Academic Appointments

All Publications

  • The JPET Editorial Fellowship: Opening the Blinds to the Peer Review and Editorial Process. The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics Ladumor, M. K., Mielnik, C. A., Peterson, C. D., Rwere, F., Gross, E. R. 2024; 389 (2): 129-132

    View details for DOI 10.1124/jpet.124.002201

    View details for PubMedID 38637017

  • Characterization of novel genetic mutations in aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 that cause alcohol flushing in humans Rwere, F., Hell, R. R., Yu, X., Gross, E. R. AMER SOC PHARMACOLOGY EXPERIMENTAL THERAPEUTICS. 2023
  • Inhibitory and in silico molecular docking of Xeroderris stuhlmannii (Taub.) Mendonca & E.P. Sousa phytochemical compounds on human α-glucosidases. Journal of ethnopharmacology Nyathi, B., Bvunzawabaya, J. T., Venissa P Mudawarima, C., Manzombe, E., Tsotsoro, K., Selemani, M. A., Munyuki, G., Rwere, F. 2023; 312: 116501


    Herbal traditional medicine is used by millions of people in Africa for treatment of ailments such as diabetes mellitus, stomach disorders and respiratory diseases. Xeroderris stuhlmannii (Taub.) Mendonca & E.P. Sousa (X. stuhlmannii (Taub.)) is a medicinal plant used traditionally in Zimbabwe to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and its complications. However, there is no scientific evidence to support its inhibitory effect against digestive enzymes (α-glucosidases) that are linked to high blood sugar in humans.This work aims to investigate whether bioactive phytochemicals of crude X. stuhlmannii (Taub.) can scavenge free radicals and inhibit α-glucosidases in order to reduce blood sugar in humans.Here we examined the free radical scavenging potential of crude aqueous, ethyl acetate and methanolic extracts of X. stuhlmannii (Taub.) using the diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl assay in vitro. Furthermore, we carried out in vitro inhibition of α-glucosidases (α-amylase and α-glucosidase) by the crude extracts using chromogenic 3,5-dinitrosalicylic acid and p-nitrophenyl-α-D-glucopyranoside substrates. We also used molecular docking approaches (Autodock Vina) to screen for bioactive phytochemical compounds targeting the digestive enzymes.Our results showed that phytochemicals in X. stuhlmannii (Taub.) aqueous, ethyl acetate and methanolic extracts scavenged free radicals with IC50 values ranging from 0.002 to 0.013 μg/mL. Furthermore, crude aqueous, ethyl acetate and methanolic extracts significantly inhibited α-amylase and α-glucosidase with IC50 values of 10.5-29.5 μg/mL (versus 54.1 ± 0.7 μg/mL for acarbose) and 8.8-49.5 μg/mL (versus 161.4 ± 1.8 μg/mL for acarbose), respectively. In silico molecular docking findings and pharmacokinetic predictions showed that myricetin is likely a novel plant-derived α-glucosidase inhibitor.Collectively, our findings suggest pharmacological targeting of digestive enzymes by X. stuhlmannii (Taub.) crude extracts may reduce blood sugar in humans with T2DM via inhibition of α-glucosidases.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jep.2023.116501

    View details for PubMedID 37100261

  • SGLT2 inhibitor ameliorates endothelial dysfunction associated with the common ALDH2 alcohol flushing variant. Science translational medicine Guo, H., Yu, X., Liu, Y., Paik, D. T., Justesen, J. M., Chandy, M., Jahng, J. W., Zhang, T., Wu, W., Rwere, F., Zhao, S. R., Pokhrel, S., Shivnaraine, R. V., Mukherjee, S., Simon, D. J., Manhas, A., Zhang, A., Chen, C. H., Rivas, M. A., Gross, E. R., Mochly-Rosen, D., Wu, J. C. 2023; 15 (680): eabp9952


    The common aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) alcohol flushing variant known as ALDH2*2 affects ∼8% of the world's population. Even in heterozygous carriers, this missense variant leads to a severe loss of ALDH2 enzymatic activity and has been linked to an increased risk of coronary artery disease (CAD). Endothelial cell (EC) dysfunction plays a determining role in all stages of CAD pathogenesis, including early-onset CAD. However, the contribution of ALDH2*2 to EC dysfunction and its relation to CAD are not fully understood. In a large genome-wide association study (GWAS) from Biobank Japan, ALDH2*2 was found to be one of the strongest single-nucleotide polymorphisms associated with CAD. Clinical assessment of endothelial function showed that human participants carrying ALDH2*2 exhibited impaired vasodilation after light alcohol drinking. Using human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived ECs (iPSC-ECs) and CRISPR-Cas9-corrected ALDH2*2 iPSC-ECs, we modeled ALDH2*2-induced EC dysfunction in vitro, demonstrating an increase in oxidative stress and inflammatory markers and a decrease in nitric oxide (NO) production and tube formation capacity, which was further exacerbated by ethanol exposure. We subsequently found that sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors (SGLT2i) such as empagliflozin mitigated ALDH2*2-associated EC dysfunction. Studies in ALDH2*2 knock-in mice further demonstrated that empagliflozin attenuated ALDH2*2-mediated vascular dysfunction in vivo. Mechanistically, empagliflozin inhibited Na+/H+-exchanger 1 (NHE-1) and activated AKT kinase and endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) pathways to ameliorate ALDH2*2-induced EC dysfunction. Together, our results suggest that ALDH2*2 induces EC dysfunction and that SGLT2i may potentially be used as a preventative measure against CAD for ALDH2*2 carriers.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/scitranslmed.abp9952

    View details for PubMedID 36696485

  • A human TRPV1 genetic variant within the channel gating domain regulates pain sensitivity in rodents. The Journal of clinical investigation He, S., Zambelli, V. O., Sinharoy, P., Brabenec, L., Bian, Y., Rwere, F., Hell, R. C., Stein Neto, B., Hung, B., Yu, X., Zhao, M., Luo, Z., Wu, C., Xu, L., Svensson, K. J., McAllister, S. L., Stary, C. M., Wagner, N. M., Zhang, Y., Gross, E. R. 2022


    Pain signals are relayed to the brain via a nociceptive system, and in rare situations, this nociceptive system contains genetic variants that can limit pain response. Here we questioned whether a human transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) missense variant causes a resistance to noxious stimuli and further if we can target this region by a cell-permeable peptide as a pain therapeutic. Initially using a computational approach, we identified a human K710N TRPV1 missense variant in an otherwise highly conserved region of mammalian TRPV1. After generating a TRPV1K710N knock-in mouse using CRISPR/Cas9, we discovered the K710N variant reduced capsaicin-induced calcium influx in dorsal root ganglion neurons. The TRPV1K710N rodents also had less acute behavioral response to chemical noxious stimuli and less hypersensitivity to nerve injury-induced pain, while leaving the response to noxious heat intact. Furthermore, blocking this K710 region in wild-type rodents by a cell-penetrating peptide limited acute behavioral responses to noxious stimuli and rescued pain hypersensitivity induced by nerve injury back to baseline. These findings identify K710 TRPV1 as a discrete site crucial for the control of nociception and provides new insights into how to leverage rare genetic variants in humans to uncover fresh strategies for developing pain therapeutics.

    View details for DOI 10.1172/JCI163735

    View details for PubMedID 36472910

  • Natural products for the treatment and management of diabetes mellitus in Zimbabwe-a review FRONTIERS IN PHARMACOLOGY Usai, R., Majoni, S., Rwere, F. 2022; 13: 980819


    Use of medicinal plants and herbs in the treatment and management of diseases, including diabetes mellitus and its complications remains an integral part of African tradition. In Zimbabwe, nearly one million people are living with diabetes mellitus. The prevalence of diabetes mellitus in Zimbabwe is increasing every year due to lifestyle changes, and has accelerated the use of traditional medicines for its treatment and management in urban areas. In addition, the high cost of modern medicine has led many people in rural parts of Zimbabwe to rely on herbal plant medicine for the treatment of diabetes mellitus and its complications. This review highlights a number of studies carried out to evaluate the antidiabetic properties of indigenous plants found in Zimbabwe with the goal of treating diabetes mellitus. Further, we discuss the mechanism of action of various plant extracts in the treatment and management of diabetes mellitus. Together, this review article can open pathways leading to discovery of new plant derived medicines and regularization of use of crude plant remedies to treat diabetes mellitus by the Zimbabwean government and others across Africa.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fphar.2022.980819

    View details for Web of Science ID 000850775800001

    View details for PubMedID 36091798

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9449367

  • Influence of CYP2C19*17 Genetic Polymorphism on the Steady-State Concentration of Escitalopram in Patients with Recurrent Depressive Disorder. Psychopharmacology bulletin Zastrozhin, M. S., Skryabin, V., Rwere, F., Petukhov, A. E., Pankratenko, E. P., Pozdniakov, S. A., Ivanchenko, V. A., Noskov, V. V., Zaytsev, I. A., Vinokurova, N. V., Horyaev, D. S., Vlasovskih, R. V., Bryun, E. A., Sychev, D. A. 2022; 52 (3): 8-19


    Escitalopram is commonly prescribed to patients with recurrent depressive disorder. Some of them do not show adequate response to treatment with escitalopram, while many of them experience adverse drug reactions.The objective of our study was to evaluate the impact of -806C>T polymorphism of CYP2C19 (CYP2C19*17) on the concentration/dose ratio of escitalopram in patients with recurrent depressive disorder.Our study enrolled 267 patients with recurrent depressive disorder (average age -40.2 ± 16.4 years). Treatment regimen included escitalopram in an average daily dose of 12.5 ± 5.0 mg per day. The efficacy and safety rates of treatment were evaluated using the international psychometric scales. For genotyping, we performed the real-time polymerase chain reaction. Therapeutic drug monitoring has been performed using HPLC-MS/MS.Our findings revealed the statistically significant results in terms of both treatment efficacy evaluation (HAMD scores at the end of the treatment course): (CC) 9.0 [7.0; 11.0], (CT) 4.0 [2.0; 6.0] and (TT) 2.0 [1.0; 4.0], p < 0.001; and safety profile (the UKU scores): (CC) 7.0 [7.0; 8.0], (CT) 3.0 [3.0; 4.0] and (TT) 3.0 [2.0; 3.0], p < 0.001. We revealed no statistically significant results for the concentration/dose ratio of escitalopram in patients with different genotypes: (CC) 5.762 [3.939; 9.076], (CT) 5.714 [3.485; 8.533] and (TT) 7.388 [4.618; 10.167], p = 0.268).The CYP2C19*17 genetic variant significantly affected the efficacy and safety profiles of escitalopram in a group of 267 patients with recurrent depressive disorder but did not greatly affect its equilibrium plasma concentration.

    View details for PubMedID 35815173

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9235311

  • Aldehydes, Aldehyde Metabolism, and the ALDH2 Consortium. Biomolecules Rwere, F., Yu, X., Chen, C., Gross, E. R. 2022; 12 (6)


    The discovery of aldehydes dates back to 1774 when Carl Wilhelm Scheele synthesized acetaldehyde [...].

    View details for DOI 10.3390/biom12060763

    View details for PubMedID 35740888

  • A new preconcentration technique for the determination of PGMs and gold by fire assay and ICP-OES JOURNAL OF THE SOUTHERN AFRICAN INSTITUTE OF MINING AND METALLURGY Masasire, A., Rwere, F., Dzomba, P., Mupa, M. 2022; 122 (2): 29-36
  • Phytochemical characterization and in vitro antibacterial activity of Xeroderris stuhlmannii (Taub.) Mendonca & EP Sousa bark extracts SOUTH AFRICAN JOURNAL OF BOTANY Selemani, M. A., Kazingizi, L. F., Manzombe, E., Bishi, L. Y., Mureya, C., Gwata, T. T., Rwere, F. 2021; 142: 344-351
  • The FMN "140s Loop" of Cytochrome P450 Reductase Controls Electron Transfer to Cytochrome P450 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES Rwere, F., Im, S., Waskell, L. 2021; 22 (19)


    Cytochrome P450 reductase (CYPOR) provides electrons to all human microsomal cytochrome P450s (cyt P450s). The length and sequence of the "140s" FMN binding loop of CYPOR has been shown to be a key determinant of its redox potential and activity with cyt P450s. Shortening the "140s loop" by deleting glycine-141(ΔGly141) and by engineering a second mutant that mimics flavo-cytochrome P450 BM3 (ΔGly141/Glu142Asn) resulted in mutants that formed an unstable anionic semiquinone. In an attempt to understand the molecular basis of the inability of these mutants to support activity with cyt P450, we expressed, purified, and determined their ability to reduce ferric P450. Our results showed that the ΔGly141 mutant with a very mobile loop only reduced ~7% of cyt P450 with a rate similar to that of the wild type. On the other hand, the more stable loop in the ΔGly141/Glu142Asn mutant allowed for ~55% of the cyt P450 to be reduced ~60% faster than the wild type. Our results reveal that the poor activity of the ΔGly141 mutant is primarily accounted for by its markedly diminished ability to reduce ferric cyt P450. In contrast, the poor activity of the ΔGly141/Glu142Asn mutant is presumably a consequence of the altered structure and mobility of the "140s loop".

    View details for DOI 10.3390/ijms221910625

    View details for Web of Science ID 000707501500001

    View details for PubMedID 34638963

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8508823

  • Characterization of a Human ALDH2 Mutant that Causes Alcohol Flushing in Non-east Asians Rwere, F., White, J., Chen, C., Mochly-Rosen, D., Gross, E. WILEY. 2020
  • Structural and Kinetic Studies of Asp632 Mutants and Fully Reduced NADPH-Cytochrome P450 Oxidoreductase Define the Role of Asp632 Loop Dynamics in the Control of NADPH Binding and Hydride Transfer. Biochemistry Xia, C., Rwere, F., Im, S., Shen, A. L., Waskell, L., Kim, J. P. 2018; 57 (6): 945-962


    Conformational changes in NADPH-cytochrome P450 oxidoreductase (CYPOR) associated with electron transfer from NADPH to electron acceptors via FAD and FMN have been investigated via structural studies of the four-electron-reduced NADP+-bound enzyme and kinetic and structural studies of mutants that affect the conformation of the mobile Gly631-Asn635 loop (Asp632 loop). The structure of four-electron-reduced, NADP+-bound wild type CYPOR shows the plane of the nicotinamide ring positioned perpendicular to the FAD isoalloxazine with its carboxamide group forming H-bonds with N1 of the flavin ring and the Thr535 hydroxyl group. In the reduced enzyme, the C8-C8 atoms of the two flavin rings are ∼1 Å closer than in the fully oxidized and one-electron-reduced structures, which suggests that flavin reduction facilitates interflavin electron transfer. Structural and kinetic studies of mutants Asp632Ala, Asp632Phe, Asp632Asn, and Asp632Glu demonstrate that the carboxyl group of Asp632 is important for stabilizing the Asp632 loop in a retracted position that is required for the binding of the NADPH ribityl-nicotinamide in a hydride-transfer-competent conformation. Structures of the mutants and reduced wild type CYPOR permit us to identify a possible pathway for NADP(H) binding to and release from CYPOR. Asp632 mutants unable to form stable H-bonds with the backbone amides of Arg634, Asn635, and Met636 exhibit decreased catalytic activity and severely impaired hydride transfer from NADPH to FAD, but leave interflavin electron transfer intact. Intriguingly, the Arg634Ala mutation slightly increases the cytochrome P450 2B4 activity. We propose that Asp632 loop movement, in addition to facilitating NADP(H) binding and release, participates in domain movements modulating interflavin electron transfer.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.biochem.7b01102

    View details for PubMedID 29308883

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5967631

  • Mutants of Cytochrome P450 Reductase Lacking Either Gly-141 or Gly-143 Destabilize Its FMN Semiquinone. The Journal of biological chemistry Rwere, F., Xia, C., Im, S., Haque, M. M., Stuehr, D. J., Waskell, L., Kim, J. P. 2016; 291 (28): 14639-61


    NADPH-cytochrome P450 oxidoreductase transfers electrons from NADPH to cytochromes P450 via its FAD and FMN. To understand the biochemical and structural basis of electron transfer from FMN-hydroquinone to its partners, three deletion mutants in a conserved loop near the FMN were characterized. Comparison of oxidized and reduced wild type and mutant structures reveals that the basis for the air stability of the neutral blue semiquinone is protonation of the flavin N5 and strong H-bond formation with the Gly-141 carbonyl. The ΔGly-143 protein had moderately decreased activity with cytochrome P450 and cytochrome c It formed a flexible loop, which transiently interacts with the flavin N5, resulting in the generation of both an unstable neutral blue semiquinone and hydroquinone. The ΔGly-141 and ΔG141/E142N mutants were inactive with cytochrome P450 but fully active in reducing cytochrome c In the ΔGly-141 mutants, the backbone amide of Glu/Asn-142 forms an H-bond to the N5 of the oxidized flavin, which leads to formation of an unstable red anionic semiquinone with a more negative potential than the hydroquinone. The semiquinone of ΔG141/E142N was slightly more stable than that of ΔGly-141, consistent with its crystallographically demonstrated more rigid loop. Nonetheless, both ΔGly-141 red semiquinones were less stable than those of the corresponding loop in cytochrome P450 BM3 and the neuronal NOS mutant (ΔGly-810). Our results indicate that the catalytic activity of cytochrome P450 oxidoreductase is a function of the length, sequence, and flexibility of the 140s loop and illustrate the sophisticated variety of biochemical mechanisms employed in fine-tuning its redox properties and function.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M116.724625

    View details for PubMedID 27189945

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4938185

  • Kinetic and structural characterization of the interaction between the FMN binding domain of cytochrome P450 reductase and cytochrome c. The Journal of biological chemistry Huang, R., Zhang, M., Rwere, F., Waskell, L., Ramamoorthy, A. 2015; 290 (8): 4843-55


    Cytochrome P450 reductase (CPR) is a diflavin enzyme that transfers electrons to many protein partners. Electron transfer from CPR to cyt c has been extensively used as a model reaction to assess the redox activity of CPR. CPR is composed of multiple domains, among which the FMN binding domain (FBD) is the direct electron donor to cyt c. Here, electron transfer and complex formation between FBD and cyt c are investigated. Electron transfer from FBD to cyt c occurs at distinct rates that are dependent on the redox states of FBD. When compared with full-length CPR, FBD reduces cyt c at a higher rate in both the semiquinone and hydroquinone states. The NMR titration experiments reveal the formation of dynamic complexes between FBD and cyt c on a fast exchange time scale. Chemical shift mapping identified residues of FBD involved in the binding interface with cyt c, most of which are located in proximity to the solvent-exposed edge of the FMN cofactor along with other residues distributed around the surface of FBD. The structural model of the FBD-cyt c complex indicates two possible orientations of complex formation. The major complex structure shows a salt bridge formation between Glu-213/Glu-214 of FBD and Lys-87 of cyt c, which may be essential for the formation of the complex, and a predicted electron transfer pathway mediated by Lys-13 of cyt c. The findings provide insights into the function of CPR and CPR-cyt c interaction on a structural basis.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M114.582700

    View details for PubMedID 25512382

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4335224

  • Structural and functional characterization of a cytochrome P450 2B4 F429H mutant with an axial thiolate-histidine hydrogen bond. Biochemistry Yang, Y., Zhang, H., Usharani, D., Bu, W., Im, S., Tarasev, M., Rwere, F., Pearl, N. M., Meagher, J., Sun, C., Stuckey, J., Shaik, S., Waskell, L. 2014; 53 (31): 5080-91


    The structural basis of the regulation of microsomal cytochrome P450 (P450) activity was investigated by mutating the highly conserved heme binding motif residue, Phe429, on the proximal side of cytochrome P450 2B4 to a histidine. Spectroscopic, pre-steady-state and steady-state kinetic, thermodynamic, theoretical, and structural studies of the mutant demonstrate that formation of an H-bond between His429 and the unbonded electron pair of the Cys436 axial thiolate significantly alters the properties of the enzyme. The mutant lost >90% of its activity; its redox potential was increased by 87 mV, and the half-life of the oxyferrous mutant was increased ∼37-fold. Single-crystal electronic absorption and resonance Raman spectroscopy demonstrated that the mutant was reduced by a small dose of X-ray photons. The structure revealed that the δN atom of His429 forms an H-bond with the axial Cys436 thiolate whereas the εN atom forms an H-bond with the solvent and the side chain of Gln357. The amide of Gly438 forms the only other H-bond to the tetrahedral thiolate. Theoretical quantification of the histidine-thiolate interaction demonstrates a significant electron withdrawing effect on the heme iron. Comparisons of structures of class I-IV P450s demonstrate that either a phenylalanine or tryptophan is often found at the location corresponding to Phe429. Depending on the structure of the distal pocket heme, the residue at this location may or may not regulate the thermodynamic properties of the P450. Regardless, this residue appears to protect the thiolate from solvent, oxidation, protonations, and other deleterious reactions.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/bi5003794

    View details for PubMedID 25029089

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4131899

  • Resonance Raman determination of vinyl group disposition in different derivatives of native myoglobin and its heme-disoriented form JOURNAL OF RAMAN SPECTROSCOPY Rwere, F., Mak, P. J., Kincaid, J. R. 2014; 45 (1): 97–104

    View details for DOI 10.1002/jrs.4419

    View details for Web of Science ID 000329687100014

  • Resonance Raman interrogation of the consequences of heme rotational disorder in myoglobin and its ligated derivatives. Biochemistry Rwere, F., Mak, P. J., Kincaid, J. R. 2008; 47 (48): 12869-77


    Resonance Raman spectroscopy is employed to characterize heme site structural changes arising from conformational heterogeneity in deoxyMb and ligated derivatives, i.e., the ferrous CO (MbCO) and ferric cyanide (MbCN) complexes. The spectra for the reversed forms of these derivatives have been extracted from the spectra of reconstituted samples. Dramatic changes in the low-frequency spectra are observed, where newly observed RR modes of the reversed forms are assigned using protohemes that are selectively deuterated at the four methyl groups or at the four methine carbons. Interestingly, while substantial changes in the disposition of the peripheral vinyl and propionate groups can be inferred from the dramatic spectral shifts, the bonds to the internal histidyl imidazole ligand and those of the Fe-CO and Fe-CN fragments are not significantly affected by the heme rotation, as judged by lack of significant shifts in the nu(Fe-N(His)), nu(Fe-C), and nu(C-O) modes. In fact, the apparent lack of an effect on these key vibrational parameters of the Fe-N(His), Fe-CO, and Fe-CN fragments is entirely consistent with previously reported equilibrium and kinetic studies that document virtually identical functional properties for the native and reversed forms.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/bi801779d

    View details for PubMedID 18986170

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2654223

  • The impact of altered protein-heme interactions on the resonance Raman spectra of heme proteins. Studies of heme rotational disorder. Biopolymers Rwere, F., Mak, P. J., Kincaid, J. R. 2008; 89 (3): 179-86


    Heme proteins that have been reconstituted with certain hemins may contain substantial fractions of a minor component in which the orientation of the heme in the folded pocket differs from the major ("native") conformation by a 180 degrees rotation about the alpha-gamma meso axis. In fact, this minor component has also been shown to exist in some native proteins, including several mammalian globins. While resonance Raman spectroscopy has emerged as a powerful probe of active site structure of heme proteins, no systematic study has yet been undertaken to elucidate the specific spectral changes associated with this disorder. In the present work, combined analyses of the temporal behavior of both NMR and RR data sets have been completed to permit the extraction of a unique RR spectrum for the disoriented form, documenting rather dramatic changes associated with this rotational disorder. In addition, the use of protohemes bearing selectively deuterated peripheral methyl groups has permitted the association of the observed modes with specific fragments of the heme residing in the reversed orientation. The studies conducted here clearly illustrate the exquisite sensitivity of low frequency heme deformation modes to altered protein-heme interactions.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/bip.20887

    View details for PubMedID 18008322