Amino Acids (v.40, #5)

The creatine kinase system and pleiotropic effects of creatine by Theo Wallimann; Malgorzata Tokarska-Schlattner; Uwe Schlattner (1271-1296).
The pleiotropic effects of creatine (Cr) are based mostly on the functions of the enzyme creatine kinase (CK) and its high-energy product phosphocreatine (PCr). Multidisciplinary studies have established molecular, cellular, organ and somatic functions of the CK/PCr system, in particular for cells and tissues with high and intermittent energy fluctuations. These studies include tissue-specific expression and subcellular localization of CK isoforms, high-resolution molecular structures and structure–function relationships, transgenic CK abrogation and reverse genetic approaches. Three energy-related physiological principles emerge, namely that the CK/PCr systems functions as (a) an immediately available temporal energy buffer, (b) a spatial energy buffer or intracellular energy transport system (the CK/PCr energy shuttle or circuit) and (c) a metabolic regulator. The CK/PCr energy shuttle connects sites of ATP production (glycolysis and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation) with subcellular sites of ATP utilization (ATPases). Thus, diffusion limitations of ADP and ATP are overcome by PCr/Cr shuttling, as most clearly seen in polar cells such as spermatozoa, retina photoreceptor cells and sensory hair bundles of the inner ear. The CK/PCr system relies on the close exchange of substrates and products between CK isoforms and ATP-generating or -consuming processes. Mitochondrial CK in the mitochondrial outer compartment, for example, is tightly coupled to ATP export via adenine nucleotide transporter or carrier (ANT) and thus ATP-synthesis and respiratory chain activity, releasing PCr into the cytosol. This coupling also reduces formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and inhibits mitochondrial permeability transition, an early event in apoptosis. Cr itself may also act as a direct and/or indirect anti-oxidant, while PCr can interact with and protect cellular membranes. Collectively, these factors may well explain the beneficial effects of Cr supplementation. The stimulating effects of Cr for muscle and bone growth and maintenance, and especially in neuroprotection, are now recognized and the first clinical studies are underway. Novel socio-economically relevant applications of Cr supplementation are emerging, e.g. for senior people, intensive care units and dialysis patients, who are notoriously Cr-depleted. Also, Cr will likely be beneficial for the healthy development of premature infants, who after separation from the placenta depend on external Cr. Cr supplementation of pregnant and lactating women, as well as of babies and infants are likely to be of benefit for child development. Last but not least, Cr harbours a global ecological potential as an additive for animal feed, replacing meat- and fish meal for animal (poultry and swine) and fish aqua farming. This may help to alleviate human starvation and at the same time prevent over-fishing of oceans.
Keywords: Creatine kinase isoforms; Microcompartments; Beneficial effects of creatine supplementation

Creatine in mouse models of neurodegeneration and aging by T. Klopstock; M. Elstner; A. Bender (1297-1303).
The supplementation of creatine has shown a marked neuroprotective effect in mouse models of neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). This has been assigned to the known bioenergetic, anti-apoptotic, anti-excitotoxic and anti-oxidant properties of creatine. As aging and neurodegeneration share pathophysiological pathways, we investigated the effect of oral creatine supplementation on aging in 162 aged wild-type C57Bl/6J mice. The median healthy life span of creatine-fed mice was 9% higher than in their control littermates, and they performed significantly better in neurobehavioral tests. In brains of creatine-treated mice, there was a trend toward a reduction of reactive oxygen species and significantly lower accumulation of the “aging pigment” lipofuscin. Expression profiling showed an upregulation of genes implicated in neuronal growth, neuroprotection, and learning. These data showed that creatine improves health and longevity in mice. Creatine may, therefore, be a promising food supplement to promote healthy human aging. However, the strong neuroprotective effects in animal studies of creatine have not been reproduced in human clinical trials (that have been conducted in Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). The reasons for this translational gap are discussed. One obvious cause seems to be that all previous human studies may have been underpowered. Large phase III trials over long time periods are currently being conducted for Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease, and will possibly solve this issue.
Keywords: Creatine supplementation; Animal models; Neurodegeneration; Parkinson’s disease; Huntington’s disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Aging; Neuroprotection

Neuroprotective effects of creatine by M. Flint Beal (1305-1313).
There is a substantial body of literature, which has demonstrated that creatine has neuroprotective effects both in vitro and in vivo. Creatine can protect against excitotoxicity as well as against β-amyloid toxicity in vitro. We carried out studies examining the efficacy of creatine as a neuroprotective agent in vivo. We demonstrated that creatine can protect against excitotoxic lesions produced by N-methyl-d-aspartate. We also showed that creatine is neuroprotective against lesions produced by the toxins malonate and 3-nitropropionic acid (3-NP) which are reversible and irreversible inhibitors of succinate dehydrogenase, respectively. Creatine produced dose-dependent neuroprotective effects against MPTP toxicity reducing the loss of dopamine within the striatum and the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. We carried out a number of studies of the neuroprotective effects of creatine in transgenic mouse models of neurodegenerative diseases. We demonstrated that creatine produced an extension of survival, improved motor performance, and a reduction in loss of motor neurons in a transgenic mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Creatine produced an extension of survival, as well as improved motor function, and a reduction in striatal atrophy in the R6/2 and the N-171-82Q transgenic mouse models of Huntington’s disease (HD), even when its administration was delayed until the onset of disease symptoms. We recently examined the neuroprotective effects of a combination of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) with creatine against both MPTP and 3-NP toxicity. We found that the combination of CoQ and creatine together produced additive neuroprotective effects in a chronic MPTP model, and it blocked the development of alpha-synuclein aggregates. In the 3-NP model of HD, CoQ and creatine produced additive neuroprotective effects against the size of the striatal lesions. In the R6/2 transgenic mouse model of HD, the combination of CoQ and creatine produced additive effects on improving survival. Creatine may stabilize mitochondrial creatine kinase, and prevent activation of the mitochondrial permeability transition. Creatine, however, was still neuroprotective in mice, which were deficient in mitochondrial creatine kinase. Administration of creatine increases the brain levels of creatine and phosphocreatine. Due to its neuroprotective effects, creatine is now in clinical trials for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and HD. A phase 2 futility trial in PD showed approximately a 50% improvement in Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale at one year, and the compound was judged to be non futile. Creatine is now in a phase III clinical trial being carried out by the NET PD consortium. Creatine reduced plasma levels of 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine in HD patients phase II trial and was well-tolerated. Creatine is now being studied in a phase III clinical trial in HD, the CREST trial. Creatine, therefore, shows great promise in the treatment of a variety of neurodegenerative diseases.
Keywords: Parkinson’s; Huntington’s; ALS; Mitochondria

Creatine deficiency syndromes and the importance of creatine synthesis in the brain by Olivier Braissant; Hugues Henry; Elidie Béard; Joséphine Uldry (1315-1324).
Creatine deficiency syndromes, due to deficiencies in AGAT, GAMT (creatine synthesis pathway) or SLC6A8 (creatine transporter), lead to complete absence or very strong decrease of creatine in CNS as measured by magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Brain is the main organ affected in creatine-deficient patients, who show severe neurodevelopmental delay and present neurological symptoms in early infancy. AGAT- and GAMT-deficient patients can be treated by oral creatine supplementation which improves their neurological status, while this treatment is inefficient on SLC6A8-deficient patients. While it has long been thought that most, if not all, of brain creatine was of peripheral origin, the past years have brought evidence that creatine can cross blood–brain barrier, however, only with poor efficiency, and that CNS must ensure parts of its creatine needs by its own endogenous synthesis. Moreover, we showed very recently that in many brain structures, including cortex and basal ganglia, AGAT and GAMT, while found in every brain cell types, are not co-expressed but are rather expressed in a dissociated way. This suggests that to allow creatine synthesis in these structures, guanidinoacetate must be transported from AGAT- to GAMT-expressing cells, most probably through SLC6A8. This new understanding of creatine metabolism and transport in CNS will not only allow a better comprehension of brain consequences of creatine deficiency syndromes, but will also contribute to better decipher creatine roles in CNS, not only in energy as ATP regeneration and buffering, but also in its recently suggested functions as neurotransmitter or osmolyte.
Keywords: Creatine deficiency syndromes; Creatine; Guanidinoacetate; Brain; AGAT; GAMT; SLC6A8

The metabolic burden of creatine synthesis by John T. Brosnan; Robin P. da Silva; Margaret E. Brosnan (1325-1331).
Creatine synthesis is required in adult animals to replace creatine that is spontaneously converted to creatinine and excreted in the urine. Additionally, in growing animals it is necessary to provide creatine to the expanding tissue mass. Creatine synthesis requires three amino acids: glycine, methionine and arginine, and three enzymes: l-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT), methionine adenosyltransferase (MAT) and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase (GAMT). The entire glycine molecule is consumed in creatine synthesis but only the methyl and amidino groups, respectively, from methionine and arginine. Creatinine loss averages approximately 2 g (14.6 mmol) for 70 kg males in the 20- to 39-year age group. Creatinine loss is lower in females and in older age groups because of lower muscle mass. Approximately half of this creatine lost to creatinine can be replaced, in omnivorous individuals, by dietary creatine. However, since dietary creatine is only provided in animal products, principally in meat and fish, virtually all of the creatine loss in vegetarians must be replaced via endogenous synthesis. Creatine synthesis does not appear to place a major burden on glycine metabolism in adults since this amino acid is readily synthesized. However, creatine synthesis does account for approximately 40% of all of the labile methyl groups provided by S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) and, as such, places an appreciable burden on the provision of such methyl groups, either from the diet or via de novo methylneogenesis. Creatine synthesis consumes some 20–30% of arginine’s amidino groups, whether provided in the diet or synthesized within the body. Creatine synthesis is, therefore, a quantitatively major pathway in amino acid metabolism and imposes an appreciable burden on the metabolism of methionine and of arginine.
Keywords: Arginine; Glycine; Methionine; S-Adenosyl methionine; Methyl balance; Liver; Kidney

Systems bioenergetics of creatine kinase networks: physiological roles of creatine and phosphocreatine in regulation of cardiac cell function by R. Guzun; N. Timohhina; K. Tepp; M. Gonzalez-Granillo; I. Shevchuk; V. Chekulayev; A. V. Kuznetsov; T. Kaambre; V. A. Saks (1333-1348).
Physiological role of creatine (Cr) became first evident in the experiments of Belitzer and Tsybakova in 1939, who showed that oxygen consumption in a well-washed skeletal muscle homogenate increases strongly in the presence of creatine and with this results in phosphocreatine (PCr) production with PCr/O2 ratio of about 5–6. This was the beginning of quantitative analysis in bioenergetics. It was also observed in many physiological experiments that the contractile force changes in parallel with the alteration in the PCr content. On the other hand, it was shown that when heart function is governed by Frank–Starling law, work performance and oxygen consumption rate increase in parallel without any changes in PCr and ATP tissue contents (metabolic homeostasis). Studies of cellular mechanisms of all these important phenomena helped in shaping new approach to bioenergetics, Molecular System Bioenergetics, a part of Systems Biology. This approach takes into consideration intracellular interactions that lead to novel mechanisms of regulation of energy fluxes. In particular, interactions between mitochondria and cytoskeleton resulting in selective restriction of permeability of outer mitochondrial membrane anion channel (VDAC) for adenine nucleotides and thus their recycling in mitochondria coupled to effective synthesis of PCr by mitochondrial creatine kinase, MtCK. Therefore, Cr concentration and the PCr/Cr ratio became important kinetic parameters in the regulation of respiration and energy fluxes in muscle cells. Decrease in the intracellular contents of Cr and PCr results in a hypodynamic state of muscle and muscle pathology. Many experimental studies have revealed that PCr may play two important roles in the regulation of muscle energetics: first by maintaining local ATP pools via compartmentalized creatine kinase reactions, and secondly by stabilizing cellular membranes due to electrostatic interactions with phospholipids. The second mechanism decreases the production of lysophosphoglycerides in hypoxic heart, protects the cardiac cells sarcolemma against ischemic damage, decreases the frequency of arrhythmias and increases the post-ischemic recovery of contractile function. PCr is used as a pharmacological product Neoton in cardiac surgery as one of the components of cardioplegic solutions for protection of the heart against intraoperational injury and injected intravenously in acute myocardial ischemic conditions for improving the hemodynamic response and clinical conditions of patients with heart failure.
Keywords: Creatine; Phosphotransfer networks; Mitochondria; Respiration; Regulation; Systems biology

The ingestion of the dietary supplement creatine (about 20 g/day for 5 days or about 2 g/day for 30 days) results in increased skeletal muscle creatine and phosphocreatine. Subsequently, the performance of high-intensity exercise tasks, which rely heavily on the creatine-phosphocreatine energy system, is enhanced. The well documented benefits of creatine supplementation in young adults, including increased lean body mass, increased strength, and enhanced fatigue resistance are particularly important to older adults. With aging and reduced physical activity, there are decreases in muscle creatine, muscle mass, bone density, and strength. However, there is evidence that creatine ingestion may reverse these changes, and subsequently improve activities of daily living. Several groups have demonstrated that in older adults, short-term high-dose creatine supplementation, independent of exercise training, increases body mass, enhances fatigue resistance, increases muscle strength, and improves the performance of activities of daily living. Similarly, in older adults, concurrent creatine supplementation and resistance training increase lean body mass, enhance fatigue resistance, increase muscle strength, and improve performance of activities of daily living to a greater extent than resistance training alone. Additionally, creatine supplementation plus resistance training results in a greater increase in bone mineral density than resistance training alone. Higher brain creatine is associated with improved neuropsychological performance, and recently, creatine supplementation has been shown to increase brain creatine and phosphocreatine. Subsequent studies have demonstrated that cognitive processing, that is either experimentally (following sleep deprivation) or naturally (due to aging) impaired, can be improved with creatine supplementation. Creatine is an inexpensive and safe dietary supplement that has both peripheral and central effects. The benefits afforded to older adults through creatine ingestion are substantial, can improve quality of life, and ultimately may reduce the disease burden associated with sarcopenia and cognitive dysfunction.
Keywords: Dietary supplement; Ergogenic aid; Fatigue; Phosphocreatine; Aging

The classical role of PCr is seen as a reservoir of high-energy phosphates defending cellular ATP levels under anaerobic conditions, high rates of energy transfer or rapid fluctuations in energy requirement. Although the high concentration of PCr in glycolytic fast-twitch fibers supports the role of PCr as a buffer of ATP, the primary importance of the creatine kinase (CK) reaction may in fact be to counteract large increases in ADP, which could otherwise inhibit cellular ATPase-mediated systems. A primary role for CK in the maintenance of ADP homeostasis may explain why, in many conditions, there is an inverse relationship between PCr and muscle contractility but not between ATP and muscle contractility. The high rate of ATP hydrolysis during muscle contraction combined with restricted diffusion of ADP suggests that ADP concentration increases transiently during the contraction phase (ADP spikes) and that these are synchronized with the contraction. The presence of CK, structurally bound in close vicinity to the sites of ATP utilization, will reduce the amplitude and duration of the ADP spikes through PCr-mediated phosphotransfer. When PCr is reduced, the efficiency of CK as an ATP buffer will be reduced and the changes in ADP will become more prominent. The presence of ADP spikes is supported by the finding that other processes known to be activated by ADP (i.e. AMP deamination and glycolysis) are stimulated during exercise but not during anoxia, despite the same low global energy state. Breakdown of PCr is driven by increases in ADP above that depicted by the CK equilibrium and the current method to calculate ADPfree from the CK reaction in a contracting muscle is therefore questionable.
Keywords: Adenine nucleotides; Creatine kinase equilibrium; Muscle energetics

Analysis of the efficacy, safety, and regulatory status of novel forms of creatine by Ralf Jäger; Martin Purpura; Andrew Shao; Toshitada Inoue; Richard B. Kreider (1369-1383).
Creatine has become one of the most popular dietary supplements in the sports nutrition market. The form of creatine that has been most extensively studied and commonly used in dietary supplements is creatine monohydrate (CM). Studies have consistently indicated that CM supplementation increases muscle creatine and phosphocreatine concentrations by approximately 15–40%, enhances anaerobic exercise capacity, and increases training volume leading to greater gains in strength, power, and muscle mass. A number of potential therapeutic benefits have also been suggested in various clinical populations. Studies have indicated that CM is not degraded during normal digestion and that nearly 99% of orally ingested CM is either taken up by muscle or excreted in urine. Further, no medically significant side effects have been reported in literature. Nevertheless, supplement manufacturers have continually introduced newer forms of creatine into the marketplace. These newer forms have been purported to have better physical and chemical properties, bioavailability, efficacy, and/or safety profiles than CM. However, there is little to no evidence that any of the newer forms of creatine are more effective and/or safer than CM whether ingested alone and/or in combination with other nutrients. In addition, whereas the safety, efficacy, and regulatory status of CM is clearly defined in almost all global markets; the safety, efficacy, and regulatory status of other forms of creatine present in today’s marketplace as a dietary or food supplement is less clear.
Keywords: Creatine; Dietary supplements; Ergogenic aids; Exercise; Performance

Creatine as an antioxidant by Piero Sestili; C. Martinelli; E. Colombo; E. Barbieri; L. Potenza; S. Sartini; C. Fimognari (1385-1396).
Creatine monohydrate (Cr), the most diffuse supplement in the sports industry, is receiving greater attention because of its beneficial effects in a wide number of human degenerative diseases and conditions. These effects can be barely explained on the basis of the sole ergogenic role of the Cr/CrP system. Indeed, a wide number of research articles indicate that Cr is capable of exerting multiple, non-energy related, effects on diverse and relevant cellular targets. Among these effects, the antioxidant activity of Cr emerges as an additional mechanism which is likely to play a supportive role in the Cr-cytoprotection paradigm.
Keywords: Creatine; Oxidative stress; Antioxidant; Cytotoxicity; Genotoxicity; Differentiation

Creatine as a therapeutic strategy for myopathies by M. A. Tarnopolsky (1397-1407).
Myopathies are genetic or acquired disorders of skeletal muscle that lead to varying degrees of weakness, atrophy, and exercise intolerance. In theory, creatine supplementation could have a number of beneficial effects that could enhance function in myopathy patients, including muscle mass, strength and endurance enhancement, lower calcium levels, anti-oxidant effects, and reduced apoptosis. Patients with muscular dystrophy respond to several months of creatine monohydrate supplementation (~0.075–0.1 g/kg/day) with greater strength (~9%) and fat-free mass (~0.63 kg). Patients with myotonic dystrophy do not show as consistent an effect, possibly due to creatine transport issues. Creatine monohydrate supplementation shows modest benefits only at lower doses and possibly negative effects (cramping) at higher doses in McArdle’s disease patients. Patients with MELAS syndrome show some evidence of benefit from creatine supplementation in exercise capacity, with the effects in patients with CPEO being less robust, again, possibly due to limited muscle creatine uptake. The evidence for side effects or negative impact upon serological metrics from creatine supplementation in all groups of myopathy patients is almost non-existent and pale in comparison to the very substantial and well-known side effects from our current chemotherapeutic interventions for some myopathies (i.e., corticosteroids).
Keywords: Muscular dystrophy; Mitochondrial disease; Inflammatory myopathy; McArdle’s disease; Creatine monohydrate

Studies on the safety of creatine supplementation by Hyo Jeong Kim; Chang Keun Kim; A. Carpentier; Jacques R. Poortmans (1409-1418).
Doubtful allegations of adverse effects of creatine supplementation have been released through the press media and through scientific publications. In the present review we have tried to separate the wheat from the chaff by looking for the experimental evidence of any such claims. Anecdotal reports from athletes have appeared on muscle cramp and gastrointestinal complaints during creatine supplementation, but the incidence of these is limited and not necessarily linked to creatine itself. Despite several unproved allegations, liver (enzymes, urea) and kidneys (glomerular filtration urea and albumin excretion rates) show no change in functionality in healthy subjects supplemented with creatine, even during several months, in both young and older populations. The potential effects (production of heterocyclic amines) of mutagenicity and carcinogenicity induced by creatine supplementation have been claimed by a French Sanitary Agency (AFSSA), which might put consumers at risk. Even if there is a slight increase (within the normal range) of urinary methylamine and formaldehyde excretion after a heavy load of creatine (20 g/day) this is without effect on kidney function. The search for the excretion of heterocyclic amines remains a future task to definitively exclude the unproved allegation made by some national agencies. We advise that high-dose (>3–5 g/day) creatine supplementation should not be used by individuals with pre-existing renal disease or those with a potential risk for renal dysfunction (diabetes, hypertension, reduced glomerular filtration rate). A pre-supplementation investigation of kidney function might be considered for reasons of safety, but in normal healthy subjects appears unnecessary.
Keywords: Sport; Creatine; Liver; Kidney; Health risks

Taurine, an abundant amino acid in the nervous system, is reported to reduce ischemic brain injury in a dose-dependent manner. This study was designed to investigate whether taurine protected brain against experimental stroke through affecting mitochondria-mediated cell death pathway. Rats were subjected to 2-h ischemia by intraluminal filament, and then reperfused for 22 h. It was confirmed again that taurine (50 mg/kg) administered intravenously 1 h after ischemia markedly improved neurological function and decreased infarct volume at 22 h after reperfusion. In vehicle-treated rats, the levels of intracellular ATP and the levels of cytosolic and mitochondrial Bcl-xL in the penumbra and core were markedly reduced, while the levels of cytosolic Bax in the core and mitochondrial Bax in the penumbra and core were enhanced significantly. There was a decrease in cytochrome C in mitochondria and an increase in cytochrome C in the cytosol of the penumbra and core. These changes were reversed by taurine. Furthermore, taurine inhibited the activation of calpain and caspase-3, reduced the degradation of αII-spectrin, and attenuated the necrotic and apoptotic cell death in the penumbra and core. These data demonstrated that preserving the mitochondrial function and blocking the mitochondria-mediated cell death pathway may be one mechanism of taurine’s action against brain ischemia.
Keywords: Taurine; Experimental stroke; Mitochondria; Calpain; Caspase-3

Microwave-assisted solid-phase peptide synthesis of the 60–110 domain of human pleiotrophin on 2-chlorotrityl resin by Irene Friligou; Evangelia Papadimitriou; Dimitrios Gatos; John Matsoukas; Theodore Tselios (1431-1440).
A fast and efficient microwave-assisted solid phase peptide synthesis (MW-SPPS) of a 51mer peptide, the main heparin-binding site (60–110) of human pleiotrophin (hPTN), using 2-chlorotrityl chloride resin (CLTR-Cl) following the 9-fluorenylmethyloxycarbonyl/tert-butyl (Fmoc/tBu) methodology and with the standard N,N′-diisopropylcarbodiimide/1-hydroxybenzotriazole (DIC/HOBt) coupling reagents, is described. An MW-SPPS protocol was for the first time successfully applied to the acid labile CLTR-Cl for the faster synthesis of long peptides (51mer peptide) and with an enhanced purity in comparison to conventional SPPS protocols. The synthesis of such long peptides is not trivial and it is generally achieved by recombinant techniques. The desired linear peptide was obtained in only 30 h of total processing time and in 51% crude yield, in which 60% was the purified product obtained with 99.4% purity. The synthesized peptide was purified by reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC) and identified by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS). Then, the regioselective formation of the two disulfide bridges of hPTN 60–110 was successfully achieved by a two-step procedure, involving an oxidative folding step in dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) to form the Cys77–Cys109 bond, followed by iodine oxidation to form the Cys67–Cys99 bond.
Keywords: Human pleiotrophin (hPTN); Automatic MW-SPPS; 2-Chlorotrityl resin; Disulfide bond formation

Effects of GABA-transaminase inhibitor Vigabatrin on thermoregulation in rats by Rumen P. Nikolov; Krassimira S. Yakimova (1441-1445).
Vigabatrin is a GABA derivative (gamma-vinyl GABA) which inhibits irreversibly the enzyme activity of GABA transaminase and thus increased indirectly brain GABA concentrations. We have used body temperature assay to examine the effects of Vigabatrin on thermoregulation in intact rats. In order to understand the mechanism of thermoregulatory action of Vigabatrin at cellular level, we have investigated its effect on individual warm-sensitive preoptic area/anterior hypothalamus (PO/AH) neurons in rat brain slice preparations. The results of the present study suggest that Vigabatrin produced dose-dependent hypothermia in rats and also increased temperature sensitivity of warm-sensitive PO/AH neurons.
Keywords: GABA; Vigabatrin; Thermoregulation; PO/AH neurons; Rats

Molecules and signaling pathways involved in the expression of OC-STAMP during osteoclastogenesis by Myung Hee Kim; Mikyung Park; Seung-hwa Baek; Hye Joo Kim; Seong Hwan Kim (1447-1459).
The receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL) is a key factor in regulating osteoclastogenesis and in maintaining the survival of mature osteoclasts. We screened differentially expressed genes in RAW264.7 cells in response to RANKL and found osteoclast stimulatory transmembrane protein (OC-STAMP) as one of the RANKL-induced genes of interest. Recently, OC-STAMP has been identified as the RANKL-induced protein that promotes osteoclast differentiation, but the mechanism that regulates its expression is not understood. Therefore, the tissue distribution of OC-STAMP and the signaling pathways that regulate its expression were studied here. Similar to osteoclasts, OC-STAMP was expressed in most tissues, suggesting its involvement in the function of other tissues. Interestingly, OC-STAMP was downregulated by 17β-estradiol at high concentrations, suggesting the potential relationship between OC-STAMP and estrogen. Importantly, the knockdown of OC-STAMP at the transcript level resulted in the inhibition of multinucleated osteoclast formation and the decreased expression of genes including transcription factor (such as c-Jun), receptors (such as RANK and c-Fms), a signaling molecule (such as TRAF6), and a cell fusion-related molecule (such as meltrin-α), suggesting that the osteoclast differentiation needs the coordinated expression of OC-STAMP with several molecules required for transcription, signaling transduction, and cell fusion. Additionally, the treatment of its specific antibody inhibited the formation and bone resorptive activity of mature osteoclasts, suggesting its involvement in the function of mature osteoclasts. Furthermore, studies with pharmacological inhibitors suggested PKCβ or Akt might be the major signaling molecules to regulate the expression of OC-STAMP during osteoclastogenesis.
Keywords: OC-STAMP; Osteoclast; Differentiation

The postprandial use of dietary amino acids as an energy substrate is delayed after the deamination process in rats adapted for 2 weeks to a high protein diet by Claire Fromentin; Dalila Azzout-Marniche; Daniel Tomé; Patrick Even; Catherine Luengo; Julien Piedcoq; Gilles Fromentin; Claire Gaudichon (1461-1472).
The aim of this study was to determine the contribution of dietary amino acids (AA) to energy metabolism under high protein (HP) diets, using a double tracer method to follow simultaneously the metabolic fate of α-amino groups and carbon skeletons. Sixty-seven male Wistar rats were fed a normal (NP) or HP diet for 14 days. Fifteen of them were equipped with a permanent catheter. On day 15, after fasting overnight, they received a 4-g meal extrinsically labeled with a mixture of 20 U-[15N]-[13C] AA. Energy metabolism, dietary AA deamination and oxidation and their transfer to plasma glucose were measured kinetically for 4 h in the catheterized rats. The transfer of dietary AA to liver glycogen was determined at 4 h. The digestive kinetics of dietary AA, their transfer into liver AA and proteins and the liver glycogen content were measured in the 52 other rats that were killed sequentially hourly over a 4-h period. [15N] and [13C] kinetics in the splanchnic protein pools were perfectly similar. Deamination increased fivefold in HP rats compared to NP rats. In the latter, all deaminated AA were oxidized. In HP rats, the oxidation rate was slower than deamination, so that half of the deaminated AA was non-oxidized within 4 h. Non-oxidized carbon skeletons were poorly sequestrated in glycogen, although there was a significant postprandial production of hepatic glycogen. Our results strongly suggest that excess dietary AA-derived carbon skeletons above the ATP production capacity, are temporarily retained in intermediate metabolic pools until the oxidative capacities of the liver are no longer overwhelmed by an excess of substrates.
Keywords: HP diet; Dietary amino acids; Oxidation; Glycogen; Stable isotopes

Proline induces calcium-mediated oxidative burst and salicylic acid signaling by Jiugeng Chen; Yueqin Zhang; Cuiping Wang; Weitao Lü; Jing Bo Jin; Xuejun Hua (1473-1484).
Although free proline accumulation is a well-documented phenomenon in many plants in response to a variety of environmental stresses, and is proposed to play protective roles, high intracellular proline content, by either exogenous application or endogenous over-production, in the absence of stresses, is found to be inhibitory to plant growth. We have shown here that exogenous application of proline significantly induced intracellular Ca2+ accumulation in tobacco and calcium-dependent ROS production in Arabidopsis seedlings, which subsequently enhanced salicylic acid (SA) synthesis and PR genes expression. This suggested that proline can promote a reaction similar to hypersensitive response during pathogen infection. Other amino acids, such as glutamate, but not arginine and phenylalanine, were also found to be capable of inducing PR gene expression. In addition, proline at concentration as low as 0.5 mM could induce PR gene expression. However, proline could not induce the expression of PDF1.2 gene, the marker gene for jasmonic acid signaling pathway. Furthermore, proline-induced SA production is mediated by NDR1-dependent signaling pathway, but not that mediated by PAD4. Our data provide evidences that exogenous proline, and probably some other amino acids can specifically induce SA signaling and defense response.
Keywords: Proline toxicity; Calcium; Hydrogen peroxide; Salicylic acid; PR genes

Zinc induces disorder-to-order transitions in free and membrane-associated Thellungiella salsuginea dehydrins TsDHN-1 and TsDHN-2: a solution CD and solid-state ATR-FTIR study by Luna N. Rahman; Vladimir V. Bamm; Janine A. M. Voyer; Graham S. T. Smith; Lin Chen; Mahmoud W. Yaish; Barbara A. Moffatt; John R. Dutcher; George Harauz (1485-1502).
Dehydrins are intrinsically unstructured proteins that are expressed in plants experiencing extreme environmental conditions such as drought or low temperature. Although their role is not completely understood, it has been suggested that they stabilize proteins and membrane structures during environmental stress and also sequester metals such as zinc. Here, we investigate two dehydrins (denoted as TsDHN-1 and TsDHN-2) from Thellungiella salsuginea. This plant is a crucifer that thrives in the Canadian sub-Arctic (Yukon Territory) where it grows on saline-rich soils and experiences periods of both extreme cold and drought. We show using circular dichroism and attenuated total reflection-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy that ordered secondary structure is induced and stabilized in these proteins, both in free and vesicle-bound form, by association with zinc. In membrane-associated form, both proteins have an increased proportion of β-strand conformation induced by the cation, in addition to the amphipathic α-helices formed by their constituent K-segments. These results support the hypothesis that dehydrins stabilize plant plasma and organellar membranes in conditions of stress, and further that zinc may be an important co-factor in stabilization. Whereas dehydrins in the cytosol of a plant cell undergoing dehydration or temperature stress form bulk hydrogels and remain primarily disordered, dehydrins with specific membrane- or protein-associations will have induced ordered secondary structures.
Keywords: Dehydrins; Late embryogenesis abundant (LEA); Cold tolerance; Drought tolerance; Intrinsically-disordered protein; Induced folding; Poly-proline type II; CD spectroscopy; FTIR spectroscopy; ATR-FTIR spectroscopy

New potent biphalin analogues containing p-fluoro-l-phenylalanine at the 4,4′ positions and non-hydrazine linkers by Adriano Mollica; Francesco Pinnen; Federica Feliciani; Azzurra Stefanucci; Gino Lucente; Peg Davis; Frank Porreca; Shou-Wu Ma; Josephine Lai; Victor J. Hruby (1503-1511).
We report the synthesis and the biological evaluation of two new analogues of the potent dimeric opioid peptide biphalin. The performed modification is based on the replacement of two key structural elements of the native biphalin, namely: the hydrazine bridge which joins the two palindromic moieties and the phenylalanine residues at the 4,4′ positions of the backbone. The new analogues 9 and 10 contain 1,2-phenylenediamine and piperazine, respectively, in place of the hydrazidic linker and p-fluoro-l-phenylalanine residues at 4 and 4′ positions. Binding values are: $$ K_{ ext{i}}^{mu } = 0.51,{ ext{nM}} $$ and $$ K_{ ext{i}}^{delta } = 12.8,{ ext{nM}} $$ for compound 9, $$ K_{ ext{i}}^{mu } = 0.09,{ ext{nM}} $$ and $$ K_{ ext{i}}^{delta } = 0.11,{ ext{nM}} $$ for analogue 10.
Keywords: Activity; Biphalin; Dimeric peptide ligands; Opioid peptides; Synthesis

Reduced expression of intestinal N-acetylglutamate synthase in suckling piglets: a novel molecular mechanism for arginine as a nutritionally essential amino acid for neonates by Meimei Geng; Tiejun Li; Xiangfeng Kong; Xiaoyan Song; Wuying Chu; Ruilin Huang; Yulong Yin; Guoyao Wu (1513-1522).
The objective of this study was to determine developmental changes in mRNA and protein levels for N-acetylglutamate synthase (NAGS; a key enzyme in synthesis of citrulline and arginine from glutamine/glutamate and proline) in the small intestine of suckling piglets. The porcine NAGS gene was cloned using the real-time polymerase-chain reaction (RT-PCR) method. The porcine NAGS gene encoded 368 amino acid residues and had a high degree of sequence similarity to the “conserved domain” of human and mouse NAGS genes. The porcine NAGS gene was expressed in E. coli BL21 and a polyclonal antibody against the porcine NAGS protein was developed. Real-time RT-PCR and western-blot analyses were performed to quantify NAGS mRNA and protein, respectively, in the jejunum and ileum of 1- to 28-day-old pigs. Results indicated that intestinal NAGS mRNA levels were lower in 7- to 28-day-old than in 1-day-old pigs. Immunochemical analysis revealed that NAGS protein was localized in enterocytes of the gut. Notably, intestinal NAGS protein abundance declined progressively during the 28-day suckling period. The postnatal decrease in NAGS protein levels was consistent with the previous report of reduced NAGS enzymatic activity as well as reduced synthesis of citrulline and arginine in the small intestine of 7- to 28-day-old pigs. Collectively, these results suggest that intestinal NAGS expression is regulated primarily at the post-transcriptional level. The findings also provide a new molecular basis to explain that endogenous synthesis of arginine is impaired in sow-reared piglets and arginine is a nutritionally essential amino acid for the neonates.
Keywords: N-Acetylglutamate synthase; Arginine; Development; Piglets