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1.  Pathway Analysis Reveals Common Pro-Survival Mechanisms of Metyrapone and Carbenoxolone after Traumatic Brain Injury 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53230.
Developing new pharmacotherapies for traumatic brain injury (TBI) requires elucidation of the neuroprotective mechanisms of many structurally and functionally diverse compounds. To test our hypothesis that diverse neuroprotective drugs similarly affect common gene targets after TBI, we compared the effects of two drugs, metyrapone (MT) and carbenoxolone (CB), which, though used clinically for noncognitive conditions, improved learning and memory in rats and humans. Although structurally different, both MT and CB inhibit a common molecular target, 11β hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1, which converts inactive cortisone to cortisol, thereby effectively reducing glucocorticoid levels. We examined injury-induced signaling pathways to determine how the effects of these two compounds correlate with pro-survival effects in surviving neurons of the injured rat hippocampus. We found that treatment of TBI rats with MT or CB acutely induced in hippocampal neurons transcriptional profiles that were remarkably similar (i.e., a coordinated attenuation of gene expression across multiple injury-induced cell signaling networks). We also found, to a lesser extent, a coordinated increase in cell survival signals. Analysis of injury-induced gene expression altered by MT and CB provided additional insight into the protective effects of each. Both drugs attenuated expression of genes in the apoptosis, death receptor and stress signaling pathways, as well as multiple genes in the oxidative phosphorylation pathway such as subunits of NADH dehydrogenase (Complex1), cytochrome c oxidase (Complex IV) and ATP synthase (Complex V). This suggests an overall inhibition of mitochondrial function. Complex 1 is the primary source of reactive oxygen species in the mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation pathway, thus linking the protective effects of these drugs to a reduction in oxidative stress. The net effect of the drug-induced transcriptional changes observed here indicates that suppressing expression of potentially harmful genes, and also, surprisingly, reduced expression of pro-survival genes may be a hallmark of neuroprotective therapeutic effects.
PMCID: PMC3541279  PMID: 23326402
2.  Influence of Stochastic Gene Expression on the Cell Survival Rheostat after Traumatic Brain Injury 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23111.
Experimental evidence suggests that random, spontaneous (stochastic) fluctuations in gene expression have important biological consequences, including determination of cell fate and phenotypic variation within isogenic populations. We propose that fluctuations in gene expression represent a valuable tool to explore therapeutic strategies for patients who have suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI), for which there is no effective drug therapy. We have studied the effects of TBI on the hippocampus because TBI survivors commonly suffer cognitive problems that are associated with hippocampal damage. In our previous studies we separated dying and surviving hippocampal neurons by laser capture microdissection and observed unexplainable variations in post-TBI gene expression, even though dying and surviving neurons were adjacent and morphologically identical. We hypothesized that, in hippocampal neurons that subsequently are subjected to TBI, randomly increased pre-TBI expression of genes that are associated with neuroprotection predisposes neurons to survival; conversely, randomly decreased expression of these genes predisposes neurons to death. Thus, to identify genes that are associated with endogenous neuroprotection, we performed a comparative, high-resolution transcriptome analysis of dying and surviving hippocampal neurons in rats subjected to TBI. We found that surviving hippocampal neurons express a distinct molecular signature — increased expression of networks of genes that are associated with regeneration, cellular reprogramming, development, and synaptic plasticity. In dying neurons we found decreased expression of genes in those networks. Based on these data, we propose a hypothetical model in which hippocampal neuronal survival is determined by a rheostat that adds injury-induced genomic signals to expression of pro-survival genes, which pre-TBI varies randomly and spontaneously from neuron to neuron. We suggest that pharmacotherapeutic strategies that co-activate multiple survival signals and enhance self-repair mechanisms have the potential to shift the cell survival rheostat to favor survival and therefore improve functional outcome after TBI.
PMCID: PMC3154935  PMID: 21853077
3.  Impact of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor Drug Resistance Mutation Interactions on Phenotypic Susceptibility 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2008;24(10):1291-1300.
The role specific reverse transcriptase (RT) drug resistance mutations play in influencing phenotypic susceptibility to RT inhibitors in virus strains with complex resistance interaction patterns was assessed using recombinant viruses that consisted of RT-PCR-amplified pol fragments derived from plasma HIV-1 RNA from two treatment-experienced patients. Specific modifications of key RT amino acids were performed by site-directed mutagenesis. A panel of viruses with defined genotypic resistance mutations was assessed for phenotypic drug resistance. Introduction of M184V into several different clones expressing various RT resistance mutations uniformly decreased susceptibility to abacavir, lamivudine, and didanosine, and increased susceptibility to zidovudine, stavudine, and tenofovir; replication capacity was decreased. The L74V mutation had similar but slightly different effects, contributing to decreased susceptibility to abacavir, lamivudine, and didanosine and increased susceptibility to zidovudine and tenofovir, but in contrast to M184V, L74V contributed to decreased susceptibility to stavudine. In virus strains with the nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) mutations K101E and G190S, the L74V mutation increased replication capacity, consistent with published observations, but replication capacity was decreased in strains without NNRTI resistance mutations. K101E and G190S together tend to decrease susceptibility to all nucleoside RT inhibitors, but the K103N mutation had little effect on nucleoside RT inhibitor susceptibility. Mutational interactions can have a substantial impact on drug resistance phenotype and replication capacity, and this has been exploited in clinical practice with the development of fixed-dose combination pills. However, we are the first to report these mutational interactions using molecularly cloned recombinant strains derived from viruses that occur naturally in HIV-infected individuals.
PMCID: PMC2721781  PMID: 18844463
4.  A Critical Role for CD63 in HIV Replication and Infection of Macrophages and Cell Lines 
Virology  2008;379(2):191-196.
HIV infection typically involves interaction of Env with CD4 and a chemokine coreceptor, either CCR5 or CXCR4. Other cellular factors supporting HIV replication have also been characterized. We previously demonstrated a role for CD63 in early HIV infection events in macrophages via inhibition by anti-CD63 antibody pretreatment. To confirm the requirement for CD63 in HIV replication, we decreased CD63 expression using CD63-specific short interfering RNAs (siRNA), and showed inhibition of HIV replication in macrophages. Surprisingly, pretreatment with CD63 siRNA not only silenced CD63 expression by 90%, but also inhibited HIV-1 replication in a cultured cell line (U373-MAGI) which had been previously shown to be insensitive to CD63 monoclonal antibody inhibition. Although the anti-CD63 antibody was previously shown to inhibit early HIV infection events only in macrophages, we now show a potential role for CD63 in later HIV replication events in macrophages and cell lines. Further delineation of the role of CD63 in HIV replication may lead to development of novel therapeutic compounds.
PMCID: PMC2697030  PMID: 18682304
Tetraspanin; CD63; HIV-1; siRNA; macrophages
5.  Combinatorial Selection, Inhibition and Antiviral Activity of DNA Thioaptamers Targeting the RNase H Domain of HIV-1 Reverse Transcriptase† 
Biochemistry  2005;44(30):10388-10395.
Despite the key role played by the RNase H of Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 Reverse Transcriptase (HIV-1 RT) in viral proliferation, only a few inhibitors of RNase H have been reported. Using in vitro combinatorial selection methods and the RNase H domain of the HIV RT, we have selected double-stranded DNA thioaptamers (aptamers with selected thiophosphate backbone substitutions) that inhibit RNase H activity and viral replication. The selected thioaptamer sequences had a very high proportion of G residues. The consensus sequence for the selected thioaptamers showed G clusters separated by single residues at the 5′ end of the sequence. Gel electrophoresis mobility shift assays and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy showed that the selected thioaptamer binds to the isolated RNase H domain, but did not bind to a structurally similar RNase H from E.coli. The lead thioaptamer, R12-2, showed specific binding to HIV-1 RT with a binding constant (Kd) of 70 nM. The thioaptamer inhibited the RNase H activity of intact HIV-1 RT. In cell culture, transfection of thioaptamer R12-2 (0.5 μg/ml) markedly reduced viral production and exhibited a dose response of inhibition with R12-2 concentrations ranging from 0.03 μg/ml to 2.0 μg/ml (IC50 <100 nM). Inhibition was also seen across a wide range of virus inoculum, ranging from multiplicity of infection (m.o.i) of 0.0005 to 0.05, with reduction of virus production by more than 50% at high m.o.i. Suppression of virus was comparable to that seen with AZT at m.o.i. ≦ 0.005.
PMCID: PMC2532674  PMID: 16042416

Results 1-5 (5)