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1.  Berberine attenuates autophagy in adipocytes by targeting BECN1 
Autophagy  2014;10(10):1776-1786.
The lysosomal degradation pathway, autophagy, is essential for the maintenance of cellular homeostasis. Recently, autophagy has been demonstrated to be required in the process of adipocyte conversion. However, its role in mature adipocytes under physiological and pathological conditions remains unclear. Here, we report a major function of BECN1 in the regulation of basal autophagy in mature adipocytes. We also show that berberine, a natural plant alkaloid, inhibits basal autophagy in adipocytes and adipose tissue of mice fed a high-fat diet via downregulation of BECN1 expression. We further demonstrate that berberine has a pronounced effect on the stability of Becn1 mRNA through the Mir30 family. These findings explore the potential of BECN1 as a key molecule and a drug target for regulating autophagy in mature adipocytes.
PMCID: PMC4198362  PMID: 25126729
3′ UTR; BECN1; adipocytes; autophagy; berberine; microRNA
2.  Preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of thermostable β-1,4-mannanase from Aspergillus niger BK01 
The recombinant protein of acidic thermophilic β-1,4-mannanase from Aspergillus niger BK01 was expressed, purified, and crystallized. X-ray diffraction data to 1.57 Å was collected and reported.
β-1,4-Mannanase (β-mannanase) is a key enzyme in decomposing mannans, which are abundant components of hemicelluloses in the plant cell wall. Therefore, mannan hydrolysis is highly valuable in a wide array of industrial applications. β-Mannanase isolated from Aspergillus niger BK01 (ManBK) was classified into glycoside hydrolase family GH5. ManBK holds great potential in biotechnological applications owing to its high thermostability. Here, ManBK was expressed and purified in Pichia pastoris and the recombinant protein was crystallized. Crystals belonging to the orthorhombic space group C2221, with unit-cell parameters a = 93.58, b = 97.05, c = 147.84 Å, were obtained by the sitting-drop vapour-diffusion method and diffracted to 1.57 Å resolution. Structure determination using molecular-replacement methods is in progress.
PMCID: PMC3792665  PMID: 24100557
β-mannanase; Aspergillus niger; thermophilic
3.  Pathogen profile and drug resistance analysis of spontaneous peritonitis in cirrhotic patients 
World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG  2015;21(36):10409-10417.
AIM: To investigate the microbiological characteristics and drug resistance in liver cirrhosis patients with spontaneous peritonitis.
METHODS: We analyzed the data of patients with liver cirrhosis and abdominal infection at the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University between January 2011 and December 2013. Pathogens present in the ascites were identified, and their sensitivity to various antibiotics was determined.
RESULTS: We isolated 306 pathogenic bacteria from 288 cases: In 178 cases, the infection was caused by gram-negative strains (58.2%); in 85 cases, gram-positive strains (27.8%); in 9 cases, fungi (2.9%); and in 16 cases, more than one pathogen. The main pathogens were Escherichia coli (E. coli) (24.2%), Klebsiella pneumoniae (18.9%), Enterococcus spp. (11.1%), and Staphylococcus aureus (7.5%). Of the 306 isolated pathogens, 99 caused nosocomial infections and 207 caused community-acquired and other infections. The E. coli and K. pneumoniae strains produced more extended-spectrum β-lactamases in cases of nosocomial infections than non-nosocomial infections (62.5% vs 38%, P < 0.013; 36.8% vs 12.8%, P < 0.034, respectively). The sensitivity to individual antibiotics differed between nosocomial and non-nosocomial infections: Piperacillin/tazobactam was significantly more effective against non-nosocomial E. coli infections (4% vs 20.8%, P < 0.021). Nitrofurantoin had stronger antibacterial activity against Enterococcus species causing non-nosocomial infections (36.4% vs 86.3%, P < 0.009).
CONCLUSION: The majority of pathogens that cause abdominal infection in patients with liver cirrhosis are gram-negative, and drug resistance is significantly higher in nosocomial infections than in non-nosocomial infections.
PMCID: PMC4579887  PMID: 26420967
Liver cirrhosis; Spontaneous peritonitis; Drug sensitive test; Drug resistance
4.  Similarity of markers identified from cancer gene expression studies: observations from GEO 
Briefings in Bioinformatics  2013;15(5):671-684.
Gene expression profiling has been extensively conducted in cancer research. The analysis of multiple independent cancer gene expression datasets may provide additional information and complement single-dataset analysis. In this study, we conduct multi-dataset analysis and are interested in evaluating the similarity of cancer-associated genes identified from different datasets. The first objective of this study is to briefly review some statistical methods that can be used for such evaluation. Both marginal analysis and joint analysis methods are reviewed. The second objective is to apply those methods to 26 Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) datasets on five types of cancers. Our analysis suggests that for the same cancer, the marker identification results may vary significantly across datasets, and different datasets share few common genes. In addition, datasets on different cancers share few common genes. The shared genetic basis of datasets on the same or different cancers, which has been suggested in the literature, is not observed in the analysis of GEO data.
PMCID: PMC4271059  PMID: 23788798
cancer gene expression study; marker identification; similarity; GEO
5.  Genetically modified "obligate" anaerobic Salmonella typhimurium as a therapeutic strategy for neuroblastoma 
Neuroblastoma currently has poor prognosis, therefore we proposed a new strategy by targeting neuroblastoma with genetically engineered anaerobic Salmonella (Sal-YB1).
Nude and nonobese diabetic-severe combined immunodeficiency (NOD-SCID) orthotopic mouse models were used, and Sal-YB1 was administered via tail vein. The therapeutic effectiveness, bio-safety, and mechanisms were studied.
No mice died of therapy-related complications. Tumor size reduction was 70 and 30 % in nude and NOD-SCID mice, respectively. No Salmonella was detected in the urine; 75 % mice had positive stool culture if diaminopimelic acid was added, but all turned negative subsequently. Tumor tissues had more Sal-YB1 infiltration, necrosis, and shrinkage in Sal-YB1-treated mice. Significantly higher expression of TLR4, TNF-stimulated gene 6 protein (TSG6), and cleaved caspase 1, 3, 8, and 9 was found in the tumor masses of the Sal-YB1-treated group with a decrease of interleukin 1 receptor-associated kinase (IRAK) and nuclear factor of kappa light polypeptide gene enhancer in B-cells inhibitor alpha (IκBα). There was a high release of TNFα both in human macrophages and mouse tumor tissues with Sal-YB1 treatment. The antitumor effect of the supernatant derived from macrophages treated with Sal-YB1 could be reversed with TNFα and pan-caspase inhibitors.
This new approach in targeting neuroblastoma by bio-engineered Salmonella with the assistance of macrophages indirectly may have a clinical therapeutic impact in the future.
PMCID: PMC4545364  PMID: 26286454
Anaerobic salmonella; Neuroblastoma; Orthotopic mouse model; Immune-compromised host; Macrophage; Cancer treatment
6.  A fresh look at zebrafish from the perspective of cancer research 
Zebrafish represent a vertebrate model organism that has been widely, and increasingly, employed over the last decade in the study of developmental processes, wound healing, microbe-host interactions, and drug screening. With the increase in the laboratory use of zebrafish, several advantages, such as a high genetic homology to humans and transparent embryos, which allow clear disease evaluation, have greatly widened its use as a model for studying tumor development in vivo. The use of zebrafish has been applied in several areas of cancer research, mainly in the following domains: (1) establishing cancer models by carcinogenic chemical, genetic technology, and xenotransplantation; (2) evaluating tumor angiogenesis; (3) studying tumor metastasis; and (4) anti-tumor drug screening and drug toxicity evaluation. In this study, we provide a comprehensive overview of the role of zebrafish in order to underline the advantages of using them as a model organism in cancer research. Several related successful events are also reviewed.
PMCID: PMC4531851  PMID: 26260237
Zebrafish; Cancer model; Angiogenesis; Metastasis; Drug screen
7.  Circadian Modulation of Dopamine Levels and Dopaminergic Neuron Development Contributes to Attention Deficiency and Hyperactive Behavior 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2015;35(6):2572-2587.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders in children and adults. While ADHD patients often display circadian abnormalities, the underlying mechanisms are unclear. Here we found that the zebrafish mutant for the circadian gene period1b (per1b) displays hyperactive, impulsive-like, and attention deficit-like behaviors and low levels of dopamine, reminiscent of human ADHD patients. We found that the circadian clock directly regulates dopamine-related genes monoamine oxidase and dopamine β hydroxylase, and acts via genes important for the development or maintenance of dopaminergic neurons to regulate their number and organization in the ventral diencephalic posterior tuberculum. We then found that Per1 knock-out mice also display ADHD-like symptoms and reduced levels of dopamine, thereby showing highly conserved roles of the circadian clock in ADHD. Our studies demonstrate that disruption of a circadian clock gene elicits ADHD-like syndrome. The circadian model for attention deficiency and hyperactive behavior sheds light on ADHD pathogenesis and opens avenues for exploring novel targets for diagnosis and therapy for this common psychiatric disorder.
PMCID: PMC4323534  PMID: 25673850
attention deficiency; circadian clock; dopamine; hyperactivity; per1b; zebrafish
8.  Innate γδT17 cells convert cancer-elicited inflammation into immunosuppression through myeloid-derived suppressor cells  
Oncoimmunology  2014;3(8):e953423.
Chronic inflammation has been linked to cancer development and metastasis. We have recently demonstrated that γδ T cells are the major cellular source of IL-17 (γδT17) and accumulation of γδT17 cells correlates with human colorectal cancer progression through recruitment and expansion of myeloid-derived suppressor cells, thus converting tumor-elicited inflammation into immunosuppression.
PMCID: PMC4292213  PMID: 25610744
inflammation; IL-17; myeloid-derived suppressor cells; tumor progression; γδ T cells; APC, antigen-presenting cell; CRC, colorectal cancer; DAMP, danger-associated molecular pattern; DC, dendritic cell; GM-CSF; granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor; KO, knock out; MDSC, myeloid-derived suppressor cell; MMP, matrix metalloproteinase; PGE2, prostaglandin E2; PMN, polymorphonuclear; VEGF, vascular endothelial growth factor
9.  Tom70 serves as a molecular switch to determine pathological cardiac hypertrophy 
Cell Research  2014;24(8):977-993.
Pathological cardiac hypertrophy is an inevitable forerunner of heart failure. Regardless of the etiology of cardiac hypertrophy, cardiomyocyte mitochondrial alterations are always observed in this context. The translocases of mitochondrial outer membrane (Tom) complex governs the import of mitochondrial precursor proteins to maintain mitochondrial function under pathophysiological conditions; however, its role in the development of pathological cardiac hypertrophy remains unclear. Here, we showed that Tom70 was downregulated in pathological hypertrophic hearts from humans and experimental animals. The reduction in Tom70 expression produced distinct pathological cardiomyocyte hypertrophy both in vivo and in vitro. The defective mitochondrial import of Tom70-targeted optic atrophy-1 triggered intracellular oxidative stress, which led to a pathological cellular response. Importantly, increased Tom70 levels provided cardiomyocytes with full resistance to diverse pro-hypertrophic insults. Together, these results reveal that Tom70 acts as a molecular switch that orchestrates hypertrophic stresses and mitochondrial responses to determine pathological cardiac hypertrophy.
PMCID: PMC4123302  PMID: 25022898
pathological cardiac hypertrophy; translocases of mitochondrial outer membrane; optic atrophy-1; oxidative stress
10.  Numerical magnitude processing in abacus-trained children with superior mathematical ability: an EEG study*  
Distance effect has been regarded as the best established marker of basic numerical magnitude processes and is related to individual mathematical abilities. A larger behavioral distance effect is suggested to be concomitant with lower mathematical achievement in children. However, the relationship between distance effect and superior mathematical abilities is unclear. One could get superior mathematical abilities by acquiring the skill of abacus-based mental calculation (AMC), which can be used to solve calculation problems with exceptional speed and high accuracy. In the current study, we explore the relationship between distance effect and superior mathematical abilities by examining whether and how the AMC training modifies numerical magnitude processing. Thus, mathematical competencies were tested in 18 abacus-trained children (who accepted the AMC training) and 18 non-trained children. Electroencephalography (EEG) waveforms were recorded when these children executed numerical comparison tasks in both Arabic digit and dot array forms. We found that: (a) the abacus-trained group had superior mathematical abilities than their peers; (b) distance effects were found both in behavioral results and on EEG waveforms; (c) the distance effect size of the average amplitude on the late negative-going component was different between groups in the digit task, with a larger effect size for abacus-trained children; (d) both the behavioral and EEG distance effects were modulated by the notation. These results revealed that the neural substrates of magnitude processing were modified by AMC training, and suggested that the mechanism of the representation of numerical magnitude for children with superior mathematical abilities was different from their peers. In addition, the results provide evidence for a view of non-abstract numerical representation.
PMCID: PMC4534543  PMID: 26238541
Electroencephalography (EEG); Abacus training; Distance effect; Numerical magnitude processing; Child
11.  Integrative Analysis of Prognosis Data on Multiple Cancer Subtypes 
Biometrics  2014;70(3):480-488.
In cancer research, profiling studies have been extensively conducted, searching for genes/SNPs associated with prognosis. Cancer is diverse. Examining the similarity and difference in the genetic basis of multiple subtypes of the same cancer can lead to a better understanding of their connections and distinctions. Classic meta-analysis methods analyze each subtype separately and then compare analysis results across subtypes. Integrative analysis methods, in contrast, analyze the raw data on multiple subtypes simultaneously and can outperform meta-analysis methods. In this study, prognosis data on multiple subtypes of the same cancer are analyzed. An AFT (accelerated failure time) model is adopted to describe survival. The genetic basis of multiple subtypes is described using the heterogeneity model, which allows a gene/SNP to be associated with prognosis of some subtypes but not others. A compound penalization method is developed to identify genes that contain important SNPs associated with prognosis. The proposed method has an intuitive formulation and is realized using an iterative algorithm. Asymptotic properties are rigorously established. Simulation shows that the proposed method has satisfactory performance and outperforms a penalization-based meta-analysis method and a regularized thresholding method. An NHL (non-Hodgkin lymphoma) prognosis study with SNP measurements is analyzed. Genes associated with the three major subtypes, namely DLBCL, FL, and CLL/SLL, are identified. The proposed method identifies genes that are different from alternatives and have important implications and satisfactory prediction performance.
PMCID: PMC4209207  PMID: 24766212
Cancer prognosis; Integrative analysis; Genetic association; Marker identification; Penalization
12.  Rapid epitaxy-free graphene synthesis on silicidated polycrystalline platinum 
Nature Communications  2015;6:7536.
Large-area synthesis of high-quality graphene by chemical vapour deposition on metallic substrates requires polishing or substrate grain enlargement followed by a lengthy growth period. Here we demonstrate a novel substrate processing method for facile synthesis of mm-sized, single-crystal graphene by coating polycrystalline platinum foils with a silicon-containing film. The film reacts with platinum on heating, resulting in the formation of a liquid platinum silicide layer that screens the platinum lattice and fills topographic defects. This reduces the dependence on the surface properties of the catalytic substrate, improving the crystallinity, uniformity and size of graphene domains. At elevated temperatures growth rates of more than an order of magnitude higher (120 μm min−1) than typically reported are achieved, allowing savings in costs for consumable materials, energy and time. This generic technique paves the way for using a whole new range of eutectic substrates for the large-area synthesis of 2D materials.
Innovative substrate engineering is necessary to improve the quality of CVD-synthesized graphene. Here the authors demonstrate in situ fabrication of an eutectic Pt-Si alloy that forms a wetting liquid surface on polycrystalline Pt foils, allowing millimetre-sized graphene crystals to grow in minutes.
PMCID: PMC4518308  PMID: 26175062
13.  Identification of ULK1 as a novel biomarker involved in miR-4487 and miR-595 regulation in neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cell autophagy 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:11035.
Autophagy, referring to an evolutionarily conserved, multi-step lysosomal degradation process, has been well-known to be initiated by Unc-51 like kinase 1 (ULK1) with some links to Parkinson’s disease (PD). MicroRNAs (miRNAs), small and non-coding endogenous RNAs 22 ~ 24 nucleotides (nt) in length, have been demonstrated to play an essential role for modulating autophagy. Recently, the relationships between miRNAs and autophagy have been widely reported in PD; however, how microRNAs regulate autophagy still remains in its infancy. Thus, in this study, we computationally constructed the ULK1-regulated autophagic kinase subnetwork in PD and further identified ULK1 able to negatively regulate p70S6K in starvation-induced autophagy of neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells. Combination of in silico prediction and microarray analyses, we identified that miR-4487 and miR-595 could target ULK1 and experimentally verified they could negatively or positively regulate ULK1-mediated autophagy. In conclusion, these results may uncover the novel ULK1-p70S6K autophagic pathway, as well as miR-4487 and miR-595 as new ULK1 target miRNAs. Thus, these findings would provide a clue to explore ULK1 and its target miRNAs as potential biomarkers in the future PD therapy.
PMCID: PMC4505320  PMID: 26183158
14.  Rice_Phospho 1.0: a new rice-specific SVM predictor for protein phosphorylation sites 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:11940.
Experimentally-determined or computationally-predicted protein phosphorylation sites for distinctive species are becoming increasingly common. In this paper, we compare the predictive performance of a novel classification algorithm with different encoding schemes to develop a rice-specific protein phosphorylation site predictor. Our results imply that the combination of Amino acid occurrence Frequency with Composition of K-Spaced Amino Acid Pairs (AF-CKSAAP) provides the best description of relevant sequence features that surround a phosphorylation site. A support vector machine (SVM) using AF-CKSAAP achieves the best performance in classifying rice protein phophorylation sites when compared to the other algorithms. We have used SVM with AF-CKSAAP to construct a rice-specific protein phosphorylation sites predictor, Rice_Phospho 1.0 ( We measure the Accuracy (ACC) and Matthews Correlation Coefficient (MCC) of Rice_Phospho 1.0 to be 82.0% and 0.64, significantly higher than those measures for other predictors such as Scansite, Musite, PlantPhos and PhosphoRice. Rice_Phospho 1.0 also successfully predicted the experimentally identified phosphorylation sites in LOC_Os03g51600.1, a protein sequence which did not appear in the training dataset. In summary, Rice_phospho 1.0 outputs reliable predictions of protein phosphorylation sites in rice, and will serve as a useful tool to the community.
PMCID: PMC4493637  PMID: 26149854
15.  METTL21C is a potential pleiotropic gene for osteoporosis and sarcopenia acting through the modulation of the NFκB signaling pathway 
Sarcopenia and osteoporosis are important public health problems that occur concurrently. A bivariate genome-wide association study (GWAS) identified METTL21c as a suggestive pleiotropic gene for both bone and muscle. METTL21 family of proteins methylates chaperones involved in the etiology of both Inclusion Body Myositis with Paget's disease. To validate these GWAS results, Mettl21c mRNA expression was reduced with siRNA in a mouse myogenic C2C12 cell line and the mouse osteocyte-like cell line MLO-Y4. At day 3, as C2C12 myoblasts start to differentiate into myotubes, a significant reduction in the number of myocytes aligning/organizing for fusion was observed in the siRNA-treated cells. At day 5, both fewer and smaller myotubes were observed in the siRNA-treated cells as confirmed by histomorphometric analyses and immunostaining with Myosin Heavy Chain (MHC) antibody, which only stains myocytes/myotubes but not myoblasts. Intracellular calcium (Ca2+) measurements of the siRNA-treated myotubes showed a decrease in maximal amplitude peak response to caffeine suggesting that less Ca2+ is available for release due to the partial silencing of Mettl21c, correlating with impaired myogenesis. In siRNA-treated MLO-Y4 cells, 48 hours after treatment with dexamethasone, there was a significant increase in cell death, suggesting a role of Mettl21c in osteocyte survival. To investigate the molecular signaling machinery induced by the partial silencing of Mettl21c, we monitored with a real-time PCR gene array the activity of 10 signaling pathways. We discovered that Mettl21c knockdown modulated only the NFκB signaling pathway (i.e., Birc3, Ccl5 and Tnf). These results suggest that Mettl21c might exert its bone-muscle pleiotropic function via the regulation of the NFκB signaling pathway, which is critical for bone and muscle homeostasis. These studies also provide rationale for cellular and molecular validation of GWAS, and warrant additional in vitro and in vivo studies to advance our understanding of role of METTL21C in musculoskeletal biology.
PMCID: PMC4074268  PMID: 24677265
Genetic Research; Human Association Studies; Osteocytes; Skeletal Muscle; Bone-Muscle Interactions
16.  Recombinant ESAT-6-Like Proteins Provoke Protective Immune Responses against Invasive Staphylococcus aureus Disease in a Murine Model 
Infection and Immunity  2014;83(1):339-345.
Staphylococcus aureus is a common pathogen found in the community and in hospitals. Most notably, methicillin-resistant S. aureus is resistant to many antibiotics, which is a growing public health concern. The emergence of drug-resistant strains has prompted the search for alternative treatments, such as immunotherapeutic approaches. To date, most clinical trials of vaccines or of passive immunization against S. aureus have ended in failure. In this study, we investigated two ESAT-6-like proteins secreted by S. aureus, S. aureus EsxA (SaEsxA) and SaEsxB, as possible targets for a vaccine. Mice vaccinated with these purified proteins elicited high titers of anti-SaEsxA and anti-SaEsxB antibodies, but these antibodies could not prevent S. aureus infection. On the other hand, recombinant SaEsxA (rSaEsxA) and rSaEsxB could induce Th1- and Th17-biased immune responses in mice. Mice immunized with rSaEsxA and rSaEsxB had significantly improved survival rates when challenged with S. aureus compared with the controls. These findings indicate that SaEsxA and SaEsxB are two promising Th1 and Th17 candidate antigens which could be developed into multivalent and serotype-independent vaccines against S. aureus infection.
PMCID: PMC4288882  PMID: 25368117
17.  8-p-Hdroxybenzoyl Tovarol Induces Paraptosis Like Cell Death and Protective Autophagy in Human Cervical Cancer HeLa Cells 
8-p-Hdroxybenzoyl tovarol (TAW) is a germacrane-type sesquiterpenoid that can be isolated from the roots of Ferula dissecta (Ledeb.) Ledeb. In this study, the growth inhibitory effects induced by TAW were screened on some types of tumor cells, and the mechanism was investigated on TAW-induced growth inhibition, including paraptosis and autophagy in human cervical cancer HeLa cells. TAW-induced paraptosis involved extensive cytoplasmic vacuolization in the absence of caspase activation. Additionally, TAW evoked cell paraptotic death mediated by endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and unfolded protein response (UPR). Autophagy induced by TAW was found to antagonize paraptosis in HeLa cells. This effect was enhanced by rapamycin and suppressed by the autophagy inhibitor, 3-methyladenine (3MA). Loss of beclin 1 (an autophagic regulator) function led to promote ER stress. Taken together, these results suggest that TAW induces paraptosis like cell death and protective autophagy in HeLa cells, which would provide a new clue for exploiting TAW as a promising agent for the treatment of cervical cancer.
PMCID: PMC4519883  PMID: 26147427
8-p-hdroxybenzoyl tovarol; germacrane-type sesquiterpenoid; Ferula dissecta; HeLa cell; paraptosis; autophagy
18.  PD-L1 and Survival in Solid Tumors: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0131403.
Numerous agents targeting PD-L1/PD-1 check-point are in clinical development. However, the correlation between PD-L1expression and prognosis of solid tumor is still in controversial. Here, we elicit a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the potential value of PD-L1 in the prognostic prediction in human solid tumors.
Electronic databases were searched for studies evaluating the expression of PD-L1 and overall survival (OS) of patients with solid tumors. Odds ratios (ORs) from individual studies were calculated and pooled by using a random-effect model, and heterogeneity and publication bias analyses were also performed.
A total of 3107 patients with solid tumor from 28 published studies were included in the meta-analysis. The median percentage of solid tumors with PD-L1 overexpression was 52.5%. PD-L1 overexpression was associated with worse OS at both 3 years (OR = 2.43, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.60 to 3.70, P < 0.0001) and 5 years (OR = 2.23, 95% CI = 1.40 to 3.55, P = 0.0008) of solid tumors. Among the tumor types, PD-L1 was associated with worse 3 year-OS of esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, and urothelial cancer, and 5 year-OS of esophageal cancer, gastric cancer and colorectal cancer.
These results suggest that expression of PD-L1 is associated with worse survival in solid tumors. However, the correlations between PD-L1 and prognosis are variant among different tumor types. More studies are needed to investigate the clinical value of PD-L1 expression in prognostic prediction and treatment option.
PMCID: PMC4483169  PMID: 26114883
19.  A phase II neoadjuvant trial of anastrozole, fulvestrant and gefitinib in patients with newly diagnosed estrogen receptor positive breast cancer 
Endocrine therapy in patients with breast cancer can be limited by the problem of resistance. Preclinical studies suggest that complete blockade of the estrogen receptor (ER) combined with inhibition of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) can overcome endocrine resistance. We tested this hypothesis in a phase II neoadjuvant trial of anastrozole and fulvestrant combined with gefitinib in postmenopausal women with newly diagnosed ER-positive breast cancer. After a baseline tumor core biopsy, patients were randomized to receive anastrozole and fulvestrant (AF) or anastrozole, fulvestrant, and gefitinib (AFG) for 3 weeks. After a second biopsy at 3 weeks, all patients received AFG for 4 months and surgery was done if the tumor was operable. The primary endpoint was best clinical response by RECIST criteria and secondary endpoints were toxicity and change in biomarkers. The study closed after 15 patients were enrolled because of slow accrual. Median patient age was 67 years and median clinical tumor size was 7 cm. Four patients had metastatic disease present. Three patients withdrew before response was assessed. In the remaining twelve patients, there were two complete clinical responses (17%), three partial responses (25%), five had stable disease (41%), and two (17%) had progressive disease. Most common adverse events were rash in four patients, diarrhea in four, joint symptoms in three, and abnormal liver function tests in three. There were no grade 4 toxicities and all toxicities were reversible. At 3 weeks, cell proliferation as measured by Ki-67 was significantly reduced in the AFG group (p value= 0.01) with a parallel reduction in the expression of the Cyclin D1 (p value=0.02). RNA microarray data showed a corresponding decrease in the expression of cell cycle genes. These results suggest that AFG was an effective neoadjuvant therapy and consistently reduced proliferation in ER-positive tumors.
PMCID: PMC4477822  PMID: 21792626
breast cancer; estrogen receptor; endocrine resistance; EGFR; proliferation
20.  Autoantibodies against tumor-associated antigens for detection of hepatocellular carcinoma 
World Journal of Hepatology  2015;7(11):1581-1585.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common tumors worldwide. The survival rate after the onset of symptoms is generally less than one year for the late presentation of HCC, and reliable tools for early diagnosis are lacking. Therefore, novel biomarkers for the early detection of HCC are urgently required. Recent studies show that the abnormal release of proteins by tumor cells can elicit humoral immune responses to self-antigens called tumor-associated antigens (TAAs). The corresponding autoantibodies can be detected before the clinical diagnosis of cancer. Therefore, there is growing interest in using serum autoantibodies as cancer biomarkers. In this review, we focus on the advances in research on autoantibodies against TAAs as serum biomarker for detection of HCC, the mechanism of the production of TAAs, and the association of autoantibodies with patients’ clinical characteristics.
PMCID: PMC4462696  PMID: 26085917
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Diagnosis; Serological marker; Autoantibody; Tumor associated antigen
21.  In silico Analysis and Experimental Validation of Lignan Extracts from Kadsura longipedunculata for Potential 5-HT1AR Agonists 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0130055.
Kadsura longipedunculata (KL) has been widely used for the treatment of insomnia in traditional Chinese medicine. The aim of this study was to explore the mechanism of the sedative and hypnotic effects of KL.
Materials and Methods
The content of KL was evaluated by HPLC-TOF-MS, and a potential target was found and used to construct its 3D structure to screen for potential ligands among the compounds in KL by using bioinformatics analysis, including similarity ensemble approach (SEA) docking, homology modeling, molecular docking and ligand-based pharmacophore. The PCPA-induced insomnia rat model was then applied to confirm the potential targets related to the sedative effects of KL by performing the forced swimming test (FST), the tail suspension test (TST) and the measurement of target-related proteins using western blotting and immunofluorescence.
Bioinformatics analysis showed that most of lignan compounds in KL were optimal ligands for the 5-HT1A receptor (5-HT1AR), and they were found to be potential targets related to sedative effects; the main lignan content of KL extracts was characterized by HPLC-TOF-MS, with 7 proposed lignans detected. Administration of KL could significantly reduce FST and TST immobility time in the PCPA-induced 5HT-depleted insomnia rat model. The expressions of proteins related to the 5-HT1AR pathway were regulated by extracts of KL in a concentration-dependent manner, indicating that extracts of KL had 5-HT1AR agonist-like effects.
In silico analysis and experimental validation together demonstrated that lignan extracts from KL can target 5-HT1AR in insomniac rats, which could shed light on its use as a potential 5-HT1AR agonist drug.
PMCID: PMC4468062  PMID: 26076134
22.  Using Historical Atlas Data to Develop High-Resolution Distribution Models of Freshwater Fishes 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0129995.
Understanding the spatial pattern of species distributions is fundamental in biogeography, and conservation and resource management applications. Most species distribution models (SDMs) require or prefer species presence and absence data for adequate estimation of model parameters. However, observations with unreliable or unreported species absences dominate and limit the implementation of SDMs. Presence-only models generally yield less accurate predictions of species distribution, and make it difficult to incorporate spatial autocorrelation. The availability of large amounts of historical presence records for freshwater fishes of the United States provides an opportunity for deriving reliable absences from data reported as presence-only, when sampling was predominantly community-based. In this study, we used boosted regression trees (BRT), logistic regression, and MaxEnt models to assess the performance of a historical metacommunity database with inferred absences, for modeling fish distributions, investigating the effect of model choice and data properties thereby. With models of the distribution of 76 native, non-game fish species of varied traits and rarity attributes in four river basins across the United States, we show that model accuracy depends on data quality (e.g., sample size, location precision), species’ rarity, statistical modeling technique, and consideration of spatial autocorrelation. The cross-validation area under the receiver-operating-characteristic curve (AUC) tended to be high in the spatial presence-absence models at the highest level of resolution for species with large geographic ranges and small local populations. Prevalence affected training but not validation AUC. The key habitat predictors identified and the fish-habitat relationships evaluated through partial dependence plots corroborated most previous studies. The community-based SDM framework broadens our capability to model species distributions by innovatively removing the constraint of lack of species absence data, thus providing a robust prediction of distribution for stream fishes in other regions where historical data exist, and for other taxa (e.g., benthic macroinvertebrates, birds) usually observed by community-based sampling designs.
PMCID: PMC4468192  PMID: 26075902
23.  Prenatal emotion management improves obstetric outcomes: a randomized control study 
Introduction: Negative emotions can cause a number of prenatal problems and disturb obstetric outcomes. We determined the effectiveness of prenatal emotional management on obstetric outcomes in nulliparas. Methods: All participants completed the PHQ-9 at the baseline assessment. Then, the participants were randomly assigned to the emotional management (EM) and usual care (UC) groups. The baseline evaluation began at 31 weeks gestation and the participants were followed up to 42 days postpartum. Each subject in the EM group received an extra EM program while the participants in the UC groups received routine prenatal care and education only. The PHQ-9 and Edinburgh Postnatal Depression scale (EPDS) were used for assessment. Results: The EM group had a lower PHQ-9 score at 36 weeks gestation, and 7 and 42 days after delivery (P < 0.01), and a lower EPDS score 42 days postpartum (P < 0.05). The rate of cesarean section in the EM group was lower than the UC group (P < 0.01), and the cesarean section rate without a medical indication was lower (P < 0.01). The duration of the second stage of labor in the EM group was shorter than the UC group (P < 0.01). Conclusions: Prenatal EM intervention could control anxiety and depressive feelings in nulliparas, and improve obstetric outcomes. It may serve as an innovative approach to reduce the cesarean section rate in China.
PMCID: PMC4538024  PMID: 26309641
Psychological intervention; prenatal period; cesarean section rate; stage of labor
24.  The potential role of COX-2 in cancer stem cell-mediated canine mammary tumor initiation: an immunohistochemical study 
Journal of Veterinary Science  2015;16(2):225-231.
Increasing evidence suggests that cancer stem cells (CSCs) are responsible for tumor initiation and maintenance. Additionally, it is becoming apparent that cyclooxygenase (COX) signaling is associated with canine mammary tumor development. The goals of the present study were to investigate COX-2 expression patterns and their effect on CSC-mediated tumor initiation in primary canine mammary tissues and tumorsphere models using immunohistochemistry. Patterns of COX-2, CD44, octamer-binding transcription factor (Oct)-3/4, and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expression were examined in malignant mammary tumor (MMT) samples and analyzed in terms of clinicopathological characteristics. COX-2 and Oct-3/4 expression was higher in MMTs compared to other histological samples with heterogeneous patterns. In MMTs, COX-2 expression correlated with tumor malignancy features. Significant associations between COX-2, CD44, and EGFR were observed in low-differentiated MMTs. Comparative analysis showed that the levels of COX-2, CD44, and Oct-3/4 expression varied significantly among TSs of three histological grades. Enhanced COX-2 staining was consistently observed in TSs. Similar levels of staining intensity were found for CD44 and Oct-3/4, but EGFR expression was weak. Our findings indicate the potential role of COX-2 in CSC-mediated tumor initiation, and suggest that COX-2 inhibition may help treat canine mammary tumors by targeting CSCs.
PMCID: PMC4483507  PMID: 26124697
cancer stem cells; canine mammary tumor; COX-2; tumor initiation
25.  Coexistence of multiple myeloma and clear cell renal cell carcinoma: a case report and review of literature 
Coexistence of multiple myeloma (MM) and renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is an extremely rare condition. Nevertheless, there is a higher than expected incidence of co-occurrence of these two malignancies. Several case series, in the recent past, have postulated an association between MM and RCC. Population-based data analyses have revealed a bi-directional association between these two malignancies. However, the cause still remains speculative up to date. Here, we aim to describe a patient with MM and clear cell renal cell carcinoma (CCRCC) one after another for the second time from China. Clinical implications are discussed with a critical review of existing literature and we expect to draw much more awareness among clinicians regarding such association.
PMCID: PMC4526016  PMID: 26261682
Multiple myeloma; clear cell renal cell carcinoma; interleukin (IL)-6; interferon-a

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