Erabutoxins a and b are neurotoxins isolated from venom of a sea snake Laticauda semifasciata (erabu-umihebi). Amino acid sequences of the toxins indicated that the toxins are members of a superfamily consisting of short and long neurotoxins and cytotoxins found in sea snakes and terrestrial snakes. The short neurotoxins to which erabutoxins belong act by blocking the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor on the post synaptic membrane in a manner similar to that of curare. X-ray crystallography and NMR analyses showed that the toxins have a three-finger structure, in which three fingers made of three loops emerging from a dense core make a gently concave surface of the protein. The sequence comparison and the location of essential residues on the protein suggested the mechanism of binding of the toxin to the acetylcholine receptor. Classification of snakes by means of sequence comparison and that based on different morphological features were inconsistent, which led the authors to propose a hypothesis “Evolution without divergence.”
An idea to use 4′-C-substituted-2′-deoxynucleoside derivatives was proposed based on a working hypothesis to solve the problems of existing acquired immune deficiency syndrome chemotherapy (highly active antiretroviral therapy). Subsequent studies have successfully proved the validity of the idea and resulted in the development of 2′-deoxy-4′-C-ethynyl-2-fluoroadenosine and 2′-deoxy-4′-C-ethynyl-2-chloroadenosine, nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, which have supremely high activity against all human immunodeficiency viruses including multidrug-resistant HIV and low toxicity.
Green tea polyphenols have emerged over the past two decades as an important dietary factor for health promotion. There is considerable evidence that tea polyphenols, in particular (−)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) inhibit carcinogenesis. However, the mechanisms for the cancer-preventive activity of EGCG are not completely characterized and many features remain to be elucidated. Recently we have identified a cell-surface EGCG receptor and the relating molecules that confer EGCG responsiveness to many cancer cells at physiological concentrations. Here, we review some of the reported mechanisms for the cancer chemopreventive action of EGCG and provide an overview of several molecules that sense and manage the physiological functions of EGCG.
In this review, I introduce the strategy developed by our laboratory to explore the mechanisms of renoprotection against progressive glomerulosclerosis leading to renal death. First, I describe the experimental rat model in which disturbances of vascular regeneration and glomerular hemodynamics lead to irreversible glomerulosclerosis. Second, I discuss the possible mechanisms determining the progression of glomerulosclerosis and introduce a new imaging system based on intravital confocal laser scanning microscopy. Third, I provide an in-depth review of the regulatory glomerular hemodynamics at the cellular and molecular levels while focusing on the pivotal role of Ca2+-dependent gap junctional intercellular communication in coordinating the behavior of mesangial cells. Last, I show that local delivery of renoprotective agents, in combination with diagnostic imaging of the renal microvasculature, allows the evaluation of the therapeutic effects of angiotensin II receptor and cyclooxygenase activity local blockade on the progression of glomerulosclerosis, which would otherwise lead to renal death.
Forward genetics in humans is beneficial in terms of diagnosis and treatment of genetic diseases, and discovery of gene functions. However, experimental mating is not possible among humans. In order to overcome this problem, I propose a novel experimental procedure to genetically identify human disease gene loci. To accomplish this, somatic cells from patients or their parents are reprogrammed to the pluripotent state, oogenesis is induced, the oocytes are parthenogenetically activated in the presence of cytochalasin, and embryonic stem cells are established from the parthenogenetic blastocysts. This protocol produces a set of diploid pluripotent stem cell clones having maternal and paternal chromosomes in different manners to each other. The genetic loci for the disease genes are determined through the conventional processes of positional cloning. Thus, taking advantage of the strategy proposed here, if the abnormality is reproducible using patient-derived pluripotent stem cells, a single carrier of the genetic mutations would be adequate to identify the disease gene loci.
Lectin-like oxidized LDL receptor-1 (LOX-1) is an endothelial receptor for oxidized LDL (oxLDL) and plays multiple roles in the development of cardiovascular diseases. We screened more than 400 foodstuff extracts for identifying materials that inhibit oxLDL binding to LOX-1. Results showed that 52 extracts inhibited LOX-1 by more than 70% in cell-free assays. Subsequent cell-based assays revealed that a variety of foodstuffs known to be rich in procyanidins such as grape seed extracts and apple polyphenols, potently inhibited oxLDL uptake in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells expressing LOX-1. Indeed, purified procyanidins significantly inhibited oxLDL binding to LOX-1 while other ingredients of apple polyphenols did not. Moreover, chronic administration of oligomeric procyanidins suppressed lipid accumulation in vascular wall in hypertensive rats fed with high fat diet. These results suggest that procyanidins are LOX-1 inhibitors and LOX-1 inhibition might be a possible underlying mechanism of the well-known vascular protective effects of red wine, the French Paradox.