Jianxun Yi

University of Missouri - Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri, United States

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Publications (25)108.15 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Emerging evidence has demonstrated that intestinal homeostasis and the microbiome play essential roles in neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's disease. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by a progressive loss of motor neurons and muscle atrophy. Currently, there is no effective treatment. Most patients die within 3–5 years due to respiratory paralysis. Although the death of motor neurons is a hallmark of ALS, other organs may also contribute to the disease progression. We examined the gut of an ALS mouse model, G93A, which expresses mutant superoxide dismutase (SOD1G93A), and discovered a damaged tight junction structure and increased permeability with a significant reduction in the expression levels of tight junction protein ZO-1 and the adherens junction protein E-cadherin. Furthermore, our data demonstrated increased numbers of abnormal Paneth cells in the intestine of G93A mice. Paneth cells are specialized intestinal epithelial cells that can sense microbes and secrete antimicrobial peptides, thus playing key roles in host innate immune responses and shaping the gut microbiome. A decreased level of the antimicrobial peptides defensin 5 alpha was indeed found in the ALS intestine. These changes were associated with a shifted profile of the intestinal microbiome, including reduced levels of Butyrivibrio Fibrisolvens, Escherichia coli, and Fermicus, in G93A mice. The relative abundance of bacteria was shifted in G93A mice compared to wild-type mice. Principal coordinate analysis indicated a difference in fecal microbial communities between ALS and wild-type mice. Taken together, our study suggests a potential novel role of the intestinal epithelium and microbiome in the progression of ALS.
    04/2015; 3(4). DOI:10.14814/phy2.12356
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    ABSTRACT: There is an intimate relationship between muscle and bone throughout life. However, how alterations in muscle functions in disease impact bone homeostasis is poorly understood. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neuromuscular disease characterized by progressive muscle atrophy. In this study, we analyzed the effects of ALS on bone using the well-established G93A transgenic mouse model, which harbors an ALS-causing mutation in the gene encoding superoxide dismutase 1. We found that four-month-old G93A mice with severe muscle atrophy had dramatically reduced trabecular and cortical bone mass compared to their sex-matched wild-type (WT) control littermates. Mechanically, we found that multiple osteoblast properties, such as the formation of osteoprogenitors, activation of Akt and Erk1/2 pathways, and osteoblast differentiation capacity, were severely impaired in primary cultures and bones from G93A relative to WT mice; this could contribute to reduced bone formation in the mutant mice. Conversely, osteoclast formation and bone resorption were strikingly enhanced in primary bone marrow cultures and bones of G93A mice compared to WT mice. Furthermore, sclerostin and Rankl expression in osteocytes embedded in the bone matrix were greatly up-regulated and β-catenin was down-regulated in osteoblasts from G93A mice when compared to those of WT mice. Interestingly, calvarial bone that does not load and long bones from 2-month-old G93A mice without muscle atrophy displayed no detectable changes in parameters for osteoblast and osteoclast functions. Thus, for the first time to our knowledge, we have demonstrated that ALS causes abnormal bone remodeling and defined the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms. Copyright © 2015, The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 02/2015; DOI:10.1074/jbc.M114.603985 · 4.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Accumulation of abnormal protein inclusions is implicated in motor neuron degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Autophagy, an intracellular process targeting misfolded proteins and damaged organelles for lysosomal degradation, plays crucial roles in survival and diseased conditions. Efforts were made to understand the role of autophagy in motor neuron degeneration and to target autophagy in motor neuron for ALS treatment. However, results were quite contradictory. Possible autophagy defects in other cell types may also complicate the results. Here, we examined autophagy activity in skeletal muscle of an ALS mouse model G93A. Through overexpression of a fluorescent protein LC3-RFP, we found a basal increase in autophagosome formation in G93A muscle during disease progression when the mice were on a regular diet. As expected, an autophagy induction procedure (starvation plus colchicine) enhanced autophagy flux in skeletal muscle of normal mice. However, in response to the same autophagy induction procedure, G93A muscle showed significant reduction in the autophagy flux. Immunoblot analysis revealed that increased cleaved caspase-3 associated with apoptosis was linked to the cleavage of several key proteins involved in autophagy, including Beclin-1, which is an essential molecule connecting autophagy and apoptosis pathways. Taking together, we provide the evidence that the cytoprotective autophagy pathway is suppressed in G93A skeletal muscle and this suppression may link to the enhanced apoptosis during ALS progression. The abnormal autophagy activity in skeletal muscle likely contributes muscle degeneration and disease progression in ALS.
    01/2015; 3(1). DOI:10.14814/phy2.12271
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    ABSTRACT: Mitochondria are dynamic organelles that constantly undergo fusion and fission to maintain their normal functionality. Impairment of mitochondrial dynamics is implicated in various neurodegenerative disorders. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an adult-onset neuromuscular degenerative disorder characterized by motor neuron death and muscle atrophy. ALS onset and progression clearly involve motor neuron degeneration but accumulating evidence suggests primary muscle pathology may also be involved. Here, we examined mitochondrial dynamics in live skeletal muscle of an ALS mouse model (G93A) harboring a superoxide dismutase mutation (SOD1(G93A)). Using confocal microscopy combined with overexpression of mitochondria-targeted photoactivatable fluorescent proteins, we discovered abnormal mitochondrial dynamics in skeletal muscle of young G93A mice before disease onset. We further demonstrated that similar abnormalities in mitochondrial dynamics were induced by overexpression of mutant SOD1(G93A) in skeletal muscle of normal mice, indicating the SOD1 mutation drives ALS-like muscle pathology in the absence of motor neuron degeneration. Mutant SOD1(G93A) forms aggregates inside muscle mitochondria and leads to fragmentation of the mitochondrial network as well as mitochondrial depolarization. Partial depolarization of mitochondrial membrane potential in normal muscle by carbonyl cyanide p-trifluoromethoxyphenylhydrazone (FCCP) caused abnormalities in mitochondrial dynamics similar to that in the SOD1(G93A) model muscle. A specific mitochondrial fission inhibitor (Mdivi-1) reversed the SOD1(G93A) action on mitochondrial dynamics, indicating SOD1(G93A) likely promotes mitochondrial fission process. Our results suggest that accumulation of mutant SOD1(G93A) inside mitochondria, depolarization of mitochondrial membrane potential and abnormal mitochondrial dynamics are causally linked and cause intrinsic muscle pathology, which occurs early in the course of ALS and may actively promote ALS progression.
    PLoS ONE 12/2013; 8(12):e82112. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0082112 · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2013; 104(2):659-. DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2012.11.3637 · 3.83 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2013; 104(2):659-. DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2012.11.3636 · 3.83 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2013; 104(2):289-. DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2012.11.1618 · 3.83 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2012; 102(3):362-. DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2011.11.1978 · 3.83 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2012; 102(3):362-. DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2011.11.1979 · 3.83 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2012; 102(3):166-. DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2011.11.900 · 3.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Current fluorescent monitors of free [Ca(2+)] in the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) of skeletal muscle cells are of limited quantitative value. They provide either a nonratio signal that is difficult to calibrate and is not specific or, in the case of Forster resonant energy transfer (FRET) biosensors, a signal of small dynamic range, which may be degraded further by imperfect targeting and interference from endogenous ligands of calsequestrin. We describe a novel tool that uses the cameleon D4cpv, which has a greater dynamic range and lower susceptibility to endogenous ligands than earlier cameleons. D4cpv was targeted to the SR by fusion with the cDNA of calsequestrin 1 or a variant that binds less Ca(2+). "D4cpv-Casq1," expressed in adult mouse at concentrations up to 22 µmole/liter of muscle cell, displayed the accurate targeting of calsequestrin and stayed inside cells after permeabilization of surface and t system membranes, which confirmed its strict targeting. FRET ratio changes of D4cpv-Casq1 were calibrated inside cells, with an effective K(D) of 222 µM and a dynamic range [(R(max) - R(min))/R(min)] of 2.5, which are improvements over comparable sensors. Both the maximal ratio, R(max), and its resting value were slightly lower in areas of high expression, a variation that was inversely correlated to distance from the sites of protein synthesis. The average [Ca(2+)](SR) in 74 viable cells at rest was 416 µM. The distribution of individual ratio values was Gaussian, but that of the calculated [Ca(2+)](SR) was skewed, with a tail of very large values, up to 6 mM. Model calculations reproduce this skewness as the consequence of quantifiably small variations in biosensor performance. Local variability, a perceived weakness of biosensors, thus becomes quantifiable. It is demonstrably small in D4cpv. D4cpv-Casq1 therefore provides substantial improvements in sensitivity, specificity, and reproducibility over existing monitors of SR free Ca(2+) concentration.
    The Journal of General Physiology 08/2011; 138(2):211-29. DOI:10.1085/jgp.201010591 · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The mechanisms that terminate Ca(2+) release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum are not fully understood. D4cpv-Casq1 (Sztretye et al. 2011. J. Gen. Physiol. doi:10.1085/jgp.201010591) was used in mouse skeletal muscle cells under voltage clamp to measure free Ca(2+) concentration inside the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR), [Ca(2+)](SR), simultaneously with that in the cytosol, [Ca(2+)](c), during the response to long-lasting depolarization of the plasma membrane. The ratio of Ca(2+) release flux (derived from [Ca(2+)](c)(t)) over the gradient that drives it (essentially equal to [Ca(2+)](SR)) provided directly, for the first time, a dynamic measure of the permeability to Ca(2+) of the releasing SR membrane. During maximal depolarization, flux rapidly rises to a peak and then decays. Before 0.5 s, [Ca(2+)](SR) stabilized at ∼35% of its resting level; depletion was therefore incomplete. By 0.4 s of depolarization, the measured permeability decayed to ∼10% of maximum, indicating ryanodine receptor channel closure. Inactivation of the t tubule voltage sensor was immeasurably small by this time and thus not a significant factor in channel closure. In cells of mice null for Casq1, permeability did not decrease in the same way, indicating that calsequestrin (Casq) is essential in the mechanism of channel closure and termination of Ca(2+) release. The absence of this mechanism explains why the total amount of calcium releasable by depolarization is not greatly reduced in Casq-null muscle (Royer et al. 2010. J. Gen. Physiol. doi:10.1085/jgp.201010454). When the fast buffer BAPTA was introduced in the cytosol, release flux became more intense, and the SR emptied earlier. The consequent reduction in permeability accelerated as well, reaching comparable decay at earlier times but comparable levels of depletion. This observation indicates that [Ca(2+)](SR), sensed by Casq and transmitted to the channels presumably via connecting proteins, is determinant to cause the closure that terminates Ca(2+) release.
    The Journal of General Physiology 08/2011; 138(2):231-47. DOI:10.1085/jgp.201010592 · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Defective coupling between sarcoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria during control of intracellular Ca(2+) signaling has been implicated in the progression of neuromuscular diseases. Our previous study showed that skeletal muscles derived from an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) mouse model displayed segmental loss of mitochondrial function that was coupled with elevated and uncontrolled sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+) release activity. The localized mitochondrial defect in the ALS muscle allows for examination of the mitochondrial contribution to Ca(2+) removal during excitation-contraction coupling by comparing Ca(2+) transients in regions with normal and defective mitochondria in the same muscle fiber. Here we show that Ca(2+) transients elicited by membrane depolarization in fiber segments with defective mitochondria display an ~10% increased amplitude. These regional differences in Ca(2+) transients were abolished by the application of 1,2-bis(O-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid, a fast Ca(2+) chelator that reduces mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake. Using a mitochondria-targeted Ca(2+) biosensor (mt11-YC3.6) expressed in ALS muscle fibers, we monitored the dynamic change of mitochondrial Ca(2+) levels during voltage-induced Ca(2+) release and detected a reduced Ca(2+) uptake by mitochondria in the fiber segment with defective mitochondria, which mirrored the elevated Ca(2+) transients in the cytosol. Our study constitutes a direct demonstration of the importance of mitochondria in shaping the cytosolic Ca(2+) signaling in skeletal muscle during excitation-contraction coupling and establishes that malfunction of this mechanism may contribute to neuromuscular degeneration in ALS.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 07/2011; 286(37):32436-43. DOI:10.1074/jbc.M110.217711 · 4.60 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 02/2011; 100(3). DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2010.12.441 · 3.83 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 02/2011; 100(3). DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2010.12.3421 · 3.83 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2010; 98(3). DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2009.12.1600 · 3.83 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2010; 98(3). DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2009.12.1604 · 3.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neuromuscular disorder characterized by degeneration of motor neurons and atrophy of skeletal muscle. Mutations in the superoxide dismutase (SOD1) gene are linked to 20% cases of inherited ALS. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in the pathogenic process, but how it contributes to muscle degeneration of ALS is not known. Here we identify a specific deficit in the cellular physiology of skeletal muscle derived from an ALS mouse model (G93A) with transgenic overexpression of the human SOD1(G93A) mutant. The G93A skeletal muscle fibers display localized loss of mitochondrial inner membrane potential in fiber segments near the neuromuscular junction. These defects occur in young G93A mice prior to disease onset. Fiber segments with depolarized mitochondria show greater osmotic stress-induced Ca(2+) release activity, which can include propagating Ca(2+) waves. These Ca(2+) waves are confined to regions of depolarized mitochondria and stop propagating shortly upon entering the regions of normal, polarized mitochondria. Uncoupling of mitochondrial membrane potential with FCCP or inhibition of mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake by Ru360 lead to cell-wide propagation of such Ca(2+) release events. Our data reveal that mitochondria regulate Ca(2+) signaling in skeletal muscle, and loss of this capacity may contribute to the progression of muscle atrophy in ALS.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 11/2009; 285(1):705-12. DOI:10.1074/jbc.M109.041319 · 4.60 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 02/2009; 96(3). DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2008.12.2793 · 3.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Stimuli are translated to intracellular calcium signals via opening of inositol trisphosphate receptor and ryanodine receptor (RyR) channels of the sarcoplasmic reticulum or endoplasmic reticulum. In cardiac and skeletal muscle of amphibians the stimulus is depolarization of the transverse tubular membrane, transduced by voltage sensors at tubular-sarcoplasmic reticulum junctions, and the unit signal is the Ca(2+) spark, caused by concerted opening of multiple RyR channels. Mammalian muscles instead lose postnatally the ability to produce sparks, and they also lose RyR3, an isoform abundant in spark-producing skeletal muscles. What does it take for cells to respond to membrane depolarization with Ca(2+) sparks? To answer this question we made skeletal muscles of adult mice expressing exogenous RyR3, demonstrated as immunoreactivity at triad junctions. These muscles showed abundant sparks upon depolarization. Sparks produced thusly were found to amplify the response to depolarization in a manner characteristic of Ca(2+)-induced Ca(2+) release processes. The amplification was particularly effective in responses to brief depolarizations, as in action potentials. We also induced expression of exogenous RyR1 or yellow fluorescent protein-tagged RyR1 in muscles of adult mice. In these, tag fluorescence was present at triad junctions. RyR1-transfected muscle lacked voltage-operated sparks. Therefore, the voltage-operated sparks phenotype is specific to the RyR3 isoform. Because RyR3 does not contact voltage sensors, their opening was probably activated by Ca(2+), secondarily to Ca(2+) release through junctional RyR1. Physiologically voltage-controlled Ca(2+) sparks thus require a voltage sensor, a master junctional RyR1 channel that provides trigger Ca(2+), and a slave parajunctional RyR3 cohort.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2007; 104(12):5235-40. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0700748104 · 9.81 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

379 Citations
108.15 Total Impact Points


  • 2015
    • University of Missouri - Kansas City
      Kansas City, Missouri, United States
  • 1998–2015
    • Rush University Medical Center
      • Division of Molecular Biophysics and Physiology
      Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • 2013
    • Thomas Jefferson University
      Filadelfia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 2006
    • Vanderbilt University
      • Department of Medicine
      Nashville, Michigan, United States