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1.  Exposure to a Northern Contaminant Mixture (NCM) Alters Hepatic Energy and Lipid Metabolism Exacerbating Hepatic Steatosis in Obese JCR Rats 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e106832.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), defined by the American Liver Society as the buildup of extra fat in liver cells that is not caused by alcohol, is the most common liver disease in North America. Obesity and type 2 diabetes are viewed as the major causes of NAFLD. Environmental contaminants have also been implicated in the development of NAFLD. Northern populations are exposed to a myriad of persistent organic pollutants including polychlorinated biphenyls, organochlorine pesticides, flame retardants, and toxic metals, while also affected by higher rates of obesity and alcohol abuse compared to the rest of Canada. In this study, we examined the impact of a mixture of 22 contaminants detected in Inuit blood on the development and progression of NAFLD in obese JCR rats with or without co-exposure to10% ethanol. Hepatosteatosis was found in obese rat liver, which was worsened by exposure to 10% ethanol. NCM treatment increased the number of macrovesicular lipid droplets, total lipid contents, portion of mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids in the liver. This was complemented by an increase in hepatic total cholesterol and cholesterol ester levels which was associated with changes in the expression of genes and proteins involved in lipid metabolism and transport. In addition, NCM treatment increased cytochrome P450 2E1 protein expression and decreased ubiquinone pool, and mitochondrial ATP synthase subunit ATP5A and Complex IV activity. Despite the changes in mitochondrial physiology, hepatic ATP levels were maintained high in NCM-treated versus control rats. This was due to a decrease in ATP utilization and an increase in creatine kinase activity. Collectively, our results suggest that NCM treatment decreases hepatic cholesterol export, possibly also increases cholesterol uptake from circulation, and promotes lipid accumulation and alters ATP homeostasis which exacerbates the existing hepatic steatosis in genetically obese JCR rats with or without co-exposure to ethanol.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106832
PMCID: PMC4164366  PMID: 25222487
2.  Antioxidant Supplements Improve Profiles of Hepatic Oxysterols and Plasma Lipids in Butter-fed Hamsters 
Hypercholesterolemic diets are associated with oxidative stress that may contribute to hypercholesterolemia by adversely affecting enzymatically-generated oxysterols involved in cholesterol homeostasis. An experiment was conducted to examine whether the cholesterol-lowering effects of the antioxidants selenium and α-tocopherol were related to hepatic oxysterol concentrations. Four groups of male Syrian hamsters (n = 7–8) were fed high cholesterol and saturated fat (0.46% cholesterol, 14.3% fat) hypercholesterolemic semi-purified diets: 1) Control; 2) Control + α-tocopherol (67 IU all-racemic-α-tocopheryl-acetate/kg diet); 3) Control + selenium (3.4 mg selenate/kg diet); and 4) Control + α-tocopherol + selenium. Antioxidant supplementation was associated with lowered plasma cholesterol concentrations, decreased tissue lipid peroxidation and higher hepatic oxysterol concentrations. A second experiment examined the effect of graded selenium doses (0.15, 0.85, 1.7 and 3.4 mg selenate/kg diet) on mRNA expression of the oxysterol-generating enzyme, hepatic 27-hydroxylase (CYP27A1, EC 1.14.13.15), in hamsters (n = 8–9) fed the hypercholesterolemic diets. Supplementation of selenium at 3.4 mg selenate/kg diet was not associated with increased hepatic 27-hydroxylase mRNA. In conclusion, the cholesterol lowering effects of selenium and α-tocopherol were associated with increased hepatic enzymatically generated oxysterol concentrations, which appears to be mediated via improved antioxidant status rather than increased enzymatic production.
doi:10.4137/NMI.S3911
PMCID: PMC3736883  PMID: 23966787
selenium; lipid hydroperoxide; glutathione; sterol 27-hydroxylase mRNA; tocopherols; thiobarbituric acid-reading substances
3.  Mice Lacking the UBC4-testis Gene Have a Delay in Postnatal Testis Development but Normal Spermatogenesis and Fertility 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(15):6346-6354.
Activation of ubiquitination occurs during spermatogenesis and is dependent on the induction of isoforms of the UBC4 family of ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes. The UBC4-testis isoform is testis specific, is induced in round spermatids, and demonstrates biochemical functions distinct from a ubiquitously expressed isoform UBC4-1. To explore further the function of UBC4-testis, mice bearing inactivation of this gene were produced. Homozygous (−/−) mice showed normal body growth and fertility. Although testis weight and morphology were normal in testes from adult mice, examination of young mice during the first wave of spermatogenesis revealed that testes were ∼10% smaller in weight at 40 and 45 days of age but had become normal at 65 days of age. Overall protein content, levels of ubiquitinated proteins, and ubiquitin-conjugating activity did not differ between wild-type and homozygous (−/−) mice. Spermatid number, as well as the motility of spermatozoa isolated from the epididymis, was also normal in homozygous (−/−) mice. To determine whether the germ cells lacking UBC4-testis might be more sensitive to stress, testes from wild-type and knockout mice were exposed to heat stress by implantation in the abdominal cavity. Testes from both strains of mice showed similar rates of degeneration in response to heat. The lack of an obvious phenotype did not appear to be due to induction of other UBC4 isoforms, as shown by two-dimensional gel immunoblotting. Our data indicate that UBC4-testis plays a role in early maturation of the testis and suggest that the many UBC4 isoforms have mixed redundant and specific functions.
doi:10.1128/MCB.25.15.6346-6354.2005
PMCID: PMC1190331  PMID: 16024774
4.  Molecular Cloning and Characterization of a Radial Spoke Head Protein of Sea Urchin Sperm Axonemes: Involvement of the Protein in the Regulation of Sperm Motility 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1998;9(2):513-522.
Monoclonal antibodies raised against axonemal proteins of sea urchin spermatozoa have been used to study regulatory mechanisms involved in flagellar motility. Here, we report that one of these antibodies, monoclonal antibody D-316, has an unusual perturbating effect on the motility of sea urchin sperm models; it does not affect the beat frequency, the amplitude of beating or the percentage of motile sperm models, but instead promotes a marked transformation of the flagellar beating pattern which changes from a two-dimensional to a three-dimensional type of movement. On immunoblots of axonemal proteins separated by SDS-PAGE, D-316 recognized a single polypeptide of 90 kDa. This protein was purified following its extraction by exposure of axonemes to a brief heat treatment at 40°C. The protein copurified and coimmunoprecipitated with proteins of 43 and 34 kDa, suggesting that it exists as a complex in its native form. Using D-316 as a probe, a full-length cDNA clone encoding the 90-kDa protein was obtained from a sea urchin cDNA library. The sequence predicts a highly acidic (pI = 4.0) protein of 552 amino acids with a mass of 62,720 Da (p63). Comparison with protein sequences in databases indicated that the protein is related to radial spoke proteins 4 and 6 (RSP4 and RSP6) of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, which share 37% and 25% similarity, respectively, with p63. However, the sea urchin protein possesses structural features distinct from RSP4 and RSP6, such as the presence of three major acidic stretches which contains 25, 17, and 12 aspartate and glutamate residues of 34-, 22-, and 14-amino acid long stretches, respectively, that are predicted to form α-helical coiled-coil secondary structures. These results suggest a major role for p63 in the maintenance of a planar form of sperm flagellar beating and provide new tools to study the function of radial spoke heads in more evolved species.
PMCID: PMC25281  PMID: 9450971

Results 1-4 (4)