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1.  PLCB3 is a key modulator of IL-8 expression in cystic fibrosis bronchial epithelial cells 
Respiratory insufficiency is the major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients affected by cystic fibrosis. An excessive neutrophilic inflammation, mainly orchestrated by the release of IL-8 from bronchial epithelial cells and amplified by chronic bacterial infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, leads to progressive tissue destruction. The anti-inflammatory drugs presently utilized in cystic fibrosis patients have several limitations, indicating the need for identifying novel molecular targets. To address this issue, we preliminarily studied the association of 721 single-nucleotide polymorphisms from 135 genes potentially involved in signal transduction implicated in neutrophil recruitment in a cohort of F508del homozygous cystic fibrosis patients with either severe or mild progression of lung disease. The top ranking association was found for a nonsynonymous polymorphism of the phospholipase C beta 3 (PLCB3) gene. Studies in bronchial epithelial cells exposed to P.aeruginosa revealed that PLCB3 is implicated in extra cellular nucleotide–dependent intracellular calcium signaling, leading to activation of the protein kinase C alpha and beta and of the nuclear transcription factor NF-κB p65. The pro-inflammatory pathway regulated by PLCB3 acts by potentiating the Toll-like Receptors’ signaling cascade and represents an interesting molecular target to attenuate the excessive recruitment of neutrophils without completely abolishing the inflammatory response.
PMCID: PMC4166552  PMID: 21411730
2.  GBA2-Encoded β-Glucosidase Activity Is Involved in the Inflammatory Response to Pseudomonas aeruginosa 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104763.
Current anti-inflammatory strategies for the treatment of pulmonary disease in cystic fibrosis (CF) are limited; thus, there is continued interest in identifying additional molecular targets for therapeutic intervention. Given the emerging role of sphingolipids (SLs) in various respiratory disorders, including CF, drugs that selectively target the enzymes associated with SL metabolism are under development. Miglustat, a well-characterized iminosugar-based inhibitor of β-glucosidase 2 (GBA2), has shown promise in CF treatment because it reduces the inflammatory response to infection by P. aeruginosa and restores F508del-CFTR chloride channel activity. This study aimed to probe the molecular basis for the anti-inflammatory activity of miglustat by examining specifically the role of GBA2 following the infection of CF bronchial epithelial cells by P. aeruginosa. We also report the anti-inflammatory activity of another potent inhibitor of GBA2 activity, namely N-(5-adamantane-1-yl-methoxy)pentyl)-deoxynojirimycin (Genz-529648). In CF bronchial cells, inhibition of GBA2 by miglustat or Genz-529648 significantly reduced the induction of IL-8 mRNA levels and protein release following infection by P. aeruginosa. Hence, the present data demonstrate that the anti-inflammatory effects of miglustat and Genz-529648 are likely exerted through inhibition of GBA2.
PMCID: PMC4139313  PMID: 25141135
3.  Effects of decoy molecules targeting NF-kappaB transcription factors in Cystic fibrosis IB3–1 cells 
Artificial DNA, PNA & XNA  2012;3(2):97-296.
One of the clinical features of cystic fibrosis (CF) is a deep inflammatory process, which is characterized by production and release of cytokines and chemokines, among which interleukin 8 (IL-8) represents one of the most important. Accordingly, there is a growing interest in developing therapies against CF to reduce the excessive inflammatory response in the airways of CF patients. Since transcription factor NF-kappaB plays a critical role in IL-8 expression, the transcription factor decoy (TFD) strategy might be of interest. In order to demonstrate that TFD against NF-kappaB interferes with the NF-kappaB pathway we proved, by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) that treatment with TFD oligodeoxyribonucleotides of cystic fibrosis IB3–1 cells infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa leads to a decrease occupancy of the Il-8 gene promoter by NF-kappaB factors. In order to develop more stable therapeutic molecules, peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) based agents were considered. In this respect PNA-DNA-PNA (PDP) chimeras are molecules of great interest from several points of view: (1) they can be complexed with liposomes and microspheres; (2) they are resistant to DNases, serum and cytoplasmic extracts; (3) they are potent decoy molecules. By using electrophoretic mobility shift assay and RT-PCR analysis we have demonstrated that (1) the effects of PDP/PDP NF-kappaB decoy chimera on accumulation of pro-inflammatory mRNAs in P.aeruginosa infected IB3–1 cells reproduce that of decoy oligonucleotides; in particular (2) the PDP/PDP chimera is a strong inhibitor of IL-8 gene expression; (3) the effect of PDP/PDP chimeras, unlike those of ODN-based decoys, are observed even in the absence of protection with lipofectamine. These informations are of great impact, in our opinion, for the development of stable molecules to be used in non-viral gene therapy of cystic fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3429536  PMID: 22772035
NF-kappaB; transcription factor decoy; inflammation; Peptide Nucleic Acids; PNA-DNA chimeras
4.  Docking of molecules identified in bioactive medicinal plants extracts into the p50 NF-kappaB transcription factor: correlation with inhibition of NF-kappaB/DNA interactions and inhibitory effects on IL-8 gene expression 
The transcription factor NF-kappaB is a very interesting target molecule for the design on anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory and pro-apoptotic drugs. However, the application of the widely-used molecular docking computational method for the virtual screening of chemical libraries on NF-kappaB is not yet reported in literature. Docking studies on a dataset of 27 molecules from extracts of two different medicinal plants to NF-kappaB-p50 were performed with the purpose of developing a docking protocol fit for the target under study.
We enhanced the simple docking procedure by means of a sort of combined target- and ligand-based drug design approach. Advantages of this combination strategy, based on a similarity parameter for the identification of weak binding chemical entities, are illustrated in this work with the discovery of a new lead compound for NF-kappaB. Further biochemical analyses based on EMSA were performed and biological effects were tested on the compound exhibiting the best docking score. All experimental analysis were in fairly good agreement with molecular modeling findings.
The results obtained sustain the concept that the docking performance is predictive of a biochemical activity. In this respect, this paper represents the first example of successfully individuation through molecular docking simulations of a promising lead compound for the inhibition of NF-kappaB-p50 biological activity and modulation of the expression of the NF-kB regulated IL8 gene.
PMCID: PMC2543017  PMID: 18768082
5.  Interaction of Adenovirus Type 5 Fiber with the Coxsackievirus and Adenovirus Receptor Activates Inflammatory Response in Human Respiratory Cells▿  
Journal of Virology  2006;80(22):11241-11254.
The innate immune response to adenovirus (Ad)-derived gene transfer vectors has been shown to initiate immediately after interaction of Ad with respiratory epithelial cells, through the induction of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) and JNK mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), nuclear factor κB (NF-κB), and different proinflammatory genes. Ad serotypes 2 or 5 (Ad2/5) enter respiratory epithelia after initial binding of fiber with the coxsackievirus-adenovirus receptor (CAR) or, alternatively, with cell surface heparan sulfate glycosaminoglycans. Ad2/5 internalization is triggered by binding of penton base to cellular RGD-binding integrins. Here we investigated the role of the Ad5 surface domain proteins constituting the vector capsid, namely, the fiber, the penton base, and the hexon, on the transmembrane signals leading to the transcription of the different proinflammatory genes in the human respiratory A549 cell line. Interaction of Ad fiber with CAR activates both ERK1/2 and JNK MAPK and the nuclear translocation of NF-κB, whereas no activation was observed after exposing A549 cells to penton base and hexon proteins. Moreover, interaction of Ad fiber with CAR, but not heparan sulfate proteoglycans, promotes transcription of the chemokines interleukin-8, GRO-α, GRO-γ, RANTES, and interferon-inducible protein 10. These results identify the binding of Ad5 fiber with the cellular CAR as a key proinflammatory activation event in epithelial respiratory cells that is independent of the transcription of Ad5 genes.
PMCID: PMC1642173  PMID: 16956941

Results 1-5 (5)