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1.  Aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 activation in heart failure restores mitochondrial function and improves ventricular function and remodelling 
Cardiovascular Research  2014;103(4):498-508.
We previously demonstrated that pharmacological activation of mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) protects the heart against acute ischaemia/reperfusion injury. Here, we determined the benefits of chronic activation of ALDH2 on the progression of heart failure (HF) using a post-myocardial infarction model.
Methods and results
We showed that a 6-week treatment of myocardial infarction-induced HF rats with a selective ALDH2 activator (Alda-1), starting 4 weeks after myocardial infarction at a time when ventricular remodelling and cardiac dysfunction were present, improved cardiomyocyte shortening, cardiac function, left ventricular compliance and diastolic function under basal conditions, and after isoproterenol stimulation. Importantly, sustained Alda-1 treatment showed no toxicity and promoted a cardiac anti-remodelling effect by suppressing myocardial hypertrophy and fibrosis. Moreover, accumulation of 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE)-protein adducts and protein carbonyls seen in HF was not observed in Alda-1-treated rats, suggesting that increasing the activity of ALDH2 contributes to the reduction of aldehydic load in failing hearts. ALDH2 activation was associated with improved mitochondrial function, including elevated mitochondrial respiratory control ratios and reduced H2O2 release. Importantly, selective ALDH2 activation decreased mitochondrial Ca2+-induced permeability transition and cytochrome c release in failing hearts. Further supporting a mitochondrial mechanism for ALDH2, Alda-1 treatment preserved mitochondrial function upon in vitro aldehydic load.
Selective activation of mitochondrial ALDH2 is sufficient to improve the HF outcome by reducing the toxic effects of aldehydic overload on mitochondrial bioenergetics and reactive oxygen species generation, suggesting that ALDH2 activators, such as Alda-1, have a potential therapeutic value for treating HF patients.
PMCID: PMC4155470  PMID: 24817685
Oxidant stress; Heart disease; Mitochondria; Pharmacological therapy; Bioenergetics
2.  Mitochondrial import of PKCε is mediated by HSP90: a role in cardioprotection from ischaemia and reperfusion injury 
Cardiovascular Research  2010;88(1):83-92.
Protein kinase C epsilon (PKCε) is critical for cardiac protection from ischaemia and reperfusion (IR) injury. PKCε substrates that mediate cytoprotection reside in the mitochondria. However, the mechanism enabling mitochondrial translocation and import of PKCε to enable phosphorylation of these substrates is not known. Heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) is a cytoprotective protein chaperone that participates in mitochondrial import of a number of proteins. Here, we investigated the role of HSP90 in mitochondrial import of PKCε.
Methods and results
Using an ex vivo perfused rat heart model of IR, we found that PKCε translocates from the cytosol to the mitochondrial fraction following IR. Immunogold electron microscopy and mitochondrial fractionation demonstrated that following IR, mitochondrial PKCε is localized within the mitochondria, on the inner mitochondrial membrane. Pharmacological inhibition of HSP90 prevented IR-induced interaction between PKCε and the translocase of the outer membrane (Tom20), reduced mitochondrial import of PKCε, and increased necrotic cell death by ∼70%. Using a rational approach, we designed a 7-amino acid peptide activator of PKCε, derived from an HSP90 homologous sequence located in the C2 domain of PKCε (termed ψεHSP90). Treatment with this peptide (conjugated to the cell permeating TAT protein-derived peptide, TAT47–57) increased PKCε–HSP90 protein–protein interaction, enhanced mitochondrial translocation of PKCε, increased phosphorylation and activity of an intra-mitochondrial PKCε substrate, aldehyde dehydrogenase 2, and reduced cardiac injury in ex vivo and in vivo models of myocardial infarction.
Our results suggest that HSP90-mediated mitochondrial import of PKCε plays an important role in the protection of the myocardium from IR injury.
PMCID: PMC2936125  PMID: 20558438
Protein kinase C epsilon; Mitochondria; Protein–protein interaction; Ischaemia reperfusion; Heat shock protein 90
3.  Mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase and cardiac diseases 
Cardiovascular Research  2010;88(1):51-57.
Numerous conditions promote oxidative stress, leading to the build-up of reactive aldehydes that cause cell damage and contribute to cardiac diseases. Aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDHs) are important enzymes that eliminate toxic aldehydes by catalysing their oxidation to non-reactive acids. The review will discuss evidence indicating a role for a specific ALDH enzyme, the mitochondrial ALDH2, in combating oxidative stress by reducing the cellular ‘aldehydic load’. Epidemiological studies in humans carrying an inactive ALDH2, genetic models in mice with altered ALDH2 levels, and small molecule activators of ALDH2 all highlight the role of ALDH2 in cardioprotection and suggest a promising new direction in cardiovascular research and the development of new treatments for cardiovascular diseases.
PMCID: PMC2936126  PMID: 20558439
ALDH2; Mitochondria; Ischaemia; Nitroglycerin; Alda-1
4.  Ischaemic preconditioning improves proteasomal activity and increases the degradation of δPKC during reperfusion 
Cardiovascular Research  2009;85(2):385-394.
The response of the myocardium to an ischaemic insult is regulated by two highly homologous protein kinase C (PKC) isozymes, δ and εPKC. Here, we determined the spatial and temporal relationships between these two isozymes in the context of ischaemia/reperfusion (I/R) and ischaemic preconditioning (IPC) to better understand their roles in cardioprotection.
Methods and results
Using an ex vivo rat model of myocardial infarction, we found that short bouts of ischaemia and reperfusion prior to the prolonged ischaemic event (IPC) diminished δPKC translocation by 3.8-fold and increased εPKC accumulation at mitochondria by 16-fold during reperfusion. In addition, total cellular levels of δPKC decreased by 60 ± 2.7% in response to IPC, whereas the levels of εPKC did not significantly change. Prolonged ischaemia induced a 48 ± 11% decline in the ATP-dependent proteasomal activity and increased the accumulation of misfolded proteins during reperfusion by 192 ± 32%; both of these events were completely prevented by IPC. Pharmacological inhibition of the proteasome or selective inhibition of εPKC during IPC restored δPKC levels at the mitochondria while decreasing εPKC levels, resulting in a loss of IPC-induced protection from I/R. Importantly, increased myocardial injury was the result, in part, of restoring a δPKC-mediated I/R pro-apoptotic phenotype by decreasing pro-survival signalling and increasing cytochrome c release into the cytosol.
Taken together, our findings indicate that IPC prevents I/R injury at reperfusion by protecting ATP-dependent 26S proteasomal function. This decreases the accumulation of the pro-apoptotic kinase, δPKC, at cardiac mitochondria, resulting in the accumulation of the pro-survival kinase, εPKC.
PMCID: PMC2797452  PMID: 19820255
Cardioprotection; Ischaemia/reperfusion; Apoptosis; Proteasome; PKC; Ischaemic preconditioning
5.  Protein kinase C in heart failure: a therapeutic target? 
Cardiovascular Research  2009;82(2):229-239.
Heart failure (HF) afflicts about 5 million people and causes 300 000 deaths a year in the United States alone. An integral part of the pathogenesis of HF is cardiac remodelling, and the signalling events that regulate it are a subject of intense research. Cardiac remodelling is the sum of responses of the heart to causes of HF, such as ischaemia, myocardial infarction, volume and pressure overload, infection, inflammation, and mechanical injury. These responses, including cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, myocardial fibrosis, and inflammation, involve numerous cellular and structural changes and ultimately result in a progressive decline in cardiac performance. Pharmacological and genetic manipulation of cultured heart cells and animal models of HF and the analysis of cardiac samples from patients with HF are all used to identify the molecular and cellular mechanisms leading to the disease. Protein kinase C (PKC) isozymes, a family of serine–threonine protein kinase enzymes, were found to regulate a number of cardiac responses, including those associated with HF. In this review, we describe the PKC isozymes that play critical roles in specific aspects of cardiac remodelling and dysfunction in HF.
PMCID: PMC2675930  PMID: 19168855
Protein kinase C; Heart failure; Cardiac remodeling; Hypertrophy; Fibrosis and inflammation

Results 1-5 (5)