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1.  Sequestered defensive toxins in tetrapod vertebrates: principles, patterns, and prospects for future studies 
Chemoecology  2012;22(3):141-158.
Chemical defenses are widespread among animals, and the compounds involved may be either synthesized from nontoxic precursors or sequestered from an environmental source. Defensive sequestration has been studied extensively among invertebrates, but relatively few examples have been documented among vertebrates. Nonetheless, the number of described cases of defensive sequestration in tetrapod vertebrates has increased recently and includes diverse lineages of amphibians and reptiles (including birds). The best-known examples involve poison frogs, but other examples include natricine snakes that sequester toxins from amphibians and two genera of insectivorous birds. Commonalities among these diverse taxa include the combination of consuming toxic prey and exhibiting some form of passive defense, such as aposematism, mimicry, or presumptive death-feigning. Some species exhibit passive sequestration, in which dietary toxins simply require an extended period of time to clear from the tissues, whereas other taxa exhibit morphological or physiological specializations that enhance the uptake, storage, and/or delivery of exogenous toxins. It remains uncertain whether any sequestered toxins of tetrapods bioaccumulate across multiple trophic levels, but multitrophic accumulation seems especially likely in cases involving consumption of phytophagous or mycophagous invertebrates and perhaps consumption of poison frogs by snakes. We predict that additional examples of defensive toxin sequestration in amphibians and reptiles will be revealed by collaborations between field biologists and natural product chemists. Candidates for future investigation include specialized predators on mites, social insects, slugs, and toxic amphibians. Comprehensive studies of the ecological, evolutionary, behavioral, and regulatory aspects of sequestration will require teams of ecologists, systematists, ethologists, physiologists, molecular biologists, and chemists. The widespread occurrence of sequestered defenses has important implications for the ecology, evolution, and conservation of amphibians and reptiles.
PMCID: PMC3418492  PMID: 22904605
Sequestration; Dietary toxins; Antipredator defense; Aposematism; Amphibians; Reptiles
2.  Vigilance against predators induced by eavesdropping on heterospecific alarm calls in a non-vocal lizard Oplurus cuvieri cuvieri (Reptilia: Iguania) 
Prey animals can reduce their risk of predation by detecting potential predators before encounters occur. Some animals gain information about nearby predators by eavesdropping on heterospecific alarm calls. Despite having well-developed ears, most lizards do not use vocal information for intraspecific communication, and few studies have shown practical use of the ears in wild lizards. Here, we show that the Madagascan spiny-tailed iguana (Oplurus cuvieri cuvieri) obtains auditory signals for predator detection. The Madagascan spiny-tailed iguana and the Madagascar paradise flycatcher (Terpsiphone mutata) are syntopic inhabitants of the Ampijoroa dry deciduous forest of Madagascar. The iguana and the flycatcher have neither a predator–prey relationship nor resource competition, but they have shared predators such as raptors and snakes. Using playback experiments, we demonstrated that the iguana discriminates mobbing alarm calls of the flycatcher from its songs and then enhances its vigilance behaviour. Our results demonstrate the occurrence of an asymmetrical ecological relationship between the Madagascan spiny-tailed iguana and the paradise flycatcher through eavesdropping on information about the presence of predators. This implies that indirect interspecific interactions through information recognition may be more common than generally thought in an animal community.
PMCID: PMC2842824  PMID: 20031993
eavesdropping; heterospecific signal; mobbing alarm call; asymmetrical relationship; Madagascan spiny-tailed iguana
3.  Thrombotic microangiopathy-like disorder after living-donor liver transplantation: A single-center experience in Japan 
AIM: To investigate thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) in liver transplantion, because TMA is an infrequent but life-threatening complication in the transplantation field.
METHODS: A total of 206 patients who underwent living-donor liver transplantation (LDLT) were evaluated, and the TMA-like disorder (TMALD) occurred in seven recipients.
RESULTS: These TMALD recipients showed poor outcomes in comparison with other 199 recipients. Although two TMALD recipients successfully recovered, the other five recipients finally died despite intensive treatments including repeated plasma exchange (PE) and re-transplantation. Histopathological analysis of liver biopsies after LDLT revealed obvious differences according to the outcomes. Qualitative analysis of antibodies against a disintegrin-like domain and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin type 1 motifs (ADAMTS-13) were negative in all patients. The fragmentation of red cells, the microhemorrhagic macules and the platelet counts were early markers for the suspicion of TMALD after LDLT. Although the absolute values of von Willebrand factor (vWF) and ADAMTS-13 did not necessarily reflect TMALD, the vWF/ADAMTS-13 ratio had a clear diagnostic value in all cases. The establishment of adequate treatments for TMALD, such as PE for ADAMTS-13 replenishment or treatments against inhibitory antibodies, must be decided according to each case.
CONCLUSION: The optimal induction of adequate therapies based on early recognition of TMALD by the reliable markers may confer a large advantage for TMALD after LDLT.
PMCID: PMC3080720  PMID: 21528059
Thrombotic microangiopathy; Liver transplantation; von Willebrand factor; A disintegrin-like domain and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin type 1 motifs; Complication
4.  Activating transcription factor-3 (ATF3) functions as a tumor suppressor in colon cancer and is up-regulated upon heat-shock protein 90 (Hsp90) inhibition 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:668.
Activating transcription factor-3 (ATF3) is involved in the complex process of cellular stress response. However, its exact role in cancer is discussed controversially because both tumor suppressive and oncogenic effects have been described. Here we followed-up on our previous observation that inhibition of Hsp90 may increase ATF3 expression and sought to determine the role of ATF3 in colon cancer.
Regulation of ATF3 was determined in cancer cells using signaling inhibitors and a heat-shock protein-90 (Hsp90) antagonist. Human HCT116 cancer cells were stably transfected with an ATF3-shRNA or a luciferase-shRNA expression plasmid and alterations in cell motility were assessed in migration assays. The impact of ATF3 down-regulation on cancer growth and metastasis were investigated in a subcutaneous tumor model, a model of hepatic tumor growth and in a model of peritoneal carcinomatosis. Human colon cancer tissues were analyzed for ATF3 expression.
The results show that therapeutic Hsp90 inhibition substantially up-regulates the expression of ATF3 in various cancer cells, including colon, gastric and pancreatic cancer. This effect was evident both in vitro and in vivo. RNAi mediated knock-down of ATF3 in HCT116 colon cancer cells significantly increased cancer cell migration in vitro. Moreover, in xenogenic mouse models, ATF3 knock-down promoted subcutaneous tumor growth and hepatic metastasis, as well as peritoneal carcinomatosis. Importantly, ATF3 expression was lower in human colon cancer specimens, as compared to corresponding normal surrounding tissues, suggesting that ATF3 may represent a down-regulated tumor suppressor in colon cancer.
In conclusion, ATF3 down-regulation in colon cancer promotes tumor growth and metastasis. Considering that blocking Hsp90 induces ATF3 expression, Hsp90 inhibition may represent a valid strategy to treat metastatic colon cancer by up-regulating this anti-metastatic transcription factor.
PMCID: PMC3003660  PMID: 21129190
5.  ENMD-1198, a novel tubulin-binding agent reduces HIF-1alpha and STAT3 activity in human hepatocellular carcinoma(HCC) cells, and inhibits growth and vascularization in vivo 
BMC Cancer  2008;8:206.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) represents a highly vascularized tumor entity and the process of angiogenesis is essential for the growth of HCC. Importantly, the pro-angiogenic transcription factors HIF-1α and STAT3 have been implicated in HCC progression, thus representing interesting targets for molecular targeted therapy. We hypothesized that therapeutic inhibition of HIF-1α could be achieved by using a novel tubulin-binding agent (ENMD-1198). ENMD-1198 is an analog of 2-methoxyestradiol (2ME2) with antiproliferative and antiangiogenic activity.
The human HCC cell lines HUH-7 and HepG2 were used for experiments. Effects of ENMD-1198 on constitutive and inducible (hypoxia, growth factors) activation of signaling cascades, including HIF-1α and STAT3, were investigated by Western blotting. Changes in VEGF expression were determined by real-time PCR. Effects of ENMD-1198 on cancer cell migration and invasion were evaluated in in vitro-assays. The growth-inhibitory effects of ENMD-1198 (200 mg/kg/day) were determined in a subcutaneous tumor model (HUH-7).
ENMD-1198 inhibited the phosphorylation of MAPK/Erk, PI-3K/Akt and FAK. Moreover, activation of HIF-1α and STAT3 was dramatically reduced by ENMD-1198, which resulted in lower VEGF mRNA expression (P < 0.05). In addition, tumor cell migratory and invasive properties were significantly inhibited (P < 0.05, for both). In vivo, treatment with ENMD-1198 led to a significant reduction in tumor growth, tumor vascularization, and numbers of proliferating tumor cells (P < 0.05 for all).
The novel microtubule destabilizing agent ENMD-1198 is suitable for inhibiting HIF-1α and STAT3 in human HCC cells and leads to reduced tumor growth and vascularization in vivo. Hence, inhibition of HIF-1α and STAT3 could prove valuable for therapy of hepatocellular carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC2496914  PMID: 18651980
6.  Shoot Development and Extension of Quercus serrata Saplings in Response to Insect Damage and Nutrient Conditions 
Annals of Botany  2006;98(1):219-226.
• Background and Aims Plants have the ability to compensate for damage caused by herbivores. This is important to plant growth, because a plant cannot always avoid damage, even if it has developed defence mechanisms against herbivores. In previous work, we elucidated the herbivory-induced compensatory response of Quercus (at both the individual shoot and whole sapling levels) in both low- and high-nutrient conditions throughout one growing season. In this study, we determine how the compensatory growth of Quercus serrata saplings is achieved at different nutrient levels.
• Methods Quercus serrata saplings were grown under controlled conditions. Length, number of leaves and percentage of leaf area lost on all extension units (EUs) were measured.
• Key Results Both the probability of flushing and the length of subsequent EUs significantly increased with an increase in the length of the parent EU. The probability of flushing increased with an increase in leaf damage of the parent EU, but the length of subsequent EUs decreased. This indicates that EU growth is fundamentally regulated at the individual EU level. The probabilities of a second and third flush were significantly higher in plants in high-nutrient soil than those in low-nutrient soil. The subsequent EUs of damaged saplings were also significantly longer at high-nutrient conditions.
• Conclusions An increase in the probability of flushes in response to herbivore damage is important for damaged saplings to produce new EUs; further, shortening the length of EUs helps to effectively reproduce foliage lost by herbivory. The probability of flushing also varied according to soil nutrient levels, suggesting that the compensatory growth of individual EUs in response to local damage levels is affected by the nutrients available to the whole sapling.
PMCID: PMC2803554  PMID: 16709576
Quercus serrata; extension units; compensation; soil fertility; herbivore; sapling; rhythmic growth; flush; leaf damage
7.  New Model for Studying the Migration of Immune Cells into Intestinal Epithelial Cell Monolayers 
Cytotechnology  2003;43(1-3):57-64.
A novel cell culture system was constructed to analyze the direct interaction between intestinal epithelial cells and immune cells. Human intestinal epithelial Caco-2 cells were monolayer-cultured on the under side of a permeable membrane (12 μm pore size) in a Millicell insert. Integrated monolayers of Caco-2 cells had formed after 12 days of culture. Human monocyte/macrophage-like THP-1 cells were then added to the upper chamber of the insert, and their migration into the Caco-2 cell monolayers was observed by confocal laser scanning microscopy, after staining the cells with specific antibodies. When MCP-1, a β-chemokine, was added to the apical side of the monolayer, a greater number of THP-1 cells migrated into the Caco-2 cell monolayers. This cell culture system will be useful for studying the behavior of macrophages in the intestinal epithelial cell monolayers at the initial stage of an intestinal immune reaction.
PMCID: PMC3449588  PMID: 19003208
Caco-2; cell migration; chemokine; intestinal epithelium; THP-1

Results 1-7 (7)