All Publications


  • TFAM overexpression reduces pathological cardiac remodeling. Molecular and cellular biochemistry Kunkel, G. H., Kunkel, C. J., Ozuna, H., Miralda, I., Tyagi, S. C. 2019; 454 (1-2): 139–52

    Abstract

    Heart failure (HF) is a functional lack of myocardial performance due to a loss of molecular control over increases in calcium and ROS, resulting in proteolytic degradative advances and cardiac remodeling. Mitochondria are the molecular powerhouse of cells, shifting the sphere of cardiomyocyte stability and performance. Functional mitochondria rely on the molecular abilities of safety factors such as TFAM to maintain physiological parameters. Mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) creates a mitochondrial nucleoid structure around mtDNA, protecting it from mutation, inhibiting NFAT (ROS activator/hypertrophic stimulator), and transcriptionally activates Serca2a to decrease calcium mishandling. Calpain1 and MMP9 are proteolytic degratory factors that play a major role in cardiomyocyte decline in HF. Current literature depicts major decreases in TFAM as HF progresses. We aim to assess TFAM function against Calpain1 and MMP9 proteolytic activity and its role in cardiac remodeling. To this date, no publication has surfaced describing the effects of aortic banding (AB) as a surgical HF model in TFAM-TG mice. HF models were created via AB in TFAM transgenic (TFAM-TG) and C57BLJ-6 (WT) mice. Eight weeks post AB, functional analysis revealed a successful banding procedure, resulting in cardiac hypertrophy as observed via echocardiography. Pulse wave and color doppler show increased aortic flow rates as well as turbulent flow at the banding site. Preliminary results of cardiac tissue immuno-histochemistry of HF-control mice show decreased TFAM and compensatory increases in Serca2a fluorescent expression, along with increased Calpain1 and MMP9 expression. Protein, RNA, and IHC analysis will further assess TFAM-TG results post-banding. Echocardiography shows more cardiac stability and functionality in HF-induced TFAM-TG mice than the control counterpart. These findings complement our published in vitro results. Overall, this suggests that TFAM has molecular therapeutic potential to reduce protease expression.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11010-018-3459-9

    View details for PubMedID 30353496

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6573033

  • Mechanisms of TFAM-mediated cardiomyocyte protection. Canadian journal of physiology and pharmacology Kunkel, G. H., Chaturvedi, P., Thelian, N., Nair, R., Tyagi, S. C. 2018; 96 (2): 173–81

    Abstract

    Although mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) is a protective component of mitochondrial DNA and a regulator of calcium and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, the mechanism remains unclear. In heart failure, TFAM is significantly decreased and cardiomyocyte instability ensues. TFAM inhibits nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT), which reduces ROS production; additionally, TFAM transcriptionally activates SERCA2a to decrease free calcium. Therefore, decreasing TFAM vastly increases protease expression and hypertrophic factors, leading to cardiomyocyte functional decline. To examine this hypothesis, treatments of 1.0 μg of a TFAM vector and 1.0 μg of a CRISPR-Cas9 TFAM plasmid were administered to HL-1 cardiomyocytes via lipofectamine transfection. Western blotting and confocal microscopy analysis show that CRISPR-Cas9 knockdown of TFAM significantly increased proteases Calpain1, MMP9, and regulators Serca2a, and NFAT4 protein expression. CRISPR knockdown of TFAM in HL-1 cardiomyocytes upregulates degradation factors, leading to cardiomyocyte instability. Hydrogen peroxide oxidative stress decreased TFAM expression and increased Calpain1, MMP9, and NFAT4 protein expression. TFAM overexpression normalizes pathological hypertrophic factor NFAT4 in the presence of oxidative stress.

    View details for DOI 10.1139/cjpp-2016-0718

    View details for PubMedID 28800400

  • The Role of Exercise and TFAM in Preventing Skeletal Muscle Atrophy. Journal of cellular physiology Theilen, N. T., Kunkel, G. H., Tyagi, S. C. 2017; 232 (9): 2348–58

    Abstract

    Skeletal muscle atrophy is the consequence of protein degradation exceeding protein synthesis. This arises for a multitude of reasons including the unloading of muscle during microgravity, post-surgery bedrest, immobilization of a limb after injury, and overall disuse of the musculature. The development of therapies prior to skeletal muscle atrophy settings to diminish protein degradation is scarce. Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with skeletal muscle atrophy and contributes to the induction of protein degradation and cell apoptosis through increased levels of ROS observed with the loss of organelle function. ROS binds mtDNA, leading to its degradation and decreasing functionality. Mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) will bind and coat mtDNA, protecting it from ROS and degradation while increasing mitochondrial function. Exercise stimulates cell signaling pathways that converge on and increase PGC-1α, a well-known activator of the transcription of TFAM and mitochondrial biogenesis. Therefore, in the present review we are proposing, separately, exercise and TFAM treatments prior to atrophic settings (muscle unloading or disuse) alleviate skeletal muscle atrophy through enhanced mitochondrial adaptations and function. Additionally, we hypothesize the combination of exercise and TFAM leads to a synergistic effect in targeting mitochondrial function to prevent skeletal muscle atrophy. J. Cell. Physiol. 232: 2348-2358, 2017. © 2016 The Authors. Journal of Cellular Physiology Published by © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/jcp.25737

    View details for PubMedID 27966783

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5444986

  • Toll-like receptor 4 mediates vascular remodeling in hyperhomocysteinemia. Molecular and cellular biochemistry Familtseva, A., Jeremic, N., Kunkel, G. H., Tyagi, S. C. 2017; 433 (1-2): 177–94

    Abstract

    Although hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy) is known to promote downstream pro-inflammatory cytokine elevation, the precise mechanism is still unknown. One of the possible receptors that could have significant attention in the field of hypertension is toll-like receptor 4 (TLR-4). TLR-4 is a cellular membrane protein that is ubiquitously expressed in all cell types of the vasculature. Its mutation can attenuate the effects of HHcy-mediated vascular inflammation and mitochondria- dependent cell death that suppresses hypertension. In this review, we observed that HHcy induces vascular remodeling through immunological adaptation, promoting inflammatory cytokine up-regulation (IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α) and initiation of mitochondrial dysfunction leading to cell death and chronic vascular inflammation. The literature suggests that HHcy promotes TLR-4-driven chronic vascular inflammation and mitochondria-mediated cell death inducing peripheral vascular remodeling. In the previous studies, we have characterized the role of TLR-4 mutation in attenuating vascular remodeling in hyperhomocysteinemia. This review includes, but is not limited to, the physiological synergistic aspects of the downstream elevation of cytokines found within the vascular inflammatory cascade. These events subsequently induce mitochondrial dysfunction defined by excessive mitochondrial fission and mitochondrial apoptosis contributing to vascular remodeling followed by hypertension.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11010-017-3026-9

    View details for PubMedID 28386844

  • Mitochondrial pathways to cardiac recovery: TFAM. Heart failure reviews Kunkel, G. H., Chaturvedi, P., Tyagi, S. C. 2016; 21 (5): 499–517

    Abstract

    Mitochondrial dysfunction underlines a multitude of pathologies; however, studies are scarce that rescue the mitochondria for cellular resuscitation. Exploration into the protective role of mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) and its mitochondrial functions respective to cardiomyocyte death are in need of further investigation. TFAM is a gene regulator that acts to mitigate calcium mishandling and ROS production by wrapping around mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) complexes. TFAM's regulatory functions over serca2a, NFAT, and Lon protease contribute to cardiomyocyte stability. Calcium- and ROS-dependent proteases, calpains, and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are abundantly found upregulated in the failing heart. TFAM's regulatory role over ROS production and calcium mishandling leads to further investigation into the cardioprotective role of exogenous TFAM. In an effort to restabilize physiological and contractile activity of cardiomyocytes in HF models, we propose that TFAM-packed exosomes (TFAM-PE) will act therapeutically by mitigating mitochondrial dysfunction. Notably, this is the first mention of exosomal delivery of transcription factors in the literature. Here we elucidate the role of TFAM in mitochondrial rescue and focus on its therapeutic potential.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10741-016-9561-8

    View details for PubMedID 27166683

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4985491

  • Toll-like receptor 4 mutation suppresses hyperhomocysteinemia-induced hypertension. American journal of physiology. Cell physiology Familtseva, A., Chaturvedi, P., Kalani, A., Jeremic, N., Metreveli, N., Kunkel, G. H., Tyagi, S. C. 2016; 311 (4): C596–C606

    Abstract

    Hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy) has been observed to promote hypertension, but the mechanisms are unclear. Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR-4) is a cellular membrane protein that is ubiquitously expressed in all cell types of the vasculature. TLR-4 activation has been known to promote inflammation that has been associated with the pathogenesis of hypertension. In this study we hypothesize that HHcy induces hypertension by TLR-4 activation, which promotes inflammatory cytokine (IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α) upregulation and initiation of mitochondria-dependent apoptosis, leading to cell death and chronic vascular inflammation. To test this hypothesis, we used C57BL/6J (WT) mice, cystathionine β-synthase (CBS)-deficient (CBS+/-) mice with genetic mild HHcy, C3H/HeJ (C3H) mice with TLR-4 mutation, and mice with combined genetic HHcy and TLR-4 mutation (CBS+/-/C3H). Ultrasonography of the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) detected an increase in wall-to-lumen ratio, resistive index (RI), and pulsatility index (PI). Tail cuff blood pressure (BP) measurement revealed elevated BP in CBS+/- mice. RI, PI, and wall-to-lumen ratio of the SMA in CBS+/-/C3H mice were similar to the control group, and BP was significantly alleviated. TLR-4, IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α expression were upregulated in the SMA of CBS+/- mice and reduced in the SMA of CBS+/-/C3H mice. Molecules involved in the mitochondria-mediated cell death pathway (BAX, caspase-9, and caspase-3) were upregulated in CBS+/- mice and attenuated in CBS+/-/C3H mice. We conclude that HHcy promotes TLR-4-driven chronic vascular inflammation and mitochondria-mediated cell death, inducing hypertension. TLR-4 mutation attenuates vascular inflammation and cell death, which suppress hypertension.

    View details for DOI 10.1152/ajpcell.00088.2016

    View details for PubMedID 27488663

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5129755

  • Epigenetic revival of a dead cardiomyocyte through mitochondrial interventions. Biomolecular concepts Kunkel, G. H., Chaturvedi, P., Tyagi, S. C. 2015; 6 (4): 303–19

    Abstract

    Mitochondrial dysfunction has been reported to underline heart failure, and our earlier report suggests that mitochondrial fusion and fission contributes significantly to volume overload heart failure. Although ample studies highlight mitochondrial dysfunction to be a major cause, studies are lacking to uncover the role of mitochondrial epigenetics, i.e. epigenetic modifications of mtDNA in cardiomyocyte function. Additionally, mitochondrial proteases like calpain and Lon proteases are underexplored. Cardiomyopathies are correlated to mitochondrial damage via increased reactive oxygen species production and free calcium within cardiomyocytes. These abnormalities drive increased proteolytic activity from matrix metalloproteinases and calpains, respectively. These proteases degrade the cytoskeleton of the cardiomyocyte and lead to myocyte death. mtDNA methylation is another factor that can lead to myocyte death by silencing several genes of mitochondria or upregulating the expression of mitochondrial proteases by hypomethylation. Cardiomyocyte resuscitation can occur through mitochondrial interventions by decreasing the proteolytic activity and reverting back the epigenetic changes in the mtDNA which lead to myocyte dysfunction. Epigenetic changes in the mtDNA are triggered by environmental factors like pollution and eating habits with cigarette smoking. An analysis of mitochondrial epigenetics in cigarette-smoking mothers will reveal an underlying novel mechanism leading to mitochondrial dysfunction and eventually heart failure. This review is focused on the mitochondrial dysfunction mechanisms that can be reverted back to resuscitate cardiomyocytes.

    View details for DOI 10.1515/bmc-2015-0011

    View details for PubMedID 26203602

  • Resuscitation of a dead cardiomyocyte. Heart failure reviews Kunkel, G. H., Chaturvedi, P., Tyagi, S. C. 2015; 20 (6): 709–19

    Abstract

    Although cardiac resuscitation can revive the whole body, the mechanisms are unclear. To this end, we propose that reviving a dead/dysfunctional cardiomyocyte will shed light on resuscitation mechanisms and pave the way to treat cardiac myopathies. The degradation of the myocyte cytoskeleton by the proteasome system which involves calpains, ubiquitin, caspases and matrix metalloproteases is the main focus of this review. The activation of calpains beyond the calpastatin-mediated inhibition due to extensive calcium harbor can lead to titin degradation, damage to the sarcomere and contractile dysfunction. The ubiquitin proteasome system can disturb the protein homeostasis within the cell and generate a dysfunctional myocyte. The matrix metalloproteases disrupt the collagen/elastin ratio and connexins to generate arrhythmias. The concept of cardiac resuscitation stems from protecting the myocyte cytoskeleton and keeping the protein homeostasis intact through management of the degradation machinery. In this regard, proteasome inhibitors for the degradation machinery have an elegant space. Recently exosomes have been identified potentially, as carriers of microRNAs or proteins that can modify the target cells. Exosomes loaded with the inhibitor "cargo" which comprises microRNAs, siRNAs or proteins to inhibit the degradation machinery can be a method of choice for cardiac resuscitation-a process difficult to execute.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10741-015-9501-z

    View details for PubMedID 26311463