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Journal: Molecules and cells


Gintonin is a novel ginseng-derived lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) receptor ligand. Oral administration of gintonin ameliorates learning and memory dysfunctions in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) animal models. The brain cholinergic system plays a key role in cognitive functions. The brains of AD patients show a reduction in acetylcholine concentration caused by cholinergic system impairments. However, little is known about the role of LPA in the cholinergic system. In this study, we used gintonin to investigate the effect of LPA receptor activation on the cholinergic system in vitro and in vivo using wild-type and AD animal models. Gintonin induced [Ca2+]i transient in cultured mouse hippocampal neural progenitor cells (NPCs). Gintonin-mediated [Ca2+]i transients were linked to stimulation of acetylcholine release through LPA receptor activation. Oral administration of gintonin-enriched fraction (25, 50, or 100 mg/kg, 3 weeks) significantly attenuated scopolamine-induced memory impairment. Oral administration of gintonin (25 or 50 mg/kg, 2 weeks) also significantly attenuated amyloid-β protein (Aβ)-induced cholinergic dysfunctions, such as decreased acetylcholine concentration, decreased choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) activity and immunoreactivity, and increased acetylcholine esterase (AChE) activity. In a transgenic AD mouse model, long-term oral administration of gintonin (25 or 50 mg/kg, 3 months) also attenuated ADrelated cholinergic impairments. In this study, we showed that activation of G protein-coupled LPA receptors by gintonin is coupled to the regulation of cholinergic functions. Furthermore, this study showed that gintonin could be a novel agent for the restoration of cholinergic system damages due to Aβ and could be utilized for AD prevention or therapy.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Brain, Animal testing, Receptor, Progenitor cell, In vivo, Acetylcholine, Ligand-gated ion channel


We previously reported that the SbROMT3syn recombinant protein catalyzes the production of the methylated resveratrol derivatives pinostilbene and pterostilbene by methylating substrate resveratrol in recombinant E. coli. To further study the production of stilbene compounds in E. coli by the expression of enzymes involved in stilbene biosynthesis, we isolated three stilbene synthase (STS) genes from rhubarb, peanut, and grape as well as two resveratrol O-methyltransferase (ROMT) genes from grape and sorghum. The ability of RpSTS to produce resveratrol in recombinant E. coli was compared with other AhSTS and VrSTS genes. Out of three STS, only AhSTS was able to produce resveratrol from p-coumaric acid. Thus, to improve the solubility of RpSTS, VrROMT, and SbROMT3 in E. coli, we synthesized the RpSTS, VrROMT and SbROMT3 genes following codonoptimization and expressed one or both genes together with the cinnamate/4-coumarate:coenzyme A ligase (CCL) gene from Streptomyces coelicolor. Our HPLC and LC-MS analyses showed that recombinant E. coli expressing both ScCCL and RpSTSsyn led to the production of resveratrol when p-coumaric acid was used as the precursor. In addition, incorporation of SbROMT3syn in recombinant E. coli cells produced resveratrol and its mono-methylated derivative, pinostilbene, as the major products from p-coumaric acid. However, very small amounts of pterostilbene were only detectable in the recombinant E. coli cells expressing the ScCCL, RpSTSsyn and SbROMT3syn genes. These results suggest that RpSTSsyn exhibits an enhanced enzyme activity to produce resveratrol and SbROMT3syn catlyazes the methylation of resveratrol to produce pinostilbene in E. coli cells.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Genetics, Gene expression, Bacteria, Enzyme, Recombinant DNA, Escherichia coli


Superovulation induced by exogenous gonadotropin treatment (PMSG/hCG) increases the number of available oocytes in humans and animals. However, Superovulatory PMSG/hCG treatment is known to affect maternal environment, and these effects may result from PMSG/hCG treatment-induced oxidative stress. 2-Cys peroxiredoxins (2-Cys Prxs) act as antioxidant enzymes that protect cells from oxidative stress induced by various exogenous stimuli. Therefore, the objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that repeated PMSG/hCG treatment induces 2-Cys Prx expression and overoxidation in the reproductive tracts of female mice. Immunohistochemistry and western blotting analyses further demonstrated that, after PMSG/hCG treatment, the protein expression levels of 2-Cys Prxs increased most significantly in the ovaries, while that of Prx1 was most affected by PMSG/hCG stimulation in all tissues of the female reproductive tract. Repeated PMSG/hCG treatment eventually leads to 2-Cys Prxs overoxidation in all reproductive organs of female mice, and the abundance of the 2-Cys Prxs-SO2/3 proteins reported here supports the hypothesis that repeated superovulation induces strong oxidative stress and damage to the female reproductive tract. Our data suggest that excessive oxidative stress caused by repeated PMSG/hCG stimulation increases 2-Cys Prxs expression and overoxidation in the female reproductive organs. Intracellular 2-Cys Prx therefore plays an important role in maintaining the reproductive organ environment of female mice upon exogenous gonadotropin treatment.

Concepts: Human, Reproduction, Molecular biology, Antioxidant, Organ, Reproductive system, Sexual reproduction, Sex organ


The primary cilium is a non-motile microtubule-based organelle that protrudes from the surface of most human cells and works as a cellular antenna to accept extracellular signals. Primary cilia assemble from the basal body during the resting stage (G0 phase) and simultaneously disassemble with cell cycle re-entry. Defective control of assembly or disassembly causes diverse human diseases including ciliopathy and cancer. To identify the effective compounds for studying primary cilium disassembly, we have screened 297 natural compounds and identified 18 and 17 primary cilium assembly and disassembly inhibitors, respectively. Among them, the application of KY-0120, identified as Brefeldin A, disturbed Dvl2- Plk1-mediated cilium disassembly via repression of the interaction of CK1e-Dvl2 and the expression of Plk1 mRNA. Therefore, our study may suggest useful compounds for studying the cellular mechanism of primary cilium disassembly to prevent ciliopathy and cancer.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Cell, Cancer, Eukaryote, Organelle, Cilium, Ciliopathy, Antenna


Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), one of the common metabolic disorders of pregnancy, leads to functional alterations in various cells including stem cells as well as some abnormalities in fetal development. Perivascular stem cells (PVCs) have gained more attention in recent years, for the treatment of various diseases. However, the effect of GDM on PVC function has not been investigated. In our study, we isolated PVCs from umbilical cord of normal pregnant women and GDM patients and compared their phenotypes and function. There is no significant difference in phenotypic expression, response to bFGF exposure and adipogenic differentiation capacity between normal PVCs and GDM-PVCs. However, when compared with normal PVCs, early passage GDMPVCs displayed decreased initial rates of cell yield and proliferation as well as a reduced ability to promote wound closure. These results suggest that maternal metabolic dysregulation during gestation can alter the function of endogenous multipotent stem cells, which may impact their therapeutic effectiveness.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Embryo, Prenatal development, Fetus, Diabetes mellitus, Developmental biology, Obstetrics, Gestational diabetes


Potato ( Solanum tuberosum L.) is the third most important food crop, and breeding drought-tolerant varieties is vital research goal. However, detailed molecular mechanisms in response to drought stress in potatoes are not well known. In this study, we developed EMS-mutagenized potatoes that showed significant tolerance to drought stress compared to the wild-type (WT) ‘Desiree’ cultivar. In addition, changes to transcripts as a result of drought stress in WT and droughttolerant (DR) plants were investigated by de novo assembly using the Illumina platform. One-week-old WT and DR plants were treated with -1.8 Mpa polyethylene glycol-8000, and total RNA was prepared from plants harvested at 0, 6, 12, 24, and 48 h for subsequent RNA sequencing. In total, 61,100 transcripts and 5,118 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) displaying up- or down-regulation were identified in pairwise comparisons of WT and DR plants following drought conditions. Transcriptome profiling showed the number of DEGs with up-regulation and down-regulation at 909, 977, 1181, 1225 and 826 between WT and DR plants at 0, 6, 12, 24, and 48 h, respectively. Results of KEGG enrichment showed that the drought tolerance mechanism of the DR plant can mainly be explained by two aspects, the ‘photosyntheticantenna protein’ and ‘protein processing of the endoplasmic reticulum’. We also divided eight expression patterns in four pairwise comparisons of DR plants (DR0 vs DR6, DR12, DR24, DR48) under PEG treatment. Our comprehensive transcriptome data will further enhance our understanding of the mechanisms regulating drought tolerance in tetraploid potato cultivars.


Mammalian physiology and behavior are regulated by an internal time-keeping system, referred to as circadian rhythm. The circadian timing system has a hierarchical organization composed of the master clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and local clocks in extra-SCN brain regions and peripheral organs. The circadian clock molecular mechanism involves a network of transcription-translation feedback loops. In addition to the clinical association between circadian rhythm disruption and mood disorders, recent studies have suggested a molecular link between mood regulation and circadian rhythm. Specifically, genetic deletion of the circadian nuclear receptor Rev-erbα induces mania-like behavior caused by increased midbrain dopaminergic (DAergic) tone at dusk. The association between circadian rhythm and emotion-related behaviors can be applied to pathological conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases. In Parkinson’s disease (PD), DAergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta progressively degenerate leading to motor dysfunction. Patients with PD also exhibit non-motor symptoms, including sleep disorder and neuropsychiatric disorders. Thus, it is important to understand the mechanisms that link the molecular circadian clock and brain machinery in the regulation of emotional behaviors and related midbrain DAergic neuronal circuits in healthy and pathological states. This review summarizes the current literature regarding the association between circadian rhythm and mood regulation from a chronobiological perspective, and may provide insight into therapeutic approaches to target psychiatric symptoms in neurodegenerative diseases involving circadian rhythm dysfunction.

Concepts: Hypothalamus, Sleep, Parkinson's disease, Substantia nigra, Circadian rhythm, Chronobiology, Psychiatry, Dopamine


Cancer preventive activities of green tea and its main constituent, (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) have been extensively studied by scientists all over the world. Since 1983, we have studied the cancer chemopreventive effects of EGCG as well as green tea extract and underlying molecular mechanisms. The first part of this review summarizes groundbreaking topics with EGCG and green tea extract: 1) Delayed cancer onset as revealed by a 10-year prospective cohort study, 2) Prevention of colorectal adenoma recurrence by a double-blind randomized clinical phase II trial, 3) Inhibition of metastasis of B16 melanoma cells to the lungs of mice, 4) Increase in the average value of Young’s moduli, i.e., cell stiffness, for human lung cancer cell lines and inhibition of cell motility and 5) Synergistic enhancement of anticancer activity against human cancer cell lines with the combination of EGCG and anticancer compounds. In the second part, we became interested in cancer stem cells (CSCs). 1) Cancer stem cells in mouse skin carcinogenesis by way of introduction, after which we discuss two subjects from our review on human CSCs reported by other investigators gathered from a search of PubMed, 2) Expression of stemness markers of human CSCs compared with their parental cells, and 3) EGCG decreases or increases the expression of mRNA and protein in human CSCs. On this point, EGCG inhibited self-renewal and expression of pluripotency-maintaining transcription factors in human CSCs. Human CSCs are thus a target for cancer prevention and treatment with EGCG and green tea catechins.

Concepts: DNA, Gene expression, Cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Lung cancer, Catechin, Green tea


Programmable nucleases, which include zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs), transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs), and RNA-guided engineered nucleases (RGENs) repurposed from the type II clustered, regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) system are now widely used for genome editing in higher eukaryotic cells and whole organisms, revolutionising almost every discipline in biological research, medicine, and biotechnology. All of these nucleases, however, induce off-target mutations at sites homologous in sequence with on-target sites, limiting their utility in many applications including gene or cell therapy. In this review, we compare methods for detecting nuclease off-target mutations. We also review methods for profiling genome-wide off-target effects and discuss how to reduce or avoid offtarget mutations.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Cell nucleus, Cell, Bacteria, Biology, Organism


Autophagy is an evolutionally conserved cytoplasmic degradation system in which varieties of materials are sequestered by a double membrane structure, autophagosome and delivered to the lysosomes for the degradation. Due to the wide varieties of targets, autophagic activity is essential for cellular homeostasis. Recent genetic evidence indicates that autophagy has a crucial role in the regulation of animal lifespan. Basal level of autophagic activity is elevated in many longevity paradigms and the activity is required for lifespan extension. In most cases, genes involved in autophagy and lysosomal function are induced by several transcription factors including HLH-30/TFEB, PHA-4/FOXA and MML-1/Mondo in long-lived animals. Pharmacological treatments have been shown to extend lifespan through activation of autophagy, indicating autophagy could be a potential and promising target to modulate animal lifespan. Here we summarize recent progress regarding the role of autophagy in lifespan regulation.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Gene expression, Cell, Organism, Cell membrane, Organelle, Lysosome