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1.  p62/SQSTM1 at the interface of aging, autophagy, and disease 
Age  2014;36(3):9626.
Advanced age is characterized by increased incidence of many chronic, noninfectious diseases that impair the quality of living of the elderly and pose a major burden on the healthcare systems of developed countries. These diseases are characterized by impaired or altered function at the tissue and cellular level, which is a hallmark of the aging process. Age-related impairments are likely due to loss of homeostasis at the cellular level, which leads to the accumulation of dysfunctional organelles and damaged macromolecules, such as proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. Intriguingly, aging and age-related diseases can be delayed by modulating nutrient signaling pathways converging on the target of rapamycin (TOR) kinase, either by genetic or dietary intervention. TOR signaling influences aging through several potential mechanisms, such as autophagy, a degradation pathway that clears the dysfunctional organelles and damaged macromolecules that accumulate with aging. Autophagy substrates are targeted for degradation by associating with p62/SQSTM1, a multidomain protein that interacts with the autophagy machinery. p62/SQSTM1 is involved in several cellular processes, and its loss has been linked to accelerated aging and to age-related pathologies. In this review, we describe p62/SQSTM1, its role in autophagy and in signaling pathways, and its emerging role in aging and age-associated pathologies. Finally, we propose p62/SQSTM1 as a novel target for aging studies and age-extending interventions.
PMCID: PMC4082582  PMID: 24557832
Aging; Autophagy; Mitochondria; Senescence; p62
2.  Mice Producing Reduced Levels of Insulin-Like Growth Factor Type 1 Display an Increase in Maximum, but not Mean, Life Span 
Reduced signaling through the IGF type 1 (IGF-1) receptor increases life span in multiple invertebrate organisms. Studies on mammalian longevity suggest that reducing levels of IGF-1 may also increase life span. However, the data are conflicting and complicated by the physiology of the mammalian neuroendocrine system. We have performed life-span analysis on mice homozygous for an insertion in the Igf1 gene. These mice produce reduced levels of IGF-1 and display a phenotype consistent with a significant decrease in IGF-1. Life-span analysis was carried out at three independent locations. Although the life-span data varied between sites, the maximum life span of the IGF-1-deficient mice was significantly increased and age-specific mortality rates were reduced in the IGF-1-deficient mice; however, mean life span did not differ except at one site, where mean life span was increased in female IGF-1-deficient animals. Early life mortality was noted in one cohort of IGF-1-deficient mice. The results are consistent with a significant role for IGF-1 in the modulation of life span but contrast with the published life-span data for the hypopituitary Ames and Snell dwarf mice and growth hormone receptor null mice, indicating that a reduction in IGF-1 alone is insufficient to increase both mean and maximal life span in mice.
PMCID: PMC3968822  PMID: 23873963
IGF-1; Insulin; Metabolism; Obesity; Gluconeogenesis.
3.  Introductory Review of Computational Cell Cycle Modeling 
Recent advances in the modeling of the cell cycle through computer simulation demonstrate the power of systems biology. By definition, systems biology has the goal to connect a parts list, prioritized through experimental observation or high-throughput screens, by the topology of interactions defining intracellular networks to predict system function. Computer modeling of biological systems is often compared to a process of reverse engineering. Indeed, designed or engineered technical systems share many systems-level properties with biological systems; thus studying biological systems within an engineering framework has proven successful. Here we review some aspects of this process as it pertains to cell cycle modeling.
PMCID: PMC4133988  PMID: 24906317
Cell cycle; Computer modeling; Systems biology; Biological systems; Computer simulation; Cell cycle modeling; System function
4.  Inhibition of mTOR Prevents ROS Production Initiated by Ethidium Bromide-Induced Mitochondrial DNA Depletion 
The regulation of mitochondrial mass and DNA content involves a complex interaction between mitochondrial DNA replication machinery, functional components of the electron transport chain, selective clearance of mitochondria, and nuclear gene expression. In order to gain insight into cellular responses to mitochondrial stress, we treated human diploid fibroblasts with ethidium bromide at concentrations that induced loss of mitochondrial DNA over a period of 7 days. The decrease in mitochondrial DNA was accompanied by a reduction in steady state levels of the mitochondrial DNA binding protein, TFAM, a reduction in several electron transport chain protein levels, increased mitochondrial and total cellular ROS, and activation of p38 MAPK. However, there was an increase in mitochondrial mass and voltage dependent anion channel levels. In addition, mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) activity, as judged by p70S6K targets, was decreased while steady state levels of p62/SQSTM1 and Parkin were increased. Treatment of cells with rapamycin created a situation in which cells were better able to adapt to the mitochondrial dysfunction, resulting in decreased ROS and increased cell viability but did not prevent the reduction in mitochondrial DNA. These effects may be due to a more efficient flux through the electron transport chain, increased autophagy, or enhanced AKT signaling, coupled with a reduced growth rate. Together, the results suggest that mTOR activity is affected by mitochondrial stress, which may be part of the retrograde signal system required for normal mitochondrial homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC4109433  PMID: 25104948
mitochondria; ROS; mTOR; rapamycin; senescence; aging; ethidium bromide; p38
5.  Impact of age on markers of HIV-1 disease 
Future virology  2013;8(1):81-101.
Aging is a complicated process characterized by a progressive loss of homeostasis, which results in an increased vulnerability to multiple diseases. HIV-1-infected patients demonstrate a premature aging phenotype and develop certain age-related diseases earlier in their lifespan than what is seen in the general population. Age-related comorbidities may include the development of bone disease, metabolic disorders, neurologic impairment and immunosenescence. Age also appears to have an effect on traditional markers of HIV-1 disease progression, including CD4+ T-cell count and viral load. These effects are not only a consequence of HIV-1 infection, but in many cases, are also linked to antiretroviral therapy. This review summarizes the complex interplay between HIV-1 infection and aging, and the impact that aging has on markers of HIV-1 disease.
PMCID: PMC3625689  PMID: 23596462
aging; comorbidities; disease progression; HIV-1; neurocognitive impairment
6.  Astrocyte Senescence as a Component of Alzheimer’s Disease 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45069.
Aging is the main risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD); however, the aspects of the aging process that predispose the brain to the development of AD are largely unknown. Astrocytes perform a myriad of functions in the central nervous system to maintain homeostasis and support neuronal function. In vitro, human astrocytes are highly sensitive to oxidative stress and trigger a senescence program when faced with multiple types of stress. In order to determine whether senescent astrocytes appear in vivo, brain tissue from aged individuals and patients with AD was examined for the presence of senescent astrocytes using p16INK4a and matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) expression as markers of senescence. Compared with fetal tissue samples (n = 4), a significant increase in p16INK4a-positive astrocytes was observed in subjects aged 35 to 50 years (n = 6; P = 0.02) and 78 to 90 years (n = 11; P<10−6). In addition, the frontal cortex of AD patients (n = 15) harbored a significantly greater burden of p16INK4a-positive astrocytes compared with non-AD adult control subjects of similar ages (n = 25; P = 0.02) and fetal controls (n = 4; P<10−7). Consistent with the senescent nature of the p16INK4a-positive astrocytes, increased metalloproteinase MMP-1 correlated with p16INK4a. In vitro, beta-amyloid 1–42 (Aβ1–42) triggered senescence, driving the expression of p16INK4a and senescence-associated beta-galactosidase. In addition, we found that senescent astrocytes produce a number of inflammatory cytokines including interleukin-6 (IL-6), which seems to be regulated by p38MAPK. We propose that an accumulation of p16INK4a-positive senescent astrocytes may link increased age and increased risk for sporadic AD.
PMCID: PMC3440417  PMID: 22984612
7.  Impairment of IGF-I expression and anabolic signaling following ischemia/reperfusion in skeletal muscle of old mice 
Experimental gerontology  2010;46(4):265-272.
With the advancement of age, skeletal muscle undergoes a progressive decline in mass, function, and regenerative capacity. Previously, our laboratory has reported an age-reduction in recovery and local induction of IGF-I gene expression with age following tourniquet (TK)-induced skeletal muscle ischemia/reperfusion (I/R). In this study, young (6 mo) and old (24–28 mo) mice were subjected to 2 hours of TK-induced ischemia of the hindlimb followed by 1, 3, 5, or 7 days of reperfusion. Real time-PCR analysis revealed clear age-related reductions and temporal alterations in the expression of IGF-I and individual IGF-I Ea and Eb splice variants. ELISA verified a reduction of IGF-I peptide with age following 7 days recovery from TK. Western blotting showed that the phosphorylation of Akt, mTOR, and FoxO3, all indicators of anabolic activity, were reduced in the muscles of old mice. These data indicate an age-related impairment of IGF-I expression and intracellular signaling does exist following injury, and potentially has a role in the impaired recovery of skeletal muscle with age.
PMCID: PMC3061979  PMID: 21094246
Tourniquet; sarcopenia; muscle regeneration; mTOR; FoxO
8.  Relationship of spindle assembly checkpoint fidelity to species body mass, lifespan, and developmental rate 
Aging (Albany NY)  2011;3(12):1206-1212.
We have examined the tolerance of the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC), as measured by the appearance of tetraploid cells in the presence of a microtubule inhibitor, in a series of primary cell strains derived from species with diverse lifespan and body size. We find that the integrity of the SAC varies among these species. There is a robust correlation between the integrity of the SAC and body size, but poor correlation with longevity and parameters of species development (i.e., time of female fertility, gestation length, and postnatal growth rate). The results suggest that fidelity of the SAC co-evolved more closely with the number of mitoses needed to reach adulthood than with species lifespan.
PMCID: PMC3273901  PMID: 22201071
tetraploid; mitosis; fibroblasts; mouse; human; stability; genome; lifespan; aging
9.  Ku80 facilitates chromatin binding of the telomere binding protein, TRF2 
Cell Cycle  2010;9(18):3798-3806.
The Ku70/80 heterodimer is central to non-homologous end joining repair of DNA double-strand breaks and the Ku80 gene appears to be essential for human but not rodent cell survival. The Ku70/80 heterodimer is located at telomeres but its precise function in telomere maintenance is not known. In order to examine the role of Ku80 beyond DNA repair in more detail, we have taken a knockdown approach using a human fibroblast strain. Following targeted Ku80 knockdown, telomere defects are observed and the steady state levels of the TRF2 protein are reduced. Inhibitor studies indicate that this loss of TRF2 is mediated by the proteasome and degradation of TRF2 following Ku depletion appears to involve a decrease in chromatin binding of TRF2, suggesting that the Ku heterodimer enhances TRF2 chromatin association and that non-chromatin bound TRF2 is targeted to the proteasome.
PMCID: PMC3047804  PMID: 20890109
Ku80; TRF2; chromatin; telomere; fibroblast
10.  53BP1 contributes to a robust genomic stability in human fibroblasts 
Aging (Albany NY)  2011;3(9):836-845.
Faithful repair of damaged DNA is a crucial process in maintaining cell viability and function. A multitude of factors and pathways guides this process and includes repair proteins and cell cycle checkpoint factors. Differences in the maintenance of genomic processes are one feature that may contribute to species-specific differences in lifespan. We predicted that 53BP1, a key transducer of the DNA damage response and cell cycle checkpoint control, is highly involved in maintaining genomic stability and may function differently in cells from different species. We demonstrate a difference in the levels and recruitment of 53BP1 in mouse and human cells following DNA damage. In addition, we show that unresolved DNA damage persists more in mouse cells than in human cells, as evidenced by increased numbers of micronuclei. The difference in micronuclei seems to be related to the levels of 53BP1 present in cells. Finally, we present evidence that unresolved DNA damage correlates with species lifespan. Taken together, these studies suggest a link between recruitment of 53BP1, resolution of DNA damage, and increased species lifespan.
PMCID: PMC3227449  PMID: 21931182
53BP1; micronuclei; fibroblasts; mouse; human; stability; genome
11.  Ku circles the telomere? 
Aging (Albany NY)  2011;3(4):344-345.
PMCID: PMC3117447  PMID: 21732567
12.  Significant Correlation of Species Longevity with DNA Double Strand Break-Recognition but not with Telomere Length 
Mechanisms of ageing and development  2009;130(11-12):784-792.
The identification of the cellular mechanisms responsible for the wide differences in species lifespan remains one of the major unsolved problems of the biology of aging. We measured the capacity of nuclear protein to recognize DNA double strand breaks (DSB) and telomere length of skin fibroblasts derived from mammalian species that exhibit wide differences in longevity. Our results indicate DNA DSB recognition increases exponentially with longevity. Further, an analysis of the level of Ku80 protein in human, cow, and mouse suggests that Ku levels vary dramatically between species and these levels are strongly correlated with longevity. In contrast mean telomere length appears to decrease with increasing longevity of the species, although not significantly. These findings suggest that an enhanced ability to bind to DNA-ends may be important for longevity. A number of possible roles for increased levels of Ku and DNA-PKcs are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2799038  PMID: 19896964
Species life-span; DNA-end binding activity; telomere length; DNA double-strand break repair; Ku protein
13.  Activation of proteasome by insulin-like growth factor-I may enhance clearance of oxidized proteins in the brain 
The insulin-like growth factor type 1 (IGF-I) plays an important role in neuronal physiology. Reduced IGF-I levels are observed during aging and this decrease may be important to age-related changes in the brain. We studied the effects of IGF-I on total protein oxidation in brain tissues and in cell cultures. Our results indicate that in frontal cortex the level of oxidized proteins is significantly reduced in transgenic mice designed to overproduce IGF-I compared with wild-type animals. The frontal cortex of IGF-I-overproducing mice exhibited high chymotrypsin-like activity of the 20S and 26S proteasomes. The proteasome can also be activated in response to IGF-I in cell cultures. Kinetic studies revealed peak activation of the proteasome within 15 min following IGF-I stimulation. The effects of IGF-I on proteasome were not observed in R- cells lacking the IGF-I receptor. Experiments using specific kinase inhibitors suggested that activation of proteasome by IGF-I involves phosphatidyl inositol 3-kinase and mammalian target of rapamycin signaling. IGF-I also attenuated the increase in protein carbonyl content induced by proteasome inhibition. Thus, appropriate levels of IGF-I may be important for the elimination of oxidized proteins in the brain in a process mediated by activation of the proteasome.
PMCID: PMC2821674  PMID: 19896963
Insulin-like growth factor-I; Proteasome; Aging; Brain; Protein oxidation
14.  Long-Term IGF-I Exposure Decreases Autophagy and Cell Viability 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e12592.
A reduction in IGF-I signaling has been found to increase lifespan in multiple organisms despite the fact that IGF-I is a trophic factor for many cell types and has been found to have protective effects against multiple forms of damage in acute settings. The increase in longevity seen in response to reduced IGF-I signaling suggests that there may be differences between the acute and chronic impact of IGF-I signaling. We have examined the possibility that long-term stimulation with IGF-I may have a negative impact at the cellular level using quiescent human fibroblasts. We find that fibroblast cells exposed to IGF-I for 14 days have reduced long-term viability as judged by colony forming assays, which is accompanied by an accumulation of senescent cells. In addition we observe an accumulation of cells with depolarized mitochondria and a reduction in autophagy in the long-term IGF-I treated cultures. An examination of mice with reduced IGF-I levels reveals evidence of enhanced autophagy and fibroblast cells derived from these mice have a larger mitochondrial mass relative to controls indicating that changes in mitochondrial turnover occurs in animals with reduced IGF-I. The results indicate that chronic IGF-I stimulation leads to mitochondrial dysfunction and reduced cell viability.
PMCID: PMC2935370  PMID: 20830296
15.  INTS6/DICE1 inhibits growth of human androgen-independent prostate cancer cells by altering the cell cycle profile and Wnt signaling 
The gene encoding integrator complex subunit 6 (INTS6), previously known as deleted in cancer cells 1 (DICE1, OMIM 604331) was found to be frequently affected by allelic deletion and promoter hypermethylation in prostate cancer specimens and cell lines. A missense mutation has been detected in prostate cancer cell line LNCaP. Together, these results suggest INTS6/DICE1 as a putative tumor suppressor gene in prostate cancer. In this study, we examined the growth inhibitory effects of INTS6/DICE1 on prostate cancer cells.
Markedly decreased INTS6/DICE1 mRNA levels were detected in prostate cancer cell lines LNCaP, DU145 and PC3 as well as CPTX1532 as compared to a cell line derived from normal prostate tissue, NPTX1532. Exogenous re-expression of INTS6/DICE1 cDNA in androgen-independent PC3 and DU145 cell lines substantially suppressed their ability to form colonies in vitro. This growth inhibition was not due to immediate induction of apoptosis. Rather, prostate cancer cells arrested in G1 phase of the cell cycle. Expression profiling of members of the Wnt signaling pathway revealed up-regulation of several genes including disheveled inhibitor CXXC finger 4 (CXXC4), frizzled homologue 7 (FZD7), transcription factor 7-like 1 (TCF7L1), and down-regulation of cyclin D1.
These results show for the first time a link between INTS6/DICE1 function, cell cycle regulation and cell-cell communication involving members of the Wnt signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC2779787  PMID: 19906297
16.  Ras Mutation Impairs Epithelial Barrier Function to a Wide Range of Nonelectrolytes 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2005;16(12):5538-5550.
Although ras mutations have been shown to affect epithelial architecture and polarity, their role in altering tight junctions remains unclear. Transfection of a valine-12 mutated ras construct into LLC-PK1 renal epithelia produces leakiness of tight junctions to certain types of solutes. Transepithelial permeability of d-mannitol increases sixfold but transepithelial electrical resistance increases >40%. This indicates decreased paracellular permeability to NaCl but increased permeability to nonelectrolytes. Permeability increases to d-mannitol (Mr 182), polyethylene glycol (Mr 4000), and 10,000-Mr methylated dextran but not to 2,000,000-Mr methylated dextran. This implies a “ceiling” on the size of solutes that can cross a ras-mutated epithelial barrier and therefore that the increased permeability is not due to loss of cells or junctions. Although the abundance of claudin-2 declined to undetectable levels in the ras-overexpressing cells compared with vector controls, levels of occludin and claudins 1, 4, and 7 increased. The abundance of claudins-3 and -5 remained unchanged. An increase in extracellular signal-regulated kinase-2 phosphorylation suggests that the downstream effects on the tight junction may be due to changes in the mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathway. These selective changes in permeability may influence tumorigenesis by the types of solutes now able to cross the epithelial barrier.
PMCID: PMC1289400  PMID: 16176977

Results 1-16 (16)