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Benod C.,Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI | Villagomez R.,Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI | Filgueira C.S.,Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI | Hwang P.K.,University of California at San Francisco | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Nuclear receptors (NRs) are an important group of ligand-dependent transcriptional factors. Presently, no natural or synthetic ligand has been identified for a large group of orphan NRs. Small molecules to target these orphan NRs will provide unique resources for uncovering regulatory systems that impact human health and to modulate these pathways with drugs. The orphan NR tailless (TLX, NR2E1), a transcriptional repressor, is a major player in neurogenesis and Neural Stem Cell (NSC) derived brain tumors. No chemical probes that modulate TLX activity are available, and it is not clear whether TLX is druggable. To assess TLX ligand binding capacity, we created homology models of the TLX ligand binding domain (LBD). Results suggest that TLX belongs to an emerging class of NRs that lack LBD helices α1 and α2 and that it has potential to form a large open ligand binding pocket (LBP). Using a medium throughput screening strategy, we investigated direct binding of 20,000 compounds to purified human TLX protein and verified interactions with a secondary (orthogonal) assay. We then assessed effects of verified binders on TLX activity using luciferase assays. As a result, we report identification of three compounds (ccrp1, ccrp2 and ccrp3) that bind to recombinant TLX protein with affinities in the high nanomolar to low micromolar range and enhance TLX transcriptional repressive activity. We conclude that TLX is druggable and propose that our lead compounds could serve as scaffolds to derive more potent ligands. While our ligands potentiate TLX repressive activity, the question of whether it is possible to develop ligands to de-repress TLX activity remains open. © 2014 Benod et al.


Bruno G.,Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI | Bruno G.,Polytechnic University of Turin | Geninatti T.,Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI | Geninatti T.,University of Chinese Academy of Sciences | And 7 more authors.
Nanoscale | Year: 2015

General adoption of advanced treatment protocols such as chronotherapy will hinge on progress in drug delivery technologies that provide precise temporal control of therapeutic release. Such innovation is also crucial to future medicine approaches such as telemedicine. Here we present a nanofluidic membrane technology capable of achieving active and tunable control of molecular transport through nanofluidic channels. Control was achieved through application of an electric field between two platinum electrodes positioned on either surface of a 5.7 nm nanochannel membrane designed for zero-order drug delivery. Two electrode configurations were tested: laser-cut foils and electron beam deposited thin-films, configurations capable of operating at low voltage (≤1.5 V), and power (100 nW). Temporal, reproducible tuning and interruption of dendritic fullerene 1 (DF-1) transport was demonstrated over multi-day release experiments. Conductance tests showed limiting currents in the low applied potential range, implying ionic concentration polarization (ICP) at the interface between the membrane's micro- and nanochannels, even in concentrated solutions (≤1 M NaCl). The ability of this nanotechnology platform to facilitate controlled delivery of molecules and particles has broad applicability to next-generation therapeutics for numerous pathologies, including autoimmune diseases, circadian dysfunction, pain, and stress, among others. This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2015.


PubMed | CNR Institute of Science and Technology for Ceramics, Methodist Hospital Research Institute, Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI and Texas A&M University
Type: | Journal: Acta biomaterialia | Year: 2016

Ventral hernia repair remains a major clinical need. Herein, we formulated a type I collagen/elastin crosslinked blend (CollE) for the fabrication of biomimetic meshes for ventral hernia repair. To evaluate the effect of architecture on the performance of the implants, CollE was formulated both as flat sheets (CollE Sheets) and porous scaffolds (CollE Scaffolds). The morphology, hydrophylicity and in vitro degradation were assessed by SEM, water contact angle and differential scanning calorimetry, respectively. The stiffness of the meshes was determined using a constant stretch rate uniaxial tensile test, and compared to that of native tissue. CollE Sheets and Scaffolds were tested in vitro with human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (h-BM-MSC), and finally implanted in a rat ventral hernia model. Neovascularization and tissue regeneration within the implants was evaluated at 6 weeks, by histology, immunofluorescence, and q-PCR. It was found that CollE Sheets and Scaffolds were not only biomechanically sturdy enough to provide immediate repair of the hernia defect, but also promoted tissue restoration in only 6 weeks. In fact, the presence of elastin enhanced the neovascularization in both sheets and scaffolds. Overall, CollE Scaffolds displayed mechanical properties more closely resembling those of native tissue, and induced higher gene expression of the entire marker genes tested, associated with de novo matrix deposition, angiogenesis, adipogenesis and skeletal muscles, compared to CollE Sheets. Altogether, this data suggests that the improved mechanical properties and bioactivity of CollE Sheets and Scaffolds make them valuable candidates for applications of ventral hernia repair.Due to the elevated annual number of ventral hernia repair in the US, the lack of successful grafts, the design of innovative biomimetic meshes has become a prime focus in tissue engineering, to promote the repair of the abdominal wall, avoid recurrence. Our meshes (CollE Sheets and Scaffolds) not only showed promising mechanical performance, but also allowed for an efficient neovascularization, resulting in new adipose and muscle tissue formation within the implant, in only 6 weeks. In addition, our meshes allowed for the use of the same surgical procedure utilized in clinical practice, with the commercially available grafts. This study represents a significant step in the design of bioactive acellular off-the-shelf biomimetic meshes for ventral hernia repair.


Zhou G.,Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI | Meng S.,Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI | Li Y.,Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI | Ghebre Y.T.,Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI | Cooke J.,Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI
Cell Reports | Year: 2016

Efficient nuclear reprogramming of somatic cells to pluripotency requires activation of innate immunity. Because innate immune activation triggers reactive oxygen species (ROS) signaling, we sought to determine whether there was a role of ROS signaling in nuclear reprogramming. We examined ROS production during the reprogramming of doxycycline (dox)-inducible mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) carrying the Yamanaka factors (Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc [OSKM]) into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). ROS generation was substantially increased with the onset of reprogramming. Depletion of ROS via antioxidants or Nox inhibitors substantially decreased reprogramming efficiency. Similarly, both knockdown and knockout of p22phox-a critical subunit of the Nox (1-4) complex-decreased reprogramming efficiency. However, excessive ROS generation using genetic and pharmacological approaches also impaired reprogramming. Overall, our data indicate that ROS signaling is activated early with nuclear reprogramming, and optimal levels of ROS signaling are essential to induce pluripotency. Zhou et al. show that early generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is required for nuclear reprogramming of somatic cells to pluripotency. Genetic knockdown and knockout of the oxidative enzyme Nox (1-4), or addition of antioxidants, suppresses reprogramming. The findings provide insight into mechanisms by which pluripotent stem cells may be generated. © 2016 The Authors.


Benod C.,Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI | Villagomez R.,Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI | Webb P.,Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI
Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology | Year: 2016

TLX (tailless receptor) is a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily and belongs to a class of nuclear receptors for which no endogenous or synthetic ligands have yet been identified. TLX is a promising therapeutic target in neurological disorders and brain tumors. Thus, regulatory ligands for TLX need to be identified to complete the validation of TLX as a useful target and would serve as chemical probes to pursue the study of this receptor in disease models. It has recently been proved that TLX is druggable. However, to identify potent and specific TLX ligands with desirable biological activity, a deeper understanding of where ligands bind, how they alter TLX conformation and of the mechanism by which TLX mediates the transcription of its target genes is needed. While TLX is in the process of escaping from orphanhood, future ligand design needs to progress in parallel with improved understanding of (i) the binding cavity or surfaces to target with small molecules on the TLX ligand binding domain and (ii) the nature of the TLX coregulators in particular cell and disease contexts. Both of these topics are discussed in this review. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


PubMed | CNR Institute of Science and Technology for Ceramics and Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Small (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany) | Year: 2016

Scaffolds functionalized with delivery systems for the release of growth factors is a robust strategy to enhance tissue regeneration. However, after implantation, macrophages infiltrate the scaffold, eventually initiating the degradation and clearance of the delivery systems. Herein, it is hypothesized that fully embedding the poly(d,l-lactide-co-glycolide acid) microspheres (MS) in a highly structured collagen-based scaffold (concealing) can prevent their detection, preserving the integrity of the payload. Confocal laser microscopy reveals that non-embedded MS are easily internalized; when concealed, J774 and bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDM) cannot detect them. This is further demonstrated by flow cytometry, as a tenfold decrease is found in the number of MS engulfed by the cells, suggesting that collagen can cloak the MS. This correlates with the amount of nitric oxide and tumor necrosis factor- produced by J774 and BMDM in response to the concealed MS, comparable to that found for non-functionalized collagen scaffolds. Finally, the release kinetics of a reporter protein is preserved in the presence of macrophages, only when MS are concealed. The data provide detailed strategies for fabricating three dimensional (3D) biomimetic scaffolds able to conceal delivery systems and preserve the therapeutic molecules for release.


PubMed | Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI
Type: | Journal: The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology | Year: 2016

TLX (tailless receptor) is a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily and belongs to a class of nuclear receptors for which no endogenous or synthetic ligands have yet been identified. TLX is a promising therapeutic target in neurological disorders and brain tumors. Thus, regulatory ligands for TLX need to be identified to complete the validation of TLX as a useful target and would serve as chemical probes to pursue the study of this receptor in disease models. It has recently been proved that TLX is druggable. However, to identify potent and specific TLX ligands with desirable biological activity, a deeper understanding of where ligands bind, how they alter TLX conformation and of the mechanism by which TLX mediates the transcription of its target genes is needed. While TLX is in the process of escaping from orphanhood, future ligand design needs to progress in parallel with improved understanding of (i) the binding cavity or surfaces to target with small molecules on the TLX ligand binding domain and (ii) the nature of the TLX coregulators in particular cell and disease contexts. Both of these topics are discussed in this review.


PubMed | Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Cell reports | Year: 2016

Efficient nuclear reprogramming of somatic cells to pluripotency requires activation of innate immunity. Because innate immune activation triggers reactive oxygen species (ROS) signaling, we sought to determine whether there was a role of ROS signaling in nuclear reprogramming. We examined ROS production during the reprogramming of doxycycline (dox)-inducible mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) carrying the Yamanaka factors (Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc [OSKM]) into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). ROS generation was substantially increased with the onset of reprogramming. Depletion of ROSvia antioxidants or Nox inhibitors substantiallydecreased reprogramming efficiency. Similarly, both knockdown and knockout of p22(phox)-a critical subunit of the Nox (1-4) complex-decreased reprogramming efficiency. However, excessive ROS generation using genetic and pharmacological approaches also impaired reprogramming. Overall, our data indicate that ROS signaling is activated earlywith nuclear reprogramming, and optimal levels of ROS signaling are essential to induce pluripotency.


PubMed | Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Nanoscale | Year: 2015

General adoption of advanced treatment protocols such as chronotherapy will hinge on progress in drug delivery technologies that provide precise temporal control of therapeutic release. Such innovation is also crucial to future medicine approaches such as telemedicine. Here we present a nanofluidic membrane technology capable of achieving active and tunable control of molecular transport through nanofluidic channels. Control was achieved through application of an electric field between two platinum electrodes positioned on either surface of a 5.7 nm nanochannel membrane designed for zero-order drug delivery. Two electrode configurations were tested: laser-cut foils and electron beam deposited thin-films, configurations capable of operating at low voltage (1.5 V), and power (100 nW). Temporal, reproducible tuning and interruption of dendritic fullerene 1 (DF-1) transport was demonstrated over multi-day release experiments. Conductance tests showed limiting currents in the low applied potential range, implying ionic concentration polarization (ICP) at the interface between the membranes micro- and nanochannels, even in concentrated solutions (1 M NaCl). The ability of this nanotechnology platform to facilitate controlled delivery of molecules and particles has broad applicability to next-generation therapeutics for numerous pathologies, including autoimmune diseases, circadian dysfunction, pain, and stress, among others.


PubMed | Houston Methodist Research Institute HMRI
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Biomedical microdevices | Year: 2015

Fine control of molecular transport through microfluidic systems can be obtained by modulation of an applied electrical field across channels with the use of electrodes. In BioMEMS designed for biological fluids and in vivo applications, electrodes must be biocompatible, biorobust and stable. In this work, the analysis and characterization of platinum (Pt) electrodes integrated on silicon substrates for biomedical applications are presented. Electrodes were incorporated on the surface of silicon chips by adhesion of laminated Pt foils or deposited at 30, 45 or 90 angle by e-beam or physical vapor (sputtering) methods. Electrical and physical properties of the electrodes were quantified and evaluated using electrical impedance spectroscopy and modelling of the electrode-electrolyte interfaces. Electrode degradation in saline solution at pH 7.4 was tested at room temperature and under accelerated conditions (90 C), both in the presence and absence of an applied electrical potential. Degradation was quantified using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS). Biocompatibility was assessed by MTT proliferation assay with human dermal fibroblasts. Results demonstrated that the deposited electrodes were biocompatible with negligible material degradation and exhibited electrochemical behavior similar to Pt foils, especially for e-beam deposited electrodes. Finally, Pt electrodes e-beam deposited on silicon nanofabricated nanochannel membranes were evaluated for controlled drug delivery applications. By tuning a low applied electrical potential (<1.5 VDC) to the electrodes, temporal modulation of the dendritic fullerene 1 (DF-1) release from a source reservoir was successfully achieved as a proof of concept, highlighting the potential of deposited electrodes in biomedical applications.

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