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1.  Biomimetic scaffold combined with electrical stimulation and growth factor promotes tissue engineered cardiac development 
Experimental cell research  2013;321(2):297-306.
Toward developing biologically sound models for the study of heart regeneration and disease, we cultured heart cells on a biodegradable, microfabricated poly(glycerol sebacate)(PGS) scaffold designed with micro-structural features and anisotropic mechanical properties to promote cardiac-like tissue architecture. Using this biomimetic system, we studied individual and combined effects of supplemental insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and electrical stimulation (ES). On culture day 8, all tissue constructs could be paced and expressed the cardiac protein troponin-T. IGF-1 reduced apoptosis, promoted cell-to-cell connectivity, and lowered excitation threshold, an index of electrophysiological activity. ES promoted formation of tissue-like bundles oriented in parallel to the electrical field and a more than tenfold increase in matrix metalloprotease-2 (MMP-2) gene expression. The combination of IGF-1 and ES increased 2D projection length, an index of overall contraction strength, and enhanced expression of the gap junction protein connexin-43 and sarcomere development. This culture environment, designed to combine cardiac-like scaffold architecture and biomechanics with molecular and biophysical signals, enabled functional assembly of engineered heart muscle from dissociated cells and could serve as a template for future studies on the hierarchy of various signaling domains relative to cardiac tissue development.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.11.005
PMCID: PMC3946629  PMID: 24240126
Heart; poly(glycerol sebacate); Insulin-like growth factor-1; Electrical stimulation; Anisotropy
2.  Alpha-2 Heremans Schmid Glycoprotein (AHSG) Modulates Signaling Pathways in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma Cell Line SQ20B 
Experimental cell research  2013;321(2):123-132.
This study was performed to identify the potential role of Alpha-2 Heremans Schmid Glycoprotein (AHSG) in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC) tumorigenesis using an HNSCC cell line model. HNSCC cell lines are unique among cancer cell lines, in that they produce endogenous AHSG and do not rely, solely, on AHSG derived from serum. To produce our model, we performed a stable transfection to down-regulate AHSG in the HNSCC cell line SQ20B, resulting in three SQ20B sublines, AH50 with 50% AHSG production, AH20 with 20% AHSG production and EV which is the empty vector control expressing wild-type levels of AHSG. Utilizing these sublines, we examined the effect of AHSG depletion on cellular adhesion, proliferation, migration and invasion in a serum-free environment. We demonstrated that sublines EV and AH50 adhered to plastic and laminin significantly faster than the AH20 cell line, supporting the previously reported role of exogenous AHSG in cell adhesion. As for proliferative potential, EV had the greatest amount of proliferation with AH50 proliferation significantly diminished. AH20 cells did not proliferate at all. Depletion of AHSG also diminished cellular migration and invasion. TGF-β was examined to determine whether levels of the TGF-β binding AHSG influenced the effect of TGF-β on cell signaling and proliferation. Whereas higher levels of AHSG blunted TGF-β influenced SMAD and ERK signaling, it did not clearly affect proliferation, suggesting that AHSG influences on adhesion, proliferation, invasion and migration are primarily due to its role in adhesion and cell spreading. The previously reported role of AHSG in potentiating metastasis via protecting MMP-9 from autolysis was also supported in this cell line based model system of endogenous AHSG production in HNSCC. Together, these data show that endogenously produced AHSG in an HNSCC cell line, promotes in vitro cellular properties identified as having a role in tumorigenesis.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.12.003
PMCID: PMC4096485  PMID: 24332981
AHSG; HNSCC; TGF-β; MMP-9; Adhesion; Metastasis; Migration; Invasion
3.  The Regulation of RhoA at Focal Adhesions by StarD13 is Important for Astrocytoma Cell Motility 
Experimental cell research  2013;321(2):109-122.
Malignant astrocytomas are highly invasive into adjacent and distant regions of the normal brain. Rho GTPases are small monomeric G proteins that play important roles in cytoskeleton rearrangement, cell motility, and tumor invasion. In the present study, we show that the knock down of StarD13, a GTPase activating protein (GAP) for RhoA and Cdc42, inhibits astrocytoma cell migration through modulating focal adhesion dynamics and cell adhesion. This effect is mediated by the resulting constitutive activation of RhoA and the subsequent indirect inhibition of Rac. Using Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF)-based Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET), we show that RhoA activity localizes with focal adhesions at the basal surface of astrocytoma cells. Moreover, the knock down of StarD13 inhibits the cycling of RhoA activation at the rear edge of cells, which makes them defective in retracting their tail. This study highlights the importance of the regulation of RhoA activity in focal adhesions of astrocytoma cells and establishes StarD13 as a GAP playing a major role in this process.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.11.023
PMCID: PMC4297755  PMID: 24333506
StarD13; RhoA; Rac; Astrocytoma; Cell motility
4.  Determining the mechanical properties of plectin in mouse myoblasts and keratinocytes 
Experimental Cell Research  2015;331(2):331-337.
Plectin is the prototype of an intermediate filament (IF)-based cytolinker protein. It affects cells mechanically by interlinking and anchoring cytoskeletal filaments and acts as scaffolding and docking platform for signaling proteins to control cytoskeleton dynamics. The most common disease caused by mutations in the human plectin gene, epidermolysis bullosa simplex with muscular dystrophy (EBS-MD), is characterized by severe skin blistering and progressive muscular dystrophy. Therefore, we compared the biomechanical properties and the response to mechanical stress of murine plectin-deficient myoblasts and keratinocytes with wild-type cells. Using a cell stretching device, plectin-deficient myoblasts exhibited lower mechanical vulnerability upon external stress compared to wild-type cells, which we attributed to lower cellular pre-stress. Contrary to myoblasts, wild-type and plectin-deficient keratinocytes showed no significant differences. In magnetic tweezer measurements using fibronectin-coated paramagnetic beads, the stiffness of keratinocytes was higher than of myoblasts. Interestingly, cell stiffness, adhesion strength, and cytoskeletal dynamics were strikingly altered in plectin-deficient compared to wild-type myoblasts, whereas smaller differences were observed between plectin-deficient and wild-type keratinocytes, indicating that plectin might be more important for stabilizing cytoskeletal structures in myoblasts than in keratinocytes. Traction forces strongly correlated with the stiffness of plectin-deficient and wild-type myoblasts and keratinocytes. Contrary to that cell motility was comparable in plectin-deficient and wild-type myoblasts, but was significantly increased in plectin-deficient compared to wild-type keratinocytes. Thus, we postulate that the lack of plectin has divergent implications on biomechanical properties depending on the respective cell type.
Highlights
•The intermediate filament-associated protein plectin has divergent biomechanical implications depending on cell/tissue type.•In plectin−/− myoblasts, cell vulnerability, stiffness, strain and binding strength are lower than in wild-type cells.•Plectin−/− keratinocytes exhibit higher cell stiffness, binding strength, strain and velocity than wild-type cells.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2014.10.001
PMCID: PMC4325136  PMID: 25447312
Plectin; Intermediate filaments (IF); Mouse myoblasts and keratinocytes; Cell stretching; Magnetic tweezer rheology; Traction force microscopy; Cell motility
5.  Alexander disease causing mutations in the C-terminal domain of GFAP are deleterious both to assembly and network formation with the potential to both activate caspase 3 and decrease cell viability 
Experimental cell research  2011;317(16):2252-2266.
Alexander disease is a primary genetic disorder of astrocyte caused by dominant mutations in the astrocyte-specific intermediate filament glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). While most of the disease-causing mutations described to date have been found in the conserved α-helical rod domain, some mutations are found in the C-terminal non-α-helical tail domain. Here, we compare five different mutations (N386I, S393I, S398F, S398Y and D417M14X) located in the C-terminal domain of GFAP on filament assembly properties in vitro and in transiently transfected cultured cells. All the mutations disrupted in vitro filament assembly. The mutations also affected the solubility and promoted filament aggregation of GFAP in transiently transfected MCF7, SW13 and U343MG cells. This correlated with the activation of the p38 stress-activated protein kinase and an increased association with the small heat shock protein (SHSP) chaperone, αB-crystallin. Of the mutants studied, D417M14X GFAP caused the most significant effects both upon filament assembly in vitro and in transiently transfected cells. This mutant also caused extensive filament aggregation coinciding with the sequestration of αB-crystallin and HSP27 as well as inhibition of the proteosome and activation of p38 kinase. Associated with these changes were an activation of caspase 3 and a significant decrease in astrocyte viability. We conclude that some mutations in the C-terminus of GFAP correlate with caspase 3 cleavage and the loss of cell viability, suggesting that these could be contributory factors in the development of Alexander disease.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2011.06.017
PMCID: PMC4308095  PMID: 21756903
GFAP; Mutation; Alexander disease; Intermediate filament; Stress; Small heat shock protein
6.  Eps8 is recruited to lysosomes and subjected to chaperone-mediated autophagy in cancer cells 
Experimental cell research  2010;316(12):1914-1924.
Eps8 controls actin dynamics directly through its barbed end capping and actin-bundling activity, and indirectly by regulating Rac-activation when engaged into a trimeric complex with Eps8- Abi1-Sos1. Recently, Eps8 has been associated with promotion of various solid malignancies, but neither its mechanisms of action nor its regulation in cancer cells have been elucidated. Here, we report a novel association of Eps8 with the late endosomal/lysosomal compartment, which is independent from actin polymerization and specifically occurs in cancer cells. Endogenous Eps8 localized to large vesicular lysosomal structures in metastatic pancreatic cancer cell lines, such as AsPC-1 and Capan-1 that display high Eps8 levels. Additionally, ectopic expression of Eps8 increased the size of lysosomes. Structure–function analysis revealed that the region encompassing the amino acids 184–535 of Eps8 was sufficient to mediate lysosomal recruitment. Notably, this fragment harbors two KFERQ-like motifs required for chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA). Furthermore, Eps8 co-immunoprecipitated with Hsc70 and LAMP-2, which are key elements for the CMA degradative pathway. Consistently, in vitro, a significant fraction of Eps8 bound to (11.9± 5.1%) and was incorporated into (5.3± 6.5%) lysosomes. Additionally, Eps8 binding to lysosomes was competed by other known CMA-substrates. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching revealed that Eps8 recruitment to the lysosomal membrane was highly dynamic. Collectively, these results indicate that Eps8 in certain human cancer cells specifically localizes to lysosomes, and is directed to CMA. These results open a new field for the investigation of how Eps8 is regulated and contributes to tumor promotion in human cancers
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2010.02.020
PMCID: PMC4304094  PMID: 20184880
Eps8; lysosome; autophagy; pancreatic cancer; actin; lamp
7.  Metabolic stress-induced microRNA and mRNA expression profiles of human fibroblasts 
Experimental cell research  2013;320(2):343-353.
Metabolic and oxidative stresses induce physiological adaptation processes, disrupting a finely tuned, coordinated network of gene expression. To better understand the interplay between the mRNA and miRNA transcriptomes, we examined how two distinct metabolic stressors alter the expression profile of human dermal fibroblasts.
Primary fibroblast cultures were obtained from skin biopsies of 17 healthy subjects. Metabolic stress was evoked by growing subcultured cells in glucose deprived, galactose enriched (GAL) or lipid reduced, cholesterol deficient (RL) media, and compared to parallel-cultured fibroblasts grown in standard (STD) medium. This was followed by mRNA expression profiling and assessment of > 1,000 miRNAs levels across all three conditions. The miRNA expression levels were subsequently correlated to the mRNA expression profile.
Metabolic stress by RL and GAL both produced significant, strongly correlated mRNA/miRNA changes. At the single gene level four miRNAs (miR-129-3p, miR-146b-5p, miR-543 and miR-550a) showed significant and comparable expression changes in both experimental conditions. These miRNAs appeared to have a significant physiological effect on the transcriptome, as nearly 10% of the predicted targets reported changes at mRNA level. The two distinct metabolic stressors induced comparable changes in the miRNome profile, suggesting a common defensive response of the fibroblasts to altered homeostasis. The differentially expressed miR-129-3p, miR-146b-5p, miR-543 and miR-550a regulated multiple genes (e.g. NGEF, NOVA1, PDE5A) with region- and age-specific transcription in the human brain, suggesting that deregulation of these miRNAs might have significant consequences on CNS function. The overall findings suggest that analysis of stress-induced responses of peripheral fibroblasts, obtained from patients with psychiatric disorders is a promising avenue for future research endeavors.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.10.019
PMCID: PMC3902643  PMID: 24246224
human fibroblast; stress; miRNA; mRNA; profiling; lipid; galactose; qPCR
8.  Down-regulation of RE-1 Silencing Transcription Factor (REST) in advanced prostate cancer by hypoxia-induced miR-106b~25 
Experimental cell research  2013;320(2):188-199.
Clinically aggressive prostate cancer (PCa) is linked to androgen resistance, metastasis, and expression of neuroendocrine markers. To understand mechanism(s) of neuroendocrine differentiation (NED) of PCa epithelia, we compared neuronal differentiation occurring during embryogenesis, in primary cultures of neural crest (NC) cells, and NED in PCa cell lines (LNCaP and PC3). We demonstrate, hypoxia promotes neuronal and neuroendocrine differentiation of NC cells and PCa cells, respectively, by inducing the miR-106b~25 cluster. In turn, miR-106b~25 comprised of miR-106b, miR-93 and miR-25, down-regulates the transcriptional repressor REST, which represses neuron-specific protein-coding and miRNA genes. In prostate tumors of high Gleason score (≥ 8), an inverse trend was observed between REST and miR-106b~25 induction. Employing miRNA PCR arrays, we identified miRNAs up-regulated by hypoxia in LNCaP cells and REST-knockdown in NC cells. Significantly, a subset of miRNAs (miR-9, miR-25, miR-30d and miR302b) is up-regulated in high Gleason score (≥ 8) PCa, suggesting a mechanism by which NED contributes to PCa malignancy. We propose that loss of REST and induction of this set of microRNAs can serve as potential novel clinical markers of advanced PCa.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.09.020
PMCID: PMC3947575  PMID: 24135225
9.  Celastrol induces unfolded protein response-dependent cell death in head and neck cancer 
Experimental cell research  2014;330(2):412-422.
The survival rate for patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) has not seen marked improvement in recent decades despite enhanced efforts in prevention and the introduction of novel therapies. We have reported that pharmacological exacerbation of the unfolded protein response (UPR) is an effective approach to killing OSCC cells. The UPR is executed via distinct signaling cascades whereby an initial attempt to restore folding homeostasis in the endoplasmic reticulum during stress is complemented by an apoptotic response if the defect cannot be resolved. To identify novel small molecules able to overwhelm the adaptive capacity of the UPR in OSCC cells, we engineered a complementary cell-based assay to screen a broad spectrum of chemical matter. Stably transfected CHO-K1 cells that individually report (luciferase) on the PERK/eIF2α/ATF4/CHOP (apoptotic) or the IRE1/XBP1 (adaptive) UPR pathways, were engineered [1]. The triterpenoids dihydrocelastrol and celastrol were identified as potent inducers of UPR signaling and cell death in a primary screen and confirmed in a panel of OSCC cells and other cancer cell lines. Biochemical and genetic assays using OSCC cells and modified murine embryonic fibroblasts demonstrated that intact PERK-eIF2–ATF4-CHOP signaling is required for pro-apoptotic UPR and OSCC death following celastrol treatment.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2014.08.014
PMCID: PMC4280347  PMID: 25139619
Celastrol; ER stress; Unfolded protein response; Oral cancer; Apoptosis; Drug discovery; Chaperone; Protein folding
10.  Green fluorescent protein expression triggers proteome changes in breast cancer cells 
Experimental cell research  2013;320(1):10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.07.019.
Green fluorescent protein (GFP) is the most commonly used reporter of expression in cell biology despite evidence that it affects the cell physiology. The molecular mechanism of GFP-associated modifications has been largely unexplored. In this paper we investigated the proteome modifications following stable expression of GFP in breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-231). A combination of three different proteome analysis methods (2-DE, iTRAQ, label-free) was used to maximise proteome coverage. We found that GFP expression induces changes in expression of proteins that are associated with protein folding, cytoskeletal organisation and cellular immune response. In view of these findings, the use of GFP as a cell reporter should be carefully monitored.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.07.019
PMCID: PMC3866891  PMID: 23899627
GFP expression; Proteomic change; Unfolded protein response; Cytoskeleton modifications; Cellular immune response
11.  Altered epigenetic regulation of homeobox genes in human oral squamous cell carcinoma cells 
Experimental cell research  2013;320(1):10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.09.011.
To gain insight into oral squamous cell carcinogenesis, we performed deep sequencing (RNAseq) of non-tumorigenic human OKF6-TERT1R and tumorigenic SCC-9 cells. Numerous homeobox genes are differentially expressed between OKF6-TERT1R and SCC-9 cells. Data from Oncomine, a cancer microarray database, also show that homeobox (HOX) genes are dysregulated in oral SCC patients. The activity of Polycomb repressive complexes (PRC), which causes epigenetic modifications, and retinoic acid (RA) signaling can control HOX gene transcription. HOXB7, HOXC10, HOXC13, and HOXD8 transcripts are higher in SCC-9 than in OKF6-TERT1R cells; using ChIP (chromatin immunoprecipitation) we detected PRC2 protein SUZ12 and the epigenetic H3K27me3 mark on histone H3 at these genes in OKF6-TERT1R, but not in SCC-9 cells. In contrast, IRX1, IRX4, SIX2 and TSHZ3 transcripts are lower in SCC-9 than in OKF6-TERT1R cells. We detected SUZ12 and the H3K27me3 mark at these genes in SCC-9, but not in OKF6-TERT1R cells. SUZ12 depletion increased HOXB7, HOXC10, HOXC13, and HOXD8 transcript levels and decreased the proliferation of OKF6-TERT1R cells. Transcriptional responses to RA are attenuated in SCC-9 versus OKF6-TERT1R cells. SUZ12 and H3K27me3 levels were not altered by RA at these HOX genes in SCC-9 and OKF6-TERT1R cells. We conclude that altered activity of PRC2 is associated with dysregulation of homeobox gene expression in human SCC cells, and that this dysregulation potentially plays a role in the neoplastic transformation of oral keratinocytes.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.09.011
PMCID: PMC3880227  PMID: 24076275
Epigenetic silencing; Polycomb; SUZ12; Chromatin; H3K27me3; Oral squamous cell carcinoma; Head and neck squamous cell; carcinoma; Tumorigenesis; RNA-seq; Homeobox; Retinoic acid
12.  Ral GTPases in tumorigenesis: Emerging from the shadows 
Experimental cell research  2013;319(15):2337-2342.
Oncogenic Ras proteins rely on a series of key effector pathways to drive the physiological changes that lead to tumorigenic growth. Of these effector pathways, the RalGEF pathway, which activates the two Ras-related GTPases RalA and RalB, remains the most poorly understood. This review will focus on key developments in our understanding of Ral biology, and will speculate on how aberrant activation of the multiple diverse Ral effector proteins might collectively contribute to oncogenic transformation and other aspects of tumor progression.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.06.020
PMCID: PMC4270277  PMID: 23830877
RalA; RalB; Ras; RalGEF; RalBP1; Exocyst
13.  Regulation of skeletal myogenesis by Notch 
Experimental cell research  2010;316(18):3028-3033.
Notch signaling has emerged as a key player in skeletal muscle development and regeneration. Simply stated, Notch signaling inhibits differentiation. Accordingly, fine-tuning the pathway is essential for proper muscle homeostasis. This review will address various aspects of Notch signaling, including our current views of the core pathway, its effects in muscle, its interactions with other signaling pathways, and its relationship with ageing.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2010.05.002
PMCID: PMC4268546  PMID: 20452344
Notch; Muscle
14.  Transcriptional network control of normal and leukaemic haematopoiesis 
Experimental Cell Research  2014;329(2):255-264.
Transcription factors (TFs) play a key role in determining the gene expression profiles of stem/progenitor cells, and defining their potential to differentiate into mature cell lineages. TF interactions within gene-regulatory networks are vital to these processes, and dysregulation of these networks by TF overexpression, deletion or abnormal gene fusions have been shown to cause malignancy. While investigation of these processes remains a challenge, advances in genome-wide technologies and growing interactions between laboratory and computational science are starting to produce increasingly accurate network models. The haematopoietic system provides an attractive experimental system to elucidate gene regulatory mechanisms, and allows experimental investigation of both normal and dysregulated networks. In this review we examine the principles of TF-controlled gene regulatory networks and the key experimental techniques used to investigate them. We look in detail at examples of how these approaches can be used to dissect out the regulatory mechanisms controlling normal haematopoiesis, as well as the dysregulated networks associated with haematological malignancies.
Highlights
•Transcription factor networks play a key role in determining cell fate in the haematopoietic system.•Dysregulation of transcription factor networks is associated with haematological cancers.•Genomic technologies and interactions with computational science are transforming our ability to investigate these networks.•This review highlights recent examples of the role of transcription factor networks in normal and malignant haematopoiesis.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2014.06.021
PMCID: PMC4261078  PMID: 25014893
Haematopoiesis; Transcriptional regulation; Transcription factor
15.  Serine-204 in the Linker Region of Smad3 Mediates the Collagen-I Response to TGF-β in a Cell Phenotype-Specific Manner 
Experimental cell research  2013;319(19):2928-2937.
Regulation of TGF-β1/Smad3 signaling in fibrogenesis is complex. Previous work by our lab suggests that ERK MAP kinase phosphorylates the linker region (LR) of Smad3 to enhance TGF-β-induced collagen-I accumulation. However the roles of the individual Smad3LR phosphorylation sites (T179, S204, S208 and S213) in the collagen-I response to TGF-β are not clear. To address this issue, we tested the ability of Smad3 constructs expressing wild-type Smad3 or Smad3 with mutated LR phosphorylation sites to reconstitute TGF-β-stimulated COL1A2 promoter activity in Smad3-null or -knockdown cells. Blocking ERK in fibroblasts and renal mesangial cells inhibited both S204 phosphorylation and Smad3-mediated COL1A2 promoter activity. Mutations replacing serine at S204 or S208 in the linker region decreased Smad3-mediated COL1A2 promoter activity, whereas mutating T179 enhanced basal COL1A2 promoter activity and did not prevent TGF-β stimulation. Interestingly, mutation of all four Smad3LR sites (T179, S204, S208 and S213) was not inhibitory, suggesting primacy of the two inhibitory sites. These results suggest that in these mesenchymal cells, phosphorylation of the T179 and possibly S213 sites may act as a brake on the signal, whereas S204 phosphorylation by ERK in some manner releases that brake. Renal epithelial cells (HKC) respond differently from MEF or mesangial cells; blocking ERK neither changed TGF-β-stimulated S204 phosphorylation nor prevented Smad3-mediated COL1A2 promoter activity in HKC. Furthermore, re-expression of wild type-Smad3 or the S204A-Smad3 mutant in Smad3-knockdown HKC reconstituted Smad3-mediated COL1A2 promoter activity. Collectively, these data suggest that Serine-204 phosphorylation in the Smad3LR is a critical event by which ERK enhances Smad3-mediated COL1A2 promoter activity in mesenchymal cells.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.07.013
PMCID: PMC3900285  PMID: 24080014
Fibrosis; Extracellular Matrix; Fibroblast; Epithelial; mesenchymal; ERK MAP kinase
16.  Bone Marrow-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells Enhance Angiogenesis via their α6β1 Integrin Receptor 
Experimental cell research  2013;319(19):10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.09.007.
Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) facilitate the angiogenic response of endothelial cells (ECs) within three-dimensional (3D) matrices in vivo and in engineered tissues in vitro in part through paracrine mediators and by acting as stabilizing pericytes. However, the molecular interactions between BMSCs and nascent tubules during the process of angiogenesis are not fully understood. In this study, we have used a tractable 3D co-culture model to explore the functional role of the α6β1 integrin adhesion receptor on BMSCs in sprouting angiogenesis. We report that knockdown of the α6 integrin subunit in BMSCs significantly reduces capillary sprouting, and causes their failure to associate with the nascent vessels. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the BMSCs with attenuated α6 integrin proliferate at a significantly lower rate relative to either control cells expressing non-targeting shRNA or wild type BMSCs; however, despite adding more cells to compensate for this deficit in proliferation, deficient sprouting persists. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that the α6 integrin subunit in BMSCs is important for their ability to stimulate vessel morphogenesis. This conclusion may have important implications in the optimization of cell-based strategies to promote angiogenesis.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.09.007
PMCID: PMC3827876  PMID: 24056178
Angiogenesis; Mesenchymal stem cell; α6β1 integrin; Microenvironment; Fibrin
17.  Clathrin-independent Endocytosis: A cargo-centric view 
Experimental cell research  2013;319(18):2759-2769.
Clathrin-independent endocytosis occurs in all cells and interest in this mode of cellular entry has grown. Although this form of endocytosis was first described for entry of bacterial toxins, here we focus our attention on the endogenous cell surface “cargo” proteins that enter cells by this mechanism. The cargo proteins entering by this mechanism are varied and include nutrient transporters, ion channels, cell adhesion molecules and proteins associated with the immune system. Despite the apparent lack of selection at the cell surface, we provide some examples of specific sorting of these cargo proteins after entry, leading to distinct itineraries and cellular fates.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.08.008
PMCID: PMC4157725  PMID: 23954817
18.  Lamin A, farnesylation and aging 
Experimental cell research  2011;318(1):1-7.
Lamin A is a component of the nuclear envelope that is synthesized as a precursor prelamin A molecule and then processed into mature lamin A through sequential steps of posttranslational modifications and proteolytic cleavages. Remarkably, over 400 distinct point mutations have been so far identified throughout the LMNA gene, which result in the development of at least ten distinct human disorders, collectively known as laminopathies, among which is the premature aging disease Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS). The majority of HGPS cases are associated with a single point mutation in the LMNA gene that causes the production of a permanently farnesylated mutant lamin A protein termed progerin. The mechanism by which progerin leads to premature aging and the classical HGPS disease phenotype as well as the relationship between this disorder and the onset of analogous symptoms during the lifespan of a normal individual are not well understood. Yet, recent studies have provided critical insights on the cellular processes that are affected by accumulation of progerin and have suggested that cellular alterations in the lamin A processing pathway leading to the accumulation of farnesylated prelamin A intermediates may play a role in the aging process in the general population. In this review we provide a short background on lamin A and its maturation pathway and discuss the current knowledge of how progerin or alterations in the prelamin A processing pathway are thought to influence cell function and contribute to human aging.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2011.08.009
PMCID: PMC4209918  PMID: 21871450
Lamin A; Progeria; Farnesylation; Laminopathies
19.  Nrf2 Modulates Contractile and Metabolic Properties of Skeletal Muscle in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Atrophy 
Experimental cell research  2013;319(17):10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.07.015.
The role of Nrf2 in disease prevention and treatment is well documented, however the specific role of Nrf2 in skeletal muscle is not well described. The current study investigated whether Nrf2 plays a protective role in an STZ-induced model of skeletal muscle atrophy.
Modulation of Nrf2 through siRNA resulted in a more robust differentiation of C2C12s, whereas increasing Nrf2 with sulforaphane treatment inhibited differentiation. Diabetic muscle atrophy was not dramatically influenced by Nrf2 genotype, since no differences were observed in total atrophy (all fiber types combined) between WT+STZ and KO+STZ animals. Nrf2-KO animals however, illustrated alterations in muscle size of Fast, Type II myosin expressing fibers. KO+STZ animals show significant alterations in myosin isoform expression in the GAST. Similarly, KO controls mimic both WT+STZ and KO+STZ muscle alterations in mitochondrial subunit expression. PGC-1α, a well-established player in mitochondrial biogenesis and myosin isoform expression, was decreased in KO control, WT+STZ and KO+STZ SOL muscle. Similarly, PGC-1α protein levels are correlated with Nrf2 levels in C2C12s after modulation by Nrf2 siRNA or sulforaphane treatment.
We provide experimental evidence indicating Nrf2 plays a role in myocyte differentiation and governs molecular alterations in contractile and metabolic properties in an STZ-induced model of muscle atrophy.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.07.015
PMCID: PMC3809009  PMID: 23896025
Nrf2; skeletal muscle; atrophy; myosin; metabolism
20.  Protein kinase C regulates FLT1 abundance and stimulates its cleavage in vascular endothelial cells with the release of a soluble PlGF/VEGF antagonist 
Experimental cell research  2013;319(17):2578-2587.
FLT1 and its soluble form (sFLT1) arise as alternate transcripts from the same gene and sFLT1 can antagonize the effect of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) on its cognate receptors. We investigated the effect of VEGF and protein kinase C (PKC) activation on sFLT1 abundance. We demonstrated that VEGF stimulates sFLT1 and FLT1 mRNA and protein levels in vascular endothelial cells via VEGFR2 and PKC. Using an FLT1 expression vector with N and C-terminal epitope tags, we show that PKC activation increases the cleavage of FLT1 into an N-terminal extracellular fragment and a C-terminal intracellular fragment with the cleavage occurring adjacent to the transmembrane domain. The trafficking and glycosylation inhibitors brefeldin, monensin and tunicamycin substantially reduced cleavage and release of the N-terminal ectodomain of FLT1 and inhibited secretion of the isoforms of sFLT1. The shed FLT1 ectodomain can bind VEGF and PlGF and inhibit VEGF-induced vascular tube formation thus confirming that it is functionally equivalent to the alternately spliced and secreted sFLT1 isoforms.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.07.005
PMCID: PMC3797157  PMID: 23911939
Angiogenesis; proteolytic cleavage; soluble receptor
21.  Glycogen synthase kinase 3 regulates expression of nuclear factor-erythroid-2 related transcription factor-1 (Nrf1) and inhibits pro-survival function of Nrf1 
Experimental cell research  2013;319(13):1922-1931.
Nuclear factor E2-related factor-1 (Nrf1) is a basic leucine zipper transcription factor that is known to regulate antioxidant and cytoprotective gene expression. It was recently shown that Nrf1 is regulated by SCF-Fbw7 ubiquitin ligase. However our knowledge of upstream signals that targets Nrf1 for degradation by the UPS is not known. We report here that Nrf1 expression is negatively regulated by glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) in Fbw7-dependent manner. We show that GSK3 interacts with Nrf1 and phosphorylates the Cdc4 phosphodegron domain (CPD) in Nrf1. Mutation of serine residue in the CPD of Nrf1 to alanine (S350A), blocks Nrf1 from phosphorylation by GSK3, and stabilizes Nrf1. Knockdown of Nrf1 and expression of a constitutively active form of GSK3 results in increased apoptosis in neuronal cells in response to ER stress, while expression of the GSK3 phosphorylation resistant S350A–Nrfl attenuates apoptotic cell death. Together these data suggest that GSK3 regulates Nrf1 expression and cell survival function in response to stress activation.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.04.013
PMCID: PMC4186750  PMID: 23623971
Stress response; Nuclear factor E2-related factor-1; CNC-bZIP; Transcription factor; Fbw7
22.  Fibroblast Morphogenesis on 3D Collagen Matrices: The Balance Between Cell Clustering and Cell Migration 
Experimental cell research  2013;319(16):2440-2446.
Fibroblast clusters have been observed in tissues under a variety of circumstances: in fibrosis and scar, in the formation of hair follicle dermal papilla, and as part of the general process of mesenchymal condensation that takes place during development. Cell clustering has been shown to depend on features of the extracellular matrix, growth factor environment, and mechanisms to stabilize cell-cell interactions. In vitro studies have shown that increasing the potential for cell-cell adhesion relative to cell-substrate adhesion promotes cell clustering. Experimental models to study fibroblast clustering have utilized centrifugation, hanging drops, and substrata with poorly adhesive, soft and mechanically unstable properties. In this review, we summarize work on a new, highly tractable, cell clustering research model in which human fibroblasts are incubated on the surfaces of collagen matrices. Fibroblast clustering occurs under procontractile growth factor conditions (e.g., serum or the serum lipid agonist lysophosphatidic acid) but not under promigratory growth factor conditions (e.g., platelet-derived growth factor) and can be reversed by switching growth factor environments. Cell contraction plays a dual role in clustering to bring cells closer together and to stimulate cells to organize fibronectin into a fibrillar matrix. Binding of fibroblasts to a shared fibronectin fibrillar matrix stabilizes clusters, and fragmentation of the fibrillar matrix occurs when growth factor conditions are switched to promote cell dispersal.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.05.003
PMCID: PMC3773009  PMID: 23664837
Cell clustering; cell aggregation; cell contraction; cell migration; fibronectin; adherens junctions; 3D-collagen matrix; tissue morphogenesis
23.  Cell and tissue mechanics in cell migration 
Experimental cell research  2013;319(16):2418-2423.
Migrating cells generate traction forces to counteract the movement-resisting forces arising from cell-internal stresses and matrix adhesions. In the case of collective migration in a cell colony, or in the case of 3-dimensional migration through connective tissue, movement-resisting forces arise also from external stresses. Although the deformation of a stiffer cell or matrix causes larger movement-resisting forces, at the same time a larger stiffness can also promote cell migration due to a feedback between forces, deformations, and deformation speed that is mediated by the acto-myosin contractile machinery of cells. This mechanical feedback is also important for stiffness sensing, durotaxis, plithotaxis, and collective migration in cell colonies.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.04.023
PMCID: PMC3773016  PMID: 23664834
24.  Regulation of cell adhesion and migration by cell-derived matrices 
Experimental cell research  2013;319(16):2434-2439.
Three-dimensional in vitro extracellular matrix models provide a physiological alternative to regular two-dimensional cell culture, though they lack the full diversity of molecular composition and physical properties of whole-animal systems. Cell-derived matrices are extracellular matrices that are the product of matrix secretion and assembly by cells cultured at high density in vitro. After the removal of the cells that produced the matrix, an assembled matrix scaffold is left that closely mimics native stromal fiber organization and molecular content. Cell-derived matrices have been shown to impart in vivo-like responses to cells cultured in these matrices. In this review, we focus on mechanisms through which the distinct molecular and topographical composition of cell-derived matrices directs cellular behavior, specifically through regulation of cell-matrix adhesions and subsequent contributions to the process of cell migration.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.05.030
PMCID: PMC3780580  PMID: 23751565
cell-derived matrix (CDM); extracellular matrix; 3D cell migration; matrix adhesions; fibrillar topography; matrix elasticity
25.  Techniques for Assessing 3-D Cell-Matrix Mechanical Interactions In Vitro and In Vivo 
Experimental cell research  2013;319(16):10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.06.018.
Cellular interactions with extracellular matrices (ECM) through the application of mechanical forces mediate numerous biological processes including developmental morphogenesis, wound healing and cancer metastasis. They also play a key role in the cellular repopulation and/or remodeling of engineered tissues and organs. While 2-D studies can provide important insights into many aspects of cellular mechanobiology, cells reside within 3-D ECMs in vivo, and matrix structure and dimensionality have been shown to impact cell morphology, protein organization and mechanical behavior. Global measurements of cell-induced compaction of 3-D collagen matrices can provide important insights into the regulation of overall cell contractility by various cytokines and signaling pathways. However, to understand how the mechanics of cell spreading, migration, contraction and matrix remodeling are regulated at the molecular level, these processes must also be studied in individual cells. Here we review the evolution and application of techniques for imaging and assessing local cell-matrix mechanical interactions in 3-D culture models, tissue explants and living animals.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.06.018
PMCID: PMC3826791  PMID: 23819988
Cell Mechanics; Cell Migration; Extracellular Matrix; Microscopy

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