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1.  Elucidation of the early infection machinery of hepatitis B virus by using bio-nanocapsule 
World Journal of Gastroenterology  2016;22(38):8489-8496.
Currently, hepatitis B virus (HBV), upon attaching to human hepatocytes, is considered to interact first with heparan sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG) via an antigenic loop of HBV envelope S protein. Then, it is promptly transferred to the sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP) via the myristoylated N-terminal sequence of pre-S1 region (from Gly-2 to Gly-48, HBV genotype D), and it finally enters the cell by endocytosis. However, it is not clear how HSPG passes HBV to NTCP and how NTCP contributes to the cellular entry of HBV. Owing to the poor availability and the difficulty of manipulations, including fluorophore encapsulation, it has been nearly impossible to perform biochemical and cytochemical analyses using a substantial amount of HBV. A bio-nanocapsule (BNC), which is a hollow nanoparticle consisting of HBV envelope L protein, was efficiently synthesized in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Since BNC could encapsulate payloads (drugs, genes, proteins) and specifically enter human hepatic cells utilizing HBV-derived infection machinery, it could be used as a model of HBV infection to elucidate the early infection machinery. Recently, it was demonstrated that the N-terminal sequence of pre-S1 region (from Asn-9 to Gly-24) possesses low pH-dependent fusogenic activity, which might play a crucial role in the endosomal escape of BNC payloads and in the uncoating process of HBV. In this minireview, we describe a model in which each domain of the HBV L protein contributes to attachment onto human hepatic cells through HSPG, initiation of endocytosis, interaction with NTCP in endosomes, and consequent provocation of membrane fusion followed by endosomal escape.
PMCID: PMC5064030  PMID: 27784961
Bio-nanocapsule; Endosomal escape; Hepatitis B virus; Heparan sulfate proteoglycan; Sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide
2.  Virosomes of hepatitis B virus envelope L proteins containing doxorubicin: synergistic enhancement of human liver-specific antitumor growth activity by radiotherapy 
Bionanocapsules (BNCs) are hollow nanoparticles consisting of hepatitis B virus (HBV) envelope L proteins and have been shown to deliver drugs and genes specifically to human hepatic tissues by utilizing HBV-derived infection machinery. The complex of BNCs with liposomes (LPs), the BNC–LP complexes (a LP surrounded by BNCs in a rugged spherical form), could also become active targeting nanocarriers by the BNC function. In this study, under acidic conditions and high temperature, BNCs were found to fully fuse with LPs (smooth-surfaced spherical form), deploying L proteins with a membrane topology similar to that of BNCs (ie, virosomes displaying L proteins). Doxorubicin (DOX) was efficiently encapsulated via the remote loading method at 14.2%±1.0% of total lipid weight (mean ± SD, n=3), with a capsule size of 118.2±4.7 nm and a ζ-potential of −51.1±1.0 mV (mean ± SD, n=5). When mammalian cells were exposed to the virosomes, the virosomes showed strong cytotoxicity in human hepatic cells (target cells of BNCs), but not in human colon cancer cells (nontarget cells of BNCs), whereas LPs containing DOX and DOXOVES (structurally stabilized PEGylated LPs containing DOX) did not show strong cytotoxicity in either cell type. Furthermore, the virosomes preferentially delivered DOX to the nuclei of human hepatic cells. Xenograft mice harboring either target or nontarget cell-derived tumors were injected twice intravenously with the virosomes containing DOX at a low dose (2.3 mg/kg as DOX, 5 days interval). The growth of target cell-derived tumors was retarded effectively and specifically. Next, the combination of high dose (10.0 mg/kg as DOX, once) with tumor-specific radiotherapy (3 Gy, once after 2 hours) exhibited the most effective antitumor growth activity in mice harboring target cell-derived tumors. These results demonstrated that the HBV-based virosomes containing DOX could be an effective antitumor nanomedicine specific to human hepatic tissues, especially in combination with radiotherapy.
PMCID: PMC4487236  PMID: 26203243
drug delivery system; liposomes; bionanocapsule; doxorubicin; targeting; chemoradiotherapy
3.  Engineered hepatitis B virus surface antigen L protein particles for in vivo active targeting of splenic dendritic cells 
Dendritic cells (DCs) are key regulators of adaptive T-cell responses. By capturing exogenous antigens and presenting antigen-derived peptides via major histocompatibility complex molecules to naïve T cells, DCs induce antigen-specific immune responses in vivo. In order to induce effective host immune responses, active delivery of exogenous antigens to DCs is considered important for future vaccine development. We recently generated bionanocapsules (BNCs) consisting of hepatitis B virus surface antigens that mediate stringent in vivo cell targeting and efficient endosomal escape, and after the fusion with liposomes (LP) containing therapeutic materials, the BNC-LP complexes deliver them to human liver-derived tissues in vivo. BNCs were further modified to present the immunoglobulin G (IgG) Fc-interacting domain (Z domain) derived from Staphylococcus aureus protein A in tandem. When mixed with IgGs, modified BNCs (ZZ-BNCs) displayed the IgG Fv regions outwardly for efficient binding to antigens in an oriented-immobilization manner. Due to the affinity of the displayed IgGs, the IgG-ZZ-BNC complexes accumulated in specific cells and tissues in vitro and in vivo. After mixing ZZ-BNCs with antibodies against DCs, we used immunocytochemistry to examine which antibodies delivered ZZ-BNCs to mouse splenic DCs following intravenous injection of the ZZ-BNCs. ZZ-BNCs displaying anti-CD11c monoclonal antibodies (α-CD11c-ZZ-BNCs) were found to accumulate with approximately 62% of splenic DCs, and reside within some of them. After the fusion with liposomes containing antigens, the α-CD11c-ZZ-BNCs could elicit the respective antibodies more efficiently than other nontargeting control vaccines, suggesting that this DC-specific nanocarrier is promising for future vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3405891  PMID: 22848163
drug-delivery system; gene-delivery system; liposomes; protein A; vaccine; ZZ domain
5.  Deciphering the Receptor Repertoire Encoding Specific Odorants by Time-Lapse Single-Cell Array Cytometry 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:19934.
Mammals can recognize a vast number of odorants by using olfactory receptors (ORs) known as G protein-coupled receptors. The OR gene family is one of the most diverse gene families in mammalian genomes. Because of the vast combinations of ORs and odorants, few ORs have thus far been linked to specific odorants. Here, we established a functional screening method for OR genes by using a microchamber array containing >5,400 single olfactory epithelium-derived cells from mice applied to time-lapse single-cell array cytometry. This method facilitated the prompt isolation of single olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) responding to the odorant of interest. Subsequent single-cell RT-PCR allowed us to isolate the genes encoding respective ORs. By using volatile molecules recognized as biomarkers for lung cancers, this method could deorphanize ORs and thereby reconstitute the OR-mediated signaling cascade in HEK293T cells. Thus, our system could be applied to identify any receptor by using specific ligands in the fields of physiopathology and pharmacology.
PMCID: PMC4735795  PMID: 26832639
6.  Specific delivery of microRNA93 into HBV-replicating hepatocytes downregulates protein expression of liver cancer susceptible gene MICA 
Oncotarget  2014;5(14):5581-5590.
Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major cause of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). To date, the lack of efficient in vitro systems supporting HBV infection and replication has been a major limitation of HBV research. Although primary human hepatocytes support the complete HBV life cycle, their limited availability and difficulties with gene transduction remain problematic. Here, we used human primary hepatocytes isolated from humanized chimeric uPA/SCID mice as efficient sources. These hepatocytes supported HBV replication in vitro. Based on analyses of mRNA and microRNA (miRNA) expression levels in HBV-infected hepatocytes, miRNA93 was significantly downregulated during HBV infection. MiRNA93 is critical for regulating the expression levels of MICA protein, which is a determinant for HBV-induced HCC susceptibility. Exogenous addition of miRNA93 in HBV-infected hepatocytes using bionanocapsules consisted of HBV envelope L proteins restored MICA protein expression levels in the supernatant. These results suggest that the rescued suppression of soluble MICA protein levels by miRNA93 targeted to HBV-infected hepatocytes using bionanocapsules may be useful for the prevention of HBV-induced HCC by altering deregulated miRNA93 expression.
PMCID: PMC4170619  PMID: 25026299
Hepatitis; Bionanocapsules; Drug delivery; Primary hepatocyte
7.  High-throughput de novo screening of receptor agonists with an automated single-cell analysis and isolation system 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4242.
Reconstitution of signaling pathways involving single mammalian transmembrane receptors has not been accomplished in yeast cells. In this study, intact EGF receptor (EGFR) and a cell wall-anchored form of EGF were co-expressed on the yeast cell surface, which led to autophosphorylation of the EGFR in an EGF-dependent autocrine manner. After changing from EGF to a conformationally constrained peptide library, cells were fluorescently labeled with an anti-phospho-EGFR antibody. Each cell was subjected to an automated single-cell analysis and isolation system that analyzed the fluorescent intensity of each cell and automatically retrieved each cell with the highest fluorescence. In ~3.2 × 106 peptide library, we isolated six novel peptides with agonistic activity of the EGFR in human squamous carcinoma A431 cells. The combination of yeast cells expressing mammalian receptors, a cell wall-anchored peptide library, and an automated single-cell analysis and isolation system might facilitate a rational approach for de novo drug screening.
PMCID: PMC3937795  PMID: 24577528
8.  An automated system for high-throughput single cell-based breeding 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:1191.
When establishing the most appropriate cells from the huge numbers of a cell library for practical use of cells in regenerative medicine and production of various biopharmaceuticals, cell heterogeneity often found in an isogenic cell population limits the refinement of clonal cell culture. Here, we demonstrated high-throughput screening of the most suitable cells in a cell library by an automated undisruptive single-cell analysis and isolation system, followed by expansion of isolated single cells. This system enabled establishment of the most suitable cells, such as embryonic stem cells with the highest expression of the pluripotency marker Rex1 and hybridomas with the highest antibody secretion, which could not be achieved by conventional high-throughput cell screening systems (e.g., a fluorescence-activated cell sorter). This single cell-based breeding system may be a powerful tool to analyze stochastic fluctuations and delineate their molecular mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3561619  PMID: 23378922
9.  Nano-visualization of oriented-immobilized IgGs on immunosensors by high-speed atomic force microscopy 
Scientific Reports  2012;2:790.
Oriented immobilization of sensing molecules on solid phases is an important issue in biosensing. In case of immunosensors, it is essential to scrutinize not only the direction and shape of immunoglobulin G (IgG) in solution but also the real-time movement of IgGs, which cannot be achieved by conventional techniques. Recently, we developed bio-nanocapsules (BNCs) displaying a tandem form of the IgG Fc-binding Z domain derived from Staphylococcus aureus protein A (ZZ-BNC) to enhance the sensitivity and antigen-binding capacity of IgG via oriented-immobilization. Here, we used high-speed atomic force microscopy (HS-AFM) to reveal the fine surface structure of ZZ-BNC and observe the movement of mouse IgG3 molecules tethered onto ZZ-BNC in solution. ZZ-BNC was shown to act as a scaffold for oriented immobilization of IgG, enabling its Fv regions to undergo rotational Brownian motion. Thus, HS-AFM could decipher real-time movement of sensing molecules on biosensors at the single molecule level.
PMCID: PMC3494012  PMID: 23145314
10.  Cell Wall Trapping of Autocrine Peptides for Human G-Protein-Coupled Receptors on the Yeast Cell Surface 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37136.
G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) regulate a wide variety of physiological processes and are important pharmaceutical targets for drug discovery. Here, we describe a unique concept based on yeast cell-surface display technology to selectively track eligible peptides with agonistic activity for human GPCRs (Cell Wall Trapping of Autocrine Peptides (CWTrAP) strategy). In our strategy, individual recombinant yeast cells are able to report autocrine-positive activity for human GPCRs by expressing a candidate peptide fused to an anchoring motif. Following expression and activation, yeast cells trap autocrine peptides onto their cell walls. Because captured peptides are incapable of diffusion, they have no impact on surrounding yeast cells that express the target human GPCR and non-signaling peptides. Therefore, individual yeast cells can assemble the autonomous signaling complex and allow single-cell screening of a yeast population. Our strategy may be applied to identify eligible peptides with agonistic activity for target human GPCRs.
PMCID: PMC3356411  PMID: 22623985
11.  Nell-1, a key Functional Mediator of Runx2, Partially Rescues Calvarial Defects in Runx2+/− Mice 
Mesenchymal stem cell commitment to an osteoprogenitor lineage requires the activity of Runx2, a molecule implicated in the etiopathology of multiple congenital craniofacial anomalies. Through promoter analyses, we have recently identified a new direct transcriptional target of Runx2, Nell-1, a craniosynostosis (CS)–associated molecule with potent osteogenic properties. This study investigated the mechanistic and functional relationship between Nell-1 and Runx2 in regulating osteoblast differentiation. The results showed that spatiotemporal distribution and expression levels of Nell-1 correlated closely with those of endogenous Runx2 during craniofacial development. Phenotypically, cross-mating Nell-1 overexpression transgenic (CMV-Nell-1) mice with Runx2 haploinsufficient (Runx2+/−) mice partially rescued the calvarial defects in the cleidocranial dysplasia (CCD)–like phenotype of Runx2+/− mice, whereas Nell-1 protein induced mineralization and bone formation in Runx2+/− but not Runx2−/− calvarial explants. Runx2-mediated osteoblastic gene expression and/or mineralization was severely reduced by Nell-1 siRNA oligos transfection into Runx2+/+ newborn mouse calvarial cells (NMCCs) or in N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU)–induced Nell-1−/− NMCCs. Meanwhile, Nell-1 overexpression partially rescued osteoblastic gene expression but not mineralization in Runx2 null (Runx2−/−) NMCCs. Mechanistically, irrespective of Runx2 genotype, Nell-1 signaling activates ERK1/2 and JNK1 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways in NMCCs and enhances Runx2 phosphorylation and activity when Runx2 is present. Collectively, these data demonstrate that Nell-1 is a critical downstream Runx2 functional mediator insofar as Runx2-regulated Nell-1 promotes osteoblastic differentiation through, in part, activation of MAPK and enhanced phosphorylation of Runx2, and Runx2 activity is significantly reduced when Nell-1 is blocked or absent. © 2011 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.
PMCID: PMC3179324  PMID: 20939017
12.  Enigma homolog 1 scaffolds protein kinase D1 to regulate the activity of the cardiac L-type voltage-gated calcium channel 
Cardiovascular research  2008;78(3):458-465.
In cardiomyocytes, protein kinase D1 (PKD1) plays a central role in the response to stress signals. From a yeast two-hybrid assay, we have identified Enigma Homolog 1 (ENH1) as a new binding partner of PKD1. Since in neurons, ENH1, associated with protein kinase Cε, was shown to modulate the activity of N-type calcium channels, and the pore-forming subunit of the cardiac L-type voltage-gated calcium channel, α1C, possesses a potential phosphorylation site for PKD1, we studied here a possible role of ENH1 and PKD1 in the regulation of the cardiac L-type voltage-gated calcium channel.
Methods and results
PKD1-interacting proteins were searched by yeast two-hybrid screening. In vivo protein interactions in cardiomyocytes isolated from heart ventricles of newborn rats were tested by co-immunoprecipitation. Small interfering RNA and a dominant negative mutant of PKD1 were delivered into cardiomyocytes by use of an adenovirus. Calcium currents were measured by the patch-clamp technique. Both ENH1 and PKD1 interact with α1C in cardiomyocytes. This interaction is increased upon stimulation. Silencing of ENH1 prevented the binding of PKD1 to α1C. Moreover, a dominant negative mutant of PKD1 or the silencing of ENH1 inhibited the α-adrenergic-induced increase of L-type calcium currents.
We found a new binding partner, ENH1, and a new target, α1C, for PKD1 in neonatal rat cardiomyocytes. We propose a model where ENH1 scaffolds PKD1 to α1C in order to form a signalling complex that regulates the activity of cardiac L-type voltage-gated Ca2+ channels.
PMCID: PMC3241959  PMID: 18296710
Protein kinases; Ca-channel; Signal transduction
13.  PKCε–PKD1 signaling complex at Z-discs plays a pivotal role in the cardiac hypertrophy induced by G-protein coupling receptor agonists 
Cardiac hypertrophy is triggered in response to mechanical stress and various neurohumoral factors, such as G-protein coupling receptor (GPCR) and gp130 cytokine receptor agonists. Recent studies have suggested cardiac Z-disc plays a pivotal role to regulate these cellular responses. Here, we demonstrate stimulations with GPCR agonists (norepinephrine, angiotensin II, and endothelin 1) and phorbol ester activated and translocated protein kinase D1 (PKD1) to the Z-discs in neonatal rat cardiomyocytes in a protein kinase C (PKC)-dependent manner, whereas gp130 agonist did not. Especially, upon the α-adrenergic receptor agonist stimulations, following the PKCε–PKD1 complex formation, PKCε-dependent activation of PKD1 was essential to induce hypertrophic responses. Constitutively active mutant of either PKD1 or PKCε also induced cardiac hypertrophy ex vivo. Taken together, the PKCε–PKD1 complex at Z-discs could play a pivotal role in the cardiac hypertrophy induced by GPCR agonists, at least α-adrenergic receptor agonist.
PMCID: PMC3224855  PMID: 15652511
PKD1; PKC; Hypertrophy; Cardiomyocyte; Z-disc; G-protein coupling receptor; Gp130; α-Adrenergic receptor; Phorbol ester
14.  Splice variants of Enigma homolog, differentially expressed during heart development, promote or prevent hypertrophy 
Cardiovascular Research  2010;86(3):374-382.
Proteins with a PDZ (for PSD-95, DLG, ZO-1) and one to three LIM (for Lin11, Isl-1, Mec-3) domains are scaffolding sarcomeric and cytoskeletal elements that form structured muscle fibres and provide for the link to intracellular signalling by selectively associating protein kinases, ion channels, and transcription factors with the mechanical stress–strain sensors. Enigma homolog (ENH) is a PDZ–LIM protein with four splice variants: ENH1 with an N-terminal PDZ domain and three C-terminal LIM domains and ENH2, ENH3, and ENH4 without LIM domains. We addressed the functional role of ENH alternative splicing.
Methods and results
We studied the expression of the four ENH isoforms in the heart during development and in a mouse model of heart hypertrophy. All four isoforms are expressed in the heart but the pattern of expression is clearly different between embryonic, neonatal, and adult stages. ENH1 appears as the embryonic isoform, whereas ENH2, ENH3, and ENH4 are predominant in adult heart. Moreover, alternative splicing of ENH was changed following induction of heart hypertrophy, producing an ENH isoform pattern similar to that of neonatal heart. Next, we tested a possible causal role of ENH1 and ENH4 in the development of cardiac hypertrophy. When overexpressed in rat neonatal cardiomyocytes, ENH1 promoted the expression of hypertrophy markers and increased cell volume, whereas, on the contrary, ENH4 overexpression prevented these changes.
Antagonistic splice variants of ENH may play a central role in the adaptive changes of the link between mechanical stress-sensing and signalling occurring during embryonic development and/or heart hypertrophy.
PMCID: PMC2868178  PMID: 20097676
Hypertrophy; PDZ–LIM protein; Alternative splicing
15.  Involvement of MAPK signaling molecules and Runx2 in the NELL1-induced osteoblastic differentiation 
FEBS letters  2007;582(2):365-371.
NELL1 is an extracellular protein inducing osteogenic differentiation and bone formation of osteoblastic cells. To elucidate the intracellular signaling cascade evoked by NELL1, we have shown that NELL1 protein transiently activates the MAPK signaling cascade, induces the phosphorylation of Runx2, and promotes the rapid intracellular accumulation of Tyr-phosphorylated proteins. Unlike BMP2, NELL1 protein does not activate the Smad signaling cascade. These findings suggest that upon binding to a specific receptor NELL1 transduces an osteogenic signal through activation of certain Tyr-kinases associated with the Ras-MAPK cascade, and finally leads to the osteogenic differentiation.
PMCID: PMC2959102  PMID: 18082140
MAP kinase; Osteoblast; Differentiation; Bone; Tyrosine phosphorylation
16.  Synergistic Effects of Nell-1 and BMP-2 on the Osteogenic Differentiation of Myoblasts 
Osteogenesis is synergistically enhanced by the combined effect of complimentary factors. This study showed that Nell-1 and BMP-2 synergistically enhanced osteogenic differentiation of myoblasts and phosphorylated the JNK MAPK pathway. The findings are important because of the osteochondral specificity of Nell-1 signaling and the potential therapeutic effects of coordinated BMP-2 and Nell-1 delivery.
BMPs play an important role in the migration and proliferation of mesenchymal cells and have a unique ability to alter the differentiation of mesenchymal cells toward chondrogenic and osteogenic lineages. Signaling upstream of Cbfa1/Runx2, BMPs effects are not limited to cells of the osteoblast lineage. Thus, additional osteoblast-specific factors that could synergize with BMP-2 would be advantageous for bone regeneration procedures. NELL-1 (NEL-like molecule-1; NEL [a protein strongly expressed in neural tissue encoding epidermal growth factor like domain]) is a novel growth factor believed to preferentially target cells committed to the osteochondral lineage.
Materials and Methods
C2C12 myoblasts were transduced with AdLacZ, AdNell-1, AdBMP-2, or AdNell-1+AdBMP-2 overexpression viruses. Effects were studied by cell morphology, alkaline phosphatase activity, osteopontin production, and MAPK signaling. Additionally, in a nude mouse model, viruses were injected into leg muscles, and new bone formation was examined after 2 and 8 wk.
C2C12 myoblasts co-transduced with AdNell-1+AdBMP-2 showed a synergistic effect on osteogenic differentiation as detected by alkaline phosphatase activity and osteopontin production. Nell-1 stimulation on AdNell-1 + AdBMP-2 preconditioned C2C12 cells revealed significant activation of the non-BMP-2 associated c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) MAPK signaling pathway, but not the p38 or extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2) MAPK pathways. Importantly Nell-1 alone did not induce osteogenic differentiation of myoblasts. In a nude mouse model, injection of AdNell-1 alone stimulated no bone formation within muscle; however, injection of AdNell-1+AdBMP-2 stimulated a synergistic increase in bone formation compared with AdBMP-2 alone.
These findings are important because of the confirmed osteochondral specificity of Nell-1 signaling and the potential therapeutic effects of enhanced BMP-2 action with coordinated Nell-1 delivery.
PMCID: PMC2866074  PMID: 17352654
Nell-1; BMP-2; synergy; osteogenesis; muscle; C2C12
17.  Crystal structures of Lymnaea stagnalis AChBP in complex with neonicotinoid insecticides imidacloprid and clothianidin 
Invertebrate Neuroscience   2008;8(2):71-81.
Neonicotinoid insecticides, which act on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in a variety of ways, have extremely low mammalian toxicity, yet the molecular basis of such actions is poorly understood. To elucidate the molecular basis for nAChR–neonicotinoid interactions, a surrogate protein, acetylcholine binding protein from Lymnaea stagnalis (Ls-AChBP) was crystallized in complex with neonicotinoid insecticides imidacloprid (IMI) or clothianidin (CTD). The crystal structures suggested that the guanidine moiety of IMI and CTD stacks with Tyr185, while the nitro group of IMI but not of CTD makes a hydrogen bond with Gln55. IMI showed higher binding affinity for Ls-AChBP than that of CTD, consistent with weaker CH–π interactions in the Ls-AChBP–CTD complex than in the Ls-AChBP–IMI complex and the lack of the nitro group-Gln55 hydrogen bond in CTD. Yet, the NH at position 1 of CTD makes a hydrogen bond with the backbone carbonyl of Trp143, offering an explanation for the diverse actions of neonicotinoids on nAChRs.
PMCID: PMC2413115  PMID: 18338186
Acetylcholine binding protein (Lymnaea stagnalis); Crystal structures; Neonicotinoids; Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors; Ion channels
18.  The Mitogen-activated Protein Kinase p38 Links Shiga Toxin-dependent Signaling and Trafficking 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2008;19(1):95-104.
Shiga toxin (Stx) binds to the cell, and it is transported via endosomes and the Golgi apparatus to the endoplasmic reticulum and cytosol, where it exerts its toxic effect. We have recently shown that Stx activates the tyrosine kinase Syk, which in turn induces clathrin phosphorylation and up-regulates Stx uptake. Here, we show that toxin-induced signaling can also regulate another step in intracellular Stx transport. We demonstrate that transport of Stx to the Golgi apparatus is dependent on the mitogen-activated protein kinase p38. Treatment of cells with chemical inhibitors or small interfering RNA targeting p38 inhibited Stx transport to the Golgi and reduced Stx toxicity. This p38 dependence is specific to Stx, because transport of the related toxin ricin was not affected by p38 inhibition. Stx rapidly activated p38, and recruited it to early endosomes in a Ca2+-dependent manner. Furthermore, agonist-induced oscillations in cytosolic Ca2+ levels were inhibited upon Stx stimulation, possibly reflecting Stx-dependent local alterations in cytosolic Ca2+ levels. Intracellular transport of Stx is Ca2+ dependent, and we provide evidence that Stx activates a signaling cascade involving cross talk between Ca2+ and p38, to regulate its trafficking to the Golgi apparatus.
PMCID: PMC2174185  PMID: 17959827
19.  Craniosynostosis in transgenic mice overexpressing Nell-1 
Previously, we reported NELL-1 as a novel molecule overexpressed during premature cranial suture closure in patients with craniosynostosis (CS), one of the most common congenital craniofacial deformities. Here we describe the creation and analysis of transgenic mice overexpressing Nell-1. Nell-1 transgenic animals exhibited CS-like phenotypes that ranged from simple to compound synostoses. Histologically, the osteogenic fronts of abnormally closing/closed sutures in these animals revealed calvarial overgrowth and overlap along with increased osteoblast differentiation and reduced cell proliferation. Furthermore, anomalies were restricted to calvarial bone, despite generalized, non-tissue-specific overexpression of Nell-1. In vitro, Nell-1 overexpression accelerated calvarial osteoblast differentiation and mineralization under normal culture conditions. Moreover, Nell-1 overexpression in osteoblasts was sufficient to promote alkaline phosphatase expression and micronodule formation. Conversely, downregulation of Nell-1 inhibited osteoblast differentiation in vitro. In summary, Nell-1 overexpression induced calvarial overgrowth resulting in premature suture closure in a rodent model. Nell-1, therefore, has a novel role in CS development, perhaps as part of a complex chain of events resulting in premature suture closure. On a cellular level, Nell-1 expression may modulate and be both sufficient and required for osteoblast differentiation.
PMCID: PMC151127  PMID: 12235118
20.  Mammalian Homologue of the Caenorhabditis elegans UNC-76 Protein Involved in Axonal Outgrowth Is a Protein Kinase C ζ–interacting Protein  
The Journal of Cell Biology  1999;144(3):403-411.
By the yeast two-hybrid screening of a rat brain cDNA library with the regulatory domain of protein kinase C ζ (PKCζ) as a bait, we have cloned a gene coding for a novel PKCζ-interacting protein homologous to the Caenorhabditis elegans UNC-76 protein involved in axonal outgrowth and fasciculation. The protein designated FEZ1 (fasciculation and elongation protein zeta-1) consisting of 393 amino acid residues shows a high Asp/Glu content and contains several regions predicted to form amphipathic helices. Northern blot analysis has revealed that FEZ1 mRNA is abundantly expressed in adult rat brain and throughout the developmental stages of mouse embryo. By the yeast two-hybrid assay with various deletion mutants of PKC, FEZ1 was shown to interact with the NH2-terminal variable region (V1) of PKCζ and weakly with that of PKCε. In the COS-7 cells coexpressing FEZ1 and PKCζ, FEZ1 was present mainly in the plasma membrane, associating with PKCζ and being phosphorylated. These results indicate that FEZ1 is a novel substrate of PKCζ. When the constitutively active mutant of PKCζ was used, FEZ1 was found in the cytoplasm of COS-7 cells. Upon treatment of the cells with a PKC inhibitor, staurosporin, FEZ1 was translocated from the cytoplasm to the plasma membrane, suggesting that the cytoplasmic translocation of FEZ1 is directly regulated by the PKCζ activity. Although expression of FEZ1 alone had no effect on PC12 cells, coexpression of FEZ1 and constitutively active PKCζ stimulated the neuronal differentiation of PC12 cells. Combined with the recent finding that a human FEZ1 protein is able to complement the function of UNC-76 necessary for normal axonal bundling and elongation within axon bundles in the nematode, these results suggest that FEZ1 plays a crucial role in the axon guidance machinery in mammals by interacting with PKCζ.
PMCID: PMC2132904  PMID: 9971736
neuropeptides; UNC-76 protein; phosphorylation; protein binding; protein kinase C

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