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1.  A Systems Biology Approach Identifies Molecular Networks Defining Skeletal Muscle Abnormalities in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
PLoS Computational Biology  2011;7(9):e1002129.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an inflammatory process of the lung inducing persistent airflow limitation. Extensive systemic effects, such as skeletal muscle dysfunction, often characterize these patients and severely limit life expectancy. Despite considerable research efforts, the molecular basis of muscle degeneration in COPD is still a matter of intense debate. In this study, we have applied a network biology approach to model the relationship between muscle molecular and physiological response to training and systemic inflammatory mediators. Our model shows that failure to co-ordinately activate expression of several tissue remodelling and bioenergetics pathways is a specific landmark of COPD diseased muscles. Our findings also suggest that this phenomenon may be linked to an abnormal expression of a number of histone modifiers, which we discovered correlate with oxygen utilization. These observations raised the interesting possibility that cell hypoxia may be a key factor driving skeletal muscle degeneration in COPD patients.
Author Summary
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a major life threatening disease of the lungs, characterized by airflow limitation and chronic inflammation. Progressive reduction of the body muscle mass is a condition linked to COPD that significantly decreases quality of life and survival. Physical exercise has been proposed as a therapeutic option but its utility is still a matter of debate. The mechanisms underlying muscle wasting are also still largely unknown. The results presented in this paper show that diseased muscles are largely unable to coordinate the expression of muscle remodelling and bioenergetics pathways and that the cause of this phenomena may be tissue hypoxia. These findings contrast with current hypotheses based on the role of chronic inflammation and show that a mechanism based on an oxygen driven, epigenetic control of these two important functions may be an important disease mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3164707  PMID: 21909251
2.  Caveolin-1–mediated Suppression of Cyclooxygenase-2 via a β-catenin-Tcf/Lef–dependent Transcriptional Mechanism Reduced Prostaglandin E2 Production and Survivin Expression 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(8):2297-2310.
Augmented expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and enhanced production of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) are associated with increased tumor cell survival and malignancy. Caveolin-1 is a scaffold protein that has been proposed to function as a tumor suppressor in human cancer cells, although mechanisms underlying this ability remain controversial. Intriguingly, the possibility that caveolin-1 regulates the expression of COX-2 has not been explored. Here we show that augmented caveolin-1 expression in cells with low basal levels of this protein, such as human colon cancer (HT29, DLD-1), breast cancer (ZR75), and embryonic kidney (HEK293T) cells reduced COX-2 mRNA and protein levels and β-catenin-Tcf/Lef and COX-2 gene reporter activity, as well as the production of PGE2 and cell proliferation. Moreover, COX-2 overexpression or PGE2 supplementation increased levels of the inhibitor of apoptosis protein survivin by a transcriptional mechanism, as determined by PCR analysis, survivin gene reporter assays and Western blotting. Furthermore, addition of PGE2 to the medium prevented effects attributed to caveolin-1–mediated inhibition of β-catenin-Tcf/Lef–dependent transcription. Finally, PGE2 reduced the coimmunoprecipitation of caveolin-1 with β-catenin and their colocalization at the plasma membrane. Thus, by reducing COX-2 expression, caveolin-1 interrupts a feedback amplification loop involving PGE2-induced signaling events linked to β-catenin/Tcf/Lef–dependent transcription of tumor survival genes including cox-2 itself and survivin.
PMCID: PMC2669036  PMID: 19244345
3.  E-Cadherin Is Required for Caveolin-1-Mediated Down-Regulation of the Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein Survivin via Reduced β-Catenin-Tcf/Lef-Dependent Transcription▿ ‡  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(21):7703-7717.
Caveolin-1 reportedly acts as a tumor suppressor and promotes events associated with tumor progression, including metastasis. The molecular mechanisms underlying such radical differences in function are not understood. Recently, we showed that caveolin-1 inhibits expression of the inhibitor of apoptosis protein survivin via a transcriptional mechanism involving the β-catenin-Tcf/Lef pathway. Surprisingly, while caveolin-1 expression decreased survivin mRNA and protein levels in HT29(ATCC) human colon cancer cells, this was not the case in metastatic HT29(US) cells. Survivin down-regulation was paralleled by coimmunoprecipitation and colocalization of caveolin-1 with β-catenin in HT29(ATCC) but not HT29(US) cells. Unlike HT29(ATCC) cells, HT29(US) cells expressed small amounts of E-cadherin that accumulated in intracellular patches rather than at the cell surface. Re-expression of E-cadherin in HT29(US) cells restored the ability of caveolin-1 to down-regulate β-catenin-Tcf/Lef-dependent transcription and survivin expression, as seen in HT29(ATCC) cells. In addition, coimmunoprecipitation and colocalization between caveolin-1 and β-catenin increased upon E-cadherin expression in HT29(US) cells. In human embryonic kidney HEK293T and HT29(US) cells, caveolin-1 and E-cadherin cooperated in suppressing β-catenin-Tcf/Lef-dependent transcription as well as survivin expression. Finally, mouse melanoma B16-F10 cells, another metastatic cell model with low endogenous caveolin-1 and E-cadherin levels, were characterized. In these cells, caveolin-1-mediated down-regulation of survivin in the presence of E-cadherin coincided with increased apoptosis. Thus, the absence of E-cadherin severely compromises the ability of caveolin-1 to develop activities potentially relevant to its role as a tumor suppressor.
PMCID: PMC2169068  PMID: 17785436

Results 1-3 (3)