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1.  Endothelial MKK3 is a critical mediator of lethal murine endotoxemia and acute lung injury 
Sepsis is a leading cause of intensive care unit admissions with high mortality and morbidity. Although outcomes have improved with better supportive care, specific therapies are limited. Endothelial activation and oxidant injury are key events in the pathogenesis of sepsis-induced lung injury. The signaling pathways leading to these events remain poorly defined and need to be studied. We sought to determine the role of MAP kinase kinase 3 (MKK3), a kinase of the p38 group in the pathogenesis of sepsis. We used a murine intraperitoneal lipopolysaccharide (LPS) model of systemic inflammation to mimic sepsis. Lung injury parameters were assessed in lung tissue and bronchoalveolar lavage. Primary lung endothelial cells were cultured and assessed for mediators of inflammation and injury such as ICAM-1, AP-1, NF-κB and mitochondrial ROS. Our studies demonstrate that MKK3 deficiency confers virtually complete protection against organ injury after intraperitoneal LPS. Specifically, MKK3 −/− mice were protected against acute lung injury, as assessed by reduced inflammation, mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, endothelial injury and ICAM-1 expression after LPS. Our results show that endothelial MKK3 is required for inflammatory cell recruitment to the lungs, mitochondrial oxidant-mediated AP-1, NF-κB activation and ICAM-1 expression during LPS challenge. Collectively, these studies identify a novel role for MKK3 in lethal LPS responses and provide new therapeutic targets against sepsis and acute lung injury.
doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1202012
PMCID: PMC3552142  PMID: 23275604
2.  Therapeutic Applications of Carbon Monoxide 
Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is a regulated enzyme induced in multiple stress states. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a product of HO catalysis of heme. In many circumstances, CO appears to functionally replace HO-1, and CO is known to have endogenous anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, and antiproliferative effects. CO is well studied in anoxia-reoxygenation and ischemia-reperfusion models and has advanced to phase II trials for treatment of several clinical entities. In alternative injury models, laboratories have used sepsis, acute lung injury, and systemic inflammatory challenges to assess the ability of CO to rescue cells, organs, and organisms. Hopefully, the research supporting the protective effects of CO in animal models will translate into therapeutic benefits for patients. Preclinical studies of CO are now moving towards more complex damage models that reflect polymicrobial sepsis or two-step injuries, such as sepsis complicated by acute respiratory distress syndrome. Furthermore, co-treatment and post-treatment with CO are being explored in which the insult occurs before there is an opportunity to intervene therapeutically. The aim of this review is to discuss the potential therapeutic implications of CO with a focus on lung injury and sepsis-related models.
doi:10.1155/2013/360815
PMCID: PMC3932177  PMID: 24648866
3.  Development of a triclosan scaffold which allows for adaptations on both the A- and B-ring for transport peptides 
The enoyl acyl-carrier protein reductase (ENR) enzyme is harboured within the apicoplast of apicomplexan parasites providing a significant challenge for drug delivery, which may be overcome through the addition of transductive peptides, which facilitates crossing the apicoplast membranes. The binding site of triclosan, a potent ENR inhibitor, is occluded from the solvent making the attachment of these linkers challenging. Herein, we have produced 3 new triclosan analogues with bulky A- and B-ring motifs, which protrude into the solvent allowing for the future attachment of molecular transporters for delivery.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2013.04.035
PMCID: PMC3683578  PMID: 23664871
Enoyl reductase; Triclosan; Toxoplasma; Plasmodium
4.  The Role of Toll-like Receptors in Age-Associated Lung Diseases 
The aging lung is faced with unique challenges. The lungs are the only internal organ with a direct interface with both the internal and the external environments and as a consequence are constantly sampling diverse, potentially injurious, elements. Therefore, the lungs have evolved a sophisticated, multilayered detection system to distinguish low-level, nonharmful signals from those that are toxic. A family of innate immune receptors, Toll-like receptors (TLRs), appears to serve such a function. Initially described as pattern-recognition receptors that recognize and protect against microbes, TLRs can also respond to diverse, nonmicrobial signals. The role of Toll-like receptors in noninfectious, age-related chronic lung disease is poorly understood. This review presents our current understanding of the biology of age-related lung diseases with a focus on the role of Toll-like receptors in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and late-onset asthma.
doi:10.1093/gerona/glr226
PMCID: PMC3297763  PMID: 22396470
Lung disease; Toll-like receptors
5.  Design, synthesis, and biological activity of diaryl ether inhibitors of Toxoplasma gondii enoyl reductase 
Triclosan is a potent inhibitor of Toxoplasma gondii enoyl reductase (TgENR), which is an essential enzyme for parasite survival. In view of triclosan’s poor druggability, which limits its therapeutic use, a new set of B-ring modified analogs were designed to optimize its physico-chemical properties. These derivatives were synthesized and evaluated by in vitro assay and TgENR enzyme assay. Some analogs display improved solubility, permeability and a comparable MIC50 value to that of triclosan. Modeling of these inhibitors revealed the same overall binding mode with the enzyme as triclosan, but the Bring modifications have additional interactions with the strongly conserved Asn130.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2013.02.019
PMCID: PMC3625046  PMID: 23453069
TgENR; Triclosan; ADMET; Toxoplasma
6.  Toll-like receptor 4 deficiency causes pulmonary emphysema 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2006;116(11):3050-3059.
TLRs have been studied extensively in the context of pathogen challenges, yet their role in the unchallenged lung is unknown. Given their direct interface with the external environment, TLRs in the lungs are prime candidates to respond to air constituents, namely particulates and oxygen. The mechanism whereby the lung maintains structural integrity in the face of constant ambient exposures is essential to our understanding of lung disease. Emphysema is characterized by gradual loss of lung elasticity and irreversible airspace enlargement, usually in the later decades of life and after years of insult, most commonly cigarette smoke. Here we show Tlr4–/– mice exhibited emphysema as they aged. Adoptive transfer experiments revealed that TLR4 expression in lung structural cells was required for maintaining normal lung architecture. TLR4 deficiency led to the upregulation of what we believe to be a novel NADPH oxidase (Nox), Nox3, in lungs and endothelial cells, resulting in increased oxidant generation and elastolytic activity. Treatment of Tlr4–/– mice or endothelial cells with chemical NADPH inhibitors or Nox3 siRNA reversed the observed phenotype. Our data identify a role for TLR4 in maintaining constitutive lung integrity by modulating oxidant generation and provide insights into the development of emphysema.
doi:10.1172/JCI28139
PMCID: PMC1616193  PMID: 17053835
7.  ERK1/2 mitogen-activated protein kinase selectively mediates IL-13–induced lung inflammation and remodeling in vivo 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2005;116(1):163-173.
IL-13 dysregulation plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of a variety of inflammatory and remodeling diseases. In these settings, STAT6 is believed to be the canonical signaling molecule mediating the tissue effects of IL-13. Signaling cascades involving MAPKs have been linked to inflammation and remodeling. We hypothesized that MAPKs play critical roles in effector responses induced by IL-13 in the lung. We found that Tg IL-13 expression in the lung led to potent activation of ERK1/2 but not JNK1/2 or p38. ERK1/2 activation also occurred in mice with null mutations of STAT6. Systemic administration of the MAPK/ERK kinase 1 (MEK1) inhibitor PD98059 or use of Tg mice in which a dominant-negative MEK1 construct was expressed inhibited IL-13–induced inflammation and alveolar remodeling. There were associated decreases in IL-13–induced chemokines (MIP-1α/CCL-3, MIP-1β/CCL-4, MIP-2/CXCL-1, RANTES/CCL-5), MMP-2, -9, -12, and -14, and cathepsin B and increased levels of α1-antitrypsin. IL-13–induced tissue and molecular responses were noted that were equally and differentially dependent on ERK1/2 and STAT6 signaling. Thus, ERK1/2 is activated by IL-13 in the lung in a STAT6-independent manner where it contributes to IL-13–induced inflammation and remodeling and is required for optimal IL-13 stimulation of specific chemokines and proteases as well as the inhibition of specific antiproteases. ERK1/2 regulators may be useful in the treatment of IL-13–induced diseases and disorders.
doi:10.1172/JCI25711
PMCID: PMC1319220  PMID: 16374521
8.  The Aging Lung 
doi:10.1093/gerona/glr249
PMCID: PMC3297766  PMID: 22396469
9.  Aging enhances the basal production of IL-6 and CCL2 in vascular smooth muscle cells 
Objective
Increased circulating cytokine levels are a prominent feature of aging that may contribute to atherosclerosis. However, the role vascular cells play in chronic inflammation induced by aging is not clear. Here, we examined the role of aging on inflammatory responses of vascular cells.
Methods and Results
In an ex vivo culture system, we examined the inflammatory response of aortas from young (2-4 months) and aged (16-18 months) mice under non-stimulatory conditions. We found that basal levels of interleukin (IL)-6 were increased in aged aortas. Aged aortic vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) exhibited a higher basal secretion of IL-6 than young VSMC. Gene and protein expression analysis revealed that aged VSMC exhibited upregulation of chemokines (e.g. CCL2), adhesion molecules (e.g., ICAM1), and innate immune receptors (e.g., Toll like receptor [TLR] 4), which all contribute to atherosclerosis. Using VSMC from aged TL4-/- and Myd88-/- mice, we demonstrate that signaling via TLR4 and its signal adaptor, MyD88, are in part responsible for the age-elevated basal IL-6 response.
Conclusion
Aging induces a proinflammatory phenotype in VSMC due in part to increased signaling of TLR4 and MyD88. Our results provide a potential explanation as to why aging leads to chronic inflammation and enhanced atherosclerosis.
doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.111.236349
PMCID: PMC3241880  PMID: 22034510
aging; atherosclerosis; inflammation; mouse; vascular smooth muscle cells
10.  Novel N-Benzoyl-2-Hydroxybenzamide Disrupts Unique Parasite Secretory Pathway 
Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite that can damage the human brain and eyes. There are no curative medicines. Herein, we describe our discovery of N-benzoyl-2-hydroxybenzamides as a class of compounds effective in the low nanomolar range against T. gondii in vitro and in vivo. Our lead compound, QQ-437, displays robust activity against the parasite and could be useful as a new scaffold for development of novel and improved inhibitors of T. gondii. Our genome-wide investigations reveal a specific mechanism of resistance to N-benzoyl-2-hydroxybenzamides mediated by adaptin-3β, a large protein from the secretory protein complex. N-Benzoyl-2-hydroxybenzamide-resistant clones have alterations of their secretory pathway, which traffics proteins to micronemes, rhoptries, dense granules, and acidocalcisomes/plant-like vacuole (PLVs). N-Benzoyl-2-hydroxybenzamide treatment also alters micronemes, rhoptries, the contents of dense granules, and, most markedly, acidocalcisomes/PLVs. Furthermore, QQ-437 is active against chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum. Our studies reveal a novel class of compounds that disrupts a unique secretory pathway of T. gondii, with the potential to be used as scaffolds in the search for improved compounds to treat the devastating diseases caused by apicomplexan parasites.
doi:10.1128/AAC.06450-11
PMCID: PMC3346615  PMID: 22354304
11.  NOX Enzymes and Pulmonary Disease 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2009;11(10):2505-2516.
Abstract
The primary function of the lung is to facilitate the transfer of molecular oxygen (O2; dioxygen) from the atmosphere to the systemic circulation. In addition to its essential role in aerobic metabolism, O2 serves as the physiologic terminal acceptor of electron transfer catalyzed by the NADPH oxidase (NOX) family of oxidoreductases. The evolution of the lungs and circulatory systems in vertebrates was accompanied by increasing diversification of NOX family enzymes, suggesting adaptive roles for NOX-derived reactive oxygen species in normal physiology. However, this adaptation may paradoxically carry detrimental consequences in the setting of overwhelming/persistent environmental stressors, both infectious and noninfectious, and during the process of aging. Here, we review current understanding of NOX enzymes in normal lung physiology and their pathophysiologic roles in a number of pulmonary diseases, including lung infections, acute lung injury, pulmonary arterial hypertension, obstructive lung disorders, fibrotic lung disease, and lung cancer. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 11, 2505–2516.
doi:10.1089/ars.2009.2599
PMCID: PMC2821137  PMID: 19331546
12.  Hyperoxia causes angiopoietin 2–mediated acute lung injury and necrotic cell death 
Nature medicine  2006;12(11):1286-1293.
The angiogenic growth factor angiopoietin 2 (Ang2) destabilizes blood vessels, enhances vascular leak and induces vascular regression and endothelial cell apoptosis. We considered that Ang2 might be important in hyperoxic acute lung injury (ALI). Here we have characterized the responses in lungs induced by hyperoxia in wild-type and Ang2–/– mice or those given either recombinant Ang2 or short interfering RNA (siRNA) targeted to Ang2. During hyperoxia Ang2 expression is induced in lung epithelial cells, while hyperoxia-induced oxidant injury, cell death, inflammation, permeability alterations and mortality are ameliorated in Ang2–/– and siRNA-treated mice. Hyperoxia induces and activates the extrinsic and mitochondrial cell death pathways and activates initiator and effector caspases through Ang2-dependent pathways in vivo. Ang2 increases inflammation and cell death during hyperoxia in vivo and stimulates epithelial necrosis in hyperoxia in vitro. Ang2 in plasma and alveolar edema fluid is increased in adults with ALI and pulmonary edema. Tracheal Ang2 is also increased in neonates that develop bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Ang2 is thus a mediator of epithelial necrosis with an important role in hyperoxic ALI and pulmonary edema.
doi:10.1038/nm1494
PMCID: PMC2768268  PMID: 17086189
13.  Apoptotic Sphingolipid Signaling by Ceramides in Lung Endothelial Cells 
The de novo pathway of ceramide synthesis has been implicated in the pathogenesis of excessive lung apoptosis and murine emphysema. Intracellular and paracellular-generated ceramides may trigger apoptosis and propagate the death signals to neighboring cells, respectively. In this study we compared the sphingolipid signaling pathways triggered by the paracellular- versus intracellular-generated ceramides as they induce lung endothelial cell apoptosis, a process important in emphysema development. Intermediate–chain length (C8:0) extracellular ceramides, used as a surrogate of paracellular ceramides, triggered caspase-3 activation in primary mouse lung endothelial cells, similar to TNF-α–generated endogenous ceramides. Inhibitory siRNA against serine palmitoyl transferase subunit 1 but not acid sphingomyelinase inhibited both C8:0 ceramide– and TNF-α (plus cycloheximide)–induced apoptosis, consistent with the requirement for activation of the de novo pathway of sphingolipid synthesis. Tandem mass spectrometry analysis detected increases in both relative and absolute levels of C16:0 ceramide in response to C8:0 and TNF-α treatments. These results implicate the de novo pathway of ceramide synthesis in the apoptotic effects of both paracellular ceramides and TNF-α–stimulated intracellular ceramides in primary lung endothelial cells. The serine palmitoyl synthase-regulated ceramides synthesis may contribute to the amplification of pulmonary vascular injury induced by excessive ceramides.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0274OC
PMCID: PMC2396244  PMID: 18192502
apoptosis; lung; cytokines; signaling; sphingolipids
14.  Targeting the MEK1 Cascade in Lung Epithelium Inhibits Proliferation and Fibrogenesis by Asbestos 
The extracellular signal–regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) are phosphorylated after inhalation of asbestos. The effect of blocking this signaling pathway in lung epithelium is unclear. Asbestos-exposed transgenic mice expressing a dominant-negative mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase-1 (dnMEK1) (i.e., the upstream kinase necessary for phosphorylation of ERK1/2) targeted to lung epithelium exhibited morphologic and molecular changes in lung. Transgene-positive (Tg+) (i.e., dnMEK1) and transgene-negative (Tg−) littermates were exposed to crocidolite asbestos for 2, 4, 9, and 32 days or maintained in clean air (sham controls). Distal bronchiolar epithelium was isolated using laser capture microdissection and mRNA analyzed for molecular markers of proliferation and Clara cell secretory protein (CCSP). Lungs and bronchoalveolar lavage fluids were analyzed for inflammatory and proliferative changes and molecular markers of fibrogenesis. Distal bronchiolar epithelium of asbestos-exposed wild-type mice showed increased expression of c-fos at 2 days. Elevated mRNA levels of histone H3 and numbers of Ki-67–labeled proliferating bronchiolar epithelial cells were decreased at 4 days in asbestos-exposed Tg+ mice. At 32 days, distal bronchioles normally composed of Clara cells in asbestos-exposed Tg+ mouse lungs exhibited nonreplicating ciliated and mucin-secreting cells as well as decreased mRNA levels of CCSP. Gene expression (procollagen 3-a-1, procollagen 1-a-1, and IL-6) linked to fibrogenesis was also increased in lung homogenates of asbestos-exposed Tg− mice, but reduced in asbestos-exposed Tg+ mice. These results suggest a critical role of MEK1 signaling in epithelial cell proliferation and lung remodeling after toxic injury.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0382OC
PMCID: PMC2335340  PMID: 18192500
mitogen-activated protein kinases; asbestosis; fibrosis; Clara cell; cell signaling
15.  Early Growth Response Gene 1–mediated Apoptosis Is Essential for Transforming Growth Factor β1–induced Pulmonary Fibrosis 
Fibrosis and apoptosis are juxtaposed in pulmonary disorders such as asthma and the interstitial diseases, and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 has been implicated in the pathogenesis of these responses. However, the in vivo effector functions of TGF-β1 in the lung and its roles in the pathogenesis of these responses are not completely understood. In addition, the relationships between apoptosis and other TGF-β1–induced responses have not been defined. To address these issues, we targeted bioactive TGF-β1 to the murine lung using a novel externally regulatable, triple transgenic system. TGF-β1 produced a transient wave of epithelial apoptosis that was followed by mononuclear-rich inflammation, tissue fibrosis, myofibroblast and myocyte hyperplasia, and septal rupture with honeycombing. Studies of these mice highlighted the reversibility of this fibrotic response. They also demonstrated that a null mutation of early growth response gene (Egr)-1 or caspase inhibition blocked TGF-β1–induced apoptosis. Interestingly, both interventions markedly ameliorated TGF-β1–induced fibrosis and alveolar remodeling. These studies illustrate the complex effects of TGF-β1 in vivo and define the critical role of Egr-1 in the TGF-β1 phenotype. They also demonstrate that Egr-1–mediated apoptosis is a prerequisite for TGF-β1–induced fibrosis and remodeling.
doi:10.1084/jem.20040104
PMCID: PMC2211975  PMID: 15289506
asthma; pulmonary fibrosis; fibrosis reversibility; airway remodeling

Results 1-15 (15)