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1.  5’-Phosphate and 5’-Phosphonate Ester Derivatives of (N)-Methanocarba Adenosine with in Vivo Cardioprotective Activity 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2013;56(3):902-914.
Activation of a cardiac myocyte P2X4 receptor protects in heart failure. 5’-Phosphonate and 5’-phosphate analogues of AMP containing a (N)-methanocarba (bicyclo[3.1.0]hexane) system could protect from heart failure by potentially activating this cardioprotective channel. Phosphoesters and phosphonodiesters were synthesized and administered in vivo via a mini-osmotic pump in a mouse ischemic heart failure model; most significantly increased intact heart contractile function (echocardiography) compared to vehicle-infusion. Several new thio and deuterated phosphate derivatives were protective in a calsequestrin (CSQ)-overexpressing heart failure model. Diethyl (7, MRS4084) and diisopropyl (8, MRS4074) phosphotriesters were highly protective in the ischemic model. Substitution of 2-Cl with iodo reduced protection in the CSQ model. Diisopropyl ester 16 (MRS2978) of (1’S,2’R,3’S,4’R,5’S)-4’-(6-amino-2-chloropurin-9-yl)-2’,3’-(dihydroxy)-1’-(phosphonoethylene)-bicyclo[3.1.0]hexane was highly efficacious (CSQ), while lower homologue 1’-phosphonomethylene derivative 14 was inactive. Thus, we identified uncharged carbocyclic nucleotide analogues that represent potential candidates for the treatment of heart failure, suggesting this as a viable and structurally broad approach.
PMCID: PMC3574217  PMID: 23286881
2.  Elevated VEGF Receptor-2 Abundance Contributes to Increased Angiogenesis in VEGF Receptor-1 Deficient Mice 
Circulation  2012;126(6):741-752.
Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1 (VEGFR-1/Flt-1) is a potential therapeutic target for cardiovascular diseases, but its role in angiogenesis remains controversial. While germline Vegfr-1−/− embryos die of abnormal vascular development in association with excessive endothelial differentiation, mice lacking only the kinase domain are apparently healthy.
Methods and Results
We carried out Cre-loxP mediated knockout to abrogate the expression of all known VEGFR-1 functional domains in neonatal and adult mice, and analyzed developmental, pathophysiological, and molecular consequences. VEGFR-1 deficiency promoted tip cell formation and endothelial cell (EC) proliferation, and facilitated angiogenesis of blood vessels which matured and perfused properly. Vascular permeability was normal at the basal level, but elevated in response to high doses of exogenous VEGF-A. In the post-infarct ischemic cardiomyopathy model, VEGFR-1 deficiency supported robust angiogenesis and protected against myocardial infarction. VEGFR-1 knockout led to abundant accumulation of VEGFR-2 at the protein level, increased VEGFR-2 tyrosine phosphorylation transiently, and enhanced serine phosphorylation of Akt and ERK. Interestingly, increased angiogenesis, tip cell formation, vascular permeability, VEGFR-2 accumulation, and Akt phosphorylation could be partially rescued or suppressed by one or more of the following manipulations, including injection of VEGFR-2 selective inhibitor SU1498, anti-VEGF-A, or introduction of Vegfr-2+/− heterozygosity into Vegfr-1 somatic knockout mice.
Upregulation of VEGFR-2 abundance at the protein level contributes in part to increased angiogenesis in VEGFR-1 deficient mice.
PMCID: PMC3442373  PMID: 22753193
angiogenesis; vasculature; VEGFR-1; VEGFR-2; retina
The objective of this study was to create constitutively active mutant human A3 adenosine receptors (ARs) using single amino acid replacements, based on findings from other G protein-coupled receptors. A3 ARs mutated in transmembrane helical domains (TMs) 1, 3, 6, and 7 were expressed in COS-7 cells and subjected to agonist radioligand binding and phospholipase C (PLC) and adenylyl cyclase (AC) assays. Three mutant receptors, A229E in TM6 and R108A and R108K in the DRY motif of TM3, were found to be constitutively active in both functional assays. The potency of the A3 agonist Cl-IB-MECA (2–chloro-N6-(3–iodobenzyl)adenosine-5′-N-methyluronamide) in PLC activation was enhanced by at least an order of magnitude over wild type (EC50 951 nM) in R108A and A229E mutant receptors. Cl-IB-MECA was much less potent (>10-fold) in C88F, Y109F and Y282F mutants or inactive following double mutation of the DRY motif. The degree of constitutive activation was more pronounced for the AC signaling pathway than for the PLC signaling pathway. The results indicated that specific locations within the TMs proximal to the cytosolic region were responsible for constraining the receptor in a G protein-uncoupled conformation.
PMCID: PMC3626079  PMID: 11396942
purines; G protein-coupled receptor; phospholipase C; adenylyl cyclase; radioligand binding; nucleosides
4.  Pharmacological and Therapeutic Effects of A3 Adenosine Receptor (A3AR) Agonists 
Drug Discovery Today  2011;17(7-8):359-366.
The Gi-coupled A3 adenosine receptor (A3AR) mediates anti-inflammatory, anticancer and anti-ischemic protective effects. The receptor is overexpressed in inflammatory and cancer cells, while low expression is found in normal cells, rendering the A3AR as a potential therapeutic target. Highly selective A3AR agonists have been synthesized and molecular recognition in the binding site has been characterized. The present review summarizes preclinical and clinical human studies demonstrating that A3AR agonists induce specific anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects via a molecular mechanism that entails modulation of the Wnt and the NF-κB signal transduction pathways. Currently, A3AR agonists are being developed for the treatment of inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis; ophthalmic diseases such as dry eye syndrome and glaucoma; liver diseases such as hepatocellular carcinoma and hepatitis.
PMCID: PMC3289754  PMID: 22033198
G protein-coupled receptor; nucleoside; cancer; inflammation; ischemia
5.  Adenosine and Ischemic Preconditioning 
Current pharmaceutical design  1999;5(12):1029-1041.
Adenosine is released in large amounts during myocardial ischemia and is capable of exerting potent cardioprotective effects in the heart. Although these observations on adenosine have been known for a long time, how adenosine acts to achieve its anti-ischemic effect remains incompletely understood. However, recent advances on the chemistry and pharmacology of adenosine receptor ligands have provided important and novel information on the function of adenosine receptor subtypes in the cardiovascular system. The development of model systems for the cardiac actions of adenosine has yielded important insights into its mechanism of action and have begun to elucidate the sequence of signalling events from receptor activation to the actual exertion of its cardioprotective effect. The present review will focus on the adenosine receptors that mediate the potent anti-ischemic effect of adenosine, new ligands at the receptors, potential molecular signalling mechanisms downstream of the receptor, mediators for cardioprotection, and possible clinical applications in cardiovascular disorders.
PMCID: PMC3561763  PMID: 10607860
6.  A Novel Pharmacological Approach to Treating Cardiac Ischemia 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2000;275(39):30272-30279.
Adenosine released during cardiac ischemia exerts a potent, protective effect in the heart via activation of A1 or A3 receptors. However, the interaction between the two cardioprotective adenosine receptors and the question of which receptor is the more important anti-ischemic receptor remain largely unexplored. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that activation of both receptors exerted a cardioprotective effect that was significantly greater than activation of either receptor individually. This was accomplished by using a novel design in which new binary conjugates of adenosine A1 and A3 receptor agonists were synthesized and tested in a novel cardiac myocyte model of adenosine-elicited cardioprotection. Binary drugs having mixed selectivity for both A1 and A3 receptors were created through the covalent linking of functionalized congeners of adenosine agonists, each being selective for either the A1 or A3 receptor subtype. MRS 1740 and MRS 1741, thiourea-linked, regioisomers of a binary conjugate, were highly potent and selective in radioligand binding assays for A1 and A3 receptors (Ki values of 0.7–3.5 nm) versus A2A receptors. The myocyte models utilized cultured chick embryo cells, either ventricular cells expressing native adenosine A1 and A3 receptors, or engineered atrial cells, in which either human A3 receptors alone or both human A1 and A3 receptors were expressed. The binary agonist MRS 1741 coactivated A1 and A3 receptors simultaneously, with full cardioprotection (EC50 ~0.1 nm) dependent on expression of both receptors. Thus, co-activation of both adenosine A1 and A3 receptors by the binary A1/A3 agonists represents a novel general cardioprotective approach for the treatment of myocardial ischemia.
PMCID: PMC3561767  PMID: 10887176
8.  Orthogonal activation of the reengineered A3 adenosine receptor (neoceptor) using tailored nucleoside agonists 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2006;49(9):2689-2702.
An alternative approach to overcome the inherent lack of specificity of conventional agonist therapy can be the reengineering of the GPCRs and their agonists. A reengineered receptor (neoceptor) could be selectively activated by a modified agonist, but not by the endogenous agonist. Assisted by rhodopsin-based molecular modeling, we pinpointed mutations of the A3 adenosine receptor (AR) for selective affinity enhancement following complementary modifications of adenosine. Ribose modifications examined included, at 3′: amino, aminomethyl, azido, guanidino, ureido; and at 5′: uronamido, azidodeoxy. N6-variations included: 3-iodobenzyl, 5-chloro-2-methyloxybenzyl, and methyl. An N6-3-iodobenzyl-3′-ureido adenosine derivative 10 activated phospholipase C in COS-7 cells (EC50=0.18 μM) or phospholipase D in chick primary cardiomyocytes mediated by a mutant (H272E), but not the wild-type, A3AR. The affinity enhancements for 10 and the corresponding 3′-acetamidomethyl analogue 6 were >100-fold and >20-fold, respectively. 10 concentration-dependently protected cardiomyocytes transfected with the neoceptor against hypoxia. Unlike 10, adenosine activated the wild-type A3AR (EC50 of 1.0 μM), but had no effect on the H272E mutant A3AR (100 μM). Compound 10 was inactive at human A1, A2A, and A2BARs. The orthogonal pair comprising an engineered receptor and a modified agonist should be useful for elucidating signaling pathways and could be therapeutically applied to diseases following organ-targeted delivery of the neoceptor gene.
PMCID: PMC3471142  PMID: 16640329
9.  Neoceptor Concept Based on Molecular Complementarity in GPCRs: A Mutant Adenosine A3 Receptor with Selectively Enhanced Affinity for Amine-Modified Nucleosides 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2001;44(24):4125-4136.
Adenosine A3 receptors are of interest in the treatment of cardiac ischemia, inflammation, and neurodegenerative diseases. In an effort to create a unique receptor mutant that would be activated by tailor-made synthetic ligands, we mutated the human A3 receptor at the site of a critical His residue in TM7, previously proposed to be involved in ligand recognition through interaction with the ribose moiety. The H272E mutant receptor displayed reduced affinity for most of the uncharged A3 receptor agonists and antagonists examined. For example, the nonselective agonist 1a was 19-fold less potent at the mutant receptor than at the wild-type receptor. The introduction of an amino group on the ribose moiety of adenosine resulted in either equipotency or enhanced binding affinity at the H272E mutant relative to wild-type A3 receptors, depending on the position of the amino group. 3′-Amino-3′-deoxyadenosine proved to be 7-fold more potent at the H272E mutant receptor than at the wild-type receptor, while the corresponding 2′- and 5′-amino analogues did not display significantly enhanced affinities. An 3′-amino-N6-iodobenzyl analogue showed only a small enhancement at the mutant (Ki = 320 nM) vs wild-type receptors. The 3′-amino group was intended for a direct electrostatic interaction with the negatively charged ribose-binding region of the mutant receptor, yet molecular modeling did not support this notion. This design approach is an example of engineering the structure of mutant receptors to recognize synthetic ligands for which they are selectively matched on the basis of molecular complementarity between the mutant receptor and the ligand. We have termed such engineered receptors “neoceptors”, since the ligand recognition profile of such mutant receptors need not correspond to the profile of the parent, native receptor.
PMCID: PMC3413945  PMID: 11708915
10.  cPLA2 Is Protective Against COX Inhibitor–Induced Intestinal Damage 
Toxicological Sciences  2010;117(1):122-132.
Cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2) is the rate-limiting enzyme responsible for the generation of prostaglandins (PGs), which are bioactive lipids that play critical roles in maintaining gastrointestinal (GI) homeostasis. There has been a long-standing association between administration of cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitors and GI toxicity. GI injury is thought to be induced by suppressed production of GI-protective PGs as well as direct injury to enterocytes. The present study sought to determine how pan-suppression of PG production via a genetic deletion of cPLA2 impacts the susceptibility to COX inhibitor–induced GI injury. A panel of COX inhibitors including celecoxib, rofecoxib, sulindac, and aspirin were administered via diet to cPLA2− / − and cPLA2+ / + littermates. Administration of celecoxib, rofecoxib, and sulindac, but not aspirin, resulted in acute lethality (within 2 weeks) in cPLA2− / − mice, but not in wild-type littermates. Histomorphological analysis revealed severe GI damage following celecoxib exposure associated with acute bacteremia and sepsis. Intestinal PG levels were reduced equivalently in both genotypes following celecoxib exposure, indicating that PG production was not likely responsible for the differential sensitivity. Gene expression profiling in the small intestines of mice identified drug-related changes among a panel of genes including those involved in mitochondrial function in cPLA2− / − mice. Further analysis of enterocytic mitochondria showed abnormal morphology as well as impaired ATP production in the intestines from celecoxib-exposed cPLA2− / − mice. Our data demonstrate that cPLA2 appears to be an important component in conferring protection against COX inhibitor–induced enteropathy, which may be mediated through affects on enterocytic mitochondria.
PMCID: PMC2923287  PMID: 20562220
cytosolic phospholipase A2; COX inhibitor; mitochondria; intestine
11.  Structure Activity Relationship of (N)-Methanocarba Phosphonate Analogues of 5’-AMP as Cardioprotective Agents Acting Through a Cardiac P2X Receptor 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2010;53(6):2562-2576.
P2X receptor activation protects in heart failure models. MRS2339 3, a 2-chloro-AMP derivative containing a (N)-methanocarba (bicyclo[3.1.0]hexane) system, activates this cardioprotective channel. Michaelis–Arbuzov and Wittig reactions provided phosphonate analogues of 3, expected to be stable in vivo due to the C-P bond. After chronic administration via a mini-osmotic pump (Alzet), some analogues significantly increased intact heart contractile function in calsequestrin-overexpressing mice (genetic model of heart failure) compared to vehicle-infused mice (all inactive at the vasodilatory P2Y1 receptor). Two phosphonates, (1’S,2’R,3’S,4’R,5’S)-4’-(6-amino-2-chloropurin-9-yl)-2’,3’-(dihydroxy)-1’-(phosphonomethylene)-bicyclo[3.1.0]hexane 4 and its homologue 9, both 5’-saturated, containing a 2-Cl substitution, improved echocardiography-derived fractional shortening (20.25% and 19.26%, respectively, versus 13.78% in controls), while unsaturated 5’-extended phosphonates, all 2-H analogues, and a CH3-phosphonate were inactive. Thus, chronic administration of nucleotidase-resistant phosphonates conferred a beneficial effect, likely via cardiac P2X receptor activation. Thus, we have greatly expanded the range of carbocyclic nucleotide analogues that represent potential candidates for the treatment of heart failure.
PMCID: PMC2880888  PMID: 20192270
12.  TRPM7-mediated Ca2+ signals confer fibrogenesis in human Atrial Fibrillation 
Circulation research  2010;106(5):992-1003.
Cardiac fibrosis contributes to pathogenesis of atrial fibrillation (AF), which is the most sustained arrhythmia and a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Although it has been suggested that Ca2+ signals are involved in fibrosis promotion, the molecular basis of Ca2+ signaling mechanisms and how Ca2+ signals contribute to fibrogenesis remain unknown.
To determine the molecular mechanisms of Ca2+-permeable channel(s) in human atrial fibroblasts, and to investigate how Ca2+ signals contribute to fibrogenesis in human AF.
Methods and Results
We demonstrate that the transient receptor potential melastatin related 7 (TRPM7) is the molecular basis of the major Ca2+-permeable channel in human atrial fibroblasts. Endogenous TRPM7 currents in atrial fibroblasts resemble the biophysical and pharmacological properties of heterologous expressed TRPM7. Knocking down TRPM7 by small hairpin RNA (shRNA) largely eliminates TRPM7 current and Ca2+ influx in atrial fibroblasts. More importantly, atrial fibroblasts from AF patients show a striking upregulation of both TRPM7 currents and Ca2+ influx and are more prone to myofibroblast differentiation, presumably due to the enhanced expression of TRPM7. TRPM7-shRNA markedly reduced basal AF fibroblast differentiation. Transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1), the major stimulator of atrial fibrosis, requires TRPM7-mediated Ca2+ signal for its effect on fibroblast proliferation and differentiation. Furthermore, TGF-β1 induced differentiation of cultured human atrial fibroblasts is well correlated with an increase of TRPM7 expression induced by TGF-β1.
Our results establish that TRPM7 is the major Ca2+-permeable channel in human atrial fibroblasts, and likely plays an essential role in TGF-β1-elicited fibrogenesis in human AF.
PMCID: PMC2907241  PMID: 20075334
Atrial Fibrillation; TRPM7; Ca2+ signaling; TGF-β1; fibrogenesis
13.  Attenuation of Apoptosis in vitro and Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury in vivo in Mouse Skeletal Muscle by P2Y6 Receptor Activation 
Activation of the Gq-coupled P2Y6 receptor heterologously expressed in astrocytes significantly attenuates apoptosis induced by tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα). We have extended the analysis of P2Y6 receptor-induced cytoprotection to mouse skeletal muscle cells endogenously expressing this receptor. The endogenous P2Y6 receptor agonist UDP and synthetic agonist MRS2693 protected C2C12 skeletal muscle cells against apoptosis in a concentration-dependent manner (0.1−10 nM) as determined by propidium iodide staining, histochemical analysis using hematoxylin and Hoechst 33258, and DNA fragmentation. The insurmountable P2Y6 receptor antagonist MRS2578 blocked the protection. TNFα-induced apoptosis in C2C12 cells correlated with activation of the transcription factor NF-κB. The NF-κB activation was attenuated by 10 nM MRS2693, which activated the antiapoptic ERK1/2 pathway. In an in vivo mouse hindlimb model, MRS2693 protected against skeletal muscle ischemia/reperfusion injury. The P2Y6 receptor is a novel cytoprotective receptor that deserves further exploration in ameliorating skeletal muscle injury.
PMCID: PMC2586120  PMID: 18805489
ischemia; uracil nucleotide; G protein-coupled receptor; tumor necrosis factor; skeletal muscle; UDP
14.  Semi-Rational Design of (N)-Methanocarba Nucleosides as Dual Acting A1 and A3Adenosine Receptor Agonists: Novel Prototypes for Cardioprotection 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2005;48(26):8103-8107.
Ring-constrained adenosine analogues have been designed to act as dualagonists at tissue-protective A1 and A3 adenosine receptors (ARs). 9-Ribosides transformed into the ring-constrained (N)-methanocarba-2-chloro-5′-uronamides consistently lost affinity at A1/A2AARs and gained at A3AR. Among 9-riboside derivatives, only N6-cyclopentyl and 7-norbornyl moieties were extrapolated for mixed A1/A3 selectivity and rat/human A3AR equipotency. Consequently, 2 was balanced in affinity and potency at A1/A3ARs as envisioned and dramatically protected in an intact heart model of global ischemia and reperfusion.
PMCID: PMC2597460  PMID: 16366590
Efforts to model and reengineer the putative binding sites of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) have led to an approach to combining small molecule “classical” medicinal chemistry and gene therapy. By this approach, complementary structural changes, for example, based on novel ionic or H bonds, are made in the receptor and ligand for selective enhancement of affinity. Thus, a modified receptor (neoceptor) is designed for activation by tailor-made agonists that do not interact with the native receptor. The neoceptor is no longer activated by the native agonist, but rather acts as scaffold for docking of novel small molecules (neoligands). In theory, the approach could verify the accuracy of GPCR molecular modeling, dissection of signaling, design of small molecules to rescue disease-related mutations, and small-molecule-directed gene therapy. The neoceptor-neoligand pairing may offer spacial specificity by delivering the neoceptor to a target site and temporal specificity by administering neoligand when needed.
PMCID: PMC2495023  PMID: 17280720
16.  Phospholipase D2 Localizes to the Plasma Membrane and Regulates Angiotensin II Receptor Endocytosis 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2004;15(3):1024-1030.
Phospholipase D (PLD) is a key facilitator of multiple types of membrane vesicle trafficking events. Two PLD isoforms, PLD1 and PLD2, exist in mammals. Initial studies based on overexpression studies suggested that in resting cells, human PLD1 localized primarily to the Golgi and perinuclear vesicles in multiple cell types. In contrast, overexpressed mouse PLD2 was observed to localize primarily to the plasma membrane, although internalization on membrane vesicles was observed subsequent to serum stimulation. A recent report has suggested that the assignment of PLD2 to the plasma membrane is in error, because the endogenous isoform in rat secretory cells was imaged and found to be present primarily in the Golgi apparatus. We have reexamined this issue by using a monoclonal antibody specific for mouse PLD2, and find, as reported initially using overexpression studies, that endogenous mouse PLD2 is detected most readily at the plasma membrane in multiple cell types. In addition, we report that mouse, rat, and human PLD2 when overexpressed all similarly localize to the plasma membrane in cell lines from all three species. Finally, studies conducted using overexpression of wild-type active or dominant-negative isoforms of PLD2 and RNA interference-mediated targeting of PLD2 suggest that PLD2 functions at the plasma membrane to facilitate endocytosis of the angiotensin II type 1 receptor.
PMCID: PMC363061  PMID: 14718562

Results 1-16 (16)