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2.  Reward, Interrupted: Inhibitory Control and Its Relevance to Addictions 
Neuropharmacology  2013;76(0 0):479-486.
There are broad individual differences in the ability to voluntarily and effortfully suppress motivated, reward-seeking behaviors, and this review presents the hypothesis that these individual differences are relevant to addictive disorders. On one hand, cumulative experience with drug abuse appears to alter the molecular, cellular and circuit mechanisms that mediate inhibitory abilities, leading to increasingly uncontrolled patterns of drug-seeking and –taking. On the other, native inter-individual differences in inhibitory control are apparently a risk factor for aspects of drug-reinforced responding and substance use disorders. In both cases, the behavioral manifestation of poor inhibitory abilities is linked to relatively low striatal dopamine D2-like receptor availability, and evidence is accumulating for a more direct contribution of striatopallidal neurons to cognitive control processes. Mechanistic research is now identifying genes upstream of dopamine transmission that mediate these relationships, as well as the involvement of other neurotransmitter systems, acting alone and in concert with dopamine. The reviewed research stands poised to identify new mechanisms that can be targeted by pharmacotherapies and/or by behavioral interventions that are designed to prevent or treat addictive behaviors and associated behavioral pathology.
PMCID: PMC4023480  PMID: 23748054
impulsivity; compulsivity; motivation; cognition; dopamine; executive function
3.  Control of Adipocyte Differentiation in Different Fat Depots; Implications for Pathophysiology or Therapy 
Adipocyte differentiation and its impact on restriction or expansion of particular adipose tissue depots have physiological and pathophysiological significance in view of the different functions of these depots. Brown or “beige” fat [brown adipose tissue (BAT)] expansion can enhance thermogenesis, lipid oxidation, insulin sensitivity, and glucose tolerance; conversely expanded visceral fat [visceral white adipose tissue (VAT)] is associated with insulin resistance, low grade inflammation, dyslipidemia, and cardiometabolic risk. The largest depot, subcutaneous white fat [subcutaneous white adipose tissue (SAT)], has important beneficial characteristics including storage of lipid “out of harms way” and secretion of adipokines, especially leptin and adiponectin, with positive metabolic effects including lipid oxidation, energy utilization, enhanced insulin action, and an anti-inflammatory role. The absence of these functions in lipodystrophies leads to major metabolic disturbances. An ability to expand white adipose tissue adipocyte differentiation would seem an important defense mechanism against the detrimental effects of energy excess and limit harmful accumulation of lipid in “ectopic” sites, such as liver and muscle. Adipocyte differentiation involves a transcriptional cascade with PPARγ being most important in SAT but less so in VAT, with increased angiogenesis also critical. The transcription factor, Islet1, is fairly specific to VAT and in vitro inhibits adipocyte differentiation. The physiological importance of Islet1 requires further study. Basic control of differentiation is similar in BAT but important differences include the effect of PGC-1α on mitochondrial biosynthesis and upregulation of UCP1; also PRDM16 plays a pivotal role in expression of the BAT phenotype. Modulation of the capacity or function of these different adipose tissue depots, by altering adipocyte differentiation or other means, holds promise for interventions that can be helpful in human disease, particularly cardiometabolic disorders associated with the world wide explosion of obesity.
PMCID: PMC4311677
adipogenesis; adipocyte; subcutaneous white adipose tissue; visceral white adipose tissue; brown adipose tissue; fat depot; adipocyte differentiation; adipose tissue
4.  Opioid self-administration results in cell-type specific adaptations of striatal medium spiny neurons 
Behavioural brain research  2013;256:10.1016/j.bbr.2013.08.009.
Medium-sized spiny neurons (MSNs), the predominant neuronal population of the striatum, are an integral component of the many cortical and limbic pathways associated with reward-related behaviors. A differential role of the D1 receptor-enriched (D1) MSNs of the striatonigral direct pathway, as compared with the D2 receptor-enriched (D2) MSNs of the striatopallidal indirect pathway, in mediating the addictive behaviors associated with cocaine is beginning to emerge. However, whether opioids, well-known analgesics with euphoric properties, similarly induce dissociable signaling adaptations in these neurons remains unclear. Transgenic mice expressing Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP)-labeled D1 or D2 neurons were implanted with intravenous jugular catheters and trained to self-administer the opioid remifentanil. D1- and D2-GFP mice learned to self-administer 0.1 mg/kg/infusion remifentanil during 2hr sessions over 13 contiguous days. Thereafter, the electrophysiological properties of D1 and D2 MSNs in the shell region of the nucleus accumbens (NAc) were assessed. We found that prior opioid exposure did not alter the basic membrane properties nor the kinetics or amplitude of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs). However, when challenged with the mu opioid receptor (µOR) agonist DAMGO, the characteristic inhibitory profile of this receptor was altered. DAMGO inhibited the frequency of mEPSCs in D1-MSNs from control mice receiving saline and in D2-MSNs from mice exposed to remifentanil or saline, but this inhibitory profile was reduced in D1-MSNs from mice receiving remifentanil. Remifentanil exposure also altered the probability of glutamate release onto D1-, but not D2-MSNs. Together these results suggest a D1-pathway specific effect associated with the acquisition of opioid-seeking behaviors.
PMCID: PMC3815993  PMID: 23968589
striatum; medium spiny neurons; intravenous self-administration; mu opioid receptor; electrophysiology; mice
5.  Are we being drowned in hydration advice? Thirsty for more? 
Hydration pertains simplistically to body water volume. Functionally, however, hydration is one aspect of fluid regulation that is far more complex, as it involves the homeostatic regulation of total body fluid volume, composition and distribution. Deliberate or pathological alteration of these regulated factors can be disabling or fatal, whereas they are impacted by exercise and by all environmental stressors (e.g. heat, immersion, gravity) both acutely and chronically. For example, dehydration during exercising and environmental heat stress reduces water volume more than electrolyte content, causing hyperosmotic hypohydration. If exercise continues for many hours with access to food and water, composition returns to normal but extracellular volume increases well above baseline (if exercising upright and at low altitude). Repeating bouts of exercise or heat stress does likewise. Dehydration due to physical activity or environmental heat is a routine fluid-regulatory stress. How to gauge such dehydration and — more importantly—what to do about it, are contested heavily within sports medicine and nutrition. Drinking to limit changes in body mass is commonly advocated (to maintain ≤2% reduction), rather than relying on behavioural cues (mainly thirst) because the latter has been deemed too insensitive. This review, as part of the series on moving in extreme environments, critiques the validity, problems and merits of externally versus autonomously controlled fluid-regulatory behaviours, both acutely and chronically. Our contention is that externally advocated hydration policies (especially based on change in body mass with exercise in healthy individuals) have limited merit and are extrapolated and imposed too widely upon society, at the expense of autonomy. More research is warranted to examine whether ad libitum versus avid drinking is beneficial, detrimental or neither in: acute settings; adapting for obligatory dehydration (e.g. elite endurance competition in the heat), and; development of chronic diseases that are associated with an extreme lack of environmental stress.
PMCID: PMC4212586  PMID: 25356197
Dehydration; Thirst; Water; Exercise; Adaptation; Renal
6.  The mTOR kinase inhibitors, CC214-1 and CC214-2, preferentially block the growth of EGFRvIII-activated glioblastomas 
mTOR pathway hyperactivation occurs in nearly 90% of glioblastomas, but the allosteric mTOR inhibitor rapamycin has failed in the clinic. Here we examine the efficacy of the newly discovered ATP-competitive mTOR kinase inhibitors CC214-1 and CC214-2 in glioblastoma, identifying molecular determinants of response and mechanisms of resistance, and develop a pharmacological strategy to overcome it.
Experimental design
We performed in vitro and in vivo studies in glioblastoma cell lines and an intracranial model to: determine the potential efficacy of the recently reported mTOR kinase inhibitors CC214-1 (in vitro use) and CC214-2 (in vivo use) at inhibiting rapamycin resistant signaling and blocking GBM growth and a novel single cell technology, DNA Encoded Antibody Libraries, was used to identify mechanisms of resistance.
Here we demonstrate that CC214-1 and CC214-2 suppress rapamycin-resistant mTORC1 signaling; block mTORC2 signaling and significantly inhibit the growth of glioblastomas in vitro and in vivo. EGFRvIII expression and PTEN loss enhance sensitivity to CC214 compounds, consistent with enhanced efficacy in strongly mTOR-activated tumors. Importantly, CC214 compounds potently induce autophagy, preventing tumor cell death. Genetic or pharmacologic inhibition of autophagy greatly sensitizes GBM cells and orthotopic xenografts to CC214-1 and CC214-2 induced cell death.
These results identify CC214-1 and CC214-2 as potentially efficacious mTOR kinase inhibitors in GBM and suggest a strategy for identifying patients most likely to benefit from mTOR inhibition. This study also demonstrates a central role for autophagy in preventing mTOR-kinase inhibitor-mediated tumor cell death, and suggests a pharmacological strategy for overcoming it.
PMCID: PMC3815450  PMID: 24030701
7.  Methamphetamine-induced increases in putamen gray matter associate with inhibitory control 
Psychopharmacology  2013;229(3):527-538.
Problematic drug use is associated with difficulty in exerting self-control over behaviors, and this difficulty may be a consequence of atypical morphometric characteristics that are exhibited by drug-experienced individuals. The extent to which these structural abnormalities result from drug use or reflect neurobiological-risk factors that predate drug use, however, is unknown.
To determine how methamphetamine affects corticostriatal structure and how drug-induced changes relate to alterations in inhibitory control.
Structural magnetic resonance images and positron emission tomography (PET) scans, assessing dopamine D2-like receptor and transporter availability, were acquired in monkeys trained to acquire, retain and reverse three-choice visual discrimination problems before and after exposure to an escalating dose regimen of methamphetamine (or saline, as a control). Voxel-based morphometry was used to compare changes in corticostriatal gray matter between methamphetamine and saline exposed monkeys. The change in gray matter before and after the dosing regimen was compared to the change in the behavioral performance and in dopaminergic markers measured with PET.
Methamphetamine exposure, compared to saline, increased gray matter within the right putamen. These changes were positively correlated with changes in performance of methamphetamine-exposed monkeys in the reversal phase, and were negatively correlated with alterations in D2-like receptor and DAT availability.
The results provide the first evidence that exposure to a methamphetamine dosing regimen that resembles human use alters the structural integrity of the striatum and that gray-matter abnormalities detected in human methamphetamine users are due, at least in part, to the pharmacological effects of drug experience.
PMCID: PMC3770792  PMID: 23748383
gray matter; striatum; prefrontal cortex; inhibitory control; methamphetamine; addiction; dopamine
8.  Identification of a Crucial Residue Required for Staphylococcus aureus LukAB Cytotoxicity and Receptor Recognition 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(3):1268-1276.
The bicomponent leukotoxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus kill host immune cells through osmotic lysis by forming β-barrel pores in the host plasma membrane. The current model for bicomponent pore formation proposes that octameric pores, comprised of two separate secreted polypeptides (S and F subunits), are assembled from water-soluble monomers in the extracellular milieu and multimerize on target cell membranes. However, it has yet to be determined if all staphylococcal bicomponent leukotoxin family members exhibit these properties. In this study, we report that leukocidin A/B (LukAB), the most divergent member of the leukotoxin family, exists as a heterodimer in solution rather than two separate monomeric subunits. Notably, this property was found to be associated with enhanced toxin activity. LukAB also differs from the other bicomponent leukotoxins in that the S subunit (LukA) contains 33- and 10-amino-acid extensions at the N and C termini, respectively. Truncation mutagenesis revealed that deletion of the N terminus resulted in a modest increase in LukAB cytotoxicity, whereas the deletion of the C terminus rendered the toxin inactive. Within the C terminus of LukA, we identified a glutamic acid at position 323 that is critical for LukAB cytotoxicity. Furthermore, we discovered that this residue is conserved and required for the interaction between LukAB and its cellular target CD11b. Altogether, these findings provide an in-depth analysis of how LukAB targets neutrophils and identify novel targets suitable for the rational design of anti-LukAB inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3958006  PMID: 24379286
9.  Children with Invasive Staphylococcus aureus Disease Exhibit a Potently Neutralizing Antibody Response to the Cytotoxin LukAB 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(3):1234-1242.
Despite the importance of Staphylococcus aureus as a common invasive bacterial pathogen, the humoral response to infection remains inadequately defined, particularly in children. The purpose of this study was to assess the humoral response to extracellular staphylococcal virulence factors, including the bicomponent leukotoxins, which are critical for the cytotoxicity of S. aureus toward human neutrophils. Children with culture-proven S. aureus infection were prospectively enrolled and stratified by disease type. Fifty-three children were enrolled in the study, of which 90% had invasive disease. Serum samples were obtained during the acute (within 48 h) and convalescent (4 to 6 weeks postinfection) phases, at which point both IgG titers against S. aureus exotoxins were determined, and the functionality of the generated antibodies was evaluated. Molecular characterization of clinical isolates was also performed. We observed a marked rise in antibody titer from acute-phase to convalescent-phase sera for LukAB, the most recently described S. aureus bicomponent leukotoxin. LukAB production by the isolates was strongly correlated with cytotoxicity in vitro, and sera containing anti-LukAB antibodies potently neutralized cytotoxicity. Antibodies to S. aureus antigens were detectable in healthy pediatric controls but at much lower titers than in sera from infected subjects. The discovery of a high-titer, neutralizing antibody response to LukAB during invasive infections suggests that this toxin is produced in vivo and that it elicits a functional humoral response.
PMCID: PMC3957992  PMID: 24379282
10.  Acute mTOR inhibition induces insulin resistance and alters substrate utilization in vivo 
Molecular Metabolism  2014;3(6):630-641.
The effect of acute inhibition of both mTORC1 and mTORC2 on metabolism is unknown. A single injection of the mTOR kinase inhibitor, AZD8055, induced a transient, yet marked increase in fat oxidation and insulin resistance in mice, whereas the mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin had no effect. AZD8055, but not rapamycin reduced insulin-stimulated glucose uptake into incubated muscles, despite normal GLUT4 translocation in muscle cells. AZD8055 inhibited glycolysis in MEF cells. Abrogation of mTORC2 activity by SIN1 deletion impaired glycolysis and AZD8055 had no effect in SIN1 KO MEFs. Re-expression of wildtype SIN1 rescued glycolysis. Glucose intolerance following AZD8055 administration was absent in mice lacking the mTORC2 subunit Rictor in muscle, and in vivo glucose uptake into Rictor-deficient muscle was reduced despite normal Akt activity. Taken together, acute mTOR inhibition is detrimental to glucose homeostasis in part by blocking muscle mTORC2, indicating its importance in muscle metabolism in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4142396  PMID: 25161886
Skeletal muscle; Metabolism; Glucose uptake; mTORC2; Rictor; Glycolysis
11.  Moving in extreme environments: what’s extreme and who decides? 
Humans work, rest and play in immensely varied extreme environments. The term ‘extreme’ typically refers to insufficiency or excess of one or more stressors, such as thermal energy or gravity. Individuals’ behavioural and physiological capacity to endure and enjoy such environments varies immensely. Adverse effects of acute exposure to these environments are readily identifiable (e.g. heat stroke or bone fracture), whereas adverse effects of chronic exposure (e.g. stress fractures or osteoporosis) may be as important but much less discernable. Modern societies have increasingly sought to protect people from such stressors and, in that way, minimise their adverse effects. Regulations are thus established, and advice is provided on what is ‘acceptable’ exposure. Examples include work/rest cycles in the heat, hydration regimes, rates of ascent to and duration of stay at altitude and diving depth. While usually valuable and well intentioned, it is important to realise the breadth and importance of limitations associated with such guidelines. Regulations and advisories leave less room for self-determination, learning and perhaps adaptation. Regulations based on stress (e.g. work/rest cycles relative to WBGT) are more practical but less direct than those based on strain (e.g. core temperature), but even the latter can be substantively limited (e.g. by lack of criterion validation and allowance for behavioural regulation in the research on which they are based). Extreme Physiology & Medicine is publishing a series of reviews aimed at critically examining the issues involved with self- versus regulation-controlled human movement acutely and chronically in extreme environments. These papers, arising from a research symposium in 2013, are about the impact of people engaging in such environments and the effect of rules and guidelines on their safety, enjoyment, autonomy and productivity. The reviews will cover occupational heat stress, sporting heat stress, hydration, diving, extreme loading, chronic unloading and high altitude. Ramifications include factors such as health and safety, productivity, enjoyment and autonomy, acute and chronic protection and optimising adaptation.
PMCID: PMC4052285  PMID: 24921041
Stress; Autonomy; Regulation; Injury; Illness; Adaptation; Guidelines
12.  Biochemical Activities of Streptococcus pneumoniae Serotype 2 Capsular Glycosyltransferases and Significance of Suppressor Mutations Affecting the Initiating Glycosyltransferase Cps2E 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(24):5469-5478.
The capsular polysaccharide (CPS) is essential for Streptococcus pneumoniae virulence. Its synthesis requires multiple enzymes, and defects that block completion of the pathway can be lethal in the absence of secondary suppressor mutations. In this study, we examined the functions of three capsular glycosyltransferases (Cps2F, Cps2G, and Cps2I) involved in serotype 2 CPS synthesis, whose deletions select for secondary mutations. We demonstrate that Cps2F is a rhamnosyltransferase that catalyzes addition of the third and fourth sugars in the capsule repeat unit, while Cps2G adds the fifth sugar (glucose). Addition of the terminal residue (glucuronic acid) could not be detected; however, activities of the other glycosyltransferases together with bioinformatic analyses suggest that this step is mediated by Cps2I. Most of the secondary suppressor mutations resulting from loss of these enzymes occur in cps2E, the gene encoding the initiating glycosyltransferase. Examination of the 69 S. pneumoniae serotypes containing Cps2E homologues yielded a consensus amino acid sequence for this protein and demonstrated that there is a highly significant association between the residues that are 100% conserved and those altered by suppressor mutations. Cps2E contains an extracytoplasmic loop whose function is unknown. Among our collection of mutants, six contained missense mutations affecting amino acids in the extracytoplasmic loop. These residues are highly conserved among S. pneumoniae Cps2E homologues, and mutations therein severely reduced CPS synthesis and Cps2E activity. The critical functions of these amino acids suggest a role for the Cps2E extracytoplasmic loop in initiation, and possibly regulation, of capsule synthesis.
PMCID: PMC3889599  PMID: 24097952
13.  The Role of the Niemann-Pick Disease, Type C1 Protein in Adipocyte Insulin Action 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95598.
The Niemann-Pick disease, type C1 (NPC1) gene encodes a transmembrane protein involved in cholesterol efflux from the lysosome. SNPs within NPC1 have been associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes, and mice heterozygous or null for NPC1 are insulin resistant. However, the molecular mechanism underpinning this association is currently undefined. This study aimed to investigate the effects of inhibiting NPC1 function on insulin action in adipocytes. Both pharmacological and genetic inhibition of NPC1 impaired insulin action. This impairment was evident at the level of insulin signalling and insulin-mediated glucose transport in the short term and decreased GLUT4 expression due to reduced liver X receptor (LXR) transcriptional activity in the long-term. These data show that cholesterol homeostasis through NPC1 plays a crucial role in maintaining insulin action at multiple levels in adipocytes.
PMCID: PMC3994084  PMID: 24752197
14.  Perceptually Docked Control Environment for Multiple Microbots: Application to the Gastric Wall Biopsy 
This paper presents a human-robot interface with perceptual docking to allow for the control of multiple microbots. The aim is to demonstrate that real-time eye tracking can be used for empowering robots with human vision by using knowledge acquired in situ. Several micro-robots can be directly controlled through a combination of manual and eye control. The novel control environment is demonstrated on a virtual biopsy of gastric lesion through an endoluminal approach. Twenty-one subjects were recruited to test the control environment. Statistical analysis was conducted on the completion time of the task using the keyboard control and the proposed eye tracking framework. System integration with the concept of perceptual docking framework demonstrated statistically significant improvement of task execution.
PMCID: PMC3988874  PMID: 24748996
15.  Oral Perceptual Discrimination of Viscosity Differences for Non-Newtonian Liquids in the Nectar- and Honey-Thick Ranges 
Dysphagia  2014;29(3):355-364.
Thickened liquids are frequently used in the management of oropharyngeal dysphagia. Previous studies suggest that compression of a liquid bolus between the tongue and the palate in the oral phase of swallowing serves a sensory function, enabling the tuning of motor behavior to match the viscosity of the bolus. However, the field lacks information regarding healthy oral sensory discrimination ability for small differences in liquid viscosity. We undertook to measure oral viscosity discrimination ability for five non-Newtonian xanthan gum-thickened liquids in the nectar- and honey-thick range. Xanthan gum concentration ranged from 0.5 to 0.87 % and increased by an average of 0.1 % between stimuli in the array. This translated to an average apparent viscosity increase of 0.2-fold between adjacent stimuli at 50 reciprocal seconds (/s). A triangle test paradigm was used to study stimulus discrimination in 78 healthy adults in two, sex-balanced age cohorts. Participants were provided 5-ml samples of liquids in sets of three; one liquid differed in xanthan gum concentration from the other two. Participants were required to sample the liquid orally and indicate which sample was perceived to have a different viscosity. A protocol of 20 sets (60 samples) allowed calculation of the minimum difference in xanthan gum concentration detected accurately. On average, participants were able to accurately detect a 0.38-fold increase in xanthan-gum concentration, translating to a 0.67-fold increase in apparent viscosity at 50/s. The data did not suggest the existence of a nonlinear point boundary in apparent viscosity within the range tested. No differences in viscosity discrimination were found between age cohorts or as a function of sex. The data suggest that for xanthan gum-thickened liquids, there may be several increments of detectably different viscosity within the ranges currently proposed for nectar- and honey-thick liquids. If physiological or functional differences in swallowing can be demonstrated for these smaller increments of detectably different viscosity, more narrowly defined categories of thickened liquids for dysphagia management will be warranted.
PMCID: PMC4062812  PMID: 24682333
Deglutition; Deglutition disorders; Dysphagia; Sensation; Perception; Viscosity; Discrimination; Oral
16.  A novel risk of air embolism with intravenous paracetamol 
BMJ Case Reports  2012;2012:bcr0120125488.
PMCID: PMC3316787  PMID: 22605689
17.  Identification of fatty acid binding protein 4 as an adipokine that regulates insulin secretion during obesity 
Molecular Metabolism  2014;3(4):465-473.
A critical feature of obesity is enhanced insulin secretion from pancreatic β-cells, enabling the majority of individuals to maintain glycaemic control despite adiposity and insulin resistance. Surprisingly, the factors coordinating this adaptive β-cell response with adiposity have not been delineated. Here we show that fatty acid binding protein 4 (FABP4/aP2) is an adipokine released from adipocytes under obesogenic conditions, such as hypoxia, to augment insulin secretion. The insulinotropic action of FABP4 was identified using an in vitro system that recapitulates adipocyte to β-cell endocrine signalling, with glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) as a functional readout, coupled with quantitative proteomics. Exogenous FABP4 potentiated GSIS in vitro and in vivo, and circulating FABP4 levels correlated with GSIS in humans. Insulin inhibited FABP4 release from adipocytes in vitro, in mice and in humans, consistent with feedback regulation. These data suggest that FABP4 and insulin form an endocrine loop coordinating the β-cell response to obesity.
Graphical abstract
PMCID: PMC4060222  PMID: 24944906
Obesity; Adipokine; Adipocyte; Beta-cell; Insulin secretion; FABP4; T2D, type 2 diabetes; NEFA, non-esterified fatty acid; GSIS, glucose-stimulated insulin secretion; SILAC, stable-isotope labelling by amino acids in cell culture; ELISA, enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay; BMI, body mass index; cAMP, cyclic-AMP; IBMX, 3-Isobutyl-1-methylxanthine
18.  Genetic inhibition of hepatic acetyl-CoA carboxylase activity increases liver fat and alters global protein acetylationa 
Molecular Metabolism  2014;3(4):419-431.
Lipid deposition in the liver is associated with metabolic disorders including fatty liver disease, type II diabetes, and hepatocellular cancer. The enzymes acetyl-CoA carboxylase 1 (ACC1) and ACC2 are powerful regulators of hepatic fat storage; therefore, their inhibition is expected to prevent the development of fatty liver. In this study we generated liver-specific ACC1 and ACC2 double knockout (LDKO) mice to determine how the loss of ACC activity affects liver fat metabolism and whole-body physiology. Characterization of LDKO mice revealed unexpected phenotypes of increased hepatic triglyceride and decreased fat oxidation. We also observed that chronic ACC inhibition led to hyper-acetylation of proteins in the extra-mitochondrial space. In sum, these data reveal the existence of a compensatory pathway that protects hepatic fat stores when ACC enzymes are inhibited. Furthermore, we identified an important role for ACC enzymes in the regulation of protein acetylation in the extra-mitochondrial space.
PMCID: PMC4060285  PMID: 24944901
Lipid metabolism; Liver; Steatosis; Acetylation
19.  The ‘Dark Side’ and ‘Bright Side’ of Personality: When Too Much Conscientiousness and Too Little Anxiety Are Detrimental with Respect to the Acquisition of Medical Knowledge and Skill 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88606.
Theory suggests that personality traits evolved to have costs and benefits, with the effectiveness of a trait dependent on how these costs and benefits relate to the present circumstances. This suggests that traits that are generally viewed as positive can have a ‘dark side’ and those generally viewed as negative can have a ‘bright side’ depending on changes in context. We test this in a sample of 220 UK medical students with respect to associations between the Big 5 personality traits and learning outcomes across the 5 years of a medical degree. The medical degree offers a changing learning context from pre-clinical years (where a more methodical approach to learning is needed) to the clinical years (where more flexible learning is needed, in a more stressful context). We argue that while trait conscientiousness should enhance pre-clinical learning, it has a ‘dark side’ reducing the acquisition of knowledge in the clinical years. We also suggest that anxiety has a ‘bright side’ enhancing the acquisition of skills in the clinical years. We also explore if intelligence enhances learning across the medical degree. Using confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modelling we show that medical skills and knowledge assessed in the pre-clinical and clinical years are psychometrically distinguishable, forming a learning ‘backbone’, whereby subsequent learning outcomes are predicted by previous ones. Consistent with our predictions conscientiousness enhanced preclinical knowledge acquisition but reduced the acquisition of clinical knowledge and anxiety enhanced the acquisition of clinical skills. We also identified a curvilinear U shaped association between Surgency (extraversion) and pre-clinical knowledge acquisition. Intelligence predicted initial clinical knowledge, and had a positive total indirect effect on clinical knowledge and clinical skill acquisition. For medical selection, this suggests that selecting students high on conscientiousness may be problematic, as it may be excluding those with some degree of moderate anxiety.
PMCID: PMC3937323  PMID: 24586353
Traffic (Copenhagen, Denmark)  2012;13(10):1429-1441.
Insulin stimulates glucose transport in adipocytes by triggering translocation of GLUT4 glucose transporters to the plasma membrane (PM) and several Rabs including Rab10 have been implicated in this process. To delineate the molecular regulation of this pathway, we conducted a TBC/RabGAP overexpression screen in adipocytes. This identified TBC1D13 as a potent inhibitor of insulin-stimulated GLUT4 translocation without affecting other trafficking pathways. To determine the potential Rab substrate for TBC1D13 we conducted a yeast two-hybrid screen and found that the GTP bound forms of Rabs 1 and 10 specifically interacted with TBC1D13 but not with eight other TBC proteins. Surprisingly, a comprehensive in vitro> screen for TBC1D13 GAP activity revealed Rab35 but not Rab10 as a specific substrate. TBC1D13 also displayed in vivo GAP activity towards Rab35. Overexpression of constitutively active Rab35 but not constitutively active Rab10 reversed the block in insulin-stimulated GLUT4 translocation observed with TBC1D13 overexpression. These studies implicate an important role for Rab35 in insulin-stimulated GLUT4 translocation in adipocytes.
PMCID: PMC3470861  PMID: 22762500
21.  Environmental physiology research presented at ICEE2013 
The 15th International Conference on Environmental Ergonomics, Queenstown, New Zealand, February 11 to 15, 2013 (ICEE2013) brought together researchers interested in work and exercise physiology, safety, comfort and performance in various stressful and extreme environments.
PMCID: PMC3710081  PMID: 23849452
Heat Stress; Cold; Exercise; Hypoxia; Adaptation; Climate Change; Space; Physiology; Comfort
22.  Dynamic Adipocyte Phosphoproteome Reveals that Akt Directly Regulates mTORC2 
Cell Metabolism  2013;17(6):1009-1020.
A major challenge of the post-genomics era is to define the connectivity of protein phosphorylation networks. Here, we quantitatively delineate the insulin signaling network in adipocytes by high-resolution mass spectrometry-based proteomics. These data reveal the complexity of intracellular protein phosphorylation. We identified 37,248 phosphorylation sites on 5,705 proteins in this single-cell type, with approximately 15% responding to insulin. We integrated these large-scale phosphoproteomics data using a machine learning approach to predict physiological substrates of several diverse insulin-regulated kinases. This led to the identification of an Akt substrate, SIN1, a core component of the mTORC2 complex. The phosphorylation of SIN1 by Akt was found to regulate mTORC2 activity in response to growth factors, revealing topological insights into the Akt/mTOR signaling network. The dynamic phosphoproteome described here contains numerous phosphorylation sites on proteins involved in diverse molecular functions and should serve as a useful functional resource for cell biologists.
Graphical Abstract
•MS/MS identified >37,000 phosphorylation sites in adipocytes•Insulin regulates the phosphoproteome over a wide temporal timescale•Akt phosphorylates SIN1 on T86 in response to insulin•SIN1 phosphorylation activates a positive feedback loop between Akt and mTORC2
PMCID: PMC3690479  PMID: 23684622
23.  Genetic and Biochemical Characterizations of Enzymes Involved in Streptococcus pneumoniae Serotype 2 Capsule Synthesis Demonstrate that Cps2T (WchF) Catalyzes the Committed Step by Addition of β1-4 Rhamnose, the Second Sugar Residue in the Repeat Unit 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(23):6479-6489.
Five genes (cps2E, cps2T, cps2F, cps2G, and cps2I) are predicted to encode the glycosyltransferases responsible for synthesis of the Streptococcus pneumoniae serotype 2 capsule repeat unit, which is polymerized to yield a branched surface structure containing glucose-glucuronic acid linked to a glucose-rhamnose-rhamnose-rhamnose backbone. Cps2E is the initiating glycosyltransferase, but experimental evidence supporting the functions of the remaining glycosyltransferases is lacking. To biochemically characterize the glycosyltransferases, the donor substrate dTDP-rhamnose was first synthesized using recombinant S. pneumoniae enzymes Cps2L, Cps2M, Cps2N, and Cps2O. In in vitro assays with each of the glycosyltransferases, only reaction mixtures containing recombinant Cps2T, dTDP-rhamnose, and the Cps2E product (undecaprenyl pyrophosphate glucose) generated a new product, which was consistent with lipid-linked glucose-rhamnose. cps2T, cps2F, and cps2I deletion mutants produced no detectable capsule, but trace amounts of capsule were detectable in Δcps2G mutants, suggesting that Cps2G adds a nonbackbone sugar. All Δcps2F, Δcps2G, and Δcps2I mutants contained different secondary suppressor mutations in cps2E, indicating that the initial mutations were lethal in the absence of reduced repeat unit synthesis. Δcps2T mutants did not contain secondary mutations affecting capsule synthesis. The requirement for secondary mutations in mutants lacking Cps2F, Cps2G, and Cps2I indicates that these activities occur downstream of the committed step in capsule synthesis and reveal that Cps2T catalyzes this step. Therefore, Cps2T is the β1-4 rhamnosyltransferase that adds the second sugar to the repeat unit and, as the committed step in type 2 repeat unit synthesis, is predicted to be an important point of capsule regulation.
PMCID: PMC3497468  PMID: 23002227
24.  The Rab GTPase-Activating Protein TBC1D4/AS160 Contains an Atypical Phosphotyrosine-Binding Domain That Interacts with Plasma Membrane Phospholipids To Facilitate GLUT4 Trafficking in Adipocytes 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2012;32(24):4946-4959.
The Rab GTPase-activating protein TBC1D4/AS160 regulates GLUT4 trafficking in adipocytes. Nonphosphorylated AS160 binds to GLUT4 vesicles and inhibits GLUT4 translocation, and AS160 phosphorylation overcomes this inhibitory effect. In the present study we detected several new functional features of AS160. The second phosphotyrosine-binding domain in AS160 encodes a phospholipid-binding domain that facilitates plasma membrane (PM) targeting of AS160, and this function is conserved in other related RabGAP/Tre-2/Bub2/Cdc16 (TBC) proteins and an AS160 ortholog in Drosophila. This region also contains a nonoverlapping intracellular GLUT4-containing storage vesicle (GSV) cargo-binding site. The interaction of AS160 with GSVs and not with the PM confers the inhibitory effect of AS160 on insulin-dependent GLUT4 translocation. Constitutive targeting of AS160 to the PM increased the surface GLUT4 levels, and this was attributed to both enhanced AS160 phosphorylation and 14-3-3 binding and inhibition of AS160 GAP activity. We propose a model wherein AS160 acts as a regulatory switch in the docking and/or fusion of GSVs with the PM.
PMCID: PMC3510527  PMID: 23045393

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