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1.  Targeting native and apo-sGC 
BMC Pharmacology & Toxicology  2013;14(Suppl 1):O17.
PMCID: PMC3765685
3.  Discovery of Selective Small Molecule ROMK Inhibitors as Potential New Mechanism Diuretics 
ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters  2012;3(5):367-372.
The renal outer medullary potassium channel (ROMK or Kir1.1) is a putative drug target for a novel class of diuretics that could be used for the treatment of hypertension and edematous states such as heart failure. An internal high-throughput screening campaign identified 1,4-bis(4-nitrophenethyl)piperazine (5) as a potent ROMK inhibitor. It is worth noting that this compound was identified as a minor impurity in a screening hit that was responsible for all of the initially observed ROMK activity. Structure–activity studies resulted in analogues with improved rat pharmacokinetic properties and selectivity over the hERG channel, providing tool compounds that can be used for in vivo pharmacological assessment. The featured ROMK inhibitors were also selective against other members of the inward rectifier family of potassium channels.
PMCID: PMC4025819  PMID: 24900480
hypertension; heart failure; ROMK; Kir1.1; KCNJ1; diuretics; potassium channel; inward rectifier; Kir; hERG; high-throughput screening (HTS)
4.  Potent and Selective Inhibitors of Long Chain l-2-Hydroxy Acid Oxidase Reduced Blood Pressure in DOCA Salt-Treated Rats 
ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters  2011;2(12):919-923.
l-2-Hydroxy acid oxidase (Hao2) is a peroxisomal enzyme with predominant expression in the liver and kidney. Hao2 was recently identified as a candidate gene for blood pressure quantitative trait locus in rats. To investigate a pharmacological role of Hao2 in the management of blood pressure, selective Hao2 inhibitors were developed. Optimization of screening hits 1 and 2 led to the discovery of compounds 3 and 4 as potent and selective rat Hao2 inhibitors with pharmacokinetic properties suitable for in vivo studies in rats. Treatment with compound 3 or 4 resulted in a significant reduction or attenuation of blood pressure in an established or developing model of hypertension, deoxycorticosterone acetate-treated rats. This is the first report demonstrating a pharmacological benefit of selective Hao2 inhibitors in a relevant model of hypertension.
PMCID: PMC4018152  PMID: 24900281
Hao2; hypertension; pyrazolecarboxylic acid; DOCA rat
5.  Chronic Antagonism of the Mineralocorticoid Receptor Ameliorates Hypertension and End Organ Damage in a Rodent Model of Salt-Sensitive Hypertension 
We investigated the effects of chronic mineralocorticoid receptor blockade with eplerenone on the development and progression of hypertension and end organ damage in Dahl salt-sensitive rats. Eplerenone significantly attenuated the progressive rise in systolic blood pressure (SBP) (204 ± 3 vs. 179±3 mmHg, p < 0.05), reduced proteinuria (605.5 ± 29.6 vs. 479.7 ± 26.1 mg/24h, p < 0.05), improved injury scores of glomeruli, tubules, renal interstitium, and vasculature in Dahl salt-sensitive rats fed a high-salt diet. These results demonstrate that mineralocorticoid receptor antagonism provides target organ protection and attenuates the development of elevated blood pressure (BP) in a model of salt-sensitive hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3231850  PMID: 21950654
mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist; hypertension; end organ protection; eplerenone; Dahl salt-sensitive rats
6.  Cooperative Action of Multiple cis-Acting Elements Is Required for N-myc Expression in Branchial Arches: Specific Contribution of GATA3 ▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2010;30(22):5348-5363.
The precise expression of the N-myc proto-oncogene is essential for normal mammalian development, whereas altered N-myc gene regulation is known to be a determinant factor in tumor formation. Using transgenic mouse embryos, we show that N-myc sequences from kb −8.7 to kb +7.2 are sufficient to reproduce the N-myc embryonic expression profile in developing branchial arches and limb buds. These sequences encompass several regulatory elements dispersed throughout the N-myc locus, including an upstream limb bud enhancer, a downstream somite enhancer, a branchial arch enhancer in the second intron, and a negative regulatory element in the first intron. N-myc expression in the limb buds is under the dominant control of the limb bud enhancer. The expression in the branchial arches necessitates the interplay of three regulatory domains. The branchial arch enhancer cooperates with the somite enhancer region to prevent an inhibitory activity contained in the first intron. The characterization of the branchial arch enhancer has revealed a specific role of the transcription factor GATA3 in the regulation of N-myc expression. Together, these data demonstrate that correct N-myc developmental expression is achieved via cooperation of multiple positive and negative regulatory elements.
PMCID: PMC2976382  PMID: 20855530
7.  A Link between FXYD3 (Mat-8)-mediated Na,K-ATPase Regulation and Differentiation of Caco-2 Intestinal Epithelial Cells 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(4):1132-1140.
FXYD3 (Mat-8) proteins are regulators of Na,K-ATPase. In normal tissue, FXYD3 is mainly expressed in stomach and colon, but it is also overexpressed in cancer cells, suggesting a role in tumorogenesis. We show that FXYD3 silencing has no effect on cell proliferation but promotes cell apoptosis and prevents cell differentiation of human colon adenocarcinoma cells (Caco-2), which is reflected by a reduction in alkaline phosphatase and villin expression, a change in several other differentiation markers, and a decrease in transepithelial resistance. Inhibition of cell differentiation in FXYD3-deficient cells is accompanied by an increase in the apparent Na+ and K+ affinities of Na,K-ATPase, reflecting the absence of Na,K-pump regulation by FXYD3. In addition, we observe a decrease in the maximal Na,K-ATPase activity due to a decrease in its turnover number, which correlates with a change in Na,K-ATPase isozyme expression that is characteristic of cancer cells. Overall, our results suggest an important role of FXYD3 in cell differentiation of Caco-2 cells. One possibility is that FXYD3 silencing prevents proper regulation of Na,K-ATPase, which leads to perturbation of cellular Na+ and K+ homeostasis and changes in the expression of Na,K-ATPase isozymes, whose functional properties are incompatible with Caco-2 cell differentiation.
PMCID: PMC2642742  PMID: 19109419
8.  Differential Efficacy of Caspase Inhibitors on Apoptosis Markers during Sepsis in Rats and Implication for Fractional Inhibition Requirements for Therapeutics 
A rodent model of sepsis was used to establish the relationship between caspase inhibition and inhibition of apoptotic cell death in vivo. In this model, thymocyte cell death was blocked by Bcl-2 transgene, indicating that apoptosis was predominantly dependent on the mitochondrial pathway that culminates in caspase-3 activation. Caspase inhibitors, including the selective caspase-3 inhibitor M867, were able to block apoptotic manifestations both in vitro and in vivo but with strikingly different efficacy for different cell death markers. Inhibition of DNA fragmentation required substantially higher levels of caspase-3 attenuation than that required for blockade of other apoptotic events such as spectrin proteolysis and phosphatidylserine externalization. These data indicate a direct relationship between caspase inhibition and some apoptotic manifestations but that small quantities of uninhibited caspase-3 suffice to initiate genomic DNA breakdown, presumably through the escape of catalytic quantities of caspase-activated DNase. These findings suggest that putative caspase-independent apoptosis may be overestimated in some systems since blockade of spectrin proteolysis and other cell death markers does not accurately reflect the high degrees of caspase-3 inhibition needed to prevent DNA fragmentation. Furthermore, this requirement presents substantial therapeutic challenges owing to the need for persistent and complete caspase blockade.
PMCID: PMC2211770  PMID: 14718517
peritonitis; caspase-3; spectrin; ICAD; thymocytes
9.  Effect of Inactivation of the Arg- and/or Lys-Gingipain Gene on Selected Virulence and Physiological Properties of Porphyromonas gingivalis  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(8):4742-4748.
Proteolytic enzymes produced by Porphyromonas gingivalis are thought to play critical roles in the pathogenesis of periodontitis. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of gingipain cysteine proteinase gene inactivation on selected pathological and physiological functions of P. gingivalis. Our results showed that Arg- and Lys-gingipain activities are critical components for the efficient growth of P. gingivalis in human serum. However, when the serum was supplemented with peptides provided as pancreatic casein hydrolysate, the gingipains did not appear to be essential for growth. The effect of gingipain gene inactivation on the susceptibility of P. gingivalis to serum bactericidal activity was investigated using standardized human serum. The wild-type strain, P. gingivalis ATCC 33277, was largely unaffected by the bactericidal activity of human serum complement. On the other hand, mutants lacking Arg-gingipain A, Arg-gingipain B, or Lys-gingipain activity were susceptible to complement. Since gingipains are mostly located on the outer membrane of P. gingivalis, inactivation of the genes for these enzymes may modify cell surface properties. We showed that gingipain-deficient mutants differed in their capacities to assimilate radiolabeled amino acids, cause hemolysis, express adhesins, hemagglutinate, and form biofilms. Lastly, the gingipains, more specifically Arg-gingipains, were responsible for causing major cell damage to human gingival fibroblasts. In conclusion, our study indicated that, in addition to being critical in the pathogenic process, gingipains may play a variety of physiological roles in P. gingivalis, including controlling the expression and/or processing of virulence factors. Mutations in gingipain genes thus give rise to pleiotropic effects.
PMCID: PMC166032  PMID: 12874356
10.  Mek2 Is Dispensable for Mouse Growth and Development 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2003;23(14):4778-4787.
MEK is a dual-specificity kinase that activates the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase upon agonist binding to receptors. The ERK/MAP kinase cascade is involved in cell fate determination in many organisms. In mammals, this pathway is proposed to regulate cell growth and differentiation. Genetic studies have shown that although a single Mek gene is present in Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila melanogaster, and Xenopus laevis, two Mek homologs, Mek1 and Mek2, are present in the mammalian cascade. The inactivation of the Mek1 gene leads to embryonic lethality and has revealed the unique role played by Mek1 during embryogenesis. To investigate the biological function of the second homolog, we have generated mice deficient in Mek2 function. Mek2 mutant mice are viable and fertile, and they do not present flagrant morphological alteration. Although several components of the ERK/MAP kinase cascade have been implicated in thymocyte development, no such involvement was observed for MEK2, which appears to be nonessential for thymocyte differentiation and T-cell-receptor-induced proliferation and apoptosis. Altogether, our findings demonstrate that MEK2 is not necessary for the normal development of the embryo and T-cell lineages, suggesting that the loss of MEK2 can be compensated for by MEK1.
PMCID: PMC162209  PMID: 12832465
12.  Caspase-2 Is Localized at the Golgi Complex and Cleaves Golgin-160 during Apoptosis 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2000;149(3):603-612.
Caspases are an extended family of cysteine proteases that play critical roles in apoptosis. Animals deficient in caspases-2 or -3, which share very similar tetrapeptide cleavage specificities, exhibit very different phenotypes, suggesting that the unique features of individual caspases may account for distinct regulation and specialized functions. Recent studies demonstrate that unique apoptotic stimuli are transduced by distinct proteolytic pathways, with multiple components of the proteolytic machinery clustering at distinct subcellular sites. We demonstrate here that, in addition to its nuclear distribution, caspase-2 is localized to the Golgi complex, where it cleaves golgin-160 at a unique site not susceptible to cleavage by other caspases with very similar tetrapeptide specificities. Early cleavage at this site precedes cleavage at distal sites by other caspases. Prevention of cleavage at the unique caspase-2 site delays disintegration of the Golgi complex after delivery of a pro-apoptotic signal. We propose that the Golgi complex, like mitochondria, senses and integrates unique local conditions, and transduces pro-apoptotic signals through local caspases, which regulate local effectors.
PMCID: PMC2174848  PMID: 10791974
signaling; subcellular; substrate; coiled coil; protease
13.  The Caspase-3 Precursor Has a Cytosolic and Mitochondrial Distribution: Implications for Apoptotic Signaling  
The Journal of Cell Biology  1998;140(6):1485-1495.
Caspase-3–mediated proteolysis is a critical element of the apoptotic process. Recent studies have demonstrated a central role for mitochondrial proteins (e.g., Bcl-2 and cytochrome c) in the activation of caspase-3, by a process that involves interaction of several protein molecules. Using antibodies that specifically recognize the precursor form of caspase-3, we demonstrate that the caspase-3 proenzyme has a mitochondrial and cytosolic distribution in nonapoptotic cells. The mitochondrial caspase-3 precursor is contained in the intermembrane space. Delivery of a variety of apoptotic stimuli is accompanied by loss of mitochondrial caspase-3 precursor staining and appearance of caspase-3 proteolytic activity. We propose that the mitochondrial subpopulation of caspase-3 precursor molecules is coupled to a distinct subset of apoptotic signaling pathways that are Bcl-2 sensitive and that are transduced through multiple mitochondrion-specific protein interactions.
PMCID: PMC2132665  PMID: 9508780

Results 1-13 (13)