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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2018-02-09
    Description: There is a clinical need for new bronchodilator drugs in asthma, because more than half of asthmatic patients do not receive adequate control with current available treatments. We report that inhibition of metallothionein-2 protein expression in lung tissues causes the increase of pulmonary resistance. Conversely, metallothionein-2 protein is more effective than β 2 -agonists in reducing pulmonary resistance in rodent asthma models, alleviating tension in tracheal spirals, and relaxing airway smooth muscle cells (ASMCs). Metallothionein-2 relaxes ASMCs via transgelin-2 (TG2) and induces dephosphorylation of myosin phosphatase target subunit 1 (MYPT1). We identify TSG12 as a nontoxic, specific TG2-agonist that relaxes ASMCs and reduces asthmatic pulmonary resistance. In vivo, TSG12 reduces pulmonary resistance in both ovalbumin- and house dust mite–induced asthma in mice. TSG12 induces RhoA phosphorylation, thereby inactivating the RhoA-ROCK-MYPT1-MLC pathway and causing ASMCs relaxation. TSG12 is more effective than β 2 -agonists in relaxing human ASMCs and pulmonary resistance with potential clinical advantages. These results suggest that TSG12 could be a promising therapeutic approach for treating asthma.
    Print ISSN: 1946-6234
    Electronic ISSN: 1946-6242
    Topics: Medicine
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2018-06-20
    Description: The μ-opioid receptor (MOR) agonist morphine is commonly used for pain management, but it has severe adverse effects and produces analgesic tolerance. Thus, alternative ways of stimulating MOR activity are needed. We found that MrgC11, a sensory neuron–specific G protein–coupled receptor, may form heteromeric complexes with MOR. Peptide-mediated activation of MrgC11 enhanced MOR recycling by inducing coendocytosis and sorting of MOR for membrane reinsertion. MrgC11 activation also inhibited the coupling of MOR to β-arrestin-2 and enhanced the morphine-dependent inhibition of cAMP production. Intrathecal coadministration of a low dose of an MrgC agonist potentiated acute morphine analgesia and reduced chronic morphine tolerance in wild-type mice but not in Mrg -cluster knockout (Mrg KO) mice. BAM22, a bivalent agonist of MrgC and opioid receptors, enhanced the interaction between MrgC11 and MOR and produced stronger analgesia than did the individual monovalent agonists. Morphine-induced neuronal and pain inhibition was reduced in Mrg KO mice compared to that in wild-type mice. Our results uncover MrgC11-MOR interactions that lead to positive functional modulation of MOR. MrgC shares genetic homogeneity and functional similarity with human MrgX1. Thus, harnessing this positive modulation of MOR function by Mrg signaling may enhance morphine analgesia in a sensory neuron–specific fashion to limit central side effects.
    Print ISSN: 1945-0877
    Topics: Medicine
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2018-06-27
    Description: Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) regulate gene expression. We investigated the role of lncRNAs in the inflammatory response to bacterial infection in the lungs. We identified the lncRNA MEG3 as a tissue-specific modulator of inflammatory responses during bacterial infection. Among the 10 transcript isoforms of MEG3, transcript 4 (referred to as MEG3-4) encodes the isoform with the lowest abundance in mouse lungs. Nonetheless, we found that MEG3-4 bound to the microRNA miR-138 in a competitive manner with mRNA encoding the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-1β (IL-1β), thereby increasing IL-1β abundance and intensifying inflammatory responses to bacterial infection in alveolar macrophages and lung epithelial cells in culture and in lung tissue in mice. MEG3-4–mediated sponging of miR-138 in the cytoplasm increased the autocrine activity of IL-1β that subsequently induced a negative feedback mechanism mediated by nuclear factor B that decreased MEG3-4 abundance and inflammatory cytokine production. This timely reduction in MEG3-4 abundance tempered proinflammatory responses in mice with pulmonary bacterial infection, preventing the progression to sepsis. Together, these findings reveal that MEG3-4 dynamically modulates pulmonary inflammatory responses through transcriptional regulation of immune response genes, extending the decoy and sponge mechanism associated with lncRNAs to antibacterial immunity, which affects both response and disease progression.
    Print ISSN: 1945-0877
    Topics: Medicine
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2018-04-18
    Description: It has long been appreciated that most autoimmune disorders are characterized by increased prevalence in females, suggesting a potential role for sex hormones in the etiology of autoimmunity. To study how estrogen receptor α (ERα) contributes to autoimmune diseases, we generated mice in which ERα was deleted specifically in T lymphocytes. We found that ERα deletion in T cells reduced their pathogenic potential in a mouse model of colitis and correlated with transcriptomic changes that affected T cell activation. ERα deletion in T cells contributed to multiple aspects of T cell function, including reducing T cell activation and proliferation and increasing the expression of Foxp3 , which encodes a critical transcription factor for the differentiation and function of regulatory T cells. Thus, these data demonstrate that ERα in T cells plays an important role in inflammation and suggest that ERα-targeted immunotherapies could be used to treat autoimmune disorders.
    Print ISSN: 1945-0877
    Topics: Medicine
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2018-10-31
    Description: RAS-RAF-MEK-ERK signaling has a well-defined role in cancer biology. Although aberrant pathway activation occurs mostly upstream of the kinase MEK, mutations in MEK are prevalent in some cancer subsets. Here, we found that cancer-related, activating mutations in MEK can be classified into two groups: those that relieve inhibitory interactions with the helix A region and those that are in-frame deletions of the β3-αC loop, which enhance MEK1 homodimerization. The former, helix A–associated mutants, are inhibited by traditional MEK inhibitors. However, we found that the increased homodimerization associated with the loop-deletion mutants promoted intradimer cross-phosphorylation of the activation loop and conferred differential resistance to MEK inhibitors both in vitro and in vivo. MEK1 dimerization was required both for its activation by the kinase RAF and for its catalytic activity toward the kinase ERK. Our findings not only identify a previously unknown group of MEK mutants and provide insight into some key steps in RAF-MEK-ERK activation but also have implications for the design of therapies targeting RAS-ERK signaling in cancers.
    Print ISSN: 1945-0877
    Topics: Medicine
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