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Diet Quality and Evening Snacking in Relation to Sleep Duration and Quality among Women with Young Children: A Dissertation

Thu, 03/10/2016 - 1:09pm

Background: Mothers’ diets impact their health and the health of their children, but diet quality is suboptimal among women with young children. Evening snacking among women with young children, especially consumption of high-calorie, high-carbohydrate snacks, may impact overall diet quality and glucose metabolism. Short sleep duration and poor sleep quality may be potential risk factors. We examined whether sleep duration and poor sleep quality were associated with diet quality and evening snacking among women with young children.

Methods: Data were from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2012, nationally representative cross-sectional surveys of noninstitutionalized U.S. population. Eligible participants were non-pregnant women aged 20-44 years within 5 years of childbirth who completed two 24-hour dietary recalls and completed questions on sleep duration and quality.

Results: Among US women with young children, sleep duration was not associated with diet quality. However, overall sleep quality was associated with poorer diet quality. Short sleep duration was not associated with the consumption of neither evening snacks, nor energy intake from or nutrient consumption of evening snacks.

Conclusion: The findings of this dissertation provide information useful for informing the direction of future research of dietary quality and eating behaviors of U.S. women with young children. Studies are needed to explore whether improvement in sleep quality may improve diet quality among women with young children, which has the potential to improve both maternal and children’s health. Research may be better focused on identifying other psychosocial and behavioral risk factors for unhealthy dietary behaviors among US women with young children.

JNK and PTEN cooperatively control the development of invasive adenocarcinoma of the prostate

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:06pm

The c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK) signal transduction pathway is implicated in cancer, but the role of JNK in tumorigenesis is poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that the JNK signaling pathway reduces the development of invasive adenocarcinoma in the phosphatase and tensin homolog (Pten) conditional deletion model of prostate cancer. Mice with JNK deficiency in the prostate epithelium (DeltaJnk DeltaPten mice) develop androgen-independent metastatic prostate cancer more rapidly than control (DeltaPten) mice. Similarly, prevention of JNK activation in the prostate epithelium (DeltaMkk4 DeltaMkk7 DeltaPten mice) causes rapid development of invasive adenocarcinoma. We found that JNK signaling defects cause an androgen-independent expansion of the immature progenitor cell population in the primary tumor. The JNK-deficient progenitor cells display increased proliferation and tumorigenic potential compared with progenitor cells from control prostate tumors. These data demonstrate that the JNK and PTEN signaling pathways can cooperate to regulate the progression of prostate neoplasia to invasive adenocarcinoma.

Retinol-binding protein 4 inhibits insulin signaling in adipocytes by inducing proinflammatory cytokines in macrophages through a c-Jun N-terminal kinase- and toll-like receptor 4-dependent and retinol-independent mechanism

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:06pm

Retinol-binding protein 4 (RBP4), the sole retinol transporter in blood, is secreted from adipocytes and liver. Serum RBP4 levels correlate highly with insulin resistance, other metabolic syndrome factors, and cardiovascular disease. Elevated serum RBP4 causes insulin resistance, but the molecular mechanisms are unknown. Here we show that RBP4 induces expression of proinflammatory cytokines in mouse and human macrophages and thereby indirectly inhibits insulin signaling in cocultured adipocytes. This occurs through activation of c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK) and Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) pathways independent of the RBP4 receptor, STRA6. RBP4 effects are markedly attenuated in JNK1-/- JNK2-/- macrophages and TLR4-/- macrophages. Because RBP4 is a retinol-binding protein, we investigated whether these effects are retinol dependent. Unexpectedly, retinol-free RBP4 (apo-RBP4) is as potent as retinol-bound RBP4 (holo-RBP4) in inducing proinflammatory cytokines in macrophages. Apo-RBP4 is likely to be physiologically significant since RBP4/retinol ratios are increased in serum of lean and obese insulin-resistant humans compared to ratios in insulin-sensitive humans, indicating that higher apo-RBP4 is associated with insulin resistance independent of obesity. Thus, RBP4 may cause insulin resistance by contributing to the development of an inflammatory state in adipose tissue through activation of proinflammatory cytokines in macrophages. This process reveals a novel JNK- and TLR4-dependent and retinol- and STRA6-independent mechanism of action for RBP4.

Alternative splicing of Bim and Erk-mediated Bim(EL) phosphorylation are dispensable for hematopoietic homeostasis in vivo

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:06pm

The pro-apoptotic BH3-only protein Bim has a major role in hematopoietic homeostasis, particularly in the lymphocyte compartment, where it strongly affects immune function. The three major Bim isoforms (Bim(EL), Bim(L) and Bim(S)) are generated by alternative splicing. Bim(EL), the most abundant isoform, contains a unique sequence that has been reported to be the target of phosphorylation by several MAP kinases. In particular, Erk1/2 has been shown to interact with Bim(EL) through the DEF2 domain of Bim(EL) and specifically phosphorylate this isoform, thereby targeting it for ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. To examine the physiological importance of this mechanism of regulation and of the alternative splicing of Bim, we have generated several Bim knock-in mouse strains and analyzed their hematopoietic system. Although mutation in the DEF2 domain reduces Bim(EL) degradation in some circumstances, this mutation did not significantly increase Bim's pro-apoptotic activity in vivo nor impact on the homeostasis of the hematopoietic system. We also show that Bim(EL) and Bim(L) are interchangeable, and that Bim(S) is dispensable for the function of Bim. Hence, we conclude that physiological regulation of Bim relies on mechanisms independent of its alternative splicing or the Erk-dependent phosphorylation of Bim(EL).

The loss of c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase activity prevents the amyloidogenic cleavage of amyloid precursor protein and the formation of amyloid plaques in vivo

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:06pm

Phosphorylation plays a central role in the dynamic regulation of the processing of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and the production of amyloid-beta (Abeta), one of the clinically most important factors that determine the onset of Alzheimer's disease (AD). This has led to the hypothesis that aberrant Abeta production associated with AD results from regulatory defects in signal transduction. However, conflicting findings have raised a debate over the identity of the signaling pathway that controls APP metabolism. Here, we demonstrate that activation of the c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK) is essential for mediating the apoptotic response of neurons to Abeta. Furthermore, we discovered that the functional loss of JNK signaling in neurons significantly decreased the number of amyloid plaques present in the brain of mice carrying familial AD-linked mutant genes. This correlated with a reduction in Abeta production. Biochemical analyses indicate that the phosphorylation of APP at threonine 668 by JNK is required for gamma-mediated cleavage of the C-terminal fragment of APP produced by beta-secretase. Overall, this study provides genetic evidence that JNK signaling is required for the formation of amyloid plaques in vivo. Therefore, inhibition of increased JNK activity associated with aging or with a pathological condition constitutes a potential strategy for the treatment of AD.

TNF-stimulated MAP kinase activation mediated by a Rho family GTPase signaling pathway

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:05pm

The biological response to tumor necrosis factor (TNF) involves activation of MAP kinases. Here we report a mechanism of MAP kinase activation by TNF that is mediated by the Rho GTPase family members Rac/Cdc42. This signaling pathway requires Src-dependent activation of the guanosine nucleotide exchange factor Vav, activation of Rac/Cdc42, and the engagement of the Rac/Cdc42 interaction site (CRIB motif) on mixed-lineage protein kinases (MLKs). We show that this pathway is essential for full MAP kinase activation during the response to TNF. Moreover, this MLK pathway contributes to inflammation in vivo.

MLK3 regulates bone development downstream of the faciogenital dysplasia protein FGD1 in mice

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:05pm

Mutations in human FYVE, RhoGEF, and PH domain-containing 1 (FGD1) cause faciogenital dysplasia (FGDY; also known as Aarskog syndrome), an X-linked disorder that affects multiple skeletal structures. FGD1 encodes a guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) that specifically activates the Rho GTPase CDC42. However, the mechanisms by which mutations in FGD1 affect skeletal development are unknown. Here, we describe what we believe to be a novel signaling pathway in osteoblasts initiated by FGD1 that involves the MAP3K mixed-lineage kinase 3 (MLK3). We observed that MLK3 functions downstream of FGD1 to regulate ERK and p38 MAPK, which in turn phosphorylate and activate the master regulator of osteoblast differentiation, Runx2. Mutations in FGD1 found in individuals with FGDY ablated its ability to activate MLK3. Consistent with our description of this pathway and the phenotype of patients with FGD1 mutations, mice with a targeted deletion of Mlk3 displayed multiple skeletal defects, including dental abnormalities, deficient calvarial mineralization, and reduced bone mass. Furthermore, mice with knockin of a mutant Mlk3 allele that is resistant to activation by FGD1/CDC42 displayed similar skeletal defects, demonstrating that activation of MLK3 specifically by FGD1/CDC42 is important for skeletal mineralization. Thus, our results provide a putative biochemical mechanism for the skeletal defects in human FGDY and suggest that modulating MAPK signaling may benefit these patients.

Fungal allergen beta-glucans trigger p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase-mediated IL-6 translation in lung epithelial cells

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:04pm

In addition to immune cells, airway epithelial cells can contribute to and shape the immune response in the lung by secreting specific cytokines. IL-6 is a key factor in determining the effector fate of CD4(+) T cells. Here we show that under basal conditions, the IL-6 gene is already highly expressed in lung epithelial cells, but not in immune cells resident in the lung. However, upon exposure of the lungs to fungal allergens, the direct contact of beta-glucans present in the fungus cell wall with lung epithelial cells is sufficient to trigger the rapid synthesis and secretion of IL-6 protein. This posttranscriptional regulation of IL-6 in response to fungal extracts is mediated by the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway. The inhalation of beta-glucans with a nonallergenic antigen is sufficient to provide an adjuvant effect that leads to mucous hyperplasia in the airways. Thus, beta-glucans may constitute a common determinant of the fungal and plant-derived allergens responsible for some of the pathological features in allergic asthma.

Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) protein degradation in response to persistent c-Jun N-terminal kinase 1 (JNK1) activation contributes to hepatic steatosis in obesity

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:04pm

SIRT1 is involved in the pathogenesis of obesity, diabetes, and aging. However, it is not clear how SIRT1 activity is regulated by intracellular kinases in cells. In this study, we investigated SIRT1 phosphorylation and protein degradation in response to JNK1 activation in obese mice. Mouse SIRT1 is phosphorylated by JNK1 at Ser-46 (Ser-47 in human SIRT1), which is one of the four potential residues targeted by JNK1. The phosphorylation induces a brief activation of SIRT1 function and degradation of SIRT1 thereafter by the proteasome. Ubiquitination occurs in SIRT1 protein after the phosphorylation. Mutation of Ser-46 to alanine prevents the phosphorylation, ubiquitination, and degradation. In vivo, SIRT1 undergoes an extensive degradation in hepatocytes in obesity as a consequence of persistent activation of JNK1. The degradation leads to inhibition of SIRT1 function, which contributes to development of hepatic steatosis. The degradation disappears in obesity when JNK1 is inactivated in mice. JNK2 exhibits an opposite activity in the regulation of SIRT1 degradation. The JNK1-SIRT1 pathway provides a new molecular mechanism for the pathogenesis of hepatic steatosis in obesity.

p38alpha Signaling Induces Anoikis and Lumen Formation During Mammary Morphogenesis

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:04pm

The stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK) p38 can induce apoptosis, and its inhibition facilitates mammary tumorigenesis. We found that during mammary acinar morphogenesis in MCF-10A cells grown in three-dimensional culture, detachment of luminal cells from the basement membrane stimulated mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinases 3 and 6 (MKK3/6) and p38alpha signaling to promote anoikis. p38alpha signaling increased transcription of the death-promoting protein BimEL by phosphorylating the activating transcription factor 2 (ATF-2) and increasing c-Jun protein abundance, leading to cell death by anoikis and acinar lumen formation. Inhibition of p38alpha or ATF-2 caused luminal filling reminiscent of that observed in ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). The mammary glands of MKK3/6 knockout mice (MKK3(-/-)/MKK6(+/- )) showed accelerated branching morphogenesis relative to those of wild-type mice, as well as ductal lumen occlusion due to reduced anoikis. This phenotype was recapitulated by systemic pharmacological inhibition of p38alpha and beta (p38alpha/beta) in wild-type mice. Moreover, the development of DCIS-like lesions showing marked ductal occlusion was accelerated in MMTV-Neu transgenic mice treated with inhibitors of p38alpha and p38beta. We conclude that p38alpha is crucial for the development of hollow ducts during mammary gland development, a function that may be crucial to its ability to suppress breast cancer.

Translational control of NKT cell cytokine production by p38 MAPK

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:04pm

NKT cells are known to rapidly produce a large amount of cytokines upon activation. Although a number of signaling pathways that regulate the development of NKT cells have been identified, the signaling pathways involved in the regulation of NKT cell cytokine production remain unclear. In this study, we show that the p38 MAPK pathway is dispensable for the development of NKT cells. However, NKT cell cytokine production and NKT-mediated liver damage are highly dependent on activation of this pathway. p38 MAPK does not substantially affect cytokine gene expression in NKT cells, but it regulates the synthesis of cytokines through the Mnk-eIF4E pathway. Thus, in addition to gene expression, translational regulation by p38 MAPK could be a novel mechanism that contributes to the overall production of cytokine by NKT cells.

Deprivation of MKK7 in cardiomyocytes provokes heart failure in mice when exposed to pressure overload

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:03pm

There is little doubt that members of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) families play key roles in the transition from adaptive hypertrophic remodeling to heart failure. Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 7 (MKK7) is a critical component of stress-activated MAP kinase signaling pathway. The role of MKK7 plays in mediating cardiac remodeling in response to load stress has yet to be defined. Herein, we investigate the role of MKK7 in regulating cardiac remodeling in response to pressure overload. We generated and examined the phenotype of mice with cardiomyocyte-specific deletion of the mkk7 gene (MKK7(cko)). Following one week of pressure overload, MKK7(cko) mice exhibited characteristic phenotypes of heart failure evidenced by deterioration in ventricular function and pulmonary congestion. Cell death assays revealed an increased prevalence of cardiomyocyte apoptosis in the MKK7(cko) heart, in which elevated p53 levels and attenuated expression of manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) were found. Moreover, extensive interstitial fibrosis was discovered in the knockout heart likely attributable to upregulation of transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) signaling. These results reveal an essential role of MKK7 in cardiomyocytes for protecting the heart from hypertrophic insults thereby preventing the transition to heart failure.

The role of JNK in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:03pm

The cJun NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK) signal transduction pathway has been implicated in the growth of carcinogen-induced hepatocellular carcinoma. However, the mechanism that accounts for JNK-regulated tumor growth is unclear. Here we demonstrate that compound deficiency of the two ubiquitously expressed JNK isoforms (JNK1 and JNK2) in hepatocytes does not prevent hepatocellular carcinoma development. Indeed, JNK deficiency in hepatocytes increased the tumor burden. In contrast, compound JNK deficiency in hepatocytes and nonparenchymal cells reduced both hepatic inflammation and tumorigenesis. These data indicate that JNK plays a dual role in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma. JNK promotes an inflammatory hepatic environment that supports tumor development, but also functions in hepatocytes to reduce tumor development.

Requirement of c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase for Ras-initiated tumor formation

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:03pm

The c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK) signal transduction pathway causes increased gene expression mediated, in part, by members of the activating transcription factor protein (AP1) group. JNK is therefore implicated in the regulation of cell growth and cancer. To test the role of JNK in Ras-induced tumor formation, we examined the effect of compound ablation of the ubiquitously expressed genes Jnk1 plus Jnk2. We report that JNK is required for Ras-induced transformation of p53-deficient primary cells in vitro. Moreover, JNK is required for lung tumor development caused by mutational activation of the endogenous KRas gene in vivo. Together, these data establish that JNK plays a key role in Ras-induced tumorigenesis.

JNK regulates FoxO-dependent autophagy in neurons

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:03pm

The cJun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signal transduction pathway is implicated in the regulation of neuronal function. JNK is encoded by three genes that play partially redundant roles. Here we report the creation of mice with targeted ablation of all three Jnk genes in neurons. Compound JNK-deficient neurons are dependent on autophagy for survival. This autophagic response is caused by FoxO-induced expression of Bnip3 that displaces the autophagic effector Beclin-1 from inactive Bcl-XL complexes. These data identify JNK as a potent negative regulator of FoxO-dependent autophagy in neurons.

AKAP-Lbc enhances cyclic AMP control of the ERK1/2 cascade

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:02pm

Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades propagate a variety of cellular activities. Processive relay of signals through RAF-MEK-ERK modulates cell growth and proliferation. Signalling through this ERK cascade is frequently amplified in cancers, and drugs such as sorafenib (which is prescribed to treat renal and hepatic carcinomas) and PLX4720 (which targets melanomas) inhibit RAF kinases. Natural factors that influence ERK1/2 signalling include the second messenger cyclic AMP. However, the mechanisms underlying this cascade have been difficult to elucidate. We demonstrate that the A-kinase-anchoring protein AKAP-Lbc and the scaffolding protein kinase suppressor of Ras (KSR-1) form the core of a signalling network that efficiently relay signals from RAF, through MEK, and on to ERK1/2. AKAP-Lbc functions as an enhancer of ERK signalling by securing RAF in the vicinity of MEK1 and synchronizing protein kinase A (PKA)-mediated phosphorylation of Ser 838 on KSR-1. This offers mechanistic insight into cAMP-responsive control of ERK signalling events.

Keep the 'phospho' on MAPK, be happy

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:02pm

Depression ruins the lives of millions of people, causing dysphoria and anguish. New findings in rodents and human brain shed light on the mechanisms of this disease, uncovering a phosphatase as a new target to treat depressive behaviors. Comment on: A negative regulator of MAP kinase causes depressive behavior. [Nat Med. 2010]

Hippocampal c-Jun-N-terminal kinases serve as negative regulators of associative learning

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:02pm

In the adult mouse, signaling through c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNKs) links exposure to acute stress to various physiological responses. Inflammatory cytokines, brain injury and ischemic insult, or exposure to psychological acute stressors induce activation of hippocampal JNKs. Here we report that exposure to acute stress caused activation of JNKs in the hippocampal CA1 and CA3 subfields, and impaired contextual fear conditioning. Conversely, intrahippocampal injection of JNKs inhibitors sp600125 (30 mum) or D-JNKI1 (8 mum) reduced activity of hippocampal JNKs and rescued stress-induced deficits in contextual fear. In addition, intrahippocampal administration of anisomycin (100 mug/mul), a potent JNKs activator, mimicked memory-impairing effects of stress on contextual fear. This anisomycin-induced amnesia was abolished after cotreatment with JNKs selective inhibitor sp600125 without affecting anisomycin's ability to effectively inhibit protein synthesis as measured by c-Fos immunoreactivity. We also demonstrated milder and transient activation of the JNKs pathway in the CA1 subfield of the hippocampus during contextual fear conditioning and an enhancement of contextual fear after pharmacological inhibition of JNKs under baseline conditions. Finally, using combined biochemical and transgenic approaches with mutant mice lacking different members of the JNK family (Jnk1, Jnk2, and Jnk3), we provided evidence that JNK2 and JNK3 are critically involved in stress-induced deficit of contextual fear, while JNK1 mainly regulates baseline learning in this behavioral task. Together, these results support the possibility that hippocampal JNKs serve as a critical molecular regulator in the formation of contextual fear.

Requirement of JIP1-mediated c-Jun N-terminal kinase activation for obesity-induced insulin resistance

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:01pm

The c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK) interacting protein 1 (JIP1) has been proposed to act as a scaffold protein that mediates JNK activation. However, recent studies have implicated JIP1 in multiple biochemical processes. Physiological roles of JIP1 that are related to the JNK scaffold function of JIP1 are therefore unclear. To test the role of JIP1 in JNK activation, we created mice with a germ line point mutation in the Jip1 gene (Thr(103) replaced with Ala) that selectively blocks JIP1-mediated JNK activation. These mutant mice exhibit a severe defect in JNK activation caused by feeding of a high-fat diet. The loss of JIP1-mediated JNK activation protected the mutant mice against obesity-induced insulin resistance. We conclude that JIP1-mediated JNK activation plays a critical role in metabolic stress regulation of the JNK signaling pathway.

The p38 MAPK pathway is essential for skeletogenesis and bone homeostasis in mice

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:01pm

Nearly every extracellular ligand that has been found to play a role in regulating bone biology acts, at least in part, through MAPK pathways. Nevertheless, much remains to be learned about the contribution of MAPKs to osteoblast biology in vivo. Here we report that the p38 MAPK pathway is required for normal skeletogenesis in mice, as mice with deletion of any of the MAPK pathway member-encoding genes MAPK kinase 3 (Mkk3), Mkk6, p38a, or p38b displayed profoundly reduced bone mass secondary to defective osteoblast differentiation. Among the MAPK kinase kinase (MAP3K) family, we identified TGF-beta-activated kinase 1 (TAK1; also known as MAP3K7) as the critical activator upstream of p38 in osteoblasts. Osteoblast-specific deletion of Tak1 resulted in clavicular hypoplasia and delayed fontanelle fusion, a phenotype similar to the cleidocranial dysplasia observed in humans haploinsufficient for the transcription factor runt-related transcription factor 2 (Runx2). Mechanistic analysis revealed that the TAK1-MKK3/6-p38 MAPK axis phosphorylated Runx2, promoting its association with the coactivator CREB-binding protein (CBP), which was required to regulate osteoblast genetic programs. These findings reveal an in vivo function for p38beta and establish that MAPK signaling is essential for bone formation in vivo. These results also suggest that selective p38beta agonists may represent attractive therapeutic agents to prevent bone loss associated with osteoporosis and aging.