• The Role of Stromal Cell-Derived Factor-1Β in Osteogenic Differentiation of Bone Marrow-Derived Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal Cells and Bone Formation

      Herberg, Samuel A.; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (2013-03)
      The experiments performed for this dissertation tested the hypotheses that SDF-1β enhances osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs, promotes engraftment and bone formation following whole-body irradiation, and potentiates suboptimal BMP-2 osteoinduction in a model of acute bone injury. We used multipotent primary BMSCs from 18-month-old C57BL/6J mice, genetically modified to overexpress SDF-1β, to ask whether SDF-1β played a role in cell survival and osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs in vitro. Our studies revealed that SDF-1β protected BMSCs from oxidative stress through increasing autophagy and decreasing apoptosis, independent from potential effects on cell proliferation. In support of the hypothesis we also found that SDF-1β enhanced calcium mineral deposition (independent of BMP-2 co-stimulation), upregulated key osteogenic markers, and increased phosphorylation of intracellular Erk1/2 and Smad1/5/8, thereby potentiating BMP-2 signal transduction during osteogenic differentiation, which was attenuated by blocking CXCR4 signaling. We next inquired whether SDF-1β promotes BMSC engraftment and new bone formation. Using direct tibial transplantation in irradiation-preconditioned animals, we found that SDF-1β enhanced new trabecular bone formation upon local BMSC transplantation. The data furthermore suggested that the differential proteolytic clearance of SDF-1 splice variants in the systemic and local environment following myeloablative injury may be an important determinant in the success of stem cell therapy protocols. The suggestion that SDF-1β could regulate BMP-2 osteoinduction through regulating CXCR4 signaling was compelling because several studies have reported a comparable effect using SDF-1α. We examined the direct contribution of SDF-1β to BMP-2 osteoinduction in a critical-size calvaria osteotomy model and found a dose-dependent ability of SDF-1β to potentiate suboptimal BMP-2-induced bone formation to levels comparable to those obtained with the 10-fold higher optimal/benchmark BMP-2 dose, which was blunted by perturbing CXCR4 signaling. These in vitro and in vivo findings expand our understanding of BMP-2 osteoinduction and implicate osteogenesis-enhancing properties of SDF-1β pointing towards its translational potential for cell therapy and regenerative medicine applications. It appears feasible for SDF-1β to improve bone regeneration in a variety of orthopaedic situations and ultimately reduce the burden of musculoskeletal injuries.
    • Signaling Mechanism of Blood-Retinal Barrier Regulation: Role of Mitogen-Activated

      Yang, Jinling; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (2011-03)
      Breakdown of the blood-retinal barrier (BRB) is an early hallmark of diabetic retinopathy. A critical component in retinal vascular hyper-permeability is increased production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF is a potent permeability factor that activates mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases. Pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF), an endogenous anti-permeability factor, blocks VEGF-induced vascular permeability increase. However, the mechanisms underlying the actions of VEGF and PEDF in regulating endothelial permeability are not yet clear. Previous studies in our laboratory have shown that VEGF induces paracellular permeability via beta-catenin nuclear translocation/transcriptional activation and subsequent upregulation of urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR). This current study tests the role of two MAP kinases, p38 and extracellular-signal regulated kinase (ERK), in regulating VEGFinduced beta-catenin signaling, uPAR expression and BRB breakdown. We also evaluate the effects of PEDF on this VEGF permeability inducing pathway. The role of MAP kinase in this VEGF permeability inducing pathway was first evaluated using inhibitors of p38 and ERK. These inhibitors preserve the endothelial barrier function upon VEGF treatment. In confluent endothelial cells, cytosolic beta-catenin is phosphorylated by glycogen synthase kinase (GSK) then ubiquitinated and degraded. With VEGF treatment, GSK is phosphorylated/inactive followed by beta-catenin cytosolic accumulation, nuclear translocation and subsequent uPAR expression. These effects were blocked by MAP kinases inhibitors. This indicates p38 and ERK as mediators of VEGF-induced beta-catenin signaling, uPAR expression and endothelial barrier breakdown. Next, it was found that PEDF not only blocks VEGF-induced endothelial permeability increase and MAP kinase activation but also prevents the activation of GSK/beta-catenin signaling as well as uPAR expression. However, PEDF did not block VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) phosphorylation suggesting that PEDF acts downstream of VEGFR-2 and upstream of MAP kinase level. To further evaluate the role of p38 in regulating VEGF-induced permeability, adenovirusmediated delivery of p38alpha mutants was used. One p38alpha mutant has an altered ATP-binding site thus looses its activity. It is more efficient in blocking VEGF-induced GSK/beta-catenin signaling, uPAR expression and paracellular permeability increase. This study identifies p38alpha and ERK as mediators of VEGF permeability-inducing signaling. They could also serve as potential therapeutic targets for diseases featured by blood-retinal barrier dysfunction.
    • Studies on NF-kB Activation During Reperfusion Injury Following Reversible Acute Ischemic Stroke

      Chen, Qiang; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (1998-10)
      Specific Aim # 1. To investigate whether reoxvsenation o f hypoxic cells results in the activation o f NF-kB in the HBMEC model. I f NF-kB is activated, identify the Rel family proteins in the activated NF-kB. Specific Aim # 2: To investigate whether reperfusion o f the ischemic brain tissue results in the activation o f NF-kB in the rat stroke model. I f NF-kB is activated, identify the Rel family proteins in the activated NF-kB. Specific Aim # 3: To test the efficacy o f antioxidants /NAC. PDTC) on the inhibition o f NF-kB activation following TNF-a-treatment or kwoxiaJreperfusion in the HBMEC model.
    • T-Type Calcium Current and Calcium-Induced Calcium-Release in Developing Chick Myocardium

      Kitchens, Susan A.; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (2002-02)
      HYPOTHESES 1. The contribution of T-type calcium currents to the calcium transient are greater at young developmental ages, but decline with chick heart development. The decrease in contribution of T-type calcium current to the calcium transient mirrors the normal developmental reduction in magnitude of T-type current in the chick heart. 2. T-type calcium current plays a role in calcium-induced calcium-release during chick heart development. T-type current plays a significant role in the calcium-induced calcium-release process in younger embryos due to the greater magnitude of the current at earlier developmental stages. 3. More than one isoform of the T-type calcium channel is present in developing chick myocardium. The multiple isoforms will function concomitantly to provide sufficient T-type calcium current for proper development. 4. The expression of the T-type calcium channel in ventricle decreases with development. There is a concomitant decrease in T-type Ca2* current stimulation of CICR. SPECIFIC AIMS 1. To determine the contribution of T-type calcium current to the calcium transient during development in chick ventricular myocytes. The approach is to use a fluorescent calcium indicator to measure the transients from myocytes at embryonic day (ED) 5, EDI 1 andED15. 2. To determine the contribution of T-type calcium current to calcium-induced calciumrelease during chick heart development. The approach is to use pharmacological agents to quantify the contribution to the Ca3* transient from T-type Ca3* current stimulated CICR. 3. To determine which isoforms of the T-type calcium channel are likely to be present in chick myocardium. The approach is to use PCR methods to identify any T-type channel isoform mRNA expressed in chick ventricle. 4. To determine the level of expression of T-type calcium channel isoforms during the development of chick ventricle. The approach is to use molecular quantitation methods to examine the expression pattern of T-type channel isoforms in chick ventricle during development.
    • 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.

      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.

      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.
    • Use of Sigma Receptor Ligands to Prevent Retinal Ganglion Cell Apoptosis Characteristic of Diabetic Retinopathy

      Martin, Pamela M; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (2003-04)
      (First Paragraph)Diabetic retinopathy is a major sight-threatening disease and is the leading cause of blindness among working-aged Americans, affecting approximately 10 to 12 million persons (Wu, 1995). Although retinal vasculature is particularly vulnerable to damage in diabetes, other retinal cells are at risk. Very recently, Barber et al. (1998) documented increased apoptosis of neural retinal cells in experimental diabetes in rats and diabetes mellitus in humans. Notably, retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) were found to be at particular risk. Ganglion cell death in diabetic retinopathy is thought to be mediated via overstimulation o f N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors by glutamate. oRl is a nonopiate and nonphencyclidine-binding site that has numerous pharmacological and physiological functions. In some studies, agonists for aR l have been shown to afford neuroprotection against overstimulation of the NMDA receptor. The purpose of these studies was to evaluate the potential use of aR ligands, particularly those that bind specifically to o R l, as neuroprotective agents in the treatment of RGC apoptosis characteristic of diabetic retinopathy. A detailed description of the retina, followed by information about diabetes and the mechanisms thought to be involved in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy, particularly the apoptotic death of RGCs associated with diabetic retinopathy, is provided below.