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1.  Inhibition of Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3β Ameliorates D-GalN/LPS-Induced Liver Injury by Reducing Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress-Triggered Apoptosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45202.
Background
Glycogen synthase kinase 3β(GSK3β) is a ubiquitous serine-threonine protein kinase that participates in numerous cellular processes and disease pathophysiology. We aimed to determine therapeutic potential of GSK3β inhibition and its mechanism in a well-characterized model of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced model of acute liver failure (ALF).
Methodology
In a murine ALF model induced by D-GalN(700 mg/kg)/LPS(10 µg/kg), we analyzed GSK3β mechanisms using a specific chemical inhibitor, SB216763, and detected the role of endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS). Mice were administered SB216763 at 2 h before or after D-GalN/LPS injection, respectively, and then sacrificed 6 h after D-GalN/LPS treatment to evaluate its prophylactic and therapeutic function. The lethality rate, liver damage, ERS, cytokine expression, MAP kinase, hepatocyte apoptosis and expression of TLR 4 were evaluated, respectively. Whether the inhibition of GSK3β activation protected hepatocyte from ERS-induced apoptosis was investigated in vitro.
Principal Findings
GSK3β became quickly activated (dephosphorylated) upon D-GalN/LPS exposure. Administration of SB216763 not only ameliorated liver injury, as evidenced by reduced transaminase levels, and well-preserved liver architecture, but also decreased lethality. Moreover, GSK3β inhibition resulted in down-regulation of pro-apoptotic proteins C/EBP–homologous protein(CHOP) and caspase-12, which are related to ERS. To further demonstrate the role of ERS, we found that GSK3β inhibition protected hepatocyte from ERS-induced cell death. GSK3β inhibition down-regulated the MAPK pathways, reduced expression of inflammatory cytokines and decreased expression of TLR4.
Conclusions
Our findings demonstrate the key function of GSK3β signaling in the pathophysiology of ALF, especially in regulating the ERS, and provide a rationale for targeting GSK3β as a potential therapeutic strategy to ameliorate ALF.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045202
PMCID: PMC3461002  PMID: 23028846
2.  All-Trans Retinoic Acid Promotes TGF-β-Induced Tregs via Histone Modification but Not DNA Demethylation on Foxp3 Gene Locus 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24590.
Background
It has been documented all-trans retinoic acid (atRA) promotes the development of TGF-β-induced CD4+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (iTreg) that play a vital role in the prevention of autoimmune responses, however, molecular mechanisms involved remain elusive. Our objective, therefore, was to determine how atRA promotes the differentiation of iTregs.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Addition of atRA to naïve CD4+CD25− cells stimulated with anti-CD3/CD28 antibodies in the presence of TGF-β not only increased Foxp3+ iTreg differentiation, but maintained Foxp3 expression through apoptosis inhibition. atRA/TGF-β-treated CD4+ cells developed complete anergy and displayed increased suppressive activity. Infusion of atRA/TGF-β-treated CD4+ cells resulted in the greater effects on suppressing symptoms and protecting the survival of chronic GVHD mice with typical lupus-like syndromes than did CD4+ cells treated with TGF-β alone. atRA did not significantly affect the phosphorylation levels of Smad2/3 and still promoted iTreg differentiation in CD4+ cells isolated from Smad3 KO and Smad2 conditional KO mice. Conversely, atRA markedly increased ERK1/2 activation, and blockade of ERK1/2 signaling completely abolished the enhanced effects of atRA on Foxp3 expression. Moreover, atRA significantly increased histone methylation and acetylation within the promoter and conserved non-coding DNA sequence (CNS) elements at the Foxp3 gene locus and the recruitment of phosphor-RNA polymerase II, while DNA methylation in the CNS3 was not significantly altered.
Conclusions/Significance
We have identified the cellular and molecular mechanism(s) by which atRA promotes the development and maintenance of iTregs. These results will help to enhance the quantity and quality of development of iTregs and may provide novel insights into clinical cell therapy for patients with autoimmune diseases and those needing organ transplantation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024590
PMCID: PMC3172235  PMID: 21931768

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