Lukasz J Bugaj

University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California, United States

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Publications (11)83.23 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Stem cell function declines with age largely due to the biochemical imbalances in their tissue niches, and this work demonstrates that aging imposes an elevation in transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) signaling in the neurogenic niche of the hippocampus, analogous to the previously demonstrated changes in the myogenic niche of skeletal muscle with age. Exploring the hypothesis that youthful calibration of key signaling pathways may enhance regeneration of multiple old tissues, we found that systemically attenuating TGF-β signaling with a single drug simultaneously enhanced neurogenesis and muscle regeneration in the same old mice, findings further substantiated via genetic perturbations. At the levels of cellular mechanism, our results establish that the age-specific increase in TGF-β1 in the stem cell niches of aged hippocampus involves microglia and that such an increase is pro-inflammatory both in brain and muscle, as assayed by the elevated expression of β2 microglobulin (B2M), a component of MHC class I molecules. These findings suggest that at high levels typical of aged tissues, TGF-β1 promotes inflammation instead of its canonical role in attenuating immune responses. In agreement with this conclusion, inhibition of TGF-β1 signaling normalized B2M to young levels in both studied tissues.
    Oncotarget 05/2015; · 6.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Transmembrane receptors are the predominant conduit through which cells sense and transduce extracellular information into intracellular biochemical signals. Current methods to control and study receptor function, however, suffer from poor resolution in space and time and often employ receptor overexpression, which can introduce experimental artefacts. We report a genetically encoded approach, termed Clustering Indirectly using Cryptochrome 2 (CLICR), for spatiotemporal control over endogenous transmembrane receptor activation, enabled through the optical regulation of target receptor clustering and downstream signalling using noncovalent interactions with engineered Arabidopsis Cryptochrome 2 (Cry2). CLICR offers a modular platform to enable photocontrol of the clustering of diverse transmembrane receptors including fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR), platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) and integrins in multiple cell types including neural stem cells. Furthermore, light-inducible manipulation of endogenous receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) activity can modulate cell polarity and establish phototaxis in fibroblasts. The resulting spatiotemporal control over cellular signalling represents a powerful new optogenetic framework for investigating and controlling cell function and fate.
    Nature Communications 04/2015; 6:6898. DOI:10.1038/ncomms7898 · 10.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hippocampal neurogenesis, the product of resident neural stem cell proliferation and differentiation, persists into adulthood but decreases with organismal aging, which may contribute to the age-related decline in cognitive function. The mechanisms that underlie this decrease in neurogenesis are not well understood, though evidence in general indicates that extrinsic changes in an aged stem cell niche can contribute to functional decline in old stem cells. Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) family members are intercellular signaling proteins that regulate stem and progenitor cell quiescence, proliferation, and differentiation in various tissues and are likewise critical regulators of neurogenesis in young adults. Here, we establish that BMP signaling increases significantly in old murine hippocampi and inhibits neural progenitor cell proliferation. Furthermore, direct in vivo attenuation of BMP signaling via genetic and transgenic perturbations in aged mice led to elevated neural stem cell proliferation, and subsequent neurogenesis, in old hippocampi. Such advances in our understanding of mechanisms underlying decreased hippocampal neurogenesis with age may offer targets for the treatment of age-related cognitive decline. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. © 2014 AlphaMed Press.
    Stem Cells 12/2014; 33(5). DOI:10.1002/stem.1943 · 7.70 Impact Factor
  • 247th National Spring Meeting of the American-Chemical-Society (ACS); 03/2014
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    ABSTRACT: A genetically encoded optogenetic system was constructed that activates mRNA translation in mammalian cells in response to light. Blue light induces the reconstitution of an RNA binding domain and a translation initiation domain, thereby activating target mRNA translation downstream of the binding sites.
    Chemical Communications 08/2013; 49(75). DOI:10.1039/c3cc44866e · 6.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report an optogenetic method based on Arabidopsis thaliana cryptochrome 2 for rapid and reversible protein oligomerization in response to blue light. We demonstrated its utility by photoactivating the β-catenin pathway, achieving a transcriptional response higher than that obtained with the natural ligand Wnt3a. We also demonstrated the modularity of this approach by photoactivating RhoA with high spatiotemporal resolution, thereby suggesting a previously unknown mode of activation for this Rho GTPase.
    Nature Methods 02/2013; DOI:10.1038/nmeth.2360 · 25.95 Impact Factor
  • Lukasz J Bugaj, David V Schaffer
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    ABSTRACT: Recent advances in synthetic biology have created genetic tools with the potential to enhance the specificity, dynamic control, efficacy, and safety of medical treatments. Interfacing these genetic devices with human patients may thus bring about more efficient treatments or entirely new solutions to presently intractable maladies. Here we review engineered circuits with clinical potential and discuss their design, implementation, and validation.
    Current opinion in chemical biology 05/2012; 16(3-4):355-61. DOI:10.1016/j.cbpa.2012.04.009 · 7.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Arginase-II (Arg-II) reciprocally regulates nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and offsets basal myocardial contractility. Furthermore, decreased or absent myocardial NOS activity is associated with a depression in myocardial contractile reserve. We therefore hypothesized that upregulation of Arg-II might in part be responsible for depressed myocardial contractility associated with age. We studied arginase activity/expression, NOS expression, NO production in the presence and absence of the arginase inhibitor S-(2-boronoethyl)-L: -cysteine (BEC) in old (22 months) and young (3 months) rat hearts and myocytes. The spatial confinement of Arg-II and NOS was determined with immuno-electron-miocrographic (IEM) and immuno-histochemical studies. We tested the effect of BEC on the force frequency response (FFR) in myocytes, as well as NOS abundance and activity. Arginase activity and Arg-II expression was increased in old hearts (2.27 ± 0.542 vs. 0.439 ± 0.058 nmol urea/mg protein, p = 0.02). This was associated with a decrease in NO production, which was restored with BEC (4.54 ± 0.582 vs. 12.88 ± 0.432 μmol/mg, p < 0.01). IEM illustrates increased mitochondrial density in old myocytes (51.7 ± 1.8 vs. 69 ± 2.2 × 10(6)/cm(2), p < 0.01), potentially contributing to increased Arg-II abundance and activity. Immunohistochemistry revealed an organized pattern of mitochondria and Arg-II that appears disrupted in old myocytes. The FFR was significantly depressed in old myocytes (61.42 ± 16.04 vs. -5.15 ± 5.65%), while inhibition of Arg-II restored the FFR (-5.15 ± 5.65 vs. 70.98 ± 6.10%). NOS-2 is upregulated sixfold in old hearts contributing to increased production of reactive oxygen species which is attenuated with NOS-2 inhibition by 1400 W (4,735 ± 427 vs. 4,014 ± 314 RFU/min/mg protein, p = 0.005). Arg-II upregulation in aging rat hearts contributes to age-related decreased contractile function.
    Arbeitsphysiologie 12/2011; 112(8):2933-41. DOI:10.1007/s00421-011-2257-9 · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Emerging evidence suggests that nitric oxide (NO) plays a pivotal role in the mechanism of vascular hyporesponsiveness contributing to microgravity-induced orthostatic intolerance. The cellular and enzymatic source of the NO, however, remains controversial. In addition, the time course of the endothelial-dependent contribution remains unstudied. We tested the hypotheses that the change in vasoresponsiveness seen in acute (3-day) hindlimb unweighted (HLU) animals is due to an endothelium-dependent mechanism and that endothelial-dependent attenuation in vasoreactivity is due to endothelial nitric oxide synthase (NOS-3) dependent activation. Vasoreactivity was investigated in rat aortic rings following acute HLU treatment. Dose responsiveness to norepinepherine (NE) was depressed after 3-day HLU [1,338 +/- 54 vs. 2,325 +/- 58 mg at max (NE), HLU vs. C, P < 0.001]. However, removal of the endothelium restored the vascular contractility to that of C. In addition, 1H-oxadiazole quinoxalin-1-one (ODQ), a soluble guanylyl cyclase inhibitor, restored the reduced vasoconstrictor responses to phenylephrine (PE) seen in 3-day HLU rings (1.30 +/- 0.10 vs. 0.53 +/- 0.07 g, HLU + ODQ vs. HLU, P = 0.0001). Ca(+) dependent nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity was increased, as was vascular NO products as a result of HLU. While NOS-3 expression was not increased in HLU rats, phosphorylation of NOS-3 at serine-1177 (an activator of NOS-3) was increased while phosphorylation of serine-495 (an inactivator of NOS-3) was decreased. These findings demonstrate that changes in vasoresponsiveness in the acute HLU model of microgravity are due to an upregulation of the endothelial-dependent NO/cGMP pathway through NOS phosphorylation.
    Arbeitsphysiologie 09/2010; 110(2):395-404. DOI:10.1007/s00421-010-1514-7 · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There is increasing evidence that upregulation of arginase contributes to impaired endothelial function in aging. In this study, we demonstrate that arginase upregulation leads to endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) uncoupling and that in vivo chronic inhibition of arginase restores nitroso-redox balance, improves endothelial function, and increases vascular compliance in old rats. Arginase activity in old rats was significantly increased compared with that shown in young rats. Old rats had significantly lower nitric oxide (NO) and higher superoxide (O2(-)) production than young. Acute inhibition of both NOS, with N(G)-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester, and arginase, with 2S-amino- 6-boronohexanoic acid (ABH), significantly reduced O2(-) production in old rats but not in young. In addition, the ratio of eNOS dimer to monomer in old rats was significantly decreased compared with that shown in young rats. These results suggest that eNOS was uncoupled in old rats. Although the expression of arginase 1 and eNOS was similar in young and old rats, inducible NOS (iNOS) was significantly upregulated. Furthermore, S-nitrosylation of arginase 1 was significantly elevated in old rats. These findings support our previously published finding that iNOS nitrosylates and activates arginase 1 (Santhanam et al., Circ Res 101: 692-702, 2007). Chronic arginase inhibition in old rats preserved eNOS dimer-to-monomer ratio and significantly reduced O2(-) production and enhanced endothelial-dependent vasorelaxation to ACh. In addition, ABH significantly reduced vascular stiffness in old rats. These data indicate that iNOS-dependent S-nitrosylation of arginase 1 and the increase in arginase activity lead to eNOS uncoupling, contributing to the nitroso-redox imbalance, endothelial dysfunction, and vascular stiffness observed in vascular aging. We suggest that arginase is a viable target for therapy in age-dependent vascular stiffness.
    Journal of Applied Physiology 09/2009; 107(4):1249-57. DOI:10.1152/japplphysiol.91393.2008 · 3.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cardiac myocytes contain two constitutive NO synthase (NOS) isoforms with distinct spatial locations, which allows for isoform-specific regulation. One regulatory mechanism for NOS is substrate (l-arginine) bioavailability. We tested the hypothesis that arginase (Arg), which metabolizes l-arginine, constrains NOS activity in the cardiac myocyte in an isoform-specific manner. Arg activity was detected in both rat heart homogenates and isolated myocytes. Although both Arg I and II mRNA and protein were present in whole heart, Arg II alone was found in isolated myocytes. Arg inhibition with S-(2-boronoethyl)-l-cysteine (BEC) augmented Ca(2+)-dependent NOS activity and NO production in myocytes, which did not depend on extracellular l-arginine. Arg II coimmunoprecipited with NOS1 but not NOS3. Isolation of myocyte mitochondrial fractions in combination with immuno-electron microscopy demonstrates that Arg II is confined primarily to the mitochondria. Because NOS1 positively modulates myocardial contractility, we determined whether Arg inhibition would increase basal myocardial contractility. Consistent with our hypothesis, Arg inhibition increased basal contractility in isolated myocytes by a NOS-dependent mechanism. Both the Arg inhibitors N-hydroxy-nor-l-arginine and BEC dose-dependently increased basal contractility in rat myocytes, which was inhibited by both nonspecific and NOS1-specific NOS inhibitors N(G)-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester and S-methyl-l-thiocitrulline, respectively. Also, BEC increased contractility in isolated myocytes from WT and NOS3 but not NOS1 knockout mice. We conclude that mitochondrial Arg II negatively regulates NOS1 activity, most likely by limiting substrate availability in its microdomain. These findings have implications for therapy in pathophysiologic states such as aging and heart failure in which myocardial NO signaling is disrupted.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2006; 103(12):4759-64. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0506589103 · 9.81 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

203 Citations
83.23 Total Impact Points


  • 2012–2013
    • University of California, Berkeley
      • Department of Bioengineering
      Berkeley, California, United States
  • 2011
    • Johns Hopkins University
      • Department of Biomedical Engineering
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2006–2010
    • Johns Hopkins Medicine
      • • Department of Biomedical Engineering
      • • Institute for Cell Engineering
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States