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Journal: Journal of cellular and molecular medicine


Mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) is a key regulator of mitochondria biogenesis. Previous studies confirmed that reduced TFAM expression sensitized tumours cells to chemical therapy reagents and ionizing irradiation (IR). However, the underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown. In this study, we identified that decreased expression of TFAM impaired the proliferation of tumour cells by inducing G1/S phase arrest and reducing the expression of E2F1, phospo-Rb, PCNA and TK1. Furthermore, we proved that knockdown of TFAM enhanced the interaction between p53 and MDM2, resulting in decreased expression of p53 and the downstream target TIGAR, and thus leading to elevated level of mitochondrial superoxide and DNA double-strand break (DSB) which were exacerbated when treated the cell with ionizing radiation. Those indicated that knockdown of TFAM could aggravate radiation induced DSB levels through affecting the production of mitochondria derived reactive oxygen species. Our current work proposed a new mechanism that TFAM through p53/TIGAR signalling to regulate the sensitivity of tumour cells to ionizing radiation. This indicated that TFAM might be a potential target for increasing the sensitization of cancer cells to radiotherapy.


Type II testicular germ cell cancers (TGCT) are the most frequently diagnosed tumours in young men (20-40 years) and are classified as seminoma or non-seminoma. TGCTs are commonly treated by orchiectomy and chemo- or radiotherapy. However, a subset of metastatic non-seminomas (embryonal carcinomas) displays only incomplete remission or relapse and requires novel treatment options. Recent studies have shown effective application of the small-molecule inhibitor JQ1 in tumour therapy, which interferes with the function of ‘bromodomain and extraterminal (BET)’ proteins. JQ1-treated TGCT cell lines display up-regulation of genes indicative for DNA damage and cellular stress response and induce cell cycle arrest. Embryonal carcinoma (EC) cell lines, which presented as JQ1 sensitive, display down-regulation of pluripotency factors and induction of mesodermal differentiation. In contrast, seminoma-like TCam-2 cells tolerated higher JQ1 concentrations and were resistant to differentiation. ECs xenografted in vivo showed a reduction in tumour size, proliferation rate and angiogenesis in response to JQ1. Finally, the combination of JQ1 and the histone deacetylase inhibitor romidepsin allowed for lower doses and less frequent application, compared with monotherapy. Thus, we propose that JQ1 in combination with romidepsin may serve as a novel therapeutic option for (mixed) TGCTs.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Cell, Cancer, Oncology, Testicular cancer, Germ cell tumor


Cardiac endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress through accumulation of misfolded proteins plays a pivotal role in cardiovascular diseases. In an attempt to reestablish ER homoeostasis, the unfolded protein response (UPR) is activated. However, if ER stress persists, sustained UPR activation leads to apoptosis. There is no available therapy for ER stress relief. Considering that aerobic exercise training (AET) attenuates oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and calcium imbalance, it may be a potential strategy to reestablish cardiac ER homoeostasis. We test the hypothesis that AET would attenuate impaired cardiac ER stress after myocardial infarction (MI). Wistar rats underwent to either MI or sham surgeries. Four weeks later, rats underwent to 8 weeks of moderate-intensity AET. Myocardial infarction rats displayed cardiac dysfunction and lung oedema, suggesting heart failure. Cardiac dysfunction in MI rats was paralleled by increased protein levels of UPR markers (GRP78, DERLIN-1 and CHOP), accumulation of misfolded and polyubiquitinated proteins, and reduced chymotrypsin-like proteasome activity. These results suggest an impaired cardiac protein quality control. Aerobic exercise training improved exercise capacity and cardiac function of MI animals. Interestingly, AET blunted MI-induced ER stress by reducing protein levels of UPR markers, and accumulation of both misfolded and polyubiquinated proteins, which was associated with restored proteasome activity. Taken together, our study provide evidence for AET attenuation of ER stress through the reestablishment of cardiac protein quality control, which contributes to better cardiac function in post-MI heart failure rats. These results reinforce the importance of AET as primary non-pharmacological therapy to cardiovascular disease.

Concepts: Proteins, Blood, Myocardial infarction, Atherosclerosis, Endoplasmic reticulum, Heart, Cardiovascular disease, C-reactive protein


Histone deacetylases (HDACs)-mediated epigenetic mechanisms play critical roles in the homeostasis of histone acetylation and gene transcription. HDAC inhibitors have displayed neuroprotective properties in animal models for various neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s disease and ischaemic stroke. However, some studies have also reported that HDAC enzymes exert protective effects in several pathological conditions including ischaemic stress. The mixed results indicate the specific roles of each HDAC protein in different diseased states. However, the subtypes of HDACs associated with ischaemic stroke keep unclear. Therefore, in this study, we used an in vivo middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) model and in vitro cell cultures by the model of oxygen glucose deprivation to investigate the expression patterns of HDACs and explore the roles of individual HDACs in ischaemic stroke. Our results showed that inhibition of NADPH oxidase activity ameliorated cerebral ischaemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury and among Zn(2+) -dependent HDACs, HDAC4 and HDAC5 were significantly decreased both in vivo and in vitro, which can be reversed by NADPH oxidase inhibitor apocynin. We further found that both HDAC4 and HDAC5 increased cell viability through inhibition of HMGB1, a central mediator of tissue damage following acute injury, expression and release in PC12 cells. Our results for the first time provide evidence that NADPH oxidase-mediated HDAC4 and HDAC5 expression contributes to cerebral ischaemia injury via HMGB1 signalling pathway, suggesting that it is important to elucidate the role of individual HDACs within the brain, and the development of HDAC inhibitors with improved specificity is required to develop effective therapeutic strategies to treat stroke.

Concepts: Gene, Cell, Histone, Epigenetics, Histone deacetylase, Stroke, Neurology, Acetylation


Autophagy and exosome secretion play important roles in a variety of physiological and disease states, including the development of age-related macular degeneration. Previous studies have demonstrated that these cellular mechanisms share common pathways of activation. Low oxidative damage in ARPE-19 cells, alters both autophagy and exosome biogenesis. Moreover, oxidative stress modifies the protein and genetic cargo of exosomes, possibly affecting the fate of surrounding cells. In order to understand the connection between these two mechanisms and their impact on angiogenesis, stressed ARPE-19 cells were treated with a siRNA-targeting Atg7, a key protein for the formation of autophagosomes. Subsequently, we observed the formation of multivesicular bodies and the release of exosomes. Released exosomes contained VEGFR2 as part of their cargo. This receptor for VEGF-which is critical for the development of new blood vessels-was higher in exosome populations released from stressed ARPE-19. While stressed exosomes enhanced tube formation, exosomes became ineffective after silencing VEGFR2 in ARPE-19 cells and were, consequently, unable to influence angiogenesis. Moreover, vessel sprouting in the presence of stressed exosomes seems to follow a VEGF-independent pathway. We propose that abnormal vessel growth correlates with VEGFR2-expressing exosomes release from stressed ARPE-19 cells, and is directly linked to autophagy.


The direct targets of extremely low and microwave frequency range electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in producing non-thermal effects have not been clearly established. However, studies in the literature, reviewed here, provide substantial support for such direct targets. Twenty-three studies have shown that voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) produce these and other EMF effects, such that the L-type or other VGCC blockers block or greatly lower diverse EMF effects. Furthermore, the voltage-gated properties of these channels may provide biophysically plausible mechanisms for EMF biological effects. Downstream responses of such EMF exposures may be mediated through Ca(2+) /calmodulin stimulation of nitric oxide synthesis. Potentially, physiological/therapeutic responses may be largely as a result of nitric oxide-cGMP-protein kinase G pathway stimulation. A well-studied example of such an apparent therapeutic response, EMF stimulation of bone growth, appears to work along this pathway. However, pathophysiological responses to EMFs may be as a result of nitric oxide-peroxynitrite-oxidative stress pathway of action. A single such well-documented example, EMF induction of DNA single-strand breaks in cells, as measured by alkaline comet assays, is reviewed here. Such single-strand breaks are known to be produced through the action of this pathway. Data on the mechanism of EMF induction of such breaks are limited; what data are available support this proposed mechanism. Other Ca(2+) -mediated regulatory changes, independent of nitric oxide, may also have roles. This article reviews, then, a substantially supported set of targets, VGCCs, whose stimulation produces non-thermal EMF responses by humans/higher animals with downstream effects involving Ca(2+) /calmodulin-dependent nitric oxide increases, which may explain therapeutic and pathophysiological effects.

Concepts: DNA, Neuron, Electromagnetism, Magnetic field, Frequency, Nitric oxide, Voltage-dependent calcium channel, Microwave


Colon crypts are recognized as a mechanical and biochemical Turing patterning model. Colon epithelial Caco-2 cell monolayer demonstrated 2D Turing patterns via force analysis of apical tight junction live cell imaging which illuminated actomyosin meshwork linking the actomyosin network of individual cells. Actomyosin forces act in a mechanobiological manner that alters cell/nucleus/tissue morphology. We observed the rotational motion of the nucleus in Caco-2 cells that appears to be driven by actomyosin during the formation of a differentiated confluent epithelium. Single- to multi-cell ring/torus-shaped genomes were observed prior to complex fractal Turing patterns extending from a rotating torus centre in a spiral pattern consistent with a gene morphogen motif. These features may contribute to the well-described differentiation from stem cells at the crypt base to the luminal colon epithelium along the crypt axis. This observation may be useful to study the role of mechanogenomic processes and the underlying molecular mechanisms as determinants of cellular and tissue architecture in space and time, which is the focal point of the 4D nucleome initiative. Mathematical and bioengineer modelling of gene circuits and cell shapes may provide a powerful algorithm that will contribute to future precision medicine relevant to a number of common medical disorders.


Mitochondria are physically and biochemically in contact with other organelles including the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Such contacts are formed between mitochondria-associated ER membranes (MAM), specialized subregions of ER, and the outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM). We have previously shown increased expression of MAM-associated proteins and enhanced ER to mitochondria Ca(2+) transfer from ER to mitochondria in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and amyloid β-peptide (Aβ)-related neuronal models. Here, we report that siRNA knockdown of mitofusin-2 (Mfn2), a protein that is involved in the tethering of ER and mitochondria, leads to increased contact between the two organelles. Cells depleted in Mfn2 showed increased Ca(2+) transfer from ER to mitchondria and longer stretches of ER forming contacts with OMM. Interestingly, increased contact resulted in decreased concentrations of intra- and extracellular Aβ40 and Aβ42 . Analysis of γ-secretase protein expression, maturation and activity revealed that the low Aβ concentrations were a result of impaired γ-secretase complex function. Amyloid-β precursor protein (APP), β-site APP-cleaving enzyme 1 and neprilysin expression as well as neprilysin activity were not affected by Mfn2 siRNA treatment. In summary, our data shows that modulation of ER-mitochondria contact affects γ-secretase activity and Aβ generation. Increased ER-mitochondria contact results in lower γ-secretase activity suggesting a new mechanism by which Aβ generation can be controlled.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, DNA, Cell, Metabolism, Mitochondrion, Cell membrane, Organelle, Endoplasmic reticulum


Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA: leucine, isoleucine and valine) are essential amino acids implicated in glucose metabolism and maintenance of correct brain function. Elevated BCAA levels can promote an inflammatory response in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. However, there are no studies analysing the direct effects of BCAA on endothelial cells (ECs) and its possible modulation of vascular function. In vitro and ex vivo studies were performed in human ECs and aorta from male C57BL/6J mice, respectively. In ECs, BCAA (6 mmol/L) increased eNOS expression, reactive oxygen species production by mitochondria and NADPH oxidases, peroxynitrite formation and nitrotyrosine expression. Moreover, BCAA induced pro-inflammatory responses through the transcription factor NF-κB that resulted in the release of intracellular adhesion molecule-1 and E-selectin conferring endothelial activation and adhesion capacity to inflammatory cells. Pharmacological inhibition of mTORC1 intracellular signalling pathway decreased BCAA-induced pro-oxidant and pro-inflammatory effects in ECs. In isolated murine aorta, BCAA elicited vasoconstrictor responses, particularly in pre-contracted vessels and after NO synthase blockade, and triggered endothelial dysfunction, effects that were inhibited by different antioxidants, further demonstrating the potential of BCAA to induce oxidative stress with functional impact. In summary, we demonstrate that elevated BCAA levels generate inflammation and oxidative stress in ECs, thereby facilitating inflammatory cells adhesion and endothelial dysfunction. This might contribute to the increased cardiovascular risk observed in patients with elevated BCAA blood levels.


Our aim was to identify biophysical biomarkers of ventricular remodelling in tachycardia-induced dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Our study includes healthy controls (N = 7) and DCM pigs (N = 10). Molecular analysis showed global myocardial metabolic abnormalities, some of them related to myocardial hibernation in failing hearts, supporting the translationality of our model to study cardiac remodelling in dilated cardiomyopathy. Histological analysis showed unorganized and agglomerated collagen accumulation in the dilated ventricles and a higher percentage of fibrosis in the right (RV) than in the left (LV) ventricle (P = .016). The Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) 1st and 2nd indicators, which are markers of the myofiber/collagen ratio, were reduced in dilated hearts, with the 1st indicator reduced by 45% and 53% in the RV and LV, respectively, and the 2nd indicator reduced by 25% in the RV. The 3rd FTIR indicator, a marker of the carbohydrate/lipid ratio, was up-regulated in the right and left dilated ventricles but to a greater extent in the RV (2.60-fold vs 1.61-fold, P = .049). Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) showed a depression of the freezable water melting point in DCM ventricles - indicating structural changes in the tissue architecture - and lower protein stability. Our results suggest that the 1st, 2nd and 3rd FTIR indicators are useful markers of cardiac remodelling. Moreover, the 2nd and 3rd FITR indicators, which are altered to a greater extent in the right ventricle, are associated with greater fibrosis.