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1.  Losing TREC with age 
Immunity  2012;36(2):163-165.
PMCID: PMC4026262  PMID: 22365662
2.  Cinnamoyl-based Nrf2-Activators Targeting Human Skin Cell Photo-oxidative Stress 
Free radical biology & medicine  2008;45(4):385-395.
Strong experimental evidence suggests the involvement of photo-oxidative stress mediated by reactive oxygen species as a crucial mechanism of solar damage relevant to human skin photoaging and photocarcinogenesis. Based on the established role of antioxidant response element (ARE)-mediated gene expression in cancer chemoprevention, we tested the hypothesis that small molecule Nrf2-activators may serve a photo-chemopreventive role by targeting skin cell photo-oxidative stress. A luciferase-based reporter gene assay was used as a primary screen for the identification of novel agents that modulate the Nrf2-Keap1 signaling pathway. A series of cinnamoyl-based electrophilic Michael acceptors including cinnamic aldehyde and methyl-1-cinnamoyl-5-oxo-2-pyrrolidine-carboxylate was identified as potent Nrf2-activators. Hit confirmation was performed in a secondary screen, based on immunodetection of Nrf2 protein upregulation in human Hs27 skin fibroblasts, HaCaT keratinocytes, and primary skin keratinocytes. Bioefficacy profiling of positive test compounds in skin cells demonstrated compound-induced upregulation of hemeoxygenase I and NAD(P)H-quinone oxidoreductase, two Nrf2 target genes involved in the cellular antioxidant response. Pretreatment with cinnamoyl-based Nrf2-activators suppressed intracellular oxidative stress and protected against photo-oxidative induction of apoptosis in skin cells exposed to high doses of singlet oxygen. Our pilot studies suggest feasibility of developing cinnamoyl-based Nrf2-activators as novel photo-chemopreventive agents targeting skin cell photo-oxidative stress.
PMCID: PMC3710742  PMID: 18482591
Nrf2; skin cancer; photo-oxidative stress; photo-chemoprevention; Michael acceptor; cinnamic aldehyde; singlet oxygen
4.  Expression of Functional PSGL-1 on Hematopoietic Progenitors is Developmentally Regulated1 
T cell development requires periodic importation of hematopoietic progenitors into the thymus. The receptor-ligand pair P-selectin and P-selectin glycoprotein ligand 1 (PSGL-1) are critically involved in this process. In this study we examined the expression of functional PSGL-1 on BM hematopoietic progenitors. We demonstrate that functional PSGL-1 is expressed at low levels on hematopoietic stem cells, but upregulated on the cell surface of progenitors that bear other homing molecules known to be important for thymic settling. We found that progenitors able to home to the thymus expressed high levels of PSGL-1 transcripts compared to hematopoietic stem cells. We further demonstrate that hematopoietic progenitors lacking Fucosyltransferase 4 and 7 do not express functional PSGL-1, and do not home efficiently to the thymus. These studies provide insight into the developmentally regulated expression of a critical determinant involved in progenitor homing to the thymus.
PMCID: PMC3331963  PMID: 22461691
Hematopoiesis; T cells development; Thymus settling; PSGL-1
5.  The Anti-inflammatory TIPE2 Is an Inhibitor of the Oncogenic Ras 
Molecular Cell  2012;45(5):610-618.
The connection between cancer and inflammation is widely recognized; yet the underlying molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. We report here that TIPE2 provides a molecular bridge from inflammation to cancer by targeting the Ras signaling pathway. TIPE2 binds the Ras-interacting domain of the RalGDS family of proteins, which are essential effectors of activated Ras. This binding prevented Ras from forming an active complex, thereby inhibiting the activation of the downstream signaling molecules Ral and AKT. Consequently, TIPE2 deficiency led to heightened activation of Ral and AKT, resistance to cell death, increased migration, and dysregulation of exocyst complex formation. Conversely, TIPE2 overexpression induced cell death and significantly inhibited Ras-induced tumorigenesis in mice. Importantly, TIPE2 expression was either completely lost or significantly down-regulated in human hepatic cancer. Thus, TIPE2 is an inhibitor of both inflammation and cancer, and potential drug target for inflammatory and neoplastic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3299909  PMID: 22326055
Ras; apoptosis; oncogenesis; inflammation; cytoskeleton
6.  Behavioral and Neural Analysis of GABA in the Acquisition, Consolidation, Reconsolidation, and Extinction of Fear Memory 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2010;35(8):1625-1652.
The current review systematically documents the role of γ-amino-butyric acid (GABA) in different aspects of fear memory—acquisition and consolidation, reconsolidation, and extinction, and attempts to resolve apparent contradictions in the data in order to identify the function of GABAA receptors in fear memory. First, numerous studies have shown that pre- and post-training administration of drugs that facilitate GABAergic transmission disrupt the initial formation of fear memories, indicating a role for GABAA receptors, possibly within the amygdala and hippocampus, in the acquisition and consolidation of fear memories. Similarly, recent evidence indicates that these drugs are also detrimental to the restorage of fear memories after their reactivation. This suggests a role for GABAA receptors in the reconsolidation of fear memories, although the precise neural circuits are yet to be identified. Finally, research regarding the role of GABA in extinction has shown that GABAergic transmission is also disruptive to the formation of newly acquired extinction memories. We argue that contradictions to these patterns are the result of variations in (a) the location of drug infusion, (b) the dosage of the drug and/or (c) the time point of drug administration. The question of whether these GABA-induced memory deficits reflect deficits in retrieval is discussed. Overall, the evidence implies that the processes mediating memory stability consequent to initial fear learning, memory reactivation, and extinction training are dependent on a common mechanism of reduced GABAergic neurotransmission.
PMCID: PMC3055480  PMID: 20410874
GABA; fear; memory; extinction; consolidation; reconsolidation; GABA; Learning & Memory; Neurochemistry; Neuroanatomy; fear; acquisition; consolidation; reconsolidation; extinction
7.  Fusion of EML4 and ALK is associated with development of lung adenocarcinomas lacking EGFR and KRAS mutations and is correlated with ALK expression 
Molecular Cancer  2010;9:188.
The anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene is frequently involved in translocations that lead to gene fusions in a variety of human malignancies, including lymphoma and lung cancer. Fusion partners of ALK include NPM, EML4, TPM3, ATIC, TFG, CARS, and CLTC. Characterization of ALK fusion patterns and their resulting clinicopathological profiles could be of great benefit in better understanding the biology of lung cancer.
RACE-coupled PCR sequencing was used to assess ALK fusions in a cohort of 103 non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) patients. Within this cohort, the EML4-ALK fusion gene was identified in 12 tumors (11.6%). Further analysis revealed that EML4-ALK was present at a frequency of 16.13% (10/62) in patients with adenocarcinomas, 19.23% (10/52) in never-smokers, and 42.80% (9/21) in patients with adenocarcinomas lacking EGFR and KRAS mutations. The EML4-ALK fusion was associated with non-smokers (P = 0.03), younger age of onset (P = 0.03), and adenocarcinomas without EGFR/KRAS mutations (P = 0.04). A trend towards improved survival was observed for patients with the EML4-ALK fusion, although it was not statistically significant (P = 0.20). Concurrent deletion in EGFR exon 19 and fusion of EML4-ALK was identified for the first time in a Chinese female patient with an adenocarcinoma. Analysis of ALK expression revealed that ALK mRNA levels were higher in tumors positive for the EML-ALK fusion than in negative tumors (normalized intensity of 21.99 vs. 0.45, respectively; P = 0.0018). However, expression of EML4 did not differ between the groups.
The EML4-ALK fusion gene was present at a high frequency in Chinese NSCLC patients, particularly in those with adenocarcinomas lacking EGFR/KRAS mutations. The EML4-ALK fusion appears to be tightly associated with ALK mRNA expression levels. RACE-coupled PCR sequencing is a highly sensitive method that could be used clinically for the identification of EML4-ALK-positive patients.
PMCID: PMC2908583  PMID: 20624322
8.  Controllable Microfluidic Synthesis of Multiphase Drug-Carrying Lipospheres for Site-Targeted Therapy 
Biotechnology progress  2009;25(4):938-945.
We report the production of micrometer-sized gas-filled lipospheres using digital microfluidics technology for chemotherapeutic drug delivery. Advantages of on-chip synthesis include a monodisperse size distribution (polydispersity index (σ) values of <5%) with consistent stability and uniform drug loading. Photolithography techniques are applied to fabricate novel PDMS-based microfluidic devices that feature a combined dual hydrodynamic flow-focusing region and expanding nozzle geometry with a narrow orifice. Spherical vehicles are formed through flow-focusing by the self-assembly of phospholipids to a lipid layer around the gas core, followed by a shear-induced break off at the orifice. The encapsulation of an extra oil layer between the outer lipid shell and inner bubble gaseous core allows the safe transport of highly hydrophobic and toxic drugs at high concentrations. Doxorubicin (Dox) entrapment is estimated at 15 mg mL−1 of particles packed in a single ordered layer. In addition, the attachment of targeting ligands to the lipid shell allows for direct vehicle binding to cancer cells. Preliminary acoustic studies of these monodisperse gas lipospheres reveal a highly uniform echo correlation of greater than 95%. The potential exists for localized drug concentration and release with ultrasound energy.
PMCID: PMC2782552  PMID: 19455647
9.  Nrf2 enhances resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic drugs, the dark side of Nrf2 
Carcinogenesis  2008;29(6):1235-1243.
Drug resistance during chemotherapy is the major obstacle to the successful treatment of many cancers. Here, we report that inhibition of NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) may be a promising strategy to combat chemoresistance. Nrf2 is a critical transcription factor regulating a cellular protective response that defends cells against toxic insults from a broad spectrum of chemicals. Under normal conditions, the low constitutive amount of Nrf2 protein is maintained by the Kelch-like ECH-associated protein1 (Keap1)-mediated ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation system. Upon activation, this Keap1-dependent Nrf2 degradation mechanism is quickly inactivated, resulting in accumulation and activation of the antioxidant response element (ARE)-dependent cytoprotective genes. Since its discovery, Nrf2 has been viewed as a ‘good’ transcription factor that protects us from many diseases. In this study, we demonstrate the dark side of Nrf2: stable overexpression of Nrf2 resulted in enhanced resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents including cisplatin, doxorubicin and etoposide. Inversely, downregulation of the Nrf2-dependent response by overexpression of Keap1 or transient transfection of Nrf2–small interfering RNA (siRNA) rendered cancer cells more susceptible to these drugs. Upregulation of Nrf2 by the small chemical tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ) also enhanced the resistance of cancer cells, indicating the feasibility of using small chemical inhibitors of Nrf2 as adjuvants to chemotherapy to increase the efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents. Furthermore, we provide evidence that the strategy of using Nrf2 inhibitors to increase efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents is not limited to certain cancer types or anticancer drugs and thus can be applied during the course of chemotherapy to treat many cancer types.
PMCID: PMC3312612  PMID: 18413364
10.  Keap1 Controls Postinduction Repression of the Nrf2-Mediated Antioxidant Response by Escorting Nuclear Export of Nrf2▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(18):6334-6349.
The transcription factor Nrf2 regulates cellular redox homeostasis. Under basal conditions, Keap1 recruits Nrf2 into the Cul3-containing E3 ubiquitin ligase complex for ubiquitin conjugation and subsequent proteasomal degradation. Oxidative stress triggers activation of Nrf2 through inhibition of E3 ubiquitin ligase activity, resulting in increased levels of Nrf2 and transcriptional activation of Nrf2-dependent genes. In this study, we identify Keap1 as a key postinduction repressor of Nrf2 and demonstrate that a nuclear export sequence (NES) in Keap1 is required for termination of Nrf2-antioxidant response element (ARE) signaling by escorting nuclear export of Nrf2. We provide evidence that ubiquitination of Nrf2 is carried out in the cytosol. Furthermore, we show that Keap1 nuclear translocation is independent of Nrf2 and the Nrf2-Keap1 complex does not bind the ARE. Collectively, our results suggest the following mechanism of postinduction repression: upon recovery of cellular redox homeostasis, Keap1 translocates into the nucleus to dissociate Nrf2 from the ARE. The Nrf2-Keap1 complex is then transported out of the nucleus by the NES in Keap1. Once in the cytoplasm, the Keap1-Nrf2 complex associates with the E3 ubiquitin ligase, resulting in degradation of Nrf2 and termination of the Nrf2 signaling pathway. Hence, postinduction repression of the Nrf2-mediated antioxidant response is controlled by the nuclear export function of Keap1 in alliance with the cytoplasmic ubiquitination and degradation machinery.
PMCID: PMC2099624  PMID: 17636022

Results 1-10 (10)