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1.  Mitochondrial genome of Hypoderaeum conoideum – comparison with selected trematodes 
Parasites & Vectors  2015;8:97.
Hypoderaeum conoideum is a neglected but important trematode. The life cycle of this parasite is complex: snails serve as the first intermediate hosts: bivalves, fishes or tadpoles serve as the second intermediate hosts, and poultry (such as chickens and ducks) act as definitive hosts. In recent years, H. conoideum has caused significant economic losses to the poultry industry in some Asian countries. Despite its importance, little is known about the molecular ecology and population genetics of this parasite. Knowledge of mitochondrial (mt) genome of H. conoideum can provide a foundation for phylogenetic studies as well as epidemiological investigations.
The entire mt genome of H. conoideum was amplified in five overlapping fragments by PCR and sequenced, annotated and compared with mt genomes of selected trematodes. A phylogenetic analysis of concatenated mt amino acid sequence data for H. conoideum, eight other digeneans (Clonorchis sinensis, Fasciola gigantica, F. hepatica, Opisthorchis felineus, Schistosoma haematobium, S. japonicum, S. mekongi and S. spindale) and one tapeworm (Taenia solium; outgroup) was conducted to assess their relationships.
The complete mt genome of H. conoideum is 14,180 bp in length, and contains 12 protein-coding genes, 22 transfer RNA genes, two ribosomal RNA genes and one non-coding region (NCR). The gene arrangement is the same as in Fasciola spp, with all genes being transcribed in the same direction. The phylogenetic analysis showed that H. conoideum had a relatively close relationship with F. hepatica and other members of the Fasciolidae, followed by the Opisthorchiidae, and then the Schistosomatidae.
The mt genome of H. conoideum should be useful as a resource for comparative mt genomic studies of trematodes and for DNA markers for systematic, population genetic and epidemiological studies of H. conoideum and congeners.
PMCID: PMC4331133
Hypoderaeum conoideum; Mitochondrial genome
2.  Overexpression of interleukin-18 protein reduces viability and induces apoptosis of tongue squamous cell carcinoma cells by activation of glycogen synthase kinase-3β signaling 
Oncology Reports  2015;33(3):1049-1056.
The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of interleukin-18 (IL-18) expression on regulating the viability and apoptosis of tongue squamous cell carcinoma (TSCC) cells in vitro and examine the underlying molecular events. Human IL-18 cDNA was cloned into the vector pcDNA3.1 (+) and transfected into CRL-1623™ cells. Quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (RT-qPCR), western blot analysis, immunofluorescence, cell viability MTT assay, flow cytometric Annexin V/propidium iodide (PI), Giemsa staining, and caspase-3 activity assay were performed. The data showed that overexpression of IL-18 protein reduced TSCC cell viability by inducing apoptosis. Compared with cells transfected with the control vector, IL-18 expression activated caspase-3, -7, and -9 by inducing their cleavage and increased the expression of interferon (IFN)-γ and cytochrome c mRNA, but reduced cyclin D1 and A1 expression in TSCC cells. IL-18 expression upregulated the expression and phosphorylation of glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3β protein in CRL1623 cells, whereas the selective GSK-3β inhibitor kenpaullone antagonized the effects of IL-18 protein on TSCC cells in vitro. The results indicated that IL-18 played an important role in the inhibition of TSCC cell growth and may be further investigated as a novel therapeutic target against TSCC.
PMCID: PMC4324481  PMID: 25591548
interleukin-18; tongue squamous cell carcinoma; gene expression; apoptosis; GSK-3β
Pediatric research  2014;76(1):24-32.
Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) persists as a prevalent cause of infant morbidity and mortality. We have previously demonstrated that deletion of Erk3 results in pulmonary immaturity and neonatal lethality. Using RNA-Seq, we identified corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) and surfactant protein B (SFTPB) as potential molecular mediators of Erk3-dependent lung maturation. In this study, we characterized the impact of antenatal glucocorticoids and postnatal surfactant on neonatal survival of Erk3 null mice.
In a double crossover design, we administered dexamethasone (dex) or saline to pregnant dams during the saccular stage of lung development, followed by postnatal surfactant or saline via inhalation intubation. Survival was recorded, detailed lung histological analysis and staining for CRH and SFTPB protein expression was performed.
Without treatment, Erk3 null pups die within 6 hours of birth with reduced aerated space, impaired thinning of the alveolar septa, and abundant PAS-positive glycogen stores; as described in human RDS. The administration of dex and surfactant improved RDS-associated lethality of Erk3−/− pups, and partially restored functional fetal lung maturation by accelerating the down-regulation of pulmonary CRH and partially rescuing production of SFTPB.
These findings emphasize that Erk3 is integral to terminal differentiation of type II cells, SFTPB production, and fetal pulmonary maturity.
PMCID: PMC4062596  PMID: 24732107
4.  The Cardiopulmonary Effects of Ambient Air Pollution and Mechanistic Pathways: A Comparative Hierarchical Pathway Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114913.
Previous studies have investigated the associations between exposure to ambient air pollution and biomarkers of physiological pathways, yet little has been done on the comparison across biomarkers of different pathways to establish the temporal pattern of biological response. In the current study, we aim to compare the relative temporal patterns in responses of candidate pathways to different pollutants. Four biomarkers of pulmonary inflammation and oxidative stress, five biomarkers of systemic inflammation and oxidative stress, ten parameters of autonomic function, and three biomarkers of hemostasis were repeatedly measured in 125 young adults, along with daily concentrations of ambient CO, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, EC, OC, and sulfate, before, during, and after the Beijing Olympics. We used a two-stage modeling approach, including Stage I models to estimate the association between each biomarker and pollutant over each of 7 lags, and Stage II mixed-effect models to describe temporal patterns in the associations when grouping the biomarkers into the four physiological pathways. Our results show that candidate pathway groupings of biomarkers explained a significant amount of variation in the associations for each pollutant, and the temporal patterns of the biomarker-pollutant-lag associations varied across candidate pathways (p<0.0001) and were not linear (from lag 0 to lag 3: p = 0.0629, from lag 3 to lag 6: p = 0.0005). These findings suggest that, among this healthy young adult population, the pulmonary inflammation and oxidative stress pathway is the first to respond to ambient air pollution exposure (within 24 hours) and the hemostasis pathway responds gradually over a 2–3 day period. The initial pulmonary response may contribute to the more gradual systemic changes that likely ultimately involve the cardiovascular system.
PMCID: PMC4264846  PMID: 25502951
5.  Global chromatin profiling reveals NSD2 mutations in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia 
Nature genetics  2013;45(11):1386-1391.
Epigenetic dysregulation is an emerging hallmark of cancers. We developed a high-information-content mass spectrometry approach to profile global histone modifications in human cancers. When applied to 115 lines from the Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia1, this approach identified distinct molecular chromatin signatures. One signature was characterized by increased histone 3 lysine 36 (H3K36) dimethylation, exhibited by several lines harboring translocations in NSD2, which encodes a methyltransferase. A previously unknown NSD2 p.Glu1099Lys (p.E1099K) variant was identified in nontranslocated acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cell lines sharing this signature. Ectopic expression of the variant induced a chromatin signature characteristic of NSD2 hyperactivation and promoted transformation. NSD2 knockdown selectively inhibited the proliferation of NSD2-mutant lines and impaired the in vivo growth of an NSD2-mutant ALL xenograft. Sequencing analysis of >1,000 pediatric cancer genomes identified the NSD2 p.E1099K alteration in 14% of t(12;21) ETV6-RUNX1–containing ALLs. These findings identify NSD2 as a potential therapeutic target for pediatric ALL and provide a general framework for the functional annotation of cancer epigenomes.
PMCID: PMC4262138  PMID: 24076604
6.  Exploring features and function of Ss-riok-3, an enigmatic kinase gene from Strongyloides stercoralis 
Parasites & Vectors  2014;7(1):561.
Right open reading frame protein kinase 3 (RIOK-3) belongs to the atypical kinase family. Unlike the other two members, RIOK-1 and RIOK-2, which are conserved from Archaea to humans, RIOK-3 occurs only in multicellular organisms. Studies on HeLa cells indicate that human RIOK-3 is a component of the 40S small ribosome subunit and supports cancer cell growth and survival. However, almost nothing is known about the function of RIOK-3. We explored the functional role of RIOK-3 encoding gene from Strongyloides stercoralis, a parasitic nematode of humans and dogs.
To analyze the gene and promoter structure of Ss-riok-3, RACE-PCR and Genome-walker PCR were performed to isolate the full length cDNA, gDNA and promoter region of Ss-riok-3. RNA-seq was conducted to assess the transcript abundance of Ss-riok-3 in different stages of S. stercoralis. Transgenesis was employed to determine the anatomic expression patterns of Ss-riok-3.
The RIOK-3 protein-encoding gene (designated Ss-riok-3) of S. stercoralis was characterized. The full-length complementary and genomic DNAs of the RIOK-3 encoding gene (riok-3) were isolated from this nematode. The cDNA of Ss-riok-3 is 1,757 bp in length, including a 23 bp 5’-UTR, a 36 bp 3’-UTR and a 1,698 bp coding region encoding a protein of 565 amino acids (aa) containing a RIO kinase domain. RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis revealed that Ss-riok-3 is transcribed in all developmental stages of S. stercoralis assessed, with transcripts being particularly abundant in parasitic females. Gene structure analysis revealed that Ss-riok-3 contains no intron. The putative promoter contains conserved promoter elements, including four TATA, two GATA, one inverse GATA and one inverse CAAT boxes. The promoter of Ss-riok-3 drives GFP expression in the head neuron, intestine and body wall muscle of transgenic S. stercoralis larvae, and the TATA boxes present in the 3’-UTR of the gene immediately upstream of Ss-riok-3 initiate transcription.
The characterization of the RIOK-3 encoding gene from S. stercoralis provides a sound foundation for investigating in detail its function in the development and reproduction of this important pathogen.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13071-014-0561-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4265397  PMID: 25477034
Parasitic nematode; Strongyloides stercoralis; riok-3; Transgenesis
7.  Identification of host proteins interacting with the integrin-like A domain of Toxoplasma gondii micronemal protein MIC2 by yeast-two-hybrid screening 
Parasites & Vectors  2014;7(1):543.
Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular protozoan, causing the important zoonosis toxoplasmosis. This parasite utilizes a unique form of locomotion called gliding motility to find and invade host cells. The micronemal adhesin MIC2 plays critical roles in these processes by binding to substrates and host cell receptors using its extracellular adhesive domains. Although MIC2 is known to mediate important interactions between parasites and host cells during invasion, the specific host proteins interacting with MIC2 have not been clearly identified. In this study, we used a yeast-two-hybrid system to search for host proteins that interact with MIC2.
Different adhesive domains of MIC2 were cloned into the pGBKT7 vector and expressed in fusion with the GAL4 DNA-binding domain as baits. Expression of bait proteins in yeast cells was analyzed by immuno-blotting and their autoactivation was tested via comparison with the pGBKT7 empty vector, which expressed the GAL4 DNA binding-domain only. To identify host proteins interacting with MIC2, a mouse cDNA library cloned into a GAL4 activation-domain expressing vector was screened by yeast-two-hybrid using the integrin-like A domain of MIC2 (residues 74–270) as bait. After initial screening and exclusion of false positive hits, positive preys were sequenced and analyzed using BLAST analysis and Gene Ontology Classifications.
Two host proteins that had not previously been reported to interact with T. gondii MIC2 were identified: they are LAMTOR1 (late endosomal/lysosomal adaptor, MAPK and mTOR activator 1) and RNaseH2B (ribonuclease H2 subunit B). Gene Ontology analysis indicated that these two proteins are associated with many cellular processes, such as lysosome maturation, signaling transduction, and RNA catabolism.
This study is the first one to report interactions between Toxoplasma gondii MIC2 and two host proteins, LAMTOR1 and RNaseH2B. The data will help us to gain a better understanding of the function of MIC2 and suggest that MIC2 may play roles in modulating host signal transduction and other biological processes in addition to binding host cells.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13071-014-0543-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4258286  PMID: 25423901
Toxoplasma gondii; MIC2; Integrin-like A domain; Yeast-two-hybird; LAMTOR1; RNaseH2B
8.  High-fat maternal diet during pregnancy persistently alters the offspring microbiome in a primate model 
Nature communications  2014;5:3889.
The intestinal microbiome is a unique ecosystem and an essential mediator of metabolism and obesity in mammals. However, studies investigating the impact of the diet on the establishment of the gut microbiome early in life are generally lacking, and most notably so in primate models. Here we report that a high-fat maternal or postnatal diet, but not obesity per se, structures the offspring’s intestinal microbiome in Macaca fuscata (Japanese macaque). The resultant microbial dysbiosis is only partially corrected by a low-fat, control diet after weaning. Unexpectedly, early exposure to a high-fat diet diminished the abundance of non-pathogenic Campylobacter in the juvenile gut, suggesting a potential role for dietary fat in shaping commensal microbial communities in primates. Our data challenge the concept of an obesity-causing gut microbiome, and rather provide evidence for a contribution of the maternal diet in establishing the microbiota, which in turn affects intestinal maintenance of metabolic health.
PMCID: PMC4078997  PMID: 24846660
9.  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
10.  Strontium coating by electrochemical deposition improves implant osseointegration in osteopenic models 
Osteopenia, a preclinical state of osteoporosis, restricts the application of adult orthodontic implant anchorage and tooth implantation. Strontium (Sr) is able to promote bone formation and inhibit bone absorption. The aim of the present study was to evaluate a new method for improving the success rate of dental implantation. In this study, an electrochemical deposition (ECD) method was used to prepare a Sr coating on a titanium implant. The coating composition was investigated by energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction, and the surface morphology of the coating was studied using scanning electron microscopy. A total of 24 Sprague-Dawley rats received bilateral ovariectomy (OVX) and an additional 12 rats underwent a sham surgery. All rats were then implanted in the bilateral tibiae with titanium mini-implants with or without a Sr coating. The results of histological examination and a fluorescence double labeling assay showed strong new bone formation with a wider zone between the double labels, a higher rate of bone mineralization and better osseointegration in the OVX rats that received Sr-coated implants compared with the OVX rats that received uncoated implants. The study indicates that Sr coatings are easily applied by an ECD method, and that Sr coatings have a promoting effect on implant osseointegration in animals with osteopenia.
PMCID: PMC4247308  PMID: 25452797
strontium; coating; implant; osteopenia; osseointegration
11.  Development of a Finite Element Head Model for the Study of Impact Head Injury 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:408278.
This study is aimed at developing a high quality, validated finite element (FE) human head model for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) prediction and prevention during vehicle collisions. The geometry of the FE model was based on computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of a volunteer close to the anthropometry of a 50th percentile male. The material and structural properties were selected based on a synthesis of current knowledge of the constitutive models for each tissue. The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was simulated explicitly as a hydrostatic fluid by using a surface-based fluid modeling method. The model was validated in the loading condition observed in frontal impact vehicle collision. These validations include the intracranial pressure (ICP), brain motion, impact force and intracranial acceleration response, maximum von Mises stress in the brain, and maximum principal stress in the skull. Overall results obtained in the validation indicated improved biofidelity relative to previous FE models, and the change in the maximum von Mises in the brain is mainly caused by the improvement of the CSF simulation. The model may be used for improving the current injury criteria of the brain and anthropometric test devices.
PMCID: PMC4227498  PMID: 25405201
12.  Glutamine Sensitivity Analysis Identifies the xCT Antiporter as a Common Triple Negative Breast Tumor Therapeutic Target 
Cancer cell  2013;24(4):450-465.
A handful of tumor-derived cell lines form the mainstay of cancer therapeutic development, yielding drugs with impact typically measured as months to disease progression. To develop more effective breast cancer therapeutics and more readily understand their clinical impact, we constructed a functional metabolic portrait of 46 independently-derived breast cell lines. Our analysis of glutamine uptake and dependence identified a subset of triple negative samples that are glutamine auxotrophs. Ambient glutamine indirectly supports environmental cystine acquisition via the xCT antiporter, which is expressed on 1/3 of triple negative tumors in vivo. xCT inhibition with the clinically approved anti-inflammatory Sulfasalazine decreases tumor growth revealing a therapeutic target in breast tumors of poorest prognosis, and a lead compound for rapid, effective drug development.
PMCID: PMC3931310  PMID: 24094812
13.  Low-magnitude high-frequency loading, by whole-body vibration, accelerates early implant osseointegration in ovariectomized rats 
Molecular Medicine Reports  2014;10(6):2835-2842.
Osteoporosis deteriorates jaw bone quality and may compromise early implant osseointegration and early implant loading. The influence of low-magnitude, high-frequency (LMHF) vibration on peri-implant bone healing and implant integration in osteoporotic bones remains poorly understood. LMHF loading via whole-body vibration (WBV) for 8 weeks has previously been demonstrated to significantly enhance bone-to-implant contact, peri-implant bone fraction and implant mechanical properties in osteoporotic rats. In the present study, LMHF loading by WBV was performed in osteoporotic rats, with a loading duration of 4 weeks during the early stages of bone healing. The results indicated that 4-week LMHF loading by WBV partly reversed the negative effects of osteoporosis and accelerated early peri-implant osseointegration in ovariectomized rats.
PMCID: PMC4227418  PMID: 25270245
low-magnitude high-frequency loading; whole-body vibration; osteoporosis; dental implants; osseointegration; rat
14.  Nrf2 Is Involved in Maintaining Hepatocyte Identity during Liver Regeneration 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107423.
Nrf2, a central regulator of the cellular defense against oxidative stress and inflammation, participates in modulating hepatocyte proliferation during liver regeneration. It is not clear, however, whether Nrf2 regulates hepatocyte growth, an important cellular mechanism to regain the lost liver mass after partial hepatectomy (PH). To determine this, various analyses were performed in wild-type and Nrf2-null mice following PH. We found that, at 60 h post-PH, the vast majority of hepatocytes lacking Nrf2 reduced their sizes, activated hepatic progenitor markers (CD133, TWEAK receptor, and trefoil factor family 3), depleted HNF4α protein, and downregulated the expression of a group of genes critical for their functions. Thus, the identity of hepatocytes deficient in Nrf2 was transiently but massively impaired in response to liver mass loss. This event was associated with the coupling of protein depletion of hepatic HNF4α, a master regulator of hepatocyte differentiation, and concomitant inactivation of hepatic Akt1 and p70S6K, critical hepatocyte growth signaling molecules. We conclude that Nrf2 participates in maintaining newly regenerated hepatocytes in a fully differentiated state by ensuring proper regulation of HNF4α, Akt1, and p70S6K during liver regeneration.
PMCID: PMC4164664  PMID: 25222179
15.  Bone Morphogenetic Protein 9 Overexpression Reduces Osteosarcoma Cell Migration and Invasion 
Molecules and Cells  2013;36(2):119-126.
Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) is known to promote tumor migration and invasion. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are members of the TGF-β family expressed in a variety of human carcinoma cell lines. The role of bone morphogenetic protein 9 (BMP9), the most powerful osteogenic factor, in osteosarcoma (OS) progression has not been fully clarified. The expression of BMP9 and its receptors in OS cell lines was analyzed by RT-PCR. We found that BMP9 and its receptors were expressed in OS cell lines. We further investigated the influence of BMP9 on the biological behaviors of OS cells. BMP9 overexpression in the OS cell lines 143B and MG63 inhibited in vitro cell migration and invasion. We further investigated the expression of a panel of cancer-related genes and found that BMP9 overexpression increased the phosphorylation of Smad1/5/8 proteins, increased the expression of ID1, and reduced the expression and activity of matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) in OS cells. BMP9 silencing induced the opposite effects. We also found that BMP9 may not affect the chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 12 (CXCL12)/C-X-C chemokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4) axis to regulate the invasiveness and metastatic capacity of OS cells. Interestingly, CXCR4 was expressed in both 143B and MG63 cells, while CXCL12 was only detected in MG63 cells. Taken together, we hypothesize that BMP9 inhibits the migration and invasiveness of OS cells through a Smad-dependent pathway by downregulating the expression and activity of MMP9.
PMCID: PMC3887952  PMID: 23807047
BMP9; invasion; migration; MMP9; osteosarcoma
16.  Microbial communities evolve faster in extreme environments 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:6205.
Evolutionary analysis of microbes at the community level represents a new research avenue linking ecological patterns to evolutionary processes, but remains insufficiently studied. Here we report a relative evolutionary rates (rERs) analysis of microbial communities from six diverse natural environments based on 40 metagenomic samples. We show that the rERs of microbial communities are mainly shaped by environmental conditions, and the microbes inhabiting extreme habitats (acid mine drainage, saline lake and hot spring) evolve faster than those populating benign environments (surface ocean, fresh water and soil). These findings were supported by the observation of more relaxed purifying selection and potentially frequent horizontal gene transfers in communities from extreme habitats. The mechanism of high rERs was proposed as high mutation rates imposed by stressful conditions during the evolutionary processes. This study brings us one stage closer to an understanding of the evolutionary mechanisms underlying the adaptation of microbes to extreme environments.
PMCID: PMC4145313  PMID: 25158668
17.  Reconstruction of Beagle Hemi-Mandibular Defects with Allogenic Mandibular Scaffolds and Autologous Mesenchymal Stem Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105733.
Massive bone allografts are frequently used in orthopedic reconstructive surgery, but carry a high failure rate of approximately 25%. We tested whether treatment of graft with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can increase the integration of massive allografts (hemi-mandible) in a large animal model.
Thirty beagle dogs received surgical left-sided hemi-mandibular defects, and then divided into two equal groups. Bony defects of the control group were reconstructed using allografts only. Those of the experimental group were reconstructed using allogenic mandibular scaffold-loaded autologous MSCs. Beagles from each group were killed at4 (n = 4), 12 (n = 4), 24 (n = 4) or 48 weeks (n = 3) postoperatively. CT and micro-CT scans, histological analyses and the bone mineral density (BMD) of transplants were used to evaluate defect reconstruction outcomes.
Gross and CT examinations showed that the autologous bone grafts had healed in both groups. At 48 weeks, the allogenic mandibular scaffolds of the experimental group had been completely replaced by new bone, which has a smaller surface area to that of the original allogenic scaffold, whereas the scaffold in control dogs remained the same size as the original allogenic scaffold throughout. At 12 weeks, the BMD of the experimental group was significantly higher than the control group (p<0.05), and all micro-architectural parameters were significantly different between groups (p<0.05). Histological analyses showed almost all transplanted allogeneic bone was replaced by new bone, principally fibrous ossification, in the experimental group, which differed from the control group where little new bone formed.
Our study demonstrated the feasibility of MSC-loaded allogenic mandibular scaffolds for the reconstruction of hemi-mandibular defects. Further studies are needed to test whether these results can be surpassed by the use of allogenic mandibular scaffolds loaded with a combination of MSCs and osteoinductive growth factors.
PMCID: PMC4143282  PMID: 25153673
18.  Toward Understanding the Functional Role of Ss-riok-1, a RIO Protein Kinase-Encoding Gene of Strongyloides stercoralis 
Some studies of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and mammals have shown that RIO protein kinases (RIOKs) are involved in ribosome biogenesis, cell cycle progression and development. However, there is a paucity of information on their functions in parasitic nematodes. We aimed to investigate the function of RIOK-1 encoding gene from Strongyloides stercoralis, a nematode parasitizing humans and dogs.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The RIOK-1 protein-encoding gene Ss-riok-1 was characterized from S. stercoralis. The full-length cDNA, gDNA and putative promoter region of Ss-riok-1 were isolated and sequenced. The cDNA comprises 1,828 bp, including a 377 bp 5′-UTR, a 17 bp 3′-UTR and a 1,434 bp ORF encoding a protein of 477 amino acids containing a RIOK-1 signature motif. The genomic sequence of the Ss-riok-1 coding region is 1,636 bp in length and has three exons and two introns. The putative promoter region comprises 4,280 bp and contains conserved promoter elements, including four CAAT boxes, 12 GATA boxes, eight E-boxes (CANNTG) and 38 TATA boxes. The Ss-riok-1 gene is transcribed throughout all developmental stages with the highest transcript abundance in the infective third-stage larva (iL3). Recombinant Ss-RIOK-1 is an active kinase, capable of both phosphorylation and auto-phosphorylation. Patterns of transcriptional reporter expression in transgenic S. stercoralis larvae indicated that Ss-RIOK-1 is expressed in neurons of the head, body and tail as well as in pharynx and hypodermis.
The characterization of the molecular and the temporal and spatial expression patterns of the encoding gene provide first clues as to functions of RIOKs in the biological processes of parasitic nematodes.
Author Summary
Parasitic nematodes cause serious global health problems and enormous economic losses. Control of these parasites is difficult due to their complicated life cycle and the lack of knowledge of their developmental biology at the molecular level. Protein kinases are key molecules regulating a range of biological processes of organisms. The atypical protein kinase RIOK-1 was reported to be indispensable in yeast, as well as in free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, but little is known about its function in parasitic nematodes. In the present study, we investigate the RIOK-1 encoding gene (Ss-riok-1) and its predicted protein Ss-RIOK-1 from parasitic nematode Strongyloides stercoralis which causes canine and human diseases. We found that Ss-RIOK-1 has high sequence identities (50–65%) to its homologues from both vertebrates and invertebrates. It also has abilities of phosphorylation and auto-phosphorylation in vitro. Ss-riok-1 transcript is present in all stages of S. stercoralis with more abundance in the parasitic stages than in the free-living stages, along with the gene expression in neuron system of post free-living L1 and body muscle of iL3, indicating that it plays important role in the development and infection of S. stercoralis. The findings have important implications for understanding the function of RIOK-1 in the development of parasitic nematodes.
PMCID: PMC4125297  PMID: 25101874
19.  Decreased intratumoral Foxp3 Tregs and increased dendritic cell density by neoadjuvant chemotherapy associated with favorable prognosis in advanced gastric cancer 
Although neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT) has been increasingly used to improve the outcome of advanced gastric cancer (GC) for decades, its precise efficacy has been difficult to evaluate yet. Abundant studies have investigated the predictive factors that represent the effect of NACT on advanced GC. In the present study, the intratumoral infiltration of regulatory T cells (Tregs) and dendritic cells (DCs) response to NACT in advanced GC and their correlation with prognosis were evaluated. Infiltration of Tregs (marked by Foxp3) and DCs (marked by S-100) in 102 advanced GC specimens with or without NACT was measured using immunohistochemical method. Intratumoral infiltration of Foxp3 Tregs was significantly lower and DC density was significantly higher in NACT group than that in nNACT group (P=0.007, P=0.002, respectively). Infiltration of Foxp3 Tregs was significantly associated with tumor invasion depth (P<0.001). The DC density was significantly correlated with histopathologic type (P=0.035), invasion depth (P=0.002), TNM stage (P=0.018), and lymph node metastasis (P<0.001). There was no significant difference of patient’s OS between NACT and nNACT groups (P=0.452); however, patients treated with NACT had longer OS with lower infiltration of Foxp3 Tregs (P<0.001) and higher infiltration of DCs (P=0.010). Univariate and multivariate analyses indicated that infiltration of Foxp3 Tregs and DCs were independent prognostic factors (P=0.002, P=0.003, respectively). The results demonstrated that NACT could decrease intratumoral Foxp3 Tregs infiltration and increase DCs density, and that infiltration of Foxp3 Tregs and DCs may serve as novel prognostic biomarkers of human GC.
PMCID: PMC4152030  PMID: 25197340
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT); advanced gastric cancer; regulatory T cells (Tregs); dendritic cells (DCs); FOXP3; S-100
20.  Cardiorespiratory Biomarker Responses in Healthy Young Adults to Drastic Air Quality Changes Surrounding the 2008 Beijing Olympics 
Associations between air pollution and cardiorespiratory mortality and morbidity have been well established, but data to support biologic mechanisms underlying these associations are limited. We designed this study to examine several prominently hypothesized mechanisms by assessing Beijing residents’ biologic responses, at the biomarker level, to drastic changes in air quality brought about by unprecedented air pollution control measures implemented during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
To test the hypothesis that changes in air pollution levels are associated with changes in biomarker levels reflecting inflammation, hemostasis, oxidative stress, and autonomic tone, we recruited and retained 125 nonsmoking adults (19 to 33 years old) free of cardiorespiratory and other chronic diseases. Using the combination of a quasi-experimental design and a panel-study approach, we measured biomarkers of autonomic dysfunction (heart rate [HR*] and heart rate variability [HRV]), of systemic inflammation and oxidative stress (plasma C-reactive protein [CRP], fibrinogen, blood cell counts and differentials, and urinary 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine [8-OHdG]), of pulmonary inflammation and oxidative stress (fractional exhaled nitric oxide [FeNO], exhaled breath condensate [EBC] pH, EBC nitrate, EBC nitrite, EBC nitrite+nitrate [sum of the concentrations of nitrite and nitrate], and EBC 8-isoprostane), of hemostasis (platelet activation [plasma sCD62P and sCD40L], platelet aggregation, and von Willebrand factor [vWF]), and of blood pressure (systolic blood pressure [SBP] and diastolic blood pressure [DBP]). These biomarkers were measured on each subject twice before, twice during, and twice after the Beijing Olympics. For each subject, repeated measurements were separated by at least one week to avoid potential residual effects from a prior measurement. We measured a large suite of air pollutants (PM2.5 [particulate matter ≤ 2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter] and constituents, sulfur dioxide [SO2], carbon monoxide [CO], nitrogen dioxide [NO2], and ozone [O3]) throughout the study at a central Beijing site near the residences and workplaces of the subjects on a daily basis. Total particle number (TPN) was also measured at a separate site. We used a time-series analysis to assess changes in pollutant concentration by period (pre-, during-, and post-Olympics periods). We used mixed-effects models to assess changes in biomarker levels by period and to estimate changes associated with increases in pollutant concentrations, controlling for ambient temperature, relative humidity (RH), sex, and the day of the week of the biomarker measurements. We conducted sensitivity analyses to assess the impact of potential temporal confounding and exposure misclassification.
We observed reductions in mean concentrations for all measured pollutants except O3 from the pre-Olympics period to the during-Olympics period. On average, elemental carbon (EC) changed by −36%, TPN by −22%, SO2 by −60%, CO by −48%, and NO2 by −43% (P < 0.05 for all these pollutants). Reductions were observed in mean concentrations of PM2.5 (by −27%), sulfate (SO42−) (by −13%), and organic carbon (OC) (by −23%); however, these values were not statistically significant. Both 24-hour averages and 1-hour maximums of O3 increased (by 20% and 17%, respectively) from the pre-Olympics to the during-Olympics period. In the post-Olympics period after the pollution control measures were relaxed, mean concentrations of most pollutants (with the exception of SO42− and O3) increased to levels similar to or higher than pre-Olympics levels.
Concomitantly and consistent with the hypothesis, we observed, from the pre-Olympics to the during-Olympics period, statistically significant (P ≤ 0.05) or marginally significant (0.05 < P < 0.1) decreases in HR (−1 bpm or −1.7% [95% CI, −3.4 to −0.1]), SBP (−1.6 mmHg or − 1.8% [95% CI, −3.9 to 0.4]), 8-OHdG (−58.3% [95% CI, −72.5 to −36.7]), FeNO (−60.3% [95% CI, −66.0 to −53.6]), EBC nitrite (−30.0% [95% CI, −39.3 to −19.3]), EBC nitrate (−21.5% [95% CI, −35.5 to −4.5]), EBC nitrite+nitrate (−17.6% [95% CI, −28.4 to −5.1]), EBC hydrogen ions (−46% [calculated from EBC pH], or +3.5% in EBC pH [95% CI, 2.2 to 4.9]), sCD62P (−34% [95% CI, −38.4 to −29.2]), sCD40L (−5.7% [95% CI, −10.5 to −0.7]), and vWF (−13.1% [95% CI, −18.6 to −7.5]). Moreover, the percentages of above-detection values out of all observations were significantly lower for plasma CRP and EBC 8-isoprostane in the during-Olympics period compared with the pre-Olympics period. In the post-Olympics period, the levels of the following biomarkers reversed (increased, either with or without statistical significance) from those in the during-Olympics period: SBP (10.7% [95% CI, 2.8 to 18.6]), fibrinogen (4.3% [95% CI, −1.7 to 10.2), neutrophil count (4.7% [95% CI, −7.7 to 17.0]), 8-OHdG (315% [95% CI, 62.0 to 962]), FeNO (130% [95% CI, 62.5 to 225]), EBC nitrite (159% [95% CI, 71.8 to 292]), EBC nitrate (161% [95% CI, 48.0 to 362]), EBC nitrite+nitrate (124% [95% CI, 50.9 to 233]), EBC hydrogen ions (146% [calculated from EBC pH] or −4.8% in EBC pH [95% CI, −9.4 to −0.2]), sCD62P (33.7% [95% CI, 17.7 to 51.8]), and sCD40L (9.1% [95% CI, −3.7 to 23.5]).
Furthermore, these biomarkers also showed statistically significant associations with multiple pollutants across different lags after adjusting for meteorologic parameters. The associations were in the directions hypothesized and were consistent with the findings from the comparisons between periods, providing further evidence that the period effects were due to changes in air quality, independent of season and meteorologic conditions or other potential confounders. Contrary to our hypothesis, however, we observed increases in platelet aggregation, red blood cells (RBCs) and white blood cells (WBCs) associated with the during-Olympics period, as well as significant negative associations of these biomarkers with pollutant concentrations. We did not observe significant changes in any of the HRV indices and DBP by period. However, we observed associations between a few HRV indices and pollutant concentrations.
Changes in air pollution levels during the Beijing Olympics were associated with acute changes in biomarkers of pulmonary and systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, and hemostasis and in measures of cardiovascular physiology (HR and SBP) in healthy, young adults. These changes support the prominently hypothesized mechanistic pathways underlying the cardiorespiratory effects of air pollution.
PMCID: PMC4086245  PMID: 23646463
21.  Identification of two novel HSP90 proteins in Babesia orientalis: molecular characterization, and computational analyses of their structure, function, antigenicity and inhibitor interaction 
Parasites & Vectors  2014;7:293.
HSP90 protects the cells from heat stress and facilitates protein maturation and stability. The full genome sequences of piroplasms contain two putative HSP90 proteins, which are yet uncharacterized. To this end, the two putative HSP90 proteins of Babesia orientalis were identified and characterized by molecular and in silico methods.
The two putative proteins in B. orientalis genome showing homology with putative HSP90 of other piroplasms were cloned and sequenced. A computational analysis was carried out to predict the antigenic determinants, structure and function of these proteins. The interactions of two HSP90 isoforms with respective inhibitors were also examined through docking analysis.
The length of BoHSP90-A gene (amplified from gDNA) was 2706 bp with one intron from position 997 to 1299 bp. This gene amplified from cDNA corresponded to full length CDS with an open reading frame (ORF) of 2403 bp encoding a 800 amino acid (AA) polypeptide with a predicted size of 91.02 kDa. The HSP90-B gene was intronless with an ORF of 2349 bp, and predicted polypeptide comprised of 797 AA with a size of 90.59 kDa. The AA sequences of these two proteins of B. orientalis were the most identical to those of B. bovis. The BoHSP90-A and BoHSP90-B were recognized as 90 kDa in the parasite lysate by the rabbit antisera raised against the recombinant BoHSP90 proteins. The anti-B. orientalis buffalo serum reacted with the rBoHSP90s expressed in E. coli, indicating that these proteins might be secreted by the parasite before entry into host cells. The overall structure and functional analyses showed several domains involved in ATPase activity, client protein binding and HSP90 dimerization. Likewise, several HSP90 inhibitors showed binding to ATP binding pockets of BoHSP90-A and BoHSP90-B, as observed through protein structure-ligand interaction analysis.
The two putative HSP90 proteins in B. orientalis were recognized as 90 kDa. The rBoHSP90-A and rBoHSP90-B were reacted with the B. orientalis infected buffalo serum. The computational structure and functional analyses revealed that these two proteins may have chaperonic activity. The protein structure-ligand interaction analyses indicated that these two proteins had many drug target sites.
PMCID: PMC4089566  PMID: 24970594
Babesia orientalis; HSP90; Molecular characterization; Structure and functional analysis; Ligand docking; Antigenic epitopes
22.  Association Between Changes in Air Pollution Levels During the Beijing Olympics and Biomarkers of Inflammation and Thrombosis in Healthy Young Adults 
Air pollution is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVD), but the underlying biological mechanisms are not well understood.
To determine whether markers related to CVD pathophysiological pathways (biomarkers for systemic inflammation and thrombosis, heart rate, and blood pressure) are sensitive to changes in air pollution.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Using a quasi-experimental opportunity offered by greatly restricted air pollution emissions during the Beijing Olympics, we measured pollutants daily and the outcomes listed below in 125 healthy young adults before, during, and after the 2008 Olympics (June 2-October 30). We used linear mixed-effects models to estimate the improvement in outcome levels during the Olympics and the anticipated reversal of outcome levels after pollution controls ended to determine whether changes in outcome levels were associated with changes in pollutant concentrations.
Main Outcome Measures
C-reactive protein (CRP), fibrinogen, von Willebrand factor, soluble CD40 ligand (sCD40L), soluble P-selectin (sCD62P) concentrations; white blood cell count (WBC); heart rate; and blood pressure.
Concentrations of particulate and gaseous pollutants decreased substantially (−13% to −60%) from the pre-Olympic period to the during-Olympic period. Using 2-sided tests conducted at the .003 level, we observed statistically significant improvements in sCD62P levels by −34.0% (95% CI, −38.4% to −29.2%; P<.001) from a pre-Olympic mean of 6.29 ng/mL to a during-Olympic mean of 4.16 ng/mL and von Willebrand factor by −13.1% (95% CI, −18.6% to −7.5%; P<.001) from 106.4% to 92.6%. After adjustments for multiple comparisons, changes in the other outcomes were not statistically significant. In the post-Olympic period when pollutant concentrations increased, most outcomes approximated pre-Olympic levels, but only sCD62P and systolic blood pressure were significantly worsened from the during-Olympic period. The fraction of above-detection-limit values for CRP (percentage ≥0.3 mg/L) was reduced from 55% in the pre-Olympic period to 46% in the during-Olympic period and reduced further to 36% in the post-Olympic period. Interquartile range increases in pollutant concentrations were consistently associated with statistically significant increases in fibrinogen, von Wille-brand factor, heart rate, sCD62P, and sCD40L concentrations.
Changes in air pollution levels during the Beijing Olympics were associated with acute changes in biomarkers of inflammation and thrombosis and measures of cardiovascular physiology in healthy young persons. These findings are of uncertain clinical significance.
PMCID: PMC4049319  PMID: 22665106
23.  Malondialdehyde in exhaled breath condensate and urine as a biomarker of air pollution induced oxidative stress 
Underlying mechanisms by which air pollutants adversely affect human health remain poorly understood. Oxidative stress has been considered as a potential mechanism that may promote lipid peroxidation by reactive oxygen species, leading to the formation of malondialdehyde (MDA) that is excreted in biofluids (e.g., urine and exhaled breath condensate (EBC)). A panel study was conducted to examine whether concentrations of MDA in EBC and urine were associated, respectively, with changes in air pollution levels brought by the Beijing Olympic air pollution control measures. EBC and urine samples from 125 healthy adults were collected twice in each of the pre-, during-, and post-Olympic periods. Period-specific means of MDA and changes in MDA levels associated with increases in 24-h average pollutant concentrations were estimated using linear mixed-effects models. From the pre- to the during-Olympic period, when concentrations of most pollutants decreased, EBC MDA and urinary MDA significantly decreased by 24% (P < 0.0001) and 28% (P = 0.0002), respectively. From the during-Olympic to the post-Olympic period, when concentrations of most pollutants increased, EBC MDA and urinary MDA increased by 28% (P = 0.094) and 55% (P = 0.046), respectively. Furthermore, the largest increases in EBC MDA associated with one interquartile range (IQR) increases in all pollutants but ozone ranged from 10% (95% CI: 2%, 18%) to 19% (95% CI: 14%, 25%). The largest increases in urinary MDA associated with IQR increases in pollutant concentration ranged from 9% (95%: 0.3%, 19%) to 15% (95% CI: 3%, 28%). These findings support the utility of EBC MDA as a biomarker of oxidative stress in the respiratory tract and urinary MDA as a biomarker of systemic oxidative stress in relation to air pollution exposure in healthy young adults. Both EBC and urine samples can be collected noninvasively in the general population.
PMCID: PMC4049321  PMID: 23321859
The Beijing Olympics; lipid peroxidation; malondialdehyde; oxidative stress; exhaled breath condensate
24.  Measurement of inflammation and oxidative stress following drastic changes in air pollution during the Beijing Olympics: a panel study approach 
Ambient air pollution has been linked to cardiovascular and respiratory morbidity and mortality in epidemiology studies. Frequently, oxidative and nitrosative stress are hypothesized to mediate these pollution effects, however precise mechanisms remain unclear. This paper describes the methodology for a major panel study to examine air pollution effects on these and other mechanistic pathways. The study took place during the drastic air pollution changes accompanying the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. After a general description of air pollution health effects, we provide a discussion of panel studies and describe the unique features of this study that make it likely to provide compelling results. This study should lead to a clearer and more precise definition of the role of oxidative and nitrosative stress, as well as other mechanisms, in determining acute morbidity and mortality from air pollution exposure.
PMCID: PMC4049322  PMID: 20716299
panel study; oxidative stress; exhaled breath condensate; 2008 Olympics
25.  Strontium Promotes Cementoblasts Differentiation through Inhibiting Sclerostin Expression In Vitro 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:487535.
Cementogenesis, performed by cementoblasts, is important for the repair of root resorption caused by orthodontic treatment. Based on recent studies, strontium has been applied for osteoporosis treatment due to its positive effect on osteoblasts. Although promising, the effect of strontium on cementoblasts is still unclear. So the aim of this research was to clarify and investigate the effect of strontium on cementogenesis via employing cementoblasts as model. A series of experiments including MTT, alkaline phosphatase activity, gene analysis, alizarin red staining, and western blot were carried out to evaluate the proliferation and differentiation of cementoblasts. In addition, expression of sclerostin was checked to analyze the possible mechanism. Our results show that strontium inhibits the proliferation of cementoblasts with a dose dependent manner; however, it can promote the differentiation of cementoblasts via downregulating sclerostin expression. Taking together, strontium may facilitate cementogenesis and benefit the treatment of root resorption at a low dose.
PMCID: PMC4070504  PMID: 25003114

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