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1.  Modulation of mast cell proliferative and inflammatory responses by Leukotriene D4 and Stem Cell Factor signaling interactions 
Journal of cellular physiology  2015;230(3):595-602.
Mast cells (MCs) are important effector cells in asthma and pulmonary inflammation, and their proliferation and maturation is maintained by stem cell factor (SCF) via its receptor, c-Kit. Cysteinyl leukotrienes (cys-LTs) are potent inflammatory mediators that signal through CysLT1R and CysLT2R located on the MC surface, and they enhance MC inflammatory responses. However, it is not known if SCF and cys-LTs cross-talk and influence MC hyperplasia and activation in inflammation. Here, we report the concerted effort of the growth factor SCF and the inflammatory mediator LTD4 in MC activation. Stimulation of MCs by LTD4 in the presence of SCF enhances c-Kit-mediated proliferative responses. Similarly, SCF synergistically enhances LTD4-induced calcium, c-fos expression and phosphorylation, as well as MIP1β generation in MCs. These findings suggest that integration of SCF and LTD4 signals may contribute to MC hyperplasia and hyper-reactivity during airway hyper-response and inflammation.
PMCID: PMC4244248  PMID: 25161061
calcium; c-fos; c-Kit; cys-LTs; LTD4; mast cells; MIP1β, proliferation; calcium; stem cell factor
2.  The Differential Palmitoylation States of N-Ras and H-Ras Determine Their Distinct Golgi Sub-compartment Localizations 
Journal of cellular physiology  2015;230(3):610-619.
Despite a high degree of structural homology and shared exchange factors, effectors and GTPase activating proteins, a large body of evidence suggests functional heterogeneity among Ras isoforms. One aspect of Ras biology that may explain this heterogeneity is the differential subcellular localizations driven by the C-terminal hypervariable regions of Ras proteins. Spatial heterogeneity has been documented at the level of organelles: palmitoylated Ras isoforms (H-Ras and N-Ras) localize on the Golgi apparatus whereas K-Ras4B does not. We tested the hypothesis that spatial heterogeneity also exists at the sub-organelle level by studying the localization of differentially palmitoylated Ras isoforms within the Golgi apparatus. Using confocal, live cell fluorescent imaging and immunogold electron microscopy we found that, whereas the doubly palmitoylated H-Ras is distributed throughout the Golgi stacks, the singly palmitoylated N-Ras is polarized with a relative paucity of expression on the trans Golgi. Using palmitoylation mutants we show that the different sub-Golgi distributions of the Ras proteins are a consequence of their differential degree of palmitoylation. Thus, the acylation state of Ras proteins controls not only their distribution between the Golgi apparatus and the plasma membrane but also their distribution within the Golgi stacks.
PMCID: PMC4269384  PMID: 25158650
Golgi membrane localization; GTPases; Ras; palmitoylation; confocal imaging; immunogold electron microscopy
3.  Signaling pathways involved in megakaryocyte-mediated proliferation of osteoblast lineage cells 
Journal of cellular physiology  2015;230(3):578-586.
Recent studies suggest that megakaryocytes (MKs) may play a significant role in skeletal homeostasis, as evident by the occurrence of osteosclerosis in multiple MK related diseases (Thiele, et al., 1999, Lennert, et al., 1975, Chagraoui, et al., 2006). We previously reported a novel interaction whereby MKs enhanced proliferation of osteoblast lineage/osteoprogenitor cells (OBs) by a mechanism requiring direct cell-cell contact. However, the signal transduction pathways and the downstream effector molecules involved in this process have not been characterized. Here we show that MKs contact with OBs, via beta1 integrin, activate the p38/MAPKAPK2/p90RSK kinase cascade in the bone cells, which causes Mdm2 to neutralizes p53/Rb-mediated check point and allows progression through the G1/S. Interestingly, activation of MAPK (ERK1/2) and AKT, collateral pathways that regulate the cell cycle, remained unchanged with MK stimulation of OBs. The MK-to-OB signaling ultimately results in significant increases in the expression of c-fos and cyclin A, necessary for sustaining the OB proliferation. Overall, our findings show that OBs respond to the presence of MKs, in part, via an integrin-mediated signaling mechanism, activating a novel response axis that de-represses cell cycle activity. Understanding the mechanisms by which MKs enhance OB proliferation will facilitate the development of novel anabolic therapies to treat bone loss associated with osteoporosis and other bone-related diseases.
PMCID: PMC4433553  PMID: 25160801
Osteoblasts; Megakaryocytes; Mdm2; Cell cycle regulation; Signaling pathways
4.  The MOZ Histone Acetyltransferase in Epigenetic Signaling and Disease 
Journal of cellular physiology  2014;229(11):1571-1574.
The monocytic leukemic zinc finger (MOZ) histone acetyltransferase (HAT) plays a role in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). It functions as a quaternary complex with the bromodomain PHD finger protein 1 (BRPF1), the human Esa1-associated factor 6 homolog (hEAF6), and the inhibitor of growth 5 (ING5). Each of these subunits contain chromatin reader domains that recognize specific post-translational modifications (PTMs) on histone tails, and this recognition directs the MOZ HAT complex to specific chromatin substrates. The structure and function of these epigenetic reader modules has now been elucidated, and a model describing how the cooperative activity of these domains regulates HAT activity in response to the epigenetic landscape is proposed. The emerging role of epigenetic reader domains in disease, and their therapeutic potential for many types of cancer is also highlighted.
PMCID: PMC4750494  PMID: 24633655
MOZ; Chromatin reader domains; Epigenetics; Histone acetyltransferase; Acute myeloid leukemia
5.  Cell Cycle and Developmental Control of Hematopoiesis by Runx1 
Journal of cellular physiology  2009;219(3):520-524.
Runx1 binds DNA in cooperation with CBFβ to activate or repress transcription, dependent upon cellular context and interaction with a variety of co-activators and co-repressors. Runx1 is required for emergence of adult hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) during embryonic development and for lymphoid, myeloid, and megakaryocyte lineage maturation from HSC in adult marrow. Runx1 levels vary during the cell cycle, and Runx1 regulates G1 to S cell cycle progression. Both Cdk and ERK phosphorylate Runx1 to influence its interaction with co-repressors, and the Wnt effector LEF-1/TCF also modulates Runx1 activities. These links likely allow cytokines and signals from adjacent cells to influence HSC proliferation versus quiescence and the rate of progenitor expansion, in response to developmental or environmental demands.
PMCID: PMC4741264  PMID: 19235904
6.  TGF-beta1 Suppresses Plasmin and MMP Activity in Flexor Tendon Cells via PAI-1: Implications for Scarless Flexor Tendon Repair 
Journal of cellular physiology  2015;230(2):318-326.
Flexor tendon injuries caused by deep lacerations to the hands are a challenging problem as they often result in debilitating adhesions that prevent the movement of the afflicted fingers. Evidence exists that tendon adhesions as well as scarring throughout the body are largely precipitated by the pleiotropic growth factor, TGF-β1, but the effects of TGF-β1 are poorly understood in tendon healing. Using an in vitro model of tendon healing, we previously found that TGF-β1 causes gene expression changes in tenocytes that are consistent with scar tissue and adhesion formation, including upregulation of the anti-fibrinolytic protein, PAI-1. Therefore, we hypothesized that TGF-β1 contributes to scarring and adhesions by reducing the activity of proteases responsible for ECM degradation and remodeling, such as plasmin and MMPs, via upregulation of PAI-1. To test our hypothesis, we examined the effects of TGF-β1 on the protease activity of tendon cells. We found that flexor tendon tenocytes treated with TGF-β1 had significantly reduced levels of active MMP-2 and plasmin. Interestingly, the effects of TGF-β1 on protease activity were completely abolished in tendon cells from homozygous PAI-1 KO mice, which are unable to express PAI-1. Our findings support the hypothesis that TGF-β1 induces PAI-1, which suppresses plasmin and plasmin-mediated MMP activity, and provide evidence that PAI-1 may be a novel therapeutic target for preventing adhesions and promoting a scarless, regenerative repair of flexor tendon injuries.
PMCID: PMC4276543  PMID: 24962629
TGF-β1; PAI-1; Tendon; Adhesions; MMP; Tenocyte; Plasmin
Journal of cellular physiology  2015;230(2):366-377.
Membrane-type 1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP, MMP-14), a transmembrane proteinase with an extracellular catalytic domain and a short cytoplasmic tail, degrades extracellular matrix components and controls diverse cell functions through proteolytic and non-proteolytic interactions with extracellular, intracellular and transmembrane proteins. Here we show that in tumor cells MT1-MMP downregulates fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) signaling by reducing the amount of FGF-2 bound to the cell surface with high and low affinity. FGF-2 induces weaker activation of ERK1/2 MAP kinase in MT1-MMP expressing cells than in cells devoid of MT1-MMP. This effect is abolished in cells that express proteolytically inactive MT1-MMP but persists in cells expressing MT1-MMP mutants devoid of hemopexin-like or cytoplasmic domain, showing that FGF-2 signaling is downregulated by MT1-MMP proteolytic activity. MT1-MMP expression results in downregulation of FGFR-1 and -4, and in decreased amount of cell surface-associated FGF-2. In addition, MT1-MMP strongly reduces the amount of FGF-2 bound to the cell surface with low affinity. Because FGF-2 association with low-affinity binding sites is a prerequisite for binding to its high-affinity receptors, downregulation of low-affinity binding to the cell surface results in decreased FGF-2 signaling. Consistent with this conclusion, FGF-2 induction of tumor cell migration and invasion in vitro is stronger in cells devoid of MT1-MMP than in MT1-MMP expressing cells. Thus, MT1-MMP controls FGF-2 signaling by a proteolytic mechanism that decreases the cell’s biological response to FGF-2.
PMCID: PMC4281515  PMID: 24986796
Membrane-type-1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP); fibroblast growth factor (FGF); fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR); proteoglycans; receptors; MAP kinases (MAPKs); ERK1/2; cell migration
8.  Intrinsic Sex-Linked Variations in Osteogenic and Adipogenic Differentiation Potential of Bone Marrow Multipotent Stromal Cells 
Journal of cellular physiology  2015;230(2):296-307.
Bone formation and aging are sexually dimorphic. Yet, definition of the intrinsic molecular differences between male and female multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) in bone is lacking. This study assessed sex-linked differences in MSC differentiation in 3-, 6-, and 9-month-old C57BL/6J mice. Analysis of tibiae showed that female mice had lower bone volume fraction and higher adipocyte content in the bone marrow compared to age-matched males. While both males and females lost bone mass in early aging, the rate of loss was higher in males. Similar expression of bone- and adipocyte-related genes was seen in males and females at 3 and 9 months, while at 6 months, females exhibited a two-fold greater expression of these genes. Under osteogenic culture conditions, bone marrow MSCs from female 3- and 6-month-old mice expressed similar levels of bone-related genes, but significantly greater levels of adipocyte-related genes, than male MSCs. Female MSCs also responded to rosiglitazone-induced suppression of osteogenesis at a 5-fold lower (10 nM) concentration than male MSCs. Female MSCs grown in estrogen-stripped medium showed similar responses to rosiglitazone as MSCs grown in serum containing estrogen. MSCs from female mice that had undergone ovariectomy before sexual maturity also were sensitive to rosiglitazone-induced effects on osteogenesis. These results suggest that female MSCs are more sensitive to modulation of differentiation by PPARγ and that these differences are intrinsic to the sex of the animal from which the MSCs came. These results also may explain the sensitivity of women to the deleterious effects of rosiglitazone on bone.
PMCID: PMC4317374  PMID: 24962433
Aging; bone; osteogenesis; adipogenesis; sexual dimorphism; rosiglitazone
9.  Derivation of endodermal progenitors from pluripotent stem cells† 
Journal of cellular physiology  2015;230(2):246-258.
Stem and progenitor cells play important roles in organogenesis during development and in tissue homeostasis and response to injury postnatally. As the regenerative capacity of many human tissues is limited, cell replacement therapies hold great promise for human disease management. Pluripotent stem cells such as embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are prime candidates for the derivation of unlimited quantities of clinically relevant cell types through development of directed differentiation protocols, i.e. the recapitulation of developmental milestones in in vitro cell culture. Tissue-specific progenitors, including progenitors of endodermal origin, are important intermediates in such protocols since they give rise to all mature parenchymal cells. In this review, we focus on the in vivo biology of embryonic endodermal progenitors in terms of key transcription factors and signaling pathways. We critically review the emerging literature aiming to apply this basic knowledge to achieve the efficient and reproducible in vitro derivation of endodermal progenitors such as pancreas, liver and lung precursor cells.
PMCID: PMC4344429  PMID: 25160562
10.  Gene Therapies for Cancer: Strategies, Challenges and Successes 
Journal of cellular physiology  2015;230(2):259-271.
Gene therapy, which involves replacement of a defective gene with a functional, healthy copy of that gene, is a potentially beneficial cancer treatment approach particularly over chemotherapy, which often lacks selectivity and can cause non-specific toxicity. Despite significant progress pre-clinically with respect to both enhanced targeting and expression in a tumor-selective manner several hurdles still prevent success in the clinic, including non-specific expression, low-efficiency delivery and biosafety. Various innovative genetic approaches are under development to reconstruct vectors/transgenes to make them safer and more effective. Utilizing cutting-edge delivery technologies, gene expression can now be targeted in a tissue- and organ-specific manner. With these advances, gene therapy is poised to become amenable for routine cancer therapy with potential to elevate this methodology as a first line therapy for neoplastic diseases. This review discusses recent advances in gene therapy and their impact on a pre-clinical and clinical level.
PMCID: PMC4363073  PMID: 25196387
11.  Runx1 Activities in Superficial Zone Chondrocytes, Osteoarthritic Chondrocyte Clones and Response to Mechanical Loading 
Journal of cellular physiology  2015;230(2):440-448.
Runx1, the hematopoietic lineage determining transcription factor, is present in perichondrium and chondrocytes. Here we addressed Runx1 functions, by examining expression in cartilage during mouse and human osteoarthritis (OA) progression and in response to mechanical loading.
Spared and diseased compartments in knees of OA patients and in mice with surgical destabilization of the medial meniscus were examined for changes in expression of Runx1 mRNA (Q-PCR) and protein (immunoblot, immunohistochemistry). Runx1 levels were quantified in response to static mechanical compression of bovine articular cartilage. Runx1 function was assessed by cell proliferation (Ki67, PCNA) and cell type phenotypic markers.
Runx1 is enriched in superficial zone (SZ) chondrocytes of normal bovine, mouse, and human tissues. Increasing loading conditions in bovine cartilage revealed a positive correlation with a significant elevation of Runx1. Runx1 becomes highly expressed at the periphery of mouse OA lesions and in human OA chondrocyte ‘clones’ where Runx1 co-localizes with Vcam1, the mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) marker and lubricin (Prg4), a cartilage chondroprotective protein. These OA induced cells represent a proliferative cell population, Runx1 depletion in MPCs decreases cell growth, supporting Runx1 contribution to cell expansion.
The highest Runx1 levels in SZC of normal cartilage suggest a function that supports the unique phenotype of articular chondrocytes, reflected by upregulation under conditions of compression. We propose Runx1 co-expression with Vcam1 and lubricin in murine cell clusters and human ‘clones’ of OA cartilage, participate in a cooperative mechanism for a compensatory anabolic function.
PMCID: PMC4420729  PMID: 25078095
12.  Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress Interacts With Inflammation in Human Diseases 
Journal of cellular physiology  2016;231(2):288-294.
The endoplasmic reticulum is a critical organelle for normal cell function and homeostasis. Disturbed protein folding process in the ER, termed ER stress, leads to the activation of unfolded protein response (UPR) that encompasses a complex network of intracellular signaling pathways. The UPR can either restore ER homeostasis or activate pro-apoptotic pathways depending on specific insults, intensity and duration of the stress, and cell types. ER stress and the UPR have recently been linked to inflammation in a variety of human pathologies including autoimmune diseases, infection, neurodegenerative disease, and metabolic disorders. In the cell, ER stress and inflammatory signaling share extensive regulators and effectors in a broad spectrum of biological processes. In spite of different etiologies, the two signaling pathways were shown to form a vicious cycle in exacerbating cellular dysfunction and causing apoptosis in many cells and tissues. However, the interaction between ER stress and inflammation in many of these diseases remains elusive. Further understanding of those issues may enable the development of novel therapies that spontaneously target these pathogenic pathways.
PMCID: PMC4659393  PMID: 26201832
13.  Roles for Histone Acetylation in Regulation of Telomere Elongation and Two-cell State in Mouse ES Cells 
Journal of cellular physiology  2015;230(10):2337-2344.
Mammalian telomeres and subtelomeres are marked by heterochromatic epigenetic modifications, including repressive DNA methylation and histone methylation (e.g., H3K9me3 and H4K20me3). Loss of these epigenetic marks results in increased rates of telomere recombination and elongation. Other than these repressive epigenetic marks, telomeric and subtelomeric H3 and H4 are underacetylated. Yet, whether histone acetylation also regulates telomere length has not been directly addressed. We thought to test the effects of histone acetylation levels on telomere length using histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor (sodium butyrate, NaB) that mediates histone hyperacetylation and histone acetyltransferase (HAT) inhibitor (C646) that mediates histone hypoacetylation. We show that histone hyperacetylation dramatically elongates telomeres in wild-type ES cells, and only slightly elongates telomeres in Terc−/− ES cells, suggesting that Terc is involved in histone acetylation-induced telomere elongation. In contrast, histone hypoacetylation shortens telomeres in both wild-type and Terc−/− ES cells. Additionally, histone hyperacetylation activates 2-cell (2C) specific genes including Zscan4, which is involved in telomere recombination and elongation, whereas histone hypoacetylation represses Zscan4 and 2C genes. These data suggest that histone acetylation levels affect the heterochromatic state at telomeres and subtelomeres, and regulate gene expression at subtelomeres, linking histone acetylation to telomere length maintenance.
PMCID: PMC4711819  PMID: 25752831
14.  Histone deacetylase inhibition destabilizes the multi-potent state of uncommitted adipose-derived mesenchymal stromal cells 
Journal of cellular physiology  2015;230(1):52-62.
Human adipose-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (AMSCs) grown in platelet lysate are promising agents for therapeutic tissue regeneration. Here, we investigated whether manipulation of epigenetic events by the clinically relevant histone deacetylase inhibitor suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA) alters differentiation of AMSCs. The multipotency of AMSCs was validated by their ability to differentiate into osteogenic, chondrogenic and adipogenic lineages. High-throughput RNA sequencing and RT-qPCR established that human histone deacetylases (HDAC1 to HDAC11, and SIRT1 to SIRT7) are differentially expressed in AMSCs. SAHA induces hyper-acetylation of histone H3 and H4, stimulates protein expression of the HDAC-responsive gene SLC9A3R1/NHERF1 and modulates the AKT/FOXO1 pathway. Biologically, SAHA interferes with osteogenic, chondrogenic and adipogenic lineage commitment of multipotent AMSCs. Mechanistically, SAHA-induced loss of differentiation potential of uncommitted AMSCs correlates with multiple changes in the expression of principal transcription factors that control mesenchymal or pluripotent states. We propose that SAHA destabilizes the multi-potent epigenetic state of uncommitted human AMSCs by hyper-acetylation and perturbation of key transcription factor pathways. Furthermore, AMSCs grown in platelet lysate may provide a useful biological model for screening of new HDAC inhibitors that control the biological fate of human mesenchymal stromal cells.
PMCID: PMC4225068  PMID: 24912092
osteoblast; bone; mesenchymal stem cell; histone deacetylase; osteogenesis; vorinostat; chondrocyte; adipocyte
15.  Sorafenib/Regorafenib and Lapatinib interact to kill CNS tumor cells 
Journal of cellular physiology  2015;230(1):131-139.
The present studies were to determine whether the multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib or its derivative regorafenib interacted with the ERBB1/ERBB2 inhibitor lapatinib to kill CNS tumor cells. In multiple CNS tumor cell types sorafenib and lapatinib interacted in a greater than additive fashion to cause tumor cell death. Tumor cells lacking PTEN, and anoikis or lapatinib resistant cells were as sensitive to the drug combination as cells expressing PTEN or parental cells, respectively. Similar data were obtained using regorafenib. Treatment of brain cancer cells with [sorafenib + lapatinib] enhanced radiation toxicity. The drug combination increased the numbers of LC3-GFP vesicles; this correlated with a reduction in endogenous LC3II, and p62 and LAMP2 degradation. Knock down of Beclin1 or ATG5 significantly suppressed drug combination lethality. Expression of c-FLIP-s, BCL-XL or dominant negative caspase 9 reduced drug combination toxicity; knock down of FADD or CD95 was protective. Expression of both activated AKT and activated MEK1 or activated mTOR was required to strongly suppress drug combination lethality. As both lapatinib and sorafenib are FDA approved agents, our data argue for further determination as to whether lapatinib and sorafenib is a useful glioblastoma therapy.
PMCID: PMC4182138  PMID: 24911215
Sorafenib; Lapatinib; Autophagy; Glioma; AKT; ERK1/2; mTOR; PTEN; p70 S6K; Necrosis
16.  microRNA-mediated Survivin Control of Pluripotency 
Journal of cellular physiology  2015;230(1):63-70.
Understanding the mechanisms that sustain pluripotency in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is an active area of research that may prove useful in regenerative medicine and will provide fundamental information relevant to development and cancer. hESCs and cancer cells share the unique ability to proliferate indefinitely and rapidly. Because the protein survivin is uniquely overexpressed in virtually all human cancers and in hESCs, we sought to investigate its role in supporting the distinctive capabilities of these cell types. Results presented here suggest that survivin contributes to the maintenance of pluripotency and that post-transcriptional control of survivin isoform expression is selectively regulated by microRNAs. miR-203 has been extensively studied in human tumors, but has not been characterized in hESCs. We show that miR-203 expression and activity is consistent with the expression and subcellular localization of survivin isoforms that in turn modulate expression of the Oct4 and Nanog transcription factors to sustain pluripotency. This study contributes to understanding of the complex regulatory mechanisms that govern whether hESCs proliferate or commit to lineages.
PMCID: PMC4182148  PMID: 24891298
Survivin; miRNA-203; ΔEx3 survivin isoform; Pluripotency; Embyonic stem cells
17.  Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1 Mediates Increased Expression of NADPH Oxidase-2 in Response to Intermittent Hypoxia 
Journal of cellular physiology  2011;226(11):2925-2933.
Sleep-disordered breathing with recurrent apnea is associated with intermittent hypoxia (IH). Cardiovascular morbidities caused by IH are triggered by increased generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by pro-oxidant enzymes, especially NADPH oxidase-2 (Nox2). Previous studies showed that (i) IH activates hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) in a ROS-dependent manner and (ii) HIF-1 is required for IH-induced ROS generation, indicating the existence of a feed-forward mechanism. In the present study, using multiple pharmacological and genetic approaches, we investigated whether IH-induced expression of Nox2 is mediated by HIF-1 in the central and peripheral nervous system of mice as well as in cultured cells. IH increased Nox2 mRNA, protein, and enzyme activity in PC12 pheochromocytoma cells as well as in wild-type mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). This effect was abolished or attenuated by blocking HIF-1 activity through RNA interference or pharmacologic inhibition (digoxin or YC-1) or by genetic knockout of HIF-1α in MEFs. Increasing HIF-1α expression by treating PC 12 cells with the iron chelator deferoxamine for 20 h or by transfecting them with HIF-1alpha expression vector increased Nox2 expression and enzyme activity. Exposure of wild-type mice to IH (8 h/day for 10 days) up-regulated Nox2 mRNA expression in brain cortex, brain stem, and carotid body but not in cerebellum. IH did not induce Nox2 expression in cortex, brainstem, carotid body, or cerebellum of Hif1a+/− mice, which do not manifest increased ROS or cardiovascular morbidities in response to IH. These results establish a pathogenic mechanism linking HIF-1, ROS generation, and cardiovascular pathology in response to IH.
PMCID: PMC4695992  PMID: 21302291
18.  The Role of Auxiliary Subunits for the Functional Diversity of Voltage-Gated Calcium Channels 
Journal of Cellular Physiology  2015;230(9):2019-2031.
Voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) represent the sole mechanism to convert membrane depolarization into cellular functions like secretion, contraction, or gene regulation. VGCCs consist of a pore-forming α1 subunit and several auxiliary channel subunits. These subunits come in multiple isoforms and splice-variants giving rise to a stunning molecular diversity of possible subunit combinations. It is generally believed that specific auxiliary subunits differentially regulate the channels and thereby contribute to the great functional diversity of VGCCs. If auxiliary subunits can associate and dissociate from pre-existing channel complexes, this would allow dynamic regulation of channel properties. However, most auxiliary subunits modulate current properties very similarly, and proof that any cellular calcium channel function is indeed modulated by the physiological exchange of auxiliary subunits is still lacking. In this review we summarize available information supporting a differential modulation of calcium channel functions by exchange of auxiliary subunits, as well as experimental evidence in support of alternative functions of the auxiliary subunits. At the heart of the discussion is the concept that, in their native environment, VGCCs function in the context of macromolecular signaling complexes and that the auxiliary subunits help to orchestrate the diverse protein–protein interactions found in these calcium channel signalosomes. Thus, in addition to a putative differential modulation of current properties, differential subcellular targeting properties and differential protein–protein interactions of the auxiliary subunits may explain the need for their vast molecular diversity. J. Cell. Physiol. 999: 00–00, 2015. © 2015 The Authors. Journal of Cellular Physiology Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Cell. Physiol. 230: 2019–2031, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
PMCID: PMC4672716  PMID: 25820299
19.  P2X7 Receptors in Neurohypophysial Terminals: Evidence for their Role in Arginine-Vasopressin Secretion 
Journal of cellular physiology  2014;229(3):333-342.
Arginine-vasopressin (AVP) plays a major role in maintaining cardiovascular function and related pathologies. The mechanism involved in its release into the circulation is complex and highly regulated. Recent work has implicated the purinergic receptor, P2X7R, in a role for catecholamine-enhanced AVP release in the rat hypothalamic-neurohypophysial (NH) system. However, the site of P2X7R action in this endocrine system and whether or not it directly mediates release in secretory neurons have not been determined. We hypothesized that the P2X7R is expressed and mediates AVP release in NH terminals. P2X7R function was first examined by patch-clamp recordings in isolated NH terminals. Results revealed that subpopulations of isolated terminals displayed either high ATP-sensitivity or low ATP-sensitivity, the latter of which was characteristic of the rat P2X7R. Additional recordings showed that terminals showing sensitivity to the P2X7R-selective agonist, BzATP, were further inhibited by P2X7R selective antagonists, AZ10606120 and brilliant blue-G. In confocal micrographs from isolated terminals of the NH showed that P2X7R-immunoreactivity was localized in the plasma membranes. Lastly, the role of P2X7R on AVP release was tested. Our results showed that BzATP evoked sustained AVP release in NH terminals, which was inhibited by AZ10606120. Taken together, our data lead us to conclude that the P2X7R is expressed in NH terminals and corroborates its role in AVP secretion.
PMCID: PMC4667357  PMID: 24037803
Depolarization-secretion coupling; P2X receptor; Neuropeptide; Exocytosis; posterior pituitary; ligand gated ion channel; Neuronal; Positive feedback
20.  RUNX3 Facilitates Growth of Ewing Sarcoma Cells 
Journal of cellular physiology  2014;229(12):2049-2056.
Ewing sarcoma is an aggressive pediatric small round cell tumor that predominantly occurs in bone. Approximately 85% of Ewing sarcomas harbor the EWS/FLI fusion protein, which arises from a chromosomal translocation, t(11:22)(q24:q12). EWS/FLI interacts with numerous lineage-essential transcription factors to maintain mesenchymal progenitors in an undifferentiated state. We previously showed that EWS/FLI binds the osteogenic transcription factor RUNX2 and prevents osteoblast differentiation. In this study, we investigated the role of another Runt-domain protein, RUNX3, in Ewing sarcoma. RUNX3 participates in mesenchymal-derived bone formation and is a context dependent tumor suppressor and oncogene. RUNX3 was detected in all Ewing sarcoma cells examined, whereas RUNX2 was detected in only 73% of specimens. Like RUNX2, RUNX3 binds to EWS/FLI via its Runt domain. EWS/FLI prevented RUNX3 from activating the transcription of a RUNX-responsive reporter, p6OSE2. Stable suppression of RUNX3 expression in the Ewing sarcoma cell line A673 delayed colony growth in anchorage independent soft agar assays and reversed expression of EWS/FLI-responsive genes. These results demonstrate an important role for RUNX3 in Ewing sarcoma.
PMCID: PMC4149590  PMID: 24812032
Journal of cellular physiology  2014;229(12):2142-2152.
Published data provide strong evidence that heparin treatment of proliferating vascular smooth muscle cells results in decreased signaling through the ERK pathway and decreases in cell proliferation. In addition, these changes have been shown to be mimicked by antibodies that block heparin binding to the cell surface. Here we provide evidence that the activity of protein kinase G is required for these heparin effects. Specifically, a chemical inhibitor of protein kinase G, Rp-8-pCPT-cGMS, eliminates heparin and anti-heparin receptor antibody effects on bromodeoxyuridine incorporation into growth factor stimulated cells. In addition, protein kinase G inhibitors decrease heparin effects on ERK activity, phosphorylation of the transcription factor ELK-1, and heparin induced MKP-1 synthesis. Although transient, the levels of cGMP increase in heparin treated cells. Finally, knock down of protein kinase G also significantly decreases heparin effects in growth factor activated vascular smooth muscle cells. Together, these data indicate that heparin effects on vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation depend, at least in part, on signaling through protein kinase G.
PMCID: PMC4149598  PMID: 24911927
22.  Spindle microtubule dysfunction and cancer predisposition 
Journal of cellular physiology  2014;229(12):1881-1883.
Chromosome segregation and spindle microtubule dynamics are strictly coordinated during cell division in order to preserve genomic integrity. Alterations in the genome that affect microtubule stability and spindle assembly during mitosis may contribute to genomic instability and cancer predisposition, but directly testing this potential link poses a significant challenge. Germ-line mutations in tumor suppressor genes that predispose patients to cancer and alter spindle microtubule dynamics offer unique opportunities to investigate the relationship between spindle dysfunction and carcinogenesis. Mutations in two such tumor suppressors, adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) and Shwachman-Bodian-Diamond syndrome (SBDS), affect multifunctional proteins that have been well characterized for their roles in Wnt signaling and interphase ribosome assembly, respectively. Less understood, however, is how their shared involvement in stabilizing the microtubules that comprise the mitotic spindle contributes to cancer predisposition. Here, we briefly discuss the potential for mutations in APC and SBDS as informative tools for studying the impact of mitotic spindle dysfunction on cellular transformation.
PMCID: PMC4149604  PMID: 24905602
23.  Analysis of global changes in gene expression induced by human polynucleotide phosphorylase (hPNPaseold-35) 
Journal of cellular physiology  2014;229(12):1952-1962.
As a strategy to identify gene expression changes affected by human polynucleotide phosphorylase (hPNPaseold-35), we performed gene expression analysis of HeLa cells in which hPNPaseold-35 was overexpressed. The observed changes were then compared to those of HO-1 melanoma cells in which hPNPaseold-35 was stably knocked down. Through this analysis, 90 transcripts, which positively or negatively correlated with hPNPaseold-35 expression, were identified. The majority of these genes were associated with cell communication, cell cycle and chromosomal organization gene ontology categories. For a number of these genes, the positive or negative correlations with hPNPaseold-35 expression were consistent with transcriptional data extracted from the TCGA (The Cancer Genome Atlas) expression datasets for colon adenocarcinoma (COAD), skin cutaneous melanoma (SKCM), ovarian serous cyst adenocarcinoma (OV), and prostate adenocarcinoma (PRAD). Further analysis comparing the gene expression changes between Ad.hPNPaseold-35 infected HO-1 melanoma cells and HeLa cells overexpressing hPNPaseold-35 under the control of a doxycycline-inducible promoter, revealed global changes in genes involved in cell cycle and mitosis. Overall, this study provides further evidence that hPNPaseold-35 is associated with global changes in cell cycle-associated genes and identifies potential gene targets for future investigation.
PMCID: PMC4149605  PMID: 24729470
24.  Negative Regulators of Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT)-Mediated Thermogenesis 
Journal of cellular physiology  2014;229(12):1901-1907.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is specialized for energy expenditure, a process called adaptive thermogenesis. PET-CT scans recently demonstrated the existence of metabolically active BAT in adult humans, which revitalized our interest in BAT. Increasing the amount and/or activity of BAT holds tremendous promise for the treatment of obesity and its associated diseases. PGC1α is the master regulator of UCP1-mediated thermogenesis in BAT. A number of proteins have been identified to influence thermogenesis either positively or negatively through regulating the expression or transcriptional activity of PGC1α. Therefore, BAT activation can be achieved by either inducing the expression of positive regulators of PGC1α or by inhibiting the repressors of the PGC1α/UCP1 pathway. Here, we review the most important negative regulators of PGC1α/UCP1 signaling and their mechanism of action in BAT-mediated thermogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4149692  PMID: 24809334
PGC1a; UCP1; Oxidative phosphorylation; Obesity; Thermogenesis
25.  Disruption of Crosstalk between Mesenchymal Stromal and Tumor Cells in Bone Marrow as a Therapeutic Target to Prevent Metastatic Bone Disease 
Journal of cellular physiology  2014;229(12):1884-1886.
Skeletal metastasis is a serious complication of many primary cancers. A common feature of tumor cells that metastasize to the bone marrow microenvironment is that they initiate a cascade of events, recruiting and presumably/potentially altering the phenotype of bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) to produce an environment that allows for tumor growth and in some cases, drug-resistant dormancy of latent cancer cells. Consequently the MSC population can contribute to metastatic disease through several distinct mechanisms by differentiating into cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). Understanding the expression and epigenetic changes that occur as normal MSCs become associated with metastatic tumors would reveal possible therapeutic targets for treating skeletal metastasis.
PMCID: PMC4190018  PMID: 24905746
Metastasis; Mesenchymal stromal cell; Cancer-associated fibroblast

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