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Current clinical treatment of infection, the main etiological factor in the development of gastritis, gastric ulcers, and gastric carcinoma, requires a combination of at least two antibiotics and one proton pump inhibitor. However, such triple therapy suffers from progressively decreased therapeutic efficacy due to the drug resistance and undesired killing of the commensal bacteria due to poor selectivity. Here, we report the development of antimicrobial polypeptide-based monotherapy, which can specifically kill under acidic pH in the stomach while inducing minimal toxicity to commensal bacteria under physiological pH. Specifically, we designed a class of pH-sensitive, helix-coil conformation transitionable antimicrobial polypeptides (HCT-AMPs) (PGA)--(PHLG-MHH), bearing randomly distributed negatively charged glutamic acid and positively charged poly(γ-6--(methyldihexylammonium)hexyl-l-glutamate) (PHLG-MHH) residues. The HCT-AMPs showed unappreciable toxicity at physiological pH when they adopted random coiled conformation. Under acidic condition in the stomach, they transformed to the helical structure and exhibited potent antibacterial activity against , including clinically isolated drug-resistant strains. After oral gavage, the HCT-AMPs afforded comparable killing efficacy to the triple-therapy approach while inducing minimal toxicity against normal tissues and commensal bacteria, in comparison with the remarkable killing of commensal bacteria by 65% and 86% in the ileal contents and feces, respectively, following triple therapy. This strategy renders an effective approach to specifically target and kill in the stomach while not harming the commensal bacteria/normal tissues.
Cytochrome P450 46A1 (CYP46A1, cholesterol 24-hydroxylase) is the enzyme responsible for the majority of cholesterol elimination from the brain. Previously, we found that the anti-HIV drug efavirenz (EFV) can pharmacologically activate CYP46A1 in mice. Herein, we investigated whether CYP46A1 could also be activated by endogenous compounds, including major neurotransmitters. experiments with purified recombinant CYP46A1 indicated that CYP46A1 is activated by l-glutamate (l-Glu), l-aspartate, γ-aminobutyric acid, and acetylcholine, with l-Glu eliciting the highest increase (3-fold) in CYP46A1-mediated cholesterol 24-hydroxylation. We also found that l-Glu and other activating neurotransmitters bind to the same site on the CYP46A1 surface, which differs from the EFV-binding site. The other principal differences between EFV and l-Glu in CYP46A1 activation include an apparent lack of l-Glu binding to the P450 active site and different pathways of signal transduction from the allosteric site to the active site. EFV and l-Glu similarly increased the CYP46A1 , the rate of the "fast" phase of the enzyme reduction by the redox partner NADPH-cytochrome P450 oxidoreductase, and the amount of P450 reduced. Spectral titrations with cholesterol, in the presence of EFV or l-Glu, suggest that water displacement from the heme iron can be affected in activator-bound CYP46A1. Moreover, EFV and l-Glu synergistically activated CYP46A1. Collectively, our data, along with those from previous cell culture and studies by others, suggest that l-Glu-induced CYP46A1 activation is of physiological relevance.
© 2017 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.
The Complex II homolog quinol:fumarate reductase (QFR, FrdABCD) catalyzes the interconversion of fumarate and succinate at a covalently attached FAD within the FrdA subunit. The SdhE assembly factor enhances covalent flavinylation of Complex II homologs, but the mechanisms underlying the covalent attachment of FAD remain to be fully elucidated. Here, we explored the mechanisms of covalent flavinylation of the QFR FrdA subunit. Using a Δ strain, we show that the requirement for the assembly factor depends on the cellular redox environment. We next identified residues important for the covalent attachment and selected the FrdA residue, which contributes to proton shuttling during fumarate reduction, for detailed biophysical and structural characterization. We found that QFR complexes containing FrdA have a structure similar to that of the WT flavoprotein, but lack detectable substrate binding and turnover. In the context of the isolated FrdA subunit, the anticipated assembly intermediate during covalent flavinylation, FrdA variants had stability similar to that of WT FrdA, contained noncovalent FAD, and displayed a reduced capacity to interact with SdhE. However, small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) analysis of WT FrdA cross-linked to SdhE suggested that the FrdA residue is unlikely to contribute directly to the FrdA-SdhE protein-protein interface. We also found that no auxiliary factor is absolutely required for flavinylation, indicating that the covalent flavinylation is autocatalytic. We propose that multiple factors, including the SdhE assembly factor and bound dicarboxylates, stimulate covalent flavinylation by preorganizing the active site to stabilize the quinone-methide intermediate.
© 2017 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.
How metabolic pathways required for epidermal tissue growth and remodeling influence the ability of keratinocytes to survive stressful conditions is still largely unknown. The mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 2 (mTORC2) regulates growth and metabolism of several tissues, but its functions in epidermal cells are poorly defined. Rictor is an adaptor protein essential for mTORC2 activity. To explore the roles of mTORC2 in the epidermis, we have conditionally deleted rictor in mice via K14-Cre-mediated homologous recombination and found that its deficiency causes moderate tissue hypoplasia, reduced keratinocyte proliferation and attenuated hyperplastic response to TPA. Noteworthy, rictor-deficient keratinocytes displayed increased lifespan, protection from senescence, and enhanced tolerance to cellular stressors such as growth factors deprivation, epirubicin and X-ray in vitro and radioresistance in vivo. Rictor-deficient keratinocytes exhibited changes in global gene expression profiles consistent with metabolic alterations and enhanced stress tolerance, a shift in cell catabolic processes from glycids and lipids to glutamine consumption and increased production of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS). Mechanistically, the resiliency of rictor-deficient epidermal cells relies on these ROS increases, indicating stress resistance via mitohormesis. Thus, our findings reveal a new link between metabolic changes and stress adaptation of keratinocytes centered on mTORC2 activity, with potential implications in skin aging and therapeutic resistance of epithelial tumors.
PURPOSE - Non-invasive imaging is central to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) diagnosis; however, conventional modalities are limited by smaller tumors and other chronic diseases that are often present in patients with HCC, such as cirrhosis. This pilot study evaluated the feasibility of (4S)-4-(3-[F]fluoropropyl)-L-glutamic acid ([F]FSPG) positron emission tomography (PET)/X-ray computed tomography (CT) to image HCC. [F]FSPG PET/CT was compared to standard-of-care (SOC) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and CT, and [C]acetate PET/CT, commonly used in this setting. We report the largest cohort of HCC patients imaged to date with [F]FSPG PET/CT and present the first comparison to [C]acetate PET/CT and SOC imaging. This study represents the first in a US HCC population, which is distinguished by different underlying comorbidities than non-US populations.
PROCEDURES - x transporter RNA and protein levels were evaluated in HCC and matched liver samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas (n = 16) and a tissue microarray (n = 83). Eleven HCC patients who underwent prior MRI or CT scans were imaged by [F]FSPG PET/CT, with seven patients also imaged with [C]acetate PET/CT.
RESULTS - x transporter RNA and protein levels were elevated in HCC samples compared to background liver. Over 50 % of low-grade HCCs and ~70 % of high-grade tumors exceeded background liver protein expression. [F]FSPG PET/CT demonstrated a detection rate of 75 %. [F]FSPG PET/CT also identified an HCC devoid of typical MRI enhancement pattern. Patients scanned with [F]FSPG and [C]acetate PET/CT exhibited a 90 and 70 % detection rate, respectively. In dually positive tumors, [F]FSPG accumulation consistently resulted in significantly greater tumor-to-liver background ratios compared with [C]acetate PET/CT.
CONCLUSIONS - [F]FSPG PET/CT is a promising modality for HCC imaging, and larger studies are warranted to examine [F]FSPG PET/CT impact on diagnosis and management of HCC. [F]FSPG PET/CT may also be useful for phenotyping HCC tumor metabolism as part of precision cancer medicine.
Dysregulation of vascular stiffness and cellular metabolism occurs early in pulmonary hypertension (PH). However, the mechanisms by which biophysical properties of the vascular extracellular matrix (ECM) relate to metabolic processes important in PH remain undefined. In this work, we examined cultured pulmonary vascular cells and various types of PH-diseased lung tissue and determined that ECM stiffening resulted in mechanoactivation of the transcriptional coactivators YAP and TAZ (WWTR1). YAP/TAZ activation modulated metabolic enzymes, including glutaminase (GLS1), to coordinate glutaminolysis and glycolysis. Glutaminolysis, an anaplerotic pathway, replenished aspartate for anabolic biosynthesis, which was critical for sustaining proliferation and migration within stiff ECM. In vitro, GLS1 inhibition blocked aspartate production and reprogrammed cellular proliferation pathways, while application of aspartate restored proliferation. In the monocrotaline rat model of PH, pharmacologic modulation of pulmonary vascular stiffness and YAP-dependent mechanotransduction altered glutaminolysis, pulmonary vascular proliferation, and manifestations of PH. Additionally, pharmacologic targeting of GLS1 in this model ameliorated disease progression. Notably, evaluation of simian immunodeficiency virus-infected nonhuman primates and HIV-infected subjects revealed a correlation between YAP/TAZ-GLS activation and PH. These results indicate that ECM stiffening sustains vascular cell growth and migration through YAP/TAZ-dependent glutaminolysis and anaplerosis, and thereby link mechanical stimuli to dysregulated vascular metabolism. Furthermore, this study identifies potential metabolic drug targets for therapeutic development in PH.
The endogenous cannabinoid (eCB) system has been suggested to play a key role in ethanol preference and intake, the acute effects of ethanol, and in the development of withdrawal symptoms following ethanol dependence. Ethanol-dependent alterations in glutamatergic signaling within the lateral/basolateral nucleus of the amygdala (BLA) are critical for the development and expression of withdrawal-induced anxiety. Notably, the eCB system significantly regulates both glutamatergic and GABAergic synaptic activity within the BLA. Chronic ethanol exposure significantly alters eCB system expression within regions critical to the expression of emotionality and anxiety-related behavior, including the BLA. Here, we investigated specific interactions between the BLA eCB system and its functional regulation of synaptic activity during acute and chronic ethanol exposure. In tissue from ethanol naïve-rats, a prolonged acute ethanol exposure caused a dose dependent inhibition of glutamatergic synaptic activity via a presynaptic mechanism that was occluded by CB1 antagonist/inverse agonists SR141716a and AM251. Importantly, this acute ethanol inhibition was attenuated following 10 day chronic intermittent ethanol vapor exposure (CIE). CIE exposure also significantly down-regulated CB1-mediated presynaptic inhibition at glutamatergic afferent terminals but spared CB1-inhibition of GABAergic synapses arising from local inhibitory-interneurons. CIE also significantly elevated BLA N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA or anandamide) levels and decreased CB1 receptor protein levels. Collectively, these data suggest a dynamic regulation of the BLA eCB system by acute and chronic ethanol.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
UNLABELLED - In the ventral tegmental area (VTA), a subpopulation of dopamine neurons express vesicular glutamate transporter 2 and make glutamatergic connections to nucleus accumbens (NAc) and olfactory tubercle (OT) neurons. However, their glutamatergic connections across the forebrain have not been explored systematically. To visualize dopamine neuron forebrain projections and to enable photostimulation of their axons independent of transmitter status, we virally transfected VTA neurons with channelrhodopsin-2 fused to enhanced yellow fluorescent protein (ChR2-EYFP) and used DAT(IREScre) mice to restrict expression to dopamine neurons. ChR2-EYFP-expressing neurons almost invariably stained for tyrosine hydroxylase, identifying them as dopaminergic. Dopamine neuron axons visualized by ChR2-EYFP fluorescence projected most densely to the striatum, moderately to the amygdala and entorhinal cortex (ERC), sparsely to prefrontal and cingulate cortices, and rarely to the hippocampus. Guided by ChR2-EYFP fluorescence, we recorded systematically from putative principal neurons in target areas and determined the incidence and strength of glutamatergic connections by activating all dopamine neuron terminals impinging on recorded neurons with wide-field photostimulation. This revealed strong glutamatergic connections in the NAc, OT, and ERC; moderate strength connections in the central amygdala; and weak connections in the cingulate cortex. No glutamatergic connections were found in the dorsal striatum, hippocampus, basolateral amygdala, or prefrontal cortex. These results indicate that VTA dopamine neurons elicit widespread, but regionally distinct, glutamatergic signals in the forebrain and begin to define the dopamine neuron excitatory functional connectome.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT - Dopamine neurons are important for the control of motivated behavior and are involved in the pathophysiology of several major neuropsychiatric disorders. Recent studies have shown that some ventral midbrain dopamine neurons are capable of glutamate cotransmission. With conditional expression of channelrhodopsin in dopamine neurons, we systematically explored dopamine neuron connections in the forebrain and identified regionally specific dopamine neuron excitatory connections. Establishing that only a subset of forebrain regions receive excitatory connections from dopamine neurons will help to determine the function of dopamine neuron glutamate cotransmission, which likely involves transmission of precise temporal signals and enhancement of the dynamic range of dopamine neuron signals.
Copyright © 2015 the authors 0270-6474/15/3516259-13$15.00/0.
A balanced interaction between dopaminergic and cholinergic signaling in the striatum is critical to goal-directed behavior. But how this interaction modulates corticostriatal synaptic plasticity underlying learned actions remains unclear--particularly in direct-pathway spiny projection neurons (dSPNs). Our studies show that in dSPNs, endogenous cholinergic signaling through M4 muscarinic receptors (M4Rs) promoted long-term depression of corticostriatal glutamatergic synapses, by suppressing regulator of G protein signaling type 4 (RGS4) activity, and blocked D1 dopamine receptor dependent long-term potentiation (LTP). Furthermore, in a mouse model of L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA)-induced dyskinesia (LID) in Parkinson's disease (PD), boosting M4R signaling with positive allosteric modulator (PAM) blocked aberrant LTP in dSPNs, enabled LTP reversal, and attenuated dyskinetic behaviors. An M4R PAM also was effective in a primate LID model. Taken together, these studies identify an important signaling pathway controlling striatal synaptic plasticity and point to a novel pharmacological strategy for alleviating LID in PD patients.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Mutations that lead to Huntington's disease (HD) result in increased transmission at glutamatergic corticostriatal synapses at early presymptomatic stages that have been postulated to set the stage for pathological changes and symptoms that are observed at later ages. Based on this, pharmacological interventions that reverse excessive corticostriatal transmission may provide a novel approach for reducing early physiological changes and motor symptoms observed in HD. We report that activation of the M4 subtype of muscarinic acetylcholine receptor reduces transmission at corticostriatal synapses and that this effect is dramatically enhanced in presymptomatic YAC128 HD and BACHD relative to wild-type mice. Furthermore, chronic administration of a novel highly selective M4 positive allosteric modulator (PAM) beginning at presymptomatic ages improves motor and synaptic deficits in 5-mo-old YAC128 mice. These data raise the exciting possibility that selective M4 PAMs could provide a therapeutic strategy for the treatment of HD.