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1.  Paraoxonase-2 modulates stress response of endothelial cells to oxidized phospholipids and a bacterial quorum-sensing molecule 
Chronic infection has long been postulated as a stimulus for atherogenesis. Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection has been associated with increased atherosclerosis in rats, and the bacteria produce a quorum-sensing molecule 3-oxo-dodecynoyl-homoserine lactone (3OC12-HSL) that is critical for colonization and virulence. Paraoxonase 2 (PON2) hydrolyzes 3OC12-HSL and also protects against the effects of oxidized phospholipids thought to contribute to atherosclerosis. We now report the response of human aortic endothelial cells (HAEC) to 3OC12-HSL and oxidized 1-palmitoyl-2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (Ox-PAPC) in relation to PON2 expression.
Methods and Results
Using expression profiling and network modeling, we identified the unfolded protein response (UPR), cell cycle genes, and the MAPK signaling pathway to be heavily involved in the HAEC response to 3OC12-HSL. The network also showed striking similarities to a network created based on HAEC response to Ox-PAPC, a major component of minimally-modified LDL. HAEC in which PON2 was silenced by siRNA showed increased pro-inflammatory and UPR responses when treated with 3OC12-HSL or Ox-PAPC.
3OC12-HSL and Ox-PAPC influence similar inflammatory and UPR pathways. Quorum sensing molecules such as 3OC12-HSL contribute to the pro-atherogenic effects of chronic infection. The anti-atherogenic effects of PON2 include destruction of quorum sensing molecules.
PMCID: PMC3244174  PMID: 21836061
Atherosclerosis; Chronic Infection; Inflammation; Oxidative Stress; Unfolded Protein Response
2.  NF-E2–Related Factor 2 Promotes Atherosclerosis by Effects on Plasma Lipoproteins and Cholesterol Transport That Overshadow Antioxidant Protection 
To test the hypothesis that NF-E2–related factor 2 (Nrf2) expression plays an antiatherogenic role by its vascular antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Methods and Results
Nrf2 is an important transcription factor that regulates the expression of phase 2 detoxifying enzymes and antioxidant genes. Its expression in vascular cells appears to be an important factor in the protection against vascular oxidative stress and inflammation. We developed Nrf2 heterozygous (HET) and homozygous knockout (KO) mice on an apolipoprotein (apo) E–null background by sequential breeding, resulting in Nrf2−/−, apoE−/− (KO), Nrf2−/+, apoE−/− (HET) and Nrf2+/+, and apoE−/− wild-type littermates. KO mice exhibited decreased levels of antioxidant genes with evidence of increased reactive oxygen species generation compared with wild-type controls. Surprisingly, KO males exhibited 47% and 53% reductions in the degree of aortic atherosclerosis compared with HET or wild-type littermates, respectively. Decreased atherosclerosis in KO mice correlated with lower plasma total cholesterol in a sex-dependent manner. KO mice also had a decreased hepatic cholesterol content and a lower expression of lipogenic genes, suggesting that hepatic lipogenesis could be reduced. In addition, KO mice exhibited atherosclerotic plaques characterized by a lesser macrophage component and decreased foam cell formation in an in vitro lipid-loading assay. This was associated with a lower rate of cholesterol influx, mediated in part by decreased expression of the scavenger receptor CD36.
Nrf2 expression unexpectedly promotes atherosclerotic lesion formation in a sex-dependent manner, most likely by a combination of systemic metabolic and local vascular effects.
PMCID: PMC3037185  PMID: 20947826
atherosclerosis; cytokines; lipoproteins; reactive oxygen species; foam cell formation; lipogenesis; Nrf2
3.  Ambient Particulate Pollutants in the Ultrafine Range Promote Early Atherosclerosis and Systemic Oxidative Stress 
Circulation research  2008;102(5):589-596.
Air pollution is associated with significant adverse health effects, including increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Exposure to particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of <2.5 μm (PM2.5) increases ischemic cardiovascular events and promotes atherosclerosis. Moreover, there is increasing evidence that the smallest pollutant particles pose the greatest danger because of their high content of organic chemicals and prooxidative potential. To test this hypothesis, we compared the proatherogenic effects of ambient particles of <0.18 μm (ultrafine particles) with particles of <2.5 μm in genetically susceptible (apolipoprotein E–deficient) mice. These animals were exposed to concentrated ultrafine particles, concentrated particles of <2.5 μm, or filtered air in a mobile animal facility close to a Los Angeles freeway. Ultrafine particle–exposed mice exhibited significantly larger early atherosclerotic lesions than mice exposed to PM2.5 or filtered air. Exposure to ultrafine particles also resulted in an inhibition of the antiinflammatory capacity of plasma high-density lipoprotein and greater systemic oxidative stress as evidenced by a significant increase in hepatic malondialdehyde levels and upregulation of Nrf2-regulated antioxidant genes. We conclude that ultrafine particles concentrate the proatherogenic effects of ambient PM and may constitute a significant cardiovascular risk factor.
PMCID: PMC3014059  PMID: 18202315
air pollution; ultrafine particles; atherosclerosis; oxidative stress; HDL
4.  Pharmacodynamic Characterization of the Efficacy Signals Due to Selective BRAF Inhibition with PLX4032 in Malignant Melanoma12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2010;12(8):637-649.
About 65% to 70% of melanomas harbor a mutation in v-raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B1 (BRAF) that causes the steady-state activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK). We sought to investigate the efficacy of PLX4032 (BRAF inhibitor) to identify patterns/predictors of response/resistance and to study the effects of BRAF in melanoma.
Experimental Design
Well-characterized melanoma cell lines, including several with acquired drug resistance, were exposed to PLX4032. Growth inhibition, phosphosignaling, cell cycle, apoptosis, and gene expression analyses were performed before and after exposure to drug.
Using a growth-adjusted inhibitory concentration of 50% cutoff of 1 µM, 13 of 35 cell lines were sensitive to PLX4032, 16 resistant, and 6 intermediate (37%, 46%, and 17% respectively). PLX4032 caused growth inhibition, G0/G1 arrest, and restored apoptosis in the sensitive cell lines. A BRAF mutation predicted for but did not guarantee a response, whereas a neuroblastoma RAS viral oncogene homolog mutation or wild-type BRAF conferred resistance. Cells with concurrent BRAF mutations and melanocortin 1 receptor germ line variants and/or a more differentiated melanocyte genotype had a preferential response. Acquired PLX4032 resistance reestablishes ERK signaling, promotes a nonmelanocytic genotype, and is associated with an increase in the gene expression of certain metallothioneins and mediators of angiogenesis.
PLX4032 has robust activity in BRAF mutated melanoma. The preclinical use of this molecule identifies criteria for its proper clinical application, describes patterns of and reasons for response/resistance, and affords insight into the role of a BRAF mutation in melanoma.
PMCID: PMC2915408  PMID: 20689758
5.  Air-pollutant chemicals and oxidized lipids exhibit genome-wide synergistic effects on endothelial cells 
Genome Biology  2007;8(7):R149.
Gene expression analysis of human microvascular endothelial cells exposed to diesel exhaust particles and oxidized phospholipids revealed several upregulated gene modules, including genes involved in vascular inflammatory processes such as atherosclerosis.
Ambient air pollution is associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. We have found that exposure to ambient ultrafine particulate matter, highly enriched in redox cycling organic chemicals, promotes atherosclerosis in mice. We hypothesize that these pro-oxidative chemicals could synergize with oxidized lipid components generated in low-density lipoprotein particles to enhance vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis.
We have used human microvascular endothelial cells (HMEC) to study the combined effects of a model air pollutant, diesel exhaust particles (DEP), and oxidized 1-palmitoyl-2-arachidonyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphorylcholine (ox-PAPC) on genome-wide gene expression. We treated the cells in triplicate wells with an organic DEP extract, ox-PAPC at various concentrations, or combinations of both for 4 hours. Gene-expression profiling showed that both the DEP extract and ox-PAPC co-regulated a large number of genes. Using network analysis to identify coexpressed gene modules, we found three modules that were most highly enriched in genes that were differentially regulated by the stimuli. These modules were also enriched in synergistically co-regulated genes and pathways relevant to vascular inflammation. We validated this synergy in vivo by demonstrating that hypercholesterolemic mice exposed to ambient ultrafine particles exhibited significant upregulation of the module genes in the liver.
Diesel exhaust particles and oxidized phospholipids synergistically affect the expression profile of several gene modules that correspond to pathways relevant to vascular inflammatory processes such as atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC2323217  PMID: 17655762

Results 1-5 (5)