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1.  Atorvastatin overcomes gefitinib resistance in KRAS mutant human non-small cell lung carcinoma cells 
Chen, J | Bi, H | Hou, J | Zhang, X | Zhang, C | Yue, L | Wen, X | Liu, D | Shi, H | Yuan, J | Liu, J | Liu, B
Cell Death & Disease  2013;4(9):e814-.
The exact influence of statins on gefitinib resistance in human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells with KRAS mutation alone or KRAS/PIK3CA and KRAS/PTEN comutations remains unclear. This work found that transfection of mutant KRAS plasmids significantly suppressed the gefitinib cytotoxicity in Calu3 cells (wild-type KRAS). Gefitinib disrupted the Kras/PI3K and Kras/Raf complexes in Calu3 cells, whereas not in Calu3 KRAS mutant cells. These trends were corresponding to the expression of pAKT and pERK in gefitinib treatment. Atorvastatin (1 μM) plus gefitinib treatment inhibited proliferation, promoted cell apoptosis, and reduced the AKT activity in KRAS mutant NSCLC cells compared with gefitinib alone. Atorvastatin (5 μM) further enhanced the gefitinib cytotoxicity through concomitant inhibition of AKT and ERK activity. Atorvastatin could interrupt Kras/PI3K and Kras/Raf complexes, leading to suppression of AKT and ERK activity. Similar results were also obtained in comutant KRAS/PTEN or KRAS/PIK3CA NSCLC cells. Furthermore, mevalonate administration reversed the effects of atorvastatin on the Kras/Raf and Kras/PI3K complexes, as well as AKT and ERK activity in both A549 and Calu1 cells. The in vivo results were similar to those obtained in vitro. Therefore, mutant KRAS-mediated gefitinib insensitivity is mainly derived from failure to disrupt the Kras/Raf and Kras/PI3K complexes in KRAS mutant NSCLC cells. Atorvastatin overcomes gefitinib resistance in KRAS mutant NSCLC cells irrespective of PIK3CA and PTEN statuses through inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase-dependent disruption of the Kras/Raf and Kras/PI3K complexes.
PMCID: PMC3789171  PMID: 24071646
gefitinib; atorvastatin; mutant KRAS; NSCLC
2.  Mitochondrial dysfunction-associated OPA1 cleavage contributes to muscle degeneration: preventative effect of hydroxytyrosol acetate 
Wang, X | Li, H | Zheng, A | Yang, L | Liu, J | Chen, C | Tang, Y | Zou, X | Li, Y | Long, J | Liu, J | Zhang, Y | Feng, Z
Cell Death & Disease  2014;5(11):e1521-.
Mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to the development of muscle disorders, including muscle wasting, muscle atrophy and degeneration. Despite the knowledge that oxidative stress closely interacts with mitochondrial dysfunction, the detailed mechanisms remain obscure. In this study, tert-butylhydroperoxide (t-BHP) was used to induce oxidative stress on differentiated C2C12 myotubes. t-BHP induced significant mitochondrial dysfunction in a time-dependent manner, accompanied by decreased myosin heavy chain (MyHC) expression at both the mRNA and protein levels. Consistently, endogenous reactive oxygen species (ROS) overproduction triggered by carbonyl cyanide 4-(trifluoromethoxy) phenylhydrazone (FCCP), a mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation inhibitor, was accompanied by decreased membrane potential and decreased MyHC protein content. However, the free radical scavenger N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) efficiently reduced the ROS level and restored MyHC content, suggesting a close association between ROS and MyHC expression. Meanwhile, we found that both t-BHP and FCCP promoted the cleavage of optic atrophy 1 (OPA1) from the long form into short form during the early stages. In addition, the ATPase family gene 3-like 2, a mitochondrial inner membrane protease, was also markedly increased. Moreover, OPA1 knockdown in myotubes was accompanied by decreased MyHC content, whereas NAC failed to prevent FCCP-induced MyHC decrease with OPA1 knockdown, suggesting that ROS might affect MyHC content by modulating OPA1 cleavage. In addition, hydroxytyrosol acetate (HT-AC), an important compound in virgin olive oil, could significantly prevent t-BHP-induced mitochondrial membrane potential and cell viability loss in myotubes. Specifically, HT-AC inhibited t-BHP-induced OPA1 cleavage and mitochondrial morphology changes, accompanied by improvement on mitochondrial oxygen consumption capacity, ATP productive potential and activities of mitochondrial complex I, II and V. Moreover, both t-BHP- and FCCP-induced MyHC decrease was sufficiently inhibited by HT-AC. Taken together, our data provide evidence indicating that mitochondrial dysfunction-associated OPA1 cleavage may contribute to muscle degeneration, and olive oil compounds could be effective nutrients for preventing the development of muscle disorders.
PMCID: PMC4260731  PMID: 25393477
4.  IKK-β mediates hydrogen peroxide induced cell death through p85 S6K1 
Cell Death and Differentiation  2012;20(2):248-258.
The IκB kinase (IKK)/NF-κB pathway has been shown to be a major regulator in cell survival. However, the mechanisms through which IKK mediates cell death are not clear. In this study, we showed that IKK-β contributed to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-induced cell death independent of the NF-κB pathway. Our results demonstrated that the pro-death function of IKK-β under oxidative stress was mediated by p85 S6K1 (S6 kinase 1), but not p70 S6K1 through a rapamycin-insensitive and mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 kinase-independent mechanism. We found that IKK-β associated with p85, but not p70 S6K1, which was required for H2O2-induced activation of p85 S6K1. IKK-β and p85 S6K1 contributed to H2O2-induced phosphorylation of Mdm2 (S166) and p53 accumulation. p85 S6K1 is critical for IKK-β-mediated cell death. Thus, these findings established a novel oxidative stress-responsive pathway that involves IKK-β, p85 S6K1 and Mdm2, which is response for H2O2-induced cell death. Our results have important implications for IKK-β and p85 S6K1 as potential targets for the prevention of diseases involved in oxidative stress-induced aberrant cell death.
PMCID: PMC3554328  PMID: 22955948
IKK-β; hydrogen peroxide; S6K1; mammalian target of rapamycin
5.  Induction of autophagy and senescence by knockdown of ROC1 E3 ubiquitin ligase to suppress the growth of liver cancer cells 
Yang, D | Li, L | Liu, H | Wu, L | Luo, Z | Li, H | Zheng, S | Gao, H | Chu, Y | Sun, Y | Liu, J | Jia, L
Cell Death and Differentiation  2012;20(2):235-247.
Regulator of Cullins-1 (ROC1) or RING box protein-1 (RBX1) is an essential RING component of Cullin-RING ligase (CRL). Our previous studies showed that ROC1 is required for the growth of several cancer cell lines while ROC1 siRNA silencing inactivates CRL, leading to cell cycle arrest, cell senescence and/or apoptosis. However, it is completely unknown whether ROC1 knockdown triggers autophagic response by inactivating CRL. Moreover, the role of ROC1 in liver cancer remains elusive. In this study, we reported that ROC1 knockdown significantly inhibited the growth of liver cancer cells by sequentially and independently inducing autophagy and p21-dependent cell senescence. Mechanism analysis revealed that ROC1 silencing triggered autophagy by inhibition of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) activity due to accumulation of mTOR-inhibitory protein Deptor, a substrate of CRL. Consistently, Deptor knockdown significantly blocked autophagy response upon ROC1 silencing. Biologically, autophagy response upon ROC1 silencing was a survival signal, and blockage of autophagy pathway sensitized cancer cells to apoptosis. Finally, we demonstrated that ROC1 was overexpressed in hepatocellular carcinomas, which is associated with poor prognosis of liver cancer patients. These findings suggest that ROC1 is an appealing drug target for liver cancer and provide a proof-of-concept evidence for a novel drug combination of ROC1 inhibitor and an autophagy inhibitor for effective treatment of liver cancer by enhancing apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC3554346  PMID: 22935614
ROC1; Cullin-RING ligase; autophagy; senescence; Deptor
6.  Tumor development is associated with decrease of TET gene expression and 5-methylcytosine hydroxylation 
Oncogene  2012;32(5):663-669.
The TET (ten–eleven translocation) family of α-ketoglutarate (α-KG)-dependent dioxygenases catalyzes the sequential oxidation of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) to 5-hydroxymethyl-cytosine (5hmC), 5-formylcytosine and 5-carboxylcytosine, leading to eventual DNA demethylation. The TET2 gene is a bona fide tumor suppressor frequently mutated in leukemia, and TET enzyme activity is inhibited in IDH1/2-mutated tumors by the oncometabolite 2-hydroxyglutarate, an antagonist of α-KG, linking 5mC oxidation to cancer development. We report here that the levels of 5hmC are dramatically reduced in human breast, liver, lung, pancreatic and prostate cancers when compared with the matched surrounding normal tissues. Associated with the 5hmC decrease is the substantial reduction of the expression of all three TET genes, revealing a possible mechanism for the reduced 5hmC in cancer cells. The decrease of 5hmC was also observed during tumor development in different genetically engineered mouse models. Together, our results identify 5hmC as a biomarker whose decrease is broadly and tightly associated with tumor development.
PMCID: PMC3897214  PMID: 22391558
TET; 5-hydroxymethylation; DNA methylation; cancer biomarker
7.  The AKT1/NF-kappaB/Notch1/PTEN axis has an important role in chemoresistance of gastric cancer cells 
Cell Death & Disease  2013;4(10):e847-.
The inherent resistance of tumors to DNA damage often limits the efficacy of chemotherapy. The aim of this work is to explore the potential mechanism for development of chemoresistance in gastric cancer. Our data revealed that AKT1 mRNA and protein expression were induced by doxorubicin (a chemotherapeutic agent); the doxorubicin-induced AKT1 expression and activation increased the binding of NF-kappaB on Notch1 DNA promoter and then promoted the Notch1 transcription and expression; enhanced expression of Notch1 further upregulated PTEN expression through CBF-1 binding to PTEN DNA promoter; and inhibition of AKT1 expression and activity sensitized the gastric cancer cell to doxorubicin treatment in cultured gastric cancer cell lines and xenograft nude mice gastric cancer model. Furthermore, our data demonstrated that both Notch1 and PTEN were absent or minimally expressed in gastric cancer tissue but abundant in paired normal gastric mucosa, and the expression of Notch1 correlated with that of PTEN. Together, these novel results suggested that a novel AKT1/NF-kappaB/Notch1/PTEN axis has an important role in the development of chemoresistance in gastric cancer. Notch1 has an anti-cancer role in gastric cancer.
PMCID: PMC3824684  PMID: 24113181
AKT1; NF-kappaB; Notch-1; PTEN; gastric cancer
8.  Neoalbaconol induces energy depletion and multiple cell death in cancer cells by targeting PDK1-PI3-K/Akt signaling pathway 
Deng, Q | Yu, X | Xiao, L | Hu, Z | Luo, X | Tao, Y | Yang, L | Liu, X | Chen, H | Ding, Z | Feng, T | Tang, Y | Weng, X | Gao, J | Yi, W | Bode, A M | Dong, Z | Liu, J | Cao, Y
Cell Death & Disease  2013;4(9):e804-.
Many natural compounds derived from plants or microbes show promising potential for anticancer treatment, but few have been found to target energy-relevant regulators. In this study, we report that neoalbaconol (NA), a novel small-molecular compound isolated from the fungus, Albatrellus confluens, could target 3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 (PDK1) and inhibit its downstream phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3-K)/Akt-hexokinase 2 (HK2) pathway, which eventually resulted in energy depletion. By targeting PDK1, NA reduced the consumption of glucose and ATP generation, activated autophagy and caused apoptotic and necroptotic death of cancer cells through independent pathway. Necroptosis was remarkably induced, which was confirmed by several necroptosis-specific markers: the activation of autophagy, presence of necrotic morphology, increase of receptor-interacting protein 1 (RIP1)/RIP3 colocalization and interaction and rescued by necroptosis inhibitor necrostatin-1. The possibility that Akt overexpression reversed the NA-induced energy crisis confirmed the importance of the PDK1-Akt-energy pathway in NA-mediated cell death. Moreover, NA shows the capability to inhibit PI3-K/Akt signaling and suppress tumor growth in the nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) nude mouse model. These results supported the feasibility of NA in anticancer treatments.
PMCID: PMC3789182  PMID: 24052072
neoalbaconol; PDK1; PI3-K/Akt; energy depletion; cancer cell death
11.  Common genetic variability in ESR1 and EGF in relation to endometrial cancer risk and survival 
British Journal of Cancer  2009;100(8):1358-1364.
We investigated common genetic variation in the entire ESR1 and EGF genes in relation to endometrial cancer risk, myometrial invasion and endometrial cancer survival. We genotyped a dense set of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in both genes and selected haplotype tagging SNPs (tagSNPs). The tagSNPs were genotyped in 713 Swedish endometrial cancer cases and 1567 population controls and the results incorporated into logistic regression and Cox proportional hazards models. We found five adjacent tagSNPs covering a region of 15 kb at the 5′ end of ESR1 that decreased the endometrial cancer risk. The ESR1 variants did not, however, seem to affect myometrial invasion or endometrial cancer survival. For the EGF gene, no association emerged between common genetic variants and endometrial cancer risk or myometrial invasion, but we found a five-tagSNP region that covered 51 kb at the 5′ end of the gene where all five tagSNPs seemed to decrease the risk of dying from endometrial cancer. One of the five tagSNPs in this region was in strong linkage disequilibrium (LD) with the untranslated A61G (rs4444903) EGF variant, earlier shown to be associated with risk for other forms of cancer.
PMCID: PMC2676544  PMID: 19319135
ESR1; EGF; polymorphism; endometrial cancer; survival
12.  Cloning, expression and location of RNase9 in human epididymis 
Liu, J | Li, JY | Wang, HY | Zhang, CL | Li, N | Lin, YQ | Liu, J | Wang, WT
BMC Research Notes  2008;1:111.
Mammalian spermatozoa become fully motile and fertile during transit through the luminal fluid of the epididymis. At least 200 proteins are present in the epididymal lumen, but the potential roles of these luminal proteins in male fertility are unknown. Investigation of the function of these proteins will elucidate the mechanism of sperm maturation, and also provide new drug targets for male contraception. We cloned RNase9 from a human epididymis cDNA library for characterization and analysis of its functions.
It was predicted that human RNase9 gene was located on chromosome 14q11.2 and encoded a 205 amino acids protein with a signal peptide of 26 amino acids at the N-terminus. The protein had eight conserved cysteine residues characteristic of the RNase A family members and several potential post-translational modification sites.
At the transcriptional level, RNase9 was expressed in a wide variety of tissues, and the expression was higher in men than in boys. RNase9 was localized to the post-equatorial region of the sperms' head. Immunofluorescence staining showed that RNase9 protein was present mostly in the epithelium of the epididymal tubule. Recombinant RNase9 had no ribonuclease activity. In addition, RNase9 had no detectable effect on sperm motility and fertilization as demonstrated by blocking spermatozoa with anti-RNase9 polyclonal serum.
RNase9 is expressed in a wide variety of tissues. It is located on the post-equatorial region of the sperm head and the epithelium of epididymal tubule. Although RNase9 belongs to the RNase A family, it has no ribonuclease activity.
PMCID: PMC2669477  PMID: 18992174
13.  Point and deletion mutations eliminate one or both methyl group transfers catalysed by the yeast TRM1 encoded tRNA (m22G26)dimethyltransferase. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1998;26(22):5102-5108.
Guanosine at position 26 in eukaryotic tRNAs is usually modified to N2 , N2 -dimethylguanosine (m22G26). In Saccharomyces cerevisiae , this reaction is catalysed by the TRM1 encoded tRNA (m22G26)dimethyltransferase. As a prerequisite for future studies, the yeast TRM1 gene was expressed in Escherichia coli and the His-tagged Trm1 protein (rTrm1p) was extensively purified. rTrm1p catalysed both the mono- and dimethylation of G26 in vivo in Escherichia coli tRNA and in vitro in yeast trm1 mutant tRNA. The TRM1 gene from two independent wild-type yeast strains differed at 14 base positions causing two amino acid exchanges . Exchange of the original Ser467 for Leu caused a complete loss of enzyme activity in vitro against trm1 yeast tRNA. Comparatively short N- or C-terminal deletions from the 570 amino acid long Trm1 polypeptide decreased or eliminated the enzyme activity, as did some point mutations within these regions. This indicated that the protein is not a two domain peptide with the enzyme activity localised to one of the domains, but rather that both ends of the polypeptide seem to interact to influence the conformation of those parts that make up the RNA-binding site and/or the active site of the enzyme.
PMCID: PMC147968  PMID: 9801306
14.  Cloning, sequencing, and expression of the Zymomonas mobilis fructokinase gene and structural comparison of the enzyme with other hexose kinases. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1992;174(11):3455-3460.
The frk gene encoding the enzyme fructokinase (fructose 6-phosphotransferase [EC]) from Zymomonas mobilis has been isolated on a partial TaqI digest fragment of the genome and sequenced. An open reading frame of 906 bp corresponding to 302 amino acids was identified on a 3-kbp TaqI fragment. The deduced amino acid sequence corresponds to the first 20 amino acids (including an N-terminal methionine) determined by amino acid sequencing of the purified protein. The 118 bp preceding the methionine codon on this fragment does not appear to contain a promoter sequence. There was weak expression of the active enzyme in the recombinant Escherichia coli clone under control of the lac promoter on the pUC plasmid. Comparison of the amino acid sequence with that of the glucokinase enzyme (EC from Z. mobilis reveals relatively little homology, despite the fact that fructokinase also binds glucose and has kinetic and structural properties similar to those of glucokinase. Also, there is little homology with hexose kinases that have been sequenced from other organisms. Northern (RNA) blot analysis showed that the frk transcript is 1.2 kb long. Fructokinase activity is elevated up to twofold when Z. mobilis was grown on fructose instead of glucose, and there was a parallel increase in frk mRNA levels. Differential mRNA stability was not a factor, since the half-lives of the frk transcript were 6.2 min for glucose-grown cells and 6.6 min for fructose-grown cells.
PMCID: PMC206027  PMID: 1317376
15.  Basal Ganglia Surface Morphology and the Effects of Stimulant Medications in Youth with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder 
The American journal of psychiatry  2010;167(8):977-986.
Disturbances in the basal ganglia portions of Cortico-Striato-Thalamo-Cortical (CSTC) circuits likely contribute to the symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This study examines the morphologic features of the basal ganglia nuclei (caudate, putamen, and globus pallidus) in children with ADHD.
We examined 104 individuals (47 with combined-type ADHD and 57 controls) aged 7 to 18 years, in a cross-sectional case-control study using anatomical magnetic resonance imaging. We measured conventional volumes and the surface morphology for the basal ganglia.
Overall volumes were significantly smaller only in the putamen. Analysis of the morphological surfaces revealed significant inward deformations in each of the three nuclei that were localized primarily in portions of these nuclei that are components of limbic, associative, and sensorimotor pathways in the CSTC circuits in which these nuclei reside. The more prominent these inward deformations were in the patient group, the more severe were their ADHD symptoms. Surface analyses also demonstrated significant outward deformations of all basal ganglia nuclei in the ADHD children treated with stimulants compared to those with ADHD who were untreated. These stimulant-associated enlargements were in locations similar to the reduced volumes detected in the ADHD group relative to controls. The outward deformations associated with stimulant medications attenuated the statistical effects of the primary group comparisons.
These findings potentially represent evidence of anatomical dysregulation in the circuitry of the basal ganglia of children with ADHD and suggest that stimulants may “normalize” morphological features of the basal ganglia in children with ADHD.
PMCID: PMC4254769  PMID: 20595414
16.  MiR-125b acts as an oncogene in glioblastoma cells and inhibits cell apoptosis through p53 and p38MAPK-independent pathways 
Wu, N | Lin, X | Zhao, X | Zheng, L | Xiao, L | Liu, J | Ge, L | Cao, S
British Journal of Cancer  2013;109(11):2853-2863.
We have recently identified miR-125b upregulation in glioblastoma (GMB). The aim of this study is to determine the correlation between miR-125b expression and malignant grades of glioma and the genes targeted by miR-125b.
Real-time PCR was employed to measure the expression level of miR-125b. Cell viability was evaluated by cell growth and colony formation in soft-agar assays. Cell apoptosis was determined by Hoechst 33342 staining and AnnexinV-FITC assay. The Luciferase assay was used to confirm the actual binding sites of p38MAPK mRNA. Western blot was used to detect the gene expression level.
The expression level of miR-125b is positively correlated with the malignant grade of glioma. Ectopic expression of miR-125b promotes the proliferation of GMB cells. Knockdown of endogenous miR-125b inhibits cell proliferation and promotes cell apoptosis. Further studies reveal that p53 is regulated by miR-125b. However, downregulation of the endogenous miR-125b also results in p53-independent apoptotic pathway leading to apoptosis in p53 mutated U251 cells and p53 knockdown U87 cells. Moreover, p38MAPK is also regulated by miR-125b and downregulation of miR-125b activates the p38MAPK-induced mitochondria apoptotic pathway.
High-level expression of miR-125b is associated with poor outcomes of GMB. MiR-125b may have an oncogenic role in GMB cells by promoting cell proliferation and inhibiting apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC3844918  PMID: 24169356
microRNA; miR-125b; glioblastoma; cell apoptosis; p53; p38MAPK
17.  The N-terminal region of p27 inhibits HIF-1α protein translation in ribosomal protein S6-dependent manner by regulating PHLPP-Ras-ERK-p90RSK axis 
Zhang, D | Liu, J | Mi, X | Liang, Y | Li, J | Huang, C
Cell Death & Disease  2014;5(11):e1535-.
P27 was identified as a tumor suppressor nearly two decades, being implicated in cell-cycle control, differentiation, senescence, apoptosis and motility. Our present study, for the first time to the best of our knowledge, revealed a potential role of p27 in inhibiting S6-mediated hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) protein translation, which contributed to the protection from environmental carcinogen (sodium arsenite)-induced cell transformation. Our findings showed that depletion of p27 expression by knockout and knockdown approaches efficiently enhanced S6 phosphorylation in arsenite response via overactivating Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK pathway, which consequently resulted in the stimulation of p90RSK (90 kDa ribosomal S6 kinase), a direct kinase for S6 phosphorylation. Although PI3K/AKT pathway was also involved in S6 activation, blocking AKT and p70S6K activation did not attenuate arsenite-induced S6 activation in p27−/− cells, suggesting p27 specifically targeted Ras/ERK pathway rather than PI3K/AKT pathway for inhibition of S6 activation in response to arsenite exposure. Further functional studies found that p27 had a negative role in cell transformation induced by chronic low-dose arsentie exposure. Mechanistic investigations showed that HIF-1α translation was upregulated in p27-deficient cells in an S6 phosphorylation-dependent manner and functioned as a driving force in arsenite-induced cell transformation. Knockdown of HIF-1α efficiently reversed arsenite-induced cell transformation in p27-depleted cells. Taken together, our findings provided strong evidence showing that by targeting Ras/ERK pathway, p27 provided a negative control over HIF-1α protein synthesis in an S6-dependent manner, and abrogated arsenite-induced cell transformation via downregulation of HIF-1α translation.
PMCID: PMC4260754  PMID: 25412313
18.  Zeaxanthin induces Nrf2-mediated phase II enzymes in protection of cell death 
Zou, X | Gao, J | Zheng, Y | Wang, X | Chen, C | Cao, K | Xu, J | Li, Y | Lu, W | Liu, J | Feng, Z
Cell Death & Disease  2014;5(5):e1218-.
Zeaxanthin (Zea) is a major carotenoid pigment contained in human retina, and its daily supplementation associated with lower risk of age-related macular degeneration. Despite known property of Zea as an antioxidant, its underlying molecular mechanisms of action remain poorly understood. In this study, we aim to study the regulation mechanism of Zea on phase II detoxification enzymes. In normal human retinal pigment epithelium cells, Zea promoted the nuclear translocation of NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and induced mRNA and protein expression of phase II enzymes, the induction was suppressed by specific knockdown of Nrf2. Zea also effectively protected against tert-butyl hydroperoxide-induced mitochondrial dysfunction and apoptosis. Glutathione (GSH) as the most important antioxidant was also induced by Zea through Nrf2 activation in a time- and dose-dependent manner, whereas the protective effects of Zea were decimated by inhibition of GSH synthesis. Finally, Zea activated the PI3K/Akt and MAPK/ERK pathway, whereas only PI3K/Akt activation correlated with phase II enzymes induction and Zea protection. In further in vivo analyses, Zea showed effects of inducing phase II enzymes and increased GSH content, which contributed to the reduced lipid and protein peroxidation in the retina as well as the liver, heart, and serum of the Sprague–Dawley rats. For the first time, Zea is presented as a phase II enzymes inducer instead of being an antioxidant. By activating Nrf2-mediated phase II enzymes, Zea could enhance anti-oxidative capacity and prevent cell death both in vivo and in vitro.
PMCID: PMC4047913  PMID: 24810054
zeaxanthin; glutathione; reactive oxygen species; Nrf2; mitochondria
19.  Prediction of Efficacy of Vabicaserin, a 5-HT2C Agonist, for the Treatment of Schizophrenia Using a Quantitative Systems Pharmacology Model 
A quantitative systems pharmacology model that combines in vitro/preclinical neurophysiology data, human imaging data, and patient disease information was used to blindly predict steady-state clinical efficacy of vabicaserin, a 5-HT2C full agonist, in monotherapy and, subsequently, to assess adjunctive therapy in schizophrenia. The model predicted a concentration-dependent improvement of positive and negative syndrome scales (PANSS) in schizophrenia monotherapy with vabicaserin. At the exposures of 100 and 200 mg b.i.d., the predicted improvements on PANSS in virtual patient trials were 5.12 (2.20, 8.56) and 6.37 (2.27, 10.40) (mean (95% confidence interval)), respectively, which are comparable to the observed phase IIa results. At the current clinical exposure limit of vabicaserin, the model predicted an ~9-point PANSS improvement in monotherapy, and <4-point PANSS improvement adjunctive with various antipsychotics, suggesting limited clinical benefit of vabicaserin in schizophrenia treatment. In conclusion, the updated quantitative systems pharmacology model of PANSS informed the clinical development decision of vabicaserin in schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC4011163  PMID: 24759548
21.  Role of Th1 and Th17 imbalance in acute lung injury mice 
Critical Care  2014;18(Suppl 1):P336.
PMCID: PMC4069566
23.  Comparison of CD80 level on dendritic cells in acute lung injury mice 
Critical Care  2014;18(Suppl 1):P337.
PMCID: PMC4069596
24.  VNP: Interactive Visual Network Pharmacology of Diseases, Targets, and Drugs 
In drug discovery, promiscuous targets, multifactorial diseases, and “dirty” drugs construct complex network relationships. Network pharmacology description and analysis not only give a systems-level understanding of drug action and disease complexity but can also help to improve the efficiency of target selection and drug design. Visual network pharmacology (VNP) is developed to visualize network pharmacology of targets, diseases, and drugs with a graph network by using disease, target or drug names, chemical structures, or protein sequence. To our knowledge, VNP is the first free interactive VNP server that should be very helpful for systems pharmacology research. VNP is freely available at
PMCID: PMC4039393  PMID: 24622768
25.  mTORC1 enhancement of STIM1-mediated store-operated Ca2+ entry constrains tuberous sclerosis complex-related tumor development 
Peng, H | Liu, J | Sun, Q | Chen, R | Wang, Y | Duan, J | Li, C | Li, B | Jing, Y | Chen, X | Mao, Q | Xu, K-F | Walker, CL | Li, J | Wang, J | Zhang, H
Oncogene  2012;32(39):4702-4711.
The protein complex of tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC)1 and TSC2 tumor suppressors is a key negative regulator of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Hyperactive mTOR signaling due to the loss-of-function of mutations in either TSC1 or TSC2 gene causes TSC, an autosomal dominant disorder featured with benign tumors in multiple organs. As the ubiquitous second messenger calcium (Ca2+) regulates various cellular processes involved in tumorigenesis, we explored the potential role of mTOR in modulation of cellular Ca2+ homeostasis, and in turn the effect of Ca2+ signaling in TSC-related tumor development. We found that loss of Tsc2 potentiated store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE) in an mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1)-dependent way. The endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ sensor, stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1), was upregulated in Tsc2-deficient cells, and was suppressed by mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin. In addition, SOCE repressed AKT1 phosphorylation. Blocking SOCE either by depleting STIM1 or ectopically expressing dominant-negative Orai1 accelerated TSC-related tumor development, likely because of restored AKT1 activity and enhanced tumor angiogenesis. Our data, therefore, suggest that mTORC1 enhancement of store-operated Ca2+ signaling hinders TSC-related tumor growth through suppression of AKT1 signaling. The augmented SOCE by hyperactive mTORC1-STIM1 cascade may contribute to the benign nature of TSC-related tumors. Application of SOCE agonists could thus be a contraindication for TSC patients. In contrast, SOCE agonists should attenuate mTOR inhibitors-mediated AKT reactivation and consequently potentiate their efficacy in the treatment of the patients with TSC.
PMCID: PMC3931471  PMID: 23108404
TSC; mTORC1; STIM1; calcium; tumorigenesis

Results 1-25 (117)