Li Foong Yoong

National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

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Publications (7)25.03 Total impact

  • Li Foong Yoong, Guoqiang Wan, Heng-Phon Too
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    ABSTRACT: Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) transduces signal and promotes neurite outgrowths in diverse neurons through the interactions of GDNF family receptor alpha 1 (GFRalpha1) and other co-receptors including Ret receptor tyrosine kinase and NCAM. GFRalpha1 is alternatively spliced into two isoforms, GFRalpha1a and GFRalpha1b, with five amino acids difference. In this study, we found that both GFRalpha1a and GFRalpha1b were expressed in various human tissues. Interestingly, when stimulated with GDNF, GFRalpha1a but not GFRalpha1b promoted neurite outgrowth in neuroblastoma cells through the activations of ERK1/2, Rac1 and Cdc42. Remarkably, in cells co-expressing GFRalpha1a and GFRalpha1b, GDNF inhibited neurite outgrowths. The inhibitory activity of GFRalpha1b was dependent on RhoA and ROCK activation. Furthermore, GFRalpha1b but not GFRalpha1a activated Rho and various ROCK downstream effectors LIMK1/2, cofilin and MLC2. This study demonstrates the hitherto unrecognized roles of GFRalpha1 isoforms in the activation of distinct signaling pathways and in neurite outgrowths.
    Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience 09/2009; 41(4):464-73. · 3.84 Impact Factor
  • Li Foong Yoong, Heng-Phon Too
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    ABSTRACT: The glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and neurturin (NTN) belong to a structurally related family of neurotrophic factors. NTN exerts its effect through a multicomponent receptor system consisting of the GDNF family receptor alpha2 (GFR alpha2), RET, and/or NCAM (neural cell adhesion molecule). GFR alpha2 is alternatively spliced into at least three isoforms (GFR alpha2a, GFR alpha2b, and GFR alpha2c). It is currently unknown whether these isoforms share similar functional and biochemical properties. Using highly specific and sensitive quantitative real-time PCR, these isoforms were found to be expressed at comparable levels in various regions of the human brain. When stimulated with GDNF and NTN, both GFR alpha2a and GFR alpha2c, but not GFR alpha2b, promoted neurite outgrowth in transfected Neuro2A cells. These isoforms showed ligand selectivity in MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) [ERK1/2 (extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2)] and Akt signaling. In addition, the GFR alpha2 isoforms regulated different early-response genes when stimulated with GDNF or NTN. In coexpression studies, GFR alpha2b was found to inhibit ligand-induced neurite outgrowth by GFR alpha2a and GFR alpha2c. Stimulation of GFR alpha2b also inhibited the neurite outgrowth induced by GFR alpha1a, another member of the GFR alpha. Furthermore, activation of GFR alpha2b inhibited neurite outgrowth induced by retinoic acid and activated RhoA. Together, these data suggest a novel paradigm for the regulation of growth factor signaling and neurite outgrowth via an inhibitory splice variant of the receptor. Thus, depending on the expressions of specific GFR alpha2 receptor spliced isoforms, GDNF and NTN may promote or inhibit neurite outgrowth through the multicomponent receptor complex.
    Journal of Neuroscience 06/2007; 27(21):5603-14. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: One major measurement of tissue-engineered constructs efficacy and performance is determining expression levels of genes of interest at the molecular level. This measurement is commonly carried out with reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). In this study, we described a novel method in achieving absolute quantification of gene expression using real-time PCR (aqPCR). This novel method did not require molecular cloning steps to prepare the standards for quantification comparison. Standards were linear double-stranded DNA molecules instead of the typical gene-in-plasmid format. aqPCR could also be used to give relative quantification comparisons between samples simply by dividing the copy numbers readings of the gene of interest with that of the normalization gene. RNA was extracted from monolayer and from polycaprolactone scaffold cultures and assayed for beta-actin and osteocalcin genes. We compared our aqPCR method with end-point PCR since end-point PCR is still a common means of measuring gene expression in the biomaterials field. This study showed that aqPCR was a better method to quantify gene expression than end-point PCR. With our described linear DNA standards method, we were able to obtain not only relative quantification of osteocalcin and beta-actin expression level but also actual copy numbers of osteocalcin and beta-actin for the monolayer culture and to be 1.34 x 10(4) and 1.45 x 10(7) copies, respectively and for the scaffold cultures to be 772 and 2.83 x 10(5) copies, respectively per starting total RNA mass of 10 ng. The standards curves made from these linear DNA standards showed good linearity (R(2)=0.9964 and 0.9902 for osteocalcin and beta-actin standards graphs), ranged from 10 to 10(9) copies and of comparable accuracy to current absolute quantification real-time PCR methods (which used plasmid standards obtained through molecular cloning methods). Our method might be a viable and more user-friendly alternative to current absolute quantification real-time PCR protocols.
    Biomaterials 02/2007; 28(2):203-10. · 8.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cited By (since 1996): 18, Export Date: 27 September 2011, Source: Scopus
    Biomaterials. 01/2007; 28:203-210.
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    Li Foong Yoong, Guoqiang Wan, Heng-Phon Too
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    ABSTRACT: Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and neurturin (NTN) are structurally related neurotrophic factors that have both been shown to prevent the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in vitro and in vivo. NTN and GDNF are thought to bind with different affinities to the GDNF family receptor alpha-2 (GFRalpha2), and can activate the same multi-component receptor system consisting of GFRalpha2, receptor tyrosine kinase Ret (RET) and NCAM. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of short, non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression through translational repression or RNA degradation. miRNAs have diverse functions, including regulating differentiation, proliferation and apoptosis in several organisms. It is currently unknown whether GDNF and NTN regulate the expression of miRNAs through activation of the same multi-component receptor system. Using quantitative real-time PCR, we measured the expression of some miRNA precursors in human BE(2)-C cells that express GFRalpha2 but not GFRalpha1. GDNF and NTN differentially regulate the expression of distinct miRNA precursors through the activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2). This study showed that the expression of distinct miRNA precursors is differentially regulated by specific ligands through the activation of GFRalpha2.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 09/2006; 98(4):1149-58. · 3.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Glial-cell-line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) exerts its effect through a multi-component receptor system consisting of GFRalpha1, RET and NCAM. Two highly homologous alternatively spliced GFRalpha1 isoforms (GFRalpha1a and GFRalpha1b) have previously been identified. In this study, isoform specific real-time PCR assays were used to quantify the expression levels of GFRalpha1, RET and NCAM isoforms in murine embryonic and adult tissues. The expression levels of GFRalpha1b were found to be comparable to that of GFRalpha1a in peripheral tissues. However, GFRalpha1a was the predominant isoform expressed in the whole brain. The co-expressions of GFRalpha1 and the co-receptors were developmentally regulated and differentially expressed in some tissues. Microarray analyses of GFRalpha1 isoforms transfected cells stimulated with NTN showed distinct and non-overlapping gene profiles. These observations are consistent with the emerging view that the combinatorial interactions of the spliced isoforms of GFRalpha, RET and NCAM may contribute to the pleiotropic biological responses.
    Molecular Brain Research 10/2005; 139(1):1-12. · 2.00 Impact Factor
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    Li Foong Yoong, Heng-Phon Too
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    ABSTRACT: The glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and neurturin (NTN) belong to a structurally related family of neurotrophic factors. NTN exerts its effect through a multi-component receptor system consisting of the GDNF family receptor alpha 2 (GFRα2), proto-oncogene RET and/or NCAM. GFRα2 is spliced into at least three isoforms, GFRα2a, GFRα2b and GFRα2c. The present study investigated the expression and functional differences of GFRα2 isoforms. These receptor isoforms are differentially expressed in specific human brain regions. Using Neuro2A model, GDNF and NTN promote neurite outgrowth via GFRα2a and GFRα2c, but not GFRα2b. These GFRα2 isoforms regulate different early response genes when stimulated with GDNF and NTN. Interestingly, using co-expression models, GFRα2b inhibits ligand induced neurites outgrowth of GFRα2a and GFRα2c, and also the related receptor, GFRα1a. More intriguingly, ligands activated GFRα2b was also able to attenuate neurite extension induced by an unrelated stimulation using retinoic acid. MAPK activation induced by GDNF was not attenuated by GFRα2b in a co-expression model, while the early response genes expression profile (up-regulation of FosB) was similar to that induced by GFRα2b alone. This study suggest that GFRα2b is not merely a dominant negative isoform, but signals through a yet to be determined mechanism to antagonize and inhibit neuritogenesis. Together, these data suggest a new paradigm for the regulation of growth factor signaling and neurite outgrowth via an inhibitory splice variant of the receptor. Singapore-MIT Alliance (SMA)