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Akt/protein kinase B (PKB) activation/phosphorylation by angiotensin II (Ang II) is a critical signaling event in hypertrophy of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). Conventional wisdom asserts that Akt activation occurs mainly in plasma membrane domains. Recent evidence that Akt activation may take place within intracellular compartments challenges this dogma. The spatial identity and mechanistic features of these putative signaling domains have not been defined. Using cell fractionation and fluorescence methods, we demonstrate that the early endosomal antigen-1 (EEA1)-positive endosomes are a major site of Ang II-induced Akt activation. Akt moves to and is activated in EEA1 endosomes. The expression of EEA1 is required for phosphorylation of Akt at both Thr-308 and Ser-473 as well as for phosphorylation of its downstream targets mTOR and S6 kinase, but not for Erk1/2 activation. Both Akt and phosphorylated Akt (p-Akt) interact with EEA1. We also found that PKC-α is required for organizing Ang II-induced, EEA1-dependent Akt phosphorylation in VSMC early endosomes. EEA1 expression enables PKC-α phosphorylation, which in turn regulates Akt upstream signaling kinases, PDK1 and p38 MAPK. Our results indicate that PKC-α is a necessary regulator of EEA1-dependent Akt signaling in early endosomes. Finally, EEA1 down-regulation or expression of a dominant negative mutant of PKC-α blunts Ang II-induced leucine incorporation in VSMCs. Thus, EEA1 serves a novel function as an obligate scaffold for Ang II-induced Akt activation in early endosomes.
The molecular events linking lipid accumulation in atherosclerotic plaques to complications such as aneurysm formation and plaque disruption are poorly understood. BALB/c-Apoe(-/-) mice bearing a null mutation in the Npc1 gene display prominent medial erosion and atherothrombosis, whereas their macrophages accumulate free cholesterol in late endosomes and show increased cathepsin K (Ctsk) expression. We now show increased cathepsin K immunostaining and increased cysteinyl proteinase activity using near infrared fluorescence imaging over proximal aortas of Apoe(-/-), Npc1(-/-) mice. In mechanistic studies, cholesterol loading of macrophage plasma membranes (cyclodextrin-cholesterol) or endosomal system (AcLDL+U18666A or Npc1 null mutation) activated Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling, leading to sustained phosphorylation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase and induction of p38 targets, including Ctsk, S100a8, Mmp8, and Mmp14. Studies in macrophages from knockout mice showed major roles for TLR4, following plasma membrane cholesterol loading, and for TLR3, after late endosomal loading. TLR signaling via p38 led to phosphorylation and activation of the transcription factor Microphthalmia transcription factor, acting at E-box elements in the Ctsk promoter. These studies suggest that free cholesterol enrichment of either plasma or endosomal membranes in macrophages leads to activation of signaling via various TLRs, prolonged p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase activation, and induction of Mmps, Ctsk, and S100a8, potentially contributing to plaque complications.
The activities of the Raf kinase family proteins control extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation in many aspects of cellular responses. However, the relative contributions of individual isozymes to cellular functions including T cell responses are still unclear. In addition to Raf-1, another Raf family kinase, B-Raf, is expressed in murine thymocytes and peripheral T cells, and its activation was induced by TCR stimulation. Here, we investigated the function of B-Raf in development of T cells by generating chimeric mice in which a T cell-compromised host was reconstituted with fetal liver-derived cells from embryonic lethal B-Raf-deficient mice. Although B-Raf was dispensable for normal T cell lineage differentiation at the CD4(-)CD8(-) double-negative stage, thymocytes in the chimeric mice derived from B-Raf(-/-) cells exhibited a drastic arrest of differentiation at the CD4(+)CD8(+) double-positive stage, suggesting that B-Raf is crucial for T cell development, especially for the transition to CD4(+) and CD8(+) single-positive thymocytes. Regarding intracellular signaling, we found that activation of ERK following TCR stimulation was impaired in the thymocytes from the chimeric mice. In conclusion, we present first evidence for the important role of B-Raf-mediated signaling in T cell development.
Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor-1 (FGFR1) is commonly overexpressed in advanced prostate cancer (PCa). To investigate causality, we utilized an inducible FGFR1 (iFGFR1) prostate mouse model. Activation of iFGFR1 with chemical inducers of dimerization (CID) led to highly synchronous, step-wise progression to adenocarcinoma that is linked to an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). iFGFR1 inactivation by CID withdrawal led to full reversion of prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, whereas PCa lesions became iFGFR1-independent. Gene expression profiling at distinct stages of tumor progression revealed an increase in EMT-associated Sox9 and changes in the Wnt signaling pathway, including Fzd4, which was validated in human PCa. The iFGFR1 model clearly implicates FGFR1 in PCa progression and demonstrates how CID-inducible models can help evaluate candidate molecules in tumor progression and maintenance.
AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) has been identified as a regulator of gene transcription, increasing mitochondrial proteins of oxidative metabolism as well as hexokinase expression in skeletal muscle. In mice, muscle-specific knockout of LKB1, a component of the upstream kinase of AMPK, prevents contraction- and 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-beta-D-ribofuranoside (AICAR)-induced activation of AMPK in skeletal muscle, and the increase in hexokinase II protein that is normally observed with chronic AICAR activation of AMPK. Since previous reports show a cAMP response element in the promoter region of the hexokinase II gene, we hypothesized that the cAMP-response element (CRE) binding protein (CREB) family of transcription factors could be targets of AMPK. Using radioisotopic kinase assays, we found that recombinant and rat liver and muscle AMPK phosphorylated CREB1 at the same site as cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA). AMPK was also found to phosphorylate activating transcription factor 1 (ATF1), CRE modulator (CREM), and CREB-like 2 (CREBL2), but not ATF2. Treatment of HEK-293 cells stably transfected with a CREB-driven luciferase reporter with AICAR increased luciferase activity approximately threefold over a 24-h time course. This increase was blocked with compound C, an AMPK inhibitor. In addition, AICAR-induced activation of AMPK in incubated rat epitrochlearis muscles resulted in an increase in both phospho-acetyl-CoA carboxylase and phospho-CREB. We conclude that CREB and related proteins are direct downstream targets for AMPK and are therefore likely involved in mediating some effects of AMPK on expression of genes having a CRE in their promoters.
Previously published studies have shown that cytochrome P450 (P450) enzyme systems can produce reactive oxygen species and suggest roles of P450s in oxidative stress. However, most of the studies have been done in vitro, and the potential link between P450 induction and in vivo oxidative damage has not been rigorously explored with validated biomarkers. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were pretreated with typical P450 inducers (beta-naphthoflavone, phenobarbital (PB), Aroclor 1254, isoniazid, pregnenolone 16alpha-carbonitrile, and clofibrate) or the general P450 inhibitor 1-aminobenztriazole; induction of P4501A, -2B, -2E, -3A, and -4A subfamily enzymes was confirmed by immunoblotting and the suppression of P450 by 1-aminobenztriazole using spectral analysis. PB and Aroclor 1254 significantly enhanced malondialdehyde and H2O2 generation and NADPH oxidation in vitro and significantly enhanced formation in vivo, in both liver and plasma. Some of the other treatments changed in vitro parameters but none did in vivo. The PB-mediated increases in liver and plasma F2-isoprostanes could be ablated by 1-aminobenztriazole, implicating the PB-induced P450(s) in the F2-isoprostane elevation. The markers of in vivo oxidative stress were influenced mainly by PB and Aroclor 1254, indicative of an oxidative damage response only to barbiturate-type induction and probably related to 2B subfamily enzymes. These studies define the contribution of P450s to oxidative stress in vivo, in that the phenomenon is relatively restricted and most P450s do not contribute substantially.
Previous studies from our own group and others have demonstrated that cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors could reduce proteinuria in some experimental models of progressive renal disease. To investigate a possible role of COX-2 in podocytes during the course of self-limited glomerular injury, we administered puromycin nucleoside (PAN) on day 1 (15 mg/100 g BW) and day 3 (30 mg/100 g BW) to wild-type and transgenic mice with podocyte-specific COX-2 expression driven by a nephrin promoter. An additional group received both PAN and the COX-2-specific inhibitor, SC58236 (6 mg/l in drinking water). There was no significant difference in the albumin (microg)/creatinine (mg) ratio between wild-type (26.3 +/- 4.2, n = 8) and transgenic (28.9 +/- 2.3, n = 8) mice under baseline conditions. PAN induced significant albuminuria only in the transgenic mice with a peak at day 3: 72.1 +/- 8.9 microg/mg creatinine (n = 12, p < 0.05, compared with basal level), which remitted by day 10 (37.4 +/- 4.4 microg/mg, n = 7, p < 0.05, compared with day 3). Electron microscopy demonstrated that PAN caused 56.7 +/- 4.2% foot process effacement in transgenic mice compared with 38.8 +/- 4.1% in wild type at day 3. PAN increased immunoreactive COX-2 in glomeruli from transgenic mice (day 3: 1.47 +/- 0.08 fold; day 10: 1.25 +/- 0.16 fold, n = 5-9, p < 0.05 compared with basal level), which was restricted to podocytes. Real time PCR indicated that endogenous COX-2 mRNA increased (2.6 +/- 0.1 fold of wild-type control at day 3 and 2.2 +/- 0.2 at day 10, n = 4, p < 0.05), while the nephrin-driven COX-2 mRNA was unchanged. Nephrin mRNA and protein expression were decreased by PAN in the transgenic mice. The COX-2-specific inhibitor, SC58236, reduced foot process effacement in transgenic mice administered PAN to 21.7 +/- 5.2% and significantly reduced the albuminuria at day 3 (42.2 +/- 3.8, n = 13, p < 0.05 compared with untreated) without significantly altering COX-2 expression. In summary, in transgenic mice with podocyte COX-2 overexpression, PAN increased albuminuria and induced foot process fusion. Thus, increased COX-2 expression increased podocyte susceptibility to further injury.
Copyright 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.
Considerable attention has focused on regulation of central tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH) activity and protein expression. At the time of these earlier studies, it was thought that there was a single central TPH isoform. However, with the recent identification of TPH2, it becomes important to distinguish between regulatory effects on the protein expression and activity of the two isoforms. We have generated a TPH2-specific polyclonal antiserum (TPH2-6361) to study regulation of TPH2 at the protein level and to examine the distribution of TPH2 expression in rodent and human brain. TPH2 immunoreactivity (IR) was detected throughout the raphe nuclei, in lateral hypothalamic nuclei and in the pineal body of rodent and human brain. In addition, a prominent TPH2-IR fiber network was found in the human median eminence. We recently reported that glucocorticoid treatment of C57/Bl6 mice for 4 days markedly decreased TPH2 messenger RNA levels in the raphe nuclei, whereas TPH1 mRNA was unaffected. The glucocorticoid-elicited inhibition of TPH2 gene expression was blocked by co-administration of the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist mifepristone (RU-486). Using TPH2-6361, we have extended these findings to show a dose-dependent decrease in raphe TPH2 protein levels in response to 4 days of treatment with dexamethasone; this effect was blocked by co-administration of mifepristone. Moreover, the glucocorticoid-elicited inhibition of TPH2 was functionally significant: serotonin synthesis was significantly reduced in the frontal cortex of glucocorticoid-treated mice, an effect that was blocked by mifepristone co-administration. This study provides further evidence for the glucocorticoid regulation of serotonin biosynthesis via inhibition of TPH2 expression, and suggest that elevated glucocorticoid levels may be relevant to the etiology of psychiatric diseases, such as depression, where hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysregulation has been documented.
Surgical resection remains the best treatment for colorectal metastases isolated to the liver; however, 5-year survival rates following liver resection are only 40% to 50%, with liver recurrence being a significant reason for treatment failure. The ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury incurred during liver surgery can lead to cellular dysfunction and elevations in proinflammatory cytokines and matrix metalloproteinases (MMP). In rodents, I/R injury to the liver has been shown to accelerate the outgrowth of implanted tumors. The mechanism for increased tumor growth in the setting of liver I/R injury is unknown. To investigate the effect of I/R on tumor growth, an experimental model was used whereby small hepatic metastases form after 28 days. Mice subjected to 30 min of 70% liver ischemia at the time of tumor inoculation had significantly larger tumor number and volume, and had elevated MMP9 serum and liver tissue MMP9 as evidenced by zymography and quantitative real-time PCR. Mice treated with doxycycline, a broad-spectrum MMP inhibitor, had reduced MMP9 levels and significantly smaller tumor number and volume in the liver. MMP9-null mice were used to determine if the effects of doxycycline were due to the absence of stromal-derived MMP9. The MMP9-null mice, with or without doxycycline treatment, had reduced tumor number and volume that was equivalent to wild-type mice treated with doxycycline. These findings indicate that hepatic I/R-induced elevations in MMP9 contribute to the growth of metastatic colorectal carcinoma in the liver and that postresection MMP9 inhibition may be clinically beneficial in preventing recurrence following hepatic surgery.
Preimplantation embryo development to the blastocyst stage and uterine differentiation to the receptive state are prerequisites for embryo implantation. Burgeoning evidence suggests that endocannabinoid signaling is critical to early pregnancy events. Anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamine) and 2-AG (2-arachidonoylglycerol) are two major endocannabinoids that bind to and activate G-protein coupled cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. We have previously shown that a physiological tone of anandamide is critical to preimplantation events in mice, since either silencing or amplification of anandamide signaling causes retarded development and oviductal retention of embryos via CB1, leading to deferred implantation and compromised pregnancy outcome. Whether 2-AG, which also influences many biological functions, has any effects on early pregnancy remains unknown. Furthermore, mechanisms by which differential uterine endocannabinoid gradients are established under changing pregnancy state is not clearly understood. We show here that 2-AG is present at levels one order of magnitude higher than those of anandamide in the mouse uterus, but with similar patterns as anandamide, i.e. lower levels at implantation sites and higher at interimplantation sites. We also provide evidence that region- and stage-specific uterine expression of N-acylphosphatidylethanolamine-specific phospholipase D (NAPE-PLD) and fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), and sn-1-diacylglycerol (DAG) lipase alpha (DAGLalpha) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) for synthesis and hydrolysis of anandamide and 2-AG, respectively, creates endocannabinoid gradients conducive to implantation. Our genetic evidence suggests that FAAH is the major degrading enzyme for anandamide, whereas COX-2, MAGL and to some extent COX-1 participate in metabolizing 2-AG in the pregnant uterus. The results suggest that aberrant functioning of these pathways impacting uterine anandamide and/or 2-AG levels would compromise pregnancy outcome.