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Pabitra B Pal, Himangshu Sonowal, Kirtikar Shukla, Satish K Srivastava and Kota V Ramana

Although hyperglycemia-mediated death and dysfunction of endothelial cells have been reported to be a major cause of diabetes associated vascular complications, the mechanisms through which hyperglycemia cause endothelial dysfunction is not well understood. We have recently demonstrated that aldose reductase (AR, AKR1B1) is an obligatory mediator of oxidative and inflammatory signals induced by growth factors, cytokines and hyperglycemia. However, the molecular mechanisms by which AR regulates hyperglycemia-induced endothelial dysfunction is not well known. In this study, we have investigated the mechanism(s) by which AR regulates hyperglycemia-induced endothelial dysfunction. Incubation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) with high glucose (HG) decreased the cell viability and inhibition of AR prevented it. Further, AR inhibition prevented the HG-induced ROS generation and expression of BCL-2, BAX and activation of Caspase-3 in HUVECs. AR inhibition also prevented the adhesion of THP-1 monocytes on HUVECs, expression of iNOS and eNOS and adhesion molecules ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 in HG-treated HUVECs. Further, AR inhibition restored the HG-induced depletion of SIRT1 in HUVECs and increased the phosphorylation of AMPKα1 along-with a decrease in phosphorylation of mTOR in HG-treated HUVECs. Fidarestat decreased SIRT1 expression in HUVECs pre-treated with specific SIRT1 inhibitor but not with the AMPKα1 inhibitor. Similarly, knockdown of AR in HUVECs by siRNA prevented the HG-induced HUVECs cell death, THP-1 monocyte adhesion and SIRT1 depletion. Furthermore, fidarestat regulated the phosphorylation of AMPKα1 and mTOR, and expression of SIRT1 in STZ-induced diabetic mice heart and aorta tissues. Collectively, our data suggest that AR regulates hyperglycemia-induced endothelial death and dysfunction by altering the ROS/SIRT1/AMPKα1/mTOR pathway.

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Tae Woo Jung, Hyoung-Chun Kim, Yong Kyoo Shin, Hyeyoung Min, Seong-Wan Cho, Zi Soo Kim, Su Mi Han, A M Abd El-Aty, Ahmet Hacımüftüoğlu and Ji Hoon Jeong

An aqueous extract of Humulus japonicus (AH) has been documented to ameliorate hypertension and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Here, we investigated the effects of an aqueous extract of AH on thermogenesis and palmitate-induced oxidative stress in adipocytes. To verify the effect of AH on browning, we measured the expression levels of specific markers in 3T3-L1 adipocytes using qPCR and Western blotting, respectively. To assess the role of oxidative stress, cells were stained with DCFDA and observed by fluorescence microscopy. AH increased the expression of brown adipose tissue-specific markers. Additionally, it induced fatty acid oxidation and lipolysis and suppressed both lipogenic markers and lipid accumulation. Furthermore, AH ameliorated hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress. Enhanced expression of these markers contributed to fat browning, fatty acid oxidation and lipolysis of 3T3-L1 adipocytes via the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor delta (PPARδ) signaling pathways. Moreover, AMPK and PPARδ resulting in protective effects of AH against oxidative stress. In sum, AH could promote the browning, lipolysis and thermogenesis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes and would suppress the hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress and lipogenesis during differentiation. We therefore suggest that AH could be used as a potential candidate for treating obesity and related metabolic disorders.

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Choa Park, Joonwoo Park, Myeong Kuk Shim, Mee-Ra Rhyu, Byung-Koo Yoon, Kyung Sook Kim and YoungJoo Lee

Atherosclerosis is the most common root cause of arterial disease, such as coronary artery disease and carotid artery disease. Hypoxia is associated with the formation of macrophages and increased inflammation and is known to be present in lesions of atherosclerotic. Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) are one of the major components of blood vessels, and hypoxic conditions affect VSMC inflammation, proliferation and migration, which contribute to vascular stenosis and play a major role in the atherosclerotic process. Estrogen receptor (ER)-β is thought to play an important role in preventing the inflammatory response in VSMCs. In this report, we studied the anti-inflammatory effect of indazole (In)-Cl, an ERβ-specific agonist, under conditions of hypoxia. Expression of cyclooxygenase-2 reduced by hypoxia was inhibited by In-Cl treatment in VSMCs, and this effect was antagonized by an anti-estrogen compound. Additionally, the production of reactive oxygen species induced under conditions of hypoxia was reduced by treatment with In-Cl. Increased cell migration and invasion by hypoxia were also dramatically decreased following treatment with In-Cl. The increase in cell proliferation following treatment with platelet-derived growth factor was attenuated by In-Cl in VSMCs. RNA sequencing analysis was performed to identify changes in inflammation-related genes following In-Cl treatment in the hypoxic state. Our results suggest that ERβ is a potential therapeutic target for the suppression of hypoxia-induced inflammation in VSMCs.

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Danrong Ye, Yang Jiang, Yihan Sun, Yuefeng Li, Yefeng Cai, Qingxuan Wang, Ouchen Wang, Endong Chen and Xiaohua Zhang

Thyroid cancer is associated with one of the most malignant endocrine tumors. However, molecular mechanisms underlying thyroid tumorigenesis and progression remain unclear. In order to investigate these mechanisms, we performed whole-transcriptome sequencing, which indicated that a differentially expressed gene, METTL7B, was highly expressed in thyroid cancers. We analyzed METTL7B expression using TCGA and performed qRT-PCR on tissue samples. Moreover, an analysis of clinicopathological characteristics revealed a positive correlation between METTL7B and lymph node metastasis. A series of in vitro experiments indicated that METTL7B enhanced migration and invasion of thyroid carcinoma cells. Further studies revealed that METTL7B may enhance TGF-β1-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Our results indicate that METTL7B may promote metastasis of thyroid cancer through EMT and may therefore be considered as a potential biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of thyroid carcinoma.

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Soojin Kim, Daksh Thaper, Samir Bidnur, Paul Toren, Shusuke Akamatsu, Jennifer L Bishop, Colin Colins, Sepideh Vahid and Amina Zoubeidi

Neuroendocrine (NE) differentiation of advanced prostate adenocarcinoma following androgen receptor (AR) axis-directed therapy is becoming increasingly recognized. Several models of this transdifferentiation provide insight into its molecular pathogenesis and have highlighted the placental gene PEG10 for further study. Using our unique model of enzalutamide resistance (ENZR) and NE differentiation, we studied PEG10/AR interplay in enzalutamide treatment-resistant cell lines 42DENZR and 42FENZR compared to LNCaP and castration-resistant 16DCRPC cells. ENZR cell lines with positive terminal NE marker status also displayed higher baseline expression of PEG10 compared to LNCaP and 16DCRPC. Antagonism of AR activity increased PEG10 expression followed by an increase in terminal NE markers. Conversely, stimulating AR activity via androgen supplementation reversed PEG10 and NE marker expression in a time and dose-dependent manner. These results were supported by human data showing that PEG10 expression is highest in NEPC and that AR-dependent gene, PSA, is negatively correlated with PEG10 in adenocarcinoma. Further, ChIP assay confirmed binding of activated AR to the PEG10 enhancer, decreasing PEG10 expression. While PEG10 did not drive NEPC, its knockdown reduced NE markers in our cell lines. Moreover, PEG10 knockdown in vitro- and in vivo-attenuated tumor growth. Overall, these observations indicate that PEG10 is an AR-repressed gene which modulates NE markers in ENZR cells and targeting PEG10 in advanced prostate cancer with NE features is a rational and viable option.

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Caroline Gorvin

Twenty-five years have elapsed since the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) was first identified in bovine parathyroid and the receptor is now recognized as a fundamental contributor to extracellular Ca2+ (Ca2+ e) homeostasis, regulating parathyroid hormone release and urinary calcium excretion. The CaSR is a class C G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) that is functionally active as a homodimer and couples to multiple G-protein subtypes to activate intracellular signalling pathways. The importance of the CaSR in the regulation of Ca2+ e has been highlighted by the identification of >400 different germline loss- and gain-of-function CaSR mutations that give rise to disorders of Ca2+ e homeostasis. CaSR inactivating mutations cause neonatal severe hyperparathyroidism, characterised by marked hypercalcaemia, skeletal demineralisation and failure to thrive in early infancy; and familial hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia, an often asymptomatic disorder associated with mild-moderately elevated serum calcium concentrations. Activating mutations are associated with autosomal dominant hypocalcaemia, which is occasionally associated with a Bartter’s-like phenotype. Recent elucidation of the CaSR extracellular domain structure enabled the locations of CaSR mutations to be mapped and has revealed clustering in locations important for structural integrity, receptor dimerisation and ligand-binding. Moreover, the study of disease-causing mutations has demonstrated that CaSR signals in a biased manner and have revealed specific residues important for receptor activation. This review presents the current understanding of the genetic landscape of CaSR mutations by summarising findings from clinical and functional studies of disease-associated mutations. It concludes with reflections on how recently uncovered signaling pathways may expand understanding of calcium homeostasis disorders.

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Norman G Nicolson, Reju Korah and Tobias Carling

Adrenocortical carcinomas are rare tumors with poor prognosis and limited treatment options. Although widely used as in vitro models to test novel therapeutic strategies, the adrenocortical carcinoma-derived cell lines NCI-H295R and SW-13 have only partially been described genetically. Our aim was to characterize the mutational landscape of these cells to improve their experimental utility and map them to clinical subtypes of adrenocortical carcinoma. Genomic DNA from NCI-H295R and SW-13 cells was subjected to whole-exome sequencing. Variants were filtered for non-synonymous mutations and curated for validated adrenocortical and pan-cancer driver gene mutations. Genes mutated in the cell lines were mapped using gene ontology and protein pathway tools to determine signaling effects and compared to mutational and clinical characteristics of 92 adrenocortical carcinoma cases from The Cancer Genome Atlas. NCI-H295R and SW-13 cells carried 1325 and 1836 non-synonymous variants, respectively. Of these, 61 and 76 were known cancer driver genes, of which 32 were shared between cell lines. Variant interaction analyses demonstrated dominant TP53 dysregulation in both cell lines complemented by distinct WNT (NCI-H295R) and chromatin remodeling (SW-13) pathway perturbations. Both cell lines genetically resemble more aggressive adrenocortical carcinomas with worse prognosis, for which development of targeted therapies is most critical. Careful incorporation of the genetic landscapes outlined in this study will further the in vitro utility of these cell lines in testing for novel therapeutic approaches for adrenocortical malignancy.

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Nicola J Smith and Tim R Fenton

The interaction between human papillomaviruses (HPV) and the apolipoprotein-B mRNA-editing catalytic polypeptide-like (APOBEC)3 (A3) genes has garnered increasing attention in recent years, with considerable efforts focused on understanding their apparent roles in both viral editing and in HPV-driven carcinogenesis. Here, we review these developments and highlight several outstanding questions in the field. We consider whether editing of the virus and mutagenesis of the host are linked or whether both are essentially separate events, coincidentally mediated by a common or distinct A3 enzymes. We discuss the viral mechanisms and cellular signalling pathways implicated in A3 induction in virally infected cells and examine which of the A3 enzymes might play the major role in HPV-associated carcinogenesis and in the development of therapeutic resistance. We consider the parallels between A3 induction in HPV-infected cells and what might be causing aberrant A3 activity in HPV-independent cancers such as those arising in the bladder, lung and breast. Finally, we discuss the implications of ongoing A3 activity in tumours under treatment and the therapeutic opportunities that this may present.

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Matias Knuuttila, Esa Hämäläinen and Matti Poutanen

Recent development of gas chromatography and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS, LC-MS/MS) has provided novel tools to define sex steroid concentrations. These new methods overcome several of the problems associated with immunoassays for sex steroids. With the novel MS-based applications we are now able to measure small concentrations of the steroid hormones reliably and with high accuracy in both body fluids and tissue homogenates. The sensitivity of the tandem mass spectrometry assays allows us also for the first time to reliably measure picomolar or even femtomolar concentrations of estrogens and androgens. Furthermore, due to a high sensitivity and specificity of MS technology, we are also able to measure low concentrations of steroid hormones of interest in the presence of pharmacological concentration of other steroids and structurally closely related compounds. Both of these features are essential for multiple preclinical models for prostate cancer. The MS assays are also valuable for the simultaneous measurement of multiple steroids and their metabolites in small sample volumes in serum and tissue biopsies of prostate cancer patients before and after drug interventions. As a result, novel information about steroid hormone synthesis and metabolic pathways in prostate cancer has been obtained. In our recent studies, we have extensively applied a GC-MS/MS method to study androgen biosynthesis and metabolism in VCaP prostate cancer xenografts in mice. In the present review, we shortly summarize some of the benefits of the GC-MS/MS and novel LC-MS/MS assays, and provide examples of their use in defining novel mechanisms of androgen action in prostate cancer.

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Irene I Lee, Nane C Kuznik, Jaice T Rottenberg, Myles Brown and Andrew C B Cato

Androgens are important determinants of normal and malignant prostate growth. They function by binding to the C-terminal ligand-binding domain (LBD) of the androgen receptor (AR). All clinically approved AR-targeting antiandrogens for prostate cancer therapy function by competing with endogenous androgens. Despite initial robust responses to androgen deprivation therapy, nearly all patients with advanced prostate cancer relapse with lethal castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Progression to CRPC is associated with ongoing AR signaling, which in part, is due to the expression of constitutively active AR splice variants that contain the N-terminus of the receptor but lack the C-terminus. Currently, there are no approved therapies specifically targeting the AR N-terminus. Current pharmacologic targeting strategies for inhibiting the AR N-terminal region have proven difficult, due to its intrinsically unstructured nature and lack of enzymatic activity. An alternative approach is to target key molecules such as the cochaperone BAG1L that bind to and enhance the activity of the AR AF1. Here, we review recent literature that suggest Bag-1L is a promising target for AR-positive prostate cancer.