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Two alpha-isoforms of the Na+-K+-ATPase are expressed in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). The alpha 1-isoform is proposed to serve a cytosolic housekeeping role, whereas the alpha 2-isoform modulates Ca2+ storage via coupling to the Na+-Ca2+ exchanger (NCX) in a subsarcolemmal compartment. To evaluate the ramifications of this proposed interaction, Ca2+-store load and the contributions of the primary Ca2+ transporters to Ca2+ clearance were studied in aortic VSMCs from embryonic wild-type (WT) and Na+-K+-ATPase alpha 2-isoform gene-ablated, homozygous null knockout (alpha 2-KO) mice. Ca2+ stores were unloaded by inhibiting the sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase with cyclopiazonic acid (CPA) in Ca2+-free media to limit Ca2+ influx. Ca2+ clearance by the plasma membrane Ca2+-ATPase (PMCA), NCX, or mitochondria was selectively inhibited. In WT VSMCs, NCX accounted for 90% of the Ca2+ efflux. In alpha 2-KO VSMCs, preferential clearance of store-released Ca2+ by NCX was lost, whereas PMCA activity was increased. Selective inhibition of the alpha 2-isoform (0.5 microM ouabain for 20 min), before treatment with CPA enhanced the store load in VSMCs from WT, but not alpha 2-KO mice. A subsequent analysis of capacitative Ca2+ entry (CCE) indicated that the magnitude of Ca2+ influx was significantly greater in alpha 2-KO cells. Our findings support the concept of a subsarcolemmal space where the alpha 2-isoform coupled with NCX modulates Ca2+-store function and, thereby, CCE.

In the most general sense, studies involving global analysis of gene expression aim to provide a comprehensive catalog of the components involved in the production of recognizable cellular phenotypes. These studies are often limited by the available technologies. One technology, based on microarrays, categorizes gene expression in terms of the abundance of RNA transcripts, and typically employs RNA prepared from whole cells, where cytoplasmic RNA predominates.

Using microarrays comprising oligonucleotide probes that represent either protein-coding transcripts or microRNAs (miRNA), we have studied global transcript accumulation patterns for the HepG2 (human hepatoma) cell line. Through subdividing the total pool of RNA transcripts into samples from nuclei, the cytoplasm, and whole cells, we determined the degree of correlation of these patterns across these different subcellular locations. The transcript and miRNA abundance patterns for the three RNA fractions were largely similar, but with some exceptions: nuclear RNA samples were enriched with respect to the cytoplasm in transcripts encoding proteins associated with specific nuclear functions, such as the cell cycle, mitosis, and transcription. The cytoplasmic RNA fraction also was enriched, when compared to the nucleus, in transcripts for proteins related to specific nuclear functions, including the cell cycle, DNA replication, and DNA repair. Some transcripts related to the ubiquitin cycle, and transcripts for various membrane proteins were sorted into either the nuclear or cytoplasmic fractions.

Enrichment or compartmentalization of cell cycle and ubiquitin cycle transcripts within the nucleus may be related to the regulation of their expression, by preventing their translation to proteins. In this way, these cellular functions may be tightly controlled by regulating the release of mRNA from the nucleus and thereby the expression of key rate limiting steps in these pathways. Many miRNA precursors were also enriched in the nuclear samples, with significantly fewer being enriched in the cytoplasm. Studies of mRNA localization will help to clarify the roles RNA processing and transport play in the regulation of cellular function.

The Na(+)-K(+)-ATPase (NKA) is a transmembrane protein that sets and maintains the electrochemical gradient by extruding three Na(+) in exchange for two K(+). An important physiological role proposed for vascular smooth muscle NKA is the regulation of blood pressure via modulation of vascular smooth muscle contractility (5). To investigate the relations between the level of NKA in smooth muscle and blood pressure, we developed mice carrying a transgene for either the NKA alpha(1)- or alpha(2)-isoform (alpha(1 sm+) or alpha(2 sm+) mice) driven by the smooth muscle-specific alpha-actin promoter SMP8. Interestingly, both alpha-isoforms, the one contained in the transgene and the one not contained, were increased to a similar degree at both protein and mRNA levels. The total alpha-isoform protein was increased from 1.5-fold (alpha(1 sm+) mice) to 7-fold (alpha(2 sm+) mice). The increase in total NKA alpha-isoform protein was accompanied by a 2.5-fold increase in NKA activity in alpha(2 sm+) gastric antrum. Immunocytochemistry of the alpha(1)- and alpha(2)-isoforms in alpha(2 sm+) aortic smooth muscle cells indicated that alpha-isoform distributions were similar to those shown in wild-type cells. alpha(2 sm+) Mice (high expression) were hypotensive (109.9 +/- 1.6 vs. 121.3 +/- 1.4 mmHg; n = 13 and 11, respectively), whereas alpha(1 sm+) mice (low expression) were normotensive (122.7 +/- 2.5 vs. 117.4 +/- 2.3; n = 11 or 12). alpha(2 sm+) Aorta, but not alpha(1 sm+) aorta, relaxed faster from a KCl-induced contraction than wild-type aorta. Our results show that smooth muscle displays unique coordinate expression of the alpha-isoforms. Increasing smooth muscle NKA decreases blood pressure and is dependent on the degree of increased alpha-isoform expression.

We report a robust and practical method for the preparation of water-soluble luminescent quantum dots (QDs) selectively coupled through an amine or thiol linkage to peptide ligands targeted to G-protein coupling receptors (GPCRs) and demonstrate their utility in whole-cell and single-molecule imaging. We utilized a low molecular weight ( approximately 1200 Da) diblock copolymer with acrylic acids as hydrophilic segments and amido-octyl side chains as hydrophobic segments for facile encapsulation of QDs (QD 595 and QD 514) in aqueous solutions. As proof of principle, these QDs were targeted to the human melanocortin receptor (hMCR) by chemoselectively coupling the polymer-coated QDs to either a hexapeptide analog of alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone or to the highly potent MT-II ligand containing a unique amine. To label QDs with ligands lacking orthogonal amines, the diblock copolymers were readily modified with water-soluble trioxa-tridecanediamine to incorporate freely available amine functionalities. The amine-functionalized QDs underwent facile reaction with the bifunctional linker NHS-maleimide, allowing for covalent coupling to GPCR-targeted ligands modified with unique cysteines. We demonstrate the utility of these maleimide-functionalized QDs by covalent conjugation to a highly potent Deltorphin-II analog that allowed for selective cell-surface and single-molecule imaging of the human delta-opioid receptor (hDOR).

Previous studies have shown that circulating Angiotensin II (A-II) increases renal Na+ reabsorption via elevated Na+/H+ exchanger isoform 3 (NHE3) activity. We hypothesized that prolonged exposure to A-II leads to an increased expression of renal NHE3 by a transcriptionally mediated mechanism. To test this hypothesis, we utilized the proximal tubule-like OKP cell line to evaluate the effects of 16-h treatment with A-II on NHE3 activity and gene expression. A-II significantly stimulated NHE3-mediated, S-3226-sensitive Na+/H+ exchange. Inhibition of transcription with actinomycin D abolished the stimulatory effect of A-II on NHE3-mediated pH recovery in acid-loaded OKP cells. This prolonged exposure to A-II was also found to elevate endogenous NHE3 mRNA (by 40%)-an effect also abolished by inhibition of gene transcription. To evaluate the molecular mechanism by which A-II regulates NHE3 expression, the activity of NHE3 promoter driven reporter gene was analyzed in transient transfection assays. In transfected OKP cells, rat NHE3 promoter activity was significantly stimulated by A-II treatment, and preliminary mapping indicated that the A-II responsive element(s) is present between 149 and 548 bp upstream of the transcription initiation site in the NHE3 gene promoter. We conclude that a transcriptional mechanism is at least partially responsible for the chronic effects of A-II treatment on renal NHE3 activity.

The proteasome inhibitor bortezomib (also known as PS-341/Velcade) is a dipeptidyl boronic acid that has recently been approved for use in patients with multiple myeloma. Bortezomib inhibits the activity of the 26S proteasome and induces cell death in a variety of tumor cells; however, the mechanism of cytotoxicity is not well understood. In this report, oligonucleotide microarray analysis of the 8226 multiple myeloma cell line showed a predominant induction of gene products associated with the endoplasmic reticulum secretory pathway following short-term, high-dose exposure to bortezomib. Examination of mediators of endoplasmic reticulum stress-induced cell death showed specific activation of caspase 12, as well as of caspases 8, 9, 7, and 3, and cleavage of bid. Treatment of myeloma cells with bortezomib also showed disregulation of intracellular Ca2+ as a mechanism of caspase activation. Cotreatment with a panel of Ca2+-modulating agents identified the mitochondrial uniporter as a critical regulatory factor in bortezomib cytotoxicity. The uniporter inhibitors ruthenium red and Ru360 prevented caspase activation and bid cleavage, and almost entirely inhibited bortezomib-induced cell death, but had no effect on any other chemotherapeutic drug examined. Additional Ca2+-modulating agents, including 2-amino-ethoxydiphenylborate, 1,2-bis (o-aminophenoxy) ethane-tretraacetic acid (acetoxymethyl) ester, and dantrolene, did not alter bortezomib cytotoxicity. Analysis of intracellular Ca2+ showed that the ruthenium-containing compounds inhibited Ca2+ store loading and abrogated the desensitized capacitative calcium influx associated with bortezomib treatment. These data support the hypothesis that intracellular Ca2+ disregulation is a critical determinant of bortezomib cytotoxicity.

Neurons in the hypothalamus sense changes in glucose concentration. Glucokinase (GK), a key enzyme for pancreatic (beta)-cell glucose sensing, was found in both the embryonic and adult hypothalamus. GK activity accounted for approximately 20% of total hexokinase (HK) activity in both embryonic and adult hypothalamus with no activity measured in cortical samples, indicating that glucose sensing in the hypothalamus initiates early in development and precedes the maturation of glucose signaling in liver.

Visualizing brain anatomy in vivo could provide insight into normal and pathophysiology. Here it is demonstrated that neuroarchitecture can be detected in the rodent brain using MRI after systemic MnCl2. Administration of MnCl2 leads to rapid T1 enhancement in the choroid plexus and circumventricular organs, which spreads to the CSF space in ventricles and periventricular tissue. After 1 day, there was MRI enhancement throughout the brain with high intensity in the pituitary, olfactory bulb, cortex, basal forebrain, hippocampus, basal ganglia, hypothalamus, amygdala, and cerebellum. Contrast obtained enabled visualization of specific features of neuroarchitecture. The arrowhead structure of the dentate gyrus as well as the CA1-CA3 region of the hippocampus and layers in cortex, cerebellum, as well as the olfactory bulb could be readily observed. Preliminary assignments of olfactory bulb layers, cortical layers in frontal and somatosensory cortex, and cerebellum were made. Systemic MnCl2 leads to MRI visualization of neuroarchitecture nondestructively.

Thoracoabdominal aortic disease (aneurysm or dissection) has increased in recent decades. Surgery is the curative treatment but is associated to high perioperative morbidity and mortality risks. Paraplegia is one of the most severe complications, whose incidence has decreased significantly with the implementation of spinal cord protection strategies. No single method or combination of methods has proven to be fully effective in preventing paraplegia. This review is intended to analyse the scientific evidence available on the role of intraoperative monitoring with motor evoked potentials in the neurological outcome of patients undergoing thoracoabdominal aortic surgery. An online search (PubMed) was conducted. Relevant references were selected and reviewed. Intraoperative monitoring with motor evoked potentials (MEP) allows early detection of ischemic events and a targeted intervention to prevent the development of spinal cord injury, significantly reducing the incidence of postoperative paraplegia. MEP monitoring may undergo several intraoperative interferences which may compromise their interpretation. Neuromuscular blockade is the main limiting factor of anesthetic origin. It is essential to strike a balance between monitoring conditions and surgical and anesthetic needs as well as to evaluate the risks and benefits of the technique for each patient. MEP monitoring improves neurological outcome when integrated in a multidisciplinary strategy which must include multiple protective mechanisms that should be tailored to each hospital reality.

G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) cell signalling cascades are initiated upon binding of a specific agonist ligand to its cell surface receptor. Linking multiple heterologous ligands that simultaneously bind and potentially link different receptors on the cell surface is a unique approach to modulate cell responses. Moreover, if the target receptors are selected based on analysis of cell-specific expression of a receptor combination, then the linked binding elements might provide enhanced specificity of targeting the cell type of interest, that is, only to cells that express the complementary receptors. Two receptors whose expression is relatively specific (in combination) to insulin-secreting pancreatic β-cells are the sulfonylurea-1 (SUR1) and the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptors. A heterobivalent ligand was assembled from the active fragment of GLP-1 (7-36 GLP-1) and glibenclamide, a small organic ligand for SUR1. The synthetic construct was labelled with Cy5 or europium chelated in DTPA to evaluate binding to β-cells, by using fluorescence microscopy or time-resolved saturation and competition binding assays, respectively. Once the ligand binds to β-cells, it is rapidly capped and presumably removed from the cell surface by endocytosis. The bivalent ligand had an affinity approximately fivefold higher than monomeric europium-labelled GLP-1, likely a result of cooperative binding to the complementary receptors on the βTC3 cells. The high-affinity binding was lost in the presence of either unlabelled monomer, thus demonstrating that interaction with both receptors is required for the enhanced binding at low concentrations. Importantly, bivalent enhancement was accomplished in a cell system with physiological levels of expression of the complementary receptors, thus indicating that this approach might be applicable for β-cell targeting in vivo.

Probes for use in time-resolved fluorescence competitive binding assays at melanocortin receptors based on the parental ligands MSH(4), MSH(7), and NDP-α-MSH were prepared by solid phase synthesis methods, purified, and characterized. The saturation binding of these probes was studied using HEK-293 cells engineered to overexpress the human melanocortin 4 receptor (hMC4R) as well as the human cholecystokinin 2 receptor (hCCK2R). The ratios of non-specific binding to total binding approached unity at high concentrations for each probe. At low probe concentrations, receptor-mediated binding and uptake was discernable, and so probe concentrations were kept as low as possible in determining Kd values. The Eu-DTPA-PEGO-MSH(4) probe exhibited low specific binding relative to non-specific binding, even at low nanomolar concentrations, and was deemed unsuitable for use in competition binding assays. The Eu-DTPA-PEGO probes based on MSH(7) and NDP-α-MSH exhibited Kd values of 27±3.9nM and 4.2±0.48nM, respectively, for binding with hMC4R. These probes were employed in competitive binding assays to characterize the interactions of hMC4R with monovalent and divalent MSH(4), MSH(7), and NDP-α-MSH constructs derived from squalene. Results from assays with both probes reflected only statistical enhancements, suggesting improper ligand spacing on the squalene scaffold for the divalent constructs. The Ki values from competitive binding assays that employed the MSH(7)-based probe were generally lower than the Ki values obtained when the probe based on NDP-α-MSH was employed, which is consistent with the greater potency of the latter probe. The probe based on MSH(7) was also competed with monovalent, divalent, and trivalent MSH(4) constructs that previously demonstrated multivalent binding in competitive binding assays against a variant of the probe based on NDP-α-MSH. Results from these assays confirm multivalent binding, but suggest a more modest increase in avidity for these MSH(4) constructs than was previously reported.

As the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the compartment where disulfide bridges in secreted and cell surface proteins are formed, the disturbance of its redox state has profound consequences, yet regulation of ER redox potential remains poorly understood. To monitor the ER redox state in live cells, several fluorescence-based sensors have been developed. However, these sensors have yielded results that are inconsistent with each other and with earlier non-fluorescence-based studies. One particular green fluorescent protein (GFP)-based redox sensor, roGFP1-iL, could detect oxidizing changes in the ER despite having a reduction potential significantly lower than that previously reported for the ER. We have confirmed these observations and determined the mechanisms by which roGFP1-iL detects oxidizing changes. First, glutathione mediates the formation of disulfide-bonded roGFP1-iL dimers with an intermediate excitation fluorescence spectrum resembling a mixture of oxidized and reduced monomers. Second, glutathione facilitates dimerization of roGFP1-iL, which shifted the equilibrium from oxidized monomers to dimers, thereby increasing the molecule's reduction potential compared with that of a dithiol redox buffer. We conclude that the glutathione redox couple in the ER significantly increased the reduction potential of roGFP1-iL in vivo by facilitating its dimerization while preserving its ratiometric nature, which makes it suitable for monitoring oxidizing and reducing changes in the ER with a high degree of reliability in real time. The ability of roGFP1-iL to detect both oxidizing and reducing changes in ER and its dynamic response in glutathione redox buffer between approximately -190 and -130 mV in vitro suggests a range of ER redox potentials consistent with those determined by earlier approaches that did not involve fluorescent sensors.

Bortezomib, a first-generation proteasome inhibitor, induces an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response, which ultimately leads to dysregulation of intracellular Ca(2+) and apoptotic cell death. This study investigated the role of the Ca(2+)-dependent enzyme, calpain, in bortezomib cytotoxicity. A novel therapeutic combination was evaluated in which HIV protease inhibitors were used to block calpain activity and enhance bortezomib cytotoxicity in myeloma cells in vitro and in vivo.

Bortezomib-mediated cell death was examined using assays for apoptosis (Annexin V staining), total cell death (trypan blue exclusion), and growth inhibition (MTT). The effects of calpain on bortezomib-induced cytotoxicity were investigated using siRNA knockdown or pharmaceutical inhibitors. Enzyme activity assays and immunofluorescence analysis were used to identify mechanistic effects.

Inhibition of the Ca(2+)-dependent cysteine protease calpain, either by pharmacologic or genetic means, enhances or accelerates bortezomib-induced myeloma cell death. The increase in cell death is not associated with an increase in caspase activity, nor is there evidence of greater inhibition of proteasome activity, suggesting an alternate, calpain-regulated mechanism of bortezomib-induced cell death. Bortezomib initiates an autophagic response in myeloma cells associated with cell survival. Inhibition of calpain subverts the cytoprotective function of autophagy leading to increased bortezomib-mediated cell death. Combination therapy with bortezomib and the calpain-blocking HIV protease inhibitor, nelfinavir, reversed bortezomib resistance and induced near-complete tumor regressions in an SCID mouse xenograft model of myeloma.

In the quest for novel tools for early detection and treatment of cancer, we propose the use of multimers targeting overexpressed receptors at the cancer cell surface. Indeed, multimers are prone to create multivalent interactions, more potent and specific than their corresponding monovalent versions, thus enabling the potential for early detection. There is a lack of tools for early detection of pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancer, but CCK2-R overexpression on pancreatic cancer cells makes CCK based multimers potential markers for these cells. In this Letter, we describe the synthesis and evaluation of CCK trimers targeting overexpressed CCK2-R.

A challenge in tumor targeting is to deliver payloads to cancers while sparing normal tissues. A limited number of antibodies appear to meet this challenge as therapeutics themselves or as drug-antibody conjugates. However, antibodies suffer from their large size, which can lead to unfavorable pharmacokinetics for some therapeutic payloads, and that they are targeted against only a single epitope, which can reduce their selectivity and specificity. Here, we propose an alternative targeting approach based on patterns of cell surface proteins to rationally develop small, synthetic heteromultivalent ligands (htMVLs) that target multiple receptors simultaneously. To gain insight into the multivalent ligand strategy in vivo, we have generated synthetic htMVLs that contain melanocortin (MSH) and cholecystokinin (CCK) pharmacophores that are connected via a fluorescent labeled, rationally designed synthetic linker. These ligands were tested in an experimental animal model containing tumors that expressed only one (control) or both (target) MSH and CCK receptors. After systemic injection of the htMVL in tumor-bearing mice, label was highly retained in tumors that expressed both, compared with one, target receptors. Selectivity was quantified by using ex vivo measurement of Europium-labeled htMVL, which had up to 12-fold higher specificity for dual compared with single receptor expressing cells. This proof-of-principle study provides in vivo evidence that small, rationally designed bivalent htMVLs can be used to selectively target cells that express both, compared with single complimentary cell surface targets. These data open the possibility that specific combinations of targets on tumors can be identified and selectively targeted using htMVLs.

In order to develop agents for early detection and selective treatment of melanomas, high affinity and high specificity molecular tools are required. Enhanced specificity may be obtained by simultaneously binding to multiple cell surface targets via the use of multimeric analogs of naturally occurring ligands. Trimers targeting overexpressed melanocortin receptors have been found to be potential candidates for this purpose. In the present letter, we describe the synthesis and study of multimers based on a dendrimer-like scaffold. The binding affinity and activity results revealed that dendrimers promote multivalent interactions via statistical and/or cooperative effects on binding. Moreover, viability studies showed no significant toxicity at micromolar concentrations, which will allow these molecular complexes to be used in vivo. Finally, imaging studies showed effective internalization for all the molecules confirming their potential as delivery agents.

No abstract given.

Although changes in both pH(in) and [Ca(2+)](i) have been observed in response to a variety of agonists, it is not clear whether these ionic events work independently or are coordinated to lead to a specific physiological response. One of the fundamental problems in studying these ionic events is that changes in pH(in) modify Ca(2+) regulatory mechanisms and changes in Ca(2+) may modify pH regulation. It is desirable to use a technique that allows concomitant monitoring of these two ions in cell populations with high time resolution. Furthermore, like many Ca(2+) binding proteins, all Ca(2+)-sensitive fluoroprobes are inherently sensitive to pH owing to competition of H(+) for the Ca(2+)-binding sites. This chapter describes experimental paradigms that provide optimum conditions for simultaneous measurement of pH from the fluorescence emission of snarf-1, and Ca(2+) using fura-2. The fluorescence spectra of these compounds are sufficiently different to allow simultaneous measurement of pH and Ca(2+) both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, the ratio of the H(+)-sensitive wavelengths of snarf-1 is unaffected by Ca(2+), or the concomitant presence of fura-2 in cells. Although the fluorescence ratio of fura-2 is insensitive to the presence of snarf-1, it is affected by pH, as indicated above. We describe procedures to correct for this effect and to obtain calibration parameters for fura-2 and snarf-1 required to facilitate analysis of pH and Ca(2+) concentrations within cell populations.

Children from diabetic pregnancies have a greater incidence of type 2 diabetes. Our objective was to determine if exposure to mild-moderate hyperglycemia, by modeling managed diabetic pregnancies, affects fetal β-cell function. In sheep fetuses, β-cell responsiveness was examined after 2 weeks of sustained hyperglycemia with 3 pulses/day, mimicking postprandial excursions, and compared to saline-infused controls (n = 10). Two pulsatile hyperglycemia (PHG) treatments were studied: mild (mPHG, n = 5) with +15% sustained and +55% pulse; and moderate (PHG, n = 10) with +20% sustained and +100% pulse. Fetal glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and glucose-potentiated arginine insulin secretion were lower (P < 0.05) in PHG (0.86 ± 0.13 and 2.91 ± 0.39  ng/ml plasma insulin) but not in mPHG fetuses (1.21 ± 0.08 and 4.25 ± 0.56  ng/ml) compared to controls (1.58 ± 0.25 and 4.51 ± 0.56  ng/ml). Islet insulin content was 35% lower in PHG and 35% higher in mPHG vs controls (P < 0.01). Insulin secretion and maximally stimulated insulin release were also reduced (P < 0.05) in PHG islets due to lower islet insulin content. Isolated PHG islets also had 63% greater (P < 0.01) reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation at 11.1  mmol/l glucose than controls (P < 0.01), but oxidative damage was not detected in islet proteins. PHG fetuses showed evidence of oxidative damage to skeletal muscle proteins (P < 0.05) but not insulin resistance. Our findings show that PHG induced dysregulation of islet ROS handling and decreased islet insulin content, but these outcomes are independent. The β-cell outcomes were dependent on the severity of hyperglycemia because mPHG fetuses had no distinguishable impairments in ROS handling or insulin secretion but greater insulin content.

A report on the 21st Annual International Conference on Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (ISMB) and 12th European Conference on Computational Biology (ECCB), held in Berlin, Germany, July 21-23, 2013.