The formation and stabilization of a novel G-quadruplex in the 5'-flanking region of the relaxin gene.
ABSTRACT: It has been reported that binding of STAT3 protein to the 5'-flanking region of the relaxin gene may result in downregulation of the relaxin expression. There is a Guanine(G)-rich segment located in about 3.8 Kb upstream of the relaxin gene and very close to the STAT3's binding site. In our study, NMR spectroscopy revealed the formation of G-quadruplex by this G-rich strand, and the result was confirmed by ESI mass spectrometry and CD spectroscopy. The theoretical structure of RLX G-quadruplex was constructed and refined by molecular modeling. When this relaxin G-quadruplex was stabilized by berberine(?Tm?=?10°C), a natural alkaloid from a Chinese herb, the gene expression could be up-regulated in a dose-dependent manner which was proved by luciferase assay. This result is different from the general G-quadruplex function that inhibiting the telomere replication or down-regulating many oncogenes expression. Therefore, our study reported a novel G-quadruplex in the relaxin gene and complemented the regulation mechanism about gene expression by G-quadruplexes.
Project description:PURPOSE:Relaxin (RLX) is a transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) antagonist that is believed to function as a potent collagen re-arranger and a major suppressor of extracellular matrix components. Adenoviruses (Ads) are accepted vectors for cancer gene therapy. However, repeated treatments of Ad are limited by short-term biological activity in vivo. The efficacy of sustained RLX expression to scar remodeling was assessed using an injectable alginate gel-matrix system. MATERIALS AND METHODS:Pig scar tissue was treated with relaxin-expressing Ad loaded in alginate gel (gel/Ad-RLX). Surface areas, color, and pliability of scars were compared, and various factors influencing scar formation and collagen arrangement were analyzed. RESULTS:Gel/Ad-RLX decreased scar size, color index, and pliability. Immunohistochemistry showed decreased levels of major extracellular matrix proteins in the gel/Ad-RLX-treated group. Furthermore, treatment with gel/Ad-RLX reduced expression of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 and alpha-smooth muscle actin and markedly increased expression of matrix metalloproteinase-1 in pig scar tissues. Gel/Ad-RLX also significantly downregulated TGF-β1 and upregulated TGF-β3 mRNAs in pig scar tissues. CONCLUSION:These results support a prominent role for RLX in scar remodeling and suggest that gel/Ad-RLX may have therapeutic effects on scar formation.
Project description:In the post-infarcted heart, grafting of precursor cells may partially restore heart function but the improvement is modest and the mechanisms involved remain to be elucidated. Here, we explored this issue by transplanting C2C12 myoblasts, genetically engineered to express enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) or eGFP and the cardiotropic hormone relaxin (RLX) through coronary venous route to swine with experimental chronic myocardial infarction. The rationale was to deliver constant, biologically effective levels of RLX at the site of cell engraftment. One month after engraftment, histological analysis showed that C2C12 myoblasts selectively settled in the ischaemic scar and were located around blood vessels showing an activated endothelium (ICAM-1-,VCAM-positive). C2C12 myoblasts did not trans-differentiate towards a cardiac phenotype, but did induce extracellular matrix remodelling by the secretion of matrix metalloproteases (MMP) and increase microvessel density through the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Relaxin-producing C2C12 myoblasts displayed greater efficacy to engraft the post-ischaemic scar and to induce extracellular matrix re-modelling and angiogenesis as compared with the control cells. By echocardiography, C2C12-engrafted swine showed improved heart contractility compared with the ungrafted controls, especially those producing RLX. We suggest that the beneficial effects of myoblast grafting on cardiac function are primarily dependent on the paracrine effects of transplanted cells on extracellular matrix remodelling and vascularization. The combined treatment with myoblast transplantation and local RLX production may be helpful in preventing deleterious cardiac remodelling and may hold therapeutic possibility for post-infarcted patients.
Project description:Smoking is regarded as a major risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). This study investigates whether serelaxin (RLX, recombinant human relaxin-2) endowed with promising therapeutic properties in CVD, can be credited of a protective effect against cigarette smoke (CS)-induced vascular damage and dysfunction. Guinea pigs exposed daily to CS for 8 weeks were treated with vehicle or RLX, delivered by osmotic pumps at daily doses of 1 or 10 ?g. Controls were non-smoking animals. Other studies were performed on primary guinea pig aortic endothelial (GPAE) cells, challenged with CS extracts (CSE) in the absence and presence of 100 ng/ml (17 nmol/l) RLX. In aortic specimens from CS-exposed guinea pigs, both the contractile and the relaxant responses to phenylephrine and acetylcholine, respectively, were significantly reduced in amplitude and delayed, in keeping with the observed adverse remodelling of the aortic wall, endothelial injury and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) down-regulation. RLX at both doses maintained the aortic contractile and relaxant responses to a control-like pattern and counteracted aortic wall remodelling and endothelial derangement. The experiments with GPAE cells showed that CSE significantly decreased cell viability and eNOS expression and promoted apoptosis by sparkling oxygen free radical-related cytotoxicity, while RLX counterbalanced the adverse effects of CSE. These findings demonstrate that RLX is capable of counteracting CS-mediated vascular damage and dysfunction by reducing oxidative stress, thus adding a tile to the growing mosaic of the beneficial effects of RLX in CVD.
Project description:The initiation and progression of heart failure is linked to adverse cardiac remodeling of the extracellular matrix (ECM) during disease mainly through the deregulation of myocardial metalloproteinases (MMPs). Relaxin (RLX), a peptide hormone acting as a physiological cardiac effector, is a key regulator of ECM remodeling in reproductive and nonreproductive tissues. Studying primary cultures of mouse cardiac muscle cells and rat H9c2 cardiomyoblasts, we have obtained evidence for a new signaling pathway activated by RLX to induce ECM remodeling that involves the bioactive sphingolipids sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) and ceramide. In both cell populations, recombinant human RLX increased sphingosine kinase activity and S1P formation, whereas sphingomyelin and ceramide content were decreased in [(3)H]serine-labeled cells. According to the literature, RLX promoted MMP-2 and MMP-9 expression/release. Pharmacological inhibition of sphingolipid metabolism and silencing of sphingosine kinase 1, the enzyme responsible for S1P formation, were able to prevent MMP expression/release elicited by the hormone and induce the expression of tissue inhibitor of MMPs. In addition, we found that sphingolipid signaling is required for the regulation of connective tissue growth factor, a member of the CCN 1-3 family of genes that are involved in cell proliferation and differentiation. Finally, the induction of cardiomyoblast maturation induced by RLX was also found to be counteracted by inhibition of S1P formation. In conclusion, these findings provide a novel mechanism by which RLX acts on cardiac ECM remodeling and cardiac cell differentiation and offer interesting therapeutic options to prevent heart fibrosis and to favor myocardial regeneration.
Project description:Hypertension, atherothrombosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and renal failure are the main manifestations of cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading cause of death and disability in developed countries. Continuing insight into the pathophysiology of CVD can allow identification of effective therapeutic strategies to reduce the occurrence of death and/or severe disabilities. In this context, a healthy endothelium is deemed crucial to proper functioning and maintenance of anatomical integrity of the vascular system in many organs. Of note, epidemiologic studies indicate that the incidence of CVD in women is very low until menopause and increases sharply thereafter. The loss of protection against CVD in post-menopausal women has been chiefly attributed to ovarian steroid deficiency. However, besides steroids, the ovary also produces the peptide hormone relaxin (RLX), which provides potent vasoactive effects which render it the most likely candidate as the elusive physiological shield against CVD in fertile women. In particular, RLX has a specific relaxant effect on peripheral and coronary vasculature, exerted by the stimulation of endogenous nitric oxide (NO) generation by cells of the vascular wall, and can induce angiogenesis. Moreover, RLX inhibits the activation of inflammatory leukocytes and platelets, which play a key role in CVD. Experimental studies performed in vascular and blood cell in vitro and in animal models of vascular dysfunction, as well as pioneer clinical observations, have provided evidence that RLX can prevent and/or improve CVD, thus offering background to clinical trials aimed at exploring the broad therapeutic potential of human recombinant RLX as a new cardiovascular drug.
Project description:Introduction:The NLRP3 inflammasome produces interleukin (IL)-1? and IL-18, which when chronically activated by transforming growth factor (TGF)-?1, contribute to fibrosis. The recombinant form of the anti-fibrotic hormone, relaxin (RLX), suppresses the pro-fibrotic influence of TGF-?1 and toll-like receptor (TLR)-4 on NLRP3 inflammasome priming and activity in human cardiac myofibroblasts and mice with cardiomyopathy. However, whether RLX also modulates components of the myofibroblast NLRP3 inflammasome remains unknown. Methods and Results:Stimulation of a human dermal fibroblast (HDF) cell line with TGF-?1 [5 ng/ml; to promote myofibroblast (HDMF) differentiation], LPS (100 ng/ml; to prime the NLRP3 inflammasome) and ATP (5 mM; to activate the NLPR3 inflammasome) (T+L+A) significantly increased NLRP3 inflammasome priming and activity after 8 and 72 h; and ?-SMA expression (myofibroblast differentiation) and collagen-I deposition after 72 h. siRNA-induced knock-down of NLRP3 inflammasome priming components (NLRP3, ASC, caspase-1) in T+L+A-stimulated HDMFs for 24 h, completely knocked-down each component after 72 h. RLX (100 ng/ml) administration to T+L+A-stimulated HDMFs after control, NLRP3 or ASC siRNA transfection, equivalently suppressed IL-1?, pro-IL-18, ?-SMA, and collagen-I protein levels (by 40%-50%; all p<0.05 vs. T+L+A) after 72 h, as determined by Western blotting. These RLX-induced effects were abrogated by siRNA knock-down of caspase-1. Conclusion:The anti-fibrotic actions of RLX appear to require modulation of caspase-1 within the myofibroblast NLRP3 inflammasome.
Project description:Atrial fibrillation (AF) contributes significantly to morbidity and mortality in elderly and hypertensive patients and has been correlated to enhanced atrial fibrosis. Despite a lack of direct evidence that fibrosis causes AF, reversal of fibrosis is considered a plausible therapy.To evaluate the efficacy of the antifibrotic hormone relaxin (RLX) in suppressing AF in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR).Normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) and SHR were treated for 2 weeks with vehicle (WKY+V and SHR+V) or RLX (0.4 mg/kg per day, SHR+RLX) using implantable mini-pumps. Hearts were perfused, mapped optically to analyze action potential durations, intracellular Ca²? transients, and restitution kinetics, and tested for AF vulnerability. SHR hearts had slower conduction velocity (CV; P<0.01 versus WKY), steeper CV restitution kinetics, greater collagen deposition, higher levels of transcripts for transforming growth factor-?, metalloproteinase-2, metalloproteinase-9, collagen I/III, and reduced connexin 43 phosphorylation (P<0.05 versus WKY). Programmed stimulation triggered sustained AF in SHR (n=5/5) and SHR+V (n=4/4), but not in WKY (n=0/5) and SHR+RLX (n=1/8; P<0.01). RLX treatment reversed the transcripts for fibrosis, flattened CV restitution kinetics, reduced action potential duration at 90% recovery to baseline, increased CV (P<0.01), and reversed atrial hypertrophy (P<0.05). Independent of antifibrotic actions, RLX (0.1 µmol/L) increased Na? current density, INa (?2-fold in 48 hours) in human cardiomyocytes derived from inducible pluripotent stem cells (n=18/18; P<0.01).RLX treatment suppressed AF in SHR hearts by increasing CV from a combination of reversal of fibrosis and hypertrophy and by increasing INa. The study provides compelling evidence that RLX may provide a novel therapy to manage AF in humans by reversing fibrosis and hypertrophy and by modulating cardiac ionic currents.
Project description:In recent decades, solid organ transplantation (SOT) has increased the survival and quality of life for patients with end-stage organ failure by providing a potentially long-term treatment option. Although the availability of organs for transplantation has increased throughout the years, the demand greatly outweighs the supply. One possible solution for this problem is to extend the potential donor pool by using extended criteria donors. However, organs from such donors are more prone to ischemia reperfusion injury (IRI) resulting in higher rates of delayed graft function, acute and chronic graft rejection and worse overall SOT outcomes. This can be overcome by further investigating donor preconditioning strategies, graft perfusion and storage and by finding novel therapeutic agents that could reduce IRI. relaxin (RLX) is a peptide hormone with antifibrotic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective properties. The main research until now focused on heart failure; however, several preclinical studies showed its potentials for reducing IRI in SOT. The aim of this comprehensive review is to overview currently available literature on the possible role of RLX in reducing IRI and its positive impact on SOT.
Project description:Oncolytic adenovirus (oAd)-mediated gene therapy is a promising approach for cancer treatment because of its cancer cell-restricted replication and therapeutic gene expression. However, systemic administration of oAd is severely restricted by their immunogenic nature and poor tumor homing ability, thus oAd cannot be utilized to treat disseminated metastases. In this study, human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cell (hMSCs) was used as a viral replication-permissive carrier for oAd with an aim to improve the systemic delivery of the virus to tumor tissues. To overcome the poor delivery of oAd into hMSCs, a relaxin (RLX)-expressing oncolytic Ad (oAd/RLX), which degrades dense tumor extracellular matrix of highly desmoplastic pancreatic cancer, was complexed with biodegradable polymer (poly (ethyleneimine)-conjugated poly(CBA-DAH); PCDP), generating oAd/RLX-PCDP complex. oAd/RLX-PCDP complex enhanced the internalization of oAd into hMSC, leading to superior viral production and release from hMSCs, along with high RLX expression. Furthermore, systemic administration of oAd/RLX-PCDP-treated hMSCs elicited more potent antitumor effect compared to naked oAd/RLX or oAd/RLX-treated hMSC in pancreatic tumor model. This potent antitumor effect of systemically administered oAd/RLX-PCDP-treated hMSCs was achieved by superior viral replication in tumor tissues than any other treatment group. In conclusion, these results demonstrate that hMSCs are effective carriers for the systemic delivery of oAd to tumor sites and treatment of pancreatic cancer.
Project description:Relaxin, an emerging pharmaceutical treatment for acute heart failure, activates the relaxin family peptide receptor (RXFP1), which is a class A G-protein-coupled receptor. In addition to the classic transmembrane (TM) domain, RXFP1 possesses a large extracellular domain consisting of 10 leucine-rich repeats and an N-terminal low density lipoprotein class A (LDLa) module. Relaxin-mediated activation of RXFP1 requires multiple coordinated interactions between the ligand and various receptor domains including a high affinity interaction involving the leucine-rich repeats and a predicted lower affinity interaction involving the extracellular loops (ELs). The LDLa is essential for signal activation; therefore the ELs/TM may additionally present an interaction site to facilitate this LDLa-mediated signaling. To overcome the many challenges of investigating relaxin and the LDLa module interactions with the ELs, we engineered the EL1 and EL2 loops onto a soluble protein scaffold, mapping specific ligand and loop interactions using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Key EL residues were subsequently mutated in RXFP1, and changes in function and relaxin binding were assessed alongside the RXFP1 agonist ML290 to monitor the functional integrity of the TM domain of these mutant receptors. The outcomes of this work make an important contribution to understanding the mechanism of RXFP1 activation and will aid future development of small molecule RXFP1 agonists/antagonists.