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1.  Elevated tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity in sub-groups of thalassemia patients: insight into pathophysiology and the effect of splenectomy 
Annals of hematology  2014;93(7):1139-1148.
A high tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity (TRV) signifying risk for or established pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a serious complication in thalassemia patients. The underlying pathophysiology in thalassemia sub-groups and potential biomarkers for early detection and monitoring are not well defined, in particular as they relate to spleen removal. To better understand some of these unresolved aspects, we examined 76 thalassemia patients (35 non-transfused), 25 splenectomized non-thalassemia patients and 12 healthy controls. An elevated TRV (>2.5m/sec) was found in 25/76 (33%) of the patients, confined to non-transfused or those with a late start of transfusions, including patients with hemoglobin H-constant spring, a finding not previously described. These non, or late-transfused patients (76% splenectomized) had significantly increased platelet activation (sCD40L), high platelet count, endothelial activation (endothelin-1) and hemolysis (LDH, plasma free-Hb), while hypercoaguable and inflammatory markers were not significantly increased. The same markers were increased in the 7 patients with confirmed PH on cardiac catheterization, suggesting their possible role for screening patients at risk for PH. A combination of hemolysis and absence of spleen is necessary for developing a high TRV, as neither chronic hemolysis in the non-splenectomized thalassemia patients, nor splenectomy without hemolysis, in the non-thalassemia patients, resulted in an increase in TRV.
PMCID: PMC4467727  PMID: 24577514
Thalassemia; splenectomy; hemolysis; platelet activation; TRV; pulmonary hypertension
2.  From METS to malaria: RRx-001, a multi-faceted anticancer agent with activity in cerebral malaria 
Malaria Journal  2015;14:218.
The survival of malaria parasites, under substantial haem-induced oxidative stress in the red blood cells (RBCs) is dependent on the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP). The PPP is the only source of NADPH in the RBC, essential for the production of reduced glutathione (GSH) and for protection from oxidative stress. Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, therefore, increases the vulnerability of erythrocytes to oxidative stress. In Plasmodium, G6PD is combined with the second enzyme of the PPP to create a unique bifunctional enzyme, named glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase–6-phosphogluconolactonase (G6PD-6PGL). RRx-001 is a novel, systemically non-toxic, epigenetic anticancer agent currently in Phase 2 clinical development for multiple tumour types, with activity mediated through increased nitric oxide (NO) production and PPP inhibition. The inhibition of G6PD and NO overproduction induced by RRx-001 suggested its application in cerebral malaria (CM).
Plasmodium berghei ANKA (PbA) infection in C57BL/6 mice is an experimental model of cerebral malaria (ECM) with several similar pathological features to human CM. This study uses intravital microscopy methods with a closed cranial window model to quantify cerebral haemodynamic changes and leukocyte adhesion to endothelial cells in ECM.
RRx-001 had both single agent anti-parasitic activity and significantly increased the efficacy of artemether. In addition, RRx-001 preserved cerebral perfusion and reduced inflammation alone or combined with artemether. RRx-001’s effects were associated with inhibition of PPP (G6PD and G6PD-6PGL) and by improvements in microcirculatory flow, which may be related to the NO donating properties of RRx-001.
The results indicate that RRx-001 could be used to potentiate the anti-malarial action of artemisinin, particularly on resistant strains, and to prevent infection.
PMCID: PMC4453052  PMID: 26017006
Cerebral malaria; Pial microcirculation; Anemia; G6PD; Nitric oxide; Epigenetic; RRx-001
3.  Remodeling of host phosphatidylcholine by Chlamydia acyltransferase is regulated by acyl-CoA binding protein ACBD6 associated with lipid droplets 
MicrobiologyOpen  2015;4(2):235-251.
The bacterial human pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis invades cells as an infectious elementary body (EB). The EB is internalized into a vacuole that is hidden from the host defense mechanism, and is modified to sustain the development of the replicative reticulate body (RB). Inside this parasitophorous compartment, called the inclusion, the pathogen survives supported by an active exchange of nutrients and proteins with the host cell. We show that host lipids are scavenged and modified into bacterial-specific lipids by the action of a shared human-bacterial acylation mechanism. The bacterial acylating enzymes for the essential lipids 1-acyl-sn-glycerol 3-phosphate and 1-acyl-sn-phosphatidylcholine were identified as CT453 and CT775, respectively. Bacterial CT775 was found to be associated with lipid droplets (LDs). During the development of C. trachomatis, the human acyl-CoA carrier hACBD6 was recruited to cytosolic LDs and translocated into the inclusion. hACBD6 protein modulated the activity of CT775 in an acyl-CoA dependent fashion and sustained the activity of the bacterial acyltransferase by buffering the concentration of acyl-CoAs. We propose that disruption of the binding activity of the acyl-CoA carrier might represent a new drug-target to prevent growth of C. trachomatis.
PMCID: PMC4398506  PMID: 25604091
Acyl-CoA binding protein; acyltransferase; lipid droplets; phosphatidylcholine
4.  The Capacity of Red Blood Cells to Reduce Nitrite Determines Nitric Oxide Generation under Hypoxic Conditions 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101626.
Nitric oxide (NO) is a key regulator of vascular tone. Endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) is responsible for NO generation under normoxic conditions. Under hypoxia however, eNOS is inactive and red blood cells (RBC) provide an alternative NO generation pathway from nitrite to regulate hypoxic vasodilation. While nitrite reductase activity of hemoglobin is well acknowledged, little is known about generation of NO by intact RBC with physiological hemoglobin concentrations. We aimed to develop and apply a new approach to provide insights in the ability of RBC to convert nitrite into NO under hypoxic conditions. We established a novel experimental setup to evaluate nitrite uptake and the release of NO from RBC into the gas-phase under different conditions. NO measurements were similar to well-established clinical measurements of exhaled NO. Nitrite uptake was rapid, and after an initial lag phase NO release from RBC was constant in time under hypoxic conditions. The presence of oxygen greatly reduced NO release, whereas inhibition of eNOS and xanthine oxidoreductase (XOR) did not affect NO release. A decreased pH increased NO release under hypoxic conditions. Hypothermia lowered NO release, while hyperthermia increased NO release. Whereas fetal hemoglobin did not alter NO release compared to adult hemoglobin, sickle RBC showed an increased ability to release NO. Under all conditions nitrite uptake by RBC was similar. This study shows that nitrite uptake into RBC is rapid and release of NO into the gas-phase continues for prolonged periods of time under hypoxic conditions. Changes in the RBC environment such as pH, temperature or hemoglobin type, affect NO release.
PMCID: PMC4090171  PMID: 25007272
5.  Phase 1 Study of the E-Selectin Inhibitor GMI 1070 in Patients with Sickle Cell Anemia 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101301.
Sickle cell anemia is an inherited disorder of hemoglobin that leads to a variety of acute and chronic complications. Abnormal cellular adhesion, mediated in part by selectins, has been implicated in the pathophysiology of the vaso-occlusion seen in sickle cell anemia, and selectin inhibition was able to restore blood flow in a mouse model of sickle cell disease.
We performed a Phase 1 study of the selectin inhibitor GMI 1070 in patients with sickle cell anemia. Fifteen patients who were clinically stable received GMI 1070 in two infusions.
The drug was well tolerated without significant adverse events. There was a modest increase in total peripheral white blood cell count without clinical symptoms. Plasma concentrations were well-described by a two-compartment model with an elimination T1/2 of 7.7 hours and CLr of 19.6 mL/hour/kg. Computer-assisted intravital microscopy showed transient increases in red blood cell velocity in 3 of the 4 patients studied.
GMI 1070 was safe in stable patients with sickle cell anemia, and there was suggestion of increased blood flow in a subset of patients. At some time points between 4 and 48 hours after treatment with GMI 1070, there were significant decreases in biomarkers of endothelial activation (sE-selectin, sP-selectin, sICAM), leukocyte activation (MAC-1, LFA-1, PM aggregates) and the coagulation cascade (tissue factor, thrombin-antithrombin complexes). Development of GMI 1070 for the treatment of acute vaso-occlusive crisis is ongoing.
Trial Registration NCT00911495
PMCID: PMC4079300  PMID: 24988449
6.  Thiol/Redox Metabolomic Profiling Implicates GSH Dysregulation in Early Experimental Graft versus Host Disease (GVHD) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88868.
Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a common complication of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Upregulation of inflammatory cytokines precedes the clinical presentation of GVHD and predicts its severity. In this report, thiol/redox metabolomics was used to identify metabolic perturbations associated with early preclinical (Day+4) and clinical (Day+10) stages of GVHD by comparing effects in Syngeneic (Syn; major histocompatibility complex- identical) and allogeneic transplant recipients (Allo BMT) in experimental models. While most metabolic changes were similar in both groups, plasma glutathione (GSH) was significantly decreased, and GSH disulfide (GSSG) was increased after allogeneic compared to syngeneic recipient and non-transplant controls. The early oxidation of the plasma GSH/GSSG redox couple was also observed irrespective of radiation conditioning treatment and was accompanied by significant rise in hepatic protein oxidative damage and ROS generation. Despite a significant rise in oxidative stress, compensatory increase in hepatic GSH synthesis was absent following Allo BMT. Early shifts in hepatic oxidative stress and plasma GSH loss preceded a statistically significant rise in TNF-α. To identify metabolomic biomarkers of hepatic GVHD injury, plasma metabolite concentrations analyzed at Day+10 were correlated with hepatic organ injury. GSSG (oxidized GSH) and β-alanine, were positively correlated, and plasma GSH cysteinylglycine, and branched chain amino acids were inversely correlated with hepatic injury. Although changes in plasma concentrations of cysteine, cystathionine (GSH precursors) and cysteinylglycine (a GSH catabolite) were not significant by univariate analysis, principal component analysis (PCA) indicated that accumulation of these metabolites after Allo BMT contributed significantly to early GVHD in contrast to Syn BMT. In conclusion, thiol/redox metabolomic profiling implicates that early dysregulation of host hepatic GSH metabolism and oxidative stress in sub-clinical GVHD before elevated TNF-α levels is associated with GVHD pathogenesis. Future studies will probe the mechanisms for these changes and examine the potential of antioxidant intervention strategies to modulate GVHD.
PMCID: PMC3928313  PMID: 24558439
7.  RBC deformability and amino acid concentrations after hypo-osmotic challenge may reflect chronic cell hydration status in healthy young men 
Physiological Reports  2013;1(5):e00117.
Biomarkers of chronic cell hydration status are needed to determine whether chronic hyperosmotic stress increases chronic disease risk in population-representative samples. In vitro, cells adapt to chronic hyperosmotic stress by upregulating protein breakdown to counter the osmotic gradient with higher intracellular amino acid concentrations. If cells are subsequently exposed to hypo-osmotic conditions, the adaptation results in excess cell swelling and/or efflux of free amino acids. This study explored whether increased red blood cell (RBC) swelling and/or plasma or urine amino acid concentrations after hypo-osmotic challenge might be informative about relative chronic hyperosmotic stress in free-living men. Five healthy men (20–25 years) with baseline total water intake below 2 L/day participated in an 8-week clinical study: four 2-week periods in a U-shaped A-B-C-A design. Intake of drinking water was increased by +0.8 ± 0.3 L/day in period 2, and +1.5 ± 0.3 L/day in period 3, and returned to baseline intake (0.4 ± 0.2 L/day) in period 4. Each week, fasting blood and urine were collected after a 750 mL bolus of drinking water, following overnight water restriction. The periods of higher water intake were associated with significant decreases in RBC deformability (index of cell swelling), plasma histidine, urine arginine, and urine glutamic acid. After 4 weeks of higher water intake, four out of five participants had ½ maximal RBC deformability below 400 mmol/kg; plasma histidine below 100 μmol/L; and/or undetectable urine arginine and urine glutamic acid concentrations. Work is warranted to pursue RBC deformability and amino acid concentrations after hypo-osmotic challenge as possible biomarkers of chronic cell hydration.
PMCID: PMC3841048  PMID: 24303184
Amino acid; arginine; biomarker; cell hydration; glutamate; healthy adults; histidine; RBC deformability; water intake
8.  Multipotent Stromal Stem Cells from Human Placenta Demonstrate High Therapeutic Potential 
This study describes human chorionic mesenchymal stem cell (hCMSC) lines obtained from the chorion of human term placenta with high therapeutic potential in human organ pathology. In vitro, hCMSCs could be differentiated into derivatives of all three germ layers, and it was demonstrated ex vivo that they effectively facilitated repair of injured epithelium. It is concluded that the chorion of human term placenta is an abundant source of multipotent stem cells that are promising candidates for cell-based therapies.
We describe human chorionic mesenchymal stem cell (hCMSC) lines obtained from the chorion of human term placenta with high therapeutic potential in human organ pathology. hCMSCs propagated for more than 100 doublings without a decrease in telomere length and with no telomerase activity. Cells were highly positive for the embryonic stem cell markers OCT-4, NANOG, SSEA-3, and TRA-1–60. In vitro, cells could be differentiated into neuron-like cells (ectoderm), adipocytes, osteoblasts, endothelial-like cells (mesoderm), and hepatocytes (endoderm)—derivatives of all three germ layers. hCMSCs effectively facilitated repair of injured epithelium as demonstrated in an ex vivo-perfused human lung preparation injured by Escherichia coli endotoxin and in in vitro human lung epithelial cultures. We conclude that the chorion of human term placenta is an abundant source of multipotent stem cells that are promising candidates for cell-based therapies.
PMCID: PMC3635148  PMID: 23197815
Adult stem cells; Cytokines; Mesenchymal stem cells; Placenta; Telomerase
9.  Multipotent Stromal Stem Cells from Human Placenta Demonstrate High Therapeutic Potential 
We describe human chorionic mesenchymal stem cell (hCMSC) lines obtained from the chorion of human term placenta with high therapeutic potential in human organ pathology. hCMSCs propagated for more than 100 doublings without a decrease in telomere length and with no telomerase activity. Cells were highly positive for the embryonic stem cell markers OCT-4, NANOG, SSEA-3, and TRA-1– 60. In vitro, cells could be differentiated into neuron-like cells (ectoderm), adipocytes, osteoblasts, endothelial-like cells (mesoderm), and hepatocytes (endoderm)— derivatives of all three germ layers. hCMSCs effectively facilitated repair of injured epithelium as demonstrated in an ex vivo-perfused human lung preparation injured by Escherichia coli endotoxin and in in vitro human lung epithelial cultures. We conclude that the chorion of human term placenta is an abundant source of multipotent stem cells that are promising candidates for cell-based therapies.
PMCID: PMC3635148  PMID: 23197815
Adult stem cells; Cytokines; Mesenchymal stem cells; Placenta; Telomerase
10.  Secretory phospholipase A2: a marker of infection in febrile children presenting to a pediatric ED☆,☆☆ 
Fever is a common presenting complaint to the emergency department (ED), and the evaluation of the febrile child remains a challenging task.
The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2) and infection in febrile children.
A prospective convenience sample of children presenting with fever to an urban pediatric ED were studied. Blood and urine cultures, a complete blood count, and serum concentrations of sPLA2 were obtained, and patients were compared based on their final diagnosis of either a viral or bacterial infection.
In the 76 patients enrolled, 60 were diagnosed with a viral infection, 14 with a bacterial infection, 1 with Kawasaki disease, and 1 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The difference in the serum concentration of sPLA2 in patients with viral infections (22 ± 34 ng/mL) versus those with bacterial infections (190 ± 179 ng/mL) was statistically significant (P < .0001). Receiver operator characteristic curve analysis revealed that sPLA2 was more accurate at predicting bacterial infection (area under the curve = 0.89) than the total white blood cell count (area under the curve = 0.71) and that a value of more than 20 ng/mL had a sensitivity of 93%, specificity of 67%, positive predictive value of 39%, and negative predictive value of 97%.
Secretory phospholipase A2 differs significantly in children with viral versus bacterial infection and seems to be a reliable screening test for bacterial infection in febrile children.
PMCID: PMC3601899  PMID: 20708879
11.  A pilot study of the short-term use of simvastatin in sickle cell disease: effects on markers of vascular dysfunction 
British journal of haematology  2011;153(5):655-663.
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is characterized by progressive vascular injury and its pathophysiology is strikingly similar to that of atherosclerosis. Statins decrease inflammation and improve endothelial function in cardiovascular disease, but their effect in SCD is not known. In this pilot study, we examined the safety and effect of short-term simvastatin on biomarkers of vascular dysfunction in SCD. We treated 26 SCD patients with simvastatin, 20 or 40 mg/d, for 21 d. Plasma nitric oxide metabolites (NOx), C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), tissue factor (TF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) were analyzed and responses to simvastatin were compared between the two treatment groups. Simvastatin increased NOx levels by 23% in the low-dose (P = 0.01) and 106% in the moderate-dose (P = 0.01) groups, and by 52% overall (P = 0.0008). CRP decreased similarly in both dose groups and by 68% overall (P = 0.02). Levels of IL-6 decreased by 50% (P = 0.04) and 71% (P < 0.05) in the low- and moderate-dose groups, respectively. Simvastatin had no effect on VEGF, VCAM1 or TF. Simvastatin was well-tolerated and safe. Our preliminary findings showing a dose-related effect of simvastatin on levels of NOx, CRP and IL-6 suggest a potential therapeutic role for simvastatin in SCD.
PMCID: PMC3601917  PMID: 21477202
sickle cell disease; statin; nitric oxide; inflammation
Hemoglobin (Hb) E (β26 Glu→ Lys) is the most common abnormal hemoglobin (Hb) variant in the world. Homozygotes for HbE are mildly thalassemic as a result of the alternate splice mutation and present with a benign clinical picture (microcytic and mildly anemic) with rare clinical symptoms. Given that the human red blood cell (RBC) contains both HbE and excess α-chains along with minor hemoglobins, the consequence of HbE alone on RBC pathophysiology has not been elucidated. This becomes critical for the highly morbid βE-thalassemia disease. We have generated transgenic mice exclusively expressing human HbE (HbEKO) that exhibit the known aberrant splicing of βE globin mRNA, but are essentially non-thalassemic as demonstrated by RBC α/β (human) globin chain synthesis. These mice exhibit hematological characteristics similar to presentations in human EE individuals: microcytic RBC with low MCV and MCH but normal MCHC; target RBC; mild anemia with low Hb, HCT and mildly elevated reticulocyte levels and decreased osmotic fragility, indicating altered RBC surface area to volume ratio. These alterations are correlated with a mild RBC oxidative stress indicated by enhanced membrane lipid peroxidation, elevated zinc protoporphyrin levels, and by small but significant changes in cardiac function. The C57 (background) mouse and full KO mouse models expressing HbE with the presence of HbS or HbA are used as controls. In select cases, the HbA full KO mouse model is compared but found to be limited due to its RBC thalassemic characteristics. Since the HbEKO mouse RBC lacks an abundance of excess α-chains that would approximate a mouse thalassemia (or a human thalassemia), the results indicate that the observed in vivo RBC mild oxidative stress arises, at least in part, from the molecular consequences of the HbE mutation.
PMCID: PMC3310900  PMID: 22260787
Hemoglobin E; transgenic mouse model; β-thalassemia; red blood cells; oxidative stress; cardiac function
13.  Compromised Mitochondrial Fatty Acid Synthesis in Transgenic Mice Results in Defective Protein Lipoylation and Energy Disequilibrium 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47196.
A mouse model with compromised mitochondrial fatty acid synthesis has been engineered in order to assess the role of this pathway in mitochondrial function and overall health. Reduction in the expression of mitochondrial malonyl CoA-acyl carrier protein transacylase, a key enzyme in the pathway encoded by the nuclear Mcat gene, was achieved to varying extents in all examined tissues employing tamoxifen-inducible Cre-lox technology. Although affected mice consumed more food than control animals, they failed to gain weight, were less physically active, suffered from loss of white adipose tissue, reduced muscle strength, kyphosis, alopecia, hypothermia and shortened lifespan. The Mcat-deficient phenotype is attributed primarily to reduced synthesis, in several tissues, of the octanoyl precursors required for the posttranslational lipoylation of pyruvate and α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complexes, resulting in diminished capacity of the citric acid cycle and disruption of energy metabolism. The presence of an alternative lipoylation pathway that utilizes exogenous free lipoate appears restricted to liver and alone is insufficient for preservation of normal energy metabolism. Thus, de novo synthesis of precursors for the protein lipoylation pathway plays a vital role in maintenance of mitochondrial function and overall vigor.
PMCID: PMC3471957  PMID: 23077570
14.  Tapered oral dexamethasone for the acute chest syndrome of sickle cell disease 
British Journal of Haematology  2011;155(2):263-267.
Tapered oral dexamethasone for acute chest syndrome (ACS) in sickle cell anaemia was studied using a novel ACS assessment tool and investigational biomarkers. Twelve participants were randomized (mean age 17.3 years) before early study termination. Dexamethasone decreased duration of hospitalization for ACS by 20.8 h compared to placebo (P=0.024). Rebound pain occurred in both groups (3 dexamethasone vs. 1 placebo). Overall, dexamethasone decreased the leucocyte activation biomarker, sL-selectin; however, participants with rebound pain had higher sL-selectin within 24 h of treatment (dexamethasone or placebo). This ACS assessment tool was feasibly applied, and sL-selectin is a promising biomarker of ACS therapy.
PMCID: PMC3368951  PMID: 21848879
sickle cell disease; acute chest syndrome; corticosteroid; dexamethasone; clinical trial; toxicity; biomarkers; L-selectin
15.  Human Term Placenta as a Source of Hematopoietic Cells 
The main barrier to a broader clinical application of umbilical cord blood (UCB) transplantation is its limiting cellular content. Thus, the discovery of hematopoietic progenitor cells in murine placental tissue led us investigate whether the human placenta contains hematopoietic cells, sites of hematopoiesis, and to develop a procedure of processing and storing placental hematopoietic cells for transplantation. Here we show that the human placenta contains large numbers of CD34-expressing hematopoietic cells, with the potential to provide a cellular yield several-fold greater than that of a typical UCB harvest. Cells from fresh or cryopreserved placental tissue generated erythroid and myeloid colonies in culture, and also produced lymphoid cells after transplantation in immunodeficient mice. These results suggest that human placenta could become an important new source of hematopoietic cells for allogeneic transplantation.
PMCID: PMC3389511  PMID: 19429852
16.  Mammalian Long-Chain Acyl-CoA Synthetases 
Acyl-CoA synthetase enzymes are essential for de novo lipid synthesis, fatty acid catabolism, and remodeling of membranes. Activation of fatty acids requires a two-step reaction catalyzed by these enzymes. In the first step, an acyl-AMP intermediate is formed from ATP. AMP is then exchanged with CoA to produce the activated acyl-CoA. The release of AMP in this reaction defines the superfamily of AMP-forming enzymes. The length of the carbon chain of the fatty acid species defines the substrate specificity for the different acyl-CoA synthetases (ACS). On this basis, five sub-families of ACS have been characterized. The purpose of this review is to report on the large family of mammalian long-chain acyl-CoA synthetases (ACSL), which activate fatty acids with chain lengths of 12 to 20 carbon atoms. Five genes and several isoforms generated by alternative splicing have been identified and limited information is available on their localization. The structure of these membrane proteins has not been solved for the mammalian ACSLs but homology to a bacterial form, whose structure has been determined, points at specific structural features that are important for these enzymes across species. The bacterial form acts as a dimer and has a conserved short motif, called the fatty acid Gate domain, that seems to determine substrate specificity. We will discuss the characterization and identification of the different spliced isoforms, draw attention to the inconsistencies and errors in their annotations, and their cellular localizations. These membrane proteins act on membrane-bound substrates probably as homo- and as heterodimer complexes but have often been expressed as single recombinant isoforms, apparently purified as monomers and tested in Triton X-100 micelles. We will argue that such studies have failed to provide an accurate assessment of the activity and of the distinct function of these enzymes in mammalian cells.
PMCID: PMC3377585  PMID: 18375835
17.  Phosphatidylcholine formation by LPCAT1 is regulated by Ca2+ and the redox status of the cell 
BMC Biochemistry  2012;13:8.
Unsaturated fatty acids are susceptible to oxidation and damaged chains are removed from glycerophospholipids by phospholipase A2. De-acylated lipids are then re-acylated by lysophospholipid acyltransferase enzymes such as LPCAT1 which catalyses the formation of phosphatidylcholine (PC) from lysoPC and long-chain acyl-CoA.
Activity of LPCAT1 is inhibited by Ca2+, and a Ca2+-binding motif of the EF-hand type, EFh-1, was identified in the carboxyl-terminal domain of the protein. The residues Asp-392 and Glu-403 define the loop of the hairpin structure formed by EFh-1. Substitution of D392 and E403 to alanine rendered an enzyme insensitive to Ca2+, which established that Ca2+ binding to that region negatively regulates the activity of the acyltransferase amino-terminal domain. Residue Cys-211 of the conserved motif III is not essential for catalysis and not sufficient for sensitivity to treatment by sulfhydryl-modifier agents. Among the several active cysteine-substitution mutants of LPCAT1 generated, we identified one to be resistant to treatment by sulfhydryl-alkylating and sulfhydryl-oxidizer agents.
Mutant forms of LPCAT1 that are not inhibited by Ca2+ and sulfhydryl-alkylating and –oxidizing agents will provide a better understanding of the physiological function of a mechanism that places the formation of PC, and the disposal of the bioactive species lysoPC, under the control of the redox status and Ca2+ concentration of the cell.
PMCID: PMC3439698  PMID: 22676268
Lands’ cycle; Cysteine oxidation; Calcium binding; Plasma membrane
18.  Eukaryotic Protein Recruitment into the Chlamydia Inclusion: Implications for Survival and Growth 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36843.
Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) is an obligate intracellular human pathogen that multiplies within a parasitophorous vacuole called an inclusion. We report that the location of several host-cell proteins present in the cytosol, the nucleus, and membranes was altered during Ct development. The acyl-CoA synthetase enzyme ACSL3 and the soluble acyl-CoA binding protein ACBD6 were mobilized from organelle membranes and the nucleus, respectively, into the lumen of the inclusion. The nuclear protein ZNF23, a pro-apoptosis factor, was also translocated into the inclusion lumen. ZNF23, among other proteins, might be targeted by Ct to inhibit host cell apoptosis, thereby enabling bacterial survival. In contrast, the acyl-CoA:lysophosphatidylcholine acyltransferase LPCAT1, an endoplasmic reticulum membrane protein, was recruited to the inclusion membrane. The coordinated action of ACBD6, ACSL3 and LPCAT1 likely supports remodeling and scavenging of host lipids into bacterial-specific moieties essential to Ct growth. To our knowledge, these are the first identified host proteins known to be intercepted and translocated into the inclusion.
PMCID: PMC3348897  PMID: 22590624
19.  Hemolysis-Associated Pulmonary Hypertension in Thalassemia 
Accumulating evidence supports the existence of a condition involving hemolysis-associated pulmonary hypertension. We reported in sickle cell disease hemolysis induced release of cell-free hemoglobin, and red blood cell arginase resulting in impaired nitric oxide bioavailability, endothelial dysfunction, and pulmonary hypertension. Since thalassemia is also a condition of chronic hemolysis, these patients are at risk. Our data demonstrates that hemolysis-induced dysregulation of arginine metabolism and pulmonary hypertension also occurs in thalassemia. Erythrocyte release of arginase during hemolysis contributes to the development of pulmonary hypertension. Therapies that maximize arginine and nitric oxide bioavailability may benefit patients with thalassemia.
PMCID: PMC3217300  PMID: 16339702
20.  The Effect of Disruption of Genes for Peroxiredoxin-2, Glutathione Peroxidase-1 and Catalase on Erythrocyte Oxidative Metabolism 
Peroxiredoxin-2 (Prdx2), a potent peroxide reductant, is the third most abundant protein in the erythrocyte and might be expected to play a major role in the cell's oxidative defenses. However, in this study, experiments with erythrocytes from mice with a disrupted Prdx2 gene found that the cells were not more sensitive to exogenous H2O2 or organic peroxides than wild-type. Intraerythrocytic H2O2 was increased, however, indicating an important role for Prdx2 in detoxifying endogenously-generated H2O2. These results are consistent with proposals that red cell Prdx2 acts stoichiometrically, not catalytically, in reducing peroxides. Additional experiments with mice with disrupted catalase or glutathione peroxidase (Gpx1) genes showed that Gpx1 is the only erythrocyte enzyme that reduces organic peroxides. Catalase(−/−) cells were readily oxidized by exogenous H2O2. Cells lacking both catalase and Gpx1 were more sensitive to exogenous H2O2 than cells lacking only catalase. A kinetic model proposed earlier to rationalize results with Gpx1(−/−) erythrocytes also fit the data with Prdx2(−/−) cells, and indicates that while Gpx1 and Prdx2 both participate in removing endogenous H2O2, Prdx2 plays a larger role. Although the rate of H2O2 production in the red cell is quite low, Prdx2-deficient mice are anemic, suggesting an important role in erythropoiesis.
PMCID: PMC2818700  PMID: 19969073
peroxiredoxin; erythrocyte; catalase; glutathione peroxidase; oxidation
21.  Activity of the acyl-CoA synthetase ACSL6 isoforms: role of the fatty acid Gate-domains 
BMC Biochemistry  2010;11:18.
Activation of fatty acids by acyl-CoA synthetase enzymes is required for de novo lipid synthesis, fatty acid catabolism, and remodeling of biological membranes. Human long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase member 6, ASCL6, is a form present in the plasma membrane of cells. Splicing events affecting the amino-terminus and alternative motifs near the ATP-binding site generate different isoforms of ACSL6.
Isoforms with different fatty acid Gate-domain motifs have different activity and the form lacking this domain, isoform 3, showed no detectable activity. Enzymes truncated of the first 40 residues generate acyl-CoAs at a faster rate than the full-length protein. The gating residue, which prevents entry of the fatty acid substrate unless one molecule of ATP has already accessed the catalytic site, was identified as a tyrosine for isoform 1 and a phenylalanine for isoform 2 at position 319. All isoforms, with or without a fatty acid Gate-domain, as well as recombinant protein truncated of the N-terminus, can interact to form enzymatic complexes with identical or different isoforms.
The alternative fatty acid Gate-domain motifs are essential determinants for the activity of the human ACSL6 isoforms, which appear to act as homodimeric enzyme as well as in complex with other spliced forms. These findings provide evidence that the diversity of these enzyme species could produce the variety of acyl-CoA synthetase activities that are necessary to generate and repair the hundreds of lipid species present in membranes.
PMCID: PMC2868784  PMID: 20429931
22.  ATP8A1 activity and phosphatidylserine transbilayer movement 
The asymmetric distribution of the amino-containing phospholipids, phosphatidyl-serine (PS) and phosphatidyl-ethanolamine (PE), across the two leaflets of red blood cell (RBC) membrane is essential to the function and survival of the cell. PS and PE are sequestered in the inner leaflet by an ATP-dependent transport activity of a membrane protein known as the RBC flippase that specifically moves amino-phospholipids from the outer to the inner leaflet. The enucleated RBC lacks the means to replace damaged enzymes and inactivation of the flippase can lead to the unwarranted exposure of PS on the cell surface. Loss in the ability to maintain phospholipid asymmetry is exacerbated in RBC disorders and PS-exposing RBCs present in the circulation play a significant role in the pathology of hemoglobinopathies. We identified the Atp8a1 protein, a member of the family of the P4-type ATPases, as a RBC flippase candidate. Atp8a1 is expressed in RBC precursors and is present in the membrane of mature red cells. The flippase activity of the protein was established in purified secretory vesicles of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. ATPase activity was stimulated by PS and PE. In addition, Atp8a1 can move PS molecules across the leaflets of the vesicle membrane in presence of ATP.
PMCID: PMC2835971  PMID: 20224745
flippase; ATP8A1; PS transport; red blood cell; sickle cell disease
23.  Multiple erythroid isoforms of human long-chain acyl-CoA synthetases are produced by switch of the fatty acid gate domains 
The formation of acyl-CoA by the action of acyl-CoA synthetases plays a crucial role in membrane lipid turnover, including the plasma membrane of erythrocytes. In human, five Acyl-CoA Synthetase Long-chain (ACSL) genes have been identified with as many as 3 different transcript variants for each.
Acyl-CoA Synthetase Long-chain member 6 (ACSL6) is responsible for activation of long-chain fatty acids in erythrocytes. Two additional transcript variants were also isolated from brain and testis. We report the expression in reticulocytes of two new variants and of the one isolated from brain. All three represented different spliced variants of a mutually exclusive exon pair. They encode a slightly different short motif which contains a conserved structural domain, the fatty acid Gate domain. The motifs differ in the presence of either the aromatic residue phenylalanine (Phe) or tyrosine (Tyr). Based on homology, two new isoforms for the closely related ACSL1 were predicted and characterized. One represented a switch of the Phe- to the Tyr-Gate domain motif, the other resulted from the exclusion of both. Swapping of this motif also appears to be common in all mammalian ACSL member 1 and 6 homologs.
We propose that a Phe to Tyr substitution or deletion of the Gate domain, is the structural reason for the conserved alternative splicing that affects these motifs. Our findings support our hypothesis that this region is structurally important to define the activity of these enzymes.
PMCID: PMC1543647  PMID: 16834775
24.  Absence of Mitochondrial Superoxide Dismutase Results in a Murine Hemolytic Anemia Responsive to Therapy with a Catalytic Antioxidant 
Manganese superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2) is a critical component of the mitochondrial pathway for detoxification of O2−, and targeted disruption of this locus leads to embryonic or neonatal lethality in mice. To follow the effects of SOD2 deficiency in cells over a longer time course, we created hematopoietic chimeras in which all blood cells are derived from fetal liver stem cells of Sod2 knockout, heterozygous, or wild-type littermates. Stem cells of each genotype efficiently rescued hematopoiesis and allowed long-term survival of lethally irradiated host animals. Peripheral blood analysis of leukocyte populations revealed no differences in reconstitution kinetics of T cells, B cells, or myeloid cells when comparing Sod2+/+, Sod2−/−, and Sod2+/− fetal liver recipients. However, animals receiving Sod2−/− cells were persistently anemic, with findings suggestive of a hemolytic process. Loss of SOD2 in erythroid progenitor cells results in enhanced protein oxidative damage, altered membrane deformation, and reduced survival of red cells. Treatment of anemic animals with Euk-8, a catalytic antioxidant with both SOD and catalase activities, significantly corrected this oxidative stress–induced condition. Such therapy may prove useful in treatment of human disorders such as sideroblastic anemia, which SOD2 deficiency most closely resembles.
PMCID: PMC2193409  PMID: 11304553
transplantation (fetal liver); oxidative stress; antioxidant; stem cells; SOD2

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