Hong-Jun Kang

Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

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Publications (12)42.38 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: EWS (Ewing sarcoma) encodes an RNA/ssDNA binding protein that is frequently rearranged in a number of different cancers by chromosomal translocations. Physiologically, EWS has diverse and essential roles in various organ development and cellular processes. In this study, we uncovered a new role of EWS in mitochondrial homeostasis and energy metabolism. Loss of EWS leads to a significant decrease in mitochondria abundance and activity, which is caused by a rapid degradation of Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ Coactivator (PGC-1α), a central regulator of mitochondria biogenesis, function, and cellular energy metabolism. EWS inactivation leads to increased ubiquitination and proteolysis of PGC-1α via proteasome pathway. Complementation of EWS in Ews-deficient cells restores PGC-1α and mitochondrial abundance. We found that expression of E3 ubiquitin ligase, FBXW7 (F-box/WD40 domain protein 7), is increased in the absence of Ews and depletion of Fbxw7 in Ews-null cells restores PGC-1α expression and mitochondrial density. Consistent with these findings, mitochondrial abundance and activity are significantly reduced in brown fat and skeletal muscles of Ews-deficient mice. Furthermore, expression of mitochondrial biogenesis, respiration and fatty acid β-oxidation genes is significantly reduced in the liver of Ews-null mice. These results demonstrate a novel role of EWS in mitochondrial and cellular energy homeostasis by controlling PGC-1α protein stability, and further implicate altered mitochondrial and energy metabolism in cancers harboring the EWS translocation.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2015; 112(19). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1504391112 · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The oncogenic fusion gene EWS-WT1 is the defining chromosomal translocation in desmoplastic small round cell tumors (DSRCT), a rare but aggressive soft tissue sarcoma with a high rate of mortality. EWS-WT1 functions as an aberrant transcription factor that drives tumorigenesis, but the mechanistic basis for its pathogenic activity is not well understood. To address this question, we created a transgenic mouse strain that permits physiologic expression of EWS-WT1 under the native murine Ews promoter. EWS-WT1 expression led to a dramatic induction of many neuronal genes in embryonic fibroblasts and primary DSRCT, most notably the neural reprogramming factor ASCL1. Mechanistic analyses demonstrated that EWS-WT1 directly bound the proximal promoter of ASCL1, activating its transcription through multiple WT1-responsive elements. Conversely, EWS-WT1 silencing in DSRCT cells reduced ASCL1 expression and cell viability. Notably, exposure of DSRCT cells to neuronal induction media increased neural gene expression and induced neurite-like projections, both of which were abrogated by silencing EWS-WT1. Taken together, our findings reveal that EWS-WT1 can activate neural gene expression and direct partial neural differentiation via ASCL1, suggesting agents that promote neural differentiation might offer a novel therapeutic approach to treat DSRCT.
    Cancer Research 06/2014; 74(16). DOI:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-13-3663 · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The oncogenic fusion gene EWS-WT1 is the defining chromosomal translocation in desmoplastic small round cell tumors (DSRCT), a rare but aggressive soft tissue sarcoma with a high rate of mortality. EWS-WT1 functions as an aberrant transcription factor that drives tumorigenesis, but the mechanistic basis for its pathogenic activity is not well understood. To address this question, we created a transgenic mouse strain that permits physiologic expression of EWS-WT1 under the native murine Ews promoter. EWS-WT1 expression led to a dramatic induction of many neuronal genes in embryonic fibroblasts and primary DSRCT, most notably the neural reprogramming factor ASCL1. Mechanistic analyses demonstrated that EWS-WT1 directly bound the proximal promoter of ASCL1, activating its transcription through multiple WT1-responsive elements. Conversely, EWS-WT1 silencing in DSRCT cells reduced ASCL1 expression and cell viability. Notably, exposure of DSRCT cells to neuronal induction media increased neural gene expression and induced neurite-like projections, both of which were abrogated by silencing EWS-WT1. Taken together, our findings reveal that EWS-WT1 can activate neural gene expression and direct partial neural differentiation via ASCL1, suggesting agents that promote neural differentiation might offer a novel therapeutic approach to treat DSRCT.
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    ABSTRACT: Although p21(WAF1/CIP1) is known to be elevated during replicative senescence of human embryonic fibroblasts (HEFs), the mechanism for p21 up-regulation has not been elucidated clearly. In order to explore the mechanism, we analyzed expression of p21 mRNA and protein and luciferase activity of full-length p21 promoter. The result demonstrated that p21 up-regulation was accomplished largely at transcription level. The promoter assay using serially-deleted p21 promoter constructs revealed that p53 binding site was the most important site and Sp1 binding sites were necessary but not sufficient for transcriptional activation of p21. In addition, p53 protein was shown to interact with Sp1 protein. The interaction was increased in aged fibroblasts and was regulated by phosphorylation of p53 and Sp1. DNA binding activity of p53 was significantly elevated in aged fibroblasts but that of Sp1 was not. DNA binding activities of p53 and Sp1 were also regulated by phosphorylation. Phosphorylation of p53 at serine-15 and of Sp1 at serines appears to be involved. Taken together, the result demonstrated that p21 transcription during replicative senescence of HEFs is up-regulated by increase in DNA binding activity and interaction between p53 and Sp1 via phosphorylation.
    Molecular Biology Reports 01/2014; 41(4). DOI:10.1007/s11033-014-3094-9 · 1.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Progesterone has a potential protective effect against ovarian carcinoma induced by estrogen. Progesterone is also known to cause apoptosis while tamoxifen induces growth arrest. Therefore, we attempted to determine whether combined treatment with progesterone and tamoxifen has a synergistic effect on anti-cancer activity. Although progesterone is known to cause apoptosis while tamoxifen induces growth arrest in many cancer cells, the detailed action of progesterone and tamoxifen and the anticancer effect of combined treatment have not been tested in ovarian cancer cells. Therefore, we tested the growth and apoptosis activity of progesterone and tamoxifen and the anticancer effect of combined treatment of progesterone and tamoxifen in ovarian cancer cells. Ovarian cancer cells, PA-1, were treated with progesterone, tamoxifen, or a combination of progesterone and tamoxifen. The anti-cancer effects were investigated by use of flow cytometry, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay, DNA fragmentation analysis, and Western blot analysis. We found that 100 µM progesterone induced typical apoptosis in PA-1 cells. Treatment of PA-1 cells with 10 µM tamoxifen resulted in an increase in the levels of p21, p27, p16 and phospho-pRb, indicating typical G1 arrest. Co-treatment of PA-1 cells with 100 µM progesterone and 10 µM tamoxifen resulted in typical apoptosis, similar to that induced by treatment with 100 µM progesterone alone. These results indicate that progesterone caused apoptosis and tamoxifen induced G1 arrest. Combined treatment with tamoxifen and progesterone caused apoptosis similar to that induced by treatment with progesterone alone and had no additional anti-cancer effect in ovarian cancer cells.
    Oncology Reports 09/2011; 27(1):87-93. DOI:10.3892/or.2011.1460 · 2.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Since the detailed comparison of DNA repair activities among mammalian embryonic fibroblast cells with different replicative life spans has not been investigated, we tested DNA repair activities in embryonic fibroblast cells derived from mammals including human, dog, rat, and mouse. The cell viability after treatment of four DNA damage agents appeared to be decreased in the order of human embryonic fibroblasts (HEFs) > dog embryonic fibroblasts (DEFs) > rat embryonic fibroblasts (REFs) > mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) although statistical significance was lacking. The amounts of strand breaks and AP (apurinic/apyrimidinic) sites also appear to be decreased in the order of HEFs > DEFs > REFs ≥ MEFs after treatment of DNA damage agents. The DNA repair activities and rates including base excision repair (BER), nucleotide excision repair (NER) and double-strand break repair (DSBR) including non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) decreased again in the order of HEFs > DEFs > REFs ≥ MEFs. BER and NHEJ activities in 3% O(2) also decreased in the order of HEFs > DEFs > REFs > MEFs. This order in DNA repair activity appears to be coincident with that of replicative life span of fibroblasts and that of life span of mammals. These results indicate that higher DNA repair activity is related with longer replicative life span in embryonic fibroblast cells.
    Biogerontology 08/2011; 12(6):565-79. DOI:10.1007/s10522-011-9355-2 · 3.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Even though CR has shown to enhance base excision repair (BER) and nucleotide excision repair (NER) capacities, it has not been reported whether CR can enhance non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) activity. To examine the effect of CR on NHEJ activity, ad libitum (AL)- and calorie restricted (CR)-dieted rats were used. Age-dependent decline of NHEJ activity was apparent in the lung, liver, and kidney and appeared to be slightly decreased in spleen. CR reduced age-dependent decline of NHEJ activity in all tissues, even though the extent of recovery was variable among tissues. Moreover, CR appeared to reduce age-dependent decline of XRCC4 protein level. These results suggest that CR could reduce age-dependent decline of NHEJ activity in various tissues of rats possibly through up-regulation of XRCC4.
    Experimental gerontology 07/2011; 46(11):891-6. DOI:10.1016/j.exger.2011.07.009 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter in the human central nervous system and also plays a key role in the development of postnatal brains. We previously reported that nicotinamide, a SIRT1 inhibitor, regulates tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) expression in vitro. To investigate the effect of nicotinamide-mediated TH regulation in vivo, nicotinamide was chronically injected into neonatal mice. Interestingly, nicotinamide-treated mice were smaller in size, and their locomotor activity was reduced. L-DOPA treatment caused hypersensitive locomotor activity that indicates a dopamine-depleted state. These changes seemed to be associated with dopamine metabolism in hypothalamus, since dopamine in hypothalamus was reduced but not in striatum. The present study suggests that the regulation of dopamine metabolism during the postnatal development is important and the underlying molecular mechanisms may be associated with SIRT1 signaling.
    Neuroscience Letters 07/2009; 461(2):163-6. DOI:10.1016/j.neulet.2009.06.005 · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To examine the function of SIRT1 in neuronal differentiation, we employed all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA)-induced differentiation of neuroblastoma cells. Nicotinamide inhibited neurite outgrowth and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) expression. Inhibition of PARP or histone deacetylase did not inhibit TH expression, showing the effect to be SIRT1 specific. Expression of FOXO3a and its target proteins were increased during the differentiation and reduced by nicotinamide. FOXO3a deacetylation was increased by ATRA and blocked by nicotinamide. SIRT1 and FOXO3a siRNA inhibited ATRA-induced up-regulation of TH and differentiation. Taken together, these results indicate that SIRT1 is involved in ATRA-induced differentiation of neuroblastoma cells via FOXO3a.
    FEBS letters 05/2009; 583(7):1183-8. DOI:10.1016/j.febslet.2009.03.007 · 3.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ascorbic acid has been reported to extend replicative life span of human embryonic fibroblast (HEF). Since the detailed molecular mechanism of this phenomenon has not been investigated, we attempted to elucidate. Continuous treatment of HEF cells with ascorbic acid (at 200 microM) from 40 population doubling (PD) increased maximum PD numbers by 18% and lowered SA-beta-gal positive staining, an aging marker, by 2.3 folds, indicating that ascorbic acid extends replicative life span of HEF cells. Ascorbic acid treatment lowered DCFH by about 7 folds and Rho123 by about 70%, suggesting that ascorbic acid dramatically decreased ROS formation. Ascorbic acid also increased aconitase activity, a marker of mitochondrial aging, by 41%, indicating that ascorbic acid treatment restores age-related decline of mitochondrial function. Cell cycle analysis by flow cytometry revealed that ascorbic acid treatment decreased G1 population up to 12%. Further western blot analysis showed that ascorbic acid treatment decreased levels of p53, phospho-p53 at ser 15, and p21, indicating that ascorbic acid relieved senescence-related G1 arrest. Analysis of AP (apurinic/apyrimidinic) sites showed that ascorbic acid treatment decreased AP site formation by 35%. We also tested the effect of hydrogen peroxide treatment, as an additional oxidative stress. Continuous treatment of 20 microM of hydrogen peroxide from PD 40 of HEF cells resulted in premature senescence due to increased ROS level, and increased AP sites. Taken together, the results suggest that ascorbic acid extends replicative life span of HEF cells by reducing mitochondrial and DNA damages through lowering cellular ROS.
    Nutrition research and practice 06/2007; 1(2):105-12. DOI:10.4162/nrp.2007.1.2.105 · 1.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To elucidate mechanism of cell death in response to hypoxia, we attempted to compare hypoxia-induced cell death of HepG2 cells with cisplatin-induced cell death, which has been well characterized as a typical apoptosis. Cell death induced by hypoxia turned out to be different from cisplatin-mediated apoptosis in cell viability and cleavage patterns of caspases. Hypoxia-induced cell death was not associated with the activation of p53 while cisplatin-induced apoptosis is p53 dependent. In order to explain these differences, we tested involvement of micro-calpain and m-calpain in hypoxia-induced cell death. Calpains, especially micro-calpain, were initially cleaved by hypoxia, but not by cisplatin. Interestingly, the treatment of a calpain inhibitor restored PARP cleavage that was absent during hypoxia, indicating the recovery of activated caspase-3. The inhibition of calpains prevented proteolysis induced by hypoxia. In addition, hypoxia resulted in a necrosis-like morphology while cisplatin induced an apoptotic morphology. The calpain inhibitor prevented necrotic morphology induced by hypoxia and converted partially to apoptotic morphology with nuclear segmentation. Our result suggests that calpains are involved in hypoxia-induced cell death that is likely to be necrotic in nature and the inhibition of calpain switches hypoxia-induced cell death to apoptotic cell death without affecting cell viability.
    APOPTOSIS 05/2007; 12(4):707-18. DOI:10.1007/s10495-006-0002-3 · 3.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Primary neuronal culture is a powerful tool to study neuronal development, aging, and degeneration. However, cultured neurons show signs of cell death after 2 or 3 weeks. Although the mechanism underlying this phenomenon has not been elucidated, several preventive methods have been identified. Here we show that the neuronal loss in primary cortical culture involves calpain activation and subsequent neuronal cell death. Neuronal loss during cultivation showed destruction of neurites and synapses, and a decrease in neuron numbers. mu-Calpain and m-calpain were initially activated and accumulated by increased RNA expression. This neuronal death exhibited neurodegenerative features, such as conversion of p35 to p25, which is important in the developmental process and in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. But, postnatal and aged rat cortex did not show calpain activation and prolonged processing of p35 to p25, in contrast to the long-term culture of cortical neurons. In addition, the inhibition of calpains by ALLM or ALLN blocked the conversion of p35 to p25, indicating that the calpain activity is essential for the neurodegenerative features of cell death. Taken together, this study shows that the neuronal loss in primary cortical cultures involves neurodegeneration-like cell death through the activation of calpains and the subsequent processing of p35 to p25, but not developmental apoptosis or aging. Our results suggest that the long term primary culture of cortical neurons represent a valuable model of neurodegeneration, such as Alzheimer's disease.
    Experimental and Molecular Medicine 03/2007; 39(1):14-26. DOI:10.1038/emm.2007.3 · 2.46 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

77 Citations
42.38 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2014–2015
    • Tulane University
      • Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
      New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
  • 2011
    • Pusan National University
      Tsau-liang-hai, Busan, South Korea
    • National Institutes of Health
      • Branch of Genetic Disease Research
      Maryland, United States
  • 2007–2009
    • Hallym University
      • College of Medicine
      Sŏul, Seoul, South Korea