In mammals, cellular swelling activates release of small organic osmolytes, including the excitatory amino acids (EAA) glutamate and aspartate, via a ubiquitously expressed volume-regulated chloride/anion channel (VRAC). Pharmacological evidence suggests that VRAC plays plural physiological and pathological roles, including excitotoxic release of glutamate in stroke. However, the molecular identity of this pathway was unknown. Two recent studies discovered that LRRC8 gene family members encode heteromeric VRAC composed of LRRC8A plus LRRC8B-E, which mediate swelling-activated Cl- currents and taurine release in human non-neural cells (Z. Qiu et al. Cell 157: 447, 2014; F.K. Voss et al. Science 344: 634, 2014). Here, we tested the contribution of LRRC8A to the EAA release in brain glia. We detected and quantified expression levels of LRRC8A-E in primary rat astrocytes with quantitative RT-PCR and then downregulated LRRC8A with gene-specific siRNAs. In astrocytes exposed to hypo-osmotic media, LRRC8A knockdown dramatically reduced swelling-activated release of the EAA tracer d-[(3)H]aspartate. In parallel HPLC assays, LRRC8A siRNA prevented hypo-osmotic media-induced loss of the endogenous intracellular l-glutamate and taurine. Furthermore, downregulation of LRRC8A completely ablated the ATP-stimulated release of d-[(3)H]aspartate and [(14)C]taurine from non-swollen astrocytes. Overall, these data indicate that LRRC8A is an indispensable component of a permeability pathway that mediates both swelling-activated and agonist-induced amino acid release in brain glial cells.
The contribution of oxidative stress to ischemic brain damage is well established. Nevertheless, for unknown reasons, several clinically tested antioxidant therapies have failed to show benefits in human stroke. Based on our previous in vitro work, we hypothesized that the neuroprotective potency of antioxidants is related to their ability to limit the release of the excitotoxic amino acids glutamate and aspartate. We explored the effects of two antioxidants, tempol and edaravone, on amino acid release in the brain cortex, in a rat model of transient occlusion of the middle cerebral artery (MCAo). Amino acid levels were quantified using a microdialysis approach, with the probe positioned in the ischemic penumbra as verified by a laser Doppler technique. Two-hour MCAo triggered a dramatic increase in the levels of glutamate, aspartate, taurine, and alanine. Microdialysate delivery of 10mM tempol reduced the amino acid release by 60-80%, whereas matching levels of edaravone had no effect. In line with these data, an intracerebroventricular injection of tempol but not edaravone (500nmol each, 15min before MCAo) reduced infarction volumes by ~50% and improved neurobehavioral outcomes. In vitro assays showed that tempol was superior at removing superoxide anion, whereas edaravone was more potent at scavenging hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radical, and peroxynitrite. Overall, our data suggest that the neuroprotective properties of tempol are probably related to its ability to reduce tissue levels of the superoxide anion and pathological glutamate release and, in such a way, limit progression of brain infarction within ischemic penumbra. These new findings may be instrumental in developing new antioxidant therapies for treatment of stroke.
Bioengineered fiber substrates are increasingly studied as a means to promote regeneration and remodeling in the injured central nervous system (CNS). Previous reports largely focused on the ability of oriented scaffolds to bridge injured regions and direct outgrowth of axonal projections. In the present work, we explored the effects of electrospun microfibers on the migration and physiological properties of brain astroglial cells. Primary rat astrocytes were cultured on either fibronectin-coated poly-l-lactic acid (PLLA) films, fibronectin-coated randomly oriented PLLA electrospun fibers, or fibronectin-coated aligned PLLA electrospun fibers. Aligned PLLA fibers strongly altered astrocytic morphology, orienting cell processes, actin microfilaments, and microtubules along the length of the fibers. On aligned fibers, astrocytes also significantly increased their migration rates in the direction of fiber orientation. We further investigated if fiber topography modifies astrocytic neuroprotective properties, namely glutamate and glutamine transport and metabolism. This was done by quantifying changes in mRNA expression (qRT-PCR) and protein levels (Western blotting) for a battery of relevant biomolecules. Interestingly, we found that cells grown on random and/or aligned fibers increased the expression levels of two glutamate transporters, GLAST and GLT-1, and an important metabolic enzyme, glutamine synthetase, as compared to the fibronectin-coated films. Functional assays revealed increases in glutamate transport rates due to GLT-1 mediated uptake, which was largely determined by the dihydrokainate-sensitive GLT-1. Overall, this study suggests that aligned PLLA fibers can promote directed astrocytic migration, and, of most importance, our in vitro results indicate for the first time that electrospun PLLA fibers can positively modify neuroprotective properties of glial cells by increasing rates of glutamate uptake.
The Ca(2+) sensor stromal interacting molecule 1 (STIM1) and the Ca(2+) channel Orai1 mediate the ubiquitous store-operated Ca(2+) entry (SOCE) pathway activated by depletion of internal Ca(2+) stores and mediated through the highly Ca(2+)-selective, Ca(2+) release-activated Ca(2+) (CRAC) current. Furthermore, STIM1 and Orai1, along with Orai3, encode store-independent Ca(2+) currents regulated by either arachidonate or its metabolite, leukotriene C4. Orai channels are emerging as important contributors to numerous cell functions, including proliferation, migration, differentiation, and apoptosis. Recent studies suggest critical involvement of STIM/Orai proteins in controlling the development of several cancers, including malignancies of the breast, prostate, and cervix. Here, we quantitatively compared the magnitude of SOCE and the expression levels of STIM1 and Orai1 in non-malignant human primary astrocytes (HPA) and in primary human cell lines established from surgical samples of the brain tumor glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Using Ca(2+) imaging, patch-clamp electrophysiology, pharmacological reagents, and gene silencing, we established that in GBM cells, SOCE and CRAC are mediated by STIM1 and Orai1. We further found that GBM cells show upregulation of SOCE and increased Orai1 levels compared to HPA. The functional significance of SOCE was evaluated by studying the effects of STIM1 and Orai1 knockdown on cell proliferation and invasion. Utilizing Matrigel assays, we demonstrated that in GBM, but not in HPA, downregulation of STIM1 and Orai1 caused a dramatic decrease in cell invasion. In contrast, the effects of STIM1 and Orai1 knockdown on GBM cell proliferation were marginal. Overall, these results demonstrate that STIM1 and Orai1 encode SOCE and CRAC currents and control invasion of GBM cells. Our work further supports the potential use of channels contributed by Orai isoforms as therapeutic targets in cancer.
Cutaneous ATP release plays an important role in both epidermal stratification and chronic pain, but little is known about ATP release mechanisms in keratinocytes that comprise the epidermis. In this study, we analyzed ATP release from cultured human neonatal keratinocytes briefly exposed to air, a process previously demonstrated to trigger ATP release from these cells. We show that exposing keratinocytes to air by removing media for 15 seconds causes a robust, long-lasting ATP release. This air-stimulated ATP release was increased in calcium differentiated cultures which showed a corresponding increase in connexin 43 mRNA, a major component of keratinocyte hemichannels. The known connexin hemichannel inhibitors 1-octanol and carbenoxolone both significantly reduced air-stimulated ATP release, as did two drugs traditionally used as ABC transporter inhibitors (glibenclamide and verapamil). These same 4 inhibitors also prevented an increase in the uptake of a connexin permeable dye induced by air exposure, confirming that connexin hemichannels are open during air-stimulated ATP release. In contrast, activity of the MDR1 ABC transporter was reduced by air exposure and the drugs that inhibited air-stimulated ATP release had differential effects on this transporter. These results indicate that air exposure elicits non-vesicular release of ATP from keratinocytes through connexin hemichannels and that drugs used to target connexin hemichannels and ABC transporters may cross-inhibit. Connexins represent a novel, peripheral target for the treatment of chronic pain and dermatological disease.
TRAM-34, a clotrimazole analog characterized as a potent and selective inhibitor of intermediate-conductance, calcium-activated K(+) (IKCa) channels, has been used extensively in vitro and in vivo to study the biological roles of these channels. The major advantage of TRAM-34 over clotrimazole is the reported lack of inhibition of the former drug on cytochrome P450 (CYP) activity. CYPs, a large family of heme-containing oxidases, play essential roles in endogenous signaling and metabolic pathways, as well as in xenobiotic metabolism. However, previously published work has only characterized the effects of TRAM-34 on a single CYP isoform. To test the hypothesis that TRAM-34 may inhibit some CYP isoforms, the effects of this compound were presently studied on the activities of four rat and five human CYP isoforms. TRAM-34 inhibited recombinant rat CYP2B1, CYP2C6 and CYP2C11 and human CYP2B6, CYP2C19 and CYP3A4 with IC50 values ranging from 0.9 µM to 12.6 µM, but had no inhibitory effects (up to 80 µM) on recombinant rat CYP1A2, human CYP1A2, or human CYP19A1. TRAM-34 also had both stimulatory and inhibitory effects on human CYP3A4 activity, depending on the substrate used. These results show that low micromolar concentrations of TRAM-34 can inhibit several rat and human CYP isoforms, and suggest caution in the use of high concentrations of this drug as a selective IKCa channel blocker. In addition, in vivo use of TRAM-34 could lead to CYP-related drug-drug interactions.
Here we report and validate a simple method for measuring intracellular activities of glial glutamine synthetase (GS) and glutaminase (GLNase) in intact glial cells. These enzymes are responsible for glutamate and glutamine recycling in the brain, where glutamate and glutamine transport from the blood stream is strongly limited by the blood-brain barrier. The intracellular levels of glutamate and glutamine are dependent on activities of numerous enzymatic processes, including 1) cytosolic production of glutamine from glutamate by GS, 2) production of glutamate from glutamine by GLNase that is primarily localized between mitochondrial membranes, and 3) mitochondrial conversion of glutamate to the tricarboxylic cycle intermediate ?-ketoglutarate in the reactions of oxidative deamination and transamination. We measured intracellular activities of GS and GLNase by quantifying enzymatic interconversions of L-[(3)H]glutamate and L-[(3)H]glutamine in cultured rat astrocytes. The intracellular substrate and the products of enzymatic reactions were separated in one step using commercially available anion exchange columns and quantified using a scintillation counter. The involvement of GS and GLNase in the conversion of (3)H-labeled substrates was verified using irreversible pharmacological inhibitors for each of the enzymes and additionally validated by measuring intracellular amino acid levels using an HPLC. Overall, this paper describes optimized conditions and pharmacological controls for measuring GS and GLNase activities in intact glial cells.
In our previous work, we found that perfusion of the rat cerebral cortex with hypo-osmotic medium triggers massive release of the excitatory amino acid L-glutamate but decreases extracellular levels of L-glutamine (R. E. Haskew-Layton et al., PLoS ONE, 3: e3543). The release of glutamate was linked to activation of volume-regulated anion channels, whereas mechanism(s) responsible for alterations in extracellular glutamine remained unclear. When mannitol was added to the hypo-osmotic medium to reverse reductions in osmolarity, changes in microdialysate levels of glutamine were prevented, indicating an involvement of cellular swelling. As the main source of brain glutamine is astrocytic synthesis and export, we explored the impact of hypo-osmotic medium on glutamine synthesis and transport in rat primary astrocyte cultures. In astrocytes, a 40% reduction in medium osmolarity moderately stimulated the release of L-[(3) H]glutamine by ?twofold and produced no changes in L-[(3) H]glutamine uptake. In comparison, hypo-osmotic medium stimulated the release of glutamate (traced with D-[(3) H]aspartate) by more than 20-fold. In whole-cell enzymatic assays, we discovered that hypo-osmotic medium caused a 20% inhibition of astrocytic conversion of L-[(3) H]glutamate into L-[(3) H]glutamine by glutamine synthetase. Using an HPLC assay, we further found a 35% reduction in intracellular levels of endogenous glutamine. Overall, our findings suggest that cellular swelling (i) inhibits astrocytic glutamine synthetase activity, and (ii) reduces substrate availability for this enzyme because of the activation of volume-regulated anion channels. These combined effects likely lead to reductions in astrocytic glutamine export in vivo and may partially explain occurrence of hyperexcitability and seizures in human hyponatremia.
Purinergic receptors activate diverse signaling cascades and regulate the activity of cell volume-sensitive ion transporters. However, the effects of ATP and other agonists of P2 receptors on cell volume dynamics are only scarcely studied. In the present work, we used the recently developed dual-image surface reconstruction technique to explore the influence of purinergic agonists on cell volume in the C11-Madin-Darby canine kidney cell line resembling intercalated cells from kidney collecting ducts. Unexpectedly, we found that ATP and UTP triggered very robust (55-60%) cell shrinkage that lasted up to 2 h after agonist washout. Purinergic regulation of cell volume required increases in intracellular Ca(2+) and could be partially mimicked by the Ca(2+)-ionophore ionomycin or activation of protein kinase C by 4?-phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate. Cell shrinkage was accompanied by strong reductions in intracellular K(+) and Cl(-) content measured using steady-state (86)Rb(+) and (36)Cl(-) distribution. Both shrinkage and ion efflux in ATP-treated cells were prevented by the anion channel blocker 5-nitro-2-(3-phenylpropylamino)benzoic acid (NPPB) and by the BK(Ca) channel inhibitors charybdotoxin, iberiotoxin, and paxilline. To evaluate the significance of cell-volume changes in purinergic signaling, we measured the impact of ATP on the expression of the immediate-early gene c-Fos. Thirty-minute treatment with ATP increased c-Fos immunoreactivity by approximately fivefold, an effect that was strongly inhibited by charybdotoxin and completely prevented by NPPB. Overall, our findings suggest that ATP-induced cell-volume changes are partially responsible for the physiological actions of purinergic agonists.
Gliomas are morbid brain tumors that are extremely resistant to available chemotherapy and radiology treatments. Some studies have suggested that calcium-activated potassium channels contribute to the high proliferative potential of tumor cells, including gliomas. However, other publications demonstrated no role for these channels or even assigned them antitumorogenic properties. In this work we characterized the expression and functional contribution to proliferation of Ca(2+)-activated K(+) channels in human glioblastoma cells. Quantitative RT-PCR detected transcripts for the big conductance (BK), intermediate conductance (IK1), and small conductance (SK2) K(+) channels in two glioblastoma-derived cell lines and a surgical sample of glioblastoma multiforme. Functional expression of BK and IK1 in U251 and U87 glioma cell lines and primary glioma cultures was verified using whole-cell electrophysiological recordings. Inhibitors of BK (paxilline and penitrem A) and IK1 channels (clotrimazole and TRAM-34) reduced U251 and U87 proliferation in an additive fashion, while the selective blocker of SK channels UCL1848 had no effect. However, the antiproliferative properties of BK and IK1 inhibitors were seen at concentrations that were higher than those necessary to inhibit channel activity. To verify specificity of pharmacological agents, we downregulated BK and IK1 channels in U251 cells using gene-specific siRNAs. Although siRNA knockdowns caused strong reductions in the BK and IK1 current densities, neither single nor double gene silencing significantly affected rates of proliferation. Taken together, these results suggest that Ca(2+)-activated K(+) channels do not play a critical role in proliferation of glioma cells and that the effects of pharmacological inhibitors occur through their off-target actions.
Nitric oxide (NO) and related reactive nitrogen species (RNS) play a major role in the pathophysiology of stroke and other neurodegenerative diseases. One of the poorly understood consequences of stroke is a long-lasting inhibition of synaptic transmission. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that RNS can produce long-term inhibition of neurotransmitter release via S-nitrosylation of proteins in presynaptic nerve endings. We examined the effects of exogenous sources of RNS on the vesicular and nonvesicular L-[(3)H]glutamate release from rat brain synaptosomes. NO/RNS donors, such as spermine NONOate, MAHMA NONOate, S-nitroso-L-cysteine, and SIN-1, inhibited only the vesicular component of glutamate release with an order of potency that closely matched levels of protein S-nitrosylation. Inhibition of glutamate release persisted for >1h after RNS donor decomposition and washout and strongly correlated with decreases in the intrasynaptosomal ATP levels. Post-NO treatment of synaptosomes with thiol-reducing reagents decreased the total content of S-nitrosylated proteins but had little effect on glutamate release and ATP levels. In contrast, post-NO application of the end-product of glycolysis, pyruvate, partially rescued neurotransmitter release and ATP production. These data suggest that RNS suppress presynaptic metabolism and neurotransmitter release via poorly reversible modifications of glycolytic and mitochondrial enzymes, one of which was identified as glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase. A similar mechanism may contribute to the long-term suppression of neuronal communication during nitrosative stress in vivo.
4-(2-Butyl-6,7-dichloro-2-cyclopentyl-indan-1-on-5-yl) oxobutyric acid (DCPIB) was identified as the selective blocker of volume-regulated anion channels (VRAC). VRAC are permeable to small inorganic and organic anions, including the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. In recent years DCPIB has been increasingly used for probing the physiologic and pathologic roles of VRAC and was found to potently suppress pathologic glutamate release in cerebral ischemia. Because ischemic glutamate release can be mediated by a plethora of mechanisms, in this study we explored the selectivity of DCPIB toward the majority of previously identified glutamate transporters and permeability pathways. l-[(3)H]glutamate, d-[(3)H]aspartate, and l-[(14)C]cystine were used to trace amino acid release and uptake. We found that in addition to its well-characterized effect on VRAC, DCPIB potently inhibited glutamate release via connexin hemichannels and glutamate uptake via the glutamate transporter GLT-1 in rat glial cells. In contrast, DCPIB had no direct effect on vesicular glutamate release from rat brain synaptosomes or the cystine/glutamate exchange in astrocytes. The compound did not affect the astrocytic glutamate transporter GLAST, nor did it block glutamate release via the P2X(7)/pannexin permeability pathway. The ability of DCPIB to directly block connexin hemichannels was confirmed using a gene-specific siRNA knockdown approach. Overall, our data demonstrate that DCPIB influences several glutamate transport pathways and that its effects on VRAC in vivo should be verified using additional pharmacological controls.
Nitric oxide (NO) plays diverse physiological roles in the central nervous system, where it modulates neuronal communication, regulates blood flow, and contributes to the innate immune responses. In a number of brain pathologies, the excessive production of NO also leads to the formation of reactive and toxic intermediates generically termed reactive nitrogen species (RNS). RNS cause irreversible or poorly reversible damage to brain cells.
The proposed Ca2+-activated Cl- channel protein Bestrophin 1 (Best1) is expressed and functionally important in the retina and in the brain. Human BEST1 has two known splice variants, Best1V1 and Best1V2, which arise from alternative splicing of two exons: exon 2 splicing results in a unique N-terminal domain, whereas alternative splicing of exon 11 produces two mutually exclusive C-termini. Prior studies were limited to Best1V1 and its clinically relevant mutations. In the present work, we cloned a novel splice variant of Best1V1 missing exon 2 (Best1V1?ex2) and differing from each of the two previously identified isoforms by one alternatively spliced domain. This finding allowed us to determine the role for alternative splicing of the Best1 N- and C-termini. We heteroexpressed Best1V1?ex2 in HEK293 cells, and compared its properties to Best1V1 and Best1V2. Western blot analysis confirmed protein expression from all three splice variants. Both Best1V1 and Best1V1?ex2 successfully formed Ca2+-activated Cl- channels, demonstrating that the N-terminus encoded by exon 2 is not essential for channel function. In contrast, Best1V2 expressing cells had no detectable Ca2+-activated Cl- currents, pointing to a critical role for splicing of the C-terminus. Surface protein biotinylation demonstrated that Best1V1 and Best1V1Dex2 are trafficked to the plasma membrane, whereas Best1V2 is not. These results define the impact of alternative splicing on Best1 function, and should be taken into consideration in future modeling of the Best1 protein structure.
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