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1.  Identification of the GTPase-activating protein DEP domain containing 1B (DEPDC1B) as a transcriptional target of Pitx2 
Experimental cell research  2015;333(1):80-92.
Pitx2 is a bicoid-related homeobox transcription factor implicated in regulating left-right patterning and organogenesis. However, only a limited number of Pitx2 downstream target genes have been identified and characterized. Here we demonstrate that Pitx2 is a transcriptional repressor of DEP domain containing 1B (DEPDC1B). The first intron of the human and mouse DEP domain containing 1B genes contains multiple consensus DNA-binding sites for Pitx2. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays revealed that Pitx2, along with histone deacetylase 1, was recruited to the first intron of Depdc1b. In contrast, RNAi-mediated depletion of Pitx2 not only enhanced the acetylation of histone H4 in the first intron of Depdc1b, but also increased the protein level of Depdc1b. Luciferase reporter assays also showed that Pitx2 could repress the transcriptional activity mediated by the first intron of human DEPDC1B. The GAP domain of DEPDC1B interacted with nucleotide-bound forms of RAC1 in vitro. In addition, exogenous expression of DEPDC1B suppressed RAC1 activation and interfered with actin polymerization induced by the guanine nucleotide exchange factor TRIO. Moreover, DEPDC1B interacted with various signaling molecules such as U2af2, Erh, and Salm. We propose that Pitx2-mediated repression of Depdc1b expression contributes to the regulation of multiple molecular pathways, such as Rho GTPase signaling.
PMCID: PMC4387072  PMID: 25704760
GTPase signaling; transcriptional regulation; Pitx2; DEPDC1B
2.  Phosphate Uptake-Independent Signaling Functions of the Type III Sodium-Dependent Phosphate Transporter, PiT-1, in Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells 
Experimental cell research  2015;333(1):39-48.
Vascular calcification (VC) is prevalent in chronic kidney disease and elevated serum inorganic phosphate (Pi) is a recognized risk factor. The type III sodium-dependent phosphate transporter, PiT-1, is required for elevated Pi-induced osteochondrogenic differentiation and matrix mineralization in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). However, the molecular mechanism(s) by which PiT-1 promotes these processes is unclear. In the present study, we confirmed that the Pi concentration required to induce osteochondrogenic differentiation and matrix mineralization of mouse VSMCs was well above that required for maximal Pi uptake, suggesting a signaling function of PiT-1 that was independent of Pi transport. Elevated Pi-induced signaling via ERK1/2 phosphorylation was abrogated in PiT-1 deficient VSMCs, but could be rescued by wild-type (WT) and a Pi transport-deficient PiT-1 mutant. Furthermore, both WT and transport-deficient PiT-1 mutants promoted osteochondrogenic differentiation as measured by decreased SM22α and increased osteopontin mRNA expression. Finally, compared to vector alone, expression of transport-deficient PiT-1 mutants promoted VSMC matrix mineralization, but not to the extent observed with PiT-1 WT. These data suggest that both Pi uptake-dependent and -independent functions of PiT-1 are important for VSMC processes mediating vascular calcification.
PMCID: PMC4387109  PMID: 25684711
PiT-1; SLC20A1; phosphate; calcification; ERK phosphorylation; signaling
3.  Hepatocyte growth factor activator inhibitor-2 prevents shedding of matriptase 
Experimental cell research  2013;319(6):918-929.
Hepatocyte growth factor activator inhibitor-2 (HAI-2) is an inhibitor of many proteases in vitro, including the membrane-bound serine protease, matriptase. Studies of knock-out mice have shown that HAI-2 is essential for placental development only in mice expressing matriptase, suggesting that HAI-2 is important for regulation of matriptase. Previous studies have shown that recombinant expression of matriptase was unsuccessful unless co-expressed with another HAI, HAI-1. In the present study we show that when human matriptase is recombinantly expressed alone in the canine cell line MDCK, then human matriptase mRNA can be detected and the human matriptase ectodomain is shed to the media, suggesting that matriptase expressed alone is rapidly transported through the secretory pathway and shed. Whereas matriptase expressed together with HAI-1 or HAI-2 accumulates on the plasma membrane where it is activated, as judged by cleavage at Arg614 and increased peptidolytic activity of the cell extracts. Mutagenesis of Kunitz domain 1 but not Kunitz domain 2 abolished this function of HAI-2. HAI-2 seems to carry out its function intracellularly as this is where the vast majority of HAI-2 is located and since HAI-2 could not be detected on the basolateral plasma membrane where matriptase resides. However, minor amounts of HAI-2 not undergoing endocytosis could be detected on the apical plasma membrane. Our results suggest that Kunitz domain 1 of HAI-2 cause matriptase to accumulate in a membrane-bound form on the basolateral plasma membrane.
PMCID: PMC4810019  PMID: 23333561
Matriptase; HAI-2; HAI-1; Shedding
4.  Contributions of the Integrin β1 Tail to Cell Adhesive Forces 
Experimental cell research  2014;332(2):212-222.
Integrin receptors connect the extracellular matrix to the cell cytoskeleton to provide essential forces and signals. To examine the contributions of the β1 integrin cytoplasmic tail to adhesive forces, we generated cell lines expressing wild-type and tail mutant β1 integrins in β1-null fibroblasts. Deletion of β1 significantly reduced cell spreading, focal adhesion assembly, and adhesive forces, and expression of hβ1 integrin in these cells restored adhesive functions. Cells expressing a truncated tail mutant had impaired spreading, fewer and smaller focal adhesions, reduced integrin binding to fibronectin, and lower adhesion strength and traction forces compared to hβ1-expressing cells. All these metrics were equivalent to those for β1-null cells, demonstrating that the β1 tail is essential to these adhesive functions. Expression of the constitutively-active D759A hβ1 mutant restored many of these adhesive functions in β1-null cells, although with important differences when compared to wild-type β1. Even though there were no differences in integrin-fibronectin binding and adhesion strength between hβ1- and hβ1-D759A-expressing cells, hβ1-D759A-expressing cells assembled more but smaller adhesions than hβ1-expressing cells. Importantly, hβ1-D759A-expressing cells generated lower traction forces compared to hβ1-expressing cells. These differences between hβ1- and hβ1-D759A-expressing cells suggest that regulation of integrin activation is important for fine-tuning cell spreading, focal adhesion assembly, and traction force generation.
PMCID: PMC4359961  PMID: 25460334
5.  Dynamic Heterogeneity of DNA Methylation and Hydroxymethylation in Embryonic Stem Cell Populations Captured by Single-Cell 3D High-Content Analysis 
Experimental cell research  2015;332(2):190-201.
Cell-surface markers and transcription factors are being used in the assessment of stem cell fate and therapeutic safety, but display significant variability in stem cell cultures. We assessed nuclear patterns of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC, associated with pluripotency), a second important epigenetic mark, and its combination with 5-methylcytosine (5mC, associated with differentiation), also in comparison to more established markers of pluripotency (Oct-4) and endodermal differentiation (FoxA2, Sox17) in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESC) over a ten-day differentiation course in vitro: by means of confocal and super-resolution imaging together with high-content analysis, an essential tool in single-cell screening. In summary: 1) We did not measure any significant correlation of putative markers with global 5mC or 5hmC. 2) While average Oct-4 levels stagnated on a cell-population base (0.015 lnIU per day), Sox17 and FoxA2 increased 22-fold and 3-fold faster, respectively (Sox17:0.343 lnIU/day; FoxA2: 0.046 lnIU/day). In comparison, DNA global methylation levels increased 4-fold faster (0.068 lnIU/day), and global hydroxymethylation declined at 0.046 lnIU/day, both with a better explanation of the temporal profile. 3) This progression was concomitant with the occurrence of distinct nuclear codistribution patterns that represented a heterogeneous spectrum of states in differentiation; converging to three major coexisting 5mC/5hmC phenotypes by day 10: 5hmC+/5mC−, 5hmC+/5mC+, and 5hmC−/5mC+ cells. 4) Using optical nanoscopy we could delineate the respective topologies of 5mC/5hmC colocalization in subregions of nuclear DNA: in the majority of 5hmC+/5mC+ cells 5hmC and 5mC predominantly occupied mutually exclusive territories resembling euchromatic and heterochromatic regions, respectively. Simultaneously, in a smaller subset of cells we observed a tighter colocalization of the two cytosine variants, presumably delineating chromatin domains in remodeling. We conclude that 1) 5mC emerges as the most differential marker in our model system. 2) However, the combined enrollment of the two DNA modifications provided higher-definition screening and lead to the identification of cell subpopulations based on differential 5hmC/5mC phenotypes corresponding to different 5hmC/5mC ratios. The results encourage: a) assessing the regenerative potential of early-endodermal cells enriched for the three DNA methylation/hydroxymethylation categories, and b) exploring the universality of this type of epigenetic phenotyping across other lineage-specific differentiations.
PMCID: PMC4364299  PMID: 25700729
DNA methylation; hydroxymethylcytosine; stem cell heterogeneity; super-resolution imaging; 3D high-content analysis; epigenetic phenotyping
6.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC4829071  PMID: 26968635
7.  Protein kinase D isozymes activation and localization during mitosis 
Experimental cell research  2008;314(16):3057-3068.
The protein kinase D (PKD) family consists of three serine/threonine protein kinases involved in the regulation of fundamental biological processes in response to their activation and intracellular redistribution. Although a substantial amount of information is available describing the mechanisms regulating the activation and intracellular distribution of the PKD isozymes during interphase, nothing is known of their activation status, localization and role during mitosis. The results presented in this study indicate that during mitosis, PKD3 and PKD are phosphorylated at Ser731 and Ser744 within their activation loop by a mechanism that requires protein kinase C. Mitosis-associated PKD3 Ser731 and PKD Ser744 phosphorylation is related to the catalytic activation of these kinases as evidenced by in vivo phosphorylation of histone deacetylase 5, a substrate of PKD and PKD3. Activation loop-phosphorylated PKD3 and PKD, as well as PKD2, associate with centrosomes, spindles and midbody suggesting that these activated kinases establish dynamic interactions with the mitotic apparatus. Thus, this study reveals a connection between the PKD isozymes and cell division, suggesting a novel role for this family of serine/threonine kinases.
PMCID: PMC4783172  PMID: 18692497
PKD; PKD2; PKD3; Mitosis; Centrosomes; Spindles; GPCR; PKC; HDAC5; done
8.  PHOX2A and PHOX2B are differentially regulated during retinoic acid-driven differentiation of SK-N-BE(2)C neuroblastoma cell line 
Experimental Cell Research  2016;342(1):62-71.
PHOX2B and its paralogue gene PHOX2A are two homeodomain proteins in the network regulating the development of autonomic ganglia that have been associated with the pathogenesis of neuroblastoma (NB), because of their over-expression in different NB cell lines and tumour samples. We used the SK-N-BE(2)C cell line to show that all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), a drug that is widely used to inhibit growth and induce differentiation in NBs, regulates both PHOX2A and PHOX2B expression, albeit by means of different mechanisms: it up-regulates PHOX2A and down-regulates PHOX2B. Both mechanisms act at transcriptional level, but prolonged ATRA treatment selectively degrades the PHOX2A protein, whereas the corresponding mRNA remains up-regulated. Further, we show that PHOX2A is capable of modulating PHOX2B expression, but this mechanism is not involved in the PHOX2B down-regulation induced by retinoic acid. Our findings demonstrate that PHOX2A expression is finely controlled during retinoic acid differentiation and this, together with PHOX2B down-regulation, reinforces the idea that they may be useful biomarkers for NB staging, prognosis and treatment decision making.
•RA regulates both PHOX2A and PHOX2B expression by means of different mechanisms.•PHOX2A and PHOX2B expression must be controlled during RA induced differentiation.•PHOX2A modulates PHOX2B, but does not mediate the RA-induced PHOX2B down-regulation.•RA induces PHOX2A protein degradation by means of the ubiquitin-proteasome system.
PMCID: PMC4819706  PMID: 26902400
α3 nAChR, alpha 3 nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor; ATRA, all-trans Retinoic Acid; BMP-2, Bone morphogenetic protein-2; CCHS, Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome; Cdk, cyclin-dependent kinase; ChIP, chromatin immunoprecipitation; CKI, Cdk inhibitor; DβH, dopamine-β-hydroxylase; DR, directed repeat; GDNF, glial derived neurotrophic factor; HSCR, Hirschprung's disease; NB, neuroblastoma; NT3, neurotrophin 3; RAR, retinoic acid receptor; RARE, retinoic acid responsive element; RXR, retinoid X receptor; TH, tyrosine hydroxylase; TH-MYCN, tyrosine hydroxylase‑v‑myc avian myelocytomatosis viral oncogene; Neuroblastoma; Retinoic acid; Human; Transcription; Transcription factor; Differentiation; Homeodomain protein
9.  Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 Expression by Skeletal Muscle Cells Augments Myogenesis 
Experimental cell research  2014;331(2):292-308.
We previously demonstrated that the expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) by skeletal muscle cells after muscle overload contributes to ensuing regenerative and hypertrophic processes in skeletal muscle. The objective of the present study is to reveal mechanisms through which skeletal muscle cell expression of ICAM-1 augments regenerative and hypertrophic processes of myogenesis. This was accomplished by genetically engineering C2C12 myoblasts to stably express ICAM-1, and by inhibiting the adhesive and signaling functions of ICAM-1 through the use of a neutralizing antibody or cell penetrating peptide, respectively. Expression of ICAM-1 by cultured skeletal muscle cells augmented myoblast-myoblast adhesion, myotube formation, myonuclear number, myotube alignment, myotube-myotube fusion, and myotube size without influencing the ability of myoblasts to proliferate or differentiate. ICAM-1 augmented myotube formation, myonuclear accretion, and myotube alignment through a mechanism involving adhesion-induced activation of ICAM-1 signaling, as these dependent measures were reduced via antibody and peptide inhibition of ICAM-1. The adhesive and signaling functions of ICAM-1 also facilitated myotube hypertrophy through a mechanism involving myotube-myotube fusion, protein synthesis, and Akt/p70s6k signaling. Our findings demonstrate that ICAM-1 expression by skeletal muscle cells augments myogenesis, and establish a novel mechanism through which the inflammatory response facilitates growth processes in skeletal muscle.
PMCID: PMC4323887  PMID: 25281303
Inflammation; adhesion molecules; muscle regeneration; muscle hypertrophy
10.  Coagulation factor VII is regulated by androgen receptor in breast cancer 
Experimental cell research  2014;331(1):239-250.
Androgen receptor (AR) is widely expressed in breast cancer; however, there is limited information on the key molecular functions and gene targets of AR in this disease. In this study, gene expression data from a cohort of 52 breast cancer cell lines was analyzed to identify a network of AR co-expressed genes. A total of three hundred genes, which were significantly enriched for cell cycle and metabolic functions, showed absolute correlation coefficients (| CC |) of more than 0.5 with AR expression across the dataset. In this network, a subset of 35 “AR-signature” genes were highly co-expressed with AR (| CC| > 0.6) that included transcriptional regulators PATZ1, NFATC4, and SPDEF. Furthermore, gene encoding coagulation factor VII (F7) demonstrated the closest expression pattern with AR (CC= 0.716) in the dataset and factor VII protein expression was significantly associated to that of AR in a cohort of 209 breast tumors. Moreover, functional studies demonstrated that AR activation results in the induction of factor VII expression at both transcript and protein levels and AR directly binds to a proximal region of F7 promoter in breast cancer cells. Importantly, AR activation in breast cancer cells induced endogenous factor VII activity to convert factor X to Xa in conjunction with tissue factor. In summary, F7 is a novel AR target gene and AR activation regulates the ectopic expression and activity of factor VII in breast cancer cells. These findings have functional implications in the pathobiology of thromboembolic events and regulation of factor VII/tissue factor signaling in breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC4302010  PMID: 25447311
androgen receptor; breast cancer; factor VII; gene transcription
11.  Withaferin A disrupts ubiquitin-based NEMO reorganization induced by canonical NF-κB signaling 
Experimental cell research  2014;331(1):58-72.
The NF-κB family of transcription factors regulates numerous cellular processes, including cell proliferation and survival responses. The constitutive activation of NF-κB has also emerged as an important oncogenic driver in many malignancies, such as activated B-cell like diffuse large B cell lymphoma, among others. In this study, we investigated the impact and mechanisms of action of Withaferin A, a naturally produced steroidal lactone, against both signal-inducible as well as constitutive NF-κB activities. We found that Withaferin A is a robust inhibitor of canonical and constitutive NF-κB activities, leading to apoptosis of certain lymphoma lines. In the canonical pathway induced by TNF, Withaferin A did not disrupt RIP1 polyubiquitination or NEMO-IKKβ interaction and was a poor direct IKKβ inhibitor, but prevented the formation of TNF induced NEMO foci which colocalized with TNF ligand. While GFP-NEMO efficiently formed TNF-induced foci, a GFP-NEMOY308S mutant that is defective in binding to polyubiquitin chains did not form foci. Our study reveals that Withaferin A is a novel type of IKK inhibitor which acts by disrupting NEMO reorganization into ubiquitin-based signaling structures in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4302062  PMID: 25304104
NF-κB; NEMO; IKK; ubiquitin; Withaferin A; NEMO foci; ABC type diffuse large B-cell lymphoma; apoptosis
12.  BCL-2 family protein, BAD is down-regulated in breast cancer and inhibits cancer cell invasion 
Experimental cell research  2014;331(1):1-10.
We have previously demonstrated that the anti-apoptotic protein BAD is expressed in normal human breast tissue and shown that BAD inhibits expression of cyclin D1 to delay cell-cycle progression in breast cancer cells. Herein, expression of proteins in breast tissues was studied by immunohistochemistry and results were analyzed statistically to obtain semi-quantitative data. Biochemical and functional changes in BAD-overexpressing MCF7 breast cancer cells were evaluated using PCR, reporter assays, western blotting, ELISA and extracellular matrix invasion assays. Compared to normal tissues, Grade II breast cancers expressed low total/phosphorylated forms of BAD in both cytoplasmic and nuclear compartments. BAD overexpression decreased the expression of β-catenin, Sp1, and phosphorylation of STATs. BAD inhibited Ras/MEK/ERK and JNK signaling pathways, without affecting the p38 signaling pathway. Expression of the metastasis-related proteins, MMP10, VEGF, SNAIL, CXCR4, E-cadherin and TlMP2 were regulated by BAD with concomitant inhibition of extracellular matrix invasion. siRNA knockdown of BAD increased invasion and Akt/p-Akt levels. Clinical data and the results herein suggest that in addition to the effect on apoptosis, BAD conveys anti-metastatic effects and is a valuable prognostic marker in breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC4304679  PMID: 25499972
BAD; extracellular matrix invasion; breast cancer; metastasis
13.  Phosphorylation and Cellular Function of the Human Rpa2 N-Terminus in the Budding Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Experimental cell research  2014;331(1):183-199.
Maintenance of genome integrity is critical for proper cell growth. This occurs through accurate DNA replication and repair of DNA lesions. A key factor involved in both DNA replication and the DNA damage response is the heterotrimeric single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) binding complex Replication Protein A (RPA). Although the RPA complex appears to be structurally conserved throughout eukaryotes, the primary amino acid sequence of each subunit can vary considerably. Examination of sequence differences along with the functional interchangeability of orthologous RPA subunits or regions could provide insight into important regions and their functions. This might also allow for study in simpler systems. We determined that substitution of yeast Replication Factor A (RFA) with human RPA does not support yeast cell viability. Exchange of a single yeast RFA subunit with the corresponding human RPA subunit does not function due to lack of inter-species subunit interactions. Substitution of yeast Rfa2 with domains/regions of human Rpa2 important for Rpa2 function (i.e., the N-terminus and the loop 3–4 region) supports viability in yeast cells, and hybrid proteins containing human Rpa2 N-terminal phospho-mutations result in similar DNA damage phenotypes to analogous yeast Rfa2 N-terminal phospho-mutants. Finally, the human Rpa2 N-terminus (NT) fused to yeast Rfa2 is phosphorylated in a manner similar to human Rpa2 in human cells, indicating that conserved kinases recognize the human domain in yeast. The implication is that budding yeast represents a potential model system for studying not only human Rpa2 N-terminal phosphorylation, but also phosphorylation of Rpa2 N-termini from other eukaryotic organisms.
PMCID: PMC4334453  PMID: 25499885
RPA; N-terminus; phosphorylation; DNA damage response
14.  Unique tissue-specific level of DNA nucleotide excision repair in primary human mammary epithelial cultures 
Experimental cell research  2003;291(1):111-121.
DNA repair is essential for the maintenance of genomic integrity and stability. Nucleotide excision repair (NER) is a major pathway responsible for remediation of damage caused by UV light, bulky adducts, and cross-linking agents. We now show that NER capacity is differentially expressed in human tissues. We established primary cultures of peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs: N = 33) and foreskin fibroblasts (FF: N = 6), as well as adult breast tissue (N = 22) using a unique culture system, and measured their NER capacity using the unscheduled DNA synthesis (UDS) functional assay. Relative to FF, primary cultures of breast cells exhibited only 24.6 ± 2.1% of NER capacity and PBLs only 8.9 ± 1.2%. Cells from the breast therefore have a unique and distinctive DNA repair capacity. The NER capacities of all three cell types had similar coefficients of variation in the range of 10%–15%, which should be taken into account when running controls for this contextual assay. Unlike previous studies and speculation in the field, we found that NER was not affected by cell morphology, donor age, or proliferation as measured by the S phase index. While the NER capacity of the transformed lymphoblastoid cell line TK6 was within the range of our PBL samples, the breast tumor-derived MDA MB-231 cell line was four-fold higher than normal breast tissue. These studies show that analysis of baseline DNA repair in normal human cell types is critical as a basis for evaluation of the effects of “mutator” genes as etiological factors in the development of cancer.
PMCID: PMC4729389  PMID: 14597413
Human mammary epithelial cells; HMECs; Nucleotide excision repair; NER; DNA repair; Tissue specificity; Unscheduled DNA synthesis assay; UDS
15.  Elevated DNA Excision Repair Capacity in the Extraembryonic Mesoderm of the Midgestation Mouse Embryo 
Experimental cell research  1996;228(1):19-28.
In order to determine whether there is differential cell-type-specific DNA repair we measured the nucleotide excision repair capacity of the four distinct cell lineages that comprise the extraembryonic yolk sac using the unscheduled DNA synthesis assay. Yolk sacs from mouse embryos at 11.5–12.5 days gestation were microdissected to yield purified trophoblast, parietal endoderm, mesoderm, and visceral endoderm, as well as fetal skin fibroblasts which were then grown as primary explants. At this midgestational stage of development, the yolk sac provides essential functions for the sustenance of the embryo while the complex process of organogenesis is proceeding in the liver, kidney, and gut. Trophoblast giant cells, parietal endoderm, and visceral endoderm all demonstrated low levels of unscheduled DNA synthesis consistent with levels measured in adult mouse skin fibroblasts. As has previously been documented, embryonic mouse skin fibroblasts were reproducibly 2- to 3-fold higher than adult mouse skin fibroblasts in levels of DNA excision repair. The extraembryonic mesoderm, however, displayed a statistically significant level of unscheduled DNA synthesis 10-fold higher than adult mouse skin fibroblasts or the other lineages of the midgestation yolk sac. Further, the S-indexes of these lineages were also determined to assess the possible relevance of differential repair to the proliferative status of the cells. These data demonstrate that DNA excision repair capacity is lineage-specific during embryogenesis in the mouse. These studies may begin to provide a context for understanding the perplexing developmental aspects such as the characteristic congenital abnormalities associated with the human heritable DNA repair deficiency diseases.
PMCID: PMC4729398  PMID: 8892966
16.  BCL-xL/MCL-1 inhibition and RARγ antagonism work cooperatively in human HL60 leukemia cells 
Experimental cell research  2014;327(2):183-191.
The acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) subtype of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is characterized by chromosomal translocations that result in fusion proteins, including the promyelocytic leukemia-retinoic acid receptor, alpha fusion protein (PML-RARα). All-trans retinoic acid (atRA) treatment is the standard drug treatment for APL yielding cure rates >80% by activating transcription and proteasomal degradation of retinoic acid receptor, alpha (RARα). Whereas combination therapy with As2O3 has increased survival further, patients that experience relapse and are refractory to atRA and/or As2O3 is a clinically significant problem. BCL-2 family proteins regulate apoptosis and over-expression of anti-apoptotic B-cell leukemia/lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) family proteins has been associated with chemotherapeutic resistance in APL including impairment of the ability of atRA to induce growth arrest and differentiation. Here we investigated the novel BH3 domain mimetic, JY-1-106, which antagonizes the anti-apoptotic BCL-2 family members B-cell lymphoma-extra large (BCL-xL) and myeloid cell leukemia-1 (MCL-1) alone and in combination with retinoids including atRA, AM580 (RARα agonist), and SR11253 (RARγ antagonist). JY-1-106 reduced cell viability in HL-60 cells alone and in combination with retinoids. The combination of JY-1-106 and SR11253 had the greatest impact on cell viability by stimulating apoptosis. These studies indicate that dual BCL-xL/MCL-1 inhibitors and retinoids could work cooperatively in leukemia treatment.
PMCID: PMC4727751  PMID: 25088254
HL60; leukemia; BCL-xL; MCL-1; retinoic acid; apoptosis
17.  TGFβ loss activates ADAMTS-1-mediated EGF-dependent invasion in a model of esophageal cell invasion 
Experimental cell research  2014;330(1):29-42.
The TGFβ signaling pathway is essential to epithelial homeostasis and is often inhibited during progression of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Recently, an important role for TGFβ signaling has been described in the crosstalk between epithelial and stromal cells regulating squamous tumor cell invasion in mouse models of head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Loss of TGFβ signaling, in either compartment, leads to HNSCC however, the mechanisms involved are not well understood. Using organotypic reconstruct cultures (OTC) to model the interaction between epithelial and stromal cells that occur in dysplastic lesions, we show that loss of TGFβ signaling promotes an invasive phenotype in both fibroblast and epithelial compartments. Employing immortalized esophageal keratinocytes established to reproduce common mutations of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, we show that treatment of OTC with inhibitors of TGFβ signaling (A83–01 or SB431542) enhances invasion of epithelial cells into a fibroblast-embedded Matrigel/collagen I matrix. Invasion induced by A83–01 is independent of proliferation but relies on protease activity and expression of ADAMTS-1 and can be altered by matrix density. This invasion was associated with increased expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, IL1 and EGFR ligands HB-EGF and TGFα. Altering EGF signaling prevented or induced epithelial cell invasion in this model. Loss of expression of the TGFβ target gene ROBO1 suggested that chemorepulsion may regulate keratinocyte invasion. Taken together, our data show increased invasion through inhibition of TGFβ signaling altered epithelial-fibroblasts interactions, repressing markers of activated fibroblasts, and altering integrin-fibronectin interactions. These results suggest that inhibition of TGFβ signaling modulates an array of pathways that combined promote multiple aspects of tumor invasion.
PMCID: PMC4267897  PMID: 25064463
Invasion; ADAMTS-1; MMP14; ESCC; cell matrix interaction
18.  The Cdk5 Activator P39 Specifically Links Muskelin to Myosin II and Regulates Stress Fiber Formation and Actin Organization in Lens 
Experimental cell research  2014;330(1):186-198.
Cyclin dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5), a proline-directed serine/threonine kinase, requires p39 for its enzymatic activity, and is implicated in cytoskeletal organization and contraction in numerous cell types. The C-terminus of p39 binds muskelin, a multi-domain scaffolding protein known to affect cytoskeletal organization, but the mechanism(s) by which muskelin affects cytoskeletal organization remain unclear. The present study sought to determine whether p39 might serve as an adaptor protein that links muskelin to stress fibers and to investigate the possible biological relevance of such an interaction. Double immunoprecipitation showed that muskelin, p39, and myosin II are components of a single intracellular complex, and suppressing p39 abrogated the interaction between muskelin and the myosin subunits, demonstrating that p39 is required to link muskelin to myosin II. Muskelin is colocalized with myosin regulatory light chain (MRLC) and on stress fibers. The suppression of muskelin reduced Rho-GTP, MRLC phosphorylation, disrupted stress fiber organization, and promoted cell migration, all of which closely mimics the effect of Cdk5 inhibition. Moreover, suppressing muskelin and inhibiting Cdk5 together has no additional effect, indicating that muskelin plays an important role in Cdk5-dependent signaling. P39 is necessary and sufficient for Cdk5-dependent regulation of MRLC phosphorylation, as suppression of p39, but not p35, reduced MRLC phosphorylation. Together, these results demonstrate that p39 specifically links muskelin to myosin II and consequently, to stress fibers and reveal a novel role for muskelin in regulating myosin phosphorylation and cytoskeletal organization.
PMCID: PMC4268005  PMID: 25128817
Cdk5; p39; muskelin; myosin; stress fibers; cytoskeleton; cell migration; lens
19.  A Simple and Efficient Method for Transfecting Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells Using Polyethylenimine 
Experimental cell research  2014;330(1):178-185.
Mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) can be transfected by electroporation, liposomal reagents, and viral transduction methods. The cationic polymer polyethylenimine (PEI) has been shown to transfect a variety of differentiated mammalian cell types, including mouse ESCs, but existing methods require the use of additional equipment that is not readily accessible to most labs. Here we describe conditions that permit for the efficient transfection of mouse ESCs with low cytotoxicity and without the need for specialized equipment. Our goal was to devise a protocol for the PEI-mediated transfection of mouse ESCs that was comparable in ease to commercial transfection reagents. For these studies, we compared PEI transfection efficiency and cytotoxicity to a well-known liposomal transfection reagent, Lipofectamine2000™ (LF2K), using fluorescence microscopy, flow cytometry, cell viability assays, and western blotting. We provide evidence that PEI transfection of mouse ESCs compares favorably to LF2K. Our optimized protocol for efficient transfection of mouse ESCs with PEI is detailed in this report.
PMCID: PMC4268182  PMID: 25102378
Polyethylenimine; Mouse embryonic stem cells; Transfection
20.  Interactive relationship between basement-membrane development and sarcomerogenesis in single cardiomyocytes 
Experimental cell research  2014;330(1):222-232.
The cardiac basement membrane (BM), the highly organized layer of the extracellular matrix (ECM) on the external side of the sarcolemma, is mainly composed of laminin and collagen IV, which assemble a dense, well-organized network to surround the surface of each adult cardiomyocyte. The development of the cardiac BM plays a key role in organogenesis of the myocardium through interactions between sarcomeres and integrins. Because of the complicated structure of cardiac muscle fibers and lack of a proper investigation method, the detailed interactions among BM development, sarcomeric growth, and integrin expression remain unclear. In this study, freshly isolated 3-day neonatal cardiomyocytes (CMs) were cultured on aligned collagen, which mimics the in vivo ECM structure and induces neonatal CMs to grow into rod-like shapes. Then double fluorescence-immunostained laminin and α-actinin or integrin β1 on neonatal CMs cultured 4-72 h were imaged using a confocal microscope, and the spatial relationship between laminin deposition and α-actinin expression was evaluated by colocalization analysis. At 4 h, laminin was deposited around Z-bodies (dot-shaped α-actinin) and integrins; from 18-to-72 h, its gradual colocalization with Z-lines (line-shaped α-actinin) and integrins increased Pearson's coefficient; this indicates that development of the BM network from the neonatal stage to adulthood is closely related to sarcomeric formation via integrin-mediated interactions.
PMCID: PMC4268256  PMID: 25151177
basement membrane; laminin; sarcomerogenesis; Z-lines; integrin
Experimental cell research  2014;330(1):199-211.
Intracellular signaling pathways present targets for pharmacological agents with potential for treatment of neoplastic diseases, with some disease remissions already recorded. However, cellular compensatory mechanisms usually negate the initial success. For instance, attempts to interrupt aberrant signaling downstream of the frequently mutated ras by inhibiting ERK1/2 has shown only limited usefulness for cancer therapy. Here, we examined how ERK5, that overlaps the functions of ERK1/2 in cell proliferation and survival, functions in a manner distinct from ERK1/2 in human AML cells induced to differentiate by 1,25D-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25D). Using inhibitors of ERK1/2 and of MEK5/ERK5 at concentrations specific for each kinase in HL60 and U937 cells, we observed that selective inhibition of the kinase activity of ERK5, but not of ERK1/2, in the presence of 1,25D resulted in macrophage-like cell morphology and enhancement of phagocytic activity. Importantly, this was associated with increased expression of the macrophage colony stimulating factor receptor (M-CSFR), but was not seen when M-CSFR expression was knocked down. Interestingly, inhibition of ERK1/2 led to activation of ERK5 in these cells. Our results support the hypothesis that ERK5 negatively regulates the expression of M-CSFR, and thus has a restraining function on macrophage differentiation. The addition of pharmacological inhibitors of ERK5 may influence trials of differentiation therapy of AML.
PMCID: PMC4364001  PMID: 25447310
MAPK; ERK5; ERK1/2; M-CSFR; vitamin D; AML
22.  A mechanical microcompressor for high resolution imaging of motile specimens 
Experimental cell research  2015;337(2):249-256.
In order to obtain fine details in 3 dimensions (3D) over time, it is critical for motile biological specimens to be appropriately immobilized. Of the many immobilization options available, the mechanical microcompressor offers many benefits. Our device, previously described, achieves gentle flattening of a cell, allowing us to image finely detailed structures of numerous organelles and physiological processes in living cells. We have imaged protozoa and other small metazoans using differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy, orientation-independent (OI) DIC, and real-time birefringence imaging using a video-enhanced polychromatic polscope. We also describe an enhancement of our previous design by engineering a new device where the coverslip mount is fashioned onto the top of the base; so the entire apparatus is accessible on top of the stage. The new location allows for easier manipulation of the mount when compressing or releasing a specimen on an inverted microscope. Using this improved design, we imaged immobilized bacteria, yeast, paramecia, and nematode worms and obtained an unprecedented view of cell and specimen details. A variety of microscopic techniques were used to obtain high resolution images of static and dynamic cellular and physiological events.
PMCID: PMC4696872  PMID: 26192819
Immobilization; High-resolution imaging; Protozoa; Microbes
23.  Pro-inflammatory cytokines: emerging players regulating HSC function in normal and diseased hematopoiesis 
Experimental cell research  2014;329(2):248-254.
Hematopoiesis is the hierarchical process in which all lineages of blood cells are produced by self-renewing hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in the bone marrow (BM). While the regulatory factors that maintain proper HSC function and lineage output under normal conditions are well understood, significantly less is known about how HSC fate is regulated in response to inflammation or disease. As many blood disorders are associated with overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines, significant interest has emerged in understanding the impact of these factors on HSC function. In this review we highlight key advances demonstrating the impact of pro-inflammatory cytokines on the biology of HSCs and the BM niche, and address ongoing questions regarding their role in normal and pathogenic hematopoiesis.
PMCID: PMC4250307  PMID: 25149680
hematopoietic stem cell; cytokine; inflammation; interferon; interleukin; myeloproliferative neoplasm
24.  Epigenetic regulation of hematopoietic stem cell aging 
Experimental cell research  2014;329(2):192-199.
Aging is invariably associated with alterations of the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) compartment, including loss of functional capacity, altered clonal composition, and changes in lineage contribution. Although accumulation of DNA damage occurs during HSC aging, it is unlikely such consistent aging phenotypes could be solely attributed to changes in DNA integrity. Another mechanism by which heritable traits could contribute to the changes in the functional potential of aged HSCs is through alterations in the epigenetic landscape of adult stem cells. Indeed, recent studies in hematopoietic stem cells have suggested that altered epigenetic profiles are associated with HSC aging and play a key role in modulating the functional potential of HSCs at different stages during ontogeny. Even small changes of the epigenetic landscape can lead to robustly altered expression patterns, either directly by loss of regulatory control or through indirect, additive effects, ultimately leading to transcriptional changes of the stem cells. Potential drivers of such changes in the epigenetic landscape of aged HSCs include proliferative history, DNA damage, and deregulation of key epigenetic enzymes and complexes. This review will focus largely on the two most characterized epigenetic marks - DNA methylation and histone modifications - but will also discuss the potential role of non-coding RNAs in regulating HSC function during aging.
PMCID: PMC4250347  PMID: 25261778
25.  Getting more for your marrow: boosting hematopoietic stem cell numbers with PGE2 
Experimental cell research  2014;329(2):220-226.
Throughout the lifetime of an individual, hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) self-renew and differentiate into lineages that include erythrocytes, platelets and all immune cells. HSC transplantation offers a potentially curative treatment for a number of hematopoietic and non-hematopoietic malignancies as well as immune and genetic disorders. Limited availability of immune-matched donors reduces the viable options for many patients in need of HSC transplantation, particularly those of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Due to rapid availability and less stringent immune-matching requirements, umbilical cord blood (UCB) has emerged as a valuable source of transplantable HSCs. A single UCB unit contains a suboptimal number of HSCs for treating larger children or adults and there has thus been great clinical interest in expanding UCB HSCs ex vivo for use in transplantation. In this review we discuss the latest research and future avenues for the therapeutic use of small lipid mediator dmPGE2 to expand HSC numbers for transplantation. Originally identified in a chemical screen in zebrafish, dmPGE2 has now advanced to a phase II clinical trial as a therapy for patients with leukemia and lymphoma who are undergoing UCB transplantation.
PMCID: PMC4250398  PMID: 25094063
hematopoietic stem cells; ex vivo expansion; umbilical cord blood transplantation; self-renewal; engraftment; prostaglandin E2

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