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1.  Diffusion is capable of translating anisotropic apoptosis initiation into a homogeneous execution of cell death 
Background
Apoptosis is an essential cell death process throughout the entire life span of all metazoans and its deregulation in humans has been implicated in many proliferative and degenerative diseases. Mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilisation (MOMP) and activation of effector caspases are key processes during apoptosis signalling. MOMP can be subject to spatial coordination in human cancer cells, resulting in intracellular waves of cytochrome-c release. To investigate the consequences of these spatial anisotropies in mitochondrial permeabilisation on subsequent effector caspase activation, we devised a mathematical reaction-diffusion model building on a set of partial differential equations.
Results
Reaction-diffusion modelling suggested that even if strong spatial anisotropies existed during mitochondrial cytochrome c release, these would be eliminated by free diffusion of the cytosolic proteins that instantiate the apoptosis execution network. Experimentally, rapid sampling of mitochondrial permeabilisation and effector caspase activity in individual HeLa cervical cancer cells confirmed predictions of the reaction-diffusion model and demonstrated that the signalling network of apoptosis execution could efficiently translate spatial anisotropies in mitochondrial permeabilisation into a homogeneous effector caspase response throughout the cytosol. Further systems modelling suggested that a more than 10,000-fold impaired diffusivity would be required to maintain spatial anisotropies as observed during mitochondrial permeabilisation until the time effector caspases become activated.
Conclusions
Multi-protein diffusion efficiently contributes to eliminating spatial asynchronies which are present during the initiation of apoptosis execution and thereby ensures homogeneous apoptosis execution throughout the entire cell body. For previously reported biological scenarios in which effector caspase activity was shown to be targeted selectively to specific subcellular regions additional mechanisms must exist that limit or spatially coordinate caspase activation and/or protect diffusing soluble caspase substrates from unwanted proteolysis.
doi:10.1186/1752-0509-4-9
PMCID: PMC2831829  PMID: 20132548
2.  BH3 Mimetics Reactivate Autophagic Cell Death in Anoxia-Resistant Malignant Glioma Cells1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2008;10(8):873-885.
Here, we investigated the specific roles of Bcl-2 family members in anoxia tolerance of malignant glioma. Flow cytometry analysis of cell death in 17 glioma cell lines revealed drastic differences in their sensitivity to oxygen withdrawal (<0.1% O2). Cell death correlated with mitochondrial depolarization, cytochrome C release, and translocation of green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged light chain 3 to autophagosomes but occurred in the absence of caspase activation or phosphatidylserine exposure. In both sensitive and tolerant glioma cell lines, anoxia caused a significant up-regulation of BH3-only genes previously implicated in mediating anoxic cell death in other cell types (BNIP3, NIX, PUMA, and Noxa). In contrast, we detected a strong correlation between anoxia resistance and high expression levels of antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins Bcl-xL, Bcl-2, and Mcl-1 that function to neutralize the proapoptotic activity of BH3-only proteins. Importantly, inhibition of both Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL with the small-molecule BH3 mimetics HA14-1 and BH3I-2′ and by RNA interference reactivated anoxia-induced autophagic cell death in previously resistant glioma cells. Our data suggest that endogenous BH3-only protein induction may not be able to compensate for the high expression of antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins in anoxia-resistant astrocytomas. They also support the conjecture that BH3 mimetics may represent an exciting new approach for the treatment of malignant glioma.
PMCID: PMC2481574  PMID: 18670645
3.  Full Length Bid is sufficient to induce apoptosis of cultured rat hippocampal neurons 
BMC Cell Biology  2007;8:7.
Background
Bcl-2 homology domain (BH) 3-only proteins are pro-apoptotic proteins of the Bcl-2 family that couple stress signals to the mitochondrial cell death pathways. The BH3-only protein Bid can be activated in response to death receptor activation via caspase 8-mediated cleavage into a truncated protein (tBid), which subsequently translocates to mitochondria and induces the release of cytochrome-C. Using a single-cell imaging approach of Bid cleavage and translocation during apoptosis, we have recently demonstrated that, in contrast to death receptor-induced apoptosis, caspase-independent excitotoxic apoptosis involves a translocation of full length Bid (FL-Bid) from the cytosol to mitochondria. We induced a delayed excitotoxic cell death in cultured rat hippocampal neurons by a 5-min exposure to the glutamate receptor agonist N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA; 300 μM).
Results
Western blot experiments confirmed a translocation of FL-Bid to the mitochondria during excitotoxic apoptosis that was associated with the release of cytochrome-C from mitochondria. These results were confirmed by immunofluorescence analysis of Bid translocation during excitotoxic cell death using an antibody raised against the amino acids 1–58 of mouse Bid that is not able to detect tBid. Finally, inducible overexpression of FL-Bid or a Bid mutant that can not be cleaved by caspase-8 was sufficient to induce apoptosis in the hippocampal neuron cultures.
Conclusion
Our data suggest that translocation of FL-Bid is sufficient for the activation of mitochondrial cell death pathways in response to glutamate receptor overactivation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2121-8-7
PMCID: PMC1808451  PMID: 17326836
4.  Effects of hepatocyte nuclear factor-1A and -4A on pancreatic stone protein/regenerating protein and C-reactive protein gene expression: implications for maturity-onset diabetes of the young 
Background
There is a significant clinical overlap between patients with hepatocyte nuclear factor (HNF)-1A and HNF4A maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY), two forms of monogenic diabetes. HNF1A and HNF4A are transcription factors that control common and partly overlapping sets of target genes. We have previously shown that elevated serum pancreatic stone protein / regenerating protein A (PSP/reg1A) levels can be detected in subjects with HNF1A-MODY. In this study, we investigated whether PSP/reg is differentially regulated by HNF1A and HNF4A.
Methods
Quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) and Western blotting were used to validate gene and protein expression in cellular models of HNF1A- and HNF4A-MODY. Serum PSP/reg1A levels and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) were measured by ELISA in 31 HNF1A- and 9 HNF4A-MODY subjects. The two groups were matched for age, body mass index, diabetes duration, blood pressure, lipid profile and aspirin and statin use.
Results
Inducible repression of HNF1A and HNF4A function in INS-1 cells suggested that PSP/reg induction required HNF4A, but not HNF1A. In contrast, crp gene expression was significantly reduced by repression of HNF1A, but not HNF4A function. PSP/reg levels were significantly lower in HNF4A subjects when compared to HNF1A subjects [9.25 (7.85-12.85) ng/ml vs. 12.5 (10.61-17.87) ng/ml, U-test P = 0.025]. hsCRP levels were significantly lower in HNF1A-MODY [0.22 (0.17-0.35) mg/L] compared to HNF4A-MODY group [0.81 (0.38-1.41) mg/L, U-test P = 0.002], Parallel measurements of serum PSP/reg1A and hsCRP levels were able to discriminate HNF1A- and HNF4A-MODY subjects.
Conclusion
Our study demonstrates that two distinct target genes, PSP/reg and crp, are differentially regulated by HNF1A and HNF4A, and provides clinical proof-of-concept that serum PSP/reg1A and hsCRP levels may distinguish HNF1A-MODY from HNF4A-MODY subjects.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-11-156
PMCID: PMC3707779  PMID: 23803251
HNF1A; HNF4A; MODY; PSP/reg; HsCRP; Gene regulation
5.  Serum levels of pancreatic stone protein (PSP)/reg1A as an indicator of beta-cell apoptosis suggest an increased apoptosis rate in hepatocyte nuclear factor 1 alpha (HNF1A-MODY) carriers from the third decade of life onward 
Background
Mutations in the transcription factor hepatocyte nuclear factor-1-alpha (HNF1A) result in the commonest type of maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY). HNF1A-MODY carriers have reduced pancreatic beta cell mass, partially due to an increased rate of apoptosis. To date, it has not been possible to determine when apoptosis is occurring in HNF1A-MODY.We have recently demonstrated that beta cell apoptosis stimulates the expression of the pancreatic stone protein/regenerating (PSP/reg) gene in surviving neighbour cells, and that PSP/reg1A protein is subsequently secreted from these cells. The objective of this study was to determine whether serum levels of PSP/reg1A are elevated during disease progression in HNF1A-MODY carriers, and whether it may provide information regarding the onset of beta-cell apoptosis.
Methods
We analysed serum PSP/reg1A levels and correlated with clinical and biochemical parameters in subjects with HNF1A-MODY, glucokinase (GCK-MODY), and type 1 diabetes mellitus. A control group of normoglycaemic subjects was also analysed.
Results
PSP/reg1A serum levels were significantly elevated in HNF1A-MODY (n = 37) subjects compared to controls (n = 60) (median = 12.50 ng/ml, IQR = 10.61-17.87 ng/ml versus median = 10.72 ng/ml, IQR = 8.94-12.54 ng/ml, p = 0.0008). PSP/reg1A correlated negatively with insulin levels during OGTT, (rho = −0.40, p = 0.02). Interestingly we noted a significant positive correlation of PSP/reg1A with age of the HNF1A-MODY carriers (rho = 0.40 p = 0.02) with an age of 25 years separating carriers with low and high PSP/reg1A levels. Patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus also had elevated serum levels of PSP/reg1A compared to controls, however this was independent of the duration of diabetes.
Conclusion
Our data suggest that beta cell apoptosis contributes increasingly to the pathophysiology of HNF1A-MODY in patients 25 years and over. PSP/reg1A may be developed as a serum marker to detect increased beta-cell apoptosis, or its therapeutic response.
doi:10.1186/1472-6823-12-13
PMCID: PMC3433346  PMID: 22808921
Maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY); Apoptosis; Serum biomarker; Beta-Cell; Type 1 diabetes; Pancreatic stone protein (PSP); Regenerating gene 1A (reg1A)

Results 1-5 (5)