Leonard R Johnson

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tennessee, United States

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Publications (55)

  • Ramesh M Ray · Mitul Bavaria · Leonard R Johnson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tissue polyamine levels are largely determined by the activity of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC, EC 4.1.17), which catalyzes the conversion of ornithine to the diamine putrescine. The activity of the enzyme is primarily regulated by a negative feedback mechanism involving ODC antizyme (AZ). Our previous studies demonstrated that AZ synthesis is stimulated by the absence of amino acids, the levels of which are sensed by the mTOR complex containing TORC1, which is stimulated by amino acids and inhibited by their absence, and TORC2 the function of which is not well defined. Polyamines, which cause a +1 ribosomal frameshift during the translation of AZ mRNA are required to increase AZ synthesis in both the presence and absence of amino acids. Amino acid starvation increases TORC2 activity. We have demonstrated that mTORC2 activity is necessary for AZ synthesis in the absence of amino acids. Tuberous sclerosis protein (TSC), a negative regulator of mTOR function regulates the activities of both the TORC1 and TORC2. TSC2 knockdown increased mTORC1 activity with concomitant inhibition of mTORC2 activity eliminating AZ induction in the absence of amino acids as well as that induced by spermidine. Thus, these results clearly demonstrate that in addition to polyamines, mTORC2 activity is necessary for AZ synthesis. Moreover, our results support a role for mTORC2 in the synthesis of a specific protein, AZ, which regulates growth of intestinal epithelial cells. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    Article · Jun 2015 · Cellular Signalling
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have previously demonstrated that the small molecule octadecenyl thiophosphate (OTP), a synthetic mimic of the growth factor-like mediator lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), showed radioprotective activity in a mouse model of total-body irradiation (TBI) when given orally or intraperitoneally 30 min before exposure to 9 Gy γ radiation. In the current study, we evaluated the effects of OTP, delivered subcutaneously, for radioprotection or radiomitigation from -24 h before to up to +72 h postirradiation using a mouse TBI model with therapeutic doses at around 1 mg/kg. OTP was injected at 10 mg/kg without observable toxic side effects in mice, providing a comfortable safety margin. Treatment of C57BL/6 mice with a single dose of OTP over the time period from -12 h before to +26 h after a lethal dose of TBI reduced mortality by 50%. When administered at +48 h to +72 h postirradiation (LD50/30 to LD100/30), OTP reduced mortality by ≥34%. OTP administered at +24 h postirradiation significantly elevated peripheral white blood cell and platelet counts, increased crypt survival in the jejunum, enhanced intestinal glucose absorption and reduced endotoxin seepage into the blood. In the 6.4-8.6 Gy TBI range using LD50/10 as the end point, OTP yielded a dose modification factor of 1.2. The current data indicate that OTP is a potent radioprotector and radiomitigator ameliorating the mortality and tissue injury of acute hematopoietic as well as acute gastrointestinal radiation syndrome.
    Full-text Article · Mar 2015 · Radiation Research
  • Ramesh M Ray · Sujoy Bhattacharya · Mitul N Bavaria · [...] · Leonard R Johnson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since antizyme (AZ) is known to inhibit cell proliferation and to increase apoptosis, the question arises as to whether these effects occur independently of polyamines. Intestinal epithelial cells (IEC-6) were grown in control medium and medium containing 5 mM difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) to inhibit ODC, DFMO + 5 µM spermidine (SPD), DFMO + 5 µM spermine (SPM), or DFMO + 10 µM putrescine (PUT) for 4 days and various parameters of growth were measured along with AZ levels. Cell counts were significantly decreased and mean doubling times were significantly increased by DFMO. Putrescine restored growth in the presence of DFMO. However, both SPD and SPM when added with DFMO caused a much greater inhibition of growth than did DFMO alone, and both of these polyamines caused a dramatic increase in AZ. The addition of SPD or SPM to media containing DFMO + PUT significantly inhibited growth and caused a significant increase in AZ. IEC-6 cells transfected with AZ-siRNA grew more than twice as rapidly as either control cells or those incubated with DFMO, indicating that removal of AZ increases growth in cells in which polyamine synthesis is inhibited as well as in control cells. In a separate experiment, the addition of SPD increased AZ levels and inhibited growth of cells incubated with DFMO by 50 %. The addition of 10 mM asparagine (ASN) prevented the increase in AZ and restored growth to control levels. These results show that cell growth in the presence or absence of ODC activity and in the presence or absence of polyamines depends only on the levels of AZ. Therefore, the effects of AZ on cell growth are independent of polyamines.
    Article · Jun 2014 · Amino Acids
  • Ramesh M Ray · Sujoy Bhattacharya · Mitul N Bavaria · [...] · Leonard R Johnson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although intracellular polyamine levels are highly regulated, it is unclear whether intracellular putrescine (PUT), spermidine (SPD), or spermine (SPM) levels act as a sensor to regulate their synthesis or uptake. Polyamines have been shown to induce AZ1 expression through a unique +1 frameshifting mechanism. However, under physiological conditions which particular polyamine induces AZ1, and thereby ODC activity, is unknown due to their inter-conversion. In this study we demonstrate that SPD regulates AZ1 expression under physiological conditions in IEC-6 cells. PUT and SPD showed potent induction of AZ1 within 4 h in serum-starved confluent cells grown in DMEM (control) medium. Unlike control cells, PUT failed to induce AZ1 in cells grown in DFMO containing medium; however, SPD caused a robust AZ1 induction in these cells. SPM showed very little effect on AZ1 expression in both the control and polyamine-depleted cells. Only SPD induced AZ1 when S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase (SAMDC) and/or ODC were inhibited. Surprisingly, addition of DENSpm along with DFMO restored AZ1 induction by putrescine in polyamine-depleted cells suggesting that the increased SSAT activity in response to DENSpm converted SPM to SPD, leading to the expression of AZ1. This study shows that intracellular SPD levels controls AZ1 synthesis.
    Article · May 2014 · Amino Acids
  • Mitul N Bavaria · Shi Jin · Ramesh M Ray · Leonard R Johnson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Polyamine-depletion inhibited apoptosis by activating ERK1/2, while, preventing JNK1/2 activation. MKP-1 knockdown by SiRNA increased ERK1/2, JNK1/2, and p38 phosphorylation and apoptosis. Therefore, we predicted that polyamines might regulate MKP1 via MEK/ERK and thereby apoptosis. We examined the role of MEK/ERK in the regulation of MKP1 and JNK, and p38 activities and apoptosis. Inhibition of MKP-1 activity with a pharmacological inhibitor, sanguinarine (SA), increased JNK1/2, p38, and ERK1/2 activities without causing apoptosis. However, pre-activation of these kinases by SA significantly increased camptothecin (CPT)-induced apoptosis suggesting different roles for MAPKs during survival and apoptosis. Inhibition of MEK1 activity prevented the expression of MKP-1 protein and augmented CPT-induced apoptosis, which correlated with increased activities of JNK1/2, caspases, and DNA fragmentation. Polyamine depleted cells had higher levels of MKP-1 protein and decreased JNK1/2 activity and apoptosis. Inhibition of MEK1 prevented MKP-1 expression and increased JNK1/2 and apoptosis. Phospho-JNK1/2, phospho-ERK2, MKP-1, and the catalytic subunit of PP2Ac formed a complex in response to TNF/CPT. Inactivation of PP2Ac had no effect on the association of MKP-1 and JNK1. However, inhibition of MKP-1 activity decreased the formation of the MKP-1, PP2Ac and JNK complex. Following inhibition by SA, MKP-1 localized in the cytoplasm, while basal and CPT-induced MKP-1 remained in the nuclear fraction. These results suggest that nuclear MKP-1 translocates to the cytoplasm, binds phosphorylated JNK and p38 resulting in dephosphorylation and decreased activity. Thus, MEK/ERK activity controls the levels of MKP-1 and, thereby, regulates JNK activity in polyamine-depleted cells.
    Article · Nov 2013 · Apoptosis
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    Sujoy Bhattacharya · Ramesh M Ray · Leonard R Johnson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Homeostasis of the gastrointestinal epithelium is dependent upon a balance between cell proliferation and apoptosis. Cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks) are well known for their role in cell proliferation. Previous studies from our group have shown that polyamine-depletion of intestinal epithelial cells (IEC-6) decreases cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (Cdk2) activity, increases p53 and p21Cip1 protein levels, induces G1 arrest, and protects cells from camptothecin (CPT)-induced apoptosis. Although emerging evidence suggests that members of the Cdk family are involved in the regulation of apoptosis, their roles directing apoptosis of IEC-6 cells are not known. In this study, we report that inhibition of Cdk1, 2, and 9 (with the broad range Cdk inhibitor, AZD5438) in proliferating IEC-6 cells triggered DNA damage, activated p53 signaling, inhibited proliferation, and induced apoptosis. By contrast, inhibition of Cdk2 (with NU6140) increased p53 protein and activity, inhibited proliferation, but had no effect on apoptosis. Notably, AZD5438 sensitized, whereas, NU6140 rescued proliferating IEC-6 cells from CPT-induced apoptosis. However, in colon carcinoma (Caco-2) cells with mutant p53, treatment with either AZD5438 or NU6140 blocked proliferation, albeit more robustly with AZD5438. Both Cdk inhibitors induced apoptosis in Caco-2 cells in a p53-independent manner. In serum starved quiescent IEC-6 cells, both AZD5438 and NU6140 decreased TNF-α/CPT-induced activation of p53 and, consequently, rescued cells from apoptosis, indicating that sustained Cdk activity is required for apoptosis of quiescent cells. Furthermore, AZD5438 partially reversed the protective effect of polyamine depletion whereas NU6140 had no effect. Together, these results demonstrate that Cdks possess opposing roles in the control of apoptosis in quiescent and proliferating cells. In addition, Cdk inhibitors uncouple proliferation from apoptosis in a p53-dependent manner.
    Full-text Article · Nov 2013 · Apoptosis
  • Ramesh M Ray · Leonard R Johnson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amino acids, especially glutamine (GLN) have been known for many years to stimulate the growth of small intestinal mucosa. Polyamines are also required for optimal mucosal growth, and the inhibition of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), the first rate-limiting enzyme in polyamine synthesis, blocks growth. Certain amino acids, primarily asparagine (ASN) and GLN stimulate ODC activity in a solution of physiological salts. More importantly, their presence is also required before growth factors and hormones such as epidermal growth factor and insulin are able to increase ODC activity. ODC activity is inhibited by antizyme-1 (AZ) whose synthesis is stimulated by polyamines, thus, providing a negative feedback regulation of the enzyme. In the absence of amino acids mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) is inhibited, whereas, mTORC2 is stimulated leading to the inhibition of global protein synthesis but increasing the synthesis of AZ via a cap-independent mechanism. These data, therefore, explain why ASN or GLN is essential for the activation of ODC. Interestingly, in a number of papers, AZ has been shown to inhibit cell proliferation, stimulate apoptosis, or increase autophagy. Each of these activities results in decreased cellular growth. AZ binds to and accelerates the degradation of ODC and other proteins shown to regulate proliferation and cell death, such as Aurora-A, Cyclin D1, and Smad1. The correlation between the stimulation of ODC activity and the absence of AZ as influenced by amino acids is high. Not only do amino acids such as ASN and GLN stimulate ODC while inhibiting AZ synthesis, but also amino acids such as lysine, valine, and ornithine, which inhibit ODC activity, increase the synthesis of AZ. The question remaining to be answered is whether AZ inhibits growth directly or whether it acts by decreasing the availability of polyamines to the dividing cells. In either case, evidence strongly suggests that the regulation of AZ synthesis is the mechanism through which amino acids influence the growth of intestinal mucosa. This brief article reviews the experiments leading to the information presented above. We also present evidence from the literature that AZ acts directly to inhibit cell proliferation and increase the rate of apoptosis. Finally, we discuss future experiments that will determine the role of AZ in the regulation of intestinal mucosal growth by amino acids.
    Article · Aug 2013 · Amino Acids
  • Leonard R. Johnson · Ramesh M. Ray
    Article · Dec 2012
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    Sujoy Bhattacharya · Edward Chaum · Dianna A Johnson · Leonard R Johnson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Purpose: Relatively little is known about the contribution of p53/Mdm2 pathway in apoptosis of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells or its possible link to dysfunction of aging RPE or to related blinding disorders such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Methods: Age-associated changes in p53 activation were evaluated in primary RPE cultures from human donor eyes of various ages. Apoptosis was evaluated by activation of caspases and DNA fragmentation. Gene-specific small interfering RNA was used to knock down expression of p53. Results: We observed that the basal rate of p53-dependent apoptosis increased in an age-dependent manner in human RPE. The age-dependent increase in apoptosis was linked to alterations in several aspects of the p53 pathway. p53 phosphorylation Ser15 was increased through the stimulation of ATM-Ser1981. p53 acetylation Lys379 was increased through the inhibition of SIRT1/2. These two posttranslational modifications of p53 blocked the sequestration of p53 by Mdm2, thus resulting in an increase in free p53 and of p53 stimulation of apoptosis through increased expression of PUMA (p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis) and activation of caspase-3. Aged RPE also had reduced expression of antiapoptotic Bcl-2, which contributed to the increase in apoptosis. Of particular interest in these studies was that pharmacologic treatments to block p53 phosphorylation, acetylation, or expression were able to protect RPE cells from apoptosis. Conclusions: Our studies suggest that aging in the RPE leads to alterations of specific checkpoints in the apoptotic pathway, which may represent important molecular targets for the treatment of RPE-related aging disorders such as AMD.
    Full-text Article · Nov 2012 · Investigative ophthalmology & visual science
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    Ramesh M Ray · Chunying Li · Sujoy Bhattacharya · [...] · Leonard R Johnson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Intracellular polyamine levels are highly regulated by the activity of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), which catalyzes the first rate-limiting reaction in polyamine biosynthesis, producing putrescine, which is subsequently converted to spermidine and spermine. We have shown that polyamines regulate proliferation, migration, and apoptosis in intestinal epithelial cells. Polyamines regulate key signaling events at the level of the EGFR and Src. However, the precise mechanism of action of polyamines is unknown. In the present study, we demonstrate that ODC localizes in lamellipodia and in adhesion plaques during cell spreading. Spermine regulates EGF-induced migration by modulating the interaction of the EGFR with Src. The EGFR interacted with integrin β3, Src, and focal adhesion kinase (FAK). Active Src (pY418-Src) localized with FAK during spreading and migration. Spermine prevented EGF-induced binding of the EGFR with integrin β3, Src, and FAK. Activation of Src and FAK was necessary for EGF-induced migration in HEK293 cells. EGFR-mediated Src activation in live HEK293 cells using a FRET based Src reporter showed that polyamine depletion significantly increased Src kinase activity. In vitro binding studies showed that spermine directly binds Src, and preferentially interacts with the SH2 domain of Src. The physical interaction between Src and the EGFR was severely attenuated by spermine. Therefore, spermine acts as a molecular switch in regulating EGFR-Src coupling both physically and functionally. Upon activation of the EGFR, integrin β3, FAK and Src are recruited to EGFR leading to the trans-activation of both the EGFR and Src and to the Src-mediated phosphorylation of FAK. The activation of FAK induced Rho-GTPases and subsequently migration. This is the first study to define mechanistically how polyamines modulate Src function at the molecular level.
    Full-text Article · Apr 2012 · Cellular Signalling
  • Ramesh M Ray · Mary Jane Viar · Leonard R Johnson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In a glucose-salt solution (Earle's balanced salt solution), asparagine (Asn) stimulates ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity in a dose-dependent manner, and the addition of epidermal growth factor (EGF) potentiates the effect of Asn. However, EGF alone fails to activate ODC. Thus, the mechanism by which Asn activates ODC is important for understanding the regulation of ODC activity. Asn reduced antizyme-1 (AZ1) mRNA and protein. Among the amino acids tested, Asn and glutamine (Gln) effectively inhibited AZ1 expression, suggesting a differential role for amino acids in the regulation of ODC activity. Asn decreased the putrescine-induced AZ1 translation. The absence of amino acids increased the binding of eukaryotic initiation factor 4E-binding protein (4EBP1) to 5'-mRNA cap and thereby inhibited global protein synthesis. Asn failed to prevent the binding of 4EBP1 to mRNA, and the bound 4EBP1 was unphosphorylated, suggesting the involvement of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) in the regulation of AZ1 synthesis. Rapamycin treatment (4 h) failed to alter the expression of AZ1. However, extending the treatment (24 h) allowed expression in the presence of amino acids, indicating that AZ1 is expressed when TORC1 signaling is decreased. This suggests the involvement of cap-independent translation. However, transient inhibition of mTORC2 by PP242 completely abolished the phosphorylation of 4EBP1 and decreased basal as well as putrescine-induced AZ1 expression. Asn decreased the phosphorylation of mTOR-Ser(2448) and AKT-Ser(473), suggesting the inhibition of mTORC2. In the absence of amino acids, mTORC1 is inhibited, whereas mTORC2 is activated, leading to the inhibition of global protein synthesis and increased AZ1 synthesis via a cap-independent mechanism.
    Article · Dec 2011 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Integrin binding to the extracellular matrix (ECM) activated Rho GTPases, Src, and focal adhesion kinase in intestinal epithelial cells (IEC)-6. Polyamine depletion inhibited activities of Rac1, RhoA, and Cdc42 and thereby migration. However, constitutively active (CA) Rac1 expression abolished the inhibitory effect of polyamine depletion, indicating that polyamines are involved in a process upstream of Rac1. In the present study, we examined the role of polyamines in the regulation of the guanine nucleotide exchange factor, diffuse B-cell lymphoma (Dbl), for Rho GTPases. Polyamine depletion decreased the level as well as the activation of Dbl protein. Dbl knockdown by siRNA altered cytoskeletal structure and decreased Rac1 activity and migration. Cells expressing CA-Dbl increased migration, Rac1 activity, and proliferation. CA-Dbl restored migration in polyamine-depleted cells by activating RhoA, Rac1, and Cdc42. CA-Dbl caused extensive reorganization of the F-actin cortex into stress fibers. Inhibition of Rac1 by NSC23766 significantly decreased migration of vector-transfected cells and CA-Dbl-transfected cells. However, the inhibition of migration was significantly higher in the vector-transfected cells compared with that seen in the CA-Dbl-transfected cells. Dbl localized in the perinuclear region in polyamine-depleted cells, whereas it localized with the stress fibers in control cells. CA-Dbl localized with stress fibers in both the control and polyamine-depleted cells. These results suggest that polyamines regulate the activation of Dbl, a membrane-proximal process upstream of Rac1.
    Full-text Article · Mar 2011 · AJP Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
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    Sujoy Bhattacharya · Ramesh M Ray · Edward Chaum · [...] · Leonard R Johnson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Because recent studies indicate that blocking the interaction between p53 and Mdm2 results in the nongenotoxic activation of p53, the authors sought to investigate whether the inhibition of p53-Mdm2 binding activates p53 and sensitizes human retinal epithelial cells to apoptosis. Apoptosis was evaluated by the activation of caspases and DNA fragmentation assays. The Mdm2 antagonist Nutlin-3 was used to dissociate p53 from Mdm2 and, thus, to increase p53 activity. Knockdown of p53 expression was accomplished by using p53 siRNA. ARPE-19 and primary RPE cells expressed high levels of the antiapoptotic proteins Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL. Exposure of these cells to camptothecin (CPT) or TNF-α/ cycloheximide (CHX) failed to induce apoptosis. In contrast, treatment with the Mdm2 antagonist Nutlin-3 in the absence of CPT or TNF-α/CHX increased apoptosis. Activation of p53 in response to Nutlin-3 also increased levels of Noxa, p53-upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA), and Siva-1, decreased expression of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL, and simultaneously increased caspases-9 and -3 activities and DNA fragmentation. Knockdown of p53 decreased the basal expression of p21Cip1 and Bcl-2, inhibited the Nutlin-3-induced upregulation of Siva-1 and PUMA expression, and consequently inhibited caspase-3 activation. These results indicate that the normally available pool of intracellular p53 is predominantly engaged in the regulation of cell cycle checkpoints by p21Cip1 and does not trigger apoptosis in response to DNA-damaging agents. However, the blockage of p53 binding to Mdm2 frees a pool of p53 that is sufficient, even in the absence of DNA-damaging agents, to increase the expression of proapoptotic targets and to override the resistance of RPE cells to apoptosis.
    Full-text Article · Feb 2011 · Investigative ophthalmology & visual science
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    Ramesh M Ray · Shi Jin · Mitulkumar N Bavaria · Leonard R Johnson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have studied apoptosis of gastrointestinal epithelial cells by examining the receptor-mediated and DNA damage-induced pathways using TNF-α and camptothecin (CPT), respectively. TNF-α requires inhibition of antiapoptotic protein synthesis by cycloheximide (CHX). CHX also results in high levels of active JNK, which are necessary for TNF-induced apoptosis. While CPT induces apoptosis, the increase in JNK activity was not proportional to the degree of apoptosis. Thus the mechanism of activation of JNK and its role in apoptosis are unclear. We examined the course of JNK activation in response to a combination of TNF-α and CPT (TNF + CPT), which resulted in a three- to fourfold increase in apoptosis compared with CPT alone, indicating an amplification of apoptotic signaling pathways. TNF + CPT caused apoptosis by activating JNK, p38, and caspases-8, -9, and -3. TNF-α stimulated a transient phosphorylation of JNK1/2 and ERK1/2 at 15 min, which returned to basal by 60 min and remained low for 4 h. CPT increased JNK1/2 activity between 3 and 4 h. TNF + CPT caused a sustained and robust JNK1/2 and ERK1/2 phosphorylation by 2 h, which remained high at 4 h, suggesting involvement of MEKK4/7 and MEK1, respectively. When administered with TNF + CPT, SP-600125, a specific inhibitor of MEKK4/7, completely inhibited JNK1/2 and decreased apoptosis. However, administration of SP-600125 at 1 h after TNF + CPT failed to prevent JNK1/2 phosphorylation, and the protective effect of SP-600125 on apoptosis was abolished. These results indicate that the persistent activation of JNK might be due to inhibition of JNK-specific MAPK phosphatase 1 (MKP1). Small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of MKP1 enhanced TNF + CPT-induced activity of JNK1/2 and caspases-9 and -3. Taken together, these results suggest that MKP1 activity determines the duration of JNK1/2 and p38 activation and, thereby, apoptosis in response to TNF + CPT.
    Full-text Article · Feb 2011 · AJP Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
  • Ramesh M Ray · Sujoy Bhattacharya · Leonard R Johnson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Camptothecin (CPT) and Nutlin-3 caused apoptosis by increasing p53 protein and its activation in intestinal epithelial cells (IEC-6). We studied the effectiveness of these inducers on apoptosis in human colon cancer cells (Caco2) lacking p53 expression. CPT failed to activate caspase-3 and cause apoptosis in these cells. The absence of p53 expression, higher basal Bcl-xL and lower Bax proteins prevented CPT-induced apoptosis. However, the Mdm2 antagonist Nutlin-3 induced apoptosis in a dose dependent manner by activating caspases-9 and -3. Nutlin-3 prevented the activation of AKT via PTEN-mediated inhibition of the PI3K pathway. Nutlin-3 increased the phosphorylation of retinoblastoma protein causing E2F1 release leading to induction of Siva-1. Nutlin-3-mediated degradation of Mdm2 caused the accumulation of p73, which induced the expression of p53 up-regulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA). E2F1 and p73 knockdown decreased the expression of Siva and PUMA, respectively and abolished Nutlin-3-induced caspase-3 activation. Cycloheximide (CHX) inhibited Nutlin-3-induced Siva, Noxa, and PUMA expression and inhibited apoptosis in IEC-6 and Caco2 cells. These results indicate that translation of mRNAs induced by Nutlin-3 is critical for apoptosis. In summary, apoptosis in Caco2 cells lacking functional p53 occurred following the disruption of Mdm2 binding with p73 and Rb leading to the expression of pro-apoptotic proteins, PUMA, Noxa, and Siva-1.
    Article · Jan 2011 · Apoptosis
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    Mitulkumar N Bavaria · Ramesh M Ray · Leonard R Johnson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell migration is important to the integrity of the gastrointestinal tract for the normal movement of cells from crypt to villi and the healing of wounds. Polyamines are essential to cell migration, mucosal restitution, and, hence, healing. Polyamine depletion by α-difluoromethyl ornithine (DFMO) inhibited migration by decreasing lamellipodia and stress fiber formation and preventing the activation of Rho-GTPases. Polyamine depletion increased the association of the thick F-actin cortex with phosphorylated myosin regulatory light chain (pMRLC). In this study, we determined why MRLC is constitutively phosphorylated as part of the actin cortex. Inhibition of myosin light chain kinase (MLCK) decreased RhoA and Rac1 activities and significantly inhibited migration. Polyamine depletion increased phosphorylation of MRLC (Thr18/Ser19) and stabilized the actin cortex and focal adhesions. The Rho-kinase inhibitor Y27632 increased spreading and migration by decreasing the phosphorylation of MRLC, remodeling focal adhesions, and by activating Rho-GTPases. Thus phosphorylation of MRLC appears to be the rate-limiting step during the migration of IEC-6 cells. In addition, increased localization of RhoA with the actin cortex in polyamine-depleted cells appears to activate Rho-kinase. In the absence of polyamines, activated Rho-kinase phosphorylates myosin phosphatase targeting subunit 1 (MYPT1) at serine-668 leading to its inactivation and preventing the recruitment of phosphatase (protein phosphastase, PP1cδ) to the actomyosin cortex. In this condition, MRLC is constitutively phosphorylated and cycling does not occur. Thus activated myosin binds F-actin stress fibers and prevents focal adhesion turnover, Rho-GTPase activation, and the remodeling of the cytoskeleton required for migration.
    Full-text Article · Nov 2010 · AJP Cell Physiology
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    Bertha C Elias · Sujoy Bhattacharya · Ramesh M Ray · Leonard R Johnson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Integrin receptors cluster on the cell surface and bind to extra cellular matrix (ECM) proteins triggering the formation of focal contacts and the activation of various signal transduction pathways that affect the morphology, motility, gene expression and survival of adherent cells. Polyamine depletion prevents the increase in autophosphorylation of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and Src during attachment. Rac activity also shows a steady decline, and its upstream guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF), Tiam1 also shows a reduction in total protein level when cells are depleted of polyamines. When Tiam1 and Rac1 interaction was inhibited by NSC-23766, there was not only a decrease in Rac1 activity as expected but also a decrease in FAK auto-phosphorylation. Inhibition of Src activity by PP2 also reduced FAK autophosphorylation, which implies that Src modulates FAK autophosphorylation. From the data obtained in this study we conclude that FAK and Src are rapidly activated upon fibronectin mediated signaling leading to Tiam1-mediated Rac1 activation and that intracellular polyamines influence the signaling strength by modulating interaction of Src with Tiam1 using focal adhesion kinase as a scaffolding site.
    Full-text Article · Jul 2010 · Cell adhesion & migration
  • Sujoy Bhattacharya · Ramesh M Ray · Leonard R Johnson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although p53 is known to play a critical role in the proliferation of gastrointestinal epithelia, the role of the Mdm2/p53 pathway in response to inducers of apoptosis in intestinal epithelial cells is unknown. Our data show that camptothecin (CPT)-induced apoptosis correlated with increased p53, p21Cip1, and Mdm2 protein levels, with a simultaneous increase in ATR Ser428, p53 Ser15 and Mdm2 Ser166 phosphorylation in IEC-6 cells. Increased p53 levels and its phosphorylation increased Bax protein, caspase-9, -3 activation and apoptosis. However, TNF-α/CHX-mediated apoptosis was independent of p53 protein levels and phosphorylation. The translation inhibitor, cycloheximide (CHX), prevented CPT-induced apoptosis. CHX completely prevented CPT-induced p53 phosphorylation and synthesis of p21Cip1, Bax and Bcl-xL proteins without altering p53 levels. The p53 activator, RITA, augmented CPT-induced apoptosis. The Mdm2 antagonist, Nutlin-3, significantly increased apoptosis, which was accompanied by increased p53, Mdm2 and p21Cip1 protein levels. The ATM/ATR kinase inhibitor, CGK733, blocked CPT-induced p53 Ser15 phosphorylation and protected cells from CPT-induced apoptosis. Inhibition of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) with α-difluromethylornithine (DFMO) and subsequent depletion of intracellular polyamines increased p53 protein, Mdm2 Ser166 phosphorylation and conferred resistance to CPT-induced apoptosis. However, polyamine depletion had no effect on p53 phosphorylation. Nutlin-3 reversed the protective effect of DFMO and sensitized cells to CPT-induced apoptosis. These results suggest that p53 stabilization and accumulation in response to polyamine depletion predominantly modulate cell cycle checkpoints via p21Cip1 expression and inhibit transcription of target genes responsible for apoptosis. In contrast, phosphorylation and stabilization of p53 in response to DNA-damage lead to apoptosis, which indicates different roles of p53 during DNA damage and polyamine depletion.
    Article · Apr 2009 · Cellular Signalling
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    Shi Jin · Ramesh M Ray · Leonard R Johnson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previously we have shown that both Rac1 and c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK1/2) are key proapoptotic molecules in tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha/cycloheximide (CHX)-induced apoptosis in intestinal epithelial cells, whereas the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in apoptosis is unclear. The present studies tested the hypothesis that Rac1-mediated ROS production is involved in TNF-alpha-induced apoptosis. In this study, we showed that TNF-alpha/CHX-induced ROS production and hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2))-induced oxidative stress increased apoptosis. Inhibition of Rac1 by a specific inhibitor NSC23766 prevented TNF-alpha-induced ROS production. The antioxidant, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), or rotenone (Rot), the mitochondrial electron transport chain inhibitor, attenuated mitochondrial ROS production and apoptosis. Rot also prevented JNK1/2 activation during apoptosis. Inhibition of Rac1 by expression of dominant negative Rac1 decreased TNF-alpha-induced mitochondrial ROS production. Moreover, TNF-alpha-induced cytosolic ROS production was inhibited by Rac1 inhibition, diphenyleneiodonium (DPI, an inhibitor of NADPH oxidase), and NAC. In addition, DPI inhibited TNF-alpha-induced apoptosis as judged by morphological changes, DNA fragmentation, and JNK1/2 activation. Mitochondrial membrane potential change is Rac1 or cytosolic ROS dependent. Lastly, all ROS inhibitors inhibited caspase-3 activity. Thus these results indicate that TNF-alpha-induced apoptosis requires Rac1-dependent ROS production in intestinal epithelial cells.
    Full-text Article · May 2008 · AJP Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
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    Ramesh M Ray · Sujoy Bhattacharya · Leonard R Johnson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Intracellular polyamine synthesis is regulated by the enzyme ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), and its inhibition by alpha-difluromethylornithine (DFMO), confers resistance to apoptosis. We have previously shown that DFMO leads to the inhibition of de novo polyamine synthesis, which in turn rapidly activates Src, STAT3 and NF-kappaB via integrin beta3 in intestinal epithelial cells. One mechanism to explain these effects involves the activation of upstream growth factor receptors, such as the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). We therefore hypothesized that EGFR phosphorylation regulates the early response to polyamine depletion. DFMO increased EGFR phosphorylation on tyrosine residues 1173 (pY1173) and 845 (pY845) within 5 min. Phosphorylation declined after 10 min and was prevented by the addition of exogenous putrescine to DFMO containing medium. Phosphorylation of EGFR was concomitant with the activation of ERK1/2. Pretreatment with either DFMO or EGF for 1 h protected cells from TNF-alpha/CHX-induced apoptosis. Exogenous addition of polyamines prevented the protective effect of DFMO. In addition, inhibition of integrin beta3 activity (with RGDS), Src activity (with PP2), or EGFR kinase activity (with AG1478), increased basal apoptosis and prevented protection conferred by either DFMO or EGF. Polyamine depletion failed to protect B82L fibroblasts lacking the EGFR (PRN) and PRN cells expressing either a kinase dead EGFR (K721A) or an EGFR (Y845F) mutant lacking the Src phosphorylation site. Conversely, expression of WT-EGFR (WT) restored the protective effect of polyamine depletion. Fibronectin activated the EGFR, Src, ERKs and protected cells from apoptosis. Taken together, our data indicate an essential role of EGFR kinase activity in MEK/ERK-mediated protection, which synergizes with integrin beta3 leading to Src-mediated protective responses in polyamine depleted cells.
    Full-text Article · Jan 2008 · Cellular Signalling

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1k Citations


  • 2003-2014
    • The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
      • Department of Physiology
      Memphis, Tennessee, United States
  • 2006
    • University of Tennessee
      • Department of Physiology
      Knoxville, Tennessee, United States
  • 2004
    • Ochanomizu University
      • Department of Biology
      Tōkyō, Japan