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1.  Inhibition of insulin/IGF-1 receptor signaling protects from mitochondria-mediated kidney failure 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2015;7(3):275-287.
Mitochondrial dysfunction and alterations in energy metabolism have been implicated in a variety of human diseases. Mitochondrial fusion is essential for maintenance of mitochondrial function and requires the prohibitin ring complex subunit prohibitin-2 (PHB2) at the mitochondrial inner membrane. Here, we provide a link between PHB2 deficiency and hyperactive insulin/IGF-1 signaling. Deletion of PHB2 in podocytes of mice, terminally differentiated cells at the kidney filtration barrier, caused progressive proteinuria, kidney failure, and death of the animals and resulted in hyperphosphorylation of S6 ribosomal protein (S6RP), a known mediator of the mTOR signaling pathway. Inhibition of the insulin/IGF-1 signaling system through genetic deletion of the insulin receptor alone or in combination with the IGF-1 receptor or treatment with rapamycin prevented hyperphosphorylation of S6RP without affecting the mitochondrial structural defect, alleviated renal disease, and delayed the onset of kidney failure in PHB2-deficient animals. Evidently, perturbation of insulin/IGF-1 receptor signaling contributes to tissue damage in mitochondrial disease, which may allow therapeutic intervention against a wide spectrum of diseases.
PMCID: PMC4364945  PMID: 25643582
insulin; mitochondria; mTOR; podocyte
2.  Low-Molecular Weight Heparin Increases Circulating sFlt-1 Levels and Enhances Urinary Elimination 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85258.
Preeclampsia is a devastating medical complication of pregnancy which leads to maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. While the etiology of preeclampsia is unclear, human and animal studies suggest that excessive circulating levels of soluble fms-like tyrosine-kinase-1 (sFlt-1), an alternatively spliced variant of VEGF-receptor1, contribute to the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia. Since sFlt-1 binds to heparin and heparan sulfate proteoglycans, we hypothesized that the anticoagulant heparin, which is often used in pregnancy, may interfere with the levels, distribution and elimination of sFlt-1 in vivo.
We systematically determined serum and urine levels of angiogenic factors in preeclamptic women before and after administration of low molecular weight heparin and further characterized the interaction with heparin in biochemical studies.
Methods and Results
Serum and urine samples were used to measure sFlt-1 levels before and after heparin administration. Serum levels of sFlt-1 increased by 25% after heparin administration in pregnant women. The magnitude of the increase in circulating sFlt-1 correlated with initial sFlt-1 serum levels. Urinary sFlt-1 levels were also elevated following heparin administration and levels of elimination were dependent on the underlying integrity of the glomerular filtration barrier. Biochemical binding studies employing cation exchange chromatography revealed that heparin bound sFlt-1 had decreased affinity to negatively charged surfaces when compared to sFlt-1 alone.
Low molecular weight heparin administration increased circulating sFlt1 levels and enhanced renal elimination. We provide evidence that both effects may be due to heparin binding to sFlt1 and masking the positive charges on sFlt1 protein.
PMCID: PMC3897409  PMID: 24465515
3.  N-Glycosylation of Carnosinase Influences Protein Secretion and Enzyme Activity 
Diabetes  2010;59(8):1984-1990.
The (CTG)n polymorphism in the serum carnosinase (CN-1) gene affects CN-1 secretion. Since CN-1 is heavily glycosylated and glycosylation might influence protein secretion as well, we tested the role of N-glycosylation for CN-1 secretion and enzyme activity. We also tested whether CN-1 secretion is changed under hyperglycemic conditions.
N-glycosylation of CN-1 was either inhibited by tunicamycin in pCSII-CN-1–transfected Cos-7 cells or by stepwise deletion of its three putative N-glycosylation sites. CN-1 protein expression, N-glycosylation, and enzyme activity were assessed in cell extracts and supernatants. The influence of hyperglycemia on CN-1 enzyme activity in human serum was tested in homozygous (CTG)5 diabetic patients and healthy control subjects.
Tunicamycin completely inhibited CN-1 secretion. Deletion of all N-glycosylation sites was required to reduce CN-1 secretion efficiency. Enzyme activity was already diminished when two sites were deleted. In pCSII-CN-1–transfected Cos-7 cells cultured in medium containing 25 mmol/l d-glucose, the immature 61 kilodaltons (kDa) CN-1 immune reactive band was not detected. This was paralleled by an increased GlcNAc expression in cell lysates and CN-1 expression in the supernatants. Homozygous (CTG)5 diabetic patients had significantly higher serum CN-1 activity compared with genotype-matched, healthy control subjects.
We conclude that apart from the (CTG)n polymorphism in the signal peptide of CN-1, N-glycosylation is essential for appropriate secretion and enzyme activity. Since hyperglycemia enhances CN-1 secretion and enzyme activity, our data suggest that poor blood glucose control in diabetic patients might result in an increased CN-1 secretion even in the presence of the (CTG)5 allele.
PMCID: PMC2911063  PMID: 20460427
4.  The epithelial phenotype confers resistance of ovarian cancer cells to oncolytic adenoviruses 
Cancer research  2009;69(12):5115-5125.
We studied the propensity of primary ovarian cancer cells to oncolytic adenoviruses. Using gene expression profiling of cancer cells either resistant or susceptible to viral oncolysis, we discovered that the epithelial phenotype of ovarian cancer represents a barrier to infection by commonly used oncolytic adenoviruses targeted to CAR or CD46. Specifically, we found that these adenovirus receptors were trapped in tight junctions and not accessible for virus binding. Accessibility to viral receptors was critically linked to depolarization and the loss of tight and adherens junctions, both hallmarks of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). We showed that specific, so far little explored adenovirus serotypes (Ad3, 7, 11, and 14) that use receptor(s) other than CAR and CD46 were able to trigger EMT in epithelial ovarian cancer cells and cause efficient oncolysis. Our studies on ovarian cancer cultures and xenografts also revealed a number of interesting cancer cell biology features. Tumors in situ as well as tumor xenografts in mice mostly contained epithelial cells and cells that were in a hybrid stage where they expressed both epithelial and mesenchymal markers (E/M cells). These E/M cells are the only xenograft-derived cells that can be cultured, and with passaging undergo EMT and differentiate into mesenchymal cells. Our study provides a venue for improved virotherapy of cancer as well as new insights into cancer cell biology.
PMCID: PMC2738419  PMID: 19491256
5.  N-Octanoyl Dopamine, a Non-Hemodyanic Dopamine Derivative, for Cell Protection during Hypothermic Organ Preservation 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9713.
Although donor dopamine treatment reduces the requirement for post transplantation dialysis in renal transplant recipients, implementation of dopamine in donor management is hampered by its hemodynamic side-effects. Therefore novel dopamine derivatives lacking any hemodynamic actions and yet are more efficacious in protecting tissue from cold preservation injury are warranted. We hypothesized that variation of the molecular structure would yield more efficacious compounds avoid of any hemodynamic effects.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To this end, we assessed protection against cold preservation injury in HUVEC by the attenuation of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release. Modification of dopamine by an alkanoyl group increased cellular uptake and significantly improved efficacy of protection. Further variation revealed that only compounds bearing two hydroxy groups in ortho or para position at the benzene nucleus, i.e. strong reductants, were protective. However, other reducing agents like N-acetyl cysteine and ascorbate, or NADPH oxidase inhibition did not prevent cellular injury following cold storage. Unlike dopamine, a prototypic novel compound caused no hemodynamic side-effects.
In conclusion, we demonstrate that protection against cold preservation injury by catecholamines is exclusively governed by strong reducing capacity and sufficient lipophilicity. The novel dopamine derivatives might be of clinical relevance in donor pre-conditioning as they are completely devoid of hemodynamic action, their increased cellular uptake would reduce time of treatment and therefore also may have a potential use for non-heart beating donors.
PMCID: PMC2838791  PMID: 20300525
6.  Novel siRNA Delivery System to Target Podocytes In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9463.
Podocytes are injured in several glomerular diseases. To alter gene expression specifically in podocytes in vivo, we took advantage of their active endocytotic machinery and developed a method for the targeted delivery of small interfering ribonucleic acids (siRNA). We generated an anti-mouse podocyte antibody that binds to rat and mouse podocytes in vivo. The polyclonal IgG antibody was cleaved into monovalent fragments, while preserving the antigen recognition sites. One Neutravidin molecule was linked to each monovalent IgG via the available sulfohydryl group. Protamine, a polycationic nuclear protein and universal adaptor for anionic siRNA, was linked to the neutravidin via biotin. The delivery system was named shamporter (sheep anti mouse podocyte transporter). Injection of shamporter coupled with either nephrin siRNA or TRPC6 siRNA via tail vein into normal rats substantially reduced the protein levels of nephrin or TRPC6 respectively, measured by western blot analysis and immunostaining. The effect was target specific because other podocyte-specific genes remained unchanged. Shamporter + nephrin siRNA induced transient proteinuria in rats. Control rats injected with shamporter coupled to control-siRNA showed no changes. These results show for the first time that siRNA can be delivered efficiently and specifically to podocytes in vivo using an antibody-delivery system.
PMCID: PMC2830889  PMID: 20209128
7.  Rosuvastatin protects against podocyte apoptosis in vitro 
Background. Clinical studies suggest that statins reduce proteinuria and slow the decline in kidney function in chronic kidney disease. Given a rich literature identifying podocyte apoptosis as an early step in the pathophysiological progression to proteinuria and glomerulosclerosis, we hypothesized that rosuvastatin protects podocytes from undergoing apoptosis. Regarding a potential mechanism, our lab has shown that the cell cycle protein, p21, has a prosurvial role in podocytes and there is literature showing statins upregulate p21 in other renal cells. Therefore, we queried whether rosuvastatin is prosurvival in podocytes through a p21-dependent pathway.
Methods. Two independent apoptotic triggers, puromycin aminonucleoside (PA) and adriamycin (ADR), were used to induce apoptosis in p21 +/+ and p21 −/− conditionally immortalized mouse podocytes with or without pre-exposure to rosuvastatin. Apoptosis was measured by two methods: Hoechst 33342 staining and fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). To establish a role for p21, p21 levels were measured by western blotting following rosuvastatin exposure and p21 was stably transduced into p21 −/− mouse podocytes.
Results. Rosuvastatin protects against ADR- and PA-induced apoptosis in podocytes. Further, exposure to rosuvastatin increases p21 levels in podocytes in vitro. ADR induces apoptosis in p21 −/− mouse podocytes, but rosuvastatin's protective effect is not seen in the absence of p21. Reconstituting p21 in p21 −/− podocytes restores rosuvastatin's prosurvival effect.
Conclusion. Rosuvastatin is prosurvival in injured podocytes. Rosuvastatin exerts its protective effect through a p21-dependent antiapoptotic pathway. These findings suggest that statins decrease proteinuria by protecting against podocyte apoptosis and subsequent podocyte depopulation.
PMCID: PMC2727303  PMID: 18820279
podocyte; apoptosis; p21; statins
8.  Cyclin I activates Cdk5 and regulates expression of Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL in postmitotic mouse cells 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2009;119(10):3089-3101.
Cyclin I is an atypical cyclin because it is most abundant in postmitotic cells. We previously showed that cyclin I does not regulate proliferation, but rather controls survival of podocytes, terminally differentiated epithelial cells that are essential for the structural and functional integrity of kidney glomeruli. Here, we investigated the mechanism by which cyclin I safeguards against apoptosis and found that cyclin I bound and activated cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) in isolated mouse podocytes and neurons. Cdk5 activity was reduced in glomeruli and brain lysates from cyclin I–deficient mice, and inhibition of Cdk5 increased in vitro the susceptibility to apoptosis in response to cellular damage. In addition, levels of the prosurvival proteins Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL were reduced in podocytes and neurons from cyclin I–deficient mice, and restoration of Bcl-2 or Bcl-XL expression prevented injury-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, we found that levels of phosphorylated MEK1/2 and ERK1/2 were decreased in cyclin I–deficient podocytes and that inhibition of MEK1/2 restored Bcl2 and Bcl-XL protein levels. Of interest, this pathway was also defective in mice with experimental glomerulonephritis. Taken together, these data suggest that a cyclin I–Cdk5 complex forms a critical antiapoptotic factor in terminally differentiated cells that functions via MAPK signaling to modulate levels of the prosurvival proteins Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL.
PMCID: PMC2752065  PMID: 19729834
9.  Clinical review: Immunomodulatory effects of dopamine in general inflammation 
Critical Care  2004;8(6):485-491.
Large quantitaties of inflammatory mediators are released during the course of endotoxaemia. These mediators in turn can stimulate the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) to release catecholamines, which ultimately regulate inflammation-associated impairment in tissue perfusion, myocardial impairment and vasodilatation. Treatment of sepsis is based on surgical and/or antibiotic therapy, appropriate fluid management and application of vasoactive catecholamines. With respect to the latter, discussions on the vasopressor of choice are still ongoing. Over the past decade dopamine has been considered the 'first line' vasopressor and is frequently used to improve organ perfusion and blood pressure. However, there is a growing body of evidence that dopamine has deleterious side effects; therefore, its clinical relevance seems to be more and more questionable. Nevertheless, it has not been convincingly demonstrated that other catecholamines are superior to dopamine in this respect. Apart from its haemodynamic action, dopamine can modulate immune responses by influencing the cytokine network. This leads to inhibition of expression of adhesion molecules, inhibition of cytokine and chemokine production, inhibition of neutrophil chemotaxis and disturbed T-cell proliferation. In the present review we summarize our knowledge of the immunomodulatory effects of dopamine, with an emphasis on the mechanisms by which these effects are mediated.
PMCID: PMC1065039  PMID: 15566620
adhesion molecules; cytokines; dopamine; hemostasis; sepsis

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