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1.  Disturbed Flow Induces Autophagy, but Impairs Autophagic Flux to Perturb Mitochondrial Homeostasis 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2015;23(15):1207-1219.
Aim: Temporal and spatial variations in shear stress are intimately linked with vascular metabolic effects. Autophagy is tightly regulated in intracellular bulk degradation/recycling system for maintaining cellular homeostasis. We postulated that disturbed flow modulates autophagy with an implication in mitochondrial superoxide (mtO2•−) production. Results: In the disturbed flow or oscillatory shear stress (OSS)-exposed aortic arch, we observed prominent staining of p62, a reverse marker of autophagic flux, whereas in the pulsatile shear stress (PSS)-exposed descending aorta, p62 was attenuated. OSS significantly increased (i) microtubule-associated protein light chain 3 (LC3) II to I ratios in human aortic endothelial cells, (ii) autophagosome formation as quantified by green fluorescent protein (GFP)-LC3 dots per cell, and (iii) p62 protein levels, whereas manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) overexpression by recombinant adenovirus, N-acetyl cysteine treatment, or c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) inhibition reduced OSS-mediated LC3-II/LC3-I ratios and mitochondrial DNA damage. Introducing bafilomycin to Earle's balanced salt solution or to OSS condition incrementally increased both LC3-II/LC3-I ratios and p62 levels, implicating impaired autophagic flux. In the OSS-exposed aortic arch, both anti-phospho-JNK and anti-8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) staining for DNA damage were prominent, whereas in the PSS-exposed descending aorta, the staining was nearly absent. Knockdown of ATG5 with siRNA increased OSS-mediated mtO2•−, whereas starvation or rapamycin-induced autophagy reduced OSS-mediated mtO2•−, mitochondrial respiration, and complex II activity. Innovation: Disturbed flow-mediated oxidative stress and JNK activation induce autophagy. Conclusion: OSS impairs autophagic flux to interfere with mitochondrial homeostasis. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 23, 1207–1219.
PMCID: PMC4657520  PMID: 26120766
2.  Adaptive Thermogenesis in White Adipose Tissue: Is Lactate the New Brown(ing)? 
Diabetes  2014;63(10):3175-3176.
PMCID: PMC4171663  PMID: 25249643
3.  Region specific mitochondrial impairment in mice with widespread overexpression of alpha-synuclein 
Neurobiology of disease  2014;70:204-213.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by the progressive degeneration of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons leading to motor deficits. The mechanisms underlying the preferential vulnerability of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons in PD remain poorly understood. Recent evidence supports a role for mitochondrial dysfunction and increased oxidative stress in PD pathogenesis. Genetic and pathological studies also point to alpha-synuclein as a critical factor in both familial and sporadic forms of the disease; alpha-synuclein pathology affects mitochondrial function but is widespread in PD brain, raising the question of its role in the greater vulnerability of nigrostriatal neurons in PD. We have examined mitochondrial function and oxidative damage in mice overexpressing human wild type alpha-synuclein broadly throughout the nervous system under the Thy1 promoter (Thy1-aSyn mice) between 4 and 8 months of age. Similar levels of alpha-synuclein accumulation in mitochondria were detected in the ventral midbrain, striatum and cortex of Thy1-aSyn mice. However, analysis of mitochondrial respiration using Seahorse XF analyzer showed defects in mitochondrial respiratory complexes I, II, IV and V specifically in the midbrain, and IV and V in the striatum, of Thy1-aSyn mice compared to wild type littermates; mitochondrial complex I activity assay by ELISA confirmed a 40% inhibition specifically in the ventral midbrain. Mitochondrial dysfunction can contribute to oxidative stress and we observed a 40% increase in 4-hydroxynenal and 2-fold increase in malondialdehyde levels, indicative of a high level of lipid peroxidation, specifically in ventral midbrain of Thy1-aSyn mice. The levels of peroxiredoxin 2, a neuronal antioxidant enzyme that is involved in removal of H2O2 and other toxic peroxides were decreased in the midbrain whereas its oxidized form increased 4-fold, suggesting that antioxidant defences were compromised in this region. In contrast, peroxiredoxin 2 increased in striatum and cortex, which may contribute to their protection in the presence of high levels of alpha-synuclein. Thus, in mice over-expressing alpha-synuclein, mitochondrial dysfunction occurred preferentially in nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons many months before striatal dopamine loss occurs at 14 months of age. This may contribute to a higher level of oxidative stress that overwhelms antioxidant defence in these neurons, leading to their increased vulnerability in PD.
PMCID: PMC4205109  PMID: 25016198
Alpha synuclein; mitochondrial dysfunction; peroxiredoxin; lipid peroxidation; oxidative damage
4.  Metabolic differences in breast cancer stem cells and differentiated progeny 
In general, tumor cells display a more glycolytic phenotype compared to the corresponding normal tissue. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that tumors are composed of a heterogeneous population of cells. Breast cancers are organized in a hierarchical manner, with the breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs) at the top of the hierarchy. Here, we investigate the metabolic phenotype of BCSCs and their differentiated progeny. In addition, we determine the effect of radiation on the metabolic state of these two cell populations.
Luminal, basal, and claudin-low breast cancer cell lines were propagated as mammospheres enriched in BCSCs. Lactate production, glucose consumption and ATP content was compared with differentiated cultures. A metabolic flux analyzer was used to determine the oxygen consumption, extracellular acidification rates, maximal mitochondria capacity and mitochondrial proton leak. The effect of radiation treatment of the metabolic phenotype of each cell population was also determined.
BCSCs consume more glucose, produce less lactate and have higher ATP content compared to their differentiated progeny. BCSCs have higher maximum mitochondrial capacity and mitochondrial proton leak compared to their differentiated progeny. Radiation treatment enhances the higher energetic state of the BCSCs, while decreasing mitochondrial proton leak.
Our study indicated that breast cancer cells are heterogeneous in their metabolic phenotypes and BCSCs reside in a distinct metabolic state compared to their differentiated progeny. BCSCs display a reliance on oxidative phosphorylation, while the more differentiated progeny display a more glycolytic phenotype. Radiation treatment affects the metabolic state of BCSCs. We conclude that interfering with the metabolic requirements of BCSCs may prevent radiation-induced reprogramming of breast cancer cells during radiation therapy, thus improving treatment outcome.
PMCID: PMC4131557  PMID: 25007966
Cancer Stem Cells; Metabolism; Radiation
5.  Regulation of bile acid homeostasis by the intestinal Diet1–FGF15/19 axis 
Current opinion in lipidology  2014;25(2):140-147.
Purpose of review
Hepatic bile acid synthesis is controlled, in part, by a complex enterohepatic feedback regulatory mechanism. In this review, we focus on the role of the intestinal FGF15/19 hormone in modulating bile acid levels, and additional metabolic effects on glucose metabolism, non-alcoholic liver disease (NAFLD), and liver regeneration. We also highlight the newly identified intestinal protein, Diet1, which is a modulator of FGF15/19 levels.
Recent findings
Low FGF19 levels are associated with bile acid diarrhea and NAFLD. In contrast, high FGF19 levels are associated with diabetes remission following Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, suggesting new therapeutic approaches against type 2 diabetes. The effect of FGF15/19 on liver plasticity is a double-edged sword: whereas elevated FGF15/19 levels improve survival of mice after partial hepatectomy, FGF19 mitogenic activity is associated with liver carcinoma. Finally, a recent study has identified Diet1, an intestinal factor that influences FGF15/19 levels in mouse intestine and human enterocytes. Diet1 represents the first factor shown to influence FGF15/19 levels at a post-transcriptional level.
The biological effects of FGF15/19 make it an attractive target for treating metabolic dysregulation underlying conditions such as fatty liver and type 2 diabetes. Further elucidation of the role of Diet1 in FGF15/19 secretion may provide a control point for pharmacological modulation of FGF15/19 levels.
PMCID: PMC4497822  PMID: 24535283
enterohepatic circulation; fibroblast growth factor; NAFLD; gastric bypass
6.  HSP72 Is a Mitochondrial Stress Sensor Critical for Parkin Action, Oxidative Metabolism, and Insulin Sensitivity in Skeletal Muscle 
Diabetes  2014;63(5):1488-1505.
Increased heat shock protein (HSP) 72 expression in skeletal muscle prevents obesity and glucose intolerance in mice, although the underlying mechanisms of this observation are largely unresolved. Herein we show that HSP72 is a critical regulator of stress-induced mitochondrial triage signaling since Parkin, an E3 ubiquitin ligase known to regulate mitophagy, was unable to ubiquitinate and control its own protein expression or that of its central target mitofusin (Mfn) in the absence of HSP72. In wild-type cells, we show that HSP72 rapidly translocates to depolarized mitochondria prior to Parkin recruitment and immunoprecipitates with both Parkin and Mfn2 only after specific mitochondrial insult. In HSP72 knockout mice, impaired Parkin action was associated with retention of enlarged, dysmorphic mitochondria and paralleled by reduced muscle respiratory capacity, lipid accumulation, and muscle insulin resistance. Reduced oxygen consumption and impaired insulin action were recapitulated in Parkin-null myotubes, confirming a role for the HSP72-Parkin axis in the regulation of muscle insulin sensitivity. These data suggest that strategies to maintain HSP72 may provide therapeutic benefit to enhance mitochondrial quality and insulin action to ameliorate complications associated with metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3994950  PMID: 24379352
7.  Succinate dehydrogenase inhibition leads to epithelial-mesenchymal transition and reprogrammed carbon metabolism 
Cancer & Metabolism  2014;2:21.
Succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) is a mitochondrial metabolic enzyme complex involved in both the electron transport chain and the citric acid cycle. SDH mutations resulting in enzymatic dysfunction have been found to be a predisposing factor in various hereditary cancers. Therefore, SDH has been implicated as a tumor suppressor.
We identified that dysregulation of SDH components also occurs in serous ovarian cancer, particularly the SDH subunit SDHB. Targeted knockdown of Sdhb in mouse ovarian cancer cells resulted in enhanced proliferation and an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Bioinformatics analysis revealed that decreased SDHB expression leads to a transcriptional upregulation of genes involved in metabolic networks affecting histone methylation. We confirmed that Sdhb knockdown leads to a hypermethylated epigenome that is sufficient to promote EMT. Metabolically, the loss of Sdhb resulted in reprogrammed carbon source utilization and mitochondrial dysfunction. This altered metabolic state of Sdhb knockdown cells rendered them hypersensitive to energy stress.
These data illustrate how SDH dysfunction alters the epigenetic and metabolic landscape in ovarian cancer. By analyzing the involvement of this enzyme in transcriptional and metabolic networks, we find a metabolic Achilles’ heel that can be exploited therapeutically. Analyses of this type provide an understanding how specific perturbations in cancer metabolism may lead to novel anticancer strategies.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/2049-3002-2-21) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4322794  PMID: 25671108
Succinate dehydrogenase; SDH; Ovarian cancer; EMT; Carbon metabolism; Epigenetics
8.  The metabolite alpha-ketoglutarate extends lifespan by inhibiting the ATP synthase and TOR 
Nature  2014;510(7505):397-401.
Metabolism and ageing are intimately linked. Compared to ad libitum feeding, dietary restriction (DR) or calorie restriction (CR) consistently extends lifespan and delays age-related diseases in evolutionarily diverse organisms1,2. Similar conditions of nutrient limitation and genetic or pharmacological perturbations of nutrient or energy metabolism also have longevity benefits3,4. Recently, several metabolites have been identified that modulate ageing5,6 with largely undefined molecular mechanisms. Here we show that the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediate α-ketoglutarate (α-KG) extends the lifespan of adult C. elegans. ATP synthase subunit beta is identified as a novel binding protein of α-KG using a small-molecule target identification strategy called DARTS (drug affinity responsive target stability)7. The ATP synthase, also known as Complex V of the mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC), is the main cellular energy-generating machinery and is highly conserved throughout evolution8,9. Although complete loss of mitochondrial function is detrimental, partial suppression of the ETC has been shown to extend C. elegans lifespan10–13. We show that α-KG inhibits ATP synthase and, similar to ATP synthase knockdown, inhibition by α-KG leads to reduced ATP content, decreased oxygen consumption, and increased autophagy in both C. elegans and mammalian cells. We provide evidence that the lifespan increase by α-KG requires ATP synthase subunit beta and is dependent on the target of rapamycin (TOR) downstream. Endogenous α-KG levels are increased upon starvation and α-KG does not extend the lifespan of DR animals, indicating that α-KG is a key metabolite that mediates longevity by DR. Our analyses uncover new molecular links between a common metabolite, a universal cellular energy generator, and DR in the regulation of organismal lifespan, thus suggesting new strategies for the prevention and treatment of ageing and age-related diseases.
PMCID: PMC4263271  PMID: 24828042
9.  Diet1 functions in the FGF15/19 enterohepatic signaling axis to modulate bile acid and lipid levels 
Cell metabolism  2013;17(6):916-928.
We identified a mutation in the Diet1 gene in a mouse strain that is resistant to hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis. Diet1 encodes a 236 kD protein consisting of tandem low density lipoprotein receptor and MAM (meprin-A5-protein tyrosine phosphatase mu) domains, and is expressed in enterocytes of the small intestine. Diet1-deficient mice exhibited an elevated bile acid pool size and impaired feedback regulation of hepatic Cyp7a1, which encodes the rate-limiting enzyme in bile acid synthesis. In mouse intestine and in cultured human intestinal cells, Diet1 expression levels influenced the production of fibroblast growth factor 15/19 (FGF15/19), a hormone that signals from the intestine to liver to regulate Cyp7a1. Transgenic expression of Diet1, or adenoviral-mediated Fgf15 expression, restored normal Cyp7a1 regulation in Diet-1–deficient mice. Diet1 and FGF19 proteins exhibited overlapping subcellular localization in cultured intestinal cells. These results establish Diet1 as a control point in enterohepatic bile acid signaling and lipid homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3956443  PMID: 23747249
11.  An essential requirement for the SCAP/SREBP signaling axis to protect cancer cells from lipotoxicity 
Cancer research  2013;73(9):2850-2862.
SREBPs are key transcriptional regulators of lipid metabolism and cellular growth. It has been proposed that SREBP signaling regulates cellular growth through its ability to drive lipid biosynthesis. Unexpectedly, we find that loss of SREBP activity inhibits cancer cell growth and viability by uncoupling fatty acid synthesis from desaturation. Integrated lipid profiling and metabolic flux analysis revealed that cancer cells with attenuated SREBP activity maintain long-chain saturated fatty acid synthesis, while losing fatty acid desaturation capacity. We traced this defect to the uncoupling of Fatty Acid Synthase activity from SCD1-mediated desaturation. This deficiency in desaturation drives an imbalance between the saturated and monounsaturated fatty acid pools resulting in severe lipotoxicity. Importantly, replenishing the monounsaturated fatty acid pool restored growth to SREBP-inhibited cells. These studies highlight the importance of fatty acid desaturation in cancer growth and provide a novel mechanistic explanation for the role of SREBPs in cancer metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3919498  PMID: 23440422
SREBP; MUFA; lipotoxicity; cancer; metabolism
12.  Follistatin promotes adipocyte differentiation, browning, and energy metabolism[S] 
Journal of Lipid Research  2014;55(3):375-384.
Follistatin (Fst) functions to bind and neutralize the activity of members of the transforming growth factor-β superfamily. Fst has a well-established role in skeletal muscle, but we detected significant Fst expression levels in interscapular brown and subcutaneous white adipose tissue, and further investigated its role in adipocyte biology. Fst expression was induced during adipogenic differentiation of mouse brown preadipocytes and mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) as well as in cold-induced brown adipose tissue from mice. In differentiated MEFs from Fst KO mice, the induction of brown adipocyte proteins including uncoupling protein 1, PR domain containing 16, and PPAR gamma coactivator-1α was attenuated, but could be rescued by treatment with recombinant FST. Furthermore, Fst enhanced thermogenic gene expression in differentiated mouse brown adipocytes and MEF cultures from both WT and Fst KO groups, suggesting that Fst produced by adipocytes may act in a paracrine manner. Our microarray gene expression profiling of WT and Fst KO MEFs during adipogenic differentiation identified several genes implicated in lipid and energy metabolism that were significantly downregulated in Fst KO MEFs. Furthermore, Fst treatment significantly increases cellular respiration in Fst-deficient cells. Our results implicate a novel role of Fst in the induction of brown adipocyte character and regulation of energy metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3934723  PMID: 24443561
mouse embryonic fibroblast; myostatin; brown fat; energy expenditure; uncoupling protein 1; mitochondria
13.  Skeletal muscle Nur77 expression enhances oxidative metabolism and substrate utilization[S] 
Journal of Lipid Research  2012;53(12):2610-2619.
Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. Identifying novel regulators of mitochondrial bioenergetics will broaden our understanding of regulatory checkpoints that coordinate complex metabolic pathways. We previously showed that Nur77, an orphan nuclear receptor of the NR4A family, regulates the expression of genes linked to glucose utilization. Here we demonstrate that expression of Nur77 in skeletal muscle also enhances mitochondrial function. We generated MCK-Nur77 transgenic mice that express wild-type Nur77 specifically in skeletal muscle. Nur77-overexpressing muscle had increased abundance of oxidative muscle fibers and mitochondrial DNA content. Transgenic muscle also exhibited enhanced oxidative metabolism, suggestive of increased mitochondrial activity. Metabolomic analysis confirmed that Nur77 transgenic muscle favored fatty acid oxidation over glucose oxidation, mimicking the metabolic profile of fasting. Nur77 expression also improved the intrinsic respiratory capacity of isolated mitochondria, likely due to the increased abundance of complex I of the electron transport chain. These changes in mitochondrial metabolism translated to improved muscle contractile function ex vivo and improved cold tolerance in vivo. Our studies outline a novel role for Nur77 in the regulation of oxidative metabolism and mitochondrial activity in skeletal muscle.
PMCID: PMC3494265  PMID: 23028113
Nr4a; nuclear receptor; mitochondria
14.  Measuring energy metabolism in cultured cells, including human pluripotent stem cells and differentiated cells 
Nature protocols  2012;7(6):10.1038/nprot.2012.048.
Measurements of glycolysis and mitochondrial function are required to quantify energy metabolism in a wide variety of cellular contexts. In human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) and their differentiated progeny, this analysis can be challenging because of the unique cell properties, growth conditions and expense required to maintain these cell types. Here we provide protocols for analyzing energy metabolism in hPSCs and their early differentiated progenies that are generally applicable to mature cell types as well. Our approach has revealed distinct energy metabolism profiles used by hPSCs, differentiated cells, a variety of cancer cells and Rho-null cells. The protocols measure or estimate glycolysis on the basis of the extracellular acidification rate, and they measure or estimate oxidative phosphorylation on the basis of the oxygen consumption rate. Assays typically require 3 h after overnight sample preparation. Companion methods are also discussed and provided to aid researchers in developing more sophisticated experimental regimens for extended analyses of cellular bioenergetics.
PMCID: PMC3819135  PMID: 22576106
15.  The sterol regulatory element binding proteins are essential for the metabolic programming of effector T cells and adaptive immunity 
Nature immunology  2013;14(5):489-499.
Newly activated CD8+ T cells reprogram their metabolism to meet the extraordinary biosynthetic demands of clonal expansion; however, the signals mediating metabolic reprogramming remain poorly defined. Herein, we demonstrate an essential role for sterol regulatory element binding proteins (SREBPs) in the acquisition of effector cell metabolism. Without SREBP signaling, CD8+ T cells are unable to blast, resulting in markedly attenuated clonal expansion during viral infection. Mechanistic studies indicate that SREBPs are essential to meet the heightened lipid requirements of membrane synthesis during blastogenesis. SREBPs are dispensable for homeostatic proliferation, indicating a context-specific requirement for SREBPs in effector responses. These studies provide insights into the molecular signals underlying metabolic reprogramming of CD8+ T cells during the transition from quiescence to activation.
PMCID: PMC3652626  PMID: 23563690
SREBP; LCMV; lipids; CD8+ T cell; metabolism; proliferation
16.  Adipose subtype–selective recruitment of TLE3 or Prdm16 by PPARγ specifies lipid-storage versus thermogenic gene programs 
Cell metabolism  2013;17(3):423-435.
Transcriptional effectors of white adipocyte-selective gene expression have not been described. Here we show that TLE3 is a white-selective cofactor that acts reciprocally with the brown-selective cofactor Prdm16 to specify lipid storage and thermogenic gene programs. Occupancy of TLE3 and Prdm16 on certain promoters is mutually exclusive, due to the ability of TLE3 to disrupt the physical interaction between Prdm16 and PPARγ. When expressed at elevated levels in brown fat, TLE3 counters Prdm16, suppressing brown-selective genes and inducing white-selective genes, resulting in impaired fatty acid oxidation and thermogenesis. Conversely, mice lacking TLE3 in adipose tissue show enhanced thermogenesis in inguinal white adipose depots and are protected from age-dependent deterioration of brown adipose tissue function. Our results suggest that the establishment of distinct adipocyte phenotypes with different capacities for thermogenesis and lipid storage is accomplished in part through the cell type–selective recruitment of TLE3 or Prdm16 to key adipocyte target genes.
PMCID: PMC3626567  PMID: 23473036
17.  Oxidized Mitochondrial DNA Activates the NLRP3 Inflammasome During Apoptosis 
Immunity  2012;36(3):401-414.
We report that in the presence of signal 1 (NF-κB), the NLRP3 inflammasome was activated by mitochondrial apoptotic signaling that licensed production of interleukin-1β (IL-1β). NLRP3 secondary signal activators such as ATP induced mitochondrial dysfunction and apoptosis, resulting in release of oxidized mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) into the cytosol, where it bound to and activated the NLRP3 inflammasome. The anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 inversely regulated mitochondrial dysfunction and NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Mitochondrial DNA directly induced NLRP3 inflammasome activation, because macrophages lacking mtDNA had severely attenuated IL-1β production, yet still underwent apoptosis. Both binding of oxidized mtDNA to the NLRP3 inflammasome and IL-1β secretion could be competitively inhibited by the oxidized nucleoside, 8-OH-dG. Thus, our data reveal that oxidized mtDNA released during programmed cell death causes activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome. These results provide a missing link between apoptosis and inflammasome activation, via binding of cytosolic oxidized mtDNA to the NLRP3 inflammasome.
PMCID: PMC3312986  PMID: 22342844
18.  ABCC6 Localizes to the Mitochondria-Associated Membrane 
Circulation research  2012;111(5):516-520.
Mutations of the orphan transporter ABCC6 (ATP-binding cassette, subfamily C, member 6) cause the connective tissue disorder pseudoxanthoma elasticum. ABCC6 was thought to be located on the plasma membrane of liver and kidney cells.
Mouse systems genetics and bioinformatics suggested that ABCC6 deficiency affects mitochondrial gene expression. We therefore tested whether ABCC6 associates with mitochondria.
Methods and Results
We found ABCC6 in crude mitochondrial fractions and subsequently pinpointed its localization to the purified mitochondria-associated membrane fraction. Cell-surface biotinylation in hepatocytes confirmed that ABCC6 is intracellular. Abcc6-knockout mice demonstrated mitochondrial abnormalities and decreased respiration reserve capacity.
Our finding that ABCC6 localizes to the mitochondria-associated membrane has implications for its mechanism of action in normal and diseased states.
PMCID: PMC3540978  PMID: 22811557
PXE; vascular calcification; ABCC6/MRP6; MAM; mitochondria; cardiovascular disease
19.  Evidence of mechanism how rs7575840 influences apolipoprotein B containing lipid particles 
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) identified a variant rs7575840 in the apolipoprotein B (APOB) gene region to be associated with LDL-C. However, the underlying functional mechanism of this variant that resides 6.5 kb upstream of APOB has remained unknown. Our objective was to investigate rs7575840 for association with refined apoB containing lipid particles; for replication in a non-Caucasian Mexican population; and for underlying functional mechanism.
Methods and Results
Our data show that rs7575840 is associated with serum apoB levels (P=4.85×10−10) and apoB containing lipid particles, very small VLDL, IDL and LDL particles (P=2×10−5 - 9×10−7) in the Finnish METSIM study sample (n=7,710). Fine mapping of the APOB region using 43 SNPs replicated the association of rs7575840 with apoB in a Mexican study sample (n=2,666, P=3.33×10−05). Furthermore, our transcript analyses of adipose RNA samples from 175 Finnish METSIM subjects indicate that rs7575840 alters expression of APOB (P=1.13×10−10) and a regional non-coding RNA (BU630349) (P=7.86×10−6) in adipose tissue.
It has been difficult to convert GWAS associations into mechanistic insights. Our data show that rs7575840 is associated with serum apoB levels and apoB containing lipid particles as well as influences expression of APOB and a regional transcript BU630349 in adipose tissue. We thus provide evidence how a common genome-wide significant SNP rs7575840 may affect serum apoB, LDL-C, and TC levels.
PMCID: PMC3081410  PMID: 21393584
Apolipoprotein B; association analysis; gene expression; adipose tissue; Mexicans
20.  Deficiencies in lamin B1 and lamin B2 cause neurodevelopmental defects and distinct nuclear shape abnormalities in neurons 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(23):4683-4693.
Lamin B1 is essential for neuronal migration and progenitor proliferation during the development of the cerebral cortex. The observation of distinct phenotypes of Lmnb1- and Lmnb2-knockout mice and the differences in the nuclear morphology of cortical neurons in vivo suggest that lamin B1 and lamin B2 play distinct functions in the developing brain.
Neuronal migration is essential for the development of the mammalian brain. Here, we document severe defects in neuronal migration and reduced numbers of neurons in lamin B1–deficient mice. Lamin B1 deficiency resulted in striking abnormalities in the nuclear shape of cortical neurons; many neurons contained a solitary nuclear bleb and exhibited an asymmetric distribution of lamin B2. In contrast, lamin B2 deficiency led to increased numbers of neurons with elongated nuclei. We used conditional alleles for Lmnb1 and Lmnb2 to create forebrain-specific knockout mice. The forebrain-specific Lmnb1- and Lmnb2-knockout models had a small forebrain with disorganized layering of neurons and nuclear shape abnormalities, similar to abnormalities identified in the conventional knockout mice. A more severe phenotype, complete atrophy of the cortex, was observed in forebrain-specific Lmnb1/Lmnb2 double-knockout mice. This study demonstrates that both lamin B1 and lamin B2 are essential for brain development, with lamin B1 being required for the integrity of the nuclear lamina, and lamin B2 being important for resistance to nuclear elongation in neurons.
PMCID: PMC3226484  PMID: 21976703
21.  Agpat6—a Novel Lipid Biosynthetic Gene Required for Triacylglycerol Production in Mammary Epithelium 
Journal of lipid research  2006;47(4):734-744.
In analyzing the sequence tags for mutant mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell lines in BayGenomics (a mouse gene-trapping resource), we identified a novel gene, Agpat6, with sequence similarities to previously characterized glycerolipid acyltransferases. Agpat6’s closest family member is another novel gene that we have provisionally designated Agpat8. Both Agpat6 and Agpat8 are conserved from plants, nematodes, and flies to mammals. AGPAT6, which is predicted to contain multiple membrane-spanning helices, is found exclusively within the endoplasmic reticulum in mammalian cells. To gain insights into the in vivo importance of Agpat6, we used the Agpat6 ES cell line from BayGenomics to create Agpat6-deficient (Agpat6−/−) mice. Agpat6−/− mice lacked full-length Agpat6 transcripts, as judged by northern blots. One of the most striking phenotypes of Agpat6−/− mice was a defect in lactation. Pups nursed by Agpat6−/− mothers die perinatally. Normally, Agpat6 is expressed at high levels in the mammary epithelium of breast tissue, but not in the surrounding adipose tissue. Histological studies revealed that the aveoli and ducts of Agpat6−/− lactating mammary glands were underdeveloped, and there was a dramatic decrease in size and number of lipid droplets within mammary epithelial cells and ducts. Also, the milk from Agpat6−/− mice was markedly depleted in diacylglycerols and triacylglycerols. Thus, we identified a novel glycerolipid acyltransferase of the endoplasmic reticulum, AGPAT6, which is crucial for the production of milk fat by the mammary gland.
PMCID: PMC3196597  PMID: 16449762
LPAAT; acyltransferase; transacylase; milk fat
22.  Caspase-1 Dependent IL-1β Secretion Is Critical for Host Defense in a Mouse Model of Chlamydia pneumoniae Lung Infection 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21477.
Chlamydia pneumoniae (CP) is an important human pathogen that causes atypical pneumonia and is associated with various chronic inflammatory disorders. Caspase-1 is a key component of the ‘inflammasome’, and is required to cleave pro-IL-1β to bioactive IL-1β. Here we demonstrate for the first time a critical requirement for IL-1β in response to CP infection. Caspase-1−/− mice exhibit delayed cytokine production, defective clearance of pulmonary bacteria and higher mortality in response to CP infection. Alveolar macrophages harbored increased bacterial numbers due to reduced iNOS levels in Caspase-1−/− mice. Pharmacological blockade of the IL-1 receptor in CP infected wild-type mice phenocopies Caspase-1-deficient mice, and administration of recombinant IL-1β rescues CP infected Caspase-1−/− mice from mortality, indicating that IL-1β secretion is crucial for host immune defense against CP lung infection. In vitro investigation reveals that CP-induced IL-1β secretion by macrophages requires TLR2/MyD88 and NLRP3/ASC/Caspase-1 signaling. Entry into the cell by CP and new protein synthesis by CP are required for inflammasome activation. Neither ROS nor cathepsin was required for CP infection induced inflammasome activation. Interestingly, Caspase-1 activation during CP infection occurs with mitochondrial dysfunction indicating a possible mechanism involving the mitochondria for CP-induced inflammasome activation.
PMCID: PMC3121765  PMID: 21731762
23.  Paraoxonase 2 Deficiency Alters Mitochondrial Function and Exacerbates the Development of Atherosclerosis 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2011;14(3):341-351.
Increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as a result of decreased activities of mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) complexes plays a role in the development of many inflammatory diseases, including atherosclerosis. Our previous studies established that paraoxonase 2 (PON2) possesses antiatherogenic properties and is associated with lower ROS levels. The aim of the present study was to determine the mechanism by which PON2 modulates ROS production. In this report, we demonstrate that PON2-def mice on the hyperlipidemic apolipoprotein E−/− background (PON2-def/apolipoprotein E−/−) develop exacerbated atherosclerotic lesions with enhanced mitochondrial oxidative stress. We show that PON2 protein is localized to the inner mitochondrial membrane, where it is found associated with respiratory complex III. Employing surface-plasmon-resonance, we demonstrate that PON2 binds with high affinity to coenzyme Q10, an important component of the ETC. Enhanced mitochondrial oxidative stress in PON2-def mice was accompanied by significantly reduced ETC complex I + III activities, oxygen consumption, and adenosine triphosphate levels in PON2-def mice. In contrast, overexpression of PON2 effectively protected mitochondria from antimycin- or oligomycin-mediated mitochondrial dysfunction. Our results illustrate that the antiatherogenic effects of PON2 are, in part, mediated by the role of PON2 in mitochondrial function. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 14, 341–351.
PMCID: PMC3011913  PMID: 20578959
24.  Insulin Resistance and Altered Systemic Glucose Metabolism in Mice Lacking Nur77 
Diabetes  2009;58(12):2788-2796.
Nur77 is an orphan nuclear receptor with pleotropic functions. Previous studies have identified Nur77 as a transcriptional regulator of glucose utilization genes in skeletal muscle and gluconeogenesis in liver. However, the net functional impact of these pathways is unknown. To examine the consequence of Nur77 signaling for glucose metabolism in vivo, we challenged Nur77 null mice with high-fat feeding.
Wild-type and Nur77 null mice were fed a high-fat diet (60% calories from fat) for 3 months. We determined glucose tolerance, tissue-specific insulin sensitivity, oxygen consumption, muscle and liver lipid content, muscle insulin signaling, and expression of glucose and lipid metabolism genes.
Mice with genetic deletion of Nur77 exhibited increased susceptibility to diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance. Hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp studies revealed greater high-fat diet–induced insulin resistance in both skeletal muscle and liver of Nur77 null mice compared with controls. Loss of Nur77 expression in skeletal muscle impaired insulin signaling and markedly reduced GLUT4 protein expression. Muscles lacking Nur77 also exhibited increased triglyceride content and accumulation of multiple even-chained acylcarnitine species. In the liver, Nur77 deletion led to hepatic steatosis and enhanced expression of lipogenic genes, likely reflecting the lipogenic effect of hyperinsulinemia.
Collectively, these data demonstrate that loss of Nur77 influences systemic glucose metabolism and highlight the physiological contribution of muscle Nur77 to this regulatory pathway.
PMCID: PMC2780886  PMID: 19741162
25.  Agpat6 deficiency causes subdermal lipodystrophy and resistance to obesityS 
Journal of lipid research  2006;47(4):745-754.
Triglyceride synthesis in most mammalian tissues involves the sequential addition of fatty acids to a glycerol backbone, with unique enzymes required to catalyze each acylation step. Acylation at the sn-2 position requires 1-acylglycerol-3-phosphate O-acyltransferase (AGPAT) activity. To date, seven Agpat genes have been identified based on activity and/or sequence similarity, but their physiological functions have not been well established. We have generated a mouse model deficient in AGPAT6, which is normally expressed at high levels in brown adipose tissue (BAT), white adipose tissue (WAT), and liver. Agpat6-deficient mice exhibit a 25% reduction in body weight and resistance to both diet-induced and genetically induced obesity. The reduced body weight is associated with increased energy expenditure, reduced triglyceride accumulation in BAT and WAT, reduced white adipocyte size, and lack of adipose tissue in the subdermal region. In addition, the fatty acid composition of triacylglycerol, diacylglycerol, and phospholipid is altered, with proportionally greater polyunsaturated fatty acids at the expense of monounsaturated fatty acids. Thus, Agpat6 plays a unique role in determining triglyceride content and composition in adipose tissue and liver that cannot be compensated by other members of the Agpat family.
PMCID: PMC2901549  PMID: 16436371
acyltransferase; gene-trap; adipose tissue; energy expenditure; 1-acylglycerol-3-phosphate O-acyltransferase

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