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1.  Low frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation targeted to PMC followed by M1 modulates excitability differently from PMC or M1 stimulation alone 
The excitability of primary motor cortex (M1) can be modulated by applying low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over M1 or premotor cortex (PMC). A comparison of inhibitory effect between the two locations has been reported with inconsistent results. This study compared the response secondary to rTMS applied over M1, PMC and a combined PMC+M1 stimulation approach which first targets stimulation over PMC then M1.
Materials and Methods
Ten healthy participants were recruited for a randomized, cross-over design with a 1-week wash-out between visits. Each visit consisted of a pre-test, an rTMS intervention and a post-test. Outcome measures included short interval intracortical inhibition (SICI), intracortical facilitation (ICF) and cortical silent period (CSP). Participants received one of the three interventions in random order at each visit including: 1-Hz rTMS at 90% of resting motor threshold to: M1 (1200 pulses), PMC (1200 pulses) and PMC+M1 (600 pulses each, 1200 total).
PMC+M1 stimulation resulted in significantly greater inhibition than the other locations for ICF (P = 0.005) and CSP (P < 0.001); for SICI, increased inhibition (group effect) was not observed after any of the three interventions and there was no significant difference between the three interventions.
The results indicate that PMC+M1 stimulation may modulate brain excitability differently from PMC or M1 alone. CSP was the assessment measure most sensitive to changes in inhibition and was able to distinguish between different inhibitory protocols. This work presents a novel procedure that may have positive implications for therapeutic interventions.
PMCID: PMC5154674  PMID: 26307511
neuromodulation; repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation; primary motor cortex; premotor cortex; brain excitability
2.  Magnesium alloy covered stent for treatment of a lateral aneurysm model in rabbit common carotid artery: An in vivo study 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:37401.
Magnesium alloy covered stents have rarely been used in the common carotid artery (CCA). We evaluated the long-term efficacy of magnesium alloy covered stents in a lateral aneurysm model in rabbit CCA. Magnesium alloy covered stents (group A, n = 7) or Willis covered stents (group B, n = 5) were inserted in 12 New Zealand White rabbits and they were followed up for 12 months. The long-term feasibility for aneurysm occlusion was studied through angiograms; the changes in vessel area and lumen area were assessed with IVUS. Complete aneurysmal occlusion was achieved in all aneurysms. Angiography showed that the diameter of the stented CCA in group A at 6 and 12 months was significantly greater than the diameter immediately after stent placement. On intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) examination, the mean lumen area of the stented CCA in group A was significantly greater at 6 and 12 months than that immediately after stent placement; the mean lumen area was also significantly greater in group A than in group B at the same time points. The magnesium alloy covered stents proved to be an effective approach for occlusion of lateral aneurysm in the rabbit CCA; it provides distinct advantages that are comparable to that obtained with the Willis covered stent.
PMCID: PMC5116623  PMID: 27869217
3.  In-Depth Dissection of the P133R Mutation in Steroid 5β-Reductase (AKR1D1): A Molecular Basis of Bile Acid Deficiency 
Biochemistry  2015;54(41):6343-6351.
Human steroid-5β-reductase (aldo-keto reductase 1D1, AKR1D1) stereospecifically reduces Δ4-3-ketosteroids to 5β-dihydrosteroids and is essential for steroid hormone metabolism and bile acid biosynthesis. Genetic defects in AKR1D1 cause bile acid deficiency that leads to life threatening neonatal hepatitis and cholestasis. The disease-associated P133R mutation caused significant decreases in catalytic efficiency with both the representative steroid (cortisone) and the bile acid precursor (7α-hydroxycholest-4-en-3-one) substrates. Pro133 is a second shell residue to the steroid binding channel and is distal to both the cofactor binding site and the catalytic center. Strikingly, the P133R mutation caused over a 40-fold increase in Kd values for the NADP(H) cofactors and increased the rate of release of NADP+ from the enzyme by 2 orders of magnitude when compared to the wild type enzyme. By contrast the effect of the mutation on Kd values for steroids were 10-fold or less. The reduced affinity for the cofactor suggests that the mutant exists largely in the less stable cofactor-free form in the cell. Using stopped-flow spectroscopy, a significant reduction in the rate of the chemical step was observed in multiple turnover reactions catalyzed by the P133R mutant, possibly due to the altered position of NADPH. Thus, impaired NADPH binding and hydride transfer is the molecular basis for bile acid deficiency in patients with the P133R mutation. Results revealed that optimal cofactor binding is vulnerable to distant structural perturbation, which may apply to other disease-associated mutations in AKR1D1, all of which occur at conserved residues and are unstable.
PMCID: PMC4696769  PMID: 26418565
4.  Exploiting endogenous fibrocartilage stem cells to regenerate cartilage and repair joint injury 
Nature Communications  2016;7:13073.
Tissue regeneration using stem cell-based transplantation faces many hurdles. Alternatively, therapeutically exploiting endogenous stem cells to regenerate injured or diseased tissue may circumvent these challenges. Here we show resident fibrocartilage stem cells (FCSCs) can be used to regenerate and repair cartilage. We identify FCSCs residing within the superficial zone niche in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) condyle. A single FCSC spontaneously generates a cartilage anlage, remodels into bone and organizes a haematopoietic microenvironment. Wnt signals deplete the reservoir of FCSCs and cause cartilage degeneration. We also show that intra-articular treatment with the Wnt inhibitor sclerostin sustains the FCSC pool and regenerates cartilage in a TMJ injury model. We demonstrate the promise of exploiting resident FCSCs as a regenerative therapeutic strategy to substitute cell transplantation that could be beneficial for patients suffering from fibrocartilage injury and disease. These data prompt the examination of utilizing this strategy for other musculoskeletal tissues.
A potentially superior tissue regenerative strategy to stem cell transplantation is modulation of endogenous stem cells. Here the authors show fibrocartilage stem cells exist in the temporomandibular joint that contribute to cartilage regeneration and can be manipulated to enhance regeneration through canonical Wnt signalling.
PMCID: PMC5062541  PMID: 27721375
5.  Lhx8 Mediated Wnt and TGFβ Pathways in Tooth Development and Regeneration 
Biomaterials  2015;63:35-46.
LIM homeobox 8 (Lhx8) is a highly conserved transcriptional factor with recently illustrated roles in cholinergic and GABAergic differentiation, and is expressed in neural crest derived craniofacial tissues during development. However, Lhx8 functions and signaling pathways are largely elusive. Here we showed that Lhx8 regulates dental mesenchyme differentiation and function via Wnt and TGFβ pathways. Lhx8 expression was restricted to dental mesenchyme from E11.5 to a peak at E14.5, and absent in dental epithelium. By reconstituting dental epithelium and mesenchyme in an E16.5 tooth organ, Lhx8 knockdown accelerated dental mesenchyme differentiation; conversely, Lhx8 overexpression attenuated dentin formation. Lhx8 overexpressed adult human dental pulp stem/progenitor cells in β-tricalcium phosphate cubes attenuated mineralized matrix production in vivo. Gene profiling revealed that postnatal dental pulp stem/progenitor cells upon Lhx8 overexpression modified several matrix related gene expression including Dspp, Cola1 and osteocalcin. Lhx8 transcriptionally activates Wnt and TGFβ pathways, and its attenuation upregulates multiple dentinogenesis genes. Together, Lhx8 regulates dentin development and regeneration by fine-turning Wnt and TGFβ signaling.
PMCID: PMC4583713  PMID: 26081866
Lhx8; dentinogenesis; transcriptional regulation; signal pathways; tooth regeneration
6.  Loss of ADAMTS4 reduces high fat diet-induced atherosclerosis and enhances plaque stability in ApoE−/− mice 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:31130.
Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by formation of lipid-rich plaques on the inner walls of arteries. ADAMTS4 (a disintegrin-like and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs-4) is a secreted proteinase that regulates versican turnover in the arterial wall and atherosclerotic plaques. Recent reports indicated elevated ADAMTS4 level in human atherosclerotic plaques and in the plasma of acute coronary syndrome patients. Nevertheless, whether increased ADAMTS4 is a consequence of atherosclerosis or ADAMTS4 has a causal role in atherogenesis remains unknown. In this work, we investigated the role of ADAMTS4 in diet induced atherosclerosis using apolipoprotein E deficient (ApoE−/−) and Adamts4 knockout mice. We show that ADAMTS4 expression increases in plaques as atherosclerosis progresses in ApoE−/− mice. ApoE−/−Adamts4−/− double knockout mice presented a significant reduction in plaque burden at 18 weeks of age. Loss of ADAMTS4 lead to a more stable plaque phenotype with a significantly reduced plaque vulnerability index characterized by reduced lipid content and macrophages accompanied with a significant increase in smooth muscle cells, collagen deposition and fibrotic cap thickness. The reduced atherosclerosis is accompanied by an altered plasma inflammatory cytokine profile. These results demonstrate for the first time that ADAMTS4 contributes to diet induced atherosclerosis in ApoE−/− mice.
PMCID: PMC4974561  PMID: 27491335
7.  Promiscuity and diversity in 3-ketosteroid reductases 
Many steroid hormones contain a Δ4-3-ketosteroid functionality that undergoes sequential reduction by 5α- or 5β- steroid reductases to produce 5α- or 5β-dihydrosteroids; and a subsequent 3-keto-reduction to produce a series of isomeric tetrahydrosteroids. Apart from steroid 5α-reductase all the remaining enzymes involved in the two step reduction process in humans belong to the aldo-keto reductase (AKR) superfamily. The enzymes involved in 3-ketosteroid reduction are AKR1C1–AKR1C4. These enzymes are promiscuous and also catalyze 20-keto- and 17-keto-steroid reduction. Interest in these reactions exist since they regulate steroid hormone metabolism in the liver, and in steroid target tissues, they may regulate steroid hormone receptor occupancy. In addition many of the dihydrosteroids are not biologically inert. The same enzymes are also involved in the metabolism of synthetic steroids e.g., hormone replacement therapeutics, contraceptive agents and inhaled glucocorticoids, and may regulate drug efficacy at their cognate receptors. This article reviews these reactions and the structural basis for substrate diversity in AKR1C1–AKR1C4, ketosteroid reductases.
This article is part of a Special Issue entitled ‘Steroid/Sterol signaling’.
PMCID: PMC4458445  PMID: 25500069
Steroid hormones; Allopregnanolone; Steroid conjugates; Tibolone; Norethynodrel
8.  The Rate-determining Steps of Aldo-keto Reductases (AKRs), a Study on Human Steroid 5β-Reductase (AKR1D1) 
Aldo-keto reductases (AKRs) are an expanding family of NAD(P)(H)-dependent oxidoreductases that catalyze the reduction of either carbonyl groups or α,β-unsaturated ketones on a variety of endogenous and exogenous substrates. The enzymes catalyze a sequential ordered bi-bi kinetic mechanism, in which cofactor is bound first and released last. Using human steroid 5β-reductase (AKR1D1) as a representative enzyme, the influence of substrate structure on the rate-limiting steps of AKR catalysis has been previously determined. The rate of the chemistry step was found to differ by two orders of magnitude when different steroid substrates were used in single turnover experiments with AKR1D1. This difference was reflected in multiple turnover experiments. C17-C21 steroid substrates exhibited a fast chemistry step followed by slow product release as suggested by “burst” phase kinetics. By contrast, C27 steroids have a slower chemical step that determines the rate of the reaction and “burst-phase” kinetics are no longer observed. Here we present single turnover kinetic experiments and find that they support the existence of two different binding poses for fast substrates due to their biphasic nature. We also re-interpret the loss of “burst-phase” kinetics in the multiple turnover experiments as due to long range effects of the steroid side-chain interacting with distal parts of the steroid pocket to perturb the reaction trajectory for hydride transfer and thus reduce kcat. The ability of steroid structure and hence binding pose to influence rate determination in steroid transforming AKRs is discussed as a general phenomenon.
PMCID: PMC4414691  PMID: 25500266
Pre-steady state kinetics; hydride transfer; cofactor release. bile-acids; steroid hormones
9.  Screening Baccharin Analogs as Selective Inhibitors Against Type 5 17β-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase (AKR1C3) 
Aldo-keto reductase 1C3 (AKR1C3), also known as type 5 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, is a downstream steroidogenic enzyme and converts androgen precursors to the potent androgen receptor ligands: testosterone and 5α-dihydrotestosterone. Studies have shown that AKR1C3 is involved in the development of castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) and that it is a rational drug target for the treatment of CRPC. Baccharin, a component of Brazilian propolis, has been observed to exhibit a high inhibitory potency and selectivity for AKR1C3 over other AKR1C isoforms and is a promising lead compound for developing more potent and selective inhibitors. Here, we report the screening of fifteen baccharin analogs as selective inhibitors against AKR1C3 versus AKR1C2 (type 3 3α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase). Among these analogs, the inhibitory activity and selectivity of thirteen compounds were evaluated for the first time. The substitution of the 4-dihydrocinnamoyloxy group of baccharin by an acetate group displayed nanomolar inhibitory potency (IC50: 440 nM) and a 102-fold selectivity over AKR1C2. By contrast, when the cinnamic acid group of baccharin was esterified, there was a dramatic decrease in potency and selectivity for AKR1C3 in comparison to baccharin. Low or sub- micromolar inhibition was observed when the 3-prenyl group of baccharin was removed, and the selectivity over AKR1C2 was low. Although unsubstituted baccharin was still the most potent (IC50: 100 nM) and selective inhibitor for AKR1C3, these data provide structure-activity relationships required for the optimization of new baccharin analogs. They suggest that the carboxylate group on cinnamic acid, the prenyl group, and either retention of 4′-dihydrocinnamoyloxy group or acetate substituent on cinnamic acid are important to maintain the high potency and selectivity for AKR1C3.
PMCID: PMC4414711  PMID: 25555457
castration resistant prostate cancer; androgen; androgen receptor signaling
10.  MLL-AF9– and HOXA9-mediated acute myeloid leukemia stem cell self-renewal requires JMJD1C 
Self-renewal is a hallmark of both hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and leukemia stem cells (LSCs); therefore, the identification of mechanisms that are required for LSC, but not HSC, function could provide therapeutic opportunities that are more effective and less toxic than current treatments. Here, we employed an in vivo shRNA screen and identified jumonji domain–containing protein JMJD1C as an important driver of MLL-AF9 leukemia. Using a conditional mouse model, we showed that loss of JMJD1C substantially decreased LSC frequency and caused differentiation of MLL-AF9– and homeobox A9–driven (HOXA9-driven) leukemias. We determined that JMJD1C directly interacts with HOXA9 and modulates a HOXA9-controlled gene-expression program. In contrast, loss of JMJD1C led to only minor defects in blood homeostasis and modest effects on HSC self-renewal. Together, these data establish JMJD1C as an important mediator of MLL-AF9– and HOXA9-driven LSC function that is largely dispensable for HSC function.
PMCID: PMC4767347  PMID: 26878175
11.  Transcription of follicle-stimulating hormone subunit genes is modulated by porcine LIM homeobox transcription factors, LHX2 and LHX3 
The LIM-homeobox transcription factors LHX2 and LHX3s (LHX3a and LHX3b) are thought to be involved in regulating the pituitary glycoprotein hormone subunit genes Cga and Fshβ. These two factors show considerable differences in their amino acid sequences for DNA binding and protein-protein interactions and in their vital function in pituitary development. Hence, we compared the DNA binding properties and transcriptional activities of Cga and Fshβ between LHX2 and LHX3s. A gel mobility shift assay for approximately 1.1 kb upstream of Cga and 2.0 kb upstream of Fshβ varied in binding profiles between LHX2 and LHX3s. DNase I footprinting revealed DNA binding sites in 8 regions of the Cga promoter for LHX2 and LHX3s with small differences in the binding range and strength. In the Fshβ promoter, 14 binding sites were identified for LHX2 and LHX3, respectively. There were alternative binding sites to either gene in addition to similar differences observed in the Cga promoter. The transcriptional activities of LHX2 and LHX3s according to a reporter assay showed cell-type dependent activity with repression in the pituitary gonadotrope lineage LβT2 cells and stimulation in Chinese hamster ovary lineage CHO cells. Reactivity of LHX2 and LHX3s was observed in all regions, and differences were observed in the 5'-upstream region of Fshβ. However, immunohistochemistry showed that LHX2 resides in a small number of gonadotropes in contrast to LHX3. Thus, LHX3 mainly controls Cga and Fshβ expression.
PMCID: PMC4919287  PMID: 26853788
Gene regulation; Glycoprotein hormone; LHX2; LHX3; LIM-homeodomain; Pituitary
12.  Electron transfer by human wild-type and A287P mutant P450 oxidoreductase assessed by transient kinetics: functional basis of P450 oxidoreductase deficiency 
The Biochemical journal  2015;468(1):25-31.
Cytochrome P450 oxidoreductase (POR) is a 2-flavin protein that transfers electrons from NADPH via its FAD and FMN moieties to all microsomal cytochrome P450 enzymes, including steroidogenic and drug-metabolizing P450s. Defects in the POR gene can cause POR deficiency (PORD), manifested clinically by disordered steroidogenesis, genital anomalies and skeletal malformations. We examined the POR mutant A287P, which is the most frequent cause of PORD in patients of European ancestry and partially disrupts most P450 activities in vitro. Flavin content analysis showed that A287P is deficient in FAD and FMN binding, although the mutation site is distant from the binding sites of both flavins. Externally added flavin partially restored the cytochrome c reductase activity of A287P, suggesting that flavin therapy may be useful for this frequent form of PORD. Transient kinetic dissection of the reaction of POR with NADPH and the reduction in cytochrome c by POR using stopped-flow techniques revealed defects in individual electron transfer steps mediated by A287P. A287P had impaired ability to accept electrons from NADPH, but was capable of a fast FMN ➔ cytochrome c electron donation reaction. Thus the reduced rates of P450 activities with A287P may be due to deficient flavin and impaired electron transfer from NADPH.
PMCID: PMC4692368  PMID: 25728647
adrenal hyperplasia; cytochrome P450; molecular basis of disease; mutation; steroid
13.  Prognostic Significance of Molecular Analysis of Peritoneal Fluid for Patients with Gastric Cancer: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(3):e0151608.
Accurately distinguishing serosal invasion in patients with gastric cancer (GC) prior to surgery can be difficult. Molecular analysis of peritoneal fluid (MAPF) for free cancer cells with higher sensitivity than other methods; however, its prognostic value for GC remains controversial, precluding its application in clinical practice.
PubMed, EMBASE and other databases were systematically searched. Thirty-one studies were eligible for the meta-analysis. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were pooled for overall survival (OS), disease-free survival (DFS) and peritoneal recurrence-free survival (PRF).
The current meta-analysis focused on patients with GC and negative cytological diagnoses. The results showed that positive MAPF status (MAPF+) led to poorer prognoses for OS (HR 2.59, 95% CI 1.99–3.37), DFS (HR 4.92, 95% CI 3.28–7.37) and PRF (HR 2.81, 95% CI 2.12–3.72) compared with negative MAPF status (MAPF-). Moreover, among the patients with GC who received curative treatment, the MAPF+ patients had poorer prognoses for OS (HR 3.27, 95% CI 2.49–4.29), DFS (HR 3.90, 95% CI 2.74–5.57) and PRF (HR 5.45, 95% CI 3.70–8.03). A meta-analysis of multivariate-adjusted HRs demonstrated that MAPF+ status was an independent prognostic factor for patients with GC who underwent curative treatment (OS: HR 2.19, 95% CI 1.47–3.28; PRF: HR 3.44, 95% CI 2.01–5.87). Using the identical target genes (CEA, CEA/CK20) as molecular markers, the patients with GC who were MAPF+ had significantly worse prognoses for OS (CEA: HR 3.03, 95% CI 2.29–4.01; CEA/CK20: HR 4.24, 95% CI 2.42–7.40), DFS (CEA: HR 3.99, 95% CI 2.24–7.12; CEA/CK20: HR 4.31, 95% CI 1.49–2.48) and PRF (CEA: HR 4.45, 95% CI 2.72–7.31; CEA/CK20: HR 6.46, 95% CI 3.62–11.55) than the patients who were MAPF-.
The above results demonstrate that MAPF could be a prognostic indicator for patients with GC who have a negative cytological diagnosis and/or are receiving curative treatment. MAPF could provide clinicians with additional prognostic information that could aid in developing individualized treatment plans prior to surgery. The widely used target genes CEA, CEA/CK20 were confirmed to be valuable MAPF markers for predicting the prognosis of GC.
PMCID: PMC4795629  PMID: 26986965
14.  Case report of vasovagal syncope associated with single pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation in a healthy adult participant 
BMC Neurology  2015;15:248.
Non-invasive brain stimulation-related seizures or syncopal events are rare. However, we report on a syncopal event in a healthy female during a transcranial magnetic stimulation single-pulse testing session.
Case presentation
A 47-year-old healthy female presented for a transcranial magnetic stimulation session involving single-pulse assessment of cortical excitability. During the session, the participant appeared to have a brief event involving fainting and myoclonic jerks of the upper extremities. Orthostatic assessment was performed after the event and physician evaluation determined that this was a vasovagal syncopal event. The ethical aspects of this neurophysiology testing protocol were reviewed by the University of Minnesota Institutional Review Board (IRB), and formal IRB approval was deemed unnecessary for single-pulse assessment of healthy control participants not directly involved in a research study. Informed consent was obtained by the participant, including review of potential adverse events.
Although rare and rarely reported, vasovagal syncopal events surrounding non-invasive brain stimulation do occur. Thorough pre-screening should incorporate assessment of history of syncope and a plan for risk mitigation if such an event should occur. A complete assessment of the impact of stimulation on the autonomic nervous system is unknown. As such studies expand into patients with myriad neurologic diagnoses, further studies on this effect, in both healthy control and patient populations, are warranted. Such knowledge could contribute to identification of the optimal study participant, and improvements in techniques of stimulation administration.
Non-invasive brain stimulation, Transcranial magnetic stimulation, Vasovagal syncope, Adverse events
PMCID: PMC4666029  PMID: 26627895
15.  Na+/Ca2+ Exchanger 3 is Downregulated in the Hippocampus and Cerebrocortex of Rats with Hyperthermia-induced Convulsion 
Chinese Medical Journal  2015;128(22):3083-3087.
Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (NCX) plays a crucial role in pentylenetetrazol-induced convulsion. However, it is unclear whether NCX is critically involved in hyperthermia-induced convulsion. In this study, we examined the potential changes in NCX3 in the hippocampus and cerebrocortex of rats with hyperthermia-induced convulsion.
Twenty-one Sprague Dawley rats were randomly assigned to control group, convulsion-prone group and convulsion-resistant group (n = 7 in each group). Whole-cell patch-clamp method was used to record NCX currents. Both the Western blotting analysis and immunofluorescence labeling techniques were used to examine the expression of NCX3.
NCX currents were decreased in rats after febrile convulsion. Compared to the control group, NCX3 expression was decreased by about 40% and 50% in the hippocampus and cerebrocortex of convulsion-prone rats, respectively. Furthermore, the extent of reduction in NCX3 expression seemed to correlate with the number of seizures.
There is a significant reduction in NCX3 expression in rats with febrile convulsions. Our findings also indicate a potential link between NCX3 expression, febrile convulsion in early childhood, and adult onset of epilepsy.
PMCID: PMC4795253  PMID: 26608990
Cerebrocortex; Febrile Convulsion; Hippocampus; Hyperthermia; Na+/Ca2+ Exchanger 3
16.  Rate of steroid double-bond reduction catalysed by the human steroid 5β-reductase (AKR1D1) is sensitive to steroid structure: implications for steroid metabolism and bile acid synthesis 
The Biochemical journal  2014;462(1):163-171.
Human AKR1D1 (steroid 5β-reductase/aldo-keto reductase 1D1) catalyses the stereospecific reduction of double bonds in Δ4-3-oxosteroids, a unique reaction that introduces a 90° bend at the A/B ring fusion to yield 5β-dihydrosteroids. AKR1D1 is the only enzyme capable of steroid 5β-reduction in humans and plays critical physiological roles. In steroid hormone metabolism, AKR1D1 serves mainly to inactivate the major classes of steroid hormones. AKR1D1 also catalyses key steps of the biosynthetic pathway of bile acids, which regulate lipid emulsification and cholesterol homoeostasis. Interestingly, AKR1D1 displayed a 20-fold variation in the kcat values, with steroid hormone substrates (e.g. aldosterone, testosterone and cortisone) having significantly higher kcat values than steroids with longer side chains (e.g. 7α-hydroxycholestenone, a bile acid precursor). Transient kinetic analysis revealed striking variations up to two orders of magnitude in the rate of the chemistry step (kchem), which resulted in different rate determining steps for the fast and slow substrates. By contrast, similar Kd values were observed for representative fast and slow substrates, suggesting similar rates of release for different steroid products. The release of NADP+ was shown to control the overall turnover for fast substrates, but not for slow substrates. Despite having high kchem values with steroid hormones, the kinetic control of AKR1D1 is consistent with the enzyme catalysing the slowest step in the catabolic sequence of steroid hormone transformation in the liver. The inherent slowness of the conversion of the bile acid precursor by AKR1D1 is also indicative of a regulatory role in bile acid synthesis.
PMCID: PMC4163838  PMID: 24894951
bile acid deficiency; cholesterol metabolism; rate determining step; stopped-flow
17.  Serum Uric Acid and Renal Transplantation Outcomes: At Least 3-Year Post-transplant Retrospective Multivariate Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0133834.
Since the association of serum uric acid and kidney transplant graft outcome remains disputable, we sought to evaluate the predictive value of uric acid level for graft survival/function and the factors could affect uric acid as time varies. A consecutive cohort of five hundred and seventy three recipients transplanted during January 2008 to December 2011 were recruited. Data and laboratory values of our interest were collected at 1, 3, 6, 12, 24 and 36 months post-transplant for analysis. Cox proportional hazard model, and multiple regression equation were built to adjust for the possible confounding variables and meet our goals as appropriate. The current cohort study lasts for 41.86 ± 15.49 months. Uric acid level is proven to be negatively associated with eGFR at different time point after adjustment for age, body mass index and male gender (standardized β ranges from -0.15 to -0.30 with all P<0.001).Males with low eGFR but high level of TG were on CSA, diuretics and RAS inhibitors and experienced at least one episode of acute rejection and diabetic issue were associated with a higher mean uric acid level. Hyperuricemia was significantly an independent predictor of pure graft failure (hazard ratio=4.01, 95% CI: 1.25-12.91, P=0.02) after adjustment. But it was no longer an independent risk factor for graft loss after adjustment. Interestingly, higher triglyceride level can make incidence of graft loss (hazard ratio=1.442, for each unit increase millimoles per liter 95% CI: 1.008-2.061, P=0.045) and death (hazard ratio=1.717, 95% CI: 1.105-2.665, P=0.016) more likely. The results of our study suggest that post-transplant elevated serum uric acid level is an independent predictor of long-term graft survival and graft function. Together with the high TG level impact on poor outcomes, further investigations for therapeutic effect are needed.
PMCID: PMC4514650  PMID: 26208103
18.  LTPB2 acts as a prognostic factor and promotes progression of cervical adenocarcinoma 
Latent transforming growth factor-beta-1 binding protein-2 (LTBP-2) is a member of the fibrillin/LTBP super family of extracellular matrix proteins, found to be overexpressed in certain malignant tumors. However, the clinical significance and biological role of LTBP-2 in cervical adenocarcinoma has remains unclear. We found that the expression of LTBP2 was higher in cervical adenocarcinoma than in normal cervical epithelial tissue as assessed by immunohistochemistry. Expression of LTBP2 is related to clinical stage, cervical tumor size, depth of cervical stromal invasion and lymph node metastasis. Knockdown of LTBP2 expression can inhibit the proliferation and migration of HeLa cells. Moreover, LTBP2 knockdown affected multiple tumor-related pathway genes including: the MAPK signaling pathway, the PI3K-AKT signaling pathway, receptor tyrosine kinase signaling and the P53 pathway. Taken together, this work suggests that LTBP2 may promote the development of cervical adenocarcinoma and serve as a prognostic factor in the clinical evaluation of patients with cervical adenocarcinoma. Our findings provide a new strategy for the diagnosis and treatment of cervical adenocarcinoma.
PMCID: PMC4532742  PMID: 26279753
LTPB2; prognostic factor; cervical adenocarcinoma
19.  Hemodynamics and vasoactive substance levels during renal congestion that occurs in the anhepatic phase of liver transplantation 
AIM: To explore hemodynamics and vasoactive substance levels during renal vein congestion that occurs in the anhepatic phase of liver transplantation.
METHODS: New Zealand rabbits received ligation of the hepatic pedicle, supra-hepatic vena cava and infra-hepatic vena cava [anhepatic phase group (APH); n = 8], the renal veins (RVL; n = 8), renal veins and hepatic pedicle [with the inferior vena cava left open) (RVHP; n = 8)], or a sham operation (SOP; n = 8). Hemodynamic parameters (systolic, diastolic, and mean arterial blood pressures) and the levels of serum bradykinin (BK) and angiotensin II (ANGII) were measured at baseline (0 min), and 10 min, 20 min, 30 min, and 45 min after the surgery. Correlation analyses were performed to evaluate the associations between hemodynamic parameters and levels of vasoactive substances.
RESULTS: All experimental groups (APH, RVL, and RVHP) showed significant decreases in hemodynamic parameters (systolic, diastolic, and mean arterial blood pressures) compared to baseline levels, as well as compared to the SOP controls (P < 0.05 for all). In contrast, BK levels were significantly increased compared to baseline in the APH, RVL, and RVHP groups at all time points measured (P < 0.05 for all), whereas no change was observed in the SOP controls. There were no significant differences among the experimental groups for any measure at any time point. Further analyses revealed that systolic, diastolic, and mean arterial blood pressures were all negatively correlated with BK levels, and positively correlated with ANGII levels in the APH, RVL, and RVHP groups (P < 0.05 for all).
CONCLUSION: In the anhepatic phase of orthotopic liver transplantation, renal vein congestion significantly impacts hemodynamic parameters, which correlate with serum BK and ANGII levels.
PMCID: PMC4427669  PMID: 25987770
Hemodynamics; Renal vein congestion; Orthotopic liver transplantation; Anhepatic phase; Vasoactive substances
20.  5β-Reduced Steroids and Human Δ4-3-Ketosteroid 5β-Reductase (AKR1D1) 
Steroids  2014;83:17-26.
5β-Reduced steroids are non-planar steroids that have 90° bend in their structure to create an A/B cis-ring junction. This novel property is required for bile-acids to act as emulsifiers, but in addition 5β-reduced steroids have remarkable physiology and may act as potent tocolytic agents, endogenous cardiac glycosides, neurosteroids, and can act as ligands for orphan and membrane bound receptors. In humans there is only a single 5β-reductase gene AKR1D1, which encodes Δ4-3-ketosteroid-5β-reductase (AKR1D1). This enzyme is a member of the aldoketo reductase superfamily, but possesses an altered catalytic tetrad, in which Glu120 replaces the conserved His residue. This predominant liver enzyme generates all 5β-dihydrosteroids in the C19–C27 steroid series. Mutations exist in the AKR1D1 gene, which result in loss of protein stability and are causative in bile-acid deficiency.
PMCID: PMC3971473  PMID: 24513054
bile acid biosynthesis; steroid metabolism; enzyme mechanism; genetics
21.  Molecular differences between stromal cell populations from deciduous and permanent human teeth 
Deciduous and permanent human teeth represent an excellent model system to study aging of stromal populations. Aging is tightly connected to self-renewal and proliferation and thus, mapping potential molecular differences in these characteristics between populations constitutes an important task.
Using specifically designed microarray panels, Real-Time Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT q-PCR), Western blot, immunohistochemistry and siRNA-mediated knock down experiments, we have detected a number of molecules that were differentially expressed in dental pulp from deciduous and permanent teeth extracted from young children and adults, respectively.
Among the differentially regulated genes, high-mobility group AT-hook 2 (HMGA2), a stem cell-associated marker, stood out as a remarkable example with a robust expression in deciduous pulp cells. siRNA-mediated knock down of HMGA2 expression in cultured deciduous pulp cells caused a down-regulated expression of the pluripotency marker NANOG. This finding indicates that HMGA2 is a pulpal stem cell regulatory factor. In addition to this, we discovered that several proliferation-related genes, including CDC2A and CDK4, were up-regulated in deciduous pulp cells, while matrix genes COL1A1, fibronectin and several signaling molecules, such as VEGF, FGFr-1 and IGFr-1 were up-regulated in the pulp cells from permanent teeth.
Taken together, our data suggest that deciduous pulp cells are more robust in self- renewal and proliferation, whereas adult dental pulp cells are more capable of signaling and matrix synthesis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13287-015-0056-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4417277  PMID: 25927523
22.  Unsaturation of Very-Long-Chain Ceramides Protects Plant from Hypoxia-Induced Damages by Modulating Ethylene Signaling in Arabidopsis 
PLoS Genetics  2015;11(3):e1005143.
Lipid remodeling is crucial for hypoxic tolerance in animals, whilst little is known about the hypoxia-induced lipid dynamics in plants. Here we performed a mass spectrometry-based analysis to survey the lipid profiles of Arabidopsis rosettes under various hypoxic conditions. We observed that hypoxia caused a significant increase in total amounts of phosphatidylserine, phosphatidic acid and oxidized lipids, but a decrease in phosphatidylcholine (PC) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE). Particularly, significant gains in the polyunsaturated species of PC, PE and phosphatidylinositol, and losses in their saturated and mono-unsaturated species were evident during hypoxia. Moreover, hypoxia led to a remarkable elevation of ceramides and hydroxyceramides. Disruption of ceramide synthases LOH1, LOH2 and LOH3 enhanced plant sensitivity to dark submergence, but displayed more resistance to submergence under light than wild type. Consistently, levels of unsaturated very-long-chain (VLC) ceramide species (22:1, 24:1 and 26:1) predominantly declined in the loh1, loh2 and loh3 mutants under dark submergence. In contrast, significant reduction of VLC ceramides in the loh1-1 loh3-1 knockdown double mutant and lacking of VLC unsaturated ceramides in the ads2 mutants impaired plant tolerance to both dark and light submergences. Evidence that C24:1-ceramide interacted with recombinant CTR1 protein and inhibited its kinase activity in vitro, enhanced ER-to-nucleus translocation of EIN2-GFP and stabilization of EIN3-GFP in vivo, suggests a role of ceramides in modulating CTR1-mediated ethylene signaling. The dark submergence-sensitive phenotypes of loh mutants were rescued by a ctr1-1 mutation. Thus, our findings demonstrate that unsaturation of VLC ceramides is a protective strategy for hypoxic tolerance in Arabidopsis.
Author Summary
Hypoxia is one of the most important abiotic stresses of worldwide concern that determines the crop productivity and the natural distribution of plant species. Flooding events such as root waterlogging and submergence strongly affect diffusion of gasses into plant cells, which eventually leads to hypoxia and carbohydrate shortages in terrestrial plants. The gaseous hormone ethylene is considered as the primary determinant of hypoxia response in plants. In particular, the Group VII ethylene-responsive factors (ERFs) have been demonstrated to be master regulators for oxygen sensing through an N-end rule protein degradation mechanism. Recent investigations have suggested that lipid molecules such VLC ceramides may play crucial roles in hypoxia signaling in both animal and plant cells. Here, we identified the unsaturated VLC ceramide species including C22:1-, C24:1- and C26:1-Cers which were essential for hypoxia response by interacting with CTR1 protein, inhibiting its kinase activity, and modulating subsequent ethylene signaling in Arabidopsis. The dynamic unsaturation of VLC ceramides is likely to serve as a novel protective strategy for enhancing plant tolerance to the frequent environmental stresses, including flooding.
PMCID: PMC4379176  PMID: 25822663
23.  Survey of Encoding and Decoding of Visual Stimulus via FMRI: An Image Analysis Perspective 
Brain imaging and behavior  2014;8(1):7-23.
A variety of exciting scientific achievements have been made in the last few decades in brain encoding and decoding via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). This trend continues to rise in recent years, as evidenced by the increasing number of published papers in this topic and several published survey papers addressing different aspects of research issues. Essentially, these survey articles were mainly from cognitive neuroscience and neuroimaging perspectives, although computational challenges were briefly discussed. To complement existing survey articles, this paper focuses on the survey of the variety of image analysis methodologies, such as neuroimage registration, fMRI signal analysis, ROI (regions of interest) selection, machine learning algorithms, reproducibility analysis, structural and functional connectivity, and natural image analysis, which were employed in previous brain encoding/decoding research works. This paper also provides discussions of potential limitations of those image analysis methodologies and possible future improvements. It is hoped that extensive discussions of image analysis issues could contribute to the advancements of the increasingly important brain encoding/decoding field.
PMCID: PMC4245050  PMID: 23793982
fMRI; encoding; decoding; vision; visual stimulus
24.  Mixed effectiveness of rTMS and retraining in the treatment of focal hand dystonia 
Though the pathophysiology of dystonia remains uncertain, two primary factors implicated in the development of dystonic symptoms are excessive cortical excitability and impaired sensorimotor processing. The aim of this study was to determine the functional efficacy of an intervention combining repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and sensorimotor retraining. A randomized, single-subject, multiple baseline design with crossover was used to examine participants with focal hand dystonia (FHD) (n = 9). Intervention: 5 days rTMS + sensorimotor retraining (SMR) vs. Five days rTMS + control therapy (CTL) (which included stretching and massage). The rTMS was applied to the premotor cortex at 1 Hz at 80% resting motor threshold for 1200 pulses. For sensorimotor retraining, a subset of the Learning-based Sensorimotor Training program was followed. Each session in both groups consisted of rTMS followed immediately by 30 min of the therapy intervention (SMR or CTL). Contrary to our hypothesis, group analyses revealed no additional benefit from the SMR training vs. CTL. When analyzed across group however, there was significant improvement from the first baseline assessment in several measures, including tests of sensory ability and self-rated changes. The patient rated improvements were accompanied by a moderate effect size suggesting clinical meaningfulness. These results provide encouragement for further investigation of rTMS in FHD with a need to optimize a secondary intervention and determine likely responders vs. non-responders.
PMCID: PMC4496570  PMID: 26217209
transcranial magnetic stimulation; writer's cramp; rehabilitation; sensory; human; neuromodulation
25.  Wnt5a regulates dental follicle stem/progenitor cells of the periodontium 
Dental follicle gives rise to one or several tissues of the periodontium including the periodontal ligament, cementum and/or alveolar bone. Whether Wnt5a is expressed in the postnatal periodontium or regulates dental follicle stem/progenitor cells is unknown.
Dental follicle stem/progenitor cells were isolated from postnatal day 1 (p1) to p11 from rat mandibular first molars. Immunolocalization mapped Wnt5a expression in the alveolar bone, periodontal ligament, and the developing ameloblast and odontoblast layers. Mononucleated and adherent cells were isolated from p7 dental follicle. Wnt5a was overexpressed in dental follicle stem/progenitor cells to study their proliferation, osteogenic differentiation and migration behavior, with subpopulations of native dental follicle stem/progenitor cells as controls, using real-time PCR (Taqman), Lenti-viral transfection, Western blotting and immunofluorescence.
Wnt5a was expressed consistently in p1 to p11 rat peridontium. Native, p7 dental follicle stem/progenitor cells had modest ability to mineralize in the tested 14 days. Even in chemically defined osteogenesis medium, dental follicle stem/progenitor cells only showed modest mineralization. Upon addition of 300 ng/mL Wnt5a protein in osteogenesis medium, dental follicle stem/progenitor cells displayed mineralization that was still unremarkable. Chemically induced or Wnt5a-induced mineralization of dental follicle cells only occurred sparsely. Combination of Wnt5a with 100 ng/mL BMP2 finally prompted dental follicle stem/progenitor cells to produce robust mineralization with elevated expression of Runx2, alkaline phosphatase, collagen 1α1 and osteocalcin. Thus, native dental follicle stem/progenitor cells or some of their fractions may be somewhat modest in mineralization. Strikingly, Wnt5a protein significantly augmented RANKL ligand, suggesting putative regulatory roles of dental follicle stem/progenitor cells for the monocyte/osteoclast lineage and potential involvement in alveolar bone remodeling and/or resorption. P-Jnk1/2 was activated in Wnt5a overexpressed dental follicle cells; conversely, exposure to SP600125, a c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) inhibitor attenuated Runx2, collagen 1α1 and osteocalcin expression either in the presence or absence of Wnt5a. Wnt5a overexpression in dental follicle stem/progenitor cells significantly reduced their proliferation rates, but robustly augmented their migration capacity.
These findings provide a glimpse of Wnt5a’s putative roles in dental follicle stem/progenitor cells and the periodontium with implications in periodontal disease, tooth eruption, dental implant bone healing and orthodontic tooth movement.
PMCID: PMC4446079  PMID: 25510849

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