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1.  A TR-FRET based functional assay for screening activators of CARM1 
Chembiochem : a European journal of chemical biology  2013;14(7):10.1002/cbic.201300029.
Epigenome is an emerging field that demands selective cell-permeable chemical probes to perturb, especially in vivo, the activity of specific enzymes involved in modulating the epigenetic codes. Coactivator Associated Arginine (R) Methyltransferase 1 (CARM1) is a coactivator of estrogen receptor α (ERα), the main target in human breast cancer. We previously showed that overexpression of CARM1 by two-fold in MCF7 breast cancer cells increased the expression of ERα-target genes involved in differentiation and reduced cell proliferation, leading to the hypothesis that activating CARM1 by chemical activators may be therapeutically effective in breast cancer. Selective, potent, cell-permeable CARM1 activators will be essential to test this hypothesis. Here we report the development of a cell-based, time-resolved Förster resonance energy transfer (TR-FRET) assay using poly (A) binding protein 1 (PABP1) methylation to monitor cellular activity of CARM1. The LanthaScreen® TR-FRET assay utilizes MCF7 cells expressing GFP-PABP1 fusion protein via BacMam gene delivery system, methyl-PABP1 specific antibody and terbium-labeled secondary antibody. This assay has been validated to reflect the expression and/or activity of CARM1 and optimized for high throughput screening to identify CARM1 allosteric activators. This TR-FRET platform serves as a generic tool for functional screening of cell-permeable, chemical modulators of CARM1 for elucidation of its in vivo functions.
PMCID: PMC3828750  PMID: 23585185
Arginine methylation; CARM1; PABP1; TR-FRET
2.  Screening for Novel LRRK2 Inhibitors Using a High-Throughput TR-FRET Cellular Assay for LRRK2 Ser935 Phosphorylation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43580.
Mutations in the leucine-rich repeat kinase-2 (LRRK2) have been linked to Parkinson’s disease. Recent studies show that inhibition of LRRK2 kinase activity decreased the level of phosphorylation at its own Ser910 and Ser935, indicating that these sites are prime targets for cellular readouts of LRRK2 inhibition.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Using Time-Resolved Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (TR-FRET) technology, we developed a high-throughput cellular assay for monitoring LRRK2 phosphorylation at Ser935. LRRK2-Green Fluorescence Protein (GFP) fusions were expressed in cells via BacMam. Phosphorylation at Ser935 in these cells is detected using a terbium labeled anti-phospho-Ser935 antibody that generates a TR-FRET signal between terbium and GFP. LRRK2 wild-type and G2019S are constitutively phosphorylated at Ser935 in cells as measured by TR-FRET. The phosphorylation level is reduced for the R1441C mutant and little could be detected for the kinase-dead mutant D1994A. The TR-FRET cellular assay was further validated using reported LRRK2 inhibitors including LRRK2-IN-1 and our results confirmed that inhibition of LRRK2 can reduce the phosphorylation level at Ser935. To demonstrate the utility of this assay for screening, we profiled a small library of 1120 compounds. Three known LRRK2 inhibitors were identified and 16 hits were followed up in the TR-FRET and a cytotoxicity assay. Interestingly, out of the top 16 hits, five are known inhibitors of IκB phosphorylation, two CHK1 and two CDC25 inhibitors. Thirteen hits were further tested in a biochemical LRRK2 kinase activity assay and Western blot analysis for their effects on the phosphorylation of Ser910, Ser935, Ser955 and Ser973.
We developed a TR-FRET cellular assay for LRRK2 Ser935 phosphorylation that can be applied to the screening for LRRK2 inhibitors. We report for the first time that several compounds such as IKK16, CHK1 inhibitors and GW441756 can inhibit LRRK2 Ser935 phosphorylation in cells and LRRK2 kinase activity in vitro.
PMCID: PMC3429506  PMID: 22952710
3.  Relationships among Trust in Messages, Risk Perception, and Risk Reduction Preferences Based upon Avian Influenza in Taiwan  
Improvements in communications technology enable consumers to receive information through diverse channels. In the case of avian influenza, information repeated by the mass media socially amplifies the consumer awareness of risks. Facing indeterminate risks, consumers may feel anxious and increase their risk perception. When consumers trust the information published by the media, their uncertainty toward avian influenza may decrease. Consumers might take some actions to reduce risk. Therefore, this study focuses on relationships among trust in messages, risk perception and risk reduction preferences. This study administered 525 random samples and consumer survey questionnaires in different city of Taiwan in 2007. Through statistical analysis, the results demonstrate: (1) the higher the trust consumers have in messages about avian influenza, the lower their risk perceptions are; (2) the higher the consumers’ risk perceptions are and, therefore, the higher their desired level of risk reductive, the more likely they are to accept risk reduction strategies; (3) consumer attributes such as age, education level, and marital status correlate with significant differences in risk perception and risk reduction preferences acceptance. Gender has significant differences only in risk reduction preferences and not in risk perception.
PMCID: PMC3447584  PMID: 23066394
avian influenza; trust in message; risk perception; risk reduction preference
4.  A Quantitative High-Throughput Screen for Modulators of IL-6 Signaling: A Model for Interrogating Biological Networks using Chemical Libraries 
Molecular bioSystems  2009;5(9):1039-1050.
Small molecule modulators are critical for dissecting and understanding signaling pathways at the molecular level. Interleukin 6 (IL-6) is a cytokine that signals via the JAK/STAT pathway and is implicated in cancer and inflammation. To identify modulators of this pathway, we screened a chemical collection against an IL-6 responsive cell line stably expressing a beta-lactamase reporter gene fused to a sis-inducible element (SIE-bla cells). This assay was optimized for a 1536-well microplate format and screened against 11,693 small molecules using quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS), a method that assays a chemical library at multiple concentrations to generate titration-response profiles for each compound. The qHTS recovered 564 actives with well-fit curves that clustered into 32 distinct chemical series of 13 activators and 19 inhibitors. A retrospective analysis of the qHTS data indicated that single concentration data at 1.5 and 7.7 uM scored 35 and 71% of qHTS actives, respectively, as inactive and were therefore false negatives. Following counter screens to identify fluorescent and nonselective series, we found four activator and one inhibitor series that modulated SIE-bla cells but did not show similar activity in reporter gene assays induced by EGF and hypoxia. Small molecules within these series will make useful tool compounds to investigate IL-6 signaling mediated by JAK/STAT activation.
PMCID: PMC2747079  PMID: 19668870
IL-6; small molecule; HTS; STAT; assay
5.  Identification of small molecule compounds that inhibit the HIF-1 signaling pathway 
Molecular Cancer  2009;8:117.
Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is the major hypoxia-regulated transcription factor that regulates cellular responses to low oxygen environments. HIF-1 is composed of two subunits: hypoxia-inducible HIF-1α and constitutively-expressed HIF-1β. During hypoxic conditions, HIF-1α heterodimerizes with HIF-1β and translocates to the nucleus where the HIF-1 complex binds to the hypoxia-response element (HRE) and activates expression of target genes implicated in cell growth and survival. HIF-1α protein expression is elevated in many solid tumors, including those of the cervix and brain, where cells that are the greatest distance from blood vessels, and therefore the most hypoxic, express the highest levels of HIF-1α. Therapeutic blockade of the HIF-1 signaling pathway in cancer cells therefore provides an attractive strategy for development of anticancer drugs. To identify small molecule inhibitors of the HIF-1 pathway, we have developed a cell-based reporter gene assay and screened a large compound library by using a quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS) approach.
The assay is based upon a β-lactamase reporter under the control of a HRE. We have screened approximate 73,000 compounds by qHTS, with each compound tested over a range of seven to fifteen concentrations. After qHTS we have rapidly identified three novel structural series of HIF-1 pathway Inhibitors. Selected compounds in these series were also confirmed as inhibitors in a HRE β-lactamase reporter gene assay induced by low oxygen and in a VEGF secretion assay. Three of the four selected compounds tested showed significant inhibition of hypoxia-induced HIF-1α accumulation by western blot analysis.
The use of β-lactamase reporter gene assays, in combination with qHTS, enabled the rapid identification and prioritization of inhibitors specific to the hypoxia induced signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC2797767  PMID: 20003191
6.  HTS-Compatible β-Lactamase Transcriptional Reporter Gene Assay for Interrogating the Heat Shock Response Pathway 
Moderate environmental and physiological stressors are known to initiate protective heat shock response (HSR) leading to cell survival. HSR is largely mediated by the activation of heat shock factor (HSF), resulting in increased heat shock protein expression. Dysregulation of the HSR signaling has been associated with various diseases including cancer, inflammation and neurodegenerative disorders. Compounds that can modulate HSR have been pursued for the treatment of these diseases. To facilitate the discovery of HSR modulators, we developed a high-throughput amenable betalactamase transcriptional reporter gene assay for monitoring the function of HSF. HeLa cells were engineered to express the beta-lactamase reporter under the control of HSF response elements (HSE) present in the HSP70 gene promoter. The HSE-beta lactamase (HSE-bla) reporter gene assay was validated by using HSF-specific siRNAs and known small molecule modulators. Taking the advantage of fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based cell permeable betalactamase substrate, this assay can be miniaturized into 1536-well format. Our results demonstrate that the assay is robust and can be applied to high-throughput screening (HTS) for modulators of HSR.
PMCID: PMC2793398  PMID: 20161831
7.  Cellular Assays for High-Throughput Screening for Modulators of Trk Receptor Tyrosine Kinases 
Trk receptor tyrosine kinases are required for signal transduction initiated by neurotrophins leading to cell proliferation, differentiation, survival and death. Alterations in Trk kinase activity have been linked to various diseases. To address the need for cell-based assays for screening and studying the selectivity of Trk kinase modulators, we developed high-throughput cell-based assays for Trk receptor kinases using nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) beta-lactamase reporter lines stably expressing full length human Trk kinases. These assays were functionally validated with cognate neurotrophin(s), inhibitors and TRK RNAi oligos and demonstrated for their utility in identifying potent and selective modulators of Trk receptor kinases.
PMCID: PMC2774616  PMID: 20161825
8.  Translocation of PKCθ in T cells is mediated by a nonconventional, PI3-K– and Vav-dependent pathway, but does not absolutely require phospholipase C 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2002;157(2):253-263.
PKCθ plays an essential role in activation of mature T cells via stimulation of AP-1 and NF-κB, and is known to selectively translocate to the immunological synapse in antigen-stimulated T cells. Recently, we reported that a Vav/Rac pathway which depends on actin cytoskeleton reorganization mediates selective recruitment of PKCθ to the membrane or cytoskeleton and its catalytic activation by anti-CD3/CD28 costimulation. Because this pathway acted selectively on PKCθ, we addressed here the question of whether the translocation and activation of PKCθ in T cells is regulated by a unique pathway distinct from the conventional mechanism for PKC activation, i.e., PLC-mediated production of DAG. Using three independent approaches, i.e., a selective PLC inhibitor, a PLCγ1-deficient T cell line, or a dominant negative PLCγ1 mutant, we demonstrate that CD3/CD28-induced membrane recruitment and COOH-terminal phosphorylation of PKCθ are largely independent of PLC. In contrast, the same inhibitory strategies blocked the membrane translocation of PKCα. Membrane or lipid raft recruitment of PKCθ (but not PKCα) was absent in T cells treated with phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K) inhibitors or in Vav-deficient T cells, and was enhanced by constitutively active PI3-K. 3-phosphoinositide-dependent kinase-1 (PDK1) also upregulated the membrane translocation of PKCθ, but did not associate with it. These results provide evidence that a nonconventional PI3-K– and Vav-dependent pathway mediates the selective membrane recruitment and, possibly, activation of PKCθ in T cells.
PMCID: PMC2199257  PMID: 11956228
protein kinase C-θ; phospholipase C; Vav; phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase; T cell
9.  Vav1/Rac-dependent actin cytoskeleton reorganization is required for lipid raft clustering in T cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2001;155(3):331-338.
Formation of the immunological synapse (IS) in T cells involves large scale molecular movements that are mediated, at least in part, by reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton. Various signaling proteins accumulate at the IS and are localized in specialized membrane microdomains, known as lipid rafts. We have shown previously that lipid rafts cluster and localize at the IS in antigen-stimulated T cells. Here, we provide evidence that lipid raft polarization to the IS depends on an intracellular pathway that involves Vav1, Rac, and actin cytoskeleton reorganization. Thus, lipid rafts did not translocate to the IS in Vav1-deficient (Vav1−/−) T cells upon antigen stimulation. Similarly, T cell receptor transgenic Jurkat T cells also failed to translocate lipid rafts to the IS when transfected with dominant negative Vav1 mutants. Raft polarization induced by membrane-bound cholera toxin cross-linking was also abolished in Jurkat T cells expressing dominant negative Vav1 or Rac mutants and in cells treated with inhibitors of actin polymerization. However, Vav overexpression that induced F-actin polymerization failed to induce lipid rafts clustering. Therefore, Vav is necessary, but not sufficient, to regulate lipid rafts clustering and polarization at the IS, suggesting that additional signals are required.
PMCID: PMC2150846  PMID: 11684704
T cell; immunological synapse; lipid raft; Vav1; cytoskeleton

Results 1-9 (9)