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1.  A nonclassical vitamin D receptor pathway suppresses renal fibrosis 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(11):4579-4594.
The TGF-β superfamily comprises pleiotropic cytokines that regulate SMAD and non-SMAD signaling. TGF-β–SMAD signal transduction is known to be involved in tissue fibrosis, including renal fibrosis. Here, we found that 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3–bound [1,25(OH)2D3-bound] vitamin D receptor (VDR) specifically inhibits TGF-β–SMAD signal transduction through direct interaction with SMAD3. In mouse models of tissue fibrosis, 1,25(OH)2D3 treatment prevented renal fibrosis through the suppression of TGF-β–SMAD signal transduction. Based on the structure of the VDR-ligand complex, we generated 2 synthetic ligands. These ligands selectively inhibited TGF-β–SMAD signal transduction without activating VDR-mediated transcription and significantly attenuated renal fibrosis in mice. These results indicate that 1,25(OH)2D3-dependent suppression of TGF-β–SMAD signal transduction is independent of VDR-mediated transcriptional activity. In addition, these ligands did not cause hypercalcemia resulting from stimulation of the transcriptional activity of the VDR. Thus, our study provides a new strategy for generating chemical compounds that specifically inhibit TGF-β–SMAD signal transduction. Since TGF-β–SMAD signal transduction is reportedly involved in several disorders, our results will aid in the development of new drugs that do not cause detectable adverse effects, such as hypercalcemia.
doi:10.1172/JCI67804
PMCID: PMC3809783  PMID: 24135137
2.  The E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Activity of Trip12 Is Essential for Mouse Embryogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25871.
Protein ubiquitination is a post-translational protein modification that regulates many biological conditions [1], [2], [3], [4]. Trip12 is a HECT-type E3 ubiquitin ligase that ubiquitinates ARF and APP-BP1 [5], [6]. However, the significance of Trip12 in vivo is largely unknown. Here we show that the ubiquitin ligase activity of Trip12 is indispensable for mouse embryogenesis. A homozygous mutation in Trip12 (Trip12mt/mt) that disrupts the ubiquitin ligase activity resulted in embryonic lethality in the middle stage of development. Trip12mt/mt embryos exhibited growth arrest and increased expression of the negative cell cycle regulator p16 [7], [8], [9], [10]. In contrast, Trip12mt/mt ES cells were viable. They had decreased proliferation, but maintained both the undifferentiated state and the ability to differentiate. Trip12mt/mt ES cells had increased levels of the BAF57 protein (a component of the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex) and altered gene expression patterns. These data suggest that Trip12 is involved in global gene expression and plays an important role in mouse development.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025871
PMCID: PMC3196520  PMID: 22028794
3.  Maternal Feeding Controls Fetal Biological Clock 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(7):e2601.
Background
It is widely accepted that circadian physiological rhythms of the fetus are affected by oscillators in the maternal brain that are coupled to the environmental light-dark (LD) cycle.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To study the link between fetal and maternal biological clocks, we investigated the effects of cycles of maternal food availability on the rhythms of Per1 gene expression in the fetal suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and liver using a transgenic rat model whose tissues express luciferase in vitro. Although the maternal SCN remained phase-locked to the LD cycle, maternal restricted feeding phase-advanced the fetal SCN and liver by 5 and 7 hours respectively within the 22-day pregnancy.
Conclusions/Significance
Our results demonstrate that maternal feeding entrains the fetal SCN and liver independently of both the maternal SCN and the LD cycle. This indicates that maternal-feeding signals can be more influential for the fetal SCN and particular organ oscillators than hormonal signals controlled by the maternal SCN, suggesting the importance of a regular maternal feeding schedule for appropriate fetal molecular clockwork during pregnancy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002601
PMCID: PMC2432029  PMID: 18596966

Results 1-3 (3)