mucosal defense, and they point to G-calpain as a potential target for gastropathies caused by external stresses.
The continuous or improper ingestion of irritants, including alcohol, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and Helicobacter pylori, often leads to serious gastropathies, affecting a wide range of people. A complex gastric defense system helps protect against these threats, for example by secreting mucus. Here we report that two gastrointestinal-tract-specific calpains, calpain 8/nCL-2 and calpain 9/nCL-4, are involved in the mucosal defense against stress-induced gastropathies. Calpains are Ca2+-dependent cytosolic proteases that are indispensable for various cellular processes. Improper calpain activities can result in death or serious disorders, such as muscular dystrophies and lissencephaly, although no role for calpains in gastrointestinal diseases has been reported. Here we show that mice with mutations in the genes for calpains 8 and 9 are susceptible to alcohol-induced gastric injury. Moreover, these calpains form a stable complex, in which both molecules are essential for activity. Thus, human calpains 8 and 9 may contribute to the stomach's susceptibility to stress caused by irritants such as alcohol. Indeed, some reported human single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in these calpains are predicted to compromise their proteolytic activity. Our mutant mice provide unique animal models for potential human gastropathies caused by such SNPs.
G-protein-coupled receptors mediate the senses of taste, smell, and vision in mammals. Humans recognize thousands of compounds as bitter, and this response is mediated by the hTAS2R family, which is one of the G-protein-coupled receptors composed of only 25 receptors. However, structural information on these receptors is limited. To address the molecular basis of bitter tastant discrimination by the hTAS2Rs, we performed ligand docking simulation and functional analysis using a series of point mutants of hTAS2R16 to identify its binding sites. The docking simulation predicted two candidate binding structures for a salicin-hTAS2R16 complex, and at least seven amino acid residues in transmembrane 3 (TM3), TM5, and TM6 were shown to be involved in ligand recognition. We also identified the probable salicin-hTAS2R16 binding mode using a mutated receptor experiment. This study characterizes the molecular interaction between hTAS2R16 and β-d-glucopyranoside and will also facilitate rational design of bitter blockers.
Calcium Imaging; G-protein-coupled Receptors (GPCR); Membrane Proteins; Receptor Structure-Function; Signal Transduction; Bitter; Taste Receptor; Binding Site; Molecular Dynamics; Molecular Modeling
Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2A (LGMD2A) is a genetic disease that is caused by mutations in the calpain 3 gene (CAPN3), which encodes the skeletal muscle–specific calpain, calpain 3 (also known as p94). However, the precise mechanism by which p94 functions in the pathogenesis of this disease remains unclear. Here, using p94 knockin mice (termed herein p94KI mice) in which endogenous p94 was replaced with a proteolytically inactive but structurally intact p94:C129S mutant protein, we have demonstrated that stretch-dependent p94 distribution in sarcomeres plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of LGMD2A. The p94KI mice developed a progressive muscular dystrophy, which was exacerbated by exercise. The exercise-induced muscle degeneration in p94KI mice was associated with an inefficient redistribution of p94:C129S in stretched sarcomeres. Furthermore, the p94KI mice showed impaired adaptation to physical stress, which was accompanied by compromised upregulation of muscle ankyrin-repeat protein-2 and hsp upon exercise. These findings indicate that the stretch-induced dynamic redistribution of p94 is dependent on its protease activity and essential to protect muscle from degeneration, particularly under conditions of physical stress. Furthermore, our data provide direct evidence that loss of p94 protease activity can result in LGMD2A and molecular insight into how this could occur.
Because intracellular [Na+] is kept low by Na+/K+-ATPase, Na+ dependence is generally considered a property of extracellular enzymes. However, we found that p94/calpain 3, a skeletal-muscle-specific member of the Ca2+-activated intracellular “modulator proteases” that is responsible for a limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (“calpainopathy”), underwent Na+-dependent, but not Cs+-dependent, autolysis in the absence of Ca2+. Furthermore, Na+ and Ca2+ complementarily activated autolysis of p94 at physiological concentrations. By blocking Na+/K+-ATPase, we confirmed intracellular autolysis of p94 in cultured cells. This was further confirmed using inactive p94:C129S knock-in (p94CS-KI) mice as negative controls. Mutagenesis studies showed that much of the p94 molecule contributed to its Na+/Ca2+-dependent autolysis, which is consistent with the scattered location of calpainopathy-associated mutations, and that a conserved Ca2+-binding sequence in the protease acted as a Na+ sensor. Proteomic analyses using Cs+/Mg2+ and p94CS-KI mice as negative controls revealed that Na+ and Ca2+ direct p94 to proteolyze different substrates. We propose three roles for Na+ dependence of p94; 1) to increase sensitivity of p94 to changes in physiological [Ca2+], 2) to regulate substrate specificity of p94, and 3) to regulate contribution of p94 as a structural component in muscle cells. Finally, this is the first example of an intracellular Na+-dependent enzyme.
Calcium; Calpain; Muscular Dystrophy; Proteolytic Enzymes; Skeletal Muscle; Sodium Ion
Neoculin (NCL), a protein with sweetness approximately 500-fold that of sugar, can be utilized as a nonglycemic sweetener. It also has taste-modifying activity to convert sourness to sweetness. NCL is a heterodimer composed of an N-glycosylated acidic subunit (NAS) and a basic subunit (NBS), which are conjugated by disulfide bonds. For the production of recombinant NCL (rNCL) by Aspergillus oryzae, α-amylase with a KEX2 cleavage site, -K-R-, was fused upstream of each of NAS and NBS and the resulting fusion proteins were simultaneously expressed. For accurate and efficient cleavage of the fusion construct by KEX2-like protease, a triglycine motif was inserted after the KEX2 cleavage site. As NBS showed lower production efficiency than did NAS, a larger amount of the NBS expression plasmid than of NAS expression plasmid was introduced during cotransformation, resulting in successful production of rNCL in the culture medium. Moreover, to obtain a higher production yield of rNCL, the active form of hacA cDNA encoding a transcription factor that induces an unfolded protein response was cloned and expressed constitutively. This resulted in a 1.5-fold increase in the level of rNCL production (2.0 mg/liter). rNCL was purified by chromatography, and its NAS was found to be N-glycosylated as expected. The original sweetness and taste-modifying activity of rNCL were comparable to those of native NCL when confirmed by calcium imaging with human embryonic kidney cells expressing the human sweet taste receptor and by sensory tests.
Little data exist for the effectiveness of communication skills teaching for medical students in non-English speaking countries. We conducted a non-randomized controlled study to examine if a short intensive seminar for Japanese medical students had any impact on communication skills with patients.
Throughout the academic year 2001–2002, a total of 105 fifth-year students (18 groups of 5 to 7 students) participated, one group at a time, in a two-day, small group seminar on medical interviewing. Half way through the year, a five-station objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) was conducted for all fifth-year students. We videotaped all the students' interaction with a standardized patient in one OSCE station that was focused on communication skills. Two independent observers rated the videotapes of 50 students who had attended the seminar and 47 who had not. Sixteen core communication skills were measured. Disagreements between raters were resolved by a third observer's rating.
There was a statistically significant difference in proportions of students who were judged as 'acceptable' in one particular skill related to understanding patient's perspectives: asking how the illness or problems affected the patient's life, (53% in the experimental group and 30% in the control group, p = .02). No differences were observed in the other 15 core communication skills, although there was a trend for improvement in the skill for asking the patient's ideas about the illness or problems (60% vs. 40%, p = .054) and one of the relationship building skills; being attentive and empathic nonverbally (87% vs. 72%, p = .064).
The results of this study suggest that a short, intensive small group seminar for Japanese medical students may have had a short-term impact on specific communication skills, pertaining to understanding patient's perspectives.
Bitterness-masking compounds were identified in a natural
mold cheese. The oily fraction of the cheese was extracted and further
fractionated by using silica gel column chromatography. The four fractions
obtained were characterized by thin-layer chromatography and nuclear
magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The fatty acid-containing fraction
was found to have the highest bitterness-masking activity against
quinine hydrochloride. Bitterness-masking activity was quantitated
using a method based on subjective equivalents. At 0.5 mM, the fatty
acid mixture, which had a composition similar to that of cheese, suppressed
the bitterness of 0.008% quinine hydrochloride to be equivalent to
that of 0.0049–0.0060% and 0.5 mM oleic acid to that of 0.0032–0.0038%
solution. The binding potential between oleic acid and the bitter
compounds was estimated by isothermal titration calorimetry. These
results suggest that oleic acid masked bitterness by forming a complex
with the bitter compounds.
bitterness masking; bitter taste; cheese; fatty acid; isothermal titration calorimetry; oleic acid; sensory test