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1.  Alpha-Catulin Contributes to Drug-Resistance of Melanoma by Activating NF-κB and AP-1 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0119402.
Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer accounting for 48,000 deaths worldwide each year and an average survival rate of about 6-10 months with conventional treatment. Tumor metastasis and chemoresistance of melanoma cells are reported as the main reasons for the insufficiency of currently available treatments for late stage melanoma. The cytoskeletal linker protein α-catulin (CTNNAL1) has been shown to be important in inflammation, apoptosis and cytoskeletal reorganization. Recently, we found an elevated expression of α-catulin in melanoma cells. Ectopic expression of α-catulin promoted melanoma progression and occurred concomitantly with the downregulation of E-cadherin and the upregulation of mesenchymal genes such as N-cadherin, Snail/Slug and the matrix metalloproteinases 2 and 9. In the current study we showed that α-catulin knockdown reduced NF-κB and AP-1 activity in malignant melanoma cells. Further, downregulation of α-catulin diminished ERK phosphorylation in malignant melanoma cells and sensitized them to treatment with chemotherapeutic drugs. In particular, cisplatin treatment led to decreased ERK-, JNK- and c-Jun phosphorylation in α-catulin knockdown melanoma cells, which was accompanied by enhanced apoptosis compared to control cells. Altogether, these results suggest that targeted inhibition of α-catulin may be used as a viable therapeutic strategy to chemosensitize melanoma cells to cisplatin by down-regulation of NF-κB and MAPK pathways.
PMCID: PMC4368766  PMID: 25793618
2.  Antimicrobial and Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Endophytic Fungi Talaromyces wortmannii Extracts against Acne-Inducing Bacteria 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e97929.
Acne vulgaris is the most common skin disease, causing significant psychosocial problems such as anxiety and depression similar to a chronic illness for those afflicted. Currently, obtainable agents for acne treatment have limited use. Thus, development of novel agents to treat this disease is a high medical need. The anaerobic bacterium Propionibacterium acnes has been implicated in the inflammatory phase of acne vulgaris by activating pro-inflammatory mediators such as the interleukin-8 (IL-8) via the NF-κB and MAPK pathways. Talaromyces wortmannii is an endophytic fungus, which is known to produce high bioactive natural compounds. We hypothesize that compound C but also the crude extract from T. wortmannii may possess both antibacterial activity especially against P. acnes and also anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting TNF-α-induced ICAM-1 expression and P. acnes-induced IL-8 release. Treatment of keratinocytes (HaCaT) with P. acnes significantly increased NF-κB and activator protein-1 (AP-1) activation, as well as IL-8 release. Compound C inhibited P. acnes-mediated activation of NF-κB and AP-1 by inhibiting IκB degradation and the phosphorylation of ERK and JNK MAP kinases, and IL-8 release in a dose-dependent manner. Based on these results, compound C has effective antimicrobial activity against P. acnes and anti-inflammatory activity, and we suggest that this substance or the crude extract are alternative treatments for antibiotic/anti-inflammatory therapy for acne vulgaris.
PMCID: PMC4041568  PMID: 24887557
3.  Mesalamine modulates intercellular adhesion through inhibition of p-21 activated kinase-1 
Biochemical Pharmacology  2013;85(2):234-244.
Graphical abstract
(a) PAK1 orchestrates mesalamine activity, (b) mesalamine inhibits PAK1; increases membranous E-cadherin and β-catenin; modulates cell adhesion
Mesalamine (5-ASA) is widely used for the treatment of ulcerative colitis, a remitting condition characterized by chronic inflammation of the colon. Knowledge about the molecular and cellular targets of 5-ASA is limited and a clear understanding of its activity in intestinal homeostasis and interference with neoplastic progression is lacking. We sought to identify molecular pathways interfered by 5-ASA, using CRC cell lines with different genetic background. Microarray was performed for gene expression profile of 5-ASA-treated and untreated cells (HCT116 and HT29). Filtering and analysis of data identified three oncogenic pathways interfered by 5-ASA: MAPK/ERK pathway, cell adhesion and β-catenin/Wnt signaling. PAK1 emerged as a consensus target of 5-ASA, orchestrating these pathways. We further investigated the effect of 5-ASA on cell adhesion. 5-ASA increased cell adhesion which was measured by cell adhesion assay and transcellular-resistance measurement. Moreover, 5-ASA treatment restored membranous expression of adhesion molecules E-cadherin and β-catenin. Role of PAK1 as a mediator of mesalamine activity was validated in vitro and in vivo. Inhibition of PAK1 by RNA interference also increased cell adhesion. PAK1 expression was elevated in APCmin polyps and 5-ASA treatment reduced its expression. Our data demonstrates novel pharmacological mechanism of mesalamine in modulation of cell adhesion and role of PAK1 in APCmin polyposis. We propose that inhibition of PAK1 expression by 5-ASA can impede with neoplastic progression in colorectal carcinogenesis. The mechanism of PAK1 inhibition and induction of membranous translocation of adhesion proteins by 5-ASA might be independent of its known anti-inflammatory action.
PMCID: PMC3557386  PMID: 23146664
CRC, colorectal cancer; IBD, inflammatory bowel diseases; UC, ulcerative colitis; AJ, adherens junction; PAK1, p21 activated kinase 1; PAK1; Mesalamine; Beta-catenin; E-cadherin; Cell adhesion
4.  PIM-1 kinase interacts with the DNA binding domain of the vitamin D receptor: a further kinase implicated in 1,25-(OH)2D3 signaling 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:18.
The vitamin D3 receptor (VDR) is responsible for mediating the pleiotropic and, in part, cell-type-specific effects of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (calcitriol) on the cardiovascular and the muscle system, on the bone development and maintenance, mineral homeostasis, cell proliferation, cell differentiation, vitamin D metabolism, and immune response modulation.
Based on data obtained from genome-wide yeast two-hybrid screenings, domain mapping studies, intracellular co-localization approaches as well as reporter transcription assay measurements, we show here that the C-terminus of human PIM-1 kinase isoform2 (amino acid residues 135–313), a serine/threonine kinase of the calcium/calmodulin-regulated kinase family, directly interacts with VDR through the receptor’s DNA-binding domain. We further demonstrate that PIM-1 modulates calcitriol signaling in HaCaT keratinocytes by enhancing both endogenous calcitriol response gene transcription (osteopontin) and an extrachromosomal DR3 reporter response.
These results, taken together with previous reports of involvement of kinase pathways in VDR transactivation, underscore the biological relevance of this novel protein-protein interaction.
PMCID: PMC3404970  PMID: 22720752
Coactivator; PIM-1 kinase; Protein-Protein interaction; Serine/Threonine kinase; Vitamin D; Vitamin D receptor

Results 1-5 (5)