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1.  Induction of Ectopic Retina-Like Tissue by Transgenic Expression of neurogenin 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(1):e0116171.
Degeneration of retinal neurons is an underlying cause of several major types of blinding diseases, and effective therapies remain to be developed. The suppositive strategy of repopulating a degenerative retina with new cells generated onsite faces serious challenges, because the mammalian retina seems to lack the ability to regenerate itself or replace its lost neurons. We investigated the possibility of using a transcriptional factor with proneural activities to reprogram ocular tissue with regenerative capability to give rise to retinal cells. Transgenic mice were generated with DNA constructs that targeted the expression in the retinal pigment epithelium of proneural gene neurogenin1 from the promoter of Bestrophin1, or neurogenin3 from RPE65 promoter. Here we report the presence of ectopic retina-like tissue in some of the transgenic mice, young and aged. The ectopic retina-like tissue contained cells positive for photoreceptor proteins Crx, recoverin, red opsin, and rhodopsin, and cells positive for proteins that label other types of retinal neurons, including AP2α and Pax6 for amacrine cells, Otx2 for bipolar cells, and Brn3A for ganglion cells. The retina-like tissue often co-existed with darkly pigmented tissue positive for RPE proteins: cytokeratin 18, Otx2, and RPE65. The ectopic retina-like tissue was detected in the subretinal space, including two retinae co-existing in the same eye, and/or in the optic nerve or in the vicinity of the optic nerve head. On rare occasions, it was detected in the choroid and in the vicinity of the ciliary body. The presence of ectopic retina-like tissue in the transgenic mouse supports the possibility of inducing retinal regeneration in the mammalian eyes through gene-directed reprograming.
PMCID: PMC4312083  PMID: 25635399
2.  Mechanochemical regulation of oscillatory follicle cell dynamics in the developing Drosophila egg chamber 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(22):3709-3716.
In the epithelium of Drosophila during tissue elongation, contractile forces in follicle cells can oscillate. These oscillations correlate with increasing tension in the epithelium from egg chamber growth. A mathematical model is proposed to explain the observed oscillations, together with a mechanism of active regulation of cellular contractile forces.
During tissue elongation from stage 9 to stage 10 in Drosophila oogenesis, the egg chamber increases in length by ∼1.7-fold while increasing in volume by eightfold. During these stages, spontaneous oscillations in the contraction of cell basal surfaces develop in a subset of follicle cells. This patterned activity is required for elongation of the egg chamber; however, the mechanisms generating the spatiotemporal pattern have been unclear. Here we use a combination of quantitative modeling and experimental perturbation to show that mechanochemical interactions are sufficient to generate oscillations of myosin contractile activity in the observed spatiotemporal pattern. We propose that follicle cells in the epithelial layer contract against pressure in the expanding egg chamber. As tension in the epithelial layer increases, Rho kinase signaling activates myosin assembly and contraction. The activation process is cooperative, leading to a limit cycle in the myosin dynamics. Our model produces asynchronous oscillations in follicle cell area and myosin content, consistent with experimental observations. In addition, we test the prediction that removal of the basal lamina will increase the average oscillation period. The model demonstrates that in principle, mechanochemical interactions are sufficient to drive patterning and morphogenesis, independent of patterned gene expression.
PMCID: PMC4230628  PMID: 24943847
3.  Intestinal Parasite Co-infection among Pulmonary Tuberculosis Cases without Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection in a Rural County in China 
Epidemiologic studies of co-infection with tuberculosis (TB) and intestinal parasites in humans have not been extensively investigated in China. A cross-section study was conducted in a rural county of Henan Province, China. Pulmonary TB (PTB) case-patients receiving treatment for infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis and healthy controls matched for geographic area, age, and sex were surveyed by using questionnaires. Fecal and blood specimens were collected for detection of intestinal parasites, routine blood examination, and infection with human immunodeficiency virus. The chi-square test was used for univariate analysis and multivariate logistic regression models were used to adjust for potential confounding factors. A total of 369 persons with PTB and 366 healthy controls were included; all participants were negative for human immunodeficiency virus. The overall prevalence of intestinal parasites in persons with PTB was 14.9%, including intestinal protozoa (7.9%) and helminthes (7.6%). The infection spectrum of intestinal parasites was Entamoeba spp. (1.4%), Blastocystis hominis (6.2%), Trichomonas hominis (0.3%), Clonorchis sinensis (0.3%), Ascaris lumbricoides (0.5%), Trichuris trichiura (2.2%), and hookworm (4.6%). The prevalence of intestinal parasites showed no significant difference between persons with PTB and healthy controls after adjusting for potential confounding factors. There was no factor that affected infection rates for intestinal parasites between the two groups. Infection with intestinal parasites of persons with PTB was associated with female sex (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.05, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.01–4.17), body mass index ≤ 19 (AOR = 3.02, 95% CI = 1.47–6.20), and anemia (AOR = 2.43, 95% CI = 1.17–5.03). Infection of healthy controls was only associated with an annual labor time in farmlands > 2 months (AOR = 4.50, 95% CI = 2.03–10.00). In addition, there was no significant trend between rates of infection with intestinal parasites and duration of receiving treatment for infection with M. tuberculosis in persons with PTB. The prevalence of intestinal parasites was not higher in persons with PTB, and there was no evidence that PTB increased susceptibility to intestinal parasites in this study. However, for patients with PTB, women and patients with comorbidities were more likely to be infected with intestinal parasites.
PMCID: PMC3886404  PMID: 24166044
4.  Efficacy and prognostic analysis of chemoradiotherapy in patients with thoracic esophageal squamous carcinoma with cervical lymph nodal metastasis alone 
The prognostic factors of thoracic esophageal squamous carcinoma with cervical lymph nodal metastasis (CLNM) have not been specifically investigated. This study was performed to analyze the efficacy and prognostic factors of chemoradiotherapy for thoracic esophageal carcinoma with CLNM alone.
From 2002 to 2011, 139 patients with inoperable esophageal cancer who underwent chemoradiotherapy at the Sun Yat-Sen University were retrospectively analyzed. Median radiation doses were 60 Gy (range: 50–68 Gy). Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to compare overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS).
The 1- and 3-year OS rates were 68.2% and 27.9%, respectively. The 1- and 3-year PFS rates were 51.9% and 20.1%, respectively. The multivariate analysis demonstrated that response to treatment, T stage, pathological grade, and laterality of cervical lymph nodal metastases were independent prognostic factors for thoracic esophageal carcinoma with CLNM.
Concurrent chemoradiotherapy is an important and hopeful treatment option for patients with esophageal cancer with CLNM alone. Our study has revealed that response to treatment, T stage, pathological grade and laterality of cervical lymph nodal metastases are significant prognostic factors for long-term survival.
PMCID: PMC4251839  PMID: 25424871
Chemoradiotherapy; Esophageal cancer; Prognosis; Cervical lymph nodal metastasis
5.  α2β1 Integrin, GPVI Receptor, and Common FcRγ Chain on Mouse Platelets Mediate Distinct Responses to Collagen in Models of Thrombosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e114035.
Platelets express the α2β1 integrin and the glycoprotein VI (GPVI)/FcRγ complex, both collagen receptors. Understanding platelet-collagen receptor function has been enhanced through use of genetically modified mouse models. Previous studies of GPVI/FcRγ-mediated collagen-induced platelet activation were perfomed with mice in which the FcRγ subunit was genetically deleted (FcRγ−/−) or the complex was depleted. The development of α2β1−/− and GPVI−/− mice permits side-by-side comparison to address contributions of these collagen receptors in vivo and in vitro.
Approach and Results
To understand the different roles played by the α2β1 integrin, the GPVI receptor or FcRγ subunit in collagen-stimulated hemostasis and thrombosis, we compared α2β1−/−, FcRγ−/−, and GPVI−/− mice in models of endothelial injury and intravascular thrombosis in vivo and their platelets in collagen-stimulated activation in vitro. We demonstrate that both the α2β1 integrin and the GPVI receptor, but not the FcRγ subunit influence carotid artery occlusion in vivo. In contrast, the GPVI receptor and the FcRγ chain, but not the α2β1 integrin, play similar roles in intravascular thrombosis in response to soluble Type I collagen. FcRγ−/− platelets showed less attenuation of tyrosine phosphorylation of several proteins including RhoGDI when compared to GPVI−/− and wild type platelets. The difference between FcRγ−/− and GPVI−/− platelet phosphotyrosine levels correlated with the in vivo thrombosis findings.
Our data demonstrate that genetic deletion of GPVI receptor, FcRγ chain, or the α2β1 integrin changes the thrombotic potentials of these platelets to collagen dependent on the stimulus mechanism. The data suggest that the FcRγ chain may provide a dominant negative effect through modulating signaling pathways in platelets involving several tyrosine phosphorylated proteins such as RhoGDI. In addition, these findings suggest a more complex signaling network downstream of the platelet collagen receptors than previously appreciated.
PMCID: PMC4240667  PMID: 25415203
6.  Exploring the role of two interacting phosphoinositide 3-kinases of Haemonchus contortus 
Parasites & Vectors  2014;7(1):498.
Phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks) are relatively conserved and important intracellular lipid kinases involved in signalling and other biological pathways. In the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, the heterodimeric form of PI3K consists of catalytic (AGE-1) and regulatory (AAP-1) subunits. These subunits are key components of the insulin-like signalling pathway and play roles in the regulation of the entry into and exit from dauer. Although, in parasitic nematodes, similar components are proposed to regulate the transition from free-living or arrested stages to parasitic larvae, nothing is known about PI3Ks in relation to the transition of third-stage larvae (L3s) to parasitism in Haemonchus contortus.
An integrated molecular approach was used to investigate age-1 and aap-1 of H. contortus (Hc-age-1 and Hc-aap-1) in C. elegans.
The two genes Hc-age-1 and Hc-aap-1 were transcribed in all life stages, with the highest levels in the egg, infective L3 and adult female of H. contortus. The expression of these genes was localized to the intestine, contrasting the pattern of their orthologues in C. elegans (where they are expressed in both head neurons and the intestine). The yeast two-hybrid analysis demonstrated that the adaptor-binding domain of Hc-AGE-1 interacted strongly with the Hc-AAP-1; however, this complex did not rescue the function of its orthologue in age-1-deficient C. elegans.
This is the first time that the PI3K-encoding genes have been characterized from a strongylid parasitic nematode. The findings provide insights into the role of the PI3K heterodimer represented by Hc-age-1 and Hc-aap-1 in the developmental biology of H. contortus.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13071-014-0498-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4233088  PMID: 25388625
Parasitic nematode; Haemonchus contortus; age-1; aap-1; Development; Transgenesis
7.  XRCC1 Gene Polymorphisms and Glioma Risk in Chinese Population: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e111981.
Three extensively investigated polymorphisms (Arg399Gln, Arg194Trp, and Arg280His) in the X-ray repair cross-complementing group 1 (XRCC1) gene have been implicated in risk for glioma. However, the results from different studies remain inconsistent. To clarify these conflicts, we performed a quantitative synthesis of the evidence to elucidate these associations in the Chinese population.
Data were extracted from PubMed and EMBASE, with the last search up to August 21, 2014. Meta-analysis was performed by critically reviewing 8 studies for Arg399Gln (3062 cases and 3362 controls), 8 studies for Arg194Trp (3419 cases and 3680 controls), and 5 studies for Arg280His (2234 cases and 2380 controls). All of the statistical analyses were performed using the software program, STATA (version 11.0).
Our analysis suggested that both Arg399Gln and Arg194Trp polymorphisms were significantly associated with increased risk of glioma (for Arg399Gln polymorphism: Gln/Gln vs. Arg/Arg, OR = 1.82, 95% CI = 1.46–2.27, P = 0.000; Arg/Gln vs. Arg/Arg, OR = 1.25, 95% CI = 1.10–1.42, P = 0.001 and for Arg194Trp polymorphism: recessive model, OR = 1.78, 95% CI = 1.44–2.19, P = 0.000), whereas the Arg280His polymorphism had no influence on the susceptibility to glioma in a Chinese population.
This meta-analysis suggests that there may be no association between the Arg280His polymorphism and glioma risk, whereas the Arg399Gln/Arg194Trp polymorphisms may contribute to genetic susceptibility to glioma in the Chinese population. Nevertheless, large-scale, well-designed and population-based studies are needed to further evaluate gene-gene and gene–environment interactions, as well as to measure the combined effects of these XRCC1 variants on glioma risk.
PMCID: PMC4222958  PMID: 25375625
8.  Clinical significance of epigenetic silencing and re-expression of O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase using epigenetic agents in laryngeal carcinoma 
Oncology Letters  2014;9(1):35-42.
The aim of the present study was to investigate the association between O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) gene expression levels, and DNA methylation status and histone modifications in laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma (LSCC). Chromatin immunoprecipitation, methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and reverse transcription-quantitative PCR were performed to analyze histone modifications, DNA methylation status and mRNA expression levels in the promoter region of the MGMT gene in laryngeal carcinoma HEp-2 cells, as well as in 50 paired healthy and LSCC tissue samples. The present study demonstrated that treatment of HEp-2 cells with 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (Aza), a DNA methyltransferase inhibitor, significantly upregulated MGMT mRNA expression levels, reduced MGMT DNA methylation, reduced MGMT histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) di-methylation, and increased MGMT histone H3 lysine 4 di-methylation without a significant change in H3K9 acetylation. Trichostatin A (TSA), a histone deacetylase inhibitor, marginally upregulated MGMT mRNA expression levels without affecting the DNA methylation status, or H3K9 or H3K4 di-methylation, however, TSA treatment caused a significant increase in H3K9 acetylation. Furthermore, Aza and TSA combination treatment produced a synergistic effect. In the LSCC samples, the rate of DNA methylation in the MGMT gene was 54%, compared with 24% in the healthy control group (P<0.05). Therefore, data from the present study indicates that MGMT may serve as a novel therapeutic target in the treatment of LSCC.
PMCID: PMC4247240  PMID: 25452816
laryngeal carcinoma; O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase gene; DNA methylation; histone modification; 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine; trichostatin A
9.  Increased CCL19 and CCL21 levels promote fibroblast ossification in ankylosing spondylitis hip ligament tissue 
It is well-documented that both chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 19 (CCL19) and 21 (CCL21) mediate cell migration and angiogenesis in many diseases. However, these ligands’ precise pathological role in ankylosing spondylitis (AS) has not been elucidated. The objective of this study was to examine the expression of CCL19 and CCL21 (CCL19/CCL21) in AS hip ligament tissue (LT) and determine their pathological functions.
The expression levels of CCL19, CCL21 and their receptor CCR7 in AS (n = 31) and osteoarthritis (OA, n = 21) LT were analyzed via real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and immunohistochemistry (IHC). The expression of CCL19, CCL21 and CCR7 in AS ligament fibroblasts was also detected. The proliferation of ligament fibroblasts was measured via a cell counting kit-8 (CCK8) assay after exogenous CCL19/CCL21 treatment. Additionally, the role of CCL19/CCL21 in osteogenesis was evaluated via RT-PCR and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in individual AS fibroblast cultures. Furthermore, the expression of the bone markers alkaline phosphatase (ALP), osteocalcin (OCN), collagenase I (COL1), integrin-binding sialoprotein (IBSP) and the key regulators runt-related transcription factor-2 (Runx-2) and osterix were investigated. Moreover, the CCL19/CCL21 levels in serum and LT were measured via ELISA.
The mRNA levels of CCL19/CCL21 in AS hip LT were significantly higher than that in OA LT, and IHC analysis revealed a similar result. Exogenous CCL19/CCL21 treatment did not affect the proliferation of ligament fibroblasts but significantly up-regulated the expression of bone markers, including ALP and OCN, and the key regulators Runx-2 and osterix. In addition, the serum levels of CCL19/CCL21 were apparently elevated in AS patients compared to healthy controls (HC), and the expression of the two chemokines correlated significantly in AS patients.
CCL19 and CCL21, two chemokines displaying significantly associated expression in serum, indicating a synergistic effect on AS pathogenesis, may function as promoters of ligament ossification in AS patients.
PMCID: PMC4190335  PMID: 25260647
CCL19; CCL21; Ankylosing spondylitis; Fibroblast; Ossification
10.  Analysis and Simulation of the Dynamic Spectrum Allocation Based on Parallel Immune Optimization in Cognitive Wireless Networks 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:623670.
Spectrum allocation is one of the key issues to improve spectrum efficiency and has become the hot topic in the research of cognitive wireless network. This paper discusses the real-time feature and efficiency of dynamic spectrum allocation and presents a new spectrum allocation algorithm based on the master-slave parallel immune optimization model. The algorithm designs a new encoding scheme for the antibody based on the demand for convergence rate and population diversity. For improving the calculating efficiency, the antibody affinity in the population is calculated in multiple computing nodes at the same time. Simulation results show that the algorithm reduces the total spectrum allocation time and can achieve higher network profits. Compared with traditional serial algorithms, the algorithm proposed in this paper has better speedup ratio and parallel efficiency.
PMCID: PMC4164817  PMID: 25254255
11.  Is There a Benefit in Receiving Concurrent Chemoradiotherapy for Elderly Patients with Inoperable Thoracic Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma? 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105270.
Background and purpose
The benefit of concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CCRT) in elderly patients with inoperable esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is controversial. This study aimed to assess the efficiency and safety of CCRT in elderly thoracic esophageal cancer patients.
Methods and materials
Between January 2002 and December 2011, 128 patients aged 65 years or older treated with CCRT or radiotherapy (RT) alone for inoperable thoracic esophageal SCC were analyzed retrospectively (RT alone, n = 55; CCRT, n = 73).
No treatment-related deaths occurred and no patients experienced any acute grade 4 non-hematologic toxicities. Patients treated with CCRT developed more severe acute toxicities than patients who received RT alone. The 3-year overall survival (OS) rate was 36.1% for CCRT compared with 28.5% following RT alone (p = 0.008). Multivariate analysis identified T stage and treatment modality as independent prognostic factors for survival. Further analysis revealed that survival was significantly better in the CCRT group than in the RT alone group for patients ≤ 72 years. Nevertheless, the CCRT group had a similar OS to the RT group for patients > 72 years.
Our results suggest that elderly patients with inoperable thoracic esophageal SCC could benefit from CCRT, without major toxicities. However, for patients older than 72 years, CCRT is not superior to RT alone in terms of survival benefit.
PMCID: PMC4136816  PMID: 25133495
12.  Association of Simple Anthropometric Indices and Body Fat with Early Atherosclerosis and Lipid Profiles in Chinese Adults 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104361.
The discriminatory capability of different adiposity indices for atherosclerosis and lipid abnormalities remains uncertain. This study aimed to identify the best adiposity index for predicting early atherosclerosis and abnormal lipid profiles among anthropometric parameters and body fat measures in middle-aged and elderly Chinese.
A total of 2,063 women and 814 men (57.6±5.2 y) were recruited for this community-based cross-sectional study. Body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), hip circumference (HC), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) were assessed. Body fat mass and its percentage values for the whole body and trunk were measured by bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA). The intima-media thicknesses (IMTs) of the common carotid arteries (CCA), internal carotid arteries (ICA) and bifurcation (BIF) were determined via B-mode ultrasound. The fasting lipid profiles were assessed.
With per SD increase of adiposity indices, the magnitude of the changes of IMT values and lipid profiles was more substantial for WC, WHR and WHtR in both genders. A multivariate logistic regression analysis indicated that WC, WHR and WHtR were more sensitive in predicting the presence of intima-media thickening at the three segments as well as the lipids disturbances in women and men. In general, BIA-derived measures have no added predictive value for IMT-thickening as opposed to those three traditional abdominal measures.
Our findings suggest that abdominal anthropometric measures including WC, WHR and WHtR are sensitive for discriminating carotid atherosclerosis and lipids abnormalities. WC is the best index because of its simplicity in routine use.
PMCID: PMC4121270  PMID: 25090639
13.  Inhibition of Dengue Virus 2 Replication by Artificial MicroRNAs Targeting the Conserved Regions 
Nucleic Acid Therapeutics  2013;23(4):244-252.
Dengue virus (DENV), a mosquito-borne flavivirus, causes serious diseases and threatens public health in tropical and subtropical areas worldwide. RNA interference (RNAi) is a prevailing strategy for antiviral therapy. In this paper, 6 single artificial microRNAs (amiRNAs) targeting the highly conserved regions of the DENV-2 genome were identified and inhibited virus replication efficiently. Then, effective tandem amiRNAs targeting 2 different DENV-2 genome regions were constructed and expressed simultaneously from a single microRNA-like polycistron to avoid virus variation or mutation escape. Finally, the most high-performance tandem amiRNA was embedded in a lenti-viral vector and inhibited DENV-2 virus replication stably and dose-dependently. Overall, these results indicated that RNAi based on multiple amiRNAs targeting viral conserved regions was an effective approach for improvements of nucleic acid inhibitors of DENV and provided a new therapeutic strategy for DENV infection in humans.
PMCID: PMC3723240  PMID: 23651254
14.  Synergistic Antifungal Effect of Glabridin and Fluconazole 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e103442.
The incidence of invasive fungal infections is increasing in recent years. The present study mainly investigated glabridin (Gla) alone and especially in combination with fluconazole (FLC) against Cryptococcus neoformans and Candida species (Candida albicans, Candida tropicalis, Candida krusei, Candida parapsilosis and Candida Glabratas) by different methods. The minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) and the minimal fungicidal concentration (MFC) indicated that Gla possessed a broad-spectrum antifungal activity at relatively high concentrations. After combining with FLC, Gla exerted a potent synergistic effect against drug-resistant C. albicans and C. tropicalis at lower concentrations when interpreted by fractional inhibitory concentration index (FICI). Disk diffusion test and time-killing test confirming the synergistic fungicidal effect. Cell growth tests suggested that the synergistic effect of the two drugs depended more on the concentration of Gla. The cell envelop damage including a significant decrease of cell size and membrane permeability increasing were found after Gla treatment. Together, our results suggested that Gla possessed a synergistic effect with FLC and the cell envelope damage maybe contributed to the synergistic effect, which providing new information for developing novel antifungal agents.
PMCID: PMC4110026  PMID: 25058485
15.  Identifying the Gene Signatures from Gene-Pathway Bipartite Network Guarantees the Robust Model Performance on Predicting the Cancer Prognosis 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:424509.
For the purpose of improving the prediction of cancer prognosis in the clinical researches, various algorithms have been developed to construct the predictive models with the gene signatures detected by DNA microarrays. Due to the heterogeneity of the clinical samples, the list of differentially expressed genes (DEGs) generated by the statistical methods or the machine learning algorithms often involves a number of false positive genes, which are not associated with the phenotypic differences between the compared clinical conditions, and subsequently impacts the reliability of the predictive models. In this study, we proposed a strategy, which combined the statistical algorithm with the gene-pathway bipartite networks, to generate the reliable lists of cancer-related DEGs and constructed the models by using support vector machine for predicting the prognosis of three types of cancers, namely, breast cancer, acute myeloma leukemia, and glioblastoma. Our results demonstrated that, combined with the gene-pathway bipartite networks, our proposed strategy can efficiently generate the reliable cancer-related DEG lists for constructing the predictive models. In addition, the model performance in the swap analysis was similar to that in the original analysis, indicating the robustness of the models in predicting the cancer outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4122106  PMID: 25126556
16.  Oncogenic Herpesvirus KSHV Hijacks BMP-Smad1-Id Signaling to Promote Tumorigenesis 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(7):e1004253.
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the etiological agent of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), a malignancy commonly found in AIDS patients. Whether KS is a true neoplasm or hyperplasia has been a subject of intensive debate until recently when KSHV is unequivocally shown to efficiently infect, immortalize and transform rat primary mesenchymal precursor cells (MM). Moreover, KSHV-transformed MM cells (KMM) efficiently induce tumors with hallmark features of KS when inoculated into nude mice. Here, we showed Smad1 as a novel binding protein of KSHV latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA). LANA interacted with and sustained BMP-activated p-Smad1 in the nucleus and enhanced its loading on the Id promoters. As a result, Ids were significantly up-regulated in KMM cells and abundantly expressed in human KS lesions. Strikingly, genetic and chemical inhibition of the BMP-Smad1-Id pathway blocked the oncogenic phenotype of KSHV-transformed cells in vitro and in vivo. These findings illustrate a novel mechanism by which a tumor virus hijacks and converts a developmental pathway into an indispensable oncogenic pathway for tumorigenesis. Importantly, our results demonstrate the efficacy of targeting the BMP-Smad1-Id pathway for inhibiting the growth of KSHV-induced tumors, and therefore identify the BMP pathway as a promising therapeutic target for KS.
Author Summary
Although KSHV exerts multiple mechanisms to promote cell survival by repressing TGF-β signaling, little is known whether KSHV manipulates BMP signaling and contributes to the pathogenesis of KSHV-induced malignancies. In the present study, we have identified Smad1 as a novel binding protein of LANA by tandem affinity purification. We demonstrated that LANA up-regulated Id transcription through BMP-Smad1-Id signaling pathway. Id proteins were significantly up-regulated in KSHV-transformed MM (KMM) cells, and were abundantly expressed in human KS lesions; therefore, they were probably relevant to the development of KS. Importantly, we have shown that Ids are required to maintain the oncogenic phenotype of KMM cells in vitro and in vivo. These findings illustrate a novel mechanism by which a tumor virus hijacks and converts a developmental pathway into an indispensable oncogenic pathway for tumorigenesis. Furthermore, we showed that BMP signaling inhibitors dramatically hampered the tumorigenicity of KMM cells in vitro and in vivo. Our results demonstrate that small inhibitors targeting BMP-Smad1-Id signaling pathway are promising candidates for the treatment of KS.
PMCID: PMC4092152  PMID: 25010525
17.  The Diagnostic Value of Cervical Lymph Node Metastasis in Head and Neck Squamous Carcinoma by Using Diffusion-Weighted Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Computed Tomography Perfusion 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:260859.
Purpose. The aim of this study was to compare diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DWI) with computed tomography perfusion (CTP) for preoperative detection of metastases to lymph nodes (LNs) in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Methods. Between May 2010 and April 2012, 30 patients with head and neck SCC underwent preoperative DWI and CTP. Two radiologists measured apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values and CTP parameters independently. Surgery and histopathologic examinations were performed on all patients. Results. On DWI, 65 LNs were detected in 30 patients. The mean ADC value of metastatic nodes was lower than benign nodes and the difference was statistically significant (P < 0.05). On CTP images, the mean value in metastatic nodes of blood flow (BF) and blood volume (BV) was higher than that in benign nodes, and mean transit time (MTT) in metastatic nodes was lower than that in benign nodes. There were significant differences in BF and MTT values between metastatic and benign LNs (P < 0.05). There were significant differences between the AUCs of DWI and CTP (Z=4.612, P < 0.001). Conclusion. DWI with ADC value measurements may be more accurate than CTP for the preoperative diagnosis of cervical LN metastases.
PMCID: PMC4094719  PMID: 25050333
18.  miR-218 modulate hepatocellular carcinoma cell proliferation through PTEN/AKT/PI3K pathway and HoxA10 
Purpose: To investigate the regulatory mechanism of miR-218 in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Methods: qPCR was used to compare the expression levels miR-218 among six hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines and normal liver tissues. After transfecting MHCC97L cells with either miR-218 mimics or miR-218 inhibitor, western blotting was used to examine the expressing patterns of cyclinD1, p21, and PTEN/AKT/PI3K signaling pathway-related proteins. MTT and colony forming assay was used to assess the capability of cell proliferation. Bioinformatic method was applied to predict the binding of miR-218 on HoxA10, and western blotting was used to examine the modulatory effect of miR-218 AND HoxA10 on PTEN/AKT/PI3K pathway in HCC. Results: The expression levels of miR-218 were frequently lower in HCC cell lines than in normal liver tissues. Over-expression of miR-218 in HCC cells significantly decreased cell proliferation whereas inhibiting miR-218 promoted cancer cell proliferation. Western blotting analysis demonstrated that tumorigenesis related protein cyclin D1 and p21, as well as PTEN/AKT/PI3K signaling pathways were actively modulated by miR-218 in HCC cells. The expression of endogenous HoxA10 was also down-regulated by miR-218 over-expression, and silencing HoxA10 directly activated PTEN in HCC cells. Conclusion: Modulation of miR-218 actively affected HCC cancer cell development. The regulatory mechanism of miR-218 in HCC cells was acting through PTEN/AKT/PI3K pathway and possibly associated with HoxA10.
PMCID: PMC4129017  PMID: 25120782
miR-218; HoxA10; hepatocellular carcinoma; PTEN
19.  Septicemia Caused by Leifsonia aquatica in a Healthy Patient after Retinal Reattachment Surgery 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(11):3886-3888.
Leifsonia aquatica is an aquatic bacterium that is typically found in environmental water habitats. Infections due to L. aquatica are rare and commonly catheter associated in immunocompromised patients. We report the first case of an acute septicemia caused by L. aquatica in a healthy immunocompetent host after cryopexy in the absence of a catheter.
PMCID: PMC3889791  PMID: 23946520
20.  Border Cell Migration: A Model System for Live Imaging and Genetic Analysis of Collective Cell Movement 
Border cell migration in the Drosophila ovary has emerged as a genetically tractable model for studying collective cell movement. Over many years border cell migration was exclusively studied in fixed samples due to the inability to culture stage 9 egg chambers in vitro. Although culturing late stage egg chambers was long feasible, stage 9 egg chambers survived only briefly outside the female body. We identified culture conditions that support stage 9 egg chamber development and sustain complete migration of border cells ex vivo. This protocol enables one to compare the dynamics of egg chamber development in wild type and mutant egg chambers using time-lapse microscopy and taking advantage of a multiposition microscope with a motorized imaging stage. In addition, this protocol has been successfully used in combination with fluorescence resonance energy transfer biosensors, photo-activatable proteins, and pharmacological agents and can be used with widefield or confocal microscopes in either an upright or inverted configuration.
PMCID: PMC4006199  PMID: 21748683
Border cell migration; Drosophila stage 9 egg chambers; Organ culture; Collective cell migration; Time-lapse live imaging
21.  Gene Expression Signatures in Tree Shrew Sclera in Response to Three Myopiagenic Conditions 
We compared gene expression signatures in tree shrew sclera produced by three different visual conditions that all produce ocular elongation and myopia: minus-lens wear, form deprivation, and dark treatment.
Six groups of tree shrews (n = 7 per group) were used. Starting 24 days after normal eye-opening (days of visual experience [DVE]), two minus-lens groups wore a monocular −5 diopter (D) lens for 2 days (ML-2) or 4 days (ML-4); two form-deprivation groups wore a monocular translucent diffuser for 2 days (FD-2) or 4 days (FD-4). A dark-treatment (DK) group was placed in continuous darkness for 11 days after experiencing a light/dark environment until 17 DVE. A normal colony-reared group was examined at 28 DVE. Quantitative PCR was used to measure the relative differences in mRNA levels for 55 candidate genes in the sclera that were selected, either because they showed differential expression changes in previous ML studies or because a whole-transcriptome analysis suggested they would change during myopia development.
The treated eyes in all groups responded with a significant myopic shift, indicating that the myopia was actively progressing. In the ML-2 group, 27 genes were significantly downregulated in the treated eyes, relative to control eyes. In the treated eyes of the FD-2 group, 16 of the same genes also were significantly downregulated and one was upregulated. The two gene expression patterns were significantly correlated (r2 = 0.90, P < 0.001). After 4 days of treatment, 31 genes were significantly downregulated in the treated eyes of the ML-4 group and three were upregulated. Twenty-nine of the same genes (26 down- and 3 up-regulated) and six additional genes (all downregulated) were significantly affected in the FD-4 group. The response patterns were highly correlated (r2 = 0.95, P < 0.001). When the DK group (mean of right and left eyes) was compared to the control eyes of the ML-4 group, the direction and magnitude of the gene expression patterns were similar to those of the ML-4 (r2 = 0.82, P < 0.001, excluding PENK). Similar patterns also were found when the treated eyes of the ML-4, FD-4, and DK groups were compared to the age-matched normal eyes.
The very similar gene expression signatures produced in the sclera by the three different myopiagenic visual conditions at different time points suggests that there is a “scleral remodeling signature” in this mammal, closely related to primates. The scleral genes examined did not distinguish between the specific visual stimuli that initiate the signaling cascade that results in axial elongation and myopia.
Three different visual conditions (minus-lens wear, form deprivation, darkness) that cause axial elongation and myopia produce very similar gene expression signatures in the sclera in 55 genes. In the sclera, the differing visual signals have merged into a single “GO” remodeling signature.
PMCID: PMC3805087  PMID: 24045991
myopia; animal models; refractive error; emmetropization; axial elongation; gene expression; sclera
22.  Evaluation of High-Resolution Precipitation Estimates from Satellites during July 2012 Beijing Flood Event Using Dense Rain Gauge Observations 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e89681.
Satellite-based precipitation estimates products, CMORPH and PERSIANN-CCS, were evaluated with a dense rain gauge network over Beijing and adjacent regions for an extremely heavy precipitation event on July 21 2012. CMORPH and PEERSIANN-CSS misplaced the region of greatest rainfall accumulation, and failed to capture the spatial pattern of precipitation, evidenced by a low spatial correlation coefficient (CC). CMORPH overestimated the daily accumulated rainfall by 22.84% while PERSIANN-CCS underestimated by 72.75%. In the rainfall center, both CMORPH and PERSIANN-CCS failed to capture the temporal variation of the rainfall, and underestimated rainfall amounts by 43.43% and 87.26%, respectively. Based on our results, caution should be exercised when using CMORPH and PERSIANN-CCS as input for monitoring and forecasting floods in Beijing urban areas, and the potential for landslides in the mountainous zones west and north of Beijing.
PMCID: PMC3972163  PMID: 24691358
23.  Comparison of Predictive Value of Cardiometabolic Indices for Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Chinese Adults 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93538.
Metabolic disturbances are well-known risk factors for atherosclerosis, but it remains unclear which cardiometabolic components are the predominant determinants. This study aimed to compare and identify the key determinants of carotid atherosclerosis in asymptomatic middle-aged and elderly Chinese.
A community-based cross-sectional study including 3,162 apparently healthy residents aged 37–75 years was performed from July 2008 to June 2010 in Guangzhou, China. Carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) was assessed by B-mode ultrasound, and increased IMT was defined as IMT>1.00 mm. Obesity indices, blood pressure, fasting blood lipids, glucose and uric acid levels were determined. Principal components factor analysis was used to extract common factors underlying 11 metabolic factors.
Four common factors, defined as “adiposity,” “blood lipids,” “triglycerides/uric acid (TG/UA)” (in men) or “triglycerides/uric acid/glucose (TG/UA/Glu)” (in women), and “blood pressure,” were retained for both sexes. After adjustment for potential covariates, the “adiposity” factor showed the strongest positive association with increased IMT in men. Comparing the extreme quartiles, ORs (95% CI) of increased IMT were 4.64 (2.04–10.59) at the CCA and 2.37 (1.54–3.64) at the BIF), followed by “blood pressure”, the corresponding OR (95% CI) was 2.85 (1.37–5.90) at the CCA. Whereas, the four common factors showed comparable and weak relationship with increased IMTs, the ORs for quartile 4 vs. quartile 1 varied from 0.89 to 3.59 in women.
Among the metabolic factors, “adiposity” and “blood pressure” play predominant roles in the presence of carotid atherosclerosis in men, but no key factor is identified in women.
PMCID: PMC3972246  PMID: 24691185
24.  Regulation of transplanted mesenchymal stem cells by the lung progenitor niche in rats with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):33.
Stem cell transplantation is a promising method for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have clinical potential for lung repair/regeneration. However, the rates of engraftment and differentiation are generally low following MSC therapy for lung injury. In previous studies, we constructed a pulmonary surfactant-associated protein A (SPA) suicide gene system, rAAV-SPA-TK, which induced apoptosis in alveolar epithelial type II (AT II) cells and vacated the AT II cell niche. We hypothesized that this system would increase the rates of MSC engraftment and repair in COPD rats.
The MSC engraftment rate and morphometric changes in lung tissue in vivo were investigated by in situ hybridization, hematoxylin and eosin staining, Masson’s trichrome staining, immunohistochemistry, and real-time PCR. The expression of hypoxia inducible factor (HIF-1α) and stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1), and relationship between HIF-1α and SDF-1 in a hypoxic cell model were analyzed by real-time PCR, western blotting, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
rAAV-SPA-TK transfection increased the recruitment of MSCs but induced pulmonary fibrosis in COPD rats. HIF-1α and SDF-1 expression were enhanced after rAAV-SPA-TK transfection. Hypoxia increased the expression of HIF-1α and SDF-1 in the hypoxic cell model, and SDF-1 expression was augmented by HIF-1α under hypoxic conditions.
Vacant AT II cell niches increase the homing and recruitment of MSCs to the lung in COPD rats. MSCs play an important role in lung repair and promote collagen fiber deposition after induction of secondary damage in AT II cells by rAAV-SPA-TK, which involves HIF-1α and SDF-1 signaling.
PMCID: PMC3987841  PMID: 24661402
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Mesenchymal stem cells; Alveolar epithelial type II cells; Niche
25.  Development of Lipid-Shell and Polymer Core Nanoparticles with Water-Soluble Salidroside for Anti-Cancer Therapy 
Salidroside (Sal) is a potent antitumor drug with high water-solubility. The clinic application of Sal in cancer therapy has been significantly restricted by poor oral absorption and low tumor cell uptake. To solve this problem, lipid-shell and polymer-core nanoparticles (Sal-LPNPs) loaded with Sal were developed by a double emulsification method. The processing parameters including the polymer types, organic phase, PVA types and amount were systemically investigated. The obtained optimal Sal-LPNPs, composed of PLGA-PEG-PLGA triblock copolymers and lipids, had high entrapment efficiency (65%), submicron size (150 nm) and negatively charged surface (−23 mV). DSC analysis demonstrated the successful encapsulation of Sal into LPNPs. The core-shell structure of Sal-LPNPs was verified by TEM. Sal released slowly from the LPNPs without apparent burst release. MTT assay revealed that 4T1 and PANC-1 cancer cell lines were sensitive to Sal treatment. Sal-LPNPs had significantly higher antitumor activities than free Sal in 4T1 and PANC-1 cells. The data indicate that LPNPs are a promising Sal vehicle for anti-cancer therapy and worthy of further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3975343  PMID: 24573250
salidroside; lipid-shell and polymer-core nanoparticles (LPNPs); PLGA; antitumor

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