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1.  Role of NADH: quinone oxidoreductase-1 in the tight junctions of colonic epithelial cells 
BMB Reports  2014;47(9):494-499.
NADH:quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1) is known to be involved in the regulation of energy synthesis and metabolism, and the functional studies of NQO1 have largely focused on metabolic disorders. Here, we show for the first time that compared to NQO1-WT mice, NQO1-KO mice exhibited a marked increase of permeability and spontaneous inflammation in the gut. In the DSS-induced colitis model, NQO1-KO mice showed more severe inflammatory responses than NQO1-WT mice. Interestingly, the transcript levels of claudin and occludin, the major tight junction molecules of gut epithelial cells, were significantly decreased in NQO1-KO mice. The colons of NQO1-KO mice also showed high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and histone deacetylase (HDAC) activity, which are known to affect transcriptional regulation. Taken together, these novel findings indicate that NQO1 contributes to the barrier function of gut epithelial cells by regulating the transcription of tight junction molecules. [BMB Reports 2014;47(9): 494-499]
doi:10.5483/BMBRep.2014.47.9.196
PMCID: PMC4206724  PMID: 24393524
Barrier dysfunction of epithelial cells; Chromosome condensation; Claudin-1; Gut epithelial cell tight junction; Gut inflammation; Histone acetylation/deacetylation; NQO1 knockout mice; Occludin; Transcription
2.  Directed Evolution of Human Heavy Chain Variable Domain (VH) Using In Vivo Protein Fitness Filter 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98178.
Human immunoglobulin heavy chain variable domains (VH) are promising scaffolds for antigen binding. However, VH is an unstable and aggregation-prone protein, hindering its use for therapeutic purposes. To evolve the VH domain, we performed in vivo protein solubility selection that linked antibiotic resistance to the protein folding quality control mechanism of the twin-arginine translocation pathway of E. coli. After screening a human germ-line VH library, 95% of the VH proteins obtained were identified as VH3 family members; one VH protein, MG2x1, stood out among separate clones expressing individual VH variants. With further screening of combinatorial framework mutation library of MG2x1, we found a consistent bias toward substitution with tryptophan at the position of 50 and 58 in VH. Comparison of the crystal structures of the VH variants revealed that those substitutions with bulky side chain amino acids filled the cavity in the VH interface between heavy and light chains of the Fab arrangement along with the increased number of hydrogen bonds, decreased solvation energy, and increased negative charge. Accordingly, the engineered VH acquires an increased level of thermodynamic stability, reversible folding, and soluble expression. The library built with the VH variant as a scaffold was qualified as most of VH clones selected randomly were expressed as soluble form in E. coli regardless length of the combinatorial CDR. Furthermore, a non-aggregation feature of the selected VH conferred a free of humoral response in mice, even when administered together with adjuvant. As a result, this selection provides an alternative directed evolution pathway for unstable proteins, which are distinct from conventional methods based on the phage display.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098178
PMCID: PMC4043505  PMID: 24892548
3.  The Insect Peptide Coprisin Prevents Clostridium difficile-Mediated Acute Inflammation and Mucosal Damage through Selective Antimicrobial Activity▿ 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2011;55(10):4850-4857.
Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea and pseudomembranous colitis are typically treated with vancomycin or metronidazole, but recent increases in relapse incidence and the emergence of drug-resistant strains of C. difficile indicate the need for new antibiotics. We previously isolated coprisin, an antibacterial peptide from Copris tripartitus, a Korean dung beetle, and identified a nine-amino-acid peptide in the α-helical region of it (LLCIALRKK) that had antimicrobial activity (J.-S. Hwang et al., Int. J. Pept., 2009, doi:10.1155/2009/136284). Here, we examined whether treatment with a coprisin analogue (a disulfide dimer of the nine peptides) prevented inflammation and mucosal damage in a mouse model of acute gut inflammation established by administration of antibiotics followed by C. difficile infection. In this model, coprisin treatment significantly ameliorated body weight decreases, improved the survival rate, and decreased mucosal damage and proinflammatory cytokine production. In contrast, the coprisin analogue had no apparent antibiotic activity against commensal bacteria, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which are known to inhibit the colonization of C. difficile. The exposure of C. difficile to the coprisin analogue caused a marked increase in nuclear propidium iodide (PI) staining, indicating membrane damage; the staining levels were similar to those seen with bacteria treated with a positive control for membrane disruption (EDTA). In contrast, coprisin analogue treatment did not trigger increases in the nuclear PI staining of Bifidobacterium thermophilum. This observation suggests that the antibiotic activity of the coprisin analogue may occur through specific membrane disruption of C. difficile. Thus, these results indicate that the coprisin analogue may prove useful as a therapeutic agent for C. difficile infection-associated inflammatory diarrhea and pseudomembranous colitis.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00177-11
PMCID: PMC3186999  PMID: 21807975
4.  Codelivery of IL-7 Augments Multigenic HCV DNA Vaccine-induced Antibody as well as Broad T Cell Responses in Cynomolgus Monkeys 
Immune Network  2010;10(6):198-205.
Background
A crucial limitation of DNA vaccines is its weak immunogenicity, especially in terms of eliciting antibody responses in non-human primates or humans; therefore, it is essential to enhance immune responses to vaccination for the development of successful DNA vaccines for humans.
Methods
Here, we approached this issue by evaluating interleukin-7 (IL-7) as a genetic adjuvant in cynomolgus monkeys immunized with multigenic HCV DNA vaccine.
Results
Codelivery of human IL-7 (hIL-7)-encoding DNA appeared to increase DNA vaccine-induced antibody responses specific for HCV E2 protein, which plays a critical role in protecting from HCV infection. HCV-specific T cell responses were also significantly enhanced by codelivery of hIL-7 DNA. Interestingly, the augmentation of T cell responses by codelivery of hIL-7 DNA was shown to be due to the enhancement of both the breadth and magnitude of immune responses against dominant and subdominant epitopes.
Conclusion
Taken together, these findings suggest that the hIL-7-expressing plasmid serves as a promising vaccine adjuvant capable of eliciting enhanced vaccine-induced antibody and broad T cell responses.
doi:10.4110/in.2010.10.6.198
PMCID: PMC3026939  PMID: 21286380
IL-7; Adjuvant; HCV DNA vaccine; Non-human primates; Anti-E2 antibody; Broad T cell response

Results 1-4 (4)