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1.  Expansion of Hepatic Stem Cell Compartment Boosts Liver Regeneration 
Stem Cells and Development  2013;23(1):56-65.
The hepatic stem cells reside periportally forming the canals of Hering in normal liver. They can be identified by their unique immunophenotype in rat. The oval cells, the progenies of stem cells invade deep the liver parenchyma after activation and differentiate into focally arranged small—and eventually trabecularly ordered regular hepatocytes. We have observed that upon the completion of intense oval cell reactions narrow ductular structures are present in the parenchyma, we propose to call them parenchymal ductules. These parenchymal ductules have the same immunophenotype [cytokeratin (CK)7−/CK19+/alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)−/delta-like protein (DLK)−] as the resting stem cells of the canals of Hering, but different from them reside scattered in the parenchyma. In our present experiments, we have investigated in an in vivo functional assay if the presence of these parenchymal ductules has any impact on a progenitor cell driven regeneration process. Parenchymal ductules were induced either by an established model of oval cell induction consisting of the administration of necrogenic dose of carbontetrachloride to 2-acetaminofluorene pretreated rats (AAF/CCl4) or a large necrogenic dose of diethylnitrosamine (DEN). The oval cells expanded faster and the foci evolved earlier after repeated injury in the livers with preexistent parenchymal ductules. When the animals were left to survive for one more year increased liver tumor formation was observed exclusively in the DEN treated rats. Thus, repeated oval cell reactions are not necessarily carcinogenic. We conclude that the expansion of hepatic stem cell compartment conceptually can be used to facilitate liver regeneration without an increased risk of tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC3870598  PMID: 23952741
2.  Risk of uncomplicated peptic ulcer disease in a cohort of new users of low-dose acetylsalicylic acid for secondary prevention of cardiovascular events 
BMC Gastroenterology  2014;14(1):205.
The aim of this study was to analyse the risk of uncomplicated peptic ulcer disease (PUD) in a cohort of new users of low-dose acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) for secondary prevention of cardiovascular events in a UK primary care setting.
New users of low-dose ASA for secondary prevention of cardiovascular events, aged 50-84 years in 2000-2007, were identified from The Health Improvement Network. Among those 38,975 individuals, 309 patients were considered to be incident cases of uncomplicated PUD. Incidence of uncomplicated PUD was calculated and a nested case–control analysis adjusted for potential confounding factors was performed to calculate the odds ratios (ORs) for the association of potential risk factors with uncomplicated PUD.
The crude incidence of uncomplicated PUD was 1.41 per 1000 person-years (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.26-1.58). Individuals with a history of PUD were more likely to develop uncomplicated PUD than those without such a history (hazard ratio [HR], 2.22, 95% CI, 1.60-3.09). In nested case–control analyses, the risk of uncomplicated PUD was associated with current use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, oral steroids or acid suppressants. Other risk factors for developing uncomplicated PUD included smoking, stress, depression, anaemia and social deprivation.
Our results indicate that several risk factors significantly increase the risk of development of uncomplicated PUD in new users of low-dose ASA. Therefore, physicians should monitor ASA users for gastrointestinal symptoms and signs of ulcer, particularly if they have additional risk factors.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12876-014-0205-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4272555  PMID: 25492031
Acetylsalicylic acid; Nested case–control study; Uncomplicated peptic ulcer disease
3.  Risk Factors Associated with Uncomplicated Peptic Ulcer and Changes in Medication Use after Diagnosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101768.
Few epidemiologic studies have investigated predictors of uncomplicated peptic ulcer disease (PUD) separately from predictors of complicated PUD.
To analyze risk factors associated with uncomplicated PUD and medication use after diagnosis.
Patients diagnosed with uncomplicated PUD (n = 3,914) were identified from The Health Improvement Network database among individuals aged 40–84 years during 1997–2005, with no previous history of PUD. Prescription records for the year after the date of diagnosis were reviewed and a nested case–control analysis was performed to calculate the odds ratios for the association of potential risk factors with PUD.
Medications associated with developing uncomplicated PUD included current use of acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), paracetamol, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, antidepressants, antihypertensives or acid suppressants. Uncomplicated PUD was significantly associated with being a current or former smoker and having had a score of at least 3 on the Townsend deprivation index. Approximately 50% of patients who were users of ASA (19% of patients) or chronic users of NSAIDs (7% of patients) at diagnosis did not receive another prescription of the medication in the 60 days after diagnosis, and 30% were not represcribed therapy within a year. Among patients who were current users of ASA or chronic NSAIDs at the time of the PUD diagnosis and received a subsequent prescription for their ASA or NSAID during the following year, the vast majority (80–90%) also received a proton pump inhibitor coprescription.
Our results indicate that several risk factors for upper gastrointestinal bleeding are also predictors of uncomplicated PUD, and that some patients do not restart therapy with ASA or NSAIDs after a diagnosis of uncomplicated PUD. Further investigation is needed regarding the consequences for these patients in terms of increased cardiovascular burden due to discontinuation of antiplatelet therapy.
PMCID: PMC4086954  PMID: 25003908
4.  Interaction of the HOPS complex with Syntaxin 17 mediates autophagosome clearance in Drosophila 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(8):1338-1354.
Interaction of the autophagosomal SNARE Syntaxin 17 (Syx17) with the homotypic fusion and vacuole protein–sorting (HOPS) tethering complex is necessary for the fusion of autophagosomes with lysosomes. HOPS, but not Syx17, is also required for endocytic degradation and biosynthetic transport to lysosomes and eye pigment granules.
Homotypic fusion and vacuole protein sorting (HOPS) is a tethering complex required for trafficking to the vacuole/lysosome in yeast. Specific interaction of HOPS with certain SNARE (soluble NSF attachment protein receptor) proteins ensures the fusion of appropriate vesicles. HOPS function is less well characterized in metazoans. We show that all six HOPS subunits (Vps11 [vacuolar protein sorting 11]/CG32350, Vps18/Dor, Vps16A, Vps33A/Car, Vps39/CG7146, and Vps41/Lt) are required for fusion of autophagosomes with lysosomes in Drosophila. Loss of these genes results in large-scale accumulation of autophagosomes and blocks autophagic degradation under basal, starvation-induced, and developmental conditions. We find that HOPS colocalizes and interacts with Syntaxin 17 (Syx17), the recently identified autophagosomal SNARE required for fusion in Drosophila and mammals, suggesting their association is critical during tethering and fusion of autophagosomes with lysosomes. HOPS, but not Syx17, is also required for endocytic down-regulation of Notch and Boss in developing eyes and for proper trafficking to lysosomes and eye pigment granules. We also show that the formation of autophagosomes and their fusion with lysosomes is largely unaffected in null mutants of Vps38/UVRAG (UV radiation resistance associated), a suggested binding partner of HOPS in mammals, while endocytic breakdown and lysosome biogenesis is perturbed. Our results establish the role of HOPS and its likely mechanism of action during autophagy in metazoans.
PMCID: PMC3982998  PMID: 24554766
5.  The Putative HORMA Domain Protein Atg101 Dimerizes and Is Required for Starvation-Induced and Selective Autophagy in Drosophila 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:470482.
The large-scale turnover of intracellular material including organelles is achieved by autophagy-mediated degradation in lysosomes. Initiation of autophagy is controlled by a protein kinase complex consisting of an Atg1-family kinase, Atg13, FIP200/Atg17, and the metazoan-specific subunit Atg101. Here we show that loss of Atg101 impairs both starvation-induced and basal autophagy in Drosophila. This leads to accumulation of protein aggregates containing the selective autophagy cargo ref(2)P/p62. Mapping experiments suggest that Atg101 binds to the N-terminal HORMA domain of Atg13 and may also interact with two unstructured regions of Atg1. Another HORMA domain-containing protein, Mad2, forms a conformational homodimer. We show that Drosophila Atg101 also dimerizes, and it is predicted to fold into a HORMA domain. Atg101 interacts with ref(2)P as well, similar to Atg13, Atg8a, Atg16, Atg18, Keap1, and RagC, a known regulator of Tor kinase which coordinates cell growth and autophagy. These results raise the possibility that the interactions and dimerization of the putative HORMA domain protein Atg101 play critical roles in starvation-induced autophagy and proteostasis, by promoting the formation of protein aggregate-containing autophagosomes.
PMCID: PMC4034400  PMID: 24895579
6.  Kinetics and Mechanisms of Thiol–Disulfide Exchange Covering Direct Substitution and Thiol Oxidation-Mediated Pathways 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2013;18(13):1623-1641.
Significance: Disulfides are important building blocks in the secondary and tertiary structures of proteins, serving as inter- and intra-subunit cross links. Disulfides are also the major products of thiol oxidation, a process that has primary roles in defense mechanisms against oxidative stress and in redox regulation of cell signaling. Although disulfides are relatively stable, their reduction, isomerisation, and interconversion as well as their production reactions are catalyzed by delicate enzyme machineries, providing a dynamic system in biology. Redox homeostasis, a thermodynamic parameter that determines which reactions can occur in cellular compartments, is also balanced by the thiol–disulfide pool. However, it is the kinetic properties of the reactions that best represent cell dynamics, because the partitioning of the possible reactions depends on kinetic parameters. Critical Issues: This review is focused on the kinetics and mechanisms of thiol–disulfide substitution and redox reactions. It summarizes the challenges and advances that are associated with kinetic investigations in small molecular and enzymatic systems from a rigorous chemical perspective using biological examples. The most important parameters that influence reaction rates are discussed in detail. Recent Advances and Future Directions: Kinetic studies of proteins are more challenging than small molecules, and quite often investigators are forced to sacrifice the rigor of the experimental approach to obtain the important kinetic and mechanistic information. However, recent technological advances allow a more comprehensive analysis of enzymatic systems via using the systematic kinetics apparatus that was developed for small molecule reactions, which is expected to provide further insight into the cell's machinery. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 18, 1623–1641.
PMCID: PMC3613173  PMID: 23075118
7.  Recurrence of primary sclerosing cholangitis after liver transplantation – The Hungarian experience 
Recurrence of primary sclerosing cholangitis (rPSC) after liver transplantation (OLT) significantly affects long-term graft survival. We aimed to evaluate the incidence of rPSC and clinical data of these patients in Hungary.
Patients and Methods
We retrospectively analyzed data of 511 whole liver transplantations from 1995 to 2011. During the study period, 49 OLTs were performed in 43 adult patients with end-stage PSC (10%).
Out of 49 OLT, 24 cases were excluded, rPSC was diagnosed in six patients (12%). Patients with rPSC had significantly higher mortality (p = 0.009) and graft loss (p = 0.009) in comparison to patients without recurrent disease. Younger recipient age, higher donor BMI was observed in the rPSC group. One patient was diagnosed with de novo IBD, the remaining five patients had worsening IBD activity in the posttransplant period. PreOLT colectomy was performed in 21% of the control and none of the rPSC group. PostOLT colectomy was performed in two rPSC patients due to severe therapy resistant colitis.
Recurrent PSC significantly affects long-term mortality and graft loss. Younger age at OLT, higher donor BMI and severe active IBD may be associated with PSC recurrence. PreOLT total colectomy might have protective effect against rPSC.
PMCID: PMC3955810  PMID: 24672670
disease recurrence; inflammatory bowel disease; liver transplantation; primary sclerosing cholangitis
8.  Different effects of Atg2 and Atg18 mutations on Atg8a and Atg9 trafficking during starvation in Drosophila☆ 
Febs Letters  2014;588(3):408-413.
•Atg9 and Atg18 are required for autophagy upstream of Atg8a, unlike Atg2.•Atg9 accumulates on Ref(2)P aggregates in Atg8a, Atg7 and Atg2 mutants.•Ultrastructurally, Atg9 vesicles cluster around Ref(2)P aggregates in stalled PAS.•Atg9 does not accumulate on Ref(2)P upon loss of Atg18 or Vps34, while FIP200 does.•Atg18 simultaneously interacts with both Atg9 and Ref(2)P.
The Atg2–Atg18 complex acts in parallel to Atg8 and regulates Atg9 recycling from phagophore assembly site (PAS) during autophagy in yeast. Here we show that in Drosophila, both Atg9 and Atg18 are required for Atg8a puncta formation, unlike Atg2. Selective autophagic degradation of ubiquitinated proteins is mediated by Ref(2)P/p62. The transmembrane protein Atg9 accumulates on refractory to Sigma P (Ref(2)P) aggregates in Atg7, Atg8a and Atg2 mutants. No accumulation of Atg9 is seen on Ref(2)P in cells lacking Atg18 or Vps34 lipid kinase function, while the Atg1 complex subunit FIP200 is recruited. The simultaneous interaction of Atg18 with both Atg9 and Ref(2)P raises the possibility that Atg18 may facilitate selective degradation of ubiquitinated protein aggregates by autophagy.
Structured summary of protein interactions
Ref(2)Pphysically interacts with Atg18 by anti tag coimmunoprecipitation (View interaction) Atg18physically interacts with Atg2 by anti tag coimmunoprecipitation (View interaction) CG8678physically interacts with Atg2 by anti tag coimmunoprecipitation (View interaction) Atg18physically interacts with atg9 by anti tag coimmunoprecipitation (View interaction)
PMCID: PMC3928829  PMID: 24374083
Atg, autophagy-related; PAS, phagophore assembly site; PI3P, phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate; Ref(2)P, refractory to Sigma P; ULK, uncoordinated-51 like autophagy kinase; Vps, vacuolar protein sorting; WIPI, WD40 repeat domain phosphoinositide-interacting protein; Atg2; Atg7; Atg8a; Atg9; Atg18; Ref(2)P/p62
9.  Nitrosopersulfide (SSNO−) accounts for sustained NO bioactivity of S-nitrosothiols following reaction with sulfide☆ 
Redox Biology  2014;2:234-244.
Sulfide salts are known to promote the release of nitric oxide (NO) from S-nitrosothiols and potentiate their vasorelaxant activity, but much of the cross-talk between hydrogen sulfide and NO is believed to occur via functional interactions of cell regulatory elements such as phosphodiesterases. Using RFL-6 cells as an NO reporter system we sought to investigate whether sulfide can also modulate nitrosothiol-mediated soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) activation following direct chemical interaction. We find a U-shaped dose response relationship where low sulfide concentrations attenuate sGC stimulation by S-nitrosopenicillamine (SNAP) and cyclic GMP levels are restored at equimolar ratios. Similar results are observed when intracellular sulfide levels are raised by pre-incubation with the sulfide donor, GYY4137. The outcome of direct sulfide/nitrosothiol interactions also critically depends on molar reactant ratios and is accompanied by oxygen consumption. With sulfide in excess, a ‘yellow compound’ accumulates that is indistinguishable from the product of solid-phase transnitrosation of either hydrosulfide or hydrodisulfide and assigned to be nitrosopersulfide (perthionitrite, SSNO−; λmax 412 nm in aqueous buffers, pH 7.4; 448 nm in DMF). Time-resolved chemiluminescence and UV–visible spectroscopy analyses suggest that its generation is preceded by formation of the short-lived NO-donor, thionitrite (SNO−). In contrast to the latter, SSNO− is rather stable at physiological pH and generates both NO and polysulfides on decomposition, resulting in sustained potentiation of SNAP-induced sGC stimulation. Thus, sulfide reacts with nitrosothiols to form multiple bioactive products; SSNO− rather than SNO− may account for some of the longer-lived effects of nitrosothiols and contribute to sulfide and NO signaling.
Graphical abstract
•Sulfide modulates the bioactivity of nitrosothiols in a concentration-dependent manner.•Nitrosopersulfide anions (SSNO−) accumulate at high sulfide/RSNO ratios.•SSNO− releases NO and is surprisingly stable in the presence of reduced thiols.•SSNO− is a potent activator of soluble guanylyl cyclase.•SSNO− is likely to contribute to NO and hydrogen sulfide/polysulfide signaling.
PMCID: PMC3909780  PMID: 24494198
DMF, dimetylformamide; DMSO, dimethylsulfoxide; CysNO, S-nitrosocysteine; GSNO, S-nitrosoglutathione; IPN, isopentyl nitrite; NO, nitric oxide; NO+, nitrosonium; SSNO−, nitrosopersulfide, perthionitrite, PDE, phopsphodiesterase; RFL-6, rat fibroblastoid-like cell line; sGC, soluble guanylyl cyclase; SNO−, thionitrite; SNAP, S-nitrosopenicillamine; Hydrogen sulfide; Nitric oxide; Polysulfides; cGMP; HSNO; Nitroxyl
10.  Atg17/FIP200 localizes to perilysosomal Ref(2)P aggregates and promotes autophagy by activation of Atg1 in Drosophila 
Autophagy  2014;10(3):453-467.
Phagophore-derived autophagosomes deliver cytoplasmic material to lysosomes for degradation and reuse. Autophagy mediated by the incompletely characterized actions of Atg proteins is involved in numerous physiological and pathological settings including stress resistance, immunity, aging, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases. Here we characterized Atg17/FIP200, the Drosophila ortholog of mammalian RB1CC1/FIP200, a proposed functional equivalent of yeast Atg17. Atg17 disruption inhibits basal, starvation-induced and developmental autophagy, and interferes with the programmed elimination of larval salivary glands and midgut during metamorphosis. Upon starvation, Atg17-positive structures appear at aggregates of the selective cargo Ref(2)P/p62 near lysosomes. This location may be similar to the perivacuolar PAS (phagophore assembly site) described in yeast. Drosophila Atg17 is a member of the Atg1 kinase complex as in mammals, and we showed that it binds to the other subunits including Atg1, Atg13, and Atg101 (C12orf44 in humans, 9430023L20Rik in mice and RGD1359310 in rats). Atg17 is required for the kinase activity of endogenous Atg1 in vivo, as loss of Atg17 prevents the Atg1-dependent shift of endogenous Atg13 to hyperphosphorylated forms, and also blocks punctate Atg1 localization during starvation. Finally, we found that Atg1 overexpression induces autophagy and reduces cell size in Atg17-null mutant fat body cells, and that overexpression of Atg17 promotes endogenous Atg13 phosphorylation and enhances autophagy in an Atg1-dependent manner in the fat body. We propose a model according to which the relative activity of Atg1, estimated by the ratio of hyper- to hypophosphorylated Atg13, contributes to setting low (basal) vs. high (starvation-induced) autophagy levels in Drosophila.
PMCID: PMC4077884  PMID: 24419107
Atg1; Atg13; autophagy; Drosophila; Atg17/FIP200; lysosome; Ref(2)P/p62; TOR
11.  Polysulfides Link H2S to Protein Thiol Oxidation 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2013;19(15):1749-1765.
Aims: Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is suggested to act as a gaseous signaling molecule in a variety of physiological processes. Its molecular mechanism of action was proposed to involve protein S-sulfhydration, that is, conversion of cysteinyl thiolates (Cys-S−) to persulfides (Cys-S-S−). A central and unresolved question is how H2S—that is, a molecule with sulfur in its lowest possible oxidation state (−2)—can lead to oxidative thiol modifications. Results: Using the lipid phosphatase PTEN as a model protein, we find that the “H2S donor” sodium hydrosulfide (NaHS) leads to very rapid reversible oxidation of the enzyme in vitro. We identify polysulfides formed in NaHS solutions as the oxidizing species, and present evidence that sulfane sulfur is added to the active site cysteine. Polysulfide-mediated oxidation of PTEN was induced by all “H2S donors” tested, including sodium sulfide (Na2S), gaseous H2S, and morpholin-4-ium 4-methoxyphenyl(morpholino) phosphinodithioate (GYY4137). Moreover, we show that polysulfides formed in H2S solutions readily modify PTEN inside intact cells. Innovation: Our results shed light on the previously unresolved question of how H2S leads to protein thiol oxidation, and suggest that polysulfides formed in solutions of H2S mediate this process. Conclusion: This study suggests that the effects that have been attributed to H2S in previous reports may in fact have been mediated by polysulfides. It also supports the notion that sulfane sulfur rather than sulfide is the actual in vivo agent of H2S signaling. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 19, 1749–1765.
PMCID: PMC3837443  PMID: 23646934
12.  Autophagosomal Syntaxin17-dependent lysosomal degradation maintains neuronal function in Drosophila 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2013;201(4):531-539.
Lysosomal degradation and recycling of sequestered autophagosome content is crucial to maintain proper functioning of the fly nervous system.
During autophagy, phagophores capture portions of cytoplasm and form double-membrane autophagosomes to deliver cargo for lysosomal degradation. How autophagosomes gain competence to fuse with late endosomes and lysosomes is not known. In this paper, we show that Syntaxin17 is recruited to the outer membrane of autophagosomes to mediate fusion through its interactions with ubisnap (SNAP-29) and VAMP7 in Drosophila melanogaster. Loss of these genes results in accumulation of autophagosomes and a block of autolysosomal degradation during basal, starvation-induced, and developmental autophagy. Viable Syntaxin17 mutant adults show large-scale accumulation of autophagosomes in neurons, severe locomotion defects, and premature death. These mutant phenotypes cannot be rescued by neuron-specific inhibition of caspases, suggesting that caspase activation and cell death do not play a major role in brain dysfunction. Our findings reveal the molecular mechanism underlying autophagosomal fusion events and show that lysosomal degradation and recycling of sequestered autophagosome content is crucial to maintain proper functioning of the nervous system.
PMCID: PMC3653357  PMID: 23671310
13.  Myc-Driven Overgrowth Requires Unfolded Protein Response-Mediated Induction of Autophagy and Antioxidant Responses in Drosophila melanogaster 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(8):e1003664.
Autophagy, a lysosomal self-degradation and recycling pathway, plays dual roles in tumorigenesis. Autophagy deficiency predisposes to cancer, at least in part, through accumulation of the selective autophagy cargo p62, leading to activation of antioxidant responses and tumor formation. While cell growth and autophagy are inversely regulated in most cells, elevated levels of autophagy are observed in many established tumors, presumably mediating survival of cancer cells. Still, the relationship of autophagy and oncogenic signaling is poorly characterized. Here we show that the evolutionarily conserved transcription factor Myc (dm), a proto-oncogene involved in cell growth and proliferation, is also a physiological regulator of autophagy in Drosophila melanogaster. Loss of Myc activity in null mutants or in somatic clones of cells inhibits autophagy. Forced expression of Myc results in cell-autonomous increases in cell growth, autophagy induction, and p62 (Ref2P)-mediated activation of Nrf2 (cnc), a transcription factor promoting antioxidant responses. Mechanistically, Myc overexpression increases unfolded protein response (UPR), which leads to PERK-dependent autophagy induction and may be responsible for p62 accumulation. Genetic or pharmacological inhibition of UPR, autophagy or p62/Nrf2 signaling prevents Myc-induced overgrowth, while these pathways are dispensable for proper growth of control cells. In addition, we show that the autophagy and antioxidant pathways are required in parallel for excess cell growth driven by Myc. Deregulated expression of Myc drives tumor progression in most human cancers, and UPR and autophagy have been implicated in the survival of Myc-dependent cancer cells. Our data obtained in a complete animal show that UPR, autophagy and p62/Nrf2 signaling are required for Myc-dependent cell growth. These novel results give additional support for finding future approaches to specifically inhibit the growth of cancer cells addicted to oncogenic Myc.
Author Summary
The evolutionarily conserved transcription factor Myc promotes protein synthesis, cell growth and cancer progression through incompletely understood mechanisms. In this work, we show that forced expression of Myc induces the accumulation of abnormal proteins leading to unfolded protein responses (UPR), presumably by overloading the protein synthetic capacity of cells in Drosophila. UPR then results in autophagy-mediated breakdown and recycling of cytoplasmic material, and at the same time, to activation of antioxidant responses in these cells. Blocking the UPR stress signaling, autophagy and antioxidant pathways genetically, or by feeding larvae an autophagy-inhibiting drug, prevents overgrowth of Myc-expressing cells, but these treatments do not affect the growth of control cells in the same tissues. These results, together with recent reports in mammalian cancer models, suggest that drugs targeting UPR, autophagy and antioxidant responses may specifically inhibit cancer cell proliferation driven by oncogenic Myc.
PMCID: PMC3738540  PMID: 23950728
14.  Impaired proteasomal degradation enhances autophagy via hypoxia signaling in Drosophila 
BMC Cell Biology  2013;14:29.
Two pathways are responsible for the majority of regulated protein catabolism in eukaryotic cells: the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) and lysosomal self-degradation through autophagy. Both processes are necessary for cellular homeostasis by ensuring continuous turnover and quality control of most intracellular proteins. Recent studies established that both UPS and autophagy are capable of selectively eliminating ubiquitinated proteins and that autophagy may partially compensate for the lack of proteasomal degradation, but the molecular links between these pathways are poorly characterized.
Here we show that autophagy is enhanced by the silencing of genes encoding various proteasome subunits (α, β or regulatory) in larval fat body cells. Proteasome inactivation induces canonical autophagy, as it depends on core autophagy genes Atg1, Vps34, Atg9, Atg4 and Atg12. Large-scale accumulation of aggregates containing p62 and ubiquitinated proteins is observed in proteasome RNAi cells. Importantly, overexpressed Atg8a reporters are captured into the cytoplasmic aggregates, but these do not represent autophagosomes. Loss of p62 does not block autophagy upregulation upon proteasome impairment, suggesting that compensatory autophagy is not simply due to the buildup of excess cargo. One of the best characterized substrates of UPS is the α subunit of hypoxia-inducible transcription factor 1 (HIF-1α), which is continuously degraded by the proteasome during normoxic conditions. Hypoxia is a known trigger of autophagy in mammalian cells, and we show that genetic activation of hypoxia signaling also induces autophagy in Drosophila. Moreover, we find that proteasome inactivation-induced autophagy requires sima, the Drosophila ortholog of HIF-1α.
We have characterized proteasome inactivation- and hypoxia signaling-induced autophagy in the commonly used larval Drosophila fat body model. Activation of both autophagy and hypoxia signaling was implicated in various cancers, and mutations affecting genes encoding UPS enzymes have recently been suggested to cause renal cancer. Our studies identify a novel genetic link that may play an important role in that context, as HIF-1α/sima may contribute to upregulation of autophagy by impaired proteasomal activity.
PMCID: PMC3700814  PMID: 23800266
Autophagy; Drosophila; HIF-1α/sima; Hypoxia; p62/Ref2P; Proteasome
15.  Role of Tachykinin 1 and 4 Gene-Derived Neuropeptides and the Neurokinin 1 Receptor in Adjuvant-Induced Chronic Arthritis of the Mouse 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61684.
Substance P, encoded by the Tac1 gene, is involved in neurogenic inflammation and hyperalgesia via neurokinin 1 (NK1) receptor activation. Its non-neuronal counterpart, hemokinin-1, which is derived from the Tac4 gene, is also a potent NK1 agonist. Although hemokinin-1 has been described as a tachykinin of distinct origin and function compared to SP, its role in inflammatory and pain processes has not yet been elucidated in such detail. In this study, we analysed the involvement of tachykinins derived from the Tac1 and Tac4 genes, as well as the NK1 receptor in chronic arthritis of the mouse.
Complete Freund’s Adjuvant was injected intraplantarly and into the tail of Tac1−/−, Tac4−/−, Tacr1−/− (NK1 receptor deficient) and Tac1−/−/Tac4−/− mice. Paw volume was measured by plethysmometry and mechanosensitivity using dynamic plantar aesthesiometry over a time period of 21 days. Semiquantitative histopathological scoring and ELISA measurement of IL-1β concentrations of the tibiotarsal joints were performed.
Mechanical hyperalgesia was significantly reduced from day 11 in Tac4−/− and Tacr1−/− animals, while paw swelling was not altered in any strain. Inflammatory histopathological alterations (synovial swelling, leukocyte infiltration, cartilage destruction, bone damage) and IL-1β concentration in the joint homogenates were significantly smaller in Tac4−/− and Tac1−/−/Tac4−/− mice.
Hemokinin-1, but not substance P increases inflammation and hyperalgesia in the late phase of adjuvant-induced arthritis. While NK1 receptors mediate its antihyperalgesic actions, the involvement of another receptor in histopathological changes and IL-1β production is suggested.
PMCID: PMC3634005  PMID: 23626716
16.  Enhancer of zeste homologue 2 (EZH2) is a reliable immunohistochemical marker to differentiate malignant and benign hepatic tumors 
Diagnostic Pathology  2012;7:86.
The immunohistochemical demonstration of Enhancer of zeste homologue 2 (EZH2) proved to be a useful marker in several tumor types. It has been described to distinguish reliably hepatocellular carcinomas from liver adenomas and other benign hepatocellular lesions. However, no other types of malignant liver tumors were studied so far.
To evaluate the diagnostic value of this protein in hepatic tumors we have investigated the presence of EZH2 by immunohistochemistry in hepatocellular carcinomas and other common hepatic tumors.
EZH2 expression was examined in 44 hepatocellular carcinomas, 23 cholangiocarcinomas, 31 hepatoblastomas, 16 other childhood tumor types (rhabdomyosarcoma, neuroblastoma, Wilms’ tumor and rhabdoid tumor), 17 metastatic liver tumors 24 hepatocellular adenomas, 15 high grade dysplastic nodules, 3 biliary cystadenomas, 3 biliary hamartomas and 3 Caroli’s diseases.
Most of the malignant liver tumors were positive for EZH2, but neither of the adenomas, cirrhotic/dysplastic nodules, reactive and hamartomatous biliary ductules stained positively.
Our immunostainings confirm that EZH2 is a sensitive marker of hepatocellular carcinoma, but its specificity is very low, since almost all the investigated malignant liver tumors were positive regardless of their histogenesis. Based on these results EZH2 is a sensitive marker of malignancy in hepatic tumors. In routine surgical pathology EZH2 could be most helpful to diagnose cholangiocarcinomas, because as far as we know this is the first marker to distinguish transformed and reactive biliary structures. Although hepatoblastomas also express EZH2, the diagnostic significance of this observation seems to be quite limited whereas, the structurally similar, other blastic childhood tumors are also positive.
Virtual Slides
The virtual slide(s) for this article can be found here:
PMCID: PMC3436720  PMID: 22809481
Immunohistochemistry; EZH2; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Cholangiocarcinoma; Hepatoblastoma; Metastasis; Hepatocellular adenoma
17.  Loss of the starvation-induced gene Rack1 leads to glycogen deficiency and impaired autophagic responses in Drosophila 
Autophagy  2012;8(7):1124-1135.
Autophagy delivers cytoplasmic material for lysosomal degradation in eukaryotic cells. Starvation induces high levels of autophagy to promote survival in the lack of nutrients. We compared genome-wide transcriptional profiles of fed and starved control, autophagy-deficient Atg7 and Atg1 null mutant Drosophila larvae to search for novel regulators of autophagy. Genes involved in catabolic processes including autophagy were transcriptionally upregulated in all cases. We also detected repression of genes involved in DNA replication in autophagy mutants compared with control animals. The expression of Rack1 (receptor of activated protein kinase C 1) increased 4.1- to 5.5-fold during nutrient deprivation in all three genotypes. The scaffold protein Rack1 plays a role in a wide range of processes including translation, cell adhesion and migration, cell survival and cancer. Loss of Rack1 led to attenuated autophagic response to starvation, and glycogen stores were decreased 11.8-fold in Rack1 mutant cells. Endogenous Rack1 partially colocalized with GFP-Atg8a and early autophagic structures on the ultrastructural level, suggesting its involvement in autophagosome formation. Endogenous Rack1 also showed a high degree of colocalization with glycogen particles in the larval fat body, and with Shaggy, the Drosophila homolog of glycogen synthase kinase 3B (GSK-3B). Our results, for the first time, demonstrated the fundamental role of Rack1 in autophagy and glycogen synthesis.
PMCID: PMC3429548  PMID: 22562043
antimicrobial peptides; Atg8; autophagy; Drosophila; fat body; glycogen; GSK-3B; microarray; Rack1; starvation
18.  Validation of diagnostic accuracy using digital slides in routine histopathology 
Diagnostic Pathology  2012;7:35.
Robust hardware and software tools have been developed in digital microscopy during the past years for pathologists. Reports have been advocated the reliability of digital slides in routine diagnostics. We have designed a retrospective, comparative study to evaluate the scanning properties and digital slide based diagnostic accuracy.
8 pathologists reevaluated 306 randomly selected cases from our archives. The slides were scanned with a 20× Plan-Apochromat objective, using a 3-chip Hitachi camera, resulting 0.465 μm/pixel resolution. Slide management was supported with dedicated Data Base and Viewer software tools. Pathologists used their office PCs for evaluation and reached the digital slides via intranet connection. The diagnostic coherency and uncertainty related to digital slides and scanning quality were analyzed.
Good to excellent image quality of slides was recorded in 96%. In half of the critical 61 digital slides, poor image quality was related to section folds or floatings. In 88.2% of the studied cases the digital diagnoses were in full agreement with the consensus. Out of the overall 36 incoherent cases, 7 (2.3%) were graded relevant without any recorded uncertainty by the pathologist. Excluding the non-field specific cases from each pathologist's record this ratio was 1.76% of all cases.
Our results revealed that: 1) digital slide based histopathological diagnoses can be highly coherent with those using optical microscopy; 2) the competency of pathologists is a factor more important than the quality of digital slide; 3) poor digital slide quality do not endanger patient safety as these errors are recognizable by the pathologist and further actions for correction could be taken.
Virtual slides
The virtual slide(s) for this article can be found here:
PMCID: PMC3337227  PMID: 22463804
Retrospective study; Surgical pathology; Diagnostic error; Optical microscopy; Whole slide imaging
19.  Alpha-fetoprotein expression is a potential prognostic marker in hepatocellular carcinoma 
AIM: To characterize the alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) positive and negative hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) samples.
METHODS: Thirty-seven paraffin-embedded human HCC samples were analyzed by immunohistochemistry for the following antigens: AFP, β-catenin, p53, CD44, MSH-2, MLH-1, and HNF-4. The tumors were divided into two groups based on the AFP expression. The immunophenotypic data and important clinical parameters were studied between the two groups.
RESULTS: Twenty-one of the thirty-seven examined HCCs were AFP positive. Seven with nuclear p53 staining were AFP positive, while seven tumors with nuclear β-catenin staining were AFP negative. CD44 staining and high histological tumor grade were more frequent among the AFP-positive HCCs. The other immunophenotypical and clinical parameters did not show statistically significant difference in their distribution between the AFP positive and negative samples.
CONCLUSION: AFP expression in HCC correlates with unfavorable prognostic factors, while nuclear β-catenin positivity is more common among the AFP-negative liver tumors. This observation supports the microarray data on in vivo human tumors.
PMCID: PMC4321920  PMID: 16124056
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Alpha-fetoprotein; p53; β-catenin; CD44

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