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1.  Effects of spermine NONOate and ATP on protein aggregation: light scattering evidences 
BMC Biophysics  2013;6:1.
Background and objective
Regulating protein function in the cell by small molecules, provide a rapid, reversible and tunable tool of metabolic control. However, due to its complexity the issue is poorly studied so far. The effects of small solutes on protein behavior can be studied by examining changes of protein secondary structure, in its hydrodynamic radius as well as its thermal aggregation. The study aim was to investigate effects of adenosine-5’-triphosphate (ATP), spermine NONOate (NO donor) as well as sodium/potassium ions on thermal aggregation of albumin and hemoglobin. To follow aggregation of the proteins, their diffusion coefficients were measured by quasi-elastic light scattering (QELS) at constant pH (7.4) in the presence of solutes over a temperature range from 25°C to 80°C.
Results and discussion
1) Spermine NONOate persistently decreased the hemoglobin aggregation temperature Tairrespectively of the Na+/K+ environment, 2) ATP alone had no effect on the protein’s thermal stability but it facilitated protein’s destabilization in the presence of spermine NONOate and 3) mutual effects of ATP and NO were strongly influenced by particular buffer ionic compositions.
The ATP effect on protein aggregation was ambiguous: ATP alone had no effect on the protein’s thermal stability but it facilitated protein’s destabilization in the presence of nitric oxide. The magnitude and direction of the observed effects strongly depended on concentrations of K+ and Na+ in the solution.
PMCID: PMC3561150  PMID: 23289636
2.  In vitro Modeling of Ryanodine Receptor 2 Dysfunction Using Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells 
Background/Aims: Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells generated from accessible adult cells of patients with genetic diseases open unprecedented opportunities for exploring the pathophysiology of human diseases in vitro. Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia type 1 (CPVT1) is an inherited cardiac disorder that is caused by mutations in the cardiac ryanodine receptor type 2 gene (RYR2) and is characterized by stress-induced ventricular arrhythmia that can lead to sudden cardiac death in young individuals. The aim of this study was to generate iPS cells from a patient with CPVT1 and determine whether iPS cell-derived cardiomyocytes carrying patient specific RYR2 mutation recapitulate the disease phenotype in vitro. Methods: iPS cells were derived from dermal fibroblasts of healthy donors and a patient with CPVT1 carrying the novel heterozygous autosomal dominant mutation p.F2483I in the RYR2. Functional properties of iPS cell derived-cardiomyocytes were analyzed by using whole-cell current and voltage clamp and calcium imaging techniques. Results: Patch-clamp recordings revealed arrhythmias and delayed afterdepolarizations (DADs) after catecholaminergic stimulation of CPVT1-iPS cell-derived cardiomyocytes. Calcium imaging studies showed that, compared to healthy cardiomyocytes, CPVT1-cardiomyocytes exhibit higher amplitudes and longer durations of spontaneous Ca2+ release events at basal state. In addition, in CPVT1-cardiomyocytes the Ca2+-induced Ca2+-release events continued after repolarization and were abolished by increasing the cytosolic cAMP levels with forskolin. Conclusion: This study demonstrates the suitability of iPS cells in modeling RYR2-related cardiac disorders in vitro and opens new opportunities for investigating the disease mechanism in vitro, developing new drugs, predicting their toxicity, and optimizing current treatment strategies.
PMCID: PMC3709175  PMID: 22178870
iPS cells; Cardiomyocytes; Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia; RYR2; Delayed afterdepolarizations; Patch clamp; Calcium; Disease modelling; Heart
3.  Effects of spermine NONOate and ATP on the thermal stability of hemoglobin 
BMC Biophysics  2012;5:16.
Minor changes in protein structure induced by small organic and inorganic molecules can result in significant metabolic effects. The effects can be even more profound if the molecular players are chemically active and present in the cell in considerable amounts. The aim of our study was to investigate effects of a nitric oxide donor (spermine NONOate), ATP and sodium/potassium environment on the dynamics of thermal unfolding of human hemoglobin (Hb). The effect of these molecules was examined by means of circular dichroism spectrometry (CD) in the temperature range between 25°C and 70°C. The alpha-helical content of buffered hemoglobin samples (0.1 mg/ml) was estimated via ellipticity change measurements at a heating rate of 1°C/min.
Major results were: 1) spermine NONOate persistently decreased the hemoglobin unfolding temperature Tuirrespectively of the Na + /K + environment, 2) ATP instead increased the unfolding temperature by 3°C in both sodium-based and potassium-based buffers and 3) mutual effects of ATP and NO were strongly influenced by particular buffer ionic compositions. Moreover, the presence of potassium facilitated a partial unfolding of alpha-helical structures even at room temperature.
The obtained data might shed more light on molecular mechanisms and biophysics involved in the regulation of protein activity by small solutes in the cell.
PMCID: PMC3443461  PMID: 22929146
4.  Intracellular Ca2+ Oscillations, a Potential Pacemaking Mechanism in Early Embryonic Heart Cells 
The Journal of General Physiology  2007;130(2):133-144.
Early (E9.5–E11.5) embryonic heart cells beat spontaneously, even though the adult pacemaking mechanisms are not yet fully established. Here we show that in isolated murine early embryonic cardiomyocytes periodic oscillations of cytosolic Ca2+ occur and that these induce contractions. The Ca2+ oscillations originate from the sarcoplasmic reticulum and are dependent on the IP3 and the ryanodine receptor. The Ca2+ oscillations activate the Na+-Ca2+ exchanger, giving rise to subthreshold depolarizations of the membrane potential and/or action potentials. Although early embryonic heart cells are voltage-independent Ca2+ oscillators, the generation of action potentials provides synchronization of the electrical and mechanical signals. Thus, Ca2+ oscillations pace early embryonic heart cells and the ensuing activation of the Na+-Ca2+ exchanger evokes small membrane depolarizations or action potentials.
PMCID: PMC2151640  PMID: 17664344
5.  Engraftment of engineered ES cell–derived cardiomyocytes but not BM cells restores contractile function to the infarcted myocardium 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2006;203(10):2315-2327.
Cellular cardiomyoplasty is an attractive option for the treatment of severe heart failure. It is, however, still unclear and controversial which is the most promising cell source. Therefore, we investigated and examined the fate and functional impact of bone marrow (BM) cells and embryonic stem cell (ES cell)–derived cardiomyocytes after transplantation into the infarcted mouse heart. This proved particularly challenging for the ES cells, as their enrichment into cardiomyocytes and their long-term engraftment and tumorigenicity are still poorly understood. We generated transgenic ES cells expressing puromycin resistance and enhanced green fluorescent protein cassettes under control of a cardiac-specific promoter. Puromycin selection resulted in a highly purified (>99%) cardiomyocyte population, and the yield of cardiomyocytes increased 6–10-fold because of induction of proliferation on purification. Long-term engraftment (4–5 months) was observed when co-transplanting selected ES cell–derived cardiomyocytes and fibroblasts into the injured heart of syngeneic mice, and no teratoma formation was found (n = 60). Although transplantation of ES cell–derived cardiomyocytes improved heart function, BM cells had no positive effects. Furthermore, no contribution of BM cells to cardiac, endothelial, or smooth muscle neogenesis was detected. Hence, our results demonstrate that ES-based cell therapy is a promising approach for the treatment of impaired myocardial function and provides better results than BM-derived cells.
PMCID: PMC2118112  PMID: 16954371
6.  Differential subunit composition of the G protein–activated inward-rectifier potassium channel during cardiac development 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2004;114(7):994-1001.
Parasympathetic slowing of the heart rate is predominantly mediated by acetylcholine-dependent activation of the G protein–gated potassium (K+) channel (IK,ACh). This channel is composed of 2 inward-rectifier K+ (Kir) channel subunits, Kir3.1 and Kir3.4, that display distinct functional properties. Here we show that subunit composition of IK,ACh changes during embryonic development. At early stages, IK,ACh is primarily formed by Kir3.1, while in late embryonic and adult cells, Kir3.4 is the predominant subunit. This change in subunit composition results in reduced rectification of IK,ACh, allowing for marked K+ currents over the whole physiological voltage range. As a consequence, IK,ACh is able to generate the membrane hyperpolarization that underlies the strong negative chronotropy occurring in late- but not early-stage atrial cardiomyocytes upon application of muscarinic agonists. Both strong negative chronotropy and membrane hyperpolarization can be induced in early-stage cardiomyocytes by viral overexpression of the mildly rectifying Kir3.4 subunit. Thus, a switch in subunit composition is used to adopt IK,ACh to its functional role in adult cardiomyocytes.
PMCID: PMC518658  PMID: 15467839

Results 1-6 (6)