• DETERMINING THE MECHANISM OF EGALITARIAN-MEDIATED MRNA TRANSPORT IN DROSOPHILA

      Goldman, Chandler; Biomedical Sciences
      The establishment of cell polarity is critical for performing complex functions including division and migration. As such, the loss of polarity is implicated in many diseases including cancers. To establish polarity, many cell types rely on the asymmetric sorting of messenger RNAs or mRNAs. These mRNAs are held in a translationally-repressed state until reaching their destinations. Upon arrival, translation is allowed to commence, giving rise to spatially restricted proteins. Often, mRNAs are transported to their destinations along microtubules via linkage to one of the sub families of microtubule motors, Dynein or Kinesins. The mechanism by which mRNAs are linked to these motors is unknown for the vast majority of localizing mRNAs. Drosophila oocytes and embryos display a great number of mRNAs that are localized to specific regions. The protein Egalitarian (Egl) has been shown to directly bind several mRNAs and participates in their microtubule-based transport by promoting linkage to cytoplasmic Dynein. In Aim 1 of this thesis, we aim to determine the mechanism by which Egl and its interacting partners, Dynein light chain (Dlc/LC8), and Bicaudal D (BicD), tether mRNAs to the Dyenin motor for transport. Dlc is required for Egl homodimerization, which promotes binding to mRNAs. BicD then preferentially associates with mRNA-bound Egl and links the complex to the Dynein motor. In Aim 2, we further investigate Egl’s role in mRNA transport by determining the critical amino acid residues within its RNA binding domain required for mRNA association.
    • THE ROLE OF NEDDYLATION IN EARLY CARDIAC DEVELOPMENT

      Littlejohn, Rodney; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (Augusta University, 2020-07)
      Background. Early cardiac development is a tightly regulated process, involving spatiotemporal coordination of multiple signaling pathways and heterogenous cell populations, both generated de novo and externally sourced. While the roles of transcription, environmental, and epigenetic factors have all been studied extensively in the context of heart development, the roles of post-translational protein modification in regulating this process remain to be elucidated. NEDD8 (neural precursor cell expressed developmentally downregulated 8) is a novel ubiquitin-like protein modifier. Conjugation of NEDD8 to protein targets, a process termed neddylation, has been shown to regulate cell proliferation, cell signaling, and protein homeostasis, and play important roles in multiple physiological and pathological events. We have previously shown that neddylation is developmentally downregulated in the developing heart and is essential for mid-to-late gestational ventricular chamber maturation. However, whether and how neddylation regulates early cardiogenic events remains unknown. Methods and results. Mice with constitutive, cardiac progenitor cell-specific, cardiomyocyte- and vascular smooth muscle cell-specific deletion of NAE1, a regulatory subunit of the NEDD8-specific E1 activating enzyme, were created. Constitutive deletion of NAE1 led to early embryonic lethality before E9.5. Nkx2.5Cre-mediated deletion of NAE1 decreased neddylated proteins in the heart, disrupted normal cardiogenesis and resulted in embryonic lethality by embryonic day (E) 12.5 due to heart failure. Similarly, SM22αCre-driven deletion of NAE1 also caused cardiac failure and embryonic lethality by E13.5. The striking cardiac phenotypes were associated with myocardial hypoplasia, ventricular hypo-trabeculation, and pronounced endocardial and/or epicardial defects in both models. Unbiased transcriptomic analysis revealed dysregulated expression of genes associated with cardiomyocyte differentiation, proliferation, and maturation in NAE1-deficient hearts. Indeed, inhibition of neddylation disturbed cardiomyocyte proliferation, and myofibril assembly in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, defects in cardiomyocyte differentiation and maturation were linked to downregulation of Nkx2.5 and Mef2c, two key transcription factors regulating early cardiogenesis. Conclusion. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that neddylation in cardiac progenitor cells and cardiomyocytes is essential in the regulation of cardiogenesis in transgenic mouse models. Our results uncover a previously unknown role of post-translational modification in the regulation of cardiac development via potential roles in mediating cardiomyocyte proliferation, differentiation, and maturation.
    • ROLE OF CLASS III PHOSPHATIDYLINOSITOL 3-KINASE IN THE RENAL PROXIMAL TUBULE

      Liu, Ting; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (Augusta University, 2020-05)
      Yeast only has a single phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) known as vacuolar protein sorting 34 (VPS34); however, mammals have evolved to express three structurally different classes of PI3Ks: class I, II, and III. Although the class III PI3K (Pik3c3) is the only PI3K evolutionarily conserved from yeast to man, its distribution in the mammalian kidney is unknown, and its role in the renal proximal tubule, especially under certain pathophysiological conditions such as nephron loss-induced Compensatory Nephron Hypertrophy (CNH), remains undefined. The goal of Aim 1 was to define the expression pattern and relevant biological function of Pik3c3 in the kidney. We found that the glomerular podocyte expresses the highest level of Pik3c3 in the kidney. Among all renal tubular cells, the specialized distal convoluted tubular epithelial cells called macula densa cells express the highest level of Pik3c3, and the renal proximal tubular cells (RPTC) express the second highest level of Pik3c3. This prompted us to perform additional experiments for Aim 1 that led to the demonstration of an essential function of Pik3c3 in regulating the degradation of epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR) and the termination of EGFR signaling in RPTC following EGF binding with EGFR. The goal of Aim 2 was to determine whether Pik3c3 is essential in mediating uninephrectomy (UNX)-induced compensatory nephron hypertrophy. We generated a global Pik3c3-hypomorphic mouse model and two slightly different proximal tubule-specific Pik3c3 knockout mouse models: Pik3c3Neo-ptKO and Pik3c3ptKO. Interestingly, CNH was markedly inhibited in the global Pik3c3-hypomorphic mouse model and proximal tubule-specific Pik3c3 knockout models. The goal of Aim 3 was to determine the effect and underlying mechanism of complete Pik3c3 deletion in renal proximal tubule cells. We found that complete Pik3c3 deletion in some renal proximal tubule cells resulting in marked cell death that subsequently progressed to tubulointerstitial fibrosis. My project has, for the first time, determined the expression pattern of Pik3c3 in the kidney and provided the first definitive evidence that Pik3c3 controls the degree of CNH and functions upstream of the mTORC1-S6K1-rpS6 pathway in the regulation of CNH. In addition, my project reveals an essential role of Pik3c3 in maintaining the homeostasis and survival of proximal tubule cells.
    • THE ROLE OF KYNURENINE, A TRYPTOPHAN METABOLITE THAT INCREASES WITH AGE, IN MUSCLE ATROPHY AND LIPID PEROXIDATION)

      Kaiser, Helen E.; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (Augusta University, 2020-05)
      Loss of mobility and independence are risk factors for falls and mortality, and drastically reduce the quality of life among older adults. The cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying loss of muscle mass and strength with age (sarcopenia) are not well-understood; however, heterochronic parabiosis experiments show that circulating factors are likely to play a role. Kynurenine (KYN) is a circulating tryptophan metabolite that is known to increase with age and is implicated in several age-related pathologies. Here I tested the hypothesis that KYN contributes directly to muscle loss with aging. Results indicate that that KYN treatment of mouse and human myoblasts increased levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) two-fold, and significantly increased lipid peroxidation enzymes. Small-molecule inhibition of the Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (Ahr), an endogenous KYN receptor, in vitro did not prevent KYN-induced increases in ROS, and homozygous Ahr knockout in vivo did not protect mice from KYN-induced stress, suggesting that KYN can directly increase ROS independent of Ahr activation. In vivo, wild-type mice treated with KYN had reduced skeletal muscle strength, size, and increased oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation. Old wild-type mice treated with 1MT, a small molecule that suppresses KYN production by IDO1, showed an increase in muscle fiber size, peak muscle strength, and oxidative stress. Protein analysis identified mitochondrial lipid peroxidation as a downstream mechanism that is increased upon KYN treatment. Lipid peroxidation enzymes increased with KYN have been shown to produce H2O2 outside of the electron transport chain. Our data suggest that IDO inhibition may represent a novel therapeutic approach for the attenuation of sarcopenia and possibly other age-associated conditions associated with KYN accumulation such as bone loss and neurodegeneration.
    • DEFINING THE ROLE OF TROPOMYOSIN-1C IN CARGO TRANSPORT IN DROSOPHILA

      Boggupalli, Shankarappa Devi Prasad; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (Augusta University, 2020-05)
      Cell polarity is the asymmetric organization of different organelles in a cell, including the plasma membrane and cytoskeleton. Such organization results from asymmetric sorting of proteins, either post-translationally or pre-translationally by messenger RNA localization. In Drosophila oocytes, posterior localization of oskar mRNA is required for germplasm assembly and establishing antero-posterior polarity. oskar mRNA is transported by Kinesin, however the adaptor that links Kinesin to oskar mRNA was not known. In Aim 1 of this thesis, we demonstrate that a novel isoform of Tropomyosin, namely Tm1C, binds directly to kinesin and functions as the adaptor in linking kinesin to oskar mRNA. Oskar expression is limited to female germline, however Tm1C is also expressed in male flies. This suggests that there might be additional cargoes for Tm1C. We attempted to identify novel cargoes of Tm1C by performing a proteomic assay in Drosophila S2 cells. Apart from Khc, we identified Supernumerary limbs (Slmb) as the main interacting partner. Our further investigation of Slmb suggests that it might not be a cargo. Instead, Slmb which is a component of E3 ubiquitin ligase, might regulate the expression of Tm1C. In Aim 2 of the thesis, we show that Slmb regulates the levels of Tm1C by ubiquitinating it and facilitating its degradation by the Proteasome.
    • In search of genetic mutations for familial keratoconus

      Khaled, Mariam Lotfy; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (Augusta University, 2019-05)
      Keratoconus (KC) is the most common corneal degenerative disorder and a leading cause of corneal transplantation in developed countries. KC is a multi-factorial disease with involvement of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors. Although KC has been widely studied, the main cause of the disease and the molecular mechanism remain unknown. We aimed to study the molecular genetics of KC via utilizing next-generation sequencing technology including RNA-Seq, whole exome sequencing, and whole genome sequencing. We used RNA-Seq to study the KC-affected corneal transcriptome. We identified 436 coding RNAs and 584 lncRNAs with differential expression in the KC-affected corneas with a |fold change| ≥ 2 and a false discovery rate ≤ 0.05. Pathway analysis, using WebGestalt, indicated the enrichment of the genes involved in the extracellular matrix, protein binding, glycosaminoglycan binding, and cell migration. Co-expression analysis revealed 296 pairs of genes with significant KC-specific correlations. The RNA-Seq data analysis highlighted the potential roles of several genes (CTGF, SFRP1, AQP5, lnc-WNT4-2:1, and lnc-ALDH3A2-2:1) and pathways (TGF-β, WNT signaling, and PI3K/AKT pathways) in KC pathogenesis. Next, we used whole genome and exome sequencing to figure out the causal mutation(s) in a four-generation KC family with a linkage locus on Chr5q14.3-q21.1. We found a missense mutation in the phosphatase domain of PPIP5K2 (c.1255T>G, p.Ser419Ala). We found another missense mutation in the same domain of PPIP5K2 (c.2528A>G, p.Asn843Ser) in a second KC family. PPIP5K2 is a bifunctional enzyme involved in the inositol phosphate metabolic pathway. In vitro functional assays indicated the impact of the identified mutations on the enzymatic activity of PPIP5K2. PPIP5K2 expresses at a higher level than its homolog PPIP5K1 in both human and mouse corneas. A transgenic mouse model with the loss of phosphatase activity and elevated kinase activity of Ppip5k2 exhibited corneal structural abnormalities emphasizing the important role of PPIP5K2 in the homeostasis of corneal integrity. This study advances our knowledge of KC genetic etiology and helps in identifying a potential therapeutic target for KC.
    • Increased Membrane Thiol Oxidation in Sickle Erythrocytes

      Hill, Benjamin Albert; Department of Cell and Molecular Biology (1988-06)
    • IN VITRO AND IN VIVO STUDIES DEMONSTRATE A ROLE FOR SH3PX1 IN LAMELLIPODIA FORMATION.

      Hicks, Lawrence Joseph; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (5/22/2018)
      Actin remodeling and endocytosis are essential functions for most cells. Defects in these processes present in a variety of diseases. Sorting nexins are known to contribute to endocytic uptake, cytokinesis, the retromer complex, and autophagy. Sorting nexin 9 (Snx9) interacts with major endocytic factors and proteins involved in regulation of actin cytoskeleton dynamics. Nonetheless, Snx9’s exact in vivo roles in these basic cellular processes and disease mechanisms are not known. By examining the roles of Sh3px1, we can better understand the mechanism by which this protein contributes to endocytosis and actin remodeling in vivo. Two additional paralogs, Snx18 and Snx33, complicate studies in mammalian models due to potential redundant mechanisms. Utilizing the single ortholog in Drosophila, sh3px1, this report describes the function of Sh3px1 in membrane organization and actin dynamics. Drosophila S2 cells that are depleted of Sh3px1 fail to form lamellipodia, a process that is also dependent on the actin nucleation factor, Scar. In addition, over-expression of Sh3px1 in S2 cells results in the formation of tubules and also long membrane protrusions, atypical of a classical BAR domain protein. An intact PX-BAR domain is required for these overexpression phenotypes. sh3px1 null flies are viable; however, mutant females have significantly compromised fertility. Female sh3px1 null egg chambers show many morphological defects. The age-dependent degeneration of the null egg chamber is not likely due to compromised endocytosis. Additionally, collective border cell migration is attenuated in the absence of Sh3px1. These cells are known for their reliance on endocytosis and modulation of actin dynamics for migration. We have found that Sh3px1 is essential in efficient lamellipodia production at the start of border cell migration. Our findings also suggest that Scar directly interacts with Sh3px1 and is upregulated in sh3px1 nulls. Mutation of Scar enhances many reproductive defects in sh3px1 nulls. Thus, our work reveals a main in vivo function of Sh3px1 in actin regulation for the production of structures such as lamellipodia.
    • DNA METHYLATION REGULATION IN ACUTE KIDNEY INJURY

      Guo, Chunyuan; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (4/26/2018)
      DNA methylation is a critical epigenetic mechanism, which is heritable during cell division, but does not involve the change of DNA sequence. It plays an essential role in regulating gene transcription in physiological and disease conditions. However, little is known about DNA methylation in renal diseases, especially in acute kidney injury (AKI). In this study, the role of DNA methylation in AKI was determined in both cell culture and mouse models. In cell culture, 5-aza-2’-deoxycytidine (5-aza), a pharmacological DNA methylation inhibitor, was used to inhibit DNA methylation. Interestingly, 5-aza increased both cisplatin- and hypoxia-induced apoptosis. These results suggest pharmacologic blockade of DNA methylation by 5-aza sensitizes renal tubular cells to apoptosis, supporting a cytoprotective role of DNA methylation in AKI. To determine the role of DNA methylation in vivo, we first successfully established conditional knockout mice that were deficient in DNMT1, DNMT3a or both exclusively in proximal tubules. In cisplatin-induced AKI, consistent with the effects of 5-aza in the cell culture, ablation of DNMT1 from proximal tubules exacerbated cisplatin-induced AKI in mice, and primary proximal tubular cells from PT-DNMT1-KO mice were more sensitive to cisplatin-induced apoptosis than wild-type cells. In sharp contrast, PT-DNMT1/3a-DK mice attenuated cisplatin-induced AKI, and primary proximal tubular cells from PT-DNMT1/3a-DK mice were more resistant to cisplatin-induced apoptosis. However, PT-DNMT3a-KO mice and PT-DNMT3a-WT mice showed similar AKI following cisplatin treatment. These results suggest different DNMTs play different roles in cisplatin-induced AKI. In ischemic AKI, none of the conditional knockout models showed differences in response to ischemia-reperfusion injury. Nevertheless, although ablation of both DNMT1 and DNMT3a in proximal tubular cells did not affect ischemia-reperfusion injury, it, indeed, suppressed renal fibroblast activation and ameliorated renal fibrosis. Furthermore, we found that Irf8 was regulated by DNA methylation during cisplatin treatment and knockdown of Irf8 in RPTC cells inhibited cisplatin-induced apoptosis, supporting a pro-death role of Irf8 in renal tubular cells. In ischemic AKI, although Bcl6 is hypermethylated and repressed in mice, overexpression of Bcl6 in RPTC cells had no impact on hypoxia-induced apoptosis. Collectively, these results suggest an important role of DNA methylation in AKI by regulating specific genes expression.
    • NEUROVASCULAR DEGENERATION FOLLOWING RETINAL ISCHEMIA REPERFUSION INJURY: ROLE OF ARGINASE 2

      Shosha, Esraa; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (2017)
      Ischemic retinopathies such as retinopathy of prematurity, central retinal artery occlusion and diabetic retinopathy are leading causes of visual impairment and blindness. These pathologies share common features of oxidative stress, activation of inflammatory pathways and neurovascular damage. There is no clinically effective treatment for these conditions because the underlying mechanisms are still not fully understood. In the current study, we used a mouse model of retinal ischemia reperfusion (I/R) insult to explore the underlying mechanisms of neurovascular degeneration in ischemic retinopathies. The arginase enzyme utilizes the L-arginine amino acid for the production of L-ornithine and urea. Here, we investigated the role of the mitochondrial arginase isoform, arginase 2 (A2) in retinal I/R induced neurovascular injury. We found that retinal I/R induced neurovascular degeneration, superoxide and nitrotyrosine formation, glial activation, cell death by necroptosis and impairment of inner retinal function in wild type (WT) mice. A2 homozygous deletion (A2-/-) significantly protected against the neurovascular degeneration after retinal I/R. That was attributed to decreased oxidative stress and glial activation. A2 deletion protected against I/R induced retinal function impairment. Using Optical coherence tomography (OCT), we evaluated the retinal structure in live animals and found that A2-/- retinas showed a more preserved structure and less retinal detachment. To investigate the underlying mechanisms of A2 induced vascular damage after I/R, we used an in vitro model of oxygen glucose deprivation/ reperfusion (OGD/R) in bovine retinal endothelial cells (BRECs). Analysis of oxidative metabolism showed impaired mitochondrial function. We also found an increase in dynamin elated protein 1 (Drp1), a mitochondrial fission marker. Mitochondria labeling studies showed fragmented mitochondria after OGD/R. Arginase inhibition reduced mitochondrial fragmentation in OGD/R insult. This dissertation presents A2 as a new therapeutic target in reducing neurovascular damage in ischemic retinopathies.
    • Targeting cyclic GMP signaling for the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases

      Sharman, Sarah Kristen; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology / Cancer Center (2017)
      Continual renewal of the luminal epithelium in the gut is essential for the maintenance of a healthy intestine as it sustains the barrier that protects underlying tissue from infiltration of material passing through the lumen. Dysregulation of homeostatic processes involved in maintenance of the barrier have been implicated in numerous gastrointestinal diseases. The cGMP signaling axis has emerged as an important regulator of homeostasis in the intestinal mucosa, and has been implicated in the suppression of visceral pain, colitis, and colon cancer. While there is considerable interest in exploiting this pathway, until recently the approaches used to increase cGMP have been limited. The present study sought to test the hypothesis that elevation of cGMP in the intestinal epithelium using PDE5 inhibitors will alter epithelial homeostasis and be therapeutic for constipation and preventative for colon cancer. Healthy mice treated with the PDE5 inhibitor sildenafil or the GC-C agonist linaclotide exhibited reduced proliferation and apoptosis, and increased numbers of differentiated secretory cells in the intestinal epithelium. In addition to these homeostatic effects, both drugs normalized intestinal transit and fecal water content in two mouse models of constipation. Furthermore, administration of sildenafil to mice treated with dextran sulfate sodium tightened the disrupted epithelial barrier. Treatment of ApcMin/+ mice with sildenafil or linaclotide significantly reduced the number of polyps per mouse (67% and 50%, respectively). The effect of these cGMP-elevating agents was not on the polyps themselves but was rather on the pre-neoplastic tissue, which was less proliferative and more apoptotic in the presence of the drugs. Taken together, the results of this study demonstrate that increasing cGMP with a pediatric dose of PDE5 inhibitors could be a potential alternative to GC-C agonists for the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases.
    • Rapamycin, an evolving role in up-regulation of autophagy to improve stroke outcome and increase neuronal survival to stroke type injuries

      Buckley, Kathleen; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (2015-10)
      Rapamycin was shown to reduce infarct size in a non-reperfusion and a slow reperfusion model of murine stroke; it also improved neurological score and survival in the slow-reperfusion model. The rapamycin improvement was 50 percent greater than that observed with chloroquine. In HT22 mouse hippocampal neurons, rapamycin was shown to improve survival to an oxidative/reperfusion injury with H2O2 and a hypoxic/ischemic injury with oxygen and glucose deprivation to a larger degree than chloroquine. Rapamycin treatment increased punctate microtubule light chain associated protein 3, LC3, in the HT22 neurons in an uninjured and oxygen and glucose deprivation injured HT22 neurons compared to untreated neurons. Finally, genetic knockdown of autophagy with shRNA to autophagy protein 5, ATG5, abrogated the rapamycin’s positive effect on survival to injury.
    • Role of microtubules and motor proteins in mRNA localization

      Sanghavi, Paulomi; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (2015-08)
      Establishment of polarity is essential for many cell types to perform their functions. A common mechanism that is used to establish polarity is localization of mRNAs at specific sites. This results in spatial restriction of protein expression. mRNA localization is a widespread phenomenon, occurring in most species. However, the mechanism by which mRNAs are localized is poorly understood. Using Drosophila as the model system, we investigated the localization of one such localized transcript, oskar mRNA. Studying the mechanism by which oskar mRNA is localized is important because many factors involved in localizing this transcript also function in localizing mRNAs in mammalian neurons. oskar mRNA localizes at the posterior pole of the Drosophila oocyte. This results in the posterior restriction of Oskar protein, which is turn functions in establishment of polarity in the oocyte and the future embryo. Localization of oskar mRNA is microtubule-dependent. We, therefore, characterized the polarity of microtubules in the oocyte. Our findings suggest that the posterior region is highly enriched in microtubule plus ends. However, this polarization is not essential for oskar mRNA localization. Secondly, the posterior localization of oskar mRNA was shown to be mediated primarily by the Kinesin-1 motor. Our findings demonstrate the role of an additional motor, Dynein, in this pathway. We found that Dynein associates with oskar mRNA in vivo and depletion of Dynein caused a significant delocalization of oskar mRNA. Next, we examined the role of a Dynein adaptor, Egalitarian (Egl), in the oskar mRNA localization pathway. Egl has been shown to recruit localized mRNAs to the Dynein motor in Drosophila embryos. Our results suggest that Egl associates with oskar mRNA in vivo and is required for the posterior localization of this transcript. Interestingly, one of the mechanisms by which Egl affects the localization of oskar mRNA is by affecting the microtubule polarity in the oocyte. Additionally, depletion of Egl caused precocious translation of oskar mRNA in the oocyte. Thus, our findings revealed a novel function for Egl in organizing oocyte microtubules and in regulating the translation of a localized mRNA.
    • Androgenic Maintenance of Rat Penile Erection

      Reilly, Christopher M.; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (1997-06)
      Prior studies from this laboratory, using untreated-castrated rats (CASTRATE) and testosterone-treated castrated rats (TESTO), have shown that the magnitude of the intracavemosal pressure increase during erection is androgen dependent. Studies from this and other laboratories have also presented evidence suggesting that penile erection is mediated principally by nitric oxide (NO). The present report was designed to confirm that androgens maintain the availability of cavemosal NO, and to determine if this androgenic action is exerted at the genomic level modulating the expression of the neuronal form of nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) gene. The results showed that administration of supplemental L-arginine failed to augment the erectile response in either group, suggesting that substrate availability is not a cause o f the reduced response in CASTRATE animals. Inhibition of NO synthesis with a nitro-arginine competitive inhibitor of NOS resulted in strong inhibition of erection in both TESTO and CASTRATE rats. When given in conjunction with ganglionic stimulation to induce erection, the NO releasing drug, sodium nitroprusside (SNP), increased intracavemosal pressure in CASTRATE but not in TESTO rats suggesting a deficiency of the available NO in CASTRATE animals. Finally, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) demonstrated that mRNA levels for the enzyme nNOS in the penis were greater in TESTO animals than in CASTRATE rats. These results support the hypothesis that androgens mediate the erectile response in the rat penis by stimulating the expression of the neuronal isoform of nitric oxide synthase, thus maintaining an adequate supply of NO.
    • Venous Contraction to Endothelin-1 in Congestive Hearth Failure

      Reddy, Vikram; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (2003-04)
      Endothelin-1 (ET-1) is produced by endothelial cells and can stimulate either the ETa or the ETB receptors. The role o f ET-1 and the identity of the endothelin receptors involved in mediating tone in the mesenteric small veins of the Golden Syrian hamster are not known. ET-1 induces venoconstriction, thereby increasing the preload to the heart in congestive heart failure. However, mechanisms mediating contraction to ET-1 in the mesenteric small veins of the cardiomyopathic hamsters in the early and late stages of CHF are not known. Therefore, mechanisms mediating ET-1 induced contraction were determined in the mesenteric small veins o f the Golden Syrian and cardiomyopathic hamsters in the early and late stages of CHF. Baseline intraluminal diameter of small veins was measured before and after treatment with either ETa or ETB receptor antagonists. ET-1 induced contraction was higher in the early stage o f CHF, while it was decreased in the late stage of CHF. Blockade of the ETA receptor decreased ET-1 induced contraction in the mesenteric small veins from the control and cardiomyopathic hamsters in both the early and late stage o f CHF. ETB receptor blockade decreased the ET-1 induced contraction in the control and cardiomyopathic hamsters in the early, but not late, stage o f CHF. Therefore, ET-1 induced contraction in the mesenteric small veins is mediated by the ETa receptors alone in the late stage of CHF, while both the ETa and ETB receptors mediate vasoconstriction in the controls and in the early stage o f CHF. Stimulation of ET-1 receptors is associated with an increase in calcium levels within the vascular smooth muscle cells. It is not known whether the increase in reactivity to ET-1 in the early stage o f CHF or the decrease in reactivity to ET-1 in the late stage of CHF is due to problems with mobilization o f the intracellular calcium levels within the vascular smooth muscle cell. Following ET-1, calcium levels within the vascular smooth muscle cell were increased to a larger extent in the early stage o f CHF, than in the late stage of CHF, in agreement with the vascular reactivity data. Calcium levels were also measured before and after treatment with either ETa or ETb receptor antagonists. Blockade o f the ETa receptor inhibited the ET-1 induced increase in calcium levels in the mesenteric small veins from the control and cardiomyopathic hamsters in both the early and late stage of CHF. However, ETB receptor blockade inhibited the ET-1 induced increase in calcium levels in only the control and cardiomyopathic hamsters in the early stage o f CHF. These results indicate the absence of a functional responses mediated by the ETb receptor in the late stage of CHF. Studies have shown that NO can modulate the contraction to ET-1 in the vasculature. Baseline intraluminal diameter o f small veins were measured before and after treatment with N-nitro-L-arginine (LNA), a specific inhibitor o f nitric oxide synthase. LNA decreased the contraction to ET-1 in the early stage o f CHF, but increased contraction to ET-1 in the late stage of CHF. This indicates that NOS mediates a vasodilatory effect that counteracts contraction to ET-1 in the late stage, but contributes to the vasoconstrictor effect of ET-1 in the late stage o f CHF. NOS activity was measured to identify the NOS isoforms contributing to the modulation o f ET-1 induced vascular reactivity. Total NOS activity was significantly increased in the cytosolic fraction of small veins from hamsters in the late stage o f CHF and in the particulate fraction in hamsters in the early stage of CHF. In the late stage, the increase in NOS activity was inhibitable by 1400W, an iNOS selective inhibitor, suggesting that an increase in iNOS decreases the contraction to ET-1. In summary, in the early stage of CHF, there is an increase in the vascular reactivity to ET-1 associated with an increase in intracellular calcium levels and partially mediated by NOS. This may increase preload and impair myocardial function in CHF. There is an absence o f ETb receptor-mediated responses in the late stage of CHF, associated with very high plasma ET-1 levels and impaired intracellular calcium signaling. NOS activity is significantly enhanced in the mesenteric small veins from the cardiomyopathic hamsters in the late phase of CHF, and this increase in NOS activity is at least partially dependent on iNOS and may contribute to impaired venous contraction to ET-1 in cardiomyopathic hamsters. This may serve as a compensatory mechanism to decrease the preload to the failing heart.
    • Characterization of the Retinal Phenotype In Methylene Tetrahydrofolate Reductase (Mthfr) Deficient Mice, A Model Of Mild Hyperhomocysteinemia

      Markand, Shanu; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (2015-05)
      Homocysteine (hcy), a sulfur containing amino acid, is an integral part of methionine metabolism. Elevated plasma level of hcy (Hhcy) is identified as a risk factor for cardiovascular disorders and implicated in various retinal diseases such diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, age related macular degeneration and central retinal vein occlusion. Cystathionine β-synthase (CBS) and methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) are key enzymes of hcy metabolism. CBS catalyzes the transsulfuration pathway yielding beneficial downstream products such as taurine, H2S and glutathione (GSH). MTHFR is required for methylation of hcy. Mutations in MTHFR are the most common genetic cause for Hhcy. Murine models of CBS and MTHFR are an invaluable tools to understand Hhcy pathophysiology in humans. Our lab has reported the retinal phenotype of CBS mutant mice. Depending upon the loss of one or both alleles, mild to marked retinal neurovascular and functional alterations are observed. The data from CBS mutant mice raise an important question: is the retinal neurovasculopathy observed in absence/deficiency of CBS attributed to excess hcy levels or is it due to decline in availability of taurine, H 2S and GSH? This can be addressed by studying the retinal phenotype of MTHFR mutant mice which have an intact CBS pathway. No information is available is currently available about the retinal expression of MTHFR and current data regarding CBS in the mouse retina is contentious. This thesis work tested the hypothesis that CBS and MTHFR are expressed in the mouse retina at gene and protein levels and that Hhcy would induce retinal functional and neurovascular alterations in MTHFR-deficient mice. For gene and protein expression studies, RNA and protein were isolated from retinas for analysis of Cbs and Mthfr gene expression by RT-PCR and protein expression by Western blotting. Eyes were harvested from C57BL6 mice and used for immunodetection of CBS and MTHFR in the retina. RT-PCR revealed robust Cbs and Mthfr expression in retina. Western blotting detected CBS and MTHFR protein in mouse retina. In immunohistochemical studies of the intact retina, CBS was present most abundantly in the ganglion cell layer of WT retina while MTHFR showed widespread retinal expression. Our immunofluorescence studies revealed presence of CBS and MTHFR in retinal ganglion, Müller and RPE cells. Taken together, we have compelling molecular evidence that CBS and MTHFR are expressed in mouse retina at gene and protein levels. These data indicate the underlying importance of hcy metabolism in the retina. For characterization of the retinal phenotype in MTHFR deficient mice, we employed tools such as ERG, Fundus and FA, OCT, HPLC, morphometric, immunohistochemistry (IHC) and PCR arrays. ERG revealed a significant decrease in positive scotopic threshold response in retinas of Mthfr+/- mice at 24 wks. FA revealed areas of focal vascular leakage in 20% of Mthfr+/- mice at 12-16 wks and 60% by 24 wks suggesting potential vascular damage mediated by Hhcy. SD-OCT revealed a significant decrease in NFL thickness at 24 wks in Mthfr+/- compared to Mthfr+/+ mice. There was a 2-fold elevation in retinal hcy at 24 wks in Mthfr+/- mice by HPLC and IHC. Morphometric analysis revealed ∼20% reduction in cells in the ganglion cell layer of Mthfr+/- mice at 24 wks. IHC indicated significantly-increased GFAP labeling suggestive of Müller cell activation. The similar loss of ganglion cells, focal vascular leakage, 2-fold increase in retinal hcy, gliosis and functional abnormities were reported in Cbs+/- mice. Taken together, these data support our hypothesis that Hhcy induces retinal neurovascular and functional alterations in MTHFR deficient mice. In addition, we explored retinal mitochondrial gene alteration as a possible mechanism of Hhcy mediated retinal alterations. PCR array data analysis revealed upregulation of pro-apoptotic genes and downregulation of genes associated with normal mitochondrial transport function. Future studies will validate these results at protein and functional levels. To conclude, our data support the hypothesis that Hhcy may be causative in certain retinal neurovasculopathies. These data contribute to our understanding of the potential effects of Hhcy on the retina and may prove useful in other disease model systems of Hhcy.
    • Impact of Genetic Predisposition and Environmental Stress on Measures of Preclinical Essential Hypertension

      Poole, Joseph C.; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (2006-06)
      The main objective of this project was to determine the impact of genetic risk and chronic environmental stress on measures of preclinical essential hypertension (EH) (e.g., exaggerated cardiovascular reactivity, increased resting hemodynamics and increased left ventricular mass [LVM]). A secondary objective was to evaluate the moderating and interactive effects of ethnicity, gender, body mass index [BMI] and anger expression on EH risk indices. Two genes with relevance for blood pressure (BP) control (e.g., beta-2 adrenergic receptor [ADRB2] gene and serotonin transporter [5-HTT] gene) were used to define genetic risk. Chronic environmental stress was assessed by socioeconomic status (SES) and subjective social status (SSS). The project consisted of three sequential studies on a large, multiethnic cohort of young adults (N>500). The first two studies were cross-sectional and based on the analysis of cardiovascular reactivity, resting hemodynamics and LVM data collected at a single visit. The third study was longitudinal and involved the tracking of BP and LVM over a 15-year span from childhood to early adulthood. In the first study, ADRB2 haplotype significantly interacted with anger suppression in African Americans such that high anger suppressing carriers had the highest resting SBP (p<.05) and TPR reactivity to a cold pressor task (p<.01). In European Americans, ADRB2 haplotype significantly interacted with BMI to predict resting hemodynamics, such that carriers who were high in BMI showed the highest SBP (p<.05). In the second study, a significant interaction between the 5-HTT promoter region polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) and social status was found for cardiovascular reactivity, such that S allele homozygotes who were low in SES and high in SSS exhibited the greatest BP and TPR reactivity to the video game stressor (p-values<.05). No significant interaction was found between 5- HTTLPR and social status in the longitudinal study, however a significant 5- HTTLPR by BMI interaction was determined for LVM, such that obese LL homozygotes had the greatest LVM over time (p<.001). Results from this project expand what is currently known with regard to EH etiology and carry implications for the prevention of EH through the early consideration of genetic, environmental and demographic risk factors.
    • Role of NEK1 in VHL and Cell Cycle Regulation

      Patil, Mallikarjun; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (2013)
      Nekl is the member of NIMA (Never in mitosis gene A) related protein kinase family that is widely expressed in mammals. Nekl is an essential protein because loss of function in Nekl gene causes polycystic kidney disease in mice, which is similar to ADPKD (Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease) in humans. In Humans Nekl mutations also cause short rib polydactyl syndrome characterized by renal cysts and other developmental defects. At the cellular level Nekl thought to regulate ciliogenesis, centrosome duplication and DNA damage response.Nekl mutations leading to PKD have long been attributed to its role in ciliogenesis. Interestingly, VHL (Von hippel lindau) protein a known tumor suppressor is also involved in ciliogenesis.VHL mutations cause cystic kidney disease and renal clear cell carcinoma. Since Nekl and VHL are involved in ciliogenesis and cystic kidney disease, my overall goal was to investigate if Nekl and VHL are part of common regulatory pathway and also to investigate the role of Nekl in cell cycle regulation. My results indicate that Nekl phosphorylates VHL and this has important role in cilia regulation. Nekl phosphorylates VHL on multiple sites and S168 of VHL a site phosphorylated by Nekl significantly affects its stability. Importantly renal cells expressing S168A VHL that cannot be phosphorylated by Nekl grow cilia that are resistant to serum stimulation and Nocodazole treatment. Surprisingly I also found that Nekl is an essential regulator of S phase. Nekl knockdown in HEK cells blocks cell cycle progression. Further characterization Nekl showed that Nekl is needed for S phase progression and DNA replication. Nekl deficient cells have replication stress and activate cell cycle check point. Nekl loads on to chromatin and this increases during replication stress. We have also identified that Nekl interacts with and affects Ku80 loading on to chromatin. These findings have provided novel insights into the Nekl functions, which help in understanding the pathophysiology and development of polycystic kidney disease in mice and short rib polydactyl syndrome mejawski in humans.
    • Bisphosphonate-Related Osteonecrosis of the Jaw: From Mechanism to Treatment

      Howie, Rebecca; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (2015-04-20)
      With 55 million prescriptions issued each year, bisphosphonates are the second most prescribed class of drug in the United States. They are widely used to treat diseases with excessive osteoclastic resorption, including post-menopausal osteoporosis, Paget’s disease, and tumor metastasis to bone. Unfortunately, with long term intravenous administration of nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates some patients develop bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw (BRONJ). This debilitating disease has limited treatment options once it has manifested and no mechanism for its development has been elucidated. This dissertation explores the novel concept that bisphosphonates cause osteonecrosis of the jaw by impairing osteocyte-induced osteoclastogenesis and, through the physical accumulation of bisphosphonates in bone, impairing the ability of recruited osteoclasts to attach thereby arresting bone healing. Furthermore, it explores the possibility that chelating agents can be used for the removal of bisphosphonate attachment from bone systemically and locally during extractions, potentially leading to a future preventive treatment. It was found that 13 weeks of 80µg/kg intravenous tail vein injections of Zoledronate followed by two mandibular molar extractions caused the clinical presentation of BRONJ as analyzed by the gross, radiographic, and histological methods. Bone dynamic parameters and TRAP staining suggested an impaired ability for the bone to remodel and defective osteoclast attachment in treated groups that persisted eight weeks after the cessation of treatment. Additionally, it was found through the use of a fluorescently tagged bisphosphonate, that the decalcifying agents cadmium, EDTA, and citric acid all had the ability to cause the significant release of bound bisphosphonate from bone. Finally, this dissertation showed that the migration of monocytes treated with low doses of Zoledronate had increased migration, while their migration to conditioned media of osteocytes treated with Zoledronate was impaired. Collectively, these data suggest that invasive trauma by itself consistently precipitated massive bone necrosis in Zoledronate treated animals, possibly through a bisphosphonate driven alteration of monocyte migration and that the use of decalcifying agents could acutely remove bisphosphonate from bone both systemically and locally. This study establishes and effective rodent model for BRONJ and a possible preventive strategy for the side-effects of bisphosphonates during high-risk situations.
    • Characterization of Cardiac L-Type and T-Type Calcium Channels During Normal and Defective Chick Heart Development

      Nichols, Carol A.; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (2000-03)
      (First Paragraph) The human heart is vital for survival from early in embryonic development throughout life. It begins developing around the third week of gestation from a pair of endocardial tubes that fuse to form a single primitive heart tube. The single-lumen heart tube develops a series of expanded areas and infoldings that divide it into four presumptive chambers. As the embryo grows, the heart begins looping. This looping process serves to bring the four presumptive chambers into the appropriate orientation for septation. The developing heart remodels itself into four separated chambers (two atria or holding chambers, two ventricles or pumping chambers) which provide for separate systemic and pulmonary circulation at birth. In most mammals, oxygenated blood enters the left atrium through four pulmonary veins. The blood is forced into the left ventricle when the left atrium contracts. When the left ventricle contracts, blood is pumped through the aorta and carried throughout the body. Deoxygenated blood returns to the right atrium via the superior and inferior vena cavae. Blood is forced into the right ventricle by contraction of the right atrium. Blood is then pumped through the pulmonary trunk and arteries to the lungs to be re-oxygenated. The four- chambered heart is formed by the eighth week o f gestation. (Larsen, 1997; de la Cruz & Markwald, 1998).