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1.  The Role of Nogo and the Mitochondria–Endoplasmic Reticulum Unit in Pulmonary Hypertension 
Science translational medicine  2011;3(88):88ra55.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is caused by excessive proliferation of vascular cells, which occlude the lumen of pulmonary arteries (PAs) and lead to right ventricular failure. The cause of the vascular remodeling in PAH remains unknown, and the prognosis of PAH remains poor. Abnormal mitochondria in PAH PA smooth muscle cells (SMCs) suppress mitochondria-dependent apoptosis and contribute to the vascular remodeling. We hypothesized that early endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, which is associated with clinical triggers of PAH including hypoxia, bone morphogenetic protein receptor II mutations, and HIV/herpes simplex virus infections, explains the mitochondrial abnormalities and has a causal role in PAH. We showed in SMCs from mice that Nogo-B, a regulator of ER structure, was induced by hypoxia in SMCs of the PAs but not the systemic vasculature through activation of the ER stress–sensitive transcription factor ATF6. Nogo-B induction increased the distance between the ER and mitochondria and decreased ER-to-mitochondria phospholipid transfer and intramitochondrial calcium. In addition, we noted inhibition of calcium-sensitive mitochondrial enzymes, increased mitochondrial membrane potential, decreased mitochondrial reactive oxygen species, and decreased mitochondria-dependent apoptosis. Lack of Nogo-B in PASMCs from Nogo-A/B−/− mice prevented these hypoxia-induced changes in vitro and in vivo, resulting in complete resistance to PAH. Nogo-B in the serum and PAs of PAH patients was also increased. Therefore, triggers of PAH may induce Nogo-B, which disrupts the ER-mitochondria unit and suppresses apoptosis. This could rescue PASMCs from death during ER stress but enable the development of PAH through overproliferation. The disruption of the ER-mitochondria unit may be relevant to other diseases in which Nogo is implicated, such as cancer and neurodegeneration.
PMCID: PMC3744110  PMID: 21697531
2.  Reticulon 4B (Nogo-B) Is a Novel Regulator of Hepatic Fibrosis 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2011;53(4):1306-1315.
Nogo-B, also known as Reticulon 4B, plays important roles in vascular injuries. Its function in the liver is not understood. The aim of this study was to characterize Nogo-B in liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. Nogo-B distribution was assessed in normal and cirrhotic human liver sections. We also determined the levels of liver fibrosis in wild-type (WT) and Nogo-A/B knockout (NGB KO) mice after sham operation or bile duct ligation (BDL). To investigate the mechanisms of Nogo-B’s involvement in fibrosis, hepatic stellate cells were isolated from WT and NGB KO mice and transformed into myofibroblasts. Portal pressure was measured to test whether Nogo-B gene deletion could ameliorate portal hypertension. In normal livers, Nogo-B expression was found in nonparenchymal cells, whereas its expression in hepatocytes was minimal. Nogo-B staining was significantly elevated in cirrhotic livers. Fibrosis was significantly increased in WT mice 4 weeks after BDL compared with NGB KO mice. The absence of Nogo-B significantly reduced phosphorylation of Smad2 levels upon transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) stimulation. Reconstitution of the Nogo-B gene into NGB KO fibroblasts restored Smad2 phosphorylation. Four weeks after BDL, portal pressure was significantly increased in WT mice by 47%, compared with sham-operated controls (P = 0.03), whereas such an increase in portal pressure was not observed in NGB KO mice (P = NS).
Nogo-B regulates liver fibrosis, at least in part, by facilitating the TGFβ/Smad2 signaling pathway in myofibroblasts. Because absence of Nogo-B ameliorates liver fibrosis and portal hypertension, Nogo-B blockade may be a potential therapeutic target in fibrosis/cirrhosis.
PMCID: PMC3667398  PMID: 21480333
3.  Reperfusion Injury Intensifies the Adaptive Human T Cell Alloresponse in a Human-Mouse Chimeric Artery Model 
Peri-operative non-immune injuries to an allograft can decrease graft survival. We have developed a model for studying this process using human materials.
Methods and Results
Human artery segments were transplanted as infrarenal aortic interposition grafts into an immunodeficient mouse host, allowed to “heal in” for 30 days, and then re-transplanted into a second mouse host. To induce a reperfusion injury, the healed in artery segments were incubated for 3 h under hypoxic conditions ex vivo prior to re-transplant. To induce immunological rejection, the animals receiving the re-transplanted artery segment were adoptively transferred with human peripheral blood mononuclear cells or purified T cells from a donor allogeneic to the artery one week prior to surgery. To compare rejection of injured vs. healthy tissues, these manipulations were combined. Results were analyzed ex vivo by histology, morphometry, immunohistochemistry and mRNA quantitation or in vivo by ultrasound. Our results showed that reperfusion injury, which otherwise heals with minimal sequelae, intensifies the degree of allogeneic T cell-mediated injury to human artery segments.
We developed a new human-mouse chimeric model demonstrating interactions of reperfusion injury and alloimmunity using human cells and tissues that may be adapted to study other forms of non-immune injury and other types of adaptive immune responses.
PMCID: PMC3262100  PMID: 22053072
reperfusion injury; humanized arterial mouse model; graft arteriosclerosis
4.  Cellularity and structure of fresh human coronary thrombectomy specimens; presence of cells with markers of progenitor cells 
Acute coronary syndromes and acute myocardial infarctions are often related to plaque rupture and the formation of thrombi at the site of the rupture. We examined fresh coronary thrombectomy specimens from patients with acute coronary syndromes and assessed their structure and cellularity. The thrombectomy specimens consisted of platelets, erythrocytes and inflammatory cells. Several specimens contained multiple cholesterol crystals. Culture of thrombectomy specimens yielded cells growing in various patterns depending on the culture medium used. Culture in serum-free stem cell enrichment medium yielded cells with features of endothelial progenitor cells which survived in culture for a year. Immunohistochemical analysis of the thrombi revealed cells positive for CD34, cells positive for CD15 and cells positive for desmin in situ, whereas cultured cell from thrombi was desmin positive but pancytokeratin negative. Cells cultured in endothelial cell medium were von Willebrand factor positive. The content of coronary thrombectomy specimens is heterogeneous and consists of blood cells but also possibly cells from the vascular wall and cholesterol crystals. The culture of cells contained in the specimens yielded multiplying cells, some of which demonstrated features of haematopoietic progenitor cells and which differentiated into various cell-types.
PMCID: PMC4393730  PMID: 22947374
coronary; thrombus; acute coronary syndrome; platelets; endothelial progenitor cells; thrombectomy
5.  An insight into the sialome of Glossina morsitans morsitans 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:213.
Blood feeding evolved independently in worms, arthropods and mammals. Among the adaptations to this peculiar diet, these animals developed an armament of salivary molecules that disarm their host's anti-bleeding defenses (hemostasis), inflammatory and immune reactions. Recent sialotranscriptome analyses (from the Greek sialo = saliva) of blood feeding insects and ticks have revealed that the saliva contains hundreds of polypeptides, many unique to their genus or family. Adult tsetse flies feed exclusively on vertebrate blood and are important vectors of human and animal diseases. Thus far, only limited information exists regarding the Glossina sialome, or any other fly belonging to the Hippoboscidae.
As part of the effort to sequence the genome of Glossina morsitans morsitans, several organ specific, high quality normalized cDNA libraries have been constructed, from which over 20,000 ESTs from an adult salivary gland library were sequenced. These ESTs have been assembled using previously described ESTs from the fat body and midgut libraries of the same fly, thus totaling 62,251 ESTs, which have been assembled into 16,743 clusters (8,506 of which had one or more EST from the salivary gland library). Coding sequences were obtained for 2,509 novel proteins, 1,792 of which had at least one EST expressed in the salivary glands. Despite library normalization, 59 transcripts were overrepresented in the salivary library indicating high levels of expression. This work presents a detailed analysis of the salivary protein families identified. Protein expression was confirmed by 2D gel electrophoresis, enzymatic digestion and mass spectrometry. Concurrently, an initial attempt to determine the immunogenic properties of selected salivary proteins was undertaken.
The sialome of G. m. morsitans contains over 250 proteins that are possibly associated with blood feeding. This set includes alleles of previously described gene products, reveals new evidence that several salivary proteins are multigenic and identifies at least seven new polypeptide families unique to Glossina. Most of these proteins have no known function and thus, provide a discovery platform for the identification of novel pharmacologically active compounds, innovative vector-based vaccine targets, and immunological markers of vector exposure.
PMCID: PMC2853526  PMID: 20353571
6.  What can we hope to gain for trypanosomiasis control from molecular studies on tsetse biology ? 
At times of crisis when epidemics rage and begin to take their toll on affected populations, as we have been witnessing with African trypanosomiasis in subSahara, the dichotomy of basic versus applied research deepens. While undoubtedly the treatment of thousands of infected people is the top priority, without continued research and development on the biology of disease agents and on ecological and evolutionary forces impacting these epidemics, little progress can be gained in the long run for the eventual control of these diseases. Here, we argue the need for additional research in one under-investigated area, that is the biology of the tsetse vector. Lacking are studies aimed to understand the genetic and cellular basis of tsetse interactions with trypanosomes as well as the genetic and biochemical basis of its ability to transmit these parasites. We discuss how this knowledge has the potential to contribute to the development of new vector control strategies as well as to improve the efficacy and affordability of the existing control approaches.
PMCID: PMC119325  PMID: 12234385

Results 1-6 (6)