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1.  A TRP Channel in the Lysosome Regulates Large Particle Phagocytosis via Focal Exocytosis 
Developmental cell  2013;26(5):511-524.
Summary
Phagocytosis of large extracellular particles such as apoptotic bodies requires delivery of the intracellular endosomal and lysosomal membranes to form plasmalemmal pseudopods. Here we identified Mucolipin TRP channel 1 (TRPML1) as the key lysosomal Ca2+ channel regulating focal exocytosis and phagosome biogenesis. Both particle ingestion and lysosomal exocytosis are inhibited by synthetic TRPML1 blockers, and are defective in macrophages isolated from TRPML1 knockout mice. Furthermore, TRPML1 overexpression and TRPML1 agonists facilitate both lysosomal exocytosis and particle uptake. Using time-lapse confocal imaging and direct patch-clamping of phagosomal membranes, we found that particle binding induces lysosomal PI(3,5)P2 elevation to trigger TRPML1-mediated lysosomal Ca2+ release specifically at the site of uptake, rapidly delivering TRPML1-resident lysosomal membranes to nascent phagosomes via lysosomal exocytosis. Thus phagocytic ingestion of large particles activates a phosphoinositide- and Ca2+- dependent exocytosis pathway to provide membranes necessary for pseudopod extension, leading to clearance of senescent and apoptotic cells in vivo.
doi:10.1016/j.devcel.2013.08.003
PMCID: PMC3794471  PMID: 23993788
Lysosomal exocytosis; Phagocytosis; Phagosome; Membrane trafficking; Ca2+ release
2.  A Panel of Diverse Assays to Interrogate the Interaction between Glucokinase and Glucokinase Regulatory Protein, Two Vital Proteins in Human Disease 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89335.
Recent genetic and clinical evidence has implicated glucokinase regulatory protein (GKRP) in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes and related traits. The primary role of GKRP is to bind and inhibit hepatic glucokinase (GCK), a critically important protein in human health and disease that exerts a significant degree of control over glucose metabolism. As activation of GCK has been associated with improved glucose tolerance, perturbation of the GCK-GKRP interaction represents a potential therapeutic target for pharmacological modulation. Recent structural and kinetic advances are beginning to provide insight into the interaction of these two proteins. However, tools to comprehensively assess the GCK-GKRP interaction, particularly in the context of small molecules, would be a valuable resource. We therefore developed three robust and miniaturized assays for assessing the interaction between recombinant human GCK and GKRP: an HTRF assay, a diaphorase-coupled assay, and a luciferase-coupled assay. The assays are complementary, featuring distinct mechanisms of detection (luminescence, fluorescence, FRET). Two assays rely on GCK enzyme activity modulation by GKRP while the FRET-based assay measures the GCK-GKRP protein-protein interaction independent of GCK enzymatic substrates and activity. All three assays are scalable to low volumes in 1536-well plate format, with robust Z’ factors (>0.7). Finally, as GKRP sequesters GCK in the hepatocyte nucleus at low glucose concentrations, we explored cellular models of GCK localization and translocation. Previous findings from freshly isolated rat hepatocytes were confirmed in cryopreserved rat hepatocytes, and we further extended this study to cryopreserved human hepatocytes. Consistent with previous reports, there were several key differences between the rat and human systems, with our results suggesting that human hepatocytes can be used to interrogate GCK translocation in response to small molecules. The assay panel developed here should help direct future investigation of the GCK-GKRP interaction in these or other physiologically relevant human systems.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089335
PMCID: PMC3929664  PMID: 24586696
3.  Discovery, Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Novel SMN Protein Modulators 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2011;54(18):6215-6233.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive disorder affecting the expression or function of survival motor neuron protein (SMN) due to the homozygous deletion or rare point mutations in the survival motor neuron gene 1 (SMN1). The human genome includes a second nearly identical gene called SMN2 that is retained in SMA. SMN2 transcripts undergo alternative splicing with reduced levels of SMN. Up-regulation of SMN2 expression, modification of its splicing, or inhibition of proteolysis of the truncated protein derived from SMN2 have been discussed as potential therapeutic strategies for SMA. In this manuscript, we detail the discovery of a series of arylpiperidines as novel modulators of SMN protein. Systematic hit-to-lead efforts significantly improved potency and efficacy of the series in the primary and orthogonal assays. Structure property relationships including microsomal stability, cell permeability and in vivo pharmacokinetics (PK) studies were also investigated. We anticipate that a lead candidate chosen from this series may serve as a useful probe for exploring the therapeutic benefits of SMN protein up-regulation in SMA animal models, and a starting point for clinical development.
doi:10.1021/jm200497t
PMCID: PMC3174349  PMID: 21819082
4.  A Multiplex Calcium Assay for Identification of GPCR Agonists and Antagonists 
Abstract
Activation of Gq protein-coupled receptors can be monitored by measuring the increase in intracellular calcium with fluorescent dyes. Recent advances in fluorescent kinetic plate readers and liquid-handling technology have made it possible to follow these transient changes in intracellular calcium in a 1,536-well plate format for high-throughput screening (HTS). Here, we have applied the latest generation of fluorescence kinetic plate readers to multiplex the agonist and antagonist screens of a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR). This multiplexed assay format provides an efficient and cost-effective method for HTS of Gq-coupled GPCR targets.
doi:10.1089/adt.2009.0245
PMCID: PMC2893246  PMID: 20230302
5.  Tetracycline-Inducible Gene Expression in Conditionally Immortalized Mouse Podocytes 
American journal of nephrology  2008;29(3):153-163.
Background
Conditionally immortalized podocytes are valuable research tools but are difficult to efficiently transfect and do not provide graded transgene expression.
Methods
Conditionally immortalized mouse podocyte cell lines were established employing a tetracycline-inducible system. Glomerular cells, isolated from transgenic mice bearing two transgenes, NPHS2-reverse tetracycline-controlled transactivator, rtTA (A transgene) and H2-Kb-thermosensitive SV40 T, ts58A (I transgene), were cloned. One clone (AI podocytes) expressing WT1 and synaptopodin was transfected with pBI-EGFP (enhanced green fluorescent protein, G transgene) and separately with ptTS-Neo (transcriptional suppressor, T transgene) to produce stable transformants, AIG podocytes and AIT podocytes.
Results
AIG podocytes expressed EGFP at 33 and 37°C after doxycycline treatment, and retained podocin and rtTA mRNA expression and temperature-sensitive growth regulation. AIT podocytes, transiently transfected with luciferase-BI-EGFP (LG transgene), showed reduced background expression of EGFP and luciferase in the absence of doxycycline. In AITLG podocytes, generated by stable transfection of AIT podocytes with the LG transgene, luciferase expression was tightly regulated by doxycycline in a time- and concentration-dependent manner both at 33 and 37°C, although background expression was not entirely eliminated. These podocytes retained temperature-sensitive growth regulation and expression of podocyte differentiation markers.
Conclusion
Mouse podocytes expressed tetracycline-induced transgenes efficiently while retaining differentiation markers.
doi:10.1159/000151770
PMCID: PMC2698022  PMID: 18753740
Tetracycline-inducible system; Conditional immortalization; Transcription; Gene of interest
6.  Quantitative High Throughput Screening Using a Live Cell cAMP Assay Identifies Small Molecule Agonists of the TSH Receptor 
Journal of biomolecular screening  2008;13(2):120-127.
The thyroid stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR) belongs to the glycoprotein hormone receptor subfamily of seven-transmembrane spanning receptors. TSHR is expressed in thyroid follicular cells and is activated by TSH, which regulates growth and function of these cells. Recombinant TSH is used in diagnostic screens for thyroid cancer, especially in patients after thyroid cancer surgery. Currently, no selective small molecule agonist of the TSHR is available. To screen for novel TSHR agonists, we miniaturized a cell-based cAMP assay into 1536-well plate format. This assay uses a HEK293 cell line stably expressing the TSHR and a cyclic nucleotide gated ion channel (CNG), which functions as a biosensor. From a quantitative high-throughput screen of 73,180 compounds in parallel with a parental cell line (without the TSHR), 276 primary active compounds were identified. The activities of the selected active compounds were further confirmed in an orthogonal HTRF cAMP-based assay. 49 compounds in several structural classes have been confirmed as small molecule TSHR agonists that will serve as starting compounds for chemical optimization and studies of thyroid physiology in health and disease.
doi:10.1177/1087057107313786
PMCID: PMC2653065  PMID: 18216391
Thyroid-stimulating hormone TSH; TSHR; TSHR agonist; quantitative high throughput screening; qHTS; HTS; probe identification; CNG; PubChem
7.  Tetracycline-Inducible Gene Expression in Conditionally Immortalized Mouse Podocytes 
American Journal of Nephrology  2008;29(3):153-163.
Background
Conditionally immortalized podocytes are valuable research tools but are difficult to efficiently transfect and do not provide graded transgene expression.
Methods
Conditionally immortalized mouse podocyte cell lines were established employing a tetracycline-inducible system. Glomerular cells, isolated from transgenic mice bearing two transgenes, NPHS2-reverse tetracycline-controlled transactivator, rtTA (A transgene) and H2-Kb-thermosensitive SV40 T, ts58A (I transgene), were cloned. One clone (AI podocytes) expressing WT1 and synaptopodin was transfected with pBI-EGFP (enhanced green fluorescent protein, G transgene) and separately with ptTS-Neo (transcriptional suppressor, T transgene) to produce stable transformants, AIG podocytes and AIT podocytes.
Results
AIG podocytes expressed EGFP at 33 and 37°C after doxycycline treatment, and retained podocin and rtTA mRNA expression and temperature-sensitive growth regulation. AIT podocytes, transiently transfected with luciferase-BI-EGFP (LG transgene), showed reduced background expression of EGFP and luciferase in the absence of doxycycline. In AITLG podocytes, generated by stable transfection of AIT podocytes with the LG transgene, luciferase expression was tightly regulated by doxycycline in a time- and concentration-dependent manner both at 33 and 37°C, although background expression was not entirely eliminated. These podocytes retained temperature-sensitive growth regulation and expression of podocyte differentiation markers.
Conclusion
Mouse podocytes expressed tetracycline-induced transgenes efficiently while retaining differentiation markers.
doi:10.1159/000151770
PMCID: PMC2698022  PMID: 18753740
Tetracycline-inducible system; Conditional immortalization; Transcription; Gene of interest
8.  Comparison on Functional Assays for Gq-Coupled GPCRs by Measuring Inositol Monophospate-1 and Intracellular Calcium in 1536-Well Plate Format 
Cell-based functional assays used for compound screening and lead optimization play an important role in drug discovery for G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). Cell-based assays can define the role of a compound as an agonist, antagonist or inverse agonist and can provide detailed information about the potency and efficacy of a compound. In addition, cell-based screens can be used to identify allosteric modulators that interact with sites other than the binding site of the endogenous ligand. Intracellular calcium assays which use a fluorescent calcium binding dye (such as Fluo-3, Fluo-4 or Fura-2) have been used in compound screening campaigns to measure the activity of Gq-coupled GPCRs. However, such screening methodologies require a special instrumentation to record the rapid change in intracellular free calcium concentration over time. The radioactive inositol 1,4,5- triphosphate (IP3) assay measures 3H-inositol incorporation and is another traditional assay for the assessment of Gq-coupled GPCR activity, but it is not suitable for screening of large size compound collections because it requires a cell wash step and generates radioactive waste. To avoid these limitations, we have optimized and miniaturized a TR-FRET based IP-One assay that measures inositol monophosphate in a 1536-well plate format. This assay is homogenous, non-radioactive and does not require a kinetic readout. It has been tested with the cell lines expressing M1 acetylcholine, FFAR1, vasopressin V1b, or Neuropeptide S receptors. The activities of antagonists determined in the IP-One assay correlated well with these measured in the intracellular calcium assay while the correlation of agonist activities might vary from cell line to cell line. This IP-One assay offers an alternative method for high throughput screening of Gq-coupled GPCRs without using costly kinetic plate readers.
doi:10.2174/1875397300801010070
PMCID: PMC2774619  PMID: 20161830

Results 1-8 (8)