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1.  No evidence for a local renin-angiotensin system in liver mitochondria 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:2467.
The circulating, endocrine renin-angiotensin system (RAS) is important to circulatory homeostasis, while ubiquitous tissue and cellular RAS play diverse roles, including metabolic regulation. Indeed, inhibition of RAS is associated with improved cellular oxidative capacity. Recently it has been suggested that an intra-mitochondrial RAS directly impacts on metabolism. Here we sought to rigorously explore this hypothesis. Radiolabelled ligand-binding and unbiased proteomic approaches were applied to purified mitochondrial sub-fractions from rat liver, and the impact of AngII on mitochondrial function assessed. Whilst high-affinity AngII binding sites were found in the mitochondria-associated membrane (MAM) fraction, no RAS components could be detected in purified mitochondria. Moreover, AngII had no effect on the function of isolated mitochondria at physiologically relevant concentrations. We thus found no evidence of endogenous mitochondrial AngII production, and conclude that the effects of AngII on cellular energy metabolism are not mediated through its direct binding to mitochondrial targets.
PMCID: PMC3747509  PMID: 23959064
2.  Altered Ca2+ Homeostasis and Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress in Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1 Muscle Cells 
Genes  2013;4(2):275-292.
The pathogenesis of Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is linked to unstable CTG repeats in the DMPK gene which induce the mis-splicing to fetal/neonatal isoforms of many transcripts, including those involved in cellular Ca2+ homeostasis. Here we monitored the splicing of three genes encoding for Ca2+ transporters and channels (RyR1, SERCA1 and CACN1S) during maturation of primary DM1 muscle cells in parallel with the functionality of the Excitation-Contraction (EC) coupling machinery. At 15 days of differentiation, fetal isoforms of SERCA1 and CACN1S mRNA were significantly higher in DM1 myotubes compared to controls. Parallel functional studies showed that the cytosolic Ca2+ response to depolarization in DM1 myotubes did not increase during the progression of differentiation, in contrast to control myotubes. While we observed no differences in the size of intracellular Ca2+ stores, DM1 myotubes showed significantly reduced RyR1 protein levels, uncoupling between the segregated ER/SR Ca2+ store and the voltage-induced Ca2+ release machinery, parallel with induction of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress markers. In conclusion, our data suggest that perturbed Ca2+ homeostasis, via activation of ER stress, contributes to muscle degeneration in DM1 muscle cells likely representing a premature senescence phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3899969
myotonic dystrophy; muscle cells; Ca2+ homeostasis; SERCA; Ryr1; Cav1.1; ER stress
5.  p66Shc Aging Protein in Control of Fibroblasts Cell Fate 
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are wieldy accepted as one of the main factors of the aging process. These highly reactive compounds modify nucleic acids, proteins and lipids and affect the functionality of mitochondria in the first case and ultimately of the cell. Any agent or genetic modification that affects ROS production and detoxification can be expected to influence longevity. On the other hand, genetic manipulations leading to increased longevity can be expected to involve cellular changes that affect ROS metabolism. The 66-kDa isoform of the growth factor adaptor Shc (p66Shc) has been recognized as a relevant factor to the oxygen radical theory of aging. The most recent data indicate that p66Shc protein regulates life span in mammals and its phosphorylation on serine 36 is important for the initiation of cell death upon oxidative stress. Moreover, there is strong evidence that apart from aging, p66Shc may be implicated in many oxidative stress-associated pathologies, such as diabetes, mitochondrial and neurodegenerative disorders and tumorigenesis. This article summarizes recent knowledge about the role of p66Shc in aging and senescence and how this protein can influence ROS production and detoxification, focusing on studies performed on skin and skin fibroblasts.
PMCID: PMC3179172  PMID: 21954365
p66Shc; reactive oxygen species; antioxidant defense; mitochondria
6.  Modulation of intracellular Ca2+ signalling in HeLa cells by the apoptotic cell death enhancer PK11195 
Biochemical pharmacology  2008;76(11):1628-1636.
1-(2-Chlorophenyl-N-methylpropyl)-3-isoquinolinecarboxamide (PK11195) is a proven enhancer of apoptotic cell death in a variety of cellular models. This effect is independent of its established cellular target, the mitochondrial benzodiazepine receptor (mBzR), since it is able to promote cell death also in mBzR knockout cells. Thus recently it was suggested that PK11195 might exert its effect by modulating the expression and function of the oncogene Bcl-2. We have previously demonstrated that Bcl-2 modulates cellular Ca2+ homeostasis as its overexpression reduces the Ca2+ concentration in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) ([Ca2+]er), impairing mitochondrial and cytosolic Ca2+ overload during cellular stress and therefore inhibiting the induction of the apoptotic cascade. Here, using ER, mitochondria and cytosolic targeted aequorin probes, we show that cellular treatment with PK11195 induces opposite changes in cellular Ca2+ homeostasis, increasing the [Ca2+]er and amplifying IP3 induced Ca2+ transients in mitochondria ([Ca2+]m) and cytosol ([Ca2+]c). This work provides evidence for a novel pharmacological effect of PK11195 on Ca2+ signalling which may be linked to its effect on Bcl-2 and account for its role in apoptotic cell death.
PMCID: PMC2844953  PMID: 18929543
Apoptosis; PK11195; Bcl-2; Ca2+ signalling; Mitochondria; Endoplasmic reticulum
7.  Regulation of autophagy by cytoplasmic p53 
Nature cell biology  2008;10(6):676-687.
Multiple cellular stressors, including activation of the tumour suppressor p53, can stimulate autophagy. Here we show that knockout, knockdown or pharmacological inhibition of p53 can induce autophagy in human, mouse and nematode cells. Enhanced autophagy improved the survival of p53-deficient cancer cells under conditions of hypoxia and nutrient depletion, allowing them to maintain high ATP levels. Inhibition of p53 led to autophagy in enucleated cells, and cytoplasmic, not nuclear, p53 was able to repress the enhanced autophagy of p53-/- cells. Many different inducers of autophagy (for example, starvation, rapamycin and toxins affecting the endoplasmic reticulum) stimulated proteasome-mediated degradation of p53 through a pathway relying on the E3 ubiquitin ligase HDM2. Inhibition of p53 degradation prevented the activation of autophagy in several cell lines, in response to several distinct stimuli. These results provide evidence of a key signalling pathway that links autophagy to the cancer-associated dysregulation of p53.
PMCID: PMC2676564  PMID: 18454141
8.  Cytopathic effects of the cytomegalovirus-encoded apoptosis inhibitory protein vMIA 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2006;174(7):985-996.
Replication of human cytomegalovirus (CMV) requires the expression of the viral mitochondria–localized inhibitor of apoptosis (vMIA). vMIA inhibits apoptosis by recruiting Bax to mitochondria, resulting in its neutralization. We show that vMIA decreases cell size, reduces actin polymerization, and induces cell rounding. As compared with vMIA-expressing CMV, vMIA-deficient CMV, which replicates in fibroblasts expressing the adenoviral apoptosis suppressor E1B19K, induces less cytopathic effects. These vMIA effects can be separated from its cell death–inhibitory function because vMIA modulates cellular morphology in Bax-deficient cells. Expression of vMIA coincided with a reduction in the cellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) level. vMIA selectively inhibited one component of the ATP synthasome, namely, the mitochondrial phosphate carrier. Exposure of cells to inhibitors of oxidative phosphorylation produced similar effects, such as an ATP level reduced by 30%, smaller cell size, and deficient actin polymerization. Similarly, knockdown of the phosphate carrier reduced cell size. Our data suggest that the cytopathic effect of CMV can be explained by vMIA effects on mitochondrial bioenergetics.
PMCID: PMC2064390  PMID: 16982800

Results 1-8 (8)