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2014 Anniversary Issue


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Molecular Medicine 2014

Articles from this Volume

David S Pisetsky

High mobility group box protein 1 (HMGB1) is a nonhistone nuclear protein that is a prototypic alarmin that can stimulate innate immunity and drive the pathogenesis of a wide range of inflammatory diseases. While HMGB1 can be released from both activated and dying cells, its biochemical and immunological properties differ depending on the release mechanism, resulting from redox changes and posttranslational modifications including acetylation. In addition to release of HMGB1, cell death is associated with the release of microparticles. Microparticles are small membrane-bound vesicles that contain cytoplasmic, nuclear and membrane components. Like HMGB1, microparticles display immunological activity and levels are elevated in diseases characterized by inflammation and vasculopathy. While studies have addressed the immunological effects of HMGB1 and microparticles independently, HMGB1, like other nuclear molecules, is a component of microparticles. Evidence for the physical association
of HMGB1 comes from Western blot analysis of microparticles derived from RAW 264.7 macrophage cells stimulated by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or induced to undergo apoptosis by treatment with etoposide or staurosporine in vitro. Analysis of microparticles in the blood of healthy volunteers receiving LPS shows the presence of HMGB1 as assessed by flow cytometry. Together, these findings indicate that HMGB1 can be a component of microparticles and may contribute to their activities. Furthermore, particle HMGB1 may represent a useful biomarker for in vivo events that may not be reflected by measurement of the total amount of HMGB1 in the blood.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Apr 1, 2014 3:23 PM CDT
Melinda Magna and David S Pisetsky

High-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) protein is a highly abundant protein that can promote the pathogenesis of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases once it is in an extracellular location. This translocation can occur with immune cell activation as well as cell death, with the conditions for release associated with the expression of different isoforms. These isoforms result from posttranslational modifications, with the redox states of three cysteines at positions 23, 45 and 106 critical for activity. Depending on the redox states of these residues, HMGB1 can induce cytokine production via toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) or promote chemotaxis by binding the chemokine CXCL12 for stimulation via CXCR4. Fully oxidized HMGB1 is inactive. During the course of inflammatory disease, HMGB1 can therefore play a dynamic role depending on its redox state. As a mechanism to generate alarmins, cell death is an important source of HMGB1, although each major cell death form (necrosis, apoptosis, pyroptosis and NETosis) can
lead to different isoforms of HMGB1 and variable levels of association of HMGB1 with nucleosomes. The association of HMGB1 with nucleosomes may contribute to the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus by producing nuclear material whose immunological properties are enhanced by the presence of an alarmin. Since HMGB1 levels in blood or tissue are elevated in many inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, this molecule can serve as a unique biomarker as well as represent a target of novel therapies to block its various activities.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Mar 24, 2014 10:24 AM CDT
Valentina Di Pietro, Angela Maria Amorini, Barbara Tavazzi, Roberto Vagnozzi, Ann Logan,
Giacomo Lazzarino, Stefano Signoretti, Giuseppe Lazzarino, and Antonio Belli


To characterize the molecular mechanisms of N-acetylaspartate (NAA) metabolism following traumatic brain injury (TBI), we measured the NAA, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and adenosine diphosphate (ADP) concentrations and calculated the ATP/ADP ratio at different times from impact, concomitantly evaluating the gene and protein expressions controlling NAA homeostasis (the NAA synthesizing and degrading enzymes N-acetyltransferase 8-like and aspartoacylase, respectively) in rats receiving either mild or severe TBI. The reversible changes in NAA induced by mild TBI were due to a combination of transient mitochondrial malfunctioning with energy crisis (decrease in ATP and in the ATP/ADP ratio) and modulation in the gene and protein levels of N-acetyltransferase 8-like and increase of aspartoacylase levels. The irreversible decrease in NAA following severe TBI, was instead characterized by profound mitochondrial malfunctioning (constant 65% decrease of the ATP/ADP indicating permanent impairment of the mitochondrial phosphorylating capacity), dramatic repression of the N-acetyltransferase 8-like gene and concomitant
remarkable increase in the aspartoacylase gene and protein levels. The mechanisms underlying changes in NAA homeostasis following graded TBI might be of note for possible new therapeutic approaches and will help in understanding the effects of repeat concussions occurring during particular periods of the complex NAA recovery process, coincident with the so called window of brain vulnerability.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Mar 24, 2014 10:10 AM CDT
Daniel J Antoine, Helena Erlandsson Harris, Ulf Andersson, Kevin J Tracey, and Marco E Bianchi

High mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) is a central mediator in inflammation and immunity. Recently, it was shown that different redox states of the three cysteines of HMGB1 endow it with mutually exclusive activities, such as inducing chemotaxis or the transcription of cytokines and chemokines, via the interaction with different receptors. The different HMGB1 redox forms can be identified by mass spectrometry in body fluids of patients and may hold promise as biomarkers. We propose here a systematic nomenclature of the different redox forms of HMGB1 and related proteins, to replace the conflicting names used so far by different laboratories.

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Posted by MolMed Admin on Mar 24, 2014 9:20 AM CDT
Matthew M Gubin, Patsharaporn Techasintana, Joseph D Magee, Garrett M Dahm, Robert Calaluce, Jennifer L Martindale, Maryln S Whitney, Craig L Franklin, Cindy Besch-Williford,John W Hollingsworth, Kotb Abdelmohsen, Myriam Gorospe, and Ulus Atasoy

The posttranscriptional mechanisms by which RNA binding proteins (RBPs) regulate T-cell differentiation and cytokine production in vivo remain unclear. The RBP HuR binds to labile mRNAs, usually leading to increases in mRNA stability and/or translation. Previous work demonstrated that HuR binds to the mRNAs encoding the Th2 transcription factor trans-acting T-cell–specific transcription factor (GATA-3) and Th2 cytokines interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-13, thereby regulating their expression. By using a novel conditional HuR knockout (KO) mouse in which HuR is deleted in activated T cells, we show that Th2-polarized cells from heterozygous HuR conditional (OX40-Cre HuRfl/+) KO mice had decreased steady-state levels of Gata3, Il4 and Il13 mRNAs with little changes at the protein
level. Surprisingly, Th2-polarized cells from homozygous HuR conditional (OX40-Cre HuRfl/fl) KO mice showed increased Il2, Il4 and Il13 mRNA and protein via different mechanisms. Specifically, Il4 was transcriptionally upregulated in HuR KO T cells, whereas Il2 and Il13 mRNA stabilities increased. Additionally, when using the standard ovalbumin model of allergic airway inflammation, HuR conditional KO mice mounted a robust inflammatory response similar to mice with wild-type HuR levels. These results reveal a complex differential posttranscriptional regulation of cytokines by HuR in which gene dosage plays an important role. These findings may have
significant implications in allergies and asthma, as well as autoimmune diseases and infection.

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Supplemental Data
Posted by Sheila Platt on Mar 20, 2014 1:09 PM CDT
Ye Cui, Juan C Osorio, Cristobal Risquez, Hao Wang, Ying Shi, Bernadette R Gochuico,
Danielle Morse, Ivan O Rosas, and Souheil El-Chemaly


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-D, a member of the VEGF family, induces both angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis by activating VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) and VEGFR-3 on the surface of endothelial cells. Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 has been shown to stimulate VEGF-A expression in human lung fibroblast via the Smad3 signaling pathway and to induce VEGFC in human proximal tubular epithelial cells. However, the effects of TGF-β1 on VEGF-D regulation are unknown. To investigate the regulation of VEGF-D, human lung fibroblasts were studied under pro-fibrotic conditions in vitro and in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) lung tissue. We demonstrate that TGF-β1 downregulates VEGF-D expression in a dose- and time-dependent manner in human lung fibroblasts. This TGF-β1 effect can be abolished by inhibitors of TGF-β type I receptor kinase and Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK), but not by Smad3 knockdown. In addition, VEGF-D knockdown in human lung fibroblasts induces G1/S transition and promotes cell proliferation. Importantly, VEGF-D protein expression is decreased in lung homogenates from IPF patients compared with control lung. In IPF lung sections, fibroblastic foci show very weak VEGF-D immunoreactivity, whereas VEGF-D is abundantly expressed within alveolar interstitial cells in control lung. Taken together, our data identify a novel mechanism for downstream signal transduction induced by TGF-β1 in lung fibroblasts, through which they may mediate tissue remodeling in IPF.

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Supplemental Data
Posted by Sheila Platt on Mar 20, 2014 10:59 AM CDT
Ying Peng, Xiaoling Gao, Jie Yang, Sudhanshu Shekhar, Shuhe Wang, Yijun Fan, Weiming Zhao and
Xi Yang


The role of interleukin-22 (IL-22) in intracellular bacterial infections is a controversial issue, although the contribution of this cytokine to host defense against extracellular bacterial pathogens has been well established. In this study, we focused on an intracellular bacterium, Chlamydia, and evaluated the production and function of IL-22 in host defense against chlamydial lung infection using a mouse model. We found that Chlamydia muridarum infection elicited quick IL-22 responses in the lung, which increased during infection and were reduced when bacterial loads decreased. More importantly, blockade of endogenous IL-22 using neutralizing anti-IL-22 monoclonal antibodies (mAb) resulted in more severe disease in the mice, leading to significantly higher weight loss and bacterial growth and much more severe pathological changes than treatment with isotype control antibody. Immunological analyses identified significantly lower T helper 1 (Th1) and Th17 responses in the IL-22–neutralized mice. In contrast, intranasal administration of exogenous IL-22 significantly enhanced protection following chlamydial lung infection, which
was associated with a significant increase of Th17 response. The data demonstrate that IL-22 is a critical cytokine, mediating host defense against chlamydial lung infection and coordinating the function of distinct Th-cell subsets, particularly Th1 and Th17, in the process.

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Supplemental Data
Posted by Sheila Platt on Mar 20, 2014 9:41 AM CDT
Martha Stathaki, Athanasios Armakolas, Andreas Dimakakos, Loukas Kaklamanis, Ioannis Vlachos,
Manoussos M Konstantoulakis, George Zografos, and Michael Koutsilieris


Kisspeptin is an antimetastatic agent in some cancers that has also been associated with lymphoid cell apoptosis, a phenomenon favoring metastases. Our aim was to determine the association of kisspeptin with lymphocyte apoptosis and the presence of metastases in colorectal cancer patients. Blood was drawn from 69 colon cancer patients and 20 healthy volunteers. Tissue specimens from healthy and pathological tissue were immunohistochemically analyzed for kisspeptin and endothelial monocyte activating polypeptide II (EMAP-II) expression. Blood EMAP-II and soluble Fas ligand (sFasL) levels were examined by an enzymelinked
immunosorbent assay method. The kisspeptin and EMAP-II expression and secretion levels in the DLD-1 and HT-29 colon cancer cell lines were examined by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, Western analysis and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, whereas lymphocyte viability was assessed by flow cytometry. The effect of kisspeptin on the viability of colon cancer cells was examined by MTT [3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide]. Exogenous, synthetic and naturally produced, kisspeptin induces through the G-protein-coupled receptor 54 (GPR54; also known as the kisspeptin receptor) the EMAP-II expression and secretion in colon cancer cell lines, inducing in vitro lymphocyte apoptosis, as verified by the use of an anti-EMAP-II antibody. These results were reversed with the use of kisspeptin inhibitors and by kisspeptin-silencing experiments.
Tumor kisspeptin expression was associated with the tumor EMAP-II expression (p < 0.001). Elevated kisspeptin and EMAP-II expression in colon cancer tissues was associated with lack of metastases (p < 0.001) in colon cancer patients. These data indicate the antimetastatic effect of tumor-elevated kisspeptin in colon cancer patients that may be mediated by the effect of kisspeptin on EMAP-II expression in colon cancer tumors in patients with normal serum EMAP-II levels. These findings provide new insight into the role of kisspeptin in the context of metastases in colon cancer patients.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Mar 18, 2014 1:03 PM CDT
Malabika Sen, Kathleen Paul, Maria L Freilino, Hua Li, Changyou Li, Daniel E Johnson, Lin Wang,
Julie Eiseman, and Jennifer R Grandis


Hyperactivation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) has been linked to tumorigenesis in most malignancies, including head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Intravenous delivery of a chemically modified cyclic STAT3 decoy oligonucleotide with improved serum and thermal stability demonstrated antitumor efficacy in conjunction with downmodulation of STAT3 target gene expression such as cyclin D1 and Bcl-XL in a mouse model of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. The purpose of the present study was to determine the toxicity and dose-dependent antitumor efficacy of the cyclic STAT3 decoy after multiple intravenous doses in Foxn1 nu mice in anticipation of clinical translation. The two doses (5 and 10 mg/kg) of cyclic STAT3 decoy demonstrated a significant decrease in tumor volume compared with the control groups (mutant cyclic STAT3 decoy or saline) in conjunction with downmodulation of STAT3 target gene expression. There was no dose-dependent effect of cyclic STAT3 decoy on tumor volume or STAT3 target gene expression. There were no significant changes in body weights between the
groups during the dosing period, after the dosing interval or on the day of euthanasia. No hematology or clinical chemistry parameters suggested toxicity of the cyclic STAT3 decoy compared with saline control. No gross or histological pathological abnormalities were noted at necropsy in any of the animals. These findings suggest a lack of toxicity of intravenous administration of a cyclic STAT3 decoy oligonucleotide. In addition, comparable antitumor effects indicate a lack of dose response at the two dose levels investigated.

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Supplemental Data
Posted by Sheila Platt on Mar 18, 2014 11:14 AM CDT
Zhenwei Zhang, Lei Miao, Xiaoming Xin, Jianpeng Zhang, Shengsheng Yang, Mingyong Miao,
Xiangping Kong, and Binghua Jiao


Increasing evidence suggests that cytosolic non-specific dipeptidase 2 (CNDP2) appears to do more than just perform an enzymatic activity; it is functionally important in cancers as well. Here, we show that the expression of CNDP2 is commonly downregulated in gastric cancer tissues. The ectopic expression of CNDP2 resulted in significant inhibition of cell proliferation, induction of cell apoptosis and cell cycle arrest, and suppressed gastric tumor growth in nude mice. We further revealed that the reintroduction of CNDP2 transcriptionally upregulated p38 and activated c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK), whereas the loss of CNDP2 increased the phosphorylation of extracellular signal–related kinase (ERK). These results suggest that CNDP2 acts as a functional tumor suppressor in gastric cancer via activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Mar 13, 2014 3:04 PM CDT
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