Imaging of β-amyloid (Aβ) plaques in the brain may facilitate the diagnosis of cerebral β-amyloidosis, risk prediction of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and effectiveness of anti-amyloid therapies. The purpose of this study was to evaluate novel 123I-labeled pyridyl benzofuran derivatives as SPECT probes for Aβ imaging. The formation of a pyridyl benzofuran backbone was accomplished by Suzuki coupling. [123I/125I]-labeled pyridyl benzofuran derivatives were readily prepared by an iododestannylation reaction. In vitro Aβ binding assays were carried out using Aβ(1–42) aggregates and postmortem human brain sections. Biodistribution experiments were conducted in normal mice at 2, 10, 30, and 60 min postinjection. Aβ labeling in vivo was evaluated by small-animal SPECT/CT in Tg2576 transgenic mice injected with [123I]8. Ex vivo autoradiography of the brain sections was performed after SPECT/CT. Iodinated pyridyl benzofuran derivatives showed excellent affinity for Aβ(1–42) aggregates (2.4 to 10.3 nM) and intensely labeled Aβ plaques in autoradiographs of postmortem AD brain sections. In biodistribution experiments using normal mice, all these derivatives displayed high initial uptake (4.03–5.49% ID/g at 10 min). [125I]8 displayed the quickest clearance from the brain (1.30% ID/g at 60 min). SPECT/CT with [123I]8 revealed higher uptake of radioactivity in the Tg2576 mouse brain than the wild-type mouse brain. Ex vivo autoradiography showed in vivo binding of [123I]8 to Aβ plaques in the Tg2576 mouse brain. These combined results warrant further investigation of [123I]8 as a SPECT imaging agent for visualizing Aβ plaques in the AD brain.
Nucleus accumbens-1 (NAC1), a nuclear factor belonging to the BTB/POZ gene family, has emerging roles in cancer. We report here that NAC1 acts as a negative regulator of cellular senescence in transformed and non-transformed cells, and dysfunction of NAC1 induces senescence and inhibits its oncogenic potential. We show that NAC1 deficiency markedly activates senescence and inhibits proliferation in tumor cells treated with sub-lethal doses of γ-irradiation. In mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) from NAC1 knockout mice, following infection with a Ras virus, NAC1−/− cells undergo significantly more senescence and are either non- or less transformed in vitro and less tumorigenic in vivo when compared with NAC1+/+ cells. Furthermore, we show that the NAC1-caused senescence blunting is mediated by ΔNp63, which exerts its effect on senescence through p21, and that NAC1 activates transcription of ΔNp63 under stressful conditions. Our results not only reveal a previously unrecognized function of NAC1, the molecular pathway involved and its impact on pathogenesis of tumor initiation and development, but also identify a novel senescence regulator that may be exploited as a potential target for cancer prevention and treatment.
NAC1; senescence; ΔNp63; oncogene; tumorigenesis
Eukaryotic elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF-2K) is a Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent enzyme that negatively regulates protein synthesis. eEF-2K has been shown to be up-regulated in cancer, and to play an important role in cell survival through inhibition of protein synthesis. Post-translational modification of protein synthesis machinery is important for its regulation and could be critical for survival of cancer cells encountering stress. The purpose of our study was to examine the regulation of eEF-2K during stress with a focus on the roles of phosphorylation in determining the stability of eEF-2K. We found that stress conditions (nutrient deprivation and hypoxia) increase eEF-2K protein. mRNA levels are only transiently increased and shortly return to normal, while eEF-2K protein levels continue to increase after further exposure to stress. A seemingly paradoxical decrease in eEF-2K stability was found when glioma cells were subjected to stress despite increased protein expression. We further demonstrated that phosphorylation of eEF-2K differentially affects the enzyme’s turnover under both normal and stress conditions, as evidenced by the different half-lives of phosphorylation-defective mutants of eEF-2K. We further found that the eEF-2K site (Ser398) phosphorylated by AMPK is pivotal to the protein’s stability, as the half-life of S398A mutant increases to greater than 24 h under both normal and stress conditions. These data indicate that eEF-2K is regulated at multiple levels with phosphorylation playing a critical role in the enzyme’s turnover under stressful conditions. The complexity of eEF-2K phosphorylation highlights the intricacies of protein synthesis control during cellular stress.
eEF-2K; Phosphorylation; Enzyme stability; Protein synthesis; Glioblastoma; AMPK
Breast cancer resistance protein (Bcrp) is an ATP-dependent efflux drug transporter. It has a diverse spectrum of hydrophilic and hydrophobic substrates ranging from anticancer, antiviral and antihypertensive drugs, to organic anions, antibiotics, phytoestrogens (e.g., genistein, daidzein, coumestrol), xenoestrogens and steroids (e.g., dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate). Bcrp is an integral membrane protein in cancer and normal cells within multiple organs (e.g., brain, placenta, intestine and testis) that maintains cellular homeostasis by extruding drugs and harmful substances from the inside of cells. In the brain, Bcrp is a major component of the blood–brain barrier located on endothelial cells near tight junctions (TJs). However, Bcrp is absent at the Sertoli cell blood–testis barrier (BTB); instead, it is localized almost exclusively to the endothelial TJ in microvessels in the interstitium and the peritubular myoid cells in the tunica propria. Recent studies have shown that Bcrp is also expressed stage specifically and spatiotemporally by Sertoli and germ cells in the seminiferous epithelium of rat testes, limited only to a testis-specific cell adhesion ultrastructure known as the apical ectoplasmic specialisation (ES) in stage VI–early VIII tubules. These findings suggest that Bcrp is equipped by late spermatids and Sertoli cells to protect late-stage spermatids completing spermiogenesis. Furthermore, Bcrp was found to be associated with F (filamentous)-actin and several actin regulatory proteins at the apical ES and might be involved in the organisation of actin filaments at the apical ES in stage VII–VIII tubules. These findings will be carefully evaluated in this brief review.
actin filaments; breast cancer resistant protein; ectoplasmic specialisation; effux drug transporter; germ cells; Sertoli cells; spermatids; spermatogenesis; spermiogenesis; testis
RAI14 (retinoic acid induced protein 14) is an actin-binding protein first identified in the liver. In the testis, RAI14 is expressed by both Sertoli and germ cells in the seminiferous epithelium. Besides binding to actin in the testis, RAI14 is also a binding protein for palladin, an actin cross-linking and bundling protein. A recent report has shown that RAI14 displays stage-specific and spatiotemporal expression at the ES [ectoplasmic specialization, a testis-specific filamentous (F)-actin-rich adherens junction] in the seminiferous epithelium of adult rat testes during the epithelial cycle of spermatogenesis, illustrating its likely involvement in F-actin organization at the ES. Functional studies in which RAI14 was knocked down by RNAi in Sertoli cells in vitro and also in testicular cells in vivo have illustrated its role in conferring the integrity of actin filament bundles at the ES, perturbing the Sertoli cell tight junction (TJ)-pemeability barrier function in vitro, and also spermatid polarity and adhesion in vivo, thereby regulating spermatid transport at spermiation. Herein, we critically evaluate these earlier findings and also provide a likely hypothetic model based on the functional role of RAI14 at the ES, and how RAI14 is working with palladin and other actin regulatory proteins in the testis to regulate the transport of (1) spermatids and (2) preleptotene spermatocytes across the seminiferous epithelium and the blood-testis barrier (BTB), respectively, during spermatogenesis. This model should serve as a framework upon which functional experiments can be designed to better understand the biology of RAI14 and other actin-binding and regulatory proteins in the testis.
testis; RAI14; F-actin; spermatogenesis; ectoplasmic specialization; adherens junction; blood-testis barrier; spermatid adhesion
For non-hormonal male contraceptives that exert their effects in the testis locally instead of via the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis, such as adjudin that disrupts germ cell adhesion, a major hurdle in their development is to improve their bioavailability so that they can be efficiently delivered to the seminiferous epithelium by transporting across the blood-testis barrier (BTB). If this can be done, it would widen the gap between their efficacy and general toxicity. However, Sertoli cells that constitute the BTB, peritubular myoid cells in the tunica propria, germ cells at different stages of their development, as well as endothelial cells that constitute the microvessels in the interstitium are all equipped with multiple drug transporters, most notably efflux drug transporters, such as P-glycoprotein, multidrug resistance-related protein 1 (MRP1) and breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP) that can actively prevent drugs (e.g., adjudin) from entering the seminiferous epithelium to exert their effects. Recent studies have shown that BCRP is highly expressed by endothelial cells of the microvessels in the interstitium in the testis and also peritubular myoid cells in tunica propria even though it is absent from Sertoli cells at the site of the BTB. Furthermore, BCRP is also expressed spatiotemporally by Sertoli cells and step 19 spermatids in the rat testis and stage-specifically, limiting to stage VII‒VIII of the epithelial cycle, and restricted to the apical ectoplasmic specialization [apical ES, a testis-specific F-actin-rich adherens junction (AJ)]. Interestingly, adjudin was recently shown to be capable of downregulating BCRP expression at the apical ES. In this Opinion article, we critically discuss the latest findings on BCRP; in particular, we provide some findings utilizing molecular modeling to define the interacting domains of BCRP with adjudin. Based on this information, it is hoped that the next generation of adjudin analogs to be synthesized can improve their efficacy in downregulating BCRP and perhaps other drug efflux transporters in the testis to improve their efficacy to traverse the BTB by modifying their interacting domains.
testis; adjudin; male contraception; ectoplasmic specialization; Bcrp; spermatogenesis
Recent studies on genome assembly from short-read sequencing data reported the limitation of this technology to reconstruct the entire genome even at very high depth coverage. We investigated the limitation from the perspective of information theory to evaluate the effect of repeats on short-read genome assembly using idealized (error-free) reads at different lengths.
We define a metric H(k) to be the entropy of sequencing reads at a read length k and use the relative loss of entropy ΔH(k) to measure the impact of repeats for the reconstruction of whole-genome from sequences of length k. In our experiments, we found that entropy loss correlates well with de-novo assembly coverage of a genome, and a score of ΔH(k)>1% indicates a severe loss in genome reconstruction fidelity. The minimal read lengths to achieve ΔH(k)<1% are different for various organisms and are independent of the genome size. For example, in order to meet the threshold of ΔH(k)<1%, a read length of 60 bp is needed for the sequencing of human genome (3.2 109 bp) and 320 bp for the sequencing of fruit fly (1.8×108 bp). We also calculated the ΔH(k) scores for 2725 prokaryotic chromosomes and plasmids at several read lengths. Our results indicate that the levels of repeats in different genomes are diverse and the entropy of sequencing reads provides a measurement for the repeat structures.
The proposed entropy-based measurement, which can be calculated in seconds to minutes in most cases, provides a rapid quantitative evaluation on the limitation of idealized short-read genome sequencing. Moreover, the calculation can be parallelized to scale up to large euakryotic genomes. This approach may be useful to tune the sequencing parameters to achieve better genome assemblies when a closely related genome is already available.
The primary mechanism underlying pre-eclampsia (PE) remains one of the most burning problems in the obstetrics and gynecology. In this study, we performed an expression profiling screen and detected 1312 genes that were differentially expressed (p<0.05 and fold change >1.5) in PE placentas, including LEP and SH3PXD2A. After validating the microarray results, we conducted the quantitative methylation analysis of LEP and SH3PXD2A in preeclamptic (n = 16) versus normal placentas (n = 16). Our results showed that many CpG sites close to the transcriptional start site (TSS) of LEP gene were hypomethylated in placentas from pregnancies with PE compared with those of in controls, including the TSS position (p = 0.001), the binding sites of Sp1 (p = 1.57×10−4), LP1 (p = 0.023) and CEBPα (p = 0.031). Luciferase reporter analysis confirmed the aberrant methylation of LEP promoter and CEBPα co-transfection had a role in the regulation of gene expression. Our results indicated the aberrant LEP promoter methylation was involved in the development of PE. We did not find a significant methylation differences between groups in the promoter region of SH3PXD2A, however, a CGI region in the gene body (CGI34) presented a higher methylation in preeclamptic placentas (p = 1.57×10−4), which might promote the efficiency of gene transcription. We speculated that SH3PXD2A may take part in the pathogenesis of PE through its role in the regulation of trophoblast cell invasion in the period of placenta formation.
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved lysosomal self-digestion process involved in degradation of long-lived proteins and damaged organelles. In recent years, increasing evidence indicates that autophagy is associated with a number of pathological processes, including cancer. In this review, we focus on the recent studies of the evolutionarily conserved autophagy-related genes (ATGs) that are implicated in autophagosome formation and the pathways involved. We discuss several key autophagic mediators (eg, Beclin-1, UVRAG, Bcl-2, Class III and I PI3K, mTOR, and p53) that play pivotal roles in autophagic signaling networks in cancer. We discuss the Janus roles of autophagy in cancer and highlighted their relationship to tumor suppression and tumor progression. We also present some examples of targeting ATGs and several protein kinases as anticancer strategy, and discuss some autophagy-modulating agents as antitumor agents. A better understanding of the relationship between autophagy and cancer would ultimately allow us to harness autophagic pathways as new targets for drug discovery in cancer therapeutics.
autophagy; cancer; autophagy-related gene (ATG); Beclin-1; Bcl-2; Class III and I PI3K; mTOR; p53
Understanding and controlling the dynamic evolution of electrons in matter is among the most fundamental goals of attosecond science. While the most exotic behaviors can be found in complex systems, fast electron dynamics can be studied at the fundamental level in atomic systems, using moderately intense (≲103 W/cm2) lasers to control the electronic structure in proof-of-principle experiments. Here, we probe the transient changes in the absorption of an isolated attosecond extreme ultraviolet (XUV) pulse by helium atoms in the presence of a delayed, few-cycle near infrared (NIR) laser pulse, which uncovers absorption structures corresponding to laser-induced “virtual” intermediate states in the two-color two-photon (XUV+NIR) and three-photon (XUV+NIR+NIR) absorption process. These previously unobserved absorption structures are modulated on half-cycle (~1.3 fs) and quarter-cycle (~0.6 fs) timescales, resulting from quantum optical interference in the laser-driven atom.
Gefitinib, a small molecule inhibitor of the epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase, has been shown to induce autophagy as well as apoptosis in tumor cells. Yet, how to exploit autophagy and apoptosis to improve therapeutic efficacy of this drug against cancer remains to be explored. We reported here that MK-2206, a potent allosteric Akt inhibitor currently in Phase I trials in patients with solid tumors, could reinforce the cytocidal effect of gefitinib against glioma. We found that co-treatment with gefitinib and MK-2206 increased the cytotoxicity of this growth factor receptor inhibitor in the glioma cells, and the Compusyn synergism/antagonism analysis showed that MK-2206 acted synergistically with gefitinib. The benefit of the combinatorial treatment was also demonstrated in an intracranial glioma mouse model. In the presence of MK-2206, there was a significant increase in apoptosis in glioma cells treated with gefitinib. MK-2206 also augmented the autophagy-inducing effect of gefitinib, as evidenced by increased levels of the autophagy marker, LC3-II. Inhibition of autophagy by silencing of the key autophagy gene, beclin 1 or 3-MA, further increased the cytotoxicity of this combinatorial treatment, suggesting that autophagy induced by these agents plays a cytoprotective role. Notably, at 48 hours following the combinatorial treatment, the level of LC3-II began to decrease but Bim was significantly elevated, suggesting a switch from autophagy to apoptosis. Based on the synergistic effect of MK-2206 on gefitinib observed in this study, the combination of these two drugs may be utilized as a new therapeutic regimen for malignant glioma.
MK-2206; gefitinib; apoptosis; autophagy; glioblastoma
In the seminiferous epithelium of the mammalian testis, the most distinctive ultrastructure is the extensive bundles of actin filaments that lie near the Sertoli-spermatid interface and the Sertoli-Sertoli cell interface known as the apical ectoplasmic specialization (apical ES) and the basal ES, respectively. These actin filament bundles not only confer strong adhesion at these sites, they are uniquely found in the testis. Recent studies have shown that ES also confers spermatid and Sertoli cell polarity in the seminiferous epithelium during the epithelial cycle. While these junctions were first described in the 1970s, there are few functional studies in the literature to examine the regulation of these actin filament bundles. It is conceivable that these actin filament bundles at the ES undergo extensive re-organization to accommodate changes in location of developing spermatids during spermiogenesis as spermatids are transported across the seminiferous epithelium. Additionally, these actin filaments are rapidly reorganized during BTB restructuring to accommodate the transit of preleptotene spermatocytes across the barrier at stage VIII of the epithelial cycle. Thus, actin binding and regulatory proteins are likely involved in these events to confer changes in F-actin organization at these sites. Interestingly, there are no reports in the field to study these regulatory proteins until recently. Herein, we summarize some of the latest findings in the field regarding a novel actin cross-linker and actin-bundling protein called palladin. We also discuss in this opinion article the likely role of palladin in regulating actin filament bundles at the ES during spermatogenesis, highlighting the significant of palladin and how this protein is plausibly working in concert with other actin-binding/regulatory proteins and components of polarity proteins to regulate the cyclic events of actin organization and re-organization during the epithelial cycle of spermatogenesis. We also propose a hypothetic model by which palladin regulates ES restructuring during the epithelial cycle of spermatogenesis.
testis; spermatogenesis; seminiferous epithelial cycle; F-actin; ectoplasmic specialization; tight junction; blood-testis barrier; Sertoli cells
Thinner retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) has been reported in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patient. However, whether changes in RNFL thickness can predict the cognitive deterioration remains unknown. We therefore set out a prospective clinical investigation to determine the potential association between the attenuation of RNFL thickness and the deterioration of cognitive function over a period of 25 months. We assessed cognitive function using the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status and measured RNFL thickness employing optical coherence tomography in 78 participants (mean age 72.31 ± 3.98 years, 52% men). The participants were categorized as stable participants whose cognitive status remained no change (N = 60) and converted participants whose cognitive status deteriorated (N = 18). We found that there was an association between the attenuation of superior quadrant RNFL thickness and the deterioration of cognitive function in the stable participants. In the converted participants, however, there was an inverse association between the reduction of inferior quadrant RNFL thickness and decline of cognitive functions [scores of list recall (R = -0.670, P = 0.002), adjusted (R = -0.493, P = 0.031)]. These data showed that less reduction in the inferior quadrant of RNFL thickness might indicate a higher risk for the patients to develop cognitive deterioration. These findings have established a system to embark a larger scale study to further test whether changes in RNFL thickness can serve as a biomarker of AD, and would lead to mechanistic studies to determine the cellular mechanisms of cognitive deterioration.
biomarker; Alzheimer’s disease; mild cognitive impairment; dementia; retinal nerve fiber layer thickness; cognition
Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with various aging diseases. The copy number of mtDNA in human cells may therefore be a potential biomarker for diagnostics of aging. Here we propose a new computational method for the accurate assessment of mtDNA copies from whole genome sequencing data.
Two families of the human whole genome sequencing datasets from the HapMap and the 1000 Genomes projects were used for the accurate counting of mitochondrial DNA copy numbers. The results revealed the parental mitochondrial DNA copy numbers are significantly lower than that of their children in these samples. There are 8%~21% more copies of mtDNA in samples from the children than from their parents. The experiment demonstrated the possible correlations between the quantity of mitochondrial DNA and aging-related diseases.
Since the next-generation sequencing technology strives to deliver affordable and non-biased sequencing results, accurate assessment of mtDNA copy numbers can be achieved effectively from the output of whole genome sequencing. We implemented the method as a software package MitoCounter with the source code and user's guide available to the public at http://sourceforge.net/projects/mitocounter/.
Elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF-2 kinase, also known as calmodulin-dependent protein kinase III), is a unique calcium/calmodulin-dependent enzyme that inhibits protein synthesis by phosphorylating and inactivating elongation factor-2 (eEF-2). We previously reported that expression/activity of eEF-2 kinase was up-regulated in several types of malignancies including Gliomas, and was associated with response of tumor cells to certain therapeutic stress. In the current study, we sought to determine whether eEF-2 kinase expression affected sensitivity of glioma cells to treatment with tumor the necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), a targeted therapy able to induce apoptosis in cancer cells but causes no toxicity in most normal cells. We found that inhibition of eEF-2 kinase by RNA interference (RNAi) or by a pharmacological inhibitor (NH125) enhanced TRAIL-induced apoptosis in the human glioma cells, as evidenced by an increase in apoptosis in the tumor cells treated with eEF-2 kinase siRNA or the eEF-2 kinase inhibitor. We further demonstrated that sensitization of tumor cells to TRAIL was accompanied by a down-regulation of the anti-apoptotic protein, Bcl-xL, and that overexpression of Bcl-xL could abrogate the sensitizing effect of inhibiting eEF-2 kinase on TRAIL. The results of this study may help devise a new therapeutic strategy for enhancing the efficacy of TRAIL against malignant glioma by targeting eEF-2 kinase.
eEF-2 kinase; TRAIL; Bcl-xl; apoptosis; glioblastoma
Reports of influenza A virus infections in dogs has received considerable attention from veterinarians, virologists, and epidemiologists. Interaction between influenza viral hemagglutinin and cell oligosaccharides containing sialic acid residues results in infection. Sialic acids have an α-2,3-linkage to the penultimate galactose in the avian influenza virus receptor and an α-2,6-linkage in the human receptor. To date, there are no detailed data on the tissue distribution or histological features of either type of sialic acid-linked influenza virus receptors in beagle dogs, which are common laboratory animals and pets. We conducted the current study to visualize the in situ tissue distribution of both sialic acid-linked influenza virus receptors in various organs of beagle dogs using Maackia amurensis lectin II and Sambucus nigra agglutinin. Both α-2,3- and α-2,6-sialic acid-linked receptors were detected in the endothelial cells of the respiratory tract and other organs. Endothelial cells of most gastrointestinal organs were negative for α-2,3-sialic acid-linked receptors in the dogs. Our results suggested that these canine organs may be affected by influenza virus infection. The findings from our study will also help evaluate the occurrence and development of influenza virus infections in dogs.
dogs; influenza virus receptors; lectin; sialic acid
Nucleus accumbens-1 (NAC1), a nuclear factor belonging to the BTB/POZ gene family, is known to play important roles in proliferation and growth of tumor cells and in chemotherapy resistance. Yet, the mechanisms underlying how NAC1 contributes to drug resistance remain largely unclear. We reported here that autophagy was involved in NAC1-mediated resistance to cisplatin, a commonly used chemotherapeutic drug in the treatment of ovarian cancer. We found that treatment with cisplatin caused an activation of autophagy in ovarian cancer cell lines, A2780, OVCAR3, and SKOV3. We further demonstrated that knockdown of NAC1 by RNAi or inactivation of NAC1 by inducing the expression of a NAC1 deletion mutant that contains only the BTB/POZ domain significantly inhibited the cisplatin-induced autophagy, resulting in increased cisplatin cytotoxicity. Moreover, inhibition of autophagy and sensitization to cisplatin by NAC1 knockdown or inactivation were accompanied by induction of apoptosis. To confirm that the sensitizing effect of NAC1 inhibition on the cytotoxicity of cisplatin was attributed to suppression of autophagy, we assessed the effects of the autophagy inhibitors, 3-MA and chloroquine, and siRNAs targeting beclin 1 or Atg5, on the cytotoxicity of cisplatin. Treatment with 3-MA, chloroquine or beclin 1 and Atg5-targeted siRNA also enhanced the sensitivity of SKOV3, A2780 and OVCAR3 cells to cisplatin, indicating that suppression of autophagy indeed renders tumor cells more sensitive to cisplatin. Regulation of autophagy by NAC1 was mediated via high mobility group box1 (HMGB1), as the functional status of NAC1 was associated with the expression, translocation and release of HMGB1. The results of our study not only revealed a new mechanism determining cisplatin sensitivity, but also identified NAC1 as a novel regulator of autophagy. Thus, the NAC1- mediated autophagy may be exploited as a new target for enhancing the efficacy of cisplatin against ovarian cancer and other types of malignancies.
NAC1; autophagy; apoptosis; HMGB1; cisplatin; ovarian cancer
AIM: To investigate the expression of chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans (CSPGs) in rat liver tissues of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
METHODS: Thirty male Sprague Dawley rats were randomly divided into two groups: control group (n = 10) and HCC model group (n = 20). Rats in the HCC model groups were intragastrically administrated with 0.2% (w/v) N-diethylnitrosamine (DEN) every 5 d for 16 wk, whereas 0.9% (w/v) normal saline was administered to rats in the control group. After 16 wk from the initiation of experiment, all rats were killed and livers were collected and fixed in 4% (w/v) paraformaldehyde. All tissues were embedded in paraffin and sectioned. Histological staining (hematoxylin and eosin and Toluidine blue) was performed to demonstrate the onset of HCC and the content of sulphated glycosaminoglycan (sGAG). Immunohistochemical staining was performed to investigate the expression of chondroitin sulphate (CS)/dermatan sulphate (DS)-GAG, heparan sulphate (HS)-GAG, keratan sulphate (KS)-GAG in liver tissues. Furthermore, expression and distribution of CSPG family members, including aggrecan, versican, biglycan and decorin in liver tissues, were also immunohistochemically determined.
RESULTS: After 16 wk administration of DEN, malignant nodules were observed on the surface of livers from the HCC model group, and their hepatic lobule structures appeared largely disrupted under microscope. Toluidine blue staining demonstrated that there was an significant increase in sGAG content in HCC tissues when compared with that in the normal liver tissues from the control group [0.37 ± 0.05 integrated optical density per stained area (IOD/area) and 0.21 ± 0.01 IOD/area, P < 0.05]. Immunohistochemical studies demonstrated that this increased sGAG in HCC tissues was induced by an elevated expression of CS/DS (0.28 ± 0.02 IOD/area and 0.18 ± 0.02 IOD/area, P < 0.05) and HS (0.30 ± 0.03 IOD/area and 0.17 ± 0.02 IOD/area, P < 0.01) but not KS GAGs in HCC tissues. Further studies thereby were performed to investigate the expression and distribution of several CSPG components in HCC tissues, including aggrecan, versican, biglycan and decorin. Interestingly, there was a distinct distribution pattern for these CSPG components between HCC tissues and the normal tissues. Positive staining of aggrecan, biglycan and decorin was localized in hepatic membrane and/or pericellular matrix in normal liver tissues; however, their expression was mainly observed in the cytoplasm, cell membranes in hepatoma cells and/or pericellular matrix within HCC tissues. Semi-quantitative analysis indicated that there was a higher level of expression of aggrecan (0.43 ± 0.01 and 0.35 ± 0.03, P < 0.05), biglycan (0.32 ± 0.01 and 0.25 ± 0.01, P < 0.001) and decorin (0.29 ± 0.01 and 0.26 ± 0.01, P < 0.05) in HCC tissues compared with that in the normal liver tissues. Very weak versican positive staining was observed in hepatocytes near central vein in normal liver tissues; however there was an intensive versican distribution in fibrosis septa between the hepatoma nodules. Semi-quantitative analysis indicated that the positive rate of versican in hepatoma tissues from the HCC model group was much higher than that in the control group (33.61% and 21.28%, P < 0.05). There was no positive staining in lumican and keratocan, two major KSPGs, in either normal or HCC liver tissues.
CONCLUSION: CSPGs play important roles in the onset and progression of HCC, and may provide potential therapeutic targets and clinical biomarkers for this prevalent tumor in humans.
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Proteoglycan; Chondroitin sulphate; Heparan sulphate; Keratan sulphate
Eukaryotic elongation factor-2 (eEF-2) kinase, also known as calmodulin-dependent protein kinase III, is a unique calcium/calmodulin-dependent enzyme. eEF-2 kinase can act as a negative regulator of protein synthesis and a positive regulator of autophagy under environmental or metabolic stresses. Akt, a key downstream effector of the PI3K signaling pathway that regulates cell survival and proliferation, is an attractive therapeutic target for anticancer treatment. Akt inhibition leads to activation of both apoptosis, type I programmed cell death and autophagy, a cellular degradation process via lysosomal machinery (also termed type II programmed cell death). However, the underlying mechanisms that dictate functional relationship between autophagy and apoptosis in response to Akt inhibition remain to be delineated. Our recent study demonstrated that inhibition of eEF-2 kinase can suppress autophagy but promote apoptosis in tumor cells subjected to Akt inhibition, indicating a role of eEF-2 kinase as a controller in the crosstalk between autophagy and apoptosis. Furthermore, inhibition of eEF-2 kinase can reinforce the efficacy of a novel Akt inhibitor, MK-2206, against human glioma. These findings may help optimize the use of Akt inhibitors in the treatment of cancer and other diseases.
eEF-2 kinase; Akt; autophagy; apoptosis; MK-2206; cancer treatment
Previously, we reported that retigeric acid B (RB), a natural pentacyclic triterpenic acid isolated from lichen, inhibited cell growth and induced apoptosis in androgen-independent prostate cancer (PCa) cells. However, the mechanism of action of RB remains unclear. In this study, we found that using PC3 and DU145 cells as models, RB inhibited phosphorylation levels of IκBα and p65 subunit of NF-κB in a time- and dosage-dependent manner. Detailed study revealed that RB blocked the nuclear translocation of p65 and its DNA binding activity, which correlated with suppression of NF-κB-regulated proteins including Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, cyclin D1 and survivin. NF-κB reporter assay suggested that RB was able to inhibit both constitutive activated-NF-κB and LPS (lipopolysaccharide)-induced activation of NF-κB. Overexpression of RelA/p65 rescued RB-induced cell death, while knockdown of RelA/p65 significantly promoted RB-mediated inhibitory effect on cell proliferation, suggesting the crucial involvement of NF-κB pathway in this event. We further analyzed antitumor activity of RB in in vivo study. In C57BL/6 mice carrying RM-1 homografts, RB inhibited tumor growth and triggered apoptosis mainly through suppressing NF-κB activity in tumor tissues. Additionally, DNA microarray data revealed global changes in the gene expression associated with cell proliferation, apoptosis, invasion and metastasis in response to RB treatment. Therefore, our findings suggested that RB exerted its anti-tumor effect by targeting the NF-κB pathway in PCa cells, and this could be a general mechanism for the anti-tumor effect of RB in other types of cancers as well.
The DNA alkylating agent temozolomide (TMZ) is widely used in the treatment of human malignancies such as glioma and melanoma. On the basis of previous structure-activity studies, we recently synthesized a new TMZ selenium analog by rationally introducing an N-ethylselenocyanate extension to the amide functionality in TMZ structure.
This TMZ-Se analog showed a superior cytotoxicity to TMZ in human glioma and melanoma cells and a more potent tumor-inhibiting activity than TMZ in mouse glioma and melanoma xenograft model. TMZ-Se was also effective against a TMZ-resistant glioma cell line. To explore the mechanism underlying the superior antitumor activity of TMZ-Se, we compared the effects of TMZ and TMZ-Se on apoptosis and autophagy. Apoptosis was significantly increased in tumor cells treated with TMZ-Se in comparison to those treated with TMZ. TMZ-Se also triggered greater autophagic response, as compared with TMZ, and suppressing autophagy partly rescued cell death induced by TMZ-Se, indicating that TMZ-Se-triggered autophagy contributed to cell death. Although mRNA level of the key autophagy gene, Beclin 1, was increased, Beclin 1 protein was down-regulated in the cells treated with TMZ-Se. The decrease in Beclin 1 following TMZ-Se treatment were rescued by the calpain inhibitors and the calpain-mediated degradation of Beclin1 had no effect on autophagy but promoted apoptosis in cells treated with TMZ-Se.
Our study indicates that incorporation of Se into TMZ can render greater potency to this chemotherapeutic drug.
Inhibition of the survival kinase Akt can trigger apoptosis but also has been found to activate autophagy, which may confound tumor attack. In this study, we investigated regulatory mechanisms through which apoptosis and autophagy were modulated in tumor cells subjected to Akt inhibition by MK-2206, the first allosteric small molecule inhibitor of Akt to enter clinical development. In human glioma cells, Akt inhibition by MK-2206 or siRNA-mediated attenuation strongly activated autophagy, whereas silencing of eukaryotic elongation factor-2 (eEF-2) kinase, a protein synthesis regulator, blunted this autophagic response. Suppression of MK-2206-induced autophagy by eEF-2 silencing was accompanied by a promotion of apoptotic cell death. Similarly, siRNA-mediated inhibition of eEF-2 kinase potentiated the efficacy of MK-2206 against glioma cells. Together, these results demonstrated that blunting autophagy and augmenting apoptosis by inhibition of eEF-2 kinase could modulate the sensitivity of glioma cells to Akt inhibition. Our findings suggest that targeting eEF-2 kinase may reinforce the anti-tumor efficacy of Akt inhibitors such as MK-2206.
Elongation factor-2 kinase; Akt; Autophagy; Apoptosis; MK-2206; Glioblastoma
Whether healthy older people can benefit from cognitive training (CogTr) remains controversial. This study explored the benefits of CogTr in community dwelling, healthy, older adults and compared the effects of single-domain with multi-domain CogTr interventions.
A randomized, controlled, 3-month trial of CogTr with double-blind assessments at baseline and immediate, 6-month and 12-month follow-up after training completion was conducted. A total of 270 healthy Chinese older people, 65 to 75 years old, were recruited from the Ganquan-area community in Shanghai. Participants were randomly assigned to three groups: multi-domain CogTr, single-domain CogTr, and a wait-list control group. Twenty-four sessions of CogTr were administrated to the intervention groups over a three-month period. Six months later, three booster training sessions were offered to 60% of the initial training participants. The Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS, Form A), the Color Word Stroop test (CWST), the Visual Reasoning test and the Trail Making test (TMT) were used to assess cognitive function.
Multi-domain CogTr produced statistically significant training effects on RBANS, visual reasoning, and immediate and delayed memory, while single-domain CogTr showed training effects on RBANS, visual reasoning, word interference, and visuospatial/constructional score (all P < 0.05). At the 12-month posttest, the multi-domain CogTr showed training effects on RBANS, delayed memory and visual reasoning, while single-domain CogTr only showed effects on word interference. Booster training resulted in effects on RBANS, visual reasoning, time of trail making test, and visuospatial/constructional index score.
Cognitive training can improve memory, visual reasoning, visuospatial construction, attention and neuropsychological status in community-living older people and can help maintain their functioning over time. Multi-domain CogTr enhanced memory proficiency, while single-domain CogTr augmented visuospatial/constructional and attention abilities. Multi-domain CogTr had more advantages in training effect maintenance.
Clinical Trial Registration
Chinese Clinical Trial Registry. Registration number: ChiCTR-TRC-09000732.
AIM: To investigate the genetic characteristics and pathogenicity of hepatitis E virus (HEV) and assess the potential risk factors for sporadic hepatitis E.
METHODS: Sixty-two serum samples from the patients with acute hepatitis E were collected, including 23 cases coinfected with hepatitis B virus. Anti-HEV detection and partial HEV RNA amplification were performed by enzyme immunoassays and reverse transcription-nested polymerase chain reaction (RT-nPCR) method, respectively, and PCR products were sequenced. The isolated human HEV sequences were analyzed phylogenetically.
RESULTS: The positive rate of serum HEV RNA were 21.0% (13/62), including 5 cases of liver failure. All the 13 isolates shared a 82.1%-98.0% nucleotide homology with each other and had identities of 74.7%-81.0%, 75.3%-78.6%, 75.3%-80.0% and 82.1%-96.1% with the corresponding regions of HEV genotypes 1-4, respectively. The human HEV strain GS-NJ-12 shared a 100% nucleotide identity with the swine HEV strain swIM6-43 isolated from Inner Mongolia, China.
CONCLUSION: Swine may be a principal risk factor for occurrence of sporadic hepatitis E in eastern China, and genotype 4 HEV can induce acute liver failure.
Genotype; Hepatitis E virus; Liver failure; Zoonotic transmission; Pathogenicity