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1.  Wnt Signaling and Skeletal Development 
Cellular signalling  2007;20(6):999-1009.
Wnt proteins are a family of secreted proteins that regulate many aspects of cellular functions. The discovery that mutations in low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 5, a putative Wnt coreceptor, could positively and negatively affect bone mass in humans generated an enormous amount of interest in the possible role of the Wnt signaling pathway in skeletal biology. Over the last decade, considerable progress has been made in determining the role of the canonical Wnt signaling pathway in various aspects of skeletal development. Furthermore, recent evidence indicates the important role of non-canonical Wnt signaling in skeletal development. In this review we discuss the current understanding of the role of Wnt signaling in chondrogenesis, osteoblastogenesis, and osteoclastogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2413267  PMID: 18164181
2.  NF-κB Induces Expression of the Bcl-2 Homologue A1/Bfl-1 To Preferentially Suppress Chemotherapy-Induced Apoptosis 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(9):5923-5929.
Recent evidence indicates that the transcription factor NF-κB is a major effector of inducible antiapoptotic mechanisms. For example, it was shown that NF-κB activation suppresses the activation of caspase 8, the apical caspase in tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor family signaling cascades, through the transcriptional regulation of certain TRAF and IAP proteins. However, it was unknown whether NF-κB controls other key regulatory mechanisms in apoptosis. Here we show that NF-κB activation suppresses mitochondrial release of cytochrome c through the activation of the Bcl-2 family member A1/Bfl-1. The restoration of A1 in NF-κB null cells diminished TNF-induced apoptosis by reducing the release of proapoptotic cytochrome c from mitochondria. In addition, A1 potently inhibited etoposide-induced apoptosis by inhibiting the release of cytochrome c and by blocking caspase 3 activation. Our findings demonstrate that A1 is an important antiapoptotic gene controlled by NF-κB and establish that the prosurvival function of NF-κB can be manifested at multiple levels.
PMCID: PMC84448  PMID: 10454539
3.  Epigenetic Activation of AP-1 Promotes Squamous Cell Carcinoma Metastasis 
Science signaling  2013;6(273):ra28.1-15.
The transcription factor AP-1 (activator protein-1), a heterodimer of the JUN and FOS proteins, promotes the invasive growth and metastasis of various tumors such as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), breast cancer and melanoma. AP-1 activity is transcriptionally induced through a positive-feedback loop. We identified the histone demethylase KDM4A (lysine-specific demethylase 4A) as a key epigenetic priming factor in this positive feedback loop. KDM4A contributed to the induction of genes encoding the AP-1 transcription factors and the invasive growth and metastasis of SCC. KDM4A knockdown decreased growth factor-induced mRNA expression and protein abundance of AP-1 family members, including JUN and FOSL1. Mechanistically, histone demethylation by KDM4A facilitated the binding of the AP-1 complex to the promoters of JUN and FOSL1, thereby promoting the positive feedback loop that maintains activation of AP-1. In a mouse model of SCC, KDM4A knockdown inhibited lymph node metastasis. Moreover, the abundance of KDM4A correlated with the abundance of JUN and FOSL1 in human SCC tissues and KDM4A expression was increased in human lymph node metastases. Our studies provide insights into the epigenetic control of AP-1 and tumor invasion, and suggest that KDM4A could be an important therapeutic target for inhibiting invasive SCC growth and metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3951265  PMID: 23633675
4.  Integration of Apoptosis Signal-Regulating Kinase 1-Mediated Stress Signaling with the Akt/Protein Kinase B-IκB Kinase Cascade 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2013;33(11):2252-2259.
Cellular processes are tightly controlled through well-coordinated signaling networks that respond to conflicting cues, such as reactive oxygen species (ROS), endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress signals, and survival factors to ensure proper cell function. We report here a direct interaction between inhibitor of κB kinase (IKK) and apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1), unveiling a critical node at the junction of survival, inflammation, and stress signaling networks. IKK can be activated by growth factor stimulation or tumor necrosis factor alpha engagement. IKK forms a complex with and phosphorylates ASK1 at a sensor site, Ser967, leading to the recruitment of 14-3-3, counteracts stress signal-triggered ASK1 activation, and suppresses ASK1-mediated functions. An inhibitory role of IKK in JNK signaling has been previously reported to depend on NF-κB-mediated gene expression. Our data suggest that IKK has a dual role: a transcription-dependent and a transcription-independent action in controlling the ASK1-JNK axis, coupling IKK to ROS and ER stress response. Direct phosphorylation of ASK1 by IKK also defines a novel IKK phosphorylation motif. Because of the intimate involvement of ASK1 in diverse diseases, the IKK/ASK1 interface offers a promising target for therapeutic development.
PMCID: PMC3648060  PMID: 23530055
5.  KDM6B epigenetically regulates odontogenic differentiation of dental mesenchymal stem cells 
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been identified and isolated from dental tissues, including stem cells from apical papilla, which demonstrated the ability to differentiate into dentin-forming odontoblasts. The histone demethylase KDM6B (also known as JMJD3) was shown to play a key role in promoting osteogenic commitment by removing epigenetic marks H3K27me3 from the promoters of osteogenic genes. Whether KDM6B is involved in odontogenic differentiation of dental MSCs, however, is not known. Here, we explored the role of KDM6B in dental MSC fate determination into the odontogenic lineage. Using shRNA-expressing lentivirus, we performed KDM6B knockdown in dental MSCs and observed that KDM6B depletion leads to a significant reduction in alkaline phosphate (ALP) activity and in formation of mineralized nodules assessed by Alizarin Red staining. Additionally, mRNA expression of odontogenic marker gene SP7 (osterix, OSX), as well as extracellular matrix genes BGLAP (osteoclacin, OCN) and SPP1 (osteopontin, OPN), was suppressed by KDM6B depletion. When KDM6B was overexpressed in KDM6B-knockdown MSCs, odontogenic differentiation was restored, further confirming the facilitating role of KDM6B in odontogenic commitment. Mechanistically, KDM6B was recruited to bone morphogenic protein 2 (BMP2) promoters and the subsequent removal of silencing H3K27me3 marks led to the activation of this odontogenic master transcription gene. Taken together, our results demonstrated the critical role of a histone demethylase in the epigenetic regulation of odontogenic differentiation of dental MSCs. KDM6B may present as a potential therapeutic target in the regeneration of tooth structures and the repair of craniofacial defects.
PMCID: PMC3967319  PMID: 24158144
bone morphogenic protein; dental mesenchymal stem cell; epigenetics; KDM6B; odontogenic differentiation
6.  Histone Demethylases KDM4B and KDM6B Promotes Osteogenic Differentiation Of Human MSCs 
Cell Stem Cell  2012;11(1):50-61.
Human bone marrow mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) are multipotent progenitor cells with multilineage differentiation potentials including osteogenesis and adipogenesis. While significant progress has been made in understanding transcriptional controls of MSC fate, little is known about how MSC differentiation is epigenetically regulated. Here we show that the histone demethylases KDM4B and KDM6B play critical roles in osteogenic commitment of MSCs by removing H3K9me3 and H3K27me3. Depletion of KDM4B or KDM6B significantly reduced osteogenic differentiation and increased adipogenic differentiation. Mechanistically, while KDM6B controlled HOX expression by removing H3K27me3, KDM4B promoted DLX expression by removing H3K9me3. Importantly, H3K27me3- and H3K9me3-positive MSCs of bone marrow were significantly elevated in ovariectomized and aging mice in which adipogenesis was highly active. Since histone demethylases are chemically modifiable, KDM4B and KDM6B may present as novel therapeutic targets for controlling MSC fate choices, and lead to clues for new treatment in metabolic bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
PMCID: PMC3392612  PMID: 22770241
7.  The expression and regulation of matrix metalloproteinase-3 is critically modulated by Porphyromonas gingivalis lipopolysaccharide with heterogeneous lipid A structures in human gingival fibroblasts 
BMC Microbiology  2013;13:73.
Porphyromonas gingivalis lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is a crucial virulence factor strongly associated with chronic periodontitis which is the primary cause of tooth loss in adults. It exhibits remarkable heterogeneity containing tetra-(LPS1435/1449) and penta-(LPS1690) acylated lipid A structures. Human gingival fibroblasts (HGFs) as the main resident cells of human gingiva play a key role in regulating matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and contribute to periodontal homeostasis. This study investigated the expression and regulation of MMPs1-3 and tissue inhibitors of MMP-1 (TIMP-1) in HGFs in response to P. gingivalis LPS1435/1449 and LPS1690 and hexa-acylated E. coli LPS as a reference. The expression of MMPs 1–3 and TIMP-1 was evaluated by real-time PCR and ELISA.
The MMP-3 mRNA and protein were highly upregulated in P. gingivalis LPS1690- and E. coli LPS-treated cells, whereas no induction was observed in P. gingivalis LPS1435/1449-treated cells. On the contrary, the expression of MMP-1 and −2 was not significantly affected by P. gingivalis LPS lipid A heterogeneity. The TIMP-1 mRNA was upregulated in P. gingivalis LPS1435/1449- and E. coli LPS-treated cells. Next, signal transduction pathways involved in P. gingivalis LPS-induced expression of MMP-3 were examined by blocking assays. Blockage of p38 MAPK and ERK significantly inhibited P. gingivalis LPS1690-induced MMP-3 expression in HGFs.
The present findings suggest that the heterogeneous lipid A structures of P. gingivalis LPS differentially modulate the expression of MMP-3 in HGFs, which may play a role in periodontal pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3623786  PMID: 23548063
Periodontal disease; P. gingivalis LPS; Lipid A heterogeneity; MMPs; Human gingival fibroblasts
8.  Activation of nuclear factor-kappa B accelerates vascular calcification by inhibiting progressive ankylosis protein homolog expression 
Kidney International  2012;82(1):34-44.
Vascular calcification is a major risk factor of cardiovascular mortality, particularly for patients with end-stage renal disease and diabetes. Although chronic inflammation is one of the etiologic factors, the underlying mechanism is not fully understood. To clarify this, we studied how nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) induction, a mediator of inflammation, might promote vascular calcification. Activation of NF-κB by tumor necrosis factor (TNF) promoted inorganic phosphate-induced calcification in human aortic smooth muscle cells. Pyrophosphate (an inhibitor of calcification) efflux to the extracellular matrix was suppressed along with the decreased expression of ankylosis protein homolog (ANKH), a transmembrane protein that controls pyrophosphate efflux of cells. The restoration of ANKH expression in these cells overcame the decreased pyrophosphate efflux and calcification. Tristetraprolin, a downstream product of NF-κB activation, may mediate destablization of ANKH mRNA since its knockdown by shRNA increased ANKH expression and decreased calcification. Furthermore, a rat chronic renal failure model, with increased serum TNF levels, activated NF-κB and decreased ANKH levels. In contrast, the inhibition of NF-κB maintained ANKH expression and attenuated vascular calcification both in vivo and in vitro. Both human calcified atherosclerotic lesions and arteries from patients with chronic kidney disease had activated NF-κB and decreased ANKH expression. Thus, TNF-activated NF-κB promotes inflammation-accelerated vascular calcification by inhibiting ankylosis protein homolog expression and consequent pyrophosphate secretion.
PMCID: PMC3376207  PMID: 22437419
chronic kidney disease; atherosclerosis; nuclear factor-kappa B; inorganic phosphate; tumor necrosis factor
9.  Baicalin Downregulates Porphyromonas gingivalis Lipopolysaccharide-Upregulated IL-6 and IL-8 Expression in Human Oral Keratinocytes by Negative Regulation of TLR Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51008.
Periodontal (gum) disease is one of the main global oral health burdens and severe periodontal disease (periodontitis) is a leading cause of tooth loss in adults globally. It also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus. Porphyromonas gingivalis lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is a key virulent attribute that significantly contributes to periodontal pathogenesis. Baicalin is a flavonoid from Scutellaria radix, an herb commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine for treating inflammatory diseases. The present study examined the modulatory effect of baicalin on P. gingivalis LPS-induced expression of IL-6 and IL-8 in human oral keratinocytes (HOKs). Cells were pre-treated with baicalin (0–80 µM) for 24 h, and subsequently treated with P. gingivalis LPS at 10 µg/ml with or without baicalin for 3 h. IL-6 and IL-8 transcripts and proteins were detected by real-time polymerase chain reaction and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, respectively. The expression of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) proteins was analyzed by western blot. A panel of genes related to toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling was examined by PCR array. We found that baicalin significantly downregulated P. gingivalis LPS-stimulated expression of IL-6 and IL-8, and inhibited P. gingivalis LPS-activated NF-κB, p38 MAPK and JNK. Furthermore, baicalin markedly downregulated P. gingivalis LPS-induced expression of genes associated with TLR signaling. In conclusion, the present study shows that baicalin may significantly downregulate P. gingivalis LPS-upregulated expression of IL-6 and IL-8 in HOKs via negative regulation of TLR signaling.
PMCID: PMC3519831  PMID: 23239998
Oral Diseases  2011;17(5):450-461.
It is now well accepted that besides the cholesterol associated mechanisms of atherogenesis, inflammation plays a crucial role in all stages of the development of the atherosclerotic lesion. This “inflammation hypothesis” raises the possibility that, through systemic elevations of pro-inflammatory cytokines, periodontal diseases might also contribute to systemic inflammation and, therefore, to atherogenesis. In fact, there is evidence that periodontal diseases are associated with higher systemic levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and a low grade systemic inflammation. This phenomenon has been explained based on mechanisms associated with either the infectious or the inflammatory nature of periodontal diseases. The purposes of this article are to review (1) the evidence suggesting a role for oral bacterial species, particularly periodontal pathogens, in atherogenesis; (2) the potential mechanisms explaining an etiological role for oral bacteria in atherosclerosis; (3) the evidence suggesting that periodontal infections are accompanied by a heightened state of systemic inflammation; (4) the potential sources of systemic inflammatory biomarkers associated with periodontal diseases; and (5) the effects of periodontal therapy on systemic inflammatory biomarkers and cardiovascular risk.
PMCID: PMC3373016  PMID: 21223455
Cardiovascular disease; atherosclerosis; periodontal diseases; infection; periodontal pathogens; bacteremia; inflammatory response; systemic biomarkers; C-reactive protein
11.  Transducin β-Like Protein 1 Recruits Nuclear Factor κB to the Target Gene Promoter for Transcriptional Activation▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2010;31(5):924-934.
Nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) signaling controls a wide range of cellular functions such as tumor progression and invasion by inducing gene expression. Upon stimulation, NF-κB is translocated to the nucleus and binds to its target gene promoters to activate transcription by recruiting transcription coactivators. Although significant progress has been made in understanding NF-κB-mediated transactivation, little is known about how NF-κB is recruited to its target gene promoters. Here, we report that transducin β-like protein 1 (TBL1) controls the expression of NF-κB target genes by directly binding with NF-κB and facilitating its recruitment to target gene promoters. Tumor necrosis factor alpha stimulation triggered the formation of an NF-κB and TBL1 complex and subsequent target gene promoter binding. Knockdown of TBL1 impaired the recruitment of NF-κB to its target gene promoters. Interestingly, analysis of the Oncomine database revealed that TBL1 mRNA levels were significantly higher in invasive breast cancer tissues than in breast adenocarcinoma tissue. Consistently, TBL1 knockdown significantly reduced the invasive potential of breast cancer cells by inhibiting NF-κB. Our results reveal a new mechanism for the regulation of NF-κB activation, with important implications for the development of novel strategies for cancer therapy by targeting NF-κB.
PMCID: PMC3067816  PMID: 21189284
12.  PS-341 and Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor Synergistically Induce Apoptosis in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma Cells 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(7):1977-1984.
Proteasome inhibitor PS-341 (also known as Bortezomib) and histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors have emerged as novel therapeutic agents for a variety of malignancies. In this study, we examined whether PS-341 and the HDAC inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA) induced apoptosis in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), a common and lethal malignancy. We found that, while TSA treatment alone did not induce apoptosis in HNSCC cells, it significantly enhanced PS-341-induced apoptosis in HNSCC cells in vitro. Consistently, TSA significantly improved PS-341-mediated inhibition of HNSCC tumor growth in nude mice. Mechanistically, we found that TSA increased PS-341-induced Noxa expression and caspase activation in HNSCC cells. The knock-down of Noxa significantly reduced apoptosis induced by co-treatment of PS-341 and TSA. Taken together, our results provide new insight into the mechanisms of synergistic antitumor activity of PS-341 and HDAC inhibitor regimen, offering a new therapeutic strategy for HNSCC patients.
PMCID: PMC2931416  PMID: 20571067
PS-341; Proteasome inhibitor; HDAC inhibitor; HNSCC; Noxa; Apoptosis
13.  Novel functions for NFκB: inhibition of bone formation 
Nature reviews. Rheumatology  2010;6(10):607-611.
NFκB is a family of transcription factors involved in immunity and the normal functioning of many tissues. It has been well studied in osteoclasts, and new data indicate an important role for NFκB in the negative regulation of bone formation. In this article, we discuss how NFκB activation affects osteoblast function and bone formation. In particular, we describe how reduced NFκB activity in osteoblasts results in an increase in bone formation via enhanced c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activity, which regulates FOSL1 (also known as Fra1) expression. Furthermore, we discuss how estrogen and NFκB crosstalk in osteoblasts acts to oppositely regulate bone formation. Future NFκB-targeting treatments for osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory bone diseases could lead to increased bone formation concurrent with decreased bone resorption.
PMCID: PMC3078572  PMID: 20703218
14.  Rap1 Stabilizes β-catenin and Enhances β-catenin-dependent Transcription and Invasion in Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck 
In head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cells, Rap1 shuttles between the nucleus and cytoplasm. Prior findings suggested that Rap1 may modulate the β-catenin-independent Wnt pathway in some settings, but the role of Rap1 in β-catenin-dependent Wnt signaling remains undefined.
Experimental Design and Results
We observed that β-catenin bound to active Rap1 in vitro and Rap1 activated β-catenin-TCF (T cell factor)-dependent transcription. Immunofluorescence studies showed that ectopic expression of Rap1 increased nuclear translocation of β-catenin. Overexpression of active Rap1 facilitated an increase in β-catenin-mediated transcription that was abrogated by dominant negative TCF4. Conversely, siRNA-mediated inhibition of endogenous Rap1 expression inhibited β-catenin/TCF-mediated transcription as well as invasion of HNSCC. Furthermore, inhibition of Rap1 expression downregulated the expresesion of MMP7, a transcriptional target of β-catenin/TCF. In HNSCC cells stably transfected with β-catenin or treated with lithium chloride or Wnt3A to stabilize endogenous β-catenin, inhibition of Rap1 expression led to decreases in the free pool of β-catenin. Immunohistochemical studies of tissue from HNSCC patients revealed that increased β-catenin intensity correlated with higher tumor stage. Furthermore, the prognostic effect of active Rap1 on tumor N-stage was found to depend on cytosolic β-catenin expression (p<0.013). When β-catenin is high, higher rap1GTP intensity is associated with more advanced N stage.
The findings suggest that Rap1 enhances β-catenin stability and nuclear localization. In addition to indicating that Rap1 has a significant role in regulating β-catenin and β-catenin-dependent progression to more advanced N-stage lesions, these data highlight Rap1 as a potential therapeutic target in HNSCC.
PMCID: PMC2844500  PMID: 20028760
nucleus; Wnt signaling; TCF transcription; small GTP-binding protein
15.  Characterization of Side Populations in HNSCC: Highly Invasive, Chemoresistant and Abnormal Wnt Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11456.
Side Population (SP) cells, a subset of Hoechst-low cells, are enriched with stem cells. Originally, SP cells were isolated from bone marrow but recently have been found in various solid tumors and cancer cell lines that are clonogenic in vitro and tumorigenic in vivo. In this study, SP cells from lymph node metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cell lines were examined using flow cytometry and Hoechst 3342 efflux assay. We found that highly metastatic HNSCC cell lines M3a2 and M4e contained more SP cells compared to the low metastatic parental HNSCC cell line 686LN. SP cells in HNSCC were highly invasive in vitro and tumorigenic in vivo compared to non-SP cells. Furthermore, SP cells highly expressed ABCG2 and were chemoresistant to Bortezomib and etoposide. Importantly, we found that SP cells in HNSCC had abnormal activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling as compared to non-SP cells. Together, these findings indicate that SP cells might be a major driving force of head and neck tumor formation and metastasis. The Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway may be an important target for eliminating cancer stem cells in HNSCC.
PMCID: PMC2897893  PMID: 20625515
16.  Knockdown of CypA inhibits interleukin-8 (IL-8) and IL-8-mediated proliferation and tumor growth of glioblastoma cells through down-regulated NF-κB 
Journal of Neuro-Oncology  2010;101(1):1-14.
Although cyclophilin A (CypA) has been reported to be over-expressed in cancer cells and solid tumors, its expression and role in glioblastomas have not been studied. Herein, we show that expression of CypA in human glioblastoma cell lines and tissues is significantly higher than in normal human astrocytes and normal counterparts of brain tissue. To determine the role of over-expressed CypA in glioblastoma, stable RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated knockdown of CypA (CypA KD) was performed in gliobastoma cell line U87vIII (U87MG · ΔEGFR). CypA KD stable single clones decrease proliferation, infiltration, migration, and anchorage-independent growth in vitro and with slower growth in vivo as xenografts in immunodeficient nude mice. We have also observed that knockdown of CypA inhibits expression of interleukin-8 (IL-8), a tumorigenic and proangiogenic cytokine. Conversely, enforced expression of CypA in the CypA KD cell line, Ud-12, markedly enhanced IL-8 transcripts and restored Ud-12 proliferation, suggesting that CypA-mediated IL-8 production provides a growth advantage to glioblastoma cells. CypA knockdown-mediated inhibition of IL-8 is due to reduced activity of NF-κB, which is one of the major transcription factors regulating IL-8 expression. These results not only establish the relevance of CypA to glioblastoma growth in vitro and in vivo, but also suggest that small interfering RNA-based CypA knockdown could be an effective therapeutic approach against glioblastomas.
PMCID: PMC2995866  PMID: 20454998
Cyclophilin A; IL-8; Glioblastoma; RNA interference; Tumor growth
17.  TRAF5 Is a Downstream Target of MAVS in Antiviral Innate Immune Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9172.
The recognition of nucleic acids by the innate immune system during viral infection results in the production of type I interferons and the activation of antiviral immune responses. The RNA helicases RIG-I and MDA-5 recognize distinct types of cytosolic RNA species and signal through the mitochondrial protein MAVS to stimulate the phosphorylation and activation of the transcription factors IRF3 and IRF7, thereby inducing type I interferon expression. Alternatively, the activation of NF-κB leads to proinflammatory cytokine production. The function of MAVS is dependent on both its C-terminal transmembrane (TM) domain and N-terminal caspase recruitment domain (CARD). The TM domain mediates MAVS dimerization in response to viral RNA, allowing the CARD to bind to and activate the downstream effector TRAF3. Notably, dimerization of the MAVS CARD alone is sufficient to activate IRF3, IRF7, and NF-κB. However, TRAF3-deficient cells display only a partial reduction in interferon production in response to RNA virus infection and are not defective in NF-κB activation. Here we find that the related ubiquitin ligase TRAF5 is a downstream target of MAVS that mediates both IRF3 and NF-κB activation. The TM domain of MAVS allows it to dimerize and thereby associate with TRAF5 and induce its ubiquitination in a CARD-dependent manner. Also, NEMO is recruited to the dimerized MAVS CARD domain in a TRAF3 and TRAF5-dependent manner. Thus, our findings reveal a possible function for TRAF5 in mediating the activation of IRF3 and NF-κB downstream of MAVS through the recruitment of NEMO. TRAF5 may be a key molecule in the innate response against viral infection.
PMCID: PMC2820086  PMID: 20161788
18.  BCOR regulates mesenchymal stem cell function by epigenetic mechanisms 
Nature cell biology  2009;11(8):1002-1009.
BCOR (BCL6 co-repressor) represses gene transcription by interacting with BCL-6 1, 2. BCOR mutation is responsible for oculo-facio-cardio-dental (OFCD) syndrome, characterized by canine teeth with extremely long roots, congenital cataracts, craniofacial defects and congenital heart disease3–5. Here we show that BCOR mutation increased osteo/dentinogenic potentials of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) isolated from an OFCD patient, providing a molecular explanation for abnormal root growth. AP-2α was identified as a repressive target of BCOR, and BCOR mutation resulted in abnormal activation of AP-2α. Gain- and loss-of-function assays suggested that AP-2α was a key factor that mediated increased osteo/dentinogenic capacity of MSCs. Moreover, we found that BCOR maintained tissue homeostasis and gene silencing by epigenetic mechanisms. BCOR mutation increased histone H3K4/36 methylation in MSCs, thereby reactivating transcription of silenced target genes. In summary, by studying a rare human genetic disease, we unravel an epigenetic mechanism for control of human adult stem cell function.
PMCID: PMC2752141  PMID: 19578371
19.  Inhibition of Osteoblast Functions by IKK/NF-κB in Osteoporosis 
Nature medicine  2009;15(6):682-689.
An imbalance in bone formation relative to bone resorption results in the net bone loss in osteoporosis and inflammatory bone diseases. While it is well known how bone resorption is stimulated, the molecular mechanisms that mediate impaired bone formation are poorly understood. Here we show that the time- and stage-specific inhibition of endogenous IκB kinase (IKK)/nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) NF-κB in differentiated osteoblasts significantly increases trabecular bone mass and bone mineral density without affecting osteoclast activities in young mice. Moreover, the inhibition of IKK/NF-κB in differentiated osteoblasts maintains bone formation, thereby preventing osteoporotic bone loss induced by ovariectomy (OVX) in adult mice. The inhibition of IKK/NF-κB enhances the expression of Fra-1, an essential factor for bone matrix formation in vitro and in vivo. Taken together, our results suggest that targeting IKK/NF-κB may help to promote bone formation in the treatment of osteoporosis and other bone diseases.
PMCID: PMC2768554  PMID: 19448637
20.  MAVS Self-Association Mediates Antiviral Innate Immune Signaling ▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(8):3420-3428.
The innate immune system recognizes nucleic acids during viral infection and stimulates cellular antiviral responses. Intracellular detection of RNA virus infection is mediated by the RNA helicases RIG-I (retinoic acid inducible gene I) and MDA-5, which recognize viral RNA and signal through the adaptor molecule MAVS (mitochondrial antiviral signaling) to stimulate the phosphorylation and activation of the transcription factors IRF3 (interferon regulatory factor 3) and IRF7. Once activated, IRF3 and IRF7 turn on the expression of type I interferons, such as beta interferon. Interestingly, unlike other signaling molecules identified in this pathway, MAVS contains a C-terminal transmembrane (TM) domain that is essential for both type I interferon induction and localization of MAVS to the mitochondrial outer membrane. However, the role the MAVS TM domain plays in signaling remains unclear. Here we report the identification of a function for the TM domain in mediating MAVS self-association. The activation of RIG-I/MDA-5 leads to the TM-dependent dimerization of the MAVS N-terminal caspase recruitment domain, thereby providing an interface for direct binding to and activation of the downstream effector TRAF3 (tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 3). Our results reveal a role for MAVS self-association in antiviral innate immunity signaling and provide a molecular mechanism for downstream signal transduction.
PMCID: PMC2663242  PMID: 19193783
21.  CXCL12/SDF-1α Activates NF-κB and Promotes Oral Cancer Invasion through the Carma3/Bcl10/Malt1 Complex 
To determine how SDF-1α/CXCR4 activates nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) and promotes oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) invasion.
A lentivirus-based knockdown approach was utilized to deplete gene expression. NF-κB activation was evaluated by Western blot analysis and electrophoretic mobility shift (EMSA).
We show that the activation of NF-κB by CXCR4 occurs through the Carma3/Bcl10/Malt1 (CBM) complex in OSCC. We found that loss of components of the CBM complex in HNSCC can inhibit SDF-1α induced phosphorylation and degradation of IκBα, while TNFα induced IKK activation remains unchanged. Further, we identified a role for novel and atypical, but not classical, PKCs in activating IKK through CXCR4. Importantly, inhibition of the CBM complex leads to a significant decrease in SDF-1α mediated invasion of OSCC.
The CBM complex plays a critical role in CXCR4-induced NF-κB activation in OSCC. Targeting molecular components of the NF-κB signaling pathway may provide an important therapeutic opportunity in controlling the progression and metastasis of OSCC mediated by SDF-1α.
PMCID: PMC3475585  PMID: 20695076
CXCR4; NF-κB; head and neck cancer; invasion; signal transduction
22.  Inhibition of IκB Kinase-Nuclear Factor-κB Signaling Pathway by 3,5-Bis(2-flurobenzylidene)piperidin-4-one (EF24), a Novel Monoketone Analog of Curcumin* 
Molecular pharmacology  2008;74(3):654-661.
The nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) signaling pathway has been targeted for therapeutic applications in a variety of human diseases, includuing cancer. Many naturally occurring substances, including curcumin, have been investigated for their actions on the NF-κB pathway because of their significant therapeutic potential and safety profile. A synthetic monoketone compound termed 3,5-bis(2-flurobenzylidene)piperidin-4-one (EF24) was developed from curcumin and exhibited potent anticancer activity. Here, we report a mechanism by which EF24 potently suppresses the NF-κB signaling pathway through direct action on IκB kinase (IKK). We demonstrate that 1) EF24 induces death of lung, breast, ovarian, and cervical cancer cells, with a potency about 10 times higher than that of curcumin; 2) EF24 rapidly blocks the nuclear translocation of NF-κB, with an IC50 value of 1.3 μM compared with curcumin, with an IC50 value of 13 μM; 3) EF24 effectively inhibits tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α-induced IκB phosphorylation and degradation, suggesting a role of this compound in targeting IKK; and 4) EF24 indeed directly inhibits the catalytic activity of IKK in an in vitro-reconstituted system. Our study identifies IKK as an effective target for EF24 and provides a molecular explanation for a superior activity of EF24 over curcumin. The effective inhibition of TNF-α-induced NF-κB signaling by EF24 extends the therapeutic application of EF24 to other NF-κB-dependent diseases, including inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
PMCID: PMC2638506  PMID: 18577686
23.  Pharmacologic Stem Cell Based Intervention as a New Approach to Osteoporosis Treatment in Rodents 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(7):e2615.
Osteoporosis is the most prevalent skeletal disorder, characterized by a low bone mineral density (BMD) and bone structural deterioration, leading to bone fragility fractures. Accelerated bone resorption by osteoclasts has been established as a principal mechanism in osteoporosis. However, recent experimental evidences suggest that inappropriate apoptosis of osteoblasts/osteocytes accounts for, at least in part, the imbalance in bone remodeling as occurs in osteoporosis. The aim of this study is to examine whether aspirin, which has been reported as an effective drug improving bone mineral density in human epidemiology studies, regulates the balance between bone resorption and bone formation at stem cell levels.
Methods and Findings
We found that T cell-mediated bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell (BMMSC) impairment plays a crucial role in ovariectomized-induced osteoporosis. Ex vivo mechanistic studies revealed that T cell-mediated BMMSC impairment was mainly attributed to the apoptosis of BMMSCs via the Fas/Fas ligand pathway. To explore potential of using pharmacologic stem cell based intervention as an approach for osteoporosis treatment, we selected ovariectomy (OVX)-induced ostoeporosis mouse model to examine feasibility and mechanism of aspirin-mediated therapy for osteoporosis. We found that aspirin can inhibit T cell activation and Fas ligand induced BMMSC apoptosis in vitro. Further, we revealed that aspirin increases osteogenesis of BMMSCs by aiming at telomerase activity and inhibits osteoclast activity in OVX mice, leading to ameliorating bone density.
Our findings have revealed a novel osteoporosis mechanism in which activated T cells induce BMMSC apoptosis via Fas/Fas ligand pathway and suggested that pharmacologic stem cell based intervention by aspirin may be a new alternative in osteoporosis treatment including activated osteoblasts and inhibited osteoclasts.
PMCID: PMC2440798  PMID: 18612428
24.  Regulation of the G2–M cell cycle progression by the ERK5–NFκB signaling pathway 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2007;177(2):253-264.
Elucidation of mechanisms regulating cell cycle progression is of fundamental importance for cell and cancer biology. Although several genes and signaling pathways are implicated in G1–S regulation, less is known regarding the mechanisms controlling cell cycle progression through G2 and M phases. We report that extracellular signal–regulated kinase 5 (ERK5), a member of the mitogen-activated protein kinases, is activated at G2–M and required for timely mitotic entry. Stimulation of ERK5 activated nuclear factor κB (NFκB) through ribosomal S6 kinase 2 (RSK2)-mediated phosphorylation and degradation of IκB. Furthermore, selective inhibition of NFκB at G2–M phases substantially delayed mitotic entry and inhibited transcription of G2–M–specific genes, including cyclin B1, cyclin B2, Plk-1, and cdc25B. Moreover, inhibition of NFκB at G2–M diminished mitosis induced by constitutive activation of ERK5, providing a direct link between ERK5, NFκB, and regulation of G2–M progression. We conclude that a novel ERK5–NFκB signaling pathway plays a key role in regulation of the G2–M progression.
PMCID: PMC2064134  PMID: 17452529
25.  Siglecg Limits the Size of B1a B Cell Lineage by Down-Regulating NFκB Activation 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(10):e997.
B1 B cells are believed to be a unique lineage with a distinct developmental pathway, function and activation requirement. How this lineage is genetically determined remained largely obscure.
Methods and Principal Findings
Using the Siglecg-deficient mice with a knockin of green-fluorescent protein encoding sequence, we show here that, although the Siglecg gene is broadly expressed at high levels in all stages and/or lineages of B cells tested and at lower levels in other lineages, its deletion selectively expanded the B1a B cell lineages, including the frequency of the B1 cell progenitor in the bone marrow and the number of B1a cells in the peritoneal cavity, by postnatal expansion. The expansion of B1a B cells in the peritoneal correlated with enhanced activation of NFκB and was ablated by an IKK inhibitor.
Conclusion and Significance
Our data revealed a critical role for Siglec G-NFκB pathway in regulating B1a B cell lineage. These data lead to a novel model of B1a lineage development that explains a large array of genetic data in this field.
PMCID: PMC1994585  PMID: 17912374

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