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1.  Novel Pancreatic Endocrine Maturation Pathways Identified by Genomic Profiling and Causal Reasoning 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56024.
We have used a previously unavailable model of pancreatic development, derived in vitro from human embryonic stem cells, to capture a time-course of gene, miRNA and histone modification levels in pancreatic endocrine cells. We investigated whether it is possible to better understand, and hence control, the biological pathways leading to pancreatic endocrine formation by analysing this information and combining it with the available scientific literature to generate models using a casual reasoning approach. We show that the embryonic stem cell differentiation protocol is highly reproducible in producing endocrine precursor cells and generates cells that recapitulate many aspects of human embryonic pancreas development, including maturation into functional endocrine cells when transplanted into recipient animals. The availability of whole genome gene and miRNA expression data from the early stages of human pancreatic development will be of great benefit to those in the fields of developmental biology and diabetes research. Our causal reasoning algorithm suggested the involvement of novel gene networks, such as NEUROG3/E2F1/KDM5B and SOCS3/STAT3/IL-6, in endocrine cell development We experimentally investigated the role of the top-ranked prediction by showing that addition of exogenous IL-6 could affect the expression of the endocrine progenitor genes NEUROG3 and NKX2.2.
PMCID: PMC3572136  PMID: 23418498
2.  Derivation of High Purity Neuronal Progenitors from Human Embryonic Stem Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20692.
The availability of human neuronal progenitors (hNPs) in high purity would greatly facilitate neuronal drug discovery and developmental studies, as well as cell replacement strategies for neurodegenerative diseases and conditions, such as spinal cord injury, stroke, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and Huntington's disease. Here we describe for the first time a method for producing hNPs in large quantity and high purity from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) in feeder-free conditions, without the use of exogenous noggin, sonic hedgehog or analogs, rendering the process clinically compliant. The resulting population displays characteristic neuronal-specific markers. When allowed to spontaneously differentiate into neuronal subtypes in vitro, cholinergic, serotonergic, dopaminergic and/or noradrenergic, and medium spiny striatal neurons were observed. When transplanted into the injured spinal cord the hNPs survived, integrated into host tissue, and matured into a variety of neuronal subtypes. Our method of deriving neuronal progenitors from hESCs renders the process amenable to therapeutic and commercial use.
PMCID: PMC3108963  PMID: 21673956
3.  Severe diabetes, age-dependent loss of adipose tissue, and mild growth deficiency in mice lacking Akt2/PKBβ 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2003;112(2):197-208.
The serine/threonine kinase Akt/PKB plays key roles in the regulation of cell growth, survival, and metabolism. It remains unclear, however, whether the functions of individual Akt/PKB isoforms are distinct. To investigate the function of Akt2/PKBβ, mice lacking this isoform were generated. Both male and female Akt2/PKBβ-null mice exhibit mild growth deficiency and an age-dependent loss of adipose tissue or lipoatrophy, with all observed adipose depots dramatically reduced by 22 weeks of age. Akt2/PKBβ-deficient mice are insulin resistant with elevated plasma triglycerides. In addition, Akt2/PKBβ-deficient mice exhibit fed and fasting hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, glucose intolerance, and impaired muscle glucose uptake. In males, insulin resistance progresses to a severe form of diabetes accompanied by pancreatic β cell failure. In contrast, female Akt2/PKBβ-deficient mice remain mildly hyperglycemic and hyperinsulinemic until at least one year of age. Thus, Akt2/PKBβ-deficient mice exhibit growth deficiency similar to that reported previously for mice lacking Akt1/PKBα, indicating that both Akt2/PKBβ and Akt1/PKBα participate in the regulation of growth. The marked hyperglycemia and loss of pancreatic β cells and adipose tissue in Akt2/PKBβ-deficient mice suggest that Akt2/PKBβ plays critical roles in glucose metabolism and the development or maintenance of proper adipose tissue and islet mass for which other Akt/PKB isoforms are unable to fully compensate.
PMCID: PMC164287  PMID: 12843127
4.  Activation of the murine EP3 receptor for PGE2 inhibits cAMP production and promotes platelet aggregation 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2001;107(5):603-610.
The importance of arachidonic acid metabolites (termed eicosanoids), particularly those derived from the COX-1 and COX-2 pathways (termed prostanoids), in platelet homeostasis has long been recognized. Thromboxane is a potent agonist, whereas prostacyclin is an inhibitor of platelet aggregation. In contrast, the effect of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) on platelet aggregation varies significantly depending on its concentration. Low concentrations of PGE2 enhance platelet aggregation, whereas high PGE2 levels inhibit aggregation. The mechanism for this dual action of PGE2 is not clear. This study shows that among the four PGE2 receptors (EP1–EP4), activation of EP3 is sufficient to mediate the proaggregatory actions of low PGE2 concentration. In contrast, the prostacyclin receptor (IP) mediates the inhibitory effect of higher PGE2 concentrations. Furthermore, the relative activation of these two receptors, EP3 and IP, regulates the intracellular level of cAMP and in this way conditions the response of the platelet to aggregating agents. Consistent with these findings, loss of the EP3 receptor in a model of venous inflammation protects against formation of intravascular clots. Our results suggest that local production of PGE2 during an inflammatory process can modulate ensuing platelet responses.
PMCID: PMC199422  PMID: 11238561
5.  The prostaglandin E2 EP1 receptor mediates pain perception and regulates blood pressure 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2001;107(3):325-331.
The lipid mediator prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) has diverse biological activity in a variety of tissues. Four different receptor subtypes (EP1–4) mediate these wide-ranging effects. The EP-receptor subtypes differ in tissue distribution, ligand-binding affinity, and coupling to intracellular signaling pathways. To identify the physiological roles for one of these receptors, the EP1 receptor, we generated EP1-deficient (EP1–/–) mice using homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells derived from the DBA/1lacJ strain of mice. The EP1–/– mice are healthy and fertile, without any overt physical defects. However, their pain-sensitivity responses, tested in two acute prostaglandin-dependent models, were reduced by approximately 50%. This reduction in the perception of pain was virtually identical to that achieved through pharmacological inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis in wild-type mice using a cyclooxygenase inhibitor. In addition, systolic blood pressure is significantly reduced in EP1 receptor–deficient mice and accompanied by increased renin-angiotensin activity, especially in males, suggesting a role for this receptor in cardiovascular homeostasis. Thus, the EP1 receptor for PGE2 plays a direct role in mediating algesia and in regulation of blood pressure.
PMCID: PMC199184  PMID: 11160156
6.  Collagen-induced Arthritis Is Reduced in 5-Lipoxygenase-activating Protein-deficient Mice 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1997;185(6):1123-1130.
Collagen-induced arthritis in the DBA/1 mouse is an experimental model of human rheumatoid arthritis. To examine the role of leukotrienes in the pathogenesis of this disease, we have developed embryonic stem (ES) cells from this mouse strain. Here, we report that DBA/1 mice made deficient in 5-lipoxygenase-activating protein (FLAP) by gene targeting in ES cells develop and grow normally. Zymosan-stimulated leukotriene production in the peritoneal cavity of these mice is undetectable, whereas they produce substantial amounts of prostaglandins. The inflammatory response to zymosan is reduced in FLAP-deficient mice. The severity of collagen-induced arthritis in the FLAP-deficient mice was substantially reduced when compared with wild-type or heterozygous animals. This was not due to an immunosuppressive effect, because anti-collagen antibody levels were similar in wild-type and FLAP-deficient mice. These data demonstrate that leukotrienes play an essential role in both the acute and chronic inflammatory response in mice.
PMCID: PMC2196231  PMID: 9091585

Results 1-6 (6)