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1.  Signal amplification and transduction in phytochrome photosensors 
Nature  2014;509(7499):245-248.
Sensory proteins must relay structural signals from the sensory site over large distances to regulatory output domains. Phytochromes are a major family of red-light sensing kinases that control diverse cellular functions in plants, bacteria, and fungi.1-9 Bacterial phytochromes consist of a photosensory core and a C-terminal regulatory domain.10,11 Structures of photosensory cores are reported in the resting state12-18 and conformational responses to light activation have been proposed in the vicinity of the chromophore.19-23 However, the structure of the signalling state and the mechanism of downstream signal relay through the photosensory core remain elusive. Here, we report crystal and solution structures of the resting and active states of the photosensory core of the bacteriophytochrome from Deinococcus radiodurans. The structures reveal an open and closed form of the dimeric protein for the signalling and resting state, respectively. This nanometre scale rearrangement is controlled by refolding of an evolutionarily conserved “tongue”, which is in contact with the chromophore. The findings reveal an unusual mechanism where atomic scale conformational changes around the chromophore are first amplified into an Ångström scale distance change in the tongue, and further grow into a nanometre scale conformational signal. The structural mechanism is a blueprint for understanding how the sensor proteins connect to the cellular signalling network.
PMCID: PMC4015848  PMID: 24776794
2.  Characterizing the Secondary Protein Structure of Black Widow Dragline Silk Using Solid-State NMR & X-ray Diffraction 
Biomacromolecules  2013;14(10):3472-3483.
This study provides a detailed secondary structural characterization of major ampullate dragline silk from Latrodectus hesperus (black widow) spiders. X-ray diffraction results show that the structure of black widow major ampullate silk fibers is comprised of stacked β-sheet nanocrystallites oriented parallel to the fiber axis and an amorphous region with oriented (anisotropic) and isotropic components. The combination of two-dimensional (2D) 13C-13C through-space and through-bond solid-state NMR experiments provide chemical shifts that are used to determine detailed information about amino acid motif secondary structure in black widow spider dragline silk. Individual amino acids are incorporated into different repetitive motifs that make up the majority of this protein-based biopolymer. From the solid-state NMR measurements, we assign distinct secondary conformations to each repetitive amino acid motif and hence to the amino acids that make up the motifs. Specifically, alanine is incorporated in β-sheet (poly(Alan) and poly(Gly-Ala)), 31-helix (poly(Gly-Gly-Xaa), and α-helix (poly(Gln-Gln-Ala-Tyr)) components. Glycine is determined to be in β-sheet (poly(Gly-Ala)) and 31-helical (poly(Gly-Gly-Xaa)) regions, while serine is present in β-sheet (poly(Gly-Ala-Ser)), 31-helix (poly(Gly-Gly-Ser)), and β-turn (poly(Gly-Pro-Ser)) structures. These various motif-specific secondary structural elements are quantitatively correlated to the primary amino acid sequence of major ampullate spidroin 1 and 2 (MaSp1 and MaSp2) and are shown to form a self-consistent model for black widow dragline silk.
PMCID: PMC3914425  PMID: 24024617
3.  Kinetic Modeling of the X-ray-induced Damage to a Metalloprotein 
The journal of physical chemistry. B  2013;117(31):9161-9169.
It is well known that biological samples undergo x-ray-induced degradation. One of the fastest occurring x-ray-induced processes involves redox modifications (reduction or oxidation) of redox-active cofactors in proteins. Here we analyze room temperature data on the photoreduction of Mn ions in the oxygen evolving complex (OEC) of photosystem II, one of the most radiation damage sensitive proteins and a key constituent of natural photosynthesis in plants, green algae and cyanobacteria. Time-resolved x-ray emission spectroscopy with wavelength-dispersive detection was used to collect data on the progression of x-ray-induced damage. A kinetic model was developed to fit experimental results, and the rate constant for the reduction of OEC MnIII/IV ions by solvated electrons was determined. From this model, the possible kinetics of x-ray-induced damage at variety of experimental conditions, such as different rates of dose deposition as well as different excitation wavelengths, can be inferred. We observed a trend of increasing dosage threshold prior to the onset of x-ray-induced damage with increasing rates of damage deposition. This trend suggests that experimentation with higher rates of dose deposition is beneficial for measurements of biological samples sensitive to radiation damage, particularly at pink beam and x-ray FEL sources.
PMCID: PMC3897202  PMID: 23815809
Photosystem II (PSII); x-ray emission spectroscopy (XES); dose rate; x-ray free electron laser (FEL); room temperature; aqueous electrons
4.  S1P1 Receptor Modulation Preserves Vascular Function in Mesenteric and Coronary Arteries after CPB in the Rat Independent of Depletion of Lymphocytes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97196.
Cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) may induce systemic inflammation and vascular dysfunction. Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) modulates various vascular and immune responses. Here we explored whether agonists of the S1P receptors, FTY720 and SEW2871 improve vascular reactivity after CPB in the rat.
Experiments were done in male Wistar rats (total n = 127). Anesthesia was induced by isoflurane (2.5–3%) and maintained by fentanyl and midazolam during CPB. After catheterization of the left femoral artery, carotid artery and the right atrium, normothermic extracorporeal circulation was instituted for 60 minutes. In the first part of the study animals were euthanized after either 1 hour, 1 day, 2 or 5 days of the recovery period. In second part of the study animals were euthanized after 1 day of postoperative period. We evaluated the contractile response to phenylephrine (mesenteric arteries) or to serotonin (coronary artery) and vasodilatory response to acethylcholine (both arteries).
Contractile responses to phenylephrine were reduced at 1 day recovery after CPB and Sham as compared to healthy control animals (Emax, mN: 7.9±1.9, 6.5±1.5, and 11.3±1.3, respectively). Mainly FTY720, but not SEW2871, caused lymphopenia in both Sham and CPB groups. In coronary and mesenteric arteries, both FTY720 and SEW2871 normalized serotonin and phenylephrine-mediated vascular reactivity after CPB (p<0.05) and FTY720 increased relaxation to acetylcholine as compared with untreated rats that underwent CPB.
Pretreatment with FTY720 or SEW2871 preserves vascular function in mesenteric and coronary artery after CPB. Therefore, pharmacological activation of S1P1 receptors may provide a promising therapeutic intervention to prevent CPB-related vascular dysfunction in patients.
PMCID: PMC4018292  PMID: 24819611
5.  Platelet Dynamics during Natural and Pharmacologically Induced Torpor and Forced Hypothermia 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93218.
Hibernation is an energy-conserving behavior in winter characterized by two phases: torpor and arousal. During torpor, markedly reduced metabolic activity results in inactivity and decreased body temperature. Arousal periods intersperse the torpor bouts and feature increased metabolism and euthermic body temperature. Alterations in physiological parameters, such as suppression of hemostasis, are thought to allow hibernators to survive periods of torpor and arousal without organ injury. While the state of torpor is potentially procoagulant, due to low blood flow, increased viscosity, immobility, hypoxia, and low body temperature, organ injury due to thromboembolism is absent. To investigate platelet dynamics during hibernation, we measured platelet count and function during and after natural torpor, pharmacologically induced torpor and forced hypothermia. Splenectomies were performed to unravel potential storage sites of platelets during torpor. Here we show that decreasing body temperature drives thrombocytopenia during torpor in hamster with maintained functionality of circulating platelets. Interestingly, hamster platelets during torpor do not express P-selectin, but expression is induced by treatment with ADP. Platelet count rapidly restores during arousal and rewarming. Platelet dynamics in hibernation are not affected by splenectomy before or during torpor. Reversible thrombocytopenia was also induced by forced hypothermia in both hibernating (hamster) and non-hibernating (rat and mouse) species without changing platelet function. Pharmacological torpor induced by injection of 5′-AMP in mice did not induce thrombocytopenia, possibly because 5′-AMP inhibits platelet function. The rapidness of changes in the numbers of circulating platelets, as well as marginal changes in immature platelet fractions upon arousal, strongly suggest that storage-and-release underlies the reversible thrombocytopenia during natural torpor. Possibly, margination of platelets, dependent on intrinsic platelet functionality, governs clearance of circulating platelets during torpor.
PMCID: PMC3982955  PMID: 24722364
6.  Increased protein aggregation in Zucker Diabetic Fatty rat brain: identification of key mechanistic targets and the therapeutic application of hydrogen sulfide 
BMC Cell Biology  2014;15:1.
Diabetes and particularly high blood glucose levels are implicated in neurodegeneration. One of the hallmarks of neurodegeneration is protein aggregation. We investigated the presence of protein aggregation in the frontal brain of Zucker diabetic fatty (ZDF) rats, an animal model for diabetes. Further, the effect of NaHS in suppressing protein aggregation in cultured brain slices from ZDF was assessed.
The levels of protein synthesis, protein/gene expression, autophagy and anti-oxidant defense were evaluated in ZDF and control (Lean) brains.
Compared to Lean, ZDF brains displayed a significant increase in protein aggregates, p-tau, fibronectin expression and protein glycosylation. Increased phosphorylation of mTOR and S6 ribosomal protein in ZDF indicated higher protein synthesis, while the increase in ubiquitinated proteins and LC3-I in ZDF brains accompanied by lower LC3-II expression and LC3-II/LC3-I levels indicated the blockage of proteolytic pathways. CBS (cystathionine beta synthase) protein and mRNA expression and thiol group levels in ZDF brains were lower compared to Lean. ZDF brains show a higher level of reactive oxygen species. In vitro NaHS treatment normalized proteostasis while counteracting oxidative stress.
Our data demonstrate increased protein synthesis and aggregation in the diabetic ZDF rat brain, which was reversible by NaHS treatment.
This is the first report on the potential use of NaHS as a novel strategy against protein aggregation in diabetic brain.
PMCID: PMC3998068  PMID: 24393531
Autophagy; ZDF rats; Protein aggregates; Cystathionine beta synthase; Carboxymethyllysine; NaHS; Fibronectin; Reactive oxygen species; mTOR
7.  Protein energy landscapes determined by five-dimensional crystallography 
Barriers of activation within the photocycle of a photoactive protein were extracted from comprehensive time courses of time resolved crystallographic data collected at multiple temperature settings.
Free-energy landscapes decisively determine the progress of enzymatically catalyzed reactions [Cornish-Bowden (2012 ▶), Fundamentals of Enzyme Kinetics, 4th ed.]. Time-resolved macromolecular crystallography unifies transient-state kinetics with structure determination [Moffat (2001 ▶), Chem. Rev. 101, 1569–1581; Schmidt et al. (2005 ▶), Methods Mol. Biol. 305, 115–154; Schmidt (2008 ▶), Ultrashort Laser Pulses in Medicine and Biology] because both can be determined from the same set of X-ray data. Here, it is demonstrated how barriers of activation can be determined solely from five-dimensional crystallo­graphy, where in addition to space and time, temperature is a variable as well [Schmidt et al. (2010 ▶), Acta Cryst. A66, 198–206]. Directly linking molecular structures with barriers of activation between them allows insight into the structural nature of the barrier to be gained. Comprehensive time series of crystallo­graphic data at 14 different temperature settings were analyzed and the entropy and enthalpy contributions to the barriers of activation were determined. One hundred years after the discovery of X-ray scattering, these results advance X-ray structure determination to a new frontier: the determination of energy landscapes.
PMCID: PMC3852658  PMID: 24311594
five-dimensional crystallography; time-resolved crystallography; time-resolved microspectrophotometry; chemical kinetics; photoactive yellow protein
8.  Endothelium-Dependent Relaxation and Angiotensin II Sensitivity in Experimental Preeclampsia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79884.
We investigated endothelial dysfunction and the role of angiotensin (Ang)-II type I (AT1-R) and type II (AT2-R) receptor in the changes in the Ang-II sensitivity in experimental preeclampsia in the rat.
Aortic rings were isolated from low dose lipopolysaccharide (LPS) infused pregnant rats (experimental preeclampsia; n=9), saline-infused pregnant rats (n=8), and saline (n=8) and LPS (n=8) infused non-pregnant rats. Endothelium-dependent acetylcholine--mediated relaxation was studied in phenylephrine-preconstricted aortic rings in the presence of vehicle, NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester and/or indomethacin. To evaluate the role for AT1-R and AT2-R in Ang-II sensitivity, full concentration response curves were obtained for Ang-II in the presence of losartan or PD123319. mRNA expression of the AT1-R and AT2-R, eNOS and iNOS, COX1 and COX2 in aorta were evaluated using real-time RT-PCR.
The role of vasodilator prostaglandins in the aorta was increased and the role of endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor and response of the AT1-R and AT2-R to Ang-II was decreased in pregnant saline infused rats as compared with non-pregnant rats. These changes were not observed during preeclampsia.
Pregnancy induced adaptations in endothelial function, which were not observed in the rat model for preeclampsia. This role of lack of pregnancy induced endothelial adaptation in the pathophysiology of experimental preeclampsia needs further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3819278  PMID: 24223202
9.  Growth-Differentiation Factor 15 Predicts Worsening of Albuminuria in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(11):2340-2346.
Development of micro- or macroalbuminuria is associated with increased risk of cardiorenal complications, particularly in diabetes. For prevention of transition to micro- or macroalbuminuria, more accurate prediction markers on top of classical risk markers are needed. We studied a promising new marker, growth-differentiation factor (GDF)-15, to predict transition to increasing stage of albuminuria in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). In addition, we looked at the GDF-15 potential in nondiabetic subjects with hypertension (HT).
Case and control subjects were selected from the PREVEND cohort, a large (n = 8,592), prospective general population study on the natural course of albuminuria, with >10 years of follow-up and repeated albuminuria measurements. We found 24 T2DM and 50 HT case subjects transitioning from normo- to macroalbuminuria and 9 T2DM and 25 HT case subjects transitioning from micro- to macroalbuminuria (average follow-up 2.8 years). Control subjects with stable albuminuria were pair matched for age, sex, albuminuria status, and diabetes duration. GDF-15 was measured in samples prior to albuminuria transition.
Prior to transition, GDF-15 was significantly higher in case subjects with T2DM than in control subjects (median [IQR] 1,288 pg/mL [885–1,546] vs. 948 pg/mL [660–1,016], P < 0.001). The odds ratio for transition in albuminuria increased significantly per SD of GDF-15 (2.9 [95% CI 1.1–7.5], P = 0.03). GDF-15 also improved prediction of albuminuria transition, with significant increases in C statistic (from 0.87 to 0.92, P = 0.03) and integrated discrimination improvement (0.148, P = 0.001). In HT, GDF-15 was also independently associated with transition in albuminuria stage (2.0 [1.1–3.5], P = 0.02) and improved prediction significantly.
We identified GDF-15 as a clinically valuable marker for predicting transition in albuminuria stage in T2DM beyond conventional risk markers. These findings were confirmed in nondiabetic HT subjects.
PMCID: PMC3476892  PMID: 22815297
10.  Fast Detection Allows Analysis of the Electronic Structure of Metalloprotein by X-ray Emission Spectroscopy at Room Temperature 
The paradigm of “detection-before-destruction” was tested for a metalloprotein complex exposed at room temperature to the high x-ray flux typical of third generation synchrotron sources. Following the progression of the x-ray induced damage by Mn Kβ x-ray emission spectroscopy, we demonstrated the feasibility of collecting room temperature data on the electronic structure of native Photosystem II, a trans-membrane metalloprotein complex containing a Mn4Ca cluster. The determined non-damaging observation timeframe (about 100 milliseconds using continuous monochromatic beam, deposited dose 1*107 photons/µm2 or 1.3*104 Gy, and 66 microseconds in pulsed mode using pink beam, deposited dose 4*107 photons/µm2 or 4.2*104 Gy) is sufficient for the analysis of this protein’s electron dynamics and catalytic mechanism at room temperature. Reported time frames are expected to be representative for other metalloproteins. The described instrumentation, based on the short working distance dispersive spectrometer, and experimental methodology is broadly applicable to time-resolved x-ray emission analysis at synchrotron and x-ray free-electron laser light sources.
PMCID: PMC3423219  PMID: 22919444
X-ray emission spectroscopy (XES); Photosystem II; time-resolved; X-ray induced damage; manganese
11.  X-ray diffraction study of nanocrystalline and amorphous structure within major and minor ampullate dragline spider silks 
Soft matter  2012;8(25):6713-6722.
Synchrotron X-ray micro-diffraction experiments were carried out on Nephila clavipes (NC) and Argiope aurantia (AA) major (MA) and minor ampullate (MiA) fibers that make up dragline spider silk. The diffraction patterns show a semi-crystalline structure with β-poly(l-alanine) nanocrystallites embedded in a partially oriented amorphous matrix. A superlattice reflection ‘S’ diffraction ring is observed, which corresponds to a crystalline component larger in size and is poorly oriented, when compared to the β-poly(l-alanine) nanocrystallites that are commonly observed in dragline spider silks. Crystallite size, crystallinity and orientation about the fiber axis have been determined from the wide-angle X-ray diffraction (WAXD) patterns. In both NC and AA, the MiA silks are found to be more highly crystalline, when compared with the corresponding MA silks. Detailed analysis on the amorphous matrix shows considerable differences in the degree of order of the oriented amorphous component between the different silks studied and may play a crucial role in determining the mechanical properties of the silks.
PMCID: PMC3617558  PMID: 23569461
12.  Combining flagelliform and dragline spider silk motifs to produce tunable synthetic biopolymer fibers 
Biopolymers  2011;97(6):418-431.
The two Flag/MaSp 2 silk proteins produced recombinantly were based on the basic consensus repeat of the dragline silk spidroin 2 protein (MaSp 2) from the Nephila clavipes orb weaving spider. However, the proline-containing pentaptides juxtaposed to the polyalanine segments resembled those found in the flagelliform silk protein (Flag) composing the web spiral: (GPGGX1 GPGGX2)2 with X1/X2=A/A or Y/S. Fibers were formed from protein films in aqueous solutions or extruded from resolubilized protein dopes in organic conditions when the Flag motif was (GPGGX1 GPGGX2)2 with X1/X2 = Y/S or A/A, respectively. Post fiber processing involved similar drawing ratios (2–2.5×) before or after water-treatment. Structural (ssNMR and XRD) and morphological (SEM) changes in the fibers were compared to the mechanical properties of the fibers at each step. NMR indicated that the fraction of β-sheet nanocrystals in the polyalanine regions formed upon extrusion, increased during stretching, and was maximized after water-treatment. XRD showed that nanocrystallite orientation parallel to the fiber axis increased the ultimate strength and initial stiffness of the fibers. Water furthered nanocrystal orientation and three-dimensional growth while plasticizing the amorphous regions, thus producing tougher fibers due to increased extensibility. These fibers were highly hygroscopic and had similar internal network organization, thus similar range of mechanical properties that depended on their diameters. The overall structure of the consensus repeat of the silk-like protein dictated the mechanical properties of the fibers while protein molecular weight limited these same properties. Subtle structural motif redesign impacted protein self-assembly mechanisms and requirements for fiber formation.
PMCID: PMC3372544  PMID: 22012252
synthetic silk fibers; mechanical properties; post-spinning; ssNMR; XRD; structure function; dragline; flagelliform
13.  Ultrafast spin-state photoswitching in a crystal and slower consecutive processes investigated by femtosecond optical spectroscopy and picosecond X-ray diffraction 
We report the spin state photo-switching dynamics in two polymorphs of a spin-crossover molecular complex triggered by a femtosecond laser flash, as determined by combining femtosecond optical pump-probe spectroscopy and picosecond X-ray diffraction techniques,. The light-driven transformations in the two polymorphs are compared. Combining both techniques and tracking how the X-ray data correlate with optical signals allows understanding of how electronic and structural degrees of freedom couple and play their role when the switchable molecules interact in the active crystalline medium. The study sheds light on crossing the border between femtochemistry at the molecular scale and femtoswitching at the material scale
PMCID: PMC3463002  PMID: 22294040
14.  Restricted Photochemistry in the Molecular Solid State: Structural changes on Photoexcitation of Cu(I) Phenanthroline metal-to-ligand-charge-transfer (MLCT) complexes by Time-Resolved Diffraction 
The journal of physical chemistry. A  2012;116(13):3359-3365.
The excited state structure of [Cu(1)[(1,10-phenanthroline-N,N’) bis(triphenylphosphine)] cations in their crystalline [BF4] salt has been determined at both 180 and 90K by single-pulse time-resolved synchrotron experiments with the modified polychromatic Laue method. The two independent molecules in the crystal show distortions on MLCT excitation which differ in magnitude and direction, a difference attributed to a pronounced difference in the molecular environment of the two complexes. As the excited states differ, the decay of the emission is bi-exponential with two strongly different lifetimes, the longer lifetime, assigned to the more restricted molecule, becoming more prevalent as the temperature increases. Standard deviations in the current Laue study are very much lower than those achieved in a previous monochromatic study of a Cu(I) 2,9 dimethyl-phenanthroline substituted complex (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131, 6566), but the magnitude of the shifts on excitation is similar, indicating that lattice restrictions dominate over the steric effect of the methyl substitution. Above all the study illustrates emphatically that molecules in solids have physical properties different from those of isolated molecules and that their properties depend on the specific molecular environment. This conclusion is relevant for the understanding of the properties of molecular solid state devices which are increasingly used in current technology.
PMCID: PMC3545449  PMID: 22385365
15.  Angiotensin II Protects Primary Rat Hepatocytes against Bile Salt-Induced Apoptosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52647.
Angiotensin II (AT-II) is a pro-fibrotic compound that acts via membrane-bound receptors (AT-1R/AT-2R) and thereby activates hepatic stellate cells (HSCs). AT-II receptor blockers (ARBs) are thus important candidates in the treatment of liver fibrosis. However, multiple case reports suggest that AT-1R blockers may induce hepatocyte injury. Therefore, we investigated the effect of AT-II and its receptor blockers on cytokine-, oxidative stress- and bile salt-induced cell death in hepatocytes. Primary rat hepatocytes were exposed to TNF-α/Actinomycin D, the ROS-generating agent menadione or the bile salts: glycochenodeoxycholic acid (GCDCA) and tauro-lithocholic acid-3 sulfate (TLCS), to induce apoptosis. AT-II (100 nmol/L) was added 10 minutes prior to the cell death-inducing agent. AT-1R antagonists (Sartans) and the AT-2R antagonist PD123319 were used at 1 µmol/L. Apoptosis (caspase-3 activity, acridine orange staining) and necrosis (Sytox green staining) were quantified. Expression of CHOP (marker for ER stress) and AT-II receptor mRNAs were quantified by Q-PCR. AT-II dose-dependently reduced GCDCA-induced apoptosis of hepatocytes (−50%, p<0.05) without inducing necrosis. In addition, AT-II reduced TLCS-induced apoptosis of hepatocytes (−50%, p<0.05). However, AT-II did not suppress TNF/Act-D and menadione-induced apoptosis. Only the AT-1R antagonists abolished the protective effect of AT-II against GCDCA-induced apoptosis. AT-II increased phosphorylation of ERK and a significant reversal of the protective effect of AT-II was observed when signaling kinases, including ERK, were inhibited. Moreover, AT-II prevented the GCDCA-induced expression of CHOP (the marker of the ER-mediated apoptosis).
Angiotensin II protects hepatocytes from bile salt-induced apoptosis through a combined activation of PI3-kinase, MAPKs, PKC pathways and inhibition of bile salt-induced ER stress. Our results suggest a mechanism for the observed hepatocyte-toxicity of Sartans (angiotensin receptor blockers, ARBs) in some patients with chronic liver injury.
PMCID: PMC3530435  PMID: 23300732
16.  Attenuation of Renovascular Damage in Zucker Diabetic Fatty Rat by NWT-03, an Egg Protein Hydrolysate with ACE- and DPP4-Inhibitory Activity 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46781.
Dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4) and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) are important target enzymes in glycemic control and renovascular protection. Here, we studied the effect of NWT-03, an egg protein hydrolysate with DPP4- and ACE-inhibitory activity, on renovascular damage in Zucker diabetic fatty (ZDF) rats. Comparisons were made to rats treated with vildagliptin (VIL), included as a positive control for the effect of DPP4 inhibition.
ZDF rats received NWT-03 (1 g/kg/day) or VIL (3 mg/kg/day) from 10 to 25 weeks of age. Metabolic and renal functions were assessed; the kidney was removed for histological analysis of glomerulosclerosis and expression of pro-inflammatory/fibrotic markers (RT-PCR and Western blotting); and the aorta was removed for studies of endothelium-dependent relaxation (EDR).
Hyperinsulinemic ZDF rats typically developed signs of type-2 diabetes and renovascular damage, as evidenced by albuminuria, glomerulosclerosis, and impaired EDR. Neither NWT-03 nor VIL improved metabolic parameters; for VIL, this was despite a 5-fold increase in glucagon-like peptide (GLP)-1 levels. NWT-03 and VIL both reduced renal interleukin (Il)-1β/Il-13 mRNA expression and glomerulosclerosis. However, only NWT-03 additionally decreased renal tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α mRNA and P22phox protein expression, reduced albuminuria, and restored aortic EDR. Indomethacin added to the organ bath instantly improved aortic EDR, indicating a role for cyclooxygenase (COX)-derived contractile prostanoids in opposing relaxation in ZDF rats. This indomethacin effect was reduced by NWT-03, but not by VIL, and coincided with decreased renal COX-1/2 protein expression.
Conclusion and Interpretation
Long-term supplementation with the egg protein hydrolysate NWT-03 attenuated renovascular damage in this preclinical rat model of type 2 diabetes. A comparison to the DPP4-inhibitor VIL suggests that the effects of NWT-03 were related to both ACE- and DPP4-inhibitory properties. The development of protein hydrolysates with a multiple-targeting strategy may be of benefit to functional food formulations.
PMCID: PMC3468629  PMID: 23071636
17.  Loss of Proteostatic Control as a Substrate for Atrial Fibrillation: A Novel Target for Upstream Therapy by Heat Shock Proteins 
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common, sustained clinical tachyarrhythmia associated with significant morbidity and mortality. AF is a persistent condition with progressive structural remodeling of the atrial cardiomyocytes due to the AF itself, resulting in cellular changes commonly observed in aging and in other heart diseases. While rhythm control by electrocardioversion or drug treatment is the treatment of choice in symptomatic AF patients, its efficacy is still limited. Current research is directed at preventing first-onset AF by limiting the development of substrates underlying AF progression and resembles mechanism-based therapy. Upstream therapy refers to the use of non-ion channel anti-arrhythmic drugs that modify the atrial substrate- or target-specific mechanisms of AF, with the ultimate aim to prevent the occurrence (primary prevention) or recurrence of the arrhythmia following (spontaneous) conversion (secondary prevention). Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are molecular chaperones and comprise a large family of proteins involved in the protection against various forms of cellular stress. Their classical function is the conservation of proteostasis via prevention of toxic protein aggregation by binding to (partially) unfolded proteins. Our recent data reveal that HSPs prevent electrical, contractile, and structural remodeling of cardiomyocytes, thus attenuating the AF substrate in cellular, Drosophila melanogaster, and animal experimental models. Furthermore, studies in humans suggest a protective role for HSPs against the progression from paroxysmal AF to persistent AF and in recurrence of AF. In this review, we discuss upregulation of the heat shock response system as a novel target for upstream therapy to prevent derailment of proteostasis and consequently progression and recurrence of AF.
PMCID: PMC3284689  PMID: 22375124
AF; HSP; Rho-GTPases; remodeling; upstream therapy; myolysis; calpain; geranylgeranylacetone
18.  Induction of VMAT-1 and TPH-1 Expression Induces Vesicular Accumulation of Serotonin and Protects Cells and Tissue from Cooling/Rewarming Injury 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30400.
DDT1 MF-2 hamster ductus deferens cells are resistant to hypothermia due to serotonin secretion from secretory vesicles and subsequent cystathionine beta synthase (CBS) mediated formation of H2S. We investigated whether the mechanism promoting resistance to hypothermia may be translationally induced in cells vulnerable to cold storage. Thus, VMAT-1 (vesicular monoamino transferase) and TPH-1 (tryptophan hydroxylase) were co-transfected in rat aortic smooth muscle cells (SMAC) and kidney tissue to create a serotonin-vesicular phenotype (named VTSMAC and VTkidney, respectively). Effects on hypothermic damage were assessed. VTSMAC showed a vesicular phenotype and an 8-fold increase in serotonin content and 5-fold increase in its release upon cooling. Cooled VTSMAC produced up to 10 fold higher concentrations of H2S, and were protected from hypothermia, as shown by a 50% reduction of caspase 3/7 activity and 4 times higher survival compared to SMAC. Hypothermic resistance was abolished by the inhibition of CBS activity or blockade of serotonin re-uptake. In VTkidney slices, expression of CBS was 3 fold increased in cold preserved kidney tissue, with two-fold increase in H2S concentration. While cooling induced substantial damage to empty vector transfected kidney as shown by caspase 3/7 activity and loss of FABP1, VTkidney was fully protected and comparable to non-cooled control. Thus, transfection of VMAT-1 and TPH-1 induced vesicular storage of serotonin which is triggered release upon cooling and has protective effects against hypothermia. The vesicular serotonergic phenotype protects against hypothermic damage through re-uptake of serotonin inducing CBS mediated H2S production both in cells and kidney slices.
PMCID: PMC3257274  PMID: 22253933
19.  N-Glycosylation of Carnosinase Influences Protein Secretion and Enzyme Activity 
Diabetes  2010;59(8):1984-1990.
The (CTG)n polymorphism in the serum carnosinase (CN-1) gene affects CN-1 secretion. Since CN-1 is heavily glycosylated and glycosylation might influence protein secretion as well, we tested the role of N-glycosylation for CN-1 secretion and enzyme activity. We also tested whether CN-1 secretion is changed under hyperglycemic conditions.
N-glycosylation of CN-1 was either inhibited by tunicamycin in pCSII-CN-1–transfected Cos-7 cells or by stepwise deletion of its three putative N-glycosylation sites. CN-1 protein expression, N-glycosylation, and enzyme activity were assessed in cell extracts and supernatants. The influence of hyperglycemia on CN-1 enzyme activity in human serum was tested in homozygous (CTG)5 diabetic patients and healthy control subjects.
Tunicamycin completely inhibited CN-1 secretion. Deletion of all N-glycosylation sites was required to reduce CN-1 secretion efficiency. Enzyme activity was already diminished when two sites were deleted. In pCSII-CN-1–transfected Cos-7 cells cultured in medium containing 25 mmol/l d-glucose, the immature 61 kilodaltons (kDa) CN-1 immune reactive band was not detected. This was paralleled by an increased GlcNAc expression in cell lysates and CN-1 expression in the supernatants. Homozygous (CTG)5 diabetic patients had significantly higher serum CN-1 activity compared with genotype-matched, healthy control subjects.
We conclude that apart from the (CTG)n polymorphism in the signal peptide of CN-1, N-glycosylation is essential for appropriate secretion and enzyme activity. Since hyperglycemia enhances CN-1 secretion and enzyme activity, our data suggest that poor blood glucose control in diabetic patients might result in an increased CN-1 secretion even in the presence of the (CTG)5 allele.
PMCID: PMC2911063  PMID: 20460427
20.  Serotonin and Dopamine Protect from Hypothermia/Rewarming Damage through the CBS/ H2S Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22568.
Biogenic amines have been demonstrated to protect cells from apoptotic cell death. Herein we show for the first time that serotonin and dopamine increase H2S production by the endogenous enzyme cystathionine-β-synthase (CBS) and protect cells against hypothermia/rewarming induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation and apoptosis. Treatment with both compounds doubled CBS expression through mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and increased H2S production in cultured rat smooth muscle cells. In addition, serotonin and dopamine treatment significantly reduced ROS formation. The beneficial effect of both compounds was minimized by inhibition of their re-uptake and by pharmacological inhibition of CBS or its down-regulation by siRNA. Exogenous administration of H2S and activation of CBS by Prydoxal 5′-phosphate also protected cells from hypothermic damage. Finally, serotonin and dopamine pretreatment of rat lung, kidney, liver and heart prior to 24 h of hypothermia at 3°C followed by 30 min of rewarming at 37°C upregulated the expression of CBS, strongly reduced caspase activity and maintained the physiological pH compared to untreated tissues. Thus, dopamine and serotonin protect cells against hypothermia/rewarming induced damage by increasing H2S production mediated through CBS. Our data identify a novel molecular link between biogenic amines and the H2S pathway, which may profoundly affect our understanding of the biological effects of monoamine neurotransmitters.
PMCID: PMC3144905  PMID: 21829469
21.  Time-resolved Laue diffraction of excited species at atomic resolution: 100 ps single-pulse diffraction of the excited state of the organometallic complex Rh2(μ-PNP)2(PNP)2 ·BPh4 
The polychromatic Laue technique has been applied in 100 ps delay synchrotron pump–probe experiments of the triplet excited state of a Rh(I) dinuclear complex. The observed contraction of the Rh–Rh distance of 0.154 (13) Å is less than predicted by a series of theoretical calculations, a difference attributed to the constraining effect of the crystal lattice.
PMCID: PMC3129623  PMID: 21210070
22.  Optimizing the accuracy and precision of the single-pulse Laue technique for synchrotron photo-crystallography 
Journal of Synchrotron Radiation  2010;17(Pt 4):479-485.
The accuracy achieved in single-pulse pump-probe Laue experiments at beamline 14-ID at APS is estimated to be 3–4%.
The accuracy that can be achieved in single-pulse pump-probe Laue experiments is discussed. It is shown that with careful tuning of the experimental conditions a reproducibility of the intensity ratios of equivalent intensities obtained in different measurements of 3–4% can be achieved. The single-pulse experiments maximize the time resolution that can be achieved and, unlike stroboscopic techniques in which the pump-probe cycle is rapidly repeated, minimize the temperature increase due to the laser exposure of the sample.
PMCID: PMC2891491  PMID: 20567080
single-pulse diffraction; accuracy; Laue method; RATIO method; photo-crystallography
23.  HSPB1, HSPB6, HSPB7 and HSPB8 Protect against RhoA GTPase-Induced Remodeling in Tachypaced Atrial Myocytes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20395.
We previously demonstrated the small heat shock protein, HSPB1, to prevent tachycardia remodeling in in vitro and in vivo models for Atrial Fibrillation (AF). To gain insight into its mechanism of action, we examined the protective effect of all 10 members of the HSPB family on tachycardia remodeling. Furthermore, modulating effects of HSPB on RhoA GTPase activity and F-actin stress fiber formation were examined, as this pathway was found of prime importance in tachycardia remodeling events and the initiation of AF.
Methods and Results
Tachypacing (4 Hz) of HL-1 atrial myocytes significantly and progressively reduced the amplitude of Ca2+ transients (CaT). In addition to HSPB1, also overexpression of HSPB6, HSPB7 and HSPB8 protected against tachypacing-induced CaT reduction. The protective effect was independent of HSPB1. Moreover, tachypacing induced RhoA GTPase activity and caused F-actin stress fiber formation. The ROCK inhibitor Y27632 significantly prevented tachypacing-induced F-actin formation and CaT reductions, showing that RhoA activation is required for remodeling. Although all protective HSPB members prevented the formation of F-actin stress fibers, their mode of action differs. Whilst HSPB1, HSPB6 and HSPB7 acted via direct prevention of F-actin formation, HSPB8-protection was mediated via inhibition of RhoA GTPase activity.
Overexpression of HSPB1, as well as HSPB6, HSPB7 and HSPB8 independently protect against tachycardia remodeling by attenuation of the RhoA GTPase pathway at different levels. The cardioprotective role for multiple HSPB members indicate a possible therapeutic benefit of compounds able to boost the expression of single or multiple members of the HSPB family.
PMCID: PMC3123278  PMID: 21731611
24.  Workplace Health Protection and Promotion through Participatory Ergonomics: An Integrated Approach 
Public Health Reports  2009;124(Suppl 1):26-35.
A multidisciplinary team of researchers at the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW) developed an evidence-based approach to address three recognized challenges to workplace programs designed to improve employee health: establishing employee ownership, integrating with work organization, and sustainability. The two main innovations being introduced in combination were (1) integrating traditional workplace health protection (e.g., ergonomics, industrial hygiene) with health promotion (e.g., assisting workers in improving health behaviors) and (2) introducing a bottom-up participatory model for engaging employees in innovative iterative design efforts to enhance both components of this integrated program. In the program, which was modeled after participatory ergonomics programs, teams of workers engage in the iterative design of workplace interventions to address their prioritized health concerns with the support of a multilevel steering committee. The integrated approach being tested can complement existing worksite safety and health initiatives and promote organizational learning, with expected synergistic effects.
PMCID: PMC2708654  PMID: 19618804
25.  A Conceptual Framework for Integrating Workplace Health Promotion and Occupational Ergonomics Programs 
Public Health Reports  2009;124(Suppl 1):16-25.
Musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and mental health are all associated with the physical and psychosocial conditions of work, as well as with individual health behaviors. An integrated approach to workplace health-promotion programs should include attention to the work environment, especially in light of recent findings that work organization influences so-called lifestyle or health behaviors. Macroergonomics provides a framework to improve both physical and organizational features of work and, in the process, to empower individual workers. The Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW) is a research-to-practice effort examining the effectiveness of worksite programs that combine occupational safety and health—especially ergonomics—with health promotion, emphasizing the contribution of work organization to both. Two intervention studies are underway in three different sectors: health care, corrections, and manufacturing. Each study features participatory structures to facilitate employee input into health goal-setting, program design and development, and evaluation, with the goal of enhanced effectiveness and longer-term sustainability.
PMCID: PMC2708653  PMID: 19618803

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