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1.  In Vivo Function and Evolution of the Eutherian-Specific Pluripotency Marker UTF1 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68119.
Embryogenesis in placental mammals is sustained by exquisite interplay between the embryo proper and placenta. UTF1 is a developmentally regulated gene expressed in both cell lineages. Here, we analyzed the consequence of loss of the UTF1 gene during mouse development. We found that homozygous UTF1 mutant newborn mice were significantly smaller than wild-type or heterozygous mutant mice, suggesting that placental insufficiency caused by the loss of UTF1 expression in extra-embryonic ectodermal cells at least in part contributed to this phenotype. We also found that the effects of loss of UTF1 expression in embryonic stem cells on their pluripotency were very subtle. Genome structure and sequence comparisons revealed that the UTF1 gene exists only in placental mammals. Our analyses of a family of genes with homology to UTF1 revealed a possible mechanism by which placental mammals have evolved the UTF1 genes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0068119
PMCID: PMC3706607  PMID: 23874519
2.  Bioluminescence Imaging of β Cells and Intrahepatic Insulin Gene Activity under Normal and Pathological Conditions 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60411.
In diabetes research, bioluminescence imaging (BLI) has been applied in studies of β-cell impairment, development, and islet transplantation. To develop a mouse model that enables noninvasive imaging of β cells, we generated a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) transgenic mouse in which a mouse 200-kbp genomic fragment comprising the insulin I gene drives luciferase expression (Ins1-luc BAC transgenic mouse). BLI of mice was performed using the IVIS Spectrum system after intraperitoneal injection of luciferin, and the bioluminescence signal from the pancreatic region analyzed. When compared with MIP-Luc-VU mice [FVB/N-Tg(Ins1-luc)VUPwrs/J] expressing luciferase under the control of the 9.2-kbp mouse insulin I promoter (MIP), the bioluminescence emission from Ins1-luc BAC transgenic mice was enhanced approximately 4-fold. Streptozotocin-treated Ins1-luc BAC transgenic mice developed severe diabetes concomitant with a sharp decline in the BLI signal intensity in the pancreas. Conversely, mice fed a high-fat diet for 8 weeks showed an increase in the signal, reflecting a decrease or increase in the β-cell mass. Although the bioluminescence intensity of the islets correlated well with the number of isolated islets in vitro, the intensity obtained from a living mouse in vivo did not necessarily reflect an absolute quantification of the β-cell mass under pathological conditions. On the other hand, adenovirus-mediated gene transduction of β-cell-related transcription factors in Ins1-luc BAC transgenic mice generated luminescence from the hepatic region for more than 1 week. These results demonstrate that BLI in Ins1-luc BAC transgenic mice provides a noninvasive method of imaging islet β cells and extrapancreatic activity of the insulin gene in the liver under normal and pathological conditions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060411
PMCID: PMC3617225  PMID: 23593212
3.  Generation of Naive-Like Porcine-Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Capable of Contributing to Embryonic and Fetal Development 
Stem Cells and Development  2012;22(3):473-482.
In pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), there are 2 types: naive and primed. Only the naive type has the capacity for producing chimeric offspring. Mouse PSCs are naive, but human PSCs are in the primed state. Previously reported porcine PSCs appear in the primed state. In this study, putative naive porcine-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) were generated. Porcine embryonic fibroblasts were transduced with retroviral vectors expressing Yamanaka's 4 genes. Emergent colonies were propagated in the presence of porcine leukemia inhibitory factor (pLIF) and forskolin. The cells expressed pluripotency markers and formed embryoid bodies, which gave rise to cell types from all 3 embryonic germ layers. The naive state of the cells was demonstrated by pLIF dependency, 2 active X chromosomes (when female), absent MHC class I expression, and characteristic gene expression profiles. The porcine iPSCs contributed to the in vitro embryonic development (11/24, 45.8%) as assessed by fluorescent markers. They also contributed to the in utero fetal development (11/71, 15.5% at day 23; 1/13, 7.7% at day 65). This is the first demonstration of macroscopic fluorescent chimeras derived from naive-like porcine PSCs, although adult chimeras remain to be produced.
doi:10.1089/scd.2012.0173
PMCID: PMC3549629  PMID: 22889279
4.  Isolation and function of mouse tissue resident vascular precursors marked by myelin protein zero 
Newly identified tissue-resident vascular precursor cells are recruited into growing vessels and contribute to vasculogenesis in adult mice.
Vasculogenesis describes the process of de novo vessel formation from vascular precursor cells. Although formation of the first major vessels, such as the dorsal aorta and cardinal veins, occurs during embryonic vasculogenesis, the contribution of precursor cell populations to postnatal vessel development is not well understood. Here, we identified a novel population of postnatal vascular precursor cells in mice. These cells express the Schwann cell protein myelin protein zero (Po) and exhibit a CD45−CD31−VEcad−c-kit+CXCR4+ surface phenotype. Po+ vascular precursors (PVPs) are recruited into the growing vasculature, and comprise a minor population of arterial endothelial cells in adult mice. Recruitment of PVPs into growing vessels is mediated by CXCL12–CXCR4 signaling, and is enhanced during vascular expansion induced by Notch inhibition. Po-specific ablation of Flk1, a receptor for VEGF, results in branching defects and insufficient arterial patterning in the retina, as well as reduced neovascularization of tumors and ischemic tissues. Thus, in postnatal mice, although growing vessels are formed primarily by angiogenesis from preexisting vessels, a minor population of arterial endothelia may be derived from tissue-resident vascular precursor cells.
doi:10.1084/jem.20102187
PMCID: PMC3092348  PMID: 21536740
5.  Flt-1 haploinsufficiency ameliorates muscular dystrophy phenotype by developmentally increased vasculature in mdx mice 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;19(21):4145-4159.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked recessive genetic disease caused by mutations in the gene coding for the protein dystrophin. Recent work demonstrates that dystrophin is also found in the vasculature and its absence results in vascular deficiency and abnormal blood flow. This induces a state of ischemia further aggravating the muscular dystrophy pathogenesis. For an effective form of therapy of DMD, both the muscle and the vasculature need to be addressed. To reveal the developmental relationship between muscular dystrophy and vasculature, mdx mice, an animal model for DMD, were crossed with Flt-1 gene knockout mice to create a model with increased vasculature. Flt-1 is a decoy receptor for vascular endothelial growth factor, and therefore both homozygous (Flt-1−/−) and heterozygous (Flt-1+/−) Flt-1 gene knockout mice display increased endothelial cell proliferation and vascular density during embryogenesis. Here, we show that Flt-1+/− and mdx:Flt-1+/− adult mice also display a developmentally increased vascular density in skeletal muscle compared with the wild-type and mdx mice, respectively. The mdx:Flt-1+/− mice show improved muscle histology compared with the mdx mice with decreased fibrosis, calcification and membrane permeability. Functionally, the mdx:Flt-1+/− mice have an increase in muscle blood flow and force production, compared with the mdx mice. Consequently, the mdx:utrophin−/−:Flt-1+/− mice display improved muscle histology and significantly higher survival rates compared with the mdx:utrophin−/− mice, which show more severe muscle phenotypes than the mdx mice. These data suggest that increasing the vasculature in DMD may ameliorate the histological and functional phenotypes associated with this disease.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddq334
PMCID: PMC2951865  PMID: 20705734
6.  The E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Activity of Trip12 Is Essential for Mouse Embryogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25871.
Protein ubiquitination is a post-translational protein modification that regulates many biological conditions [1], [2], [3], [4]. Trip12 is a HECT-type E3 ubiquitin ligase that ubiquitinates ARF and APP-BP1 [5], [6]. However, the significance of Trip12 in vivo is largely unknown. Here we show that the ubiquitin ligase activity of Trip12 is indispensable for mouse embryogenesis. A homozygous mutation in Trip12 (Trip12mt/mt) that disrupts the ubiquitin ligase activity resulted in embryonic lethality in the middle stage of development. Trip12mt/mt embryos exhibited growth arrest and increased expression of the negative cell cycle regulator p16 [7], [8], [9], [10]. In contrast, Trip12mt/mt ES cells were viable. They had decreased proliferation, but maintained both the undifferentiated state and the ability to differentiate. Trip12mt/mt ES cells had increased levels of the BAF57 protein (a component of the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex) and altered gene expression patterns. These data suggest that Trip12 is involved in global gene expression and plays an important role in mouse development.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025871
PMCID: PMC3196520  PMID: 22028794

Results 1-6 (6)