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1.  Targeted chiral lipidomics analysis of bioactive eicosanoid lipids in cellular systems 
BMB reports  2009;42(7):401-410.
We have developed a targeted lipidomics approach that makes it possible to directly analyze chiral eicosanoid lipids generated in cellular systems. The eicosanoids, including prostaglandins (PGs), thromboxanes (TXs), leukotrienes (LTs) and alcohols (HETEs), have been implicated as potent lipid mediators of various biological processes. Enzymatic formations of eicosanoids are regioselective and enantioselective, whereas reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated formation proceeds with no stereo-selectivity. To distinguish between enzymatic and non-enzymatic pathways of eicosanoid formation, it is necessary to resolve enantiomeric forms as well as regioisomers. High sensitivity is also required to analyze the eicosanoid lipids that are usually present as trace amounts (pM level) in biological fluids. A discovery of liquid chromatography-electron capture atmospheric pressure chemical ionization/mass spectrometry (LC- ECAPCI/MS) allows us to couple normal phase chiral chromatography without loss of sensitivity. Analytical specificity was obtained by the use of collision-induced dissociation (CID) and tandem MS (MS/MS). With combination of stable isotope dilution methodology, complex mixtures of regioisomeric and enantiomeric eicosanoids have been resolved and quantified in biological samples with high sensitivity and specificity. Targeted chiral lipidomics profiles of bioactive eicosanoid lipids obtained from various cell systems and their biological implications have been discussed.
PMCID: PMC4063125  PMID: 19643036
Bioactive lipids; Cellular systems; Cyclooxygenase; Eicosanoids; LC-ECAPCI/MS; Lipoxygenase; Targeted chiral lipidomics
2.  Pemetrexed alters folate phenotype and inflammatory profile in EA.hy 926 cells grown under low-folate conditions 
European journal of pharmacology  2012;696(0):12-17.
Elevated homocysteine is a risk marker for several major human pathologies. Emerging evidence suggests that perturbations of folate/homocysteine metabolism can directly modify production of inflammatory mediators. Pemetrexed acts by inhibiting thymidylate synthetase (TYMS), dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR), and glycinamide ribonucleotide formyltransferase (GARFT). EA.hy 926 cells grown under low (“Lo”) and high (“Hi”) folate conditions were treated with pemetrexed. The concentrations of several intracellular folate derivatives were measured using LC-MRM/MS. Lo cells had lower total folate concentrations and a different distribution of the intracellular folate derivatives than Hi cells. Treatment with pemetrexed caused a decrease in individual folate analytes. Microarray analysis showed that several genes were significantly up or down-regulated in pemetrexed treated Lo cells. Several of the significantly up-regulated transcripts were inflammatory. Changes in transcript levels of selected targets, including C3, IL-8, and DHFR, were confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR. C3 and IL-8 transcript levels were increased in pemetrexed-treated Lo cells relative to Lo controls; DHFR transcript levels were decreased. In Lo cells, IL-8 and C3 protein concentrations were increased following pemetrexed treatment. Pemetrexed drug treatment was shown in this study to have effects that lead to an increase in pro-inflammatory mediators in Lo cells. No such changes were observed in Hi cells, suggesting that pemetrexed could not modify the inflammatory profile in the context of cellular folate sufficiency.
PMCID: PMC4051202  PMID: 22975265
Pemetrexed; Folate; Inflammation; EA.hy 926 cells
3.  Folate and Homocysteine Phenotypes: Comparative Findings Using Research and Clinical Laboratory Data 
Clinical biochemistry  2009;42(12):1275-1281.
A low folate/high homocysteine phenotype is associated with several pathologies, including spina bifida and cardiovascular disease. Folate and total homocysteine (tHcy) measurements are used clinically to assess risk and the need for folic acid supplementation and in research to investigate the metabolic basis of disease. Red blood cell (RBC) folate, the best indicator of long-term folate status, is usually measured as “total” folate. However, different folate derivatives support distinct biochemical functions, suggesting a need to develop more precise methods. This study was designed to evaluate a method based on stable isotope dilution liquid chromatography–multiple reaction monitoring/mass spectrometry (LC-MRM/MS).
Design and Methods
We used LC-MRM/MS to quantify the RBC folate derivatives 5- methyltetrahydrofolate (5-CH3-THF), tetrahydrofolate (THF), and 5,10-methenyltetrahydrofolate (5,10-methenylTHF) in pre-menopausal women. The concentrations of each folate derivative was assessed for utility in predicting tHcy levels, and compared to folate and tHcy measurements derived by routine clinical laboratory methods.
LC-MRM/MS was qualitatively and quantitatively superior to routine clinical laboratory methods for determining folate and tHcy concentrations. RBC 5-CH3-THF had a reciprocal relationship with tHcy (p=0.0003), whereas RBC THF and RBC 5,10-methenylTHF had direct relationships (p=0.01, 0.04 respectively). In combination, these three variables accounted for 42% of the variation in tHcy.
Robust methods for measuring RBC 5-CH3-THF would improve the utility of folate/homocysteine phenotyping in patient management. The use of LC-MRM/MS would allow studies of hyperhomocysteinemia and diseases associated with a low folate/high homocysteine phenotype to be performed with less measurement error and greater statistical power to generate data with the potential to elucidate the etiologic mechanisms of complex diseases and traits.
PMCID: PMC4051207  PMID: 19427846
folate; homocysteine; hyperhomocysteinemia; disease risk; LC-MRM/MS
4.  Genetic and Lifestyle Variables Associated with Homocysteine Concentrations and the Distribution of Folate Derivatives in Healthy Premenopausal Women 
Low folate and high homocysteine (Hcy) concentrations are associated with pregnancy-related pathologies such as spina bifida. Polymorphisms in folate/Hcy metabolic enzymes may contribute to this potentially pathogenic biochemical phenotype.
The study comprised 26 Caucasian and 23 African-American premenopausal women. Subjects gave fasting blood samples for biochemical phenotyping and genotyping. Total Hcy (tHcy) and both plasma and red blood cell (RBC) folate derivatives [i.e. tetrahydrofolate (THF), 5-methylTHF (5-MTHF), and 5,10-methenylTHF (5,10-MTHF)] were measured using stable isotope dilution liquid chromatography, multiple reaction monitoring, mass spectrometry. Eleven polymorphisms from nine folate/Hcy pathway genes were genotyped. Tests of association between genetic, lifestyle, and biochemical variables were applied.
In African American women, tHcy concentrations were associated (p<0.05) with total RBC folate, RBC 5-MTHF, B12, and polymorphisms in methionine synthase (MTR) and thymidylate synthase (TYMS). In Caucasian women, tHcy concentrations were not associated with total folate levels, but were associated (p<0.05) with RBC THF, ratios of RBC 5-MTHF: THF, and polymorphisms in 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) and MTR . In African Americans, folate derivative levels were associated with smoking, B12, and polymorphisms in MTR, TYMS, methionine synthase reductase (MTRR), and reduced folate carrier1 (RFC1). In Caucasians, folate derivative levels were associated with vitamin use, B12, and polymorphisms in MTHFR, TYMS, and RFC1.
Polymorphisms in the folate/Hcy pathway are associated with tHcy and folate derivative levels. In African American and Caucasian women, different factors are associated with folate/Hcy phenotypes and may contribute to race-specific differences in the risks of a range of pregnancy-related pathologies.
PMCID: PMC4051228  PMID: 20544798
Genetics; folate; homocysteine; women; reproductive age; spina bifida risk
5.  Mutant Human FUS Is Ubiquitously Mislocalized and Generates Persistent Stress Granules in Primary Cultured Transgenic Zebrafish Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e90572.
FUS mutations can occur in familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS), a neurodegenerative disease with cytoplasmic FUS inclusion bodies in motor neurons. To investigate FUS pathology, we generated transgenic zebrafish expressing GFP-tagged wild-type or fALS (R521C) human FUS. Cell cultures were made from these zebrafish and the subcellular localization of human FUS and the generation of stress granule (SG) inclusions examined in different cell types, including differentiated motor neurons. We demonstrate that mutant FUS is mislocalized from the nucleus to the cytosol to a similar extent in motor neurons and all other cell types. Both wild-type and R521C FUS localized to SGs in zebrafish cells, demonstrating an intrinsic ability of human FUS to accumulate in SGs irrespective of the presence of disease-associated mutations or specific cell type. However, elevation in relative cytosolic to nuclear FUS by the R521C mutation led to a significant increase in SG assembly and persistence within a sub population of vulnerable cells, although these cells were not selectively motor neurons.
PMCID: PMC4049593  PMID: 24912067
As part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the United States Food and Drug Administration charged the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee with developing a report and recommendations regarding the effect of menthol in cigarettes on the public health. The purpose of this study was to examine smoking behaviors, biomarkers of exposure and subjective responses when switching from a novel menthol cigarette to a non-menthol cigarette to isolate the effect of menthol and to approximate the effect a menthol ban might have on smokers.
Thirty two adult smokers completed this 35-day randomized, open-label, laboratory study. After a 5-day baseline period, participants were randomized to the experimental group (n=22) where they would smoke menthol Camel Crush for 15 days followed by 15 days of non-menthol Camel Crush, or the control group (n=10) where they smoked their own brand cigarette across all periods. Participants attended study visits every five days and completed measures of smoking rate, smoking topography, biomarkers of exposure, and subjective responses.
Although total puff volume tended to increase when the experimental group switched from menthol to non-menthol (p=0.06), there were no corresponding increases in cigarette consumption or biomarkers of exposure (ps>0.1). Subjective ratings related to taste and smell decreased during the non-menthol period (ps<0.01), compared to the menthol.
Results suggest menthol has minimal impact on smoking behaviors, biomarkers of exposure and subjective ratings.
When controlling for all other cigarette design features, menthol in cigarettes had minimal effect on outcome measures.
PMCID: PMC3596436  PMID: 23334588
cigarette; menthol; smoking; nicotine; behavior
7.  Dietary Flaxseed in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients Receiving Chemoradiation 
The standard of care in Locally-Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (LA-NSCLC) is chemotherapy and radiation; however, Radiation-Induced Lung Injury (RILI), which may be prevented by the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of Flaxseed (FS), impedes its maximum benefit.
Materials and Methods
Patients with LA-NSCLC requiring definitive RT were randomized to one FS or control muffin daily from start to 2 weeks after RT. Blood and urine were collected to quantify plasma FS metabolites, Enterodione (ED) and Enterolactone (EL), and urinary oxidative stress biomarkers, 8, 12-iso-iPF2a-VI (isoprostane) and 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2′deoxyguanosine (8-oxo-dGuo). Tolerability was defined as consuming ≥ 75% of the intended muffins and no ≥ grade 3 gastrointestinal toxicities.
Fourteen patients (control,7; FS,7) were enrolled. The tolerability rates were 42.9 versus 71.4% (p=0.59) for FS and control, respectively. Mean percentages of intended number of muffins consumed were 37% versus 73% (p=0.12). ED and EL increased at onset of FS and decreased with discontinuation, confirming bioavailability. Isoprostane and 8-oxo-dGuo were detectable. There was a trend towards decreased rates of pneumonitis in FS.
This is the first study to report FS bioavailability and quantify oxidative stress markers in NSCLC patients. FS in the administered muffin formulation did not meet tolerability criteria. Given the promising mechanism of FS as a radioprotectant, further investigations should focus on the optimal method for administration of FS.
PMCID: PMC3932620  PMID: 24575360
Flaxseed; Lignan; Radiation; Isoprostane; 8-oxo dGuo; Non-small cell lung cancer; Radiation induced lung injury; RILI; Pneumonitis; Fibrosis; Esophagitis
8.  C9ORF72, implicated in amytrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia, regulates endosomal trafficking 
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;23(13):3579-3595.
Intronic expansion of a hexanucleotide GGGGCC repeat in the chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) gene is the major cause of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia. However, the cellular function of the C9ORF72 protein remains unknown. Here, we demonstrate that C9ORF72 regulates endosomal trafficking. C9ORF72 colocalized with Rab proteins implicated in autophagy and endocytic transport: Rab1, Rab5, Rab7 and Rab11 in neuronal cell lines, primary cortical neurons and human spinal cord motor neurons, consistent with previous predictions that C9ORF72 bears Rab guanine exchange factor activity. Consistent with this notion, C9ORF72 was present in the extracellular space and as cytoplasmic vesicles. Depletion of C9ORF72 using siRNA inhibited transport of Shiga toxin from the plasma membrane to Golgi apparatus, internalization of TrkB receptor and altered the ratio of autophagosome marker light chain 3 (LC3) II:LC3I, indicating that C9ORF72 regulates endocytosis and autophagy. C9ORF72 also colocalized with ubiquilin-2 and LC3-positive vesicles, and co-migrated with lysosome-stained vesicles in neuronal cell lines, providing further evidence that C9ORF72 regulates autophagy. Investigation of proteins interacting with C9ORF72 using mass spectrometry identified other proteins implicated in ALS; ubiquilin-2 and heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins, hnRNPA2/B1 and hnRNPA1, and actin. Treatment of cells overexpressing C9ORF72 with proteasome inhibitors induced the formation of stress granules positive for hnRNPA1 and hnRNPA2/B1. Immunohistochemistry of C9ORF72 ALS patient motor neurons revealed increased colocalization between C9ORF72 and Rab7 and Rab11 compared with controls, suggesting possible dysregulation of trafficking in patients bearing the C9ORF72 repeat expansion. Hence, this study identifies a role for C9ORF72 in Rab-mediated cellular trafficking.
PMCID: PMC4049310  PMID: 24549040
9.  Exome sequencing to identify de novo mutations in sporadic ALS trios 
Nature neuroscience  2013;16(7):10.1038/nn.3412.
ALS is a devastating neurodegenerative disease whose causes are still poorly understood. To identify additional genetic risk factors, here we assess the role of de novo mutations in ALS by sequencing the exomes of 47 ALS patients and both of their unaffected parents (n=141 exomes). We found that amino acid-altering de novo mutations are enriched in genes encoding chromatin regulators, including the neuronal chromatin remodeling complex component SS18L1/CREST. CREST mutations inhibit activity-dependent neurite outgrowth in primary neurons, and CREST associates with the ALS protein FUS. These findings expand our understanding of the ALS genetic landscape and provide a resource for future studies into the pathogenic mechanisms contributing to sporadic ALS.
PMCID: PMC3709464  PMID: 23708140
10.  Development of a Genotyping Microarray for Studying the Role of Gene-Environment Interactions in Risk for Lung Cancer 
A microarray (LungCaGxE), based on Illumina BeadChip technology, was developed for high-resolution genotyping of genes that are candidates for involvement in environmentally driven aspects of lung cancer oncogenesis and/or tumor growth. The iterative array design process illustrates techniques for managing large panels of candidate genes and optimizing marker selection, aided by a new bioinformatics pipeline component, Tagger Batch Assistant. The LungCaGxE platform targets 298 genes and the proximal genetic regions in which they are located, using ∼13,000 DNA single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which include haplotype linkage markers with a minimum allele frequency of 1% and additional specifically targeted SNPs, for which published reports have indicated functional consequences or associations with lung cancer or other smoking-related diseases. The overall assay conversion rate was 98.9%; 99.0% of markers with a minimum Illumina design score of 0.6 successfully generated allele calls using genomic DNA from a study population of 1873 lung-cancer patients and controls.
PMCID: PMC3792704  PMID: 24294113
genetic association; environmental exposures; Tagger Batch Assistant; LungCaGxE
11.  Synthesis of 13C4-labelled oxidized metabolites of the carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon benzo[a]pyrene 
Tetrahedron  2012;68(35):10.1016/j.tet.2012.05.130.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), such as benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), are ubiquitous environmental contaminants that are implicated in causing lung cancer. BaP is a component of tobacco smoke that is transformed enzymatically to active forms that interact with DNA. We reported previously development of a sensitive stable isotope dilution LC/MS method for analysis of BaP metabolites. We now report efficient syntheses of 13C4-BaP and the complete set of its 13C4-labelled oxidized metabolites needed as internal standards They include the metabolites not involved in carcinogenesis (Group A) and the metabolites implicated in initiation of cancer (Group B). The synthetic approach is novel, entailing use of Pd-catalyzed Suzuki, Sonogashira, and Hartwig cross-coupling reactions combined with PtCl2-catalyzed cyclization of acetylenic compounds. This synthetic method requires fewer steps, employs milder conditions, and product isolation is simpler than conventional methods of PAH synthesis. The syntheses of 13C4-BaP and 13C4-BaP-8-ol each require only four steps, and the 13C-atoms are all introduced in a single step. 13C4-BaP-8-ol serves as the synthetic precursor of all the oxidized metabolites of 13C-BaP implicated in initiation of cancer. The isotopic purities of the synthetic 13C4-BaP metabolites were estimated to be ≥99.9%.
PMCID: PMC3826453  PMID: 24244053
Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP); Carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic; hydrocarbons (PAHs); Synthesis of 13C4-labelled BaP; 13C4-Labelled oxidized metabolites of BaP; Enzymatic activation of PAH carcinogens; Synthesis of PAHs via Pd-catalyzed cross-coupling reactions
12.  Stereospecific reduction of 5β-reduced steroids by human ketosteroid reductases of the AKR (aldo-keto reductase) superfamily: role of AKR1C1–AKR1C4 in the metabolism of testosterone and progesterone via the 5β-reductase pathway 
The Biochemical journal  2011;437(1):10.1042/BJ20101804.
Active sex hormones such as testosterone and progesterone are metabolized to tetrahydrosteroids in the liver to terminate hormone action. One main metabolic pathway, the 5β-pathway, involves 5β-steroid reductase (AKR1D1, where AKR refers to the aldo-keto reductase superfamily), which catalyses the reduction of the 4-ene structure, and ketosteroid reductases (AKR1C1–AKR1C4), which catalyse the subsequent reduction of the 3-oxo group. The activities of the four human AKR1C enzymes on 5β-dihydrotestosterone, 5β-pregnane-3,20-dione and 20α-hydroxy-5β-pregnan-3-one, the intermediate 5β-dihydrosteroids on the 5β-pathway of testosterone and progesterone metabolism, were investigated. Product characterization by liquid chromatography–MS revealed that the reduction of the 3-oxo group of the three steroids predominantly favoured the formation of the corresponding 3α-hydroxy steroids. The stereochemistry was explained by molecular docking. Kinetic properties of the enzymes identified AKR1C4 as the major enzyme responsible for the hepatic formation of 5β-tetrahydrosteroid of testosterone, but indicated differential routes and roles of human AKR1C for the hepatic formation of 5β-tetrahydrosteroids of progesterone. Comparison of the kinetics of the AKR1C1–AKR1C4-catalysed reactions with those of AKR1D1 suggested that the three intermediate 5β-dihydrosteroids derived from testosterone and progesterone are unlikely to accumulate in liver, and that the identities and levels of 5β-reduced metabolites formed in peripheral tissues will be governed by the local expression of AKR1D1 and AKR1C1–AKR1C3.
PMCID: PMC3825703  PMID: 21521174
dihydrosteroid; hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases; liquid-chromatography–MS (LC–MS); steroid metabolism; tetrahydrosteroid
13.  Cellular uptake and antiproliferative effects of 11-oxo-eicosatetraenoic acid[S] 
Journal of Lipid Research  2013;54(11):3070-3077.
Cyclooxygenases (COX) metabolize arachidonic acid (AA) to hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acids (HETE), which can then be oxidized by dehydrogenases, such as 15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase (15-PGDH), to oxo-eicosatetraenoic acids (ETE). We have previously established that 11-oxo-eicosatetraenoic acid (oxo-ETE) and 15-oxo-ETE are COX-2/15-PGDH-derived metabolites. Stable isotope dilution (SID) chiral liquid chromatography coupled with electron capture atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (ECAPCI) single reaction monitoring (SRM) MS has been used to quantify uptake of 11-oxo-ETE and 15-oxo-ETE in both LoVo cells and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). Intracellular 11-oxo- and 15-oxo-ETE concentrations reached maximum levels within 1 h and declined rapidly, with significant quantitative differences in uptake between the LoVo cells and the HUVECs. Maximal intracellular concentrations of 11-oxo-ETE were 0.02 ng/4 × 105 cells in the LoVo cells and 0.58 ng/4 × 105 cells in the HUVECs. Conversely, maximal levels of 15-oxo-ETE were 0.21 ng/4 × 105 in the LoVo cells and 0.01 ng/4 × 105 in the HUVECs. The methyl esters of both 11-oxo- and 15-oxo-ETE increased the intracellular concentrations of the corresponding free oxo-ETEs by 3- to 8-fold. 11-oxo-ETE, 15-oxo-ETE, and their methyl esters inhibited proliferation in both HUVECs and LoVo cells at concentrations of 2–10 μM, with 11-oxo-ETE methyl ester being the most potent inhibitor. Cotreatment with probenecid, an inhibitor of multiple drug resistance transporters (MRP)1 and 4, increased the antiproliferative effect of 11-oxo-ETE methyl ester in LoVo cells and increased the intracellular concentration of 11-oxo-ETE from 0.05 ng/4 × 105 cells to 0.18 ng/4 × 105 cells. Therefore, this study has established that the COX-2/15-PGDH-derived eicosanoids 11-oxo- and 15-oxo-ETE enter target cells, that they inhibit cellular proliferation, and that their inhibitory effects are modulated by MRP exporters.
PMCID: PMC3793611  PMID: 23945567
cyclooxygenase; eicosanoids; cancer; exporters
14.  Antioxidant protection by PECAM-targeted delivery of a novel NADPH-oxidase inhibitor to the endothelium in vitro and in vivo 
Oxidant stress caused by pathological elevation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in the endothelial cells lining the vascular lumen is an important component of many vascular and pulmonary disease conditions. NADPH oxidase (NOX) activated by pathological mediators including angiotensin and cytokines is a major source of endothelial ROS. In order to intercept this pathological pathway, we have encapsulated an indirect NOX inhibitor, MJ33, into immunoliposomes (Ab-MJ33/IL) targeted to endothelial marker platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule (PECAM-1). Ab-MJ33/IL, but not control IgG-MJ33/IL specifically bound to endothelium and attenuated angiotensin-induced ROS production in vitro and in vivo. Additionally, Ab-MJ33/IL inhibited endothelial expression of the inflammatory marker vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM) in cells and animals challenged with the cytokine TNF. Furthermore, Ab-MJ33/IL alleviated pathological disruption of endothelial permeability barrier function in cells exposed to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and in the lungs of mice challenged with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Of note, the latter beneficial effect has been achieved both by prophylactic and therapeutic injection of Ab-MJ33/IL in animals. Therefore, specific suppression of ROS production by NOX in endothelium, attainable by Ab-MJ33/IL targeting, may help deciphering mechanisms of vascular oxidative stress and inflammation, and potentially improve treatment of these conditions.
PMCID: PMC3495982  PMID: 22974832
15.  Analysis of endogenous glutathione-adducts and their metabolites 
The ability to conduct validated analyses of glutathione (GSH)-adducts and their metabolites is critically important in order to establish whether they play a role in cellular biochemical or pathophysiological processes. The use of stable isotope dilution (SID) methodology in combination with liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) provides the highest bioanalytical specificity possible for such analyses. Quantitative studies normally require the high sensitivity that can be obtained by the use of multiple reaction monitoring (MRM)/MS rather than the much less sensitive but more specific full scanning methodology. The method employs a parent ion corresponding to the intact molecule together with a prominent product ion that obtained by collision induced dissociation. Using SID LC-MRM/MS, analytes must have the same relative LC retention time to the heavy isotope internal standard established during the validation procedure, the correct parent ion and the correct product ion. This level of specificity cannot be attained with any other bioanalytical technique employed for biomarker analysis. This review will describe the application of SID LC-MR/MS methodology for the analysis of GSH-adducts and their metabolites. It will also discuss potential future directions for the use of this methodology for rigorous determination of their utility as disease and exposure biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC3802536  PMID: 20017120
glutathione-adducts; stable isotopes; LC-MS; MRM; mercapturic acids; leukotrienes
16.  SILEC: a protocol for generating and using isotopically labeled coenzyme A mass spectrometry standards 
Nature protocols  2011;7(1):1-12.
Stable isotope labeling by essential nutrients in cell culture (SILEC) was recently developed to generate isotopically labeled coenzyme A (CoA) and short-chain acyl-CoA thioesters. This was accomplished by modifying the widely used technique of stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture to include [13C315N]-pantothenate (vitamin B5), a CoA precursor, instead of the isotopically labeled amino acids. The lack of a de novo pantothenate synthesis pathway allowed for efficient and near-complete labeling of the measured CoA species. This protocol provides a step-by-step approach for generating stable isotope-labeled short-chain acyl-CoA internal standards in mammalian and insect cells as well as instructions on how to use them in stable isotope dilution mass spectrometric-based analyses. Troubleshooting guidelines, as well as a list of unlabeled and labeled CoA species, are also included. This protocol represents a prototype for generating stable isotope internal standards from labeled essential nutrients such as pantothenate. The generation and use of SILEC standards takes approximately 2–3 weeks.
PMCID: PMC3802537  PMID: 22157971
17.  Synthesis of 13C2-Benzo[a]pyrene and its 7,8-Dihydrodiol and 7,8-Dione Implicated as Carcinogenic Metabolites 
Tetrahedron letters  2008;49(29-30):4531-4533.
Synthesis of the 13C2-labelled analogues of the carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon benzo[a]pyrene and its active metabolites are described. The method entails Pd-catalyzed Suzuki-Miyaura coupling of a naphthalene boronic acid with 2-bromobenzene-1,3-dialdehyde followed by Wittig reaction of the product with 13CH2=PPh3.
PMCID: PMC3804341  PMID: 24155502
18.  Development of a Genotyping Microarray for Studying the Role of Gene-Environment Interactions in Risk for Lung Cancer 
A microarray (LungCaGxE), based on Illumina BeadChip technology, was developed for high-resolution genotyping of genes that are candidates for involvement in environmentally driven aspects of lung cancer oncogenesis and/or tumor growth. The iterative array design process illustrates techniques for managing large panels of candidate genes and optimizing marker selection, aided by a new bioinformatics pipeline component, Tagger Batch Assistant. The LungCaGxE platform targets 298 genes and the proximal genetic regions in which they are located, using ∼13,000 DNA single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which include haplotype linkage markers with a minimum allele frequency of 1% and additional specifically targeted SNPs, for which published reports have indicated functional consequences or associations with lung cancer or other smoking-related diseases. The overall assay conversion rate was 98.9%; 99.0% of markers with a minimum Illumina design score of 0.6 successfully generated allele calls using genomic DNA from a study population of 1873 lung-cancer patients and controls.
PMCID: PMC3792704  PMID: 24294113
genetic association; environmental exposures; Tagger Batch Assistant; LungCaGxE
19.  Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry of pre-ionized Girard P derivatives for quantifying estrone and its metabolites in serum from postmenopausal women 
An ultrasensitive stable isotope dilution liquid chromatography/selected reaction monitoring/mass spectrometry (LC-SRM/MS) assay has been developed for serum estrone, 16α-hydroxyestrone, 4-methoxyestrone, and 2-methoxyestrone. The enhanced sensitivity was obtained by the use of Girard P (GP) pre-ionized derivatives coupled with microflow LC. The limit of detection for each estrogen using 0.5 mL of serum was 0.156 pg/mL and linear standard curves were obtained up to 20 pg/mL. Serum samples from 20 postmenopausal women (10 lifetime non-smokers and 10 current smokers) were analyzed using this new assay. Mean serum concentrations of estrone and 2-methoxyestrone were 14.06 pg/mL (± 1.56 pg/mL) and 3.30 pg/mL (± 1.00 pg/mL), respectively, for the 20 subjects enrolled in the study. The mean estrone concentration determined by our ultrasensitive and highly specific assay was significantly lower than that reported for the control groups in most previous breast cancer studies of postmenopausal women. In addition (and contrary to many reports) serum 16α-hydroxyestrone was not detected in any of the subjects, and 4-methoxyestrone was detected in only one of the subjects. Furthermore, there were no significant differences in the mean serum concentrations of estrone and 2-methoxyestrone or the ratio of serum 2-methoxyestrone to estrone between the non-smoking and smoking groups. Interestingly, the one subject with measurable serum 4-methoxyestrone (2.3 pg/mL) had the lowest estrone and 2-methoxyestrone concentrations. Using this assay it will now be possible to obtain definitive information on the levels of serum estrone, 4-methoxyestrone, and 2-methoxyestrone in studies of cancer risk using small serum volumes available from previous epidemiology studies.
PMCID: PMC3732066  PMID: 21488127
estrone; 16α-hydroxyestrone; 4-methoxyestrone; 2-methoxyestrone; LC-MS; stable isotopes
20.  Quantitation of Benzo[a]pyrene Metabolic Profiles in Human Bronchoalveolar H358) Cells by Stable Isotope Dilution Liquid Chromatography-Atmospheric Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometry 
Chemical research in toxicology  2011;24(11):1905-1914.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are ubiquitous environmental pollutants and are carcinogenic in multiple organs and species. Benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) is a representative PAH and has been studied extensively for its carcinogenicity and toxicity. B[a]P itself is chemically inert and requires metabolic activation to exhibit its toxicity and carcinogenicity. Three major metabolic pathways have been well documented. The signature metabolites generated from the radical cation (peroxidase or monooxygenase mediated) pathway are B[a]P-1,6-dione and B[a]P-3,6-dione, the signature metabolite generated from the diol-epoxide (P450 mediated) pathway is B[a]P-r-7,t-8,t-9,c-10-tetrahydrotetrol (B[a]P-tetrol-1) and the signature metabolite generated from the o-quinone (aldo-keto reductase mediated) pathway is B[a]P-7,8-dione. The contributions of these different metabolic pathways to cancer initiation and the exploitation of this information for cancer prevention are still under debate. With the availability of a library of [13C4]-labeled B[a]P metabolite internal standards, we developed a sensitive stable isotope dilution atmospheric pressure chemical ionization tandem mass spectrometry method to address this issue by quantitating B[a]P metabolites from each metabolic pathway in human lung cells. This analytical method represents a 500 fold increased sensitivity compared with a method using HPLC-radiometric detection. The limit of quantitation (LOQ) was determined to be 6 fmol on column for 3-hydroxybenzo[a]pyrene (3-OH-B[a]P), the generally accepted biomarker for B[a]P exposure. This high level of sensitivity and robustness of the method was demonstrated in a study of B[a]P metabolic profiles in human bronchoalveolar H358 cells induced or uninduced with the AhR ligand, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD). All the signature metabolites were detected and successfully quantitated. Our results suggest that all three metabolic pathways contribute equally in the overall metabolism of B[a]P in H358 cells with or without TCDD induction. The sensitivity of the method should permit the identification of cell-type differences in B[a]P activation and detoxication and could also be used for biomonitoring human exposure to PAH.
PMCID: PMC3725129  PMID: 21962213
aldo-keto reductase; benzo[a]pyrene; H358 cell; metabolome; P450 enzymes; stable isotope dilution mass spectrometry; TCDD induction
21.  Evaluating the role of the FUS/TLS-related gene EWSR1 in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(13):2899-2911.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease affecting motor neurons. Mutations in related RNA-binding proteins TDP-43, FUS/TLS and TAF15 have been connected to ALS. These three proteins share several features, including the presence of a bioinformatics-predicted prion domain, aggregation–prone nature in vitro and in vivo and toxic effects when expressed in multiple model systems. Given these commonalities, we hypothesized that a related protein, EWSR1 (Ewing sarcoma breakpoint region 1), might also exhibit similar properties and therefore could contribute to disease. Here, we report an analysis of EWSR1 in multiple functional assays, including mutational screening in ALS patients and controls. We identified three missense variants in EWSR1 in ALS patients, which were absent in a large number of healthy control individuals. We show that disease-specific variants affect EWSR1 localization in motor neurons. We also provide multiple independent lines of in vitro and in vivo evidence that EWSR1 has similar properties as TDP-43, FUS and TAF15, including aggregation–prone behavior in vitro and ability to confer neurodegeneration in Drosophila. Postmortem analysis of sporadic ALS cases also revealed cytoplasmic mislocalization of EWSR1. Together, our studies highlight a potential role for EWSR1 in ALS, provide a collection of functional assays to be used to assess roles of additional RNA-binding proteins in disease and support an emerging concept that a class of aggregation–prone RNA-binding proteins might contribute broadly to ALS and related neurodegenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC3373238  PMID: 22454397
22.  Metabolism and Distribution of Benzo[a]pyrene-7,8-dione (B[a]P-7,8-dione) in Human Lung Cells by Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry: Detection of an Adenine B[a]P-7,8-dione Adduct 
Chemical Research in Toxicology  2012;25(5):993-1003.
Benzo[a]pyrene-7,8-dione (B[a]P-7,8-dione) is produced in human lung cells by the oxidation of (±)-B[a]P-7,8-trans-dihydrodiol, which is catalyzed by aldo-keto reductases (AKRs). However, information relevant to the cell-based metabolism of B[a]P-7,8-dione is lacking. We studied the metabolic fate of 2 µM 1,3-[3H2]-B[a]P-7,8-dione in human lung adenocarcinoma A549 cells, human bronchoalveolar H358 cells and immortalized human bronchial epithelial HBEC-KT cells. In these three cell lines, 1,3-[3H2]-B[a]P-7,8-dione was rapidly consumed and radioactivity was distributed between the organic and aqueous phase of ethyl acetate-extracted media, as well as in the cell lysate pellets. After acidification of the media, several metabolites of 1,3-[3H2]-B[a]P-7,8-dione were detected in the organic phase of the media by high performance liquid chromatography-ultraviolet-radioactivity monitoring (HPLC-UV-RAM). The structures of B[a]P-7,8-dione metabolites varied in the cell lines and were identified as: B[a]P-7,8-dione conjugates with glutathione (GSH) and N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), 8-O-mono-methylated-catechol, catechol mono-sulfate and mono-glucuronide, and mono-hydroxylated-B[a]P-7,8-dione by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). We also obtained evidence for the first time for the formation of an adenine adduct of B[a]P-7,8-dione. Among these metabolites, the identity of the GSH-B[a]P-7,8-dione and the NAC-B[a]P-7,8-dione were further validated by comparison to authentic synthesized standards. The pathways of B[a]P-7,8-dione metabolism in the three human lung cell lines are formation of GSH and NAC conjugates, reduction to the catechol followed by phase II conjugation reactions leading to its detoxification, mono-hydroxylation as well as formation of the adenine adduct.
PMCID: PMC3358497  PMID: 22480306
Methylation; sulfation; glucuronidation; catechol-O-methyltransferase; sulfotransferases; uridine 5'-diphospho-glucuronosyltransferases
23.  Relative Quantification of Serum Proteins from Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Patients by Stable Isotope Dilution Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry 
Journal of Proteome Research  2012;11(3):1749-1758.
We report an innovative multiplexed liquid chromatography-multiple reaction monitoring/mass spectrometry (LC-MRM/MS)-based assay for rapidly measuring a large number of disease specific protein biomarkers in human serum. Furthermore, this approach uses stable isotope dilution methodology to reliably quantify candidate protein biomarkers. Human serum was diluted using a stable isotope labeled proteome (SILAP) standard prepared from the secretome of pancreatic cell lines, subjected to immunoaffinity removal of the most highly abundant proteins, trypsin digested, and analyzed by LC-MRM/MS. The method was found to be precise, linear, and specific for the relative quantification of 72 proteins when analyte response was normalized to the relevant internal standard (IS) from the SILAP. The method made it possible to determine statistically different concentrations for three proteins (cystatin M, IGF binding protein 7, and villin 2) in control and pancreatic cancer patient samples. This method proves the feasibility of using a SILAP standard in combination with stable isotope dilution LC-MRM/MS analysis of tryptic peptides to compare changes in the concentration of candidate protein biomarkers in human serum.
PMCID: PMC3292696  PMID: 22264027
SILAC; SILAP; immunoaffinity depletion; tryptic digestion; LC-MS/MS; serum biomarkers
24.  Multidrug Resistance Protein (MRP) 4 Attenuates Benzo[a]Pyrene-Mediated DNA-adduct Formation in Human Bronchoalveolar H358 Cells 
Toxicology Letters  2011;209(1):58-66.
Multi-drug resistance protein (MRP) 4, an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter, has broad substrate specificity. It facilitates the transport of bile salt conjugates, conjugated steroids, nucleoside analogs, eicosanoids, and cardiovascular drugs. Recent studies in liver carcinoma cells and hepatocytes showed that MRP4 expression is regulated by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) and nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2). The AhR has particular importance in the lung and is most commonly associated with the up-regulation of cytochrome P-450 (CYP)-mediated metabolism of benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) to reactive intermediates. Treatment of H358, human bronchoalveolar, cells with 2, 3, 7, 8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) or (−)-benzo[a]pyrene-7,8-dihydro-7,8-diol (B[a]P-7,8-dihydrodiol), the proximate carcinogen of B[a]P, revealed that MRP4 expression was increased compared to control. This suggested that MRP4 expression might contribute to the paradoxical decrease in (+)-7,8-dihydroxy-9,10-epoxy-7,8,9,10-tetrahydrobenzo[a]pyrene-2′-deoxyguanosine ((+)-anti-trans-B[a]PDE-dGuo) DNA-adducts observed in TCDD-treated H358 cells. We have now found that decreased MRP4 expression induced by a short hairpin RNA (shRNA), or chemical inhibition with probenecid, increased (+)-anti-trans-B[a]PDE-dGuo formation in cells treated with (−)-B[a]P-7,8-dihydrodiol, but not the ultimate carcinogen (+)-anti-trans-B[a]PDE. Thus, up-regulation of MRP4 increased cellular efflux of (−)-B[a]P-7,8-dihydrodiol, which attenuated DNA-adduct formation. This is the first report identifying a specific MRP efflux transporter that decreases DNA damage arising from an environmental carcinogen.
PMCID: PMC3256298  PMID: 22155354
benzopyrene; environmental carcinogen; LC-MS; aryl hydrocarbon receptor
25.  Frontotemporal dementia–amyotrophic lateral sclerosis syndrome locus on chromosome 16p12.1–q12.2: genetic, clinical and neuropathological analysis 
Acta Neuropathologica  2013;125(4):523-533.
Numerous families exhibiting both frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) have been described, and although many of these have been shown to harbour a repeat expansion in C9ORF72, several C9ORF72-negative FTD-ALS families remain. We performed neuropathological and genetic analysis of a large European Australian kindred (Aus-12) with autosomal dominant inheritance of dementia and/or ALS. Affected Aus-12 members developed either ALS or dementia; some of those with dementia also had ALS and/or extrapyramidal features. Neuropathology was most consistent with frontotemporal lobar degeneration with type B TDP pathology, but with additional phosphorylated tau pathology consistent with corticobasal degeneration. Aus-12 DNA samples were negative for mutations in all known dementia and ALS genes, including C9ORF72 and FUS. Genome-wide linkage analysis provided highly suggestive evidence (maximum multipoint LOD score of 2.9) of a locus on chromosome 16p12.1–16q12.2. Affected individuals shared a chromosome 16 haplotype flanked by D16S3103 and D16S489, spanning 37.9 Mb, with a smaller suggestive disease haplotype spanning 24.4 Mb defined by recombination in an elderly unaffected individual. Importantly, this smaller region does not overlap with FUS. Whole-exome sequencing identified four variants present in the maximal critical region that segregate with disease. Linkage analysis incorporating these variants generated a maximum multipoint LOD score of 3.0. These results support the identification of a locus on chromosome 16p12.1–16q12.2 responsible for an unusual cluster of neurodegenerative phenotypes. This region overlaps with a separate locus on 16q12.1–q12.2 reported in an independent ALS family, indicating that this region may harbour a second major locus for FTD-ALS.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1078-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3611035  PMID: 23338750
Frontotemporal dementia; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Motor neuron disease; Corticobasal degeneration; Tau; TDP-43

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