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1.  Deleterious Effects of Minocycline after in vivo Target Deprivation of Thalamocortical Neurons in the Immature, Metallothionein-Deficient Mouse Brain 
Journal of neuroscience research  2009;87(6):1356-1368.
Compared to adults, immature metallothionein I & II knockout (MT−/−) mice incur greater neuronal loss and a more rapid rate of microglia accumulation following target deprivation-induced injury. Since minocycline has been proposed to inhibit microglial activation and associated production of neuroinflammatory factors, we investigated its ability to promote neuronal survival in the immature, metallothionein-deficient brain. Following ablation of the visual cortex, 10-day-old MT−/− mice were treated with minocycline or saline and sacrificed 24 or 48 hours after injury. Using stereological methods, the number of microglia and neurons were estimated in the ipsilateral dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) by an investigator blinded to the treatment. No effect on neuronal survival was observed at 24 hours, but 48 hours after injury an unanticipated but significant minocycline-mediated increase in neuronal loss was detected. Further, while failing to inhibit microglial accumulation, minocycline treatment increased the proportion of amoeboid microglia in the ipsilateral dLGN. To understand the molecular mechanisms underlying this neurotoxic response, we identified minocycline-mediated changes in the expression of three potentially pro-apoptotic/ inflammatory genes: growth arrest- and DNA damage-inducible gene 45γ (GADD45γ); interferon-inducible protein 1 (IFI1) and cytokine induced growth factor (CTGF). We also observed increased mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) p38 phosphorylation with minocycline treatment. Although minocycline inhibited calpain activity at 12 hours post-injury, this effect was not sustained at 24 hours. Together, these results help to explain how minocycline has a deleterious effect on neuronal survival in this injury model.
PMCID: PMC4333151  PMID: 19115404
microglia; minocycline; metallothionein; traumatic brain injury
2.  Cloning of a caffeoyl-coenzyme A O-methyltransferase from Camellia sinensis and analysis of its catalytic activity*  
Epigallocatechin-3-O-(3-O-methyl) gallate (EGCG3"Me) present in leaves of Camellia sinensis has many beneficial biological activities for human health. However, EGCG3"Me occurs naturally in tea leaves in extremely limited quantities. Finding an enzyme from C. sinensis to catalyze the synthesis of EGCG3"Me is an alternative method to make up for the scarcity of EGCG3"Me in natural situations. In the present study, a complementary DNA (cDNA) encoding region and genomic DNA of the caffeoyl-coenzyme A O-methyltransferase (CCoAOMT) gene were isolated from C. sinensis (designated CsCCoAOMT). Nucleotide sequence analysis of CsCCoAOMT revealed an open reading frame of 738 bp that encodes a polypeptide with a predicted molecular weight of 28 kDa, which correlated well with the results of sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). The full-length DNA sequence (2678 bp) contained five exons and four introns. The deduced amino acid sequence of CsCCoAOMT shared 92% identity with CCoAOMTs from Codonopsis lanceolata and Betula luminifera. The catalytic activity of CsCCoAOMT was analyzed. Three monomethylated epigallocatechin-3-O-gallate (EGCG) compounds (EGCG4"Me, EGCG3"Me, and EGCG3'Me) were produced by CsCCoAOMT with K m in the micromolar range. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) experiments indicated that the CsCCoAOMT transcript was present at low levels during the early stages of leaf maturity (the first leaf and bud on a shoot) but the relative expression was augmented at advanced stages of leaf maturity (the third or fourth leaf on a shoot), which accorded well with changes in EGCG3"Me content in fresh leaves. Hence, we concluded that CsCCoAOMT catalyzes the syntheses of methylated EGCGs.
PMCID: PMC4322421  PMID: 25644465
Tea (Camellia sinensis); O-methyltransferase; CsCCoAOMT; Prokaryotic expression; Catalytic activity; Methylated epigallocatechin-3-O-gallate (EGCG)
3.  Receptor interacting protein 140 attenuates endoplasmic reticulum stress in neurons and protects against cell death 
Nature communications  2014;5:4487.
Inositol 1, 4, 5-trisphosphate receptor (IP3R)-mediated Ca2+ release from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) triggers many physiological responses in neurons and when uncontrolled can cause ER stress that contributes to neurological disease. Here we show that the unfolded protein response (UPR) in neurons induces rapid translocation of nuclear receptor-interacting protein 140 (RIP140) to the cytoplasm. In the cytoplasm, RIP140 localizes to the ER by binding to the IP3R. The carboxyl-terminal RD4 domain of RIP140 interacts with the carboxyl-terminal gate-keeping domain of the IP3R. This molecular interaction disrupts the IP3R's “head-tail” interaction, thereby suppressing channel opening and attenuating IP3R-mediated Ca2+ release. This contributes to a rapid suppression of the ER stress response and provides protection from apoptosis in both hippocampal neurons in vitro and in an animal model of ER stress. Thus, RIP140 translocation to the cytoplasm is an early response to ER stress and provides protection against neuronal death.
PMCID: PMC4200015  PMID: 25066731
IP3R; RIP140; ER stress; hippocampal neuron; calcium homeostasis
4.  Beta-Amyloid, Phospho-Tau and Alpha-Synuclein Deposits Similar to Those in the Brain Are Not Identified in the Eyes of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease Patients 
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) are the two most common neurodegenerative disorders, and are characterized by deposition of specific proteins in the brain. If similar abnormal protein deposits are present in the eye, it would facilitate noninvasive diagnosis and monitoring of disease progression. We therefore evaluated expression of proteins associated with AD and PD pathology in postmortem eyes and brains in a case-control study. Eyes from 11 cases of AD, 6 cases of PD or PD with dementia, and 6 age-matched controls were retrieved from the autopsy archives of The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Immunostains for β-amyloid, phospho-tau and α-synuclein and Congo red stains were performed in the same laboratory in both brains and eyes. No amyloid deposits or abnormal tau accumulations were detected in the lens, retina or other structures in the eyes of AD patients. Eyes also lacked definite Lewy bodies or Lewy neurites in either PD or AD cases. Patchy cytoplasmic α-synuclein positivity was seen in the retina of AD, PD and control cases, but did not correlate with the presence or extent of Lewy body pathology in the brain. Abnormal protein aggregations characteristic of AD and PD are thus not commonly present in the retinas or lens of affected patients when assayed using the same protocols as in the brain. This suggests that β-amyloid, phospho-tau nd α-synuclein either do not deposit in the eye in a manner analogous to brain, or are present at lower levels or in different forms.
PMCID: PMC3976129  PMID: 23714377
amyloid; eye; lens; synuclein; tau
5.  Benzoate Metabolism Intermediate Benzoyl Coenzyme A Affects Gentisate Pathway Regulation in Comamonas testosteroni 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(13):4051-4062.
A previous study showed that benzoate was catabolized via a coenzyme A (CoA)-dependent epoxide pathway in Azoarcus evansii (R. Niemetz, U. Altenschmidt, S. Brucker, and G. Fuchs, Eur. J. Biochem. 227:161-168, 1995), but gentisate 1,2-dioxygenase was induced. Similarly, we found that the Comamonas testosteroni strain CNB-1 degraded benzoate via a CoA-dependent epoxide pathway and that gentisate 1,2-dioxygenase (GenA) was also induced when benzoate or 3-hydroxybenzoate served as a carbon source for growth. Genes encoding the CoA-dependent epoxide (box genes) and gentisate (gen genes) pathways were identified. Genetic disruption revealed that the gen genes were not involved in benzoate and 3-hydroxybenzoate degradation. Hence, we investigated gen gene regulation in the CNB-1 strain. The PgenA promoter, a MarR-type regulator (GenR), and the GenR binding site were identified. We found that GenR took gentisate, 3-hydroxybenzoate, and benzoyl-CoA as effectors and that binding of GenR to its target DNA sequence was prohibited when these effectors were present. In vivo studies showed that the CNB-1 mutant that lost benzoyl-CoA synthesis was not able to activate PgenA promoter, while transcription of genA was upregulated in another CNB-1 mutant that lost the ability to degrade benzoyl-CoA. The finding that benzoyl-CoA (a metabolic intermediate of benzoate degradation) and 3-hydroxybenzoate function as GenR effectors explains why GenA was induced when CNB-1 grew on benzoate or 3-hydroxybenzoate. Regulation of gentisate pathways by MarR-, LysR-, and IclR-type regulators in diverse bacterial groups is discussed in detail.
PMCID: PMC4054210  PMID: 24771026
6.  Complete Genome Sequence of Bovine Papillomavirus Genotype 13 from Local Yellow Cattle in Hainan Province, China 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(6):e01087-14.
Here, we present the complete genome sequence of bovine papillomavirus genotype 13 isolated from local yellow cattle in Hainan, China. The genome is 7,961 bp and contains six early genes and two late genes. This analysis provides important information for the research of bovine papillomavirus (BPV) in China.
PMCID: PMC4256180  PMID: 25477399
7.  IL-22 activates oxidant signaling in pulmonary vascular smooth muscle cells 
Cellular signalling  2013;25(12):10.1016/j.cellsig.2013.09.001.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) mediate cell-signaling processes in response to various ligands and play important roles in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases. The present study reports that interleukin-22 (IL-22) elicits signal transduction in vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) through a ROS-dependent mechanism. We find that pulmonary artery SMCs express IL-22 receptor alpha 1 and that IL-22 activates STAT3 through this receptor. IL-22-induced signaling is found to be mediated by NADPH oxidase, as indicated by the observations that the inhibition and siRNA knock-down of this enzyme inhibit IL-22 signaling. IL-22 triggers the oxidative modifications of proteins through protein carbonylation and protein glutathionylation. Mass spectrometry identified some proteins that are carbonylated in response to IL-22 stimulation, including α-enolase, heat shock cognate 71 kDa protein, mitochondrial 60 kDa heat shock protein, and cytoplasmic 2 actin and determined that α-tubulin is glutathionylated. Protein glutathionylation and STAT3 phosphorylation are enhanced by the siRNA knock-down of glutaredoxin, while IL-22-mediated STAT3 phosphorylation is suppressed by knocking down thioredoxin interacting protein, an inhibitor of thioredoxin. IL-22 is also found to promote the growth of SMCs via NADPH oxidase. In rats, pulmonary hypertension is found to be associated with increased smooth muscle IL-22 expression. These results show that IL-22 promotes the growth of pulmonary vascular SMCs via a signaling mechanism that involves NADPH oxidase-dependent oxidation.
PMCID: PMC3818123  PMID: 24018041
Interleukin-22; Reactive oxygen species; Redox Signaling; Vascular smooth muscle
8.  Determining the in vivo transverse relaxation time of GABA in the human brain at 7T 
Journal of magnetic resonance imaging : JMRI  2012;38(5):10.1002/jmri.23979.
To measure in vivo transverse relaxation times (T2) of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) at 7T using the experimental spectral-editing method.
Materials and Methods
Experiments were performed at 7T in a 10 mM GABA phantom to determine the intrinsic TE-dependence of the edited signal. Then, the same method is applied with editing-based suppression of co-edited macromolecular signals to five healthy volunteers to determine T2 of GABA in vivo.
From in vivo data acquired at multiple echo times, the in vivo GABA T2 relaxation time is estimated to be 63±19 ms.
We present a measurement of the T2 of edited GABA signal at 7T, by first using phantom measurements to determine the echo time-dependence of edited signal. The method is purely experimental and does not rely upon prior knowledge of coupling constants or simulation of realistic experiments.
PMCID: PMC3610786  PMID: 23239232
GABA; transverse relaxation; T2; editing; 7T; magnetic resonance spectroscopy
9.  Potent monoclonal antibodies against Clostridium difficile toxin A elicited by DNA immunization 
Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics  2013;9(10):2157-2164.
Recent studies have demonstrated that DNA immunization is effective in eliciting antigen-specific antibody responses against a wide range of infectious disease targets. The polyclonal antibodies elicited by DNA vaccination exhibit high sensitivity to conformational epitopes and high avidity. However, there have been limited reports in literature on the production of monoclonal antibodies (mAb) by DNA immunization. Here, by using Clostridium difficile (C. diff) toxin A as a model antigen, we demonstrated that DNA immunization was effective in producing a panel of mAb that are protective against toxin A challenge and can also be used as sensitive reagents to detect toxin A from various testing samples. The immunoglobulin (Ig) gene usage for such mAb was also investigated. Further studies should be conducted to fully establish DNA immunization as a unique platform to produce mAb in various hosts.
PMCID: PMC3906400  PMID: 23851482
DNA immunization; monoclonal antibody; C. diff toxin; toxin A; immunoglobulin genes
10.  A randomized phase II clinical trial of nab-paclitaxel and carboplatin compared with gemcitabine and carboplatin as first-line therapy in locally advanced or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of lung 
BMC Cancer  2014;14(1):684.
Recent advances have shown that histology and genetic biomarkers are important in patient selection, which have led to significantly better outcomes for lung cancer patients. However, most new treatments only apply to adenocarcinoma or non-squamous, and in squamous carcinoma there is little breakthrough. In a phase III trial nab-paclitaxel plus carboplatin showed superior response rate over paclitaxel and carboplatin. In subgroup analysis the squamous histology appeared to be a predictive factor to nab-paclitaxel treatment.
This is an open-label, randomized, active controlled phase II trial. A total of 120 untreated advanced squamous lung cancer patients are randomized at a 1:1 ratio to receive nab-paclitaxel (135 mg/m2, d1, 8, q3w) plus carboplatin (AUC 5, d1, q3w) or gemcitabine (1,250 mg/m2, d1, 8, q3w) and carboplatin (AUC 5, d1, q3w). The primary endpoint is objective response rate and the second endpoints are progression free survival, overall survival, safety and biomarkers associated with nab-paclitaxel. The treatment will continue up to six cycles or intolerable toxicity.
This ongoing trial will be the first prospective randomized trial to explore the efficacy of nab-paclitaxel as the first-line treatment specifically in squamous carcinoma of lung.
Study number
Trial Registration reference: NCT01236716
PMCID: PMC4179224  PMID: 25239521
Nab-paclitaxel; Carboplatin; Gemcitabine; Squamous; Carcinoma; Lung
11.  NrdH Redoxin Enhances Resistance to Multiple Oxidative Stresses by Acting as a Peroxidase Cofactor in Corynebacterium glutamicum 
NrdH redoxins are small protein disulfide oxidoreductases behaving like thioredoxins but sharing a high amino acid sequence similarity to glutaredoxins. Although NrdH redoxins are supposed to be another candidate in the antioxidant system, their physiological roles in oxidative stress remain unclear. In this study, we confirmed that the Corynebacterium glutamicum NrdH redoxin catalytically reduces the disulfides in the class Ib ribonucleotide reductases (RNR), insulin and 5,5′-dithiobis-(2-nitrobenzoic acid) (DTNB), by exclusively receiving electrons from thioredoxin reductase. Overexpression of NrdH increased the resistance of C. glutamicum to multiple oxidative stresses by reducing ROS accumulation. Accordingly, elevated expression of the nrdH gene was observed when the C. glutamicum wild-type strain was exposed to oxidative stress conditions. It was discovered that the NrdH-mediated resistance to oxidative stresses was largely dependent on the presence of the thiol peroxidase Prx, as the increased resistance to oxidative stresses mediated by overexpression of NrdH was largely abrogated in the prx mutant. Furthermore, we showed that NrdH facilitated the hydroperoxide reduction activity of Prx by directly targeting and serving as its electron donor. Thus, we present evidence that the NrdH redoxin can protect against the damaging effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced by various exogenous oxidative stresses by acting as a peroxidase cofactor.
PMCID: PMC3957609  PMID: 24375145
12.  Thiosulfate Transfer Mediated by DsrE/TusA Homologs from Acidothermophilic Sulfur-oxidizing Archaeon Metallosphaera cuprina* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2014;289(39):26949-26959.
Background: The dsrE3A-dsrE2B-tusA cluster from Metallosphaera cuprina encodes putative sulfur-trafficking proteins and is flanked by genes encoding a heterodisulfide reductase-like complex and dihydrolipoamide dehydrogenase.
Results: DsrE3A and TusA react with tetrathionate, yielding protein Cys-S-thiosulfonates, triggering irreversible thiosulfate transfer from DsrE3A to TusA.
Conclusion: DsrE3A and TusA are important players during dissimilatory sulfur and tetrathionate oxidation.
Significance: Protein-mediated transfer of thiosulfonate is unprecedented in sulfur oxidizers.
Conserved clusters of genes encoding DsrE and TusA homologs occur in many archaeal and bacterial sulfur oxidizers. TusA has a well documented function as a sulfurtransferase in tRNA modification and molybdenum cofactor biosynthesis in Escherichia coli, and DsrE is an active site subunit of the DsrEFH complex that is essential for sulfur trafficking in the phototrophic sulfur-oxidizing Allochromatium vinosum. In the acidothermophilic sulfur (S0)- and tetrathionate (S4O62−)-oxidizing Metallosphaera cuprina Ar-4, a dsrE3A-dsrE2B-tusA arrangement is situated immediately between genes encoding dihydrolipoamide dehydrogenase and a heterodisulfide reductase-like complex. In this study, the biochemical features and sulfur transferring abilities of the DsrE2B, DsrE3A, and TusA proteins were investigated. DsrE3A and TusA proved to react with tetrathionate but not with NaSH, glutathione persulfide, polysulfide, thiosulfate, or sulfite. The products were identified as protein-Cys-S-thiosulfonates. DsrE3A was also able to cleave the thiosulfate group from TusA-Cys18-S-thiosulfonate. DsrE2B did not react with any of the sulfur compounds tested. DsrE3A and TusA interacted physically with each other and formed a heterocomplex. The cysteine residue (Cys18) of TusA is crucial for this interaction. The single cysteine mutants DsrE3A-C93S and DsrE3A-C101S retained the ability to transfer the thiosulfonate group to TusA. TusA-C18S neither reacted with tetrathionate nor was it loaded with thiosulfate with DsrE3A-Cys-S-thiosulfonate as the donor. The transfer of thiosulfate, mediated by a DsrE-like protein and TusA, is unprecedented not only in M. cuprina but also in other sulfur-oxidizing prokaryotes. The results of this study provide new knowledge on oxidative microbial sulfur metabolism.
PMCID: PMC4175335  PMID: 25122768
Archaea; Energy Metabolism; Microbiology; Oxidation-Reduction (Redox); Sulfur; DsrE/TusA-like Proteins; Metallosphaera cuprina; Thiosulfate Transfer; Tetrathionate
13.  Age Dependent Changes in Cartilage Matrix, Subchondral Bone Mass, and Estradiol Levels in Blood Serum, in Naturally Occurring Osteoarthritis in Guinea Pigs 
The Dunkin Hartley (DH) guinea pig is a widely used naturally occurring osteoarthritis model. The aim of this study was to provide detailed evidence of age-related changes in articular cartilage, subchondral bone mineral density, and estradiol levels. We studied the female Dunkin Hartley guinea pigs at 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months of age (eight animals in each group). Histological analysis were used to identify degenerative cartilage and electron microscopy was performed to further observe the ultrastructure. Estradiol expression levels in serum were assessed, and matrix metalloproteinase 3 and glycosaminoglycan expression in cartilage was performed by immunohistochemistry. Bone mineral density of the tibia subchondral bone was measured using dual X-ray absorptiometry. Histological analysis showed that the degeneration of articular cartilage grew more severe with increasing age starting at 3 months, coupled with the loss of normal cells and an increase in degenerated cells. Serum estradiol levels increased with age from 1 to 6 months and thereafter remained stable from 6 to 12 months. Matrix metalloproteinase 3 expression in cartilage increased with age, but no significant difference was found in glycosaminoglycan expression between 1- and 3-month old animals. The bone mineral density of the tibia subchondral bone increased with age before reaching a stable value at 9 months of age. Age-related articular cartilage degeneration occurred in Dunkin Hartley guinea pigs beginning at 3 months of age, while no directly positive or negative correlation between osteoarthritis progression and estradiol serum level or subchondral bone mineral density was discovered.
PMCID: PMC4159812  PMID: 25100170
osteoarthritis; cartilage; subchondral bone; estradiol; electron microscope
14.  Genome Duplication and Gene Loss Affect the Evolution of Heat Shock Transcription Factor Genes in Legumes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102825.
Whole-genome duplication events (polyploidy events) and gene loss events have played important roles in the evolution of legumes. Here we show that the vast majority of Hsf gene duplications resulted from whole genome duplication events rather than tandem duplication, and significant differences in gene retention exist between species. By searching for intraspecies gene colinearity (microsynteny) and dating the age distributions of duplicated genes, we found that genome duplications accounted for 42 of 46 Hsf-containing segments in Glycine max, while paired segments were rarely identified in Lotus japonicas, Medicago truncatula and Cajanus cajan. However, by comparing interspecies microsynteny, we determined that the great majority of Hsf-containing segments in Lotus japonicas, Medicago truncatula and Cajanus cajan show extensive conservation with the duplicated regions of Glycine max. These segments formed 17 groups of orthologous segments. These results suggest that these regions shared ancient genome duplication with Hsf genes in Glycine max, but more than half of the copies of these genes were lost. On the other hand, the Glycine max Hsf gene family retained approximately 75% and 84% of duplicated genes produced from the ancient genome duplication and recent Glycine-specific genome duplication, respectively. Continuous purifying selection has played a key role in the maintenance of Hsf genes in Glycine max. Expression analysis of the Hsf genes in Lotus japonicus revealed their putative involvement in multiple tissue-/developmental stages and responses to various abiotic stimuli. This study traces the evolution of Hsf genes in legume species and demonstrates that the rates of gene gain and loss are far from equilibrium in different species.
PMCID: PMC4105503  PMID: 25047803
15.  Generation of Marker-free Transgenic Plants Concurrently Resistant to a DNA Geminivirus and a RNA Tospovirus 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:5717.
Global threats of ssDNA geminivirus and ss(-)RNA tospovirus on crops necessitate the development of transgenic resistance. Here, we constructed a two-T DNA vector carrying a hairpin of the intergenic region (IGR) of Ageratum yellow vein virus (AYVV), residing in an intron inserted in an untranslatable nucleocapsid protein (NP) fragment of Melon yellow spot virus (MYSV). Transgenic tobacco lines highly resistant to AYVV and MYSV were generated. Accumulation of 24-nt siRNA, higher methylation levels on the IGR promoters of the transgene, and suppression of IGR promoter activity of invading AYVV indicate that AYVV resistance is mediated by transcriptional gene silencing. Lack of NP transcript and accumulation of corresponding siRNAs indicate that MYSV resistance is mediated through post-transcriptional gene silencing. Marker-free progenies with concurrent resistance to both AYVV and MYSV, stably inherited as dominant nuclear traits, were obtained. Hence, we provide a novel way for concurrent control of noxious DNA and RNA viruses with less biosafety concerns.
PMCID: PMC4101524  PMID: 25030413
16.  Andrographolide induces vascular smooth muscle cell apoptosis through a SHP-1-PP2A-p38MAPK-p53 cascade 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:5651.
The abnormal growth of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) is considered a critical pathogenic process in inflammatory vascular diseases. We have previously demonstrated that protein phosphatase 2 A (PP2A)-mediated NF-κB dephosphorylation contributes to the anti-inflammatory properties of andrographolide, a novel NF-κB inhibitor. In this study, we investigated whether andrographolide causes apoptosis, and characterized its apoptotic mechanisms in rat VSMCs. Andrographolide activated the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38MAPK), leading to p53 phosphorylation. Phosphorylated p53 subsequently transactivated the expression of Bax, a pro-apoptotic protein. Transfection with pp2a small interfering RNA (siRNA) suppressed andrographolide-induced p38MAPK activation, p53 phosphorylation, and caspase 3 activation. Andrographolide also activated the Src homology 1 domain-containing protein tyrosine phosphatase (SHP-1), and induced PP2A dephosphorylation, both of which were inhibited by the SHP-1 inhibitor sodium stibogluconate (SSG) or shp-1 siRNA. SSG or shp-1 siRNA prevented andrographolide-induced apoptosis. These results suggest that andrographolide activates the PP2A-p38MAPK-p53-Bax cascade, causing mitochondrial dysfunction and VSMC death through an SHP-1-dependent mechanism.
PMCID: PMC4090621  PMID: 25007834
17.  Andrographolide Inhibits Nuclear Factor-κB Activation through JNK-Akt-p65 Signaling Cascade in Tumor Necrosis Factor-α-Stimulated Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:130381.
Critical vascular inflammation leads to vascular dysfunction and cardiovascular diseases, including abdominal aortic aneurysms, hypertension, and atherosclerosis. Andrographolide is the most active and critical constituent isolated from the leaves of Andrographis paniculata, a herbal medicine widely used for treating anti-inflammation in Asia. In this study, we investigated the mechanisms of the inhibitory effects of andrographolide in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) exposed to a proinflammatory stimulus, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α). Treating TNF-α-stimulated VSMCs with andrographolide suppressed the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase in a concentration-dependent manner. A reduction in TNF-α-induced c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), Akt, and p65 phosphorylation was observed in andrographolide-treated VSMCs. However, andrographolide affected neither IκBα degradation nor p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase or extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 phosphorylation under these conditions. Both treatment with LY294002, a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt inhibitor, and treatment with SP600125, a JNK inhibitor, markedly reversed the andrographolide-mediated inhibition of p65 phosphorylation. In addition, LY294002 and SP600125 both diminished Akt phosphorylation, whereas LY294002 had no effects on JNK phosphorylation. These results collectively suggest that therapeutic interventions using andrographolide can benefit the treatment of vascular inflammatory diseases, and andrographolide-mediated inhibition of NF-κB activity in TNF-α-stimulated VSMCs occurs through the JNK-Akt-p65 signaling cascade, an IκBα-independent mechanism.
PMCID: PMC4121194  PMID: 25114952
18.  PMC, a potent hydrophilic α-tocopherol derivative, inhibits NF-κB activation via PP2A but not IκBα-dependent signals in vascular smooth muscle cells 
The hydrophilic α-tocopherol derivative, 2,2,5,7,8-pentamethyl-6-hydroxychromane (PMC), is a promising alternative to vitamin E in clinical applications. Critical vascular inflammation leads to vascular dysfunction and vascular diseases, including atherosclerosis, hypertension and abdominal aortic aneurysms. In this study, we investigated the mechanisms of the inhibitory effects of PMC in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) exposed to pro-inflammatory stimuli, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) combined with interferon (IFN)-γ. Treatment of LPS/IFN-γ-stimulated VSMCs with PMC suppressed the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and matrix metalloproteinase-9 in a concentration-dependent manner. A reduction in LPS/IFN-γ-induced nuclear factor (NF)-κB activation was also observed in PMC-treated VSMCs. The translocation and phosphorylation of p65, protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) inactivation and the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) were significantly inhibited by PMC in LPS/IFN-γ-activated VSMCs. However, neither IκBα degradation nor IκB kinase (IKK) or ribosomal s6 kinase-1 phosphorylation was affected by PMC under these conditions. Both treatments with okadaic acid, a PP2A-selective inhibitor, and transfection with PP2A siRNA markedly reversed the PMC-mediated inhibition of iNOS expression, NF-κB-promoter activity and p65 phosphorylation. Immunoprecipitation analysis of the cellular extracts of LPS/IFN-γ-stimulated VSMCs revealed that p65 colocalizes with PP2A. In addition, p65 phosphorylation and PP2A inactivation were induced in VSMCs by treatment with H2O2, but neither IκBα degradation nor IKK phosphorylation was observed. These results collectively indicate that the PMC-mediated inhibition of NF-κB activity in LPS/IFN-γ-stimulated VSMCs occurs through the ROS-PP2A-p65 signalling cascade, an IKK-IκBα-independent mechanism. Therapeutic interventions using PMC may therefore be beneficial for the treatment of vascular inflammatory diseases.
PMCID: PMC4124013  PMID: 24725826
PMC; vascular inflammation; NF-κB; PP2A; ROS
19.  Grape seed pro-anthocyanidins ameliorates radiation-induced lung injury 
Radiation-induced lung injury (RILI) is a potentially fatal and dose-limiting complication of thoracic radiotherapy. This study was to investigate the protective effects of grape seed pro-anthocyanidins (GSPs), an efficient antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic agent, on RILI. In our study, it was demonstrated that acute and late RILI was ameliorated after GSPs treatment possibly through suppressing TGF-β1/Smad3/Snail signalling pathway and modulating the levels of cytokines (interferon-γ, IL-4 and IL-13) derived from Th1/Th2 cells. In addition, a sustained high level of PGE2 was also maintained by GSPs treatment to limited fibroblast functions. As shown by electron spin resonance spectrometry, GSPs could scavenge hydroxyl radical (•OH) in a dose-dependent manner, which might account for the mitigation of lipid peroxidation and consequent apoptosis of lung cells. In vitro, GSPs radiosensitized lung cancer cell A549 while mitigating radiation injury on normal alveolar epithelial cell RLE-6TN. In conclusion, the results showed that GSPs protects mice from RILI through scavenging free radicals and modulating RILI-associated cytokines, suggesting GSPs as a novel protective agent in RILI.
PMCID: PMC4124012  PMID: 24758615
radiation-induced lung injury; grape seed pro-anthocyanidins; reactive oxygen species; epithelial–mesenchymal transition
20.  Pyk2 Regulates Megakaryocyte-Induced Increases in Osteoblast Number and Bone Formation 
Pre-clinical and clinical evidence from megakaryocyte (MK) related diseases suggest that MKs play a significant role in maintaining bone homeostasis. Findings from our laboratories reveal that MKs significantly increase osteoblast (OB) number through direct MK-OB contact and the activation of integrins. We therefore examined the role of Pyk2, a tyrosine kinase known to be regulated downstream of integrins, in the MK-mediated enhancement of OBs. When OBs were co-cultured with MKs, total Pyk2 levels in OBs were significantly enhanced primarily due to increased Pyk2 gene transcription. Additionally, p53 and Mdm2 were both decreased in OBs upon MK stimulation, which would be permissive of cell cycle entry. We then demonstrated that OB number was markedly reduced when Pyk2−/− OBs, as opposed to wild-type (WT) OBs, were co-cultured with MKs. We also determined that MKs inhibit OB differentiation in the presence and absence of Pyk2 expression. Finally, given that MK replete spleen cells from GATA-1 deficient mice can robustly stimulate OB proliferation and bone formation in WT mice, we adoptively transferred spleen cells from these mice into Pyk2−/− recipient mice. Importantly, GATA-1 deficient spleen cells failed to stimulate an increase in bone formation in Pyk2−/− mice, suggesting in vivo the important role of Pyk2 in the MK-induced increase in bone volume. Further understanding of the signaling pathways involved in the MK-mediated enhancement of OB number and bone formation will facilitate the development of novel anabolic therapies to treat bone loss diseases.
PMCID: PMC3663900  PMID: 23362087
21.  Subclinical Carbon Monoxide Limits Apoptosis in the Developing Brain After Isoflurane Exposure 
Anesthesia and analgesia  2014;118(6):1284-1292.
Volatile anesthetics cause widespread apoptosis in the developing brain. Carbon monoxide (CO) has antiapoptotic properties, and exhaled endogenous CO is commonly rebreathed during low-flow anesthesia in infants and children, resulting in subclinical CO exposure. Thus, we aimed to determine whether CO could limit isoflurane-induced apoptosis in the developing brain.
Seven-day-old male CD-1 mouse pups underwent 1-hour exposure to 0 (air), 5, or 100 ppm CO in air with or without isoflurane (2%). We assessed carboxyhemoglobin levels, cytochrome c peroxidase activity, and cytochrome c release from forebrain mitochondria after exposure and quantified the number of activated caspase-3 positive cells and TUNEL positive nuclei in neocortex, hippocampus, and hypothalamus/thalamus.
Carboxyhemoglobin levels approximated those expected in humans after a similar time-weighted CO exposure. Isoflurane significantly increased cytochrome c peroxidase activity, cytochrome c release, the number of activated caspase-3 cells, and TUNEL positive nuclei in the forebrain of air-exposed mice. CO, however, abrogated isoflurane-induced cytochrome c peroxidase activation and cytochrome c release from forebrain mitochondria and decreased the number of activated caspase-3 positive cells and TUNEL positive nuclei after simultaneous exposure with isoflurane.
Taken together, the data indicate that CO can limit apoptosis after isoflurane exposure via inhibition of cytochrome c peroxidase depending on concentration. Although it is unknown whether CO directly inhibited isoflurane-induced apoptosis, it is possible that low-flow anesthesia designed to target rebreathing of specific concentrations of CO may be a desired strategy to develop in the future in an effort to prevent anesthesia-induced neurotoxicity in infants and children.
PMCID: PMC4029883  PMID: 24413549
Bone  2013;54(1):58-67.
The role of osteoblasts (OB) in maintaining hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) in their niche is well elucidated, but the exact definition, both phenotypically and hierarchically of OB responsible for these functions is not clearly known. We previously demonstrated that OB maturational status influences HSC function whereby immature OB with high Runx2 expression promote hematopoietic expansion. Here, we show that Activated Leukocyte Cell Adhesion Molecule (ALCAM) or CD166 expression on OB is directly correlated with Runx2 expression and high hematopoiesis enhancing activity (HEA). Fractionation of OB with lineage markers: Sca1, osteopontin (OPN), CD166, CD44, and CD90 revealed that Lin-Sca1-OPN+CD166+ cells (CD166+) and their subpopulations fractionated with CD44 and CD90 expressed high levels of Runx2 and low levels of osteocalcin (OC) demonstrating the relatively immature status of these cells. Conversely, the majority of the Lin-Sca1-OPN+CD166− cells (CD166−) expressed high OC levels suggesting that CD166− OB are more mature. In vitro hematopoietic potential of LSK cells co-cultured for 7 days with fresh OB or OB pre-cultured for 1, 2, or 3 weeks declined precipitously with increasing culture duration concomitant with loss of CD166 expression. Importantly, LSK cells co-cultured with CD166+CD44+CD90+ OB maintained their in vivo repopulating potential through primary and secondary transplantation, suggesting that robust HEA activity is best mediated by immature CD166+ OB with high Runx2 and low OC expression. These studies begin to define the hierarchical organization of osteoblastic cells and provide a more refined definition of OB that can mediate HEA.
PMCID: PMC3611238  PMID: 23369988
23.  Colon Cancer-Specific Antigen-2 May Be Used as a Detecting and Prognostic Marker in Colorectal Cancer: A Preliminary Observation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94252.
A specific and sensitive serum marker for colorectal cancer (CRC) detection and surveillance is central to effective treatment. It was preliminarily reported that some nuclear matrix proteins may be served as a specific blood based marker for colon cancer. The objective of this study is to evaluate the value of serum CCSA-2 detection in diagnosis, prognostic estimation and surveillance for CRC.
Serum CCSA-2 protein was measured in 181 various patient populations and 20 healthy donors before surgery. For 106 CRC patients, it was also measured on day 7 after surgery. Among them, 49 CRC patients' CCSA-2 protein were measured during the follow-up period according to NCCN Guideline.
The serum CCSA-2 concentration in CRC patients was significantly higher than which in other patients and healthy individuals. Serum CCSA-2, at the cut-off point of 64.10 ng/mL, had a sensitivity of 98.10% and a specificity of 97.90% in separating CRC populations from all other individuals. The CCSA-2 assay was significantly more sensitive than CEA and CA19-9 assay in CRC detection. After surgery, the serum CCSA-2 level of CRC patients declined significantly, but it rebounded to a high level when recurrences occurred. The pre-operative serum CCSA-2 level in patients who had a relapse within the follow-up period was significantly higher than which in patients without relapse.
Serum CCSA-2 not only may be a potential biomarker using in screening and surveillance of CRC, but also may be an independent prognostic marker for CRC patients. Further clinical trials need to be performed in a larger population of patients to ulteriorly confirm these results.
PMCID: PMC3978011  PMID: 24710115
24.  Aroma changes of black tea prepared from methyl jasmonate treated tea plants*  
Methyl jasmonate (MeJA) was widely applied in promoting food quality. Aroma is one of the key indicators in judging the quality of tea. This study examined the effect of exogenous MeJA treatment on tea aroma. The aroma components in black tea prepared from MeJA-treated fresh tea leaves were extracted using headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) and were analyzed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and GC-olfactometry (GC-O). Forty-five volatile compounds were identified. The results revealed that the MeJA-treated black tea had higher levels of terpene alcohols and hexenyl esters than the untreated tea. Moreover, several newly components, including copaene, cubenol, and indole, were induced by the MeJA treatment. The activities of polyphenol oxidase and β-glucosidase in fresh tea leaves changed after the MeJA treatment. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) analysis indicated that the gene expression levels of polyphenol oxidase and β-primeverosidase were upregulated by two and three folds, respectively, by the MeJA treatment (P<0.01); however, the gene expression of β-glucosidase was downregulated to a half level. In general, the aroma quality of the MeJA-treated black tea was clearly improved.
PMCID: PMC3989150  PMID: 24711352
Aroma; Black tea; Methyl jasmonate (MeJA); Headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME); Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS); Gas chromatography-olfactometry (GC-O); Gene expression
25.  Metabolic flux responses to genetic modification for shikimic acid production by Bacillus subtilis strains 
Shikimic acid (SA) is a key chiral starting molecule for the synthesis of the neuramidase inhibitor GS4104 against viral influenza. Microbial production of SA has been extensively investigated in Escherichia coli, and to a less extent in Bacillus subtilis. However, metabolic flux of the high SA-producing strains has not been explored. In this study, we constructed with genetic manipulation and further determined metabolic flux with 13C-labeling test of high SA-producing B. subtilis strains.
B. subtilis 1A474 had a mutation in SA kinase gene (aroI) and accumulated 1.5 g/L of SA. Overexpression of plasmid-encoded aroA, aroB, aroC or aroD in B. subtilis revealed that aroD had the most significantly positive effects on SA production. Simultaneous overexpression of genes for 3-deoxy-D-arabinoheptulosonate-7-phosphate synthase (aroA) and SA dehydrogenase (aroD) in B. subtilis BSSA/pSAAroA/pDGSAAroD resulted in SA production of 3.2 g/L. 13C-Metabolic flux assay (MFA) on the two strains BSSA/pHCMC04/pDG148-stu and BSSA/pSAAroA/pDGSAAroD indicated the carbon flux from glucose to SA increased to 4.6% in BSSA/pSAAroA/pDGSAAroD from 1.9% in strain BSSA/pHCMC04/pDG148-stu. The carbon flux through tricarboxylic acid cycle significantly reduced, while responses of the pentose phosphate pathway and the glycolysis to high SA production were rather weak, in the strain BSSA/pSAAroA/pDGSAAroD. Based on the results from MFA, two potential targets for further optimization of SA production were identified. Experiments on genetic deletion of phosphoenoylpyruvate kinase gene confirmed its positive influence on SA production, while the overexpression of the transketolase gene did not lead to increase in SA production.
Of the genes involved in shikimate pathway in B. subtilis, aroD exerted most significant influence on SA accumulation. Overexpression of plasmid-encoded aroA and aroD doubled SA production than its parent strain. MFA revealed metabolic flux redistribution among phosphate pentose pathway, glycolysis, TCA cycle in the low and high SA-producing B. subtilis strains. The high SA producing strain BSSA/pSAAroA/pDGSAAroD had increased carbon flux into shikimate pathway and reduced flux into TCA cycle.
PMCID: PMC4003833  PMID: 24628944
Shikimic acid production; Shikimate pathway; Bacillus subtilis; Metabolic flux assay (MFA); aroA; aroD; tkt; pyk

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