Biochemistry and Pharmacology - Research Publications

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    Glial-Specific Functions of Microcephaly Protein WDR62 and Interaction with the Mitotic Kinase AURKA Are Essential for Drosophila Brain Growth
    Lim, NR ; Shohayeb, B ; Zaytseva, O ; Mitchell, N ; Millard, SS ; Ng, DCH ; Quinn, LM (CELL PRESS, 2017-07-11)
    The second most commonly mutated gene in primary microcephaly (MCPH) patients is wd40-repeat protein 62 (wdr62), but the relative contribution of WDR62 function to the growth of major brain lineages is unknown. Here, we use Drosophila models to dissect lineage-specific WDR62 function(s). Interestingly, although neural stem cell (neuroblast)-specific depletion of WDR62 significantly decreased neuroblast number, brain size was unchanged. In contrast, glial lineage-specific WDR62 depletion significantly decreased brain volume. Moreover, loss of function in glia not only decreased the glial population but also non-autonomously caused neuroblast loss. We further demonstrated that WDR62 controls brain growth through lineage-specific interactions with master mitotic signaling kinase, AURKA. Depletion of AURKA in neuroblasts drives brain overgrowth, which was suppressed by WDR62 co-depletion. In contrast, glial-specific depletion of AURKA significantly decreased brain volume, which was further decreased by WDR62 co-depletion. Thus, dissecting relative contributions of MCPH factors to individual neural lineages will be critical for understanding complex diseases such as microcephaly.
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    Factors that influence adult neurogenesis as potential therapy
    Shohayeb, B ; Diab, M ; Ahmed, M ; Dominic, CHN (BMC, 2018-02-21)
    Adult neurogenesis involves persistent proliferative neuroprogenitor populations that reside within distinct regions of the brain. This phenomenon was first described over 50 years ago and it is now firmly established that new neurons are continually generated in distinct regions of the adult brain. The potential of enhancing the neurogenic process lies in improved brain cognition and neuronal plasticity particularly in the context of neuronal injury and neurodegenerative disorders. In addition, adult neurogenesis might also play a role in mood and affective disorders. The factors that regulate adult neurogenesis have been broadly studied. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms of regulating neurogenesis are still not fully defined. In this review, we will provide critical analysis of our current understanding of the factors and molecular mechanisms that determine neurogenesis. We will further discuss pre-clinical and clinical studies that have investigated the potential of modulating neurogenesis as therapeutic intervention in neurodegeneration.
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    Dynamic microtubule association of Doublecortin X (DCX) is regulated by its C-terminus
    Moslehi, M ; Ng, DCH ; Bogoyevitch, MA (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2017-07-12)
    Doublecortin X (DCX), known to be essential for neuronal migration and cortical layering in the developing brain, is a 40 kDa microtubule (MT)-associated protein. DCX directly interacts with MTs via its two structured doublecortin (DC) domains, but the dynamics of this association and the possible regulatory roles played by the flanking unstructured regions remain poorly defined. Here, we employ quantitative fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) protocols in living cells to reveal that DCX shows remarkably rapid and complete exchange within the MT network but that the removal of the C-terminal region significantly slows this exchange. We further probed how MT organization or external stimuli could additionally modulate DCX exchange dynamics. MT depolymerisation (nocodazole treatment) or stabilization (taxol treatment) further enhanced DCX exchange rates, however the exchange rates for the C-terminal truncated DCX protein were resistant to the impact of taxol-induced stabilization. Furthermore, in response to a hyperosmotic stress stimulus, DCX exchange dynamics were slowed, and again the C-terminal truncated DCX protein was resistant to the stimulus. Thus, the DCX dynamically associates with MTs in living cells and its C-terminal region plays important roles in the MT-DCX association.
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    Quantitative proteomic analyses of dynamic signalling events in cortical neurons undergoing excitotoxic cell death
    Hoque, A ; Williamson, NA ; Ameen, SS ; Ciccotosto, GD ; Hossain, MI ; Oakhill, JS ; Ng, DCH ; Ang, C-S ; Cheng, H-C (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2019-03-01)
    Excitotoxicity, caused by overstimulation or dysregulation of ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGluRs), is a pathological process directing neuronal death in many neurological disorders. The aberrantly stimulated iGluRs direct massive influx of calcium ions into the affected neurons, leading to changes in expression and phosphorylation of specific proteins to modulate their functions and direct their participation in the signalling pathways that induce excitotoxic neuronal death. To define these pathways, we used quantitative proteomic approaches to identify these neuronal proteins (referred to as the changed proteins) and determine how their expression and/or phosphorylation dynamically changed in association with excitotoxic cell death. Our data, available in ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD008353, identified over 100 changed proteins exhibiting significant alterations in abundance and/or phosphorylation levels at different time points (5-240 min) in neurons after glutamate overstimulation. Bioinformatic analyses predicted that many of them are components of signalling networks directing defective neuronal morphology and functions. Among them, the well-known neuronal survival regulators including mitogen-activated protein kinases Erk1/2, glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) and microtubule-associated protein (Tau), were selected for validation by biochemical approaches, which confirmed the findings of the proteomic analysis. Bioinformatic analysis predicted Protein Kinase B (Akt), c-Jun kinase (JNK), cyclin-dependent protein kinase 5 (Cdk5), MAP kinase kinase (MEK), Casein kinase 2 (CK2), Rho-activated protein kinase (Rock) and Serum/glucocorticoid-regulated kinase 1 (SGK1) as the potential upstream kinases phosphorylating some of the changed proteins. Further biochemical investigation confirmed the predictions of sustained changes of the activation states of neuronal Akt and CK2 in excitotoxicity. Thus, future investigation to define the signalling pathways directing the dynamic alterations in abundance and phosphorylation of the identified changed neuronal proteins will help elucidate the molecular mechanism of neuronal death in excitotoxicity.
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    C-Jun N-terminal kinase controls TDP-43 accumulation in stress granules induced by oxidative stress
    Meyerowitz, J ; Parker, SJ ; Vella, LJ ; Ng, DCH ; Price, KA ; Liddell, JR ; Caragounis, A ; Li, Q-X ; Masters, CL ; Nonaka, T ; Hasegawa, M ; Bogoyevitch, MA ; Kanninen, KM ; Crouch, PJ ; White, AR (BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2011-08-08)
    BACKGROUND: TDP-43 proteinopathies are characterized by loss of nuclear TDP-43 expression and formation of C-terminal TDP-43 fragmentation and accumulation in the cytoplasm. Recent studies have shown that TDP-43 can accumulate in RNA stress granules (SGs) in response to cell stresses and this could be associated with subsequent formation of TDP-43 ubiquinated protein aggregates. However, the initial mechanisms controlling endogenous TDP-43 accumulation in SGs during chronic disease are not understood. In this study we investigated the mechanism of TDP-43 processing and accumulation in SGs in SH-SY5Y neuronal-like cells exposed to chronic oxidative stress. Cell cultures were treated overnight with the mitochondrial inhibitor paraquat and examined for TDP-43 and SG processing. RESULTS: We found that mild stress induced by paraquat led to formation of TDP-43 and HuR-positive SGs, a proportion of which were ubiquitinated. The co-localization of TDP-43 with SGs could be fully prevented by inhibition of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). JNK inhibition did not prevent formation of HuR-positive SGs and did not prevent diffuse TDP-43 accumulation in the cytosol. In contrast, ERK or p38 inhibition prevented formation of both TDP-43 and HuR-positive SGs. JNK inhibition also inhibited TDP-43 SG localization in cells acutely treated with sodium arsenite and reduced the number of aggregates per cell in cultures transfected with C-terminal TDP-43 162-414 and 219-414 constructs. CONCLUSIONS: Our studies are the first to demonstrate a critical role for kinase control of TDP-43 accumulation in SGs and may have important implications for development of treatments for FTD and ALS, targeting cell signal pathway control of TDP-43 aggregation.
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    Tracking protein aggregation and mislocalization in cells with flow cytometry
    Ramdzan, YM ; Polling, S ; Chia, CPZ ; Ng, IHW ; Ormsby, AR ; Croft, NP ; Purcell, AW ; Bogoyevitch, MA ; Ng, DCH ; Gleeson, PA ; Hatters, DM (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2012-05-01)
    We applied pulse-shape analysis (PulSA) to monitor protein localization changes in mammalian cells by flow cytometry. PulSA enabled high-throughput tracking of protein aggregation, translocation from the cytoplasm to the nucleus and trafficking from the plasma membrane to the Golgi as well as stress-granule formation. Combining PulSA with tetracysteine-based oligomer sensors in a cell model of Huntington's disease enabled further separation of cells enriched with monomers, oligomers and inclusion bodies.
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    A Truncated Fragment of Src Protein Kinase Generated by Calpain-mediated Cleavage Is a Mediator of Neuronal Death in Excitotoxicity
    Hossain, MI ; Roulston, CL ; Kamaruddin, MA ; Chu, PWY ; Ng, DCH ; Dusting, GJ ; Bjorge, JD ; Williamson, NA ; Fujita, DJ ; Cheung, SN ; Chan, TO ; Hill, AF ; Cheng, H-C (AMER SOC BIOCHEMISTRY MOLECULAR BIOLOGY INC, 2013-04-05)
    Excitotoxicity resulting from overstimulation of glutamate receptors is a major cause of neuronal death in cerebral ischemic stroke. The overstimulated ionotropic glutamate receptors exert their neurotoxic effects in part by overactivation of calpains, which induce neuronal death by catalyzing limited proteolysis of specific cellular proteins. Here, we report that in cultured cortical neurons and in vivo in a rat model of focal ischemic stroke, the tyrosine kinase Src is cleaved by calpains at a site in the N-terminal unique domain. This generates a truncated Src fragment of ~52 kDa, which we localized predominantly to the cytosol. A cell membrane-permeable fusion peptide derived from the unique domain of Src prevents calpain from cleaving Src in neurons and protects against excitotoxic neuronal death. To explore the role of the truncated Src fragment in neuronal death, we expressed a recombinant truncated Src fragment in cultured neurons and examined how it affects neuronal survival. Expression of this fragment, which lacks the myristoylation motif and unique domain, was sufficient to induce neuronal death. Furthermore, inactivation of the prosurvival kinase Akt is a key step in its neurotoxic signaling pathway. Because Src maintains neuronal survival, our results implicate calpain cleavage as a molecular switch converting Src from a promoter of cell survival to a mediator of neuronal death in excitotoxicity. Besides unveiling a new pathological action of Src, our discovery of the neurotoxic action of the truncated Src fragment suggests new therapeutic strategies with the potential to minimize brain damage in ischemic stroke.
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    Dual role of Src kinase in governing neuronal survival
    Hossaina, MI ; Hoquel, A ; Lessene, G ; Kamaruddin, MA ; Chu, PWY ; Ng, IHW ; Irtegun, S ; Ng, DCH ; Bogoyevitch, MA ; Burgess, AW ; Hill, AF ; Cheng, H-C (ELSEVIER, 2015-01-12)
    BACKGROUND: Src-family kinases (SFKs) are involved in neuronal survival and their aberrant regulation contributes to neuronal death. However, how they control neuronal survival and death remains unclear. OBJECTIVE: To define the effect of inhibition of Src activity and expression on neuronal survival. RESULTS: In agreement with our previous findings, we demonstrated that Src was cleaved by calpain to form a 52-kDa truncated fragment in neurons undergoing excitotoxic cell death, and expression of the recombinant truncated Src fragment induced neuronal death. The data confirm that the neurotoxic signaling pathways are intact in the neurons we used for our study. To define the functional role of neuronal SFKs, we treated these neurons with SFK inhibitors and discovered that the treatment induced cell death, suggesting that the catalytic activity of one or more of the neuronal SFKs is critical to neuronal survival. Using small hairpin RNAs that suppress Src expression, we demonstrated that Src is indispensable to neuronal survival. Additionally, we found that neuronal death induced by expression of the neurotoxic truncated Src mutant, treatment of SFK inhibitors or knock-down of Src expression caused inhibition of the neuroprotective protein kinases Erk1/2, or Akt. CONCLUSIONS: Src is critical to both neuronal survival and death. Intact Src sustains neuronal survival. However, in the excitotoxic condition, calpain cleavage of Src generates a neurotoxic truncated Src fragment. Both intact Src and the neurotoxic truncated Src fragment exert their biological actions by controlling the activities of neuroprotective protein kinases.
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    Selective STAT3-alpha or -beta expression reveals spliceform-specific phosphorylation kinetics, nuclear retention and distinct gene expression outcomes
    Ng, IHW ; Ng, DCH ; Jans, DA ; Bogoyevitch, MA (PORTLAND PRESS LTD, 2012-10-01)
    Phosphorylation of STAT3 (signal transducer and activator of transcription 3) is critical for its nuclear import and transcriptional activity. Although a shorter STAT3β spliceform was initially described as a negative regulator of STAT3α, gene knockout studies have revealed that both forms play critical roles. We have expressed STAT3α and STAT3β at comparable levels to facilitate a direct comparison of their functional effects, and have shown their different cytokine-stimulated kinetics of phosphorylation and nuclear translocation. Notably, the sustained nuclear translocation and phosphorylation of STAT3β following cytokine exposure contrasted with a transient nuclear translocation and phosphorylation of STAT3α. Importantly, co-expression of the spliceforms revealed that STAT3β enhanced and prolonged the phosphorylation and nuclear retention of STAT3α, but a STAT3β R609L mutant, with a disrupted SH2 (Src homology 2) domain, was not tyrosine phosphorylated following cytokine stimulation and could not cross-regulate STAT3α. The physiological importance of prolonged phosphorylation and nuclear retention was indicated by transcriptome profiling of STAT3(-/-) cells expressing either STAT3α or STAT3β, revealing the complexity of genes that are up- and down-regulated by the STAT3 spliceforms, including a distinct set of STAT3β-specific genes regulated under basal conditions and after cytokine stimulation. These results highlight STAT3β as a significant transcriptional regulator in its own right, with additional actions to cross-regulate STAT3α phosphorylation and nuclear retention after cytokine stimulation.
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    Identification and characterization of bi-thiazole-2,2 '-diamines as kinase inhibitory scaffolds
    Ngoei, KRW ; Ng, DCH ; Gooley, PR ; Fairlie, DP ; Stoermer, M ; Bogoyevitch, MA (ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV, 2013-06-01)
    Based on bioinformatics interrogation of the genome, >500 mammalian protein kinases can be clustered within seven different groups. Of these kinases, the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family forms part of the CMGC group of serine/threonine kinases that includes extracellular signal regulated kinases (ERKs), cJun N-terminal kinases (JNKs), and p38 MAPKs. With the JNKs considered attractive targets in the treatment of pathologies including diabetes and stroke, efforts have been directed to the discovery of new JNK inhibitory molecules that can be further developed as new therapeutics. Capitalizing on our biochemical understanding of JNK, we performed in silico screens of commercially available chemical databases to identify JNK1-interacting compounds and tested their in vitro JNK inhibitory activity. With in vitro and cell culture studies, we showed that the compound, 4'-methyl-N(2)-3-pyridinyl-4,5'-bi-1,3-thiazole-2,2'-diamine (JNK Docking (JD) compound 123, but not the related compound (4'-methyl-N~2~-(6-methyl-2-pyridinyl)-4,5'-bi-1,3-thiazole-2,2'-diamine (JD124), inhibited JNK1 activity towards a range of substrates. Molecular docking, saturation transfer difference NMR experiments and enzyme kinetic analyses revealed both ATP- and substrate-competitive inhibition of JNK by JD123. In characterizing JD123 further, we noted its ATP-competitive inhibition of the related p38-γ MAPK, but not ERK1, ERK2, or p38-α, p38-β or p38-δ. Further screening of a broad panel of kinases using 10μM JD123, identified inhibition of kinases including protein kinase Bβ (PKBβ/Aktβ). Appropriately modified thiazole diamines, as typified by JD123, thus provide a new chemical scaffold for development of inhibitors for the JNK and p38-γ MAPKs as well as other kinases that are also potential therapeutic targets such as PKBβ/Aktβ.