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1.  Inhibition of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor 2 Exacerbates Loss of Lower Motor Neurons and Axons during Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(7):e0160158.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) and its animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) are inflammatory demyelinating and neurodegenerative diseases in the central nervous system (CNS). It is believed that MS and EAE are initiated by autoreactive T lymphocytes that recognize myelin antigens; however, the mechanisms responsible for neurodegeneration in these diseases remain elusive. Data indicate that vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) plays a role in the development of MS and EAE. Interestingly, VEGF-A is regarded as a neurotrophic factor in the CNS that promotes neuron survival and neurogenesis in various neurodegenerative diseases by activating VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2). In this study, we sought to explore the role of the VEGF-A/VEGFR2 signaling in neurodegeneration in MS and EAE. We showed that the expression of VEGF-A was decreased in the spinal cord during EAE and that VEGFR2 was activated in lower motor neurons in the spinal cord of EAE mice. Interestingly, we found that treatment with SU5416, a selective VEGFR2 inhibitor, starting after the onset of EAE clinical symptoms exacerbated lower motor neuron loss and axon loss in the lumbar spinal cord of mice undergoing EAE, but did not alter Purkinje neuron loss in the cerebellum or upper motor neuron loss in the cerebral cortex. Moreover, SU5416 treatment had a minimal effect on EAE clinical symptoms as well as inflammation, demyelination, and oligodendrocyte loss in the lumbar spinal cord. These results imply the protective effects of the VEGF-A/VEGFR2 signaling on lower motor neurons and axons in the spinal cord in MS and EAE.
PMCID: PMC4965096  PMID: 27466819
2.  Pancreatic Endoplasmic Reticulum Kinase Activation Promotes Medulloblastoma Cell Migration and Invasion through Induction of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0120252.
Evidence is accumulating that activation of the pancreatic endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) in response to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress adapts tumor cells to the tumor microenvironment and enhances tumor angiogenesis by inducing vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A). Recent studies suggest that VEGF-A can act directly on certain tumor cell types in an autocrine manner, via binding to VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2), to promote tumor cell migration and invasion. Although several reports show that PERK activation increases VEGF-A expression in medulloblastoma, the most common solid malignancy of childhood, the role that either PERK or VEGF-A plays in medulloblastoma remains elusive. In this study, we mimicked the moderate enhancement of PERK activity observed in tumor patients using a genetic approach and a pharmacologic approach, and found that moderate activation of PERK signaling facilitated medulloblastoma cell migration and invasion and increased the production of VEGF-A. Moreover, using the VEGFR2 inhibitor SU5416 and the VEGF-A neutralizing antibody to block VEGF-A/VEGFR2 signaling, our results suggested that tumor cell-derived VEGF-A promoted medulloblastoma cell migration and invasion through VEGFR2 signaling, and that both VEGF-A and VEGFR2 were required for the promoting effects of PERK activation on medulloblastoma cell migration and invasion. Thus, these findings suggest that moderate PERK activation promotes medulloblastoma cell migration and invasion through enhancement of VEGF-A/VEGFR2 signaling.
PMCID: PMC4368580  PMID: 25794107
3.  Impaired Eukaryotic Translation Initiation Factor 2B Activity Specifically in Oligodendrocytes Reproduces the Pathology of Vanishing White Matter Disease in Mice 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(36):12182-12191.
Vanishing white matter disease (VWMD) is an inherited autosomal-recessive hypomyelinating disease caused by mutations in eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2B (eIF2B). eIF2B mutations predominantly affect the brain white matter, and the characteristic features of VWMD pathology include myelin loss and foamy oligodendrocytes. Activation of pancreatic endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) has been observed in oligodendrocytes in VWMD. PERK activation in response to endoplasmic reticulum stress attenuates eIF2B activity by phosphorylating eIF2α, suggesting that impaired eIF2B activity in oligodendrocytes induced by VWMD mutations or PERK activation exploit similar mechanisms to promote selective white matter pathology in VWMD. Using transgenic mice that allow for temporally controlled activation of PERK specifically in oligodendrocytes, we discovered that strong PERK activation in oligodendrocytes during development suppressed eIF2B activity and reproduced the characteristic features of VWMD in mice, including hypomyelinating phenotype, foamy oligodendrocytes, and myelin loss. Notably, impaired eIF2B activity induced by PERK activation in oligodendrocytes of fully myelinated adult mice had minimal effects on morphology or function. Our observations point to a cell-autonomous role of impaired eIF2B activity in myelinating oligodendrocytes in the pathogenesis of VWMD.
PMCID: PMC4152613  PMID: 25186761
eIF2B mutations; hypomyelination; oligodendrocyte; pancreatic endoplasmic reticulum kinase; vanishing white matter disease
4.  Nrf2 suppresses lupus nephritis through inhibition of oxidative injury and the NF-κB-mediated inflammatory response 
Kidney international  2013;85(2):333-343.
The generation of reactive oxygen species plays a pivotal role in both acute and chronic glomerular injuries in patients with lupus nephritis. Since the transcription factor Nrf2 is a major regulator of the antioxidant response and is a primary cellular defense mechanism we sought to determine a role of Nrf2 in the progression of lupus nephritis. Pathological analyses of renal biopsies from patients with different types of lupus nephritis showed oxidative damage in the glomeruli, accompanied by an active Nrf2 antioxidant response. A murine lupus nephritis model using Nrf2+/+ and Nrf2−/− mice was established using pristine injection. In this model, Nrf2−/− mice suffered from greater renal damage and had more severe pathological alterations in the kidney. In addition, Nrf2+/+ mice showed ameliorative renal function when treated with sulforaphane, an Nrf2 inducer. Nrf2−/− mice had higher expression of TGFβ1, fibronectin and iNOS. In primary mouse mesangial cells, the nephritogenic monoclonal antibody R4A activated the NF-κB pathway and increased the level of reactive oxygen species, iNOS, TGFβ1 and fibronectin. Knockdown of Nrf2 expression aggravated all aforementioned responses induced by R4A. Thus, these results suggest that Nrf2 improves lupus nephritis by neutralizing reactive oxygen species and by negatively regulating the NF-κB and TGFβ1 signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC3992978  PMID: 24025640
lupus nephritis; Nrf2; ROS; NF-κB; TGFβ1; iNOS
5.  Oligodendrocyte-specific activation of PERK signaling protects mice against experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis 
There is compelling evidence that oligodendrocyte apoptosis, in response to CNS inflammation, contributes significantly to the development of the demyelinating disorder multiple sclerosis (MS) and its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Therefore, approaches designed to protect oligodendrocytes would likely have therapeutic value. Activation of pancreatic endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) signaling in response to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress increases cell survival under various cytotoxic conditions. Moreover, there is evidence that PERK signaling is activated in oligodendrocytes within demyelinating lesions in MS and EAE. Our previous study demonstrated that CNS delivery of the inflammatory cytokine interferon-γ before EAE onset protected mice against EAE, and this protection was dependent on PERK signaling. In our current study, we sought to elucidate the role of PERK signaling in oligodendrocytes during EAE. We generated transgenic mice that allow for temporally-controlled activation of PERK signaling, in the absence of ER stress, specifically in oligodendrocytes. We demonstrated that persistent activation of PERK signaling was not deleterious to oligodendrocyte viability or the myelin of adult animals. Importantly, we found that enhanced activation of PERK signaling specifically in oligodendrocytes significantly attenuated EAE disease severity, which was associated with reduced oligodendrocyte apoptosis, demyelination, and axonal degeneration. This effect was not the result of an altered degree of the inflammatory response in EAE mice. Our results provide direct evidence that activation of PERK signaling in oligodendrocytes is cytoprotective, protecting mice against EAE.
PMCID: PMC3654380  PMID: 23554479
6.  Overcoming Trastuzumab Resistance in Breast Cancer by Targeting Dysregulated Glucose Metabolism 
Cancer research  2011;71(13):4585-4597.
Trastuzumab shows remarkable efficacy in treatment of ErbB2-positive breast cancers when used alone or in combination with other chemotherapeutics. However, acquired resistance develops in most treated patients, necessitating alternate treatment strategies. Increased aerobic glycolysis is a hallmark of cancer and inhibition of glycolysis may offer a promising strategy to preferentially kill cancer cells. In this study, we investigated the antitumor effects of trastuzumab in combination with glycolysis inhibitors in ErbB2-positive breast cancer. We found that trastuzumab inhibits glycolysis via downregulation of heat shock factor 1 (HSF1) and lactate dehydrogenase A (LDH-A) in ErbB2-positive cancer cells, resulting in tumor growth inhibition. Moreover, increased glycolysis via HSF1 and LDH-A contributes to trastuzumab resistance. Importantly, we found that combining trastuzumab with glycolysis inhibition synergistically inhibited trastuzumab-sensitive and -resistant breast cancers in vitro and in vivo, due to more efficient inhibition of glycolysis. Taken together, our findings show how glycolysis inhibition can dramatically enhance the therapeutic efficacy of trastuzumab in ErbB2-positive breast cancers, potentially useful as a strategy to overcome trastuzumab resistance.
PMCID: PMC3129363  PMID: 21498634
Warburg effect; glycolysis; HSF1; LDH-A; trastuzumab; ErbB2; resistance
7.  Interferon-γ Activates Nuclear Factor-κ B in Oligodendrocytes through a Process Mediated by the Unfolded Protein Response 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36408.
Our previous studies have demonstrated that the effects of the immune cytokine interferon-γ (IFN-γ) in immune-mediated demyelinating diseases are mediated, at least in part, by the unfolded protein response (UPR) in oligodendrocytes. Data indicate that some biological effects of IFN-γ are elicited through activation of the transcription factor nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB). Interestingly, it has been shown that activation of the pancreatic endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) branch of the UPR triggers NF-κB activation. In this study, we showed that IFN-γ-induced NF-κB activation was associated with activation of PERK signaling in the oligodendroglial cell line Oli-neu. We further demonstrated that blockage of PERK signaling diminished IFN-γ-induced NF-κB activation in Oli-neu cells. Importantly, we showed that NF-κB activation in oligodendrocytes correlated with activation of PERK signaling in transgenic mice that ectopically express IFN-γ in the central nervous system (CNS), and that enhancing IFN-γ-induced activation of PERK signaling further increased NF-κB activation in oligodendrocytes. Additionally, we showed that suppression of the NF-κB pathway rendered Oli-neu cells susceptible to the cytotoxicity of IFN-γ, reactive oxygen species, and reactive nitrogen species. Our results indicate that the UPR is involved in IFN-γ-induced NF-κB activation in oligodendrocytes and suggest that NF-κB activation by IFN-γ represents one mechanism by which IFN-γ exerts its effects on oligodendrocytes in immune-mediated demyelinating diseases.
PMCID: PMC3344863  PMID: 22574154
8.  IFN-γ inhibits central nervous system myelination through both STAT1-dependent and STAT1-independent pathways 
Journal of neuroscience research  2010;88(12):2569-2577.
Immune cytokine interferon-γ (IFN-γ) plays a crucial role in immune-mediated demyelination diseases such as multiple sclerosis and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Our previous studies have shown that enforced expression of IFN-γ in the central nervous system (CNS) inhibits developmental myelination or remyelination in EAE demyelinated lesions. While many of the cellular actions of IFN-γ result from its activation of the signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) pathway, recent studies have shown that STAT1-independent pathways regulate some facets of IFN-γ biology. In this study, we dissected the role of STAT1-dependent and STAT1-independent pathways in IFN-γ-induced hypomyelination using a genetic approach. We found that the induction of the STAT1-dependent, IFN-γ responsive genes in response to this cytokine was abolished in the CNS of STAT1 null mice. Moreover, STAT1 deletion diminished oligodendrocyte loss, the reduction of myelinated axons and inflammatory response in the CNS of transgenic mice that ectopically express IFN-γ in the CNS. Nevertheless, IFN-γ-induced reduction of myelin sheath thickness in the CNS of these mice was not altered by STAT1 deletion. Collectively, these data demonstrated that both STAT1-dependent and STAT1-independent pathways are involved in the detrimental effects of IFN-γ on the myelination process.
PMCID: PMC2911948  PMID: 20648647
oligodendrocyte; myelin; multiple sclerosis; cytokine; signal transduction
9.  The Protective Role of Nrf2 in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Nephropathy 
Diabetes  2010;59(4):850-860.
Diabetic nephropathy is one of the major causes of renal failure, which is accompanied by the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Nrf2 is the primary transcription factor that controls the antioxidant response essential for maintaining cellular redox homeostasis. Here, we report our findings demonstrating a protective role of Nrf2 against diabetic nephropathy.
We explore the protective role of Nrf2 against diabetic nephropathy using human kidney biopsy tissues from diabetic nephropathy patients, a streptozotocin-induced diabetic nephropathy model in Nrf2−/− mice, and cultured human mesangial cells.
The glomeruli of human diabetic nephropathy patients were under oxidative stress and had elevated Nrf2 levels. In the animal study, Nrf2 was demonstrated to be crucial in ameliorating streptozotocin-induced renal damage. This is evident by Nrf2−/− mice having higher ROS production and suffering from greater oxidative DNA damage and renal injury compared with Nrf2+/+ mice. Mechanistic studies in both in vivo and in vitro systems showed that the Nrf2-mediated protection against diabetic nephropathy is, at least, partially through inhibition of transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) and reduction of extracellular matrix production. In human renal mesangial cells, high glucose induced ROS production and activated expression of Nrf2 and its downstream genes. Furthermore, activation or overexpression of Nrf2 inhibited the promoter activity of TGF-β1 in a dose-dependent manner, whereas knockdown of Nrf2 by siRNA enhanced TGF-β1 transcription and fibronectin production.
This work clearly indicates a protective role of Nrf2 in diabetic nephropathy, suggesting that dietary or therapeutic activation of Nrf2 could be used as a strategy to prevent or slow down the progression of diabetic nephropathy.
PMCID: PMC2844833  PMID: 20103708
10.  Tissue factor pathway inhibitor-2 was repressed by CpG hypermethylation through inhibition of KLF6 binding in highly invasive breast cancer cells 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:110.
Tissue factor pathway inhibitor-2 (TFPI-2) is a matrix-associated Kunitz inhibitor that inhibits plasmin and trypsin-mediated activation of zymogen matrix metalloproteinases involved in tumor progression, invasion and metastasis. Here, we have investigated the mechanism of DNA methylation on the repression of TFPI-2 in breast cancer cell lines.
We found that both protein and mRNA of TFPI-2 could not be detected in highly invasive breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-435. To further investigate the mechanism of TFPI-2 repression in breast cancer cells, 1.5 Kb TFPI-2 promoter was cloned, and several genetic variations were detected, but the promoter luciferase activities were not affected by the point mutation in the promoter region and the phenomena was further supported by deleted mutation. Scan mutation and informatics analysis identified a potential KLF6 binding site in TFPI-2 promoter. It was revealed, by bisulfite modified sequence, that the CpG island in TFPI-2 promoter region was hypermethylated in MDA-MB-435. Finally, using EMSA and ChIP assay, we demonstrated that the CpG methylation in the binding site of KLF-6 diminished the binding of KLF6 to TFPI-2 promoter.
In this study, we found that the CpG islands in TFPI-2 promoter was hypermethylated in highly invasive breast cancer cell line, and DNA methylation in the entire promoter region caused TFPI-2 repression by inducing inactive chromatin structure and decreasing KLF6 binding to its DNA binding sequence.
PMCID: PMC2233638  PMID: 18053161

Results 1-10 (10)