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In response to stress, cells can utilize several cellular processes, such as autophagy, which is a bulk-lysosomal degradation pathway, to mitigate damages and increase the chances of cell survival. Deregulation of autophagy causes upregulation of p62 and the formation of p62-containing aggregates, which are associated with neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. The Nrf2-Keap1 pathway functions as a critical regulator of the cell's defense mechanism against oxidative stress by controlling the expression of many cellular protective proteins. Under basal conditions, Nrf2 is ubiquitinated by the Keap1-Cul3-E3 ubiquitin ligase complex and targeted to the 26S proteasome for degradation. Upon induction, the activity of the E3 ubiquitin ligase is inhibited through the modification of cysteine residues in Keap1, resulting in the stabilization and activation of Nrf2. In this current study, we identified the direct interaction between p62 and Keap1 and the residues required for the interaction have been mapped to 349-DPSTGE-354 in p62 and three arginines in the Kelch domain of Keap1. Accumulation of endogenous p62 or ectopic expression of p62 sequesters Keap1 into aggregates, resulting in the inhibition of Keap1-mediated Nrf2 ubiquitination and its subsequent degradation by the proteasome. In contrast, overexpression of mutated p62, which loses its ability to interact with Keap1, had no effect on Nrf2 stability, demonstrating that p62-mediated Nrf2 upregulation is Keap1 dependent. These findings demonstrate that autophagy deficiency activates the Nrf2 pathway in a noncanonical cysteine-independent mechanism.

Type II endometrial cancer, which mainly presents as serous and clear cell types, has proved to be the most malignant and recurrent carcinoma among various female genital malignancies. The transcription factor Nrf2 was first described as having chemopreventive activity. Activation of the Nrf2-mediated cellular defense response protects cells against the toxic and carcinogenic effects of environmental insults by upregulating an array of genes that detoxify reactive oxygen species and restore cellular redox homeostasis. However, the cancer-promoting role of Nrf2 has recently been revealed. Nrf2 is constitutively upregulated in several types of human cancer tissues and cancer cell lines. Furthermore, inhibition of Nrf2 expression sensitizes cancer cells to chemotherapeutic drugs. In this study, the constitutive level of Nrf2 was compared in different types of human endometrial tumors. It was found that Nrf2 was highly expressed in endometrial serous carcinoma (ESC), whereas complex hyperplasia and endometrial endometrioid carcinoma (EEC) had no or marginal expression of Nrf2. Likewise, the ESC-derived SPEC-2 cell line had a higher level of Nrf2 expression and was more resistant to the toxic effects of cisplatin and paclitaxel than the Ishikawa cell line, which was generated from EEC. Silencing of Nrf2 rendered SPEC-2 cells more susceptible to chemotherapeutic drugs, whereas it had a limited effect on Ishikawa cells. Inhibition of Nrf2 expression by overexpressing Keap1 sensitized SPEC-2 cells or SPEC-2-derived xenografts to chemotherapeutic treatments using both cell culture and severe combined immunodeficient mouse models. Collectively, we provide a molecular basis for the use of Nrf2 inhibitors to increase the efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs and to combat chemoresistance, the biggest obstacle in chemotherapy.

Many bacterial pathogens are becoming drug resistant faster than we can develop new antimicrobials. To address this threat in public health, a metamodel antimicrobial cocktail optimization (MACO) scheme is demonstrated for rapid screening of potent antibiotic cocktails using uropathogenic clinical isolates as model systems. With the MACO scheme, only 18 parallel trials were required to determine a potent antimicrobial cocktail out of hundreds of possible combinations. In particular, trimethoprim and gentamicin were identified to work synergistically for inhibiting the bacterial growth. Sensitivity analysis indicated gentamicin functions as a synergist for trimethoprim, and reduces its minimum inhibitory concentration for 40-fold. Validation study also confirmed that the trimethoprim-gentamicin synergistic cocktail effectively inhibited the growths of multiple strains of uropathogenic clinical isolates. With its effectiveness and simplicity, the MACO scheme possesses the potential to serve as a generic platform for identifying synergistic antimicrobial cocktails toward management of bacterial infection in the future.

OBJECTIVE:
Diabetic nephropathy is one of the major causes of renal failure, which is accompanied by the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Nrf2 is the primary transcription factor that controls the antioxidant response essential for maintaining cellular redox homeostasis. Here, we report our findings demonstrating a protective role of Nrf2 against diabetic nephropathy.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS:
We explore the protective role of Nrf2 against diabetic nephropathy using human kidney biopsy tissues from diabetic nephropathy patients, a streptozotocin-induced diabetic nephropathy model in Nrf2(-/-) mice, and cultured human mesangial cells.

RESULTS:
The glomeruli of human diabetic nephropathy patients were under oxidative stress and had elevated Nrf2 levels. In the animal study, Nrf2 was demonstrated to be crucial in ameliorating streptozotocin-induced renal damage. This is evident by Nrf2(-/-) mice having higher ROS production and suffering from greater oxidative DNA damage and renal injury compared with Nrf2(+/+) mice. Mechanistic studies in both in vivo and in vitro systems showed that the Nrf2-mediated protection against diabetic nephropathy is, at least, partially through inhibition of transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1) and reduction of extracellular matrix production. In human renal mesangial cells, high glucose induced ROS production and activated expression of Nrf2 and its downstream genes. Furthermore, activation or overexpression of Nrf2 inhibited the promoter activity of TGF-beta1 in a dose-dependent manner, whereas knockdown of Nrf2 by siRNA enhanced TGF-beta1 transcription and fibronectin production.

CONCLUSIONS:
This work clearly indicates a protective role of Nrf2 in diabetic nephropathy, suggesting that dietary or therapeutic activation of Nrf2 could be used as a strategy to prevent or slow down the progression of diabetic nephropathy.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a major cause of tumor-related morbidity and mortality worldwide. Recent research suggests that pharmacological intervention using dietary factors that activate the redox sensitive Nrf2/Keap1-ARE signaling pathway may represent a promising strategy for chemoprevention of human cancer including CRC. In our search for dietary Nrf2 activators with potential chemopreventive activity targeting CRC, we have focused our studies on trans-cinnamic aldehyde (cinnamaldeyde, CA), the key flavor compound in cinnamon essential oil. Here we demonstrate that CA and an ethanolic extract (CE) prepared from Cinnamomum cassia bark, standardized for CA content by GC-MS analysis, display equipotent activity as inducers of Nrf2 transcriptional activity. In human colon cancer cells (HCT116, HT29) and non-immortalized primary fetal colon cells (FHC), CA- and CE-treatment upregulated cellular protein levels of Nrf2 and established Nrf2 targets involved in the antioxidant response including heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) and gamma-glutamyl-cysteine synthetase (gamma-GCS, catalytic subunit). CA- and CE-pretreatment strongly upregulated cellular glutathione levels and protected HCT116 cells against hydrogen peroxide-induced genotoxicity and arsenic-induced oxidative insult. Taken together our data demonstrate that the cinnamon-derived food factor CA is a potent activator of the Nrf2-orchestrated antioxidant response in cultured human epithelial colon cells. CA may therefore represent an underappreciated chemopreventive dietary factor targeting colorectal carcinogenesis.

This study reports the use of microfluidics, which intrinsically has a large surface-to-volume ratio, toward rapid antimicrobial susceptibility testing at the point of care. By observing the growth of uropathogenic Escherichia coli in gas permeable polymeric microchannels with different dimensions, we demonstrate that the large surface-to-volume ratio of microfluidic systems facilitates rapid growth of bacteria. For microchannels with 250 microm or less in depth, the effective oxygenation can sustain the growth of E. coli to over 10(9) cfu/mL without external agitation or oxygenation, which eliminates the requirement of bulky instrumentation and facilitates rapid bacterial growth for antimicrobial susceptibility testing at the point of care. The applicability of microfluidic rapid antimicrobial susceptibility testing is demonstrated in culture media and in urine with clinical bacterial isolates that have different antimicrobial resistance profiles. The antimicrobial resistance pattern can be determined as rapidly as 2 h compared to days in standard clinical procedures facilitating diagnostics at the point of care.

The leaf volatile components of Mexican Bursera linanoe were identified as (R)-(-)-linalyl acetate (57.6%; 95.5% ee) and (S)-(-)-germacrene D (39.3%; 100% ee) by solvent extraction and GC-MS and chiral GC analyses. Linalool was previously reported as the major component from the leaves of B. linanoe. However, we believe that this is a decomposition product of linalyl acetate during steam distillation, a common method for extraction of essential oils. The chemically unique blend in the leaves of B. linanoe may act as a chemical barrier against its potential herbivores, Blepharida beetles that have a tendency for attacking chemically similar plants as hosts.

A novel hybrid melanocortin pharmacophore was designed based on the pharmacophores of the agouti-signaling protein (ASIP), an endogenous melanocortin antagonist, and α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH), an endogenous melanocortin agonist. The designed hybrid ASIP/MSH pharmacophore was explored in monomeric cyclic, and cyclodimeric templates. The monomeric cyclic disulfide series yielded peptides with hMC3R-selective non-competitive binding affinities. The direct on-resin peptide lactam cyclodimerization yielded nanomolar range (25-120 nM) hMC1R-selective full and partial agonists in the cyclodimeric lactam series which demonstrates an improvement over the previous attempts at hybridization of MSH and agouti protein sequences. The secondary structure-oriented pharmacophore hybridization strategy will prove useful in development of unique allosteric and orthosteric melanocortin receptor modulators. This report also illustrates the utility of peptide cyclodimerization for the development of novel GPCR peptide ligands.

Lanthanide-based luminescent ligand binding assays are superior to traditional radiolabel assays due to improving sensitivity and affordability in high-throughput screening while eliminating the use of radioactivity. Despite significant progress using lanthanide(III)-coordinated chelators such as diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA) derivatives, dissociation-enhanced lanthanide fluoroimmunoassays (DELFIAs) have not yet been successfully used with more stable chelators (e.g., tetraazacyclododecyltetraacetic acid [DOTA] derivatives) due to the incomplete release of lanthanide(III) ions from the complex. Here a modified and optimized DELFIA procedure incorporating an acid treatment protocol is introduced for use with Eu(III)-DOTA-labeled peptides. Complete release of Eu(III) ions from DOTA-labeled ligands was observed using hydrochloric acid (2.0M) prior to the luminescent enhancement step. [Nle(4),d-Phe(7)]-alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (NDP-alpha-MSH) labeled with Eu(III)-DOTA was synthesized, and the binding affinity to cells overexpressing the human melanocortin-4 (hMC4) receptor was evaluated using the modified protocol. Binding data indicate that the Eu(III)-DOTA-linked peptide bound to these cells with an affinity similar to its DTPA analogue. The modified DELFIA procedure was further used to monitor the binding of an Eu(III)-DOTA-labeled heterobivalent peptide to the cells expressing both hMC4 and cholecystokinin-2 (CCK-2) receptors. The modified assay provides superior results and is appropriate for high-throughput screening of ligand libraries.

The effects of perfluorination of aryl thiols on surface coverage, surface electronic properties, and molecular orientation of self-assembled monolayers of thiophenol (TP) and pentafluorothiophenol (F(5)TP) on polycrystalline Ag were evaluated using linear sweep voltammetry, ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy (UPS), and surface Raman spectroscopy, respectively. Electrochemical reductive desorption by linear sweep voltammetry indicates a surface coverage for the TP monolayer of (5.07 +/- 1.29) x 10(-10) mol/cm(2), equating to a molecular area of 32.8 +/- 8.3 A(2), and a surface coverage for the F(5)TP monolayer of (1.95 +/- 0.59) x 10(-10) mol/cm(2), equating to an area of 85.2 +/- 25.8 A(2)/molecule. TP-modified Ag exhibits a change in work function (DeltaPhi) of -0.64 eV relative to bare Ag, whereas F(5)TP-modified Ag exhibits a DeltaPhi of +0.54 eV relative to bare Ag. Quantitative analysis of the UPS and reductive desorption results yields molecular pictures of the proposed interfaces with TP molecules tilted <20 degrees from the surface normal in a herringbone pattern spaced 6.4 A apart and F(5)TP molecules in a more disordered arrangement tilted 67 degrees from the surface normal with an intermolecular distance of 10.4 A. Qualitative surface Raman spectroscopic analysis of in-plane and out-of-plane modes for these systems confirms that TP molecules are oriented more vertical than F(5)TP molecules in these monolayers.

While variable production of the biosurfactant, rhamnolipid, by Pseudomonas aeruginosa has been shown to be dependent on growth conditions, no research has evaluated potential relationships between rhamnolipid production and the presence of heavy metals. The current investigation evaluates the influence of Cd(2+) on rhamnolipid synthesis. Cultures grown in the presence of 0.45 and 0.89 mM Cd(2+) were monitored for rhlB/rhlC expression, rhamnolipid yield, and the ratio of monorhamnolipid (RL1) and dirhamnolipid (RL2) produced. Results show a Cd-induced enhancement of rhlB expression in mid-stationary phase (53 h). In addition, sustained production of rhamnolipid through late stationary growth phase (96 h) was observed for Cd-amended cultures, unlike Cd-free control cultures that ceased rhamnolipid production by mid-stationary growth phase. Most significant was an observed increase in the ratio of RL2 to RL1 congeners produced by cultures grown in the presence of Cd(2+). Previous results have shown that the complexation constant for RL2-Cd is several orders of magnitude larger than that of RL1-Cd thus the preferential production of RL2 in the presence of Cd(2+) impacts its bioavailability and toxicity both for the cell and in the surrounding environment.

Malaria (Plasmodium spp.) kills nearly one million people annually and this number will likely increase as drug and insecticide resistance reduces the effectiveness of current control strategies. The most important human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, undergoes a complex developmental cycle in the mosquito that takes approximately two weeks and begins with the invasion of the mosquito midgut. Here, we demonstrate that increased Akt signaling in the mosquito midgut disrupts parasite development and concurrently reduces the duration that mosquitoes are infective to humans. Specifically, we found that increased Akt signaling in the midgut of heterozygous Anopheles stephensi reduced the number of infected mosquitoes by 60-99%. Of those mosquitoes that were infected, we observed a 75-99% reduction in parasite load. In homozygous mosquitoes with increased Akt signaling parasite infection was completely blocked. The increase in midgut-specific Akt signaling also led to an 18-20% reduction in the average mosquito lifespan. Thus, activation of Akt signaling reduced the number of infected mosquitoes, the number of malaria parasites per infected mosquito, and the duration of mosquito infectivity.

Malaria (Plasmodium spp.) kills nearly one million people annually and this number will likely increase as drug and insecticide resistance reduces the effectiveness of current control strategies. The most important human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, undergoes a complex developmental cycle in the mosquito that takes approximately two weeks and begins with the invasion of the mosquito midgut. Here, we demonstrate that increased Akt signaling in the mosquito midgut disrupts parasite development and concurrently reduces the duration that mosquitoes are infective to humans. Specifically, we found that increased Akt signaling in the midgut of heterozygous Anopheles stephensi reduced the number of infected mosquitoes by 60-99%. Of those mosquitoes that were infected, we observed a 75-99% reduction in parasite load. In homozygous mosquitoes with increased Akt signaling parasite infection was completely blocked. The increase in midgut-specific Akt signaling also led to an 18-20% reduction in the average mosquito lifespan. Thus, activation of Akt signaling reduced the number of infected mosquitoes, the number of malaria parasites per infected mosquito, and the duration of mosquito infectivity.

Dietary restriction extends lifespan in many organisms, but little is known about how it affects hematophagous arthropods. We demonstrated that diet restriction during either larval or adult stages extends Aedes aegypti lifespan. A. aegypti females fed either single or no blood meals survived 30-40% longer than those given weekly blood meals. However, mosquitoes given weekly blood meals produced far more eggs. To minimize reproduction's impact on lifespan, adult mosquitoes were fed artificial blood meals containing <10% of the protein in normal human blood, minimizing egg production. A. aegypti fed artificial blood meals containing 25mg/ml of BSA had significantly shorter lifespans than those fed either 10 or 5mg/ml. To assess the impact of larval dietary restriction on adult lifespan, we maintained larval A. aegypti on 2X, 1X (normal diet), 0.5X or 0.25X diets. Adult mosquitoes fed 0.5X and 0.25X larval diets survived significantly longer than those fed the 2X larval diet regardless of adult diet. In summary, dietary restriction during both larval and adult stages extends lifespan. This diet-mediated lifespan extension has important consequences for understanding how dietary restriction regulates lifespan and disease transmission.

With the advent of several innovative wound care management tools, the choice of products and treatment modalities available to clinicians continues to expand. High costs associated with wound care, especially diabetic foot wounds, make it important for clinician scientists to research alternative therapies and optimally incorporate them into wound care protocols appropriately. This article reviews using sugar as a treatment option in diabetic foot care and provides a guide to its appropriate use in healing foot ulcers. In addition to a clinical case study, the physiological significance and advantages of sugar are discussed.

The standard of care for wound coverage is to use an autologous skin graft. However, large or chronic wounds become an exceptionally challenging problem especially when donor sites are limited. It is important that the clinician be aware of various treatment modalities for wound care and incorporate those methods appropriately in the proper clinical context. This report reviews an alternative to traditional meshed skin grafting for wound coverage: micrografting. The physiological concept of micrografting, along with historical context, and the evolution of the technique are discussed, as well as studies needed for micrograft characterization and future applications of the technique.

Splenectomy has been reported to have a beneficial effect in treating Acute antibody-mediated rejection (ABMR). This reason for this often rapid and profound beneficial effect is not readily apparent from what is known about normal splenic immunoarchitecture. While the spleen is rich in mature B cells, it has not been noted to be a repository for direct antibody-secreting cells. We present a case of a Native American female who received a renal transplant and developed a severe episode of ABMR. The patient was initially refractory to both plasmapheresis and IVIG. The patient underwent an emergent splenectomy with almost immediate improvement in her renal function and a rapid drop in her DR51 antibodies. Immunohistochemical stains of the spleen demonstrated abundant clusters of CD138+ plasma cells (>10% CD138 cells as opposed to 1% CD138 cells as seen in traumatic controls). Though this is a single case, these findings offer a rationale for the rapid ameliorative effect of splenectomy in cases of antibody rejection. It is possible that the spleen during times of excessive antigenic stress may rapidly turn over B cells to active antibody-secreting cells or serve as a reservoir for these cells produced at other sites.

Unraveling the diversification history of old, species-rich and widespread clades is difficult because of extinction, undersampling, and taxonomic uncertainty. In the context of these challenges, we investigated the timing and mode of lineage diversification in Senna (Leguminosae) to gain insights into the evolutionary role of extrafloral nectaries (EFNs). EFNs secrete nectar, attracting ants and forming ecologically important ant-plant mutualisms. In Senna, EFNs characterize one large clade (EFN clade), including 80% of its 350 species. Taxonomic accounts make Senna the largest caesalpinioid genus, but quantitative comparisons to other taxa require inferences about rates. Molecular dating analyses suggest that Senna originated in the early Eocene, and its major lineages appeared during early/mid Eocene to early Oligocene. EFNs evolved in the late Eocene, after the main radiation of ants. The EFN clade diversified faster, becoming significantly more species-rich than non-EFN clades. The shift in diversification rates associated with EFN evolution supports the hypothesis that EFNs represent a (relatively old) key innovation in Senna. EFNs may have promoted the colonization of new habitats appearing with the early uplift of the Andes. This would explain the distinctive geographic concentration of the EFN clade in South America.

BACKGROUND:
Non-well-differentiated cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas may display a more aggressive behavior. It is important to better define prognostic criteria for these tumors.

METHODS:
This was a retrospective case-control analysis of a squamous cell carcinoma database. Patients with non-well-differentiated and well-differentiated tumors were matched based on site of tumor, age, and immunocompromised status. Comparisons included demographics, histology, immunohistochemical protein expressions (Ki-67, p53, E-cadherin, cyclin D1), and clinical outcomes.

RESULTS:
Demographic features were similar between cases (n=30) and controls (n=30). Non-well-differentiated tumors were larger (1.8 cm versus 1.3 cm, P=0.08), deeper (0.81 cm versus 0.32 cm, P<0.0001), and had greater recurrence (P=0.003). Non-well-differentiated tumors showed increased proliferation rate, Ki-67 index (77% versus 61%, P=0.001); no significant difference in activity of p53, E-cadherin, and cyclin D1 between the two groups.

CONCLUSIONS:
Tumor differentiation and depth are important pathologic and prognostic criteria for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. Immunohistochemistry helps describe patterns of biomarker protein expression and may exemplify aggressive subtypes.

Xenorhabdus spp., are gram-negative bacterial symbionts of entomopathogenic nematodes in the genus Steinernema. A specialized and intimate relationship exists between nematode and bacteria, affecting many of their life history traits, such as nutrition, dispersal, host-finding, foraging and defense from biotic and abiotic factors. Xenorhabdus currently comprises more than 20 species isolated from Steinernema spp. with diverse host range, host foraging behavior, reproductive modes and environmental tolerance. Xenorhabdus phylogenies have historically been based on 16s rDNA sequence analyses, and only recently has data from housekeeping genes been employed. The prevalence of lateral gene transfer among bacteria calls for a wider perspective when considering their phylogeny. With the increasing number of Xenorhabdus species and strains, various perspectives need to be considered for investigating the evolutionary history of these nematode bacterial symbionts, In this study, we reconstruct the evolutionary histories of 30 species of Xenorhabdus considering the traditional 16s rDNA gene region as well as the housekeeping genes recA and serC. Datasets were analyzed individually and then combined, using a variety of phylogenetic criteria.

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