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1.  A Mitochondrial ATP synthase Subunit Interacts with TOR Signaling to Modulate Protein Homeostasis and Lifespan in Drosophila 
Cell reports  2014;8(6):1781-1792.
Diet composition is a critical determinant of lifespan and nutrient imbalance is detrimental health. However, how nutrients interact with genetic factors to modulate lifespan remains elusive. We investigated how diet composition influences mitochondrial ATP synthase subunit d (ATPsyn-d) in modulating lifespan in Drosophila. ATPsyn-d knockdown extended lifespan in females fed low carbohydrate-to-protein (C:P) diets, but not the high C:P ratio diet. This extension was associated with increased resistance to oxidative stress, transcriptional changes in metabolism, proteostasis and immune genes, reduced protein damage and aggregation, and reduced phosphorylation of S6K and ERK in TOR and MAPK signaling, respectively. ATPsyn-d knockdown did not extend lifespan in females with reduced TOR signaling induced genetically by Tsc2 overexpression or pharmacologically by rapamycin. Our data reveal a link among diet, mitochondria, MAPK and TOR signaling in aging and stresses the importance of considering genetic background and diet composition in implementing interventions for promoting healthy aging.
PMCID: PMC4177368  PMID: 25220459
aging; diet composition; dietary restriction; electron transfer chain; oxidative stress; rapamycin; Target of rapamycin
2.  The longevity effect of cranberry extract in Caenorhabditis elegans is modulated by daf-16 and osr-1 
Age  2012;35(5):1559-1574.
Nutraceuticals are known to have numerous health and disease preventing properties. Recent studies suggest that extracts containing cranberry may have anti-aging benefits. However, little is known about whether and how cranberry by itself promotes longevity and healthspan in any organism. Here we examined the effect of a cranberry only extract on lifespan and healthspan in Caenorhabditis elegans. Supplementation of the diet with cranberry extract (CBE) increased the lifespan in C. elegans in a concentration-dependent manner. Cranberry also increased tolerance of C. elegans to heat shock, but not to oxidative stress or ultraviolet irradiation. In addition, we tested the effect of cranberry on brood size and motility and found that cranberry did not influence these behaviors. Our mechanistic studies indicated that lifespan extension induced by CBE requires the insulin/IGF signaling pathway and DAF-16. We also found that cranberry promotes longevity through osmotic stress resistant-1 (OSR-1) and one of its downstream effectors, UNC-43, but not through SEK-1, a component of the p38 MAP kinase pathway. However, SIR-2.1 and JNK signaling pathways are not required for cranberry to promote longevity. Our findings suggest that cranberry supplementation confers increased longevity and stress resistance in C. elegans through pathways modulated by daf-16 and osr-1. This study reveals the anti-aging property of widely consumed cranberry and elucidates the underpinning mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3776105  PMID: 22864793
Cranberry; Longevity; Aging intervention; daf-16; osr-1; Caenorhabditis elegans
3.  A botanical containing freeze dried açai pulp promotes healthy aging and reduces oxidative damage in sod1 knockdown flies 
Age  2012;35(4):1117-1132.
Superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), a critical enzyme against oxidative stress, is implicated in aging and degenerative diseases. We previously showed that a nutraceutical containing freeze-dried açai pulp promotes survival of flies fed a high-fat diet or sod1 knockdown flies fed a standard diet. Here, we investigated the effect of açai supplementation initiated at the early or late young adulthood on lifespan, physiological function, and oxidative damage in sod1 knockdown flies. We found that Açai supplementation extended lifespan even when started at the age of 10 days, which is the time shortly before the mortality rate of flies accelerated. Life-long açai supplementation increased lifetime reproductive output in sod1 knockdown flies. Our molecular studies indicate that açai supplementation reduced the protein levels of genes involved in oxidative stress response, cellular growth, and nutrient metabolism. Açai supplementation also affected the protein levels of ribosomal proteins. In addition, açai supplementation decreased the transcript levels of genes involved in oxidative stress response and gluconeogenesis, while increasing the transcript levels of mitochondrial biogenesis genes. Moreover, açai supplementation reduced the level of 4-hydroxynonenal-protein adducts, a lipid peroxidation marker. Our findings suggest that açai supplementation promotes healthy aging in sod1-deficient flies partly through reducing oxidative damage, and modulating nutrient metabolism and oxidative stress response pathways. Our findings provide a foundation to further evaluate the viability of using açai as an effective dietary intervention to promote healthy aging and alleviate symptoms of diseases with a high level of oxidative stress.
PMCID: PMC3705126  PMID: 22639178
Aging intervention; Açai; Superoxide dismutase 1; Lifespan; Oxidative stress; Reproductive aging; Drosophila melanogaster
4.  Top3β is an RNA topoisomerase that works with Fragile X syndrome protein to promote synapse formation 
Nature neuroscience  2013;16(9):10.1038/nn.3479.
Topoisomerases are crucial to solve DNA topological problems, but they have not been linked to RNA metabolism. Here we show that human topoisomerase 3β (Top3β) is an RNA topoisomerase that biochemically and genetically interacts with FMRP, a protein deficient in Fragile X syndrome and known to regulate translation of mRNAs important for neuronal function and autism. Notably, the FMRP-Top3β interaction is abolished by a disease-associated FMRP mutation, suggesting that Top3β may contribute to pathogenesis of mental disorders. Top3β binds multiple mRNAs encoded by genes with neuronal functions related to schizophrenia and autism. Expression of one such gene, ptk2/FAK, is reduced in neuromuscular junctions of Top3β mutant flies. Synapse formation is defective in Top3β mutant flies and mice, as observed in FMRP mutant animals. Our findings suggest that Top3β acts as an RNA topoisomerase and works with FMRP to promote expression of mRNAs critical for neurodevelopment and mental health.
PMCID: PMC3853347  PMID: 23912945
schizophrenia; autism; topoisomerase; Fragile X syndrome; Top3β; TDRD3; synapse
5.  The effect of resveratrol on lifespan depends on both gender and dietary nutrient composition in Drosophila melanogaster 
Age  2011;35(1):69-81.
Resveratrol, a polyphenolic compound, has been shown to extend lifespan in different organisms. Emerging evidence suggests that the prolongevity effect of resveratrol depends on dietary composition. However, the mechanisms underlying the interaction of resveratrol and dietary nutrients in modulating lifespan remain elusive. Here, we investigated the effect of resveratrol on lifespan of Drosophila melanogaster fed diets differing in the concentrations of sugar, yeast extract, and palmitic acid representing carbohydrate, protein, and fat, respectively. Resveratrol at up to 200 μM in diets did not affect lifespan of wild-type female flies fed a standard, restricted or high sugar–low protein diet, but extended lifespan of females fed a low sugar–high protein diet. Resveratrol at 400 μM extended lifespan of females fed a high-fat diet. Lifespan extension by resveratrol was associated with downregulation of genes in aging-related pathways, including antioxidant peroxiredoxins, insulin-like peptides involved in insulin-like signaling and several downstream genes in Jun-kinase signaling involved in oxidative stress response. Furthermore, resveratrol increased lifespan of superoxide dismutase 1 (sod1) knockdown mutant females fed a standard or high-fat diet. No lifespan extension by resveratrol was observed in wild-type and sod1 knockdown males under the culture conditions in this study. Our results suggest that the gender-specific prolongevity effect of resveratrol is influenced by dietary composition and resveratrol promotes the survival of flies by modulating genetic pathways that can reduce cellular damage. This study reveals the context-dependent effect of resveratrol on lifespan and suggests the importance of dietary nutrients in implementation of effective aging interventions using dietary supplements.
PMCID: PMC3543742  PMID: 22083438
Resveratrol; Lifespan; Dietary composition; Aging intervention; Superoxide dismutase 1; Oxidative stress
6.  Supplement Timing of Cranberry Extract Plays a Key Role in Promoting Caenorhabditis elegans Healthspan 
Nutrients  2014;6(2):911-921.
Consumption of nutraceuticals is a major and potent dietary intervention for delaying aging. As the timing of administration is critical for the efficacy of bioactive compounds in medicine, the effectiveness of nutraceuticals may also be dramatically affected by the timing of supplementation. Cranberry exact (CBE), rich in polyphenols, is consumed as a nutraceutical, and possesses anti-aging properties. Here, we examined the influence of timing on the beneficial effects of CBE supplementation in C. elegans. The prolongevity effect of CBE in different aged worms, young adults, middle-age adults, and aged adults, was determined. Early-start intervention with CBE prolonged the remaining lifespan of worms of different ages more robustly than late-start intervention. The effectiveness of CBE on stress responses and physiological behaviors in different aged worms was also investigated. The early-start intervention prominently promoted motility and resistance to heat shocks and V. cholera infection, especially in aged worms. Together, these findings suggest that the timing of CBE supplementation critically influences its beneficial effects on C. elegans lifespan and healthspan. It is of interest to further investigate whether the similar results would occur in humans.
PMCID: PMC3942739  PMID: 24566444
aging intervention; timing; nutraceuticals; cranberry polyphenols; healthspan; Caenorhabditis elegans
7.  Neuroprotection provided by dietary restriction in rats is further enhanced by reducing glucocortocoids 
Neurobiology of aging  2012;33(10):2398-2410.
Glucocorticoids (GC)--corticosterone (CORT) in rodents and cortisol in primates--are stress-induced hormones secreted by adrenal glands that interact with the hypothalamic pituitary axis. High levels of cortisol in humans are observed in neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD), as well as in diabetes, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and major depression. Experimental models of diabetes in rats and mice have demonstrated that reduction of CORT reduces learning and memory deficits and attenuates loss of neuronal viability and plasticity. In contrast to the negative associations of elevated GC levels, CORT is moderately elevated in dietary restriction (DR) paradigms which are associated with many healthy anti-aging effects including neuroprotection. We demonstrate here in rats that ablating CORT by adrenalectomy (ADX) with replenishment to relatively low levels (30% below that of controls) prior to the onset of a DR regimen (ADX-DR) followed by central administration of the neurotoxin, kainic acid (KA), significantly attenuates learning deficits in a 14-unit T-maze task. The performance of the ADX-DR KA group did not differ from a control group (CON) that did not receive KA and was fed ad libitum (AL). By contrast, the sham-operated DR (SHAM-DR KA) group, SHAM-AL KA group, and ADX-AL KA group demonstrated poorer learning behavior in this task compared to the CON group. Stereological analysis revealed equivalent DR-induced neuroprotection in the SH-DR KA and ADX-DR KA groups, as measured by cell loss in the CA2/CA3 region of the hippocampus, while substantial cell loss was observed in SH-AL and ADX-AL rats. A separate set of experiments was conducted with similar dietary and surgical treatment conditions but without KA administration to examine markers of neurotrophic activity, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), transcriptions factors (pCREB), and chaperone proteins (HSP-70). Under these conditions, we noted elevations in both BDNF and pCREB in ADX DR rats compared to the other groups; whereas, HSP-70, was equivalently elevated in ADX-DR and SH-DR groups and was higher than observed in both SH-AL and ADX-AL groups. These results support findings that DR protects hippocampal neurons against KA-induced cellular insult. However, this neuroprotective effect was further enhanced in rats with a lower-than control level of CORT resulting from ADX and maintained by exogenous CORT supplementation. Our results then suggest that DR-induced physiological elevation of GC may have negative functional consequences to DR-induced beneficial effects. These negative effects, however, can be compensated by other DR-produced cellular and molecular protective mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3374050  PMID: 22226488
8.  Nutrient-Dependent Requirement for SOD1 in Lifespan Extension by Protein Restriction in Drosophila melanogaster 
Aging cell  2012;11(5):783-793.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) modulate aging and aging-related diseases. Dietary composition is critical in modulating lifespan. However, how ROS modulate dietary effects on lifespan remains poorly understood. Superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) is a major cytosolic enzyme responsible for scavenging superoxides. Here we investigated the role of SOD1 in lifespan modulation by diet in Drosophila. We found that a high sugar-low protein (HS-LP) diet or low-calorie diet with low-sugar content, representing protein restriction, increased lifespan but not resistance to acute oxidative stress in wild-type flies, relative to a standard base diet. A low sugar-high protein diet had an opposite effect. Our genetic analysis indicated that SOD1 overexpression or dfoxo deletion did not alter lifespan patterns of flies responding to diets. However, sod1 reduction blunted lifespan extension by the HS-LP diet but not the low-calorie diet. HS-LP and low-calorie diets both reduced target-of-rapamycin (TOR) signaling and only the HS-LP diet increased oxidative damage. sod1 knockdown did not affect phosphorylation of S6 kinase, suggesting that SOD1 acts in parallel with or downstream of TOR signaling. Surprisingly rapamycin decreased lifespan in sod1 mutant but not wild-type males fed the standard, HS-LP and low calorie diets, whereas antioxidant N-acetylcysteine only increased lifespan in sod1 mutant males fed the HS-LP diet, when compared to diet-matched controls. Our findings suggest that SOD1 is required for lifespan extension by protein restriction only when dietary sugar is high, and support the context-dependent role of ROS in aging and caution the use of rapamycin and antioxidants in aging interventions.
PMCID: PMC3444681  PMID: 22672579
9.  Unraveling Regulatory Programs for NF-kappaB, p53 and MicroRNAs in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73656.
In head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), mutations of p53 usually coexist with aberrant activation of NF-kappaB (NF-κB), other transcription factors and microRNAs, which promote tumor pathogenesis. However, how these factors and microRNAs interact to globally modulate gene expression and mediate oncogenesis is not fully understood. We devised a novel bioinformatics method to uncover interactive relationships between transcription factors or microRNAs and genes. This approach is based on matrix decomposition modeling under the joint constraints of sparseness and regulator-target connectivity, and able to integrate gene expression profiling and binding data of regulators. We employed this method to infer the gene regulatory networks in HNSCC. We found that the majority of the predicted p53 targets overlapped with those for NF-κB, suggesting that the two transcription factors exert a concerted modulation on regulatory programs in tumor cells. We further investigated the interrelationships of p53 and NF-κB with five additional transcription factors, AP1, CEBPB, EGR1, SP1 and STAT3, and microRNAs mir21 and mir34ac. The resulting gene networks indicate that interactions among NF-κB, p53, and the two miRNAs likely regulate progression of HNSCC. We experimentally validated our findings by determining expression of the predicted NF-κB and p53 target genes by siRNA knock down, and by examining p53 binding activity on promoters of predicted target genes in the tumor cell lines. Our results elucidating the cross-regulations among NF-κB, p53, and microRNAs provide insights into the complex regulatory mechanisms underlying HNSCC, and shows an efficient approach to inferring gene regulatory programs in biological complex systems.
PMCID: PMC3777940  PMID: 24069219
10.  Genome-wide modeling of complex phenotypes in Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:580.
The genetic and molecular basis for many intermediate and end stage phenotypes in model systems such as C. elegans and D. melanogaster has long been known to involve pleiotropic effects and complex multigenic interactions. Gene sets are groups of genes that contribute to multiple biological or molecular phenomena. They have been used in the analysis of large molecular datasets such as microarray data, Next Generation sequencing, and other genomic datasets to reveal pleiotropic and multigenic contributions to phenotypic outcomes. Many model systems lack species specific organized phenotype based gene sets to enable high throughput analysis of large molecular datasets.
Results and discussion
Here, we describe two novel collections of gene sets in C. elegans and D. melanogaster that are based exclusively on genetically determined phenotypes and use a controlled phenotypic ontology. We use these collections to build genome-wide models of thousands of defined phenotypes in both model species. In addition, we demonstrate the utility of these gene sets in systems analysis and in analysis of gene expression-based molecular datasets and show how they are useful in analysis of genomic datasets connecting multigenic gene inputs to complex phenotypes.
Phenotypic based gene sets in both C. elegans and D. melanogaster are developed, characterized, and shown to be useful in the analysis of large scale species-specific genomic datasets. These phenotypic gene set collections will contribute to the understanding of complex phenotypic outcomes in these model systems.
PMCID: PMC3849582  PMID: 23984798
C. elegans; D. melanogaster; Worm; Fly; Aging; Gene set; Phenotype; Ontology; Network; Gene expression
12.  The interplay among dietary fat, sugar, protein and açai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) pulp in modulating lifespan and reproduction in a Tephritid fruit fly 
Experimental Gerontology  2012;47(7):536-539.
Macronutrient balance is a critical contributor in modulating lifespan and health. Consumption of diets rich in fruits and vegetables provides numerous health benefits. The interactions among macronutrients and botanicals and how they influence aging and health remain elusive. Here we employed a nutritional geometry approach to investigate the interplay among dietary fat, sugar, protein and antioxidant- and polyphenolic-rich freeze-dried açai pulp in modulating lifespan and reproductive output in the Mexican fruit fly, Anastrepha ludens (Loew). Individual flies were cultured on one of the 24 diets made from a combination of 1) sugar and yeast extract (SY) at four ratios, 2) palmitic acid, a saturated fat, at two concentrations and 3) freeze-dried açai pulp at three concentrations. Fat addition decreased lifespan in females on the sugar only diet and the diet with a low SY ratio, while decreasing lifetime reproductive output in flies on the diet with the low SY ratio when compared to SY ratio-matched low fat controls. Açai supplementation promoted survival, while decreasing lifetime reproductive output, in flies on diets with high fat and high sugar but not other diets when compared to diet-matched non-supplemented controls. These findings reveal that the impact of fat and açai on lifespan and reproductive output depends on the dietary content of other macronutrients. Our results reveal the intricate interplay among macronutrients and nutraceuticals, and underscore the importance of taking macronutrient balance into consideration in designing dietary interventions for aging and health.
PMCID: PMC3368065  PMID: 22580089
Palmitic acid; Lifespan; Dietary intervention; Nutraceutical; Palm fruit; Anastrepha ludens
13.  Deleterious effect of suboptimal diet on rest-activity cycle in Anastrepha ludens manifests itself with age 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:1773.
Activity patterns and sleep-wake cycles are among the physiological processes that change most prominently as animals age, and are often good indicators of healthspan. In this study, we used the video-based high-resolution Behavioral Monitoring System (BMS) to monitor the daily activity cycle of tephritid fruit flies Anastrepha ludens over their lifetime. Surprisingly, there was no dramatic change in activity profile with respect to age if flies were consistently fed with a nutritionally balanced diet. However, if flies were fed with sugar-only diet, their activity profile decreased in amplitude at old age, suggesting that suboptimal diet affected activity patterns, and its detrimental effect may not manifest itself until the animal ages. Moreover, by simulating different modes of behavior monitoring with a range of resolution and comparing the resulting conclusions, we confirmed the superior performance of video-based monitoring using high-resolution BMS in accurately representing activity patterns in an insect model.
PMCID: PMC3642661  PMID: 23639915
14.  Discovery- and Target-Based Protein Quantification Using iTRAQ and Pulsed Q Collision Induced Dissociation (PQD) 
Journal of Proteomics  2012;75(8):2480-2487.
Pulsed Q collision-induced dissociation (PQD) was developed in part to facilitate detection of low-mass reporter ions using labeling reagents (e.g. iTRAQ) on LTQ platforms. It has generally been recognized that the scan speed and sensitivity of an LTQ are superior than those of an Orbitrap using the higher-energy collisional dissociation (HCD). However, the use of PQD in quantitative proteomics is limited, primarily due to the meager reproducibility of reporter ion ratios. Optimizations of PQD for iTRAQ quantification using LTQ have been reported, but a universally applicable strategy for quantifying the less abundant proteins has not been fully established. Adjustments of the AGC target, µscan, or scan speed offer only incremental improvements in reproducibility. From our experience, however, satisfactory coefficients of variation (CVs) of reporter ion ratios were difficult to achieve using the discovery-based approach. As an alternative, we implemented a target-based approach that obviates data dependency to allow repetitive data acquisitions across chromatographic peaks. Such a strategy generates enough data points for more reliable quantification. Using cAMP treatment in S49 cell lysates and this target-based approach, we were able to validate differentially expressed proteins, which were initially identified as potential candidates using the discovery-based PQD. The target-based strategy also yielded results comparable to those obtained from HCD in an Orbitrap. Our findings should aid LTQ users who desire to explore iTRAQ quantitative proteomics but have limited access to the more costly Orbitrap or other instruments.
PMCID: PMC3321122  PMID: 22397766
Pulsed Q collision-induced dissociation (PQD); linear ion trap; triple quadrupole (QqQ); higher energy collisional dissociation (HCD); iTRAQ (Isobaric Tag for Relative and Absolute Quantification)
15.  Prolongevity effects of a botanical with oregano and cranberry extracts in Mexican fruit flies: examining interactions of diet restriction and age 
Age  2011;34(2):269-279.
Botanicals rich with phytochemicals have numerous health benefits. Dietary restriction (DR) extends lifespan in diverse species. We previously demonstrated that an oregano–cranberry (OC) mixture can promote longevity in the Mexican Fruit fly (Mexfly, Anastrepha ludens Loew). However, little is known about the interaction between botanicals and DR, and the age-dependent effect of botanicals on lifespan and reproduction. Here we investigated these issues by feeding Mexflies a full or DR diet supplemented with or without 2% OC. Lifespan and daily egg production of individual flies were recorded. The effect of short-term OC supplementation was evaluated by implementing the supplementation at three age intervals—young, middle, and old age. We found that OC increased lifespan of Mexflies on the full or DR diet when compared to their respective controls. OC increased reproduction of females on the full diet and, to a lesser extent, on the DR diet. Short-term OC supplementation was not sufficient to extend lifespan for males at all three age intervals nor for females at young and old age intervals. However, OC supplementation at the middle age interval was sufficient to extend lifespan in females, while only OC supplementation at the young age interval increased reproduction in females. Our findings suggest that OC extends lifespan and promotes reproduction partly through DR-independent pathways, and short-term supplementation have varied impact on longevity and reproduction. This also suggests a positive interaction between non-genetic interventions in promoting longevity and provides guidance for using botanicals as aging interventions in humans.
PMCID: PMC3312627  PMID: 21455602
Lifespan; Cranberry; Oregano; Dietary restriction; Reproduction; Aging intervention; Dietary nutrient; Anastrepha ludens Loew
16.  Preserved learning and memory following 5-fluorouracil and cyclophosphamide treatment in rats 
Some patients experience enduring cognitive impairment after cancer treatment, a condition termed “chemofog”. Animal models allow assessment of chemotherapy effects on learning and memory per se, independent of changes due to cancer itself or associated health consequences such as depression. The present study examined the long-term learning and memory effects of a chemotherapy cocktail used widely in the treatment of breast cancer, consisting of 5-fluorouracil (5FU) and cyclophosphamide (CYP). Eighty 5-month old male F344 rats received contextual and cued fear conditioning before treatment with saline, or a low or high dose drug cocktail (50 mg/kg CYP and 75 mg/kg 5FU, or 75 mg/kg CYP and 120 mg/kg 5FU, i.p., respectively) every 30 days for 2 months. After a 2-month, no-drug recovery, both long-term retention and new task acquisition in the water maze and 14-unit T-maze were assessed. Neither dose of the CYP/5FU cocktail impaired retrograde fear memory despite marked toxicity documented by enduring weight loss and 50% mortality at the higher dose. Acquisition in the water maze and Stone maze was also normal relative to controls in rats treated with CYP/5FU. The results contribute to a growing literature suggesting that learning and memory mediated by the hippocampus can be relatively resistant to chemotherapy. Future investigation may need to focus on assessments of processing speed, executive function and attention, and the possible interactive contribution of cancer itself and aging to the post-treatment development of cognitive impairment.
PMCID: PMC3183356  PMID: 21875615
Chemofog; Chemobrain; spatial memory; fear conditioning; cognition
17.  Effects of Long-Term Cranberry Supplementation on Endocrine Pancreas in Aging Rats 
The effects of long-term cranberry consumption on age-related changes in endocrine pancreas are not fully understood. Here we treated male Fischer 344 rats with either 2% whole cranberry powder supplemented or normal rodent chow from 6 to 22 month old. Both groups displayed an age-related decline in basal plasma insulin concentrations, but this age-related decline was delayed by cranberry. Cranberry supplementation led to increased β-cell glucose responsiveness during the oral glucose tolerance test. Portal insulin concentration was 7.6-fold higher in rats fed cranberry, coupled with improved β-cell function. However, insulin resistance values were similar in both groups. Total β-cell mass and expression of pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1 and insulin within islets were significantly enhanced in rats fed cranberry relative to controls. Furthermore, cranberry increased insulin release of an insulin-producing β-cell line, revealing its insulinotropic effect. These findings suggest that cranberry is of particular benefit to β-cell function in normal aging rats.
PMCID: PMC3193520  PMID: 21768504
Cranberry; Insulin release; Pancreatic β-cell function; Pancreatic β-cell mass; Aging
18.  Identification of Proteins and Phosphoproteins Using Pulsed Q Collision Induced Dissociation (PQD) 
Pulsed Q collision induced dissociation (PQD) was developed to facilitate detection of low-mass reporter ions from labeling reagents (e.g. iTRAQ) in peptide quantification using an LTQ mass spectrometer (MS). Despite the large number of linear ion traps worldwide, the use and optimization of PQD for protein identification have been limited, in part due to less effective ion fragmentation relative to the collision induced dissociation (CID). PQD expands the m/z coverage of fragment ions to the lower m/z range by circumventing the typical low mass cut-off of an ion trap MS. Since database searching relies on the matching between theoretical and observed spectra, it is not clear how ion intensity and peak number might affect the outcomes of a database search. In this report, we systematically evaluated the attributes of PQD mass spectra, performed intensity optimization, and assessed the benefits of using PQD on the identification of peptides and phosphopeptides from an LTQ. Based on head-to-head comparisons between CID (higher intensity) and PQD (better m/z coverage), peptides identified using PQD generally have Xcorr scores lower than those using CID. Such score differences were considerably diminished by the use of 0.1% m-nitrobenzyl alcohol (m-NBA) in mobile phases. The ion intensities of both CID and PQD were adversely affected by increasing m/z of the precursor, with PQD more sensitive than CID. In addition to negating the 1/3 rule, PQD enhances direct bond cleavage and generates patterns of fragment ions different from those of CID, particularly for peptides with a labile functional group (e.g. phosphopeptides). The higher energy fragmentation pathway of PQD on peptide fragmentation was further compared to those of CID and the quadrupole-type activation in parallel experiments.
PMCID: PMC3183836  PMID: 21952889
Pulsed Q collision induced dissociation (PQD); linear ion trap; triple quadrupole (QqQ); protein identification
19.  Nutraceutical Interventions for Promoting Healthy Aging in Invertebrate Models 
Aging is a complex and inevitable biological process that is associated with numerous chronically debilitating health effects. Development of effective interventions for promoting healthy aging is an active but challenging area of research. Mechanistic studies in various model organisms, noticeably two invertebrates, Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster, have identified many genes and pathways as well as dietary interventions that modulate lifespan and healthspan. These studies have shed light on some of the mechanisms involved in aging processes and provide valuable guidance for developing efficacious aging interventions. Nutraceuticals made from various plants contain a significant amount of phytochemicals with diverse biological activities. Phytochemicals can modulate many signaling pathways that exert numerous health benefits, such as reducing cancer incidence and inflammation, and promoting healthy aging. In this paper, we outline the current progress in aging intervention studies using nutraceuticals from an evolutionary perspective in invertebrate models.
PMCID: PMC3444043  PMID: 22991584
20.  Gender-specific prandial response to dietary restriction and oxidative stress in Drosophila melanogaster 
Fly  2011;5(3):174-180.
Drosophila melanogaster is ideal for studying lifespan modulated by dietary restriction (DR) and oxidative stress, and also for screening prolongevity compounds. It is critical to measure food intake in the aforementioned studies. Current methods, however, overlook the amount of the food excreted out of the flies as feces or deposited in eggs. Here we describe a feeding method using a radioactive tracer to measure gender-specific food intake, retention and excretion in response to DR and oxidative stress to account for all the ingested food. Flies were fed a full, restricted or paraquat-containing diet. The radioactivity values of the food in fly bodies, feces and eggs were measured separately after a 24-hr feeding. Food intake was calculated as the sum of these measurements. We found that most of the tracer in the ingested food was retained in the fly bodies and <8% of the tracer was excreted out of the flies as feces and eggs in the case of females during a 24-hr feeding. Under a DR condition, flies increased food intake in volume to compensate for the reduction of calorie content in the diet and also slightly increased excretion. Under an oxidative stress condition, flies reduced both food intake and excretion. Under all the tested dietary conditions, males ingested and excreted 3- to 5-fold less food than females. This study describes an accurate method to measure food intake and provides a basis to further investigate prandial response to DR and prolongevity interve ntions in invertebrates.
PMCID: PMC3225761  PMID: 21471736
food intake; excretion; aging; dietary restriction; oxidative stress
Free radical biology & medicine  2011;50(11):1669-1678.
Fruits containing high antioxidant capacities and other bioactivities are ideal for promoting longevity and healthspan. However, few fruits are known to improve the survival and healthspan in animals, let alone the underlying mechanisms. Here we investigate the effect of nectarine, a globally consumed fruit, on lifespan and healthspan in Drosophila melanogaster. Wild-type flies were fed the standard, dietary restriction (DR) or high fat diets supplemented with 0–4% nectarine extract. We measured lifespan, food intake, locomotor activity, fecundity, gene expression changes, and oxidative damage indicated by the level of 4-Hydroxynonenal-protein adduct in these flies. We also measured lifespan, locomotor activity and oxidative damage of sod1 mutant flies on the standard diet supplemented with 0–4% nectarine. Supplementation of 4% nectarine extended lifespan, increased fecundity and decreased expression of some metabolic genes, including a key gluconeogenesis gene PEPCK, and oxidative stress response genes, including peroxiredoxins, in female wild-type flies fed the standard, DR or high fat diet. Nectarine reduced oxidative damage in wild-type females fed the high fat diet. Moreover, nectarine improved the survival and reduced oxidative damage in female sod1 mutant flies. Together, these findings suggest that nectarine promotes longevity and healthspan partly through modulating glucose metabolism and reducing oxidative damage.
PMCID: PMC3090488  PMID: 21406223
Aging; Nectarine; Peach; Lifespan; Oxidative stress; Reproductive aging; JNK signaling pathway; Nutraceutical; 4-Hydroxynonenal-protein adduct
22.  Adiponectin protects rat hippocampal neurons against excitotoxicity 
Age  2010;33(2):155-165.
Adiponectin exerts multiple regulatory functions in the body and in the hypothalamus primarily through activation of its two receptors, adiponectin receptor1 and adiponectin receptor 2. Recent studies have shown that adiponectin receptors are widely expressed in other areas of the brain including the hippocampus. However, the functions of adiponectin in brain regions other than the hypothalamus are not clear. Here, we report that adiponectin can protect cultured hippocampal neurons against kainic acid-induced (KA) cytotoxicity. Adiponectin reduced the level of reactive oxygen species, attenuated apoptotic cell death, and also suppressed activation of caspase-3 induced by KA. Pretreatment of hippocampal primary neurons with an AMPK inhibitor, compound C, abolished adiponectin-induced neuronal protection. The AMPK activator, 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-beta-D-ribofuranoside, attenuated KA-induced caspase-3 activity. These findings suggest that the AMPK pathway is critically involved in adiponectin-induced neuroprotection and may mediate the antioxidative and anti-apoptotic properties of adiponectin.
PMCID: PMC3127462  PMID: 20842535
Adiponectin; Neuroprotection; Hippocampus; Kainic acid; AMPK
23.  Identification of dAven, a Drosophila melanogaster ortholog of the cell cycle regulator Aven 
Cell Cycle  2011;10(6):989-998.
Aven is a regulator of the DNA damage response and G2/M cell cycle progression. Overexpression of Aven is associated with poor prognosis in patients with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia, and altered intracellular Aven distribution is associated with infiltrating ductal carcinoma and papillary carcinoma breast cancer subtypes. Although Aven orthologs have been identified in most vertebrate species, no Aven gene has been reported in invertebrates. Here, we describe a Drosophila melanogaster open reading frame (ORF) that shares sequence and functional similarities with vertebrate Aven genes. The protein encoded by this ORF, which we named dAven, contains several domains that are highly conserved among Aven proteins of fish, amphibian, bird and mammalian origins. In flies, knockdown of dAven by RNA interference (RNAi) resulted in lethality when its expression was reduced either ubiquitously or in fat cells using Gal4 drivers. Animals undergoing moderate dAven knockdown in the fat body had smaller fat cells displaying condensed chromosomes and increased levels of the mitotic marker phosphorylated histone H3 (PHH3), suggesting that dAven was required for normal cell cycle progression in this tissue. Remarkably, expression of dAven in Xenopus egg extracts resulted in G2/M arrest that was comparable to that caused by human Aven. Taken together, these results suggest that, like its vertebrate counterparts, dAven plays a role in cell cycle regulation. Drosophila could be an excellent model for studying the function of Aven and identifying cellular factors that influence its activity, revealing information that may be relevant to human disease.
PMCID: PMC3100878  PMID: 21368576
Drosophila melanogaster; Aven; Ataxia telangiectasia mutated; ATM and Rad 3-related; cell cycle; checkpoint
24.  Sensitive Carbohydrate Detection using Surface Enhanced Raman Tagging 
Analytical chemistry  2010;82(24):10164-10171.
Glycomic analysis is an increasingly important field in biological and biomedical research as glycosylation is one of the most important protein post-translational modifications. We have developed a new technique to detect carbohydrates using surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) by designing and applying a Rhodamine B derivative as the SERS tag. Using a reductive amination reaction, the Rhodamine-based tag (RT) was successfully conjugated to three model carbohydrates (glucose, lactose and glucuronic acid). SERS detection limits obtained with 632 nm HeNe laser were ~1 nM in concentration for all the RT-carbohydrate conjugates and ~10 fmol in total sample consumption. The dynamic range of the SERS method is about 4 orders of magnitude, spanning from 1 nM to 5 µM. Ratiometric SERS quantification using isotope-substituted SERS internal references also allows comparative quantifications of carbohydrates labeled with RT and deuterium/hydrogen substituted RT tags, respectively. In addition to enhancing the SERS detection of the tagged carbohydrates, the Rhodamine tagging facilitates fluorescence and mass spectrometric detection of carbohydrates. Current fluorescence sensitivity of RT-carbohydrates is ~ 3 nM in concentration while the mass spectrometry (MS) sensitivity is about 1 fmol that was achieved with linear ion trap electrospray ionization (ESI)-MS instrument. Potential applications that take advantage of the high SERS, fluorescence and MS sensitivity of this SERS tagging strategy are discussed for practical glycomic analysis where carbohydrates may be quantified with a fluorescence and SERS technique, and then identified with ESI-MS techniques.
PMCID: PMC3010869  PMID: 21082777
Glycomic; Tag; Carbohydrate; Reductive Amination; SERS
25.  Drop Coating Deposition Raman Spectroscopy of Fluorescein Isothiocyanate Labeled Protein 
Applied spectroscopy  2010;64(10):1078-1085.
Using bovine serum albumin (BSA) as the model protein normal Raman spectra of Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) -conjugated protein was systematically studied for the first time using both solution and the drop coating deposition Raman (DCDR) sampling techniques. The FITC-BSA Raman spectra are dominated by the FITC Raman features that are strongly pH dependent. Current DCDR detection sensitivity obtained with a 10:1 FITC-BSA conjugate is 45 fmol in terms of total protein consumption and ~15 attomol at laser probed volume. Unlike the FITC-BSA solution Raman spectra where the FITC Raman features are photostable, concurrent FITC fluorescence and Raman photobleaching is observed in the DCDR spectra of FITC-BSA. While the FITC Raman photobleaching follows a single exponential decay function with a time constant independent of the FITC labeling ratio, the fluorescence background photobleaching is much more complicated and it depends strongly on the FITC labeling ratio and sample conditions. Mechanistically, the FITC Raman photobleaching is believed to be due to photochemical reaction of the FITC molecules in the electronically excited state. The FITC fluorescence photobleaching involves both concentration quenching and photochemical quenching, and the latter may involve a photochemical intermediate that is fluorescence inactive but Raman active.
PMCID: PMC3218434  PMID: 20925976
Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC); Bovine serum albumin (BSA); DCDR; Photobleaching

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