Tissue-specific regulation and further characterization of cysteine-rich intestinal protein


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Tissue-specific regulation and further characterization of cysteine-rich intestinal protein
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ix, 154 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Khoo, Christina, 1966-
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Proteins -- Biotechnology   ( lcsh )
Physiology, Pathological   ( lcsh )
Cysteine proteinases   ( lcsh )
Cysteine Endopeptidases   ( mesh )
Food Science and Human Nutrition thesis, Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Food Science and Human Nutrition -- UF
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1995.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 132-153).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Christina Khoo.
General Note:
General Note:

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Dedicated to my husband, Mun-Yew Chee, with love.


I would like to acknowledge the support and advice of my advisor, Dr. R.J. Cousins,

whom I have worked with for both my master's and PhD programs. His knowledge and

experience have been very beneficial to me over the years. I would also like to extend my

gratitude to my committee members, Drs. Denslow, Percival, Shireman and Sitren, for their

willingness to contribute both their expertise and their moral support throughout my program.

I would like to thank Dr. Nora A. Hallquist who contributed greatly to a large part

of the studies (Chapters 2 and 3) carried out in this project. Her knowledge of immunology

added enormously to the success of the projects that we carried out together. I would like

to express my appreciation to Dr. Michael A. King and Dr. Don Samuelson for contributing

their time and expertise in the areas of brain anatomy and liver histology, respectively. I

would also like to acknowledge Dr. Raymond K. Blanchard's advice and assistance in the

studies described in Chapter 5.

Undying gratitude is extended to Virginia Mauldin, for her help and assistance at

every step of the way, and for listening to my quite frequent hysterical rampages.

My colleagues and fellow graduate students, past and present, Warren Clark, Pearl

Fernandes, Vicki Sullivan, Barbara Davis, Steve Davis, also deserve a real pat on the back

for tolerating my presence for so long. I would also like to thank them for always being

ready to offer assistance and advice as well as to pick up the occasional slack and to lend the

occasional shoulder. My deep gratitude to Ruth Davenport for tolerating my frequent phone


calls to inquire about the status of my sequences and for still answering my calls. Thanks

also to Karol Smith, another fellow student, for a lot of good times and many more to come,

I hope.

I would like to thank my family in Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, and my aunt

and uncle in Maryland, for their love and continued encouragement. Again, last but not

least, I would like to thank, with all my heart, Mun-Yew Chee, now my husband of two

years, for being so incredibly tolerant, wonderful and supportive.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ...................................... iii

ABBREVIATIONS ........................................ vii

ABSTRACT ............................................. viii



Introduction ........................................... 1
O objectives ............................................ 6
Hypotheses ......................................... 6
Literature Review ....................................... 6

2 STRESS CHALLENGE (I) ............................... 28

Carbon-Tetrachloride Challenge ............................. 28
M materials and M ethods .................................. 28
Results ............................................. 31
D discussion ........................................... 44

3 STRESS CHALLENGE (II) ............................... 50

Lipopolysaccharide Challenge .............................. 50
M materials and M ethods .................................. 51
R results . . . . . 54
D discussion ........................................... 66

4 PROTEIN-PROTEIN INTERACTION ........................ 72

Introduction .......................................... 72
Strategy . . . . . 73
M materials and M ethods .................................. 75
Results ............................................. 80

D discussion ........................................... 95


Background ......................................... 103
M materials and M ethods .................................. 104
Results ........................................... 107
D discussion ............... .... ..... ..... ..... ... ..... 112


Summary/Speculations .................................. 114
Conclusion ......................................... 128



B [35S]CYSTEINE-rrCRIP PREPARATION ..................... 130


LITERATURE CITED ......................................... 132

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................... 154


(h) CRHP
(r,h) CRIP

(c,h) CRP
IgA, IgG
IL-1, IL-6

alanine aminotransferase
antioxidant response element
bovine serum albumin
cell adhesion molecule
(human) cysteine-rich heart protein
(rat, human) cysteine-rich intestinal protein
recombinant rat cysteine-rich intestinal
carbon tetrachloride
cyanogen bromide
(chicken, human) cysteine-rich protein
enhanced chemiluminescence
gamma butyric acid
immunoglobulin A or G
interleukin 1 or 6
manganese superoxide dismutase
metal response element
nerve growth factor
peripheral blood mononuclear cells
phosphate-buffered saline
polymerase chain reaction
phenylmethanesulfonyl fluoride
sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel
reverse transcriptase
tris-buffered saline
tumor necrosis factor



Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Christina Khoo

December, 1995

Chairperson: Robert J. Cousins
Major Department: Food Science and Human Nutrition

Cysteine-rich intestinal protein (CRIP) is a developmentally-regulated LIM protein.

There are high levels of CRIP mRNA in intestine and immune cells, and lesser amounts in

other tissues. To examine CRIP regulation under altered physiologic status we used

lipopolysaccharide (LPS) as an immune challenge and carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced

injury as a model of hepatic injury and inflammation.

The effect of CC14 administration was examined after 24 h. Since CRIP is a zinc-

finger protein, the effect of feeding a zinc-supplemented diet was also examined. The results

showed that the level of zinc used (300 mg/kg diet) did not affect plasma alanine

aminotransferase, an index of hepatic injury. CRIP mRNA and immuno-positive cells

increased in liver, but not in immune cells, following CCl4 treatment. Intestinal CRIP

mRNA was suppressed but supplemental dietary zinc prevented this decrease.


CRIP mRNA increased over time after LPS injection in immune tissues, intestine and

brain but not in liver. CRIP mRNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells decreased and

then increased later in the response. Intestinal and plasma CRIP protein decreased by 6 h.

Intestinal, but not plasma CRIP protein, was normalized by 48 h. These results showed that

CRIP expression was altered by stress challenges and these changes were dependent on the

type of challenge and the site of response.

In vitro protein-protein interaction studies showed CRIP binding to serum albumin

and trypsinogen. The former supports identification of CRIP in the plasma. Another putative

protein partner for CRIP was an N-terminally blocked, 116 kDa protein.

These studies suggested that CRIP was secreted into the plasma and was bound to

serum albumin. Increased CRIP expression later in the immune and inflammatory response

showed that it was not involved in the acute phase response but could function in

development/repair after injury.

Human CRIP cDNA was cloned from human small intestine poly (A)' RNA by

polymerase chain reaction. An expression system was developed as a corollary to these

studies. Human CRIP protein was found to differ in two amino acids compared to rat CRIP,

and one amino acid compared to human CRIP cloned from the heart, suggesting the existence

of different alleles of the gene.



Cysteine-rich intestinal protein (CRIP) was isolated from rat intestinal cytosol by

Hempe and Cousins (1991) and found to bind zinc during transmucosal transport. Its zinc

binding characteristics and predominance in the intestine argued for a role as an intracellular

zinc trafficking protein (Hempe and Cousins, 1992). CRIP mRNA was first identified in the

mouse intestine. It was found to be developmentally regulated, with low abundance in the

intestine at birth, which increased to adult levels post-weaning (Birkenmeier and Gordon,

1986; Levenson et al., 1993). Increased binding of 65Zn to CRIP occurred during the post-

weaning period, corresponding to the increased level of CRIP mRNA and protein at that

time, but the mRNA levels did not appear to be regulated by zinc (Levenson et al., 1994b).

However, CRIP mRNA was increased by glucocorticoids (Needleman et al., 1993), and

analysis of the promoter region showed the presence of putative glucocorticoid response

elements (Levenson et al., 1994a). The primary sequence of CRIP was found to contain a

putative signal sequence that was implicated in protein translocation (Tsonis et al., 1988).

CRIP contains a single copy of a cysteine-rich domain called the LIM motif. When

two atoms of zinc are bound, the motif comprises a double zinc finger (Liebhaber et al.,

1990). This motif has been found in products of several genes involved in developmental

regulation such as the lin-11 (C. elegans cell lineage gene), isl-1 (rat insulin-1 enhancer


binding protein) and mec-3 (C. elegans gene required for differentiation of mechanosensory

neurons) genes (Freyd et al., 1990). The acronym LIM was coined from the first letters of

the names of those three genes. Many other genes have been reported to have this motif,

usually in tandem repeats of two or more, including rhombotin, an oncogene (Boehm et al,

1991) and the human cysteine-rich protein (Wang et al., 1992). Many of these LIM proteins

contained a homeodomain and were postulated to function as transcription factors (Li et al.,

1991). The LIM motif has been proposed to be involved in protein-DNA interaction, as in

classically defined transcription factors, or protein-RNA interactions. The LIM motif has

also been found to interact with other proteins or to form homodimers (Crawford et al.,

1992; Sadler et al., 1992; Schmeichel and Beckerle, 1994).

CRIP belongs to the class of LIM proteins that does not have the homeodomain

(LIM-only proteins). This argues against a DNA binding function. Consequently, CRIP is

thought to function through protein-protein interactions to mediate changes in cells. CRIP

contains only one copy of the LIM motif which has been shown to be sufficient for binding

to another LIM protein (Schmeichel and Beckerle, 1994).

CRIP expression was originally thought to be specific to a few tissues such as the

intestine. However, more recent evidence showed that CRIP expression was widespread, with

particularly high levels in immune tissues even under normal physiological conditions. Based

on these and other new discoveries about the different LIM-containing proteins (Dawid et al.,

1995), it is now postulated that CRIP is involved in a different function not related to

intestinal zinc trafficking. One of the suggested roles is in maintenance of cellular



The high abundance of CRIP in the intestine has focused on that organ as a site to

evaluate a function. A study by Fleet et al. (1993) found that treatment of Caco-2 cells with

la,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 decreased the level of CRIP mRNA to 70% while zinc transport

was increased. Therefore, they questioned the role of CRIP in zinc absorption. Needleman

et al. (1993) proposed that CRIP was a mediator of glucocorticoid action rather than a

component of an intracellular zinc trafficking system because of the pattern of hormonal

regulation by dexamethasone and T4. However, recently, another group of researchers still

stated that the model of zinc absorption proposed by Hempe and Cousins (1992) was

supported by the study they carried out in diabetic animals. They found that metallothionein

was induced in these animals, resulting in decreased zinc binding to CRIP, and lowered zinc

transport (Escobar et al., 1995). Therefore, the functions) of CRIP still remains to be


Levenson et al. (1994a) showed that the promoter region of the CRIP gene did not

have a TATA box but had a GC-rich region. The general transcription factor, Spl, was

found to bind to the GC-rich region of housekeeping genes. This pointed to a housekeeping

function for CRIP such as in cell repair or maintenance of differentiation. CRIP may interact

with other LIM and non-LIM proteins while carrying out its function.

A human CRIP partial sequence was cloned as an expressed sequence tag from a

human fetal brain (Adams et al., 1992), and this sequence enabled the full cDNA to be

cloned from the human heart (Tsui et al., 1994). The human cysteine-rich heart protein

(hCRHP) was cloned using a procedure called 3' rapid amplification of cDNA ends (Tsui

et al., 1994). The similarity and identity of the human and rat genes were very high,

showing remarkable conservation of the gene over the span of evolution. Another LIM


protein, the human cysteine-rich protein (hCRP), was also found to be highly conserved when

the DNA of eukaryotic species from yeast to mammals (mouse and human) were analyzed

(Liebhaber et al., 1990).

This dissertation project is a prospective study involving several different sections,

each providing new information about CRIP, applicable to defining a physiological function

for the protein. The regulation of CRIP was studied in an animal model, Sprague-Dawley

rats, and focused on the intestine, nervous system, liver and immune tissues. Two different

stress challenges were used to study CRIP regulation since CRIP expression was different

in various tissues under normal physiologic states. A toxic challenge with carbon

tetrachloride and an immune challenge with lipopolysaccharide were used.

Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), an organic toxin that affects the liver, was used to cause

a toxic challenge which leads to hepatotoxicity and neuropathy (Rechnagel and Glende, Jr.,

1973; Dfaz-Mufioz and Tapia, 1989). The liver expressed one of the lowest CRIP mRNA

levels of all the tissues examined and perturbation of hepatic function could cause a change

in CRIP expression. Since the brain has also been shown to be affected by this toxic insult,

CRIP levels in the brain were also examined. In addition, the effect of dietary zinc on CRIP

expression in this model of inflammation was analyzed as zinc has been indirectly implicated

as being cytoprotective against CCI4, possibly by inducing metallothionein, a zinc

metalloprotein associated with cellular defense (Chvapil et al., 1973; Clarke and Lui, 1986).

Recently, very high levels of CRIP mRNA were observed in residential peritoneal

macrophages and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated peritoneal macrophages.

Consequently, CRIP mRNA and protein expression were investigated at different time points

in cells of the immune and nervous systems, intestine, liver and plasma in response to


immune challenge with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a bacterial cell wall antigen that was able

to elicit an acute-phase immune response (Watson et al., 1994).

As a potential avenue for further determining the function of CRIP, the search for a

potential protein partner of CRIP was carried out with the idea that the protein partners)

would have a similar, complementary or opposing role. If the protein partner of CRIP was

a protein with a known function and subcellular localization, the information would suggest

a related function and localization for CRIP.

An additional part of this project was to further characterize CRIP by comparing the

recombinant rat and human protein. Using the published sequences for heart CRIP, primers

were designed to clone the cDNA from human small intestine using the polymerase chain

reaction (PCR). The cDNA was then used in an expression system to make sufficient

quantities of the human protein for comparisons with the rat recombinant protein and for

future studies with antibodies.

There are a number of areas where the biology of CRIP would be nutritionally

significant. CRIP is a zinc-finger protein that is likely to be important in the developing

intestine. CRIP has also been found in immune cells and could be an important factor in

determining or explaining the role of zinc in immune function. Zinc deficiency has been

found to suppress immune functions, suggesting specific zinc-dependent components are

involved (Keen and Gershwin, 1990). The function of CRIP during immune processes could

be used for diagnostic purposes and the antibody produced from the human protein would

have clinical implications. Overall, the role of zinc and its interactions with zinc-finger

proteins would help to define the importance of regulating this trace mineral in our diet.


1. To develop information needed to define a function for CRIP:

a. by studying the expression of the gene in the rat intestine, liver, brain and

immune tissues to stress challenges, including a toxic challenge by carbon-

tetrachloride and an immune challenge with lipopolysaccharide.

b. by identifying a potential protein partner that may have a known function that

could define a related function for CRIP using intestinal cytosolic and membrane

protein preparations.

2. To further characterize CRIP by comparing the recombinant human protein produced

by a bacterial expression system using the CRIP cDNA generated from human

intestinal mRNA with the rat protein and the recombinant human protein produced

from heart mRNA.


1. The regulation of CRIP is tissue-specific and is dependent on the site of challenge and

response during an insult.

2. The human CRIP cDNA is present in the intestine and has a high homology with rat

CRIP but is not identical.

Literature Review

Cysteine-Rich Intestinal Protein

Cysteine-rich intestinal protein (CRIP) is a 77 amino acid, 8.55 kDa protein, with 7

cysteine residues. As reviewed earlier, cysteine and histidine residues, arranged in a


consensus sequence of CX2CXI7.19HX2CX2CX2CX7.11(C)X8C, form a double zinc finger

structure called the LIM motif (Freyd et al., 1990). Although the LIM motif resembles the

iron-sulfur centers of ferredoxins, in vivo and in vitro studies have shown that the LIM motif

does not bind iron or copper with high affinity (Archer et al., 1994; Khoo and Cousins,

1994). Structural studies of the two fingers showed that one tetrathiolate site (S4) and one

S3NA site each bound one zinc(II) ion tetrahedrally (Kosa et al, 1994). The authors also

found that slow metal exchange can occur with Co(II) and Cd(II) with the S3N1 site being

more kinetically facile. Metal binding appeared to stabilize the tertiary structure of the

protein. Mutational analysis studies (Michelsen, 1994) provided further evidence that the two

sites were arranged in a double zinc finger motif as had been proposed earlier by Wang et

al. (1992).

The amount of CRIP purified from the soluble fraction of rat intestinal tissue was

found to be between 15-20 Mpg/g tissue (Khoo and Cousins, 1994). It was found to bind 65Zn

more avidly than metallothionein during transmucosal zinc transport in rats fed a normal zinc

diet (Hempe and Cousins, 1992). However, when metallothionein was induced by feeding

a high zinc diet, it was able to bind more "Zn than CRIP, supporting the postulated role of

metallothionein as a controller of zinc homeostasis. Levenson et al. (1993) showed that the

CRIP mRNA was expressed most abundantly in the mid-villar region of the intestine. They

also showed that dietary zinc had little influence on expression (Levenson et al., 1994b).

Fernandes et al. (1995) recently showed by immunohistochemistry that CRIP was localized

predominantly in the Paneth cells with lower levels at the tip of the villus. The Paneth cells

and the brush border enterocytes both differentiate from the same stem cells (Gordon et al.,

1992) and thus, high expression of CRIP message in the mid-villar region could support the


high protein abundance and protein turnover in the Paneth cells in the rapidly proliferating

intestinal epithelium lining the villi. This suggested that CRIP message was more abundant

in cells that were not as differentiated while protein expression was highest in more

differentiated cell types such as brush-border enterocytes and Paneth cells.

The Paneth cells, which lie in the crypt region of the small intestine, are

morphologically well-characterized but their function is still relatively unknown. It is the

only cell lineage that migrates downward from the crypt-villus junction and it is derived from

the same multipotent stem cells that produce villus enterocytes (Bry et al., 1994). They have

been implicated in the production and secretion of antimicrobial peptides (Selsted et al.,

1992) for intestinal defense against invading organisms, small amounts of pancreatic enzymes

such as trypsinogen as a supplement to the pancreas (Senegas-Balas et al., 1991), growth

factors (Bry et al., 1994), immunoglobulins (Erlandsen et al., 1976; Rodning et al., 1976),

and tumor necrosis factor (Keshav et al., 1990). Paneth cells also secrete lysozyme which

acts as another line of intestinal defense (Erlandsen et al., 1974). Therefore, it has been

proposed that the Paneth cells represent a first line of defense as an alternative to recruitment

of inflammatory cells as a method to preserve the integrity of the epithelial cells (Boman,


The zinc content of Paneth cells was shown to be very high in numerous studies

(Dinsdale, 1984; Dinsdale and Biles, 1986; Sawada et al., 1993). Consequently, there is

considerable interest in the zinc-binding proteins in the Paneth cells. CRIP is one of the few

zinc binding proteins identified in Paneth cells. Cryptdins (or defensins), are members of

a family of cysteine-rich antimicrobial peptides found in Paneth cells (Selsted et al., 1992).

The cysteine residues of defensins are believed to form disulfide bonds, which would


preclude zinc-binding. A recently discovered 90 kDa zinc-binding protein, called ZBPP-1,

was found to be localized in cytoplasmic granules of the Paneth cells by

immunohistochemistry (Sawada et al., 1993; 1994). Treatment with dithizonate, a zinc

chelator, caused ZBPP -containing granules to disappear. They reappeared again with

regeneration of Paneth cells. Normally, these cells turn over fairly rapidly, differentiating

during downward migration and reside in the crypt area for about 20 days before being

removed by phagocytosis (Bry et al., 1994; Gordon et al., 1992). Localization of CRIP in

these cells suggest that it could participate in cell proliferation/differentiation function or

mucosal defense. The zinc content of the Paneth cells and the destruction of these cells by

dithizonate suggest that zinc-binding proteins such as CRIP could be important in the

functions of the Paneth cells in the small intestine.

CRIP mRNA levels were also found to be high in the female reproductive organs

which undergo active cell proliferation and differentiation (Cousins and Fernandes, 1995).

LIM Motif/Other LIM Proteins

Recently, the LIM family of proteins were loosely grouped into four groups (Dawid

et al., 1995) based on the differences in structural domains. The first group of LIM proteins

contain a homeodomain implicated in DNA binding while the other three groups are LIM-

only proteins without the homeodomain. The second group consists of LIM-only proteins

with 1-5 LIM domains near to the N-terminus and little else; Proteins of the third group

contain 3-4 LIM domains at the C-terminus. The last group of LIM proteins has more varied

structures which include functional domains such as a kinase domain and a G-activating

protein (GAP) domain. The LIM motif has been added to the list of zinc finger motifs that

play roles in gene regulation and, with the LIM-only proteins, possibly signal transduction,


cell adhesion and oncogenesis (Boehm et al., 1991; Dawid et al., 1995; Klug and Schwabe,


Tissue distribution

Tissue specificity of some of the LIM family of proteins based upon detectable

mRNA levels is as follows: rat CRIP (rCRIP)-intestine, lung, colon, spleen, thymus,

placenta, heart, ovary, skin, adrenal, muscle and bone marrow (Birkenmeier and Gordon,

1986; Levenson et al., 1993), hCRP-lung, colon, brain, ovary, thymus, placenta, spleen,

skin, heart, adrenal, kidney and pancreas (Wang et al., 1992), zyxin-adhesion plaque isolated

from avian smooth muscle (Sadler et al., 1992), and chicken CRP-cytoskeleton, gizzard,

stomach and intestine (Crawford et al., 1992).

Several different types of LIM-homeodomain proteins have been discovered in the

brain, as discussed in the next section, which implicates this motif in regulating functions in

the nervous system as well as in other tissues. In addition to CRIP, two other highly related

LIM proteins, CRP2 and ESP1 (estrogen-stimulated protein 1), have been found in the brain

although these three proteins appear to be ubiquitously expressed (Okano et al., 1993; Nalik

et al., 1989). ESPI has been found to be stimulated by 176-estradiol in both male and

female rats. A novel protein kinase found to be highly expressed in the rat brain has also

turned out to be a LIM protein with two repeats of the LIM domain (Mizuno et al., 1994).

This protein, LIMK, is proposed to function in developmental and oncogenic processes

through interactions with other LIM proteins. This finding suggests that some LIM proteins

may form a signaling complex through protein-protein interactions with other proteins and

may utilize LIM kinases for activation.

Transcriptional regulation

A LIM-homeodomain transcription factor was found to function in the activation of

the gene for a mouse glycoprotein hormone ao subunit in the pituitary by binding to the

promoter region (Roberson et al., 1994). This hormone is a very early marker of pituitary

differentiation and tied the function of yet another LIM-homeodomain protein, recently

named P-LIM (Bach et al., 1995), to cell lineage determination. The three original genes

found to contain the LIM motif, i.e. lin-11, isl-1 and mec-3, were found to have that function

(Freyd et al., 1990).

Several of the LIM-homeodomain proteins are expressed in the central nervous

system during developmental stages such as Lim-1, Isl-1, and GSH-4 (Barnes et al., 1994;

Lumsden, 1995). Murine GSH-4 has been found to be important for the development of

respiratory control mechanisms and is expressed transiently in the central nervous system

during late development (Li et al., 1994). Primary neurons in zebrafish expressed Isl-1 at

the end of gastrulation (Korzh et al., 1993).

The LIM domain of Isl-1 inhibited the binding of the homeodomain to its target DNA

(Sdnchez-Garcfa et al., 1993). This could represent a method of gene regulation by LIM

proteins. The inhibition was lifted by truncation of the LIM domain. This could mean that

under physiological conditions either an activator, such as another LIM protein, is required

to bind to the LIM domain of 1sl-1 and remove the repression of the homeodomain or that

the LIM domain is cleaved by proteolytic activity. This represents a possible mechanism of

negative regulation of LIM-homeodomain proteins in vivo and suggests that the LIM motif

is important in protein-protein interactions in both the LIM-homeodomain proteins as well

as the LIM-only proteins.


It has been proposed that the LIM-only proteins could bind to the equivalent domain

in LIM-homeodomain proteins and function to activate or depress their transcriptional

activities. LIM-only proteins have received some attention directed at determining the nature

of their interactions with other proteins (Feuerstein et al., 1994; Sinchez-Garcfa and Rabbitts,

1994; Schmeichel and Beckerle, 1994).

Protein-protein interactions

Proteins are known to interact with other proteins in virtually every type of cellular

process. Some of these form multi-subunit complexes such as G-protein-coupled receptors,

proteosome complexes for ubiquitination and degradation of cellular proteins and

transcriptional machinery (Austin et al., 1994), while some of the interactions are more

transient. For example, protein modifications such as phosphorylation, proteolysis, and

transamination involve protein-protein interactions. Proteins also transiently interact during

cell growth, signaling, metabolism, transport as well as breakdown and reformation of

subcellular structures during cell cycles, immune reactions and cell differentiation/activation

(Austin et al., 1994; Calakos et al., 1994; Phizicky and Fields, 1995). These events are

usually mediated by ligands such as peptides to promote dimerization and present a method

of controlling protein activation through complex formation (Austin et al., 1994).

A LIM-only protein that has been studied extensively is zyxin, a cytoskeletal protein

with three tandem copies of the LIM motif, which is able to interact with another LIM

protein called the chicken CRP (Sadler et al., 1992). Both proteins are associated with the

cytoskeleton and are postulated to be involved in transmembrane signaling. Zyxin is also

able to bind a-actinin which is another cytoskeletal protein that does not have the LIM

domain (Crawford et al., 1992). It was proposed that the LIM domain is a modular protein-


binding interface with the LIM domain of zyxin binding to the LIM domain of chicken CRP.

The proline-rich region of zyxin appears to be involved in another interaction with ot-actinin

(Schmeichel and Beckerle, 1994). Other LIM proteins have been found to have these distinct

types of binding where LIM/non-LIM interactions appear to require some specificity in the

non-LIM proteins as well in the LIM protein partner. For example, a LIM protein called

ENIGMA was found to recognize tyrosine tight turns in its partner (Wu and Gill, 1994).

These tyrosine tight turns are found in proteins such as the human insulin receptor and are

"codes" required for endocytosis of cell receptors. Mutation in these sequences prevents the

binding of ENIGMA, showing that there is specificity in the recognition of these target


Paxillin is another important LIM-only protein. It is a focal adhesion protein in

fibroblasts and binds to vinculin, c-src and the focal adhesion tyrosine kinase ppl25'

(Turner and Miller, 1994). It was proposed to interact with growth factor receptors for

signal transduction through phosphorylation of its tyrosine residues (Salgia et al., 1995).

Paxillin and its partners represent examples of protein-protein interactions in the pathway for

microfilament assembly (Melamed et al., 1995).

LIM proteins and immune function

Both LIM-only and LIM-homeodomain proteins have been found to play roles in the

immune function. A homeobox gene, LH-2, was found while screening early markers of B-

lymphocyte differentiation (Xu et al., 1993). It was found in both B- and T-lymphoid cell

lines while the highest expression was in discrete areas of the developing central nervous

system. A LIM-only protein called PINCH, containing five LIM domains, was found to

contain an autoepitope in the third LIM domain homologous to senescent red blood cell


antigen (Rearden, 1994). This antigen is important in immunoglobulin-mediated removal of

aged cells. Paxillin, a focal adhesion protein found to be important in protein-protein

interactions, was shown to be present in adherent and non-adherent neutrophils (Fuortes et

al., 1994) and human B lymphocytes (Melamed et al., 1995). It was discovered that the

tyrosine phosphorylation of paxillin in these different cell types required not only activation

by growth factors and cytokines, but also the formation of aggregates and microfilament

assembly (Melamed et al., 1995). The aggregation of IgE receptors also appeared to induce

phosphorylation of paxillin (Hamawy et al., 1994). These data suggest that paxillin is

important in signal transduction either activated or mediated by the complex formation of

other proteins involved in the adhesion or aggregation functions of the immune response.

LIM proteins have also been implicated in human T cell leukemia via specific

association with basic helix loop helix proteins (Wadman et al., 1994). Rhombotin, an

oncogene with two LIM motifs, was found to be associated with T-cell leukemia

chromosomal translocations (Boehm et al., 1991) implicating LIM proteins in control of

proliferation of immune cells.

Zinc in Biology

Zinc requirements

With the presence of so many zinc binding proteins carrying out roles in regulating

gene activity and other functions, zinc as a micronutrient is obviously playing an important

biological role. The recommended dietary allowance for zinc is now set at 15 mg/day for

men and 12 mg/day for women (National Research Council, 1992). It has also been

established that there is an increased need for zinc during different physiologic states

including pregnancy and lactation (15 mg and 19 mg/day respectively) and immune stress


(Prasad, 1988). Under these conditions, there is increased cell growth and differentiation

which require zinc. Sandstead (1991) reported that mild zinc deficiency may be more

prevalent in more societies than we think.

Zinc status in the general population has been estimated by measuring zinc in plasma

and serum, hair, saliva and erythrocytes (King, 1990; Solomons, 1981), with methods such

as atomic absorption spectroscopy and inductively-coupled plasma emission. Reticulocyte

metallothionein has also proved to be a useful indicator of zinc status when measured using

enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA) (Grider, 1990). King (1990) suggested that both

plasma zinc and liver metallothionein should be measured since during a stress response,

when plasma zinc is low, metallothionein increases. Plasma zinc has been found to be

carried by albumin in the plasma (Etzel et al., 1982; Falchuk, 1977; Smith et al., 1979).

Plasma albumin levels are depressed under stress conditions.

Physiological functions and absorption

The nutritional essentiality of zinc was not recognized in humans until 1963 when

Prasad et al. (1979) discovered deficiency symptoms in Egypt. The primary symptoms

included dwarfism, hypogonadism and delayed sexual maturation but many other symptoms

were observed for mild to severe zinc deficiency (Prasad, 1984). These included mental

retardation, compromised cell-mediated immune functions, skin lesions and alopecia (Prasad,

1984). An inherited rare autosomal recessive gene cause a congenital zinc malabsorption

syndrome (Acrodermatitis enteropathica) characterized by those symptoms as well as

diarrhea, but this syndrome was reversed by oral zinc treatment (Hambidge and Walravens,



Due to the nutritional importance of zinc, the study of zinc absorption and transport

in the intestine has been intensively pursued as reviewed by Cousins (1982; 1985; 1989).

The knowledge as it stands now is that zinc uptake at the brush border involves both passive

diffusion and a saturable, carrier-mediated uptake (Cousins, 1989) through activity of a

membrane transporter that could require small zinc binding ligands (DiSilvestro and Cousins,

1983). At the basolateral membrane, the uptake is postulated to be energy-dependent

(Kowarski et al., 1974; Oestreicher and Cousins, 1989) while the efflux of intestinal zinc

back into the lumen is thought to be a mechanism for zinc homeostasis (Hoadley et al.,

1987). In 1991, Hempe and Cousins suggested CRIP as candidate for a zinc transporter, due

to its abundance in the intestine and its saturable affinity for zinc, but the later discovery of

the ubiquitous distribution of the protein argued against a transport function.

Zinc binding proteins

Zinc binding proteins have been found to play many roles in biology including as zinc

finger proteins (Klug and Schwabe, 1995), zinc storage proteins and enzymes (Coleman,

1992), antioxidants (Mulder et al., 1991), signal transducers (Hubbard et al., 1991), and

many others. These proteins bind zinc in a variety of motifs especially the transcription

factors which have either zinc fingers or zinc twists (Vallee et al., 1991) and metallothionein

which binds zinc in clusters. These different structures also bind zinc with different affinities

which can determine their ability to exchange zinc, and define a structural or catalytic role

for zinc in these proteins. The chelating ability of different proteins can be used to regulate

the function of another protein. For example, metallothionein (zinc cluster) chelates zinc

from transcription factors (zinc finger) such as Spl in vitro (Zeng et al., 1991a), and TFIII

or transcription factor III (Zeng et al., 1991b). CRIP belongs to the group of metalloproteins


which has the zinc finger motif (Klug and Schwabe, 1995) and binds zinc with the same

affinity as these proteins (Kosa et al., 1994). Therefore, metallothionein has the capability

of chelating zinc from CRIP in vitro. However, zinc absorption studies indicate that with

normal physiological zinc concentrations, CRIP was able to bind zinc in the presence of

excess metallothionein (Hempe and Cousins, 1991; Khoo, unpublished observations).

Metallothionein is induced during the acute-phase immune response as well as during

other stress responses such as those involving oxygen radical formation following irradiation

or exposure to chemicals (e.g. ozone, alcohol). During an immune response liver

metallothionein increases. This results in a redistribution of zinc from plasma into liver and

some other tissues such as bone marrow. This redistribution may decrease the availability

of zinc to invading organisms. Metallothionein is also thought to mediate protection against

free radical-induced damage, perhaps by interacting with the damaging agent or the products

e.g. hydroxyl radical (Clarke and Lui, 1986). The promoter region of the metallothionein

gene contains, among other regulatory sequences, metal response elements that allow it to

be induced by heavy metals such as zinc and cadmium (Hamer, 1986). The promoter also

contains a response element called antioxidant response elements, or ARE, for activation by

oxygen radicals (Dalton et al., 1994). Metallothionein is also inducible by glucocorticoids,

endotoxin and non-metallic compounds such as carbon tetrachloride and paraquat (De et al.,

1990; Fleet et al., 1990; Min et al., 1991). Therefore, metallothionein is a good indicator

of not only heavy metal toxicity but also the acute phase response and inflammation.

Other functions of zinc

Other than being just part of the structure of zinc fingers or zinc clusters, zinc is an

important trace element in itself. It has special chemistry that makes it useful in biological


systems such as the lack of redox chemistry which could cause free radical damage, the rapid

change of coordination numbers when binding, and the rapid exchange of ligand-complex

(Williams, 1984). One of the most important direct functions of zinc is regulating gene

expression by binding to proteins which in turn bind metal response elements (MREs) in gene

promoters as seen for the metallothionein gene (Cousins, 1994). Zinc has also been shown

to induce metal response binding factors in the nucleus of human HepG2 cells and to

facilitate their binding to the DNA. Therefore, zinc acts at two different levels to stimulate

genes containing MREs (Czupryn et al., 1992). The acute phase proteins, a1-acid

glycoprotein and C-reactive protein, have also been shown to be induced by zinc through

zinc-facilitated binding of transcription factors to MREs (Yiangou et al., 1991).

In the immune system, zinc deficiency affects T and B cell response as well as

macrophage functions (Keen and Gershwin, 1990; Vallee and Falchuk, 1993). Zinc

deficiency was found to interfere with the function of macrophages in taking up and killing

parasites (Wirth et al., 1989). This function was restored by zinc supplementation (Wirth

et al., 1989). Extreme thymic atrophy and loss of splenocytes had been reported in zinc

deficient mice as had alteration in cytokine production (Fraker et al., 1995; Serushago and

Chandra, 1995). Zinc was found influence apoptosis of immune cells as well (Fraker et al.,


Zinc has also been postulated to act as an antioxidant through two possible

mechanisms, by protecting sulfhydryl groups against oxidation and by inhibiting other

transition metals from producing reactive oxygen species (Bray and Bettger, 1990).

Numerous studies with administration of toxic agents such as carbon tetrachloride with either

an injected dose or excess dietary zinc, showed a protective effect of zinc against the toxic


agent (Chvapil et. al, 1973; Clarke and Lui, 1986). The mechanism of protection, as

discussed earlier, may involve induction of metallothionein to act as a free radical scavenger.

Zinc in the brain

The physiological role of zinc in the brain has gathered a lot of interest lately due to

findings on the possible pathological effects of zinc in neurological disorders such as

Alzheimer's disease (Bush et al., 1994; Price et al., 1991). Physiological roles have been

proposed for zinc in the central nervous system. It has been proposed that zinc may function

as a neuromodulator and as a developmental signal for synaptogenesis (Smart et al., 1994).

It is also thought that zinc may facilitate packaging and storage of neurotransmitters in

synaptic vesicles (Smart et al., 1994).

Zinc is found in differing concentrations in various parts of the brain and is postulated

to be made up of three separate pools, vesicular, free and protein-bound zinc (Frederickson,

1989). The concentration of zinc in the cerebrospinal fluid is the same as that of

microligand-bound zinc in the serum but studies with brain cells have shown that exchange

between serum and brain cells does not occur freely but requires an energy-dependent process

(Howell et al., 1984). Concentrations of zinc within brain zinc pools range from 200 pM

in normal conditions to 300 jpM during brief surges of zinc being released from terminal

boutons (Frederickson, 1989).

Neither dietary deficiency nor excess of zinc appeared to cause any immediate or

pronounced effect in zinc concentrations in most areas of the brain, showing that zinc is

remarkably conserved in this organ (Kasarkis, 1984; Wallwork, 1987). Although changes

in zinc concentrations are not detectable during zinc deficiency, it has been well established

that dietary zinc deficiency led to clinical signs of neurological damage (Prasad, 1979; O'Dell


et al., 1990). Therefore, subtle changes in zinc concentrations within specific regions may

be enough to cause this damage. Acting as a neurotransmitter, synaptic release of zinc may

be directly responsible for regulating the cyclic feeding patterns observed during dietary zinc


The cellular basis for the anomalous staining of zinc after the destruction of the

hippocampus and numerous other injury-related changes in zinc distribution in the brain are

still unknown (Frederickson, 1989; Lees et al., 1990; Yokoyama et al., 1987). Zinc is found

in high concentrations in the hippocampus where it is mostly localized in the mossy fiber

boutons and is postulated to act as a neurotransmitter in this region (Frederickson, 1989;

Slomianka, 1992). In hippocampal slices, zinc has been shown to be both taken up as well

as released upon different types of stimulation (Assaf and Chung, 1984; Howell et al., 1984).

These stimulations appear to release zinc bound to soluble proteins (Baba et al. 1989, Assaf

and Chung, 1984; Xie and Smart, 1991). This may be deleterious or beneficial, depending

on different physiological states. Several studies have implicated zinc in neuropathological

states such as Alzheimer's and epilepsy (Bush et al., 1994; Frederickson, 1989). A zinc-

binding protein that was found to be deficient in Alzheimer's disease brain is a

metallothionein-like protein (Uchida et al., 1991). This was subsequently shown to be

metallothionein-3, an isoform of metallothionein that is unique to the brain (Palmiter et al.,


Most of the data relating diseases of the nervous system to zinc are very conflicting.

For example, both abnormally high and abnormally low serum zinc concentrations have been

found to be associated with epileptic seizures while both dietary zinc deficiency and systemic

zinc injections have been found to facilitate electroconvulsive seizures (Frederickson, 1989).


It is clear that zinc can act as a proconvulsant as well as an anticonvulsant and the effect is

dependent on dose, route of administration, type of seizure, species, clinical history, status

and etiology of the disease. There is an obvious need for a delicate balance in the

distribution of zinc in the central nervous system. Smart et al. (1994) in their review

emphasized that zinc can play two roles, a neuroprotective role at low concentrations by

antagonizing the effect of calcium, and a neurotoxic role at higher concentrations through

direct toxicity or enhancement of the effect of glutamate-activated non-NMDA receptors.

Rapid uptake and release of zinc is very important to preserve the integrity of

neurotransmission not unlike the regulation of calcium levels. This appeared to be the case

as following systemic administration, "6Zn was detected immediately throughout the brain

(Kasarkis, 1984). Zinc was found to be involved with both inhibitory and excitatory amino

acid receptors such as GABA (inhibitory) and NMDA (excitatory) receptors by associating

with one or two binding sites on these receptors and causing different effects with different

types of neurons (Koh and Choi, 1988; Peters et al., 1987).

A phenomenon that occurs in denervated tissue is the appearance of reactive

macrophages that are stained intensely by a zinc-specific histologic stain. The appearance

of these macrophages in the areas of high zinc accumulation suggests that either these cells

are secreting a reactive pool of zinc or that they are sequestering free zinc liberated as a

result of the neuronal injury (Frederickson, 1989). CRIP mRNA has been found to be

abundant in macrophages and as a zinc-binding protein, it may play a role in regulating zinc.

During neuronal damage there is an increase in zinc-specific staining in degenerating axons

(Pdrez-Clausell et al., 1989). Again, the appearance of zinc in these dying neurons could

be an indication of the role of zinc in the response to cellular damage. One suggestion was


that zinc observed histologically was associated with a nerve growth factor (NGF)-like

trophic factor, a zinc-binding protein, for the purpose of cell repair or regeneration (Kesslak

et al., 1987).

As a result of the studies described above, there is considerable interest in zinc

binding components of various cells of the nervous system. CRIP mRNA is found in the

brain and as a cytosolic zinc-binding protein whose function is still unknown, it would be

interesting to see the effect of a toxic challenge, such as with CCl4, on brain CRIP

expression. Part of the toxic effect of zinc was postulated to occur inside neuronal cells

following entry of zinc and calcium after injury to the neurons (Weiss et al., 1993). A

systemic challenge was carried out with CCI4, as described in the following chapter, which

may or may not, affect the brain.

Stress Challenges

Two different types of stimuli that can cause changes in organs such as intestine,

liver, immune cells, and the central nervous system will be discussed in the following

sections. Since tissues are regulated by different mediators under physiologic stress, it is

possible that the expression of CRIP could be altered selectively. This would vary depending

on the need for the presence of CRIP in a given tissue at a particular stage in the stress


Carbon tetrachloride

Carbon tetrachloride (CC!4) is a highly toxic inflammatory agent that can cause liver

damage as evidenced through the increase in the activity of liver enzymes such as alanine

aminotransferase (ALT) in the plasma. The hepatotoxicity results from cell damage caused

by the trichloromethyl free radical produced through metabolism of CCl4 by the cytochrome


P-450-dependent monooxygenase (Rechnagel and Glende, 1973). Cirrhosis occurs with

various routes of chronic CCi4 administration and can lead to loss of hepatic function but

absence of significant extrahepatic complications or abnormal nitrogen metabolism (Blondd-

Cynober et al., 1994). Increased nitric oxide production may also be another effect of CC!4

treatment (Chamulitrat et al. 1994).

A mechanism was proposed for the cellular events that determine the nature and

extent of the hepatotoxic injury (Mehendale et al., 1994). According to these authors,

stimulation of tissue repair is the key determinant of the extent of liver injury and the

protection against cell death. A small dose of CCl4 administered 24 h prior to a large lethal

dose confers maximal autoprotection by downregulating the cytochrome P-450 system and

also by stimulating hepatic cell division to facilitate tissue repair and recovery. The

downregulation of the cytochrome P-450 system is important as uncontrolled activation of

this system has been found to lead to massive liver injury.

Antioxidants have also been implicated in both augmentation and inhibition of the

CCl4-induced effects. Vitamin A was found to potentiate the effects of CCi4 by activating

Kupffer cells to release increased amounts of oxygen free radicals (ElSisi et al., 1993).

Kupffer cells were thought to participate in CC14 toxicity by producing toxic secretary

products to attract neutrophils to the site of injury, thus amplifying the inflammatory response

(Edwards et al., 1993). On the other hand, vitamin E was shown to inhibit CCl4-induced

liver damage in a dose-dependent fashion when delivered in liposomes (Yao et al., 1994).

Biodistribution studies showed that these liposome-associated antioxidants were localized in

the Kupffer cell populations, further emphasizing the role of the macrophage-like activity in

the etiology of the liver injury. Interestingly enough, Kupffer cell stimulation by C.parvwn


did not potentiate the CCl4-induced injury but instead appeared to lessen the effect (Raiford

and Thigpen, 1994). It was postulated that this immune stimulation led to a different pattern

of secretion of soluble mediators by the Kupffer cells and thus, altered the susceptibility to


Dietary as well as injected zinc have been shown to be protective against CCl4-

induced injury when administered in pharmacological doses. Chvapil et al. (1973) observed

that a high zinc diet of 1000 mg/kg was able to protect the liver against the toxic insult.

They proposed that zinc acted by interfering with lipid-peroxidation and led to tissue damage.

They later found that this occurred only in the liver and red blood cells, but not in the

kidney, lungs, brain and testes, suggesting that the liver and red blood cells were able to

accumulate the excess zinc in proportion to the diet (Chvapil et al., 1974). Other

investigators have also shown that dietary zinc affected the damage caused by CCl4.

DiSilvestro and Carlson (1994) reported that a mild dietary deficiency caused poor resistance

to the injury and negated the protective effect that an acute phase response was able to elicit,

possibly by inducing metallothionein. It was suggested that the protective mechanism

involved the oxidation of the sulfhydryl groups of metallothionein by CC!4 (Suntres and Lui,

1990). However, Hanna et al. (1993) presented evidence against significant effect of

metallothionein but proposed that Zn itself may mediate this protection by antagonizing the

negative effects of calcium or by stabilizing cell membranes.

Direct and indirect effects of CCl4 have also been implicated in neurotoxicity

(Clemedson et al., 1990; Yamamoto, 1990). The distribution of cytochrome P-450 system

in different regions of the brain suggested that it could function in controlling the metabolic

and toxic consequences of cytotoxic and carcinogenic metabolites such as alcohol and carbon


tetrachloride (Hansson et al., 1990). These authors found that the most intensely cytochrome

P-450-immunoreactive regions of the brain were the hippocampus, the nigrostriatal system

and the brain stem. Hepatic encephalopathy has been shown to result from hyperammonemia

associated with chronic (Dlaz-Mufioz and Tapia, 1989; Yamamoto, 1990) or acute (Bates et

al., 1989) treatment with CC4. CC4 has also been demonstrated to directly affect cell

membranes of neurons and astrocytes through increased lipid peroxidation (Clemedson et al.,

1990). The effects of CCl4-related injury to the brain have not been fully elucidated.

Lipopolysaccharide (LPS)

Lipopolysaccharide is a component of bacterial cell walls and is a potent antigen and

stimulates an acute-phase immune response (Watson et al., 1994). It has been implicated in

a variety of septic states. Multiple organ failure is the most common cause of death in

intensive care patients (Yoshikawa et al., 1994).

Intravenous administration of LPS, which has been used as a model of multiple organ

failure, cause functional disorders in the intestine, liver, lung and stomach due to

inflammatory mediators. The intestine and the lung appear to be severely affected. There

are extensive hemorrhagic lesions in the intestine and the lungs. However, although

extensive infiltration of neutrophils occurs in the lungs 45 mins after LPS challenge, there

does not appear to be any neutrophil infiltration in the intestine as reflected in the lack of an

increase in myeloperoxidase activity in the intestine in contrast to the lungs (Yoshikawa et

al., 1994). However, Valentine and Nick (1992) showed that exposure of intestinal epithelial

cell lines to LPS caused an induction of Mn-SOD mRNA which may be followed by depress

oxygen radical formation through increased Mn-SOD activity.


LPS appeared to mediate its effects through ligand-receptor interactions with many

immune cells including mononuclear phagocytes (Watson et al., 1994). A recent study

showed that LPS binds to an LPS-binding protein which interacts with the LPS membrane

receptor, CD14, to either internalize LPS or cause a signal transduction cascade (Gegner et

al., 1995). In macrophage cell lines, LPS stimulated the release of oxygen radicals which

aid in the intracellular killing of invading organisms (Inoue et al., 1995). As discussed

earlier, one of the postulated mechanisms that protected cells from free-radical injury is the

concomitant activation of metallothionein. LPS is able to stimulate metallothionein in the

liver and other tissues, probably mediated by cytokines such as IL-6 and TNF-a (De at el.,

1990; Etzel et al., 1982; Fleet et al., 1990; Min et al., 1991; Schroeder and Cousins, 1990).

It was proposed that metallothionein may inhibit LPS toxicity for macrophages by altering

intracellular zinc concentrations or facilitating transfer of zinc among the metal-requiring

proteins (Patierno et al., 1983). Since CRIP is found in high abundance in macrophages, it

could be involved in the regulation of zinc during the inflammatory process.

Up to 8 h after LPS administration, there is no increase in metallothionein mRNA in

the brain, suggesting that cytokines have a minimal role in regulating brain metallothionein

(Gasull et al., 1994). Inflammatory response to LPS in the brain was observed to be minimal

by Montero-Monei and colleagues (1994). They found that intracerebral LPS injections did

not cause a massive recruitment of immune cells to the brain, which could have led to

neuronal damage, except for an early recruitment of peripheral macrophages/monocytes.

However, Xu and Ling (1994) showed that intraperitoneal injections of LPS can affect the

brain and allow expression of major histocompatibility complexes. Nerve growth factor and

brain-derived neurotrophic factor have also been shown to be regulated by cytokines

(LeithAuser et al., 1993; Montero-Monei et al., 1994). Therefore, although the brain is

considered an immunologically privileged organ with anti-inflammatory properties, there

appears to be a balance between neurotoxicity and neurotropism to achieve wound repair.

CRIP is expressed abundantly in immune tissues and intestine but is present in much

lower levels in brain and liver. The change in the expression of CRIP when perturbed by

the immune (LPS) and toxic (CCl4) challenges, may help to define a system to study CRIP

function. The toxic challenge with CC14 is specifically geared towards stress on liver while

the LPS treatment is to stimulate immune cells. By studying these different systems, we may

be able to define a function for CRIP. Protein-protein interaction studies will also help to

characterize potential interactions for CRIP with proteins in specific cellular localizations or

proteins with known functions as had been done for other LIM proteins such as paxillin and

zyxin. Cloning of a human CRIP gene from the intestine is a corollary to these experiments

and will be useful in studies with human cells.


Carbon-Tetrachloride Challenge

The purpose of this study was to investigate CRIP expression in liver, a tissue with

low CRIP expression, after hepatic injury associated with CCI4 treatment. CRIP expression

was also studied in intestine and immune tissues for comparison because these tissues had

highly abundant CRIP message, and because in the next chapter, an immune challenge was

used to perturb the normal physiologic state of those immune tissues. Since CCI4 treatment

mainly affected liver, and liver CRIP mRNA level is normally low, the main focus of this

study was to see if a perturbation of the hepatic system would affect CRIP expression. CC14

has also been found to affect the central nervous system and hence, brain CRIP mRNA was

examined as well. As CRIP is a zinc finger protein, CCl4-induced changes in liver CRIP

expression of rats fed diets with zinc supplemented above the requirement were compared

to control animals fed normal zinc as previous studies using pharmacological levels of dietary

or injected zinc showed that it was able to prevent the CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity.

Materials and Methods


Male Sprague-Dawley rats (175-250 g) were fed diet and water ad libitum for two

weeks. The diet was the semi-purified AIN 76 pelleted diet (Research Diets, New


Brunswick, NJ), sufficient in all nutrients except zinc (Reeves et al., 1993). Zinc was added

in adequate (30 mg/kg diet) or excess (300 mg/kg diet) amounts as described previously

(Blalock et al., 1988). All the animals were fed ad libitum throughout the study.Animals

from both groups were injected intraperitoneally with I ml CC4/kg body wt 24 h prior to

killing while control animals were injected with saline. Northern analysis and

immunohistochemistry shown were representative of data from at least four individual

animals from 3 replicate experiments. Animal experiments were approved by the University

of Florida Animal Care and Use Committee and carried out according to guidelines from the

Committee on Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (National Research Council, 1985).

Blood was obtained from rats under Metofane@ anesthesia (Pitman-Moore, Inc.,

Mundelein, IL) and the rats were killed by exsanguination. Heparinized needles were used

to obtain the blood by open cardiac puncture. The heparinized blood was layered over a 1:1

Histopaque 1077 (Sigma Diagnostics, St. Louis, MO) gradient and centrifuged at 600 x g

for 30 min at room temperature. The top layer was removed and centrifuged at 2 500 x g

for 15 min to obtain cell free plasma. The interface layer from the first centrifugation step

contained PBMCs which were collected by aspiration and washed 3 x with phosphate-

buffered saline (PBS) by centrifugation at 250 x g for 10 min at 4C. These procedures

were carried out according to the manufacturer's protocol to obtain cell-free plasma and

peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Plasma alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity

was used as a marker for hepatic injury and was measured using the ALT diagnostic kit,

Procedure no. 59-UV (Sigma Diagnostics, St. Louis, MO), which was based on the method

of Wr6blewski and LaDue (1956). The data were transformed logarithmically and reported

as such because the values for this assay increased exponentially. Plasma ALT activity was

also used to assess the efficacy of the CCl4 injections. Plasma was also used for

measurements of plasma zinc using flame atomic absorption spectroscopy (Blalock et al.,


Northern Analysis

Total tissue RNA was obtained from liver, thymus, spleen, peripheral blood

mononuclear cells (PBMC), brain and intestine by the method of Chomczynski and Sacchi

(1987). Total RNA was electrophoresed in 1 % wt/vol agarose gels with 1 x MOPS buffer,

pH 7.0 (20 mM 3-(N-morpholino)-propanesulfonic acid, 5 mM sodium acetate, 10 mM

EDTA) containing formaldehyde and 1 jig ethidium bromide/lane (Maniatis et al. (eds.),

1982). RNA was transferred by capillary action onto nylon membranes (GeneScreen,

DuPont NEN, Boston, MA) and immobilized by UV cross-linking.

Northern hybridization analysis was carried out using a random-primed [o2P]-labeled

rat CRIP cDNA probe (Levenson et al., 1993) and a 60-mer oligonucleotide rat MT-1 probe

(Cousins and Lee-Ambrose, 1992). Equal loading (usually 20 jig RNA) and RNA integrity

were confirmed by ethidium bromide staining. Data were normalized with [&2P]-labeled rat

8-actin cDNA. For quantitation, Northern blots were scanned with a densitomqter. All

radiolabeling procedures used [a"P]-dCTP (Du Pont/NEN Research Products, Boston, MA).


Liver was fixed in 10% neutral buffered formalin and embedded in paraffin. Fixed

sections of 5 Am were used for immunohistochemistry with rabbit antibody raised against a

synthetic peptide representing amino acids 31-56 of rat CRIP and coupled to keyhole limpet

hemocyanin (Fernandes et al., 1995). The IgG fraction obtained by Protein A

chromatography (Pharmacia Biotech Inc., Piscataway, NJ) was used with the Histostain-Spr

kit (Zymed Laboratories, Inc., San Francisco, CA). After being deparaffinized, sections

were placed in methanol containing 0.3% hydrogen peroxide to inhibit endogenous

peroxidase activity. The sections were treated with goat blocking antibody by the protocol

included in the kit before incubation with anti-CRIP IgG. The antibody had been shown by

Western immunoblot analysis with intestinal cytosol to be specific for CRIP (Chapter 4,

Figure 4-1). The presence of peroxidase was detected by adding a substrate-chromogen

solution which gives a red color. These sections were counterstained with hematoxylin.

Intestine was fixed as above and stained with hematoxylin and eosin.

Statistical Analysis

Two-way analysis of variance was carried out using SAS (General Linear Models,

SAS Institute, Inc., Carey, NC). Differences between means were evaluated using the least

square means procedure. Probability values of 0.05 or less were considered statistically



The effectiveness of the CCI4 injections was confirmed by the significant increase in

plasma alanine aminotransferase activity (Table 2-1). Supplemental dietary zinc significantly

increased plasma zinc concentrations compared to controls but did not affect the level of

activity of plasma alanine aminotransferase (Table 2-1). Both the supplemental zinc diet and

CCl4 administration caused an increase in liver metallothionein mRNA but the combined

treatment did not cause an additive increase in the metallothionein expression (Figure 2-1).

Metallothionein mRNA was used as a positive control for the response to supplemental zinc

intake as well.

Table 2-1. Plasma zinc or alanine aminotransferase of rats fed excess zinc and/or
injected with carbon tetrachloride (CC4).

Treatment Plasma alanine
Plasma zinc, aminotransferase
Diet CCl4 (Imol/L) log (Units/L)

Control (n= 10) 14.6 0.9*,t 2.2 0.3t

Control (n= 13) + 9.6 0.4*, 5.1 0.2*

Supplemental Zinc 17.7 0.9,t 2.4 0.31
(n= 10)

Supplemental Zinc + 11.1 0.4" 5.3 0.2t
(n= 13)

Data are means SEM of n= 10 rats for saline-injected animals and n= 13 for CC14-
injected rats. Values for plasma ALT activity have been transformed logarithmically
as described in Materials and Methods. Rats were fed diets containing 30 mg Zn/kg
diet (control) or 300 mg Zn/kg diet (supplemental) ad libitum for two weeks. Carbon
tetrachloride (CCl4) or saline was administered i.p. and the rats killed 24 h later. *,
indicate dietary differences; t,t relate to CC14 effects. Within treatments, unlike
superscripts within a column are significantly different (P<0.05). There were no
significant interactions between diet and injection.






1.0 -








Normal Zn Supplemented Zn

Effect of CCl4 and supplemental dietary zinc on liver metallothionein mRNA.
a) Densitometry of hybridization intensity of metallothionein mRNA
normalized to the hybridization intensity of B-actin mRNA to correct for
loading. Values are arbitrary units normalized to control animals fed normal
zinc (means + SD, n=4). Means with different letters are significantly
different (p < 0.05). b) Northern analysis of total liver mRNA obtained 24
h after CC14 administration. Animals were in four treatment groups as
described in Table 1. For each treatment group with at least four animals,
RNA from two representative animals per group are shown.

Figure 2-1:

CRIP expression in the liver is normally low. CRIP mRNA levels in the liver of

animals injected with CC14 were increased two-fold in 24 h after the CCl4 injection (Figure 2-

2). This level was maintained up to 72 h (data not shown). Hepatic CRIP expression was

not affected by the dietary zinc intake as shown by Figure 2-2. As liver was the tissue most

affected by CC4, it was postulated that the induction in CRIP expression is a direct result

of this stress challenge.

Hematoxylin staining of the liver showed the typical pattern of cellular damage caused

by CCI4 administration including fatty acid infiltration (degeneration), e.g., cell edema and

sinusoid occlusion, and early stage necrosis (Figure 2-3b). Immunohistochemical staining

showed that, 24 h after the CC14 injection, there was an increase in the abundance of discrete

cells that were immunoreactive to the anti-CRIP antibody as well as a diffuse reaction in all

liver cells, when compared to cells from the control animals (Figure 2-3). Figure 2-3a and

c showed that mild staining occurred in cells adjacent to the central vein of each lobule in

control animals but the intensity of the stain was very much increased in discrete cells of the

same area in the carbon-tetrachloride treated animals (Figure 2-3b and d).

At higher magnification (Figure 2-3c and d), the results also revealed that the cells

with immunoreactive protein were hepatocytes with characteristic polyhedral morphology and

rounded nucleus. Some nuclear staining was also observed, but this was decreased in cells

that were further away from the central vein. Although CRIP was thought to be localized

mainly in the cytosol, under certain conditions, it could be present transiently in the nucleus.

A background level of non-specific immune reactivity was also possible.

CRIP expression was very high in immune cells such as peripheral blood

mononuclear cells. Expression in these cells did not appear to change due to either dietary


- -


2.5 -

2.0 -

1.5 -





Normal Zn

Supplemented Zn

Effect of CCl4 and supplemental dietary zinc on liver CRIP mRNA. a)
Densitometry of hybridization intensity of CRIP mRNA normalized to B-actin
mRNA to correct for loading (n=4). Values are arbitrary units normalized
to controls animals fed normal zinc (mean +_ SD). Means with different
letters are significantly different (p < 0.05). b) Northern analysis of total
RNA obtained 24 h after CCl4 administration. Animals were in four
treatment groups as described in Table 1. For each treatment group, RNA
from two representative animals per group are shown.


- -- ----




Figure 2-2:

(a) r,).




Figure 2-3.


Figure 2-3.

' -' ) "* :, _. t .'.. r '"',2,? :-',* .. "
, i ,,, i.. ... -ile : .
.. ..
-- c .. '.

Light micrograph of rat liver. Immunohistochemical staining of CRIP in liver
from a control animal (a) and CCl4-treated animal (b) at 100x magnification,
and a control animal (c) and CCl4-treated animal (d) at 400x magnification.
Staining was carried out with rabbit anti-CRIP IgG and biotinylated secondary
antibody and streptavidin-conjugated peroxidase. Positive immunoreactivity
is indicated by darker color. Hematoxylin was used as a nuclear stain for



J 1-~ ~ V


Figure 2-3: ---continued.

Actin mRNA



Normal Zn

Supplemented Zn

CRIP mRNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). The PBMC
were isolated from whole blood as described in the Materials and Methods.
Northern analysis of total PBMC RNA obtained 24 h after CC4
administration. Animals were in four treatment groups as described in Table
1. For each treatment group of at least 4 animals per group, RNA from two
representative animals per group are shown. CRIP mRNA data were
normalized by comparison to B-actin mRNA to correct for loading.



Figure 2-4:


zinc or CC4 treatment (Figure 2-4). No changes in CRIP mRNA levels were seen in spleen

or thymus with CCl4 administration or with excess dietary zinc (data not shown). Similarly,

in the thymus, PBMC and spleen, there were no changes in the level of metallothionein due

to either treatment. Therefore, the inflammatory effects of carbon tetrachloride

hepatotoxicity did not appear to greatly affect the level of metallothionein or CRIP mRNA

in immune cells within a 24 h period of acute exposure.

In contrast to the liver, intestinal CRIP mRNA was decreased approximately 50% by

24 h after CCl4 treatment (Figure 2-5). Although the animals were given free access to food,

CCl4-treated rats did not consume any food during this 24 h period in contrast to control

animals (24 h). An effect of the lack of food could be that intestinal cells were being

sloughed off. This could affect CRIP expression. Therefore, the different effect observed

between the liver and the intestine could be due to the additional effects of diet on the

intestine. On the other hand, preliminary studies with showed that CRIP mRNA could be

induced at an earlier time point before the suppression at 24 h (data not shown). Two

different effects could be occurring in the intestine, one from CCl4 toxicity and one from

dietary changes.

In animals that were fed a high zinc diet, supplemental zinc appeared to prevent the

suppression in intestinal CRIP mRNA levels after the CCI4 administration (Figure 2-5).

Since the CRIP promoter was not shown to respond to zinc (Levenson et al., 1994), it was

unlikely that zinc increased CRIP mRNA via enhanced transcription. This observation also

supported the fact that the suppression in intestinal CRIP mRNA was attributed to CCl4

toxicity as the intestinal CRIP mRNA levels in the CCl4-treated animals from the two dietary

groups responded differently even though both groups did not eat over the 24 h period.



, -.... .---


Normal Zn


Supplemented Zn

Effect of CCI4 and supplemental dietary zinc on intestinal CRIP mRNA. a)
Densitometry of the hybridization intensity of CRIP mRNA normalized to the
hybridization intensity of 1-actin mRNA to correct for loading (n=4). Values
are arbitrary units normalized to control animals fed normal zinc (means _+
SD). Means with different letters are significantly different (p < 0.05). b)
Northern analysis of total intestinal RNA 24 h after CCI4 administration.
Animals were in four treatment groups as described in Table 2-1. For each
treatment group of at least 4 animals, RNA from two representative animals
per group are shown.


1.5 -




- -- -- -

Figure 2-5:




(a) (b)

Figure 2-6: Light micrograph of rat jejunum. Hematoxylin and eosin staining of
intestinal villi from (a) control and (b) CCl4-treated rats. Magnification at


H and E staining showed that 24 h after CCl4 administration, the intestine appeared

edematous with shortened and dilated villi (Figure 2-6). Therefore, it appeared that damage

had occurred to the intestine which could result in breakdown of the gut immune barrier.

Dietary zinc did not have a discernible effect on the morphological changes caused by CC14

(data not shown).

Densitometry on CRIP message in different brain regions; septal area, hippocampus,

diencephalon which included the hypothalamus and thalamus, brain stem and cerebral cortex,

was also carried out. CRIP mRNA appeared to be fairly abundant in the diencephalon

(hypothalamus and thalamus) compared to the other regions. The results showed that excess

dietary zinc did not have a significant effect on CRIP message in these areas although there

was a trend towards an increased expression in the cerebral cortex (Table 2-2).

CC!4 treatment significantly suppressed CRIP levels in the hippocampus and the

diencephalon. However, this effect was not altered by excess dietary zinc. There was a

trend towards increased expression of the CRIP mRNA in the septal area and the cerebral

cortex with the CCI4 treatment but while this effect was suppressed by excess dietary zinc

in the septal area, it appeared to be maintained by the zinc diet in the cerebral cortex. There

were no significant effects of the treatments on CRIP message in the brain stem.

Immunohistochemical staining of the brain with the anti-CRIP IgG showed that CRIP

was present in most neurons but not astrocytes (personal communication from Dr M.A.

King). Although CRIP was present in most parts of the brain, there were some densely-

stained areas in the medial/supraoptic nucleus of the hypothalamus, the arcuate and ventral-

medial hypothalamus, hippocampus and the lateral septal area. No change in CRIP

expression was detected by immunohistochemical staining after zinc or CC4 treatment (Dr.

Table 2-2: Densitometric analysis of the effect of excess dietary zinc and CC14 treatment
on the relative abundance of CRIP mRNA to 8-actin mRNA in different
regions of the brain.





Hippocampus 0.19 + 0.13 0.06 + 0.03a 0.11 + 0.06 0.05 + 0.04a
Septal area 0.65 + 0.16 1.05 + 0.52 0.59 + 0.24 0.58 + 0.05
Diencephalon 1.75 + 0.50 0.89 + 0.13a 1.97 + 1.32 0.78 + 0.16a
Cerebral 0.22 + 0.07 0.31 + 0.31 0.36 + 0.31 0.37 + 0.14

0.67 + 0.17 0.45 + 0.12


0.71 + 0.41


0.48 + 0.10


Hippocampus 1.0 0.3 0.6 0.3
Septal area 1.0 1.6 0.9 0.9
Diencephalon 1.0 0.5 1.1 0.5
Cerebral 1.0 1.4 1.6 1.7

Northern analysis of mRNA levels was carried out on animals fed control (Control) diet (30
mg Zn/kg diet) and supplemental (Supplemental) zinc diets (300 mg Zn/kg). Animals from
each dietary group were injected with saline or 1 ml/kg CC14 i.p. (Control/CC14 or
Suppl./CCl4) as described in Table 2-1. a) Data are means of arbitrary densitometric units
+ SD, from at least n=3 animals. Superscript a denotes significant difference from control
in each region (p < 0.05). b) Data from a) were normalized to control animals without
CC14 administration (Control) in each brain region.


Brain stem


Brain stem



M.A. King, personal communication). In addition, no obvious morphological damage was

observed in the brain slices.


In previous studies, high doses of injected zinc or dietary zinc (> 1000 mg/kg) were

found to prevent the increase in plasma ALT, an index of hepatic injury (Chvapil et al.,

1973; Clarke and Lui, 1986). In this study, we showed that a supplemental zinc diet of 300

mg/kg diet was not able to prevent liver injury as assessed by an increase in plasma ALT

(Table 2-1).

The dietary requirement for zinc in the rat is 12 mg/kg and most purified diets

contain 30 mg/kg (Reeves et al., 1993). These data suggest that zinc, supplemented at the

level of 300 mg/kg diet for two weeks, while sustaining metallothionein expression at

elevated levels, was not sufficient for cytoprotection against the toxic insult. It was proposed

that high metallothionein expression was a primary factor in the protection against

CC4-induced injury (Clarke and Lui, 1986). Other mechanisms could also be responsible

for the protection. For example, the pharmacological levels of zinc used in other studies

(Chvapil et al., 1973; Clarke and Lui, 1986) could have induced other protective responses

that attenuated the CCl4-induced insult. DiSilvestro and Carlson (1994) showed that an

acute-phase response protected animals against CCl4 hepatotoxicity but this protection was

diminished with a mild dietary zinc deficiency. This suggests that the protective effect is

zinc-dependent, which supports a protective effect of zinc observed in CCl4 damage to

isolated hepatocytes (Schroeder and Cousins, 1990).


Metabolic activation of Kupffer cells may contribute to CC4-induced hepatotoxicity.

Vitamin A potentiation of the CCl4 injury was attributed to the release of active oxygen

species by Kupffer cells (Edwards et al., 1993; EISisi et al., 1993). However, release of

soluble mediators by C. parvum-stimulated Kupffer cells was found to suppress the

cytochrome P450IIE1 system and to diminish the CC4-induced liver injury (Raiford and

Thigpen, 1994).

Current views on carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatotoxicity suggest that a sublethal

acute dose of CC4, such as that used in this study, initially causes liver damage, but

subsequently allows tissue regeneration to occur. This regeneration is characterized by

increased cell proliferation and repair (Mehendale et al., 1994). Stimulation of tissue repair

appear to occur within 24 h after the CC14 administration as a protective effect is observed

when a lethal dose is administered 24 h after the protective sublethal dose (Mehendale et al.,

1994). Maldonado et al. (1994) reported that hepatic apo B mRNA, which was important

for normalization of lipid metabolism during liver regeneration, was increased 24 h after

CCL4 administration. Intestinal apo B mRNA was also increased but the increase was much


CRIP mRNA, as well as CRIP-immunopositive cells, were increased in the liver 24

h after CC4 administration (Figure 2-2 and 2-3) which was the time course of tissue repair

reported by Mehendale et al. (1994). This information suggests that CRIP could be

important for maintenance of the function of the differentiated cells after they are

regenerated. Increased CRIP-immunopositive cells near the central lobular veins of the liver

were fully differentiated hepatocytes and could have been in the process of being shedded.

Alternatively, it is also possible that, due to the CC14 treatment, these hepatocytes have


differentiated into cells involved in secretary processes (Dr. D. Samuelson, personal

communications). This could function to suppress further mediators of inflammation. CRIP

has recently been found in the plasma (as will be discussed in Chapter 3). Consequently,

increased blood flow to the site of injury and/or increased capillary permeability may allow

CRIP to infiltrate into the tissue and cause the diffuse immunoreactivity seen in the

surrounding tissue.

The intestine has been shown by several studies to be directly injured by the CCl4-

induced insult as well as to contribute to the pathology observed in the liver (Miura et al.,

1989). In this study, histological data confirmed those findings (Figure 2-6). CRIP has been

found to developmentally regulated in a way that correlated to changes in Paneth cell activity

and antimicrobial protection in the intestine which occurs just before weaning (Levenson et

al., 1993). CRIP was found by immunohistochemistry to be localized in Paneth cells

(Fernandes et al., 1995). These cells were found to have secretary and immune functions

(Erlandsen et al., 1976). The marked CCl4-produced reduction of intestinal CRIP expression

could represent a loss of differentiated intestinal cells and, in turn, could represent a loss of

an important functional barrier (Figure 2-5). Dietary zinc could play an important role in

the maintenance/recovery of the intestine from a stress challenge as it was able to normalize

CRIP expression after the insult (Figure 2-5).

The expression of CRIP mRNA in different regions of the brain after CC14

administration showed that the gene was differentially regulated within the brain as well

(Table 2-2). It was interesting to note that in the hippocampus, CRIP expression was

suppressed with CC14 treatment while in the septal area, it was unchanged or slightly

increased. It is not possible to explain the reason for the differential expression of CRIP


since the function is still unknown and also because of the lack of more information about

the effect of CC14 on the different brain regions. The brain is affected by toxicants such as

ethanol and CCI4 based on studies that described changes in brain morphology, microglial

activation, and changes in the levels of various neurotrophic and neurotoxic factors (Dfaz-

Mufioz and Tapia, 1989; Hansson et al., 1990).

In studies using primary cell culture, the septohippocampal, cerebral cortex and

cerebellum regions were found to be most susceptible to damage by ethanol as neurons

cultivated from these regions did not proliferate after ethanol treatment (Heaton, 1994) while

the hippocampus was not as severely affected (Walker et al., 1993). On the other hand,

Watanabe et al. (1986) found that CCl4 did not affect the brain directly when administered

systemically. Therefore, the suppression of CRIP mRNA in the hippocampus (Table 2-2)

could be due to a secondary effect of hepatic injury. This was supported by the failure to

observe tissue damage histologically.

As far as the effect of zinc is concerned, zinc uptake has been shown to vary among

the different regions of the brain, with the hippocampus having the highest rate of uptake and

the cerebellum, the lowest (Franklin et al., 1992; Pullen et al., 1991). The highest

concentration of zinc is in the hippocampus (Pullen et al., 1991). Therefore, it is not

surprising that supplemental dietary zinc had different effects on CRIP expression in the

various regions. Zinc concentration in the brain was found to be very tightly regulated

(Frederickson, 1989), suggesting zinc is important for specialized functions. Consequently,

the regulation of zinc-binding proteins, such as CRIP, in the brain could be important as



From the pattern of the immunohistochemical staining, it is also obvious that the

abundance of CRIP mRNA obtained from the different brain regions could be different

depending on the purity of the tissue sections taken (Dr. M.A. King, personal

communication). For example, in the septal area, immunohistochemistry showed that CRIP

was highly expressed in the lateral septum, which receives zinc-containing fibers from the

hippocampus (Heaton et al., 1994), in contrast to the low expression in the medial septal

area, which projects cholinergic fibers to the hippocampus (Saporito et al., 1993).

Therefore, it is possible that CRIP expression was induced in one area and suppressed in

another. This could mask a real change in the expression of CRIP in a particular area. For

example, it was not possible to separate the medial septal area from the lateral septal area for

Northern analysis due to proximity of their location and their size. However,

immunohistochemical staining showed that the distribution of CRIP was not uniform in these

two areas (Dr. M.A. King, personal communication).

There were no changes in the expression of CRIP in immune tissues and cells,

including PBMCs, spleen and thymus. The data suggest that these immune tissues are not

affected in the same way as the liver when challenged with CC14. This was further

confirmed by a lack of induction of metallothionein in these tissues (data not shown). On

the other hand, when lipopolysaccharide was administered, as will be discussed in Chapter

3, CRIP was induced in the immune cells and tissues but not in the liver. Therefore, it

appears that the toxic challenge by CC14 at this sublethal dose affects the liver, brain and

intestine but not the immune cells. CRIP expression was affected accordingly. These results

suggest some tissue specificity since immune cells, with highly abundant levels of CRIP

mRNA, showed very little change in expression following CCL4 treatment.


This study was the first to show tissue-specific regulation of CRIP due to toxic stress.

It also shows that CRIP is not involved in the acute phase response but could be important

in the maintenance of cellular function at the later stages of the inflammatory response when

tissue regeneration and repair is occurring. Although this study did not provide answers to

the possible function of CRIP, it provided a time frame and a model to study CRIP regulation

in liver cells.

The following study with LPS enabled further development of a system to study CRIP

expression. The LPS challenge differs from that of the CCI4 insult in that it is an immune

challenge that targets immune cells first before causing other tissue injury. The immune cells

have abundant CRIP mRNA compared to the liver, and are activated when challenged.


Lipopolysaccharide Challenge

CRIP expression is very high in intestine, compared to other tissues investigated,

suggesting a role for CRIP in that organ. Recently, very high levels of CRIP mRNA were

found in peritoneal macrophages. The CRIP promoter has been found to have putative

response elements with high homology to consensus sequences for cytokines (Levenson et

al., 1994a). As shown in the previous chapter, CCi4 was able to induce CRIP expression in

the liver, a tissue with low CRIP abundance. However, CRIP expression in immune tissues

was not affected by this challenge. Consequently, CRIP mRNA expression and protein levels

were investigated in the immune system, intestine and liver in response to challenge with

lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to stimulate an acute-phase immune response. The purpose of this

study was to examine changes in CRIP expression due to perturbation of the normal

physiologic state by an immune challenge. Since the intestine has high CRIP expression and

is the largest immune organ in the body while the brain has low CRIP expression and is

considered immunologicallyy privileged", CRIP expression in both these organs was studied

as well. As discussed in the literature review, there have been many studies on the

contributions of the intestine and central nervous system to the immune response (Castro and

Arntzen, 1993; Quan et al., 1994; Xu and Ling, 1994).


The possibility that CRIP is present in the plasma was also investigated due to the

presence of a putative signal sequence for secretion (Tsonis et al., 1988) and some

experiments, as described in the next chapter, showing the binding of CRIP to serum


Materials and Methods


Sprague-Dawley rats (Harlan-Sprague Dawley, Indianapolis, IN) were injected i.p.

with LPS (E. coli 0127:B8; Difco Lab., Detroit, MI) at a concentration of 1 /pg/g body

weight at various time points (6, 12, 24, 48 and 72 h) prior to killing. Control animals were

injected with saline at 24 h. Plasma zinc levels in plasma were determined by atomic

absorption spectrophotometry (Blalock et al., 1988). Decreased plasma zinc and induced

liver metallothionein MT mRNA were used to confirm the efficacy of the LPS injection.

These responses to LPS have been observed previously in a variety of species (Etzel et al.,

1982; Klasing, 1984; De et al., 1990). Expression of CRIP protein in intestine and plasma

was also examined with control, 6 and 48 h LPS-treated rats.

Plasma, PBMC and intestine were collected from rats at indicated time points after

LPS injection. Plasma and PBMC were collected by Histopaque-1077T gradient

centrifugation (Sigma Chemical Company, St. Louis, MO) as described in Chapter 2,

Materials and Methods. To collect peritoneal macrophages, 30 ml PBS in a 50 ml syringe

was injected into the rat peritoneum with a 16-gauge needle, after MetofaneT anesthesia.

The peritoneal solution was then drawn back into the syringe and the solution centrifuged at

300 x g for 30 min at 4C to collect the cells.


Cytosolic protein from the intestine and PBMC were prepared as described previously

(Hempe and Cousins, 199.1). The proteins were resolved by high resolution gel filtration

chromatography, Superdex 75 Hiload 16/60 for the plasma proteins, and two smaller

Superdex 75 columns in tandem for the PBMC cytosolic proteins (Pharmacia Biotech,

Piscataway, NJ) as described previously (Khoo and Cousins, 1994). Fractions containing

CRIP were pooled and concentrated with Centriprep-3 and Centricon-3 concentrators

(Amicon, Inc., Beverly, MA). Total protein was determined by Lowry (1951) and cell

protein (75-300 jg/lane as indicated) was electrophoretically separated by SDS-PAGE (15%

gel) as described previously (Khoo and Cousins, 1994). Protein was transferred onto 0.2 pim

nitrocellulose membranes (Schleicher & Schuell, Keene, NH) for zinc blot and Western

analyses (Hempe and Cousins, 1991).

Plasma proteins for microsequencing were semi-purified by gel filtration (Superdex

75 Hiload 16/60) and ion exchange chromatography (CM-Sepharose Fast Flow, Pharmacia).

These chromatography steps will be described in more detail in Chapter 4 (Materials and

Methods). CRIP-containing fractions were pooled, electrophoresed by SDS-PAGE (15%

discontinuous tris-tricine gel) and transferred onto 0.4 Am PVDF membranes (Khoo and

Cousins, 1994). The proteins were stained with 0.1% Coomasie Brilliant Blue R250 (Bio-

Rad Laboratories, Richmond, CA) and the appropriate band sent for microsequencing at the

University of Florida ICBR Protein Core, as described previously (Hempe and Cousins,


Northern Analysis

Total RNA was extracted from peritoneal macrophages, PBMC, spleen, thymus,

intestine, brain and liver by the guanidinium isothiocyanate method of Chomczynski and


Sacchi (1987). Northern analysis was carried out as described in Chapter 2 (Materials and

Methods) except that cDNA from human glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase

(G3PDH) (pHcGAP, ATCC #57090) and/or mouse 18S rRNA (pN29III, ATCC #63178)

were used when B-actin cDNA was not suitable as a control. Data were normalized to actin

and/or G3PDH cDNA.

Zinc Blot Analysis

The procedure was carried out as previously described (Hempe and Cousins, 1991).

Briefly, nitrocellulose membranes were equilibrated for 2 h with blocking buffer containing

10 mM Tris-HCl (pH 7.5), 1 mM MnCl2 and 10 mM B-mercaptoethanol, a reducing agent.

The high level of 8-mercaptoethanol increased specificity of binding of the radiolabeled zinc

to CRIP, as shown previously (Hempe and Cousins, 1991). Membranes were submerged for

15 min in blocking buffer with 1 ACi/ml of 6Zn (Specific activity = 3.2 /Ci/Utg, Du Pont

NEN, Boston, MA) and washed three times before autoradiography.

Western Analysis and Immunocytochemistry with CRIP Antibody

Nitrocellulose membranes were rinsed with TBS-T (10 mM Tris, 154 mM saline,

0.1% Tween, pH 7.5). The membranes were incubated at room temperature for 2 h with

10% non-fat dry milk in TBS-T to prevent nonspecific binding. The membranes were then

incubated for 1 h at room temperature with rabbit IgG against a CRIP peptide (amino acid

residues 31-56) conjugated to keyhole limpet hemocyanin and incubated with secondary

antibody (1:1000), donkey anti-rabbit IgG linked to horseradish peroxidase (Sigma Chemical

Co., St. Louis, MO) for 1 h. The membranes were washed repeatedly with TBS-T after

each incubation step. Detection reagents from ECL Western Blotting Detection Kit

(Amersham Life Science, Arlington Heights, IL) were mixed and incubated at room


temperature with membranes for 1 min. This method is a non-radioactive method for

detection of immobilized antigen using a specific primary antibody and a horseradish

peroxidase-conjugated secondary antibody. Oxidation of a chemical compound, luminol,

catalyzed by the horseradish peroxidase/hydrogen peroxide reaction, causes an emission of

light, which is detected by the autoradiographic film. Membranes were immediately exposed

to film for 15 sec 10 min.

Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were plated on gelatin-coated coverslips for 24

h in medium with 10% serum. Non-adherent cells were washed with PBS and aspirated off.

The cells were fixed with 2% paraformaldehyde and quenched with methanol containing

0.3% hydrogen peroxide for 30 min to inhibit endogenous peroxidase activity. The adherent

cells were then analyzed by immunocytochemistry with rabbit antibody raised against

synthetic peptide representing amino acids 31-56 of rat CRIP, using the Histostain-SPT kit,

as described in Chapter 2 (Materials and Methods). The cells were incubated with anti-CRIP

IgG in 10% non-immune goat serum according to the protocol included with the kit, as

described earlier. These sections were counterstained with hematoxylin.

Statistical Analysis

Data from plasma zinc concentration measurements were analyzed by analysis of

variance over time after LPS injection (General Linear Models, SAS Institute, Inc., Carey,

NC). Values with p < 0.05 were considered statistically significant.


Changes in the level of plasma zinc and liver metallothionein mRNA showed that the

LPS injections were effective in stimulating an acute-phase immune response. Plasma zinc


concentration dropped to 26% of control levels at 6 h then returned to control levels by 48 h

(Figure 3-la). Liver metallothionein mRNA was increased at 6-12 h then returned to normal

by 48 h, as characteristic of an acute phase response (Figure 3-1b). In PBMC,

metallothionein mRNA expression was barely detectable in control rats or in rats 6 h after

LPS injection. Thereafter (12-72 h), the level of metallothionein mRNA in PBMC was

markedly increased (Figure 3-1c). By flow cytometric analysis (University of Florida core

facility), granularity and cell size of PBMC samples showed that they contained three

different populations of white blood cells which were likely to be lymphocytes, monocytes

and granulocytes (data not shown). During the acute phase response between 6-48 h, the

proportion of granulocytes appeared to increase in proportion to the population of white

blood cells (data not shown). The pattern and distribution of PBMC returned to control

levels by 72 h. Spleen and thymus metallothionein mRNA (data not shown) was increased

in a similar pattern as PBMC.

In a survey of CRIP mRNA levels in cells and tissues, expression of CRIP mRNA

in peritoneal macrophages was found to be exceptionally high and comparable to the level

seen in intestine under normal conditions (Figure 3-2). PBMC also contained a substantial

amount of CRIP mRNA while thymus, spleen and lung expressed CRIP mRNA at a moderate

level. In tissues that expressed the lowest level of CRIP mRNA, brain, kidney and liver, the

message could only be demonstrated with a longer exposure of film to the blot (Figure 3-2).

The level of CRIP mRNA in peritoneal macrophages increased over time after LPS

injection (Figure 3-3). In contrast, CRIP mRNA in PBMC was decreased between 6-12 h,

and then increased markedly with a maximum obtained by 48 h after LPS injection, before

returning to control levels by 72 h (Figure 3-4). This was different from the pattern of

LPS injection altered plasma zinc concentration and MT mRNA level in liver
and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Rats were saline-injected
(0 h) or injected with 1 pg LPS/g body weight (i.p.) for 6, 12, 24, 48 and 72
h. (a) Plasma zinc, determined by atomic absorption spectrophotometry, at
various time points. Plasma zinc data (mean pooled SEM [n = 10-13])
were analyzed by analysis of variance. Means with a different superscript are
significantly different (p < 0.05). Northern blots of (b) liver, and (c)
PBMC. Total RNA was extracted and used for Northern analysis (20
IAg/lane) with a 32P-rat metallothionein-1 probe. Northern data from two
individual animals are representative of 6 animals/time point. MT mRNA
data were compared to B-actin mRNA.

Figure 3-1:


E 12
z 8

(n 4
. 2

0 6 12 24
TIME (h)


Actin mRNA *amboM








(c) PBMC

Actin mRNA








4 &58

S ac ,

Ie u

: ". 4 ^

J <2?

'.0 "0

::o l
^^Hl ~ ~ U 4-. 9 '

.P 0 S 0

Actin mRNA


0 6 12 24 48 72

TIME (h)

Effect of LPS injection on CRIP mRNA in peritoneal macrophages. Rats
were treated as described in Fig. 3-1. Northern analysis (10 /Ag/lane) was
carried out as described in Fig. 3-2. Northern data from each individual
animal/timepoint are representative of 1-4 animals/time point. CRIP mRNA
data were normalized by comparison to B-actin mRNA.

Figure 3-3:

0 6 12 24
TIME (h)

Figure 3-4:




48 72h

Effect of LPS administration on CRIP mRNA in PBMC. Northern data from
two individual animals/timepoint are representative of 6 animals/time point.
CRIP mRNA data were normalized by comparison to G3PDH mRNA.


PBMC metallothionein mRNA expression which had a sustained increase up to 72 h after

LPS administration (Figure 3-1). CRIP protein was not detectable by Western analysis of

PBMC cytosolic protein as the total amount of protein isolated from these cells was low (data

not shown). Therefore, immunocytochemistry of adherent cells from PBMC, containing

primarily monocytes, was carried out. A control reaction with non-immune serum was not

immunoreactive (Figure 3-5a) but incubation with anti-CRIP IgG showed that CRIP protein,

as indicated by the immunoreactivity (dark color), was present in the cytoplasm of these cells

(Figure 3-5b).

In contrast to PBMC, CRIP protein was detected in plasma of normal rats by both

zinc blot (Fig 3-6a) and Western analysis (Figure 3-6b). Results of the Western immunoblot

analysis showed markedly lower CRIP protein in the plasma of rats injected with LPS for

6 and 48 h than in plasma of control rats. Analysis by zinc blotting, a high affinity detection

method for CRIP, was not able to detect the changes in the protein (Figure 3-6a). Use of

this method depends on the availability of metal-binding sites on the immobilized protein.

The presence of CRIP protein in the plasma was confirmed by protein purification and amino

acid sequencing. It was clear from the sequencing data, however, that CRIP was not the

most abundant protein in the purified protein band after gel electrophoresis (data not shown).

Nevertheless, this is the first evidence that showed the presence of CRIP in plasma, and the

possibility that cellular CRIP is secreted under these conditions. This possibility, however,

needs to be investigated further.

In the intestine, like in the PBMC, CRIP mRNA was most abundant at 48 h after

LPS (Figure 3-7a). There was little change in the CRIP mRNA level at 6 h. CRIP protein

level in intestinal cytosol when analyzed by the Western blot was observed to be dramatically





Immunocytochemistry showed cytosolic CRIP in PBMC. PBMC were
obtained by gradient centrifugation and immunocytochemistry was carried out
as described in the methods using a rabbit IgG prepared against a rat CRIP
peptide. A dark color indicates CRIP protein; (a) nonimmune rabbit serum
as a control and (b) nonimmune rabbit serum plus rabbit IgG against rat

Figure 3-5:


w w

co 2


u .- w
N g

e .Eo

0 *
E... M


ci C


Cu -


E co
3, .u c
11 a C





4 <
z z

c -
< U




S -

o 0

d. .

2 -s


a -,

oo .
-= 5l|
-I a4)Sg-
oo (JoS -.e .
J ^ T I-^I

-1 ^ o LL










'< '


o eS
g .a


rd2 L.



3 li a
S5 <
.8 2


4)"- -]

'S <

decreased at 6 h, similar to the decrease seen for plasma CRIP. By 48 h after LPS, the

intestinal CRIP protein level had returned to normal in contrast to the lack of a return to the

control level seen in plasma CRIP (Figure 3-7b).

LPS did not appear to change the level of CRIP mRNA in liver or thymus while in

the spleen, CRIP mRNA showed a slight, but consistent, increase between 12-72 h (data not

shown). CRIP mRNA levels also increased at 48 h in the brain and more specifically, the

hippocampus (Figure 3-8a and b), similar to the pattern found in the other tissues.


Liver metallothionein mRNA level increased upon LPS stimulation as expected.

Increased metallothionein expression in animals exposed to various types of physiological

stresses has been well described (Dunn et al., 1987; Sato and Bremner, 1993). The increase

in metallothionein during immunostimulation is thought to either protect cells against

oxidative damage due to the oxygen radicals produced by PBMC effector cells attracted to

the site of infection or is needed for another zinc-requiring process. Actin mRNA levels in

the PBMC changed in response to LPS administration (Figure 3-1) since actin synthesis was

altered in these cells for cell remodelling (Goldblum et al., 1993).

The constitutively high basal level of CRIP mRNA in peritoneal macrophages

strongly suggests that CRIP is important in immune cell function. Since expression of CRIP

increased in response to antigenic challenge by LPS, CRIP could have a role related to

activation of macrophages since residential peritoneal macrophages differentiate into activated

macrophages upon immunostimulation (Johnston, 1988). Zinc has also been shown to be

involved in immunomodulation and thus, may be regulated by CRIP during this response

(Driessen et al., 1995a). CRIP is probably not the only zinc finger protein that is increased

by LPS.

The changing level of CRIP expression in PBMC over time after LPS injection with

decreased expression during the early acute-phase immune response and increased expression

at the later phase suggests that CRIP plays a role in immune cells during the response. Since

the increased level of CRIP mRNA in PBMC occurs late in the immune response coincident

with the repair/regeneration stage of the acute-phase response (Kasama et al., 1993), CRIP

could be involved in maintenance of healthy, differentiated cells and tissues or in

proliferation of new cells.

From flow cytometry, it was found that the subpopulation of cells collected in the

mononuclear fraction of the blood was altered during the response to LPS (data not shown).

This observation was based on the change in the number of cells in different populations

defined by their granularity and size. Change in the subpopulations of PBMC or transient

expression of different genes within the same population could account for the changes in

PBMC CRIP mRNA level seen during the immune response. The CRIP promoter has

response elements for glucocorticoid hormone and consensus sequences for cytokines

(Levenson et al., 1994a). Therefore, the production of CRIP by PBMC could also be

suppressed by cytokines or other factors that are associated with the immune response.

Intestinal CRIP mRNA was induced over control levels after 48 h. The intestine is

considered an important immune tissue since 60-80% of the body's lymphoid tissue is

gut-associated. It is able to respond to acute-phase mediators during an immune response

(Castro and Arntzen, 1993). Ogle and colleagues (1994) showed that isolated enterocytes

are capable of participating in an immune response by producing tumor necrosis factor,

interleukin-1 and interleukin-6 at levels comparable to that of LPS-activated intestinal

macrophages. Other researchers have also shown that the epithelial cells are stimulated by

LPS to secrete cytokines (Santos et al., 1990). Intestinal epithelial cells have also been found

to elicit an acute phase immune response by expressing acute phase plasma proteins such as

ai-antitrypsin, transferring and complement factors (Molmenti et al., 1993). Increased

intestinal CRIP expression upon immune challenge suggests that intestinal cells respond to

the antigenic stimulus and that CRIP could be involved in the intestinal response to injury.

Challenge with CCd4 caused damage to the intestine. Histological studies showed that tissue

damage had occurred after CC14 while damage was not clearly observed with LPS challenge.

CRIP mRNA in intestine appears to have responded differently to the toxic and immune

challenge. Therefore, the time frame of intestinal injury and the type of injury, as well as

the response to injury, caused by the two challenges appear to be different.

The abundance of CRIP protein in the intestine and the dramatic decrease in CRIP

6 h after LPS treatment, as shown by Western analysis (Figure 3-6), also suggests that

intestinal CRIP expression was not due to immune cells. The expression of CRIP in

macrophages was observed to be steadily increasing from 6 h, with no decrease after LPS

administration. The later increase in intestinal CRIP mRNA could be important to the

cellular response for repair or restoration of normal gut tissue.

CRIP has been purified to homogeneity from the intestine (Khoo and Cousins, 1994),

and the protein has been localized to the Paneth cells (Fernandes et al., 1995). The Paneth

cell is also the site where intestinal defensins, lysozyme and cytokines are produced to

provide an antimicrobial and antiparasitic barrier to the mucosa (Evans et al., 1992; Selsted

et al., 1992). Localization of CRIP in these cells as well as its presence in immune cells


suggest that CRIP could play a role in cellular maintenance. Paneth cells are terminally

differentiated cells, again suggesting that CRIP has a role in maintenance of the differentiated

state of these and also immune cells. No studies have been done to show the effect of

endotoxin treatment on Paneth cell physiology. The Paneth cells could be a major

contributor to intestinal CRIP protein expression after the LPS challenge. Previous studies

have determined that changes in mRNA levels occur in the midvillar region during intestinal

cell development (Levenson et al., 1993). Protein levels, however, are higher in the Paneth

cells and brush-border enterocytes at the tip of the villi.

The presence of CRIP protein in the plasma of control rats raises some questions as

to the source and target tissues of CRIP. Although most plasma proteins are produced in the

liver (Schreiber et al., 1989), CRIP mRNA is expressed at very low levels in the liver

suggesting that plasma CRIP protein is not of hepatic origin. PBMC expressed high levels

of CRIP mRNA and CRIP protein has been detected in PBMC cytoplasm. Consequently,

PBMC could secrete CRIP protein into the blood since CRIP was found to have a unique

signal sequence common to some exported proteins (Tsonis et al., 1988). This putative

consensus sequence was found to be 19 amino acid long and included the metal-binding

domain of CRIP, beginning from the Cys residue at position 28. The presence of plasma

CRIP in normal animals and the suppressed levels shortly after LPS challenge, corresponded

to the pattern of many negative acute-phase proteins, such as albumin (Schreiber et al.,

1989). Decreased plasma CRIP could be due to passive diffusion out of the plasma by

increased transendothelial flux across capillaries (Goldblum et al., 1993). This has been

shown to occur for albumin after LPS treatment. This pattern of acute-phase response is

well-documented for plasma zinc, a characteristic response, believed to be part of the host

defense mechanism (Dunn et al., 1987).

In the brain, CRIP expression was induced after 48 h which was similar to that found

in the other tissues. In the previous chapter, it was shown that CRIP mRNA responded

differently in different brain regions due to CCI4 challenge. As discussed previously,

different regions have varying susceptibilities to the challenge. Therefore, the response of

CRIP mRNA could reflect the extent of the injury or the lack of it, especially when

challenged with these two different stresses. The difference between the effects on the

hippocampus observed for CCl4 insult and the LPS challenge could be due to the ability of

these compounds to cross the blood-brain barrier, the severity of the trauma and the cell type

that responded to each challenge.

LPS has been shown by some studies to affect the brain. Researchers found that LPS

administration caused minimal inflammatory reaction suggesting that the brain had regulatory

mechanisms to reduce damaging inflammatory reaction (Montero-Monei et al., 1994). LPS

stimulated expression of MHC class I and II antigens on microglia cells (brain macrophages)

in the brain to present antigens for the immune response (Xu and Ling, 1994). However,

peripheral macrophages did not appear to be able to reach the site of injury unless the blood-

brain barrier was breached such as in ischemia (Giulian and Vaca, 1993; Montero-Monei et

al., 1994). LPS also downregulated interleukin-I receptors in the hippocampus but not in

the pituitary (Ban et al., 1993) showing that different regions of the brain were differentially


Acute phase reactants such as IL-1 have been found in the brain as early as 5-6 h

after LPS administration (Ban et al., 1993; Quan et al., 1994). At the later time points,


events that occur after injury include secretion of glucocorticoids to inhibit inflammatory

cytokines (Chrousos, 1995), secretion of neurotoxic substances to cause delayed neuronal

damage, activation of brain microglia cells to scavenge cellular debris (Giulian and Vaca,

1993; Xu and Ling, 1994), and the production of neurotrophic factors to initiate the healing

process (Giulian and Vaca, 1993; Montero-Monei et al., 1994). The late increase in the

expression of brain CRIP mRNA, like that found in the intestine and the PBMC, suggests

that it could function in the late stages of cell repair/regeneration. One of the processes

mentioned above could be important in regulating or contributing to the expression of CRIP

in the brain.

In summary, CRIP was found in abundance in leukocytes and in the Paneth cells of

the intestine. These are cells with many similar characteristics, such as having a high

turnover rate, and having a highly differentiated state. In cells that have low turnover rates,

such as the liver cells, CRIP mRNA expression was low until the system was perturbed by

toxic stress. Tissue injury occur as a result of this challenge, followed by tissue

regeneration. Under these conditions, CRIP mRNA and protein was induced. In this study,

LPS caused a decrease in CRIP mRNA in PBMCs in the early stages of the immune

response. However, at 48 h, when the immune stress was being downregulated, and the

tissues were undergoing, or had undergone repair, CRIP mRNA was induced.- CRIP could

be involved in maintenance of a healthy cellular state after the immune and toxic challenge

in those tissues. Since the level of CRIP in the plasma was altered upon immunostimulation

and plasma zinc was altered in a similar temporal pattern as plasma CRIP, the function of

CRIP could also be related to the function of zinc during an acute-phase immune response.



The cysteine-rich domain of CRIP is arranged in a sequence that is described as the

LIM motif; Cys-Xaa2-Cys-Xaal7.l9-His-Xaa2-Cys-Xaa2-Cys-Xaa2-Cys-Xaa7T.-(Cys)-Xaas-Cys

(Freyd et al., 1990). The LIM motif may be involved in protein-DNA, protein-protein or

protein-RNA interactions. The LIM proteins that have homeodomains are transcriptional

regulators while the LIM proteins without homeodomains (LIM-only) are postulated to be

involved in cell signalling/aggregation through LIM-LIM interactions (Crawford et al., 1994;

Dawid et al., 1995; Feuerstein et al., 1994; Melamed et al., 1995; Sanchez-Garcia et al.,

1993; Schmeichel and Beckerle, 1994). Since CRIP does not have a homeodomain, it is

hypothesized that CRIP forms protein-protein interactions in carrying out its function.

In this chapter, a study was carried out to look for a putative partner for CRIP that

could define a possible area to study the function of CRIP and that could support the

information obtained in the previous studies. Since immunohistochemistry with the CRIP

antipeptide IgG showed a predominantly cytosolic localization for CRIP (Fernandes et al.,

1995), rat intestinal cytosolic proteins were used as the primary source to isolate a protein

partners) for CRIP. A crude membrane fraction and a nuclear fraction were also prepared

for preliminary studies to identify a potential protein partnerss.


In this study, we decided to look for potential partners for CRIP in cytosolic,

membrane and nuclear fractions using several, different methods. It was hypothesized that

the protein partner of CRIP may have similar, complementary or opposing roles in the cell.

Identification of the partner and its cellular location would help to further elucidate the

function of CRIP.

The methods used in this study included: i) overlay assay with ["S]Cys-rrCRIP as

a probe or alternatively, the sandwich overlay using both CRIP, followed by the anti-CRIP

peptide IgG antibody, as probes, and ii) cyanogen bromide affinity chromatography with

CRIP coupled as a ligand to the column. The overlay method was successfully used to study

interactions between LIM proteins (Crawford et al., 1992), and cAMP-dependent protein

kinase anchoring (Carr and Scott, 1992), while affinity chromatography has been used in

many different immunologically-based purification schemes for antigen-antibody complexes.

Other strategies that were used to identify protein-protein interactions included an in vivo

dihybrid assay utilizing the catalytic and transactivational domain of GAL4A (Guarente, 1993;

Le Douarin et al., 1995), library screening methods, immunoprecipitation and surface

plasmon resonance. These methods were extensively reviewed by Phizicky and Fields

(1995). Wadman et al. (1994) used the dihybrid method to study an specific association

between rhombotin (a LIM protein) and basic helix-loop helix proteins. Crosslinking

followed by gel filtration was another method used successfully to study binding of

neuropeptide Y to intestinal membrane proteins (Nguyen et al., 1990). Variations of these

methods were utilized successfully to study other types of protein binding. Some of the

advantages and disadvantages of the methods used in this study are as follows (Phizicky and

Fields, 1995):

Table 4-1. Advantages and disadvantages of the overlay assay and affinity chromatography.

Advantages Disadvantages

Overlay assay


1. Cell lysate can be used
without prior purification.
2. Direct interaction can be
determined between two

1. Sensitive method-can detect
weak interactions.
2. Able to bind its partner from
a complex mixture of proteins-
the partner successfully
competes with other proteins in
the extract to bind to the ligand
on the column.
3. Multi subunit interactions
can be detected.

1. Proteins may be inactivated
by SDS PAGE and reducing
2. Complexes are not detected,
only direct interactions.

1. Due to its sensitivity, false
positives can be obtained.
2. Interactions detected may not
be direct and may be through a
second protein present in the

___________________ I _________________________________ __________________________________

The putative CRIP partners that were identified using these two initial methods were

characterized by sequencing and CRIP binding activity was confirmed by

immunoprecipitation or crosslinking (Flow chart, see Appendix A). These latter methods are

not as sensitive as the two initial methods but have been found. to be useful in confirming

interactions between proteins as they are specific when used with appropriate controls.

Materials and Methods

Intestinal Cytosol and Membrane Protein Preparations

Intestines were excised from rats anaesthetized with methoxyflurane (Metofane;

Pitman-Moore, Mundelein, IL) and killed by exsanguination. The intestines were flushed

with ice-cold saline, placed on an ice-cold plate and the mucosa scraped off with two glass

slides. The mucosa was homogenized in a homogenization buffer (10 mM Tris, 154 mM

NaCI, 10 jtM ZnSO4, 1 mM MnCl2, 2mM phenylmethanesulfonyl fluoride, 0.9 pg/ml

pepstatin, 0.6 4g/ml leupeptin and 10 mM 2-mercaptoethanol, pH 8.0), with a Potter-

Elvejhem glass-teflon homogenizer. The homogenate was centrifuged at 12 500 rpm (12 000

x g) for 30 min at 4C using the Sorvall SS-34 rotor (Kracht, et al., 1993). This supernatant

fraction was centrifuged at 40 000 rpm (100 000 x g) for 1 h in a Beckman 50 Ti rotor to

obtain the cytosolic fraction. Membrane proteins were obtained as a pellet. The pellet was

mixed with 2 mg CHAPS/mg protein in buffer and shaken for 30 min at 4C. The

solubilized protein was obtained in the supernatant fraction by centrifugation at 100 000 x

g for 1 h. These protein fractions were then aliquoted and stored at -700C until used.

Preparation of Nuclear Extract

Nuclear extract was obtained from a mouse macrophage-monocyte cell line RAW

264.7 which was found to produce abundant amounts of CRIP mRNA. The cells were

grown to confluency in four 150 cm2 flasks in DMEM medium, 10% FBS, supplemented

with glutamine. The cells were harvested by centrifugation for.10 min at 2 500 rpm (1 000

x g) at 4C using Sorvall H1000B swing bucket rotors and cell nuclei extracted according

to a modified procedure described below (Cousins and Lee-Ambrose, 1992; Gorski et al.,

1986; Shapiro et al., 1988). The pelleted cells were resuspended in 10 ml homogenization


buffer (10 mM HEPES, 0.5 mM spermidine, 0.15 mM spermine, 25 mM potassium

chloride, 2 M sucrose, 10 % glycerol, pH 7.6) with 0.1 mM PMSF and 1 mM DTT and the

cells broken with 5-8 strokes of Dounce glass homogenizer (pestle A). The homogenate was

diluted to 85 ml with homogenization buffer. Aliquots of 27 ml each were layered on 10 ml

homogenization buffer and centrifuged for 30 min at 18 000 rpm (40 000 x g) using the

Sorvall SS-34 rotor at 4C. The pellets were combined in 50 ml of buffer consisting of 9:1

homogenization buffer:glycerol and rehomogenized. Two aliquots of 25 ml each were

layered on 10 ml of homogenization buffer and centrifuged at 18 000 rpm for 30 min at 4

C as above. The pellets were resuspended in 1 ml resuspension buffer (20 mM HEPES,

0.75 mM spermidine, 0.15 mM spermine, 25% glycerol, 2 mM DTT, pH 7.9).

The cell nuclei were counted with a hemacytometer using Trypan Blue and diluted

to 1 X 10' nuclei/3 ml of resuspension buffer. The extract was rocked for 30 min on ice

followed by ultracentrifugation with the Beckman 50Ti rotor for 90 min at 49 000 rpm (150

000 x g) at 40C. Ammonium sulfate (0.33g/ml) was added to the supernatant and the

mixture rocked for 15-20 min on ice to dissolve the ammonium sulfate. The protein

precipitate was collected by ultracentrifugation at 40 000 rpm (100 000 x g, 50Ti rotor) for

20 min at 4C and dissolved in 1 ml dialysis buffer (20 mM HEPES, 100 mM KCI, 20%

glycerol, 2 mM DTT, pH 7.9). The sample was dialyzed against two changes (1.5 h each)

of 200 x volume dialysis buffer. Aliquots were stored at -700C until use.

The proteins were resolved by SDS PAGE as described previously (Khoo and

Cousins, 1994). Gels of 12% and 15% were used to detect high and low molecular weight

proteins, respectively. Proteins were transferred onto Immobilon pTM membranes (Millipore,

Bedford, MA), as described previously, for both overlay analysis and microsequencing (Khoo


and Cousins, 1994). Microsequencing was carried out at the University of Florida ICBR

Protein Core, as described in Chapter 3 (Materials and Methods).

I3S1Cys-rrCRIP Preparation (Appendix B)

Recombinant CRIP expressed in the pET pLysS vector with the E.coli host BL21

(DE3) was labeled with [135S-Cysteine (Spec. activity 22.2 TBq/mmol, NEN, Boston, MA)

to obtain the radiolabeled protein. The bacteria was streaked on minimal medium plates

made with M9 medium (M9 salts, 1.0 mM MgSO4.7H20, 0.2% glucose, 0.4 mM

nonessential and essential amino acids without Cys, ampicillin and chloramphenicol before

inoculation of M9 liquid medium (Ausubel et al., 1994a). The overnight liquid culture was

used to inoculate fresh medium (1:100) and grown until the AbSsoom = 0.6-0.7. The culture

was then induced with 0.4 mM IPTG for 15 min after which 200 MM Zn2" and 200-300 MCi

["S]Cys were added. The culture was incubated for another 3-4 h before being harvested.

The protein was then prepared as described by Kosa and colleagues (1994). The

supernatant was filtered with a 0.2 /AM disc filter and lower molecular weight proteins were

isolated using the Superdex S75 Hiload column (Pharmacia) with an isocratic elution using

10 mM potassium phosphate, 100 mM potassium chloride buffer, pH 8.0 (Khoo and Cousins,

1994). The CRIP-containing fractions were pooled based on "3S radioactivity and molecular

mass before dialysis against 200 x volume 10 mM potassium phosphate buffer, pH 8.0

overnight. Final purification was carried out with a weak cation exchange column (CM

Sepharose Fast Flow gel; XK 14 column; Pharmacia). The sample was loaded in 10 mM

potassium phosphate buffer, pH 8.0 and eluted with a linear gradient of 0 to 500 mM

potassium chloride (pH 8.0), for 100 min at a flow rate of 1.2 ml/min. Four ml fractions

were collected. CRIP eluted at approximately 150 mM potassium chloride.

Overlay Assay

Intestinal cytosol, membrane proteins and nuclear extract were prepared as described

above. Proteins from each sample (100-150 /g) were resolved by discontinuous denaturing

SDS-PAGE and transferred onto PVDF membranes. Non-radiolabeled recombinant CRIP

was also loaded on the gel in increasing amounts from 1-10 tg per lane. The assay was

carried out as described by Crawford et al. (1992). Briefly, the membrane was blocked with

5% non-fat dry milk in PBS overnight. The membrane was then rinsed briefly and incubated

with the radiolabeled CRIP in overlay buffer (50 mM HEPES, 1 % non-fat dry milk, 154 mM

NaCI, 1 mM EDTA, 1 % NP-40, 10 MM ZnSO4, 0.1% 2-13 mercaptoethanol, pH 7.5) for 4

h (Crawford et al., 1992). The radioactivity of the incubation buffer was between 200,000-

250,000 cpm/ml. After incubation, the membrane was washed once in PBS with 0.1 % SDS,

and three times in PBS with 0.1% Tween-20, for 5-10 min each time. The membrane was

dried and sprayed with Enhance' (Du Pont NEN, Boston, MA) to reduce the exposure time

for autoradiography (14-21 d).

As an alternative, a sandwich assay was used with the anti-CRIP IgG as a probe for

nonradiolabeled CRIP bound to its partner on the membrane after the initial overlay assay.

The antibody was then detected using the streptavidin-biotin amplification system (ECL

detection kit, Amersham Life Science, Arlington Heights, 11.). The detailed method for the

detection kit has been described in Material and Methods, Chapter 3.

Cyanogen-Bromide Activated Sepharose 4B Affinity Chromatography

The cyanogen-bromide activated Sepharose 4B gel (Pharmacia) was prepared as in

the manufacturer's protocol. Between 8-10 mg of recombinant rat CRIP (rrCRIP) was

dissolved in 2 ml of the coupling buffer (0.1 M NaHCO3, 0.5 M NaCI, pH 8.3), and mixed

with the gel at 40C overnight on a rotator plate. Excess ligand was washed off with at least

five gel volumes of coupling buffer and the column blocked for 2 h with 0.1 M Tris-base

buffer, pH 8.0. The gel was washed further with three (2 ml) alternating cycles of an acidic

buffer (0.1 M glycine, 0.5 M NaCI, pH 2.7), and a basic buffer (0.1 M NaHCO3, 0.5 M

NaCI, pH 8.0) and then packed into a column (0.5 cm x 3 cm) at 133% of the flow rate

using three column volumes of loading buffer (0.1 M NaH2PO4, pH 8.0).

The sample (5 mg in 300 Al) was diluted in 5 ml loading buffer, applied to the

column, and left overnight at 4C. The column was then washed extensively with loading

buffer until A280nm =0. Three different elution conditions (buffers) were used: 0.1 M

glycine, 0.5 M NaCI, pH 2.7; 0.1 M Ethanolamine, pH 11; and 0.1 M NaH2PO4, 1 M

NaCI, pH 8.0 or 0.1 M glycine, 1.0 M NaCI, pH 2.7. The fractions collected were pooled

from several preparations and concentrated with Centriprep-3 for the larger volumes and

Centricon-3 for smaller volumes (Amicon, Beverly, MA). The samples were then analyzed

by gel electrophoresis and stained for protein with Coomasie Blue stain (Biorad, Richmond,

Ca) followed by microsequencing of appropriate bands. Duplicate gels of the fractions from

the CNBr column were transferred onto PVDF membrane for the overlay assay.


CRIP was incubated with the putative partner overnight in overlay buffer and

immunoprecipitated with the anti-peptide CRIP IgG described in Chapter 2, Materials and

Methods. Protein A beads were added to facilitate precipitation. After three washes with the

overlay buffer, the beads were solubilized by boiling the samples in SDS PAGE buffer for

5 min, followed by centrifugation to precipitate the beads. The samples were then analyzed



For crosslinking, DSP (dithiobis(succinimidylpropionate)) (Pierce, Rockford, II.) was

used at a concentration of 0.2 mM. The putative partners were incubated with "S-rrCRIP

overnight at 4C in the overlay buffer. DSP was added for 15 min at room temperature

followed by quenching with 50 mM Tris, pH 7.5 for 30 min. The samples were then

analyzed by tandem Superdex 75 columns (Khoo and Cousins, 1994), and "S in the fractions

was measured by liquid scintillation counting.


Initial studies were carried out on intestinal cytosolic and membrane proteins and

RAW cell nuclear extract by Western analysis using the rabbit anti-CRIP IgG made against

the CRIP peptide consisting of amino acids 31-55 (Fernandes et al., 1995). The results

showed that the CRIP antibody was specific for CRIP in intestinal cytosol (Figure 4-1).

Western analysis of the intestinal membrane fractions and RAW nuclear protein extract

showed that there were no detectable CRIP protein in these fractions as prepared with the

methods above (data not shown).

The radiolabeled recombinant CRIP made with the above procedure was analyzed by

chromatography and SDS-PAGE to assess purity. The various preparations had a specific

activity of 5-20 jyg/pCi or approximately 220 MBq/mmol protein (Figure 4-2). Using this

probe for the overlay assay, we found that CRIP was able to bind a protein larger than 43

kDa when intestinal proteins were separated on a 15% SDS-PAGE gel (Figure 4-3). It was

also discovered that under these conditions, CRIP did not appear to form dimers as

increasing amounts of CRIP protein on the membrane did not appear to bind to the

radiolabelled CRIP probe (Figure 4-3). This was consistent with data from gel filtration






I^ *^

Western analysis of rat intestinal cytosol separated by 15% SDS-PAGE and
transferred onto nitrocellulose. Rabbit anti-rat CRIP peptide (residues 31-56)
IgG at 1:100 dilution and secondary antibody, donkey anti-rabbit IgG
(conjugated to horseradish peroxidase), at 1:5000 dilution were used. The
procedure was carried out as described in Materials and Methods, Chapter 3,
with the ECL Western detection kit (Amersham Life Science). (a) shows the
autoradiograph of the Western analysis of the cytosol and (b) the Coomasie-
stained duplicate gel.


Figure 4-1:

|'. & 82


r e .5

(M) Q%0 00 0 \O
6 a


1 I I S
md- 3

'o s

tudo S




a E

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kI -D



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analysis of CRIP with a crosslinker which showed that, under this non-reducing condition,

dimerization also did not occur (data not shown).

Using a 10% gel to resolve rat intestinal proteins, it was found that CRIP was able

to bind a 116 kDa protein in the intestinal cytosol fraction as calculated by electrophoretic

mobility (Rf) (Figure 4-4a and b). Mass measurements by gel electrophoresis are +5% of

actual mass. The 116 kDa protein was found to be N-terminally blocked and due to its low

abundance could not be sequenced without further processing. There was also light binding

to a group of bands between 49-68 kDa which, when sequenced were identified as serum

albumin (Figure 4-4). Control reactions using nonradiolabeled rrCRIP to compete with

radiolabelled rrCRIP were able to eliminate binding to the putative protein partners. Serum

albumin and the 116 kDa protein were also found to bind to rrCRIP using the sandwich

overlay assay with the rabbit anti-rat CRIP IgG (Figure 4-4c).

There were no distinct bands in the membrane fraction that bound to rrCRIP except

for a band at around 70 kDa that was serum albumin, a contaminant of the membrane

preparation (Figure 4-4a, lane 3). When intestinal cytosol was used for the CRIP affinity

column, elution with 1 M NaCI from the affinity column yielded small peaks that when

analyzed were found to be serum albumin (data not shown). Further analysis of serum

albumin binding was carried out by crosslinking and gel filtration analysis. It was found that

the peak for the unbound radiolabeled rrCRIP was around 29-30 ml (Figure 4-2a). When

serum albumin was incubated with rrCRIP and crosslinker, two peaks with significant

radioactivity were observed at elution volumes 18.5 and 20 ml, in the larger molecular

weight region (Figure 4-5). These corresponded to the absorbance peaks at 280 nm (data not


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20 25 30
Volume (ml)

Gel filtration profile of DSP-crosslinked serum albumin and [35S]Cys-rrCRIP
analyzed using the tandem Superdex 75 columns. (U) BSA, [35S]Cys-rrCRIP
and DSP; (A) [35S]Cys-rrCRIP and DSP. Control runs (A) were carried out
with [35SjCys-rrCRIP and crosslinker without serum albumin. Fractions of
0.5 ml were collected and 35S was measured using liquid scintillation



Figure 4-5:


In the membrane fractions of both rat intestine and RAW cells, preliminary studies

with crosslinking and gel filtration produced a radioactive peak in the void volume of the

Superdex 75 columns, suggesting that either rrCRIP was bound to a large protein or was

forming a complex with several proteins excluded from the Superdex matrix (data not

shown). Therefore, membrane proteins were resolved by SDS-PAGE and assessed for CRIP

binding by the Western (sandwich) overlay assay using ECL immunodetection. Two protein

bands were detected to bind to rrCRIP with this method, around 48 kDa and 70 kDa (data

not shown). A control reaction where CRIP was omitted from the sandwich assay, indicated

that one of the antibodies reacted with the band at 48 kDa. Therefore, this band was not

considered a partner for CRIP but rather, appeared to bind non-specifically to one of the

antibodies. This showed that CRIP did not bind to any proteins in the intestinal membrane

fraction as prepared. This method of preparation was used to produce a crude membrane

product just to distinguish it from the cytosolic fraction. As shown by the contamination with

albumin, this was not a pure membrane fraction. It was possible that this method caused the

loss of some cytoskeletal proteins in the initial centrifugation steps and some membrane

proteins along with those. In addition, membrane proteins could have been incompletely

solubilized due to inadequate amounts of detergent used. Therefore, the membrane partner

of CRIP, if it existed, may not have been released during the preparation.

A cyanogen bromide affinity column with rrCRIP bound as a ligand was used as a

non-denaturing method to obtain the protein partners) of CRIP. This method was able to

detect interactions with binding constants as weak as 105 M. This was within a valid range

as binding constants stronger than 103 M were considered physiologically relevant (Phizicky

and Fields, 1995). The profile of elution is shown in Figure 4-6. In repeated experiments,


Glycine I M NaCi

U i U i I I U I I U U i U U I | | U I I |

10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
Fraction Number

90 100 110

Elution profile of rat intestinal cytosol from the cyanogen bromide-rrCRIP
affinity column. The sample was washed extensively with 0.1 M sodium
phosphate, pH 8.0, before sequential elution using three different buffers, as
shown in the figure: 0.1 M glycine, 0.5 M NaCI, pH 2.7; 0.1 M
ethanolamine, pH 11, and 0.1 M sodium phosphate, 1 M NaCl, pH 8.0.

Figure 4-6:


the same peak was obtained with elution using the ethanolamine buffer. Since earlier

evidence had been obtained from the studies described above that CRIP interacted with

proteins in the cytosolic fraction and since CRIP was present in the cytosol, the cytosolic

fraction was used with this method. Under these conditions, it was possible to detect a 25

kDa band which bound to rrCRIP on the column (Figure 4-7a). The 25 kDa band when

sequenced was found to be rat trypsinogen I. A smaller band of 3-6 kDa was also found to

bind to the column (Figure 4-7a), but was found later to be a mixture of peptides that bound

non-specifically to the column. In a control reaction, this band bound to the column prepared

without the rrCRIP ligand, while trypsinogen did not do so (Figure 4-7b).

When the eluted proteins were transferred onto membranes and tested with the

overlay assay using radiolabeled rrCRIP, the band at 25 kDa was able to bind rrCRIP as

shown by the autoradiograph (Figure 4-7c). Using the overlay assay on the non-purified

intestinal cytosol fraction, but with the antibody detection system, the antibody was able to

detect CRIP in the cytosol fraction as well as another band with a molecular weight of 25

kDa (Figure 4-8d). Control experiments with a Western analysis on the cytosol fraction,

without carrying out the overlay assay initially, did not yield this 25 kDa band (Figure 4-1).

The antibody was able to detect the immobilized rrCRIP bound to this band.

Binding of rrCRIP to trypsinogen was further analyzed by immunoprecipitation and

SDS-PAGE, as well as crosslinking. As shown in Figure 4-8, when trypsinogen was

incubated with the anti-peptide CRIP IgG, there was no precipitation product. However,

when rrCRIP was added, both rrCRIP and trypsinogen were precipitated. CRIP was

precipitated by the antibody without the presence of trypsinogen (data not shown). By

crosslinking and gel filtration analysis, a radioactive peak was observed at the elution volume


> 0


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