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1.  Lipid Storage Disorders Block Lysosomal Trafficking By Inhibiting TRP Channel and Calcium Release 
Nature Communications  2012;3:731.
Lysosomal lipid accumulation, defects in membrane trafficking, and altered Ca2+ homeostasis are common features in many lysosomal storage diseases. Mucolipin TRP channel 1 (TRPML1) is the principle Ca2+ channel in the lysosome. Here we show that TRPML1-mediated lysosomal Ca2+ release, measured using a genetically-encoded Ca2+ indicator (GCaMP3) attached directly to TRPML1 and elicited by a potent membrane-permeable synthetic agonist, is dramatically reduced in Niemann-Pick (NP) disease cells. Sphingomyelins (SMs) are plasma membrane lipids that undergo Sphingomyelinase (SMase)-mediated hydrolysis in the lysosomes of normal cells, but accumulate distinctively in NP cell lysosomes. Patch-clamp analyses revealed that TRPML1 channel activity is inhibited by SMs, but potentiated by SMases. In NP type C (NPC) cells, increasing TRPML1’s expression/activity was sufficient to correct the trafficking defects and reduce lysosome storage and cholesterol accumulation. We propose that abnormal accumulation of luminal lipids causes secondary lysosome storage by blocking TRPML1- and Ca2+-dependent lysosomal trafficking.
PMCID: PMC3347486  PMID: 22415822
Sphingomyelin; TRP channel; Mucolipin; Ca2+ release; Membrane trafficking; Lysosome; Lysosome Storage Disease; Niemann-Pick disease
2.  Menin-MLL Inhibitors Reverse Oncogenic Activity of MLL Fusion Proteins in Leukemia 
Nature Chemical Biology  2012;8(3):277-284.
Translocations involving the Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL) gene result in human acute leukemias with very poor prognosis. The leukemogenic activity of MLL fusion proteins is critically dependent on their direct interaction with menin, a product of the MEN1 gene. Here, we present the first small molecule inhibitors of the menin-MLL fusion protein interaction that specifically bind to menin with nanomolar affinities. These compounds effectively reverse MLL fusion protein-mediated leukemic transformation by downregulating the expression of target genes required for MLL fusion protein oncogenic activity. They also selectively block proliferation and induce both apoptosis and differentiation of leukemia cells harboring MLL translocations. Identification of these compounds provides a new tool for better understanding MLL-mediated leukemogenesis and represents a new approach for studying the role of menin as an oncogenic cofactor of MLL fusion proteins. Our findings also highlight a new therapeutic strategy for aggressive leukemias with MLL rearrangements.
PMCID: PMC3401603  PMID: 22286128
3.  Antiviral Activity of a Small Molecule Deubiquitinase Inhibitor Occurs via Induction of the Unfolded Protein Response 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(7):e1002783.
Ubiquitin (Ub) is a vital regulatory component in various cellular processes, including cellular responses to viral infection. As obligate intracellular pathogens, viruses have the capacity to manipulate the ubiquitin (Ub) cycle to their advantage by encoding Ub-modifying proteins including deubiquitinases (DUBs). However, how cellular DUBs modulate specific viral infections, such as norovirus, is poorly understood. To examine the role of DUBs during norovirus infection, we used WP1130, a small molecule inhibitor of a subset of cellular DUBs. Replication of murine norovirus in murine macrophages and the human norovirus Norwalk virus in a replicon system were significantly inhibited by WP1130. Chemical proteomics identified the cellular DUB USP14 as a target of WP1130 in murine macrophages, and pharmacologic inhibition or siRNA-mediated knockdown of USP14 inhibited murine norovirus infection. USP14 is a proteasome-associated DUB that also binds to inositol-requiring enzyme 1 (IRE1), a critical mediator of the unfolded protein response (UPR). WP1130 treatment of murine macrophages did not alter proteasome activity but activated the X-box binding protein-1 (XBP-1) through an IRE1-dependent mechanism. In addition, WP1130 treatment or induction of the UPR also reduced infection of other RNA viruses including encephalomyocarditis virus, Sindbis virus, and La Crosse virus but not vesicular stomatitis virus. Pharmacologic inhibition of the IRE1 endonuclease activity partially rescued the antiviral effect of WP1130. Taken together, our studies support a model whereby induction of the UPR through cellular DUB inhibition blocks specific viral infections, and suggest that cellular DUBs and the UPR represent novel targets for future development of broad spectrum antiviral therapies.
Author Summary
Deubiquitinases (DUBs) are enzymes, which are implicated in many cellular processes but their functions during virus infection are not well understood. We used WP1130, a small molecule inhibitor of a subset of DUBs, as a probe to unravel the functions of DUBs during norovirus infections. We identified USP14 as a cellular DUB target of WP1130 that is required for optimal norovirus infection. Furthermore, we demonstrated that chemical induction of the unfolded protein response can significantly inhibit viral progeny production of several RNA viruses, including noroviruses. These results suggest that chemical inhibition of cellular DUBs and/or modulation of the unfolded protein response could represent novel targets for therapy against a variety of viral pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3390402  PMID: 22792064
4.  A Small Molecule Deubiquitinase Inhibitor Increases Localization of Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase to the Macrophage Phagosome and Enhances Bacterial Killing▿†  
Infection and Immunity  2011;79(12):4850-4857.
Macrophages are key mediators of antimicrobial defense and innate immunity. Innate intracellular defense mechanisms can be rapidly regulated at the posttranslational level by the coordinated addition and removal of ubiquitin by ubiquitin ligases and deubiquitinases (DUBs). While ubiquitin ligases have been extensively studied, the contribution of DUBs to macrophage innate immune function is incompletely defined. We therefore employed a small molecule DUB inhibitor, WP1130, to probe the role of DUBs in the macrophage response to bacterial infection. Treatment of activated bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMM) with WP1130 significantly augmented killing of the intracellular bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. WP1130 also induced killing of phagosome-restricted bacteria, implicating a bactericidal mechanism associated with the phagosome, such as the inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). WP1130 had a minimal antimicrobial effect in macrophages lacking iNOS, indicating that iNOS is an effector mechanism for WP1130-mediated bacterial killing. Although overall iNOS levels were not notably different, we found that WP1130 significantly increased colocalization of iNOS with the Listeria-containing phagosome during infection. Taken together, our data indicate that the deubiquitinase inhibitor WP1130 increases bacterial killing in macrophages by enhancing iNOS localization to the phagosome and suggest a potential role for ubiquitin regulation in iNOS trafficking.
PMCID: PMC3232648  PMID: 21911458
5.  Evolution of eukaryal tRNA-guanine transglycosylase: insight gained from the heterocyclic substrate recognition by the wild-type and mutant human and Escherichia coli tRNA-guanine transglycosylases 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(7):2834-2844.
The enzyme tRNA-guanine transglycosylase (TGT) is involved in the queuosine modification of tRNAs in eukarya and eubacteria and in the archaeosine modification of tRNAs in archaea. However, the different classes of TGTs utilize different heterocyclic substrates (and tRNA in the case of archaea). Based on the X-ray structural analyses, an earlier study [Stengl et al. (2005) Mechanism and substrate specificity of tRNA-guanine transglycosylases (TGTs): tRNA-modifying enzymes from the three different kingdoms of life share a common catalytic mechanism. Chembiochem, 6, 1926–1939] has made a compelling case for the divergent evolution of the eubacterial and archaeal TGTs. The X-ray structure of the eukaryal class of TGTs is not known. We performed sequence homology and phylogenetic analyses, and carried out enzyme kinetics studies with the wild-type and mutant TGTs from Escherichia coli and human using various heterocyclic substrates that we synthesized. Observations with the Cys145Val (E. coli) and the corresponding Val161Cys (human) TGTs are consistent with the idea that the Cys145 evolved in eubacterial TGTs to recognize preQ1 but not queuine, whereas the eukaryal equivalent, Val161, evolved for increased recognition of queuine and a concomitantly decreased recognition of preQ1. Both the phylogenetic and kinetic analyses support the conclusion that all TGTs have divergently evolved to specifically recognize their cognate heterocyclic substrates.
PMCID: PMC3074131  PMID: 21131277
6.  Use of Enterally Delivered Angiotensin II Type Ia Receptor Antagonists to Reduce the Severity of Colitis 
Digestive diseases and sciences  2011;56(9):2553-2565.
Renin-angiotensin system blockade reduces inflammation in several organ systems. Having found a fourfold increase in angiotensin II type Ia receptor expression in a dextran sodium sulfate colitis model, we targeted blockade with angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonists to prevent colitis development. Because hypotension is a major complication of angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonists use, we hypothesized that use of angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonists compounds which lack cell membrane permeability, and thus enteric absorption, would allow for direct enteral delivery at far higher concentrations than would be tolerated systemically, yet retain efficacy.
Based on the structure of the angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonist losartan, deschloro-losartan was synthesized, which has extremely poor cell membrane permeability. Angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonist efficacy was evaluated by determining the ability to block NF-κB activation in vitro. Dextran sodium sulfate colitis was induced in mice and angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonist efficacy delivered transanally was assessed.
In vitro, deschloro-losartan demonstrated near equal angiotensin II type Ia receptor blockade compared to losartan as well as another angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonist, candesartan. In the dextran sodium sulfate model, each compound significantly improved clinical and histologic scores and epithelial cell apoptosis. Abundance of TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL6 mRNA were significantly decreased with each compound. In vitro and in vivo intestinal drug absorption, as well as measures of blood pressure and mucosal and colonic blood flow, showed significantly lower uptake of deschloro-losartan compared to losartan and candesartan.
This study demonstrated efficacy of high-dose angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonists in this colitis model. We postulate that a specially designed angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonist with poor oral absorption may have great potential as a new therapeutic agent for inflammatory bowel disease in the future.
PMCID: PMC3163034  PMID: 21399927
Angiotensin II type Ia receptor; Dextran sodium sulfate; Colitis; Angiotensin II type Ia receptor antagonist; Nuclear factor κB
7.  Complementary Cell-Based High Throughput Screens Identify Novel Modulators of the Unfolded Protein Response 
Journal of Biomolecular Screening  2011;16(8):825-835.
Despite advances toward understanding the prevention and treatment of many cancers, patients who suffer from oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) confront a survival rate that has remained unimproved for more than two decades indicating our ability to treat them pharmacologically has reached a plateau. In an ongoing effort to improve the clinical outlook for this disease, we previously reported that an essential component of the mechanism by which the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib (PS-341, Velcade) induced apoptosis in OSCC required the activation of a terminal unfolded protein response (UPR). Predicated on these studies, we hypothesized that high throughput screening (HTS) of large diverse chemical libraries might identify more potent or selective small molecule activators of the apoptotic arm of the UPR to control or kill OSCC. We have developed complementary cell-based assays using stably transfected CHO-K1 cell lines that individually assess the PERK/eIF2α/CHOP (apoptotic) or the IRE1/XBP1 (adaptive) UPR sub-pathways. A ~66K compound collection was screened at the University of Michigan Center for Chemical Genomics that included a unique library of pre-fractionated natural product extracts. The mycotoxin methoxycitrinin was isolated from a natural extract and found to selectively activate the CHOP-luciferase reporter at 80μM. A series of citrinin derivatives were isolated from these extracts, including a unique congener that has not been previously described. In an effort to identify more potent compounds we examined the ability of citrinin and the structurally related mycotoxins ochratoxin A and patulin to activate the UPR. Strikingly, we found that patulin at 2.5 – 10μM induced a terminal UPR in a panel of OSCC cells that was characterized by an increase in CHOP, GADD34 and ATF3 gene expression and XBP1 splicing. A luminescent caspase assay and the induction of several BH3-only genes indicated that patulin could induce apoptosis in OSCC cells. These data support the use of this complementary HTS strategy to identify novel modulators of UPR signaling and tumor cell death.
PMCID: PMC3374590  PMID: 21844328
unfolded protein response; endoplasmic reticulum stress; cell-based assay; luciferase reporter; natural products

Results 1-7 (7)