Publications by authors named "Fakhri Mahdi"

54 Publications

Allopregnanolone and neuroHIV: Potential benefits of neuroendocrine modulation in the era of antiretroviral therapy.

J Neuroendocrinol 2021 Oct 3:e13047. Epub 2021 Oct 3.

Department of BioMolecular Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi, University, MS, USA.

Forty years into the HIV pandemic, approximately 50% of infected individuals still suffer from a constellation of neurological disorders collectively known as 'neuroHIV.' Although combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) has been a tremendous success, in its present form, it cannot eradicate HIV. Reservoirs of virus reside within the central nervous system, serving as sources of HIV virotoxins that damage mitochondria and promote neurotoxicity. Although understudied, there is evidence that HIV or the HIV regulatory protein, trans-activator of transcription (Tat), can dysregulate neurosteroid formation potentially contributing to endocrine dysfunction. People living with HIV commonly suffer from endocrine disorders, including hypercortisolemia accompanied by paradoxical adrenal insufficiency upon stress. Age-related comorbidities often onset sooner and with greater magnitude among people living with HIV and are commonly accompanied by hypogonadism. In the post-cART era, these derangements of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal and -gonadal axes are secondary (i.e., relegated to the brain) and indicative of neuroendocrine dysfunction. We review the clinical and preclinical evidence for neuroendocrine dysfunction in HIV, the capacity for hormone therapeutics to play an ameliorative role and the future steroid-based therapeutics that may have efficacy as novel adjunctives to cART.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jne.13047DOI Listing
October 2021

Red Algal Sulfated Galactan Binds and Protects Neural Cells from HIV-1 gp120 and Tat.

Pharmaceuticals (Basel) 2021 Jul 23;14(8). Epub 2021 Jul 23.

Department of BioMolecular Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677-1848, USA.

The potential neuroprotective capacity of four different sulfated glycans: -derived sulfated galactan (BoSG) (MW > 100 kDa), -derived sulfated fucan (LvSF) (MW~90 kDa), high-molecular weight dextran sulfate (DxS) (MW 100 kDa), and unfractionated heparin (UFH) (MW~15 kDa), was assessed in response to the HIV-1 proteins, R5-tropic glycoprotein 120 (gp120) and/or trans-activator of transcription (Tat), using primary murine neurons co-cultured with mixed glia. Compared to control-treated cells in which HIV-1 proteins alone or combined were neurotoxic, BoSG was, among the four tested sulfated glycans, the only one capable of showing significant concentration-dependent neuroprotection against Tat and/or gp120, alone or combined. Surface plasmon resonance-based data indicate that BoSG can bind both HIV-1 proteins at nM concentrations with preference for Tat (7.5 × 10 M) over gp120 (3.2 × 10 M) as compared to UFH, which bound gp120 (8.7 × 10 M) over Tat (5.7 × 10 M). Overall, these data support the notion that sulfated glycan extracted from the red alga , BoSG, can exert neuroprotection against HIV-1 Tat and gp120, potentially via direct molecular interactions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ph14080714DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8398392PMC
July 2021

HIV-1 Tat Protein Promotes Neuroendocrine Dysfunction Concurrent with the Potentiation of Oxycodone's Psychomotor Effects in Female Mice.

Viruses 2021 04 30;13(5). Epub 2021 Apr 30.

Department of BioMolecular Sciences, University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, Oxford, MS 38677-1848, USA.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is associated with neuroendocrine dysfunction which may contribute to co-morbid stress-sensitive disorders. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) or -gonadal (HPG) axes are perturbed in up to 50% of HIV patients. The mechanisms are not known, but we have found the HIV-1 trans-activator of transcription (Tat) protein to recapitulate the clinical phenotype in male mice. We hypothesized that HPA and/or HPG dysregulation contributes to Tat-mediated interactions with oxycodone, an opioid often prescribed to HIV patients, in females. Female mice that conditionally-expressed the Tat protein [Tat(+) mice] or their counterparts that did not [Tat(-) control mice] were exposed to forced swim stress (or not) and behaviorally-assessed for motor and anxiety-like behavior. Some mice had glucocorticoid receptors (GR) or corticotropin-releasing factor receptors (CRF-R) pharmacologically inhibited. Some mice were ovariectomized (OVX). As seen previously in males, Tat elevated basal corticosterone levels and potentiated oxycodone's psychomotor activity in females. Unlike males, females did not demonstrate adrenal insufficiency and oxycodone potentiation was not regulated by GRs or CRF-Rs. Rather OVX attenuated Tat/oxycodone interactions. Either Tat or oxycodone increased anxiety-like behavior and their combination increased hypothalamic allopregnanolone. OVX increased basal hypothalamic allopregnanolone and obviated Tat or oxycodone-mediated fluctuations. Together, these data provide further evidence for Tat-mediated dysregulation of the HPA axis and reveal the importance of HPG axis regulation in females. HPA/HPG disruption may contribute vulnerability to affective and substance use disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v13050813DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8147167PMC
April 2021

In vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy detection of metabolite abnormalities in aged Tat-transgenic mouse brain.

Geroscience 2021 08 5;43(4):1851-1862. Epub 2021 Apr 5.

McLean Imaging Center, McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Belmont, MA, 02478, USA.

Most individuals living with HIV in the USA are over 45 years old and are vulnerable to the combined effects of HIV and aging. Antiretroviral therapies reduce HIV morbidity and mortality but do not prevent HIV trans-activator of transcription (Tat) protein expression or development of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND), which may be caused by Tat. Tat-transgenic (Tat-tg) mice are used to study Tat's effects, typically after transgene induction with doxycycline. However, uninduced Tat-tg mice experience transgene leak and model aspects of HAND when aged, including neuroinflammation. We used in vivo 9.4-tesla proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy to compare neurochemistry in aged versus young female and male uninduced Tat-tg mice. Aged Tat-tg mice demonstrated measurable tat mRNA brain expression and had lower medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) GABA, glutamate, and taurine levels and lower striatal GABA and taurine levels. Females had lower MPFC glutathione and taurine and lower striatal taurine levels. Brain testosterone levels were negatively correlated with age in aged males but not females. Aged mice had cortical abnormalities not previously reported in aged wild-type mice including lower MPFC GABA and taurine levels. As glutathione and taurine levels reflect inflammation and oxidative stress, our data suggest that Tat may exacerbate these processes in aged Tat-tg mice. However, additional studies in controls not expressing Tat are needed to confirm this point and to deconvolve individual effects of age and Tat expression. Sex steroid hormone supplements, which counter climacteric effects, increase taurine levels, and reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, could attenuate some of the brain abnormalities we identified in aged Tat-tg mice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11357-021-00354-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8492857PMC
August 2021

An efficient synthetic route to l-γ-methyleneglutamine and its amide derivatives, and their selective anticancer activity.

RSC Adv 2021 Feb 10;11(13):7115-7128. Epub 2021 Feb 10.

Department of BioMolecular Sciences, Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi, Mississippi 38677, USA. Email:

In cancer cells, glutaminolysis is the primary source of biosynthetic precursors, fueling the TCA cycle with glutamine-derived α-ketoglutarate. The enhanced production of α-ketoglutarate is critical to cancer cells as it provides carbons for the TCA cycle to produce glutathione, fatty acids, and nucleotides, and contributes nitrogens to produce hexosamines, nucleotides, and many nonessential amino acids. Efforts to inhibit glutamine metabolism in cancer using amino acid analogs have been extensive. l-γ-Methyleneglutamine was shown to be of considerable biochemical importance, playing a major role in nitrogen transport in and plants. Herein we report for the first time an efficient synthetic route to l-γ-methyleneglutamine and its amide derivatives. Many of these l-γ-methyleneglutamic acid amides were shown to be as efficacious as tamoxifen or olaparib at arresting cell growth among MCF-7 (ER/PR/HER2), and SK-BR-3 (ER/PR/HER2) breast cancer cells at 24 or 72 h of treatment. Several of these compounds exerted similar efficacy to olaparib at arresting cell growth among triple-negative MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells by 72 h of treatment. None of the compounds inhibited cell growth in benign MCF-10A breast cells. Overall, -phenyl amides and -benzyl amides, such as , , , and , arrested the growth of all three (MCF-7, SK-BR-3, and MDA-MB-231) cell lines for 72 h and were devoid of cytotoxicity on MCF-10A control cells; -benzyl amides with an electron withdrawing group at the position, such as and , inhibited the growth of triple-negative MDA-MB-231 cells commensurate to olaparib. These compounds hold promise as novel therapeutics for the treatment of multiple breast cancer subtypes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/d0ra08249jDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7968037PMC
February 2021

HIV-1 Tat Dysregulates the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Stress Axis and Potentiates Oxycodone-Mediated Psychomotor and Anxiety-Like Behavior of Male Mice.

Int J Mol Sci 2020 Nov 3;21(21). Epub 2020 Nov 3.

Department of BioMolecular Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677-1848, USA.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is associated with co-morbid affective and stress-sensitive neuropsychiatric disorders that may be related to dysfunction of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) stress axis. The HPA axis is perturbed in up to 46% of HIV patients, but the mechanisms are not known. The neurotoxic HIV-1 regulatory protein, trans-activator of transcription (Tat), may contribute. We hypothesized that HPA dysregulation may contribute to Tat-mediated interactions with oxycodone, a clinically-used opioid often prescribed to HIV patients. In transgenic male mice, Tat expression produced significantly higher basal corticosterone levels with adrenal insufficiency in response to a natural stressor or pharmacological blockade of HPA feedback, recapitulating the clinical phenotype. On acute exposure, HIV-1 Tat interacted with oxycodone to potentiate psychomotor and anxiety like-behavior in an open field and light-dark transition tasks, whereas repeated exposure sensitized stress-related psychomotor behavior and the HPA stress response. Pharmacological blockade of glucocorticoid receptors (GR) partially-restored the stress response and decreased oxycodone-mediated psychomotor behavior in Tat-expressing mice, implicating GR in these effects. Blocking corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) receptors reduced anxiety-like behavior in mice that were exposed to oxycodone. Together, these effects support the notion that Tat exposure can dysregulate the HPA axis, potentially raising vulnerability to stress-related substance use and affective disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms21218212DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7662349PMC
November 2020

HIV-1 Tat promotes age-related cognitive, anxiety-like, and antinociceptive impairments in female mice that are moderated by aging and endocrine status.

Geroscience 2021 02 17;43(1):309-327. Epub 2020 Sep 17.

Department of BioMolecular Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi, 315 Faser Hall, P.O. Box 1848, University, MS, 38677-1848, USA.

Hypogonadism is a common comorbidity associated with HIV-1 that is more prevalent among infected individuals over the age of 45. The underlying mechanisms are unknown, but both combined antiretroviral therapeutics and HIV-1 proteins, such as trans-activator of transcription protein (Tat), dysregulate steroid-synthetic mechanisms including lipid storage/synthesis and mitochondrial function. Thus, Tat expression may accelerate age-related comorbidities partly by impairing endocrine function. Few studies exist of Tat-mediated behavioral deficits in aged animals and effects of endocrine status have not been investigated. Accordingly, we tested whether conditional Tat expression in aged (~ 1.5 years old), female, Tat-transgenic [Tat(+)] mice increases anxiety-like behavior, impairs cognition, and augments mechanical allodynia, when compared to age-matched controls that do not express Tat protein [Tat(-)]. We further tested whether aged mice that maintained their endocrine status (pre-estropausal) were more resilient to Tat/age-related comorbidities than peri- or post-estropausal mice. Tat and endocrine aging status exerted separate and interacting effects that influenced anxiety-like and cognitive behaviors. Peri- and post-estropausal mice exhibited greater anxiety-like behavior in the elevated plus-maze and impaired learning in the radial arm water maze compared to pre-estropausal mice. Irrespective of estropause status, Tat(+) mice demonstrated impaired learning, reduced grip strength, and mechanical allodynia compared to Tat(-) mice. Tat exposure reduced circulating estradiol in post-estropausal mice and increased the estradiol-to-testosterone ratio in pre-estropausal mice. Changes in circulating estradiol, testosterone, and progesterone correlated with grip strength. Thus, endocrine status is an important factor in age-related anxiety, cognition, neuromuscular function, and allodynia that can be accelerated by HIV-1 Tat protein.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11357-020-00268-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8050151PMC
February 2021

Pregnane steroidogenesis is altered by HIV-1 Tat and morphine: Physiological allopregnanolone is protective against neurotoxic and psychomotor effects.

Neurobiol Stress 2020 May 29;12:100211. Epub 2020 Jan 29.

Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Medicine, Richmond, VA, 23298, USA.

Pregnane steroids, particularly allopregnanolone (AlloP), are neuroprotective in response to central insult. While unexplored , AlloP may confer protection against the neurological dysfunction associated with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). The HIV-1 regulatory protein, trans-activator of transcription (Tat), is neurotoxic and its expression in mice increases anxiety-like behavior; an effect that can be ameliorated by progesterone, but not when 5α-reduction is blocked. Given that Tat's neurotoxic effects involve mitochondrial dysfunction and can be worsened with opioid exposure, we hypothesized that Tat and/or combined morphine would perturb steroidogenesis in mice, promoting neuronal death, and that exogenous AlloP would rescue these effects. Like other models of neural injury, conditionally inducing HIV-1 Tat in transgenic mice significantly increased the central synthesis of pregnenolone and progesterone's 5α-reduced metabolites, including AlloP, while decreasing central deoxycorticosterone (independent of changes in plasma). Morphine significantly increased brain and plasma concentrations of several steroids (including progesterone, deoxycorticosterone, corticosterone, and their metabolites) likely via activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal stress axis. Tat, but not morphine, caused glucocorticoid resistance in primary splenocytes. In neurons, Tat depolarized mitochondrial membrane potential and increased cell death. Physiological concentrations of AlloP (0.1, 1, or 10 nM) reversed these effects. High-concentration AlloP (100 nM) was neurotoxic in combination with morphine. Tat induction in transgenic mice potentiated the psychomotor effects of acute morphine, while exogenous AlloP (1.0 mg/kg, but not 0.5 mg/kg) was ameliorative. Data demonstrate that steroidogenesis is altered by HIV-1 Tat or morphine and that physiological AlloP attenuates resulting neurotoxic and psychomotor effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ynstr.2020.100211DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7109513PMC
May 2020

Combined HIV-1 Tat and oxycodone activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal and -gonadal axes and promote psychomotor, affective, and cognitive dysfunction in female mice.

Horm Behav 2020 03 13;119:104649. Epub 2019 Dec 13.

Department of BioMolecular Sciences, University of Mississippi, School of Pharmacy, University, MS 38677-1848, USA; Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677, USA. Electronic address:

The majority of HIV patients present with neuroendocrine dysfunction and ~50% experience co-morbid neurological symptoms including motor, affective, and cognitive dysfunction, collectively termed neuroHIV. In preclinical models, the neurotoxic HIV-1 regulatory protein, trans-activator of transcription (Tat), promotes neuroHIV pathology that can be exacerbated by opioids. We and others find gonadal steroids, estradiol (E) or progesterone (P), to rescue Tat-mediated pathology. However, the combined effects of Tat and opioids on neuroendocrine function and the subsequent ameliorative capacity of gonadal steroids are unknown. We found that conditional HIV-1 Tat expression in naturally-cycling transgenic mice dose-dependently potentiated oxycodone-mediated psychomotor behavior. Tat increased depression-like behavior in a tail-suspension test among proestrous mice, but decreased it among diestrous mice (who already demonstrated greater depression-like behavior); oxycodone reversed these effects. Combined Tat and oxycodone produced apparent behavioral disinhibition of anxiety-like responding which was greater on diestrus than on proestrus. These mice made more central entries in an open field, but spent less time there and demonstrated greater circulating corticosterone. Tat increased the E:P ratio of circulating steroids on diestrus and acute oxycodone attenuated this effect, but repeated oxycodone exacerbated it. Corticotropin-releasing factor was increased by Tat expression, acute oxycodone exposure, and was greater on diestrus compared to proestrus. In human neuroblastoma cells, Tat exerted neurotoxicity that was ameliorated by E (1 or 10 nM) or P (100, but not 10 nM) independent of oxycodone. Oxycodone decreased gene expression of estrogen and κ-opioid receptors. Thus, neuroendocrine function may be an important target for HIV-1 Tat/opioid interactions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2019.104649DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7071558PMC
March 2020

Biopolymer-Delivered, Maternally Sequestered NF-κB (Nuclear Factor-κB) Inhibitory Peptide for Treatment of Preeclampsia.

Hypertension 2020 01 2;75(1):193-201. Epub 2019 Dec 2.

Department of Neurology (J.A.H., F.M., G.L.B.), University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Preeclampsia is a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy that causes significant acute and long-term risk to the mother and the baby. The multifaceted maternal syndrome is driven by overproduction of circulating anti-angiogenic factors, widespread inflammation, and endothelial dysfunction. Nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) is a transcription factor that plays a central role in the inflammatory response. Its activity is increased in the preeclamptic placenta, and it promotes the systemic endothelial dysfunction present in preeclampsia. There is an acute need for new therapeutics targeted to the causative pathways of preeclampsia. Our group has developed a drug delivery system based on the bioengineered protein ELP (elastin-like polypeptide) that is capable of stabilizing therapeutics in the maternal circulation and preventing their placental transfer. Here we used the ELP carrier system to deliver a peptide known to inhibit the NF-κB pathway. This polypeptide, containing a cell-penetrating peptide and an NF-κB inhibitory peptide derived from the p50 nuclear localization sequence (abbreviated SynB1-ELP-p50i), blocked NF-κB activation and prevented TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor alpha)-induced endothelin production in vitro. Fusion of the p50i peptide to the SynB1-ELP carrier slowed its plasma clearance and prevented its placental transfer in pregnant rats, resulting in increased deposition in the maternal kidney, liver, and placenta relative to the free peptide. When administered in a rat model of placental ischemia, SynB1-ELP-p50i partially ameliorated placental ischemia-induced hypertension and reduced placental TNF-α levels with no signs of toxicity. These data support the continued development of ELP-delivered NF-κB inhibitors as maternally sequestered anti-inflammatory agents for preeclampsia therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.119.13368DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7008946PMC
January 2020

Utilizing a Kidney-Targeting Peptide to Improve Renal Deposition of a Pro-Angiogenic Protein Biopolymer.

Pharmaceutics 2019 Oct 18;11(10). Epub 2019 Oct 18.

Department of Neurology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS 39216, USA.

Elastin-like polypeptides (ELP) are versatile protein biopolymers used in drug delivery due to their modular nature, allowing fusion of therapeutics and targeting agents. We previously developed an ELP fusion with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and demonstrated its therapeutic efficacy in translational swine models of renovascular disease and chronic kidney disease. The goal of the current work was to refine renal targeting and reduce off-target tissue deposition of ELP-VEGF. The ELP-VEGF fusion protein was modified by adding a kidney-targeting peptide (KTP) to the N-terminus. All control proteins (ELP, KTP-ELP, ELP-VEGF, and KTP-ELP-VEGF) were also produced to thoroughly assess the effects of each domain on in vitro cell binding and activity and in vivo pharmacokinetics and biodistribution. KTP-ELP-VEGF was equipotent to ELP-VEGF and free VEGF in vitro in the stimulation of primary glomerular microvascular endothelial cell proliferation, tube formation, and extracellular matrix invasion. The contribution of each region of the KTP-ELP-VEGF protein to the cell binding specificity was assayed in primary human renal endothelial cells, tubular epithelial cells, and podocytes, demonstrating that the VEGF domain induced binding to endothelial cells and the KTP domain increased binding to all renal cell types. The pharmacokinetics and biodistribution of KTP-ELP-VEGF and all control proteins were determined in SKH-1 Elite hairless mice. The addition of KTP to ELP slowed its in vivo clearance and increased its renal deposition. Furthermore, addition of KTP redirected ELP-VEGF, which was found at high levels in the liver, to the kidney. Intrarenal histology showed similar distribution of all proteins, with high levels in blood vessels and tubules. The VEGF-containing proteins also accumulated in punctate foci in the glomeruli. These studies provide a thorough characterization of the effects of a kidney-targeting peptide and an active cytokine on the biodistribution of these novel biologics. Furthermore, they demonstrate that renal specificity of a proven therapeutic can be improved using a targeting peptide.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics11100542DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6835230PMC
October 2019

Biopolymer-delivered vascular endothelial growth factor improves renal outcomes following revascularization.

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol 2019 05 20;316(5):F1016-F1025. Epub 2019 Mar 20.

Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Mississippi Medical Center , Jackson, Mississippi.

Renal angioplasty and stenting (PTRAs) resolves renal artery stenosis, but inconsistently improves renal function, possibly due to persistent parenchymal damage. We developed a bioengineered fusion of a drug delivery vector (elastin-like polypeptide, ELP) with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and showed its therapeutic efficacy. We tested the hypothesis that combined ELP-VEGF therapy with PTRAs improves renal recovery more efficiently than PTRAs alone, by protecting the stenotic renal parenchyma. Unilateral renovascular disease (RVD) was induced by renal artery stenosis in 14 pigs. Six weeks later, stenotic kidney blood flow (RBF) and glomerular filtration rate (GFR) were quantified in vivo using multidetector CT. Blood and urine were collected during in vivo studies. All pigs underwent PTRAs and then were randomized into single intrarenal ELP-VEGF administration or placebo ( = 7 each) groups. Pigs were observed for four additional weeks, in vivo CT studies were repeated, and then pigs were euthanized for ex vivo studies to quantify renal microvascular (MV) density, angiogenic factor expression, and morphometric analysis. Renal hemodynamics were similarly blunted in all RVD pigs. PTRAs resolved stenosis but modestly improved RBF and GFR. However, combined PTRAs+ ELP-VEGF improved RBF, GFR, regional perfusion, plasma creatinine, asymmetric dimethlyarginine (ADMA), and albuminuria compared with PTRAs alone, accompanied by improved angiogenic signaling, MV density, and renal fibrosis. Greater improvement of renal function via coadjuvant ELP-VEGF therapy may be driven by enhanced MV proliferation and repair, which ameliorates MV rarefaction and fibrogenic activity that PTRAs alone cannot offset. Thus, our study supports a novel strategy to boost renal recovery in RVD after PTRAs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajprenal.00607.2018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6580255PMC
May 2019

Biochemical and Anti-Triple Negative Metastatic Breast Tumor Cell Properties of Psammaplins.

Mar Drugs 2018 Nov 10;16(11). Epub 2018 Nov 10.

Institute of Interdisciplinary Integrative Medical Research, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1200 Cailun Road, Pudong New District, Shanghai 201203, China.

Breast tumors reprogram their cellular metabolism, nutrient uptake, and utilization-associated biochemical processes. These processes become further transformed as genetically predisposed metastatic breast tumor cells colonize specific organs. Breast tumor cells often metastasize to the brain, bone, lung and liver. Massagué and colleagues isolated organotropic subclones and established organ-specific gene signatures associated with lung-, bone-, and brain-specific metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) MDA-MB-231 cells. Using these genetically characterized metastatic subclones specific to lung (LM4175), bone (BoM1833), and brain (BrM-2a), we evaluated marine natural products for the ability to differentially suppress metastatic breast cancer cells in a target organ-dependent manner. Psammaplin-based histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors were found to differentially inhibit HDAC activity, induce activation of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), and disrupt organotropic metastatic TNBC subclone growth. Further, psammaplins distinctly suppressed the outgrowth of BoM1833 tumor spheroids in 3D-culture systems. Similar results were observed with the prototypical HDAC inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA). These organotropic tumor cell-based studies suggest the potential application of HDAC inhibitors that may yield new directions for anti-metastatic breast tumor research and drug discovery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/md16110442DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6265740PMC
November 2018

Molecular Size Modulates Pharmacokinetics, Biodistribution, and Renal Deposition of the Drug Delivery Biopolymer Elastin-like Polypeptide.

Sci Rep 2018 05 21;8(1):7923. Epub 2018 May 21.

Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS, USA.

Elastin-like polypeptides (ELP) are engineered proteins that consist of repetitions of a five amino acid motif, and their composition is easily modified to adjust their physical properties and attach therapeutics. Because of the repetitive nature of the ELP sequence, polymer size is particularly amenable to manipulation. ELP fusion proteins are being actively developed as therapeutics for many disease applications, and how the ELP size and shape affects its pharmacokinetics and biodistribution is a critical question for the general field of ELP drug delivery. To address this, we generated a library of ELPs ranging in size from 25 kDa to 110 kDa. Terminal plasma half-life was directly proportional to polymer size, and organ biodistribution was also size dependent. The kidneys accumulated the highest levels of ELP of all sizes, followed by the liver. Within the kidney, most ELP was found in the proximal tubule, but intra-renal localization shifted from exclusively cortical to a mixture of cortical and medullary as ELP size increased.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-24897-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5962569PMC
May 2018

A Maternally Sequestered, Biopolymer-Stabilized Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) Chimera for Treatment of Preeclampsia.

J Am Heart Assoc 2017 12 8;6(12). Epub 2017 Dec 8.

Department of Neurology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS

Background: Preeclampsia is a hypertensive syndrome that complicates 3% to 5% of pregnancies in the United States. Preeclampsia originates from an improperly vascularized and ischemic placenta that releases factors that drive systemic pathophysiology. One of these factors, soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1, is believed to sequester vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), leading to systemic endothelial dysfunction and hypertension. With the goal of targeting soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 while simultaneously preventing fetal exposure to VEGF, we fused VEGF to elastin-like polypeptide, a biopolymer carrier that does not cross the placental barrier (ELP-VEGF).

Methods And Results: ELP-VEGF restored in vitro endothelial cell tube formation in the presence of plasma from placental ischemic rats. Long-term administered ELP-VEGF in pregnant rats accumulated in maternal kidneys, aorta, liver, and placenta, but the protein was undetectable in the pups when administered at therapeutic doses in dams. Long-term administration of ELP-VEGF in a placental ischemia rat model achieved dose-dependent attenuation of hypertension, with blood pressure equal to sham controls at a dose of 5 mg/kg per day. ELP-VEGF infusion increased total plasma soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 levels but dramatically reduced free plasma soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 and induced urinary excretion of nitrate/nitrite, indicating enhanced renal nitric oxide signaling. ELP-VEGF at up to 5 mg/kg per day had no deleterious effect on maternal or fetal body weight. However, dose-dependent adverse events were observed, including ascites production and neovascular tissue encapsulation around the minipump.

Conclusions: ELP-VEGF has the potential to treat the preeclampsia maternal syndrome, but careful dosing and optimization of the delivery route are necessary.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.117.007216DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5779036PMC
December 2017

Systemic biopolymer-delivered vascular endothelial growth factor promotes therapeutic angiogenesis in experimental renovascular disease.

Kidney Int 2018 04 19;93(4):842-854. Epub 2017 Dec 19.

Department of Biochemistry, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi, USA; Department of Neurology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi, USA.

We recently developed a therapeutic biopolymer composed of an elastin-like polypeptide (ELP) fused to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and showed long-term renoprotective effects in experimental renovascular disease after a single intra-renal administration. Here, we sought to determine the specificity, safety, efficacy, and mechanisms of renoprotection of ELP-VEGF after systemic therapy in renovascular disease. We tested whether kidney selectivity of the ELP carrier would reduce off-target binding of VEGF in other organs. In vivo bio-distribution after systemic administration of ELP-VEGF in swine was determined in kidneys, liver, spleen, and heart. Stenotic-kidney renal blood flow and glomerular filtration rate were quantified in vivo using multi-detector computed tomography (CT) after six weeks of renovascular disease, then treated with a single intravenous dose of ELP-VEGF or placebo and observed for four weeks. CT studies were then repeated and the pigs euthanized. Ex vivo studies quantified renal microvascular density (micro-CT) and fibrosis. Kidneys, liver, spleen, and heart were excised to quantify the expression of angiogenic mediators and markers of progenitor cells. ELP-VEGF accumulated predominantly in the kidney and stimulated renal blood flow, glomerular filtration rate, improved cortical microvascular density, and renal fibrosis, and was accompanied by enhanced renal expression of VEGF, downstream mediators of VEGF signaling, and markers of progenitor cells compared to placebo. Expression of angiogenic factors in liver, spleen, and heart were not different compared to placebo-control. Thus, ELP efficiently directs VEGF to the kidney after systemic administration and induces long-term renoprotection without off-target effects, supporting the feasibility and safety of renal therapeutic angiogenesis via systemic administration of a novel kidney-specific bioengineered compound.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.kint.2017.09.029DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5866753PMC
April 2018

A kidney-selective biopolymer for targeted drug delivery.

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol 2017 01 26;312(1):F54-F64. Epub 2016 Oct 26.

Departments of Physiology and Biophysics, Medicine, and Radiology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi.

Improving drug delivery to the kidney using renal-targeted therapeutics is a promising but underdeveloped area. We aimed to develop a kidney-targeting construct for renal-specific drug delivery. Elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs) are nonimmunogenic protein-based carriers that can stabilize attached small-molecule and peptide therapeutics. We modified ELP at its NH-terminus with a cyclic, seven-amino acid kidney-targeting peptide (KTP) and at its COOH-terminus with a cysteine residue for tracer conjugation. Comparative in vivo pharmacokinetics and biodistribution in rat and swine models and in vitro cell binding studies using human renal cells were performed. KTP-ELP had a longer plasma half-life than ELP in both animal models and was similarly accumulated in kidneys at levels fivefold higher than untargeted ELP, showing renal levels 15- to over 150-fold higher than in other major organs. Renal fluorescence histology demonstrated high accumulation of KTP-ELP in proximal tubules and vascular endothelium. Furthermore, a 14-day infusion of a high dose of ELP or KTP-ELP did not affect body weight, glomerular filtration rate, or albuminuria, or induce renal tissue damage compared with saline-treated controls. In vitro experiments showed higher binding of KTP-ELP to human podocytes, proximal tubule epithelial, and glomerular microvascular endothelial cells than untargeted ELP. These results show the high renal selectivity of KTP-ELP, support the notion that the construct is not species specific, and demonstrate that it does not induce acute renal toxicity. The plasticity of ELP for attachment of any class of therapeutics unlocks the possibility of applying ELP technology for targeted treatment of renal disease in future studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajprenal.00143.2016DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5283886PMC
January 2017

Corneal Penetrating Elastin-Like Polypeptide Carriers.

J Ocul Pharmacol Ther 2016 Apr 16;32(3):163-71. Epub 2015 Dec 16.

2 Department of Biochemistry, University of Mississippi Medical Center , Jackson, Mississippi.

Purpose: Elastin-like polypeptide (ELP) is a bioengineered protein widely applied as a drug carrier due to its biocompatibility and amenability to modification with cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) and therapeutic agents. The purpose of this study was to determine whether topically applied ELP or CPP-fused ELPs penetrate the corneal barrier.

Methods: In vitro binding and cytotoxicity to human corneal epithelial (HCE) cells were determined for ELP or CPP-ELPs. Corneal binding, clearance, and penetration were assessed in a rabbit model following topical application of the fluorescently labeled proteins by quantitative fluorescence imaging and histology.

Results: ELP bound to HCE cells in vitro, and binding/uptake was enhanced 2- to 3-fold by the addition of CPPs. When applied topically to rabbit eyes, ELP accumulated in the cornea at levels 7.4-fold higher than did an equivalent dose of immunoglobulin G. Both ELP and a CPP-ELP penetrated the corneal epithelium and were detectable in the stroma. Addition of CPPs to ELP, however, did not significantly enhance corneal uptake or penetration in vivo relative to ELP alone. The polypeptides cleared from the cornea over a period of 20-30 min after application, after which cornea levels reached a steady state of 15-30 μg/mL for up to 3 h.

Conclusions: The ELP drug carrier can penetrate the corneal epithelium and accumulate in the stroma. Given its amenability for fusion to multiple types of therapeutic agents, ELP has the potential to serve as a drug carrier for topical ocular applications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/jop.2015.0082DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4939452PMC
April 2016

Sampangine (a Copyrine Alkaloid) Exerts Biological Activities through Cellular Redox Cycling of Its Quinone and Semiquinone Intermediates.

J Nat Prod 2015 Dec 4;78(12):3018-23. Epub 2015 Dec 4.

School of Pharmacy, Hunan University of Chinese Medicine , Changsha, Hunan Province 410208, People's Republic of China.

The cananga tree alkaloid sampangine (1) has been extensively investigated for its antimicrobial and antitumor potential. Mechanistic studies have linked its biological activities to the reduction of cellular oxygen, the induction of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and alterations in heme biosynthesis. Based on the yeast gene deletion library screening results that indicated mitochondrial gene deletions enhanced the sensitivity to 1, the effects of 1 on cellular respiration were examined. Sampangine increased oxygen consumption rates in both yeast and human tumor cells. Mechanistic investigation indicated that 1 may have a modest uncoupling effect, but predominately acts by increasing oxygen consumption independent of mitochondrial complex IV. Sampangine thus appears to undergo redox cycling that may involve respiratory chain-dependent reduction to a semi-iminoquinone followed by oxidation and consequent superoxide production. Relatively high concentrations of 1 showed significant neurotoxicity in studies conducted with rat cerebellar granule neurons, indicating that sampangine use may be associated with potential neurotoxicity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jnatprod.5b00819DOI Listing
December 2015

Renal Therapeutic Angiogenesis Using a Bioengineered Polymer-Stabilized Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Construct.

J Am Soc Nephrol 2016 06 5;27(6):1741-52. Epub 2015 Nov 5.

Department of Neurology, and Department of Biochemistry, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi.

Renovascular disease (RVD) induces renal microvascular (MV) rarefaction that drives progressive kidney injury. In previous studies, we showed that renal vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy attenuated MV damage, but did not resolve renal injury at practical clinical doses. To increase the bioavailability of VEGF, we developed a biopolymer-stabilized elastin-like polypeptide (ELP)-VEGF fusion protein and determined its in vivo potential for therapeutic renal angiogenesis in RVD using an established swine model of chronic RVD. We measured single-kidney blood flow (RBF) and GFR and established the degree of renal damage after 6 weeks of RVD. Pigs then received a single stenotic kidney infusion of ELP-VEGF (100 μg/kg), a matching concentration of unconjugated VEGF (18.65 μg/kg), ELP alone (100 μg/kg), or placebo. Analysis of organ distribution showed high renal binding of ELP-VEGF 4 hours after stenotic kidney infusion. Therapeutic efficacy was determined 4 weeks after infusion. ELP-VEGF therapy improved renal protein expression attenuated in RVD, restoring expression levels of VEGF, VEGF receptor Flk-1, and downstream angiogenic mediators, including phosphorylated Akt and angiopoietin-1 and -2. This effect was accompanied by restored MV density, attenuated fibrogenic activity, and improvements in RBF and GFR greater than those observed with placebo, ELP alone, or unconjugated VEGF. In summary, we demonstrated the feasibility of a novel therapy to curtail renal injury. Recovery of the stenotic kidney in RVD after ELP-VEGF therapy may be driven by restoration of renal angiogenic signaling and attenuated fibrogenic activity, which ameliorates MV rarefaction and improves renal function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1681/ASN.2015040346DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4884109PMC
June 2016

Nitroreductase-triggered activation of a novel caged fluorescent probe obtained from methylene blue.

Chem Commun (Camb) 2015 Aug;51(64):12787-90

Department of Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery, School of Pharmacy, The University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677, USA.

A near-infrared fluorescent probe based on methylene blue (p-NBMB) was developed for the detection of nitroreductase. Conjugating methylene blue with a p-nitrobenzyl moiety enables it to be activated by nitroreductase-catalyzed 1,6-elimination, resulting in the release of an active methylene blue fluorophore.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c5cc03824cDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4547460PMC
August 2015

Kalkitoxin inhibits angiogenesis, disrupts cellular hypoxic signaling, and blocks mitochondrial electron transport in tumor cells.

Mar Drugs 2015 Mar 20;13(3):1552-68. Epub 2015 Mar 20.

Department of BioMolecular Sciences and Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677, USA.

The biologically active lipopeptide kalkitoxin was previously isolated from the marine cyanobacterium Moorea producens (Lyngbya majuscula). Kalkitoxin exhibited N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-mediated neurotoxicity and acted as an inhibitory ligand for voltage-sensitive sodium channels in cultured rat cerebellar granule neurons. Subsequent studies revealed that kalkitoxin generated a delayed form of colon tumor cell cytotoxicity in 7-day clonogenic cell survival assays. Cell line- and exposure time-dependent cytostatic/cytotoxic effects were previously observed with mitochondria-targeted inhibitors of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1). The transcription factor HIF-1 functions as a key regulator of oxygen homeostasis. Therefore, we investigated the ability of kalkitoxin to inhibit hypoxic signaling in human tumor cell lines. Kalkitoxin potently and selectively inhibited hypoxia-induced activation of HIF-1 in T47D breast tumor cells (IC50 5.6 nM). Mechanistic studies revealed that kalkitoxin inhibits HIF-1 activation by suppressing mitochondrial oxygen consumption at electron transport chain (ETC) complex I (NADH-ubiquinone oxidoreductase). Further studies indicate that kalkitoxin targets tumor angiogenesis by blocking the induction of angiogenic factors (i.e., VEGF) in tumor cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/md13031552DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4377999PMC
March 2015

Growth factor purification and delivery systems (PADS) for therapeutic angiogenesis.

Vasc Cell 2015 24;7(1). Epub 2015 Jan 24.

Department of Biochemistry, University of Mississippi Medical Center, 2500 North State Street, Jackson, MS 39216 USA ; Department of Neurology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, 2500 North State Street, Jackson, MS 39216 USA.

Background: Therapeutic angiogenesis with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), delivered either via recombinant protein infusion or via gene therapy, has shown promise in preclinical models of various diseases including myocardial infarction, renovascular disease, preeclampsia, and neurodegenerative disorders. However, dosing, duration of expression, and tissue specificity are challenges to VEGF gene therapy, and recombinant VEGF delivery suffers from extremely rapid plasma clearance, necessitating continuous infusion and/or direct injection at the site of interest.

Methods: Here we describe a novel growth factor purification and delivery system (PADS) generated by fusion of VEGF121 to a protein polymer based on Elastin-like Polypeptide (ELP). ELP is a thermally responsive biopolymer derived from a five amino acid repeat sequence found in human tropoelastin. VEGFPADS were constructed by fusion of the ELP coding sequence in-frame with the VEGF121 coding sequence connected by a flexible di-glycine linker. In vitro activity of VEGFPADS was determined using cell proliferation, tube formation, and migration assays with vascular endothelial cells. Pharmacokinetics and biodistribution of VEGFPADS in vivo were compared to free VEGF in mice using quantitative fluorescence techniques.

Results: ELP fusion allowed for recombinant expression and simple, non-chromatographic purification of the ELP-VEGF121 chimera in yields as high as 90 mg/L of culture and at very high purity. ELP fusion had no effect on the VEGF activity, as the VEGFPADS were equally potent as free VEGF121 in stimulating HUVEC proliferation, tube formation, and migration. Additionally, the VEGFPADS had a molecular weight five-fold larger than free VEGF121, which lead to slower plasma clearance and an altered biodistribution after systemic delivery in vivo.

Conclusion: PADS represent a new method of both purification and in vivo stabilization of recombinant growth factors. The use of this system could permit recombinant growth factors to become viable options for therapeutic angiogenesis in a number of disease models.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13221-014-0026-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4316602PMC
February 2015

Toxins in botanical dietary supplements: blue cohosh components disrupt cellular respiration and mitochondrial membrane potential.

J Nat Prod 2014 Jan 11;77(1):111-7. Epub 2013 Dec 11.

Department of Pharmacognosy, ‡National Center for Natural Products Research, and ⊥Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi , University, Mississippi 38677, United States.

Certain botanical dietary supplements have been associated with idiosyncratic organ-specific toxicity. Similar toxicological events, caused by drug-induced mitochondrial dysfunction, have forced the withdrawal or U.S. FDA "black box" warnings of major pharmaceuticals. To assess the potential mitochondrial liability of botanical dietary supplements, extracts from 352 authenticated plant samples used in traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Western herbal medicine were evaluated for the ability to disrupt cellular respiration. Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) methanol extract exhibited mitochondriotoxic activity. Used by some U.S. midwives to help induce labor, blue cohosh has been associated with perinatal stroke, acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, multiple organ injury, and neonatal shock. The potential link between mitochondrial disruption and idiosyncratic herbal intoxication prompted further examination. The C. thalictroides methanol extract and three saponins, cauloside A (1), saponin PE (2), and cauloside C (3), exhibited concentration- and time-dependent mitochondriotoxic activities. Upon treatment, cell respiration rate rapidly increased and then dramatically decreased within minutes. Mechanistic studies revealed that C. thalictroides constituents impair mitochondrial function by disrupting membrane integrity. These studies provide a potential etiological link between this mitochondria-sensitive form of cytotoxicity and idiosyncratic organ damage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/np400758tDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3932489PMC
January 2014

Domain 2 of uPAR regulates single-chain urokinase-mediated angiogenesis through β1-integrin and VEGFR2.

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 2013 Aug 24;305(3):H305-20. Epub 2013 May 24.

Division of Hematology and Oncology, Department of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.

How single-chain urokinase (ScuPA) mediates angiogenesis is incompletely understood. ScuPA (≥4 nM) induces phosphorylated (p)ERK1/2 (MAPK44 and MAPK42) and pAkt (Ser(473)) in umbilical vein and dermal microvascular endothelial cells. Activation of pERK1/2 by ScuPA is blocked by PD-98059 or U-0126, and pAkt (Ser(473)) activation is inhibited by wortmannin or LY-294002. ScuPA (32 nM) or protease-inhibited two-chain urokinase stimulates pERK1/2 to the same extent, indicating that signaling is not dependent on enzymatic activity. ScuPA induces pERK1/2, but not pAkt (Ser(473)), in SIN1(-/-) cells, indicating that the two pathways are not identical. Peptides from domain 2 of the urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR) or domain 5 of high-molecular-weight kininogen compete with ScuPA for the induction of pERK1/2 and pAkt (Ser(473)). A peptide of the integrin-binding site on uPAR, a β1-integrin peptide that binds uPAR, antibody 6S6 to β1-integrin, tyrosine kinase inhibitors AG-1478 or PP3, and small interfering RNA knockdown of VEFG receptor 2, but not HER1-HER4, blocked ScuPA-induced pERK1/2 and pAkt (Ser(473)). ScuPA-induced endothelial cell proliferation was blocked by inhibitors of pERK1/2 and pAkt (Ser(473)), antibody 6S6, and uPAR or kininogen peptides. ScuPA initiated aortic sprouts and Matrigel plug angiogenesis in normal, but not uPAR-deficient, mouse aortae or mice, respectively, but these were blocked by PD-98059, LY-294002, AG-1478, or cleaved high-molecular-weight kininogen. In summary, this investigation indicates a novel, a nonproteolytic signaling pathway initiated by zymogen ScuPA and mediated by domain 2 of uPAR, β1-integrins, and VEGF receptor 2 leading to angiogenesis. Kininogens or peptides from it downregulate this pathway.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpheart.00110.2013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3742872PMC
August 2013

Semisynthetic studies identify mitochondria poisons from botanical dietary supplements--geranyloxycoumarins from Aegle marmelos.

Bioorg Med Chem 2013 Apr 4;21(7):1795-803. Epub 2013 Feb 4.

Department of Pharmacognosy, School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677, United States.

Bioassay-guided isolation and subsequent structure elucidation of a Bael tree Aegle marmelos lipid extract yielded two unstable acylated geranyloxycoumarin mixtures (1-2), six geranyloxycoumarins (3-8), (+)-9'-isovaleroxylariciresinol (9), and dehydromarmeline (10). In a T47D cell-based reporter assay, 1 and 2 potently inhibited hypoxia-induced HIF-1 activation (IC50 values 0.18 and 1.10 μgmL(-1), respectively). Insufficient material and chemical instability prevented full delineation of the fatty acyl side chain olefin substitution patterns in 1 and 2. Therefore, five fatty acyl geranyloxycoumarin ester derivatives (11-15) were prepared from marmin (3) and commercial fatty acyl chlorides by semisynthesis. The unsaturated C-6' linoleic acid ester derivative 14 that was structurally most similar to 1 and 2, inhibited HIF-1 activation with comparable potency (IC50 0.92 μM). The octanoyl (11) and undecanoyl (12) ester derivatives also suppressed HIF-1 activation (IC50 values 3.1 and 0.87 μM, respectively). Mechanistic studies revealed that these geranyloxycoumarin derivatives disrupt mitochondrial respiration, primarily at complex I. Thus, these compounds may inhibit HIF-1 activation by suppressing mitochondria-mediated hypoxic signaling. One surprising observation was that, while less potent, the purported cancer chemopreventive agent auraptene (8) was found to act as a mitochondrial poison that disrupts HIF-1 signaling in tumors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmc.2013.01.048DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3602229PMC
April 2013

Angiotensin 1-7 and Mas decrease thrombosis in Bdkrb2-/- mice by increasing NO and prostacyclin to reduce platelet spreading and glycoprotein VI activation.

Blood 2013 Apr 5;121(15):3023-32. Epub 2013 Feb 5.

Hematology and Oncology Division, Department of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA.

Bradykinin B2 receptor-deleted mice (Bdkrb2(-/-)) have delayed carotid artery thrombosis times and prolonged tail bleeding time resulting from elevated angiotensin II (AngII) and angiotensin receptor 2 (AT2R) producing increased plasma nitric oxide (NO) and prostacyclin. Bdkrb2(-/-) also have elevated plasma angiotensin-(1-7) and messenger RNA and protein for its receptor Mas. Blockade of Mas with its antagonist A-779 in Bdkrb2(-/-) shortens thrombosis times (58 ± 4 minutes to 38 ± 4 minutes) and bleeding times (170 ± 13 seconds to 88 ± 8 seconds) and lowers plasma nitrate (22 ± 4 μM to 15 ± 5 μM), and 6-keto-PGF1α (259 ± 103 pg/mL to 132 ± 58 pg/mL). Bdkrb2(-/-) platelets express increased NO, guanosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate, and cyclic adenosine monophosphate with reduced spreading on collagen, collagen peptide GFOGER, or fibrinogen. In vivo A-779 or combined L-NAME and nimesulide treatment corrects it. Bdkrb2(-/-) platelets have reduced collagen-related peptide-induced integrin α2bβ3 activation and P-selectin expression that are partially corrected by in vivo A-779, nimesulide, or L-NAME. Bone marrow transplantations show that the platelet phenotype and thrombosis time depends on the host rather than donor bone marrow progenitors. Transplantation of wild-type bone marrow into Bdkrb2(-/-) hosts produces platelets with a spreading defect and delayed thrombosis times. In Bdkrb2(-/-), combined AT2R and Mas overexpression produce elevated plasma prostacyclin and NO leading to acquired platelet function defects and thrombosis delay.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood-2012-09-459156DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3624945PMC
April 2013

Glycolysis inhibitor screening identifies the bis-geranylacylphloroglucinol protonophore moronone from Moronobea coccinea.

J Nat Prod 2012 Dec 17;75(12):2216-22. Epub 2012 Dec 17.

Department of Pharmacognosy, School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi, University, Mississippi 38677, USA.

Tumor cells exhibit enhanced glucose consumption and lactate production even when supplied with adequate oxygen (a phenomenon known as the Warburg effect, or aerobic glycolysis). Pharmacological inhibition of aerobic glycolysis represents a potential tumor-selective approach that targets the metabolic differences between normal and malignant tissues. Human breast tumor MDA-MB-231 cells were used to develop an assay system to discover natural product-based glycolysis inhibitors. The assay employed was based on hypersensitivity to glycolytic inhibition in tumor cells treated with the mitochondrial electron transport inhibitor rotenone. Under such conditions, ATP supply, and hence cell viability, depends exclusively on glycolysis. This assay system was used to evaluate 10648 plant and marine organism extracts from the U.S. National Cancer Institute's Open Repository. Bioassay-guided isolation of an active Moronobea coccinea extract yielded the new bis-geranylacylphloroglucinol derivative moronone (1). Compound 1 exhibited enhanced antiproliferative/cytotoxic activity in the presence of rotenone-imposed metabolic stress on tumor cells. Surprisingly, mechanistic studies revealed that 1 did not inhibit glycolysis, but rather functions as a protonophore that dissipates the mitochondrial proton gradient. In the presence of rotenone, tumor cells may be hypersensitive to protonophores due to increased ATP utilization by the ATP synthase.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/np300711eDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3532528PMC
December 2012

Structures and mechanisms of antitumor agents: xestoquinones uncouple cellular respiration and disrupt HIF signaling in human breast tumor cells.

J Nat Prod 2012 Sep 31;75(9):1553-9. Epub 2012 Aug 31.

Department of Pharmacognosy, School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi, University, Mississippi 38677, USA.

The organic extract of a marine sponge, Petrosia alfiani, selectively inhibited iron chelator-induced hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) activation in a human breast tumor T47D cell-based reporter assay. Bioassay-guided fractionation yielded seven xestoquinones (1-7) including three new compounds: 14-hydroxymethylxestoquinone (1), 15-hydroxymethylxestoquinone (2), and 14,15-dihydroxestoquinone (3). Compounds 1-7 were evaluated for their effects on HIF-1 signaling, mitochondrial respiration, and tumor cell proliferation/viability. The known metabolites adociaquinones A (5) and B (6), which possess a 3,4-dihydro-2H-1,4-thiazine-1,1-dioxide moiety, potently and selectively inhibited iron chelator-induced HIF-1 activation in T47D cells, each with an IC(50) value of 0.2 μM. Mechanistic studies revealed that adociaquinones promote oxygen consumption without affecting mitochondrial membrane potential. Compound 1 both enhances respiration and decreases mitochondrial membrane potential, suggesting that it acts as a protonophore that uncouples mitochondrial respiration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/np3002892DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3482980PMC
September 2012

Mitochondrial respiration inhibitors suppress protein translation and hypoxic signaling via the hyperphosphorylation and inactivation of translation initiation factor eIF2α and elongation factor eEF2.

J Nat Prod 2011 Sep 29;74(9):1894-901. Epub 2011 Aug 29.

Department of Pharmacognosy, Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi, University, Mississippi 38677, United States.

Over 20,000 lipid extracts of plants and marine organisms were evaluated in a human breast tumor T47D cell-based reporter assay for hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) inhibitory activity. Bioassay-guided isolation and dereplication-based structure elucidation of an active extract from the Bael tree (Aegle marmelos) afforded two protolimonoids, skimmiarepin A (1) and skimmiarepin C (2). In T47D cells, 1 and 2 inhibited hypoxia-induced HIF-1 activation with IC50 values of 0.063 and 0.068 μM, respectively. Compounds 1 and 2 also suppressed hypoxic induction of the HIF-1 target genes GLUT-1 and VEGF. Mechanistic studies revealed that 1 and 2 inhibited HIF-1 activation by blocking the hypoxia-induced accumulation of HIF-1α protein. At the range of concentrations that inhibited HIF-1 activation, 1 and 2 suppressed cellular respiration by selectively inhibiting the mitochondrial electron transport chain at complex I (NADH dehydrogenase). Further investigation indicated that mitochondrial respiration inhibitors such as 1 and rotenone induced the rapid hyperphosphorylation and inhibition of translation initiation factor eIF2α and elongation factor eEF2. The inhibition of protein translation may account for the short-term exposure effects exerted by mitochondrial inhibitors on cellular signaling, while the suppression of cellular ATP production may contribute to the inhibitory effects following extended treatment periods.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/np200370zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3179826PMC
September 2011
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