Amino Acids (v.49, #5)

Dietary proteins and amino acids in the control of the muscle mass during immobilization and aging: role of the MPS response by Jason M. Cholewa; Dominique Dardevet; Fernanda Lima-Soares; Kassiana de Araújo Pessôa; Paulo Henrique Oliveira; João Ricardo dos Santos Pinho; Humberto Nicastro; Zhi Xia; Christian Emmanuel Torres Cabido; Nelo Eidy Zanchi (811-820).
Dietary proteins/essential amino acids (EAAs) are nutrients with anabolic properties that may increase muscle mass or attenuate muscle loss during immobilization and aging via the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis (MPS). An EAA’s anabolic threshold, capable to maximize the stimulation of MPS has been hypothesized, but during certain conditions associated with muscle loss, this anabolic threshold seems to increase which reduces the efficacy of dietary EAAs to stimulate MPS. Preliminary studies have demonstrated that acute ingestion of dietary proteins/EAA (with a sufficient amount of leucine) was capable to restore the postprandial MPS during bed rest, immobilization or aging; however, whether these improvements translate into chronic increases (or attenuates loss) of muscle mass is equivocal. For example, although free leucine supplementation acutely increases MPS and muscle mass in some chronic studies, other studies have reported no increases in muscle mass following chronic leucine supplementation. In contrast, chronically increasing leucine intake via the consumption of an overall increase in dietary protein appears to be the most effective dietary intervention toward increasing or attenuating lean mass during aging; however, more research investigating the optimal dose and timing of protein ingestion is necessary. Several studies have demonstrated that decreases in postprandial MPS as a result of increased circulating oxidative and inflammatory are more responsible than muscle protein breakdown for the decreases in muscle mass during disuse and health aging. Therefore, nutritional interventions that reduce oxidation or inflammation in conjunction with higher protein intakes that overcome the anabolic resistance may enhance the MPS response to feeding and either increase muscle mass or attenuate loss. In preliminary studies, antioxidant vitamins and amino acids with antioxidant or anti-inflammatory properties show potential to restore the anabolic response associated with protein ingestion. More research, however, is required to investigate if these nutrients translate to increases in MPS and, ultimately, increased lean mass in aging humans. The purpose of the present review is to discuss the role of protein/EAA intake to enhance postprandial MPS during conditions associated with muscle loss, and bring new perspectives and challenges associated nutritional interventions aimed to optimize the anabolic effects of dietary protein/EAAs ingestion.
Keywords: Proteins; Betaine; Amino acids; Essential amino acids; Leucine; Glycine; Postprandial muscle protein synthesis; Atrophy; Hypertrophy

Differential distribution of amino acids in plants by Vinod Kumar; Anket Sharma; Ravdeep Kaur; Ashwani Kumar Thukral; Renu Bhardwaj; Parvaiz Ahmad (821-869).
Plants are a rich source of amino acids and their individual abundance in plants is of great significance especially in terms of food. Therefore, it is of utmost necessity to create a database of the relative amino acid contents in plants as reported in literature. Since in most of the cases complete analysis of profiles of amino acids in plants was not reported, the units used and the methods applied and the plant parts used were different, amino acid contents were converted into relative units with respect to lysine for statistical analysis. The most abundant amino acids in plants are glutamic acid and aspartic acid. Pearson’s correlation analysis among different amino acids showed that there were no negative correlations between the amino acids. Cluster analysis (CA) applied to relative amino acid contents of different families. Alismataceae, Cyperaceae, Capparaceae and Cactaceae families had close proximity with each other on the basis of their relative amino acid contents. First three components of principal component analysis (PCA) explained 79.5% of the total variance. Factor analysis (FA) explained four main underlying factors for amino acid analysis. Factor-1 accounted for 29.4% of the total variance and had maximum loadings on glycine, isoleucine, leucine, threonine and valine. Factor-2 explained 25.8% of the total variance and had maximum loadings on alanine, aspartic acid, serine and tyrosine. 14.2% of the total variance was explained by factor-3 and had maximum loadings on arginine and histidine. Factor-4 accounted 8.3% of the total variance and had maximum loading on the proline amino acid. The relative content of different amino acids presented in this paper is alanine (1.4), arginine (1.8), asparagine (0.7), aspartic acid (2.4), cysteine (0.5), glutamic acid (2.8), glutamine (0.6), glycine (1.0), histidine (0.5), isoleucine (0.9), leucine (1.7), lysine (1.0), methionine (0.4), phenylalanine (0.9), proline (1.1), serine (1.0), threonine (1.0), tryptophan (0.3), tyrosine (0.7) and valine (1.2).
Keywords: Amino acids; Cluster analysis; Principal component analysis; Factor analysis

Behavioral and inflammatory response in animals exposed to a low-pressure blast wave and supplemented with β-alanine by Jay R. Hoffman; Amitai Zuckerman; Omri Ram; Oren Sadot; Jeffrey R. Stout; Ishay Ostfeld; Hagit Cohen (871-886).
This study investigated the benefit of β-alanine (BA) supplementation on behavioral and cognitive responses relating to mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in rats exposed to a low-pressure blast wave. Animals were fed a normal diet with or without (PL) BA supplementation (100 mg kg−1) for 30-day, prior to being exposed to a low-pressure blast wave. A third group of animals served as a control (CTL). These animals were fed a normal diet, but were not exposed to the blast. Validated cognitive-behavioral paradigms were used to assess both mTBI and PTSD-like behavior on days 7–14 following the blast. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neuropeptide Y, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and tau protein expressions were analyzed a day later. In addition, brain carnosine and histidine content was assessed as well. The prevalence of animals exhibiting mTBI-like behavior was significantly lower (p = 0.044) in BA than PL (26.5 and 46%, respectively), but no difference (p = 0.930) was noted in PTSD-like behavior between the groups (10.2 and 12.0%, respectively). Carnosine content in the cerebral cortex was higher (p = 0.048) for BA compared to PL, while a trend towards a difference was seen in the hippocampus (p = 0.058) and amygdala (p = 0.061). BDNF expression in the CA1 subregion of PL was lower than BA (p = 0.009) and CTL (p < 0.001), while GFAP expression in CA1 (p = 0.003) and CA3 (p = 0.040) subregions were higher in PL than other groups. Results indicated that BA supplementation for 30-day increased resiliency to mTBI in animals exposed to a low-pressure blast wave.
Keywords: Supplementation; Carnosine; Mild traumatic brain injury; GFAP; BDNF

A strong developmental isotope effect in Caenorhabditis elegans induced by 5,5-deuterated lysine by Tatyana V. Korneenko; Nikolay B. Pestov; Alaksiej L. Hurski; Artsiom M. Fedarkevich; Vadim V. Shmanai; J. Thomas Brenna; Mikhail S. Shchepinov (887-894).
Effects exerted by heavy isotope substitution in biopolymers on the functioning of whole organisms have not been investigated. We report on the decrease of permissive temperature of nematodes fed with bacteria containing 5,5-d2-lysine. We synthesized 5,5-dideuterolysine and, taking advantage of lysine being an essential amino acid, showed that C. elegans with modified lysine poorly develop from larvae into fertile adult hermaphrodites. This effect occurs only at high temperature within the permissible range for C. elegans (25 °C) and completely vanishes at 15 °C. The only known metabolic involvement of C5 in lysine is in post-translational modification through lysyl hydoxylases. Indeed, siRNA experiments showed that deficiency of let-268/plod lysyl-hydroxylase/glycosydase further amplifies the isotope effect making it apparent even at 20 °C, whereas control siRNAs as well as another lysyl-hydroxylase (psr-1/jmjdD) siRNA do not. We report for the first time that a site-specific deuteration may strongly affect the development of the whole animal organism especially under the conditions of deficiency of the corresponding enzyme. These findings provide the basis for our ongoing efforts to employ isotope effects for fine tuning of metabolic pathways to mitigate pathological processes.
Keywords: Isotope effect; Lysine; Development; Lysyl-hydroxylase

A novel BRET-based binding assay for interaction studies of relaxin family peptide receptor 3 with its ligands by Jia-Hui Wang; Xiao-Xia Shao; Meng-Jun Hu; Dian Wei; Ya-Li Liu; Zeng-Guang Xu; Zhan-Yun Guo (895-903).
Relaxin family peptide receptor 3 (RXFP3) is an A-class G protein-coupled receptor that is implicated in the regulation of food intake and stress response upon activation by its cognate agonist relaxin-3. To study its interaction with various ligands, we developed a novel bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET)-based binding assay using the brightest NanoLuc as an energy donor and a newly developed cyan-excitable orange fluorescent protein (CyOFP) as an energy acceptor. An engineered CyOFP without intrinsic cysteine residues but with an introduced cysteine at the C-terminus was overexpressed in Escherichia coli and chemically conjugated to the A-chain N-terminus of an easily labeled chimeric R3/I5 peptide via an intermolecular disulfide linkage. After the CyOFP-conjugated R3/I5 bound to a shortened human RXFP3 (removal of 33 N-terminal residues) fused with the NanoLuc reporter at the N-terminus, high BRET signals were detected. Saturation binding and real-time binding assays demonstrated that this BRET pair retained high binding affinity with fast association/dissociation. Using this BRET pair, binding potencies of various ligands with RXFP3 were conveniently measured through competition binding assays. Thus, the novel BRET-based binding assay facilitates interaction studies of RXFP3 with various ligands. The engineered CyOFP without intrinsic cysteine residues may also be applied to other BRET-based binding assays in future studies.
Keywords: BRET; RXFP3; Relaxin-3; Interaction; Binding

β-N-Methylamino-l-alanine (BMAA) perturbs alanine, aspartate and glutamate metabolism pathways in human neuroblastoma cells as determined by metabolic profiling by Mikael K. R. Engskog; Lisa Ersson; Jakob Haglöf; Torbjörn Arvidsson; Curt Pettersson; Eva Brittebo (905-919).
β-Methylamino-l-alanine (BMAA) is a non-proteinogenic amino acid that induces long-term cognitive deficits, as well as an increased neurodegeneration and intracellular fibril formation in the hippocampus of adult rodents following short-time neonatal exposure and in vervet monkey brain following long-term exposure. It has also been proposed to be involved in the etiology of neurodegenerative disease in humans. The aim of this study was to identify metabolic effects not related to excitotoxicity or oxidative stress in human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells. The effects of BMAA (50, 250, 1000 µM) for 24 h on cells differentiated with retinoic acid were studied. Samples were analyzed using LC–MS and NMR spectroscopy to detect altered intracellular polar metabolites. The analysis performed, followed by multivariate pattern recognition techniques, revealed significant perturbations in protein biosynthesis, amino acid metabolism pathways and citrate cycle. Of specific interest were the BMAA-induced alterations in alanine, aspartate and glutamate metabolism and as well as alterations in various neurotransmitters/neuromodulators such as GABA and taurine. The results indicate that BMAA can interfere with metabolic pathways involved in neurotransmission in human neuroblastoma cells.
Keywords: Neurotoxin; MS; NMR; Global metabolite profiling; Metabolism; BMAA

Novel thienyl and bithienyl amino acids with different substituents were obtained by a multicomponent Ugi reaction between a heterocyclic aldehyde, an amine, an acid and an isocyanide. Due to the presence of the sulphur heterocycle at the side chain, these unnatural amino acids are highly emissive and bear extra electron donating atoms so they were tested for their ability to act as fluorescent probes and chemosensors in the recognition of biomedically relevant ions in acetonitrile and acetonitrile/water solutions. The results obtained from spectrophotometric/spectrofluorimetric titrations in the presence of organic and inorganic anions, and alkaline; alkaline-earth and transition metal cations indicated that the bithienyl amino acid bearing a methoxy group is a selective colorimetric chemosensor for Cu2+, while the other (bi)thienyl amino acids act as fluorimetric chemosensors with high sensitivity towards Fe3+ and Cu2+ in a metal–ligand complex with 1:2 stoichiometry. The photophysical and ion sensing properties of these amino acids confirm their potential as fluorescent probes suitable for incorporation into peptidic frameworks with chemosensory ability.
Keywords: Non-canonical amino acids; Ugi reaction; Thiophene; Fluorescent probes; Fluorescent chemosensors

RGD and NGR modified TRAIL protein exhibited potent anti-metastasis effects on TRAIL-insensitive cancer cells in vitro and in vivo by Xiaofei Wang; Xinran Qiao; Yue Shang; Shenghua Zhang; Yi Li; Hongwei He; Shu-zhen Chen (931-941).
The tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) has been considered to be a promising anti-tumor agent since the discovery of TRAIL-mediated apoptosis specifically on cancer cells. However, TRAIL resistance of tumor cells and patients remains to be an insurmountable obstacle for its clinical application. Here, we expressed TRAIL-related recombinant protein RGD-TRAIL, TRAIL-NGR, and RGD-TRAIL-NGR by fusing tumor targeting peptides RGD and (or) NGR at the N-terminus and C-terminus, respectively, to not only induce apoptosis of cancer cells but also inhibit metastasis. The fusion proteins possessed potent cytotoxicity with approximative IC50 in H460 and A549 cells, while TRAIL-NGR and RGD-TRAIL-NGR appeared to be more effective in HT1080 and PANC-1 cells which were relatively insensitive to TRAIL. A low concentration of fusion proteins, especially RGD-TRAIL-NGR, could inhibit migration of A549 and HT1080 cells in vitro and lung metastasis in HT1080LUC experimental model in vivo, indicating that the recombinant protein maintained the function of both TRAIL and targeting peptide RGD and NGR, which improved the sensitivity of tumor cells to TRAIL.
Keywords: RGD; NGR; TRAIL; Fusion protein; Apoptosis; Migration

Fascin phosphorylation sites combine to regulate esophageal squamous cancer cell behavior by Fa-Min Zeng; Xiao-Ning Wang; Hong-Shun Shi; Jian-Jun Xie; Ze-Peng Du; Lian-Di Liao; Ping-Juan Nie; Li-Yan Xu; En-Min Li (943-955).
Filopodia are dynamic membrane extensions generated by F-actin bundling and are involved in cancer cell migration, invasion and metastasis. Fascin is the crucial actin-bundling protein in filopodia, with phosphorylation at fascin serine 39 being well characterized to regulate fascin-mediated actin bundling in filopodia. However, increasing evidence indicates that fascin is phosphorylated at a number of sites. Whether phosphorylation at other sites also regulates fascin function is unknown. In this study, we show that four potential phosphorylation sites in fascin, specifically tyrosine 23, serine 38, serine 39 and serine 274, regulate cell behavior and filopodia formation in esophageal squamous cancer cells. Expression of non-phosphorylatable mutations at each of the four sites promoted anchorage-independent growth, cell motility and filopodia formation, whereas phosphomimetic mutations at each of these sites inhibited these cell behaviors, implying that fascin function in esophageal squamous cancer is regulated by fascin phosphorylation at multiple sites. Furthermore, phosphorylation at S38 and S39 cooperatively regulated cell behavior and filopodia formation, with dual dephosphorylation at both S38 and S39 residues maximally enhancing cell proliferation, migration and filopodia formation, and phosphorylation at any of the two phosphorylatable sites resulting in reduced enhancement. Taken together, our results reveal that phosphorylation at fascin amino acids Y23, S38, S39 and S274, in combination, downregulates the extent of anchorage-independent growth, cell migration and filopodia formation in esophageal squamous cancer cells.
Keywords: Fascin; Filopodia; Proliferation; Migration

l-Arginine promotes protein synthesis and cell growth in brown adipocyte precursor cells via the mTOR signal pathway by Xi Ma; Meng Han; Defa Li; Shengdi Hu; Kyler R. Gilbreath; Fuller W. Bazer; Guoyao Wu (957-964).
l-Arginine has been reported to enhance brown adipose tissue developments in fetal lambs of obese ewes, but the underlying mechanism is unknown. The present study tested the hypothesis that l-arginine stimulates growth and development of brown adipocyte precursor cells (BAPCs) through activation of mammalian target of rapamycin cell signaling. BAPCs isolated from fetal lambs at day 90 of gestation were incubated   for 6 h in arginine-free DMEM, and then cultured in DMEM with concentrations of 50, 100, 200, 500 or 1000 μmol l-arginine/L for 24–96 h. Cell proliferation, protein turnover, the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway and pre-adipocyte differentiation markers were determined. l-arginine treatment enhanced (P < 0.05) BAPC growth and protein synthesis, while inhibiting proteolysis in a dose-dependent manner. Compared with 50 and 100 μmol/L (the concentrations of arginine in the maternal plasma of obese ewes), 200 μmol l-arginine/L (the concentrations of arginine in the maternal plasma of obese ewes receiving arginine supplementation) increased (P < 0.05) the abundances of phosphorylated mTOR, P70S6K and 4EBP1, as well as the abundances of PGC1α, UCP1, BMP7 and PRDM16. These novel findings indicate that increasing extra-cellular arginine concentration from 50 to 200 µmol/L activates mTOR cell signaling in BAPCs and enhances their growth and development in a dose-dependent manner. Our results provide a mechanism for arginine supplementation to enhance the development of brown adipose tissue in fetal lambs.
Keywords: l-Arginine; Brown adipocytes; Cell proliferation; Protein turnover; mTOR; UCP1

The enantiomers of amino acid benzyl esters are very important synthetic intermediates. Many of them are currently prepared by treatment with benzyl alcohol and p-toluenesulfonic acid in refluxing benzene or carbon tetrachloride, to azeotropically remove water, and then precipitated as tosylate salt by adding diethyl ether. Here, we report a very efficient preparation of eight l- or d-amino acid benzyl esters (Ala, Phe, Tyr, Phg, Val, Leu, Lys, Ser), in which these highly hazardous solvents are dismissed using cyclohexane as a water azeotroping solvent and ethyl acetate to precipitate the tosylate salt. With some work-up modifications and lower yield, the procedure can be applied also to methionine. Chiral HPLC analysis shows that all the benzyl esters, including the highly racemizable ones such as those of phenylglycine, tyrosine and methionine, are formed enantiomerically pure under these new reaction conditions thus validating the solvents replacement. Contrariwise, toluene cannot be used in place of benzene or carbon tetrachloride because leading to partially or totally racemized amino acid benzyl esters depending on the polar effect of the amino acid α-side chain as expressed by Taft’s substituent constant (σ*).
Keywords: Amino acid benzyl ester; Water azeotrope; Racemization; Chiral HPLC; Cyclohexane; Toluene; Taft’s substituent constant

Surging reports of peptide-based nanosystems and their growing potency in terms of biological utility demand for the search of newer and simpler peptide-based systems that could serve as smart templates for the development of self-assembled nanostructures. Use of simple amino acids as monomeric building blocks for synthesizing ensembles of nanostructures have gained momentum in this direction with some reports focusing on the development of nanosystems from single or modified single amino acids. In this work, we have demonstrated self-assembly and nanoparticle formation ability of a single amino acid derivative, N-alpha-(9-fluorenylmethyloxycarbonyl)-N(in)-tert-butyloxycarbonyl-l-tryptophan [Fmoc-Trp(Boc)-OH]. The nanoparticles formed by the amino acid were found to be stable to various environmental perturbations like temperature, salts and showed responsiveness to pH change. These were capable of loading and releasing different bioactive molecules and were biocompatible. These systems demonstrated high cellular uptake and doxorubicin-loaded nanoparticles were found to be more efficient in killing glioma cells as compared to the drug alone. Thus, their simple amino acid-based origin along with the ability to ferry bioactive molecules to various cells, endows them the suitability for future applications in the field of drug delivery.
Keywords: Self-assembly; Amino acid; Nanoparticle; Stability; Drug delivery

Dual effect of chloramphenicol peptides on ribosome inhibition by Anthony Bougas; Ioannis A. Vlachogiannis; Dimitrios Gatos; Stefan Arenz; George P. Dinos (995-1004).
Chloramphenicol peptides were recently established as useful tools for probing nascent polypeptide chain interaction with the ribosome, either biochemically, or structurally. Here, we present a new 10mer chloramphenicol peptide, which exerts a dual inhibition effect on the ribosome function affecting two distinct areas of the ribosome, namely the peptidyl transferase center and the polypeptide exit tunnel. According to our data, the chloramphenicol peptide bound on the chloramphenicol binding site inhibits the formation of both acetyl-phenylalanine-puromycin and acetyl-lysine-puromycin, showing, however, a decreased peptidyl transferase inhibition compared to chloramphenicol-mediated inhibition per se. Additionally, we found that the same compound is a strong inhibitor of green fluorescent protein synthesis in a coupled in vitro transcription-translation assay as well as a potent inhibitor of lysine polymerization in a poly(A)-programmed ribosome, showing that an additional inhibitory effect may exist. Since chemical protection data supported the interaction of the antibiotic with bases A2058 and A2059 near the entrance of the tunnel, we concluded that the extra inhibition effect on the synthesis of longer peptides is coming from interactions of the peptide moiety of the drug with residues comprising the ribosomal tunnel, and by filling up the tunnel and blocking nascent chain progression through the restricted tunnel. Therefore, the dual interaction of the chloramphenicol peptide with the ribosome increases its inhibitory effect and opens a new window for improving the antimicrobial potency of classical antibiotics or designing new ones.
Keywords: Chloramphenicol-derivatives; Peptidyl-tRNA analogs; Nascent peptidyl-tRNA mimics; Ribosomal tunnel; Antibiotics