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1.  A Case of Pulmonary Sarcoma with Significant Extension into the Right Lung 
Case Reports in Medicine  2014;2014:279374.
A female patient in her 30s was referred to us with a mass approximately 8 centimeters in diameter in right lung segment 6. Bronchoscopy was done, and a tumorous lesion obstructing right B6 was found. Biopsy of this lesion supported suspicions of sarcoma or spindle cell carcinoma. Contrast-enhanced CT showed that the mass extended to and obstructed the right main pulmonary artery. A skip lesion was also suspected in the periphery of pulmonary artery trunk. The tumor was removed by right pneumonectomy accompanied by resection of the main and left pulmonary arteries under cardiopulmonary bypass. The pulmonary artery trunk and the left pulmonary artery were reconstructed with a vascular graft. Collectively, intimal sarcoma originating from the right main pulmonary artery with extension into the right lung was diagnosed. Significant extension of pulmonary artery sarcoma into the lung, as was observed in the present case, is considered to be rare, and to our knowledge this is the first report in which the primary lesion was biopsied by bronchoscopy.
PMCID: PMC4247937  PMID: 25477969
2.  Outcomes after stereotactic body radiotherapy for lung tumors, with emphasis on comparison of primary lung cancer and metastatic lung tumors 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:464.
The goal of this study was to determine the prognostic factors associated with an improved overall outcome after stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) for primary lung cancer and metastatic lung tumors.
A total of 229 lung tumors in 201 patients were included in the study. SBRT of 45 Gy in 3 fractions, 48 Gy in 4 fractions, 60 Gy in 8 fractions or 60 Gy in 15 fractions was typically used to treat 172 primary lungs cancer in 164 patients and 57 metastatic lung tumors in 37 patients between January 2001 and December 2011. Prognostic factors for local control (LC) and overall survival (OS) were analyzed using a Cox proportional hazards model.
The median biologically effective dose was 105.6 Gy based on alpha/beta = 10 (BED10). The median follow-up period was 41.9 months. The 3-year LC and OS rates were 72.5% and 60.9%, and the 5-year LC and OS rates were 67.8% and 38.1%, respectively. Radiation pneumonitis of grades 2, 3 and 5 occurred in 22 petients, 6 patients and 1 patient, respectively. Multivariate analyses revealed that tumor origin (primary lung cancer or metastatic lung tumor, p < 0.001), tumor diameter (p = 0.005), BED10 (p = 0.029) and date of treatment (p = 0.011) were significant independent predictors for LC and that gender (p = 0.012), tumor origin (p = 0.001) and tumor diameter (p < 0.001) were significant independent predictors for OS.
SBRT resulted in good LC and tolerable treatment-related toxicities. Tumor origin and tumor diameter are significant independent predictors for both overall survival and local control.
PMCID: PMC4076495  PMID: 24957478
Stereotactic radiotherapy; SBRT; Primary lung cancer; Metastatic lung tumor; Oligometastasis; Prognostic factor
3.  Additional Nitrogen Fertilization at Heading Time of Rice Down-Regulates Cellulose Synthesis in Seed Endosperm 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98738.
The balance between carbon and nitrogen is a key determinant of seed storage components, and thus, is of great importance to rice and other seed-based food crops. To clarify the influence of the rhizosphere carbon/nitrogen balance during the maturation stage of several seed components, transcriptome analysis was performed on the seeds from rice plants that were provided additional nitrogen fertilization at heading time. As a result, it was assessed that genes associated with molecular processes such as photosynthesis, trehalose metabolism, carbon fixation, amino acid metabolism, and cell wall metabolism were differentially expressed. Moreover, cellulose and sucrose synthases, which are involved in cellulose synthesis, were down-regulated. Therefore, we compared cellulose content of mature seeds that were treated with additional nitrogen fertilization with those from control plants using calcofluor staining. In these experiments, cellulose content in endosperm from plants receiving additional nitrogen fertilization was less than that in control endosperm. Other starch synthesis-related genes such as starch synthase 1, starch phosphorylase 2, and branching enzyme 3 were also down-regulated, whereas some α-amylase and β-amylase genes were up-regulated. On the other hand, mRNA expression of amino acid biosynthesis-related molecules was up-regulated. Moreover, additional nitrogen fertilization caused accumulation of storage proteins and up-regulated Cys-poor prolamin mRNA expression. These data suggest that additional nitrogen fertilization at heading time changes the expression of some storage substance-related genes and reduces cellulose levels in endosperm.
PMCID: PMC4048278  PMID: 24905454
4.  Luteolin and Quercetin Affect the Cholesterol Absorption Mediated by Epithelial Cholesterol Transporter Niemann–Pick C1-Like 1 in Caco-2 Cells and Rats 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97901.
Niemann–Pick C1-Like 1 (NPC1L1) mediates cholesterol absorption, and ezetimibe is a potent NPC1L1 inhibitor applicable for medication of hypercholesterolemia. Epidemiological studies demonstrated that consumption of polyphenols correlates with a decreased risk for atherosclerosis due to their antioxidant effect. This activity can hardly be attributable to the antioxidant activity only, and we hypothesized that polyphenols inhibit intestinal transport of cholesterol. We elucidated the kinetic parameters of intestinal cholesterol absorption, screened several polyphenols for their ability to specifically inhibit intestinal cholesterol absorption, and determined the inhibitory effects of selected flavonoids in vitro and in vivo. The concentration-dependent uptake of cholesterol by Caco-2 cells obeyed a monophasic saturation process. This indicates the involvement of an active-passive transport, i.e., NPC1L1. Parameters of cholesterol uptake by Caco-2 cells were as follows: Jmax, Kt, and Kd were 6.89±2.96 19.03±11.58 µM, and 0.11±0.02 pmol/min/mg protein, respectively. Luteolin and quercetin inhibited cholesterol absorption by Caco-2 cells and human embryonic kidney 293T cells expressing NPC1L1. When preincubated Caco-2 cells with luteolin and quercetin before the assay, cholesterol uptake significantly decreased. The inhibitory effects of these flavonoids were maintained for up to 120 min. The level of inhibition and irreversible effects were similar to that of ezetimibe. Serum cholesterol levels significantly decreased more in rats fed both cholesterol and luteolin (or quercetin), than in those observed in the cholesterol feeding group. As quercetin induced a significant decrease in the levels of NPC1L1 mRNA in Caco-2 cells, the in vivo inhibitory effect may be due to the expression of NPC1L1. These results suggest that luteolin and quercetin reduce high blood cholesterol levels by specifically inhibiting intestinal cholesterol absorption mediated by NPC1L1.
PMCID: PMC4032257  PMID: 24859282
5.  Functional diversification of taste cells in vertebrates 
Tastes are senses resulting from the activation of taste cells distributed in oral epithelia. Sweet, umami, bitter, sour, and salty tastes are called the five “basic” tastes, but why five, and why these five? In this review, we dissect the peripheral gustatory system in vertebrates from molecular and cellular perspectives. Recent behavioral and molecular genetic studies have revealed the nature of functional taste receptors and cells and show that different taste qualities are accounted for by the activation of different subsets of taste cells. Based on this concept, the diversity of basic tastes should be defined by the diversity of taste cells in taste buds, which varies among species.
PMCID: PMC3594521  PMID: 23085625
Taste cells; Taste receptors; PLC-β2; G proteins; Transcription factors; Differentiation
6.  Nuclear Receptor-Mediated Alleviation of Alcoholic Fatty Liver by Polyphenols Contained in Alcoholic Beverages 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87142.
To elucidate the effect of the polyphenols contained in alcoholic beverages on the metabolic stress induced by ethanol consumption, four groups of mice were fed for five weeks on Lieber's diet with or without ethanol, with ethanol plus ellagic acid, and with ethanol plus trans-resveratrol. Alcoholic fatty liver was observed in the group fed the ethanol diet but not in those fed the ethanol plus polyphenol diets. Liver transcriptome analysis revealed that the addition of the polyphenols suppressed the expression of the genes related to cell stress that were up-regulated by ethanol alone. Conversely, the polyphenols up-regulated the genes involved in bile acid synthesis, unsaturated fatty acid elongation, and tetrahydrofolate synthesis that were down-regulated by ethanol alone. Because parts of these genes were known to be regulated by the constitutive androstane receptor (CAR), we performed the same experiment in the CAR-deficient mice. As a result, fatty liver was observed not only in the ethanol group but also with the ethanol plus polyphenol groups. In addition, there was no segregation of the gene expression profiles among these groups. These results provide a molecular basis for the prevention of alcohol-induced stress by the polyphenols in alcoholic beverages.
PMCID: PMC3911942  PMID: 24498295
7.  Obstruction of the Superior Mesenteric Artery Due to Emboli from the Thoracic Aorta in a Patient with Thromboangiitis Obliterans 
Annals of Vascular Diseases  2014;7(3):320-324.
A 48-year-old woman presented at our hospital with acute abdominal pain 3 years after being diagnosed with thromboangiitis obliterans (TAO). Computed tomography revealed occlusion of the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) and multiple kidney infarction with thrombus floating in the thoracic aorta connected with the intercostal artery. Despite emergency embolectomy, further thromboembolism eventually required massive resection of the intestine with jejunostomy and colostomy and permanent intravenous hyper-alimentation therapy. Although TAO rarely involves the large artery, the aorta could be the source of embolization in patients with TAO.
PMCID: PMC4180697  PMID: 25298837
thromoboangiitis obliterans; superior mesenteric artery obstruction
8.  Functional diversity of bitter taste receptor TAS2R16 in primates 
Biology Letters  2012;8(4):652-656.
In mammals, bitter taste is mediated by TAS2R genes, which belong to the large family of seven transmembrane G protein-coupled receptors. Because TAS2Rs are directly involved in the interaction between mammals and their dietary sources, it is likely that these genes evolved to reflect species-specific diets during mammalian evolution. Here, we investigated the sensitivities of TAS2R16s of various primates by using a cultured cell expression system, and found that the sensitivity of each primate species varied according to the ligand. Especially, the sensitivity of TAS2R16 of Japanese macaques to salicin was much lower than that of human TAS2R16, which was supported by behavioural tests. These results suggest the possibility that bitter-taste sensitivities evolved independently by replacing specific amino acid residues of TAS2Rs in different primate species to adapt to food items they use.
PMCID: PMC3391450  PMID: 22399783
old world monkey; bitter taste receptor; chimpanzee
9.  Intratumoral localization and activity of 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 in non-small cell lung cancer: a potent prognostic factor 
Estrogens were recently demonstrated to be synthesized in non-small cell lung carcinomas (NSCLCs) via aromatase activity and aromatase inhibitor (AI) did suppressed estrogen receptor (ER) positive NSCLC growth. However, other enzymes involved in intratumoral production and metabolism of estrogens, i.e. 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases (i.e. 17βHSD1 and 17βHSD2) and others have not been studied. Therefore, in this study, we examined the clinical/ biological significance of 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases in NSCLCs.
Archival materials obtained from 103 NSCLC patients were immunohistochemically evaluated using anti-17βHSD1 and anti-17βHSD2 antibodies. The findings of immunohistochemistry were then correlated with intratumoral estrone (E1) and estradiol (E2) concentration, clinicopathological factors and overall survival of the patients. We further employed NSCLC cell lines, A549 and LK87 to study the functional significance of 17βHSD1, in vitro.
A higher 17βHSD1 immunoreactivity tended to be positively associated with aromatase (p=0.057) and tumor stage (p=0.055) whereas a higher 17βHSD2 immunoreactivity was positively associated with a squamous cell and adenosquamous cell carcinomas subtypes (p=0.031), tumor stage (p=0.004), T factor of TNM classification (p=0.010), maximum tumor diameter (p=0.002) and tended to be associated with N factor of TMN classification (p=0.065). A higher 17βHSD1 immunoreactivity was also significantly associated with lower intratumoral E1 concentration (p=0.040) and a higher intratumoral E2/E1 concentration ratio (p=0.028). On the other hand a higher 17βHSD2 immunoreactivity was significantly associated with higher intratumoral E1 concentration (p=0.035). Results of multivariate regression analysis demonstrated an increased 17βHSD1 immunoreactivity in tumor cells as an independent negative prognostic factor (HR= 2.83, p=0.007). E1 treatment in 17βHSD1 positive NSCLC cells, A549 and LK87, resulted in E2 production (p<0.0001) and enhanced cell proliferation, which was abrogated effectively by 17βHSD1 siRNA knockdown (p<0.0001). In addition, aromatase inhibitor treatment resulted in 17βHSD1 up regulation in both A549 and LK87 cells.
Results of our present study suggest that 17βHSD1 may be considered an important prognostic factor in NSCLC patients and targeting 17βHSD1 activity may further improve the clinical response in estrogen responsive NSCLC patients.
PMCID: PMC3724709  PMID: 23837683
Lung cancer; Intratumoral estrogens; 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase; Targeted therapy
10.  Experimental detection of proteolytic activity in a signal peptide peptidase of Arabidopsis thaliana 
BMC Biochemistry  2013;14:16.
Signal peptide peptidase (SPP) is a multi-transmembrane aspartic protease involved in intramembrane-regulated proteolysis (RIP). RIP proteases mediate various key life events by releasing bioactive peptides from the plane of the membrane region. We have previously isolated Arabidopsis SPP (AtSPP) and found that this protein is expressed in the ER. An AtSPP-knockout plant was found to be lethal because of abnormal pollen formation; however, there is negligible information describing the physiological function of AtSPP. In this study, we have investigated the proteolytic activity of AtSPP to define the function of SPPs in plants.
We found that an n-dodecyl-ß-maltoside (DDM)-solubilized membrane fraction from Arabidopsis cells digested the myc-Prolactin-PP-Flag peptide, a human SPP substrate, and this activity was inhibited by (Z-LL)2-ketone, an SPP-specific inhibitor. The proteolytic activities from the membrane fractions solubilized by other detergents were not inhibited by (Z-LL)2-ketone. To confirm the proteolytic activity of AtSPP, the protein was expressed as either a GFP fusion protein or solely AtSPP in yeast. SDS-PAGE analysis showed that migration of the fragments that were cleaved by AtSPP were identical in size to the fragments produced by human SPP using the same substrate. These membrane-expressed proteins digested the substrate in a manner similar to that in Arabidopsis cells.
The data from the in vitro cell-free assay indicated that the membrane fraction of both Arabidopsis cells and AtSPP recombinantly expressed in yeast actually possessed proteolytic activity for a human SPP substrate. We concluded that plant SPP possesses proteolytic activity and may be involved in RIP.
PMCID: PMC3710259  PMID: 23829174
Signal peptide peptidase (SPP); Endoplasmic reticulum (ER); Aspartic protease; Regulated intramembrane proteolysis (RIP); Arabidopsis thaliana
11.  Expressing one’s feelings and listening to others increases emotional intelligence: a pilot study of Asian medical students 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:82.
There has been considerable interest in Emotional Intelligence (EI) in undergraduate medical education, with respect to student selection and admissions, health and well-being and academic performance. EI is a significant component of the physician-patient relationship. The emotional well-being of the physician is, therefore, a significant component in patient care. The aim is to examine the measurement of TEIQue-SF in Asian medical students and to explore how the practice of listening to the feelings of others and expressing one’s own feelings influences an individual’s EI, set in the context of the emotional well-being of a medical practitioner.
A group of 183 international undergraduate medical students attended a half-day workshop (WS) about mental-health and well-being. They completed a self-reported measure of EI on three occasions, pre- and post-workshop, and a 1-year follow-up.
The reliability of TEIQue-SF was high and the reliabilities of its four factors were acceptable. There were strong correlations between the TEIQue-SF and personality traits. A paired t-test indicated significant positive changes after the WS for all students (n=181, p= .014), male students (n=78, p= .015) and non-Japanese students (n=112, p= .007), but a repeated measures analysis showed that one year post-workshop there were significant positive changes for all students (n=55, p= .034), female students (n=31, p= .007), especially Japanese female students (n=13, p= .023). Moreover, 80% of the students reported that they were more attentive listeners, and 60% agreed that they were more confident in dealing with emotional issues, both within themselves and in others, as a result of the workshop.
This study found the measurement of TEIQue-SF is appropriate and reliable to use for Asian medical students. The mental health workshop was helpful to develop medical students’ EI but showed different results for gender and nationality. The immediate impact on the emotional awareness of individuals was particularly significant for male students and the non-Japanese group. The impact over the long term was notable for the significant increase in EI for females and Japanese. Japanese female students were more conscious about emotionality. Emotion-driven communication exercises might strongly influence the development of students’ EI over a year.
PMCID: PMC3685545  PMID: 23742245
Emotional Intelligence (EI); Personality trait; Asian medical students; Nationality; Gender
12.  Influence of a Short-Term Iron-Deficient Diet on Hepatic Gene Expression Profiles in Rats 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65732.
Iron is an essential mineral for the body, and iron deficiency generally leads to anemia. However, because non-anemic iron deficiency can exist, we performed a comprehensive transcriptome analysis of the liver to define the effects of this condition on the body. Four-week-old male rats were fed a low-iron diet (approximately 3 ppm iron) for 3 days and compared with those fed a normal diet (48 ppm iron) by pair feeding as a control. The rats in the iron-deficient diet group developed a non-anemic iron-deficient state. DNA microarray analysis revealed that during this short time, this state conferred a variety of effects on nutrient metabolism in the liver. In comparison with long-term (17 days) iron-deficiency data from a previous study, some of the changed genes were found to be common to both short- and long-term iron deficiency models, some were specific to the short-term iron deficiency model, and the others were oppositely regulated between the two feeding terms. Taken together, these data suggest that although the blood hemoglobin level itself remains unchanged during non-anemic iron deficiency, a variety of metabolic processes involved in the maintenance of the energy balance are altered.
PMCID: PMC3674005  PMID: 23755274
13.  Long-term bresults of radiotherapy combined with nedaplatin and 5-fluorouracil for postoperative loco-regional recurrent esophageal cancer: update on a phase II study 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:542.
In 2006, we reported the effectiveness of chemoradiotherapy for postoperative recurrent esophageal cancer with a median observation period of 18 months. The purpose of the present study was to update the results of radiotherapy combined with nedaplatin and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) for postoperative loco-regional recurrent esophageal cancer.
Between 2000 and 2004, we performed a phase II study on treatment of postoperative loco-regional recurrent esophageal cancer with radiotherapy (60 Gy/30 fractions/6 weeks) combined with chemotherapy consisting of two cycles of nedaplatin (70 mg/m2/2 h) and 5-FU (500 mg/m2/24 h for 5 days).
The primary endpoint was overall survival rate, and the secondary endpoints were progression-free survival rate, irradiated-field control rate and chronic toxicity.
A total of 30 patients were enrolled in this study. The regimen was completed in 76.7% of the patients. The median observation period for survivors was 72.0 months. The 5-year overall survival rate was 27.0% with a median survival period of 21.0 months. The 5-year progression-free survival rate and irradiated-field control rate were 25.1% and 71.5%, respectively. Grade 3 or higher late toxicity was observed in only one patient. Two long-term survivors had gastric tube cancer more than 5 years after chemoradiotherapy.
Pretreatment performance status, pattern of recurrence (worse for patients with anastomotic recurrence) and number of recurrent lesions (worse for patients with multiple recurrent lesions) were statistically significant prognostic factors for overall survival.
Radiotherapy combined with nedaplatin and 5-FU is a safe and effective salvage treatment for postoperative loco-regional recurrent esophageal cancer. However, the prognosis of patients with multiple regional recurrence or anastomotic recurrence is very poor.
PMCID: PMC3518148  PMID: 23171077
Postoperative recurrent esophageal cancer; Chemoradiotherapy; Long-term results; Phase II study
14.  Genetic tracing of the gustatory neural pathway originating from Pkd1l3-expressing type III taste cells in circumvallate and foliate papillae 
Journal of neurochemistry  2011;119(3):497-506.
Polycystic kidney disease 1-like 3 (Pkd1l3) is expressed specifically in sour-sensing type III taste cells that have synaptic contacts with afferent nerve fibers in circumvallate and foliate papillae located in the posterior region of the tongue, though not in fungiform papillae or the palate. To visualize the gustatory neural pathways that originate from type III taste cells in circumvallate and foliate papillae, we established transgenic mouse lines that express the transneuronal tracer wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) under the control of the mouse Pkd1l3 gene promoter/enhancer. The WGA transgene was accurately expressed in Pkd1l3-expressing type III taste cells in circumvallate and foliate papillae. Punctate WGA protein signals appeared to be detected specifically in type III taste cells but not in other types of taste cells. WGA protein was transferred primarily to a subset of neurons located in close proximity to the glossopharyngeal nerve bundles in the nodose/petrosal ganglion. WGA signals were also observed in a small population of neurons in the geniculate ganglion. This result demonstrates the anatomical connection between taste receptor cells in the foliate papillae and the chorda tympani nerves. WGA protein was further conveyed to neurons in a rostro-central subdivision of the nucleus of the solitary tract. These findings demonstrate that the approximately 10 kb 5’-flanking region of the mouse Pkd1l3 gene functions as a type III taste cell-specific promoter/enhancer. In addition, experiments using the pkd1l3-WGA transgenic mice reveal a sour gustatory pathway that originates from taste receptor cells in the posterior region of the tongue.
PMCID: PMC3198858  PMID: 21883212
PKD1L3; wheat germ agglutinin; type III taste cells; sour; gustatory neural pathway
15.  Expression Analysis of Taste Signal Transduction Molecules in the Fungiform and Circumvallate Papillae of the Rhesus Macaque, Macaca mulatta 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45426.
The molecular mechanisms of the mammalian gustatory system have been examined in many studies using rodents as model organisms. In this study, we examined the mRNA expression of molecules involved in taste signal transduction in the fungiform papillae (FuP) and circumvallate papillae (CvP) of the rhesus macaque, Macaca mulatta, using in situ hybridization. TAS1R1, TAS1R2, TAS2Rs, and PKD1L3 were exclusively expressed in different subsets of taste receptor cells (TRCs) in the FuP and CvP. This finding suggests that TRCs sensing different basic taste modalities are mutually segregated in macaque taste buds. Individual TAS2Rs exhibited a variety of expression patterns in terms of the apparent level of expression and the number of TRCs expressing these genes, as in the case of human TAS2Rs. GNAT3, but not GNA14, was expressed in TRCs of FuP, whereas GNA14 was expressed in a small population of TRCs of CvP, which were distinct from GNAT3- or TAS1R2-positive TRCs. These results demonstrate similarities and differences between primates and rodents in the expression profiles of genes involved in taste signal transduction.
PMCID: PMC3448732  PMID: 23029001
16.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of a glucansucrase from the dental caries pathogen Streptococcus mutans  
In this study, the glucansucrase from the dental caries pathogen S. mutans was purified and crystallized by the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method using ammonium sulfate as a precipitant.
Glucansucrases encoded by Streptococcus mutans play essential roles in the synthesis of sticky dental plaques. Based on amino-acid sequence similarity, glucansucrases are classified as members of glycoside hydrolase family 70 (GH 70). Data on the crystal structure of GH 70 glucansucrases have yet to be reported. Here, the GH 70 glucansucrase GTF-SI from S. mutans was overexpressed in Escherichia coli strain BL21 (DE3), purified to homogeneity and crystallized using the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method. Orthorhombic GTF-SI crystals belonging to space group P21212 were obtained. A diffraction data set was collected to 2.1 Å resolution.
PMCID: PMC2935234  PMID: 20823533
glucansucrase; dental caries; Streptococcus mutans
17.  Mutually exclusive expression of Gαia and Gα14 reveals diversification of taste receptor cells in zebrafish 
The Journal of Comparative Neurology  2011;519(8):1616-1629.
A comprehensive re-evaluation of the G protein alpha subunit genes specifically expressed in taste buds in the tongue epithelium of rodents revealed that Gq and G14 of the Gq class and Gi2 and Ggust (Gt3, also known as gustducin) of the Gi class are expressed in mammalian taste buds. Meanwhile, a database search of fish genomes revealed the absence of a gene encoding an ortholog of the mammalian Ggust gene, which mediates sweet, umami, and bitter taste signals in mammalian taste receptor cells (TRCs). Histochemical screening identified two G protein alpha subunit genes, zfGia and zfG14, expressed in subsets of TRCs in zebrafish. The expression patterns of zfGia and zfG14 in taste buds were mutually exclusive, and the expression of known T1R and T2R genes in zebrafish was restricted to a subset of zfGia-expressing TRCs. These findings highlight the existence of a novel subset of TRCs in zebrafish that is absent in mammals and suggest that unidentified G protein-coupled receptors are expressed in zfG14-expressing TRCs and in zfGia-expressing TRCs where known T1R and T2R genes were not expressed in zebrafish. The existence of not only generalized but also specialized subsets of TRCs may imply a strong connection between the evolution of the peripheral gustatory system and the evolution of particular species.
PMCID: PMC3394409  PMID: 21452212
taste bud; taste receptor cell; G protein; signal transduction; zebrafish; mouse
18.  Skn-1a/Pou2f3 specifies taste receptor cell lineage 
Nature Neuroscience  2011;14(6):685-687.
Functional diversification of taste cells is crucial for proper discrimination of taste qualities. We found homeodomain protein Skn-1a/Pou2f3 is expressed in sweet, umami, and bitter taste cells. The Skn-1a–deficient mice lacked electrophysiological and behavioral responses to sweet, umami, and bitter tastes, due to complete absence of sweet, umami, and bitter cells with concomitant expansion of sour cells. Skn-1a is critical for generating and balancing the diverse composition of taste cells.
PMCID: PMC3390744  PMID: 21572433
19.  Treatment outcome of high-dose image-guided intensity-modulated radiotherapy using intra-prostate fiducial markers for localized prostate cancer at a single institute in Japan 
Several studies have confirmed the advantages of delivering high doses of external beam radiotherapy to achieve optimal tumor-control outcomes in patients with localized prostate cancer. We evaluated the medium-term treatment outcome after high-dose, image-guided intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) using intra-prostate fiducial markers for clinically localized prostate cancer.
In total, 141 patients with localized prostate cancer treated with image-guided IMRT (76 Gy in 13 patients and 80 Gy in 128 patients) between 2003 and 2008 were enrolled in this study. The patients were classified according to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network-defined risk groups. Thirty-six intermediate-risk patients and 105 high-risk patients were included. Androgen-deprivation therapy was performed in 124 patients (88%) for a median of 11 months (range: 2–88 months). Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) relapse was defined according to the Phoenix-definition (i.e., an absolute nadir plus 2 ng/ml dated at the call). The 5-year actuarial PSA relapse-free survival, the 5-year distant metastasis-free survival, the 5-year cause-specific survival (CSS), the 5-year overall survival (OS) outcomes and the acute and late toxicities were analyzed. The toxicity data were scored according to the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events, version 4.0. The median follow-up was 60 months.
The 5-year PSA relapse-free survival rates were 100% for the intermediate-risk patients and 82.2% for the high-risk patients; the 5-year actuarial distant metastasis-free survival rates were 100% and 95% for the intermediate- and high-risk patients, respectively; the 5-year CSS rates were 100% for both patient subsets; and the 5-year OS rates were 100% and 91.7% for the intermediate- and high-risk patients, respectively. The Gleason score (<8 vs. ≥8) was significant for the 5-year PSA relapse-free survival on multivariate analysis (p = 0.044). There was no grade 3 or 4 acute toxicity. The incidence of grade 2 acute gastrointestinal (GI) and genitourinary (GU) toxicities were 1.4% and 8.5%, respectively. The 5-year actuarial likelihood of late grade 2–3 GI and GU toxicities were 6% and 6.3%, respectively. No grade 4 GI or GU late toxicity was observed.
These medium-term results demonstrate a good tolerance of high-dose image-guided IMRT. However, further follow-up is needed to confirm the long-term treatment outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3493327  PMID: 22770471
Image-guided radiotherapy; Prostate cancer; Biochemical control; Toxicity
20.  Low-Grade Clear Cell Carcinoma with Myoepithelial Features in the Submandibular Gland 
Clear cell carcinoma is rarely found in the salivary gland. It is classified as a low-grade carcinoma. This case demonstrates a low-grade clear cell carcinoma with myoepithelial features in the submandibular gland which differs from hyalinizing clear cell carcinoma and epithelial-myoepithelial carcinoma. A 32-year-old man presented with a 7 month history of left submandibular swelling. Left submandibular gland excision and left-sided supra-omohyoid neck dissection were performed. Microscopically, the tumor was circumscribed and composed predominantly of cords and nests of clear ovoid cells, set in a densely hyalinizing stroma. These cells are diffusely immunoreactive for cytokeratin AE1/AE3 and focally reactive for vimentin and smooth muscle actin (SMA). Based on these findings, the tumor was diagnosed as “a low-grade clear cell carcinoma with myoepithelial features”. The post-operative course was uneventful and the patient is free from disease 21 month after surgery.
PMCID: PMC3146682  PMID: 22754864
Clear cell carcinoma; Myoepithelial carcinoma; Salivary gland; Hyalinizing clear cell carcinoma; Epithelial–myoepithelial carcinoma
21.  Characterization of the Modes of Binding between Human Sweet Taste Receptor and Low-Molecular-Weight Sweet Compounds 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35380.
One of the most distinctive features of human sweet taste perception is its broad tuning to chemically diverse compounds ranging from low-molecular-weight sweeteners to sweet-tasting proteins. Many reports suggest that the human sweet taste receptor (hT1R2–hT1R3), a heteromeric complex composed of T1R2 and T1R3 subunits belonging to the class C G protein–coupled receptor family, has multiple binding sites for these sweeteners. However, it remains unclear how the same receptor recognizes such diverse structures. Here we aim to characterize the modes of binding between hT1R2–hT1R3 and low-molecular-weight sweet compounds by functional analysis of a series of site-directed mutants and by molecular modeling–based docking simulation at the binding pocket formed on the large extracellular amino-terminal domain (ATD) of hT1R2. We successfully determined the amino acid residues responsible for binding to sweeteners in the cleft of hT1R2 ATD. Our results suggest that individual ligands have sets of specific residues for binding in correspondence with the chemical structures and other residues responsible for interacting with multiple ligands.
PMCID: PMC3335050  PMID: 22536376
22.  High Phosphorus Diet-Induced Changes in NaPi-IIb Phosphate Transporter Expression in the Rat Kidney: DNA Microarray Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29483.
The mechanism by which phosphorus levels are maintained in the body was investigated by analyzing changes in gene expression in the rat kidney following administration of a high phosphorus (HP) diet. Male Wistar rats were divided into two groups and fed a diet containing 0.3% (control) or 1.2% (HP) phosphorous for 24 days. Phosphorous retention was not significantly increased in HP rats, but fractional excretion of phosphorus was significantly increased in the HP group compared to controls, with an excessive amount of the ingested phosphorus being passed through the body. DNA microarray analysis of kidney tissue from both groups revealed changes in gene expression profile induced by a HP diet. Among the genes that were upregulated, Gene Ontology (GO) terms related to ossification, collagen fibril organization, and inflammation and immune response were significantly enriched. In particular, there was significant upregulation of type IIb sodium-dependent phosphate transporter (NaPi-IIb) in the HP rat kidney compared to control rats. This upregulation was confirmed by in situ hybridization. Distinct signals for NaPi-IIb in both the cortex and medulla of the kidney were apparent in the HP group, while the corresponding signals were much weaker in the control group. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that NaPi-IIb localized to the basolateral side of kidney epithelial cells surrounding the urinary duct in HP rats but not in control animals. These data suggest that NaPi-IIb is upregulated in the kidney in response to the active excretion of phosphate in HP diet-fed rats.
PMCID: PMC3250443  PMID: 22235299
23.  Identification and Modulation of the Key Amino Acid Residue Responsible for the pH Sensitivity of Neoculin, a Taste-Modifying Protein 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e19448.
Neoculin occurring in the tropical fruit of Curculigo latifolia is currently the only protein that possesses both a sweet taste and a taste-modifying activity of converting sourness into sweetness. Structurally, this protein is a heterodimer consisting of a neoculin acidic subunit (NAS) and a neoculin basic subunit (NBS). Recently, we found that a neoculin variant in which all five histidine residues are replaced with alanine elicits intense sweetness at both neutral and acidic pH but has no taste-modifying activity. To identify the critical histidine residue(s) responsible for this activity, we produced a series of His-to-Ala neoculin variants and evaluated their sweetness levels using cell-based calcium imaging and a human sensory test. Our results suggest that NBS His11 functions as a primary pH sensor for neoculin to elicit taste modification. Neoculin variants with substitutions other than His-to-Ala were further analyzed to clarify the role of the NBS position 11 in the taste-modifying activity. We found that the aromatic character of the amino acid side chain is necessary to elicit the pH-dependent sweetness. Interestingly, since the His-to-Tyr variant is a novel taste-modifying protein with alternative pH sensitivity, the position 11 in NBS can be critical to modulate the pH-dependent activity of neoculin. These findings are important for understanding the pH-sensitive functional changes in proteinaceous ligands in general and the interaction of taste receptor–taste substance in particular.
PMCID: PMC3084864  PMID: 21559382
24.  Dietary flavonoids activate the constitutive androstane receptor CAR 
The constitutive androstane receptor (CAR) is known as a xeno-sensor that regulates genes involved in xenobiotic excretion and energy metabolism. This study tested a variety of polyphenols for their ability to modulate CAR activity. HepG2 cells were transfected with a CAR expression plasmid and a reporter plasmid containing the human CYP2B6 regulatory region and then treated with flavonoids, catechins and other bioactive polyphenols. Luciferase assays revealed that baicalein (5, 6, 7-OH flavone) was a potent activator of both human and mouse CAR. Catechin gallates also activated human and mouse CAR. Wild-type and CAR knockout mice were treated with baicalein and chrysin (5, 7-OH flavone), and their liver mRNA was analyzed by real-time PCR. A significant increase in cyp2b10 mRNA content was observed only in wild-type mice fed chrysin. These results suggest that dietary flavonoids regulate CAR activity and thereby accelerate both detoxification and energy metabolism.
PMCID: PMC2833343  PMID: 20099825
flavonoid; catechin; chrysin; constitutive androstane receptor; pregnane X receptor; cyp2b10; detoxification; energy metabolism
25.  Calpain 8/nCL-2 and Calpain 9/nCL-4 Constitute an Active Protease Complex, G-Calpain, Involved in Gastric Mucosal Defense 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(7):e1001040.
Calpains constitute a superfamily of Ca2+-dependent cysteine proteases, indispensable for various cellular processes. Among the 15 mammalian calpains, calpain 8/nCL-2 and calpain 9/nCL-4 are predominantly expressed in the gastrointestinal tract and are restricted to the gastric surface mucus (pit) cells in the stomach. Possible functions reported for calpain 8 are in vesicle trafficking between ER and Golgi, and calpain 9 are implicated in suppressing tumorigenesis. These highlight that calpains 8 and 9 are regulated differently from each other and from conventional calpains and, thus, have potentially important, specific functions in the gastrointestinal tract. However, there is no direct evidence implicating calpain 8 or 9 in human disease, and their properties and physiological functions are currently unknown. To address their physiological roles, we analyzed mice with mutations in the genes for these calpains, Capn8 and Capn9. Capn8−/− and Capn9−/− mice were fertile, and their gastric mucosae appeared normal. However, both mice were susceptible to gastric mucosal injury induced by ethanol administration. Moreover, the Capn8−/− stomach showed significant decreases in both calpains 9 and 8, and the same was true for Capn9−/−. Consistent with this finding, in the wild-type stomach, calpains 8 and 9 formed a complex we termed “G-calpain,” in which both were essential for activity. This is the first example of a “hybrid” calpain complex. To address the physiological relevance of the calpain 8 proteolytic activity, we generated calpain 8:C105S “knock-in” (Capn8CS/CS) mice, which expressed a proteolytically inactive, but structurally intact, calpain 8. Although, unlike the Capn8−/− stomach, that of the Capn8CS/CS mice expressed a stable and active calpain 9, the mice were susceptible to ethanol-induced gastric injury. These results provide the first evidence that both of the gastrointestinal-tract-specific calpains are essential for gastric mucosal defense, and they point to G-calpain as a potential target for gastropathies caused by external stresses.
Author Summary
The continuous or improper ingestion of irritants, including alcohol, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and Helicobacter pylori, often leads to serious gastropathies, affecting a wide range of people. A complex gastric defense system helps protect against these threats, for example by secreting mucus. Here we report that two gastrointestinal-tract-specific calpains, calpain 8/nCL-2 and calpain 9/nCL-4, are involved in the mucosal defense against stress-induced gastropathies. Calpains are Ca2+-dependent cytosolic proteases that are indispensable for various cellular processes. Improper calpain activities can result in death or serious disorders, such as muscular dystrophies and lissencephaly, although no role for calpains in gastrointestinal diseases has been reported. Here we show that mice with mutations in the genes for calpains 8 and 9 are susceptible to alcohol-induced gastric injury. Moreover, these calpains form a stable complex, in which both molecules are essential for activity. Thus, human calpains 8 and 9 may contribute to the stomach's susceptibility to stress caused by irritants such as alcohol. Indeed, some reported human single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in these calpains are predicted to compromise their proteolytic activity. Our mutant mice provide unique animal models for potential human gastropathies caused by such SNPs.
PMCID: PMC2912385  PMID: 20686710

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