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1.  An Insult-Inducible Vector System Activated by Hypoxia and Oxidative Stress for Neuronal Gene Therapy 
Translational stroke research  2011;2(1):92-100.
Gene therapy has demonstrated the protective potential of a variety of genes against stroke. However, conventional gene therapy vectors are limited due to the inability to temporally control their expression, which can sometimes lead to deleterious side effects. Thus, an inducible vector that can be temporally controlled and activated by the insult itself would be advantageous. Using hypoxia responsive elements (HRE) and antioxidant responsive elements (ARE), we have constructed an insult-inducible vector activated by hypoxia and reactive oxygen species (ROS). In COS7 cells, the inducible ARE−HRE-luciferase vectors are highly activated by oxygen deprivation, hydrogen peroxide treatment, and the ROS-induced transcription factor NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2). Using a defective herpes virus, the neuroprotective potential of this inducible vector was tested by over-expressing the transcription factor Nrf2. In primary cortical cultures, expression of the inducible ARE−HRE–Nrf2 protects against oxygen glucose deprivation, similar to that afforded by the constitutively expressed Nrf2. This ARE+HRE vector system is advantageous in that it allows the expression of a transgene to be activated not only during hypoxia but also maintained after reperfusion, thus prolonging the transgene expression during an ischemic insult. This insult-inducible vector system will be a valuable gene therapy tool for activating therapeutic/protective genes in cerebrovascular diseases.
doi:10.1007/s12975-010-0060-2
PMCID: PMC3097421  PMID: 21603078
Insult-inducible; Gene therapy; Hypoxia; HIF1; Nrf2; Reactive oxygen species
2.  A novel form of oxytocin in New World monkeys 
Biology Letters  2011;7(4):584-587.
Oxytocin is widely believed to be present and structurally identical in all placental mammals. Here, we report that multiple species of New World monkeys possess a novel form of oxytocin, [P8] oxytocin. This mutation arises from a substitution of a leucine to a proline in amino acid position 8. Further analysis of this mutation in Saimiri sciureus (squirrel monkey) indicates that [P8] oxytocin is transcribed and translated properly. This mutation is specific to oxytocin, as the peptide sequence for arginine vasopressin, a structurally related nonapeptide, is unaltered. These findings dispel the notion that all placental mammals possess a ‘universal’ oxytocin sequence, and highlight the need for research on the functional significance of this novel nonapeptide in New World monkeys.
doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0107
PMCID: PMC3130245  PMID: 21411453
oxytocin; mesotocin; arginine vasopressin; New World monkey; oxytocin receptor; squirrel monkey
3.  Differential effects of dietary supplements on metabolomic profile of smokers versus non-smokers 
Genome Medicine  2012;4(2):14.
Background
Cigarette smoking is well-known to associate with accelerated skin aging as well as cardiovascular disease and lung cancer, in large part due to oxidative stress. Because metabolites are downstream of genetic variation, as well as transcriptional changes and post-translational modifications of proteins, they are the most proximal reporters of disease states or reversal of disease states.
Methods
In this study, we explore the potential effects of commonly available oral supplements (containing antioxidants, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids) on the metabolomes of smokers (n = 11) compared to non-smokers (n = 17). At baseline and after 12 weeks of supplementation, metabolomic analysis was performed on serum by liquid and gas chromatography with mass spectroscopy (LC-MS and GC-MS). Furthermore, clinical parameters of skin aging, including cutometry as assessed by three dermatologist raters blinded to subjects' age and smoking status, were measured.
Results
Long-chain fatty acids, including palmitate and oleate, decreased in smokers by 0.76-fold (P = 0.0045) and 0.72-fold (P = 0.0112), respectively. These changes were not observed in non-smokers. Furthermore, age and smoking status showed increased glow (P = 0.004) and a decrease in fine wrinkling (P = 0.038). Cutometry showed an increase in skin elasticity in smokers (P = 0.049) but not in non-smokers. Complexion analysis software (VISIA) revealed decreases in the number of ultraviolet spots (P = 0.031), and cutometry showed increased elasticity (P = 0.05) in smokers but not non-smokers.
Conclusions
Additional future work may shed light on the specific mechanisms by which long-chain fatty acids can lead to increased glow, improved elasticity measures and decreased fine wrinkling in smokers' skin. Our study provides a novel, medicine-focused application of available metabolomic technology to identify changes in sera of human subjects with oxidative stress, and suggests that oral supplementation (in particular, commonly available antioxidants, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids) affects these individuals in a way that is unique (compared to non-smokers) on a broad level.
doi:10.1186/gm313
PMCID: PMC3392760  PMID: 22360970
4.  Attenuated Circadian Rhythms in Mice Lacking the Prokineticin 2 Gene 
Circadian clocks drive daily rhythms in virtually all organisms. In mammals, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is recognized as the master clock that synchronizes central and peripheral oscillators to evoke circadian rhythms of diverse physiology and behavior. How the timing information is transmitted from the SCN clock to generate overt circadian rhythms is essentially unknown. Prokineticin 2 (PK2), a clock-controlled gene that encodes a secreted protein, has been indicated as a candidate SCN clock output signal that regulates circadian locomotor rhythm. Here we report the generation and analysis of PK2-null mice. The reduction of locomotor rhythms in PK2-null mice was apparent in both hybrid and inbred genetic backgrounds. PK2-null mice also displayed significantly reduced rhythmicity for a variety of other physiological and behavioral parameters, including sleep—wake cycle, body temperature, circulating glucocorticoid and glucose levels, as well as the expression of peripheral clock genes. In addition, PK2-null mice showed accelerated acquisition of food anticipatory activity during a daytime food restriction. We conclude that PK2, acting as a SCN output factor, is important for the maintenance of robust circadian rhythms.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3679-06.2006
PMCID: PMC2713041  PMID: 17093083
circadian rhythm; prokineticin 2; knock-out; suprachiasmatic nucleus; sleep; locomotor
5.  Prokineticin 2 and circadian clock output 
The FEBS journal  2005;272(22):5703-5709.
Circadian timing from the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is a critical component of sleep regulation. Animal lesion and genetic studies have indicated an essential interaction between the circadian signals and the homeostatic processes that regulate sleep. Here we summarize the biological functions of prokineticins, a pair of newly discovered regulatory proteins, with focus on the circadian function of prokineticin 2 (PK2) and its potential role in sleep-wake regulation. PK2 has been shown as a candidate SCN output molecule that regulates circadian locomotor behavior. The PK2 molecular rhythm in the SCN is predominantly controlled by the circadian transcriptional/translational loops, but also regulated directly by light. The receptor for PK2 is expressed in the primary SCN output targets that regulate circadian behavior including sleep-wake. The depolarizing effect of PK2 on neurons that express PK2 receptor may represent a possible mechanism for the regulatory role of PK2 in circadian rhythms.
doi:10.1111/j.1742-4658.2005.04984.x
PMCID: PMC2667323  PMID: 16279936
circadian; G-protein coupled receptor; locomotor; PK2; prokineticin; secretory protein; sleep wakefulness; suprachiasmatic nucleus
6.  Expression of Prokineticins and Their Receptors in the Adult Mouse Brain 
Prokineticins are a pair of regulatory peptides that have been shown to play important roles in gastrointestinal motility, angiogenesis, circadian rhythms, and, recently, olfactory bulb neurogenesis. Prokineticins exert their functions via activation of two closely related G-protein-coupled receptors. Here we report a comprehensive mRNA distribution for both prokineticins (PK1 and PK2) and their receptors (PKR1 and PKR2) in the adult mouse brain with the use of in situ hybridization. PK2 mRNA is expressed in discrete regions of the brain, including suprachiasmatic nucleus, islands of Calleja and medial preoptic area, olfactory bulb, nucleus accumbens shell, hypothalamic arcuate nucleus, and amygdala. PK1 mRNA is expressed exclusively in the brainstem, with high abundance in the nucleus tractus solitarius. PKR2 mRNA is detected throughout the brain, with prominent expression in olfactory regions, cortex, thalamus and hypothalamus, septum and hippocampus, habenula, amygdala, nucleus tractus solitarius, and circumventricular organs such as subfornical organ, median eminence, and area postrema. PKR2 mRNA is also detected in mammillary nuclei, periaqueductal gray, and dorsal raphe. In contrast, PKR1 mRNA is found in fewer brain regions, with moderate expression in the olfactory regions, dentate gyrus, zona incerta, and dorsal motor vagal nucleus. Both PKR1 and PKR2 are also detected in olfactory ventricle and subventricular zone of the lateral ventricle, both of which are rich sources of neuronal precursors. These extensive expression patterns suggest that prokineticins may have a broad array of functions in the central nervous system, including circadian rhythm, neurogenesis, ingestive behavior, reproduction, and autonomic function.
doi:10.1002/cne.21087
PMCID: PMC2667319  PMID: 16927269
circadian rhythms; hypothalamus; feeding; neurogenesis; locomotor behavior; reproduction
7.  Regulation of prokineticin 2 expression by light and the circadian clock 
BMC Neuroscience  2005;6:17.
Background
The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) contains the master circadian clock that regulates daily rhythms of many physiological and behavioural processes in mammals. Previously we have shown that prokineticin 2 (PK2) is a clock-controlled gene that may function as a critical SCN output molecule responsible for circadian locomotor rhythms. As light is the principal zeitgeber that entrains the circadian oscillator, and PK2 expression is responsive to nocturnal light pulses, we further investigated the effects of light on the molecular rhythm of PK2 in the SCN. In particular, we examined how PK2 responds to shifts of light/dark cycles and changes in photoperiod. We also investigated which photoreceptors are responsible for the light-induced PK2 expression in the SCN. To determine whether light requires an intact functional circadian pacemaker to regulate PK2, we examined PK2 expression in cryptochrome1,2-deficient (Cry1-/-Cry2-/-) mice that lack functional circadian clock under normal light/dark cycles and constant darkness.
Results
Upon abrupt shifts of the light/dark cycle, PK2 expression exhibits transients in response to phase advances but rapidly entrains to phase delays. Photoperiod studies indicate that PK2 responds differentially to changes in light period. Although the phase of PK2 expression expands as the light period increases, decreasing light period does not further condense the phase of PK2 expression. Genetic knockout studies revealed that functional melanopsin and rod-cone photoreceptive systems are required for the light-inducibility of PK2. In Cry1-/-Cry2-/- mice that lack a functional circadian clock, a low amplitude PK2 rhythm is detected under light/dark conditions, but not in constant darkness. This suggests that light can directly regulate PK2 expression in the SCN.
Conclusion
These data demonstrate that the molecular rhythm of PK2 in the SCN is regulated by both the circadian clock and light. PK2 is predominantly controlled by the endogenous circadian clock, while light plays a modulatory role. The Cry1-/-Cry2-/- mice studies reveal a light-driven PK2 rhythm, indicating that light can induce PK2 expression independent of the circadian oscillator. The light inducibility of PK2 suggests that in addition to its role in clock-driven rhythms of locomotor behaviour, PK2 may also participate in the photic entrainment of circadian locomotor rhythms.
doi:10.1186/1471-2202-6-17
PMCID: PMC555564  PMID: 15762991

Results 1-7 (7)