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1.  Asbestos modulates thioredoxin-thioredoxin interacting protein interaction to regulate inflammasome activation 
Background
Asbestos exposure is related to various diseases including asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma (MM). Among the pathogenic mechanisms proposed by which asbestos can cause diseases involving epithelial and mesothelial cells, the most widely accepted one is the generation of reactive oxygen species and/or depletion of antioxidants like glutathione. It has also been demonstrated that asbestos can induce inflammation, perhaps due to activation of inflammasomes.
Methods
The oxidation state of thioredoxin was analyzed by redox Western blot analysis and ROS generation was assessed spectrophotometrically as a read-out of solubilized formazan produced by the reduction of nitrotetrazolium blue (NTB) by superoxide. Quantitative real time PCR was used to assess changes in gene transcription.
Results
Here we demonstrate that crocidolite asbestos fibers oxidize the pool of the antioxidant, Thioredoxin-1 (Trx1), which results in release of Thioredoxin Interacting Protein (TXNIP) and subsequent activation of inflammasomes in human mesothelial cells. Exposure to crocidolite asbestos resulted in the depletion of reduced Trx1 in human peritoneal mesothelial (LP9/hTERT) cells. Pretreatment with the antioxidant dehydroascorbic acid (a reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenger) reduced the level of crocidolite asbestos-induced Trx1 oxidation as well as the depletion of reduced Trx1. Increasing Trx1 expression levels using a Trx1 over-expression vector, reduced the extent of Trx1 oxidation and generation of ROS by crocidolite asbestos, and increased cell survival. In addition, knockdown of TXNIP expression by siRNA attenuated crocidolite asbestos-induced activation of the inflammasome.
Conclusion
Our novel findings suggest that extensive Trx1 oxidation and TXNIP dissociation may be one of the mechanisms by which crocidolite asbestos activates the inflammasome and helps in development of MM.
doi:10.1186/1743-8977-11-24
PMCID: PMC4055279  PMID: 24885895
Asbestos; Malignant mesothelioma; Thioredoxin; Thioredoxin interacting protein; Inflammasomes
2.  Extracellular signal regulated kinase 5: A potential therapeutic target for malignant mesotheliomas 
Purpose
Malignant mesothelioma (MM) is a devastating disease with a need for new treatment strategies. In the present study we demonstrated the importance of ERK5 in MM tumor growth and treatment.
Experimental Design
ERK5 as a target for MM therapy was verified using mesothelial and mesothelioma cell lines as well as by xenograft SCID mouse models.
Results
We first showed that crocidolite asbestos activated ERK5 in LP9 cells and mesothelioma cell lines exhibit constitutive activation of ERK5. Addition of doxorubicin resulted in further activation of ERK5 in MM cells. ERK5 silencing increased DOX-induced cell death and DOX retention in MM cells. In addition, shERK5 MM lines exhibited both attenuated colony formation on soft agar and invasion of MM cells in vitro that could be related to modulation of gene expression linked to cell proliferation, apoptosis, migration/invasion and drug resistance as shown by microarray analysis. Most importantly, injection of shERK5 MM cell lines into SCID mice showed significant reduction in tumor growth using both subcutaneous and intraperitoneal models. Assessment of selected human cytokine profiles in peritoneal lavage fluid from IP shERK5 and control tumor-bearing mice showed that ERK5 was critical in regulation of various proinflammatory (RANTES/CCL5, MCP-1) and angiogenesis related (IL-8, VEGF) cytokines. Finally, use of doxorubicin and cisplatin in combination with ERK5 inhibition showed further reduction in tumor weight and volume in the IP model of tumor growth.
Conclusion
; ERK5 inhibition in combination with chemotherapeutic drugs is a beneficial strategy for combination therapy in MM patients.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-12-3202
PMCID: PMC3630261  PMID: 23446998
Malignant mesothelioma; asbestos; Mitogen activated protein kinases; Extracellular signal regulated kinase 5; Gene expression
3.  MARCO is required for TLR2- and NOD2-mediated responses to Streptococcus pneumoniae and clearance of pneumococcal colonization in the murine nasopharynx 
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a common human pathogen that accounts for over a million deaths every year. Colonization of the nasopharynx by S. pneumoniae precedes pulmonary and other invasive diseases, and is therefore a promising target for intervention. Since the receptors Scavenger Receptor A (SRA), Macrophage Receptor with Collagenous Structure (MARCO), and Mannose Receptor (MR) have previously been identified as non-opsonic receptors for S. pneumoniae in the lung, we utilized scavenger receptor knock out mice to study the roles of these receptors in the clearance of S. pneumoniae from the nasopharynx. MARCO−/−, but not SRA−/− or MR−/−, mice had significantly impaired clearance of S. pneumoniae from the nasopharynx. In addition to impairment in bacterial clearance, MARCO−/− mice had abrogated cytokine production and cellular recruitment to the nasopharynx following colonization. Furthermore, macrophages from MARCO−/− mice were deficient in cytokine and chemokine production, including type I interferons, in response to S. pneumoniae. MARCO was required for maximal TLR2- and NOD2-dependent NF-κB activation and signaling that ultimately resulted in clearance. Thus, MARCO is an important component of anti-S. pneumoniae responses in the murine nasopharynx during colonization.
doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1202113
PMCID: PMC3529821  PMID: 23197261
Innate Immunity; Macrophage; Scavenger Receptor; MARCO; Streptococcus pneumoniae; Colonization; Nasopharynx
4.  Rewiring cancer cell death to enhance oncolytic viro-immunotherapy 
Oncoimmunology  2013;2(12):e27138.
Oncolytic viruses are novel immunotherapeutic agents that appear to mediate potent antineoplastic effects in both preclinical and clinical settings. Recent studies demonstrate that manipulating the mechanisms whereby cancer cells die in the course of oncolytic virotherapy has potential to boost anticancer immune responses.
doi:10.4161/onci.27138
PMCID: PMC3912054  PMID: 24498567
chemotherapy; danger-associated molecular patterns; immunogenic cell death; mitoxantrone; oncolytic virus
5.  Microspheres targeted with a mesothelin antibody and loaded with doxorubicin reduce tumor volume of human mesotheliomas in xenografts 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:400.
Background
Malignant mesotheliomas (MMs) are chemoresistant tumors related to exposure to asbestos fibers. The long latency period of MM (30-40 yrs) and heterogeneity of tumor presentation make MM difficult to diagnose and treat at early stages. Currently approved second-line treatments following surgical resection of MMs include a combination of cisplatin or carboplatin (delivered systemically) and pemetrexed, a folate inhibitor, with or without subsequent radiation. The systemic toxicities of these treatments emphasize the need for more effective, localized treatment regimens.
Methods
Acid-prepared mesoporous silica (APMS) microparticles were loaded with doxorubicin (DOX) and modified externally with a mesothelin (MB) specific antibody before repeated intraperitoneal (IP) injections into a mouse xenograft model of human peritoneal MM. The health/weight of mice, tumor volume/weight, tumor necrosis and cell proliferation were evaluated in tumor-bearing mice receiving saline, DOX high (0.2 mg/kg), DOX low (0.05 mg/kg), APMS-MB, or APMS-MB-DOX (0.05 mg/kg) in saline.
Results
Targeted therapy (APMS-MB-DOX at 0.05 mg/kg) was more effective than DOX low (0.05 mg/kg) and less toxic than treatment with DOX high (0.2 mg/kg). It also resulted in the reduction of tumor volume without loss of animal health and weight, and significantly decreased tumor cell proliferation. High pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) of tumor tissue confirmed that APMS-MB-DOX particles delivered DOX to target tissue.
Conclusions
Data suggest that targeted therapy results in greater chemotherapeutic efficacy with fewer adverse side effects than administration of DOX alone. Targeted microparticles are an attractive option for localized drug delivery.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-400
PMCID: PMC3846908  PMID: 24024776
Targeted therapy; Mesoporous silica; Peritoneum; Chemotherapy; Microparticles
6.  Asbestos and erionite prime and activate the NLRP3 inflammasome that stimulates autocrine cytokine release in human mesothelial cells 
Background
Pleural fibrosis and malignant mesotheliomas (MM) occur after exposures to pathogenic fibers, yet the mechanisms initiating these diseases are unclear.
Results
We document priming and activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome in human mesothelial cells by asbestos and erionite that is causally related to release of IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF). Transcription and release of these proteins are inhibited in vitro using Anakinra, an IL-1 receptor antagonist that reduces these cytokines in a human peritoneal MM mouse xenograft model.
Conclusions
These novel data show that asbestos-induced priming and activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome triggers an autocrine feedback loop modulated via the IL-1 receptor in mesothelial cell type targeted in pleural infection, fibrosis, and carcinogenesis.
doi:10.1186/1743-8977-10-39
PMCID: PMC3751315  PMID: 23937860
Asbestos; Mesothelioma; Mesothelium; Inflammasomes; NLRP3
7.  Pivotal Response Treatment for Infants At-Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Pilot Study 
Presently there is limited research to suggest efficacious interventions for infants at-risk for autism. Pivotal response treatment (PRT) has empirical support for use with preschool children with autism, but there are no reports in the literature utilizing this approach with infants. In the current study, a developmental adaptation of PRT was piloted via a brief parent training model with three infants at-risk for autism. Utilizing a multiple baseline design, the data suggest that the introduction of PRT resulted in increases in the infants’ frequency of functional communication and parents’ fidelity of implementation of PRT procedures. Results provide preliminary support for the feasibility and utility of PRT for very young children at-risk for autism.
doi:10.1007/s10803-012-1542-8
PMCID: PMC3571709  PMID: 22573001
Early intervention; Pivotal response treatment; Parent education; Infant siblings
8.  Silica induces NLRP3 inflammasome activation in human lung epithelial cells 
Background
In myeloid cells the inflammasome plays a crucial role in innate immune defenses against pathogen- and danger-associated patterns such as crystalline silica. Respirable mineral particles impinge upon the lung epithelium causing irreversible damage, sustained inflammation and silicosis. In this study we investigated lung epithelial cells as a target for silica-induced inflammasome activation.
Methods
A human bronchial epithelial cell line (BEAS-2B) and primary normal human bronchial epithelial cells (NHBE) were exposed to toxic but nonlethal doses of crystalline silica over time to perform functional characterization of NLRP3, caspase-1, IL-1β, bFGF and HMGB1. Quantitative RT-PCR, caspase-1 enzyme activity assay, Western blot techniques, cytokine-specific ELISA and fibroblast (MRC-5 cells) proliferation assays were performed.
Results
We were able to show transcriptional and translational upregulation of the components of the NLRP3 intracellular platform, as well as activation of caspase-1. NLRP3 activation led to maturation of pro-IL-1β to secreted IL-1β, and a significant increase in the unconventional release of the alarmins bFGF and HMGB1. Moreover, release of bFGF and HMGB1 was shown to be dependent on particle uptake. Small interfering RNA experiments using siNLRP3 revealed the pivotal role of the inflammasome in diminished release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, danger molecules and growth factors, and fibroblast proliferation.
Conclusion
Our novel data indicate the presence and functional activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome by crystalline silica in human lung epithelial cells, which prolongs an inflammatory signal and affects fibroblast proliferation, mediating a cadre of lung diseases.
doi:10.1186/1743-8977-10-3
PMCID: PMC3607900  PMID: 23402370
Silica; NLRP3 inflammasome; Caspase-1; IL-1β; HMGB1; bFGF
9.  The Herpes Simplex Virus 1-Encoded Envelope Glycoprotein B Activates NF-κB through the Toll-Like Receptor 2 and MyD88/TRAF6-Dependent Signaling Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54586.
The innate immune response plays a critical role in the host defense against invading pathogens, and TLR2, a member of the Toll-like receptor (TLR) family, has been implicated in the immune response and initiation of inflammatory cytokine secretion against several human viruses. Previous studies have demonstrated that infectious and ultraviolet-inactivated herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) virions lead to the activation of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) and secretion of proinflammatory cytokines via TLR2. However, except for the envelope glycoprotein gH and gL, whether there are other determinants of HSV-1 responsible for TLR2 mediated biological effects is not known yet. Here, we demonstrated that the HSV-1-encoded envelope glycoprotein gB displays as molecular target recognized by TLR2. gB coimmunoprecipitated with TLR2, TLR1 and TLR6 in transfected and infected human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293T cells. Treatment of TLR2-transfected HEK293T (HEK293T-TLR2) cells with purified gB results in the activation of NF-κB reporter, and this activation requires the recruitment of the adaptor molecules myeloid differentiation primary-response protein 88 (MyD88) and tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6) but not CD14. Furthermore, activation of NF-κB was abrogated by anti-gB and anti-TLR2 blocking antibodies. In addition, the expression of interleukin-8 induced by gB was abrogated by the treatment of the human monocytic cell line THP-1 with anti-TLR2 blocking antibody or by the incubation of gB with anti-gB antibody. Taken together, these results indicate the importance and potency of HSV-1 gB as one of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) molecule recognized by TLR2 with immediate kinetics.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054586
PMCID: PMC3557241  PMID: 23382920
10.  Sperm speed is associated with sex bias of siblings in a human population 
Asian Journal of Andrology  2012;15(1):152-154.
Recent studies investigating possible causes of male subfertility have largely focused on how lifestyle or environmental factors impact on the process of spermatogenesis. Markedly, fewer studies have investigated those risk factors that result in reduced sperm quality, such as poor sperm motility. The speed at which sperm swim is a major predictor of fertility and is extremely variable in human populations. It has been hypothesized that offspring sex may be adaptively manipulated to maximize the offspring's reproductive fitness (e.g., parents with genes for good male fertility traits, such as high sperm speed, would produce primarily sons and fewer daughters because the offspring will inherit advantageous male fertility genes). Conversely, parents with poor male fertility genes would produce primarily daughters. We tested whether there was an association between how fast a man's sperm swam and the sex bias of his siblings in a sample of men attending clinic for fertility investigations with their partner and with a wide range of semen characteristics, including sperm speed. We found that the sex bias of a man's siblings is associated with his sperm speed; men with female-biased siblings had significantly slower sperm (judged using computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA)) than men from male-biased sibships. This observation suggests family composition is an important factor that needs to be considered in future epidemiological and clinical studies of human fertility.
doi:10.1038/aja.2012.109
PMCID: PMC3739108  PMID: 23202700
computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA); fertility; intralocus sexual conflict; male; offspring; sex ratio; sexual antagonism
11.  An Extracellular Signal–Regulated Kinase 2 Survival Pathway Mediates Resistance of Human Mesothelioma Cells to Asbestos-Induced Injury 
We hypothesized that normal human mesothelial cells acquire resistance to asbestos-induced toxicity via induction of one or more epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)–linked survival pathways (phosphoinositol-3-kinase/AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin and extracellular signal–regulated kinase [ERK] 1/2) during simian virus 40 (SV40) transformation and carcinogenesis. Both isolated HKNM-2 mesothelial cells and a telomerase-immortalized mesothelial line (LP9/TERT-1) were more sensitive to crocidolite asbestos toxicity than an SV40 Tag-immortalized mesothelial line (MET5A) and malignant mesothelioma cell lines (HMESO and PPM Mill). Whereas increases in phosphorylation of AKT (pAKT) were observed in MET5A cells in response to asbestos, LP9/TERT-1 cells exhibited dose-related decreases in pAKT levels. Pretreatment with an EGFR phosphorylation or mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1/2 inhibitor abrogated asbestos-induced phosphorylated ERK (pERK) 1/2 levels in both LP9/TERT-1 and MET5A cells as well as increases in pAKT levels in MET5A cells. Transient transfection of small interfering RNAs targeting ERK1, ERK2, or AKT revealed that ERK1/2 pathways were involved in cell death by asbestos in both cell lines. Asbestos-resistant HMESO or PPM Mill cells with high endogenous levels of ERKs or AKT did not show dose-responsive increases in pERK1/ERK1, pERK2/ERK2, or pAKT/AKT levels by asbestos. However, small hairpin ERK2 stable cell lines created from both malignant mesothelioma lines were more sensitive to asbestos toxicity than shERK1 and shControl lines, and exhibited unique, tumor-specific changes in endogenous cell death–related gene expression. Our results suggest that EGFR phosphorylation is causally linked to pERK and pAKT activation by asbestos in normal and SV40 Tag–immortalized human mesothelial cells. They also indicate that ERK2 plays a role in modulating asbestos toxicity by regulating genes critical to cell injury and survival that are differentially expressed in human mesotheliomas.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2010-0282OC
PMCID: PMC3262687  PMID: 21454801
mesothelioma; asbestos; toxicity; epidermal growth factor receptor; protein kinase B/AKT
12.  Herpes Simplex Virus 1 Tegument Protein US11 Downmodulates the RLR Signaling Pathway via Direct Interaction with RIG-I and MDA-5 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(7):3528-3540.
The interferon (IFN)-mediated antiviral response is a major defense of the host immune system. In order to complete their life cycle, viruses must modulate host IFN-mediated immune responses. Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) is a large DNA virus containing more than 80 genes, many of which encode proteins that are involved in virus-host interactions and show immune modulatory capabilities. In this study, we demonstrate that the US11 protein, an RNA binding tegument protein of HSV-1, is a novel antagonist of the beta IFN (IFN-β) pathway. US11 significantly inhibited Sendai virus (SeV)-induced IFN-β production, and its double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) binding domain was indispensable for this inhibition activity. Additionally, wild-type HSV-1 coinfection showed stronger inhibition than US11 mutant HSV-1 in SeV-induced IFN-β production. Coimmunoprecipitation analysis demonstrated that the US11 protein in HSV-1-infected cells interacts with endogenous RIG-I and MDA-5 through its C-terminal RNA-binding domain, which was RNA independent. Expression of US11 in both transfected and HSV-1-infected cells interferes with the interaction between MAVS and RIG-I or MDA-5. Finally, US11 dampens SeV-mediated IRF3 activation. Taken together, the combined data indicate that HSV-1 US11 binds to RIG-I and MDA-5 and inhibits their downstream signaling pathway, preventing the production of IFN-β, which may contribute to the pathogenesis of HSV-1 infection.
doi:10.1128/JVI.06713-11
PMCID: PMC3302539  PMID: 22301138
13.  Increased Efficacy of Doxorubicin Delivered in Multifunctional Microparticles for Mesothelioma Therapy 
New and effective treatment strategies are desperately needed for malignant mesothelioma (MM), an aggressive cancer with a poor prognosis. We have shown previously that acid-prepared mesoporous microspheres (APMS) are nontoxic after intrapleural or intraperitoneal (IP) administration to rodents. The purpose here was to evaluate the utility of APMS in delivering chemotherapeutic drugs to human MM cells in vitro and in two mouse xenograft models of MM. Uptake and release of doxorubicin (DOX) alone or loaded in APMS (APMS-DOX) were evaluated in MM cells. MM cell death and gene expression linked to DNA damage/repair were also measured in vitro. In two SCID mouse xenograft models, mice received saline, APMS, DOX, or APMS-DOX injected directly into subcutaneous (SC) MM tumors or injected IP after development of human MMs peritoneally. Other mice received DOX intravenously (IV) via tail vein injections. In comparison to DOX alone, APMS-DOX enhanced intracellular uptake of DOX, MM death, and expression of GADD34 and TP73. In the SC MM model, 3X weekly SC injections of APMS-DOX or DOX alone significantly inhibited tumor volumes, and systemic DOX administration was lethal. In mice developing IP MMs, significant (p<0.05) inhibition of mesenteric tumor numbers, weight, and volume was achieved using IP administration of APMS-DOX at one-third the DOX concentration required after IP injections of DOX alone. These results suggest APMS are efficacious for the localized delivery of lower effective DOX concentrations in MM, and represent a novel means of treating intracavitary tumors.
doi:10.1002/ijc.25666
PMCID: PMC3017728  PMID: 20830711
Microparticles; Mesoporous silica; Mesothelioma; Doxorubicin; Intracavitary tumors
14.  Peroxiredoxin 3 Is a Redox-Dependent Target of Thiostrepton in Malignant Mesothelioma Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39404.
Thiostrepton (TS) is a thiazole antibiotic that inhibits expression of FOXM1, an oncogenic transcription factor required for cell cycle progression and resistance to oncogene-induced oxidative stress. The mechanism of action of TS is unclear and strategies that enhance TS activity will improve its therapeutic potential. Analysis of human tumor specimens showed FOXM1 is broadly expressed in malignant mesothelioma (MM), an intractable tumor associated with asbestos exposure. The mechanism of action of TS was investigated in a cell culture model of human MM. As for other tumor cell types, TS inhibited expression of FOXM1 in MM cells in a dose-dependent manner. Suppression of FOXM1 expression and coincidental activation of ERK1/2 by TS were abrogated by pre-incubation of cells with the antioxidant N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), indicating its mechanism of action in MM cells is redox-dependent. Examination of the mitochondrial thioredoxin reductase 2 (TR2)-thioredoxin 2 (TRX2)-peroxiredoxin 3 (PRX3) antioxidant network revealed that TS modifies the electrophoretic mobility of PRX3. Incubation of recombinant human PRX3 with TS in vitro also resulted in PRX3 with altered electrophoretic mobility. The cellular and recombinant species of modified PRX3 were resistant to dithiothreitol and SDS and suppressed by NAC, indicating that TS covalently adducts cysteine residues in PRX3. Reduction of endogenous mitochondrial TRX2 levels by the cationic triphenylmethane gentian violet (GV) promoted modification of PRX3 by TS and significantly enhanced its cytotoxic activity. Our results indicate TS covalently adducts PRX3, thereby disabling a major mitochondrial antioxidant network that counters chronic mitochondrial oxidative stress. Redox-active compounds like GV that modify the TR2/TRX2 network may significantly enhance the efficacy of TS, thereby providing a combinatorial approach for exploiting redox-dependent perturbations in mitochondrial function as a therapeutic approach in mesothelioma.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039404
PMCID: PMC3382597  PMID: 22761781
15.  Sensory neuropathy as part of the cerebellar ataxia neuropathy vestibular areflexia syndrome 
Neurology  2011;76(22):1903-1910.
Objective:
The syndrome of cerebellar ataxia with bilateral vestibulopathy was delineated in 2004. Sensory neuropathy was mentioned in 3 of the 4 patients described. We aimed to characterize and estimate the frequency of neuropathy in this condition, and determine its typical MRI features.
Methods:
Retrospective review of 18 subjects (including 4 from the original description) who met the criteria for bilateral vestibulopathy with cerebellar ataxia.
Results:
The reported age at onset range was 39–71 years, and symptom duration was 3–38 years. The syndrome was identified in one sibling pair, suggesting that this may be a late-onset recessive disorder, although the other 16 cases were apparently sporadic. All 18 had sensory neuropathy with absent sensory nerve action potentials, although this was not apparent clinically in 2, and the presence of neuropathy was not a selection criterion. In 5, the loss of pinprick sensation was virtually global, mimicking a neuronopathy. However, findings in the other 11 with clinically manifest neuropathy suggested a length-dependent neuropathy. MRI scans showed cerebellar atrophy in 16, involving anterior and dorsal vermis, and hemispheric crus I, while 2 were normal. The inferior vermis and brainstem were spared.
Conclusions:
Sensory neuropathy is an integral component of this syndrome. It may result in severe sensory loss, which contributes significantly to the disability. The MRI changes are nonspecific, but, coupled with loss of sensory nerve action potentials, may aid diagnosis. We propose a new name for the condition: cerebellar ataxia with neuropathy and bilateral vestibular areflexia syndrome (CANVAS). Neurology® 2011;76:1903–1910
doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e31821d746e
PMCID: PMC3115806  PMID: 21624989
16.  Varicella-Zoster Virus Immediate-Early Protein ORF61 Abrogates the IRF3-Mediated Innate Immune Response through Degradation of Activated IRF3 ▿  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(21):11079-11089.
Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) infection of differentiated cells within the host and establishment of latency likely requires evasion of innate immunity and limits secretion of antiviral cytokines. Here we report that its immediate-early protein ORF61 antagonizes the beta interferon (IFN-β) pathway. VZV infection down-modulated the Sendai virus (SeV)-activated IFN-β pathway, including mRNA of IFN-β and its downstream interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs), ISG54 and ISG56. Through a primary screening of VZV genes, we found that ORF61 inhibited SeV-mediated activation of IFN-β and ISRE (IFN-stimulated response element) promoter activities but only slightly affected NF-κB promoter activity, implying that the IFN-β pathway may be blocked in the IRF3 branch. An indirect immunofluorescence assay demonstrated that ectopic expression of ORF61 abrogated the detection of IRF3 in SeV-infected cells; however, it did not affect endogenous dormant IRF3 in noninfected cells. Additionally, ORF61 was shown to be partially colocalized with activated IRF3 in the nucleus upon treatment with MG132, an inhibitor of proteasomes, and the direct interaction between ORF61 and activated IRF3 was confirmed by a coimmunoprecipitation assay. Furthermore, Western blot analysis demonstrated that activated IRF3 was ubiquitinated in the presence of ORF61, suggesting that ORF61 degraded phosphorylated IRF3 via a ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. Semiquantitative reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) analysis demonstrated that the level of ISG54 and ISG56 mRNAs was also downregulated by ORF61. Taken together, our results convincingly demonstrate that ORF61 down-modulates the IRF3-mediated IFN-β pathway by degradation of activated IRF3 via direct interaction, which may contribute to the pathogenesis of VZV infection.
doi:10.1128/JVI.05098-11
PMCID: PMC3194975  PMID: 21835786
17.  Membrane Perturbation Elicits an IRF3-Dependent, Interferon-Independent Antiviral Response ▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(20):10926-10931.
We previously found that enveloped virus binding and penetration are necessary to initiate an interferon-independent, IRF3-mediated antiviral response. To investigate whether membrane perturbations that accompany membrane fusion-dependent enveloped-virus entry are necessary and sufficient for antiviral-state induction, we utilized a reovirus fusion-associated small transmembrane (FAST) protein. Membrane disturbances during FAST protein-mediated fusion, in the absence of additional innate immune response triggers, are sufficient to elicit interferon-stimulated gene induction and establishment of an antiviral state. Using sensors of membrane disruption to activate an IRF3-dependent, interferon-independent antiviral state may provide cells with a rapid, broad-spectrum innate immune response to enveloped-virus infections.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00862-11
PMCID: PMC3187479  PMID: 21813605
18.  ERK2 is Essential for the Growth of Human Epithelioid Malignant Mesotheliomas 
Members of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) family may have distinct roles in the development of cell injury and repair, differentiation and carcinogenesis. Here we show, using a synthetic small molecule MEK1/2 inhibitor (U0126) and RNA silencing of ERK1 and 2, comparatively, that ERK2 is critical to transformation and homeostasis of human epithelioid malignant mesotheliomas (MMs), asbestos-induced tumors with a poor prognosis. Whereas MM cell (HMESO) lines stably transfected with shERK1 or shERK2 both exhibited significant decreases in cell proliferation in vitro, injection of shERK2 cells, and not shERK1 cells, into immunocompromised SCID mice showed significant attenuated tumor growth in comparison to shControl cells. Inhibition of migration, invasion, and colony formation occurred in shERK2 MM cells in vitro, suggesting multiple roles of ERK2 in neoplasia. Microarray and qRT-PCR analyses revealed gene expression that was significantly increased (CASP1, TRAF1, FAS) or decreased (SEMA3E, RPS6KA2, EGF, BCL2L1) in shERK2-transfected MM cells in contrast to shControl-transfected MM cells. Most striking decreases were observed in mRNA levels of Semaphorin 3 (SEMA3E), a candidate tumor suppressor gene linked to inhibition of angiogenesis. These studies demonstrate a key role of ERK2 in novel gene expression critical to the development of epithelioid MMs. After injection of sarcomatoid human MM (PPMMill) cells into SCID mice, both shERK1 and shERK2 lines showed significant decreased tumor growth, suggesting heterogeneous effects of ERKs in individual MMs.
doi:10.1002/ijc.25763
PMCID: PMC3071888  PMID: 21710492
Asbestos; mesothelioma; extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK1/2); Mitogen activated protein kinases; gene expression
19.  The Nitric Oxide Pathway Provides Innate Antiviral Protection in Conjunction with the Type I Interferon Pathway in Fibroblasts 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31688.
The innate host response to virus infection is largely dominated by the production of type I interferon and interferon stimulated genes. In particular, fibroblasts respond robustly to viral infection and to recognition of viral signatures such as dsRNA with the rapid production of type I interferon; subsequently, fibroblasts are a key cell type in antiviral protection. We recently found, however, that primary fibroblasts deficient for the production of interferon, interferon stimulated genes, and other cytokines and chemokines mount a robust antiviral response against both DNA and RNA viruses following stimulation with dsRNA. Nitric oxide is a chemical compound with pleiotropic functions; its production by phagocytes in response to interferon-γ is associated with antimicrobial activity. Here we show that in response to dsRNA, nitric oxide is rapidly produced in primary fibroblasts. In the presence of an intact interferon system, nitric oxide plays a minor but significant role in antiviral protection. However, in the absence of an interferon system, nitric oxide is critical for the protection against DNA viruses. In primary fibroblasts, NF-κB and interferon regulatory factor 1 participate in the induction of inducible nitric oxide synthase expression, which subsequently produces nitric oxide. As large DNA viruses encode multiple and diverse immune modulators to disable the interferon system, it appears that the nitric oxide pathway serves as a secondary strategy to protect the host against viral infection in key cell types, such as fibroblasts, that largely rely on the type I interferon system for antiviral protection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031688
PMCID: PMC3283670  PMID: 22363706
20.  Differences in gene expression and cytokine production by crystalline vs. amorphous silica in human lung epithelial cells 
Background
Exposure to respirable crystalline silica particles, as opposed to amorphous silica, is associated with lung inflammation, pulmonary fibrosis (silicosis), and potentially with lung cancer. We used Affymetrix/GeneSifter microarray analysis to determine whether gene expression profiles differed in a human bronchial epithelial cell line (BEAS 2B) exposed to cristobalite vs. amorphous silica particles at non-toxic and equal surface areas (75 and 150 × 106μm2/cm2). Bio-Plex analysis was also used to determine profiles of secreted cytokines and chemokines in response to both particles. Finally, primary human bronchial epithelial cells (NHBE) were used to comparatively assess silica particle-induced alterations in gene expression.
Results
Microarray analysis at 24 hours in BEAS 2B revealed 333 and 631 significant alterations in gene expression induced by cristobalite at low (75) and high (150 × 106μm2/cm2) amounts, respectively (p < 0.05/cut off ≥ 2.0-fold change). Exposure to amorphous silica micro-particles at high amounts (150 × 106μm2/cm2) induced 108 significant gene changes. Bio-Plex analysis of 27 human cytokines and chemokines revealed 9 secreted mediators (p < 0.05) induced by crystalline silica, but none were induced by amorphous silica. QRT-PCR revealed that cristobalite selectively up-regulated stress-related genes and cytokines (FOS, ATF3, IL6 and IL8) early and over time (2, 4, 8, and 24 h). Patterns of gene expression in NHBE cells were similar overall to BEAS 2B cells. At 75 × 106μm2/cm2, there were 339 significant alterations in gene expression induced by cristobalite and 42 by amorphous silica. Comparison of genes in response to cristobalite (75 × 106μm2/cm2) revealed 60 common, significant gene alterations in NHBE and BEAS 2B cells.
Conclusions
Cristobalite silica, as compared to synthetic amorphous silica particles at equal surface area concentrations, had comparable effects on the viability of human bronchial epithelial cells. However, effects on gene expression, as well as secretion of cytokines and chemokines, drastically differed, as the crystalline silica induced more intense responses. Our studies indicate that toxicological testing of particulates by surveying viability and/or metabolic activity is insufficient to predict their pathogenicity. Moreover, they show that acute responses of the lung epithelium, including up-regulation of genes linked to inflammation, oxidative stress, and proliferation, as well as secretion of inflammatory and proliferative mediators, can be indicative of pathologic potential using either immortalized lines (BEAS 2B) or primary cells (NHBE). Assessment of the degree and magnitude of these responses in vitro are suggested as predictive in determining the pathogenicity of potentially harmful particulates.
doi:10.1186/1743-8977-9-6
PMCID: PMC3337246  PMID: 22300531
21.  Comparative functional evaluation of immunocompetent mouse breast cancer models established from PyMT-tumors using small animal PET with [18F]FDG and [18F]FLT 
Positron emission tomography (PET) allows detection of functional changes in malignant tissue. Establishment of an immortalized immunocompetent breast cancer mouse model would provide a useful platform for the analysis of novel cancer treatment strategies. This study describes a comparative functional evaluation of murine breast cancer models established from polyoma virus middle T antigen (PyMT)-derived tumors using small animal PET imaging with [18F]FDG and [18F]FLT. Primary PyMT tumor-derived cells and a cell line derived from these tumors (MTHJ) were injected subcutaneously into immunocompetent FVB mice to generate breast cancer xenografts. Tumor growth rates were comparable in both models and tumors were analyzed after 4-5 weeks post-injection. [18F]FDG uptake in vitro followed a comparable trend in both models but reached higher uptake levels in primary PyMT cells vs. MTHJ cells after 120 min. At all time points, [18F]FLT uptake was significantly higher in MTHJ compared to primary PyMT cells. Dynamic small animal PET imaging with [18F]FDG revealed standardized uptake values (SUVs) of 2.5±0.1 (n=8) in tumors from primary cells and 2.8±0.4 (n=6) in MTHJ tumors after 60 min p.i.. The corresponding tumor-muscle-ratios were 9.3±1.5 and 10.4±0.9, respectively. Uptake of [18F]FLT resulted in slightly higher SUV60min in MTHJ tumors (1.1±0.1, n=6) compared to tumors from primary cells (SUV60min=0.9±0.05, n=8, p=0.07). The tumor-muscle-ratio was comparable in both tumors (2.1±0.2 and 1.8±0.1, respectively). The PET imaging data demonstrates that the functional profile of immunocompetent murine breast tumor model MTHJ remains the same as in primary-derived PyMT tumors in vivo. Metabolic and proliferative rates as assessed with [18F]FDG and [18F]FLT are comparable in both tumor models. The observed high SUV60min of 2.8±0.4 with [18F]FDG in MTHJ tumors allows one to monitor efficacy of therapeutic interventions connected with changes in metabolic response of the tumor by means of small animal PET.
PMCID: PMC3478116  PMID: 23133804
Polyoma virus middle T antigen (PyMT); breast cancer; PET; [18F]FDG; [18F]FLT; mouse model
22.  The LNT Debate in Radiation Protection: Science vs. Policy 
Dose-Response  2011;10(2):190-202.
There is considerable interest in revisiting LNT theory as the basis for the system of radiation protection in the US and worldwide. Arguing the scientific merits of policy options is not likely to be fruitful because the science is not robust enough to support one theory to the exclusion of others. Current science cannot determine the existence of a dose threshold, a key piece to resolving the matter scientifically. The nature of the scientific evidence is such that risk assessment at small effective doses (defined as <100 mSv) is highly uncertain, and several policy alternatives, including threshold and non-linear dose-response functions, are scientifically defensible. This paper argues for an alternative approach by looking at the LNT debate as a policy question and analyzes the problem from a social and economic perspective. In other words, risk assessment and a strictly scientific perspective are insufficiently broad enough to resolve the issue completely. A wider perspective encompassing social and economic impacts in a risk management context is necessary, but moving the debate to the policy and risk management arena necessarily marginalizes the role of scientists.
doi:10.2203/dose-response.11-017.Mossman
PMCID: PMC3375486  PMID: 22740781
radiation protection; policy; science; LNT; ALARA
23.  Replication of Subgenomic Hepatitis C Virus Replicons in Mouse Fibroblasts Is Facilitated by Deletion of Interferon Regulatory Factor 3 and Expression of Liver-Specific MicroRNA 122▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(18):9170-9180.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection causes significant morbidity, and efficient mouse models would greatly facilitate virus studies and the development of effective vaccines and new therapeutic agents. Entry factors, innate immunity, and host factors needed for viral replication represent the initial barriers that restrict HCV infection of mouse cells. Experiments in this paper consider early postentry steps of viral infection and investigate the roles of interferon regulatory factors (IRF-3 and IRF-9) and microRNA (miR-122) in promoting HCV replication in mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) that contain viral subgenomic replicons. While wild-type murine fibroblasts are restricted for HCV RNA replication, deletion of IRF-3 alone can facilitate replicon activity in these cells. This effect is thought to be related to the inactivation of the type I interferon synthesis mediated by IRF-3. Additional deletion of IRF-9 to yield IRF-3−/− IRF-9−/− MEFs, which have blocked type I interferon signaling, did not increase HCV replication. Expression of liver-specific miR-122 in MEFs further stimulated the synthesis of HCV replicons in the rodent fibroblasts. The combined effects of miR-122 expression and deletion of IRF-3 produced a cooperative stimulation of HCV subgenome replication. miR-122 and IRF-3 are independent host factors that are capable of influencing HCV replication, and our findings could help to establish mouse models and other cell systems that support HCV growth and particle formation.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00559-10
PMCID: PMC2937658  PMID: 20592082
24.  Asbestos, Lung Cancers, and Mesotheliomas 
Fifteen years have passed since we published findings in the AJRCMB demonstrating that induction of early response fos/jun proto-oncogenes in rodent tracheal and mesothelial cells correlates with fibrous geometry and pathogenicity of asbestos. Our study was the first to suggest that the aberrant induction of signaling responses by crocidolite asbestos and erionite, a fibrous zeolite mineral associated with the development of malignant mesotheliomas (MMs) in areas of Turkey, led to altered gene expression. New data questioned the widely held belief at that time that the carcinogenic effects of asbestos in the development of lung cancer and MM were due to genotoxic or mutagenic effects. Later studies by our group revealed that proto-oncogene expression and several of the signaling pathways activated by asbestos were redox dependent, explaining why antioxidants and antioxidant enzymes were elevated in lung and pleura after exposure to asbestos and how they alleviated many of the phenotypic and functional effects of asbestos in vitro or after inhalation. Since these original studies, our efforts have expanded to understand the interface between asbestos-induced redox-dependent signal transduction cascades, the relationship between these pathways and cell fate, and the role of asbestos and cell interactions in development of asbestos-associated diseases. Of considerable significance is the fact that the signal transduction pathways activated by asbestos are also important in survival and chemoresistance of MMs and lung cancers. An understanding of the pathogenic features of asbestos fibers and dysregulation of signaling pathways allows strategies for the prevention and therapy of asbestos-related diseases.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2009-0206TR
PMCID: PMC2822975  PMID: 20068227
proto-oncogenes; mitogen-activated protein kinases; epidermal growth factor receptor; activator protein-1; nuclear factor-κB
25.  Blocking of ERK1 and ERK2 sensitizes human mesothelioma cells to doxorubicin 
Molecular Cancer  2010;9:314.
Background
Malignant mesotheliomas (MM) have a poor prognosis, largely because of their chemoresistance to anti-cancer drugs such as doxorubicin (Dox). Here we show using human MM lines that Dox activates extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1 and 2), causally linked to increased expression of ABC transporter genes, decreased accumulation of Dox, and enhanced MM growth. Using the MEK1/2 inhibitor, U0126 and stably transfected shERK1 and shERK2 MM cell lines, we show that inhibition of both ERK1 and 2 sensitizes MM cells to Dox.
Results
U0126 significantly modulated endogenous expression of several important drug resistance (BCL2, ABCB1, ABCC3), prosurvival (BCL2), DNA repair (BRCA1, BRCA2), hormone receptor (AR, ESR2, PPARγ) and drug metabolism (CYP3A4) genes newly identified in MM cells. In comparison to shControl lines, MM cell lines stably transfected with shERK1 or shERK2 exhibited significant increases in intracellular accumulation of Dox and decreases in cell viability. Affymetrix microarray analysis on stable shERK1 and shERK2 MM lines showed more than 2-fold inhibition (p ≤ 0.05) of expression of ATP binding cassette genes (ABCG1, ABCA5, ABCA2, MDR/TAP, ABCA1, ABCA8, ABCC2) in comparison to shControl lines. Moreover, injection of human MM lines into SCID mice showed that stable shERK1 or shERK2 lines had significantly slower tumor growth rates in comparison to shControl lines after Dox treatment.
Conclusions
These studies suggest that blocking ERK1 and 2, which play critical roles in multi-drug resistance and survival, may be beneficial in combination with chemotherapeutic drugs in the treatment of MMs and other tumors.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-9-314
PMCID: PMC3016286  PMID: 21159167

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