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1.  The Oxidation States of DJ-1 Dictate the Cell Fate in Response to Oxidative Stress Triggered by 4-HPR: Autophagy or Apoptosis? 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2014;21(10):1443-1459.
Aim: Chemotherapy-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) not only contribute to apoptosis, but also trigger autophagy. Since autophagy is reported to protect cancer cells from apoptosis, this weakens the therapeutic effect of chemotherapy. This study aimed at identifying the key molecules that determine the cellular response to ROS and, therefore, provide better strategies to increase chemotherapeutic efficiency. Results: Increasing concentrations of N-(4-hydroxyphenyl) retinamide (4-HPR)-treatment pushed autophagy down to apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner, and 4-HPR-induced ROS contribute to this process. Since we found that ASK1-regulated JNK1 and p38 are responsible for 4-HPR-induced autophagy and apoptosis, respectively, we further utilized co-immunoprecipitation followed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry analysis to identify proteins that specifically bind to ASK1 under different oxidative states. Of note, DJ-1, a crucial antioxidant protein, was identified. Interestingly, DJ-1 functions as a redox sensor that senses ROS levels and determines the cellular response to 4-HPR: Under mild oxidative stress, moderate oxidation of DJ-1 is recruited to inhibit the activity of ASK1 and maintain cell viability by activating autophagy; under a lethal level of oxidative stress, excessive oxidized DJ-1 dissociates from ASK1 and activates it, thereby initiating p38 activation and enabling the cells to commit to apoptosis. Moreover, the depletion of DJ-1 increases the sensitivity of tumor cells to 4-HPR both in vitro and in vivo. Innovation: Our results reveal that the different oxidation states of DJ-1 function as a cellular redox sensor of ROS caused by 4-HPR and determine the cell fate of autophagy or apoptosis. Moreover, the results suggest that DJ-1 might be a potent therapeutic target for cancer treatment. Conclusion: ROS-mediated changes in the oxidation state of DJ-1 are involved in 4-HPR's effect on pushing autophagy down to apoptosis. Consequently, this change mediates ASK1 activation by regulating DJ-1-ASK1 complex formation and determines the cell fate of autophagy or apoptosis. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 21, 1443–1459.
PMCID: PMC4158984  PMID: 24392637
2.  Therapeutic effect of Botulinum toxin-A in 88 patients with Trigeminal Neuralgia with 14-month follow-up 
We investigated the long-term effects and safety of botulinum toxin-A (BTX-A) for treating trigeminal neuralgia (TN). We also studied long-term maintenance of this therapeutic effect.
A visual analog scale (VAS) score, pain attack frequency per day, patient’s overall response to treatment and side effects during 14-month follow-up were evaluated in 88 patients with TN receiving BTX-A. The primary endpoints were pain severity (assessed by VAS) and pain attack frequency per day. The secondary endpoint was the patient’s overall response to treatment, assessed using the Patient Global Impression of Change. The influence of different doses (≤50, 50–100 and ≥100 U) on the therapeutic effect was evaluated.
Treatment was deemed “effective” within 1 month in 81 patients and at 2 months in 88 patients (100%). The shortest period of effective treatment was 3 months, and complete control of pain was observed in a maximum of 46 patients. The therapeutic effect decreased gradually after 3 months, and the prevalence of effective treatment at 14 months was 38.6%, with complete control of pain seen in 22 patients (25%). There was no significant difference in the prevalence of effective treatment between different dose groups at identical time points (p > 0.05). Three patients showed swelling at injection sites and 10 patients showed facial asymmetry, both of which disappeared spontaneously without special treatment.
Local subcutaneous injection of BTX-A for TN treatment has considerable therapeutic effects lasting several months and is safe for this indication. At least one-quarter of patients maintained complete analgesia. The maintenance period of the therapeutic effect may be related to the reduction in the VAS score after the first injection of BTX-A.
PMCID: PMC4077143  PMID: 24952600
Trigeminal neuralgia; Botulinum toxin A; Long-term therapeutic effect; Subcutaneous injection
3.  Relationship of serum homocysteine level with nutritional status and HbA1c level in elderly inpatients 
Background: Hyperhomocysteinemia is a risk factor for vascular diseases. This study aimed to investigate the serum total homocysteine (tHcy) level and nutritional status in elderly inpatients and determine the relationship between tHcy level and nutritional status. Methods: This cross sectional study was carried out in the Tongji hospital, and 142 subjects were consecutively recruited. Fasting blood was collected, and the liver and kidney function, blood glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), plasma protein, lipid profile, folic acid, vitamin B12 and serum total tHcy were measured. Anthropometric measurements, grip strength and the shortened MNA form (MNA-SF) were used to assess the nutritional status. Results: Undernutrition was common in this population. Based on MNA-SF scores, 34.2% of subjects were at risk of malnutrition, and malnourished subjects accounted for 4.9%. The mean tHcy was 14.10±5.46 μmol/l, and the prevalence of hyperhomocysteinemia was 32.4% (46/142). Hyperhomocysteinemia was a risk factor of cerebral infarction (RR=1.636, 95% CI: 1.169-2.288); Serum tHcy was negatively correlated with serum folic acid, vitamin B12 and MNA-SF score (r=-0.348,P=0.000; r=-0.236, P=0.005; r=-0.208, P=0.014), and positively with BMI within normal range (18.5-23.9; r=0.232, P=0.044). Serum tHcy was negatively correlated with HbA1c, (r=-0.196, P=0.021) and positively with serum creatinine (r=0.327, P=0.000), but unrelated to fasting blood glucose (r=-0.098, P=0.250). Multivariate stepwise regression analysis showed serum folic acid, serum creatinine, MNA-SF score and HbA1c were independent determinants of serum tHcy. Conclusion: Elderly subjects have higher serum tHcy level. Compromised renal function, poor nutritional status and lower blood glucose are likely to influence the serum tHcy level.
PMCID: PMC3798213  PMID: 24179571
Homocysteine; nutritional status; MNA-SF; HbA1c
4.  A Transient Kinetic Analysis of PRMT1 Catalysis 
Biochemistry  2011;50(32):7033-7044.
Posttranslational modifications (PTMs) are important strategies used by eukaryotic organisms to modulate their phenotypes. One of the well studied PTMs, arginine methylation, is catalyzed by protein arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs) with SAM as the methyl donor. The functions of PRMTs have been broadly studied in different biological processes and diseased states, but the molecular basis for arginine methylation is not well defined. In this study, we report the transient-state kinetic analysis of PRMT1 catalysis. The fast association and dissociation rates suggest that PRMT1 catalysis of histone H4 methylation follows a rapid equilibrium sequential kinetic mechanism. The data give direct evidence that the chemistry of methyl transfer is the major rate-limiting step, and that binding of the cofactor SAM or SAH affects the association and dissociation of H4 with PRMT1. Importantly, from the stopped-flow fluorescence measurements, we have identified a critical kinetic step suggesting a precatalytic conformational transition induced by substrate binding. These results provide new insights into the mechanism of arginine methylation and the rational design of PRMT inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3153576  PMID: 21736313
PRMT1; arginine methylation; transient-state kinetics; conformational transition; fluorescent probe; stopped flow
5.  Inhibitory Effect of Ginsenoside Rg1 on Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Proliferation Induced by PDGF-BB Is Involved in Nitric Oxide Formation 
Ginsenoside Rg1 (Rg1) has been reported to suppress the proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). This study aimed to observe the role of nitric oxide (NO) in Rg1-antiproliferative effect. VSMCs from the thoracic aorta of SD rats were cultured by tissue explant method, and the effect of Rg1 (20 mg·L−1, 60 mg·L−1, and 180 mg·L−1) on platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB)-induced proliferation was evaluated by MTT assay. The cell cycle was analyzed by flow cytometry. For probing the mechanisms, the content of NO in supernatant and cGMP level in VSMCs was measured by nitric oxide kit and cGMP radio-immunity kit, respectively; the expressions of protooncogene c-fos and endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) mRNA in the VSMCs were detected by real-time RT-PCR; the intracellular free calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i) was detected with Fura-2/AM-loaded VSMCs. Comparing with that in normal group, Rg1 180 mg·L−1 did not change the absorbance of MTT and cell percent of G0/G1, G2/M, and S phase in normal cells (P > 0.05). Contrarily, PDGF-BB could increase the absorbance of MTT (P < 0.01) and the percent of the S phase cells but decrease the G0/G1 phase cell percent in the cell cycle, accompanied with an upregulating c-fos mRNA expression (P < 0.01), which was reversed by additions of Rg1(20 mg·L−1, 60 mg·L−1, and 180 mg·L−1). Rg1 administration could also significantly increase the NO content in supernatant and the cGMP level in VSMCs, as well as the eNOS mRNA expression in the cells, in comparison of that in the group treated with PDGF-BB alone (P < 0.01). Furthermore, Rg1 caused a further increase in the elevated [Ca2+]i induced by PDGF-BB. It was concluded that Rg1 could inhibit the VSMC proliferation induced by PDGF-BB through restricting the G0/G1 phase to S-phase progression in cell cycle. The mechanisms may be related to the upregulation of eNOS mRNA and the increase of the formation of NO and cGMP.
PMCID: PMC3304546  PMID: 22474498
6.  Scintillation Proximity Assay of Arginine Methylation 
Journal of Biomolecular Screening  2011;17(2):237-244.
Methylation of arginine residues, catalyzed by protein arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs), is one important protein post-translational modification involved in epigenetic regulation of gene expression. A fast and effective assay for PRMT can provide valuable information for dissecting the biological functions of PRMTs, as well as for screening small-molecule inhibitors of arginine methylation. Currently, among the methods used for PRMT activity measurement, many contain laborious separation procedures, which restrict the applications of these assays for high-throughput screening (HTS) in drug discovery. The authors report here a mix-and-measure method to measure PRMT activity based on the principle of scintillation proximity assay (SPA). In this assay, 3H-AdoMet was used as methyl donor, and biotin-modified histone H4 peptide served as a methylation substrate. Following the methylation reaction catalyzed by PRMTs, streptavidin-coated SPA beads were added to the reaction solution, and SPA signals were detected by a MicroBeta scintillation counter. No separation step is needed, which simplifies the assay procedure and greatly enhances the assay speed. Particularly, the miniaturization and robustness suggest that this method is suited for HTS of PRMT inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3236808  PMID: 21821785
protein arginine methyltransferases; PRMT; scintillation proximity assay; SPA; high-throughput screening; HTS

Results 1-6 (6)